by Dan Gregory
It’s hard to argue against the power story telling wields as a tool of influence and persuasion. However, a more powerful tool is Story Doing.
Indeed, story telling is one of the oldest and most revered of our communication tools, one that allows us to take mundane facts and pedestrian ideas and render them memorable, personal and pass-on-able.
In fact, virtually every culture, be they national, social or organizational, is merely the collection of behaviors and beliefs codified in our shared stories.
I have a particular interest in storytelling, as it is a skill that has helped me build my business (and in turn fuelled my cash flow) in the work I do with C-Suite Executives, Board Directors, Leadership Teams and Sales and Marketing professionals. In helping them hone the craft of storytelling in their presentations, communications and pitches it has given me immense rewards, both personally and professionally, as well as building their confidence, presence and persuasiveness.
However, as compelling as a story well told might be, what I consider to be even more engaging, more influential and exciting, is a concept I call Story-Doing.
I define this as the capacity to design into our processes, systems and behaviors unique experiences that might be worth telling a story about?
In doing so, we move from the position of storyteller to story protagonist or hero.
So what are the core elements of Story-Doing?
1. Develop a signature move or “no-where-else experience”
We often assume that a good experience, good leadership or good service is worth telling a story about. I’d like to put it to you that good is actually a hygiene factor, the cost of entry or table stakes.
The truth is, we only really notice the outliers in our experience. If we expect good (and today we very much do) then we become blind to it – and rarely share it via our stories.
What we do notice, and take an interest in, is the unanticipated, the inspiring or the surprising. The key here is to engineer the extraordinary into the everyday, or to do the thoughtfulness before the thoughtfulness is required.
This is something I observed in an IKEA store foyer a number of years ago. The skies were teeming with rain outside as I ran from my car to the store’s entry way, and there, on a sandwich board handwritten in chalk were the words, “We’ve noticed it’s raining outside… so we’ve cut the price of our umbrellas in half.”
All of a sudden I liked IKEA a little more and felt more predisposed to part with some of my hard earned folding in their establishment.
I tracked the store manager down and, as a trainer of people myself, asked them what kind of training they were offering to ensure that this kind of proactive thoughtfulness showed up in their team’s behavior.
They shared with me, “We don’t train them to be thoughtful, that’s already done. The sign is always in a storeroom, we just train them to wheel it out when it’s raining.”
This made me appreciate the sign even more.
2. Ensure it is relevant & and make it personal
I mentioned earlier that Story-Doing allows you to become the hero of your story, however, the hero of the experience itself should be the person you wish to share the story on your behalf – be it your customer, a member of your team or a constituent in your community.
Too often, in designing our strategies, processes and systems, we filter the world through our own eyes, our world-view and our personal biases and objectives. This is a critical error in building engagement and establishing influence.
The more relevant we can make an experience, in terms of timing, personal salience and accessibility, the more enthusiastic others will tend to be in the sharing of it. Which leads me to my final point:
3. Make your Story-Doing “pass-on-able”
We live in a social media age where every meal or clothing decision is documented, photographed, peer reviewed, commented on, liked, challenged and shared, retweeted or “quoted”.
In fact, Nielsen research has estimated that 91% of our decisions are influenced by friend recommendations. These recommendation, unsurprisingly, often take the form of a story.
To encourage pass-on-ability, consider how your story might be retold verbally, in written form or even visually. The more you’re able to furnish the eventual storyteller with the tools that bring their story to life, the more engaging the story will be in the eyes of others.
So, by all means, learn to tell a story well (you might even consider getting some training from an expert in the field). But while you’re about it, consider also what activity you might add to the most mundane of your day-to-day tasks that are so extraordinary they might be worth telling a story about.Read More
Resilience has become the word of the moment.
How many times have you heard this conversation?
We’re facing a lot of change. We really need our people to be more resilient.
Resilience is so hot right now. (Best read with a Beyoncé flourish and finger snaps)
Yet I wonder if it is enough.
Is it sustainable?
Undoubtedly resilience is handy when you are going through a period of challenge.
Essentially, it means, “Suck it up, hold on and get through the tough time however you can.” Although “be more resilient” is probably a little easier to hear from a leader.
The problem is getting through is not really an option when you consider the amount of change we are about to be hit with. Some experts say we are about to experience more change in the next 10 years than we experienced in the hundred preceding them. i.e. a lot. When it comes to that much change your team can only ‘suck it up’ for so long until they will, eventually, break!
That is why resilience is not enough.
We need something more. So what are these skills that will future proof our workforce?
Agility and Creativity.
Agility is the ability to change, to bend and alter our points of view and approach. It’s about re-thinking, un-thinking and out-thinking.
Creativity is ability to develop new thinking and ideas. Ultimately, it’s a capacity to drive change rather than being driven by it.Read More
by Dan Gregory
One of the things that has human beings turning to motivational literature in their multitudes is the difference between “Need to” and “Want to”.
Typically, want to doesn’t require a lot of motivation – it’s intrinsically linked to whatever that activity might be. Few of us need to “motivate” ourselves to enjoy a good meal or a soft bed at the end of a long day.
However, activities that are more need to, or have to, or (shudder) shoulds tend to rely on extrinsic motivation in one form or another. This might be a deadline, or some kind of legal repercussion, a physical or reputational risk or something of the like. In other words, if we don’t, we’re going to get our procrastinating butts kicked.
Often times, this can be motivation enough. But that leaves what to do about those tasks where the outside, or extrinsic, cost isn’t enough to motivate us. Famed author, Douglas Adams, once quipped, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they pass by.”
So what kind of motivation is required for a need to activity that, may not be enjoyable or even pleasant, is still rather necessary?
This is where behavioral, or motivation, design can be of enormous assistance.
We’ve all used motivation design in one form or another throughout our lives – you may have placed an alarm clock on the other side of the room so that you couldn’t just hit snooze, or you may have parked the car a reasonable distance from the office to enforce some daily aerobic activity, or you might even have coordinated your daily movements in order that your path might cross with a secret love interest (but this is clearly stalking and not to be encouraged).
The long and shot of it is, by designing our environments, and indeed systems, so that they support these necessary activities, and might even make them intrinsically motivating or at least hard to avoid, we increase our chances of success and critically, shift our mindset surrounding these activities in such a way that they become less paralyzing in the future.
So, if you need to, systematize it until it becomes unconscious competence. (But stop following people home… it’s creepy.)Read More
By Dan Gregory
How do we know something is, in fact, a fact, or even THE facts, or just an opinion we’ve held so long we’re unprepared to give it up?
Just as importantly, are those we look to engage just as attached to their accumulated “facts”.
One of the most interesting books I’ve read in the past decade, is Eli Pariser’s The Filter Bubble. Pariser’s assertion is that the internet learns who we are, assesses how our biases and prejudices shape our opinions, and then feeds us further information we’re inclined to agree with.
That’s a painfully brief summation but it’s a good reminder that not only is the information we access online notoriously unreliable, it is also very likely to be framed to entrench already long-held views.
But this phenomenon is not unique to the digital age. In fact, human societies and communities have been reinforcing opinions as facts for millennia.
A lot of this is generated by fear, a powerful emotion that makes those seeking comfort, compliant and easily lead. Control the information, you control the opinions and in doing so, gain control over people.
So why does this matter?
It matters because almost every important issue we face in business, in politics and in life ends up in a binary argument, not based on facts, but drawing on often flawed opinions and hypotheses.
• Gun control or regulation
• Economic Theory (despite the fact that many economists are less reliable than a fun pier fortune teller)
• Freedom, or the lack thereof, of belief (especially if those beliefs don’t reflect the majority view)
• Gender and sexual equality
• Articles of law and civil behavior
• Taxation and government spending
Any of these subjects is likely to lead to heated words and even physical violence at a family BBQ. Hardly surprising given the importance some of these issues hold in our daily life. That’s what makes a capacity to think outside our own personal view points so important. Not just so we can make better decisions, but so that we might also be more influential, more engaging and more trustworthy.
Anaïs Nin is famously quoted as saying, “We don’t see the world as it is, we see the world as we are.”
The truth is, we only ever see the world with as much accuracy, as the number of points of view we have access to, will allow.Read More
Dan and Kieran are this generation's Edward De Bono."
THOUGHT LEADERS GLOBAL, AUSTRALIA
Dan, as usual, you were the post man. You delivered."
An extraordinary ability to solve highly complicated and political problems."
UNITED NATIONS, SINGAPORE
Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan did a phenomenal job. Both Gregory and Flanagan were personable, professional and very engaging."
Kieran and Dan facilitated a highly engaging, entertaining and thought-provoking workshop around entrepreneurship, risk-taking and decision making within a highly regulated environment."
I learned a huge amount and the team feedback has been incredibly positive. "
CA TECHNOLOGIES, ASIA PACIFIC
We've had amazing feedback (on Dan & Kieran) - Very grateful!"
The feedback from your presentation has been bombarding! Which is bloody awesome!"
Kieran’s opening Keynote established the spirit of the conference from the outset. Embracing the theme in an engaging, relevant and lively presentation. She was the perfect choice."
AUSTRALIA COUNCIL FOR THE ARTS, AUSTRALIA
Signs of genius."
THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, AUSTRALIA
Delegates were literally buzzing through the hours of workshops that followed and we were able to achieve the directions we required to take us forward."
TOURISM & EVENTS QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA
Dan had the room engaged from the outset and took our team on a 90 minute journey, resulting in eyes and minds being opened to new opportunities. The feedback after the event was overwhelmingly positive - we wouldn’t hesitate in working with Dan again in the future."
Kieran’s presentation was a breath of fresh air. She is a ball of energy, totally engaging, brilliant use of humour, super visuals and great delivery, but above all she was totally on message with great content. They loved her."
ROTARY INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIA
I have the opportunity to work with many speakers and presenters throughout the year, and I can say without bias that (Dan’s) presentation was the best I have seen in a very long time."
DG GLOBAL, THAILAND
Kieran delivered riveting speeches that kept a diverse audience engaged and wanting more."
Dan has that unique ability of entertaining an audience with humour while giving them a wide range of strategies that can make a significant difference to their bottom line."
AUSTRALIAN FITNESS NETWORK, AUSTRALIA
Kieran’s deep insight, cutting humour and ability to convey complex messages to our audience were the stand out features of her keynote. it's great to work with stage professionals who deliver."
Dan Gregory appeared at our annual top tier dealer network conference as our keynote presenter. Dan was engaging, entertaining and informative and we were so impressed that we are preparing to work with him again this year for another area of our business."
HUNTER DOUGLAS, AUSTRALIA
Kieran Flanagan’s presentation was so inspiring - thank you."
It was a pleasure to deliver the genius of Dan Gregory to our members at the Real Estate IQ Conference. Dan’s infectious enthusiasm, coupled with his brilliance, was incredibly well received by our audience with many following up on his presentation in months to come. I would personally recommend Dan’s services to any event manager who is looking to effectively engage, educate and inspire their delegates."
In 12 years of running SWB, Kieran is the first speaker to receive a 100% approval rating from all delegates!"
What a fantastic way to kick off the New Year! (We've been) flooded with phone calls and emails about Dan and what a wonderful speaker he was."
EXECUTIVES ASSOCIATION OF GREATER PHOENIX, USA
Rarely have I heard anybody articulate their thoughts with such clarity and vision. His intelligence and insight provides a much greater understanding of how to engage your customers, your team and the community. I would whole heartedly recommend Dan, you will never be disappointed."
HORTICULTURE AUSTRALIA, AUSTRALIA
I was laughing and learning... Dan is the Australian Ricky Gervais!"
THE ENTOURAGE, AUSTRALIA
He more that lives up to his own advertising!"
ASSOCIATION OF CORPORATE COUNCIL, AUSTRALIA
Our recent Business Partner Exchange event was a great success, largely in part due to Dan Gregory. Dan met our brief completely, with his presentation providing a strong and supportive storyline for our launch. We couldn’t have asked for more, and are looking forward to other opportunities to work with Dan in the future."