This week I’m joined by global storytelling expert Shawn Callahan from Melbourne. Shawn is the founder of Anecdote, a strategy story consultancy and training firm. He’s also the author of a new book, Putting Stories to Work: Mastering Business Storytelling.
On the podcast, Shawn shared the following story about the chairman of the family-owned Mars, Inc., one of the largest food businesses in the world. . .
A few years ago, company chairman John Mars attended a presentation at a factory in the rural Australian town of Wodonga. Part way through the session, one of the fluorescent lights above the boardroom table started to flicker annoyingly. Without a word, John stood up and left the room, returning a few minutes later with a stepladder. As the presentation continued, he climbed the ladder, removed the light, took the ladder back outside, then sat back down at the table and resumed listening to the presenter. The chairman did all that without any fanfare, but his actions spoke volumes. He demonstrated the taking of responsibility, reinforcing a key principle of the company.
This story is an example of what Shawn calls “story triggers.” That’s when you, as a leader, do something remarkable enough that people not only take note of it, but tell a story about what you did to other people. Instead of just leading by example for the few people who happen to witness what you did, you’re doing so for everyone who hears the story. There were likely only a few dozen people at the presentation John Mars attended. But surely thousands of people at Mars have heard the story.
In this week’s podcast, Shawn talks about the power of story triggers and how you can trigger your own stories where you work. Click the play button above to listen to the entire conversation.
Paul Smith is one of the world’s leading experts on business storytelling. He’s a keynote speaker, storytelling coach, and bestselling author of the books Lead with a Story and Parenting with a Story.
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