A Story About The Power Of Story

“Don’t ever underestimate the power of a story. Even if the story has to do with bacterial infections and chickens,” Josh Muccio, host of The Pitch.

The Pitch from Gimlet Media showcases founders of start-ups as they sell the story of their business to a panel of investors. This podcast illustrates the real-world application of what a good story does for a business.

In this episode, a scientist Amado Guloy is trying to explain how his startup Rex Animal Health combines farm animals and big data. His explanation focused on data, science, and numbers. The investors interjected every few seconds struggling to understand what his business did until he told the following story.

“Rex can reduce the risk of disease, improve the treatment of health problems, and ultimately deliver more animals from farm to table. I’ll just give you a use case of something that we did. There were chickens with a high incidence of really bad bacterial infection. And unfortunately, a lot of the drugs weren’t working because it was an antibiotic-resistant bacteria. So, we took a step back and looked at the data in total. We realised the ones that got an infection, got it through a skin lesion. Long story short, we found out it was genetic and the chickens that got it had that deficiency.”

The investors let out a collective “Ohhhh!” as the light switched on for them. That story explained why Rex exists, what it does, and now they’re ready to do what they do best. Start poking holes in the business.

We like to imagine that investors are only interested in numbers, plain and simple. But they need a short and simple story to give those numbers meaning. A concise story helps create the value of the business, especially if you are looking for investment.

Storytelling is really story-selling. Showing people with a clear story helps your customers, clients and coworkers will understand what you do and why they need it.

Don’t let storytelling be a struggle, join me at General Assembly in Melbourne on March 13th, 2018 to Discover Your Business Narrative.

Future Proof Your Marketing

“Strong Opinions Weakly Held”

This phrase originated with Paul Saffro, Director of Palo Alto’s Institute for the Future. In a discussion about wisdom, Bob Johansen of the Institute allegedly explained to Bob Sutton that to deal with an uncertain future and still move forward, the Institute advises people to have “strong opinions, which are weakly held.”

Grab a compass and map. Plot your path, but be prepared to change your course when needed.

We are living times that can feel very fast-moving, volatile and uncertain. How do we prepare ourselves for this uncertain future? What skills will we need? What will the job market look like in 5, 10 or even 20 years? What new technologies are being developed that could create a threat to humanity? Where are the flying cars? Come on already I want one!

Ok, jokes aside, the world is changing. The old structures, silos, and routines that are part of most business’s day to day operations are becoming a hindrance to innovation. We are entering a new epoch that values agility, innovation, and creativity.

Welcome to the age of storytelling. We are standing on the precipice of a new world order, where visionaries will lead through their ability to tell stories. Storytellers are powerful. They create the world that we live in now and the one to come.

So Why Learn To Harness And Tell Your Own Story?

Your business’s organic story is unique. Unlike corporate colours, logos or taglines, it is not a conceptual piece of marketing. It is an organic narrative that unfolds with each passing day. It shifts with each decision, such as, new hires and evolving products and services. It cannot be replicated and it cannot be predicted. It must simply unfold. This is truly powerful when future proofing your brand or business. There can be similarities. But there are no two that are exactly the same. No other business has the exact unique blend of human capital and stories that you have.

Part of imagining where the future is going is understanding our current moment in time. To do this well we must understand our business’s story. It has a cast of characters, plot lines and twists and turns. An authentic and well-crafted story makes your business the main protagonist, as opposed to a secondary character. By focusing on your own story you let the narrative unfold and see how it moves you forward.

This unique story woven through content production, internal communications, presentations, and speeches creates memorable experiences. This attention leads to retention in your client or customer’s memory. This is the most precious real estate that you can own.

Storytelling is future proofing your brand. It is possible to copy a website’s look and feel. A competitor may develop a similar product or service. But no other business will have your experiences or diversity of skills of your unique story.

Let your story do the work. An organic story told slowly over time builds solid relationships and trust. A presentation featuring vision and dreams is always more inspiring than a bar graph. All the growth behind the spikes on the chart could not happen without the vision in the first place.

And the vision comes from the people. The empathy and connections formed via a strong story, allows a company to become agile, to reinvent itself as it changes. It works in partnership with the business and walks alongside it as it forges new paths into the future.

As a chronicler of business’s stories, I have seen this magic unfold again and again. And so I am calling all the brave and bold artists, corporates, business owners and change makers! The best way to predict our futures to create it. Let us all join together and tell the stories of the future we want to create. We have never had such an unprecedented ability to influence and affect our world.

And so I ask you, what story will you tell and where will it take you?

I recently ran an event at ACMI in November, The Evolution of Storytelling. I asked my presenters to explore the possibilities of storytelling in the future. Please have a look at the Hashtag on Twitter or on my Instagram.