February 2011
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TD Magazine

Stories Resonate, Data Fizzles

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Lately, when we talk about return-on-investment and proving value in our training initiatives, the talk turns to metrics and data. But according to a new book by entrepreneur, producer, and CEO Peter Guber, very few people remember facts, figures, and data. Instead, the most effective way to get the attention of your customers, transport listeners emotionally, and inspire action is to tell purposeful stories when selling your product, initiative, or idea.

Guber sold me on the idea of storytelling through his short stories about how he convinced Fidel Castro to let his television crew shoot in Havana Harbor and how a 23-year-old University of Maryland walk-on football player created a billion dollar company, Under Armour, by training his staff to tell a story that made their customers the hero. I remember the stories vividly.


Some of the dates and circumstances may be a little fuzzy, but they held my interest, sold me on their importance, and struck some emotions with me, which is exactly what Guber - head of the Mandalay Entertainment Group, professor at UCLA, and a Harvard Business Review contributor - said would happen when stories become the critical aspect of persuasion.

Interspersed in the chapters are persuasive stories to prove Guber's points about how purposeful storytelling can move people to act, close the sale, or seal the deal. "In any situation that calls for you to persuade, convince, or manage someone or a group of people to do something, the ability to tell a purposeful story will be your secret sauce," Guber said during a conversation about the book. Each chapter ends with a list of "aha!" moments, which puts the information into perspective.

If you are in the business of engaging people or selling an idea, this book will help you build a persuasive argument through stories, not PowerPoint slides, or boring facts and figures.

I definitely think this book is a must-read if you need to gain buy-in for your business initiatives. I give it three lattes.

About the Author

Paula Ketter is ATD's content strategist. Previously, she served as editor of ATD's periodicals.

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