I shot a quick video with a really simple overview of how to talk to your customers. Let me know what you think in the comments below.
It’s a bit cliche to say that communication is important, but just like being able to sell, being able to tell a great story is an important skill for any entrepreneur. A friend recently recommended Storytelling in Organizations as a general storytelling overview.
The book starts off by demonstrating the importance of being able to tell a good story. Up to 28% of the United States GNP can be attributed to persuasion (think marketing, PR, consulting, financial services, etc.) and storytelling is a key form of persuasion.
“When we dream alone, it’s just a dream. But when we dream together, it is the beginning of a new reality.” – Brazilian proverb
The book lagged a bit longer than I would have liked discussing storytelling as means of communication. They discuss how people are better able to retain knowledge when gained through a story rather than through a list of bullet-points. They discuss how stories are best told orally in-person because of how much information is communicated non-verbally. Basically: a lot of this is common sense.
I did enjoy their discussion of how to use stories for better defining and communicating a company’s (or product’s) value through storyboarding. This is something that Airbnb has done exceptionally well.
To get to the actual nitty-gritty, these are the book’s main storytelling recommendations. Great stories…:
- start with what the audience cares about. (This isn’t always going to be the chronological beginning)
- should have punch. How do you give it punch? Make sure it has each of these six ingredients: wit, succinctness, emotional power, it’s funny, it’s clever, it’s moving.
- are told by someone who is clear with why they’re telling this story. What response are you trying to elicit?
- are told when the audience has everything they need to understand the story. (i.e. Don’t start using acronyms unless you’re 100% confident that the audience knows what they mean.)
- tell the story “from the perspective of a single protagonist.” Ideally first-person.
- should include some strangeness. Something that’s plausible – but strange.
- should have happened as recently as possible.
- should “embody the change idea as fully as possible.”
- should be expressed with feeling and passion.
- should answer the question, “So What?”
- should be practiced. Practice alone. Practice with friends. Practice with colleagues. Practice. Practice. Practice.
- manage the audience’s inner voice. Everyone has two voices. One that you use to communicate externally and one that you use to communicate to yourself internally (I’ve talked about this second voice before).
“My objective is to create a space for the little voice in the head to tell a new story, that is, to generate a new narrative based on the listener’s context and drawing on the listener’s intelligence.” – Storytelling in Organizations
All in all, the book had some good parts and some bad parts. If you refer back to these 12 points, you can save yourself the couple of hours reading the book.
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates
As motivated people, we’re used to telling ourselves, “I should do this” or “I should do that,” but this “shoulding” can be counter-productive too.
I’ve been reading a book called Feeling Good by David Burns where he discusses how your thoughts define your reality. This shouldn’t come as a mind-blowing insight to anyone, but what I like about the book is the practical approach he takes to helping people come over unhealthy thought processes.
I admit that I will sometimes “should” myself into an anxious state with thoughts like:
“I should be spending more time writing.”
“I should be spending more time talking to my employees and giving them feedback.”
“I should be attending more events.”
“I should be exercising more.”
“I should be eating better.”
…and on and on it goes.
In 2014 I want to take things a bit easier on Rob. I did conduct an introspective review of 2013 and have set some goals for 2014, but instead of “shoulding” myself every day, I’m going to try and focus a bit more on well-being. (Well – as much well-being as running a startup allows anyway.)
I challenge you to try and go a week, no – a DAY, replacing every “should” in your mind with “could.”
You’ll thank me later.
Chris Sacca recently did an interview on This Week in Startups that is absolutely incredible. I’ve watched some videos of Chris Sacca before (check out his Foundation interview with Kevin Rose if you haven’t seen it) and I’m always impressed by the way he thinks through problems.
He talks about his new fund, Lowercase Stampede, and its focus on the intersection between content and technology. I couldn’t agree more that this is going to be a really interesting space in the next few years. If what the New York Times did with Snowfall and what Fast Company has been doing with their Labs projects are any indication, we should be in for a treat.
Here’s part one of the video:
If anyone knows where to find the Lowercase Stampe thesis, it would be great to give it a read. Let me know what you think in the comments.
Makers Academy turns one year old this month. 2013 has been an awesome year and 2014 is going to be even better.
I wrote a recap of the year over at the Makers Academy Blog.
There are a lot of time management and GTD systems out there.
I’ve tried most of them with varying degrees of success and failure.
One that has stuck pretty well is the Eisenhower matrix that I currently use to manage my business – Makers Academy.
The idea behind the system is that instead of using one giant To-Do list to keep track of what needs to get done, you prioritize them based on priority and urgency.
Running a startup means that no matter how on top of things one is, stuff will always fall off the table. There simply isn’t enough time to do everything, so prioritization becomes key.
The problem with prioritization is that it can quickly become blurred with urgency. No matter how important we know it is to have that big picture strategy meeting, it takes discipline to do it with the constant hustle and noise from partners, customers, meetings, bills and cash flow distractions that are more urgent.
The Eisenhower matrix breaks up tasks into four categories:
- Important & Urgent
- Important & Not Urgent
- Not Important & Urgent
- Not Important & Not Urgent
Tasks should be placed in one of those four buckets and completed in the order the categories are shown.
By doing this, we combat the natural tendency to let unimportant and urgent tasks overrrule important and not urgent tasks.
I don’t think there is a system out there that works for everybody, but this system has worked fairly well for me.