BY CARMINE GALLO
IDEAS THAT catch on
are wrapped in a story.
Storytelling was an
important milestone in
because stories informed
people of danger, educated them on better
ways to deal with threats and inspired progress. We’re still sharing stories around a
campfire. The billionaire entrepreneur
Richard Branson had a fire pit built at his
home on Necker Island so he and his team
could sit around it and trade stories.
“Storytelling can be used to drive change,”
Whether they’re sitting around a fire
or standing at a lectern, CEOs and entrepreneurs, teachers, leaders and TED speakers are often great storytellers. You can be
an engaging storyteller, too, if you keep the
following three keys in mind.
Introduce villains and heroes
(in that order)
All great stories have a villain whom the
hero must vanquish. David faced Goliath.
Luke Skywalker faced Darth Vader. In a
business pitch, the villain might be a problem in need of a solution. The hero is your
product or service.
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was a mas-
ter of the corporate narrative. Jobs began
every major product launch with a discus-
sion of the problem—a weakness in the
current category—followed by a description
of his product, the hero that would improve
his customers’ lives.
People don’t want to hear about your
solution or your success until they know
that you understand their failures and
struggles. Great storytellers are relatable
because they share their tales of struggles,
failures and hardships, as well as successes.
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz
often told the story of growing up in a Brooklyn housing project and watching as his
family struggled after his father was injured
on the job. They had no health insurance
and found it difficult to make ends meet.
The story underpins Schultz’s initiatives, such as offering health insurance for
all Starbucks employees, including the
company’s part-time employees.
End with a triumphant victory
We are hard-wired for stories, but not
just any stories. Researchers find that the
brain craves rags-to-riches stories. We’re
wired to look for it. In moviemaking, the
more dramatic the arc, the more irresistible
we find the story.
For example, no matter how many times
you watch Rocky, you might find it hard to
resist the temptation to stand up and cheer
when Balboa goes the distance against
Apollo Creed. A Hollywood producer once
told me that the story of a washed-up boxer
who finds love and redemption has one of
the greatest story arcs in movie history.
If you’re pitching a product or service,
make sure you paint a picture of what life
will look like once your listener adopts
Your ability to package ideas into an
irresistible story that moves hearts and
minds is the single greatest skill that can
make you more valuable and successful than
you’ve ever imagined. Your story can change
the world. Isn’t it time you shared it? C
Costco member Carmine Gallo is the author
of The Storyteller’s Secret: From TED
Speakers to Business Legends, Why Some
Ideas Catch On and Others Don’t (St.
Martin’s Press 2016; not available at Costco).
Why some business ideas
catch on—and others don’t
© SHUTTERSTOCK / MONKEY BUSINESS IMAGES
• Don’t tell a boring story.
• Do tell a story with a clearly
• Don’t pretend you’ve never had
• Do embrace your past and the
experiences that define you.
• Don’t end the story in the middle.
• Do provide a happy ending.—CG