At the end of the late night rally in Orlando last week, Barack Obama talked about stories and told the crowd, “Everyone here has a story. I want your stories to be heard.” 

 Marketing genius Seth Godin blogged today about lessons for marketers from the campaign. I’d been noticing how effectively–and ineffectively– storytelling has been used during this campaign. So has Godin, of course. He writes, “Mainstream media isn’t powerful because we have no other choices. It’s powerful because they’re still really good at writing and spreading stories, stories we listen to and stories we believe.”

As everyone knows I’ve become wildly passionate about the power of storytelling as a marketing tool. It’s also powerful in social situations and indispensable if you’re a public speaker. 

Nicole Stone was a participant in the first Compelling Storytelling seminar last February. She’s the owner of Spirited Impact and a delightful young woman to be around. Here’s what she has to say nine months after taking the seminar.

I really feel like everyone who owns a business needs this seminar. Take a break and more than triple your productivity at the same time! It’s working on yourself and on your business all at the same time. It’s the foundation for what we are offering the world.

Take the time to work on yourself and your business. It’s a great way to get a break and be productive at the same time. Built in entertainment, dinner out and reflection, camaraderie and friendships that will last a lifetime.

And I found it was conducive to some real personal reflection and growth which is absolutely necessary for your business to work and grow. I took everything I began at the three days I spent at Compelling Storytelling with Alice and Barbara, and got everything done that I had been putting off for months. 

I also feel that I became connected to my classmates in a deep and lasting way that is coming back to me tenfold.

Compelling Storytelling is a step toward what your heart wants that your mind won’t let you spend time creating.

I found my voice at this seminar and it completely changed my  writing style. I used to feel stuck about how to talk about my business, but now I have the confidence and perspective to write everything myself quite successfully. It’s all because of this seminar.

Alice Barry and I would love to help everyone learn to tell their stories in a powerful and compelling way, but time is running out to join us at the next event which happens on December 2-4. Clear your calendar, book your flight, let us know you’re coming. This could be the most unforgettable trip to Las Vegas you’ll ever take. After all, the odds are much better that you’ll get more back than you spend. Nobody else in Vegas has those odds.

Your job is to make your audience care about your obsessions. ~ Bruce Springsteen

One New Year’s Day during my daughter’s college years, she called to  tell me about her celebration the night before. “The party I thought was going to be fun wasn’t,” Jennie said, “and the one I thought was  going to be boring was terrific.”

“What a great metaphor,” I replied. 

“Oh, Mom,” she groaned, “you think everything is a metaphor.”

She was right, of course. I love metaphor and think they’re highly underrated as learning tools. I’m not alone in thinking so. In his wonderful book, Growing a Business, Paul Hawken suggests that the best training for running a business is gardening. I have always found the parallels fascinating and thought of it again when I came across an article about Geri Larkin’s book Plant Seed, Pull Weed

Here’s what you need to do, says Larkin, if you want to have a great garden:

1. Want a great garden

2. Do what needs doing

3. See what’s in front of you

4. Share its abundance

5. Give it your enthusiasm

6. Keep the weeds at bay

7. Have patience

8. Harvest its joys

These steps may sound simple—obvious, even—but they require mindfulness and continuous practice. Just like meditation or gardening or raising baby humans. However, if you want to have a great business you couldn’t find a better outline. Nice metaphor, huh?

The vast majority of success stories are written by the plodders. ~ Paul Hawken

They’re baaaaaack! Those annoying Internet flashing banner ads that disappeared for a while have returned with a vengeance. They make my eyes cross and my head ache. They do not make me think, “Oh, that looks interesting. I’d better check it out and see what I’m missing.” Same goes for local tv ads that are broadcast at twice the volume of regular programming. And do you know anyone who adores automated phone systems?

Also rating high on my Annoyance Index is my local supermarket. I only shop there for a few things that the delightful Trader Joe’s can’t supply. A few months ago, I noticed something strange was happening at my neighborhood Von’s. Perhaps they hired a customer service consultant who advised them to be more helpful. Or maybe their manager came up with a plan to endear the store to their waning customer base. It’s not working. Under this new policy, I can be browsing quietly in the store—and then am startled when an employee swoops out of nowhere to ask me if I need help. Scaring the daylights out of me is not their worst offense, however. 

The other day I dropped in to pick up a few items. After I’d paid for them, I was asked, “Do you need help out with that?” What I had just purchased was a bouquet of flowers, a bottle of ketchup and an onion. An automatic question like that doesn’t make me feel like they want to be helpful; it tells me they’re not paying attention. Or, perhaps, they are implying that anyone as aged and frail as I am, shouldn’t be trusted getting to their car with such a load.

In Fromm and Schlesinger’s The Real Heroes of Business, they say, “If you want to know how to give great service, find people who do it and watch them.”  If you want to know how to avoid giving great service, watch people who annoy you. (By the way, there are lots more of the latter than the former.) Then decide which you want as your role model.

Person without a smiling face must not open a shop. ~ Chinese Proverb