Blog

Home / Blog

Between magic and technique

Storytelling
Storytelling is part art, part technique. Or maybe it’s part magic and part technique.  While you probably agree with the technique part, magic may sound a bit odd. The magic comes when trust that you can gain great benefit and achieve more when you connect emotionally to your story, or as Brené Brown puts it, when you dare to be vulnerable. Before we can influence anybody, we need to let them see us.  The first story we need to tell them is “Why I'm standing here telling you this”. We can tell a perfectly crafted story, but first we need to earn the right to be listened to, which only comes when we connect with our story emotionally.  Don’t think of stories as a technique for getting people to do…
Read More

Purpose and fear

fear, purpose
We’ve learnt that we need to overcome fear; that we don’t have to ponder excessively over what we should do next. The best course of action is to act, otherwise our best work will never see the light. However, I’ve been wondering for a while whether fear is a pointer. Perhaps fear is trying to tell us that there’s something important that we aren’t considering or looking into. Fear magnifies things and charges them emotionally, and in consequence we get the message not to go there. But what if the message is about looking at this hidden matter and paying close attention to it? What if fear is not so much about choosing between doing or not doing?   Is there danger in publishing your novel? Is there danger in…
Read More

The struggle with your own story

story
Your own story is the most difficult one. We have so much information, so many stories, so many credentials and expectations. How do we tell the story of who we are and what we do? Which stories do we need to tell, and which should we leave out? Most of the time we struggle to look both professional and knowledgeable and vulnerable and human at the same time.  We struggle to share our story, not because we don’t know what to tell but because we aren’t certain which are the right parts to tell. We’re scared of being vulnerable in a way that make us feel weak instead of closer to the listener, scared of revealing who we are in case it isn’t enough, scared of talking about the layers…
Read More

Why passion matters

passion
Passion keeps up motivated, makes us keep wanting to pursue our goal despite the obstacles, helps us to be resilient. But it also makes us better storytellers. When you’re passionate about a topic, a cause, an idea, you spend time looking at it and thinking about it. This time spent looking into a matter can be sometimes turn into contemplation, the art of looking without judgement. Passion can fuel not only motivation but also contemplation, a new way of looking and understanding. It’s when we look at something we love with wide-open  eyes that we see new stories. The passion that makes the difference isn’t motivational but contemplative, a passion that makes you willing to spend time observing what you’re passionate about to learn something that nobody else has seen…
Read More

Starting with you

story, strategy, vision
Strategy and vision stories are, in one way or another, stories about us, because what we’re aiming to do with these stories is to bring people on board. We hear all the time that when you craft a story you need to think about your audience and it’s true, but there’s a subtle difference with vision and strategy stories: they need to be deeply connected to you, the teller. You’re the one who’s going to lead your listeners, who’s suggesting the way, the timing, the resources, the people. You need to answer the questions “Why you?” “Why now?” “Why them?” “Why us?”  You craft your story using a structure that helps you deliver your message, but the emotional connection and urgency in the story that you tell are equally important.…
Read More

The common ground

starting, story, vision
Often we need to tell our story, strategy or vision to people who have other values and interests. When this happens arguments and logic can trigger defensive responses and we may be perceived as lacking in empathy.  Stories about how this feels for me, why this is important, what happened to me so I started seeing things in this way, can be more appropriate in these circumstances. Vulnerability can create the common ground that allows me to hear you even though I may not share your values and beliefs.  It is in this space that possibilities can be created. You don’t communicate your strategy or vision to convince people but to invite them on a journey to transform their reality.  And, as with any invitation, we might get “no” for…
Read More

This is a terrible story

story
I'm blessed with a daughter and a son. They are my first and most honest audience.  Over the years I’ve told them thousands of stories, some from books, others from my life and the lives of family members and finally – the most risky – ones I’ve made up for them.  Occasionally I get “Mum, this is a terrible story. Tell me another one!” Then it’s clear to me that this story didn’t hit the bar, and that if I don’t want to end up stuck in the room for another thirty minutes I’d better find them a great story.  This has taught me a lesson: it takes many terrible stories to create one decent, and sometimes you don’t know whether it’s terrible or not until you tell it. Stories…
Read More

How stories transform reality

story
Great stories about pain and suffering tell it in a unique way: they don’t just describe the pain, they transcend it. Think about every single story that portrays the hero journey, from Star Wars to the Beauty and the Beast. These stories don’t get stuck in the difficulties but transform them, transcend them, to find a new meaning and purpose.  What make great stories so powerful is that they show us not just the pain and the difficulty but also how to overcome them in a meaningful way.  You know when you’ve heard a great story because you feel you can be part of this transformation – you can replicate it, you can teach it, or you can live it like the main character. Great stories always talk about what…
Read More

Reading changes the world

change, reading
Lyn Hunt claims in her book Inventing Human Rights: A History  that what made human rights a reality in Europe was not only politics and law but also reading novels.  The concept of human rights depends on empathic identification with individuals, something that only started appearing between 1750 and 1776 due to the popularity of novels in Europe.  Of course there were other factors, but novels made the point that we all feel the same regardless of our race, gender and class. People learned to feel how others felt. It was a new skill at the time. Reading novels affects our brain, facilitating new concepts and ideas.  The empathy that you need to change people has to be cultivated over time. It’s not just about a well-executed marketing campaign. You’re…
Read More

Empathy is a weakness

empathy
Indifference fuels cruelty and human rights violations in this world. The perpetrators are few but they have a mass of followers who are indifferent to what is happening around them. How did we get here? Nazism cultivated the idea that empathy was a weakness. From Guatemala to El Salvador, from Rwanda to former Yugoslavia, what made the massacres and genocide possible was indifference. Indifference was not created in a vacuum: it was propagated through fear and a calculated effort to eradicate empathy with those whom the regime wanted to eliminate. Every time you exercise your empathy you’re not only creating the grounds for becoming a better storyteller and leader but also cultivating an attitude that will make our society a better place for all of us.  And just for this,…
Read More