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Telling A Story That Hooks Audiences: A Fab Example

July 23, 2014 6:01 am | Published by | Leave a Comment


Colleague Michael Harris wrote this blog post recently and I couldn't stop cracking up! I laughed so hard I had to read the story to my husband Tim. He laughed just as hard.

Michael uses storytelling in his sales training and he uses this story to demonstrate why it works. And to point out the difference between 'corporate speak' and storytelling. Imagine telling this story in corporate language. We'd be bored to tears.

But here's another way to think about this story: we all have at least one story like this. A story when we screwed up big time. A story about a time we failed. A story about a near miss. A story about good friends who stick around even after misadventures. 

All of these stories have a place in business. Because they make you human. When shared authentically they form and deepen relationships. They let us know that even when we screw up, there is redemption. This is how we learn from others -- about what not to do, and about being human at work.

Sharing ups and downs helps us build deeper and stronger relationships. It might surprise you to experience how showing your vulnerability actually generates more trust and respect in you and for you. When we hide our failures from others, we idealize ourselves while separating ourselves from others at the same time. Not good.

So read this article and go have a good laugh. Then ask yourself, "What story do I share in return?" Michael's story should spark one within you.

Capture that story and share it at the right time in a business setting. You'll be glad you did.

This review was written by Karen Dietz for her curated content on business storytelling at 

Reinventing the Chief Marketer: Storytelling & the New World Order

July 22, 2014 2:32 pm | Published by | Leave a Comment

Why marketing and sustainability must be under one leader.


This article is the perfect companion to the other article I curated today on Patagonia.

Here Keith Weed, Chief Marketing Officer at Unilever, gives us insights into how to balance the tensions between marketing, communication, and sustainability.

You see, Weed is responsible for all 3 functions at Unilever. What??!! Now how does that work? When I first read that, I thought, "Oh jeez, communication and sustainability is now just another bunch of hype from marketing. Yuck!"

Not so, grasshopper. As I read the post I understood how fundamentally different Weed's approach is -- where he manages the tension between all 3 without sacrificing any one. And this re-thinking/re-fashioning of marketing is where the future of business is.

And storytelling is at the core, even though it is not the focus of the article. But we know it's importance when Weed says, "Well, the real tension you have in companies is when marketing is in one silo, identifying what consumers need and driving demand, while sustainability is in another trying to reduce environmental impact, while Corporate Social Responsibility is in another working on the company’s social contribution while communications is telling its own, possibly different, story. In a connected world, this kind of internal disconnection is a hindrance not a help." So true! Yes, these are all different stories being told that in  most organizations are never reconciled. And it sure does negatively impact the bottom line.

Read more about how Weed has managed this reconciliation and is moving Unilever into a solid future. No matter what size your business is, there are lessons here for everyone.

This review was written by Karen Dietz for her curated content on business storytelling at 


Radical Storytelling: How Patagonia Is Telling Customers To Use Less Of Their Product

July 22, 2014 6:00 am | Published by | Leave a Comment

It's one of 10 strategies that make up a new way of doing business, given the coming realities of a hotter, scarcer, and more transparent world.


I've been following sports clothing company Patagonia for awhile now because they keep coming up with new kinds of stories to tell that keep propelling their business forward.

In this article by Andrew Winston, he discusses Patagonia's latest endeavor to have customers hang onto the company's products. It's a natural outgrowth of their philosophy of using less and protecting the environment. But it's totally counterintuitive to how business operates -- which is why it is so brilliant. And it is working for them. Business has not fallen off with this strategy -- but grown.

What I love about Patagonia is that they truly do walk their talk. No company is perfect, but this company's authenticity meter is off the charts. 

Patagonia also innovated supply chain storytelling, a new category of back stories. So I'm not surprised at this next round of storytelling, and look forward to what they'll come up with in the future.

In the meantime, the author did a great job posing a series of questions/next steps any business can take to develop this new avenue of storytelling. It's pretty provocative and well worth the read.

Don't get caught at the back of the line. Read the article to stay on the cutting edge of business trends and storytelling.

This review was written by Karen Dietz for her curated content on business storytelling at 

Business Storytelling: 5 Mistakes Most Folks Make

July 21, 2014 2:44 pm | Published by | Leave a Comment

The purpose of this presentation is to list 5 typical mistakes people make when sharing stories in business settings.


Here's a quick SlideShare piece that covers 5 mistakes people often make when sharing stories in business settings.

I like it because some points made I rarely see.  For example -- often people think they are sharing a story when they are NOT. Or how to start a story -- and it is definitely NOT by saying "Let me tell you a story..."

There are other goodies here too. If you avoid these 5 mistakes you will be ahead of most folks!

This review was written by Karen Dietz for her curated content on business storytelling at 

Solving Problems With Narrative Intelligence

July 19, 2014 6:25 am | Published by | Leave a Comment

How narrative intelligence can help everyone design solutions and generate useful data.


Here's a handy article and tool that any organization can use. It's all about how to use narrative elements and design thinking to solve problems.

While the post is written on how nonprofits can address social problems, the insights and tools shared here apply to us all.

The tool is free to download, which is great! The article shares the story about why and how it was created, along with results people have experienced. Way cool.

Enjoy the article and use the tool.

This review was written by Karen Dietz for her curated content on business storytelling at 

Sell a Whole New Way of Thinking — not a product — with a Future Story

July 18, 2014 9:49 am | Published by | Leave a Comment

Customers need the right mental model to understand why they need your product.


What a great article this is. It's focus is on how to shift customer's mindsets. What the author is really talking about is how to share your Future Story.

Today succeeding in business means being able to show how your product or service contributes to a better world. This is way bigger than how a product or service solves an immediate need.

There are 2 kinds of product/service stories companies need to tell:

  1. How their product/service solves a customer problem that positions the customer as the hero. These are your People & Results stories
  2. How their product/service contributes to a better world. This is your Future Story.

Yet most folks only spend time on the first kind of story.

Time and again we are being shown that when businesses provide a picture about how the their offering produces a positive difference in the world, customers flock to them. And stick around. 

Future Stories however are not that easy to create. Current methods like "Write a newspaper article about your company 5/10/20 years in the future" remain stilted and unsatisfying.

What I love about this article by Mark Bonchek is how he frames our thinking so we can write a better Future Story, and gives the steps for how to get it done. 

If you follow his process, I think you will be amazed at what you produce, and you'll have a compelling terrific Future Story to share. 

Story on!

This review was written by Karen Dietz for her curated content on business storytelling at 

What’s The Problem With TED Storytelling?

July 15, 2014 6:05 am | Published by | Leave a Comment

TED is changing the public discourse -- and not all for the better.


Here's an article that makes us question how TED talks have been shaping our business storytelling -- and maybe not in such a good way.

As the author, Nick Morgan, states -- and I agree with him -- TED talks are fabulous. We love TED. TED talks have definitely impacted business presentations for the better.

Yet Morgan makes 2 very important points regarding public speaking and business storytelling:

  1. Shorter personal speeches. What's wrong with that?? Well, as Morgan says, "What’s wrong with shorter speeches is that you can't persuade people to change in 15 minutes, because you can't make them emotionally uncomfortable enough with the status quo to be ready to embrace something new." He continues with some relevant stats.
  2. A story about your personal revelation might not apply to the goal of the speech. There are all kinds of stories to tell, but TED talks seem to tell us that the stories we should share need to be about a personal revelation we've had.

My take-aways from reading this article and the additional insights Morgan has?

  1. If you want people to change, stories need to be longer. Or presentations need to be longer with several different types of stories told.
  2. A springboard story (short anecdote) may get people started, but other story sharing is needed to sustain the effort.
  3. Personal revelation stories might not be the point -- share stories that are not about you.

There's good common sense wisdom in this article that makes us think twice about effective business storytelling. It is definitely worth the read.

This review was written by Karen Dietz for her curated content on business storytelling at 

Technique to Create Irresistible Storytelling

July 14, 2014 7:02 am | Published by | Leave a Comment

Learn how to turn readers into buyers with an engaging, audience-first storytelling strategy. Demian Farnworth reveals the creative technique in six steps.


Business storytelling can be as simple or complex as you want to make it. This article borders more on the complex side because it talks more about how to use storytelling as an ongoing strategy than a one-off activity.

The article by Demian Farnworth for Copyblogger focuses on creating a content strategy using narrative structure to generate an ongoing brand narrative. But wait! If you are a corporate executive, this idea applies to you too!!

Anyone in business or an executive can take the process outlined here and use it to map the stories you want to tell -- in a way that generates a consistent voice, image, vision, and brand.

What I particularly like is the attention paid to creating a visual storyboard. Storytelling is all about conveying images, not information. So the practice of visual planning and storyboarding here is very valuable.

The only piece that's missing is listening for stories from your audience and incorporating those into your story mix. That builds greater loyalty.

Dig into this article and use the process here to upgrade the quality of your business storytelling.

This review was written by Karen Dietz for her curated content on business storytelling at 

Corporate Storytelling: Stories In Action Video

July 12, 2014 6:02 am | Published by | Leave a Comment

A short film of the event on stories in action held at the Museum of London on 10 June reminds us of the energy everyone there put into a shared enquiry around the many applications of story to...


My business storytelling colleagues at Sparknow in London put together this 4 min. video about their working with stories in an organization. The Museum of London participated and I love what the participants came up with!

This video is very thought-provoking because its the Museum folks themselves who are talking about their take on working with stories. And it's not all roses and rainbows. Thorny issues do arise.

The video gives us a taste of these and the links in the blog post give us other insights into the sticky wicket of working with stories in organizations. Plus I came away from these explorations with a few more ideas -- always a good thing!


This review was written by Karen Dietz for her curated content on business storytelling at