The enemy of your stories

narrative, story, vision
Business narratives are hard to convey because they force us to articulate why our business exists and why others should consider what we do.  Jeff Bezos’s executive meetings start in silence. Everybody has 30 minutes to read the executives’ six-page memos in which they discuss their ideas in narrative form. Why in narrative form? So that everybody fully understands what they are trying to present. PowerPoint is not allowed. A business needs to be clear about its narrative before turning it into stories. The narrative covers why they are here, why they cares, what they are changing, and why it matters. The narrative can sometimes be understood as the foundations of the story. Apple’s narrative is great design and performance, and building a better future. Before we tell any story…
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There’s no ego in that

story
We’re all wondering about the story that we can tell during the pandemic. Some businesses are changing their focus, moving online, starting to manufacture products they’ve never made before, finding new creative ways of servicing their customers.  Before the pandemic Canlis, in Seattle, was one of the finest restaurants in the West Coast; today it has been converted into a drive-through. In the morning they serve bagels, and for the rest of the day it’s a burger stand. They’ve moved fast – the whole transition was made in 15 days. They’ve kept their 115 employees, and might even need to hire more.  William Canlis, one of the founder brothers, said “What I love to do is to feed people. There’s no ego in that.” You can move forward with your…
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He’s too old

story
When spring arrived in my home town my great-grandfather would go out for long walks. He’d put on his suit, take his hat and his wooden walking stick and gently stroll along the avenida to the park. Once there, he’d sit on a bench and wait for somebody to start a conversation. He was a natural communicator and storyteller.   I would sometimes find him slowly walking back home. We’d talk about the day, and he’d tell me about the people he’d met and the conversations he’d had. Once he started telling me about a young man he’d met in the park who, like him, had also lived in Cuba. I asked him how old the young man was, and he told me that he was 80. I said “That’s not…
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The January effect

change, story
It’s 7.00 pm and the car park is full.  Maybe, I tell myself, it’s because there’s a conference at the hotel next to the gym. I have no option but to drive around until I find a space in a remote corner of the car park.  It’s really windy, rainy and cold. Suddenly I realise that I’m starting to get grumpy.   I had to battle with huge resistance to come to the gym, and somehow I was expecting that the universe would reward me with a parking space close to the main door.  When I get into the gym it doesn’t look any better. It’s packed. Treadmills are at full power. At the stationary bikes section there’s only one place left, and all the rowing machines are busy.  I…
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Because you are

story
Ubuntu is a well-known concept in Africa. It means “I am because you are”.  South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission explored this concept wholeheartedly during the peace process that put an end to apartheid. Instead of quickly sentencing the perpetrators, as happened after War World II, in South Africa those who had committed human rights violations were asked to make themselves accountable. If they spoke the whole truth they could be granted an amnesty. Not everybody was ready for reconciliation: some people continued to justify their atrocities and crimes, but those who opened their hearts to the pain they had caused found a new level of humanity and connection that came from acknowledging that despite our acts, we are all interconnected as human beings. Ubuntu created the possibility of healing…
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The magic intersection

story
Finding your story takes time. These are some of the things you’ll need to figure it out: - Who you are and what you stand for - What matters to you the most - When you’re at your best - How you add value in business and in life - Who you connect with in a heartbeat - How you make the world a better place in the most mundane and ordinary way -  What people value about you - What makes you happy Once you find the answer to these questions you’ll realise that your story lies in the magic intersection between giving people something they really need and want and doing it in the unique way that only you can do. 
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Story detector

story, values
Every single piece of content or information is storified these days. It makes sense. The amount of information we receive every day is so overwhelming that if we don’t find a way of making it appealing it won’t get through the filter to our saturated minds. Stories have a certain structure that attract the mind. We pay attention. However many stories have a structure with no values, change or meaning underneath. In the coming years we’re going to need to develop the skill to identify which stories deserve our attention.  I recently came across to the original E.T. trailer from 1982 whose opening words are “In 1975 he directed Jaws; in  1977 he directed Close Encounters of the Third Kind...” The beginning of the trailer is exclusively about Steven Spielberg. E.T.…
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Tell me a truth

story, Storytelling, truth
"Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer," said Shonda Rhimes, TV producer and film writer, in her 2014 speech at Dartmouth College.  “What matters isn't just that you take risks. It's how you take them,” said Atul Gawande, surgeon and writer, in a speech at William College in 2012.  And Toni Morrison, the writer, said in her speech at Wellesley College in 2004 "Being your own story means you can always choose the tone. It also means that you can invent the language to say who you are and what you mean." Reading these sentences probably moved you and brought back memories. Are these sentences stories?  I don’t think so, but they encapsulates the story that each of these people wanted to tell. It resonates because underneath…
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Getting closer to the ones who care

story
A couple of months ago a good friend approached a charity to make a donation. She wrote an email to arrange a phone call and transfer the money safely. When the woman at the other end heard the amount she wanted to donate, she was very surprised.  “This is extremely generous of you. Thank you,” she said. My friend told her that this charity had helped her a great deal at a point in her life when she was really struggling. “Now,” she said, “it’s my turn to make a difference in others’ people lives.” “Thank you,” she heard again at the other end of the line. She had a great story to tell, but nobody asked her, because the job of the woman at the call centre was collecting…
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Give me the story, not reasons

story, Storytelling
We can’t bring people on board if we don’t engage with them emotionally. You can give me ten thousand reasons to buy a product, but if I don’t trust you I won’t buy.  In the same way you don’t need to give me a reason to buy if I trust you and see the benefits of your product or service. Reasons are powerless without empathy; they must talk to my personal and emotional universe that explains how I see and feel the world around me.  Have you ever been asked the following question at the checkout? “Have you found everything that you wanted, Madam?” Well, I’ve heard it thousands of times, and one day I dared to say “No, I didn’t. I couldn’t find brown sugar.”  “Oh, I’m sorry Madam,”…
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