The Power of Story
How and Why Businesses Should Use Stories
This article tells how stories have helped people that I have worked with, and also how individuals and groups can and should create your own stories. Sometimes for marketing purposes, but just as importantly to create a strong and stated purpose that reaffirms, clarifies, and celebrate successes and growth. I can either give this keynote speech using the organizations own story as an example, or using other examples, depending on the group. Often people may want to work more on the group’s, founder’s or organization’s story either prior to or after the speech. There are interactive hands on guidance moments and opportunities within this presentation.
Whether you belong to a group with a common purpose, are a sole entrepreneur, or you represent an established organization, chances are you are may use some stories on a day-to-day basis to communicate. But are you really using the Power of Story to enhance your life, your business, you communications and your relationships to its maximum potential? Doubtful. Let me tell you a story in order to illustrate my point. As a human resources professional in management and as a professional trainer I used to try to persuade management to get clearer on their company vision and mission statements in order to create more unity, a clearer focus and inspiring values. For those who did not understand the power of a good mission statement I used the story of Johnson & Johnson’s credo and how they used at a critical time in their company. In this story they not only do the right thing, they come out of the crisis better than ever. If you haven’t heard this story before, I have repeated it below. If you have, you can skip the next paragraph and go to the Power of Story for Organizations.
Johnson & Johnson Crisis and CredoIn 1982, there was a rash of deaths in the Chicago area that were all attributed to bottles of Tylenol that had been poisoned. It was later determined that someone had taken the bottles off the shelf, poisoned the Tylenol, and put the bottles back undetected. But, at the time, no one knew what was happening or what it meant, least of all the Johnson & Johnson executives. There was no consistency in the batches that were found poisoned, but the deaths were clearly only in Chicago. The executives of J&J were facing a crisis; their best selling brand was a killer.
They had an emergency meeting in which there was differing opinions on what to do next and what to say to the public. Finally, it was decided to read the J&J credo aloud to the board members for guidance. The credo had been in existence since the early 1940’s and, among other values, it spoke about responsibility to community being a prime value of J&J. After reading it, the J&J execs made a unanimous decision, and the announcement was made quickly to recall all bottles of Tylenol globally until it was determined that all bottles were safe.
They acted fast and before any government agency or inquiry had a chance to speak and the Washington Post said, “Johnson & Johnson has effectively demonstrated how a major business ought to handle a disaster.” However, this recall cost millions and the crisis saw their shares plummet, and the executives wondered at the time if they would have to get rid of the successful Tylenol brand altogether. But they didn’t. Instead, J&J became the pioneer to perfect tamper-proof safety caps and seals. Some designs were sold to their competitors and virtually became a standard in all consumable packaging. They ended up making more money from this extra safety packaging market, had excellent PR and were widely commended for their swift actions, and the Tylenol brand goes on as healthy as ever, and only the people who were around in the 1980s remember this history.
This story was to demonstrate the power that a great mission, vision and value statement could have for a company. OR WAS IT? Instead I started to realize it was something else….
Power of Story for Organizations
The Tylenol crisis story was not just a way to demonstrate the unity and power of a credo, it was an even greater and more powerful motivator as a story. It demonstrates the Power of Story for organizations! In other words, rarely does anyone memorize or know a mission or vision statement, or a credo, let alone voluntarily retell it to other people inside and outside a company. Yet, we will always remember a story and use it repeatedly in all sorts of social and business situations to demonstrate a point. In fact, some of you who did not know the Tylenol J&J credo story above, will likely now repeat it to someone else. Others of you who heard the story before have likely already repeated it or used it at some time. Stories are the most important motivators we have. They help you prove a point, sell something, unite and inspire people. They can even help heal an organization, group, or individual.
Power of Story for Entrepreneurs, Speakers, Coaches and Individuals
I have helped numerous entrepreneurs, speakers, coaches and individuals find direction, market and position themselves better by helping them discover and recreate their original stories. Stories that help them inspire, grow, learn and lead themselves, their organization and their clients. Several move beyond just creating original website content to creating original and impactful books and speeches. Those that already have speeches, take them to a much higher level, and create aha! moments, and inspiring material with my guidance and the Power of Story.
I can come to your business and do a powerful story workshop to engage, unite and inspire your people OR a keynote speech at your event.