A Star and a Suggestion


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One of our highest needs is appreciation. This is true even if you are not normally needy!

My daughter was telling me her violin teacher has created a simple way for the kids to appreciate one other after a performance. They use a system called “star and a suggestion.” A star would be one thing I liked about your violin playing, and a suggestion is one thing to do better/differently. A simple frame and an easy way for kids to learn the art of appreciation.

Business, of course, is a much more hard-nosed place. We, as employees, want our individuality and our contributions at work recognised in some way. Imagine our delight if we are recognised as customers.

A group of customers was invited to test out a new model ATM for TD Bank in Canada. When they tested these ATMs, they found out that they were Automated Thanking Machines and not Automated Teller Machines. The ATMs spat out gifts instead of balances, not just mundane movie tickets but well thought-out gifts. A mother with a sick daughter in Trinidad received a plane ticket. Another parent received a family pack of passes to take her kids to Disneyland. Through #TDThanksYou day, the bank thanked over 30,000 customers—some receiving money in their bank accounts at a branch or via direct deposit. The emotionally heartfelt responses of their customers speak to the thoughtfulness of this idea.

The #TDThanksYou day event continues to this day following its successful launch in 2014.

#TDThanksYou day poses a challenge for all of us in business. It raises the bar. While we might have plenty of suggestions for our customers, how can we give them a star?

Please comment, I love hearing from you.

Shhh this is private…


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Our biggest fear with storytelling is that we might disclose too much. It is after all storytelling and not group therapy! At work, no one wants to be like that friend on Facebook who overshares.

The paradox is that successful storytelling requires vulnerability. This then begs the question—how can we do storytelling and do it well?

When working with clients, I suggest thinking in terms of ‘storytelling wells’. These wells are what you use to draw your stories. They provide you with storytelling ideas. The wells help us strike a balance between vulnerability and oversharing.

Public story well

These are stories that are available in the public domain.
For example, check out how thought leader Carolyn Tate uses the Golden Buddha story (available in the public domain) to create a link to her message. You could use this story too and land it on a message that is relevant to your audience.

Professional story well

These are stories about things that happen at work. Zappos is an online retailer with a core value to ‘deliver WOW through service’. A legendary customer service story is how Zappos shipped a pair of shoes at no charge to a customer whose Zappos shoe order had been delivered to the wrong location. The customer was a best man at a wedding, and the replacement order literally saved the day.

Personal story well

This is powerful stuff in business yet it requires some level of self-disclosure and vulnerability. Here is an example of a personal story I share on my website and LinkedIn profile.

Private story well

These are stories you decide not to share; they are private. You as the storyteller decide what is private for you. Sometimes a client wants to share a story about having undergone a serious illness. The test I recommend my clients use is, what is the purpose of this? And how does this serve the room (help your audience)? If the line between personal and private is blurry, this simple test can help you.

Understanding and using these storytelling wells prevent your stories from floundering on the rocks of inappropriate disclosure.

Please comment, I love hearing from you.