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Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives—the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change—truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts. ~ Salman Rushdie

A quote from novelist Salman Rushdie

There are two ways to persuade people. The first is by using conventional rhetoric, which is what most executives are trained in. It's an intellectual process, and in the business world it usually consists of a PowerPoint presentation... The other way to persuade people—and ultimately a much more powerful way—is by uniting an idea with an emotion. The best way to do that is by telling a compelling story. In a story, you not only weave a lot of information into the telling but you also arouse your listener's emotions and energy. ~ Robert McKee

A quote from an article by Robert McKee in the Harvard Business Review.

Marketing is dead. Business leaders need to become creative leaders. There are three secrets to emotional thinking – mystery, sensitivity and intimacy. It is a lot about storytelling. ~ Kevin Roberts (CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi)

Kevin Roberts, the Chief Executive of one of the world’s largest marketing groups, has declared that marketing is dead. According to Kevin, businesses who want to be successful now need to learn much greater creativity, empathy and storytelling.

As he commented at a recent meeting of business leaders:

Business leaders need to become creative leaders…The difference between rational thinking and emotional thinking is that rational thinking leads to conclusions and meetings and more meetings. Emotional thinking leads to action.

There are three secrets to emotional thinking – mystery, sensitivity and intimacy. It is a lot about storytelling.

I’d add that successful businesses also need to be authentic in their conversations with people and very clear about their purpose.

Wherever I am, whatever I am doing with a group of people, I am thinking about three levels of story: the individual story, the organizational story, and the species story. These three stories are inseparable. ~ Toke Moller

~ Some wise words from Toke Moller.

Toke has assisted many organisations to change and develop by clarifying and amplifying their core story. He works “through story because story is the human part of the organization.”

As Toke makes clear (in Storycatcher), it all comes back to purpose—the why of the story that guides every organisation to exist:

Once the purpose story has been lost, day-to-day stories begin to dismantle rather than support organizational functioning. If these day-to-day stories are not connected to the purpose story, they have no organizing principle. They become stories without context, and telling them or listening to them sets people adrift. The purpose without the now [of action] is history; the now without the purpose is chaos.

A well-functioning organisation is clear about its story.
A great story captures a clear and compelling purpose.

To serve a larger purpose, we also need to consider how each organisation’s story fits with the largest story of our times: the future of the human species.

"In the end, science, like all human understanding, is just narrative: a story that we tell ourselves. What we call 'truth' in science is just the story that we happen to find the most convincing." ~ Colin Tudge

A quote from Colin Tudge (biologist and writer)

The greatest stories… stimulate you intellectually, but they also stimulate you emotionally. They kind of get you up and make you want to move around… They make you want to feel life more fully. They make you want to connect your experiences with your world. ~ Cliff Curtis

Here’s a slice of inspiration from actor Cliff Curtis on the power of stories:

(Click on Cliff’s face to start the video)


As Cliff puts it: ”great stories make you want to value this life a little more than you did before you heard the story.”

Stories create contexts, grow connections and can cultivate an ethic of caring.

Great stories bring people together and stir us into action.