Retail Observer

March 2021

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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Page 43 of 67

RETAILOBSERVER.COM MARCH 2021 44 T elling a great story can be the quickest way to win over a customer, employee, or business stakeholder. But where do you find great stories to tell – stories that are original, irresistible, and relevant to a customer or client's business needs? Your best bet will often be to draw on a personal experience that holds a profound lesson. Take the story of Dan and "the dog who got away." In one of my Storytelling for Impact workshops, Dan, a soft- spoken senior manager, struggled to find an authentic story that reflected his values and his approach to his work. I asked him to think outside the boardroom and find a story that he loved to tell his buddies. A light went on and Dan delivered a gem. "My first job in high school was washing windows at big, fancy houses. My first day, I arrived at a beautiful house with a big, high fence around it. I took a deep breath and grabbed my bucket and opened the front gate. And then this big dog ran out. The boss had told me that Rule One was: 'Don't let the dog out!' And even before I started, I'd managed to screw that up. "I looked down the street and there was the dog¸ standing in front of the next house – he's a nice German Shepard and he's smiling at me, wagging his tail. Very slowly I walked up and said, 'Good dog!' But of course he immediately ran off down to the next house. This happened over and over, and eventually he jumped over some bushes and I watched him cross a big, four-lane highway. "I figured, I've come this far, I've got to go get him. So I ran across the busy highway, my brushes and squeegees flapping around my uniform, and finally I saw him – he was standing in a little park, and of course he took off again. This time I decided to outflank him, but then he saw me and ran back across the freeway again back toward the house. So I crossed the freeway, too, and he finally let me grab him by the collar. "I walked him back, and my boss was mad, and when I explained what happened he said, 'Just get to work.' So I latched the gate and grabbed my bucket, and then I watched in horror as the dog ran over to a big picnic table alongside the fence and jumped right over it and out of the yard! "So, once again, I chased him. By now I'm covered in sweat and I'm exhausted and I haven't even washed one window yet, but I managed to get him again, and I brought him back to the house, where I decided to break the boss's second rule, which was, 'Don't bother the homeowner.' "I rang the doorbell and a very nice lady opened the door. I said, 'Ma'am, I'm sorry to bother you, but can you please keep your dog inside while we wash the windows?' "She paused, and gave me a confused look, and then she said, 'We don't have a dog.'" THE POWER OF PERSONAL LEGENDS Most of us have a great story like this one – possibly even lots of them. They are the memorable legends of our lives, the rich narratives filled with fine messes, memorable characters, and moments of truth. The pure joy of telling them provides an easy segue into all kinds of serious engagements, if you can just connect them together. In Dan's case it only took a little reflection to see how the dog story could set up a discussion around a variety of professional topics, such as: • The importance of validating assumptions. • The futility of repeating an ineffective tactic. • The power of perseverance in the face of failure. There's a deeper benefit, too. Dan's story revealed his humanity, his wit, his ethics, and his kindly nature, all of which emerged as he told the tale. Listening to him, you want him on your team, because you trust him. Just like Dan, we can draw upon our inherent storytelling talents to meet a business challenge. Often, the first step is simply to look at your own life. The story you love to tell over dinner with friends might be your best in a professional setting as well. NEED A GOOD STORY? GO TO THE DOGS Mario Juarez Business Mindset RO Mario Juarez is an organizational consultant, coach, and motivational speaker. He focuses on helping organizations and individuals achieve better business results through strategic storytelling. An award-winning former journalist, Mario led a series of innovative communications initiatives at Microsoft before founding his company, StoryCo, which serves clients across a range of industries.

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