Monthly Archives: May 2010

All Linchpins are Liars

According to Seth Godin, Linchpins are those indispensable geniuses who stand out from the crowd by taking on the essential jobs that would otherwise languish in a pit of neglect under the limpid banner of “but that’s not my job.” In his latest book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, Mr. Godin informs us that just showing up is no longer enough. We must be remarkable in order to succeed.

We don’t have to have some cosmic endowment, extreme talent, or off-the-charts intelligence to be Linchpins. The formula is straightforward. It can be applied by all. In order to be a Linchpin, make the choice to:

  • Be remarkable and generous
  • Create art
  • Make Judgment calls
  • Connect people and ideas

Just saying this to people is a lot like holding a plant by its stem dangling the roots in midair and yelling “Grow!” Fertile soil, plenty of water and some sunshine would certainly increase the plant’s odds of complying with the command. In addition to the courage and desire to make good things happen, Godin tells us that Linchpins need a fertile environment fortified with freedom, responsibility and respect.

If these elements are not indigenous to your current work ecosystem, then to be a Linchpin you will need to influence the power structure to grant you these ingredients and trust you to flourish in the environment in which you have been unleashed.

Enter the Liars

Wedged between Purple Cow and Linchpin, Mr. Godin wrote a book entitled All Marketers Are Liars. The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World. In this tome, he states, “I believe marketing is the most powerful force available to people who want to make change.” Linchpins want to affect change so they must therefore learn to be good marketers. And if all marketers are liars, then all Linchpins should be liars too.

Actually, what Mr. Godin teaches us is that it’s not really the marketers who are liars. It is the consumers. Good marketers tell stories that resonate with a particular group’s worldview. This group of buyers then tell themselves a lie—that they NEED the product or service. The story the marketers tell becomes the lie upon which the buyer happily bases his purchase.

Linchpins must tell a compelling story that makes their buyers want to believe they NEED the Linchpin. Here are a few pearls of wisdom from the mind of Godin about how to craft the story of indispensability:

Worldviews and Local Lingo

Every person perceives a situation through the filter of their worldview. This worldview cannot be changed. Instead, a strong marketer frames their story to fit the worldview of a particular audience. A Linchpin needs to use this advice to set herself up to be heard. Instead of wasting energy trying to change the worldviews of the powers that be in your organization, frame your story within the context of already held values and beliefs. Get the attention of the people who matter by acknowledging their biases and telling your tale in their lingo.

Facts Fail

The facts will fail you. Feelings will help your story fly. All decisions are made by people and people make decisions based on emotion. Tell the story of how your indispensability makes their world that much more secure or the organization that much more successful. Once people have decided to adopt and retell your story, reward them with the facts. Charts, graphs, and statistics are the gift of evidence your supporters will need to confirm they’ve made a wise choice to back you.

Intent is Obvious

Be authentic. Although marketers are liars, they are not really liars. The story marketers tell must still be authentic. A Linchpin is indispensable because she does what she says she’s going to do. There is no way to mask your true intent. Taking on an extra assignment to impress your boss and then turning your back on the responsibility when you think no one is looking is not art it’s selfish opportunism. Tell a story that earns you the right to step up and stand out because taking the risk is the right thing to do for the organization. If your reward lies so far around the bend that you can’t see it from the starting line, then chances are you’re running the race for all the right reasons.

The Truth

Seth Godin points out that in today’s world of abundance, we need little but want much. That’s why the marketer and consumer are co-conspirators in the lie. The story reverses reality so that we believe what we want is actually something we really need. For the truly remarkable Linchpin, the story isn’t a lie. The organization in which they work really does need their passion, genius, art, and ideas. Companies thrive when groups of Linchpins are free to reach their full potential.

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Filed under Business, How To, Influence, Leadership, Risk, Uncategorized

The Era of the Storyteller

Storytelling is more important than ever. Long gone are the days when a story was just a simple anecdote or side bar. Today, stories are prominently positioned at the forefront of business communications. Great stories are seizing power, visibility and taking center stage. The Greek chorus is gone. Now, the main protagonists, us, are telling, analyzing and sharing our stories in new ways and through innovative channels.

Stories matter because they tell the truth. Stories inspire. They are: powerful, free, persuasive, natural, entertaining, memorable, and authentic. It is for all of these reasons that storytelling is not only a key method for sharing oral legacies and lessons but it’s also an instrumental to personal branding technique. And because stories are so important, I want you to begin to write your brand story.

Exercise:  What’s your Practical Genius Story?

Everyone has a story and everyone’s story deserves to be heard and told. As a coach, I listen to stories all the time. The color, texture, movement, and impact of some of the stories can be quite profound. Stories change people’s lives. Stories teach, build and create new stories so begin now to craft your own story.

Your practical genius brand story is the story of you. Begin by writing out your story in full. Consider what makes you unique, the life experiences that have shaped who you are, how you’ve arrived where you are today, and the most compelling aspects of “Practical Genius You.” Then, begin to trim your story down to its essence. Once it is edited and condensed into less than 600 words, then you can practice and perfect telling your story.

Story Telling Techniques

My grandmother, Jovita, is one of the greatest story tellers I have ever met. A part of her magic is in the “herstories,” tales of her experience as a young girl growing up in Puerto Rico, she shares in the oral tradition. The rest is the intimate way she draws in listeners. This is a woman who never was allowed to go to school. To this day, she still cannot read or write. She is a natural wordsmith able to take me from shock to laughter with just one phrase. It is also the intensity of her delivery which reaches me and everyone else with whom she decides to share a story.

I, like many of us, appreciate my grandmother’s stories and in honor of her, I would like to share the three aspects I love most about her story telling. I have used these three techniques to inspire others into being effective powerful storytellers. First, try to take your audience to another world; get them to stretch their imaginations as they journey with you. Second, be sure to run the gamut of emotions from joy to fear to laughter. And lastly, there has to be meaning in what you share. If you apply these techniques, your brand story will captivate your audience with the same magical intensity of a Grandma Jovita tale.

by Gina Rudan

Gina is the founder and President of Genuine Insights Inc., a leadership development and personal asset management practice committed to igniting the genius within every individual.

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Filed under Business, How To, Influence, Networking, Social Networking, Uncategorized