A few years ago, I sat in a lecture on storytelling. I was surrounded by Hollywood producers, actors, directors, screenwriters, playwrights and television writers. We were attending Robert McKee’s story seminar. Hour after hour Bob stood on stage and explained how story worked. He revealed the art and science of effective storytelling. He explained the various tools and strategies that are used by the best in the business to bring an audience on a magical journey that impacts them and fills them with meaning.
I was hooked on story from that moment. Before that I had a decent grasp of the fundamentals of how storytelling worked and I even taught it in a course on metaphor. Getting such a deep understanding on story however made me never look at stories again in the same way. I began a journey to master the art of story and I began to write short films and plays. A short play I wrote was produced and played in a festival around Ireland. My short film scripts were turned into short films and three of them won awards at festivals in Ireland and America. I was getting some traction with my creative writing. At the same time however, I was exploring how story could be applied to the business world.
These days, every marketing conference you can think of mentions ‘Story’. Everyone seems to be suggesting that stories are the way forward but most of them tend to call almost everything a story. When Bob began teaching a one-day course entitled ‘STORYNOMICS’, I had to attend. The workshop was fascinating as he argued convincingly that story was crucial to the success of your business in the future and yet many companies still do not even know what a story is. We live in a world nowadays where people have ‘Facebook and Instagram Stories’ but 99% of them are not stories. Calling them stories is a problem and it is a problem that matters.
Why does it matter? Simply put, when you call everything a story then you fail to understand why something works and something else does not. Well told stories enable us to influence others emotionally and not just logically. They empower us to take logical reasons why we are correct or why to do business with us and storify them so others are motivated to act. They are the very foundation of marketing success in the modern age. When we confuse them with any kind of narrative content, we fail to use the power of story to our advantage.
STORYNOMICS, the new book by Robert McKee and Skyword CEO, Tom Gerace, drives home this point very effectively. As well as explaining the eight essential steps of story, Bob and Tom offer you a set of skills that are immediately applicable to use story to influence others, motivate your teams and create a compelling brand. Most importantly, however, they explain what a story is and why it works. Distinctions such as these enable us to ensure that every contact we have with others is of optimal impact. The book is full of examples and case studies of great stories well told in business in action. While Bob brings the expertise as perhaps the best expert on storytelling on the planet today as evidenced by having more than 80 Oscar winners as his past students, Tom and his company Skyword implement the principles and steps of story for Skyword every single day in the business world.
A story involves turning points and requires you to emotionally impact your listener by changing the charge of their emotion from positive to negative and negative to positive. In other words, it is about stimulating negative and positive emotions rather than simply focusing on the positive. Stories impact businesses because the positive qualities of a company are often correlated with the negative challenges it helps you to overcome. Making promises and boasting no longer work. You must bring your customers on a journey where they experience the dark side of the problems they face. It is only then that you can truly show them how powerful your product, service or brand is.
Recently, I got to talk to both Bob and Tom about STORYNOMICS and got some wonderful nuggets of wisdom which I think will be of value to you. Check them out below.
Apologies if I seem evangelical about this book but if you have read my blogs over the last few years or know me from training, you will know that I rarely do this. STORYNOMICS is something I am genuinely excited about. I have already bought a couple of copies myself and want to help get the word out about this incredible book to as many people as possible. You can pre-order (or order depending on when you read this) your copy on amazon and it is due to launch March 20th, 2018. Enjoy!!!