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London-based creative training, consulting & strategic design company providing onsite & public courses on the Creative Problem Solving Process, team-building, leadership, entrepreneurial mindset, business storytelling, applied improvisation and innovation facilitation. We run ideation sessions, we mentor, we coach, we deliver. In all we do, we're here to make you more agile & more successful in the face of change. 

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Purposeful stories, from Hollywood producer Peter Guber

Kate Hammer

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Tell to Win by Hollywood producer Peter Guber is a page-turner. And for innovators keen to get better a winning buy-in for novel concepts, it’s a great read.

Stats aren't enough

From the first, Guber grabs readers by drawing us in to a meeting he’s having with Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman. Goodman is a force to reckon with and Guber is there to win Goodman’s support for building a state-of-the-art stadium where Guber’s minor league baseball would make its new home. He fails, and he’s big enough to tell us why:

Guber arrived, armed with data but without a story. Statistics simply aren’t enough when you’re want to sway someone into action and what you’re offering isn’t what they expected.

Stories as triggers

Now, Guber has written Tell to Win to so we can learn from his experiences and avoid his mistakes. All of Guber’s stories have drama, and many relate to his experiences as a studio CEO and independent producer in Hollywood. Each story in Tell to Win demonstrates how a story shapes an outcome. Good stories move people into action. They change the course of events. Purposeful stories win emotional and practical buy-in. Guber dubs this “emotional transportation”. Guber shows us stories triggering an impressive array of actions, including:

  • investment decisions
  • rights agreements
  • commitments to collaborate
  • job offers.

Sometimes the real story is about what you don’t do (strategists, take note!).

Red Sox

For example, Guber (a native of Boston) explains why Fenway Park was refurbished by Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner. Once New England Sports Ventures took over the franchise, razing the stadium was an obvious choice. But that’s not what Werner and his co-owners did. Says Werner: “Managers and fans come and go, players get traded in and out, but this ballpark is like the flame that keeps the story alive.”

It’s proved good business to retain that flame. “In Boston, Fenway Park is the enduring star,” Werner explained to his old friend. Werner appreciates that the Red Sox story relies on Fenway Park as a native setting. He also gets that good stories aren’t just about good news. Under Werner, “EVERYONE CAN HAVE A BAD CENTURY” appeared on t-shirts sold at Fenway before the Red Sox broke their losing streak.

The Art of the Tell

If you’re keen to understand “the art of the tell” Guber offers good advice at the end of every chapter:

  • Prepare your story and also be prepared to change how you tell it based on feedback from your listeners
  • Respect your audience’s time
  • Understand that ultimately stories live longest when they are retold

But Tell to Win is more than the sum of its part. Stories take us beyond mere content because they deliver an experience. Like sports events, stories give us some one to root for and they provide drama. Our emotional involvement in stories makes them memorable.

If you think stories can help you achieve more, check out Tell to Win. And if you’d like to start using Future-Tense Stories to win buy in, please talk with KILN.