In a Great Business Story, 1+1 = 3
In this video, legendary filmmaker Ken Burns shares his thoughts on storytelling.
Of note as it relates to business storytelling are two concepts in particular:
Sometimes 1+1 = 3
For a recent resume client whose job was to measure and interpret big data, we put this concept to use by revealing that it’s not entirely about the data. Her tag line was, “What gets measured gets managed. But what about the things you can’t measure?”
What are the unexpected messages in your work? Capitalize on them, and you’ll have a story worth telling, one that hasn’t been heard before.
Great Stories Manipulate, and That’s Okay
When you tell a compelling story, you’re evoking emotions. In the case of business communications, you’re ultimately evoking decisions. We’ve been taught that manipulation is disingenuous and wrong. But what could be more genuine than communicating passionately about something you believe in.
For a small mortgage brokerage, we put together a hiring story that made potential loan agents feel a sense of trust and stability about the client. In a volatile industry, this company had grown every year and compensated their people well above industry average–even during the recession. They’d done this thanks to the ability of the founder to find opportunity in any market, so we recounted the tale of his success through repeatedly figuring out who needed mortgages and reaching them with innovative marketing strategies.
It seems like more of an ethical violation not to share that story than to shy away from it for fear of being manipulative. The client and their future employees deserved to have a story of trust and opportunity underpinning the beginning of their relationship.
While the business applications of these ideas are fascinating, you’ll find that Ken Burns has a very personal force driving his own storytelling. Enjoy!