Once again, the week’s webosphere has been buzzing with a similar topic from very unrelated sources, the topic is: The power of storytelling in selling (you, your business, your widget, your story)

The first is the longest but it is also multi-purpose. It all started when a colleague forwarded a link to me on Facebook.

It was prefaced with, ‘thought you’d enjoy this’.  Now I know his intention was how this theory could be used to pitch to executives.  Perhaps it comes from my advertising roots or flair for presentation, but fact is I love to pitch and I think it’s because I treat it as an opportunity to use my skills as storyteller.

So, while I did enjoy this 1st video, what I was more impressed with was how this man took such a simple idea and crafted a marketing machine akin to CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL or MEN ARE FROM MARS or 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE.

Here’s the video:

This is brilliant because he has made a cottage industry of merchandise, speaking engagements, viral video (and of course a book), just based on the material of his introductory pages.  The book starts with the why and by the end of the 1st 10 pages your question is simply one of why wouldn’t I read on?

So, the 1st 10 pages is his schtick. Apple, the Wright Brothers and Dr. King stories are not only a compelling hook, they actually embody his entire theory, in explaining START WITH WHY, he is practicing it.

Here’s the breakdown:

START WITH WHY 1st 10 pages

A non-fiction book almost always has an introduction before the actual chapters analyze the idea.  In this case, there is a lead-in, before the table of contents and then an introductory section.

On page one, the lead-in, the reader is pulled into ‘the why’ —

‘Probably the world’s simplest idea’

‘What do you believe?’

Universal, primal and easy to grasp – the reader is practically made to feel like an idiot if they don’t continue at least to the next page even if it is the table of contents.

On the 1st introductory page, (after the toc) The author delivers the promise of the premise… something that usually occurs in the 2nd act of traditional story structure, here he tells ‘the why’ of his thinking.

The introductory pages go on to give terrific well-known examples of the premise (most of which are a part of his speaking video/tour) Here, the simple observation of ‘he gave the I have a dream speech, not the I have a plan speech,’ is creative storytelling at it’s simplest and most effective.

As Brian Selznick says about the history of Hugo Cabret’s homage to the first silent film of a train pulling into the station, (it was reported to startle the audience so much, many fainted, thinking they would be hit by the train) Selznick says, ‘it may not be a true story but it’s certainly a good one.’

All the inspiring leaders and companies, regardless of size or industry, think, act and communicate exactly alike. And it’s the complete opposite of everyone else.

This wrap up of the introductory pages is akin to the climax of how your pitch or entire story should be: This is how the introduction pages end, ironically a perfect bookend to page one.  This is crucial to not only storytelling but also story selling.  The site linked above will take you to a download of the 1st pages as will this one.

The next link I was forwarded, was for a unique business funding site that requests business owners submit a story instead of the traditional business plan, financial pro-formas and balance sheets.

What a relieving concept in today’s economic scrutiny. WHY ASK WHY.

What was even more intriguing to me was the link within that link, (ever wonder why it was dubbed the web?) pointing to another non-fiction book that teaches businesses to use the power of storytelling by identifying their 7 deadly sins.  The title is quite ridiculous but the 7 points are for the most part what every writer worth their ink should know.   It’s a quick read (a hub page) and worth the refresher:


Using stories for business is nothing new, if you want to learn more I suggest checking out my friends at the International Storytelling Center, they are always partnering with communities and organizations to use story to bring about health, and genuine good will to help make the world a better place.  And they are non-profit, far from typical marketing machines.

One final link is to a screenwriter’s site, she’s also over on the blog roll – recently Kelly Anelons made the trek to L.A. to try and break in, she had a lot of encouraging meetings, but her last post personifies how a story can help sell you and your work.

Enjoy: L.A. Meeting #3: Making a Perfect Pitch

I hope these tidbits will help form your pitches and the marketing of yourselves.  They make me anxious to get ‘the story studio’s’ page and project complete – ugh I need longer days!

Stay tooned…

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