Last night, at the Universidad de Belgrano in Buenos Aires, we did an official presentation of my book, Las Siete Reglas del Storytelling. Despite some truly horrific traffic in the city, a lively crowd managed to show up for the event. The book’s editor, Granica, arranged for a first-rate auditorium, and the Budeguer winery from Mendoza served their superb Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon at the post-event reception. All in all, it was quite a fun time.
In all honesty, and Argentina being Argentina :-), I had no idea who would actually show up. For example, several people who have followed my work for years responded positively to the invitation and then got stuck at their work, or discouraged by the traffic. In spite of all this, the crowd turned out to be an interesting mix of university students, seasoned business managers, and some of my family and friends. As such, there was a wide diversity in terms of age, intellectual interest, and management experience.
My good friend Eduardo Braun had agreed to be “master of ceremonies”, and his involvement made the evening far livelier than a standard author presentation and book signing with slides, explanations, and theory. Eduardo is a master at engaging an audience and getting a group of any size into a conversational mode. He did a fine job of interacting with this audience from the outset, soliciting their views on leadership, storytelling, and human motivation in general. As usual, he asked me the pertinent questions that kept the group conversation moving.
Every time Eduardo and I interact in front of an audience, the response is gratifying, even overwhelming. People often comment that we should be taking our message around the world, and writing books together. I recall that last year at one speech in Paris, I responded to this suggestion by saying that it would take considerable time and effort to write such a book. Immediately, someone in the audience responded, “No, just record a few conversations like the one tonight, and print them out.” Anyway, it’s something we think about periodically and will perhaps do one day.
For me, yesterday’s discussion with our audience was intellectually rewarding. Mostly thanks to Eduardo, we managed to keep everyone engaged for the full 90 minutes. The questions people asked indicated that what we discussed had truly resonated with them.
Near the end of the formal presentation, Eduardo asked the audience if the evening had changed something fundamental in their views on leadership. The response from all corners was that we had succeeded in shattering some of the false beliefs that people tend to have, for example that leaders must be powerful and charismatic speakers, or that they are born with a natural gift that most of us simply do not possess.
What is most gratifying for me in any get-together is when something transformational happens. In this case, many people said that they had learned a fundamental lesson: that one’s ability to influence any group, of any size and at any level of an organization, is something that each of us can develop and practice.
At dinner afterwards, one of my young cousins who had come to take photographs–someone who is more interested in art and music than in business or management–took me aside to say that she had enjoyed the talk, and that she had discovered something fascinating: Leading with one’s personal stories can be applied to everything, including music, theatre and the arts, or life in general. For me, that one reaction alone already made the evening a success.