We are all storytellers.
I don’t mean that in any kind of abstract way.
I mean it literally.
Founders. CEOs. Marketers. Artists. Board Members. Inventors. Sales Teams. Execs. Copywriters. Teachers. Influencers. Wives. Husbands. Lovers. Parents (especially parents).
We spend our lives telling stories.
Stories to teach or persuade or entertain.
Stories to inspire or lead.
It's how we think. It's how we talk. It's how we understand and influence the world.
It's how we're wired, you and I.
You may not have thought it explicitly before, but you know it’s true. You can feel it deep down. We're wired for story like we're wired for breath. Evolution designed us that way.
In. Out. In. Out
Which is the other big thing we need to understand.
We aren't just telling stories, we're drinking them in.
Stories create chemical changes in our brain - cortisol, dopamine, oxytocin and more.
You know that moment – when you experience a story as if you were there.
The joy. The pain. The need to know the end.
Facts and figures leave us cold, but stories leave us changed.
Why is that?
Evolutionary psychologists believe there's a simple, powerful reason.
(Actually the only reason for anything.)
Because stories kept our ancestors alive.
Think about it this way.
Before language, the only way to learn was by experience.
And experience can get you killed.
Eat the wrong berry. Pursue the wrong prey. And it's over.
But with language – with stories – we could learn from the experience of others.
Consider the survival value of that.
It's immense. Thousands of generations. Learning to understand and navigate the world through story.
Becasue it wasn't just wild animals we needed to worry about.
It was each other.
Humans are complex and social.
From an early age, we begin to understand a chilling truth.
That the people around us have minds of their own!
And worse still ... our survival depends on those minds.
On understanding them. On influencing them.
(In and out. Remember? That's the twin sides of story. When we hear them we learn, when we speak them we influence.)
Which brings us to the huge truth hiding in plain site.
People who tell better stories get better lives.
I remember the day I first wrote that sentence down.
It stopped me in my tracks.
Did it do the same to you?
Maybe we should read it again.
(Better jobs. Better careers. Better boyfriends. Better girlfriends. I could go on and on, but my guess is that you can feels it's true.)
The brands, businesses and leaders we love ... tell better stories.
But wait (again)... how many people spend time really studying story?
I'd been flirting with story for years by the time I wrote that sentence.
I'd written three 5-star thrillers on Amazon, but more importantly I'd run a digital agency for two decades.
Starting in 1997, I'd built a business with clients around the world.
No ads. No cold calls. No sales team.
But, I didn't really get it until I started writing the thrillers. I was hitting the books and honing my craft when it hit me.
I'd been telling stories all my life. To my team. To my clients. To myself.
We'd built the business on stories.
Twenty-one years after I founded the agency, I sold it to start something new.
Stories That Mean Business.
Maybe this is the part where you start to disagree?
That's okay. The fact that you've read this far makes you special – I mean that seriously – but this isn’t for everyone.
Perhaps the voice inside your head is pointing out (with some justification) that we don't need a story to warn us about poisonous berries. Language will do that job just fine.
But will it?
How many presentations have you sat through? How many mind-numbing strategy sessions?
Did the facts stick? Did the strategies spread?
Science says not.
Well-told stories light up our brain, but facts fall away.
Well-told stories grab our attention, but facts leave us cold.
Well-told stories 'transport' us to another place.
They are easy to remember and easy to spread.
A character. A Conflict. A Consequence.
These are the things that engage us time and time again.
Because a well-told story has a pattern. A rhythm. A code.
So anyway... something else happened the day I wrote that sentence.
I realised what I wanted to do with my life.
(Bit late, but there you are.)
If people who tell better stories get better lives... then I wanted to help as many people as possible.
That meant three things: Study. Work. Teach.
So that's what I do.
My goal is to help a million people tell better stories.
It's a good life, but we should talk about you.
When I said you were 'special' a few lines ago, I meant it.
The percentage of people who read a web page this long is very small.
Especially in the world of the quick-fix and the shortcut.
Especially in the world of doing 3 things at once.
It's easier to click away and search for our next hit of hype.
Reading requires actual work. Thinking is harder still.
And yet you're still here, which is great. Maybe I can introduce you to some others who made it this far.
Because they are changing the world (and their lives) one story at a time.
If you have time to learn about telling better stories, check out my StoryHacker content.
If you need help with your product, service or personal brand, try this.
Or just get in touch and say 'hello'.
I always reply.
P.S. If you are interested in story check out the one-pager. Lots of good stuff in that.
Got a question? Great. Let's Talk.