January 2012



Years ago, as a journalist for a national magazine, I had the opportunity to interview music legend Jimmy Buffett. Now, I happen to be a Jimmy Buffett fan (we are affectionately known as Parrot Heads), so this was a pretty special interview for me!



Jimmy Buffett has an incredible business mind and a true entrepreneurial spirit. (There are unsubstantiated rumours that he is related to Warren Buffett, so the business part of his brain kind of makes sense.) He was one of the first in the music business to embrace digital technology; he recognized the coming shift in the music industry and left his big name label to start his own. He has ownership in two successful restaurant chains (Margaritaville and Cheeseburger in Paradise), interests in hotels and he just opened the Margaritaville Casino in Las Vegas. He still performs worldwide, has made over 30 albums, written several books (four made it to the New York Times Bestseller list), and he pilots his own plane… the list of his accomplishments goes on and on. And, of course, above all else, Jimmy is a storyteller. We talked about storytelling a lot in our interview.



I recently pulled out my interview notes and took a look at what Jimmy told me back then. His key points about storytelling are relevant, even for those of us who tell stories in a more corporate environment than Jimmy does.



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Once you understand what the story currently being told about your organization focuses on (see last week’s post on “The art and science of telling a great corporate story”), the next step is to identify the storyline that you want to tell. There are many story structures that you can use to tell the story in a way that engages your audience. While, at first glance, some of these approaches may seem a little “Hollywood” – keep in mind that show business is a very successful industry that is based on telling stories.



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Telling your organization’s story isn’t as easy as some would think, but it certainly isn’t hard. It does take some time and effort, but the results provide excellent return on investment.



The fact is, stories are being told about your organization all the time. Whether the stories are good or bad, they are being told by clients or customers, by service providers, employees and contractors (and their families and friends), by competitors, your board members, government officials and by the media.



When we start working with a client, we often do a little bit of research and find some of the stories that are being told about the organization… Please visit our blog to read the rest of the post.

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This blog post isn’t about what to do should your organization be faced with an issue or a crisis. It is about what you can do today, proactively, even if there isn’t the slightest evidence that there might be a challenge in your future. (A word of warning: A small mistake by someone in your organization could get a lot of interest online and turn into a huge crisis. Don’t think a crisis would never happen to you. It can. And at some point, it likely will.)

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