This month's issue: Telling the right story. 
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Simple. Powerful. Elegant.

A Newsletter from Creative Ventures

Issue #119

Big News

WOW, what a January!

  • We had 1,000 sales professionals in Orlando where we delivered six, yes SIX, hours of content around our Repeatable Successful Acts sales platform.  We created new large scale exercises to demonstrate the ideas we delivered.  It took a month to prepare the delivery and exercises.  It was a unique and dynamic experience!
  • Then from the warm tropical weather of Florida to the wintery confines of Norfolk, VA, where we launched our client experience platform A Step Ahead in a workshop form and then a major presentation of our brand new version of Dazzling Blue.
  • A quick flight from Norfolk to Minneapolis to introduce our newest strategy, The Innovation Engine.

Here is the latest episode of OVER COFFEE VIDEO highlighting one aspect of our Elegant Simplicity Platform, The Puzzle of Choice. 




"People don't want more information. They are up to their eyeballs in information. They want to have faith in you, your goals, your success, in the story you tell." 

- A. Simmons

Colin and I were recently in Orlando working with 1,000 sales professionals.  We are both early risers and one of the participants encountered us having coffee in the lobby coffee shop.  She asked to sit down with us and asked for some advice.  She was having trouble recruiting people to her team.  She described getting first meetings but seldom a second one.  I asked her to share her “pitch,” and she told me how she tells the story designed to influence her potential team member.  I gave her a “thin sliced” piece of advice:   tell a better story.  I sketched this quick storyboard on a napkin.

“People are moved by emotion. The best way to emotionally connect other people to our agenda begins with "Once upon a time...”

--Jonathan Gottschall

The strategy she was looking for was story
There are three kinds of knowledge:

  • Modern Knowledge found in the sharing of ideas through the internet.
  • Old Knowledge found in the great books.
  • Traditional Knowledge found in the stories gained by experience over time.
The idea of leveraging the strategy of story is as old as mankind.  From ancient cave drawings to the animated films of PIXAR, story is at the forefront of strategy.
Stories behave like biology, they have a genesis, a beginning; they reproduce and make subtle changes as they grow; and they propagate through their medium, us.  They have shape and in turn create connections by their design.  The crafting of a story is an original and deep act.  It takes many elements into account.  It embraces facts by creating a relationship with the receiver of the story.
Using the idea of Traditional Knowledge, a huge project was launched this past Thanksgiving by the organization StoryCorps: “The Great Thanksgiving Listen.”  It was an attempt to capture the largest collection of human voices in history.  The premise was simple:  have young people talk to older people.  Create a conversation around some key open-ended questions.  Using the Socratic tool of opening with the invitation “Tell me…,” they asked grandparents, aunts, and uncles to tell them about what work was like for them when they were younger.  They said, “Tell me about some lessons life has taught you.” Stories provide the opportunity for discovery.
“The story–from Rumplestiltskin to War and Peace–is one of the basic tools invented by the human mind for the purpose of understanding. There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.” -Ursula K. Le Guinn
As we sat with Evelyn and talked story, I saw her eyes light up with a new approach that had the potential to create separation and differentiation in her approach to partnership.  That’s the power of story.  It provides a chance to position an idea in its highest and best light.  It can shine through fear and prejudice.  It doesn’t cost much, maybe a few resources, but a story’s potential is unlimited!



Do This!


Stories aren’t built or constructed, they’re crafted.  Like a fine stained glass window or a beautiful piece of furniture, a story is a work of art and deserves the time and grace it takes to create a good one, the right one for your goal.  What is the idea behind the story?  Is it to get people talking? Is it to get people to move or take action?  Is it to inform or educate?  Is it to inspire or challenge thinking?  To craft a story you need to know the purpose of the story.  Here is a simple process to get you started.  Start in large scale.  That means get some BIG paper, a flipchart or a big blank whiteboard.  List all the pieces of your story, in no particular order.  When you have all the pieces transfer them to large Post-It notes.  This gives you the opportunity to think about the pieces twice, once during their creation and the second time as you copy them on the Post-its.  Now you can arrange the pieces, move them around.  Discard or add.  Remember you are CRAFTING.  This creates the foundation of your story.

THE SHARING - How about a little story testing?  Once you have a good prototype or draft of your story, pick a team and give it to them with a few instructions.  Have them read it through at least three times.  Then, have a “telling” meeting.  Listen as each person tells the story in their own way.  Look for shared interpretations and ideas that clearly travel between tellers.  NEVER stop a storyteller.  Allow them to go from start to finish.  Take notes (good place to practice sketchnoting) on ideas around images that could connect the story on a visual level.  From this meeting you will gain insight into what should become the finished product.

Stories have shape and that shape gives way to form.  Form dictates delivery.  So, is your story a presentation?  Does it connect on a visual level?  Is it designed for a one-on-one delivery, is it interpersonal?  Is it a distance-delivered story that rides the electronic waves of the web?  Does it translate to a hard copy (yes, hard copies still have a place in our seemingly digital only world)?  Can it have a video component?  Is it flexible and open to modification?  How are your storytellers being trained in its delivery?  In a personal delivery model (presentation or one-on-one) that training is the only thing that gives story continuity.  Does the story give space for personal skill sets of the storyteller to come into play?  The idea of simple (lack of complexity) does not mean easy (lack of effort), but the return is an emotional connection unavailable in any other form!



The idea of “app banking” is rapidly becoming a new, viable model.  Ally Financial, Go Bank, and BankMobile are examples of cyber-based banking that is looking to take a piece out of one of the most traditional business models in the world.  Think of it like always having “a teller in your pocket.”  All your banking is done via a mobile app.  Many of these “institutions” offer free checking, high yield saving accounts, no fee ATM access, and even lines of credit.  There are an estimated 68 million underserved potential mobile banking clients out there, making the market a worthy target.  There are still a few quirks that need to be worked out, but keep an eye on this disruptive idea.



Very few things can get a community or city going faster than an addition or modification to an existing major downtown building.  People become attached to architecture. SNOHETTA, a Norwegian architectural firm has been specializing in updating iconic cultural centers for 30 years.  Their recent make-over of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art was the end result of a process of interaction and involvement from a wide variety of interested parties.  The new building, which sits in the hot SOMA (South of Market Street) district, will be the largest museum in California and the largest museum of modern art in the country.  The concept is to create a model of involvement and to shepherd the process through all the emotion in play.  The process is as important as the design!

The Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games are in a cash crunch.  In fact, it’s kind of crazy the amount of money a country pays to host the Games.  There are going to be deep budget cuts in the Brazil games, and one of them is air conditioning for the athletes’ dorms.  Yep, no air conditioning for the athletes, UNLESS they want to pay for it separately.  Now it is winter in that part of the world in August, but last year it was around 95 degrees in August.  This idea is part of the “cutting the fat” initiative designed to trim $520 million from the Olympic operational budget and is just one part of the service reductions facing athletes in Rio.  Maybe it’s time to look at how the Games are structured regarding infrastructure.  The stadiums built in Greece for the 2004 Games are abandoned and crumbling.  There are fewer and fewer countries willing to bid on the Games and most see them as a sink hole for money.  Time for a fresh approach.

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