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eTips from the Storytelling Coach - Number 17

Storytelling Spreads...Now to the World of Business

April, 2002

eTips is a free, monthly electronic newsletter from Doug Lipman. You can subscribe, unsubscribe, or read a more detailed description of the newsletter at the eTips page. You can also read the other back issues.

Contents

1) STORYTELLING SPREADS...NOW TO THE WORLD OF BUSINESS
2) RESOURCE RECOMMENDATION: MY FAVORITE 'STORYTELLING IN BUSINESS' BOOK
3) ORGANIZATIONS AND CONFERENCES - FOR STORYTELLING IN BUSINESS
4) ANNOUNCEMENT: GET THE STORYTELLING WORKSHOP IN A BOX FREE!

1) STORYTELLING SPREADS...NOW TO THE WORLD OF BUSINESS

Who can believe how far storytelling has come?

In 1970, when I happened upon a recording of stories by North Carolina mountain storyteller Ray Hicks, I had never heard of storytelling - in fact, as I began incorporating Ray's tales and others into my teaching, I assumed that storytelling was a branch of folk music.

In 1979, when I finally found other professional storytellers in the Boston area, I felt like a lone traveller who finds footprints in the wilderness. At that time, in fact, most new members of what became the National Storytelling Network expressed a feeling like mine: "You mean other folks are telling stories, too?"

By the early-to-mid 1990s, the majority of people attending my beginning storytelling classes had learned of storytelling by seeing other tellers perform. No longer were most people in education, libraries and the arts discovering storytelling independently; now they were catching the fire of storytelling from already-burning candles.

Today, the value of storytelling is widely accepted within many fields, including much of education, academia, libraries, and social-services.

The Cycle Repeats - In Corporations

In the last 5-10 years, the same process has begun to repeat itself in the world of business and organizational development.

The first generation of business-storytelling enthusiasts discovered storytelling in one of two ways. Some came across it in artistic settings, then thought, "There has to be a way to apply this power to the world of business!" Others discovered it independently, by trying it out for some chance reason and discovering that it worked.

Now, storytelling continues to be discovered again and again - because it meets a need for powerful, respectful, whole-person communication. At the same time, more and more executives, consultants and business leaders are passing on the storytelling flame through books, consultations, email lists - and, most recently, in conferences and Special Interest Groups.

Storytelling in organizations is about to become well known, I believe. But will it become another quick-passing business trend, or a lasting part of the organizational landscape?

For me, the answer depends in part on whether the first-known practitioners deliver what they promise. If they don't, it will be another flash in the quick-burning pan of business fads. If they do, storytelling will gain an ever-greater reputation as an effective tool in organizations and human relations.

2) RESOURCE RECOMMENDATION: MY FAVORITE 'STORYTELLING IN BUSINESS' BOOK

I like "The Story Factor," by Annette Simmons. To be sure, Annette has been my student in storytelling as well as my mentor in my own attempts to bring storytelling to businesses - and I had the honor of writing the book's forward. But I like the book because it makes the right promises. Annette's book does what any book about applied storytelling should do: it describes how to apply storytelling without compromising storytelling's artistic heart.

Annette offers the book as a way to achieve "inspiration, influence and persuasion." By the end of the book, the reader learns that the "secret" of influence is, in fact, what has drawn so many fans to the art of storytelling: stories persuade because they lead us to the common-ground of mutual respect - not by giving one party a secret weapon with which to manipulate the other. In Annette's words:

"Story doesn't grab power. Story creates power.... As a storyteller you borrow a story's power to connect people to what is important and to help them make sense of their world." (page 29).

Re-reading "The Story Factor" this week, I found myself saying again and again, "Yes! That puts it just right! That's the truth about storytelling that I want people to know!"

You can read my forward to Annette's book at http://storydynamics.com/Articles/In_Society/factor.html, which includes links to a sample chapter on Annette's website (as well as to convenient online vendors who carry it).

3) ORGANIZATIONS AND CONFERENCES - FOR STORYTELLING IN BUSINESS

Here are three of the numerous recent and upcoming developments around storytelling in the business world.

Special Interest Group Formed

One sign of how storytelling is bubbling to the surface in business: NSN (the National Storytelling Network) now has a Special Interest Group for "Storytelling in Organizations." You can get membership information at the NSN web site, http://www.storynet.org/NSN/SIG.htm. If you have particular questions about the group, you can contact its leader, Kathy Flanagan .

Pre-Conference in Denver

This same special interest group is presenting a pre-conference on July 10, 2002, as part of the National Storytelling Conference in Denver. Speakers will include Ilan Shamir, former 7-UP executive and founder of Your True Nature and other businesses; Molly Catron, organizational development consultant formerly with Eastman Chemical for 20 years; Loren Niemi (NSN board chair and consultant to organizations), and me - as well as several others. Details are at http://www.storynet.org/Conference2002/PreConference/Organizations.htm.

Business Conference in New York

In a few days, there's another conference about storytelling in business. This one is titled, "Action-Enabled Learning: The Power of Narrative." It's aimed squarely at the business world, with presenters like Stephen Denning (author of "The Springboard" and former World Bank executive), David Snowden (IBM Institute for Knowledge Management), etc. Annette Simmons will be presenting (as will I). It's being held Wednesday and Thursday, April 24-25, at the New York Marriott East Side. More info: http://www.ark-group.com/events/conferences.asp.

Hold the Presses: Save $1145!

The tuition for the Power of Narrative conference (see above) is $1395. But, since there are still openings and I'm a presenter, they've let me know that I can bring a few guests for only $250 each! If you'd like to attend, please contact me immediately.

4) ANNOUNCEMENT: GET THE STORYTELLING WORKSHOP IN A BOX FREE!

For the next seven days, if you subscribe to my monthly Storytelling Workshop in a Box[tm], you will receive one month free. Sign up, pay nothing now. The first month will come to you, absolutely free. If you haven't cancelled by the second month, you'll continue to receive (and be billed the ridiculously low charge for) this invaluable resource for all who take their storytelling seriously.

A full description of the many benefits of membership - and testimonials from current members - are at http://storydynamics.com/Publications/Memberships/swb.html.

To get the free issue, just mention ET71FRE when you join. And joining is easy - call, fax, write, email, or use my secure server at https://secure.storydynamics.com/catalog. Unconditionally guaranteed! You can cancel at any time! But you only have 7 days to respond to this offer.

All the best, Doug

P.S., Email me for one or all of these, or view them on the web:

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This page was last updated on Friday, November 28, 2003
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