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How to tell your story & make an impact

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in Leaders & Managers

Behind every great business endeavor is a great story. Knowing how to tell that story is an essential skill for leaders, says Hollywood producer, executive and entrepreneur Peter Guber.

“If you really want to create fans of your business who will become apostles and advocates for you,” he says, “you have to use a narrative.”

Follow these tips:

1. Tell your story for an explicit purpose.

“Without that story,” says Guber, “you have only transactional elements and no relationship.

“Howard Schultz couldn’t have built Starbucks on a transactional basis; he can’t get enough new customers every day. He needs them to come back. This relational element depends on purposeful storytelling.”

2. Keep your audience in mind.

Ask: Who are they? What do they want? Is this a winning proposition for them? What’s their background?

3. Put your story into the right emotional context.

When the former CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment needed to pull together his disparate employees, Guber relied on a movie: “Lawrence of Arabia.”

In the movie, T.E. Lawrence pulls all the Arab tribal leaders together by convincing them that they can successfully launch a sneak attack on the Ottoman port city of Aqaba by crossing the desert on camels and surprising the Turks.

Guber told his Sony team, “We are also a disparate group of people, but we’ve got to become one tribe. So our cry will be: Aqaba!”

Today, he says, Sony Pictures is still there, while all the other motion picture companies are gone.

— Adapted from “The Art of the Business Narrative,” Art Kleiner, strategy+business.

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