I've known and loved Peter Guber for many years, but that isn't the entire story of why I'm so excited about his new book, Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story. In fact, not only do I share his passionate belief in the power of narrative, I've based my entire career on it. And it's also been the guiding principle behind the founding of the Huffington Post and what we try to do with the site every day. Facts and statistics are great, but humans are creatures of narrative. Putting real flesh and blood on the reality of what is happening in America, illustrating the truth by showing how it's manifesting in the lives and stories of real people -- there is nothing more powerful and engaging.
And Peter Guber understands this power better than anybody. Recently, I sat down for an interview with him to talk about his book and the story behind his passion for narrative:
AH: What is the concept of your new book, Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story?
PG: The concept of Tell to Win is about the power, resonance and virility of telling purposeful stories in the room, face-to-face to your listener or listeners to propel your goal and ultimately have your audience take ownership of it and advocate it as their own. The focus is on telling stories for your goal, rather than story-telling.
Why is this such a game changer?
Telling purposeful stories to win is a game-changing business proposition that anyone can do and start seeing results immediately.
The magic happens when you take facts and figures, features and benefits, decks and PowerPoints -- relatively soulless information -- and embed them in the telling of a purposeful story. Your "tell" renders an experience to your audience, making the information inside the story memorable, resonant and actionable. This is the heart and soul of the emotional transportation business which is using the power of your story to bring to life the call to action that you want from your audience.
What is it about telling your story in the room, face-to-face, that is so much more effective than written text or digital story-telling when it comes to persuasion?
Nothing replaces being in the same room, face-to-face, breathing the same air and reading and feeling each other's micro-expressions. At one of the narrative conclaves I hosted at my home, Michael Wesch, the Kansas State University cultural anthropologist, described that there are over 4,000 of these micro-expressions including pauses, eye contact, body language and gestures that we make in the room. They're subtle, but critical to creating empathy. He explained that we subconsciously pick up on them when we're in the room and both the mind and the heart recognize these signals. Current technology isn't yet fully successful in conveying or duplicating these signals.
As you told our graduate MBA students, Arianna, if there's a critical decision to be made, something upon which total success depends, your first choice is to be in the room, face-to-face with anyone you absolutely must persuade.
How has telling purposeful stories been central to your career?
I've obviously used story-telling as a basis for my entertainment ventures (film, TV, sports and new media), but its greatest power has been telling purposeful stories to propel my business and entrepreneurial goals -- whether it's buying and selling sports teams, new media companies, real estate ventures, hiring the best executives or securing the best clients and customers. In fact, telling purposeful stories to win has been the "the secret sauce" behind my career success. The seminal elements of what makes a story great -- challenge, struggle, resolution -- are the same whether we're talking about story content for a movie such as Rain Man, or telling a purposeful story to forge new business relationships or conclude a fruitful transaction, such as acquiring an NBA franchise.
What are your top five tips that are critical to telling a purposeful story for success?
- Capture your audience's attention first, fast, and foremost and keep it.
- Motivate your listeners by being authentic and let that authenticity shine through.
- Build your "Tell" around what's in it for them.
- Change passive listeners into active participants.
- Use state of the HEART technology online and offline to turn listeners into viral advocates and customers into raving fans.