What do Star Wars, Nike, & The Beatles all have in common?
Hint: It’s not just that they’re all mind-blowing success stories.
As a kid, I was blessed with thousands of comics, movies, songs.
I loved stories, but I’d never had much practice ‘storytelling.’ I’d always gotten high marks in english & creative writing, 90s even, but as I began running my own businesses I started to wonder if I deserved them.
I did ok when I was sitting down, face-to-face, telling stories of my life in order to prove a point or help someone ryze but my writing didn’t seem good enough to me, my stories didn’t catch on like I wanted them to. So I studied. I practiced. I hired other writers.
I got better, yes, but it also helped in a different way. It shored up what I knew in my heart, stories are huge power in business and life, and I could help my clients explore it.
And it showed me that most masterful creative endeavors, whether written, auditory, or visual had a solid foundation in story.
Star Wars, The Beatles, and Nike knew it too.
They all leverage myth, music, and symbol, to massive success.
Many leaders focus on the obvious, tangible stuff. Likes, costs, sales, and so on, which is good. That stuff is important. But it’s also no secret.
The truly great legacies of our world are the one’s that make use of deeper power in order to impact.
George Lucas used the Hero’s Journey to masterfully entertain and elevate decades of fans. Nike used a simple-yet-scalable ‘swoosh’ to unite a huge culture of achievers. The Beatles used the magic of music to shore up generations of listeners.
Massive empires built by leveraging power that most overlook.
And you can use them too, it just requires an open mind, a deeper look, and some experiments.
There are brilliant brand-builders. There are powerful origin stories you can dig up. There are masterful storytellers in Hollywood, but chances are you and they aren’t on each others radar.
Or if you’d rather not expand your team to get things moving, you can study this stuff. Read some game-changing material, consult with people who ‘get it.’
The important thing is, that you use whatever feels like it’ll expand your life and grow your empire, even if it’s a bit obscure.
So let’s dig a bit deeper.
"Research has helped decode the secret blueprint for story that’s hardwired in the reader’s brain, thereby lifting the veil on what, specifically, the brain is hungry for in every story it encounters. Even more exciting, it turns out that a powerful story can have a hand in rewiring the reader’s brain -- helping instill empathy, for instance -- which is why writers are, and have always been, among the most powerful people in the world." - Lisa Cron, Wired For Story
Story is our most primal, pleasurable way to learn.
Their power touches everyone, young and old, near and far. Steve Jobs knew the power of story, and used it compellingly, not only in his stage presentations, but in marketing campaigns, to rally his team, and more.
For your own stories, you can start small, with your own ‘origin story’, either personally, in your business, or in relationships.
A personal origin may go: “I was eldest-born to a loving, intuitive mother and a high-integrity, inventor father. I used my inherited skills to be super-popular at school, hollow friendships. Then life gave me years of isolation. All this shaped me into kind of an artist of people, one unaffected by others’ opinions, to help people #ryze.”
A business one: “I struggled through 10 failed businesses, finally realizing that people didn’t want my art, my writing, my videos…
They wanted my creativity, insight, clarity. They wanted to #ryze. And after years of living on the cold, Toronto streets, I began ryzing with them.”
A relationship one: “Eight exes taught me a lot. False jail time taught me more. Painful. Now I learned to love myself before I love others, and it’s made me happy alone, or happy relating with others.”
These stories may seem like fluff. 50 simple words or so. But they hold the struggle, journey, and growth lessons that resonate with people.
They’re more memorable than a bullet list of features. They’re more compelling than bragging about stats. They become viral, conversational memes that build an epically valuable word of mouth.
And a myth is a story handed down through time that gives value to the unknown. Uncover yours.
They're music to our ears.
And music is an even more universal form of storytelling.
Whether it’s the Intel Inside iconic notes, Mariah’s All I Want For Christmas, or John Williams’ score for Star Wars, music is the ‘universal language.’
It makes a giant impact on your reach, mind-share, longevity.
The Beatles’ are arguably the greatest four-piece band in the world, and they recognized the power of music to almost ‘magically’ change the hearts & minds of listeners, and not just as a one-off, but as a consistent, continual influence.
Not only that, but their lyrics and melody took the listener on an emotional journey. Every song was it’s own story.
But it has to be done artfully, masterfully, well.
If you’ve ever heard hackneyed commercial jingles on the radio, you know some of them are pretty cringe-worthy.
Practically a waste of music.
And it doesn’t have to be hard. If you don’t use music, start. If you already use music well, use it better.
Intel only used four notes for their memorable audio-signature, but it kept their brand top-of-mind in a big way.
Four notes, can’t really call it ‘hard.’
In 2014, Riot Games hired Imagine Dragons to write the song Warriors, which became the theme song for their popular eSports game, League Of Legends. It charted on radio, has 120M plays on YouTube, and as an instantly recognizable anthem.
It’s dramatic, intense, and catchy af – and it was an easy collaboration.
“[Riot Games] caught on that… we are actual fans of the game. They were genuine fans of our band so it happened very naturally, it wasn’t this forced thing or some PR stunt. It was easy.” – Imagine Dragons
Music is an insanely powerful method of storytelling.
But Nike moves people with a single image.
Nike uses soul-searing visual storytelling in their marketing and ad campaigns. No music in action there, but they speak volumes. The image on the left flips their usual portrayal of pro athletes on it’s head, encourage all people, no matter their shape, to ‘find their greatness.’
But even more than that, Nike uses a single visual symbol to speak volumes.
Compare the Nike ‘swoosh’ logo to all the symbols you see walking down a city street. Which is simpler, clearer, and more meaningful? Joe’s Sports Shop, or Nike’s?
Their logo AND name was designed for next-to-nothing by a college student, but it’s worth billions.
(Fortunately Nike had the integrity to go back and reward the designer with bonuses and stock options, there’s still debate as to how fairly.)
The point is, how does your symbol measure up?
Do you have one? Is it simple, clear, scalable? Have you imbued it with meaning? Is it rich with story?
Nike had a powerful design, sure, which is important for how well a symbol ‘survives’ in the wild, but the hidden power is the story & emotion behind it.
The swoosh represents speed, momentum, achievement. ‘Nike’ is the greek god of victory.
But Nike’s continual service to society have grown the meaning: It now represents transcendence through sports. It stands for decades worth of basketball herosim, hip-hop attitude, and more.
“There is no value in making things anymore. The value is added by careful research, by innovation and by marketing.” – Phil Knight
Do you have a symbol that rises in value with age? Is your symbol front-page worthy?
'Cause journalists wield narrative like a nuke.
They know the power of story. They know it can move nations, tip elections, create fads.
Myths & stories are the backbone of religions that informs millions of people’s behavior.
Myths & stories are the golden goose of Hollywood and the entire entertainment industry.
Is your PR firm the best? DO you have copywriters you can rely on? Do you collab with Apple-level ad agencies?
Maybe there are people on your team, this minute, who’d be happy to expand your narrative or pitch stories about you to the media, and you don’t realize it ’cause it hasn’t been on your radar.
I hope you’re exploring these ideas. I hope you’re hungry for ’em. Because it’s game-changing stuff.
It’s stuff most people overlook, and fail to leverage.
"“Stories (not ideas, not features, not benefits) are what spread from person to person.” " - Seth Godin, All Marketers Are Liars: The Power Of Telling Authentic Stories In A Low-Trust World
You can ryze your entire life, use better stories.
Myths, music, symbols… skipping these hidden, abstract, intangible is a mistake. Okay, you don’t have to use all of them, or any of them, but failing to explore them is cutting yourself off from epic tools that could serve you.
You can tap into their power. It’s there for the taking. Story’s easy, natural, and all around us. It resonates with everyone, no matter the form.
Whether you become better at it on your own through books like ‘Putting Stories To Work’, or you hire sticky content writers like Six Estate…
Whether you reshape your music or collab with musicians…
Whether you get a sketch from a college intern or partner with a giant branding firm…
…your own mythic legacy is waiting for you.
And I can help.