How a Director at P&G Turned Failure to Success
Dissatisfaction indicates potential if you’re willing to adapt, grow, and learn. Apart from adapting, dissatisfaction is the path to paralyzing despair.
Failure works when it changes us for the better.
Paul Smith, author of, Lead with a Story, felt like a failure after giving his first presentation to then CEO of Procter & Gamble, A.G. Lafley. Interestingly, the Global Executive Leadership Council that Lafley led adopted his recommendations. But, he still left feeling he failed. Why?
Paul arrived early to set up. When Lafley arrived, he walked around the room greeting Council members and finally sat with his back to the screen. Ugh!
While Paul presented, Lafley never looked at the screen, not once for 20 minutes. It freaks me out just thinking about it. That’s why Paul felt he failed. What was missing?
Everyone loves a great storyteller.
Paul concluded that Lafley was looking, “… to engage someone in dialogue… to share a brilliant idea… to ask for his help. In short, for someone to tell him a story.”
During our conversation Paul said, twenty years later, he’s a better leader because he’s a better storyteller.
“The ability to tell stories makes leaders more influential.”
Paul says stories have:
Context includes important questions like:
- What does the main character want?
- Who or what is getting in the way?
Paul believes storytelling is one reason for his career success at P&G. His book shows readers how to use stories to, energize, educate, empower, and more.
One thing is certain. He transformed failure to competence.
What failure have you transformed into competence?
What makes a story great?
More: The Untapped Secret of Leadership Success
Paul Smith is director of Consumer Research & Communication at Procter & Gamble
Follow Paul on twitter: @LeadWithAStory
In fundraising, what makes a story great is answering for the listener “why should I care?” When the listener connects personally with the story, they arrive much more quickly at the “result” Mr. Smith lists – “what can I do?”
You hit the nail on the head, Katie. The story is for the value it brings others.
Thanks Katie…well said. If we can’t get people to care they won’t. 🙂
Great stories are not just about content, although the content needs to be compelling. Great stories are also about HOW the stories are delivered. The great story tellers have a wonderful ability to build the right inflection in their voice, have the right pace and pauses the capture the emotions he/she is after, and demonstrate the kind of energy for the story that the story’s message needs (i.e., sad, inspirational, humorous, instructive, etc.).
When we learn that the power of stories is about what they bring the audience, and not about hearing ourselves talk, we are on our way to being a better storyteller. Recognizing what makes a great story is first; the quality of how the story is delivered (which includes those in writing) is the ‘icing’ on whether the story hits its mark.
Thanks Jim… valuable insights.
One additional storytelling technique I love is repetition of a key, humorous, or central idea. When Paul tells the Lafley story he repeats phrases that reemphasize that Lafley didn’t turn to look at the slides. This repetition adds tension.
By the way, I think the best path to becoming a great storyteller is learning the key elements of a great story, listening to effective storytellers, and then, practice, practice, practice.
Great points Jim, makes a case for it’s not just what you say, but how you say it. I think the pauses, the silence are very powerful, even deafening! Can be used well for effect and reflection.
This post hits hits a bullseye.
Stories teach because they move us. Stories teach because they are honest and pull us into true experiences as though we are there. They connect us to others and demonstrate what needs to be accomplished. They inspire us to action.
Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen recognized their value with their Chicken Soup series while publisher after publisher rejected the merit of true stories.
Put aside the power point and make eye contact to move your audience.
Thank you Dauna. Your opening sentence nails it. “Stories teach us because they move us.”
I wasn’t aware of the Chicken Soup story… great.
I like using powerpoint for images…I can pack so much into a presentation by using powerful images….a picture is worth a thousand words.
Dan, I love your daily images. They capture perfectly the point you want to make in your posts. I wonder how you have the time to find the perfect fit for your words. Do you ever see an image and then write the post to go with that?
A great story is one that is told with passion, excitement and engagement. It also has to be one that the audience can relate to in some way. I purchased the book and cannot wait to read it. Have a great day Dan.
What an interesting post today! I teach middle school English Language Arts, and I teach my students about story exactly as you posted today, using: Somebody…Wanted…But…So. When you can complete the SWBS in one sentence about a whole story, you have the essence of it. It is cool to see a real-life application of this. I would like to share your post with my students. Thanks, Dan
Story telling is so compelling and can engage an audience very quickly. People feel more connected to the speaker and it can help to validate the presenter too. Thanks for the post!