12 Important Storytelling Lessons That Came From Unexpected Places
One of the most important lessons a marketer can learn is how to tell a compelling story. It's a critical job skill if they want to effectively connect with and influence their audience; however, this skill isn't necessarily gained in the workplace. Sometimes, the most profound lessons about how to tell your story originate in the most unlikely of places.
We asked a panel of Forbes Agency Council members to share their top storytelling lessons learned from unexpected sources. From a high school orchestra to an equestrian workshop, here's what these seemingly unrelated experiences taught our experts.
1. Success Doesn't Happen Without Failure
One of the best work-related lessons occurred when I was in San Francisco on a business trip. I had a few hours to spare and decided to go to The Walt Disney Family Museum. While there, I learned Walt Disney faced multiple failures, even after he was considered a genius. It made me realize that success doesn’t happen without failure. It was an important reminder to take risks and to keep swimming. - Ginger E. Jones, WebPunch
2. Emotion Makes For Better Stories
I was once telling someone the story of picking up our yellow lab from the breeder. When I finished the story, she said, "Wow, Ben, that's a good story. But next time you tell it, talk more about how it made you feel. That would make it a great story." Her advice was spot on. Now, we use that in our digital marketing to create great user experiences via stories that evoke emotion. - Ben LeDonni, CreativeMMS
3. Recognition Is A Powerful Motivator
When younger, I co-chaired several large civic events that involved managing hundreds of volunteers. Since these people were not employees, I had to learn how to motivate people without recourse to tangible rewards. I learned that people naturally enjoy having something expected of them as long as you don't micromanage them, and that recognition alone is a powerful motivator. - Jeff Bradford, the Bradford Group
4. Strive To Be Present
We were at a family dinner, and I was on my phone when my mom yelled, "Put that stupid phone down! It can wait an hour." At first, I thought that she just doesn't get it. I need to be on top of it! Then, I figured she might be on to something. Since then, I schedule my email checking/replying, so it doesn't dictate what I do and when I do it. It has almost doubled my performance. Go, mom! - Rafael Romis, Weberous Web Design
5. Keep Your Ego In Check
After winning a competition against others who I knew were far more skilled than I was, I had to remind myself that was just one day. The same is true in business and marketing. You may have skill and you may completely crush it that day, week or year. But there is always competition close by, ready to take you down. Stay focused and keep your ego in check. - Bernard May, National Positions
6. Use Only What You Need
My nana was a single parent who worked two jobs to support four daughters. One day, I saw her ripping paper towels in half. When I asked her why, she simply stated it was all she needed. A lifetime of making ends meet defined in one moment. Whenever we produce work, we are super efficient. I just think of this petite woman, her strong forearms and a powerful lesson defined by a single paper towel. - Sean Looney, Looney Advertising & Branding
7. Understand Your Communication Process
Wyatt Webb is the founder of the Equine Experience at Miraval Resort in Tucson, Arizona. I participated in a workshop there that provides insight into relationship communication. Working with horses, guests begin to see patterns of learned behavior that may be working against them. Understanding your communication process helps improve personal and professional relationships. - Timothy Nichols, ExactDrive, Inc
8. Success Requires Detail, Precision And Cooperation
To understand attention to detail, to apply specific skills at just the right moment and to cooperate across a group to achieve a common goal, I can think of few lessons more valuable than performing as part of an orchestra. In fact, I recently attended the memorial service for my high school orchestra director and thanked his wife for the valuable life skills her husband had offered to me. - Dave Wendland, Hamacher Resource Group
9. Resourcefulness Is Your Greatest Asset
I lost both of my parents when I was 20 years old. With the choice to earn money or starve, I realized everything is a resource. As long as I am resourceful, I can achieve anything. After moving to the United States, I was unable to do the only skill I knew. This meant I had to be resourceful by learning new skills and creating a new network to build my ideal business and life that I love. - Imran Tariq, WebMetrix Group LLC
10. Always Aim For A 'Home Run'
When I played baseball, a coach told me a story of Mickey Mantle being asked by a reporter if he goes up to the plate with the intention of hitting a home run. The Mick looked him in the eye and said, "Every damn time." That resonated with me for the rest of my life; you have to go to the plate with the intention of playing long ball. Otherwise, success will be limited. - Paul E Benninghove, Phalanx Digital Inc.
11. Get Back Up And Keep Trying
I learned the most valuable lesson watching one kid after another completely wipe out trying to clear hurdles. I asked myself, "Why would kids choose to hurdle?" Then, I saw a young, short boy fall on nearly every hurdle, yet he continued to get up and keep going. He triumphantly kicked the final hurdle out of the way to end his race. Falling down is not a failure as long as you get back up. - Katie Harris, Spot On Solutions
A great storyteller is someone who can explain their vision, get people excited and inspire them to take that visionary ride. When I have a great story to tell, I find my 10-year-old son and if he can follow along and get excited, then I'm on to something. A good storyteller takes a complex scenario and illustrates it in its simplest form. If my 10-year-old gets it, then everyone else will. - Julie Veloz, IPG Mediabrands