Image Credit: Patel 2017
When Apple was working on its first iPod, its engineers presented Steve Jobs with a prototype (DeMeyere 2011). After careful examination, the creator of Apple wasn’t amazed. In his opinion, the device was too big. He wasn’t convinced by the explanation that such powerful and complicated gadget cannot be any smaller as all necessary components wouldn’t fit in it otherwise. As an answer to such statement, Jobs walked over to the fish tank and dropped the iPod prototype in it. As the device was sinking in air bubbles started appearing. When iPod reached the bottom, Steve Jobs said:
“Those are air bubbles. That means there’s space in there. Make it smaller.” – Steve Jobs
This particular story above is impactful because it’s easily memorable, shocking, and unexpected. It exceeds our expectation in what a CEO normally does. This story highlights the values that are so important to Jobs as well as Apple: minimalism, risk-taking and innovation.
- What does this story tell us about Steve Job’s leadership style?
- What does this story highlight about Apple’s brand values?
- How does this story contribute to our understanding of the Apple products?
You can see how storytelling can elevate the company’s brand image in our mind. Not only do stories help customers understand the company and its values, it also helps company leaders establish and understand better who they are and what they stand for.
“I’m scared” said Piglet.
“A story will help” said Pooh.
“Oh. Don’t you know? Stories make your heart grow.”
There is always a story somewhere.
What are your inspirations and goals? Where you came from? Why did you decide to do what you do? If you can’t think of anything, ask your friends and colleagues. I’m sure they will be able to tell you a time you did something that was really you and inspired them somewhere along the way.
You can raise millions based on ONE powerful story.
On crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo, founder stories are often featured in the product videos. These stories explain to backers the founder’s vision, passion, drive and personality. When you support watch a campaign video, you feel emotionally connected to the people behind the products. It feels more like helping and supporting than a friend rather than a total stranger.
One of the most inspiring videos I’ve seen is the story of FlowHive. Their story and product was so powerful that it raised $13,265,797 USD back in 2015. When you watch the video, pay attention to what makes you feel emotionally connected to the founder and the team behind the project. How do they tell the story to make you engaged and pull you to become a part of their story?
“As an inventor, you have these hopes and dreams. And the only thing that really keeps you going is being optimistic that yes, we can make this idea work.” – Cedar Anderson, Flow Hive Founder
There is no perfect story. Test to see which one works.
Try to think what makes you great, what experiences in your life taught you most and inspired you. Chances are that they will also inspire other people. Don’t worry if you don’t get it right on the first try. It is your story so you can rephrase it and change it any time if it doesn’t work out.
Questions to help with your storytelling:
- What is your biggest achievement?
- What is the bravest thing you ever did?
- How did you come up with the idea for your business?
- What is the most challenging thing you ever had to do?
- What fact about you most surprises others?
- What experience do you value most?
- Who inspires you the most?
- What others say about you?
In conclusion, I leave you with another Steve Jobs story:
In 2000 Apple’s engineers were working on new software for burning DVDs. They have prepared a number of prototypes for Steve Jobs to review. When he showed up for the meeting he didn’t even look at prepared ideas. He walked over to a whiteboard and drew a rectangle on it. Then he said “Here’s a new application. It’s got one window. You drag your video into the window. Then you click the button that says BURN. That’s it. That’s what we’re going to make. (DeMeyere 2011)”
Happy #NationalStoryTellingWeek in the UK 30 Jan – 6 Feb 2017!
DeMeyere, Dan. “5 Most Inspiring Steve Jobs Stories”. 18 Oct. 2011 http://dandemeyere.com/blog/5-most-inspiring-steve-jobs-stories. Accessed 23 Jan 2017.
Jebiga 2017. http://www.jebiga.com/swimbuds-sport-underwater-audio-ipod/. Accessed 30 Jan 2017.
Milne, A A, and Ernest H. Shepard. Winnie-the-pooh. New York: Dell, 1979. Print.
Patel, Neil. How To Leverage Storytelling To Increase Your Conversions. http://neilpatel.com/blog/how-to-leverage-storytelling-to-increase-your-conversions/. Accessed 28 Jan 2017.
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