Archive for October, 2013

Howard Schultz Tells Starbucks Story

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

As evidences by a recent post, I’m becoming a very big fan of Howard Schultz’s leadership of Starbucks. He not only clearly communicates his personal, and his company’s, core values, but he also demonstrates his commitment to those values by enacting them.

In a talk at the University of Denver’s School of Business, Schultz tells the story of how Starbucks has survived during the economic downturn, turned around a precipitous decline in business during those years, and also rekindled the fire for the business that for many reasons had nearly burned out among many of the company’s employees (known as partners). His return to the position of CEO after almost eight years as Chairman sparked a renaissance based on tough decisions and an astounding commitment to retraining employees and re-energizing his own–and the company’s–social consciousness.

This story also is told in his books, Pour Your Heart into It and Onward! Both are recommended reading.

Watch Schultz’ talk at the University of Denver:

Storytelling Is Essential Business Skill

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Data Never SleepsAccording to a report in USA Today, every day each of us is bombarded with anywhere from 3,000-5,000 messages. These include all the bits and pieces of information that you see or hear throughout the day: advertising jingles; comments on radio shows; broadcast news; news and professional publications; reports and memos on your desk; emails; telephone conversations; books you’re reading; signs on the office walls; billboards, etc. And that report was published in 2006! The deluge of information has continued to snowball since then.

Another startling report I saw a few years ago was this: one Sunday edition of The New York Times contains as much information as the average 19th Century citizen accessed over an entire lifetime! And another: a typical manager reads one million words every week–the equivalent to one-and-a-half full-length novels every day. And one more (if you’re brain isn’t already going numb): Worldwide, knowledge doubles every 72 hours!

Why is The Corporate Storyteller relating all these numbers? Primarily there are two reasons. First, it’s necessary to be aware of a problem before you can deal with it. Second, the ability to deal with this incredible deluge of information requires that you master the skill of storytelling. According to many thought leaders, storytelling is the #1 business skill necessary for success in today’s world. It’s the most effective way to be heard in the midst of constant “noise” in a global culture of 24/7 communication.

So how are your storytelling skills? Are you prepared to tell the right story at the right time to a particular audience? Are you certain that you can get your message across in a way that will be relevant and memorable?

Infographic courtesy of

CFO Communication Skills a Major Asset for Twitter IPO

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

According to a report from Bloomberg News, Twitter’s CFO has the ability to communicate clearly, even when discussing complicated concepts–and that talent is expected to be a valuable asset as Twitter seeks investors for its upcoming IPO. Mike Gupta, who joined the company last year, is known for his skill in explaining complex systems and business models in a simple way. Because of his communication skills and his negotiation credentials, he likely will accompany Twitter’s CEO, Dick Costolo, on the “road show” to drum up interest for the new offering.

Twitter is anticipating sales of $1 billion next year and hoping to sustain solid long-term growth. But it’s difficult for many potential investors to understand how the company earns revenues and how it can continue to grow sales. Formerly head of finance for Yahoo, Gupta  played a key role in Yahoo’s negotiations with Microsoft that led to a partnership for web-base search. He also helped Yahoo secure a valuable investment in China-based Alibaba.

Beginning his career in investment banking, Gupta moved into technology as an executive with Zynga, where he was involved in that company’s IPO. As Zynga’s former operating chief observes, “He was instrumental during our earnings calls and during our road show. He would do a great job of playing the other side and thinking through all the intricacies.”