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Storytelling: The Most Persuasive Influence Hack (8 Stories I Slept On)

Story-expert gives you the power to touch more hearts, gain more followers, and yes, make more money… without the confusion.

The connection between storytelling, influence, and profit is tragically misunderstood by most entrepreneurs. Even stars like Elon Musk and Mark Cuban leave a lot on the table by failing to leverage storytelling. Here’s your chance to step up, impact the world, and out-earn your peers… and beyond.

Note: You’re getting thousands –maybe millions– of dollars in value on this page. You won’t find a better business storytelling guide on the whole internet. It sounds cocky, but it’s true. Disrespect this because it’s “free”… at your own risk.

Whether we’re talking about Martin Luther King, Gandhi, or even Einstein

…The most powerful, persuasive, and influential people throughout history have always been storytellers.

Steve’s  Jobs famous commencement speech wasn’t a lecture, a tutorial, or a sales pitch.

It was a series of stories strung together.

If you want to influence people to be your fan, support your cause, share your message, or buy your stuff…

…invest in storytelling.

Don’t be like I used to be.

I’ll share an embarrassing storytelling confession:

Despite being a deeply passionate teacher, and a deeply passionate entrepreneur…

…I avoided business storytelling for a long time.

The few people I’ve talked to about this flaw of mine, assumed it was because I didn’t see stories as valuable (I do), or that I wasn’t confident in my storytelling skills (I am.)

I had a bunch of bad beliefs and bad experiences with storytelling off and on throughout my life, but I’d overcome most of those.

I now saw stories as valuable, and I knew I could spin a good yarn if I put my mind to it, and had more than enough evidence to back that up.

So why would a confident storyteller, aware of the value of stories… avoid telling them?

Because for a long time, I resented having to tell lengthy, bulky stories to explain (what are to me) “obvious,” single-sentence facts.

When I advise someone not to “play close to the edge”, and they refuse to listen, then get hurt… I resented it.

When I teach someone the steps to monetize something, and they smile, nod, and say “yes, got it, chief,” then promptly refuse to do those steps… I resented it.

It felt like a bunch of “obtuse folks” making me “jump through hoops” to explain that grass is green, sea is blue, and sun is bright.

Whenever I encountered this, I’d simply shake my head, dumb-founded that any effort at all could be required to explain or understand such basic things.

But resentment’s a painful obstacle that rarely leads to anything productive.

And the truth is, if I was willing to invest a bit of effort in storytelling, even to explain the “obvious,” I would’ve helped way more people, way faster, and stopped banging my head against a wall.

Students would’ve understood my points much faster if I was willing to “jump through their hoops” with a story, and we could’ve moved on to bigger and better things.

“Humans hunger for validation… Failing to validate another’s point of view can cost you twice the time, money, or effort you might otherwise spend with this person.” – Annette Simmons

I was sleeping on story power.

Somehow I’d come to see stories as a “long, slow, annoying” way to communicate compared to “fast, clear, logical” fact-sharing.

I’d picked up a false belief about storytelling, one I could’ve dropped or replaced at any time.

If, instead of resenting when customers didn’t respond to my opinions, assertions, facts, and wisdom…

…I’d simply admitted “Welp, I guess advice isn’t going to cut it here. [Customer X] needs a story to grasp [concept Y], better get to writing,” my life would’ve been so much better.

If I replaced my limiting beliefs about stories with beliefs that serve my goals better, I’d have been winning bigger, having more impact, and making more money.

And the same goes for you.

Because even if you didn’t resent “being made” to storytell like I did, there’s an avalanche of bad storytelling beliefs out there.

Did you know most of what you’ve been told about “selling with stories” is wrong?

Here are some common takes on storytelling:

  • Stories feel like lying.
  • Customers don’t care about stories.
  • Only scammers use stories.
  • Storytelling’s too hard.
  • Stories limit our reach.
  • Stories are a waste of time.
  • Stories feel like bragging.
  • Yadda yadda.

So many people believe these things and more.

If that includes you, you’re not alone.

In fact, throughout my life, I’ve bought into all of these at one time.

How could I not?

After all, each time I tried to use stories it went wrong, and ended up being a giant waste of my time and energy.

So I gave up on them.

I replaced stories with speaking ‘facts’, clear truths, and asking the occasional question…

…and that seemed to get me by “just fine.”

But the thing about “getting by,” is that you end up settling for mediocre growth.

You end up spinning your wheels, expending tons of energy, and getting little results.

You can’t convince the people closest to you to believe in you, invest in your biz, and buzz about you to their friends.

You can’t convince your ‘target customers’ to take a chance on your offerings, despite it being an incredible value for them, if only they’d try it.

And living story-free turns you into a low influence person.

Influencers, celebs, and leaders all use stories to get the world on their side.

Avoiding stories keeps you low status.

Sorry, not sorry.

And this low level of influence starts taking a toll on your self-esteem.

You start wondering if being in business is really worth it…

… instead of the quantum leaps you could be having.

Storytelling is one such quantum leap.

But it was one that I kept tip-toeing around.

I’d read about it, study it, even practice it periodically, when I should’ve been diving in head-first and applying it liberally in my business.

Because storytelling is basically… marketing.

And marketing is basically… storytelling.

They’re both ways of packaging a belief, truth, idea, value, product, service, or message of some kind.

Storytelling (marketing) is delivering a message to someone, but instead of tossing it to them casually like a ratty old football, you’re gift-wrapping it, giving them a luxurious unboxing experience, and offering some pageantry.

It’s delivering wisdom to someone, but instead of slopping it onto a plate, you’re taking the time to add garnish, tweak the ambience, and elevate the décor before serving.

  • Delivering a message through assertion, opinion, or fact is the low-effort, bare-bones way giving value.
  • Delivering a message through a story is the extra-mile, superhero, epic way of giving value.

Which do you think is going to get you results?

Creating value is not ensuring value is perceived and received. Creating delicious food is not ensuring it is served to hungry diners. Creating an amazing product is not ensuring emotionally primed buyers get their sights on it.

R&D, production, and the ‘value-creation’ side of business is all about creating a valuable product or service.

But many people create valuable products and services, yet still fail.

That’s because no matter how valuable your product or service is, actually selling it depends on people’s perceptions of it.

It doesn’t matter how priceless (or worthless) your offering is, what matters is how people perceive it.

This is why marketing is at least half of all successful businesses.

Marketing is the art of manipulating perceived value.

And it’s not the things you create and offer that manipulate people’s perceptions…

…it’s the stories that live in people’s heads that manipulate their perceptions.

You can either influence the stories that live in people’s heads about you and your offerings, or you can be at their mercy.

The choice is yours.

OK, I get it, storytelling is worth doing. (And it’s worth doing well.) How do I do it?

You can’t.

Well, at least not right away.

This is because getting the hang of storytelling while you still have a bunch of society’s shitty beliefs about it stored in your nervous system, just means you’ll waste your time and sabotage all your storytelling efforts.

(I did that for years, and I want a smoother, easier, more successful storytelling experience for you.)

Most storytelling teachers neglect this key fact:

Bad storytelling beliefs prevent your stories from ever really working, no matter how well you’re taught storytelling skills.

“Wait, Jay, I thought you said my bad storytelling beliefs weren’t my fault?”

They’re not, but they do need to be dealt with real quick before we dive into influencing our tribes through stories.

The world’s greatest influencers have already let go of all their bad storytelling beliefs, and that’s why they have so much influence.

Politicians, corporations, and the media control most of the western world.

And they keep this control through storytelling.

If Big Pharma wants you to pay more money, they’ll craft a narrative that convinces you that insulin is expensive to make, or that SARS, Hentavirus, or COVID are ‘world-ending.’

If Trump wants people to vote for him, he’ll craft a narrative where he’s the only “down to earth truth-speaker in a rigged government of liars.

If the Hollywood elite wants to appease their wives’ desire for ‘inclusion’, suddenly every Hollywood film will be ‘woke’ and ‘forcing diversity’ into every story.

The leaders of these monolithic industries have long understood that…

Whoever controls the narrative, controls the world.

I repeat…

Whoever controls the narrative, controls the world.

And why are you just learning this now?

Because these elite groups decide the narrative for education too.

They decide the curriculum.

Teachers in ‘the system’ have two options: follow the curriculum and get paid, or don’t follow the curriculum and get fired.

The world elites don’t want you to tap into the power of stories for yourself.

Because if you did master storytelling, you could practically ‘print money’, just like the elites do.

You could ‘gain millions of followers’, just like the elites do.

You could ‘get away with’ anything you want, just like the elites do.

You could ‘run the world’, just like the elites do.

Which makes the number one priority of the world-runners, to bury the power of stories, make sure you never learn it, and keep it to themselves.

It motivates them powerfully to instill poor beliefs about storytelling into the masses, convincing them storytelling is “just fluff” for “entertainment.”

So storytelling has become the ‘yucky buzzword’ of woo-woo teachers, ‘fringe groups’, and ‘artsy folks,’ even though a savvy business leader who invests in storytelling, could easily become the next Google, Tesla, or Microsoft.

So let’s blaze through and replace common bad story beliefs real quick.

Stories feel like lying.

If you view a ball from the left, and its left side is painted red, you may declare “Look, it’s obviously a red circle.”

If your friend is viewing the same ball from the right, which is painted blue, he may declare “Hello? It’s clearly a blue circle.”

The truth is deeper than either person’s perspective, but since no one can see all sides (all perspectives) at once, no one can see the actual truth.

The actual facts of life are never fully graspable.

And since every human on the planet has a bias, not one of them can ever provide you with unbiased facts. They’ll either leave out something that may sway you away from their agenda, or they’ll embellish or include something aimed to compel you towards their side.

We can’t even prove that we’re not all living in our own private virtual realities, and if we are, then ‘nothing’ is true, because it’s all an illusion.

So let go of this constantly fighting over what’s true and what’s lie, because that’ll just keep your creative energy and ability to influence others trapped in a never-ending battle.

Replace it with a commitment to do what works, and if that means being a bit more liberal in your storytelling, hyping something up or exaggerating it a little…

…so be it.

You have a responsibility to help people and to move them, and exaggerated storytelling is a key tool for doing exactly that.

It’s a blessing you’ve been given to use, if you sleep on it like I did, and influence no one because of some made up anti-storytelling morality, that’s on you.

“There are no facts, only interpretations.” – Nietzsche

Customers don’t care about stories.

Right now, what would you rather do, be given some facts, assertions, and opinions or watch Game Of Thrones, Breaking Bad, or some other epic story?

When successful politicians want to get their customers (voters) onboard, do they use assertions, facts, or opinions or do they use visual stories like “building a wall,” or “catching Obama” to sway people?

When you’re scrolling through your feed, do you often find yourself stopping your scroll for some fact, assertion, or opinion… or do you find yourself stopping for attention-grabbing clickbait that promises an intriguing tale if you keep watching?
Customers not only care about stories, they almost ONLY care about stories.

This behavior has been wired into our DNA since caveman times, as has our desire to procreate, our desire for status, and more.

None of these deeply primal behaviors have gone away for thousands of years, and they’ll be sticking around for thousands more.

You can try fighting them, or you can leverage their eternal power and win.

Again, the choice is yours.

Only scammers use stories.

If I give a hammer to a child, what two things can that child do with it?

They can either create, or they can destroy. They can use it to build a shelf, or to remove a rusty nail, or do bicep curls. They can also use it to injure someone else or destroy property.

If I give a gun to an adult, what two things can they do with it?

They can either nurture, or harm. They can use it to catch food or relieve stress at a gun range. They can also use it to kill someone, break open doors, and steal from others.

Like hammers and guns, stories are tools. Neutral tools. They’re not only good or bad, and they’re not only for scammers or con-men.

You may have noticed a lot of scammers using stories, but they do it because it works. A kind-hearted entrepreneur can also use stories, in a healthier way, but just like the scammers, they have to recognize that stories work, first, then get to applying them.

 

Storytelling’s too hard.

You once found walking hard.

You once found talking hard.

You once found riding a bike hard.

You once found creating content hard.

Think of any skill you’re good at currently. Now think back to your early attempts at that skill. Would you say it was “easy” back then and that you were “masterful” at it?

Of course not. You started out rough, rusty, and challenged by the skill, but after passionate, committed practice, you became good at it, and became easy.

Would you say this applies to storytelling, just like everything else?

Stories limit our reach.

Can you speak every language, all at once?

Can you even speak two at once?

If you did manage to speak two at once, would your audience be able to grasp what you were saying?

We must speak one language at a time, for one audience at a time.

If I want to convince a group of scientists to recycle more, I need a drastically different language and approach than I would to convince a group of country folks to recycle more.

Stories are like languages.

You choose one right story, for one right audience at a time.

This isn’t a limitation of story, it’s a limitation of all communication in life.

And it’s a healthy, proper order for communicating with others.

Execute it well, and it explodes your reach beyond any other tool or approach you could use.

Try it and you’ll see, just like every other celebrity, influencer, and leader who’s gotten the hang of storytelling.

Stories are a waste of time.

I covered this in my opening story, where I resented spending time on storytelling, which actually made every communication with others far slower than it had to be.

But you’ve spent years of your life consuming stories, whether you realize it or not, and so has everyone around you.

With so many people investing their precious attention on stories, it’d be hard to classify it as a waste of time.

Stories are what shape us, they’re what we tell to our friends, they’re what we pass on to our children. They’re impactful, influential, and they matter.

Stories are a wise investment.

Storytelling feels like bragging.

Are you a good person?

Would it help others trust you if they understood what a good person you were?

If they knew you were a good person and trusted you more, would they be more likely to take a chance on your offerings and benefit from them?

Then… if you really care about people, and you really want them to improve their lives via your offerings… you must convey your positive qualities to them somehow.

There are two ways to do this, you can hope, pray, and gamble on the chance that somewhere, somewhere on the planet tells others about your positive qualities.

(Does this strike you as wise, reliable, fast, or effective? Would you recommend this approach to others?)

Or you can proactively ensure others discover your good traits, gain trust in you, and eventually feel comfortable enough to invest in your life-changing offerings to better their lives.

Let’s say you wisely choose the second approach, ensuring others know about your good qualities.

You now have two more options:

Do you tell them these good qualities, reciting them like a list, or boldly speaking them during interviews, when the chance arises?

(Does it seem likely people will resonate with your list of brags, or be drawn to you when you brashly drop them in an interview?)

Or do you show them your good qualities through fun, engaging stories, and let their minds infer your qualities and ‘own’ their conclusions about your traits, without you ‘beating them over the head’ with them?

Stories can convey your good qualities to others, or braggadocious assertions can convey your good qualities to others…

…but either way, you can’t just float through life, allowing people to see your negative traits, or not see any traits at all.

If you’re an entrepreneur aiming to impact the world, your good qualities must be conveyed, ASAP.

You can do that through factual brags, or through engaging stories.

Either way, the choice is yours.

That's most of the bad storytelling beliefs.

Whew, ok, that covers most harmful storytelling beliefs, and you’ve hopefully replaced them with more positive ones such as:

  • Stories aren’t truth or lies, they just… work.
  • Customers care mainly about stories.
  • Stories are a tool to be used by all.
  • Storytelling’s like cycling, as easy as you let it be.
  • Stories expand our reach, wildly.
  • Stories are a wise investment of time.
  • Stories are anti-bragging.

Now we can get into some of the nuts and bolts of storytelling.

So where do we start?

3-Act Structure? Harmon’s Story circle? Campbell’s Hero’s Journey?

Puh-leeze.

When I first studied storytelling, I saw these buzzwords everywhere, and I devoured books by all the famous storytelling teachers.

And although they were all brilliant people, teaching brilliant things, none of them actually catered to storytelling beginners, many of them focused on long-form storytelling like screenplays, and all of them skipped important steps I desperately needed.

So I floundered, struggled, and failed to storytell effectively.

What is storytelling?

I define it as:

“A ‘sharer’ conveys what someone did to get what they wanted. (And why.)”

It’s a simple, clear, easy definition that has held true since ancient Neanderthals huddled in caves around the fire.

I use the word ‘conveys’ because stories don’t have to be “told.”

I use the word ‘sharer’ because stories are often “shared” rather than told, and thinking in this way often helps people feel better about storytelling (storysharing.)

Because this definition is so simple and easy, it means you can get started with your first story far more smoothly than you might imagine.

If you wrote:

“Zina hungered to move out of her parents basement, but her dismal OnlyFans sales weren’t helping. Once she took the Bimbo Wealth Bootcamp, her sales skyrocketed, and she finally had a place of her own.”

You’ve just ‘shared’ (or ‘told’) your first story.

Or if you had coffee with a client and said:

“A client last week struggled to clean their house, and it was causing family stress, but when they bought one of our customized Roombas, their villa was spotless without them lifting a finger.”

You’ve just ‘told’ (or ‘shared’) a story.

Stories don’t need all the fancy structure all the gurus talk about, and for a beginner to story, all those things do is confuse us and set us off-track.

Ultimately, stories can be as simple, easy, and effective in our lives as cooking or swimming or cycling… but they do take a bit of practice and applied effort to make them habitual and natural.

If you tried telling a client to “buy your Bimbo Wealth Bootcamp,” or if you tried asserting that “our customized roomba will make your life better”, 90% of the time, this will just repulse a customer, and make them determined not to buy from you.

Why?

Because change doesn’t happen through intellect alone.

In the rare instance someone is emotionally ready, you may be able to spark change in their behavior… through their intellect.

And in the rare instance someone is intellectually ready, you may be able to spark change in their behavior… by motivating them emotionally.

But you’ll only have a handful of these moments in your lifetime.

If you want to spark real change in your customers, staff, or partners you must have a more skillful approach.

Influence and persuasion happen for the well-practiced, or the naturally talented, but they never happen for the unskilled.

Skilled persuaders prime the emotions of others, then guide them to ‘correct’ conclusions.

So, make your message clear, intellectually, sure, but more importantly, you’ve got to use storytelling effectively, to prime their emotional state, guide them to ponder key questions, and let them reach intellectual conclusions themselves, taking ownership of them.

When sharing a story resist the urge to tell your audience what it means. Saying anything similar to: ‘So what this story really means is…’, prevents the audience from taking ownership of the story’s meaning.

Explaining a story is like explaining a joke… it’ll ruin it every time.

Plus, it doesn’t boost listeners’ recall or comprehension, so let your audience play with the story in their minds.

Let them draw meaning from it themselves.

“After all, we humans aren’t wired to do things simply because someone told us to; if we were, we’d all have sent our bank account number to that nice Nigerian prince. We do things because we want to. That’s why your story has to allow people to make up their own minds, while at the same time making them feel that there is only one real option.” – Lisa Cron

If you could measure an individual’s relaxation level easily, you’d discover that all eight billion people on earth, and especially those in ‘civilized society,’ aren’t very relaxed.

Their guard is up.

They’re surrounded by people, companies, corporations, institutions, and media outlets vying for their attention, often using every dirty trick in the book they can to capture it.

People value their precious time, energy, and attention, and only give it to the most compelling things in their environment.

People are constantly looking for an “excuse to bounce” away from whatever is being offered or fed to them.

So, even if you think you’re relaxed, you’re almost certainly not, and any relaxation you might have disappears when you’re being offered something or someone is trying to capture your attention.

Your guard instantly goes up.

It’s natural, and it’s a good thing, otherwise you’d be easily manipulated by anyone and everyone, ending up an extreme people-pleaser with no personality of your own.

Having your guard up conserves your valuable attention and focus. It also affects your persuadability.

People with their emotional guard up are extremely difficult to persuade.

But, if you’re able to relax their emotional guard, create rapport with them, and engage them in your content… people are extremely easy to persuade.

This is an important foundation for storytellers to know.

And it highlights the impactful nature of stories.

It goes like this:

  • People aren’t relaxed.
  • Because they’re not relaxed, they can’t hear your communication, or receive your value.
  • Stories, especially resonant ‘rapport’ stories relax them.
  • Once they’re relaxed, they’re able to hear you and receive your value.
  • If they hear you and receive your value…
  • They reciprocate by taking your (reasonable) desired action.

Stories are the main tool for taking someone from “unpersuadable” to “persuaded.”

Powerful stuff, eh?

But why are stories so powerful?

Stories are the only communication tool that can give audiences a feeling of control and power, while also guiding them almost directly to the action you want them to take.

Stories and narratives are the ‘big guns’ of persuasion.

Don’t believe me?

Well, think about it.

  • A beebee gun has less impact than a handgun.
  • A handgun has less impact than a shotgun.
  • A shotgun has less impact than a machine gun.
  • A machine gun has less impact than a rocket launcher.

Although these are all guns, and they can all be used to affect change… they all also have a different built-in level of impact.

The same goes for “belief-alteration tools.”

Stories are one of the most powerful belief alteration tools, perhaps second only to “repeated experiences” or “divine intervention.”

This is because imagination and attention are precious resources for creating change in others’ behavior.

And what engages someone’s imagination and attention more, would you say…

Stories? Or facts?
Narratives? Or opinions?

You know the answer.

Storytelling is a ridiculously powerful tool, and one I suffered without for decades, because I wrote it off.

The hierarchy of ‘belief-alteration’ tools goes like this:

Experiences > Stories > Facts > (Invited Opinion > Unsolicited Opinion)

Experiences beat stories. Stories beat facts. Facts beat opinions.

And actually, it’s more like stories are ‘tied’ with experiences for influence, by and large.

Experiences / Stories > Facts > (Invited Opinion > Unsolicited Opinion)

This is because only some experiences beat stories.

It’s only intense or repeated experiences that do so… and those kinds of intense/repeated experiences can generally only be given by our parents, spouses, criminals, terrorists, cults, gangs, and other very uniquely positioned individuals.

Relying on a story is more powerful than most experiences, and even when it’s not, it’s worth trying first, unless you’re willing to start a cult or take over raising a child in order to influence them.

Stories are insanely powerful, and much easier to pull off than giving people transformative life-changing experiences.

If stories aren’t your goto, you’re missing out on an incredible persuasion tool, one that so many are winning with.

And like any form of “magic”, storytelling takes time, energy, preparation… but if you do it properly, people won’t just be persuaded to your desired behavior, they may see you as a magician, wizard, or even a god.

Why do stories work so well?

Because since cave-man times, stories have been the number one tool for growth and change.

The same way ‘ground’ is the number one substance for building on, or the same way breathing is the number one tool for ‘staying alive’…

…stories are the number one tool for growth / change.

“All stories are a form of communication that expresses the dramatic code. The dramatic code, embedded deep in the human psyche, is an artistic description of how a person can grow or evolve. This code is also a process going on underneath every story. The storyteller hides this process beneath particular characters and actions. But the code of growth is what the audience ultimately takes from a good story.” – John Truby

I’ll just leave it at that, but if you want a deeper dive into why stories work, check out Changing people’s minds – how to turn ‘no’ into ‘yes’ by Mark Schenk.

Stories are the core tool of growth and change. If you neglect these, you’ll change almost no one.

Anyway, now that you know what a story is, why it’s so powerful, and why they work, keep those things in mind while you discover…

…what stories resonate with your particular audience.

During my decades in business, the message “know your audience” has been hammered at me over and over.

To be honest, it’s never held much meaning for me.

“Of course I know my audience,” I thought, “they’re ‘obvious.’”

I was wrong.

I didn’t know my audience nearly as well as I thought, and if you’re struggling to influence people, chances are you’re similar.

A perspective shift that helped me was to realize that there are about eight billion people on earth.

They all come from different life experiences, with different upbringings, in different cultures, with different values.

Even a jock and a scientist from the same town will resonate with drastically different ideas, stories, and phrasing.

(I dig much deeper into knowing your audience, what tribe they’re part of, and which “one person” to focus on for your storytelling in my post: Make Getting Customers A Breeze.)

So a customer, or customer group, is basically a mini-puzzle that must be figured out first, before we’ll be able to influence them with a story.

Sometimes we can solve these “people puzzles” in seconds, other times it takes weeks of research.

Whatever the case, you have a want, a desire, or a goal for your customer and if you want them to take it, you must communicate in their language.

And if they’re still not getting it, “obviousness” might be the issue.

You might think it’s obvious that people should “download my PDF”, “take my course”, or “like my post.”

That’s what you woke up this morning hoping customers would do.

That’s what YOU want for them.

Hooray for you.

Not to be snarky, but…

That’s not what THEY want for them.

Your audience –I guarantee– didn’t wake up thinking “I want to download a pdf today.” So your story needs to speak to the wants they actually DID wake up with.

As entrepreneurs, it’s “obvious” to us what our client’s need to do to succeed, but keep in mind that it’s not obvious to them.

For them, the path to solving their issue is a murky, foggy swamp, with slippery rocks they must hop along.

You’ve mastered your subject, so you can prance ahead of the solution, skipping from rock to rock…

…but your customers are like scared, lost children, not sure if they can trust their next step through the swamp, and no matter how much you tell them “it’s safe”, they’re not going to take the step on their own.

They need you to backtrack a bit, join them on their rock, and patiently build their confidence to leap to the next one.

And then you have to do it again and again.

They need hand-holding.

And that “hand-holding” is the extra-effort we put in.

Hand-holding is patiently telling story after story.

It’s inspiring them to make the leaps, until they reach a point where they’re ready to buy.

Your life experience has made the path obvious to you, but your customers have had insanely different life experiences, making the solution you’re offering the opposite of obvious to them.

“Here’s a handy rule of thumb (and this works in all arenas): When something is head-smackingly clear to you, it most likely means there are a ton of things you’re taking for granted.” – Lisa Cron

Here’s another major flaw of mine.

Either because of my childhood diagnosis as a genius and placement in the gifted program, or my years of homelessness, poverty, and betrayal…

…Many things are ‘head-smackingly clear’ to me.

I thought this was a good thing. I thought it made me wise, valuable, and brimming over with solutions that could help others.

Instead, it’s just caused me insane trauma whenever I try to persuade others of anything.

If people aren’t understanding something that “seems obvious” to you…

(Whether it’s obvious they should subscribe to your channel, or obvious that you’re doing well in life, or obvious that they need to clean up their home.)

…storytelling is the cure.

Storytelling is the bridge between what YOU want for your audience, and what THEY want for your audience.

You’re standing on a big solid rock with the cure, they’re standing on a tiny, slippery rock with the problem, and storytelling is the best way for you to inspire them to make the leap.

So…

Now you know why stories are such an important investment to make. You know what storytelling actually is, and how simple and powerful it can be. You know how vital it is to solve the “people-puzzle” of your audience before choosing what stories to tell, and that the key is to intersect the ‘obvious’ action you want them to take, with the ‘wants’ your audience woke up with.

The next step is to make deposits into your story bank.

What’s the point of practicing swimming without access to a body of water? What’s the point of practicing cycling, if you’ve no access to a bike?

The same applies to storytelling.

What’s the point of practicing storytelling, if you’ve no access to stories worth telling?

That’s where your storybank comes in.

Some natural storytellers have mental storybanks that they tap into anytime they need a tale.

Beginner storytellers though, usually start with a digital or hand-written storybank, and since this article is aimed at beginners, that’s where we’ll start too.

What if I can’t think of any stories?

Eh, this isn’t really a thing.

If I gave you the task of finding someone on planet earth who had no stories, or no access to stories…

…you could look high and low, in every culture, and you’d still fail.

Everyone has stories, everyone responds to stories, probably even those in comas.

So how can you come up with yours?

First of all, every person naturally tells stories, frequently.

It’s just a matter of learning to see or ‘spot’ them when they pop up.

And ‘story-spotting’ is fairly easy.

“Stories mostly begin with either a time marker or a place marker because they are always set in a particular time and place.” – Shawn Callahan, Anecdote

Plus, whenever you hear linking phrases like:

  • ‘and then…’,
  • ‘and after that…’,
  • ‘but then…’,
  • ‘because of that…’,
  • ‘so…’,

There’s a good chance you’re hearing a story.

Not to mention “dialogue.”

If dialogue is being recounted, you have characters interacting, and you’re very likely onto a story.

So yeah, I’m pretty sure you’ve used those linking phrases, started talking about characters in a time or a place, etc. before.

You have plenty of stories.

Secondly, we’re all practically drowning in stories.

Society is filled with them.

Books, movies, events, all contain plenty. Your friends are telling little mini-stories constantly. Anytime someone went from A to B to C, it’s basically a story waiting to be told. Same thing applies for case studies, testimonials, and client successes.

So if you for some strange reason refuse to tell stories from your own life, you can tell other people’s stories and have just as much impact, perhaps even more.

But what kind of stories should I be using?

When I first started coming up with stories for my own story bank, I turned to books like Sell With A Story by Paul Smith, because he offered 25 types of story that accomplish business goals.

He broke them down into categories like Main Sales Pitch stories and Closing The Sale stories.

They were definitely a help, but 25 felt pretty overwhelming, and they didn’t apply so well to businesses that didn’t make calls, etc.

Then I tried to simplify down to just 4 story types, as suggested in Stories That Stick by Kindra Hall.

She suggested I use the following:

  • My Value Story
  • My Founder Story
  • My Purpose Story
  • My Customer Story

Again, great stuff here, and you probably wouldn’t go wrong with these as a starting point.

And although both of these books were very inspiring…

Like Goldilocks, it felt like Smith’s 25 stories were too complex, specific, and overwhelming, while Hall’s 4 basic stories felt vague, and like they wouldn’t really do the trick for me.

So I came up with my own “beginner pack” of business stories that any business can use to move the needle.

(Note: I don’t differentiate between “business storytelling” and “brand storytelling.” If you’re telling a story to help your brand accomplish any kind of goal at all, I automatically label it “business storytelling.”)

My first inkling towards this came when I read “Whoever Tells The Best Story Wins” by Annette Simmons, because it took a different approach than just a list of stories.

Simmons suggested that we use the same 4 “story prompts” for any story goal we have.

She encouraged us to tell a story of a) A Time We Shone, b) A Time We Blew It, c) One Of Our Mentors, or d) A Book, Movie, or Current Event.

We could tell one of these for any story goal.

If we wanted a story to get our staff onboard with our vision… we could use any of the 4 above story prompts to do so. If we wanted a story to inspire prospects to subscribe… we could use any of the above 4 story prompts for that too.

Russell Brunson in his book DotCom Secrets suggests one of the following story structures:

Loss & Redemption, “Us Vs. Them,” Before & After, “Amazing Discovery,” “Secret Sharing”, or Testimonial, but since those are just “structures” of stories, similar to Annette Simmons’ story prompts, they could apply to any story type we choose.

So I synthesized all of the above.

My “just right” solution was inspired by all these, but it was also inspired by the basic customer journey, copywriting and persuasion books, as well as my own experiments and writings.

And I believe the eight story types I outline below are more than enough for a beginner entrepreneur’s storybank, and even taking into account veteran entrepreneurs, they cut to the heart of what’s important in getting people, whether staff, customers, or partners, to take action.

The 8 Basic Story Types For Beginner "Storyteller Entrepreneurs"

The story types I’m going to share with you below are frameworks for the 8 most useful stories I slept-on for far too long in my career.

You can use them to accomplish any entrepreneurial or philanthropic goal you may have.

They’re powerful and effective.

They’re also quite simple, but they do take practice.

We’ll use these 8 stories to take a ‘cold lead’ from our target audience and convert them into a ‘hot lead’, and eventually a ‘buyer’ so you can see the power of this.

Let’s say a scrapbooker named Justine is browsing her social feeds, and she comes across our first story headline.

Our headline reads:

“She left her family over… a garbage can?”

And so, our headline hooks Justine’s attention, because Justine is dissatisfied with her family life, and household chores like garbage disposal are a hot-button issue for her.

If we know our target audience well, then we’ve used language that resonates in our headline.

This is the start of our journey to influencing Justine’s behavior via storytelling.

1. Big Idea / “Hook” enticement story.

Best For: “Faceless Browsers” – Imagine your audience on the toilet or lying in bed.

Result: Audience takes a break from their routine to explore further.

EXAMPLE

“She left her whole family over… a garbage can?”

Cyn settled for a mediocre husband, an unfulfilling home life, and a struggling cardmaking career. She binged ‘motivational porn’ to feel brief spurts of inspiration, but her life never really changed. Till finally, one day, she snapped at Viktor’s refusal to take out the trash. So, she picked the most positive person in her feeds made plans to move to his city.

Cyn was tired of settling.

Her family tried guilting her into staying because they basked in drama and routine, and felt uncomfortable when others tried to leave that comfort zone.

“Family over everything,” they said, but it really meant “stagnation over growth,” so Cyn boldly left anyway. Her first meeting with Mr. Positive was the breath of fresh air she needed. She laughed, cried, exercised, dressed up, and began truly living.

She vowed to NEVER settle again.

You may not have a Mr. Positive available to you right now, but you have something just as good…

Story Framework

Point: Invest in the change you deserve.
Conflict: Cyn fights family over travel.
Change: Bitter -> struggles to travel -> new motto “never settle.”

Justine is hooked and interested, but she doesn’t automatically trust us, the author, just yet. So we use a second story.

2. "What I do, for whom, & why" rapport story.

Best For: “Stranger / New Prospect” – Befriending the audience for the first time, can double as an ‘origin’ story.

Result: Audience feels this person “gets” me, I’m safe with a friend.

EXAMPLE

“Lonely Amy discovers what true self-help really is.”

Though Amy had a family, a part-time job and a nice home… she felt so alone. No one seemed to get her, or to support her dreams. So she tried to paint her loneliness away, but felt uninspired, and it didn’t help.

She had no mentors, so she turned to her friends for help.

Mia told her yoga was the cure, so Amy tried it but just ended up sweaty.. and alone. Sarah said ASMR fixed her life, but the soft sounds just reminded Amy of her lack of support. Emma suggested tarot, and it actually worked, but only for a few hours and then Amy’s isolation returned.

Amy realized she didn’t need the same old external suggestions for an internal problem. What she needed was something that would help her change inside.

So she searched all the self-help gurus to see which ones focused on permanent internal change. Everyone she found was focused on external advice… until she found me.

She read my blogs, listened to my podcasts, and felt herself changing internally and permanently. She felt like I got her, and a little less alone.

And that’s why I do what I do. In fact, it’s what I was born to do.

Because I’ve attracted people like Amy my whole life. My mom was like this, my sister was like this, all of my business partner’s (except one) were like this. They all desperately yearned for permanent internal change, and they all struggled to find anyone who’d give that to them.

And not only did it break my heart…

…but every business of mine failed until I started helping people like Amy learn to beat their feelings of aloneness, despair, bitterness, anger, and more. I discovered that life blessed me when I helped others permanently change their internal traumas.

I love doing this, I did this for Amy, and I’d be honored to do the same for you.

Story Framework

Point: Real change comes from within.
Conflict: Amy bristles against her friend’s advice.
Change: Alone -> struggles with advice -> realizes true ‘self’-help.

Justine reads this and feels connected to us, and like we care. But her attention is not well-focused on her problem, so she’s unready to buy a solution.

It’s next-to-impossible to persuade someone to take steps towards a solution if they’re barely aware of the problem.

Our next story solves this.

3. “Realize the pain” focusing story.

Best For: “Hooked Lead” – Audience is engaged, trusting, and attentive.

Result: Audience’s problem comes to the fore, and they’re primed to hear about a cure.

EXAMPLE

“Cyn Vs. The Junk-Food Gurus”

Cyn felt so blessed. Her “Mr. Positive,” J-Ryze, had helped her revolutionize every aspect of her life. With his help, she’d taken control of her body, her fashion, her finances, her family, her home, and more.

And now, sitting at her laptop, she wanted to share that with others.

She knew people desperately needed the valuable insights she’d only heard J-Ryze teach. She knew if they had them, they’d elevate their lives in all areas. She also knew that everyone was busy staring at more well-known self-help personalities.

So, she decided to learn how to market the way they do. She followed all of them and examined their feeds.

And as she looked closer at the Mels, the Garys, the Iyanlas and all the rest of the gurus and she began to notice something.

They didn’t really help people.

What good did an inspiring quote do for someone who’s entire life was stuck? What good did a “5-minute rule” do for someone drowning in trauma? What good did it do to hear more about “what worked for them?”

Their offerings were empty calories, completely non-nourishing.

Their content was the ‘junk food’ of the self-help world, and Cyn knew J-Ryze was an organic, farm-cooked feast.

And even the few people who had discovered Jay’s wisdom weren’t asking deep enough questions to get his best answers.

They’d been drowning in fluff content from modern-day gurus for so long, that their brains needed something to rewire them.

The scrapbookers, crafters, astrologers, and witchy types Cyn wanted to help had been trained by society to get their dopamine hits from motivational quotes and famous faces.

Cyn leaned back, hit her joint, and thought.

She passionately wanted to help people. She knew she had the holy grail for them. She just needed something to beat their ‘shiny-object-syndrome’ and their attachment to ‘junk food gurus.’

She knew she could get people on a nutritious and delicious diet of “real” self-help, if only she could get their attention.

Or if only they’d wake up and realize they had firehoses of empty personal development content shoved down their throats and broadcast to their retinas.

And it was doing more harm than good.

But this wasn’t her fault, and it isn’t your fault either.

Story Framework

Point: Watch out for snake oil.
Conflict: Cyn fights junk-gurus to share Jay.
Change: Overwhelmed -> struggles with gurus -> partners with Jay.

After reading this, Justine feels the pain of junk-food gurus… which is good, but we don’t want her to dwell on that long.

Our purpose here is to persuade her to a better life, a solution. So our next story must dissolve any negative feelings Justine has surrounding her painful situation.

4. “It’s not your fault" soothing story.

Best For: “Engaged Lead” – Audience mid-funnel or mid-convo.

Result: Audience relaxes and feels hopeful, eager to hear solutions.

EXAMPLE

“Amy spins her self-help wheels.”

Before Amy found me, she was still a good person. She was a caring and attentive mom. She was a passionate, productive painter. She was aiming to better herself.

It wasn’t her fault she was spinning her wheels and getting nowhere.

She tried yoga because society was full of commercials depicting happy yoga women. She tried ASMR because it was trending with every algorithm recommending it. She tried tarot because it sounded easy and low-risk.

Society is constantly serving us the trendiest, “easiest”, most profitable solutions. Society’s agenda isn’t for us to be helped, it’s for us to shut up and be good wives, mothers, workers, and consumers.

The whole system is designed to submerge us in “empty calories” that won’t heal our bodies, and “empty motivation” that won’t heal our minds.

Amy was a good person, trying every solution she could, but still felt alone

And it wasn’t her fault.

The same goes for you.

You can be a good person, doing everything society says you’re supposed to do…

…and still feel alone, depressed, angry, traumatized, shut-down, stuck, and more.

It’s not your fault.

And despite society brainwashing all of us since birth, and despite nothing we’ve tried working so far…

…there’s still a solution.

Wanna hear about it?

Keep reading.

Story Framework

Point: It’s not your fault.
Conflict: Amy fights society to gain freedom.
Change: Stuck -> struggles with society -> finds solution.

Now that Justine is free of negative feelings about her situation, she’s finally ready to hear about solutions.

Our next story introduces the solution and primes Justine to want it.

5. “Solution overview” value story.

Best For: “Eager, Primed Lead” – Audience approaching close.

Result: Audience gets excited and wants objections dissolved.

EXAMPLE

“Cyn & the self-help holy grail.”

Cyn used her superpower on Jay.

He didn’t want to make yet another creation that no one on earth would see, but she charmed him and inspired him and got him to try again.

She got him to put some of his most eye-opening insights into a book.

How?

By promising to market his book and make sure the people who need it, get their hands on it.

She promised to share it, promote it, market it, sell it, and give away free copies if she must.

The thing was, Cyn had no clue how to market something effectively. When she tried, she failed hard, over and over.

Her marketing degree was useless. She hadn’t read any marketing books. She had even less practice with email lists or online promotions.

She had promised Jay she’d reach the world, but couldn’t even reach her own family.

She cried her heart out, and then dove headfirst into learning marketing, because she knew she had to keep her promise. The book had to reach people.

Because it was not just any book. It was the first truly life-changing book she’d ever seen.

Cyn had inspired Jay to create the world’s first self-help coffee table book to help people like her.

People who knew they needed internal change and fresh views on things like relationships, wealth, and health… but who were tired of the same old bullshit from ‘so-called’ experts.

They called it Eyes Wide Open Volume 1, and it was new, unique, and different.

  • Where most self-help books were giant walls of text, EWO was short, half-page blurbs.
  • Where most self-help books were pulp and newsprint, EWO’s pages were glossy premium luster.
  • Where most self-help books were black and white, EWO had a full-color artwork on each page.
  • Where most self-help books were hundreds of pages of filler, EWO was 30 pages of tight copy, where every word counts.
  • Where most self-help books ramble about a topic till you’re bored, EWO delivers a-ha moments on 27 topics like money, emotion, trauma, healing, death, and more.

Together, Cyn and Jay had made something truly epic.

A book where every page was designed intentionally to shift your perspective on something that matters.

There was no other book like it, and there was no other book that delivered results like it.

They launched it as a premium-priced hardcover, as an affordable audiobook, and as a free PDF for those who didn’t have means.

It was literally a record-setting hidden gem that would help people break out of the matrix and take control of their life, all in the time it takes to commute to work.

She just had to get it out there.

So after a year of studying for her own “marketing PhD”, she finally got it into some people’s hands.

And what happened?

Folks were absorbing fresh views on taboos.

They were digesting different perspectives, so they were getting different results.

Different input, different output.

EWO sparked her friend Jennifer White to change from a divorcee to a power couple. It sparked her aunt Reina to change from an aging hag to a youthful milf. Then they shared it with their friends, who shared it with others.

It was happening. Everyone’s eyes were opening to just how good their lives could be.

All because Cyn had the guts to get Jay’s wisdom out to the world, no matter what.

And today, you can have it too.

Story Framework

Point: Different input, different output
Conflict: Cyn learns marketing to reach fam.
Change: Confused -> markets EWO -> clears fam issues.

All these stories have caused Justine to know us, and like us, and even trust us… to a point.

But to really cement things and amplify the trust level, a story or testimonial from others is key.

6. “Don’t take my word for it” trust story.

Best For: “Hot Lead” – Audience seeking rationalization.

Result: Audience capitulates, but also rears further objections.

EXAMPLE

“Willow The Book-Hater.”

Willow was exhausted.

She did her best to balance family, travel, hobbies, and her cam-model career, but things kept falling through the cracks. All areas of her life were suffering because of how busy she was.

And when her friend Amy told her about Eyes Wide Open Volume 1, Willow didn’t think the book work for her.

Because even though it looked beautiful, and seemed to be full of insights from a sincerely wise man…

…not a single page of it was about time management.

Besides, she’d already tried so many books before, and they never worked.

She wasn’t even a reader.

But Amy was relentless, gushing about how it changed her life for the better, inside and out. She got so passionate about it’s value, that she offered to foot the bill, if Willow would give the book a shot.

So Willow headed to the sales page.

She had to admit, at least the book was short with no fluff or filler. And she was pleasantly surprised to find that the author, J-Ryze, even offered a self-narrated audiobook version for people who were too busy to read.

She downloaded it instantly and looked for a chapter on time management, overwhelm, or freedom.

There was nothing, but the page “Do You Know What Your Emotions Are For?“ was calling her.

She listened once, then rewound, and listened again.

Her mind was blown, her mouth agape. She’d never heard such a clear, insightful, concise take on emotions before.

And she realized her feelings of ‘overwhelm’ and ‘lack of time’ weren’t something to complain about.

They were guides, pointing the way towards a healthier work/life balance like a compass.

The “How To Read” section in the beginning of the book heavily emphasized reading carefully and making the time to apply and dig deeper into any concepts that resonated.

So Willow knew she must learn more about her emotions if she ever wanted them to change. Fortunately, each page of EWO referred her to seasoned experts and further wisdom.

Even though she was still laying on her bed with headphones on, Willow felt something inside her had changed.

She knew her journey to a healthier, better-feeling work/life balance had begun, and the thing that ignited her engine was Eyes Wide Open Volume One.

Despite all Willow’s cynicism, hesitation, and resistance to Amy’s suggestion…

…it turned out Amy was right.

A single-page of EWO was life-changing, and the book absolutely could work for anyone.

Willow wondered how much her life would improve if she applied the wisdom from other pages.

She already felt so energized, she couldn’t wait to read the rest.

Story Framework

Point: EWO will work for anyone.
Conflict: Willow resists EWO’s value.
Change: Flustered -> practices EWO -> Beats overwhelm.

The story type above works even better when told in the “first-person,” by someone who’s actually used or done whatever you’re persuading Justine towards.

Anyway, despite Justine being extremely primed to act, our persuasion-journey is not done yet, because there are still hidden objections to taking action rattling around inside our target’s mind. Our next story dissolves the majority of those.

7. “Dissolve objections” belief-shaper story.

Best For: “Primed-But-Hesitant Buyer” – Audience seeking rationalization.

Result: Audience is at-peace with purchasing or taking action, but needs urgency to buy NOW.

EXAMPLE

“Willow’s Choice”

Willow’s finger hesitated over the mouse.

Before Willow clicked ‘buy now,’ she had to overcome many excuses, objections, and hesitations. And overcoming those objections is a lot of mental and emotional work, which is why Willow rarely invested in self-help, or in herself, at all.

Fortunately, J-Ryze seemed to be ‘in her head,’ and had already done the work to overcome anything that would stop her from bringing a valuable book into her life.

As she scanned the book’s sales page, Willow was thinking things like:

“I don’t have time for another book…” But Eyes Wide Open Vol. 1 was only 30 pages, complete with a half-page artwork on every page.

“How can reading change my life anyway…” Think And Grow Rich has created more millionaires than any other book. The Bible & The Qur’an are responsible for massive changes in people. It’s not books that change us, but the revelations, a-ha moments, and emotional impacts that happen inside us upon reading a book, that sparks real change.

“I’ve never seen a self-help coffee table book before…” Which is a good thing, because if you’re investing in the same old thing everyone else invests in, you’ll get the same old result everyone else gets. And if you look around, most people aren’t getting very good results… Here’s your chance to do better than them.

“It’s so short, will it actually work?” When Steve Jobs debuted the iPod, he was proud of how small it was. 1,000 songs in your pocket. If you want to seduce a man, what works better, a giant muumuu or a little bitty dress? Smaller is often better, and often much harder to create. EWO is short because every word counts and every page is life-changing. It needs no filler.

“It seems way too expensive…” The iPhone is expensive, because it’s elegantly designed. A bottle of Belvedere vodka is expensive because it’s masterfully crafted. EWO is both, and is priced to match. But just in case you’re still hesitant, we offer an extremely affordable audiobook version as well as a completely free PDF version.

“Nothing’s ever easy…” That’s a belief that will prevent you from ever experiencing easy growth, easy results, or an easy life. A healthier belief is that ‘moving my arm is easy,’ ‘getting a drink is easy,’ and ‘playing a game is easy…’ and I’m going to let EWO create easy results for me.

“This is probably a scam.” Considering we offer a free PDF version that you can try before you buy, as well as a money-back guarantee for the other versions, and considering it was caringly made to help those who need it… I’m not sure how anyone could associate the word “scam” with this labor of love, but if that’s you, you probably need more therapy than this book can offer, and we wish you all the best.

Willow sighed.

She really did have a lot of excuses to avoid investing in herself.

Amy had already bought the book and was thriving because of it.

Would Willow let her objections go, pull the trigger, and buy?

Would she click that mouse-button?

Well, you already know how the story turns out, the question is, are you going to join her?

Story Framework

Point: Most objections are silly.
Conflict: Willow struggles to invest in herself.
Change: Jaded -> pulls trigger & buys -> gets growth.

There you have it.

Justine is just about 100% persuaded and influenced to act in the way you’d prefer.

She’s ready to buy.

The only thing is, even when people are fully convinced of the ‘right thing to do’, they often delay acting until it feels absolutely urgent, or until the opportunity is likely to disappear.

Our last story solves this.

8. “You’re at a crossroads” act-now story.

Best For: “Ready Buyers” – Audience ready to commit.
Result: Audience takes action; buys into whatever you’re pitching.

EXAMPLE

“Two Boats And A Helicopter”

A man was stuck on his roof during a flood, so he prayed to God for help.

Soon a rowboat came by and the skipper shouted to the man on the roof, “Jump in, I’ll save you.” The stranded man replied, “No, it’s OK, God is going to save me.” So the rowboat went on.

Next, a motorboat came by. It’s captain shouted, “Jump in, I’ll save you.” To this the stranded man said, “No thanks, my prayers will save me. I have faith.” So the motorboat went on.

Eventually, a helicopter flew by and the pilot shouted down, “Grab this rope and I’ll lift you to safety.” The stranded man smiled and said, “I’ll pass, thanks, I’m praying to God and he’ll save me. It’s how I’m most comfortable.” So the pilot shook his head, and reluctantly flew away.

Not long after, the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. Upon reaching heaven, he discussed the whole situation with God, exclaiming, “I had faith in you but you didn’t save me, you let me drown. Why!?”

To this God replied, “I sent you a rowboat, a motorboat, and a helicopter, what more did you expect?”

Life has already sent you memes, motivational quotes, ‘common’ self-help books, and none of them have ‘saved’ you.

Isn’t it time you pulled the trigger on the rare, unique, Eyes Wide Open opportunity in front of you?

Or are you going to drown before you take action to help yourself, live a better life, and get what you want?

Story Framework

Point: Hesitation kills.
Conflict: Man struggles with his faith.
Change: Starts pious -> Ignores opportunities -> gets dead.

Voila, cold, unreceptive stranger persuaded all the way along to ‘conversion’, eagerly taking whatever action you desire.

You don’t have to use all 8 stories every time you want to persuade someone.

But if you find your target is “stuck” on a step, or not reaching the end of the “customer journey”, leveraging a couple of these story types can influence them towards your goals.

This is because when they’re stuck, they have a different story in their head, stopping progress. 

Table of Contents

One of the above 8 can be used to solve most persuasion issues.

The “better story wins” for influencing people, but most people you talk to already have “counter-stories” working hard in their minds against you.

Learn to recognize this because if you can’t “out-story” people, the only option is the massive undertaking of giving them repeated experiences to eventually dislodge their counter-stories.

This is because once people believe their own story, even if you offer a landslide of evidence & convincing arguments, they won’t budge.

It’s a phenomenon known as ‘belief perseverance.’

Let’s say someone has a story in their head that goes like this:

“I’m a frugal person, and the product being offered to me is too costly.”

You might tell them an “alternative story” about some villagers who got flooded because they wouldn’t invest in retaining walls.

When they hear your alternative story, they’re evaluating its truthfulness from a few different perspectives, asking themselves things like:

Is what you are saying compatible with the other things I know?

  • Is your story coherent and plausible?
  • Or does it sound like bullsh*t?
  • Is the source of this story credible?
  • Do others believe this story?

A well-told “objection dissolving” story, takes all of this into account, and if done right, moves your target over the “objection hump” into taking the action you want them to.

Do I really only need eight stories?

In my opinion… yes.

But more stories in the storybank probably can’t hurt.

For example, having a strong “origin story” or “start with why” story for your business or brand is extremely helpful, but I leave it out of my “8-pack” because it’s not strictly necessary to sell more of something.

When people have a problem, and you’re selling a solution, they may not care about who you are or where you came from at first… they just care what you can do for them.

Some people/companies have hundreds, even thousands of stories in their story bank, but in my experience, for beginner storytelling entrepreneurs to succeed, you really only need these eight.

You can use whichever story is necessary, at any point of your audience’s journey. If you’re struggling to get them past a certain communication point, break out the appropriate story and you’re extremely likely to ‘win.’

Here’s a peek at part of my storybank.

You can flesh out your story bank much more with stories from your own life that build company culture, convey your values, and more, but to avoid getting overwhelmed…

…I suggest focusing on the 8-pack.

Now, having stories stored in your bank is great, because you have confidence and security that they’re always there for you, especially if you keep them in the cloud like I do with Airtable and Google Drive.

But having your stories sitting in a bank doesn’t really help most entrepreneurs leverage them effectively.

Because entrepreneurs are constantly dealing with new people, different situations, and changing landscapes, and busy CEOs rarely have the option to say “excuse me for ten minutes everyone, I’ve got to check my story bank.”

So the storybank is step one to marshaling your story resources, but the even more helpful step is to create ‘story triggers’ that instantly bring the right story to mind when you need it.

In martial arts, having a jujitsu manual at home that explains all the holds and takedowns is great.

But you know what’s better?

Having all the holds and takedowns as part of your muscle-memory, ready to be deployed whenever shit pops off.

So now that you’ve got your storybank…

…it’s time to get some story triggers.

There are so many great books on building habits and using triggers out there.

Triggers, Atomic Habits, etc.

But you don’t need to read them all to start putting triggers to work in your life, because you’re already doing it, whether you realize it or not.

When bedtime rolls around, you’ve set yourself up to trigger ‘teeth brushing.’

As a child, you may not have been so disciplined and habitual with dental hygiene, but now you are.

Or whenever you use the bathroom, you’re triggered to break out your phone and start doom-scrolling.

In the days before smartphones, no one had this trigger, depending on how old you are, this might even include you.

I’ve known obese people who build the habit of going for a walk after their meal, resulting in them losing substantial weight.

But only because they bothered to build their helpful triggers.

The first step to building your story triggers…

… is to associate key phrases, trigger words, or ‘meaning’ to your stories.

I do this by adding a ‘tags’ column next to my stories, and filling those boxes with whatever helps me bring the matching story to mind.

If I was going to tell the story of “The Ugly Duckling,” I’d add the tags “duck”, “ugly”, “beauty”, “strengths”, “weaknesses”, “self-esteem”, “patience” or anything that resonated for me personally in the story.

If I couldn’t think of anything, I’d ask other people what their “takeaways” from the story were, or what “meaning” they got from it, and use those as tags instead.

You can see the tags I’ve used for each of my stories in my screenshot above.

At first this doesn’t seem all that helpful, but as you practice storytelling more and more, you’ll find that as soon as a certain topic, theme, or phrase is brought to your attention, you’ll instantly associate certain stories with it.

So as you interact with the world, you simply keep an eye out for those key phrases, trigger words, or meanings, and naturally interject your story at those points.

The second step is to turn your triggers into story habits.

If you pay attention to your story triggers, and practice responding with stories consistently enough, you’ll develop a ‘story habit.’

Once you’ve got the story habit, you’ll spot people’s hesitation or resistance and instantly start sharing a powerful story to dissolve it, without even needing to think.

This is where the power of stories kicks into high gear, because like a talented martial artist or breakdancer, you break out your story moves on the spot, whenever they’re called for, and you always ‘wow’ the crowd.

This part is the practice part.

You can’t get it from reading more articles or watching more videos.

You must be out in the world, engaging with people somehow, and practicing storytelling any time you spot your story triggers.

Whether you’re using storytelling in your copy or blog posts, whether you’re using it on stage or in a coffee shop, whether you’re using it with friends or prospects…

Storytelling must be practiced, just like any skill that matters in life.

OK, how do I tell a story?

However you want.

Plenty of storytelling teachers have their tips and tricks for how to tell a story.

Things like:

  • The 4 P’s of storytelling
  • The 3 C’s of storytelling
  • The 4 (or 7) types of storytelling
  • The golden rule of storytelling
  • The 6,7,8 rules of storytelling
  • And on and on.

And these can be helpful devices for remembering story elements or structures.

But they’re really not necessary.

You’ve been swimming in a sea of stories since you were a baby.

Telling them is fairly natural to you at this point, and fancy devices aren’t really necessary, at least, not for influencing people with stories.

A story can be told in a sentence or two, or it can be told in a three-volume trilogy. It can be told visually, without words (“visual storytelling”), or it can be fully narrated and acted in a YouTube video. It can be a blend of all this and more (“transmedia.”)

This is because stories are one of the most versatile things around, and they show up in every art form and medium you can think of.

You can tell your story in a business context, like with brand storytelling. You can tell your story in an entertaining context like at a party, or for stand-up. You can tell your story with both goals in mind, such as in a well-designed YouTube video.

If you don’t know where to start, there are many books on effective storytelling, my favorite for long-form stories is The Anatomy Of Story by John Truby. My favorite for business is Storynomics by Robert McGee. I’ve heard Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott is good for beginners.

I haven’t found a great book for short-form stories yet, though I’ve considered writing my own.

If you just want to dive in, story-framework’s like The Hero’s Journey or Dan Harmon’s Story Circle are a helpful way to get a story laid out and ready for telling.

If you’re looking for examples, many believe that Pixar storytelling is the ultimate aspiration. Others say it’s Disney’s storytelling. Or Christopher Nolan’s. Or whoever.

And while these story factories are great for inspiration, they often have their own style and way of storytelling that won’t suit you, and that you’ll struggle with…

…so I encourage you to practice crafting your own stories, because learning through trial and error is tough to beat.

As a beginner, I learned best from fables, parables, and fairy tales. Then moved on to hint fiction and micro-fiction. Eventually I tackled short stories, then writing novels and screenplays.

Your journey may be quite different though.

Anyway, the simplest way to tell an effective story is to recount the journey of a character, through a setting, with a beginning, middle, and an end, and if it’s meant to influence someone or aid in business… ideally your story has a ‘point’ and ‘call to action.’

So there you have it.

You’re pretty well set up to rock biz and life through storytelling.

  • You know why skipping storytelling hurts your life and business.
  • You know that the elites use them to control the world, and that you can too.
  • You’ve replaced bad story beliefs with higher-value ones that serve you.
  • You know how powerful stories are as persuasion tools.
  • You know how vital it is to know your audience and choose stories that resonate.
  • You know how to spot stories.
  • You’ve got your storybank with eight stories in it which can be used to persuade the majority of people, at any stage of resistance, to buy into your idea.
  • You’ve got your story triggers that prompt you to summon a particular story when it will serve most.
  • You’ve developed your ‘story habit’ through practice. (And if you haven’t, you really should get to it.)

If you’ve applied what you’ve learned here, you’ll be persuading people to your cause, mission, or desired behavior in no time.

  • You’ll have 10, 20, 100 times more success at influencing others than you have before.
  • You’ll feel like you can write a few stories to your email list, and practically print money.
  • You’ll feel like you can tell the right story to your spouse and diffuse any argument.
  • You’ll feel like you can put the right story in a slidedeck and get countless investors on board.
  • You’ll even feel like you can persuade a stubborn child to clean their room… as long as you have a compelling story.
  • You’ve gone from story-noob, to story-adept, and soon to be story-master.

I’m proud of you.

Now get out there, show the world what you’ve got, and persuade them to step up and better their lives.

P.S. In business, the word ‘story’ is kind of a no-no. It’s considered a ‘bad word’ or the ‘s-word.’ This is because people love to hear stories, they just don’t like to be told they are listening to one. So just launch into telling your story, setting the scene, or recounting your experience, but never mention the word ‘story.’ Basically, tell lots of stories, but keep the transition into them… ‘invisible.’

Best free business storytelling reason? Anecdote International’s blog.

Frequently Asked Questions About Storytelling:

We tell stories for three main reasons. We use them to…

1. Help us understand the world.

2. Help explain the world to others.

3. Shape and promote worldviews.

Brand storytelling creates emotional, value-driven connections between customers and your brand. Ideally these stories are authentic, engaging, and lead back to your ‘why’, and what your brand values.

There’s little difference between brand storytelling and other storytelling. This is because at their core, all forms of storytelling are relatively similar.

Brand storytelling is simply using stories to craft narratives that connect people to a brand’s offerings, messaging, values, and causes.

Hollywood storytelling is using stories to craft narratives that connect people to movie characters, or a franchise, or a particular Hollywood studio’s agenda.

Religious parables are using stories to craft narratives that guide people’s behavior, morality, and way of life.

In every case, storytelling is storytelling, it’s just being used with slightly different aims or goals.

Political storytelling, as with brand storytelling and Hollywood storytelling, follows the same storytelling ‘rules’, methods, and ingredients.

It’s simply aimed at converting voters, soothing constituents, and shoring up campaigns, that’s all.

Everything on this page is a fantastic start.

If you want more, you can check out Anecdote International’s blog, it’s brimming with useful storytelling tips.

Practice is ~90% of effective storytelling though, so don’t get caught up in storytelling theory and research.

Get out there and practice, the same way you would when learning guitar, resin painting, or tarot-reading. 

No, stories don’t have to be oral.

They can be written, animated, mimed, internal, and so on.

No, you don’t have to use the Hero’s Journey in storytelling, but it’s a tried-and-true story framework that helps many.

Dan Harmon’s “Story Circle”, while an effective, modern story framework, is not necessary to craft a compelling story.

It was one of my personal favorite story frameworks though, until I devised my own by combining it, the Hero’s Journey, and John Truby’s “Story Steps.”

The elements of storytelling aren’t agreed upon.

Depending on who you ask or what you search you’ll get many different answers:

Narrative, conflict, climax, plot, theme, exposition, setting, point of view, protagonist, tone, dialogue, backstory, arc, character, rising action, pacing, tension, symbolism, etc…

Personally, I’d worry less about what the elements of story are, and more on practicing.

Practice telling compelling stories with a character pursuing a goal and changing along the way.

That’s about the only elements necessary, imho. 

Storytelling is both an art and a science, and can be approached from either perspective.

That said, approaching it too heavily from either side will limit you and cause you to struggle in creating effective stories…

…so I suggest you embrace it’s dual nature as both art and science, and master it. 

Post Author:

J-Ryze
J-Ryze

‘J-Ryze’ Fonceca's childhood diagnosis as 'genius' made him arrogant. This led to him scraping by as a homeless entrepreneur... for years. Eventually he got out by helping Evan Carmichael build his empire of 3 million followers. A brief stint as 'the bimbo whisperer', coaching OnlyFans models followed, after which he finally pivoted to his "Eyes Wide Open" podcast with his partner Cyn. His clients call him the ‘living mindf*ck’, ‘mindset adrenalin’, & ‘best mentor ever.’ He lives in Toronto, has read thousands of books, & can play any champ in League Of Legends passably.

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