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Speaking on script: the loss of engagement in modern speeches

John's events, Storytelling and marketing 1 Comment

This week, I traveled to the United States, where I have now been for several days. As is often my practice in an election year, I have watched some of the political coverage, perhaps even with a bit more interest than usual, due to the controversial nature of the unfolding electoral process.  I should make clear that I enjoy watching politicians speak, not so much from an inherent interest in politics but rather as part of my ongoing study of what makes someone an effective speaker in a public arena. In particular, I like to evaluate how effective an orator appears to be at connecting with the audience. In this … Continue reading

How Leaders Use Personal Stories to Make a Tangible Difference

leadership, Storytelling 1 Comment

The forthcoming book that I referred to in the last post—about how individuals use their personal stories of identity to influence those around them—opens with an example from the career of Barak Obama, a tale that demonstrates how telling his personal stories propelled him to prominence on the US political stage.  My co-author and I thought long and hard about whether or not we should use such a powerful world leader as our initial vignette. On the one hand, we want to emphasize that this is not a book about politicians, or even about people who lead from positions of authority. Our goal was always to write a book for everyone who wants to … Continue reading

A quandary about my next book

leadership, Storytelling Leave a comment

Other than a hectic travel schedule and my recent philosophical ramblings—on Albert Camus, Sisyphus, Marcel Proust, and the like—a matter on my mind these past weeks has been what to do with my latest book, on storytelling and influence. As many of you know, this is not a new project, but rather something I have been working on for more than five years.   The draft of this book was ready to show to publishers more than six months ago. However, the manuscript stayed on the proverbial “back burner” for a good while, as I was extremely busy with travel and some absorbing new client work. Recently, though, I began … Continue reading

Association and assimilation

John's reflections Leave a comment

The coaching I do with individuals often involves sifting through their life experience in an effort to identify their core values and deepest convictions. These deep dives into the past then allow us to focus on telling personal stories of identity that express one’s true nature, the values and beliefs that define “who we are”. This type of personal storytelling is among the most powerful tools for inspiring and influencing our groups, in a work setting or elsewhere.  As I described briefly last time, one of the elements I find most fascinating about this process is its Proustian aspect, the moments of self-discovery when people drift into a sort of reverie as they describe … Continue reading

Unexpected revelations from within

John's reflections Leave a comment

Every so often, I make a discovery—have a revelation, as some would say—that really should not be one. In other words, I am reminded of something that I either have known, or should have known, all along. Such was the case immediately after my van ride to the Denver Airport with Otis in January. My “revelation” was that a small event or innocent conversation can stimulate a long and deep line of reflection, leading to numerous moments of both voluntary and involuntary recall, in a somewhat Proustian way.  Why should this not have been a revelation? Well, if there is one phenomenon that I have experienced over and over with clients, it is … Continue reading

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