A Storytelling Lesson From The NBA Playoffs

I love basketball almost as much as I love storytelling. Luckily for me, today they will come together. We are in the middle of the NBA playoffs and without question the single best player so far in the playoffs has been Kevin Durant. He is averaging over 30 points per game. And it’s not only this year. Durant has been the best player in the playoffs the last three years. In fact, in his entire playoff career he has averaged over 29 points a game which has only been outdone by Michael Jordan & Jerry West. The interesting thing to me is that for all of his greatness, he is still disliked and discounted by a large percentage of NBA fans. And I think the reason is a lesson in storytelling. I teach audiences that a great story follows a model of struggle to solution. You hook people with the
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The Case For Storytelling

When I was twenty-one years old, my brother Scott and I started a business together. I quickly discovered that I didn’t have a lot of credibility when it came to influencing others. We had marginal success but not the kind we were after. So I started to study communication and influence. I read books, attended seminars, listened to audio programs, and practiced what I learned. Through my study I found some keys to how to tell my story and communicate my message that caused people to listen and to eventually follow me. We ended up building that business to over $20 million dollars in annual revenue while still in our twenties. I since have had a chance to share my influence strategies, as a speaker and author, with hundreds of thousands of people around the world. What I’ve discovered is that when it comes to communicating with others, most speakers,
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Stories Make Everything Better

On Monday, I sat in an Irrigation Company Board meeting in Idaho for shareholders who own water rights. We bought a cabin/ranch property last year and with it bought water rights on the canal that runs through our property. The shareholders in the room were primarily farmers and ranch owners – this is a gruff bunch. The President of the Board started the meeting with a funny little story that poked fun at farmers and made everyone laugh and my thought automatically was – Stories make everything better Storytelling a skill that can enhance virtually every situation.   Last week Kyle Bringhurst reviewed my book The Power of Storytelling http://www.kylebringhurst.com/reviews/book-review/the-power-of-storytelling/   In his review he shared his 8 favorite quotes from my book & I wanted to share these quotes because they give practical ideas on how to share stories more effectively.   Top 8 Quotes “You don’t retell a
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Two Keys To Success

I was listening to a podcast where CJ McCollum (shooting guard for the Portland Trailblazers) was talking to Brian Koppelman (filmmaker who wrote and produced Rounders, Oceans 13 & his current show, Billions) Brian made a great point that two of the keys to success are: Being present Being comfortable in your own skin Being present is harder & harder in our busy, technology driven world & for that reason it is even more important. Being present with the people you are with is crucial to connection but being present in your work is also crucial to your effectiveness. Learning to eliminate distractions, turn down the noise & focus are skills of the highly successful. Being comfortable in your own skin is harder to teach. It eludes many people and their can be many reasons for that. I don’t know all the answers but a couple things that help are:
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How Do You Listen?

The focus of an influencer is always on the audience. If you are a speaker – it’s about the people listening to you. If you are in sales – it’s about your customer or prospect. If you are a leader – it’s about the people you are leading. If you are a teacher – it’s about your students. If you are a parent – it’s about your children Almost everyone has this backwards. They think being influential means they need to become polished or powerful. Influence, though, is all about the audience. Be it an audience of one or one thousand. When it’s about them, they get it, and we grow in their eyes. By thinking out instead of in, by concentrating on others instead of on us, a tremendous transformation takes place. We go from inner directed to outer directed, from taker to giver, from self-centered to others-focused, from
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Leaders Are Salespeople

  Last week I had a call with a CEO for a company I’m speaking for in a few weeks. He started the call by saying, “We are interested in your message around storytelling but our leaders don’t sell anything, I just believe storytelling is a crucial business skill.” I agree that storytelling is a key skill for leaders to develop. He told me more about the leaders that would be in the room when I speak. He explained their roles, challenges, fears and successes. He said he wanted to create common language so they would tell a unified story and he wanted to have me give them insights on how to tell stories effectively. I asked if there was a key story they need to tell or a scenario where they need to use storytelling. He said, “These leaders have to present often to the board to get buy
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Leaders Need To Tell More Stories

  Yesterday I had a pre-call for an upcoming event. Next month, in Las Vegas, I will be speaking to 150 CEO’s about The Power of Storytelling. As we went through what I would be sharing, the event organizer asked, “What led you to writing and speaking about storytelling? Why are you fascinated with stories?” There are probably several answers to that question, but here is the one I gave and I think it is vital for every leader to understand. Storytelling is one of the most underrated tools in business and effective storytelling just might be the most impactful leadership method there is. Here is why. A study by Uri Hasses of Princeton revealed surprising brain activity in audiences as they listened to a speaker tell a story. “The results showed that not only did all of the listeners show similar brain activity during the story, the speaker and
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A Common Mistake That Destroys Leadership

There are many mistakes that leaders make that undermine their leadership and influence. Most of them are based in self-interest, ego and apathy, but there is one common mistake that destroys leadership on a regular basis. Too many leaders are guilty of hypocritical expectations – meaning they expect their people to behave one way and exempt themselves from the same expectations. We just a large remodel of our house, so I have had the good fortune of dealing with a lot of different contractors. The truth is some were amazing and some were horrible. One of the horrible ones was the group who built the basketball court in the backyard; it seemed like a fairly easy project. They said it would take a few days. I gave them a 50% deposit and they got to work. After a couple of days the court was about 80% done and they disappeared.
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5 Powerfully Simple Presentation Tips

1. Get Rid of Pleasantries – There is no need to talk about the weather, how grateful you are to be there, to apologize, or reintroduce yourself. You only have a few seconds to grab their attention so start with a question or jump into your content. 2. Make it Conversational – Act like you are speaking to one person. Make it conversational. Ask questions. If it is a small group you might create dialogue, with a large audience ask questions and give a pause for people to think about the question. Keep them engaged in the conversation. 3. Tell Stories – People love stories. Stories inspire, stories motivate—stories evoke emotion in people that causes them to respond, to take action, to adopt your ideas, and buy your products. Robert McKee put it well when he said, “Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.”
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There Is No Substitute For Hard Work

When I was 8 years old, my brother (age 10) and I started a paper route. We had to get up everyday of the year, with no exceptions, at 5 am and deliver around 100 newspapers. Rain, snow, and exhaustion didn’t matter – the papers had to be delivered. So we did it everyday for four years. Having this responsibility at a young age taught me how to work hard, be consistent and follow through even when I didn’t feel like it. My Mom recently sent me this letter she found from one of our customers and it reminded me how much learning how to work hard with a paper route has served me throughout my life. Learning how to work is an invaluable lesson to learn.  I’ve been able to take the lessons I learned from that paper route and apply them to everything I’ve endeavored to do. It
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