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What's Your Story? Storytelling to Move Markets, Audiences, People, and Brands (paperback) Paperback – August 30, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0132312011 ISBN-10: 0132312018 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: FT Press; 1 edition (August 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0132312018
  • ISBN-13: 978-0132312011
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,258,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

“As usual these two future-finders have their fi ngers on the pulse of what’s happening--and what we need to know about. In every business, in every organization, the seven most important words these days are: ‘But wait! A story goes with it!’ You need to read this book to fi nd out why.”

—Alan Webber, Co-founder, Fast Company magazine


“A great story sparks our imagination, challenges us to think, and resonates with our collective conscience. Ryan Mathews and Watts Wacker’s story about telling stories does exactly this. It is an essential guidebook for capturing and conveying the essence of corporate identities and enriching brands.”

—Paul A. Laudicina, Managing Officer and Chairman of the Board, A.T. Kearney


Storytelling is the universal human activity.Every society, at every stage of history, has told stories–and listened to them intently, passionately. Stories are how people tell each other who they are, where they came from, how they’re unique, what they believe. Stories capture their memories of the past and their hopes for the future. Stories are one more thing, too: They are your most powerful, most underutilized tool for competitive advantage.Whether you know it or not, your business is already telling stories. What’s Your Story? will help you take control of those stories and make them work for you. Legendary business thinkers Ryan Mathews and Watts Wacker reveal how to craft an unforgettable story…create the back story that makes it believable…make sure your story cuts through today’s relentless bombardment of consumer messages…and gets heard, remembered, and acted on.


    Discovering what stories can do for your business
    Telling stories when the past no longer defines the future
    Leveraging themes your audiences will understand and believe
    Storytelling for your industry, your company, your brand, and you
    Making your stories more compelling, more believable, and downright unforgettable

Use Storytelling to Gain Powerful Competitive Advantage in Today’s Increasingly Skeptical Marketplace

  • Leverage the incredible power of storytelling in marketing, sales, investor relations, recruitment, change management, and more
  • Indispensable techniques for every CxO, entrepreneur, and marketing, sales, and communications executive
  • The latest breakthrough book from best-selling futurists Ryan Mathews and Watts Wacker
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

RYAN MATHEWS, founder and CEO of Black Monk Consulting, is a globally recognized futurist, speaker, strategist, storyteller, author, consultant, and the pioneer of the field of corporate cultural ecology. Wired magazine has called him a philosopher of e-commerce, and American Demographics named him “the futurist to watch” in a study of the 25 individuals who have made the greatest contribution to futuring. Red Herring said it was Mathews’s job “to ask the tough questions.” With Fred Crawford, he coauthored The Myth of Excellence: Why Great Companies Never Try to Be the Best at Everything, which appeared on business best-seller lists at The Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek and was honored by Amazon.com as one of the top twelve best business books of 2001.


Frederick W. Smith, chairman, president, and CEO of Federal Express, has called Mathews an “exceptional strategic thinker.” He is widely regarded as an expert on consumers and their relationships to brands, products, services, and the companies that offer them.


WATTS WACKER is one of the most celebrated and influential minds in modern business. Wacker--lecturer, best-selling author, political commentator, and social critic--has served as futurist at SRI International, the legendary Menlo Park think tank, and spent ten years as resident futurist at the preeminent social research organization, Yankelovich Partners. He now directs FirstMatter LLC, a new kind of think tank designed to “bring the future to your organization.”


Wacker’s first book, The 500 Year Delta, was an international bestseller translated into ten languages and an Editor’s Choice Top 5 selection at Amazon.com. His next book, The Visionary’s Handbook, is required reading at many of the world’s top business schools. His third book, The Deviant’s Advantage--authored with Ryan Mathews--has earned raves from reviewers ranging from TIME to The Harvard Business Review. He has been recognized as “one of the 50 most influential business thinkers in the world” (Financial Times)…“one of the 21 best speakers in America” (Successful Meetings)…“the inheritor of the Marshall McCluhan tradition” (Fortune)…and “one of 21 socially important people we selected to make a prediction for the 21st century” (The Science Channel).

More About the Author

Ryan Mathews, founder and CEO of Black Monk Consulting is a globally recognized futurist, cultural ecologist, speaker and storyteller. Ryan is also a best selling author, a successful international consultant and a sought after commentator on topics as diverse as innovation, technology, global consumer trends, advertising and media and retailing. He and his work have been profiled in a number of periodicals including Wired, which labeled him a philosopher of e-commerce and Red Herring, which said of him, "It's Mr. Mathews' job to ask the hard questions".
His opinions on issues ranging from the future of Internet pornography to ethnic marketing have appeared on the pages of literally hundreds of newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, the Washington Post, Business Week, Chicago Tribune, the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, Advertising Age, Fortune and American Demographics, which labeled him the "futurist to watch" in an article on individuals who have had the greatest impact on American demography over the past 25 years.
A veteran journalist, Ryan has written cover stories for Fast Company and other leading magazines and has been a frequent contributor to National Public Radio's Marketplace on topics related to innovation. He is widely regarded as an expert on consumers and their relationship to brands, products, services and the companies that offer them. Ryan has also done significant work in related areas including supply chain analysis, advertising and new product development.
He has enjoyed an extensive and diverse career as a consultant. Ryan has worked in every area of advertising from campaign creation; agency branding and positioning; client management; agency selection; and media sales.
Ryan has done extensive brand work with several Fortune 100 companies and has also taken on a number of assignments related to high-level corporate strategy and positioning from market positioning and creating competitive strategies to designing organizational structure and overseeing sales operations.
Ryan is the co-author (with Fred Crawford) of The Myth of Excellence: Why Great Companies Never Try To Be The Best at Everything (Crown Business), which debuted on the Wall Street Journal's list of Best Selling Business Books. Myth was named to the bestseller lists of Business Week, 1-800 CEOREAD and other business book tracking services. It was also a bestseller on Amazon.com. Amazon's Business Editors selected it for their list of the twelve best business books released in 2001. Writing about Myth, Frederick K. Smith, chairman, president and ceo, Federal Express called Ryan and his co-author, "...exceptional strategic thinkers who have given anyone concerned about consumers a practical, innovative and unique approach to competitive differentiation." Procter & Gamble president and ceo A.G. Lafley said of Mathews' work it, ",,,is the best tool I've seen for incorporating consumer wants and needs into your business."
He is also the co-author (with Watts Wacker) of The Deviant's Advantage: How Fringe Ideas Create Mass Markets (Crown Business), which received uniformly high reviews from The New York Times, the Harvard Business Review, the Miami Herald and Time magazine. Robert Sutton, professor, Stanford University and co-director of the Stanford Engineering School Center for Work, Technology and Organization, said of Deviant's Advantage, it, "...is the best book ever written about how and why companies can benefit from fringe ideas and people..."
Ryan was also a contributor to the best selling, Business: The Ultimate Resource (Perseus) and The Change Champion's Fieldguide: Strategies and Tools For Leading Change In Your Organization (Best Practice Publications).
In 2007 Ryan published his third book, What s Your Story?: Storytelling To Move Markets, Audiences, People and Brands. Paul A. Laudicina, Managing Officer and Chairman of the Board of A. T. Kearney called the book, "...an essential guidebook for capturing and conveying the essence of corporate identities and enriching brands." Dominique Bourse, Co-Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Cyber Group Europe and former Senior Vice President, The Walt Disney Company (Europe) called the book, "...a must-read for marketers, brand managers, marketing students and, more globally, for anyone interested in understanding the emotional attraction/repulsion effects brands have on us." What's Your Story? was short-listed in the Advertising/Marketing Category in the first annual 800-CEO-READ Best Business Book Awards.
Ryan's books have been translated into several languages including German, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Russian.
Ryan is an acknowledged leader in organizational change and innovation practice as well as a pioneer in an area he terms, "corporate cultural ecology" which examines not why companies can't change, but rather why they choose not to.
A frequently requested keynote speaker Ryan has addressed a wide variety of subjects in his speech practice from the future of beauty to the future of house paint. His audiences have included labor groups such as the United Food & Commercial Workers Union; not for profit organizations like Planned Parenthood; associations from the Photographic Retailers Organization to the Grocery Manufacturers of America; academic institutions like Michigan State University and Pennsylvania State University; high technology forums such as Information Week's CIO Boot Camp and Accenture's E-Business Symposium; consulting audiences including Cap-Gemini, Ernst & Young and Deloitte & Touche; to consumer goods manufacturers from Sherwin Williams to Procter & Gamble, Kellogg's, Coca-Cola and numerous others. He has worked and spoken extensively in Europe for clients including Grey Advertising, Musgrave, Ltd, the British Post and Unilever. In addition to speaking and his other areas of expertise Ryan has done significant client work in organizational development as a facilitator and scenario planner.
Ryan received his BA from Hope College in philosophy and Inner Asian history and did his graduate work at the University of Detroit where he studied phenomenological ontology. He has also served on the Advisory Board of the Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management at Michigan State University's Eli Broad College of Business and is currently Industry Strategist and Senior Futurist at SmartRevenue.com.
Ryan is a Kentucky Colonel and his reputation and experience as a chili authority won him a seat on the International Chili Society's board of directors. He is also a creative artist and is co-founder of The People's Arts Festival - an annual event held in Detroit featuring artists, musicians, filmmakers and performance artists which is the largest free arts event in the state of Michigan. He is also a published poet.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book was an enjoyable read. I thought it was pretty well written. It highlights the importance of storytelling in life, whether it be personal or business. It reminds us that truthful stories are the best ones, and they may or may not be filled with true facts. If you have problems agreeing with this statement, then make sure to read the book. It provides some good lists. For example, Chapter 3 is about the ten functions of storytelling. And Chapter 6 is about the five critical story themes.

At first glance one might think this book is not really dedicated to being about business. But it is! It tells us that the entrepreneur has to create a story when she puts together a business in order to qualify for a bank loan. It tells us that the entrepreneur has to create many stories when marketing her business' services and products. It tells us a business has to have a story if it expects to be able to recruit (and keep) employees. And a business has to have stories when it trains its employees.

A business has to be able to tell the story about the industry it exists in. And the business will have its own story, too. Often the leaders in a business will have their own story. And a product or service that is branded will have its own story. All in all, this book clearly informs us that if we run a business, then we better be good at creating, writing, and delivering stories.

What this book talked about was great. However, I would have liked it better if it had had a chapter or two telling the reader how to develop an ability to be a great story creator and teller. The easiest way I know to develop that skill is to join a Toastmasters club and do as many speeches there as possible.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Steve on December 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
We read 8 books this quarter on marketing and branding. This book clicked and changed how we market our non profit.
Telling who we are, what we do and why in a story format versus our old way has made a positive 200% change in our donations. We made our first page on our web site a brief story..It captures who we are quickly and simply.
This is a sensational book..you will not be sorry.
Steve Monahan, Founder, Meals Fur Pets.com
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Othon Leon on January 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
A book which now and then sparkles wisdom (less that I thought to be honest). The bottom line is simple: stories have accompanied mankind since the very beginnings (at some point they dare to state that there have been societies which did not make use of the wheel, but none has not had stories as part of their culture), and somehow, both authors explore the ways in which this (storytelling) phenomenon can bring either prosperity or ruin into your business... I think it's a good book, however, if it wasn't for that deep prologue (interesting theory there), I was going to rate it with three stars. There is social sciences at the bottom of their theories, unfortunately, I expected more of them to sustain their hypothesis...

If you are interested in going deeper into this creative way of interpreting success and / or failure (that's why I bought this book; I think the authors were brilliant in the sense that it's not easy to "unvail" new approaches to simple matters such as telling stories...) read it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By S. B. Scott on April 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book had great information packaged in a lot of dreck. The writing is barely up to par, and most of the examples don't give you any "Oh, yes, I see" moments. Sometimes I felt like I was reading filler.
Then I would find a gem. The explanation of the difference between "True" and "Truth" was pure genius. Their "10 Functions of Storytelling", brand applications, and "Five Stages of Business Evolution" were great. Unofortunately, you have to wade through "Who owns your brand" and other sleepy portions to find the good stuff.

Not the best book on storytelling, but worth the read (if you pick it up in a library).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli HALL OF FAME on June 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"It's the same old story." Well, perhaps it is, but that doesn't make it any less effective. In fact, explain futurists and storytellers Ryan Mathews and Watts Wacker, the best way to convey your message is to use archetypical story themes derived from human experience. After all, who are Harley-Davidson's outlaw riders but modern day Robin Hoods? And isn't Apple just another warrior-like David attempting to defeat a Goliath-like Microsoft by offering the world superior graphics? You can tell a powerful story by learning basic storytelling techniques and crafting them to fit your message. Mathews and Wacker outline these basics, from leveraging themes and shaping your message, to finding the right context, and making it relatable and believable. Ironically, for a book about storytelling it is, at times, convoluted and a bit verbose. Even so, getAbstract suggests it to readers who want their business stories to have happy endings.
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