Getting good advice about storytelling from Peter Guber

Getting good advice about storytelling from Peter Guber

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Thb_guber_hs2 Hey, nerds need help getting more effective helping the causes they believe in, and Peter gives really good advice from a lot of real-life experience. (Yes, I'm one of those nerds, gotta expand my comfort zone by diving in, and I got a lot of help doing this.)

(from a short bio provided by Peter)

Peter Guber, Chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment Group, has been a force in the entertainment industry more than 30 years.  He has leveraged his creativity and business acumen into record-breaking profits and critical acclaim, establishing him as an enormously successful executive and entrepreneur in the entertainment and communications industries.  Films he personally produced or executive produced, including Rain Man, Batman, The Color Purple, Midnight Express, Gorillas In The Mist, The Witches of Eastwick, Missing and Flashdance, have resonated with audiences all over the world, earning over three billion dollars worldwide and garnering more than 50 Academy Award nominations.

1) What’s the deal with “purposeful stories”? How can it help a guy get stuff done?

Whether you’re a manager, housewife, entrepreneur, lawyer or non-profit, you often must get someone or a group of people to do something – buy your product, adapt to your organization’s culture, invest in your vision, donate to your cause, meet a curfew – and embedding the call to action by telling purposeful stories, preferably in the room, face-to-face, is the most effective means of achieving that goal. Only stories create the emotional experiences that make the critical information embedded within the story memorable, resonant and ultimately actionable.

Unfortunately, by the time most people enter business, they have dismissed telling of purposeful stories as too soft or suspect and have replaced this innate gift with facts, figures and forgettable data. Regardless of your profession, you must think of yourself as being in the emotional transportation business, and remember if you can’t tell it, you can’t sell it!

2) What if you're not a natural story teller, or feel that you don’t have it in you? Everyone is a natural teller of stories. The ability to tell purposeful stories for success isn’t a gift from me to you. It isn’t a special talent bestowed upon a select few. It’s hard wired in all of us. The telling of stories was critical to the survival of our species. In order to compete and triumph against far more ferocious predators we had to develop rules, beliefs, values and strategies. This meant the development of the ability to communicate, remember, and act upon the information embedded in stories told around the campfire. This social cohesion allowed us to move from the bottom of the food chain to the top – from prey to predator.

3) When did you realize that this could be a big deal for you? I suffered many painful and highly public failures in my career in addition to having enormous successes across a diversity of industries from leading entertainment companies, sports enterprises, new media ventures, entrepreneurial endeavors to serving as a professor at UCLA. I could never figure out what the difference-maker was. Were my successes serendipity? Success and failure were millimeters apart. What moved the needle?

It wasn’t until Act III of my life when I had an epiphany that telling to win was the secret sauce. I realized that when I was successful, I was connecting to my listeners emotionally, aiming at their hearts, not their wallets or their heads, but their emotional beings, by telling purposeful stories. Embedded in these stories was the information on which I wanted them to act. When I failed, I was firing soulless PowerPoint bullets – in other words I was firing blanks!

Through my new book, Tell To Win, as well as through media interviews, speeches, articles and Graduate courses I teach at UCLA, my mission has become to empower everyone and anyone to benefit from the persuasive power of telling purposeful stories and using this as their game changer in the Act I’s and Act II’s of their lives.

4) Okay, what’s your technique?

There is a MAGIC to telling purposeful stories. If you start telling to win today, you will immediately see a change in how people respond to your goals and desires. If you think of its spelling, M.A.G.I.C, think of MAGIC as, Motivate, Audience, Goal, Interactively and Content. The best stories “motivate their audiences to their goal interactively with great content.”

You need all five letters to spell the word MAGIC. These five navigational stakes can work independently, and any one can be a game-changer, but used together, they are greater than the sum of their parts.

Motivation starts with you-to-you. Find your intention before you try to get your audience’s attention. The core is to let your authenticity shine through.

Audience – who are they? You must be interested in your audience rather than merely trying to be interesting yourself. What’s in it for them to heed the call to action of the story and all stories have a call to action.

Goal – that’s the call to action you want them to take – date me, buy my product, join my parade, vote for me. Don’t hide it. Pride it.

Interactivity – is the key. Telling purposeful stories, you are in a dialog not a monolog. In these conversations, the more you engage the listeners’ senses the more the will become invested in taking ownership of the story. You must surrender proprietorship so that, in fact, your audience owns your story and pays it forward to others as theirs.

Content – is the Trojan horse for your critical information and data that is embedded in the story. You can find it in your first person experience, an observed event, history, analogy or movie. Narrative is always lurking it’s the way we make sense of life.

5) Why Lynda? (I know her mostly via philanthropy networking)

Lynda Resnick is a brand powerhouse who along with her husband owns and runs Roll International, a $2 billion corporation with product lines that include Teleflora, Fifi Water and POM Wonderful. Resnick, who is an important part of my book, Tell To Win, was our guest at the UCLA graduate school of business where I co-taught a class to MBA students along with the Dean of the Anderson School. During class, Lynda advocated that every product had a story and that the executives and sales folks in her organization had to be able to tell this story in their own words. She shares specific stories about how she told to win to drive the successes of several of these mega-brands in Tell To Win.

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