Posts Tagged ‘Storytelling’

Positive dots

September 9, 2011

One of our business advisors sent this out recently and I’d thought I’d share the story with you:

This is Good

A great tale I came across this week tells the story of a king in Africa who had a close friend with whom he grew up.  The friend had developed a habit of looking at every situation in his life, whether positive or negative, and remarking simply, “This is good!”

One day the king and his friend were on a hunting expedition.  On such trips his friend would load and prepare the guns for the king.  He had had apparently done something wrong in preparing one of the guns, because, after taking the gun from his friend and pulling the trigger, the gun misfired and his thumb was blown off.

Considering the situation, his friend remarked, as usual, “This is good!”

To which the king replied, “No, this is not good!” and promptly ordered friend to jail.

About a year later, the king was hunting in a region he should have known to stay clear of. The local tribe of Cannibals captured him and took them to their village.  They tied his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake and bound him to the stake.

As they prepared to set the wood on fire to cook up their catch, they noticed that he was missing a thumb.  Being superstitious, they wouldn’t eat anyone who was less than whole.  So they untied the king and sent him on his way.

When he returned home, he remembered how he’d lost his thumb and felt remorse for his treatment of his friend.  He went directly to the jail to speak with him.

“You were right,” he said, “it was good that my thumb was blown off.”  And he proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened.  “And so I am very sorry for sending you to jail for so long.  It was bad for me to do this.”

“No,” his friend replied, “This is good!”

“What do you mean, ‘This is good’?  How could it have been good that I sent you, my friend to jail for a year?”

“If I had not been in jail, I would have been with you, wouldn’t I?”

The moral…

Things may not always seem pleasant while we’re experiencing them, but then it depends the way you see them…or reflect on the later.

 Like Steve Jobs said in his wonderful 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.”

– Think positive thoughts and positive things will happen 🙂


5 ingredient’s to make a great entrepreneurial story

April 28, 2009

The power of storytelling shouldn’t be underestimated! I’ve heard it said that great entrepreneurs are also often great storytellers. Both Seth Godin and Brad Sugars told many great Entrepreneurial stories at their recent talks.  A good story allows the teller to effectively capture the attention of an audience and leaves a memorable underlying message. Of course, storytelling is nothing new. That’s what probably makes it so powerful. But what makes a great  entrepreneurial story?


  1. A Challenge – on a noble quest or hero’s journey. The story of David and Goliath for example. People like hero’s who have overcome the odds to succeed. Entrepreneurs like Richard Branson who took on the mighty British Airways.  Only time will tell how our startup story turns out. The odds are stacked against us: software startups take more time and money to return on investment and VC funding is 40% down. Just as well we like a bootstrapping challenge 🙂
  2. The villain! This is closely linked to the challenge. Startups battle for survival in competitive markets. The entrepreneurial quest does not necessarily set out to fight mighty competitors but sometimes  they have to. The villain (BA is Branson’s case) then comes to embody the heroic challenge.
  3. Delivery – Great storytelling is an art. Its not easy. Like jokes, good stories are often amusing and fun. The teller needs to deliver an outstanding pitch, tempo and tone. It requires talent, technique and practice. The story also must be authentic. In 2007 I heard Dick Costello of Feedburner (Now part of  Google) talk about building and selling his startup to Google. Dick told a great story. He had crafted his storytelling working as a comedian for five years.
  4. A moral or meaning– This brings a personal and relevant meaning to the listener/reader. Something we can all relate to and learn from. The rights and wrongs of moral behavior are taught to us as children through nursery rhymes and stories. We continue as adults to look for the underlying meaning in situations.
  5. ‘..and they all lived happily ever after.’ – The emotion of hope and a belief that who dares eventually wins. Dick Costello had five failed startups before selling Feedburner to Google for $60m. A happy ending for Dick.


A broken but triumphant
Shrek Gingerbread man

Seth Godin believes that  a ‘Wow’ product  and great story is vital for a business to succeed. However real stories can’t simply be made up, they have to be lived. Only then can the storyteller be passionate and real. To have an great story an entrepreneur most embark on a difficult and challenging business adventure.

Tips and Tales from the Brads (Brad Sugars & Brad Rosser) PART 1

April 17, 2009

I’ve recently attended two business talks from Brad Sugars and Brad Rosser. They are both from Australia and run business coaching companies. Their talks were entertaining and contained some golden nuggets of advice:

Brad Sugars

Brad Sugars is a charismatic man and a wonderful story teller. He had the audience in stitches. To get his message over Brad told many amusing tales his farming origins, family life and helping small businesses to grow. His claim to fame is having retired at 24 and then again at 30 after achieving great  success.

crocodile_dundeePaul Hogan (Crocodile Dundee), Not Brad Sugars,
but there are some strong similarities

Brad’s secret ingredient to wealth is to “sell something many times”, “if someone else can do the work with your company get them to do it” and use then entire sales funnel to get results. Brad’s talk was on How to Succeed in a Recession! He sees the downturn as an opportunity as do I. Here’s what he had to said:

  1. Strategy (Have one!) – A very good point as many business don’t seem to have one.
  2. Know your numbers – Rachel Elnaugh also said this at her talk
  3. Cuts, make them but don’t cut the people – Simultaneously they are  biggest cost and greatest asset. Good people are hard to find so keep them.
  4. Retain, Keep the Grade A & B good customers and sack the D customers –  Tim Ferris talks about firing the 80% of the customers who only produce 20% of the profits (point 10). I love the 80/20’s rules!
  5. Advertise – There are great deals to be had out there – Now is the time to be brave and spend! Your competitors probably aren’t.
  6. Give stuff away, to entice potential customers in –  Free works (if done right i.e. have a strategy)
  7. Add value, Treat customers special – Customer service is king
  8. Stop discounting! – The impact goes straight to the bottom line
  9. Close door sales – time limited offers
  10. Recruit, good new staff – Now is a good time find ‘cheap talent’
  11. Learn to train, Staff and yourself –  We all should be doing this anyway. Brad seems very keen on learning. He boasted that he’d read over 1400 books in his lifetime.
  12. Invest – Now is the time to buy – Brad believes a good business should save funds during the buoyant economic  times (Summer) and invest during the inevitable downturns (Winter) when prices are low. However I believe this Winter is going to last and be deeper than the usual economic winter.
  13. Be different,  Or you will only compete on price – Excellent point.
  14. Have fun – Easy to forget sometimes.
  15. Get a coach – Here comes the sales close – Hold onto your cheque book 😉
  16. Under promise and over delivery 🙂 – Great customer service again.

I highly recommend Brad Sugars talks for the entertainment value if nothing else. He’ll be back in the UK next year after building his new house in Las Vagas. As I said he is a character.