Story vs Product

The greatest party that never happened

Hey friends,

One quick addition to the newsletter you’ll like:

  • A referral program. One referral (with your link) and I’ll send you a collection of my favorite storytelling frameworks and resources. It’s allllllll the way down at the bottom.

Many of you replied to last week’s piece wondering about JK Rowling’s outline. Turns out the first author-billionaire's handwriting is almost as bad as mine. I found a website that put the outline into an easily readable spreadsheet. You can check that out here.

Today's piece takes ~4.5 minutes to read.

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One Quote

Scratch the surface in a typical boardroom and we’re all just cavemen with briefcases, hungry for a wise person to tell us stories.

Alan Kay

Kay is one of the most renowned computer scientists ever. He pioneered object-oriented programming and won the 2003 Turing Award. I was a bit shocked – and thrilled – to learn he was interested in storytelling.

His quote got me thinking of WeCrashed, the AppleTV show depicting the rise and collapse of WeWork and founder / storytelling genius Adam Neumann. While WeWork had a product, Neumann made you think an office rental company was the next Apple. “Elevating the world’s consciousness” and all that.

Here's how I think about the relation of storytelling and product:

Great product, no story → nobody hears of it.

No product, great story → Fyre Festival (the greatest party that never happened)

If I had to choose, I’d say storytelling is more important. Give me a great storyteller with a decent product over the reverse any day of the week. I’m also hella biased so I’d love to hear your opinion on this one.

Oh, Adam Neumann just launched a new web3 company complete with a "Goddess Nature Token." Yes, seriously.

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Two Tactics

1/ Build a story log

You have story-worthy moments every day. But you forget them 100% of the time if you don’t write them down. Here’s a simple example of a story log:

  1. Create a spreadsheet with two columns – date and story

  2. Each evening, take two minutes to write down the best story from that day

  3. Limit the story to five sentences max

Why will a story log be useful for you?

It’ll make you more interesting in everyday life. And, as you build a backlog, you’ll notice things about yourself you never would have otherwise.

Challenge: Next time someone asks you, “How are you?” respond with a story instead of “good” or “fine.” It'll make you more memorable.

2/ Imply the transformation

Great marketing has:

  1. The hook – to draw you in

  2. The promise – to get you curious

  3. The implication – to show you the outcome

Notice the implication has nothing to do with the product. It’s the transformation the consumer experiences as a result of the product. That’s a little wordy, so here’s an example:

What’s the implication? With a Porsche, you’ll be special, singular, unique.

And shoutout to Shaan Puri for getting me thinking about this on this episode of his MFM podcast.

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Three Resources

One Newsletter

Jason Levin writes Cyber Patterns, a newsletter exploring internet patterns.

In a recent piece, he says “You have to invest time in losing before you want to succeed.”

My response? Facts. For storytelling, design, writing, running, and any other skill worth developing you’re going to be bad at first. And that’s okay.

In my mind, there are three steps to getting good at any skill:

  1. Get started

  2. Get consistent

  3. Get good

Most things are that simple.

One Video

Part stand-up comedy skit and part storytelling lecture, author Kurt Vonnegut breaks down three types of stories we’ve all heard and love:

  • Somebody gets into trouble and gets out of it

  • Boy gets girl

  • Cinderella-style

He focuses on the shapes of the stories on two axis, time and happiness. Turns out the shapes are quite similar.

One Rabbit Hole

Sequoia Capital released its guide to pitching VCs. It focuses on 10 key messages to get across, which I bucketed into three stories:

  1. The market is valuable and growing

  2. This is the team to make it happen

  3. This is the right time for this idea

And here are 35 successful pitch decks to dig through.

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I hope you enjoyed that.

If so, check the referral program below and bring on some new World Builders. I'll send you the storytelling guide I put together. It's 10 pages of frameworks and resources to make you a better storyteller.

See you next week,


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A message from... Me!

The interest in this tweet blew me away...

In my experience, there are two ways to get good at storytelling:

  1. Study the greats (what this newsletter is for)

  2. Practice, practice, practice

I do a lot of practice through StoryWork.

And so many of you liked, commented, and sent me DMs about the practice I decided to turn it into a guided course for you.

Check it out:

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