Archive for December, 2012

On Storytelling

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

The theme of my 2012 holiday video is storytelling. And it’s pretty funny, so if you haven’t yet, or even if you have, take a look.

Storytelling is actually a critical component of communications in general and business communications specifically.

And much has been written recently about storytelling in a business context. In a LinkedIn series, Daniel Goleman, of Emotional Intelligence fame, has a series excerpting conversations with developmental psychologist great Howard Gardner.

This title says it all: “Effective leaders are effective storytellers.” As Goleman recaps, “how and when leaders might use storytelling techniques to motivate and inspire.”

A later article, “Strategic storytelling,” won my heart because Gardner expounds on many of the same points I make with clients.

In discussing levers leaders can use to effectively leverage stories to inspire and motivate, naturally, he begins at the beginning: “First, it depends on who you are dealing with.”

In other words, knowing your audience is key. Now, where have I heard that before…?

This leading business mind also brings up a theme I’ve blogged about before: overcoming resistance.

“When you tell a story, the story is never an immaculate conception. Everybody has got many other stories in their mind, and those stories are often quite resistant to the story you want to tell,” Gardner says.

“Almost everybody – and I’m unfortunately a textbook example of that – spends too much time trying to convince you of the story that I want to tell, and not enough time thinking of all the reasons why you might be embracing a very different kind of story. The shrewdest mind-changers spend a lot of time trying to understand what the resistances are and how to deal with them.”


Great food for thought – perhaps the main course after the video appetizer?

Come on back for more on storytelling in future posts… and do leave your comments.


Lincoln on Leadership

Monday, December 17th, 2012

I’m a big fan of our 16th president.

Since seeing the movie Lincoln (incredible) and now reading “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” the book upon which Lincoln was based in part (Doris Kearns Goodwin is my new role model), I’m pretty into Honest Abe.

As I learned in “Team of Rivals,” Abraham Lincoln first became known in public life for his storytelling (a topic you’ll hear more about from me very soon…). As a country lawyer, he and his compatriots traveled Illinois following the district court judge, seeking out clients flocking to halls of justice across the state.

In the evenings, lawyers and clients alike would then flock to the local tavern, where Lincoln would inevitably draw the attention of all with his masterful tales. It wasn’t long before his reputation preceded him, and regularly folks from miles around would travel to crowd taverns late into the evening. Thus began a great story.

Loving all things Lincoln, the article, “4 Leadership Lessons From Abraham Lincoln,” published today on, caught my eye.

Truly, if you haven’t yet seen Lincoln, I highly encourage you to do so. It is a story worth telling about a president, and a time, worth knowing.

You’d also readily recognize these four traits from the film:

1. Say no to “Yes Men.” Lincoln brought all three of his Republican primary rivals into his cabinet, with his closest adversary in the most powerful role.

2. Be decisive. The Civil War president listened carefully to the opinions of others, but knew when he had to forge ahead.

3. Look for inspiration in unlikely places. Apparently, while serving in Congress, Lincoln “studied mathematics to gain wisdom in reasoning.”

4. Connect with people on a personal level. Lincoln opens with a battle scene, followed by Lincoln conversing with individual soldiers, black and white, behind the front. He held office hours at the White House, regularly meeting with ordinary citizens.


For more on Lincoln’s political prowess, read “6 Ways To Make A Team Of Rivals Work” on




Thursday, December 6th, 2012

You should read this post because you’ll learn a lot.

A smart Web site I often cite here, Copyblogger, recently published a(nother) smart, helpful article entitled The 5 Most Persuasive Words in the English Language, by .

One of the five I found particularly fascinating:

3. Because

In brief, people are more likely to do something if you tell them why. For example, in a study, 60% of people allowed a participant to cut in line for the Xerox machine without him giving a reason, vs. 94% who agreed when he added, “because I am in a rush.”

But wait: around 93% of people agreed to let him go ahead when he noted, “because I have to make copies.”


How does this translate to communications? Ciotti writes, “…you have to remember that when you are focusing on writing persuasive copy, it all comes down to answering your customer’s #1 question: What’s in it for me?”

Just substitute “employee” for “customer” and there you have the internal comms application. Always, always, always remember the WIIFM.

As Ciotti points out, “…even giving weak reasons have been shown to be more persuasive than giving no reason at all.”

Words to live by. Because I said so.


Learning Program and Team Awards 2009-2014


ASTD Excellence in Practice

Technical Training Award
Training Management Citation (for new programs)
Learning Technology Citation
Workplace Learning & Collaboration–Leadership Development (x2) Award, Citation
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Brandon Hall Excellence in Learning

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CLO Magazine Learning in Practice

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Business Impact Gold, Division 2
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American Society for Training & Development

ASTD BEST #1 (up from #32 in one year)
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ELearning! Media Group

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Chief Learning Officer Magazine

LearningElite #1, #4

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