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5 Inspiring Storytelling Lessons from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 17, 2017 by Carla Johnson Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the most influential storytellers of the 20th century. A pastor, activist and humanitarian, King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Nobel Peace Prize lecture and “Letter from a Birmingham City Jail” are among the most revered orations and writings in the English language. King wasn’t able to make …

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Why Empathy Matters in Storytelling and How to Use It

December 6, 2016 by Carla Johnson In his book Down and Out in Paris and London, author George Orwell (of 1984 and Animal Farm fame…) tells the story of penniless British writer Eric Blair and his adventures on the streets of…you guessed it…Paris and London. It was Orwell’s first novel and in good part, autobiographical. Although he came from a …

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Objectives vs Assumptions: Understanding Audience Motives in Storytelling

November 29, 2016 by Carla Johnson In his book Lead with a Story, author Paul Smith shares a great anecdote about why we have to take time to dig into understanding what matters to our audience. Paul tells the story of a law school professor who assigned an unusual project for students working with a local district judge. The assignment was to …

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Gratitude and Awe

November 22, 2016 by Carla Johnson “When its over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.” – Mary Oliver If I had to choose between all hedonic pleasures life has to offer, I’d choose travel. Travel brings out the awe-struck child in me. …

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Want to Raise Prices? Focus on Storytelling

November 17, 2016 by Carla Johnson Storytelling still gets a bad rap. Companies – especially B2B – see it as soft. Execs don’t see it as something to do if they’re serious about hitting revenue numbers. Sales teams say it’s hard and takes too long to affect a sale. Marketers claim campaigns are more effective. Here’s something to chew on. …

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22 Storytelling Rules Everyone Can Master

November 8, 2016 by Carla Johnson I’m often asked by business people how to tell better stories. I always tell them to learn from the masters, which is rarely other business people. The best places to go are often outside your industry. Those skilled in the art of storytelling but who work with different constraints. Because that’s how you begin …

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Do Experiences Matter for Employees?

November 1, 2016 by Carla Johnson In the conversations that I have with companies about how they can create more delightful experiences for customers, the role of employees often comes up. Brands focus a lot about what happens outside the walls of their organization. But they tend to turn a blind to what’s going on inside. When we give the …

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Design Experiences Not Content

October 27, 2016 by Carla Johnson Early in my career I worked for architecture firms. That phase was one of the most valuable times of learning in my career. One conversation in particular with a designer is still clear as can be to me today, decades later. He was telling me about a children’s burn unit in a hospital he …

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7 Storytelling Tips for Sales Teams

October 25, 2016 by Carla Johnson The biggest beef I hear from sales teams or sales-driven organizations is that they can’t get people to pay attention, make decisions or quit product comparisons. This is a huge red flag for a common illness. These companies are caught in the commodity trap. The commodity trap snaps up brands when they sell on …

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How to Tie ROI, KPIs and Other Metrics to Storytelling

October 4, 2016 by Carla Johnson We hear about storytelling a lot, but what does it mean? And does branded storytelling actually work? And can you measure it? That was the topic of last week’s Content Marketing Institute twitter chat with Jacob Warwick, marketing strategist at Blast Analytics. Here were the top takeaways from the chat… Question 1: What’s the …

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Humana Taps Socially Savvy Employees as Brand Advocates

September 13, 2016 by Carla Johnson Humana’s focus on health and wellness isn’t just something for its subscribers. It’s proving a tremendously beneficial approach for inspiring and empowering employees to serve as brand advocates for the Louisville, Kentucky-based insurance provider. Companies face a tug of war between wanting to empower employees to act as brand advocates and wanting to control …

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Wickedly Effective Storytelling: Exercise of the 5 Whys

February 16, 2016 There’s one critical element that makes a great story a great story. Relevance. In working with hundreds of companies and even more marketers on how to become stellar storytellers, I’ve noticed that relevance in storytelling is what separates the strugglers from the artists. Without exception, when we struggle to tell a story that sounds different from everyone …