The distance between success and failure: a story

With Tell to Win, Peter Guber throws his hat into the growing ring of people who understand that sometimes the distance between success and failure is a story. From the first page, Guber demonstrates both his mastery and his awareness of what makes a story work. Tell to Win focuses on “purposeful” stories. These are stories with a mission, not just entertaining anecdotes. Guber writes, “They cleverly contain information, ideas, emotional prompts, and value propositions that the teller wants to sneak inside the listener’s heart and mind.”

Having stumbled into the field of organizational narrative many years ago, I jumped at the chance to review the book. Developing my own practice, I’ve learned from a string of intelligent, articulate practitioners. So I’m happy to report this new entry in the cannon lives up to expectations. For one thing, it’s fun.

That’s high praise. A book that doesn’t capture my interest quickly joins the pile of books I sample and pass on. This one kept me reading to the last page. I laughed, shuddered, and nodded my head as Guber spun tales of Michael Jackson’s mouse-devouring snake, Michael Milken’s “Keep dad in the game” campaign, and the New Guinean tribesmen’s plan to protect their tourists from the 9/11 terrorists.

Anyone with Peter Guber’s breadth of life experience has fascinating stories to tell, but not everyone knows how to relay them. Guber does. If the book were only a collection of his memories, it would win a place on my shelf. But Tell to Win is more than that because the author has stopped to analyze why the stories he tells, and the best he hears, are so powerfully effective.

He did not just rely on his own considerable powers of observation. He questioned people whose training and experience he could trust, people like Robert Rosen, Dan Siegel, Steven Denning, and many more. He hosted conversations at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, where he is a full professor. And then he reflected, synthesized, and wrote.

The result of this thorough examination will lead even the most tentative storyteller to become more adept at engaging an audience. Tell to Win starts with the “why” and leads readers through the “how”, illustrating every point and every technique with compelling stories – the kind of purposeful stories Guber believes are game changers.

These stories are game changers because they have a purpose. They are not just entertainment, though that is a pre-requisite. They are stories that climb into the hearts and minds of listeners, planting a seed that can grow into action. When asked if people who aren’t natural storytellers can learn the skill, Guber replied:

Every single person who has watched television, gone to a movie, read a book, listened to a speech, read a newspaper, talked to their family is a story listener. You just turn it on its head and recognize that the same tools for listening done the other way are for telling.

Tell to Win demonstrates this premise from the first story to the last. Along the way Guber reveals what goes into a good story, how to tell it compellingly, how to connect with an audience, and how to motivate action. Whatever sector you work in, the book will help you learn how to do what the subtitle promises: “Connect, persuade, and triumph with the hidden power of story.”

Peter Guber, Chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment Group, has been a force in the entertainment industry for over thirty years. He has told memorable stories in the films he personally produced or executive produced, including Rain Man, Batman, The Color Purple, Gorillas In The Mist, and Flashdance which have resonated with audiences all over the world, earning over three billion dollars worldwide and garnering more than 50 Academy Award nominations. Guber oversees one of the largest combinations of professional baseball teams and venues nationwide and is the owner and co-executive chairman of the Golden State Warriors. Peter Guber and Dalai Lama

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Bill Gibeault - May 23, 2011

I agree with your review. I love the real world stories about the power of stories. Loved the Norma Kamali Backstory. I foresee a real challenge ahead influencing the business world for the need of story.

storyroute admin - May 23, 2011

Looks as if Story Mavericks is well placed to do that. Top-notch Web site you have there.

video production the Garden Route and wedding videos the Garden Route - November 16, 2012

I need to to thank you for this fantastic read!! I definitely enjoyed every bit of it.
I’ve got you book marked to check out new stuff you post…

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