Anyone can tell a great story, and other lies
Think about the top 5 movies you ever saw. For me, the list is this:
The princess bride, The big blue, The godfather, The usual suspects and The Abyss.
I'm sure you know the process of making a movie, in general. Someone writes a script. The director tells the actors what do (sort of, I hear some of them are just doing their own thing again and again), the camera films all the shots, and then the editor makes a movie from it.
My question is this- assuming you had the technical knowledge, and I were to give you the raw material that was filmed on set, would you be able to tell the story in a way that will make it enter others top 5 list? say the original doesn't exist, and it's up to you to make a movie from it, can you?
If you're being honest, most likely the answer is "hell no!". That's because great storytellers are artists, and storytelling is not something anyone can do- especially without the talent or hard work that comes with it.
I have 2 teachers I remember from college. One was for a course we all thought was going to be amazing, and the other for some mandatory crap we all thought we would hate. Not even 15 minutes into the first lesson with each, we discovered that in reality, it was the other way around- the amazing course turned out to be boring as a cucumber in a sunny day, and the boring one turned out to be one of the best experiences I ever had.
When telling this to people, I keep getting the same answer- "yeah, something like that happened to me too once". How is that possible? we all know the answer- it's not the story, it's the storyteller that matters.
In my first post, we talked about why it's important to have a story. Now I want to talk about why it's even more important to have the right storyteller telling it.The wrong, or untrained storyteller can slay any story. If you don't believe me, ask your dad to tell you the funniest joke he knows. On the other hand, the right (or trained) storyteller can turn an average story into a compelling success.
Your story is your biggest asset. Yes, more than your product. Make sure you own it, as it will serve as the basis to your brand. Apple had many different products throughout the years as their main focus, for example, but their brand story remained the same. Want to get there too? start with understanding that Steve Jobs didn't wake up one day and said "Oh, we have created a giant brand, we need to start acting like one". No, he was on it from day 1, so when his brand was recognized, I can only imagine it didn't really came as a shock to him or changed the way he treated his story.
How will you know if you're a good storyteller? if stories were music, it would have been easy- you could hear the wrong chord being played from a mile away. With words it's harder, as I've met so many who thought they are amazing storytellers, but in reality their audience was just being polite. How to solve that? Practice with strangers. If your story is good, they will want to listen, and if not- they would not give a fuck, and you'd know it. Remember- the audience is never wrong. They are never too dumb, they are never against you. I'll say it again- if your story is good, they will want to listen to it.
And if they don't want to listen? try to find out where did you lose them. Keep changing your story until you find something that you can mold based on who you are talking to.
The secret is to create a grain, something that will remain pretty much the same, and change the outline based on your audience. The grain is something your partners and employees should all know and feel comfortable with- you never know which of them will be asked to tell it and to who.I once got a company I worked for an investment from a huge VC (for around 15M USD, if that matters), just by telling our story to a guest at a conference. This guest turned out to be the CEO of this VC, and the rest was history.
Could you imagine the outcome if this guy were to turn to the guy next to me? how would it evolve, if this partner of mine told a shitty version of the story? (Not saying I had shitty partners there. Just making a point).
Make sure you have a a story. Define its grain. and then make sure everyone who is relevant knows how to tell it. If you try to skip this part- it's your party, and I can promise you'll cry, whether you'd want to or not.