Storytelling for Entrepreneurs

BY L.A. LOREK
Founder of Silicon Hills News

“Those who tell stories rule the world” – Plato

Lyn Graft at SXSW Storytelling for Entrepreneurs

From humble beginnings, Howard Schultz struggled for years to launch Starbucks into a global brand.
He risked everything and his hard work paid off.
And Schultz, by all accounts, is a great storyteller who can articulate and share the passion of his vision.
That’s an essential part of storytelling for entrepreneurs, says Lyn Graft, chief storyteller and founder of LG Pictures in Austin. He has produced more than 450 videos for companies like CNBC, Microsoft, Dell, SXSW, Sweet Leaf Tea and RISE Global. He has filmed 300 entrepreneurs including founders of Starbucks, Whole Foods, Paul Mitchell, Playboy, Baby Einstein, Clear Channel, Craigslist, BET Television, The Knot and Tom’s Shoes.
Graft shared his knowledge of storytelling recently at a panel at SXSW in Austin.
“It’s about leaving an impression with the person you are talking to,” Graft said. “That’s the art and core of storytelling.”
Graft, who has founded eight companies, has pitched more than 200 people on his ideas and he’s been turned down 95 percent of the time, he said. The competition for startups is stiff, he said. What sets a company apart from the crowd is its story.
“We are all unique,” Graft said. “Your story should be unique. We’re all competing against deep-pocketed companies, what do you have that differentiates yourself?”
A good story has a beginning, middle and an end, Graft said. He recommended everyone listen to author Nancy Duarte’s TedX Talk on “common structure of greatest communicators.”
“You want to transport people to where your vision is,” Graft said.
Another great way to tell a story is to set up the problem, present the opportunity and provide the solution, he said.
A great story leaves the audience with a physical reaction like goosebumps, Graft said. He looks for the “GBM” or Goose Bump Moment in a story. How do you create that? You’ve got to reach down deep into your passion and tell why you do what you do, he said.
“Bottom line: speak from the heart,” he said.
It’s also important to know your audience and figure out how can you reach them.
And avoid ugly babies, Graft said. That means find the beauty in every story that you tell.
Learn from great storytelling entrepreneurs, Graft said. For example, Austin’s Clayton Christopher, founder of Sweet Leaf Tea and Deep Eddy Vodka, has the amazing ability to turn everything into a story, Graft said.
Stories don’t have to be complex, Graft said. “Fred Smith’s story: I can get your package there overnight. That’s the story of FedEx.”
Graft recommended other great sources to find entrepreneur storytellers: TED, TEDx, Entrepreneur Magazine, Inc. and Fast Company.
If you have a good story to tell, tell it, but you can’t fake it, Graft said.
“You can only put so much lip gloss on a pig.” Graft said.

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