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Managing Marketing: Storytelling for business and the role of anecdotes

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Managing Marketing is a podcast hosted by TrinityP3 Founder and Global CEO, Darren Woolley. Each podcast is a conversation with a thought-leader, professional or practitioner of marketing and communications on the issues, insights and opportunities in the marketing management category. Ideal for marketers, advertisers, media and commercial communications professionals.

Shawn Callahan, award winning author or Putting Stories to Work and co-founder of Anecdote, business storytelling company shares anecdotes with Darren about the role of storytelling in business and how often people get the concept of storytelling wrong when it comes to using it as a business tool, continuing their podcast discussion from 2015.

You can listen to the podcast here:

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Transcription:

Darren:

Welcome to Managing Marketing and today I’m in Melbourne, actually West Melbourne, catching up with Shawn Callahan, founder of Anecdote and author of the award winning business book, Putting Stories to Work, welcome Shawn.

Shawn:

Nice to be here, great to see you Darren.

Darren:

Well Shawn do you realise that you were the very first podcast that I ever recorded and that that is now three years ago.

Shawn:

I can’t believe it’s been three years since you’ve been doing these podcasts; it’s flown by hasn’t it?

Darren:

Well there are more than seventy of them so there you go, one every two weeks so three years has gone relatively quickly. A lot has happened, first of all there’s your book, Putting Stories to Work, which is a terrific read but also so practical as well,  giving ideas on how to actually do things like collect stories and apply stories.

Shawn:

When I wrote it I particularly wanted it to be this practical guide for people. So many leaders that I’m working with are struggling with real basics. Last night I was coaching a manager up in Jakarta and he was just struggling with the basics like how do I find these stories. So, they’re the types of things we get down into detail in that book.

Darren:

It’s been hugely successful hasn’t it? It’s been translated into Chinese.

Shawn:

Yes, we have the Mandarin version.

Darren:

You’ve got a hard back version which is the original. And you have paperback as well haven’t you?

Shawn:

Ah Yeah, and I think by Australian standards it’s called a Best seller.

Darren:

Okay, let’s go with best seller, award winning bestselling business book which is just brilliant. The other thing is you guys have also starting podcasting as well. You’ve done podcasting before, but a really successful podcast now.

Shawn:

Look, for a long time we wanted to have podcasts but we were unsure what the format was going to be. We just started really responding to our customers. Our customers kept on saying, hey you’ve taught us all these story techniques but where do we find the stories?

We thought maybe we could have a podcast that just shared a story every week so that they could go and retell it in a business setting and that’s what our podcast is called; Anecdotally Speaking. In fact, we got nominated for best podcast in the business category in the Australian podcasting awards.

Darren:

Fantastic.

Shawn:

So that was kind of nice to go to the big Gala event a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, we missed out on the top ticket but that’s okay.

Darren:

At least you were up there. You were on the bridal table, you may have come away the bridesmaid but at least you were on the bridal table.

Shawn:

That’s right exactly so it was good.

Darren:

Now last time we talked a lot about storytelling and relating it to marketing. What I’ve noticed reading the articles you’ve been writing and the things you’ve been sharing, there are so many different applications in storytelling for business.

Shawn:

Yes.

Darren:

And some of them that I’ve picked up, like storytelling for sales or selling and storytelling for pitching and one that I found really interesting, storytelling to help get strategy to stick within an organisation–it was really important. There are so many different things where you can actually apply storytelling to, it’s not just the big story is it?

Shawn:

No, not at all. I like to think of it more as story work, right, abstract at one level and think about it in terms of there’s storytelling, there’s story listening, and there’s story triggering, and talk about those three things.

Darren:

Sorry, so storytelling, story listening and story triggering.

Shawn:

That’s right, and so the listening is very much how do you elicit stories so that people tell you stories, okay. We use this quite a lot in projects to find out what’s really happening in a business. For example, I’m just finishing a big project with a construction company looking at diversity inclusion and we went and collected one hundred and fifty stories of good and bad behaviour around diversity inclusion.

Darren:

Right.

Shawn:

And you can just imagine what some of those stories are like. right? What we do then is we get the leaders to work out what are the patterns of behaviour in all those stories and what’s so interesting is, when they do that they engage emotionally with it. So, it’s not just numbers.

If you were to do analysis you get a different feeling for what you learn where as if when you do it with stories you know the emotion’s there and people go, oh my god we’ve got to do something about that. I think that to me is really interesting, the change in how they see it.

Darren:

Traditionally marketing has been strategy, structure, process, but how often all of this sits on a platform or sort of corporate culture, right? And it’s such an interesting thing culture, because you could say to someone what’s the culture of your organisation and people immediately go to what I call those weasel words, you know like, we’re about integrity and collaboration and it’s this list of values that they are using to try and describe culture.

What you’ve just said is the best way of actually capturing culture, is getting people within that environment to tell stories about what life is like, what happens there, at the worst times and the best times and you absolutely can distil the culture of the organisation by the predominant stories couldn’t you?

Shawn:

Absolutely. I have to tell you this embarrassing thing that happened to me just a few weeks ago along the culture line right and in exactly that space of values. I’m running a programme with a big tech company in Silicon Valley and we get onto the topic of culture and I said to them tell me what some of your values are. Creativity da da da.

Darren:

It’s all the same, it’s like a shopping list; things that you must have.

Shawn:

I said to them you know quite frankly unless you can share an experience that illustrates one of those things, I’m a bit suspicious as to whether that’s really a value. And I turned to the guy sitting next to me and I said to him, give me an example of creativity. He goes um, ah, can’t think of anything and I said see that’s my point.

I think he turned out to be the head of creativity or something for the organisation. It was a bit of a false step for me but at the same time it made my point. Now here is a guy who is working in creativity yet he couldn’t give an example of creativity in his organisation.

Darren:

Now part of that can be when you put someone on the spot.

Shawn:

Yeah right, they go blank.

Darren:

They struggle to find an example but I think it’s also because as soon as you label these values of culture, they take on a life of their own which almost stops them becoming lived.

It’s like how many times have you walked into a big corporation, I’m sure this has happened to you, and they have this mission statement or our values are… and because of that you immediately stop having to live them because we’ve stuck them up on the wall. So that means symbolically we’ve built our altars and no one has to pray to it any more.

Shawn:

That’s it exactly and the other thing that can happen is people focus on the really big stories whereas it’s the lot of little stories that end up making your culture. It’s like the concatenation of all those stories. I remember chatting with a supermarket and they were talking about customer service as their big thing. And I said ah have you got any examples?

They told me this one about this elderly gentleman who came into one of their supermarkets, fell, smacked his head on the floor, there was blood but the staff came in and they did all the right things. They went down to his house and got his wife.

Darren:

Yes, it’s a huge story that only happens once in a lifetime. We have a process for sorting out when people come to us with problems. We put them through three tests; amplitude, how big is the problem? Frequency; how often does it happen because sometimes small problems happen every day? And the other one I like is recency; it’s not a real word but how recently did it happen? Because, if something happened yesterday I’m more likely to think of it and therefore it’s more present for me. I think stories are the same thing.

People are inclined to hold onto these big amplitude stories when, as you say it’s what’s happening every day. The best example would be the supermarket where they know Mrs Jones likes a particular brand so they just put that aside for her so that when she comes in there’s a pack for her. That’s right. It’s as simple as that because that says buckets for caring for an individual.

Shawn:

Indeed, it’s the small s storytelling I call it. I like to think of it that if you want to change a culture you need to change the stories that are being told. And so, this story listening exercise is all about what are the stories being told. Most leaders have no idea what stories are being told.

Darren:

So, I’ve got a question on that. By changing the stories being told, is it a matter of identifying the right stories that are already being told and amplifying them so that they are more contagious; people are more likely to look for those types of stories or as some people are saying (and I’ve seen consultants that do this), storytelling consultants who will come in and, start planting stories into an organisation to be told, as a way of changing culture?

Shawn:

Real stories, like stories that actually happen?

Darren:

They make up stories; these are the stories that we want you to tell.

Shawn:

That’s ridiculous.

Darren:

Because they say by people telling these stories even if they are even vaguely based on actual stories, they will.

Shawn:

If they did that it would be a disaster I think in organisations.

Darren:

But Shawn there’s the storytelling. As long as I’ve known you you’ve been talking and doing storytelling, this is huge business. There are people out there who have jumped on the storytelling band wagon and are making it up.

Shawn:

Yeah, yeah personally I do get the question, especially when I run storytelling for sales programmes. The sellers like to say, do these stories have to be real or can we just make them up? And I say don’t make them up. There are plenty of good stories out there you don’t have to make these things up.

But in terms of answering your question like how do you get these stories flowing through an organisation. Amplifying is definitely one way of doing it. The other way is story triggering where you get leaders to do remarkable new things where people will just tell stories about it right so it’s a combination of those two things.

There’s a lovely quote by William Gibson, it’s probably a bit old now, people have heard it a million times but I love it and it’s this idea; the future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed.

And so, in a big organisation the future has already happened somewhere. You just have to find that story and tell it to other parts of the organisation. The way I like to tell it is to finish it by saying here’s what’s happening in the other part of the organisation and then just finish by saying imagine if we could do that everywhere. So that’s the future being spring boarded if you like.

I’m really interested in this embedding stories into organisations, but real stories and how do you amplify and how do you get them moving.

Darren:

We use to do a regular Sunday walk.

Shawn:

Yes, I miss those walks.

Darren:

And I remember one of the film examples that you bought up was, Reservoir Dogs, where he’s training Mr Orange on how to take a story that really happened but then make it his own by telling it over and over again and adding his own details to the story so that it became his.

People talk about authenticity. Now authenticity comes from two places; one is, it’s a true story, the other is that the storyteller owns the story, like that they have it as its part of who they are so it comes across as being authentic.

Shawn:

Yes.

Darren:

Right, I agree with you, you don’t just make up stories because then they are just fairy tales or works of fiction but great stories have an element based in truth but it’s when the storyteller themselves is clearly not telling a “story” but is sharing an experience that’s coming across. The important thing for me is the emotional part of that.

Shawn:

Yes, it’s vital. It’s so nice to watch; last week I was in Perth doing some work with one of the big resource companies and we’d been working on their strategy story. Now when you do a strategy story you know like the vanilla version is one which is not highly connected to people. So exactly what you are saying, you have to help the tellers find their own personal examples, right.

Darren:

So, it gives them access to the power of that story.

Shawn:

That’s it. It’s so fascinating watching them doing this. They learn the vanilla version and then I sort of say okay, in that turning point where it all changed, can you remember that? Can you remember something that happened and they go, and they’ll remember some experience that they had that really illustrated that turning point. And then I say, now tell that to your colleague but with your turning point. The whole thing changes for them. It becomes their story.

Darren:

It’s personal.

Shawn:

It’s personal, right.

Darren:

And people relate to that personal interaction, that sharing of something that clearly means something to them is what you take on board.

Shawn:

And you know there were a number of people in the group who didn’t even work for that company when this all happened right, they were like three weeks four weeks in to working for this company, but they were able to tell it from the outsider’s perspective and it was still totally effective and authentic because it was their view of how it all happened and how it all played out.

So, I think you’re right, it’s just getting that personal moment, makes all the difference.

Darren:

This area of storytelling that you’ve done a lot of work in, this idea of strategy storing, is really interesting because I think it was you who shared the Business Harvard paper from 2005 on how many strategies fail because the organisation doesn’t own the strategy because the strategy has been turned into a very boring document or a manifesto that really doesn’t resonate or mean anything.

In marketing everyone is talking about the brain purpose or the organisational purpose and then they try and construct the story that goes with the purpose when in actual fact, if the company’s living the purpose and is aligned to it it’s going to generate stories anyway in everyday life.

Shawn:

That’s the thing that amazes me with that field and that there is this idea that there is the story, like there’s one story. Imagine if you are a big corporation, what’s your one story?

I don’t know, it’s pretty rare to find something like that. Like you say it’s about the multitude of stories that get told. You might have a story that will explain your strategy. So, you okay, say you’ve got these three strategic choices that you’ve made.

Why did we make those choices? Oh, let me tell you; it was like this and then these things changed and then we did that, and so that’s why it’s so necessary for us to do this, so it can be quite a compelling story.

But you know thething I’ve probably learnt most about these strategy stories is that most companies don’t have a strategy.

Darren:

Well not a strategy you can articulate.

Shawn:

That’s probably what I meant. There’s a strategy being left out somewhere.

Darren:

No, we find that a lot and even marketing says yes, we have a strategy. Well what’s the strategy; ah well we are wanting to be customer centric. Oh no that’s your objective. How are you going to become customer centric is your strategy and even better give us an example of what it would look like if you were customer centric. If you could actually live that what would actually change for people?

I think it’s fascinating what’s happening with banks and royal commissions in that we’ve clearly got a financial sector that says one thing on the surface and behaves very differently against their values and purpose that they articulate when it gets into an operational level. It would be interesting to see the stories that come out of this as far as the way they transform or take on board the criticisms that are being levelled against them.

Shawn:

I think it’s one of those classic examples of the difference between what people say versus what they do. So, they might say ‘integrity, openness and transparency, honesty’ and all those sort of things and then they say keep your numbers. The system just keeps pushing people in a certain direction.

I think there are some real weird mismatches in those industries. Probably there’s a lot of pressure. That culture of driving to make profit is bound to do that but then on the other hand you have companies that seem to be able to navigate through that in a real way.

Darren:

And maintain their integrity.

Shawn:

Exactly.

Darren:

Actually live what they do, do what they say.

Shawn:

I’m very impressed with the Mars Corporation and I think part of it is because the leaders see the Mars family; they are all billionaires, but they are very down to earth people, very hands on and if they see people behaving in an incorrect way like I heard one story where they came down to one of their offices in the country.

I won’t say what country it was. And they noticed that everyone had bought not just the company car but a fancier car, right, and they went beyond the dollar amount that they had provided for executive cars. The family first of all said this is totally out of line and then they got those cars painted with the Mars on the side of them.

Darren:

One of our senior consultants in Singapore for a long time worked for the Mars Corporation in marketing and has nothing but positive things to say and we had a conversation about that. Part of it is that the founders story which is still carried by the family is still alive and well in the organisation.

It’s interesting when you look at very large organisations; they may have had a founder once upon a time but suddenly now it’s the senior management or the board are appointed based on delivering best shareholder value and are no longer aligned or own the original founder’s story.

Why did they start the business? What were the values they had? What was the opportunity that they saw? How did they make it grow? What did they have to overcome to make it successful?

Shawn:

Can I tell you a lot of those companies too, have this situation where they see purpose statements and values and things as just the marketing that you need to do to entice customers. They don’t really believe it. I remember sitting in a meeting with all the executives and I thought they really believed in having customers at the centre.

Darren:

Oh, you are so cute.

Shawn:

And so, I was sort of pitching my whole thing around customers at the centre of their organisation and as I mentioned it, it was a big round table; half of the executives rolled their eyes. Like, you idiot.

Darren:

A part of that is just to do that, like tick the box. Oh well we’ve got our purpose, we’ve got our values, right now let’s get on with making money.

Shawn:

Yeah.

Darren:

Which country can we pollute now and how can we avoid taxes in as many places as possible?

Shawn:

Yeah, it’s disappointing when you see that. Luckily you get the good ones as well.

Darren:

You mentioned storytelling for sales and storytelling for pitching. From my perspective they are sort of one and the same, they are slightly different, it comes down to a moment of pitching and sales can be a longer process but what are the core things about storytelling in each of those?

Shawn:

One of the things in both of those is about how do you quickly establish rapport? Say if you are pitching something, how do you walk into the room and quickly establish rapport with people you are pitching with? And one of the great ways is to be able to share a quick story that shows that you care. It’s not just the numbers that are important here.

We did this project for a big architectural firm and they were pitching for a big new building, a university, and we were trying to help the head architect find that story and he’s pulling his hair out and then he happened to mention that he’d gone to a meeting with the vice chancellor at the university.

And as he was leaving he called his Uber. He’s at the top of the hill at the university and Uber’s arriving and he turned around and he’s looking at the university and he’s going, this is such a beautiful university. And he cancels his Uber and spends the next two hours just wandering through the university and enjoying the architecture and how it’s all put together.

Darren:

And the atmosphere

Shawn:

I said that’s your story. That’s where you start.

Darren:

You’ve gone beyond this is just another project to you’ve now got an emotional attachment or commitment to it beyond just doing a job.

Shawn:

Exactly. And then we were talking before about just how useful it is to have those success stories of where you’ve helped people tackle similar problems. It might be a different industry or similar industry, it doesn’t really matter but it turns out that we are very influenced, we are most engaged if something is similar enough that we are comfortable but different enough that it sparks our attention.

And it’s this little balancing act that we are doing, right? So, you’ve got to find these stories that people go ‘oh it’s a bit different’ and that’s what you are after.

Darren:

We obviously help a lot of companies select agencies and we also work with agencies to help them with the way they present themselves or their pitch, their credentials. Why choose us is basically the meeting reason? I meet with these agencies and they pay for the service because we‘re providing value and I’ll get them to present their credentials it might be 45 minutes, it might be an hour.

They all make the single biggest mistake which is that they talk about themselves and then they show the proof or the case studies which are the stories. So, they’ll say things like ‘we’re very results focused’ on slide 3 but then I have to wait until slide 37 where they show a case study of how they’re results focused.

And I keep saying to them stop thinking of case studies as just things to tick the boxes that you have to have. And what is the best case study to reinforce everything you’ve claimed at the front of the presentation? And don’t tell it as a case study; tell it as a story.

Because every case study has a client who came with a problem or opportunity. This is what we saw could be done, even if there were some hurdles that had to be overcome, and this is what happened and this is the result. It’s a nice self-contained story that supports what you say.

Instead of saying we’re results focused and then 20 minutes later giving a case study say: ‘results are important to us like that time that we had such and such come to us and their results were falling and they couldn’t find a way out of it and so we worked with them, got this really great insight on what was happening in the marketplace and we worked together and came up with a great plan on how we could turn that around with this campaign and achieved this result within 6 months.’

It’s infinitely more believable than saying we’re results focused or we collaborate.

Shawn:

What it does is get the audience to say, ‘they’re results focused’. Now, isn’t that a better thing for them to work it out for themselves than you tell them? Then they own it. There’s that beautiful study where they were putting people in MRI scanners and they got one person to tell a story and the other to listen whilst their brains were being scanned.

The first thing they noticed was that the brains lit up more or less in exactly the same way and the brains became in sync. But here’s the bit that really interests me; every now and then the listener’s brain pattern got ahead of the teller’s brain pattern. Isn’t that cool?

Darren:

They filled the gaps.

Shawn:

And it turns out that the people who predicted or moved forward had a higher comprehension so this is what you’re after.

Darren:

They’re listening but they’re also actively engaged in working out the meaning of what’s being said.

Shawn:

Exactly.

Darren:

It’s described as the sense making brain. Like we live in this world that often appears chaotic so our brain is constantly trying to make sense. When you tell a story, especially one that’s engaged the audience they’re making sense of it and the more bits that they can fill in for themselves (as long as you don’t make it too big that they could end up with the wrong solution) the more engaged they are.

Shawn:

I read something recently that gave me a slightly different take on this as well. The writer was saying that you know we have that visual blindness say if you’re comparing two images and your job is to work out what’s different between the two images. It’s kind of hard to do because the things are not moving.

Our eyes have evolved to notice movement, and in a story if this happens and that happens it’s movement. You’re visualising in your brain and you’re noticing the movement. And again, I think that’s a really strong reason why stories work.

Darren:

They say radio dramas, audio books, for a lot of people create more vivid images in their brain than reading or even seeing the film because seeing the film it’s all there. Reading it, for some people, you’re turning written words into actually hearing it in their heads and then the pictures, which is why it’s so popular and why podcasting is so popular too.

Shawn:

As long as people tell a few stories right?

Darren:

Now we’ve talked about storytelling, story listening, and story triggering but Shawn I got into a bit of trouble recently because there is some consultant going around promoting in Melbourne and Sydney that storytelling is pointless and that you have to get into story showing.

Shawn:

And did you get a sense of what story showing was?

Darren:

Just telling people is not enough you actually have to demonstrate the point.

Shawn:

A sort of Marcel Marceau?

Darren:

I’d have to pay the ridiculous fee to attend so I tagged you on LinkedIn or Facebook and said ‘Shawn, another bit of story nonsense’ and the guy whose event it was said ‘why did you even bother making this comment?’

Shawn:

Sensitive.

Darren:

Story showing and story doing are the two big things.

Shawn:

I’m familiar with the story doing movement and it’s a totally fallacious idea. It’s what consultants do when they’re trying to create a name for themselves. They take something and then create a new idea which doesn’t really exist. So, what they’re saying is that you’ve got storytelling and storytelling is for those companies that tell their story.

And then you’ve got those people who live their story, who actually do things. And they reckon that’s actually the difference between storytelling and story doing. It’s kind of saying that there is a whole bunch of companies out there that are just spinning it but they are associating that with storytelling as if it’s some sort of maligned activity.

Darren:

I think that’s because there are consultants out there who are using storytelling in completely the wrong way. We’ve seen websites with brand stories that are not stories; they’re a list of facts about the company. We’ve seen people telling purpose stories, which again are not stories. It’s a narrative but with no story to it. It’s like someone just spouting off a whole lot of stuff.

Shawn:

Exactly. That’s my first test. If someone says they’re working in story they need to be able to tell some stories. I would love to come to this guy’s talk and just listen to see in an hour talk does he actually tell any stories because if he doesn’t it’s just like those people who talk about values and then can’t tell you an example of it. It’s just got a question mark about it.

Darren:

Shawn, I don’t think he’d tell any stories because he’s already said storytelling is old hat. He’d probably be busy doing stories.

Shawn:

Yes, well how does that work? That’s the bit I’d love to see. If I could see that it would be an entertaining afternoon.

Darren:

And it is a problem because people co-opt a particular robust and established concept and either belittle and demean it to say there’s something better or that they’ve come up with some proprietary improvement as a way of differentiating themselves when I think both of us have probably got enough experience of storytelling that when you do storytelling it works brilliantly.

Shawn:

Exactly. It just reminds me; I was driving through Carlton the other day and across the top of a pizza shop the sign read ‘inauthentic pizza’. I put it on my Instagram and again it’s just that whole marketing thing. Everyone’s talking about authentic this and that ‘ah, shit, we’ll just have inauthentic pizza.’ It’s brilliant.

This is the strategy; take something that we all know and go ‘oh no, that’s crap. We need to do the opposite’. And that’s the whole storytelling/doing thing. It’s a little marketing sleight of hand. That will fade over time.

We’ve been telling stories before we even had verbal language (and this is what I say in my book)—that’s how long this is in our DNA. I have to say though the way we told stories before language was actually through mime so maybe they’re going back to that. Acting out the story.

Darren:

Very early on and I’m not sure whether I did it naturally or it was because of our many conversations but I find when I meet with the client (and especially when we get to the point of the conversation where they start sharing the symptoms of the problem or what they perceive as the problem) I find it really important to be able to share with them a story or an example of someone that we’ve worked with.

How we went through that process identifying the complaints and issues and what the particular problem and underlying cause was and then worked together on developing a solution that they could then take and implement. It does three things: first of all, it builds up this immense sense of rapport because if I pick the right example it shows that I have empathy and understanding of what they’re facing.

It establishes my credentials of being able to deal with this and it also alleviates a lot of the stress or anxiousness that they have around this problem by knowing that they’re not alone because often they will be feeling that they’re facing this alone. And sharing similar situations reassures them they don’t have this ‘incurable disease’; it’s something that’s been treated before.

It’s incredibly powerful and it’s something that could just be a 1 or 2 minute part of the conversation but has a dramatic effect on that level of engagement.

Shawn:

How do you find your stories? How do they come to your attention?

Darren:

I’m aware of them. I also have a brain that thinks in metaphor and so I find my story listening and story recall is very similar to recounting metaphors.

Shawn:

That’s interesting.

Darren:

So, if I can’t think of a story I will default to a metaphor. It’s not as powerful because it’s rarely directly related to the situation. It’s a metaphor—a 3rd step away.

Shawn:

The thing that’s similar between a story and a metaphor is that they’re both visual. You often say ‘yeah, it’s just like being in a forest…’.

Darren:

And it also simplifies the problem. And I think that’s also powerful because people feel that they’re able to think of it in a more tangible and simplified form than in what could often be built up as being a big issue for them.

Shawn:

It’s almost like a switch and for some people that switch is on where the stories are flowing around you and you can see them—oh that’s a good one, that’s a good one. A lot of people don’t see any of those stories. You ask them what’s happened over the last couple of weeks and they can’t tell you any specifics. And it’s trying to help them switch on that ability, which is a great challenge in some ways but it’s also fabulous when you see it flip on.

Darren:

Do you think some of that is because they have a perception of story which is quite narrow–in that the big S story, the fairy-tale type of story—they’ve never appreciated that story exists in everyday life, in every interaction?

Shawn:

That’s it. They’re looking for that bigger story. When I go to the U.S and do this work I have to be careful because they hear big S as big arse.

Darren:

You big S.

Shawn:

You have to be careful of that. But when you help them realise it’s like when you went down and played soccer with your kid on Saturday—that could be a story. Those tiny little things—all of them can be help make a business point.

Darren:

And it doesn’t have to be business related, it can be any part of life because it’s metaphorical or a simile of what’s actually happening.

Shawn:

Exactly. I was chatting to this guy and he was talking about just how complex, fast and messy it is and I said to him ‘do you have any kids?’ ‘I’ve got a 12-year old. ‘Have you seen them play soccer and they’re all just going crazy around that little ball?’ And he could see and again these are metaphorical stories.

Darren:

And as you’ve said before when you’re telling that story and the listener gets to make that leap just as you did for him and the kids get around the ball and forget all about the game strategy and everyone just wants to get the ball. And then he went ‘bang, oh my god’ –the payoff was for him is it makes it even more powerful for him.

Shawn:

That’s what it’s about.

Darren:

Shawn, time gets away.

Shawn:

Unbelievable.

Darren:

I’ve really enjoyed catching up. Our first podcast we did together now I’ve got about 70 or something. Thank you for sharing the stories about the way anecdote, the book and the podcast is called…

Shawn:

Anecdotally speaking

Darren:

And that’s on iTunes and all the popular places so everyone should make sure to have a listen and pick up some stories they could use for their business.

Shawn:

Have them in the back pocket.

Darren:

Are there any stories you’ve collected that are not suitable for work? Can you share one?

Managing Marketing is a series of podcasts hosted by TrinityP3 founder and global CEO, Darren Woolley. Each podcast is a conversation with a thought-leader, professional or practitioner of marketing and communications on the issues, insights and opportunities in the marketing management category. Listen to our other podcasts here.

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Darren is considered a thought leader on all aspects of marketing management. A Problem Solver, Negotiator, Founder & Global CEO of TrinityP3 - Marketing Management Consultants, founding member of the Marketing FIRST Forum and Author. He is also a Past-Chair of the Australian Marketing Institute, Ex-Medical Scientist and Ex-Creative Director. And in his spare time he sleeps. Darren's Bio Here Email: darren@trinityp3.com

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