Storytelling Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
wheels

Dude, Where are My Wheels

I recently visited Los Angeles and drove through an area that I grew up around. I was regaling my wife with a personal story about a job I had in a pretty tough neighborhood when I was in college. It was about how having a strong network can always help you in difficult situations. At the end of the story, she said, “You have to write about this “Wheels” experience!” So, here it is.

Dude, Where are My Wheels

I grew up in a very working-class environment early in my life. It was roughly 1975, working on my bachelor’s degree while I was employed at a hardware store in South El Monte, California. Now, you have to understand that South El Monte was a pretty tough neighborhood. We had a fair number of gangs active in the area.

We closed the store one evening around 7:00 p.m. It took about 30 minutes to close all the registers and leave the store. In that 30-minute period, a lot could happen in that particular neighborhood. Around 7:30 p.m., we walked out of the store and found one of the employee’s cars sitting in the parking lot. It was literally propped up on blocks. Someone had stolen all four of my co-worker’s “awesome” wheels and left the car on four concrete blocks where it sat, waiting for him when he got off work. Clearly, he was apoplectic when we walked out. He went absolutely crazy!

What’s amazing to me was that one of the employees who lived locally said to the other employee, “Calm down, relax and give me a while. I’ll make a call and see what I can do. Go back into the store and wait. I’ll let you know when to come back out.”

Within an hour, he came in and said it was OK to come back out. We went back into the parking lot, and lo and behold, there was his car with the wheels. They were re-installed, bright shiny rims and all — good as new!

It turns out that the local employee had friends in the gang that was known for heisting awesome wheels off cars. He simply made a call to one of the members he knew well (to clarify, he wasn’t in the gang, but he “knew people” in the gang). All it took to have the wheels returned was one phone call to that one gang member he knew well. I was about 18 years old, and I think this was one of the first really powerful lessons I experienced about the value of  an important tenet in networking.

Knowing the right people

This unfortunate story in my youth taught me the importance of knowing the right people. It helped me to learn that it’s not what you know — or who you know, it’s how well you know each other that counts.

Andy Lopata

The A-Z of Networking: S is for… (by Andy Lopata) [PART 2]

This month, Andy Lopata shares more of his networking tips which begin with the letter “S”

  • Sales
  • Self Belief
  • Sharing
  • Silent
  • Simplicity
  • Slow Down
  • Smile
  • Specific
  • Speaking Up
  • Stories
  • Strategic

and more about Networking “S” previously in PART 1: click here

Click here to watch this video

Please click below to see Andy’s playlist of his networking tips from A to Z.

https://ivanmisner.com/category/a-to-zs-of-networking/

By knowing why you are networking and what you want to achieve, it is possible to plan accordingly and get great, measurable results. If you have any comments about Andy’s “S” list or any additional “S” words about networking you will want to add to the list. please leave me a comment below.

Andy Lopata

As a business networking strategist, Andy Lopata works with companies on how to use networking tools to develop their businesses. Networking is not just about sales. Whether for lead generation, breaking down silos internally, recruitment and retention of top staff or developing future leaders, networks and collaboration have a key role to play. Andy works with clients to help recognize that role and put the strategy and skills in place to leverage it.

greatest asset

How talking too much in class turned into my greatest asset

Those tendencies standing “in your way” can be “the way”‘ to success and can become your greatest asset. When I was in elementary school, I generally received good reports from my teachers. However, one thing that came up time and time again was a comment by almost all of my teachers: “Ivan talks too much in class.”

My mother had numerous conversations with me about this but to no avail. I figure that she thought my grades were pretty good and she generally liked to pick and choose her battles on issues. Consequently, she didn’t really push the matter, and so… I talked and talked and talked in class. It showed up on many of my report cards. My teachers felt that it was a problem for me in school. On the other hand, my mother didn’t give me much grief on the subject.

My Greatest Asset

My talking too much in class was thought of as a roadblock by my teachers. Candidly, at one point, they almost had me convinced that it was a problem. My mother — not so much. She didn’t see my talking as such a big issue and that gave me the freedom to be myself. True, I had to tone it down a bit — but it wasn’t drummed out of me. I am grateful for that because, despite the fact that some people thought that talking was blocking my way, the truth is — it would eventually become “the way” for my life.

While the teachers definitely felt that it was a roadblock to my learning, I think they may have been wrong on that. What my teachers saw as a problem ended up becoming an incredible asset. I talk a lot. I talk to individuals, small groups, middle size groups, large groups, and massive groups. Any way you cut it — I’m a talker. It is my greatest asset. My job today is to talk to people. In fact, I get paid to talk. I get paid a crazy number to talk to companies, associations, and organizations. I love to share ideas with people, I love to coach people, and most of all I love to inspire people. And to do that — I talk.

Over the years, I’ve learned that oftentimes, What is in the way, becomes the way”.  

I believe the secret is to take the thing that is “in the way” and channel your efforts in a manner that makes that problem part of the solution. I have noticed that my wife, Elisabeth, has been able to channel what was in the way for her as a child and how powerfully that has served her. She was constantly being told that she was “too rebellious.” She had a very hard time doing things she was told she had to do just because an authority figure in life told her she must do them. Now when she was faced with a medical diagnosis and told by her medical doctor that there was only one path, her strong “rebellious” nature found another, more effective and gentle healing path. What was in her way has become her way!

Some of us do this unconsciously. However, imagine how impactful this paradigm could be if we were more conscious of it at work in our lives. I would encourage you to think about something you were told was “in the way” as part of your life? Has it “become the way” for you and your greatest asset? If so, how? For me — of the first things in my life that were in the way was that I talked too much in class. Looking back, I’d have to say it worked out pretty well. 

storytellers

Storytellers are Important in Networking

Before television there was radio. Before radio there were books. And before books there were storytellers. The power of a well-told tale, passed down from generation to generation and recited from memory over a campfire, is the power that brought people together and formed the beginnings of cultures that have lasted even to the present day. No matter what the medium – stone tablets, movies, grocery store tabloid, the Internet – the story is central.
 
A good story stays with people and compels them to share it with others. It’s as true today as it was two thousand years ago – and it’s especially true of success stories. Everyone likes to hear them; everyone likes to have one. And doesn’t this align nicely with word-of-mouth marketing, where referrals are based on thousands of individual success stories? Every time one networker passes a referral to another, she is telling a story about a need fulfilled successfully or a problem solved effectively.
 “A number of years ago, I met Robert Dickman, author of The Elements of Persuasion, and he taught me the formula for a good story:
 
A story is a fact
Wrapped in emotion
That compels us to take action
That transforms us in some way
firehose

Are you drinking from a firehose?

When talking about their business with their potential referral sources, I see many entrepreneurs try to get in everything they do in about 30 seconds. It goes by so fast, that they miss most of it; frankly, they tune out after the first few items on the list. They are trying to get others to drink from a firehose,

I encourage you to focus on one thing at a time of your areas of expertise…keep in mind that you are not marketing to your referral sources! You are, in effect, training a sales force. Your networking team is there to keep an eye out for your potential clients. If you “target talk”, that is, hone in on exactly what type of client you are looking for, better, more qualified referrals will result.

If you break your business down into its focused keywords and feature just one keyword each week, you will find that you become much more effective in training your sales force. They will learn more about each thing you do and be able to recognize when they are in front of someone who really does need your product.

This skill set is especially productive when you are meeting weekly with a strong contact network. The difference between trying to say it all each week and focusing on one aspect of your business each week is huge! The impact that this will have on your referral sources is also huge. As you discuss each keyword, share an example with a client story, things you can show and tell that will cement this aspect of your business in your referral sources’ minds.

Facts tell, but stories sell

not come matters

It’s Not Where You Come From That Matters Most

My mother passed away about six years ago and my father passed away two years ago.  My family was of modest means, but my parents were always loving and supportive. It never felt like we were poor. It’s not where you come from that matters most.

Last week I was going through some of my father’s estate documents to wrap up things. I came across something that I’d be looking for, over many years.

Although I grew up in Southern California, I was born in Pittsburgh.  We moved to the L.A. area when I was only six years old.  My Dad didn’t really know Los Angeles very well. He rented an apartment for us until they could find a home in the suburbs.  I remembered that the apartment was near South Central L.A. but I couldn’t remember exactly where.  I asked him about it a couple times and he couldn’t remember the address but he confirmed that it was near that area.  I have some vivid memories of how troubled the neighborhood was in the early sixties. My Mom would walk me the couple blocks to school every day but I clearly remember walking home alone a few times through the really distressed area.  I also remember some very disturbing things that took place on the block.  Luckily, I managed to stay under the radar from what happened around me.

As I went through my parent’s paperwork, I noticed the purchase agreement for the house that I grew up in after we moved from downtown.  It hit me that buried in those documents, might be the old address.   I went through all the papers and voilà!  There it was on West. 11th Street, south of Macarthur Park in Los Angeles.  I looked it up on Google Earth and found the photo attached to this article (we lived in the top right apartment).  My parents moved from this apartment to a home in Azusa later that year.  It was a better neighborhood but still a very modest working-class community.

I did fairly well in high school and was offered a 50% scholarship to attend Occidental College.  It was a great offer but, I couldn’t afford the other half.  So, I went to Citrus Community College and Cal Poly University, Pomona (both great schools) because that’s what I could afford.  It wasn’t until graduate school that I could combine some scholarships and take out student loans to get my masters and doctorate at USC.  All of the above leads me to this:

Where you come from does not determine where you go in life.  It’s what you do with where you come from, that determines where you go in life.

Today, I’m the founder of a global company and a bestselling author.  While looking at photos of where I came from, I remember that young man who was so hungry to accomplish “something” of value in life.  I didn’t know exactly what that would be and I certainly had a few bumps and some big turns along the way – but I was like a dog with a bone, continually moving in a direction that would add value and meaning to my life as well as to others.

I learned many things along the way.  I learned that successful people form the habits of doing things that unsuccessful people just won’t do.  I learned that life-long learning is the great equalizer in the world – education levels the playing field for someone who is highly motivated.  And, I learned that the secret to success without hard work is still a secret.

I tell you this story to ask you to do something simple but important; share this message with young people you know who have had struggles or may come from modest means like I did.  You see, I believe it’s important for them to know that it’s not where they come from, it’s what they do with where they come from, that leads to success.

Seuss

Dr. Seuss’ Birthday – NEA Read Across America Day

Today, March 2nd is the birthday of Dr. Seuss.

Today the BNI Foundation is supporting the National Education Association’s “Read Across America Day”. Therefore, go find a classroom and volunteer to read a Dr. Seuss story to the students. For example, in this video, I share a story about reading to my kids when they were younger, the Dr. Seuss classic, “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street“.

Dr. Seuss’s very first book for children! 

Originally published: December 21, 1937

From a mere horse and wagon, young Marco concocts a colorful cast of characters, making Mulberry Street the most interesting location in town. Most noteworthy, Dr. Seuss’s signature rhythmic text, combined with his unmistakable illustrations, will appeal to fans of all ages. Finally, who will cheer when our hero proves that a little imagination can go a very long way. Now over eighty years old, this story is as timeless as ever.

Using Your Unique Selling Proposition

uniquesellingOne of the biggest issues I see or hear when it comes to networking and word-of-mouth marketing strategies comes from the individual businessperson’s mindset. So often, people believe that in order to network successfully and set themselves up for the most referrals, they need to tell everyone who will listen (and some who won’t) everything that their business does. This misconception simply leads many to believe that by talking to everyone in the room, they’ll maximize their referrals.

This is not at all the case. What this actually does is bores your intended audience, and overwhelms them with more information than they could ever possibly remember.

The key instead is to come up with a unique selling proposition for your company, business or service, and use it when you network. Your unique selling proposition will be a brief summary of your business, the key word here being brief. You’ll want to share this description as concisely and as engaging as possible. Not only will your audience walk away understanding what you do, but if you have described your business in a compelling way, they’ll be more likely to remember you because you entertained them and kept them listening.

The biggest indicator of a good unique selling proposition is that it gets people to ask you more about your business, and keeps them genuinely interested in what you do. They should be short, sweet, and to the point, without being vague or misleading. Your goal is to open the door for a conversation, not leave any potential contacts confused.

What is your business’s unique selling proposition? How do you use it to get word-of-mouth referrals? Tell me in the comments below!

Warren Bennis, An Icon Passes

DSC03152Last week, Warren Bennis, an icon and mentor, passed away from natural causes at the age of 89.  I studied under Dr. Bennis at USC in the late 80’s.  I hadn’t seen him for many years until 2008 where we reconnected at the story telling event held by movie executive, Peter Guber.

We were sitting at a small round table with about five other people having lunch.  Warren looked at me curiously and said, “we’ve met before haven’t we?”  I told Dr. Bennis that it had been close to 20 years, but he sat on my doctoral committee for the qualifying exams of my program.  That’s when he looked at me and said, “I wasn’t very nice to you was I?”  I was flabbergasted that he would ask me that question.  Now the truth was that he was very, very tough on me.   His critiscims were always professional and insightful, but I always remembered him as just plain tough!

What he said next completely changed my opinion of him.

He said, “I’m sorry.  I really don’t like sitting on doctoral committees because they are a little like boot camp.  You have to put people through these difficult situations to make sure they have what it takes to justify the degree we are about to confer upon them.  It’s necessary, but it’s not really the kind of person I am.”  I acknowledged that he had been tough, but I also told him he was right in his criticisms and redirection.

What I didn’t tell him, and wish I had, was how much I respected him for telling me this now.  As we sat at this event somewhat closer to peers, he could have easily continued with the professor/student relationship.  Instead, he shared with me his inner feelings about the doctoral process we went through and humanized his actions in a way that only increased my respect for him.

We stayed in touch from time to time over the last six years.  He gave me advice when I was on the selection committee for a new President at the University of La Verne, and we met for dinner a couple years ago when he was speaking at the university.   Each time he shared nuggets with me that I will remember throughout my life.

He wrote many books on leadership.  He will always be known for his expertise in that field; however, some of us know him as a truly fine man who made a difference in many people’s lives.

Using LCDs to Explain & Promote Your Business

When it comes to telling people about what you do, the deeper you go into the specifics the greater your success will be.  In this video, I talk about how to explain and promote your business by breaking it down into its Lowest Common Denominators (LCDs).

Many years ago, I visited a BNI meeting where I witnessed the absolute best presentation I’ve ever heard at a weekly networking meeting and it was given by a florist who focused on the details of a single rose. Watch the video now to hear the story of what the florist did and said that made his presentation so successful and to learn why specificity is key in talking about exactly what it is that you do.  If you belong to a strong contact network where you give weekly presentations, the more specific you can be in explaining the aspects of your business, the greater your results will be.

If you struggle to come up with talking points about your business at your weekly networking meetings, this video is for you.  I offer a simple strategy for pre-planning your presentation topics for an entire year–never again will you have to wing your presentations because you’re not sure how to describe what you do.

So, what aspect of your business are you going to focus on at your next networking meeting?  I’d love to hear about it.  Please share your thoughts in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

 

 

 

A Burning Question for Richard Branson

Last year, My wife Beth and I posted a question on Facebook in search of the most creative and interesting answer.  The question was: “If you had an opportunity to ask Sir Richard Branson one question, what would it be?”

In this video, I reveal the best, most interesting question that someone responded with:

“What venture or company do you wish you had started instead of someone else, or what business did you have a chance to invest in but didn’t and now regret not investing in it?”

I go on to reveal the equally interesting (if not more interesting) answer to this question which I got lucky enough to receive directly from Sir Richard Branson himself during a visit to Necker Island.

Watch the video now for Branson’s answer . . . and, hey, you never know–perhaps this will be the answer to a question you get during a game of Trivial Pursuit somewhere down the road, in which case you’ll be darn glad you watched this video! 😉

I’m curious– what would YOU ask Richard if you could ask him anything?  As long as it’s not something like, “Richard, will you adopt me (even though I’m 57) and make me independently wealthy so I don’t have to work for the rest of my life?” (Ha, ha . . . :-)), then I’d love to hear what questions you come up with!  Please leave your feedback in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Facts + Stories = Powerful Messages

In this video, I talk to Ireland-based business networking expert Sandra Hart about the importance of embedding the facts about your business within the form of a story.

When you’re networking or advertising for your business, the most powerful way to present your message is to use a story to ensure your message is heard.  Facts by themselves are, for the most part, simply not memorable to most people.  If you are a banker and you tell people that you specialize in offering low-interest home loans, people may remember that your bank offers loans, but whether or not they remember what kind of loans you specialize in is left to chance.  However, if instead of simply stating that you specialize in low-interest home loans, you tell a story about how you helped a young family of four to overcome their financial struggles by granting them a low-interest home loan, and how this enabled them to purchase their dream home in the sought after Sunny Pines community, you can bet people are going to remember you when they run across someone looking for a home loan.

Remember, facts only tell but stories sell . . . why is this?  Because people don’t emotionally connect to facts.  People emotionally connect to stories and this is what makes stories memorable.

What is an example of a memorable story you could tell about your business that would powerfully present a fact (or several facts) about the products/benefits/services your business offers?  Please share your story in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

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