A confession, yet again I have become addicted to watching ‘The Voice’ on Channel 9! One of the contestants Jackson Thomas an electrician said he applied to audition because ‘Rather than fixing lights, I want to be under the spotlight’.
For technical people, our expertise is like fixing lights. Yet when we present we have to translate our expertise into something that works under the spotlight. Technical expertise is about detail and mechanics. Presenting is about connecting and creating meaning for your audience.
Storytelling can help you shine under the spotlight. Just like Megan Cook, Product Manager from Atlassian did with this story.
A few years ago I was travelling to Penang with my fiancée Kieren so he could meet my grandmother. We had to take a bus from KL to Penang and the first bus was cancelled. The second bus showed up late, it was packed, and belching smoke and felt old and rickety. We did make it to Penang in one piece and my grandmother was so happy to see us.
A year or so later we were travelling to Japan where we had a complex journey involving 4 changes of train and signs in a language we didn’t understand. I thought it would be very stressful, but it was not at all. The trains were on time, super clean and fast, and all the complex changeovers were really easy. My stress level and mood were vastly different with each experience and our products effect our customers in the same way. Everyday we have that same opportunity, we can build or put band aids on rickety buses or make trains that work and deliver great results for our customers.
Fixing lights is about information, being under the spotlight is about inspiration. Please comment, I love hearing from you.
What if lives were saved or lost because of your ability to influence? How do you influence when the stakes are so high?
Pet Rescue Australia faces exactly this situation every day. Sadly 100,000 rescue dogs are put down every year in Australia.
To make a difference, Pet Rescue had to influence more Australians to adopt dogs from shelters. They also had to overcome the very first barrier that is actually getting people to visit a shelter. Their strategy was simple ‘If we can’t bring people to the rescue dogs, we’ll bring rescue dogs to the people! But how? Pet Rescue is a not for profit with limited resources and marketing spend.
One of the insights they had was most people look like their dogs! Really, and there is some scientific evidence that backs this up. They used this insight to deploy their strategy.
An app was built titled Dog-A-Like. You can download the app, upload your photo and it scans through all the photos of dogs in rescue shelters and ‘bingo’ finds your perfect dog match. Dog-A-Like was an instant hit and became the No. 1 App in the Australian iTunes store for two weeks. Whether people were thinking of getting a dog or not, everyone started using it and uploading their perfect match images on to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And the results, 36% increase in dogs rehomed – over 2200 dogs every month. This has been Australia’s single most successful dog rehoming campaign to date. Inspiring!
An insight, a simple strategy and involving your customers to create a new story worth sharing. A potent mix to quantum leap your influence.
Please comment, I would love to hear your thoughts.
Quite often our first exposure to inspiring storytelling is when we see a motivational speaker on stage. And they usually narrate an epic story that involves scaling Mount Everest or sailing around the world solo.
But interestingly in leadership I find what works on a daily basis is not epic stories but everyday stories. Stories about shopping in Bunnings, or going to a restaurant with friends or dropping your kids off to school. Everyday stories work because your audience can relate to them. They can see themselves in your stories.
An epic story has your audience in passive spectator mode, they enjoy the spectacle of your story, but they are not involved in it. An everyday story on the other hand engages your audience differently. They emotionally invest in your story and relive their own experiences through your story.
Here are some examples of everyday stories that have delivered potent results. So unless you are a motivational speaker, the next time you embark on a story think everyday not epic, to unlock the power of storytelling.
Every year Time Magazine publishes a list of the 100 most influential people. In introducing this year’s list, Managing Editor of Time, Nancy Gibbs said “The TIME 100 is a list of the world’s most influential men and women, not its most powerful. Power is a tool, influence is a skill; one is a fist, the other a fingertip”.
Beyoncéis on the 2014 cover as the most influential person on the planet. Interestingly Beyoncé hasn’t been that happy recently. She has been trying to have some unflattering photos of her performing at the 2014 Super Bowl pulled, but with no luck. Even Larry Page and Sergey Brin the founders of Google, have been unable to eliminate photos of them dressed in drag from their college years floating around on the Internet.
So Rule 1 on Influence: Know what you can and can’t influence (even if you are the most influential person on the planet or own Google).
David Sinclair a geneticist also featured in this list.
He has discovered a compound that makes old cells young again, possibly the fountain of youth, this discovery is HUGE. When interviewed Sinclair said “While it’s a great honour to be on the list and be recognized by Time magazine, I can’t still actually get my kids to pick their stuff off the bedroom floor”.
Mr Sinclair please re read rule 1, there are no exceptions to this rule!
What are your thoughts on influence or influential people? Please comment, I love hearing from you.
PS. I highly recommend buying a copy of this issue, it makes interesting reading. The writing is also beautiful, particularly President Obama’s piece on Pope Francis.