The Art of Using Story as a Way to Communicate Big, Hairy Ideas
A priest, a penguin, and a newspaper reporter walk into a bar. The penguin orders a shot of Red Eye. The priest starts juggling three flaming chain saws. The newspaper reporter turns to the bartender, smiles and says: "I know there's a story here somewhere."
And yes, there is. There are stories everywhere. As the poet, Muriel Ruykeser once said, "The world is not made of atoms. The world is made of stories."
Almost everyone in business these days -- at least the people responsible for selling big, hairy ideas -- knows that the difference between success and failure often depends on what kind of story is told -- and how well. Content may be King. But it is Story that built the kingdom. Or as Steve Jobs once put it, "The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller."
The question, these days, isn't whether or not storytelling works. It does. It's worked for thousands of years. If you have any doubt, just ask your local neuroscientist. The question is how do you tell a really effective story -- one that not only informs and entertains, but gets results -- the kind of results that opens minds, influences behavior, and is remembered.
And this is precisely where the proverbial plot thickens. Why? Because most people don't think they know how to tell good story. At least, that's the story they keep telling themselves -- that they don't have the chops or experience to tell a good story. Spoiler alert! Not true.
Social scientists tell us that 65% of our conversations boil down to story -- narrative accounts with a beginning, middle, and end. Throw in a likable hero, a setting, some obstacles, a few juicy details, plot twists, and a resolution, and voila, you've got yourself a story!
Simply put, storytelling is "an unconscious competency" -- something human beings naturally do. The thing is -- we don't know how we do it. Like breathing, for example. Or thinking. Or riding a bicycle. But just because we can't explain how we do it, doesn't mean we're not good at it. Kapish?
You already know how to tell a story. You do. You've been telling stories ever since you were a child. In fact, you tell stories many times a day. On the job. Off the job. Hanging out with your friends. Wherever. Story is in your DNA. Indeed, neuroscientists like to say that the human brain is "wired for story." It's how we make sense of our lives. It's our communication default position. We are storytelling animals. And the more we practice, the better we get.
The simplest explanation of what story is? A narrative -- an account of what happened or what might happen. That account, of course, can be utterly boring ("I woke up. I picked up my dry cleaning. I returned home.") Or it can be utterly captivating -- what every movie you've ever seen or novel you've ever read has tried to accomplish. To capture your attention. To deliver a meaningful message. And to influence what you think, feel, and do.
For the moment, think of storytelling as a big, yummy pot of soup. It smells good. It looks good. And it tastes good. But at first glance, you can't tell what the ingredients are -- or the spices. Do you really need to know every single ingredient if you're being served a bowl of soup from a reliable source? Probably not. But if you're making the soup, you most definitely do. So let's sit down with our penguin, priest, and newspaper reporter for a few minutes and see if we can demystify what this whole mumbo gumbo story thing is all about.
First things first. If you want your story to pack a wallop, you've got to know your audience. If they're allergic to eggplant, don't put eggplant in the soup. If they're vegetarian, lose the chicken. And know your end game -- what it is you're attempting to communicate -- what you want your audience to think, feel, or do differently after listening to you. Whatever message you want to leave them with, be able to boil it down to 10 words or less.
Years ago, this would have been known as your "elevator speech". These days, if you can't deliver your message upon entering an elevator, you're screwed. Think about it. When Steve Jobs launched the iPod, he cut to the chase by distilling his message down to just five words: "1,000 songs in your pocket." That's what the iPod was. Technobabble? No. Overwhelming factoids and data? No. One clean soundbyte surrounded by a compelling beginning, middle, and end. When you think about the story you want to tell, be sure you can distill it down to a memorable meme -- what screenwriters do when they pitch their idea to a movie studio.
Just like the iPod has a shape, so does a story -- the beginning, the middle, and the end, as I've said before, but I'm saying again because I want you to remember just how important structure. It's the spine of your intended result.
The beginning is where you set things up -- the place where you hook the attention of your audience, the place where you set the scene and introduce your hero -- hopefully a likable one. Then you introduce the Big Bad Wolf -- the obstacle, the conflict that begets the drama -- which, in your case, if you are trying to sell a product or service -- might be the competition, a government regulation, or the cost of entering a new market. Get the picture? Someone or something exists and that someone or something wants to move forward towards an inspired goal, but his/her/its path is blocked. Time for nail biting and some popcorn. Hooray for adversity! Without it, there is no story. No Star Wars. No Rocky. No Three Little Pigs.
And the broth of the great story soup you are concocting? What might that be? Passion! Your passion. Your passion for the message you're communicating and your passion for the act of storytelling itself. No passion, no power. No passion, no presence. No passion, no purchase order. It's that simple.
Bottom line, story is all about "emotional transportation" -- the journey you take people on from here to there, from known to unknown, from no can do to what's the next step?"
No matter how logical, linear, or analytical your audience might be, unless you can speak to their heart, you will never win their mind. Yes, of course, if you are making a business presentation, you will need to spice up your story with the fruits of your research, but only enough to keep the story moving, only enough to soothe the savage beast of the left brain. Data is the spice. It is not the main ingredient. If your audience isn't feeling what your saying, it doesn't matter how many statistics you throw their way. As Einstein said, "Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted, counts."
It's Little Red Riding Hood on her way to Grandma's house we care about, not her shoe size or SAT scores.
Other things to be mindful of as your prepare your presentation? Keep your stories short. Speak in the language of the people, not the technologists. No one wants to hear an epic poem. What you're trying to do by telling a story is create an opening to drive the Mack truck of possibility through and maybe pick up a few hitchhikers along the way. You are building a bridge, not a shopping mall.
Lose the complicated back story. "The world doesn't want to hear about your labor pains, they want to see the baby," said Johnny Sain, an American right-handed pitcher for the Boston Braves, born in 1917, who was the runner up for the National League's Most Valuable Player Award in 1948 after leading the league in wins and compiling a lifetime ERA of 3.49 -- the last pitcher to face Babe Ruth). See what I mean? Your team may have put a lot of effort into the project. Months of work. That's great. That's nice. Show us the baby!
And please don't read from your PowerPoint slides. Not only is that boring, it's rude. Borderline, inhuman. There's no way in the world you can build rapport and "read the room" if you are staring at a screen. If you want your audience to look into the future, you've got to look into their eyes, not one boring slide after another.
Here's something to think about: If you really want to get the attention of your audience, "violate expectations." Like what Bill Gates did when, in the middle of a keynote presentation on malaria, he released a bunch of mosquitoes into the room. Talk about buzz! At the very least, infuse your presentation with some visual buzz -- analogies and metaphors that paint a picture for your listeners -- something they can see, not just hear about.
And when you want to crank things up, ask a compelling question or two. Then pause... and listen to the response. The more you listen, the more your audience will listen. Know that a good story is also a good performance. So, unhinge yourself from the dead zone -- the spot on the floor to which you have nailed both of your feet. Move around the room. Vary the lengths of your sentences and the volume of your voice. Gesture. Make facial expressions. Speak to one specific person at a time, not the generic "audience." But above all, trust yourself. If you don't trust yourself, no one else will.
Of course, you can only trust yourself, if you are prepared. So practice your ass off. Know your talking points. Write out a script. Understand the flow of what you want to say, the key milestones along the way and whatever anecdotes and facts you want to include. Then distill the whole thing down to few main points on note cards. Get the story in your bones. Then throw your note cards away. Or, if you absolutely need to hold onto your note cards, glance at them only occasionally. Otherwise, they will become a rectangular 3x5 PowerPoint show in your hand, yet another slow leak in the bucket of your storytelling brilliance.
Remember, there is no formula for telling a good story. Only guidelines. And there is no one right way to tell a story. There are thousands. Maybe millions. Or billions -- each one according to the style and personality of the teller. Your job is not to tell a story like Steve Jobs or Garrison Keillor or Winston Churchill. Your job is tell a story like YOU! And while it is perfectly fine (and often, useful) to read books on storytelling, study TED videos, and attend cool workshops, in the end, all you need to know is this...
You are sitting around the tribal fire with the elders. They want to hear from you. You've been on a big adventure for days, weeks, or even months. You've got important news to share with them, vital insights to reveal, memorable experiences to convey. The survival of the tribe depends it. You're not trying to get promoted. You're not worried about being cast out of the tribe. The only thing that matters is telling your story in a way that informs, inspires, and enlightens.
End of story.April 13, 2017
The World Storytelling and Innovation Tour
April 06, 2017
VIDEO: The Power of Storytelling in the Workplace to Spark Innovation
Click here for a 33-minute interview of Mitch Ditkoff talking about the power of storytelling to ignite innovation, insight, and wisdom in the workplace. This link will expire on April 9th. Enjoy!April 05, 2017
You Have Stories to Tell
Here is the retelling of an old tale I first heard from Prem Rawat. The story can be interpreted in a number of ways. For this particular moment, I am telling the story to draw your attention to the fact that within you, hidden from sight, there are many wonderful stories still to be told. I encourage you to tell them.
KEYNOTE: Storytelling at Work
THIS JUST IN! There is a very good chance that the dominant story being told in your organization these days is an old one -- a narrative that binds your enterprise to the past. Not a good idea.
As Steve Jobs once said, "The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the vision, value, and agenda for an entire generation to come."
Clearly, Jobs walked his talk. The stories he told ended up shaping the lives of millions of people around the world. Well, then, what stories are your people telling? And if the stories they're telling are not setting the vision, values, and agenda for an entire generation to come (or at least your business or industry), then something needs to shift. And I can catalyze that shift in 90 minutes or less.
Storytelling at Work is the simple, compelling way to open minds, build community, spark innovation, and accelerate the sharing of tacit knowledge -- the hard-to-communicate brilliance that is the DNA of your organization's success. My keynote includes copies of my award-winning book Storytelling at Work and at least a few "off the record" stories I will tell at the bar later that night.March 28, 2017
The Fine Wine of Storytelling
I have always been a big believer in serendipity -- that magical moment when something "out of the blue" shows up in our lives to amaze and delight us -- an occurrence beyond logic. Well... here is one of them. Last week, I facilitated a three-day conference for Nations Roof, a great organization highly committed to becoming the "Mercedes of Customer of Service" in their industry. A key element of the conference was storytelling -- not just my stories, but the stories of nine of their key movers and shakers -- memorable "moments of truth" on-the-job that revealed big insights, wisdom, and best practices worth sharing.
A few minutes ago, Larry Morgan, Nation's Roof highly committed (and very entertaining) Director of Sales, sent me the above photo. As Larry tells it, a couple of days after the conference, Larry and his wife went to a wine event and there, on the first Pinot table, stood this bottle of wine. Front and center! Ta da! Makes for a good story, no? And one more reminder of how storytelling is everywhere.
Thanks, Larry, for being alert to the clues and taking the time to share this delightful reminder with me.March 25, 2017
Storytelling is a Powerful Way to Transmit Tacit Knowledge March 24, 2017
Free Online Innovation and Creativity Summit 2017
Here's Nick Skillicorn introducing the upcoming, online Innovation and Creativity Summit 2017. I am happy to announce that I will be one of the 45 presenters. My topic? The power of storytelling to spark innovation. Cost? Zero. Zippo. Zilch. Click here to register. Summit begins on April 2.February 14, 2017
The Power of Personal Storytelling to Deliver Real Meaning
Have Pluma, Will Travel
I will be on a 10 week writer's retreat in San Miguel de Allende working on my next book, Storytelling for the Revolution. During that time I will have about 7 hours each week for free lance writing and editing projects. Contact me if you have the need: firstname.lastname@example.orgDecember 18, 2016
Tis the Season to Tell Your Stories
'Tis the season to tell your stories, folks! Your families are gathering. Your friends are coming to visit. The tribe is reconvening, whether it's around the fire, the dining room table, or the turkey in the kitchen. Wherever you find yourself, you will have lots of opportunities to share with others -- not just the gifts you bought at the mall, but the stories of your life -- memorable moments of truth that have moved you and are likely to move others.
THIS is what people will remember, not the device you give them, not the card, not the pumpkin pie. So tell your stories! And when others tell theirs, stop what you're doing and listen. Stories, well-told and well-listened, are one of the best ways to connect with others and REMEMBER what's truly important in this life.November 14, 2016
The Wisdom Circles of San Miguel
Every human being, no matter what path they walk, skip, hop, or jump is a fountainhead of wisdom -- a deep well of insights, brilliance, and lessons learned. This wisdom, however, is often buried beneath the flora and fauna of our daily lives and, because it is, the full value of what we know to be true often remains unexpressed.
The good news? Our deepest wisdom is always available to us. It's just hiding. And where it's hiding is in our stories -- those memorable moments of truth we've all had that have, contained within them, meaning and inspiration worth sharing.
One of the simplest ways to get back in touch with the deepest part of who we are is a Wisdom Circle, a lightly facilitated sharing of life stories that provides the safety, guidance, and inspiration for participants to reconnect with best of who they are.
Lead by Mitch Ditkoff, author of the award-winning book, Storytelling at Work, LifePath's first-ever Wisdom Circle -- to be offered on January 18th in San Miguel de Allende -- promises to be a fun, engaging, life-affirming experience for everyone. Two hours long. Enrollment limited to 15.November 05, 2016
The Path Is Made By Walking On It
Back in the late 1990s, in New York City, there lived a world-class architect who had just spent the last two years of his life designing and building what many people were claiming to be the best inner city housing project ever conceived.
Although the world stood up and took notice, the architect's friends were totally baffled why a man of his stature would have taken on such a seemingly mundane project. After all, this was a man who had designed some of the world's finest museums. This was a man who had designed more than 20 celebrity mansions and a yacht club on the French Riviera. Why he had chosen to design an inner city housing project was absolutely inconceivable to them.
But not to him.
As the son of immigrant parents, he had grown up in a two-room, cold water flat. His bedroom was actually the hallway. He had no TV. In college, he had to work two jobs to pay his tuition and in graduate school, three. Housing was always an issue for him -- a mix of couch surfing, rat infested tenements, and ridiculously small studio apartments.
So when he heard about the inner city housing project, his ears perked up. To him, this was an opportunity of a lifetime, a message from God, a chance to give back.
With great delight, he threw himself headlong into the project. It took every ounce of energy he had, what with the corrupt labor unions and the crazy New York politics, but he pressed on and, in 18 months, had created something so extraordinary that the press was calling it "The Taj Mahal of Inner City Housing".
When the big day came to officially dedicate his creation, everyone was there -- the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor, the Assistant to the Deputy Mayor, the Assistant to the Deputy Mayor's Assistant, his parents, wife, kids, therapist, and 500 housing project residents.
Wine was plentiful. So was the cheese and crackers. There was even a reggae band. The Mayor, as you might expect, was the first to speak. Then came the Deputy Mayor and then the Head of the Tenant's Association. Finally, it was the architect's turn. At the end of his talk, he raised a magnum of champagne high over his head and, in the grand tradition of sea captains christening sailing vessels, smashed it on the corner of Building #1.
People were cheering. Flashbulbs were popping. Champagne was guzzled. Everything was as upbeat as humanly possible. That is, until the architect noticed a very large woman, in the back of the crowd, pacing back and forth. She wasn't clapping. She wasn't cheering. She wasn't drinking champagne.
"HEY!" she screamed at the top of her lungs. "Something is wrong here -- very wrong. And with that, began hurriedly making her way forward.
The architect, tapped his mic, quieted the crowd, and invited her to join him on stage.
"Yes, my good woman?" he began. "What seems to be the problem?"
"Please don't get me wrong, sir", she began. "I love what you've created here. And I love that I now have a beautiful home I can afford. But..."
"Yes?" the architect replied."But what?"
"But.." she continued, with a dramatic sweep of her hand in the direction of the courtyard. "There are no sidewalks! Where are the sidewalks? Millions of dollars have been spent on this place and I don't see a single sidewalk."
"Ah..." the architect replied, "a most astute observation. Yes, you are absolutely right. There are no sidewalks. Not a single one. And do you know why?"
"No sir, I don't," she replied.
"There are no sidewalks, because I don't yet know where people walk. So, I've decided to wait a season, notice the paths people naturally make when walking from building to building -- and then pave over them."
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: The Path Is Made By Walking On It
In what ways does the architect's choice to wait a few months before adding sidewalks relate to a project of yours? What patterns or feedback do you need to pay more attention to? Where might you need to let things organically unfold rather than making an arbitrary decision that has no correlation to the real needs of the people you are serving? Where might improv be the path to improvement?
This story is one of 40 that will be included in my new book: MOMENTS OF TRUTH: Discovering the Hidden Wisdom of Your Own Stories If you would like to purchase an advance copy, and/or contribute to my GoFundMe campaign, click here. Thanks
My book on storytelling
Why Storytelling is So Powerful October 19, 2016
How to Create a Culture of Storytelling in the Workplace
Want to bring meaningful storytelling into the workplace -- to share insight, wisdom, and tacit knowledge? Want to spark a culture of innovation, caring and collaboration? I'm your man.October 07, 2016
It All Began With Balls
Here's a fun, 7-minute story about Idea Champions big breakthrough soon after we started the business -- inspiration for YOU to do something different, provide your clients an EXPERIENCE, and have some fun along the way. "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got."September 13, 2016
Do You Need a Storytelling Coach?
ED NOTE: This just in from Jeri Dube, a delightful new Oracle client of Idea Champions. Jeri engaged our phone coaching services to help her become a more skillful writer and storyteller -- two ways in which she is helping Oracle's sales force raise the bar for success.
"Working with Mitch was a privilege. As a professional writer, I rarely get the opportunity to have someone guide me on how to improve. Mitch had great insights into storytelling. More importantly, he could apply his knowledge and wisdom to where I needed improvement. Even if I knew something such as "ask open-ended questions" or "read your story out loud", it was useful to have a knowledgeable outsider reinforce the things that slip. And it's a gift to hear ideas that I hadn't considered or thought of before.
We covered a wide array of topics from how to make run-of-the-mill "win" stories for a sales audience more readable and impactful to how I could pull elements that lead to better storytelling out of a 1/2 hour interview with predominantly left-brained, short-on-time, interviewees.
Despite how much I learned, Mitch never made me feel like I wasn't proficient already. The time I spent with him was for sharpening my skills and creating a more enriching read for my audience. It made a difference in my process and in the results of my work."
Other client testimonials
Mitch's award-winning book on storytelling
What Kind of Story Will You Tell? July 30, 2016
Why Your Organization Needs to Create a Culture of Storytelling July 25, 2016
Storytelling is a Great Way to Transmit Tacit Knowledge June 10, 2016
How I Won a Contract from AT&T By Teaching One Man to Juggle
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a good story is worth a million. Here's a five-minute story about how the company I co-founded, Idea Champions, won a large contract from AT&T by teaching the Director of Training and Development how to juggle in five minutes.
April 21, 2016
Cavemen with Briefcases in Need of a Wise Person's Story
March 29, 2016
COMING SOON! The Woodstock Story Festival: April 30 and May 1
Q. What do Alice B. Toklas, Willie Nelson, and the Woodstock Story Festival have in common?
A. They were all born on April 30th.
Alice was born in 1877. Willie was born in 1933. And the Woodstock Storytelling Festival was born in 2016 -- or should I say will be born in 2016 -- just 33 days from now. It's long awaited birth (April 30th and May 1st) will take place at the Mountainview Studio and you are invited to attend.
No need to bring a gift -- just yourself and your appreciation for the power of story to transform lives.
Billed as a "celebration of story in The Arts, Education, Therapy, Business, Mythology and Medicine", the festival promises to be an extraordinary gathering -- an inspired weekend of storytelling, musical performances, community building, fun, and reflection on our planet's most ancient form of communication.
Presenters come from a wide range of disciplines and include Peter Blum, Goia Timpanelli, Elizabeth Cunningham, David Gonzalez, Mitch Ditkoff, Doug Grunther, Barbara Mainguy, Paul McMahon, Lewis Mehl-Madrona, Richard Schwab, and Shelley Stockwell-Nicholas.
Tickets? $150 for both days or $95 for either Saturday or Sunday. Due to the cozy size of the venue, advanced ticket purchase is encouraged.March 04, 2016
25 Quotes on the Power of Story
Looking for some inspiring quotes on why storytelling is such a powerful way to communicate your message, cut through the clutter, and awaken people's need for meaning? Here you go...
1. "The world is not made of atoms. It is made of stories." - Muriel Ruykeser
2. "A story is a way to say something that can't be said any other way." - Flannery O'Connor
3. "Telling someone about your experience breathes new life into it, moving it out of the inchoate swirl of unconsciousness into reality. It takes on form and allows us to examine it from all angles." - Mandy Aftel
4. "The most important question anyone can ask is: What myth am I living?" - Carl Jung
5. "Those who do not have the power over the story that dominates their lives, the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts." - Salman Rushdie
6. "Inside each of us is a natural born storyteller just waiting to be released." - Robin Moore
7. "A lost coin is found by means of a candle; the deepest truth is found by means of a simple story." - Anthony De Mello
8. "We need to look hard at the stories we create, and wrestle with them. Retell and retell them, and work with them like clay. It is in the retelling and returning that they give us their wisdom." - Marni Gillard
9. "Although setbacks of all kinds may discourage us, the grand, old process of storytelling puts us in touch with strengths we may have forgotten, with wisdom that has faded or disappeared, and with hopes that have fallen into darkness." - Nancy Mellon
10. "In my life, the stories I have heard from my family, my friends, my community, and from willing strangers all over the world have been the true source of my education." - Holly Near
11. "The role of the storyteller is to awaken the storyteller in others." - Jack Zipes
12. "Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward, and we want to sit in their radius. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand." - Karl Menninger
13. "Everybody likes to tell a story. Little children do it effortlessly. Great artists do it with talent and years of practice. Somewhere in between stand you and I." - Sylvia Ziskind
14. "Become aware of what is in you. Announce it, pronounce it, produce it, and give birth to it." - Meister Eckhart
15. "Every story you tell is your own story." - Joseph Campbell
16. "From my perspective as a depth psychologist, I see that those who have a connection with story are in better shape and have better prognosis than those to whom story must be introduced." - James Hillman
17. "The real difference between telling what happened and telling a story about what happened is that instead of being a victim of our past, we become master of it." - Donald Davis
18. "As a storyteller, as a human being, each one of us is one of a kind. And until we learn to celebrate our own unique style, culture, and gifts, we cannot appreciate the wealth of diversity around us." - Doug Lipman
19. "To believe your own thought, to believe what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men -- that is genius.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
20. "A coherent life experience is not simply given. The thing must be made, a story-like production." - Stephen Crites
21. "When one is a stranger to oneself then one is estranged from others, too. If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others." - Anne Morrow Lindbergh
22. "A life becomes meaningful when one sees himself as an actor within the context of story." - George Howard
23. "All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story or tell a story about them." - Isak Dinesen
24. "You could say that telling a story is the pretext for getting together in a personal way." - Nancy Rambusch
25. "The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself." - Henry MillerFebruary 17, 2016
What Do LeBron James, Michael Phelps, Mary Lou Retton & Mitch Ditkoff All Have in Common?
Give up? They are all Bronze Medal winners -- LeBron, Michael, and Mary Lou in various Olympics and Mitch in the just announced 2016 Axiom Business Book Awards competition in the Success/Motivation/Coaching category.
The Bronze Medal, in case you've been in a coma since 1904 (when it was first bestowed at the St. Louis Olympics) is awarded to the third place finisher. I must admit that when I first heard that I was a Bronze Medal winner, I was disappointed, hoping for the Gold or, at least, the Silver medal.
But then I read about some research done by social psychologists, in 1995, that showed that Bronze Medal winners were significantly happier than those who had won the Silver Medal -- comforting, indeed, as I highly value happiness, one of the key themes of my Bronze Medal winning book, STORYTELLING AT WORK: How Moments of Truth on the Job Reveal the Real Business of Life.
Further research revealed that one of my favorite comedians of all time, Jerry Seinfeld, shed light on this topic in 2008. Seinfeld's rant on this little understood phenomena, I am thrilled to say, is more proof that my winning of the Bronze Medal is something to be happy about.
Silver Medalists, you see, are usually depressed about not winning the Gold, but Bronze Medalists are happy they didn't come in fourth and be completely ignored -- not that I am looking to walk through life with an Axiom Book Award medal around my neck, BUT... I am glad that my recently published Storytelling at Work has gotten some recognition because this may translate into more sales which, of course, will lead to more income and the increased possibility of doing keynotes on the power of storytelling OR, if my clients choose a Gold or Silver Medal winner instead of me for their keynote, then my chances of delivering either of my two storytelling workshops: Creating the Innovation Mindset or Storytelling at Work: The Workshop will have increased.
In any case, I tip my hat to the good people of the Axiom Book Awards for their kind recognition of my book. And I also tip my hat to the Gold and Silver Medal winners in my category, as well as the author who tied for the Bronze Medal. I'm sure they are great people with their own increased optimism that their books will have increased visibility.
If you are interested in how this newly crowned Bronze Medal winner (that's me, Mitch Ditkoff, folks) and his company can spark innovation in your company, let me hear from you (email@example.com) or just log onto Amazon and buy my book to see what all the fuss is about.
Below are some links that will give you a better understanding of why Storytelling at Work won an Axiom Book Award, how storytelling, consciously done, can spark innovation, wisdom, and massive amounts of renewed employee engagement.
Three minute video: why storytelling matters
Voice America radio interview
Amazon reviews of the book
Harnessing the Power of Storytelling
Storytelling at Work podcast
Book of the Month selection:
Other articles on storytelling
What my clients say
My new storytelling blog
Story as a Leadership Tool
Here's a lovely animated intro to why STORYTELLING is such a powerful communication and business tool -- by the author of Circle of the 9 Muses.January 21, 2016
One Stop Shopping for Great Links on the Art & Science of Storytelling
If you are interested in the power of storytelling to engage, inspire, and spark the transfer of insight, knowledge, and wisdom you have come to the right place. Below are links to a variety of recent articles of mine and other story-mavens who inspire me on this most important topic.
Awesome quotes on storytelling
Storytelling is the trojan horse of wisdom
How to use storytelling to foster employee engagement
How to spark massive employee engagement in 90 minutes or less
The irresistible power of storytelling as a strategic business tool
Harnessing the power of storytelling
Jean Houston on the urgent need for transformative storytelling
Why your brain likes a good story
What stories will you tell?
How to tell a good story
Why create a culture of storytelling?
Radio interview: Storytelling as a way to change a culture
New storytelling blog
My recently published book on storytelling
The roots of fairy tales go waaaaay back
Why did I write my book on storytelling?
How to Use Storytelling to Foster Genuine Employee Engagement
Let's assume, for the moment, that you are a forward-thinking business leader charged with the responsibility of accomplishing extraordinary results. Although your strategy may not yet be completely clear to you, one thing most definitely is: You cannot do this alone. You know, in your bones, that if you want to achieve extraordinary results, you will need the full participation of a highly engaged, focused, and collaborative workforce.
The sobering reality? It's unlikely that your company's workforce has reached this lofty realm yet -- closer, in profile, probably, to the staggering 62% of American workers (according to the US Department of Labor) who are dissatisfied and disengaged.
In other words, corporate slackers.
Yes, they have potential, but it is not potential you need. You need kinetic -- the full throttle expression of the very best of what your people have to offer. You've tried carrots. You've tried sticks. You've given pep talks until you're blue in the face, but nothing seems to work. It's time for something else. But what?
Enter Idea Champions' ALL HANDS ON DECK workshop.
Based on 27 years of research and in-the-trenches experience with hundreds of savvy organizations, Mitch Ditkoff, internationally recognized innovation provocateur and author of the groundbreaking book, Storytelling at Work, has distilled down the essence of what he's learned about employee engagement and the transfer of tacit knowledge into a highly effective, one-day learning experience.
His premise is a simple one: Participants don't need to learn anything new. They don't need to be trained, transformed, or tricked into mastering new skills. Instead, they need to tune into -- and express -- what they already know -- their collective insight, wisdom, and know how that is hiding in a place few of them ever dare to explore -- their own stories.
Bottom line, storytelling is the most universal, time-tested, cost-effective way for people to share what is truly meaningful to them, what they know in their bones but rarely get a chance to communicate -- your organization's most valuable human resource, the DNA of its future business success: Purpose. Passion. Risk taking. Resilience. Adaptability. Creativity. Clarity. Collaboration. Commitment. And perseverance.
You want full engagement? You want to spark a mindset of innovation? Then find a way to unlock these qualities in your people.
The key? Storytelling, well done.
HOW DOES THE WORKSHOP WORK?
There are three reasons why an ALL HANDS ON DECK workshop works: 1) What we do before the session; 2) What we do during the session; 3) And what we do after.
At least 30 days before a workshop, we will interview you and a cross-section of participants to find out what the predominant story is in the organization -- the cultural narrative that will need to change if employee engagement and innovation is going to flourish. We also ask everyone to respond to our culture of innovation poll -- yet another way to prime the pump.
The workshop, itself, is a mix of five elements: culture building, action learning, storytelling tutorials, ideation, and opportunities for participants to share their own stories with each other.
Post-workshop, we train selected participants, online, to facilitate company-specific Wisdom Circles -- small group gatherings that build trust, increase collaboration, transfer tacit knowledge, spark innovation and continue building a culture of storytelling.
Intrigued? Call us at 845.679.1066 or email firstname.lastname@example.orgJanuary 12, 2016
How Storytelling Shapes Culture and Humanizes the Workplace
More goes on in the modern-day workplace than meets the eye. Indeed, it's often the stuff that meets the ear that makes all the difference. Click here to listen to Mitch Ditkoff's 60-minute VoiceAmerica interview on the power of personal storytelling in the workplace.December 22, 2015
How to Spark Massive Employee Engagement in 90 Minutes or Less
Since 1987, I have been working as an innovation provocateur for a wide variety of forward thinking organizations.
Bottom line, I help people wake up, get out of the box, and originate bold, new ideas to meet their ambitious business goals. Along the way, I've discovered quite a few methods to spark the innovation mindset -- even in the most conventional of thinkers.
But of all the methods I've discovered, much to my surprise, there is one that has proven itself to be the most powerful -- and that is storytelling. Yes, storytelling, the humane communication of memorable narratives that engage, energize, and inspire positive behavior change.
All my clients, no matter what their industry, want the same thing. They want their people to be "on top of their game" -- to be as creative, collaborative, and committed as possible.
Towards that end, they spend millions of dollars each year training their employees. And while these educational efforts do have some value, they often ignore a fundamental reality: that within each and every person they are trying so hard to "tool up" is an untapped, naturally occurring, business growth intelligence that does not need to be taught, only awakened.
Often referred to as tacit knowledge, this little understood resource is omnipresent in your organization, but hiding in the unexpressed stories of the people who actually do the work.
What if your organization could find a simple way to activate this hidden resource?
What if your people had a dependable way to share what they really know with each other? Not just data and information, but insight and wisdom. Not just their best practices, but the best of their best practices. What really matters -- the hard to measure mojo of what really makes a difference on the job: Focus. Trust. Courage. Creativity. Purpose. Resilience. Adaptability. Intrinsic motivation. Perseverance. Collaboration. Integrity. Passion. And commitment.
The secret sauce. The missing piece. What gets people out of bed in the morning. If that's not in place, all the hot talk about innovation is nothing more than wasted breath.
This is precisely what my keynote is all about -- a simple way, via the transformative power of storytelling, to increase employee engagement, spark a culture of innovation, and quicken the communication of your company's collective brilliance.December 21, 2015
A Sneak Peak at a Book Likely to Spark a Renaissance of Storytelling
Good news! The LOOK INSIDE feature has just been enabled on my Storytelling at Work Amazon page which means you can get a sneak preview of the book and decide if you want to buy it.
The Storytelling at Work blog
Why I Wrote the Book
Why Did I Write My New Book?
In the past few weeks, quite a few people have asked me for the "elevator speech" about my book. I get it. These days, if you can't deliver your message in 60 seconds or less you're screwed. So here goes. Consider this my elevator speech (though the building you are riding in is a hundred stories high).
I wrote Storytelling at Work because I wanted to do everything in my power to unleash what I have come to realize is one of the biggest untapped resources on planet Earth -- and that is the collective insight and wisdom of human beings everywhere. No matter what our education, culture, or profession, each of us has a storehouse of brilliance inside of us -- a deep knowing (hiding in our stories) that, when expressed, has the power to uplift, inspire, and transform.
I'm not talking about the rote communication of book learning. Nor am I talking about the transmission of data, facts, and information. I'm talking about the communication of the very best of what human beings have to share with each other.
Look at it this way: If you want to transport water to a thirsty person, you need a container -- a cup, a bottle, or canteen. If you want to transport wisdom, you also need a container. And the best, most available, container we have is story.
This wisdom conveyance phenomenon has been going on since the beginning of time. It's how our species is wired. It started with cave paintings. It continued around the tribal fire. And it eventually found its way into the wisdom teachings of every civilization on earth.
In modern day business, this storytelling phenomenon has morphed into various, more commercialized forms, all considered to be ways of furthering an organization's success -- branding, advertising campaigns, leadership pep talks, and the sharing of "best practices."
Fine. No problem. But what I'm inviting people to share is not just new ways to sell products, convince others to work harder, or "continuously improve". I'm inviting people to dig deeper and share their "tacit knowledge" with each other -- the harder to express stuff about what they've really learned about themselves, life, and what it means to be a human being -- on or off the job. The juicy stuff. About adaptability. About resilience. About risk taking, courage, creativity, trust, failure, perseverance, passion, intuition, humor, commitment and whatever else they've experienced that is truly meaningful to them.
Without the expression of this wisdom, work can never be more than a job and life can never be more than thanking God for Friday.December 14, 2015
The Irresistible Power of Storytelling as a Strategic Business Tool
A two-year analysis of 108 Super Bowl commercials has revealed that it was the structure of the content -- not the content itself -- that was the biggest predictor of its success. And the structure that was most linked to Superbowl ad success? Stories. This Harvard Business Review article elaborates on why storytelling is such a powerful communication tool.
Storytelling at Work
Our new blog on storytelling
Awesome quotes on storytelling
NEW POLL: What Is the Real Value of Storytelling in Business?
These days, there is a lot of talk about the value of storytelling in business. Good question! That's what we're trying to figure out from savvy people like YOU! Simply click this link to respond. It will take you less than four minutes (and we'll be happy to share the results with you).December 09, 2015
A Selection of My Storytelling Articles in The Huffington Post
If you are interested in storytelling -- especially why storytelling is such a powerful tool for organizations to increase employee engagement and foster a dynamic culture of innovation, you have come to the right place.
Below is a selection of Huffington Post articles by Mitch Ditkoff (that's me, folks) for your edification and enjoyment -- quick-hitting posts that will help you get your arms around this most important topic and further understand why storytelling, in business (and everywhere else), is such a big deal.December 07, 2015
Awesome Storytelling Quotes
December 06, 2015
Looking for a Book About the Power of Storytelling to Open Minds, Spark Innovation, and Inspire Action?