A Taste Of Chicken Soup For The Animal Soul Books Power of Stories – How Great Companies Win Customers & Ignite Performance – In Less Than 5 Minutes

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Power of Stories – How Great Companies Win Customers & Ignite Performance – In Less Than 5 Minutes

Tell me and I’ll forget.

Tell me and I’ll remember.

Include me and I will understand.


In a world where technology is advancing at the speed of light and the volume of information doubles every few years, we as human beings are just as quickly sorting out the information clutter that chokes our lives. We are hungry for a new kind of communication that connects us authentically to ourselves and to each other. The evidence is all around us.

In 1993 two then-unknown authors sold millions of copies of their self-published book, making it one of the best-selling books of the 20th century. Most of us have (or had) a copy of that Jack Cantfield and Mark Victor Hansen book Chicken soup for the soul. Since then, more than 30 different Chicken Soup For The Soul themes have been released.

Why have they been so popular? Reason #1: the power of stories. Stories, since the dawn of civilization, have been an invariable form of communication that touches our hearts, rekindles our souls, and connects us to one another. Stories fill the void that no amount of information will be able to fill.

Why stories are the new strategic business advantage of the 21st century

1. Stories create trust.

People don’t want more information. They are already overloaded with the information they have. What they want is to trust you, your words and your intentions. Stories give your customers and employees a look inside you, your values ​​and beliefs, and an authentic connection that no amount of data can provide.

2. Stories appeal to our heart, emotions and imagination.

Stories communicate directly with our reptilian brain, the part of the brain that controls sensory experiences and our emotional response to them. In my last article, “NeuroMarketing – 7 Secrets to Unlock Your Customer’s Brain for Instant Sales,” I showed how your customers make all their buying decisions from the reptilian brain. Because stories stimulate our feelings, they can also spark immediate action, creativity, collaboration, and rapport.

3. Stories are memorable.

According to storytelling guru Doug Stevenson, memory is formed when a person’s attention is engaged for a sustained period of time. By stimulating our senses, stories engage us for sustained periods of time and the message sticks; while data usually leaves our memories in less than 2 seconds.

4. Stories bypass conscious resistance and speak directly to our unconscious minds.

At a conscious level, we all have biases that create resistance to certain solutions, perspectives, and messages. If you go to someone and say “here’s your solution” it’s likely to be ineffective. Expressing your point of view through a story, however, will bypass conscious resistance and be “heard” on a deeper level. This unique advantage of storytelling alone makes it a powerful tool in marketing, leadership, culture building and personal growth.

5. Stories are transformative.

Stories not only have the ability to change our thoughts. Stories have the ability to inspire us, awaken our potential and shape the way we live our lives. Stories can catalyze deep, lasting change—whether for a single person or an entire organization.

The Magic of Storytelling: How Great Companies Are Making Customers, Inspiring Employees, and Envying Their Competitors

While there are many ways to use stories as a strategic advantage in business, below are three forms of storytelling with massive benefits.

Brand stories

The purpose of a brand is to stand out in the minds of your customers and connect them emotionally to your product/service. In today’s overcrowded market, including me, it’s the brands whose customers tell the best stories that win.

Super-brands and their super-stories are all around us. Apple, Pepsi, Southwest Airlines and, yes, even Harry Potter just to name a few. One of my favorite brand stories comes from my own personal experience.

In 1985, I worked as a sales clerk at Nordstrom during the holidays for extra money while starting my own business. The most memorable part of the experience was the story shared by the HR manager on the first day of employee orientation. After reviewing their return policy, she told us about a customer who brought in a refrigerator and the store happily issued a full refund with no questions asked. And Nordstrom doesn’t even sell refrigerators!

It’s Nordstrom’s world-class customer service and going the extra mile that creates word-of-mouth customer evangelism — the envy of any retail business. If you don’t have stories like these to tell, your brand could be in trouble.

Alain Thys, in an article titled “10 Truths of Brand Storytelling” (http://www.mpdailyfix.com), talks about the importance of identifying your USP – Unique story proposition – as your anchor for all other marketing activities. The best USPs not only create an emotional connection, but also say something about the benefits.

What stories about your business make you stand out? What unique stories can turn your customers into evangelical fans?

Stories of Vision

As any business owner or CEO knows, a clearly defined vision is critical to the success of your future company. However, for many businesses, vision statements are nothing more than superficial, one-dimensional sound bites and meaningless wishful thinking.

How do you transform your vision statement into a compelling message that moves your business forward?

The key is a vision story. In my article “The Disney Difference,” I talk about Disney’s Envisioning process and the use of powerful visual storytelling—known as story-boarding—to describe how the company would go from point A (present) to point B (vision of the future).

In creating your vision story, you must picture your desired future in your mind’s eye as if you have already achieved it. It must be described in sensory terms. That is, what do you see, feel, taste, smell, and hear in your “new imagined reality?”

One way to develop your vision story is to imagine that it’s a year from now and Forbes magazine is writing a story about your business. What do you want them to say? Who, why, where, when and how made that 1-year vision a reality?

Stories for building values ​​and culture

Every story is a story of values ​​at one level. Values ​​stories—through fables, symbolism and metaphors, or real-life situations—can be one of the most powerful tools for building high-performance teams and cultures. Below are two examples of how.

* “Values ​​in Action” stories.

If you dig deep into your business history, you can find many examples of values ​​in action stories. These are real-life situations where you did the right thing under difficult circumstances. They are stories that demonstrate the core principles your business stands for.

A great example of a “values ​​in action” story is the story of Southwest Airlines’ legacy that not only put them on the map, but also made them one of the largest and most profitable airlines in America. Every employee for the past 34 years knows that story — the 4 years of courtroom battles that airlines overcame to win the right to fly in the first place. That experience set the stage for a unique, mission-driven culture and their Warrior Spirit that keeps them flying high to this day.

Where in your business history have you followed your principles of integrity or fought for a cause, even if it meant sacrifice or not for personal gain? If excellence, loyalty and generosity are the core values ​​of your business, what real stories speak to these values? How can you communicate those stories to your customers and employees on a regular basis?

* Metaphorical stories

Metaphors – usually visual in nature – are like mental equations, substituting one thing for another. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his “I Have a Dream” speech, equated the Declaration of Independence with a promise as an example of a metaphor.

The sources for metaphorical stories are endless such as movies, songs, science, nature, art, even fairy tales. A great example of a metaphorical story for team building purposes is Geese flight formation (http://fairy-tales-fables-business.blogspot.com/).

While it is beyond the scope of this article to go into depth, here is a simple way to get started. If your business were an animal, a movie, a color or a planet, what would you choose in each category to best represent your company? Why? How does this metaphor reflect your current or desired values?

The biggest challenge today for any business is to reduce the information clutter that distracts them from their vision, distracts their focus and prevents their message from being heard by the market.

Storytelling is a powerful tool to meet this challenge and provides the missing link in most failed business communications. As Steve Denning, author, The Secret Language of Leadership: How Leaders Inspire Action Through Storytelling says so eloquently “Stories fill our lives like water fills the lives of fish”.

What is your story? How can you use this powerful tool in your business to rise above the noise, gain trust, inspire action and communicate your authentic message? As Annette Simmons reminds us in her book, Whoever tells the best story wins.

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