Becoming a great storyteller is a key skill to succeed in business.    

And in life.

Storytelling is a skill we can get better at.  This week we are continuing our exploration of the central ideas of Hollywood mogul Peter Guber’s wonderful book Tell to Win about the power of storytelling.

Our area of focus?

The role of the hero in telling a great story.  

Business stories, Peter tells us, just like books and movies, consist of three parts: the challenge, the struggle, and the resolution.  

The hero is the character who faces the challenge and fights through to the resolution.

“In every story there’s one person who can make the difference,” says legendary NBA coach Pat Riley, “That’s your hero.”

Our hero is the person, place, or product which allows our audience to feel the change our story promises. 

“The hero is the character that your listener will identify with,” writes Peter.  “Why is this identification important in the art of the tell?  Because, if your audience experiences the story through your hero, and the story leads your hero to embrace your call to action, then your audience automatically will hear your call too!” 

Communications consultant Bob Dickman, who coauthored The Elements of Persuasion, puts it this way: “All the passion in the world won’t do any good, unless you have some place to put it. That’s where the hero comes in.” 

What makes a great hero?

External characteristics like intelligence, good looks, and cool don’t actually move us.  More important are internal traits like hope, love, determination and longing.  

Heroes don’t quit.  It’s like the old adage: the only true failure is the failure to get back up.  

“By hero, I don’t necessarily mean Superman or a grandmother who rushes into a burning building to save a baby,” continues Bob.  “But the character in the story who gives the audience a point of view. The hero’s both our surrogate and our guide.”

True heroes are sympathetic and recognizable characters, writes Peter.  Their struggles and concerns make them authentic and vulnerable.  

The more sympathetic the hero, the more we empathize with their story and its call to action.  


Reflection: Why is the role of the hero so important to telling a great story?

Action:  Tell a business story today paying specific attention to the hero in my story.

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