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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified 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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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 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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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified 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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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
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. He ordered all the tables in the jury rooms to be rectangular so that a dominating juror could push the process along.

1. Sear Your Story in Their Minds with a Surprise at the End
Your side benefit in reading this story is that you've just experienced, first hand, the power of having a surprise at the end of your story. People are more likely to remember, and this is why. UC Irvine neurobiologist, James McGaugh, found that rats, when given a stimulant, could learn faster how to get through a complex maze, but here's the surprise. The rats that were given the stimulant right after the race, rather than right before running through it, were better at remembering how to get through the maze. So, when you are attempting to learn something new, guess when you should have that cup of coffee? As Smith writes in Lead With a Story, "The purpose of a surprise at the end is to sear the entire story in your audience's long-term memory. Memories don't form instantly in the brain like a photograph. They form over a period of time shortly after the event happens - a process psychologists call memory consolidation."

2. Leaders Boost Worker Initiative, Performance and Morale With Stories

"Rule books don't govern behavior in any organization. Behavior is determined by what is rewarded or punished," concludes Smith. "Employees cannot possibly break all the rules themselves. They learn through the story they hear about other people's behavior getting rewarded or punished. Make sure the stories in your organization reinforce the behavior you want."

3. Tell it So They Want to Re-tell it

And if you want to pull clients or friends into your story, crafting what Tell to Win author, Peter Guber, calls a purposeful narrative in which they can see playing a role, set up the situation in their mind's eye, saving your surprise for the end of it. Or, as in the jury story, where you can multiply moments of memorability with two surprises: set up each situation briefly with the details, - such as the perspective of the main players, that will maximize the surprise of an unexpected outcome. Most times you have only minutes to tell a vignette rather than a full-blown story. If you do that right the listener will ask questions or offer suggestions, re-shaping it so it makes sense for their exact situation, thus self-training to tell others, imbedding it deeper into their memory with each question, comment or other immediate action. Let your story go so they can make it their own and carry your story to others.

4. Use the C.A.R. That Can Drive Your Story Farther
To craft your vignette, include Smith's elements of a C.A.R.:
Context: Where and when does the story happen? Provide sufficient specific details so the story makes sense and no more.
Action: What is the catalyst, first turning point, climax and final action towards resolution
Result: Why you told the story.

5. Vivid Characterizations are Key to Attracting Opportunities in Work and in Life
In this increasingly complex yet connected world, the capacity to tell the story that is most re-told about your product, service, business -- or yourself - is right up there with your need to keep honing your top talent and capacity to collaborate with people extremely unlike you., but you already know that.

For more practical insights on how to craft the most vivid characterization, read Jonah Sachs' Winning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell (and Live) the Best Stories Will Rule the FutureWinning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell (and Live) the Best Stories Will Rule the Future, Annette Simmons' Whoever Tells the Best Story WinsWhoever Tells the Best Story Wins: How to Use Your Own Stories to Communicate with Power and Impact, Robert Dickman and Richard Maxwell's The Elements of Persuasion: Use Storytelling to Pitch Better, Sell Faster & Win More Business, Sell Faster and Win More Business, Steve Denning's The Leader's Guide to Storytelling The Leader's Guide to Storytelling: Mastering the Art and Discipline of Business Narrative (J-B US non-Franchise Leadership)and Peter Guber's Tell to Win Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story. See more at [...]
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
This book was an amazing treatise on the power of storytelling for persuading, motivating, and inspiring people. The bottom line: stories work. When you tell stories, people understand. When you want people to wrap there heads around why you want them to do something, tell them a story that shows them its importance.

Paul uses countless stories himself to show the power of storytelling; then, he gives examples of "types" of stories that can be used for different scenarios. I highly recommend this book to anyone in a managerial or HR position, or just anyone else who is trying to become influential. If you can tell a story, you can move mountains. Paul will show you how.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
i read this book from the first page to the last in a bit more than two months. It contains many stories that help effectively convey specific messages in a work environment. Those stories are good examples, but interestingly enough, being those stories independent from each other, makes it difficult for the author to have a single story line for the whole book and that makes it difficult to keep the reader engaged for him/her to keep advancing through the book. So i found myself putting the book down more often than what I am used to. Therefore, by the time i was reading the last third of the book, I noticed that I had already forgotten most of the stories told on the first third of the book.
The parts that describe the structure of a story, its elements, stylistic elements and the like are quite informative, but some of them are easily forgotten as well. I don't really know how to write a storytelling book without telling stories, so I would not know how to increase the reader's engagement (perhaps if the author tried to consolidate 2-3 messages into a single story? I don't know).
As a reference, I think I will be using the appendixes more than the rest of the book, and I think I will be re-reading, adjusting and telling a few of the stories in this book whenever I need to transmit a specific message to the people working with me. So I think it is a good reference book, it just did not make me want to keep reading it, or to finish it and restart reading it. It is an informative book and one can easily read just parts of it according to ones needs (there is no deception there, the author is the first one to tell you this, but I guess I thought I would find this book to be very engaging and it wasn't for me).
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This is a great book - fun easy read - great strategy, practical application, for anyone. I am not a great story teller - now I have the tools to be one.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This is good how-to book on telling your company story. It was a bit annoying that it also seems like a publicity piece on Proctor and Gamble. Paul Smith had a long career with them (and obviously grateful) so it seems natural that he's placed so much content about Proctor and Gamble's ways of marketing. Great if you're a P&G enthusiast but narrow if you're not and maybe for that fact, it was more boring than good business should be. However, if you take the stories and the ideas from this book, it's a good utilitarian resource.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
My initial reason for reading this book was because the man who wrote it was a student in the high school where I teach. I quickly found that his idea of leading with a story wasn't just for business people. I have been using stories this year to teach my World History and Economics students. I really think this strategy has been effective. I have always told my history students that they would remember the events of history better if they thought of it as a story. Now I find that using this approach is good for my economics students as well because they can use stories to make presentations when they enter the business world.
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