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Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince, and Inspire Hardcover – August 10, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"Stories are flight simulators for our brains, and in this book Paul Smith brings you a story for every important challenge you and your team will face at work.  If you master these stories, you'll master your challenges." -- Chip Heath, co-author Made to Stick and Switch

"A compelling book that will help bring alive the power of storytelling to make a meaningful difference in your business or your life." -- Sara Mathew, Chairman and CEO, Dun & Bradstreet

"Lead with a Story is now my go-to source for stories that inspire change across a broad range of business challenges.  This is a must-read book for any leader who wants to up their game by leading through inspiration." -- Andy Murray, Founder of Saatchi & Saatchi-X and Mercury11

"I got your book late yesterday and started reading it after supper. I finished it this morning at 8:15. I couldn't put it down all night! This book is everything I had hoped it would be...and more." -- Jim Bangel, former Corporate Storyteller, Procter & Gamble

"This book offers the most storytelling success stories I've seen between two covers.  It is invaluable for any leader who wants to inspire, motivate, or persuade." -- Annette Simmons, bestselling author of The Story Factor, and Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins

"By taking Smith’s instructions to heart and becoming master storytellers, we may all avoid fidgeting, glassy-eyed audiences in the future." --ABA Banking Journal

“…provid[es] the literary tools to create great stories that can teach, motivate and lead." --Wharton Magazine

"If you are a speaker, a teacher, a friend, a pastor, a worker, a will learn from this book! PICK IT UP!” --I'd Rather Be Craving blog

"...touts the value of story telling as a communication tool for business people." --800-CEO-Read

“Paul Smith is the consummate storyteller, but he is also a generous, sharing teacher who imparts a great deal of wisdom in his book.” --ForeWord Reviews

“…outlines a comprehensive, yet very practical guide to telling stories in business...a must read for anyone who engages with customers, stakeholders and employees.”

"...thoughtful, meaty, comprehensive and seriously useful... profoundly straightforward and helpful..." --Authentic Organizations

“…anyone could pick up the book, understand the actionable advice, and begin telling their own stories right away.”

“Take your leadership skills to a higher level by crafting business stories that captivate, convince, and inspire!" --Management is a Journey

“Buy this book and let it help you find your story. Let Paul Smith show you how to tell that story." --PCB007

"...shows readers how to tell stories that build bridges into their future. If you want to go far, combine your competence with storytelling.” --Leadership Freak

“getAbstract recommends that managers, salespeople and presenters read this charming compilation, from its useful instructions all the way to its happily ever after.” --getAbstract

ExecRank Distinction Awards for Business Books 2012

“The book is chock full of great stories and clear, simple techniques you can use to be a better storyteller.” --thoughtLeaders

The Influential Marketing Book Award 2012

“…brilliant…filled with rare insights and ‘you had to be there’ style stories, this book lives up to its promise of using storytelling to deliver powerful lessons.” --Rohit Bhargava blog

“Packed with a wide variety of stories and scores of key lessons on leadership, Lead with a Story is an engaging and informative resource for any leader.” --Soundview blog

”Get a jump start on developing your own bank of leadership stories and check out Lead with a Story today.” --Seven Story Learning

"...this practical resource gives readers the guidance they need to deliver stories to stunning effect.” --Abduzeedo Design Inspiration

27 Gen: Generational Learning Works Both Ways 12 Best Books 2012

NOOP (Exploring the Networked Economy) 40 Best Influence & Persuasion Books 2013

“…offers interesting, engaging and practical advice for effectively crafting your own stories to better accomplish your personal and organizational goals.” --The Journal of Healthcare Contracting

"If you brief people, make speeches, or give presentations to your board or other groups, the book is worth your time.” --Musings from the CU Suite

"[Smith's] depth of understanding on how to craft great stories…has him doing some of the most important work of our time on the subject." --Ryan Powell blog

Masters in Communications 100 Influential Books Every Communications Major Must Read 2014

"I’ve been searching for an excellent book on storytelling in business. And I found it: Paul Smith’s Lead with a Story." --Speaking Practically

“I truly adore this book and recommend it to busy executives who want a quick source of material to use in their presentations and communications.” --Speaking Practically

Book Description

Storytelling has come of age in the business world. Today, many of the most successful companies use storytelling as a leadership tool. At Nike, all senior executives are designated “corporate storytellers.” 3M banned bullet points years ago and replaced them with a process of writing “strategic narratives.” Procter & Gamble hired Hollywood directors to teach its executives storytelling techniques. Some forward-thinking business schools have even added storytelling courses to their management curriculum.

The reason for this is simple: Stories have the ability to engage an audience the way logic and bullet points alone never could. Whether you are trying to communicate a vision, sell an idea, or inspire commitment, storytelling is a powerful business tool that can mean the difference between mediocre results and phenomenal success.

Lead with a Story contains both ready-to-use stories and how-to guidance for readers looking to craft their own. Designed for a wide variety of business challenges, the book shows how narrative can help:

• Define culture and values

• Engender creativity and innovation

• Foster collaboration and build relationships

• Provide coaching and feedback

• Lead change

• And more

Whether in a speech or a memo, communicated to one person or a thousand, storytelling is an essential skill for success. Complete with examples from companies like Kellogg's, Merrill-Lynch, Procter & Gamble, National Car Rental, Wal-Mart, Pizza Hut, and more, this practical resource gives readers the guidance they need to deliver stories to stunning effect.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: AMACOM; 7.11.2012 edition (August 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814420303
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814420300
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paul Smith is a popular keynote speaker and corporate trainer in leadership and storytelling techniques, a former executive and 20-year veteran of The Procter & Gamble Company, and the author of two books: Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince, and Inspire; and Parenting with a Story: Real-life Lessons in Character for Parents and Children to Share. He can be found at

Paul's work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, Success, Forbes, The Washington Post, PR News, CIO Magazine, Investors Business Daily, Marketing Research Magazine, the American Banking Journal, and London's Edge Magazine, among others.

In his 20 years with Procter & Gamble, Paul held leadership positions in both research and finance functions, and most recently served as director of consumer and communications research. Prior to P&G, Paul was a consultant for Arthur Andersen & Company.

His keynote speaking and training clients include international giants like Hewlett Packard, Progressive Insurance, Bayer Medical, Novartis, Kaiser Permanente, Ford Motor Company, Luxottica, and Procter & Gamble among dozens of others.

Paul holds a bachelors degree in economics, and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He lives with his wife and two sons in the Cincinnati suburb of Mason, Ohio.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 56 people found the following review helpful By DavidZahn on August 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book captures the science and art of storytelling in a way that is entertaining and informative. Far too often in selling situation, managerial conversations, and opportunities to communicate with peers; we default to being "Fact-Based, Data-Driven, Logical, etc." Paul Smith shows the folly of this approach and ignoring the emotional components of not engaging the listener/reader through story.

My copy is highlighted, has notes in the margins, and will be referred to over and over. Some of the stories and examples used will be tailored to suit my needs - but they will be used (and re-used).
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52 of 56 people found the following review helpful By John Gibbs on August 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Until recently, storytelling was about as welcome in the workplace as a crayon doodle on a napkin, according to Paul Smith in this book. But now storytelling has come of age. Many large companies are using storytelling as a key leadership tool, and several companies actively teach storytelling skills to their leaders.

The book explains why stories are an effective means of communication, and then goes on to show how stories can be used to address a range of different types of leadership challenges, including:

* Setting a vision for the future
* Leading change
* Defining the organisation's culture
* Inspiring and motivating
* Helping people to find passion for their work
* Providing coaching and feedback
* Encouraging innovation and creativity

Included amongst the chapters on addressing leadership challenges are chapters on the practical elements of creating and using stories effectively, including chapters on the structure of a story, keeping it real, stylistic elements, the element of surprise, metaphors and analogies, and recasting your audience into the story. The appendix includes a range of reproducible worksheets and checklists for creating stories.

The author takes his own advice, using stories to structure his content, so that the book as a whole is a compelling and emotionally engaging read. I find his advocacy of the use of stories persuasive, and the step-by-step instructions and checklists for creating interesting stories will be very useful for any organisational leader who wants to acquire potent communication skills.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By BurtZinser on November 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Must confess that I'm not a big reader but I picked this book up because of the catchy title and began reading it before bed one night last week. Found myself remarkably drawn in to the stories, illustrations and examples. Instead of getting tired and falling asleep I was intellectually stimulated and after FOUR HOURS forced myself to put the book down so that I could try to fall asleep. However, I found myself considering the employment of one of the ideas in the book in my own business and so falling asleep took a lot longer than normal. This well-written idea book is a must-have for anyone who runs a business and/or manages people/customers/accounts. Or maybe it would be better to say that if you talk with people, you'll want to know the contents of this book, it's that helpful!
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Kare Anderson VINE VOICE on August 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Remember how the jury consultant, played by Gene Backman, attempted to bribe jurors in the movie Runaway Jury? It seems that jurors can be swayed by much less - by the same cue that affects us all in other settings. Here's how., as Smith suggests in his book. A college professor of Jayson Zoller described a past class project in which students were offered the opportunity, by a federal judge to research ways to improve the jury deliberation process. They researched factors as diverse as the mix of ethnic groups, ages, jury instructions and even the food jurors ate. They interviewed past jurors, trial attorneys and others players in the situation. Much to their surprise, none of that mattered as much as one unexpected feature of the jury room. According to Paul Smith in Lead with a Story, the shape of the table had the biggest impact. If it was rectangular, then whoever sat at the head of it "tended to dominate the conversation." Jurors were less open in expressing their views. Conversely they were more egalitarian when the table was round or oval. Consequently, writes Smith, it was those juries with round tables that came up with the most accurate and just verdicts."

Hint: When you want convivial and collaborative meetings, or dinner parties you know what table shapes to seek.

But that wasn't the biggest surprise. As you might imagine the students were excited about presenting to the judge their low-cost solution for improving justice in his district. Belatedly they learned how vital it is to get crystal clear on the goal of a project. The judge's view of improving jury deliberation was to speed up the process and eliminate the backlog of cases that made him work so hard. That's why, upon hearing the students' recommendations he immediately did the opposite.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Deb Borkowski on October 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Every once in a while a book comes along that makes you say one of two things: 1) Why didn't I think of that? and/or 2) I'm glad someone thought of that, because this is really useful. Paul Smith's book is both of these. A genius idea wrapped in a reader friendly book, "Lead with a Story" is written by a man on a mission to get us all to dump our ridiculous power point powered droning. Yes, why don't I use a story to make my point?! That's how I get and hold attention in the real world. Smith is on top of his craft in this book, proving his storytelling capabilities - a high bar in a book about telling stories. He provides great, compelling stories for just about every business challenge you can think of, and accompanies those with useful exercises that quickly get you in practitioner mode. I found the Chapters/stories on Building Courage, Defining the Culture, Earning Respect on Day One, and Inspiring and Motivating particularly interesting. The stories in each chapter are poignant, well-written, and all quite interesting. They are ready to "pick up and drop down" into your speech tommorrow, or they serve as sure-fire doses of inspiration to rev you up to craft your own compelling narrative. There are also 7 "How To" Chapters that help you to do exactly that - create your own story, and set you on a path to holding audiences captive. The book is a must have primer for making points in ways that stick, to any size audience, for a host of challenges. I highly recommend this thoroughly enjoyable read.
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