Here’s how you should tell a business story. It comes from a TEDx Talk from Jeff Hoffman (see below for the video). I was first introduced to Jeff at an event for trainers and supporters at CRDF Global in Virginia. I had already traveled to four countries on behalf of CRDF offering technical assistance training and capacity building. I conducted hands-on workshops for some of the smartest people you will never meet in Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Ukraine. My topics were public speaking and presentations, business storytelling, and how to pitch to investors.
At the CRDF Global event, Jeff Hoffman was one of the guest speakers. I enjoyed his insights and storytelling. Afterward, I did some research on him and discovered his TEDx Wallstreet presentation, “The Power of Wonder.”
Jeff shares his excellent Better Tomorrow Message ™, “Bring Back Child-Like Wonder.” He has a powerful call-to-action of “Think Like a Five-Year-Old.” He blends seriousness with self-deprecating humor. The story flows well. He makes us feel like we are in his story. All around, an excellent example of a personal experience that can be told as a business story/workplace story.
When you StoryThink™ as we like to call it, you will reframe experiences into stories that address workplace issues. For example, “The Power of Wonder” from Jeff Hoffman could be used as a story for change, a think customer service story, a culture story, a story for a big idea, a new vision story, and so forth.
This is the transcript from the TEDx presentation from Jeff Hoffman, starting at 00:30.
Please note. Public speaking from a stage is difficult. During every live presentation, new and experienced speakers alike, will have some grammar missteps, use a few filler words, and have a run-on sentence here and there. To account for these, I have edited Jeff’s story just a little.
The Power of Wonder, A Jeff Hoffman Story
I want to tell you a story. I was in charge of a five-year-old for the day. And after a staring contest, I somehow lost, I don’t know how she got me to back down. She won the staring contest. She said to me, “What are we gonna do today?”
I said “I have to go to my office. Get in the car.” So, she starts walking across the room. And she’s looking down as she’s walking and she says to me, “How do they make carpet?” And I said, “I don’t know. There are machines that sew it and stitch it together. Whatever. Just go to the garage.”
We’re walking along. We get in the garage. And she goes over to the car. She taps on the window and she says, “How do they make glass?” And I said, “I don’t know. There’s like fire and sand.” And she’s like, “Fire and sand?” She’s given me this look like, “remind me not to waste my money on a Yale education.”
And I’m like, “Seriously. That’s how they make glass. Get in the car.” Okay. Then she taps on that thing you see. The bar that goes between the two windows. And she says, “What is this thing called?” And I said, “It doesn’t have a name.” And she said, “What is the thing between the two windows?” I said, “It doesn’t have a name, okay.” And she said, “If it doesn’t have a name, how do they order more on the assembly line?”
It’s five-year old, three, old guy nothing. At this point, I said, “Look, just get in the car.” We get in the car and we drive to the office. When we get to the office, I am walking across my familiar territory through my familiar employees and processes. And there she goes again. I look and I watch in her eyes. She’s looking at everything. Taking in everything around her and processing it.
Then she starts. She says, “What is that thing?” And she says, “Why do you have two of those things?” “Why is that girl on the phone all day?” “What does that guy do?” And I said, “Please, take some markers and go draw something on the whiteboard.” Finally, a bag of Cheetos won that argument.
I went and sat in my office. I sat there for a minute and something significantly bothered me. I stood up. I said, “Wait a minute. Why do we have two of those? What is that thing? Why is that girl on the phone all day?”
I Lost My Child-Like Wonder
I realized something really important. I lost my child-like wonder. I lost the ability to wonder about everything around me because I was busy. We get in our cocoon where we are comfortable. We see the same things every day. So we stop seeing them.
Think Like a Five-Year Old
In fact, it gave me a revelation. I went and got my entire management team. I said, “Tomorrow, I want everybody to come in here and think like a child. I want you to think like a five-year-old. I want you to bring back child-like wonder. I want you to question everything we do and why we do it.”
And the results were absolutely phenomenal.
Jeff Hoffman, The Power of Wonder
MORE EXCELLENT BUSINESS STORIES TO READ
- Stop Blaming Steve, from Brene Brown (read/watch)
- Beat the Odds (read)
- Don’t Be The Idiot In The Red Convertible – Story (read)
- All story examples (go now)
FURTHER READING ON BUSINESS STORYTELLING
- Turn Your Everyday Experiences into Engaging, Powerful Stories (read)
- “Pause” with Purpose in Speaking, Training, and Storytelling (read)
- In Storytelling, Balance Emotion and Benefit (read)
- Add Suspense to Your Story with “Near-Impossible Goals” (read)
- Anaphora – Increase Impact with this Type of Word Repetition (read)
- All Business Storytelling Articles & Posts (go now)
Photography Source: Screen capture from Jeff Hoffman, The Power of Wonder video. Design © Copyright 2020, The Chief Storyteller®, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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