ANECDOTES | by Drew Kerr
NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF A GREAT HEADLINE.
Keep working at that headline -- it could be your email subject line, your article headline, your tweet, your deck's opening page -- because THAT is the magical ticket of entry.
How many times have you clicked on a story or tweet because the headline made something in brain go "what's that all about?" You may call it clickbait -- I call it the menu outside the restaurant that convinces you to go inside (or outside) and eat there.
Don't settle for a mediocre headline. Do you want to play it straight? Academic? Clever? Provocative? You're not a sell-out if your headline is kind of clickbait-y because people appreciate cleverness more than you think. It's like taking a joke and making it better and better and better.
THE GOOD GUYS WIN IN THE END.
IF THE GOOD GUYS HAVEN'T WON, THEN IT ISN'T THE END.
In most well-told personal and business stories, the good guys do win in the end, but often at some kind of cost, almost always causing some kind of transformation. When you think of your own story to tell, the conclusion is not when you have solved the problem that you faced, but AFTER you've implemented it and what impact it had. The RESULTS of your solving the problem is where it ends -- where did that implementation take you?
Think about it: every superhero movie from The Avengers to Batman doesn't end when the superheroes defeat the villain. It ends AFTER it shows the impact of defeating the villain and how it has affected the characters.
USING STORIES FOR BETTER HUMAN RESOURCES ONBOARDING
What can human resources do about improving the onboarding process? It's usually such a rote process for so many companies: inform new hires of the rules, their benefits, perhaps various forms of training, and a walk through company values, and then send them on their way. It's pretty robotic, if you ask me.
How much better would onboarding be if the company culture was introduced through a couple of well-told stories about the company's founding and what it took to get there. Even a some "company lore" would be highly effective.
For new hires, this would be a refreshing non-mechanical change of pace and if anything, enhance their commitment right off the bat.
BAD THINGS MAKE GOOD STORIES
At first, nobody wants to admit that anything bad ever happens to them. We don't live in a world where people and companies don't face obstacles. If we did, James Bond would be lounging in the Riviera instead of fighting villains and the Avengers would be eating schwarma instead of battling Thanos.
If you can't talk about setbacks and how you overcame them, nobody is going to believe you are authentic. It is the leaders who are transparent about facing problems from within or outside their organizations, and can share their strategies for dealing with them who win our admiration and attention from peers and press.
I should know. In October 2018, I stood in front of a live audience of 125+ people at "The Moth" and told a story about coming full circle on the non-stop bad karma of the first half of that year. Watch the video below.
THE GREAT BUSINESS STORYTELLING SHORTAGE
What if I told you that you can't find anything about Apple's founding on Apple's own web site? Steve Jobs is only mentioned on a memorial page. And you won't find anything about Jeff Bezos founding Amazon on their site either.
Maybe those companies can get away with it because they feel that their brands are too big to explain how they were founded. But what if your company is NOT as big as Amazon or Apple? What if you're a fast-growing startup or a thriving small business, and you want to stand out from your competition and make an emotional connection with your customers?
There is a real lack of self-storytelling in the business world. When delivering a workshop on this subject for Birthing of Giants, a number of founders told me that they knew telling a story was important -- they just didn't know why.
How are clients, partners, and customers supposed to know you beyond your service or product if you can't explain how you got there and the obstacles you faced get here?
ARE YOU A CHANCE TAKER?
Are you a rule breaker or a conformist? If somebody tells you not to do something, do you want to do it even more or adhere to their warning? When you’re given boundaries, do you go beyond them or color inside the lines?
These are some of our most difficult choices because we don’t know if there are consequences or not, and just how bad those consequences might be.
An ibuprofen bottle says don’t take more than two pills at a time but doctors will tell you to take three if your headache is bad enough. No consequences for breaking that rule. Hmmm.
The next time you decide to “prop open the door” when somebody tells you not to — even if it is the biggest business or career decision you’ve ever made — write down what you did and what happened afterward.
Taking chances are turning points. And that’s where great stories begin.
(I shot this photo three weeks ago. Disobedience is everywhere.)