The Manifesto

“The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the vision, values, and agenda of an entire generation that is to come.”
Guess who said this*

This is how it happened, for me…

It came in a single moment of inspiration – as long as you don’t count the preceding twenty years running a digital agency, the writing of several 5-Star thrillers, or … you know … being almost 50.

Here is the seed that started it all.

“We are all storytellers… but people who tell better stories get better lives.”

Wait? What?

I remember the day I first wrote that sentence down.

It stopped me in my tracks.

People who tell better stories get better lives.

Or this (because I’m a capitalist pig-dog at heart)… The leaders, brands and businesses we love … tell better stories.

Hmmmm.

The more I turned it around in my head, the more it seemed to resonate with my experience. While the sheep chase short-term tactics, smart founders go deeper. They leverage story as a force multiplier, a foundation on which to build their brand.


 

I’d been flirting with story for years by the time I wrote those words.

I’d written three thrillers on Amazon, and run a digital agency for two decades.

Starting in 1997, we’d built a business with clients around the world.

No ads. No cold calls. No sales team.

Just happy clients.

And here’s the dumb thing. I didn’t really know how it had happened until I started studying the art, craft and science of stories.

And then it hit me.

We’d built a story-driven business.

We didn’t do any sales/advertising/marketing because our stories were out there in the marketplace, doing it for us.

“Lightbulb,” (as Gru would say).

I already knew I loved storytelling, but now I was insanely hooked. I read everything about story I could lay my hands on, measuring the theory against my business – not to mention the hundreds of projects I’d led on behalf of clients.

And the evidence kept coming, the what and the why.

The What

Looking at the science, it turned out that well-told stories:

  • ‘Transport’ us to the world of the hero (as reflected in our physiology).
  • Are recalled up to six times better than ‘dry’ facts.
  • Trigger chemical changes in our brains (and therefore, behavior).
  • Are processed ‘Shields Down’ (emotionally, not analytically).

It seemed clear that evolution had privileged story. My question was why? What was the big benefit?

The Why

The research is constantly evolving, but scientists and psychologists believe that:

  • Story is a ‘flight simulator for the mind’, a ‘playground’ that allows us to learn and test key survival skills (physical, mental & social) without exposing ourselves to genuine danger. (HUGE survival benefits right there.)
  • Story connects us to our fellow humans. (When we listen to the same story our brainwaves literally sync up.)
  • Shared stories bound us together into tribes, cultures and ultimately countries.
  • Stories (i.e. gossip) was a major deterrent to bad behavior in the tribe (still is).
  • We perceive the world – in all its complexity – as a story with us at the centre.

That was enough for me. I sold the agency and started Stories Mean Business.

Because something else happened the day I wrote that sentence.

I realised what I wanted to do with my life.

(Bit late maybe, but that’s ago. It meant that I brought 25 years of copywriting and  practical business nouse to it.)

Anyway…

If people who tell better stories get better lives… you want to help as many people as possible.

To me that meant three things: Think, Work and Teach.

So that’s what I do.

My goal is to help a million people tell better stories.

That’s it. That’s the manifesto goal.

If you’ve made it this far, maybe you’ll be one of them. You aren’t alone.

Nick

*Steve Jobs – Apple & Pixar


 

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