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Having the right story — the one that creates context, has an impact in that meeting, and creates a magnet by which you can draw people toward you — can make the difference between winning and losing a deal. You have to have them.

Suggested Readings

Founders School || Entrepreneurial Selling || The Story Matrix || Impact Guide (PDF).

Isaacson, W."The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs". Harvard Business Review, 2012.

Heath, Chip and Dan Heath. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. New York, NY: Random House, 2007.

Olson, R. (2009). Don't be such a scientist: Talking substance in an age of style. Washington, DC: Island Press.

Wortmann, Craig. What's Your Story? Evanston, IL: Sales Engine, Inc., 2006. Ch. 7-9.

To collect your most powerful stories, grab a journal and at the end of every day, write down something that happened that day that could be told as a story. Think about the characters. Who was there? Jot down what happened in three quick bullet points. And finally, note the "lesson" or "moral" of the story. For instance, if you interviewed a new hire, and that person told you a story about how she had gone above and beyond for a former customer, you might write: "Interviewed Chris. She told about XYZ Company and how they couldn't make a deadline. She jumped in and went to their office after hours. She knocked out some of the work til 3 a.m., and they made their deadline and won the business."

Something like that. Then, note the "moral." In this case, it might be: "We hire 'above and beyond' type people."

Now, you've got the beginnings of a story. Next time you are selling a prospect on your value proposition as a firm, you might tell about your hiring process, and use the "Chris" story as a demonstration that you put your money where your mouth is.

Questions for You

Do you write down your stories? Do you practice them?

What are the rows in your matrix? Why?

In any given week, in which kinds of situations do you need strong stories?

Can you think of an example of when you shared a story and it had a profound impact?

Questions for Your Team

What are the best stories your founder tells?

What are the best stories you tell?

What actions can you take that will help you and your team to capture stories?

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