Stories as Strategies for Selling and Marketing:the HeART of STORY


Ever since the first salesperson stood up on a soapbox and plugged away the scripted benefits of a heal-all, cure-all and save-all snake oil, people have become wary of commercials. They are tired of producers and salespersons pushing new products with added features in their faces. Commercials have not just invaded our homes through magazine, radio, and TV ads; they have also appeared on our dinner place-mats, sports arenas, and our hand-held devices and phones.  A former actor-comedian John Cleese, now a professor of creativity and marketing, claims marketing professionals are aware that 70-80% of their commercials and advertisements have no direct impact on sales. Yet, according to him, marketing and advertising professionals continue plaguing the world with commercials for the sake of keeping their industry alive.

Connect, Engage and Influence your World Creatively!

The same is true about other forms of direct selling, whether to individual customers or large businesses.  Salespeople keep on making linear, unidirectional, hackneyed presentations about how useful, and beneficial their products are without being concerned if all the noise they make with their flyer distributions, PowerPoint presentations, and product demonstrations make any impact at all. The truth is buyers do not buy when they are told to or sold to. They buy when their minds, memories, and emotions do a pivot upon hearing a story. It is a story that reaches out and touches them, and it is that story that engages them and turns their hearts around.

A very simple example might be that of a salesperson talking about how good the location, the construction, the price, and the potential appreciation of a piece of property is.  The same salesperson becomes amazingly more effective when he explains how the former owner, Mrs. Anderson, personally supervised the construction of the place. He can follow with another story about how the present price–much lower than the current market value– helped Mr. Smith sell his property down the street with a whopping 25% gain within a year of having purchased it.

The whole tenet of wrapping real, valuable truth in the colorful images of a story promotes the truth easily and happily.  The stories, of course, must be relevantly parallel and put across a simple, honest truth—buying the product makes good sense.

So, next time on site visit to one of your properties:

  1. Dig through the history of the property and the people that used to live there.
  2. Who were they? What was their life like? What experiences did they have in that house?
  3. Chose the happy, productive and life-changing events that occurred in that house.
  4. Tell those stories to the new, potential owners.
  5. Back up the story with the numbers and paint a picture of a happy future they can have in that home.

For more such ideas and insights to hone up your influencing skills take up storytelling as a hobby and a practice.

Here’s the book Amazon: the HeART of STORY 




Ego and the Appreciative Self

Among the many theories and recommended global best practices in leadership, none stands out more than the universal consensus builder and conversation starter that goes:  “self-knowledge and self-management is foremost before anything else.” Of the numerous descriptions of leadership, let’s talk about that which describes leadership as being a catalyst for creating positive and progressive change.

Tales and Techniques to a Creatively Funnier you at Work and at Home.

Let’s then narrow down our focus to what a leader needs to do in order to be able to create, catalyze and champion change.  It would go without saying that to create change a leader must know (1) where he stands and (2) where he wants to go, bringing others along others with him.

How does a leader know where she stands?  She needs to have clear knowledge, deep understanding, and calm acceptance of exactly who she is, what she wants, and what she intends to accomplish in her sphere of influence in the world.

The tricky thing about intentions though is the fact that they are intricately tied to self-perception and ideas of who we are. This narrow, intertwined niche is where the probability exists for our assumptions to go wrong. Here, in this sliver of creative space, is where who we really are clashes with our overblown assumptions of who we think we are. Let’s consider this anomaly of true self versus overblown perception of self from the Eastern philosophical perspectives. Side stepping a bit from Sigmund Freud’s theory of the ID and the Superego, let’s simply refer to it as Ego or our own distorted view of ourselves.

In the course of leading, driving change, and living up to our fullest potential, this misrepresentation or Ego does get in the way not only of what we intend to create in the long-term but also in our interactions in day-to-day living. It can stonewall us just as Walt Kelly’s hero, Pogo, once claimed, “I have found the enemy and they are us!” It can side-track us just as a wise old man once said, “If not for me, there I go!”

Thus, hurdles to progress and innovation constantly appear and surface within the change initiatives of an organization or an individual. They arise mostly from a false, distorted perception of the self.

In the early-to-mid-1980s I had traveled around the world to sell and promote Philippine-made apparels and textiles.  On my first few sales trips to the Americas and the Middle East, I failed to bring back any sales not just once but three times. Each trip had taken months of preparation, weeks of travel, and thousands of dollars.  After every trip during that period, I’d come back empty handed and unsuccessful. The effect on my self-esteem was devastating. The organization I worked for knew the reason and I too, gradually learned the reason. It had very little to do with the products, the business knowledge, or the market conditions then. It had all to do with me.

Several months of humbling reflection and pondering made me realize that what seemed like external challenges were really my own internal shenanigans.  I was playing with my own mind and myself. It was all about how I perceived and positioned myself in the world and to the world. My self-image was inflated and unreal. It needed work; lots of work!

Months after that deadly year of professional failures, disappointments, and humiliation, I remember a moment sitting by my mother’s feet and sharing my most recent, eventually successful trip across the world. Her hand rested on my head as she gently asked, “What was different this time, son?” I recall taking a very long pause while fighting back my tears, I responded, “It was me, Mom. It was my own over-inflated perception of myself that got in the way of my dealings with others and my attempts at creating value. It was my ego, Mom. ” She patted my head gently and tears that I was fighting with began to roll down from hers.

Our egos, or misrepresentations to ourselves and to the world, create majority, if not all, of our work-life challenges. No sure-fire way exists of eliminating or curing this chronic ailment that occurs and recurs in every one of us persistently and maliciously. But since that emotional realization of my malady in the presence of my mother, I had set out on a quest to find a remedy– a solution–to benignly manage or tone down the excessiveness of my own ego-driven, exaggerated perceptions of self. That was over two decades ago.

Nearly a decade ago I have found a balm in a new way of life inspired by the philosophy and practice of Appreciative Inquiry, originated by Dr. David Cooperrider of Case Western University, USA.

Three of the many guiding principles of this way of life are most relevant to us in evoking a true perception of self and in nurturing the possibilities and potential brought forth by such a benign and beautiful awareness.

Principle 1: Trusting that every Human System and every Human ( a system too) has innate and untapped potential.

Of paramount importance is the fact that this belief is innate and exists in all of us. It can also be very easily be unleashed with care and compassion. The quality, quantity, and comparative value of this hidden potential is priceless.

This perspective allows me to look at the external world as a world of abundance and opportunities. It allows me to leap onto unchartered waters, take risks and to be open to all that this dynamic life has to offer.  With this belief, I can live with confidence, courage, and optimism. It allows me to declare to myself that regardless of my size, shape, or skin color I am part of an unfolding universe and I need not protect myself any sort of pretensions and machinations.

Principle 2: Acknowledging and adapting to Diverse and Constantly Changing Perspectives.

By recognizing that people and organizations are different; by accepting that these individuals and organizations are in a state of flux and change allows one to hold back from being judgmental. With this principle, self-awareness takes on a systemic swing and allows one to view and regard people and institutions that are different, in a compassionate and holistic way. It helps us mingle with all others with a sense of wonder and enthusiasm.

For me, this approach sparks off an attitude of adaptability and strengthens the muscles for seeking synergistic possibilities. From “I know,” I can move to “I am interested in knowing, learning and adapting.” In this way the sense of my true and authentic self takes the lead and gently dissolves my ego.

Principle 3: Asking Questions instead of Telling and Opinionating.

This principle and practice of learning, leading, and guiding resets a dramatic pathway into uncovering and unleashing untapped potential in oneself and in others.

A few years ago, I had conceptualized and hosted a TV Talk Show called ExPat InSights. My core intention for the program was to highlight similarities between cultures and therefore, enhance the bond between the Philippines and the scores of foreigners living and working in the country. Diplomats of different nations, business leaders, NGO heads, members of academe, and any individual who represented anything different were invited to share their passions about their business or advocacies.

Two seasons into the program, and after close to 300 interviews, I had covered Cambodia, Afghanistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Canada, among other countries. One day, my program assistant (whom I had given carte blanche to invite guests based on the above criteria) announced that the Ambassador of Pakistan had accepted the invitation to be on ExPat InSights. I nodded acknowledgement and smilingly showed my approval.

A couple of weeks before the set program date, I sat down to plan for the interview and my questions. And that’s when it hit me!  Pakistan? Wait! Isn’t that the country that borders India? Isn’t that the country that once used to be India? I realized that I’d lived too long away from my birth country and had forgotten that Indians and Pakistanis live across a blood-drenched border drawn 65 years ago.

Neither the Pakistanis nor the Indians have forgotten the pain, the trauma, and the bloody events from that past. They have had several wars and have continued until present day to deploy men armed and ready to kill anyone who crosses the barb-wired border.  These two groups go to war even when they play cricket or compete at the Olympics!

How in heaven’s name was I going to appreciate a representative of that country? How was I going to find and highlight the good? I realized that I was in an extremely difficult situation. My trust and adopted belief in the appreciative way of life had locked horns with a terrible past and with my own, unconscious fears.  Even if I did manage to be proper and professional as a host, I’d be ostracized and hated by a billion Indian people. I was faced with a fierce conflict of values within myself.

During the next few days I began to check for any loopholes in the invitation that had been sent  to the Ambassador.  Maybe the date was wrong? Maybe it was another show? Maybe the weather would announce a holiday for one of those infamous Philippine typhoons. Anything that would let me chicken out of my dilemma!

Meanwhile, the Ambassador had gone ahead and sent me his picture, his profile, current updates, and news about Pakistan-Philippine relations. I was getting deeper into the muck.  I began to have nightmares.  In those dreams, all Indian people from across the world were throwing sticks and stones at me and calling me unmentionable names. The eggs and tomatoes flew right at me through the TV screens. The Indian government had gone declared me a traitor.

A night before the interview date, I called up my mentor, Dean Rose Fuentes, who embodied the appreciative way of life.

“I don’t know what to do. This is a real mess, I’ve gotten myself into!” I screamed through the phone.

“Yes, I agree, this is a mess and I appreciate you calling me. Now, how is it that you want me to help you?” I realized that she’d appreciated my action and asked me a question right back. This late at night, she was setting a good example of walking the talk of appreciative inquiry.

“Do you, Dean, have any suggestion on how to sit across a person whose fore fathers might have killed some of my forefathers and be nice to him?”

“Wait,” she said, “Let me switch off my favorite episode of Sponge Bob Square Pants and let me think.”

I waited.

After what seemed an eternity of moving chairs, clicking switches and grunting noises, she came back on the phone and said, “There’s this wonderful little book called Dynamic Relationships by Jacqueline Stavros, and I think you ought to read it before you on live.”

I was a day away from dying in front of the cameras and she was asking me to go buy a book. I gently bid her good night and let her go back to Sponge Bob Square Pants.

I then called up another friend of mine; a wise old soul of Indian origin but Burmese by birth. He was in his 70s and I was sure he’d be able to give some practical advice. Not only was mature and smart but he also was a diplomat’s son. He knew tact and diplomacy.

“Tell the Ambassador that you are sick,” he suggested.

“But, I don’t want to lie, and especially not about illness,” I replied.

“Then tell him that the TV station does not approve of your program content,” he offered.

“I can’t do that! I created the show and I own full autonomy over programming. The station has nothing to say about the content and I’d still be lying,” I wailed.

“Hey look, you asked me for advice and given the fact that I need to be jumping into bed, here’s a last idea.”

“Ughh, okay, tell me please,” I begged.

“Say no, the Asian way,” he chuckled.

“And, what is the Asian way?” I asked.

“Tell him, that the show needs to be postponed and that you will call him … and then don’tever call him again,” he ended.

It struck me at that time that no matter what I do, it will be out of fear, out of a warped sense of reality. It would also amount to being a total cheat. I did not want to do that. The war of values inside me had ended. I trusted living the authentic and appreciative way.

The next day, there I was happily chatting with the Ambassador of Pakistan in front of three cameras. Our interview would soon be broadcast nationwide and across the world through the internet. I had swept my mind and heart clean of all biases; of all negative assumptions. I framed my questions such that each question appeared to lighten up the face of the Ambassador and he opened up his heart to me. He shared stories of struggle, success, and synergistic wisdom.

I even managed to ask him about why and how Osama Bin Laden had made Pakistan his hideout in his last days.  He answered every question politely and warmly. He expressed optimism and shared his insights about possibilities and hopes for a peaceful world. Not for a moment during the interview did I feel any enmity or friction. The interview, which is still up for anyone to view over the internet, is proof of the power and beauty of Appreciative Inquiry.

Yes, the process of gentle inquiry, of warmly exploring memories and stories of strength, success, and synergistic action works massively towards empowering others and driving change. The amazing thing about the process of inquiry is that it also works exceedingly well with conversations with our selves.

No, let’s not label it self-talk. Rather, let’s claim the use of appreciation and inquisitiveness as the backdrop for healthy, life-giving debate between our true selves and our inflated perceptions of self, our ego.

You have to understand though that the ego can never be totally eliminated. It can, though, be tamed with conscious efforts at aligning with an appreciative and an inquisitive way of life.  You also have to know that eliminating the ego totally is NOT necessary.   All we need is to keep it in check and maintain a healthy sense of self.

This belief and approach has become a way of living for me. This way of life is the air that fuels the fires of engagement, innovation and excellent execution towards growth and success at work. It is the belief system that strengthens my ties with family, friends, and the community at large. In every other aspect of existence, I depend on this life-giving oxygen to learn and innovate; to consult and facilitate; to coach and train.  Appreciative Inquiry constantly equips me to build bridges from where I am to where I want to go. It makes me humble and strong enough to have an impact on my own destiny.

Five InSights to Thrive and Succeed

Long before the Secret was let out,   way before people began to trust that they can attract anything they want, I was told that my destiny was mapped out on the lines of my palms. You see, I grew up in a culture where poverty, misery and sorrow were all ascribed to fate; to some document etched out in space with my name and address on it.  If that’s the case, then I used to think, why work, why struggle and why hope? Why not just lie down wherever I am and let the forces of nature take over?

Pit Bulls & Entrepreneurs (2010)

The difference between Pit Bulls and Entrepreneurs is that, sometimes, Pit Bulls can give up.

More recently, I have discovered an amazing thing: it is only when my state of mind tells me to surrender and lie down that the forces of nature overpower me. It is only when I give up and falter that a moving, dynamic world shackles me with cobwebs of fear, lethargy, and bitterness.

Yes, there are certain aspects of life that have been etched on my palms. Aspects like; where I was born, who I was born to, and how my early youth turned out. These things I’ve had no control of, but beyond a certain period of my life, after completing certain developmental stages, I realized that I’ve had more and more control over how my destiny plays out. Everything has been the result of the choices I have made, the words I have spoken, and the actions I have taken.

And so I live with the conclusion that all the things that I’ve had no control upon were etched on my left palm and all those that I’ve had control of and will continue to have control over are being consistently rewritten and redesigned on my right palm. Thus, my life is a challenge, a synergistic output of what simply is and what I can think, say and do to keep shaping my future, my destiny.

At the start of 2014, a friend of mine, Francisco “Pax’ Lapid, the Dean of Truly Rich Club called me over for a cup of coffee and ambush- interviewed me about how to thrive in life. Caught unaware and unprepared, I thought I’ll just let my heart speak out. Today, I realize that my responses that day continue to bring new meaning to me and my world continuously.

Allow me to share the five insights which emerged in that serendipitous moment in the presence of two video cameras.

  1. Trust That Life is a Gift of Abundance:

Just like night and day, like up and down, there are two contrasting foundational world views that we all hold. The first view is that the world is a tough and a messy place where every dog is out to eat the other dog. To thrive and survive, I need to thrash down everything and everyone that seemingly gets in my way. When we are strong and in a rage, we may possibly win a few life battles but the war…oh, that is bound to end up in a disaster.  This narrow world-view debilitates and shrivels us.

The Second, a beautiful view, is that Life is not just a rare chance but possibly the only chance for us to live big, live happily and live with gusto. This view drives us to stay appreciative, optimistic, and creative. It also celebrates and includes everyone else in this party called life. This view does not diminish or hide failures and accidents, but it utilizes such to add to powerful life lessons and rapidly bounce back.

Everything we think, speak and act upon springs forth and forward from this foundational view. If we think the world is a lousy place to be born into and live in, then it will be so. If we trust that life is beautiful, a gift of abundance and happiness, then that is how we will live it.


  1. Consider Every Job to be Value-Creating Work

I don’t mean to refer to the dictionary meaning of work, career and a job but rather to the biblical character “Job,” whose life was full of struggle, misery, and punishment.

People often tend to relate what they do for a living as a punishment. We all need to realize this fact. We are in a living, moving, and dynamic world.  Change happens every second of every day. To keep up with a rotating and a revolving world, we too need to move.  We need to march, to sweep, and to toil. Some things will be easier to do, more pleasing to our senses and sensitivities.  Other things can be repugnant, and yucky like, say, picking up after our dogs, or diapering a baby. They can be difficult like firing a non-performing colleague who has become a friend.  (or other serious but common enough example.)

When we maintain a sense of balance and equanimity in whatever we do, then we will do everything with grace and serenity of the spirit. Our eyes and hearts will be focused on the fact that, just like gifts, life too comes wrapped in paper, pins and sticky stuff. Think of the struggles in life as the proof and evidence of life itself.

Regardless, of the job description and the status it represents, it is our attitude towards it that will decide how we perceive and act upon it.  And should we really want to change our job, we can surely and steadily claim it because we know that we can make that choice and act upon it.


  1. Reframe Regrets into Right Decisions

Far too many times, we tend to dwell on our sorry past. We spend time and energy in these thoughts until they become so murky and heavy that we have a hard time shedding this, pointless, emotional baggage.

Apart from having learned good lessons from a past event for future use, we need to let go of the memory. We need to forgive and forget the people involved in it, the hurt we felt or the anger that still engulfs us. To keep lugging around this emotional baggage serves us no purpose other than to corrode our blood and our spirits in our here and now.

To re-engineer our destinies we need to recognize that whatever we did in the past; whatever activities and relationships we were involved in were all part and parcel of the decision making process based on the material, mental, and societal resources available to us then.  At that time, we believed that we were doing the right thing, didn’t we? Well, now it is time to let go of the regrets.

Regretting our sorry past doesn’t have to define our present but can destroy it. It is only from recreating a happy past that we strengthen the foundations of our future. Regard all the traumatic experiences and the failures from your past as if they were all a bad dream and move on. Wake up, grab a fresh cup of coffee, and go seize the new day … every day!

  1. Work Your Goals, Inch by Inch

We all have dreams…the good ones, I mean. If you don’t have a dream then that implies that you aren’t living. It matters not the size and the shape of your dream in comparison to the dreams of others. Your dream might be to own a backyard with a goat on it, while someone else might want to sell goat-milk soap to millions across the world; they are both, individually, valid dreams.

To dream is to see a place in the future, in a world where you can grasp a fistful of the sky for yourself and feel fulfilled and happy with it. Now beyond this “seeing” and beyond this vision, life requires that we put our shoulder into it definitively, smartly, and continuously. If we don’t act and if we don’t work, then the nice, big world will move on and leave us behind with an apologetic smile on its face.

Every single day, every single moment we must pluck a thought, take a step, pick a thing or two, and plod on towards our dream of a goat farm or a soap factory. There’ll be times when you may not be able to measure progress and there will be times when you may have to take five leaps instead of one step but plod on steadily and cheerfully and very soon, you will be there.

Currently, I am in the middle of book on sales and sales coaching. I worked feverishly at it for most of last year. Over the last two months I have been cracking knuckles over things other than the book but, by golly, I know I will be back on track in a jiffy!

Working your goals, big or small, is the measure of you turning your hopes, dreams and life’s purpose, step by step, into a reality.


  1. Think in Systems and Think “Ecology”

More than two decades ago, Dr. Peter Senge created a masterpiece with his treatise on Systems Thinking with his book, The Fifth Discipline. He made the business world realize how they can either create value with an attitude of nurturing inclusiveness or do harm by staying obsessively driven towards fulfilling just their own goals. What is true for large business is also true for individuals and small groups.

Yes, we must set our goals and pursue our own ideas of happiness but should any of our thoughts, words and actions create harm, directly or indirectly, for others then we need to revisit our dreams and our actions towards our vision. This requires focused and purposeful thinking from a wider perspective, with empathy and with compassion for people and the planet.

Let’s take the simple example of you wanting to own the world’s largest soap-making factory. If your factory does systemic harm to any other entity, then you need to rethink it. Or if your goal to become the best golfer in town means leaving your family wanting for your attention, then you need to rethink your own aspirations. This is ecology and this is thinking in systems.

In summary, I know many of us often feel like taking off and away from the daily challenges of life. Others grind their teeth and fight life with bitter aggression. History and now neuroscience too, point to the possibilities that good health, true wealth, and authentic happiness are achievable. It is achievable when we are clear about our purpose, creative with our approaches, and conscientious with our actions. This, after all, is an abundant and giving world. All that it asks of us is to be sensible and sensitive towards the world and with ourselves.

Now bring up your hands and glance at the lines of your left palm which represent the unchangeable. Then look at the lines of your right palm where your intelligence, awareness, strengths, and choices are etched out. Finally, clasp your hands together, ready to dive into a future of your own making in harmony with the world we all live in.

This is the way to thrive at work and in life.

go light one

The other day while waiting for my daughter at a gas station in Makati, a woman approached me and offered ‘chicharon’ and ‘otaaps.’ I shook my head and smiled a “no.” “The ‘otaaps,” she said, “go well with coffee, Sir!” I smiled and shook my head again.

Pit Bulls & Entrepreneurs (2010)

The difference between Pit Bulls and Entrepreneurs is that, sometimes, Pit Bulls can give up.

And, as she walked away the simplicity in her approach and the clarity of her voice made me take a second glance. She seemed to be in her early 50s. She was holding a few packs of snacks in her hand while a bag hung at her side. She was dressed in black pants and a fuchsia-colored, long-sleeved top. Her hair was dark with strands of white and it was cut shoulder length. She was dark-skinned, looked thin and work-weary. All in all, I surmised, she could be mother who was probably a former, office-worker. Her English was crisp and not accentuated or diluted.”The otaaps go well with coffee, Sir!” She’d said in perfect English.

I was tempted to call her and buy some, but then I hate ‘chicharons’ with a passion and apologies to the Lapid Family of the Philippines. I like ‘otaaps’ but I’d just seen some videos of myself speaking, and my silhouette had a bulge around the middle. Otaaps are made of flour, sugar, margarine and more sugar. No way!

Then I wondered why is it that I wanted to buy when in the first place I’d turned her away? I realized that I’d just become curious as to why and how had a mother-looking, seemingly well-educated woman in her fifties had to peddle snacks so late in the evening. Then I thought I won’t buy but just call her back and have a chat with her. That too, did not seem like a good idea on a less-lightened corner of the gas station where I’d parked and was leaning against it waiting for my daughter. I let the moment pause and felt a breeze of sadness brush my face.

So, the whole incident is still alive in my mind a week later. The questions on my mind are: What kind of a world have we built? What kind of an economy do we live in? Why is that we haven’t evolved enough as a civilization where a woman in her fifties still has to struggle to survive? How many others are out there who haven’t been able to stay up in the ups and downs of life’s shenanigans?

The air of sadness still circles me. I know this doesn’t happen in the Philippines but may be happening in thousands of cities across the world. Perhaps someday the world will grow into such a place where lives don’t get wasted such. I am not claiming that she, the ‘otaap’ and ‘chicharon’ vendor, might be unhappy or dissatisfied with her life. I am just floating way up in the air and making an observation.Go Light One

A quote that rings through my mind as I type this is “When you see no light at the end of a dark tunnel, go light one.” I must confess that I barely do anything about the struggles of society and life besides making noise. I do know there are thousands and millions of individual and organization who do good and constructive things bit by bit and day by day. My hats off to all that you do such things and serve the world. Someday, I’ll join you or if you know of an opportunity or need a hand give me a buzz. The least I will do is hold the candle while you light it.

*Otaap: Fluffy, crunchy, sugar-coated cookie.

*Chicharon: Pork insides, dried and fried like chips.


Raju Mandhyan                                  

Keynote Speaker, Coach & Learning Facilitator, Communications & Leadership Training

It’s an amazing thing – this trait called intention.

Taken from the book: Pit Bulls & Entrepreneurs 

It’s an amazing thing – this trait called intention.  I can’t really tell you where exactly it is born in the human mind. In the human brain, I suspect it begins as a spark through a neurological synapse deep within the amygdala, the part of the brain referred to as the heart of the brain or the beastly brain.  I am slightly biased towards the term “beastly brain,” because once a desire is unleashed from there, it turns into a raging, screaming animal wanting to rip apart anything and everything that gets in the way to its goals.

In our previous chapters, we gave weight to identity, intelligence, imagination, and integrity as traits that enable the entrepreneur to systemize, sympathize, and synergize with reality and nature towards attaining one’s goals and entrepreneurial ambitions. Intent integrates all these traits together to drive the entrepreneur into action and consequent success.

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Stories as Drivers of Engagement and Innovation

Stories may be truths wrapped in roses, rainbows, and rhythm, but they also create the future–that which is possible and which can indeed be beautiful.

When organizations slow down or arrive at a difficult bend in their developmental journey, people within the organization need hope.  They need new dreams and fresh inspiration.  Success stories from the past empower us, but it is the stories into the future–stories yet to be lived–that catapult us into action and success.

These words are etched on the mental corridors of workers in this company that supplies milk and milk derivatives to nearly half the world.

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Coaching Is the Air I Breathe

When coaching, I lean in heavily on the values in words like appreciation, congruence and positive intention.

Let me explain: Our minds, the minds of others and the world we live in are a constant state of flux. One second we hold a thought, an idea or an image and the in the next second it is gone. It’s like we are frenetically sifting through thousands of images, audios and feelings.

To drive change, to achieve progress our intellect needs to take charge, stay in charge while respecting and acknowledging the needs of our frenzied minds.

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the HeART of STORY:Stories, How they Serve Organizations, Part 2

Mention the name of Tata in India and every loyal Indian consumer will raise her chin higher as her eyes light up in approval. For nearly 75 years now, Tata and all its divisions have been serving the Indian nation well.   Yes, they had a difficult start in the troubled times before Indian independence, but they persistently held on, determined to focus on quality and to serve a young and a hungry nation. Over the years, families, employees, and all other stakeholders in the Tata group of companies have each had a story of his own to tell. In the 1960s and 70s, skilled workers would queue up for jobs in the production lines of Tata Motors. Once in, they would consider themselves successfully settled and would stay with Tata for life.  Such was, and still is, the reputation of Tata Group of Companies in India.

Connect, Engage and Influence your World Creatively!

Tata knows this and consistently organizes and aligns itself to the image and expectations that stakeholders look for in this brand.  In the 1990s when the Indian economy picked up momentum and produced a larger middle class, Tata realigned itself to the growing needs of a new nation by providing them with the world’s cheapest and most fuel-efficient car, the Nano.  Today, Tata continues to be ranked the number one brand in India and among the top 50 brand stories of the world. Images, emotions, and relationships in the form of stories have been the drivers behind this magnificent performance and brand from India.

In the Philippines, no matter how many times it is repeated, the story of how Jollibee Hamburgers started off as a little family-owned ice cream parlor always brings a sense of pride.  This success story is wrapped in deep, powerful Filipino values of family cohesiveness, nationalism, and the endeavor to constantly improve and innovate. Embedded in this brand story is the legendary David-and-Goliath plot of how a small, insignificant entity took on a giant, global hamburger chain and brought it to its feet.

Regardless of another global brand’s performance being  a few notches higher in the world stage than that of Jollibee, its “story” as being born of a humble Filipino enterprise that respects and appreciates family and togetherness makes Jollibee  the nation’s best-seller. Jollibee knows this to be the reigning reality. They continuously exert all-out efforts to improve their products, service, and performance not just to elevate quality standards but also because they are motivated by the stories that come with the brand.  They are smart to do so.   It makes good business sense and it makes good developmental sense. Living up to your brand stories is a sensible and a strategic ideal.


Drawn from the book, the HeART of STORY on Amazon.


the HeART of STORY: Stories, How They Serve Organizations, Part 1

Today, there are huge developmental benefits that stories and storytelling deliver beyond unleashing creativity, using metaphors, and the philosophy that backs them. Yes, stories in storytelling are not just about people. They are also about nurturing the planet and pushing up the profits in business.

Stories help us connect with distant entities and cultures. Stories sustain and consistently enhance the levels of engagement within our own organizations, communities and cultures. Stories are the magical and metaphorical processes by which we can ethically influence our market and all our stakeholders in a creative manner.

Connect, Engage and Influence your World Creatively!

Stories Strengthen your Brand and Identity

Coca- Cola in the US, Tata Motors in India, and Jollibee in the Philippines are not just names and good products. They also have a very specific character and a whole personality attached to their names.

Utter the name of Coca-Cola and suddenly, the cognitive and perceptual screen in consumers’ minds explode with brilliant fireworks.  Phrases like “It’s the Real Thing, Coke Adds Life, Coke is it!” constantly pop into our heads. Beyond the immediate responses related to its, name there is also the assurance of quality, performance, and a unique dependability in all Coca-Cola products. This type of response and relationship with the consumer did not come about just recently. It came from an accumulation of thousands of experiences, emotions, and stories attached to the product and its partnership with people.

Coca-Cola is aware of this so it nurtures and protects this massive, intangible asset with the same ferociousness it applies in guarding its secret formula for producing the bubbly, cola drink. Coca-Cola knows this so it regularly fuels the fires that keep this relationship burning by creating new stories, new emotional attachments with its customers.

A few years ago, Coca- Cola churned up heart-warming emotions between India and Pakistan by putting up vending machines using 3D touch screen technology so that the peoples of these quarreling nations were able to see and mime and touch each other, virtually.

The history and relationship of these culturally similar countries and people is that from being one country, it was split in two more than sixty years ago. Many factions on both sides are still upset over the split that happened in 1947.  Each side is still unhappy about friends, memories, and homes that they left behind during what was called the “partition.”  They have fought several wars since then, quarreled over borders in the beautiful state of Kashmir, and blamed each other for cheating in sporting events.  Generally, their people are extremely suspicious of one other.  It was a gargantuan task for Coca-cola to bring together these two peoples into a life-sized, virtual interaction.

The campaign called Small World Machines provided a live communications portal linking strangers across the borders of India and Pakistan. First-of-its-kind 3D touchscreen technology projected a streaming video feed onto the vending machine screen while simultaneously filming through the unit to capture a live emotional exchange between people miles away from each other.

Jackie Jantos, former Global Creative Director of Coca-Cola, claimed that the idea of creating stories around shared experiences went back to its roots.  Coke started at a soda fountain which in itself is a communal experience. The India-Pakistan interaction might have been a virtual one but the emotions were real and open-hearted. The project not only endeared the Coca-Cola brand but also earned a lot of respect for Coke.

This is Part 1. Allow me a few days to upload Part 2. Enjoy!

Check Video on You Tube; the HeART of STORY

Download from Slideshare: the HeART of STORY

Don’t Think of a Pink Elephant in 2015

I am not in the habit of using the word “not” as often as I used to, when setting goals.

The reason is simple. Our triune, naturally positive and highly visual,

Appreciative Feedback

brain does not accept a negative command.

Try, when I say, NOT to think of a Pink Elephant.

Please do not think of a Pink Elephant.

What are you doing? What’s on your mind? A “Pink Elephant,” you say?


Your visual brain had to first upload a picture of a Pink Elephant and then it made efforts to delete it.

Tough!  Real tough!

So, let’s say you want to NOT be fat this year and you will work at it. What is your brain doing and what will it do during the period you work at NOT being fat? It’ll be holding up a picture of a FAT YOU to motivate you to NOT being FAT.  The whole exercise backfires on you, you become what you visualize-FAT!

So the goal-setting and building good habits in 2015 way is to claim what you want to Be, Do and Have rather than NOT be, NOT do and NOT have.

So, here’s an example goal stated positively. Stated in a way where the picture is consistent, affirmative and in a language of “as if” I am already what I want to Be, Do and Have.


I can add to that.

It is fine sunny morning. I am in my bedroom. My window is open and I hear the leaves in the garden rustle. My waistline feels flat. My trousers feel loose and light on it and my back muscles are nice and sinewy. I like myself.

With that living, breathing, vivid picture in my mind, I work a plan of;

  1. Eating ONE whole meal of just fish and all green vegetables every day.
  2. Drinking 12 glasses of water every day.
  3. Biking for 30 minutes every day.
  4. Swimming for 30 minutes on every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
  5. Sleeping for a minimum of 7 hours every night.

After consistently working this Neuro-SMART plan and checking my progress every 15 days,  there I am on the morning of March 31 weighing exactly 175lbs.  I flex the muscles on my back and feel good about them.

Do you see that?


Of course, you can!

That is easy, peasy, lemon squeezy!

You can see it, smell it and feel it but I did NOT say that did I?

Have a Happy 2015!