Saturday, March 9, 2013

Lead with a Story - a brief review of Paul Smith’s book

I just finished reading his excellent book, Lead with a Story. It’s an impressive guide to storytelling for business that contains over a hundred stories for 21 situations, spread over 30 chapters. These stories are hundreds rather than thousands of words long. At the end of each chapter there is both a summary and notes. 

Chapter 7 discusses the structure of a story, as Context, Action, and Result. The example is how Titleist, who had been marketing to golf pros, introduced another ball design aimed at recreational golfers. It wouldn’t travel as far as their pro designs, but also wouldn’t veer off as far from a straight path. Paul presents three versions of that story, each clearer than the previous one. 

Ten of the stories are referred to in the Leadership Story Series linked to on Paul’s blog. For example, #7 (from Chapter 27, Sales is everyone’s job) tells why The best sales coach in your company probably works in the purchasing department.

Chapter 16 is titled Build Courage. It opens with a story that’s also in the leadership story series, as #5 Failing all the way to success. That man lost his mother when he was only nine. At 22 the company he worked for went bankrupt, and he lost his job. Then he started a business that failed when he was 24, and spent several years paying off the debt. At 26 he was engaged to be married, but his fiance died before the wedding. He plunged into a deep recession and had a nervous breakdown. Twice he ran for the U.S. Senate, but he lost both times. At age 51, after a lifetime of failure, disappointment, and loss he was elected President. His name was Abraham Lincoln.

The last story in Chapter 16 is the title story from Richard Feynman’s book What Do You Care What Other People Think? I was amazed to see how Paul Smith’s introduction for it  got parts of what happened completely wrong. But, that’s another story I’ll tell in my next blog post. Stay tuned!

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