If you are like me, you can tell from the first line of a book whether you think it will capture you. Peter Guber’s Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story was one of those books that not only had me at the first line. It was like a Dan Brown book – but for business – one compelling story after another, urging me to speed, ever faster, through the pages towards the end.
Peppered with personal anecdotes, this book is all about the art of storytelling, for business. It starts with a failure – Guber’s own – where his pitch to the Mayor of Las Vegas falls short and he is reminded that there is only one chance to make a positive first impression. From this dramatic and embarrassing start, Guber takes us through his personal history, showing how storytelling underpinned his successes – and how a lack of storytelling ensured his failures. Along the way, there are quotes and examples from writers, doctors and business people of all persuasion.
For some readers, there won’t be enough detail in this book. Guber doesn’t dive deep into the research. But he does demonstrate precisely why and how the power of a good story wins out anyway – his own narrative uses facts to illustrate his points, but they never overwhelm. They never distract.
While reading, I was constantly reminded of the best TED talks. I was reminded of the way that these great business leaders would engage us deeply with an issue that was dear to their hearts. They would make us laugh and make us cry. Not with the bald facts – which were often heartbreaking – but with the stories that show the human impact of those facts. Peter Guber’s book explains how these style of stories are crafted – how they are hung together. Then it’s up to you to give it a try.
To be honest, telling a story is scary. We can all hide behind the facts and the figures, but a story has a personal dimension. You tell it at a personal cost – and live or die (win or lose your pitch) by the story’s sword. My own experience is the same – where I have trusted in the story, I have succeeded. And where I doubted my story and pushed the facts, I lost. Reading this book, has in a way, reaffirmed for me the primacy of story. And that too is a success.
Now tell me your story and win
The publisher of Tell to Win sent me an extra copy of this book to review. This could be yours. Tell me your best business story in the comments below – or email me. The best story (in my opinion) will win a copy of the book. You’ve got until Wednesday at midnight (Sydney time).
Oh, and if you can’t wait, order a copy at Amazon.
And you can visit Peter Guber’s website here.