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brand stories character selection

How to humanize your brand stories

human eating a lego breakfast

Remember the old adage, “The fastest way to a man’s heart is through his ribcage,” or whatever? Well, the fastest way to your audience’s heart is to tell stories with emotion a.k.a., to humanize your brand stories.   Humanize brand stories with humans, not entities What gives? Why do so many professionals avoid talking about humans in their brand stories? Here are the three most ineffective protagonists that professionals cast instead of humans in their stories. Introducinnnnnnng the usual suspects… The…

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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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Tell first person stories to advocate for yourself

“Tell your own story and you will be interesting.” -Louise Bourgeois

A big “Yes, Orlando!” to the wonderful people from the Diversity and Tech community at Microsoft Ignite. A big “Ugh, Orlandon’t” to the humidity. So let’s focus on the positive. During my session about how to tell persuasive stories to self-advocate, about a dozen attendees stood up and shared personal stories. While their content varied, many shared a behavior in their delivery; they told personal stories in the…

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brand stories self-advocacy

Origin stories can be about regular people, too

How to write your brand's origin story

Are you as devastated and confused as I am by the news that there might be no more Superman movies starring Henry Cavill? The world is cruel sometimes. As you curl up on the couch to console yourself (just me?) please find a moment to reflect on the larger topic: the power of an origin story. Origin stories are about point A rather than point B. When it comes to talking about our achievements, especially at work, we tend to…

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best practices

The first draft of your story will be crap

The first draft of your story is probably crappy and that is a-ok. My best friend and college roommate, Ernest Hemingway, used to say, “The first draft of anything is shit.” Right on.  Just put it on paper. You’ll feel better. The other thing Ernie used to say is, “Write drunk. Edit sober.” While you don’t need to drink and draft, there’s something to letting it all out. Maybe you can talk aloud and record yourself. Or type your thoughts in a…

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best practices persuasion self-advocacy

Want a raise? Tell the right kind of story.

Consider the homing pigeon, Cher Ami, who took a few bullets, losing her foot and eye during World War I, but still delivered her message, saving a group of American infantrymen in danger. Cher Ami was a hero, especially among the 77th Infantry Division. She was awarded the Croix de Guerre and later went on to open a tap dancing school for aviary fanciers who also had a single wooden leg. I made up the part about the tap dancing, but the rest…

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character selection

Be smart about who you make the star of your story

During a rapid-fire story session at a conference in Wenatchee, a board member shared a story about healing. In her first telling of the story, she talked about four characters:  the wife with the injured hand who was used to being independent the husband who was nervous about becoming a caregiver while his wife recovered the hospital nurse who was robotic and focused only on quick discharge the community nurse who worked magic, especially instilling confidence in the husband The…

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best practices persuasion

Want to be strategic? Be a little touchy-feely

The other day I facilitated a board retreat with one of my favorite advocacy groups. During introductions, I asked each person to share something that would make their eyes roll during the retreat (so I’d  know what to avoid and others would know what to expect). Several members said, “My eyes roll any time we do something touchy-feely.” I gulped, knowing later in the day we’d have a storytelling exercise about their personal journeys to join the board, which was…

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character selection persuasion

Keep your beneficiaries close in your story

Watch, then we klatch. Spoilers ahead…so this is a commercial for sweaters and now YOU WANT ONE FOR THE HOLIDAYS, RIIIIIGHTTTT? This is an ad. Consumers are usually the beneficiaries in ads. Not so in this case and how refreshing is that? Here, the goat herders are the beneficiaries and the sweater-buyers are secondary. Think about this arrangement for your stories. Closer is better. Instead of talking about your ultimate beneficiary, who may be a few relationships away from you,…

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