Archive for April, 2011

Storytelling: A Powerful Tool for Board Development

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Like any work team, directors of any organization–nonprofits as well as corporations–function much better when the individuals get to know one another on a personal level. Storytelling is a very effective tool for developing personal relationships.

Research has shown conclusively that when people discover shared values,they’re drawn closer together, develop deeper respect and appreciation for one another, support one another better, and work more effectively toward common goals.

When I work with boards to introduce the members to the practice of deliberate storytelling, and then coach individuals on shaping and telling their own stories, they’re amazed by the transformative power of storytelling.

If you serve on a board and would like to learn how storytelling can help you bring your mission into sharper focus, give me a call! I’d love to help you expand your circle of supporters who will help you achieve your goals.

Video A Good Connection for Boards?

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

A recent “Wall Street Journal” reports that a growing number of corporate boards are using videoconferencing to save the costs, both in time and money, of requiring members to travel long distances to meetings. The article says that the time savings, in particular, make it feasible for companies to attract board members from around the world.

The down side, as expected, is that videoconferences greatly reduce the sense of personal connection and eliminate the opportunities for one-on-one interaction. McAfee board member Denis J. O’Leary commented on his experience of the videoconference-based discussions leading to an acceptance of Intel’s acquisition offer: “I didn’t feel like I was there, but I felt it was a lot better than the alternative, which was the telephone.”

And Mei-Wei Cheng, a Diebold director, observes, it’s possible to get to know fellow directors well only “when you’re sitting at dinner or talking to each other at coffee breaks.”

What’s your experience with videocoferences? When do you think they’re most effective–and not so effective?

Tell Employees the Full Story First!

Monday, April 25th, 2011

I was mystified to learn recently that a major organization, having announced the date that a new base-pay program for their salesforce would be launched, neglected to tell the staff that their checks would be delayed two weeks. What’s worse, sales people learned about the delay on the day they were to have received the first check–only after they asked where their checks were!

How can any management team be so clueless, especially in an industry that’s been hit so hard by the economy that sales have nearly disappeared? The new pay system was created to help keep the staff afloat–and the company in business–until new sales initiatives and the economy both improve. But the lack of support until now and the cavalier attitude about a two-week pay delay, which for some was a desperately needed lifeline, does not bode well for the company’s chance of retaining those people when the economy improves and they have opportunities to go elsewhere.

I’ve always been amazed that many organizations forget that their employees are their greatest asset and should be the first to hear the complete story about management decisions and corporate changes.

Am I missing something here? Is there a good reason you can think of that would cause management to be so nonchalant about their people’s ability to survive in tough times? Let me know what you think about the scenario I described.

Storytelling Tours Boost Business

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

The family made famous by their story as told in the world’s most popular musical, “The Sound of Music,” has begun using storytelling to build business at its lodge in Vermont. Members of the von Trapp family share their treasure trove of stories during personal tours for guests around the lodge property.

Learn more about how it’s working and get inspiration for how you, too, can leverage the power of story for your business. Read about their approach at

Check Out Our New Video

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

At first glance, it doesn’t seem that writing, recording, editing and compiling a demo video should be a huge undertaking. After all, how hard can it be with all the video cameras on the market, right? Wrong!

Capturing a good demo for a professional speaker is far more challenging than most people would think. Think of all the elements required to make an engaging movie, and you have a sense of all the detail involved: a good script, the right wardrobe, makeup, hair styling, clear sound, good lighting, sharp video, professional cameraman, professional editor, professional announcer…you have the idea.

All that is to say, I’m pleased to announce that my new demo is now on youtube and will soon be on my newly revised website, which should go “live” in the next week (after months of work on that as well). The video is posted at


Family Stories Sell!

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

How do you use stories to generate sales? A lot of professional salespeople tell stories automatically, but others struggle to find the most effective way to build stories into their sales presentations.

If you’re not sure where to find material, or how to relate the tales, there’s an article in’s e-zine that may inspire you. It’s about one family that’s altering the focus of their business’ entire marketing approach.

The von Trapp family, whose experiences have made “The Sound the Music” the world’s most popular musical, is offering “story tours” at the family lodge in Stowe, Vermont. The tour features family members sharing tales about their dramatic escape from Germany during WWII. Read the marketingprofs article at

Stories Are Best Persuasion Tool

Friday, April 1st, 2011

“There are two ways to persuade people,” according to Harvard Business Review Contributing Editor Bronwyn Fryer. “The first is by using conventional rhetoric, which is what most executives are trained in. That’s not good enough, because people are not inspired to act by reason alone.

“The other way to persuade people – and ultimately a much more powerful way – is by uniting an idea with an emotion. The best way to do that is by telling a compelling story.”