Four storytellers about storytelling

I have been blogging about storytelling in business for the past two years and written more than 80 posts about the topic. If you still wonder what storytelling is all about, and why it’s so important in today’s business environment, then listen (or read) what these respected entrepreneurs, businessmen and storytellers are saying about it.

richard_branson

Richard Branson (@richardbranson), founder of the Virgin Group, is certainly one of today’s most influential thought leaders. With more than 4 million followers, he is the most-followed public figure on LinkedIn. His blog posts, opinion pieces and interviews are putting him in the spotlight as a great communicator, and an inspiring storyteller.

“Whatever you are trying to sell, storytelling is the most powerful thing you can do. Most of the best business ideas come from personal experiences.”  (from Jack Preston’s blog post about Virgin Media Pioneers’ Pitch to Rich competition)

“If you want to stand out from the crowd, give people a reason not to forget you.” (from Richard Branson’s blog post on virgin.com)

“What I soon learned was that practice made all the difference. The more prepared I was, the less I stammered and stumbled. Good speakers aren’t just talented or lucky ̶ they work hard.” (from an interview with Richard Branson in Entrepreneur magazine)

gary_vaynerchuk

With “only” 218,326 Linked followers, Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) is a little less known –which doen’t mean less talented– storyteller. A Belarus-born author, investor, and founder of VaynerMedia – and a famous wine connoisseur.

“No matter what you do, no matter what your profession is, our job is always and forever to tell our story. And that is never going to change. The way you make real money, the way you make real impact, the way things get changed is by great storytelling. It’s always been that way, and it always will be that way. Because we’re f***ing human beings, and that’s what we like.” (from a 99U presentation by Gary Vee)

“My ability to tell a better story than my competitors became the reason we had a successful company.” (from an Entrepreneur video in which Vaynerchuk tells about his wine business)

guy_kawasaki

Also Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki), author, entrepreneur and former chief evangelist at Apple, stresses the importance of storytelling in his talks and writing. I am a big fan of Guy’s book “Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions”, about influencing people and delivering a powerful brand experience.

“You need to tell a story. Most people, particularly ad technology, are horrible at telling stories. You need to tell a story. Why did you start eBay? Why did you start Google? Why did you start Apple?” (Guy Kawasaki in a presentation at Stanford University)

“The art of branding requires creating something contagious that infects people with enthusiasm, making it easy for them to try it, asking them for help in spreading the word, and building the community around it.” (from “The Art of the Start” by Guy Kawasaki)

“Enchantment transforms situations and relationships. It converts hostility into civility. It changes skeptics and cynics into believers… When you enchant people, your goal is not to make money from them or to get them to do what you want, but to fill them with great delight.” (from an interview with Guy Kawasaki in Forbes magazine)

steve_jobs

And finally, there’s the obligatory Steve Jobs, founder and CEO of Apple Computer (and Guy Kawasaki’s ex-boss,) who I still consider the archetype of a born storyteller, storymaker and storydoer.

“We may have the best product, the highest quality, the most useful software etc.; if we present them in a slipshod manner, they will be perceived as slipshod; if we present them in a creative, professional manner, we will impute the desired qualities.” (from Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs)

“People would confront a problem by creating a presentation. I wanted them to engage, to hash things out at the table, rather than show a bunch of slides. People who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint.” (from Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs)

So this was my last blog post before summer holidays.Thank you for your readership, for following my blog, and for your comments and reactions. Let me close in beauty with a memorable video clip of the MacWorld 2008 keynote by the late Steve Jobs, in which he introduces a MacBook so thin that it even fitted inside a brown envelope…

About storytellers, storydoers and storymakers

I am currently attending the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. One of these global mega-events, where thought leaders, opinion makers and industry gurus (and also few humble marketers like me) come to tell their stories.

You can hear these corporate storytellers in the auditoria, watch them talk on one of the big screens in the halls and meet them on the exhibition floor.

mwc

Lately I came across a few articles about the need to complement storytelling by storydoing. The idea is simple and straight forward: great companies don’t just tell stories, but they also take action on them.

  • Storytellers are companies or individuals, that convey the story of their brand, business or product by telling that story. As I stated in earlier posts, storytelling is a powerful tool to engage audiences and create worth-of-mouth buzz.
  • Storydoers consciously work to convey their story through direct action. Storydoing companies put the narrative in action and use stories to drive product development and enhance their customers’ experience.

Storydoing should not be considered as a black-or-white alternative to storytelling. In fact, both practices go hand in hand. Storytelling is mainly driven by marketers, while every company employee can contribute to the doing. Recent research by storydoing.com suggests that storydoing companies are better performers, as they tend to spend less money on advertising and paid media, but rather invest in customer engagement and execution.

As a marketer in a fast-moving technology sector, I would tend to add a 3rd category to the ones above:

  • Storymakers are the real market innovators, entrepreneurs and changemakers. They build a whole new story for their product or their company, or even a completely new brand.

Only great personalities are able to combine the three roles above. The Mark Zuckerbergs, Elon Musks and Steve Jobs’s of this world. They not only have great ideas, but they also have the capabilities to execute them and engage their audience – and as such create or change an industry.

So, if you can be a storymaker, a storyteller and a storydoer; And if you can talk your walk, walk your talk, and walk your walk, then you’ll be a man my son… (free interpretation of Rudyard Kipling’s “If”)

Some other articles about storytelling vs. storydoing: