News and Insights

What’s Your Story?

Kerry Grady, Founding Principal

I love a good story – don’t we all? From Steve Jobs to Walt Disney, to Elon Musk, leaders who tell well-crafted stories inspire loyalty while driving the success of their companies. Here are a few answers to some of the common questions surrounding the importance of story telling to build a strong brand.

Why should every brand hone its story telling acumen?

Facts inform, stories trigger movements. Stories result in higher customer and employee engagement, higher sales and lower turnover. This isn’t just my opinion. This is the conclusion drawn from many case studies including KPMG which has transformed itself into a story telling culture. Multi-billionaire casino and hotel owner, Steve Wynn, said that storytelling changed his business and personal life. Get good at telling stories and you’ll see high-level prospects beating a path to your door to be a part of your journey.

How and why can telling a good story inspire new ideas?

Neuroscience holds the answers. At Princeton University, neuroscientist Uri Hasson is studying “neuro coupling.” This refers to the phenomenon when one person tells another person a story, and the brains of both the speaker and the listener are in sync. The same regions of their brains “light-up” in MRI exams. Dr. Paul Zak is also researching neuro coupling at his lab in Los Angeles. He has discovered that stories with “emotional triggers” motivate people to take actions, specifically to feel empathy for another person and make them more likely to contribute money for a cause.

What is the difference between a good story and one that transforms people?

Every good story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Every good story also has emotional triggers such as conflict, obstacles, villians and heroes. A transformative story is what Golden State Warriors owner Peter Guber calls “purposeful.” It is told with the purpose of advancing a strategy or leading to a transaction.

Why is presentation everything?

If I write a story down and email it to you, it won’t have the same effect as if I share the story with you in person, where you can hear my vocal intonations, see my facial expressions, and experience my passion and enthusiasm. By the way, if you’re making a presentation a good visual is worth a thousand words.

Is storytelling for everyone?

Yes. We’re all storytellers, we just don’t call ourselves storytellers. Parents tell stories to their children. Entrepreneurs tell stories when pitching to investors. Investors tell stories to their partners after listening to a pitch. CEOs tell stories to engage their teams. Job candidates tell stories in an interview. The best teachers, coaches and preachers tell stories. Your story can change your company, advance your industry, start a movement, or even change the world.

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