The Power of “Story” in the Digital Age



  • Theodore Roosevelt was legendary for his ability to weave stories of manifest destiny from the political pulpit that drove the U.S. to rise as a nation
  • Albert Einstein used thought experiments, essentially complex equations put into story form, to work out The Theory of Relativity
  • Nelson Mandela used stories of a 27 year captivity to soothe the anger of a nation and create a movement towards peace
  • Steve Jobs used sights, sounds and compelling stories to rally people around his cause, despite often lacking social graces
  • Joseph Campbell preached for decades that myth and story are woven into the DNA of humanity throughout history

In his book, A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink summarizes the power of story in terms of real economic impact

“Story, businesses are realizing, means big money. Economists Dierdre McCloskey and Arjo Klamer calculate that persuasion-advertising, counseling, consulting, and so on-accounts for 25 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. If, as some posit, Story is a component of half those persuasive efforts, then story is worth about $1 trillion a year to the U.S. economy.”

In the digital age, tools like WordPress (which this blog is a part of) have allowed individuals and organizations to bring Story to the entire globe. According to latest WordPress statistics, users produce over 42.6 million posts and 51.6 million new comments each month. In addition, over 409 million people view 14.4 billion pages every month.

Recently the Harvard Business Review (in their blog incidentally), reinforced the power of story and the rise of what is now being referred to as “Content Marketing”. In his post below, Alexander Jutkowitz talks about how organizations that are ahead of the curve are telling ‘their story’ to differentiate themselves from those who simply blast the public with more ads. Additionally, these organizations are recruiting people with the creative and literary skills to consistently craft compelling stories.

The Content Marketing Revolution – Alexander Jutkowitz – Harvard Business Review.

In an age obsessed with big data, the technology to quantify business as well as daily life into neat little packets of metrics, the ability to weave all that information into a compelling story becomes a rare and valuable skill. Those that can cultivate and master that skill will prove to be highly sought after in the remainder of the decade.

SALES, Up for the “dirty word” challenge?

A well-respected business mentor(who happens to be my father-in-law) has always maintained;

“Whatever the profession you happen to be in, ultimately it’s sales.”

In his latest book, “To Sell is Human, The surprising truth about moving others”Daniel Pink brings forward significant empirical evidence to support this claim and validate what many have always intuitively known about the term “sales”. The book is also  a fun and easy read, giving some historical perspective on where sales has come from in the 20th Century to specifics on where it’s headed in the next decade. Not to mention that it also serves as another great example of the ENMEI concept of “Economic Evolution”.

If you consider the term “sales” a dirty word and believe that it has nothing to do with your profession, you should read this book. If your profession falls within the category of sales, you should definitely read this book.


So now for the CHALLENGE:

Think of a profession, any profession, that you believe has nothing to do with moving others (hence sales) and post in the comments section why you believe it so. I will do my best to counter that challenge and others are encouraged to join in(just remember this is for fun, please play nice in the sand box).

Why Trying To Manipulate Employee Motivation Always Backfires | Fast Company

Motivation and Inspiration have been confused topics for decades. Inspirations are external events that can fuel the fires within someone, passion, enthusiasm, etc. Motivation is an internal mechanism, it’s whether or not there is even that fire burning in the first place. Motivation is a choice people make to take action on a moment to moment basis. Inspiration can elevate the intensity of someones actions but is rarely the cause of one’s choice to act in the first place. The decision to take action is always intrinsic.

Why Trying To Manipulate Employee Motivation Always Backfires | Fast Company.

Here is a fantastic book on the subject by Daniel Pink. I highly recommend it for anyone in a leadership role or just wants a better understanding of human motivation.