I grew up in Reno. When you want to travel to Lake Tahoe to witness the breathtaking views of the lake surrounded by snowcapped mountains during the summer or just simply want to take on the black diamond ski slopes during the winter, you fly into Reno. Tahoe is just hop-skip away to the wonders of Lake Tahoe and Reno is the closest city to have an international airport. In fact, as a kid growing up, we consider the ski slopes of Tahoe our own backyard. There’s a Junior Ski program that takes a bus full of kids every Saturday 30 minutes to the closest ski resort to get them started mastering the slopes early in their childhood. Our high school had a downhill ski team that competed against other schools in the county and some went on to become a professional skiers. All that to say, ski culture in Reno is second to none.
So, when I saw the trailer for this Feature Length Documentary called BURIED, based on the 1982 avalanche in Alpine Meadows (ski resort at Tahoe know for incredible summit-to-base groomed grails and panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and the peaks of the Sierra Nevada), I was intrigued and just had to watch it. Here it is…
In 1982, a massive avalanche had crashed into the base area of the ski resort after a four-day storm which had dumped close to eight feet of snow along with 100 mile per hour winds. The resort was closed but a few employees remained at the headquarters. And at 3:45 pm a tidal wave of snow came down and destroyed the building and buried the parking lot killing seven innocent lives. Here’s a crazy part of this story (warning: spoiler alert), one woman named Anna Conrad was found alive after being buried in the snow for a total of five days. She was located by a trained search dog, a German Shepard named Bridget. It took total of 117 hours for her to be found. It was a miracle beyond miracle that she was alive. She had been trapped in the second floor of a three-story ski lift building. She crawled into a space between all debris and a bench, surviving on melted snow.
When asked later while she was waiting to be rescued for 5 days if she ever gave up hope. “No.” She said. “I knew they would come” She never lost hope.
After this traumatic experience, the recovery back to the norm obviously wasn’t easy for her. She was dealing with the loss of her friends and the loss of the love of her life. At the same time, she was also trying to overcome survivor’s guilt of asking why. On top of that, the tough news she was told was that she would have to have her right leg amputated.
As devastating as that new way, this is how she responded. “What happened to me was a fantastic miracle, I can’t believe that I made it. It’s like so many miracles occurred all at once to save me, it’s just…it’s overwhelming. Learning about my leg amputation was very hard at first, but I decided there was no use being depressed, I was going to have to live with it so I might as well accept it.”
In the spirit of our new series “Inspiration”, I wanted to share this incredible survival story of Anna with you. I walked away from this documentary being reminded once again the fragility of life. And beyond that, I was inspired by her never giving up hope through one of the most hopeless circumstances. But most of all, I am inspired by her attitude of gratefulness and putting it all into perspective in the midst of her own painful journey. Her courage to accept, her courage to hope and her courage to live is inspiring. Are you inspired? My question now is how will this change and impact me? How will I learn to accept the things that doesn’t show up in my favor and how will I continue to see the hope and be grateful no matter what the circumstance I am facing? I would love to hear your thoughts.
Well, this is it. After a couple months of learning about the power of story, our saga is coming to an end. We hope you’ve enjoyed the ride as much as we have – if you missed anything, please feel free to explore our archives at https://bosmediagroup.com/blogs/.
Quick Summary: we looked at the common elements of all great stories, and how they always answer a few key questions:
- Who’s the main character in the story?
- What’s the character’s problem?
- What/Who is the guide that the character meets?
- How does this guide help the character?
- What’s the plan?
- How did he execute this plan?
- Did he win?
- How did the character transform?
Bottom line: every hero has a problem, and they need a guide to help them solve it.
Which brings us to today: we literally have a guide for you! It’s called “HOW TO TELL A STORY THAT SELLS” – a free marketing workbook designed to help you think through the story of your business and how to best share it with your audience.
But one thing to remember: this isn’t just for you. This is a guide to help YOU become the guide.
As we discussed during the Story series, what if your business isn’t meant to be the hero in the story? Obviously we want you to be successful, but the path to that might be different than you expected. What if the mission of your business was to make your customer the hero, with you as their guide?
Take some time in the workbook to think about your customer as the main character – what problem can you help them solve? What plan would you offer that can lead them to transformation?
As the Story Series has shown: If you can guide someone to success, it’s a dream come true – for your customer, and your business.
Here’s to your business guiding people into a true Happily Ever After!
As our Story Series continues another week, you may be wondering: “When will we start making practical business applications with all this?”
Ironically, today’s story features someone who can relate.
Once upon a time, Daniel was a cool kid from New Jersey, but after moving to Southern California it’s hard for him to fit in. He meets one girl who’s pretty cute, but talking to her immediately makes him a target for her ex-boyfriend and his friends, who also happen to be violently good at karate.
After they beat Daniel up a couple of times, a guide comes to the rescue. Mr. Miyagi proves to be more than just the maintenance man at Daniel’s apartment – he agrees to give Daniel some karate training so he can protect himself. To start, he invites Daniel to his home and assigns him a bunch of chores:
- Sanding the floor
- Waxing the car
- Painting the fence
- Painting the house
By the end of the week, Daniel is exhausted and confronts Mr. Miyagi about it. It certainly feels like Mr. Miyagi’s commitment to train him was just an excuse to get some free labor to do some work around his house. Like an email reader who keeps getting told stories, he’s like, “When am I going to learn some actual karate?!?!”
That’s when Mr. Miyagi’s brilliance is revealed:
So genius. Let’s check out how it matches up with the story building blocks we’ve been discussing every week:
- Who’s the main character in the story? Daniel
- What’s the character’s problem? He’s new in town and keeps getting beat up
- What/Who is the guide that the character meets? Mr. Miyagi
- How does this guide help the character? He agrees to train Daniel (and gets the bullies to stop fighting until they all face each other in a karate tournament)
- What’s the plan? He has Daniel do a bunch of chores around his house
- How did he execute this plan? At first, he’s mad that he has to do all this work instead of training, not knowing the work WAS the training.
- Did he win? He learns karate, takes the girl to Golf-n-Stuff in and wins the tournament with the most epic crane kick of all time.
- How did the character transform? Whiny kid who resents his circumstances, only to find it’s those very same circumstances that make him champion of the Tri-Valley
So back to the original question: When will we stop focusing on stories and start doing the practical business application? The stories ARE the practical business application. Your best branding, your best marketing, your best sales strategy – it all begins with a story.
I hope this inspires you to look at your work differently. Maybe, right in the middle of all your daily tasks, a new set of skills is emerging. What level of mastery have you already achieved? How can you share that story with the world?
Here’s to crane-kicking your work in the face today!
I am pretty sure that what I am about to say is going to be 100% accurate:
When you saw the subject line, you had no idea what I was going to talk about, right?
In fact, I would bet that you have no idea who Butler Sung even is. If you knew right away and proved me wrong, please reply to this email and let me know – we have so much to talk about.
We are still in our “Storytelling” series, and this is the moment I’ve been waiting for. This story is near and dear to my heart because it’s a Kdrama. If you are not familiar with Kdrama, it has a set of interesting characteristics in my opinion.
- Kdrama is exactly what it says…drama. Crazy events happen with crazy circumstances. i.e. Two sisters get separated at a young age because one got lost in a bus station and they somehow meet as adults…mom realizes she now has to tell the truth about this which has been kept a family secret…just when she’s about to reveal all, she falls down the stairs and loses her memory.
- Kdrama acting is not great. They overreact to situations, sometimes in a cheesy way, sometimes in an overly emotional way.
- Kdrama is very addictive. Once you start watching, you just can’t stop. And some of these series last 30-35 episodes. Some people (like my mom) binge-watch them non-stop without sleeping.
- Kdrama is all about character development. I don’t know how they do it, but whatever you believe about the characters they introduce in the first few episodes will have changed by the end of the series. You’ll either fall deeply in love with them, or you’ll hate them with passion.
So, now that you are familiar with Kdramas, let’s talk about Butler Sung.
The story begins with Kim Min Kyu who is a CEO of a prosperous financial company. He lives in complete isolation due to a rare medical condition that has no cure. He basically breaks out in a severe rash and he can’t breathe. He’s allergic to humans. LOL. His isolation and loneliness become more tolerable when he’s introduced to a female android called AJI3, which Dr. Hong developed with an advanced capacity to respond to human emotions. Well, guess what? The AJI3 malfunctions and we find out that this AJI3 model was a direct replica of Dr. Hong’s ex-girlfriend whom he still has feelings for. So, what was he to do? He asks his ex-girlfriend to help him by pretending to be the robot until they get all the bugs sorted out. And you guessed it. Kim Min Kyu falls in love with the robot who is not a robot at all.
When the truth is all revealed, after 30 episodes, Kim Min Kyu is angry, feels betrayed, and wants to isolate himself again. And during this deep contemplative scene of trying to figure out what to do (cue soft and sad BTS song in the background), as he’s walking around in his property in the mid-winter evening…depressed, confused, and sad, he runs into Butler Sung. Butler Sung is his butler who lives on his property in a small shack and takes care of all the maintenance around and in the house. He’s a bit older and has a lot of life experience and wisdom. They sit around the fire pit and he begins to enlighten this young CEO about love. This is where the transformation happens. A heart change, a perspective change…Butler Sung’s words penetrate deep into his soul and he realizes that life without her would be meaningless. What did he say? I am not going to give it away. You have to watch it to feel it…experience it…all 32 episodes of it.
Here it is, once again. The essence of our “Storytelling” series. Learning about the Hero and the Guide. The guide helps the hero become the hero. No one really knows or even cares that much about the guide (hence the mystery of my subject line), but the guide is the one who initiates the transformation. And this is what we do every day. We are the guide. Your client is the hero. Be the best guide you can be to help them step into their best story, in business and in life. Here’s a quick review and the breakdown of the story – make sure the brand story you tell answers these questions:
- Who’s the main character in the story? Kim Min Kyu
- What’s the character’s problem? He’s allergic to humans and lives an isolated life without love.
- What/Who’s the guide that the character meets? Butler Sung
- How does this guide help the character? He helps the main character realize that love is worth fighting for.
- What’s the plan? Confess his love for her and forgive her.
- How did he execute this plan? Beautifully with soft music background cued
- Did he win? He found his love and the cure
- How did the character transform? He overcame his deep abandonment issues and pain by allowing someone to love him.
Are you enjoying the Story series? I’ve liked it so much that I think we have to keep it going a couple more weeks! Kind of like binge-watching – there’s always time for just one more episode haha. But seriously, I truly hope this is helping you clarify your own story and the purpose of your business.
For the past few weeks, we’ve been learning about the power of story. It’s so much more than entertainment – it’s an essential part of how we connect in every facet of life, including business.
Today, we get to learn from the masters. Seriously, I believe the greatest stories of our time are being told in an unexpected place, and they’ve shared their secrets with the world. Can you guess who we’re talking about?
I’ll give you a clue…
OK, that was more than a clue haha. But seriously, if you’ve read Creativity Inc. or seen their “22 Rules of Storytelling” online, you know: don’t underestimate these movies just because they’re animated. And here’s how I know that they’re the best: the way they take the absolute most impossible ideas and make them happen.
- Understanding a 12-year-old’s emotions? Inside Out.
- Exploring the existential realities beyond life on earth? Soul.
- And maybe the most challenging of all… taking the grossest thing in the world and making it lovable: A rat in the kitchen.
(Side note: I wonder if that’s part of Pixar’s genius – choosing the worst idea they could think of and finding a way to pull it off. It’s like that quote, “Necessity is the mother of invention” – maybe we should be more willing to lean into what looks like a bad idea, or times where we feel painted in a corner. Those moments could be the source of our greatest innovation!)
Back to the story: Remy is the rat of all our dreams, and he truly loves the magic of food. But based on his appearance, the last place in the world he would ever be welcome is a kitchen.
Once again, a guide comes along to show him the way: Gusteau, the famous French chef whose motto is “Anyone can cook.” He encourages Remy with advice that speaks to us all:
“You must be imaginative, strong-hearted. You must try things that may not work, and you must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul.”
Wow. Imagine waking up every morning and starting the day with that quote. Gusteau’s mentorship changes Remy’s life, ultimately leading him to become the most unconventional chef in Paris.
Let’s review how this matches up with the story building blocks we’ve been talking about each week:
- Who’s the main character in the story? Remy
- What’s the character’s problem? He’s a rat who wants to be a chef.
- What/Who is the guide that the character meets? Gusteau
- How does this guide help the character? Helping him believe that anyone can cook.
- What’s the plan? Removing the mental obstacles that cause Remy to doubt that his dream is possible.
- How did he execute this plan? Hiding in a chef’s hat so that a human could help orchestrate his culinary brilliance.
- Did he win? The most feared restaurant critic, Anton Ego, took one bite of his dish and was immediately transported back to his childhood, restoring his love of food and inspiring him to declare Remy “nothing less than the finest chef in France.”
- How did the character transform? He left the sewer behind, along with all the self-imposed limitations of what he could become, and there’s now a restaurant in Paris called La Ratatouille entirely staffed by rats.
The other thing I appreciate about this story is how Remy’s journey affects so many others: his family, the humans in the kitchen, Anton Ego. It makes me wonder: who are the people around us right now who are just waiting for us to start our story, so that theirs can begin as well?
We’ll let Gusteau have the last words. He told Remy, “There is excellence all around you. You need only to be aware to stop and savor it.” So… what impossible story do you want to write today? “Anyone can cook… but only the fearless can be great.”
“His whole life was a 1,000,000-to-1 shot.”
Rocky Balboa wasn’t always the most famous boxer in movie history. Once upon a time, he was the last person anyone would expect to be a champ. Not just in movies – in real life.
When the original movie went into production, expectations were extremely low. Sylvester Stallone was relatively unknown in Hollywood, and his trademark voice and style didn’t exactly earn him instant credibility. Despite being the screenwriter and star of the movie, most of the crew considered him and the project a joke.
At one point, in the middle of a scene with Talia Shire (who played Adrian), the actors became distracted by members of the crew who were actually snickering as they were filming. She felt bad for her co-star, and asked if he was ok. With surprising confidence and vision, Stallone reassured her: “They don’t see what I see.”
Luckily, he had an angel on his shoulder, both literally and figuratively. His trainer Mickey was the perfect guide in the midst of this process. Like the crew, he had his own doubts about Rocky’s prospects – remember his first impression of Rocky? “You’re a tomato, and I don’t run a soup kitchen.”
But when I think of Mickey’s words to Rocky over the years, the one quote I’ll never forget is when he said, “I didn’t hear no bell.” It means no matter how bad things look, as long as you’re still in the fight, the story isn’t over.
They might be laughing at you.
They might think you’re a tomato.
They might think your business has no chance to succeed.
But I didn’t hear no bell.
I don’t know about you, but this is seriously getting me pumped up right now! Cue the music, and let’s run some stairs!!!
Seriously though, once again it just shows the power of story. Throughout this Story series, we’ve been coming back to this pattern every week – Rocky shows us how it works, both in the movie and in real life:
- Who’s the main character in the story? Rocky/Sylvester Stallone
- What’s the character’s problem? He’s a tomato who can never be successful.
- What/Who is the guide that the character meets? Mickey
- How does this guide help the character? Mickey is a tough coach who makes him a fighter who never gives up.
- What’s the plan? Chase chickens (Mickey had some weird techniques)
- How did he execute this plan? Rocky was still standing at the end.
- Did he win? YES – while he doesn’t technically beat Apollo, Rocky won the Academy Award for Best Picture, spawned a bunch of sequels, and ultimately ended the Cold War by defeating Ivan Drago.
- How did the character transform? He still talks funny, but Sylvester Stallone ended up as one of the biggest Hollywood stars of all time. Who’s laughing now?
We all love a good underdog, but here’s the twist ending: what if your business isn’t meant to be the hero in the story? Obviously, we want you to be successful, but the path to that might be different than you expected. What if the mission of your business was to make your customer the hero, with you as their guide?
There are a lot of underdogs out there who are struggling – they have a problem only you can solve. As a business leader, how do you become the angel on their shoulder, helping them to not give up, encouraging them, “I didn’t hear no bell!”
If these classic stories demonstrate, if you can guide someone to success, it’s a dream come true. And I really believe, you’ll have a customer for life.
I watched this TV series on Netflix called After Life. Have you seen it? I will try not to give it away too much but it made a lasting impression on me.
So, it’s about this guy named Tony. He had an amazing marriage and life. He was married to the love of his life (Lisa) and they spent their time truly embracing every moment of every day. Not only that, they were both proud parents of their fur baby…a German Shepherd named Anti. Tony was happy and his life was perfect – until one day, Lisa was diagnosed with cancer.
The first couple of episodes, you get to see and experience their sweet relationship as she was going in and out of the hospital for treatment. She eventually and sadly passes away, leaving him hours and hours of video she recorded of herself sharing her love for him and also with lots of instructions on how to keep living. Examples like, “Tony, you cannot forget to feed Anti” or “Tony, please, clean up after yourself and for god’s sake, do the dishes once in awhile…”
But after this tragic event of her passing, he slowly loses motivation to keep living life. He stops caring about himself or anybody else. He becomes resentful and angry…even hopeless. He would often go to her gravesite and sit on the bench to be near Lisa. That’s when he meets Anne. Anne is a widow and quite a bit older than Tony. She lost the love of her life as well and she also comes to the gravesite to spend some time with her late husband. After getting to know each other and becoming friends, it leads to this most powerful and significant scene where a transformation happens. Here, you can watch it:
She offers him a profound secret to life in her words. “A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they shall never sit in.” Then she says, “Good people do good things for other people, that’s it, the end.”
The rest of the episode shows the slow transformation of Tony. He goes from being an angry, self-absorbed, and grumpy dude to someone others-focused, kind, and gentle soul…he even found a glimpse of happiness and hope in the midst of his pain.
Why do I share this story? Besides it being one of my favorite shows, I also wanted to continue our “Storytelling” series by showing how a great story can be told. Remember, storytelling is one of the most important tools in business…if done right, it will leave a lasting impression on your audience. Here’s a quick review – make sure your story answers these questions (as today’s example does):
- Who’s the main character in the story? Tony
- What’s the character’s problem? Tony lost the most important treasure in his life, his wife.
- What/Who is the guide that the character meets? Anne
- How does this guide help the character? Anne sees his pain and how he’s reacting to it with anger and resentment…so she gently shares the secret of happiness.
- What’s the plan? Live for others
- How did he execute this plan? He started doing good for others.
- Did he win? He found meaning.
- How did the character transform? Angry to gentle, self-absorbed to generous, and grumpy to happy.
As we continue this series, I hope it leads you to find your own story, your own voice, and your own experience of transformation. But for today, you’ll just have to be content with the secret to happiness.
We are all daydreamers, but for me, it was more like an extreme disorder. I absolutely could not pay attention in class. When a lecture started, I opened my notebook, held my sharpened pencil…and doodled. A few minutes in, I had no idea what the professor was talking about. I was deep in my daydream world. I’d get lost in thought wondering what my life would look like after college, who I would marry, what my kids would look like, who they would become. I daydreamed about my weekend plans, the football game, cleaning my room, food…oh the food I would eat…and lots of it.
Suddenly, my daydreaming came to a screeching halt and I began to focus. I started to sit up straighter on my chair, my eyes alert and watching every move. I smiled, I frowned, I even laughed out loud. I heard every word, and I didn’t even have to write it down…cause I knew I wouldn’t forget.
You might be wondering what happened? What woke me up from the unconsciousness of daydream into a deep focus during the lecture?
The professor told a story.
Studies show that the average human spends 30% of their time daydreaming. During a boring lecture? I’d say it’s 70% for me. However, when I sit and watch a movie with an engaging storyline, I spend 0% daydreaming, with 100% focus on what’s happening on the screen. Sometimes, for 2 hours straight.
Storytelling is powerful. It captures the soul. It can move your emotions from rage to joy, it can make you sob, it can make you laugh. In the world of marketing, it’s the most important tool you can use to introduce your product, your culture, and even your brand. If done right, it will leave a lasting impression on someone (your potential client) and they will never forget you and what you stand for.
So, how do you tell a story right? There are many ways. There are formulas and patterns that Hollywood follows, and ingredients of a story that make people want to keep reading or watching. Here’s a simplified version of that formula – try writing a story that answers these questions:
- Who’s the main character in the story?
- What’s the character’s problem?
- What/Who’s the guide that the character meets?
- How does this guide help the character?
- What’s the plan?
- How did he execute this plan?
- Did he win?
Now, let’s have some fun with the “formula” in light of the story I told above to see how it all fits.
- Who’s the main character in the story? It’s me. The student. Young and dumb.
- What’s the character’s problem? I think I have a major disorder. I’ve never done well in school because I think I can’t focus.
- What/Who’s the guide that the character meets? I met a professor.
- How does this guide help the character? The professor told a story during the lecture. I became engaged and I started to focus and realized that maybe it wasn’t me and my disorder, it’s just how humans are – we daydream and the professor telling a story awakened me from my daydream.
- What’s the plan? In order to be interesting, engaging, and memorable, I need to be a good storyteller. Especially to help my business grow.
- How did the character execute this plan? I learned the formula and made sure that the story had all the right ingredients.
- Did he win? Yes, everyone read this email and realized how important stories are in marketing their own products and/or companies.
And the most important final question. How did the character transform?
Well, I transformed from a typical, unmemorable communicator to a more engaging and interesting storyteller as I try to always think outside the box and find a story to tell vs just explaining a solution.
If you ended up lost in a daydream at some point during this email, I’ve got a story for you! It’s about a business leader who learned to connect with customers through stories, and they all lived happily ever after.
Hope this becomes the story of your life!