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long story short

best practices character selection self-advocacy

Don’t make a long story too short

Board trainings are the best. One day, a buttoned up guy with a fabulous head of silver hair—we’ll call him Peter—moved himself to tears. He sat in a windowless conference room surrounded by a dozen fellow board members he had just met. Peter told us a story about a teenage hooligan, Jimmy, falling through the cracks. A very special nun, Sister Bea, went to bat for Jimmy and got him a gig as an orderly. As Peter spoke about Jimmy’s struggles and Sister Bea’s compassion he choked…

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Own the story of how you screwed up that one time and you’ll come out on top

Lately some clients have been talking to me about pressure to be perfect at work. They don’t want to show any flaws and maybe you don’t either. That’s too bad because a stellar, unsung story type you can use to advocate for yourself (beyond the origin story) is the lessons learned story. “Mistakes are always forgivable if one has the courage to admit them.” – Bruce Lee Your lesson learned can be your gold star if you play it right. First,…

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best practices

Why are you missing in your own story?

How about this year we all commit to owning our awesomeness in our stories? I just read a mediocre story on a respected nonprofit’s site. A story that had so much potential but then skipped the best part. Since I don’t name names, here is a generic sum up: Line 1: In the present. Happy parents hold heir new baby boy. Lines 2 and 3: Flashback: Just a year ago, things looked dire. Short list of unfortunate events explaining why situation is bad. Line 4:  Advocacy Organization “provides…

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best practices brand stories

Want to gamble? Hide the objective in your story.

Before you watch the video (which you may have seen already and should watch again anyway) and before you read the NPR article about it (which has spoilers so watch the video first) please reflect on this. Can your organization show a story where you don’t tell the objective until the end?  I don’t typically advise this approach because it is so high risk. You’d have to make all the other components of your set up so good to keep the audience interested. You’d…

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best practices

Books that made me better at storytelling and communications

The other day someone asked me about my favorite books as a professional. Here is a short list of my favorites of the moment. I would love to know yours! On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King Writing is hard. Write for one person. Adverbs are lame. Edit your butt off. Part memoir, part manifesto. If you need a reminder that even the best of the best struggle, give this book a whirl. He really is the…

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brand stories data stories

Everything Isn’t a Story and That’s OK

Have you noticed that the word “story” has become a buzzword? Every few days, I hear someone use the word “story” when he or she is actually describing something else. Stories have their own requirements, benefits, and effects, which are not better or worse than other mechanisms. But to share something other than a story, you need different components. You also get different results. Story is just one way to structure content First, let’s look at the classic—the story. A…

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Diversity and Tech

Thank you for crafting your stories at the storytelling session with me during the Diversity and Tech Pre-Day at Microsoft Ignite 2018! If you’re here, it’s because you want to take your storytelling to the next level—so let me help. Here are five posts to help you keep advocating for yourself: Want a raise? Tell the right kind of story. Don’t make a long story too short When to fake it with your stories Oops, my protagonist is a token…

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best practices persuasion self-advocacy

Use a cliffhanger at your next fundraiser

We watch and then we klatch. If you give your listener a cliffhanger, she can’t stop right there—er, she can’t let go. She HAS to hear the end of the story. This sequence (i.e., build up the story, hit pause right before the finale, watch the listener clamor for it) can rile up your fans/donors to give more because the tension is driving them nuts. Let them see the montage. The most successful fundraisers I have attended had (in addition to great organization, timing, and proper staffing)…

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best practices brand stories self-advocacy

Walk Your Talk (Or Fly It)

We’ve already talked about naming relationships in stories, creating obstacles, and telling our own stories. Now, in the fourth entry of our series about storytelling, let’s talk about how to deliver on what makes your organization special. Surely your organization has many positive characteristics going for it. The key is to pick the characteristics you most want to spotlight and show them in play. This approach is all about quality over quantity. You’re gonna have to prove it Almost every…

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