Posts

The Future is a Blank Sheet

,
The Future is a Blank Sheet

The Future is a Blank Sheet

You can change your lives!  Trust me, it is entirely possible to cast off the past and retell your story from this day forward.  All of nature and the universe is an act of creation; an act of storytelling.

The poet Nasadiya Sukta once said:

“Whence all creation had its origin,

he, whether he fashioned it or whether he did not,

he, who surveys it all from highest heaven,

he knows—or maybe even he does not know”

The present and future are unknowns, each a blank sheet of paper on which to become creative.  It is important to accept and embrace the possibility within the present.  We can lay the groundwork for the future, we can enjoy a moment, or we can learn something new that will improve our mind.  It is possible to set aside disempowering stories and move forward into new ones.

Part of my mission is to help people set their minds free to explore new paths and areas of power and potential.  We work with future leaders to develop a story of success and happiness.  There are no limits to the imagination, and if there are no limits to the imagination then there are no limits to your potential.  For every challenge, there are multiple paths to explore and conquer.  For every problem, there are multiple solutions.  People can create a mindset of creativity, energy, and exploration.

You have the power to change your stories, and in doing so you also have the power to change your lives. Yes!

A Story: A Country in Jail

,

Though it is now history but it still doesn’t cease to amaze and awe me how some solo human beings were able grab oceans of injustice and flip them over for a better today and tomorrow. The only things that we as learners of leadership can look into are incidents of their lives and hope to get a glimpse of the power and spiritual structures of these giants. Here’s a peep into Nelson Mandela’s mindset from my book, the HeART of STORY.

“After spending nearly three decades in jail, a tall gaunt man steps out and announces to the world, “I was talking to another inmate in prison and he claimed unhappiness at having been unjustly locked in. At that moment, I had this amazing realization that it wasn’t I who was jailed for almost 30 years but it was my country, my nation that had been in chains much, much longer. This was the truth and it is my mission to free my country.”

Every single day thereafter, until his death, Nelson “Madiba” Mandela travelled the world telling them the story of suffering, of sorrow, and of racial injustice until the world responded to the plight of 50 million South Africans.  He then went on to become that country’s president and to win the Nobel Peace Prize.  He remains a shining example of human rights activism.  During the last few decades of his life, as South Africans worked to heal and build their nation, Mandela’s mission became that of national storyteller.  He did not just talk the promoter’s talk.  He lived his talk, upholding the vision of everything that South Africa hoped to be. Without him weaving in the right values through repeated storytelling, his countrymen might not have gotten to know and love their nation as they do now.

These are powerful stories of influential leaders in their own fields and their ability to employ and leverage the power of authentic and heartfelt stories. Each of them promoted a different core Truth and exercised a unique style through various media, but every single one of them is a raconteur in his own right.”

I am glad you like that glimpse.

Friend and Author Ramon (Mon) Garcia feeding my ego.

Friend and Author Ramon (Mon) Garcia feeding my ego.

On September 2, in Yangon, Myanmar I will run a session on The Leader as a Storyteller for managers and leader-to-be at the Hospital Management Awards.

On Septemper 12, Mumbai, India I will run a session titled Change Your Stories, Change Your Lives targetted for people from all walks of lives who want to get a grab on what their aspirations are, what is currently happeneing in their lives and then maybe knead and mold their own futures.

If you bring me a hard copy of my book, the HeART of STORY, plus leave me a compliment on Amazon I promise to gift you with a copy of my Pit Bulls & Entrpreneurs which is also a fun book filled with powerful, motivating stories about successes in starting up running your own enterprises.

Have fun and I hope to see you!

 

Storytelling Legacies of Leaders

In the mid-1930s India, a spritely old man wrapped up in loincloth spoke of freedom, compassion, and peace.  Mahatma Gandhi carried a big stick, marched across the nation to pick up a fistful of salt by the ocean, and eventually liberated the country. He spoke to his people through painted visions and he touched hearts through parables of possibilities, “Change,” he said “must come from the inside. We must become that change.”

Connect, Engage and Influence your World Creatively!

A few decades later in America, another visionary stepped on the podium and shortly after, set aside the text of his prepared remarks to improvise.   Addressing a crowd of many thousands, he declared his dream—people from all corners of the country, from all walks of life, children of all races living together as one “to turn the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.” He announced his vision to the world to change a nation.

In the early 1980s in the Philippines, a journalist-turned-statesman chose to stand up against tyranny.  Amid the toughest of odds, he flew home, stepped off the plane, and walked into the waiting jaws of death.  This act of courage gave life to a story that inspired millions to act.  Fired by his example and call of, “The Filipino is worth dying for!” the first ever people power revolution produced a peaceful transfer of leadership and changed the country’s future. People power became a global model for bringing about change at the country level.

In comparison to the last 20 years, the rate of progress and the proliferation of information and technology have been exponential and show no signs of plateauing.  How people will regulate and sustain life stories in the future is unimaginable.  The stories of today are flourished in diverse formats. They are told and retold to sound and music, in dance, in art, in words, in moving images, all in bytes and pixels.  Stories travel, morph and multiply at the speed of light with a cursory glance and the touch of a fingertip.

Will this explosion of knowledge and ideas through technology ever change the concept and the heart of telling stories? The answer is a flat out no!

Here’s why:

  • Wherever they may sit, leaders enhance their credibility and authenticity through storytelling to spark the change they seek. Storytelling does much, merely by advocating and counter-advocating propositional debate, which leads to increased discussions.
  • Storytelling is focused on the future. It is not just an extrapolation of the present. It swirls emergent, new phenomena and nourishes it by downplaying the doubts and misconceptions of yesterday.
  • Stories are about human empowerment and real transformations in organizations. Stories are about humanity. Stories are about us transforming into a better us. Stories are about us wanting to know who we are and about us wanting to reach for the stars.

A story is like mist that develops on the outside, but the wisdom emerges from the inside. When a story touches our hearts, it takes hold of us forever and silently sets us free. This is a never ending journey.  It is also a never ending symphony. As long as this quest exists, stories will always fuel and fire us. And, since this is a never ending quest, we will always be leading ourselves and others happily into the ever after through stories.

That is the HeART of stories.

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

 

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 

 

 

 

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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

the HeART of Story : History of Storytelling

Eons ago, when man discovered fire, he also discovered the wonder of telling stories around that fire. After a hard day’s hunt, he would gather his tribe and begin to converse and tell great stories. He told stories about the source of life, about the sun, about the moon and the stars.  He also told stories about the time and place where the sun was born and how the moon romanced it.  He told stories about how the moon pursued the sun and died every month to be reborn to love the sun all over again. He told stories about how every individual had a star of his own up in the teal and midnight-blue skies.

Connect, Engage and Influence your World Creatively!

Day after day, night upon night, from one season to another, man told stories –tales about love, courage, adventure, conquest, and wars. Around the fire, he told stories of ferocious Spartan warriors and heroes that battled one-eyed giants. He told stories about birds that could fly into the sun, burst into cinder, and then rise again from the ashes to fly right back into the sun.

Over the ages, stories of tradition, honor, and great courage ruled the air around the fires. There were stories told about great escapes, bold robberies, and giant shipwrecks. Discoveries were reported about new worlds, new wealth, and new people. Narrated with rhyme, repetition, and rhythm, all these stories were etched on the walls of the caves where our ancestors lived and into the hearts and minds of all mankind.  Shadows and echoes from the flickering fires left unforgettable legends visualized and represented on the walls of our current homes.  Today, many of these stories have become a large part of belief systems, of our culture and our tradition.

Storytelling Today

The ancient art of storytelling has turned into a science riding on the wave of television and technology as a laughing, talking, singing universe. This universe now surrounds us twenty-four hours a day and also reaches us through books, song, dance, stage-plays, movies, television, computers, and phones. It does not let go even when we are 10 kilometers up in the air and zooming across the skies at over 500 kilometers per hour.ccc

Stories grab us in news reports, magazine shows, commercials, documentaries, television serials, musicals, and films of epic proportions. Stories reach us through multiple media in formats like short episodes, interactive applications, gaming applications, etc.

The ancient, traditional face-to-face, oral storytelling has also morphed with the integration of poetry, improvisation, mime, and other forms. Seasoned, professional storytellers can keep us awe‑struck and engaged in their verbal and non-verbal gymnastics for hours on end.  Seasoned storytellers, thus, can influence and positively transform our worlds.

Leader as a Storyteller

 

 

 

 

 

Check out my book,the HeART of STORY, organizational and leadership storytelling…on Amazon

 

 

Laughing, Talking Sunshine!

“Grandma, why is there no sunshine in your room? Why is it so musty and always dark in here, Grandma?” asked li’l Teresita of her grandmother.

“Well, it’s because the room has no windows, child,” replied the kindly old woman.

“I am going to go and ask Daddy to install some windows right away,” she responded and ran down the spindly stairs towards the living room of their house.

The house they lived in was wedged between several other tall, scrawny structures and the back of the house hung on for dear life to the rocky hills of their little town in the province of Quezon, Philippines.

Her father was sitting on the dining table sifting through bills to pay that kept piling up from month to month. Her mother’s back was towards her and her father. She was busy stirring up some food on that, slightly chilly November morning in the Philippines.

“Daddy, Daddy I want us to place some windows in Grandma’s room upstairs in the attic. It’s too dark and musty there when we play,” she said in an excited and eager voice. Her father did not respond but continued to arrange and re-arrange the papers on the table. Teresita hopped up a chair and held his arm and shook it, “Dad, the room is so dark that we can barely see little shells we use for the Soonka* game we play. Please, Daddy!”

He dropped the papers and the pen he was holding, leaned back into the chair and sucked in some cold air. “Tess, our home is cramped in between other homes and has a rock-face behind, we can’t place a window anywhere in that room.”

“But Daddy, the room is so dark, so musty. Please Daddy place in a window. Grandma will be happy. We’ll be able to play,” she said in a raised voice. Her mother let go of the spatula she was stirring the food with, turned around and a lump formed up in her throat. She knew her mother who’d been their dependent for years now was getting old and they were living through some hard times. Her husband worked hard but he was still unable to bring in enough. “Don’t be such a pest child! Our home faces south. We have no money. There is no way we can place a window in Grandma’s room!” he snapped at his daughter. Teresita’s mother saw her little girl’s face shrink and her eyes water as she got off the chair and ran out of the house sobbing.

Out on the street, the sun was about to set and the country breeze quickly dried up the tears that had run down Teresita’s face. Within moments she got engrossed with the birds, the bees and the flowers that abound in the provinces of the Philippines. The evening sun was kind on her face and as the sun-rays fell on her arms, she smiled warmly, “Why don’t I,” she thought to herself “catch some sunshine and then bring it up to Grandma’s room in the attic?”

Quickly she held up the edges off her long, frilly skirt and faced the sun so the rays fell right into the open, carved out apron front. She held her breath as the apron-front of her skirt filled up with sunshine. She quickly scooped it up, brought the ends together, captured the sunshine in her skirt and ran up to Grandma’s room. “Grandma, Grandma, I brought you something. I brought you sunshine,” she yelled and let drop the apron-front. Nothing happened. She was shocked. “I brought you sunshine Grandma. I really did. I don’t know where it went,” she said as her lips pursed up in pain. “Oh, not to worry,” said her Grandma “come let me tell you a Christmas story.” She grabbed, scooped up the child in her arms and began to tell her a story.Teresita-230x300

The next morning, Teresita was out again playing in the yard. The sun was brighter and richer upon her as she played in the yard. “This time” she said to her-self “I will not fail. I will not spill the sunshine as I run up to Grandma’s room.” She held out the front of her skirt for a longer time. When she felt the heat gather, she wrapped it very tightly and then sprinted into her house and up the shanty stairs to her Grandma’s room and announced, “I brought sunshine. I did. I did!” Yet, when she let drop the apron-front of her skirt there was nothing. Again the grandmother scooped her up in her arms and began to hum her a little love song.

On another day Teresita resolved to win against the disappearing sunshine from her trap. She glued a large piece of a black, plastic sheet to her skirt’s apron-front. She grabbed a few clothe-spins and set out onto the front yard. With her jaws tightened and her lips narrowed, she faced the sun with squinted eyes and held up the plastic-coated, apron-front of her dress for a long while. With a large swing of her hands, she mightily closed and captured the sunshine. Stuck in a few clothespins on the little openings in the wrap and bolted up to her grandmother’s room. Again, when she opened up her huge gift-package for Grandma there was nothing in it. Nothing! Nada!

Tears the size of tennis balls rolled down her cheeks, her shoulders slumped and her knees were about to buckle when the kindly, old Grandmother quickly caught her and sat her on her lap at the bed. “Why can’t I bring you any sunshine, Grandma?” she cried. “Why can’t I make your room a happier and a brighter place, Grandma?”

“Child, sweet child” cried out her grandmother with tears forming up in her old eyes too, “every time you come up here and spend time with me, I become happy. Your sounds, your smiles and your sheer presence, here in my life, make my whole world brilliant. You are my laughing, talking and living sunshine. Yes, you are li’l Teresita. In your presence my spirits light up as if it were Christmas all the time.”

From that day on, the sounds of Teresita and her Grandmother’s happy laughter echo through the little, rolling hills of the Philippines.

 

Story inspired by the book, the HeART of STORY.

the HeART of STORY: Science behind Stories and Storytelling

What exactly is the science behind a story? Why do stories stir up so much of our emotions and our humanity? Why do they have such a lasting effect on us? What happens when we tell stories? What happens to people when they listen to a story? What happens to me when I tell a story?

Firstly, as I tell the story, I begin to relive the experience. I relive the wonder and the excitement that is part of the truth in the story. As I use my left brain to recreate the setting, the context, and the characters involved, my right brain jumps in to participate by offering images, colors, sounds, and textures.  Then, both my left and the right brain begin to have fun together and go to play. The whole exercise of storytelling becomes a whole brain activity for me, the storyteller.

The second amazing secret behind this whole activity where the brain goes to play is the fact that this sense of play is also very contagious. How is it contagious? It releases endorphins and other sweet smells of bliss and fun that draw in and attract other people to join.  Because this activity was started by the left brain setting up a logical scene and then was ignited by the right brain firing up a party, the minds of all those around fully participate in the thrill by suspending their wariness and dropping their normal cerebral resistance to novelty.  This phenomenon is quite similar to when we see people dance and we are drawn in to join the dance.

When we see a bunch of people on the street joyfully laughing and playing, our own spirits light up. If inhibitions are holding us back, we feel like dropping them and jumping right into the fun.  In storytelling, the listeners’ minds begin to likewise log in, plug in, and salsa with our imagination and train of thoughts. They do this regardless of how much or how little they know about the story background or about the storyteller’s experience. This is because as we create and put up verbal holograms/holographs in the conversation space, the listeners also set up movie screens in their minds and watch movies of their own making, with themselves as the main character.  The movie we are putting across through storytelling inspires and projects a parallel movie in their minds.  The images, colors, sounds, and drama in our conversations spark multiple, similar, copies of scenes running in the minds of our audience. This is magic in action.

1-SciencStory-721x1024

Illustration 1: When you start telling a story, it helps others recall and relive their own stories, their own experiences.

This is exactly why the streets of Hollywood glitter with gold. Because in our minds and in the minds of countless audiences, we all think and believe we are part of the magic and mystique that rises out of Hollywood. In my mind, I am Peter Pan or the Lone Ranger and you must be Dr. Livingstone, I presume?

This is synergy and co-creativity in action.  This is the real story behind the power of storytelling.

Now, the third most powerful thing about stories and storytelling is the fact that they impact the deepest part of our brain and our emotions. They cut through our cerebral defenses and sink in. What are cerebral defenses and  why do they have to be surpassed? The human brain of a newborn baby comes with some pre-embedded coding towards his traits and character. These are acquired from parental traits and characters. This is genetics. Right after birth, the newborn baby’s brain starts to absorb and accumulate data from what he sees, hears, smells, touches, and tastes. This data gathers fast, accumulates rapidly, and integrates really swiftly in early childhood. All this data is acquired and stored in the form of pixels, sound bytes, touch and other modalities of sensory inputs.

Most of the data that is primarily absorbed, accumulated,and integrated acquires importance over time. They maintain their importance throughout our lives. We call them our values and beliefs. We can be, and we do turn emotional about our values and beliefs.  Emotions burst out from thinking of things sensitive to us—images, sounds and smells that have been around us, within us for a long time. Our emotions, thus, are the stories of our lives.

All forms of communication address and tap into recent memories that are not ancient or primal to us. Storytelling is the exception.  All other forms of communication connect with images, sounds, and smells acquired not so long ago that reside in our recent memories. This neighborhood of our “recent” memories is a highly congested, constantly active desktop of chaos and novelty. And the older and tender memories of our growing years fear and avoid such chaos and congestion.

When narrating and listening to stories, the sights, sounds, aromas, textures, and flavors from our growing-up, formative years begin to surface.  They burst through the fear of the current, cerebral chaos and part through it like an old, bearded man once mythically parted the sea to get his people across to the other side.

Every time we tune into a story, the chaos and the confusion of cognition fall away to make a path so our emotions easily dance with the emotions expressed by the storyteller, as we see and hear them. Every time our emotions are happily touched, we become eager to do something, to take action, to build new things, and to stretch our limits as individuals, communities, and organizations.

 

Check out my book, the HeART of STORY, organizational and leadership storytelling…