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Not sure I totally understood this.
From Business Standard
Visty Banaji / August 17, 2011, 0:38 IST
The cover of Tell to Win carries an endorsement from former US President Bill Clinton stating “that telling purposeful stories is the best way to persuade, motivate and convince who you want to do what you need”. As Peter Guber goes on to explain in the body of the book, “… no one told a story to better … purpose than Clinton himself” — or needed to, one might add. But does the book have equal survival value for those of us who have less demanding needs for tales (in either spelling of the word) than President Clinton? And, even if we do, does Tell to Win make us better tale tellers? Following Guber’s opening sentence (“Let me give away the ending …”), I must answer both these questions substantively in the negative, while admitting there is much amusement value in Tell to Win.
Stories are the weft of the cultural fabric of nations, societies, religions, organisations and even families. People who work in great organisations experience directly the values, pride and triggers-to-future-action provided by legends surrounding their founders or other iconic leaders. Stories, in this sense, hang together and form a coherent whole. By and large, the stories illustrating Tell to Win do not follow this pattern. Most of them are stand-alone episodes and, while they were obviously useful in swinging deals (sometimes huge ones) for the teller, they are not the stuff of cultural tapestry.
Even for influencing one-off decisions, how relevant is story-telling à la Guber to the corporate audience that forms the bulk of the readership of this paper? Imagine you have to present your business unit’s performance at a monthly review meeting. Will you prefer the “soulless PowerPoint slides, facts, figures, and data” that Guber denigrates as “a data dump”? Or will you tell the managing committee an exciting story, replete with an “unexpected question”, a hero-driven “emotional experience” and a galvanic resolution “that calls them to action?” Of course, if profits are down 30 per cent, you could do worse than try Guber’s “Me-to-We” method to share the buck. And, doubtless, that’s the time for a really good story, prompted by the African saying Guber quotes: “If the lion doesn’t tell his story, the hunter will”! Or take another situation. You are desperate to get a large capital expenditure approved. Your Board is reluctant. Why not lie down on the floor with arms outstretched and refuse to get up till you have your way, as Guber writes he did in order to convince Warner’s CEO to back one of his movies?
Peter Guber’s own remarkable career in movies and showbiz has provided him a treasure trove of stories for Tell to Win. Many of them have come from rubbing shoulders with actors on the world stage. George Clooney’s tongue drills a large hole in his cheek as he endorses the book with “This book gives you the two keys to success — first, everything starts with a good story, and second, don’t drop names (actually Frank Sinatra told me that)”. Peter Guber has not only shared magical moments with Frank Sinatra, he has also hobnobbed with Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Fidel Castro, the Dalai Lama, Muhammad Ali, Steven Spielberg, Kirk Kerkorian … (Ed: Stop, please. There is a word limit on this review, you know) and they all find a place in the string of anecdotes that form the major part of the book.
Guber is an excellent raconteur. If you are the kind who has been surreptitiously (or otherwise) taking peeks at your wife’s copy of Hello and are eager to hear some snippets about the firangi famous and filmed, you will get your money’s worth from this book (after all it’s only Rs 295 compared to Rs 100 for a single issue of Hello). You will, of course, need a strong stomach for stories like the one about Michael Jackson leading Guber towards his bedroom (no, you naughty people, Guber was a grown man!) to demonstrate, through the device of feeding live mice to his pet snake, Jackson’s ability to bring drama into his narratives.
Unfortunately, Guber interrupts the torrent of tales with feeble attempts at theorising or attempting to put story-telling into a methodological framework. Here he fails. Guber is a story-teller, not a model-builder or conceptualiser. In seeking to explain the scientific foundations of the art of story-telling he desperately flails around for help. He turns to an astro-physicist for help in understanding evolution and Deepak Chopra is his beacon in psychology. Theoretical digressions like these are as welcome as a professor of homeopathy giving a running commentary in the middle of Grey’s Anatomy. Guber says disarmingly about one of his less successful movies: “Folks tried to walk out on [it] even when it was shown on planes.” People looking either for a manual on how to tell stories or the theoretical underpinnings of the subject shouldn’t buy Tell to Win at an airport store.
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Katie, this would seem typical Georgie stuff in that the "tongue in cheek" bit for endorsing a book which he really wouldn't endorse anyway. They probably, if it's true, wanted a comment from Gee, (to make it sell), then used it out of context, but George being George, has twisted it to his own ends. He's done the "don't ruin a good story" before, but it keeps his flag flying so why knock it?!!
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Agree with you wholeheartedly. Of course, for George to say that (if he did and it sounds like him), it means he has to have read the book and it does let the general public know what we, his "people" know - he loves to read, and does it constantly.
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