Thoughts on Leadership: The Storyteller’s Secret

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me in Southern California for a meeting with the HomeServices of America, Inc. board and to work with our staff at HQ on products and services that will help our brokerage networks achieve even greater success this year. Just before arriving in California, I had finished The Storyteller’s Secret by best-selling author Carmine Gallo—who also wrote one of my favorite books, Talk Like TED—about the power of stories to impress, illuminate and inspire.

“We’re all storytellers,” Gallo writes. “We don’t call ourselves storytellers but it’s what we do every day.” He goes on to explain that in this twenty-first century age of information—the “knowledge economy”—we are only as valuable as our ideas. In the spirit of idea-sharing, here are five of my favorite concepts Gallo presents in his book:

  1. “Inspired storytellers are inspired themselves.” All the great speakers of the world have one thing in common: passion. They don’t just get up on stage and talk; they infuse each and every word with energy, enthusiasm and enough passion to make you feel something, too.
  1. “Inspiring storytellers are not always born; they’re made.” The art of storytelling can evolve over time. Just because you may not be the best at telling your story now doesn’t mean you can’t achieve greatness with a little practice. As I say, you should never just “try,” you should only “do”!
  1. “Inspiring storytellers are eager to tell their backstory because it’s a gift that shaped their life, career and business.” Some of the most successful people in the world came from the humblest beginnings. Embrace the valleys of your life because they helped define the peaks.
  1. “Inspiring leaders ignite passion and loyalty by infusing their brand’s narrative with a higher mission.” At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, we embrace the Sunshine Kids. But the Sunshine Kids aren’t just an organization we donate money to; they’re part of who we are as a brokerage network and our compassion for them helps shape the kind of professionals we aspire to be.
  1. “Inspiring speakers build a story structure for every important pitch, presentation, meeting or conversation and, in doing so, they introduce three components … villains, heroes and struggle.” When Steve Jobs presented the iPhone for the first time, he labeled competitor smartphones like the Blackberry, Motorola Q and Palm Trio “suspects” and “culprits,” Gallo describes. Jobs then asked a rapt audience how to “solve the problems” these competitor phones presented, creating a struggle between these nemeses and his own product. Then, he offered a resolution by way of the Apple iPhone and instantaneously, the most popular smartphone in history was born.

What’s the message? At a time when information seems more abundant than the oxygen we breathe, stories are important tools to package ideas in ways that can help us achieve our goals. Whether you’re helping a client sell a house or presenting to sell an idea, remember that we capture the mind with details but we capture the heart with our story. So think today about what your own story might be and then, go out there and share it with the world.

GINO BLEFARI is CEO of HSF Affiliates LLC. You can follow Gino on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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