Daily Email Archive

Dig Deeper

Don’t lie to yourself. New cool sports clothes are not going to help you get in shape. A new calendar app is not going to help you be on time for dinner. Your new logo is not going to help much with sales. A one-day offsite is not going to fix your team problem. The...

Musical Interlude #6 – Stromae

Music is back. And so is Stromae. https://youtu.be/P3QS83ubhHE Today, the Belgian musician, rapper, singer, and songwriter returned with a brand new single called "Santé", which translates to "Cheers!" - a timely celebration of the working class. Stromae, whose name...

No More Hesitation

Lately, I've been experimenting with many new things, to the point that I've sometimes caught myself starting to second-guess myself. It takes time to adopt new ideas, even when they are your own. There are days when I could use some inspiration or a pep talk from...

15 Ways To Mobilize People

How do you mobilize people? 1 - Don’t just tell stories. Build a narrative. People will pay for a story, but people will die for a narrative. 2 - Co-create your strategic narrative. When people have their fingerprints on a strategic narrative that they built together,...

Repeat Yourself: What Visionary Leaders do

Aligning your team with your strategic narrative–the ultimate direction of your company–takes time and repetition. But, unfortunately, we underestimate the number of times it takes for people to adopt a new narrative. As Scott Belsky, founder of Behance, Chief Product...

The Strategic Narrative Workshop Starts Tomorrow

Hi there, The Strategic Narrative Workshop starts tomorrow. My alumni CEOs, Founders, and Business Owners have discovered that building the innovation and momentum for their dream company takes three things: a commitment, a container, and a community. I talk about it...

Avoiding Commoditization

If your customers are starting to treat your product or service as a commodity, you have two choices: First, act as the victim and blame the market. Second, take responsibility and try to turn things around. You guessed it, and you know me, how about #2? Firstly, no...

Before And After

To make people adopt a new opportunity, show what the world looks like if you succeed. Paint a picture of the change you want everyone to live. Or take a photo of it. Framing your strategic narrative with a “before and after” shows people what it will look like if...

The Gauge

What do you see when you have a great strategic narrative? First, people take action in the right direction. Second, it gets easier for you and your team to sell. You’re making traction. You’re driving adoption. More of the right people want to work with you. More of...

Who Should Write Your Strategic Narrative?

The process of building a strategic narrative includes writing.  Therefore, the critical question is, “Who should do the writing?” Answer = You. Most of my prospective clients assume that I’ll do the writing for them. But I don’t. Some CEOs, Founders, Business owners...

How To Avoid Building A “Me-too” Company

For context: a strategic narrative is a system of stories that you build intentionally to mobilize people to participate in a new opportunity. That's what you will create when you join The Strategic Narrative Workshop. One of the stories of this system is your...

Can I Crash Your Party?

If you are organizing or hosting one of the following types of events: Q&A/fireside chat for your company, conference or industry event, podcast/YouTube interview, in-person/live event, small private session (<10 people), book me for a talk or an interview....

How Do You Translate “Strategic Narrative” In French?

(Note: the next Strategic Narrative Workshop is starting October 12th. If you’re ready to turn your company into a movement few can resist, hit reply and let me know, so you don’t miss out.) A native French speaker recently sent the following question through my email...

Who Is It For?

Today, one of my coaches helped me understand a bit further who my work is best suited for. So I thought you might find value in reading a bit about how I approach that question. I was interested in having this conversation because I always like to understand the...

And Now Here Is A Secret

To succeed, get a coach. But if you are a professional athlete, that’s not so much a secret. You’ll probably laugh at me because, for you, it’s not a secret at all. It’s the norm. In sports, all professionals hire a coach. However, if you are a CEO, a founder, or a...

Engage Vs Mobilize

Stories engage. Narratives mobilize. Loads of workshops will teach you how to engage people. But only one will teach you how to mobilize people. This one: The Strategic Narrative Workshop.  Starts on October 12th.  Register now.   Engage: Transitive verb to attract...

Build A Movement: What Visionary Entrepreneurs Do

This week, a work session with a CEO client on his investor pitch reminded me about the importance of taking the time to understand people's point of view so you can inform your point of view, a design research technic also known as "using empathy." Well into our...

How To Get A Second “Date”

Say you're going on a first date. And the whole thing is about the other person, telling you everything about themself, what they do, who they work with, why their features are the most beautiful, their achievements, their career and the awards they've harvested as a...

Polarize: What Visionary Entrepreneurs Do

Visionary entrepreneurs think of their company as an instrument for change. They focus on inventing, improving, or transforming. But in doing so, they take the risk to come up with unpopular ideas. It's counterintuitive, but when this happens, it's a sign that they're...

Shift Role: What Visionary Entrepreneurs Do

Here is something visionary leaders do: instead of making themselves and their company, product, or project the hero of a story, they talk about you. For them, you are the hero. They shift their role from Luke to Yoda. Visionary leaders position themselves as the...

The Word, Then The Image (With A List)

Everything begins with the word. When I work with CEOs, founders, and business owners to help them build their strategic narrative, we write. We focus on effective oral and written communication as much as we can. As I wrote in an earlier article this week: Your words...

Promo Time

It's always promo time somewhere in the world. TLDR (Too Long; Didn't Read): Are you a CEO, Founder, or Business Owner ready to make your mark on the world? Build your strategic narrative the right way, so you and your company can thrive. Transform the way you, your...

Season 1: The End

Have you attended one of my Thursday Strategic Narrative Underground Sessions yet? If not, this morning/today is your last chance. If you’d like to join, register here. It’s free, fun and a little French. Since last April, I’ve shared with you my principles and tips...

Don’t Just Tell Stories. Build A Narrative.

If you want to maximize your impact, know the difference between story and narrative. Unfortunately, most business leaders use both words interchangeably. Yet, the subtle difference between a story and a narrative is massive. People will pay for a story, but people...

Guess Who?

The greatest commercial value is to create value for someone.   I have a game to help my clients become more aware of their competitive landscape. I call it Guess Who? because the original Guess Who game somewhat inspired me to come up with it. My game goes like this:...

Reminder

A brief reminder as you start this week with ambitious goals and crucial conversations: Your words matter. They mobilize people. They sell your ideas and your products too. The good ones are painful to find but powerful to own. Your words are the indispensable...

How It All Started: Why It Matters

Traffic is a pain in Seattle. Yesterday reminded me of it. I am lucky enough not to have to drive much anywhere for work. But that’s not the case for my wife. She is a teacher in a school district 15 miles (24 km) from our house. She commutes every day with our two...

What Podcast?–Your Top 30 list

If you replied to my email asking for your favorite podcasts for business entrepreneurs, CEOs, executives, founders, innovators, creators, visionaries, pioneers, movers, and shakers of all sorts—in that case, people just like you on this list–, thank you! The list got...

Measuring Your Good Ideas

When Steve Holmes, a Canadian businessman, needed to decide if he would invest in commercializing the spring-free trampoline, the first thing he did was have his kids jump on it to see their reaction. So, he asked the inventor, Keith Alexander, to ship a trampoline to...

Until You Can Explain It Simply

Consider this popular Einstein quote: “If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.” If that quote is true, then many business leaders and entrepreneurs don’t seem to understand their business very well at all. How many of them? I don’t know...

Build it, Activate It.

Lately, I’ve been writing a lot about a strategic narrative as a product–a system of stories that you build intentionally to mobilize people to participate in a new opportunity. I may have accidentally reinforced the idea that once you’ve built this system, that’s it....

Human After All

A common narrative about talented artists and entrepreneurs is that their success comes effortlessly. But alas, this is a malentendu. (French, from mal entendu, misunderstood, from mal badly + entendu, past participle of entendre to understand, interpret, be...

Definition & Examples

Here is the #1 question I am getting from you when you join this list. “Hey, Guillaume, thanks for inviting me; sounds interesting, but what is exactly a strategic narrative?” While I go into great detail about this in my workshop, I am also writing a free email...

Lynda’s Opportunity

(Note: the next Strategic Narrative Workshop is starting September 14th. Only a few days left. If you’re ready to turn your company into a source of inspiration that few can resist, so people buy more from you and work with you, hit reply and let me know. Don’t miss...

What Podcast?

Quick question for you: I am researching podcasts for business entrepreneurs, CEOs, executives, founders, innovators, creators, visionaries, pioneers, movers, and shakers of all sorts—people like you on this list. What podcasts are you listening to? Hit reply. I’d...

Write Your Own

Most musicians write their own songs. Most comedians write their own jokes. Entrepreneurs should write their own strategic narrative. Do it yourself. Ok, maybe not alone. It’s good to get help, and you must also solicit the input of your tea. But get your hands dirty...

The Fire That Fuels Everything

(Note: the next Strategic Narrative Workshop is starting September 14th. If you’re ready to turn your company into a source of inspiration, few can resist, so people buy more from you and work with you, hit reply and let me know. Don’t miss out)...

Helping Your Entrepreneur Friend – Take II

Imagine that a friend entrepreneur came to you for help and asked this: “Can you help me tell my company story?” What would you tell your friend about how to do that? I already sent this question a couple of weeks ago. Thank you if you already responded. This is just...

How Urgent Is This?

(Note: the Strategic Narrative Workshop starts September 14th. If you’re ready to turn your company into a source of inspiration few can resist, so people buy more from you and want to work more with you, hit reply and let me know, so you don’t miss out.)...

Netflix 2004

Here is a piece from last April that I will discuss on Thursday morning during my free and public weekly "Strategic Narrative Underground" session. Enjoy this article and please join us if you can. We would love to see you!...

Judged By Your Map

Yesterday, in The Strategic Narrative Workshop, we talked about the difficulty of changing the place your company occupies in the minds of your customers. People will put you in a mental box; you do the same. We all do the same. It’s called positioning. We do it for...

The Story Of Your Great Idea

I was on a call today to brainstorm concepts for one of my CEO colleagues’ business. The goal of our conversation was to generate new ideas about a service he is launching. It was a fun call, and shortly after we started, our small group got excited about a few goofy...

Outside And Inside Too

Thinking of your “strategic narrative” as marketing only is a myth and a dangerous one. It will lead you to view your company essentially as a facade. When they hear those two words, most people think about a website, a sales deck, an ad campaign, or someone doing a...

Helping Your Entrepreneur Friend

This week, a bunch of new people joined this list. So, as a welcome activity, here is a thought experiment for you… And if you’ve been reading my emails for a while, this might probably be a fun challenge for you too. Imagine that a friend entrepreneur came to you for...

Everyone Else Is Already Taken

So be yourself. This is, of course, from Oscar Wilde’s famous quote, an essential reminder for anyone working on leading better. Yes, that’s right, “working” on leading, not “being” a leader. I’ve always had a hard time thinking of leading as a state of “being” a...

Why Your Product Story Goes Last

When you join The Strategic Narrative Workshop, you learn a very practical process that you can reuse forever to boost your company with a magnetizing strategy and communication asset: your strategic narrative. One of the current participants of the workshop also...

Serving A Community

The best entrepreneurs grow movements by asking themselves, “how may I best serve the most people” vs. “how may I make the quickest money making the least effort.” Their narrative is about a community. Instead of building a business that serves shareholders only, show...

Is It Actionable?

Throughout a series of previous articles, I’ve proposed five questions you could use as a framework to do a rapid diagnostic about your strategic narrative: How Well Did You Articulate It? Look at your messaging, marketing, what you say, write, and show inside and...

What Does Building A Strategic Narrative Really Mean?

Many of you on this list have asked a question I would paraphrase like this: “What Does Building A Strategic Narrative Really Mean?” Here is my full definition of a strategic narrative: A strategic narrative is a system of stories that you build intentionally to...

What’s A Perspective For?

To building a strategic narrative, you must develop a perspective. Call it a philosophy, an ideology, a viewpoint, or a religion; it’s up to you. But you need to establish and make public the fundamental set of beliefs that define how you look at a situation and how...

Because You Are On This List

Since late April, many of you have said “yes” to my weekly invitation to hear me talk and engage together in a brief conversation about strategic narrative. Thank you! It’s been absolutely wonderful to see several of you religiously come back every time. We’ve done it...

The MOD Perspective Story

A company's success depends on how its team looks at a problem, starting with the founders. I call this the “Perspective Story,” and it’s one of the four stories that the participants to The Strategic Narrative Workshop learn to master as they build their strategic...

How To Create A Better Mission & Vision

Defining your vision and mission in a few hours during your leadership retreat is a practice from the past. I helped a few clients do it years ago, and I quickly realized that I was encouraging the wrong practice. Here are the problems with the way mission and vision...

What Should The Story Say?

Here is a thought experiment for you… Imagine that a friend entrepreneur came to you for help to tell her/his/their company story. What do you think the story would have to say to actually help your friend’s company gain momentum? (If you don’t mind me publishing your...

Dealing With The Truth

Am I inviting you to tell lies? Building a strategic narrative is for sure an exercise in dealing with the truth. I see this with all my clients and the participants of  The Strategic Narrative Workshop. I say “dealing” because the virtue of telling the truth can also...

Don’t Make The Mistake

The narrative of the United States is documented in the constitution and the stories about our founding document and the efforts to improve it over the years. “Every provision of the Constitution has a narrative, a story of the people, events, and cases behind its...

Whatever Shows Up

A few readers interested in publishing to an email list like this one asked me to share my content planning tool and what I am doing to develop so many post ideas to write about. I don’t have a content planning tool. So whatever idea must show up, shows up. Here is...

The Meaning Of Your Opportunity Story

I would argue that telling the story of a clear opportunity is essential for your company to thrive. But what do we mean by opportunity story? A bit of research about the word opportunity itself might help you tell the right opportunity story. If you look up the...

Thoughts On Asking For Help

We’re all the same about help. When it comes to giving it, we’re more than happy to do it. Helping others brings many emotional rewards, such as a boost of happiness, energy, a deeper sense of purpose, and better relationships. But when it comes to asking for help and...

Why Explaining Evolution Matters

Everything around us is evolving. Evolution is the gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex and sophisticated form. Evolution is generative. Evolution is an integral part of our context. If we want to invite people to adopt a new...

I’m Giving You Two More Weeks Off

I don’t know about you, but here, at the Wiatr house, we feel like summer is going too fast. Today, my kids and I counted only three more weeks until we are back to school. Feeling the same? What if I could give you two additional weeks of vacation? Would you scream...

To Differentiate, Explore Your Past

This week, my Strategic Narrative Workshop participants are starting to document and explore their origin story. Curious to know why and how this might help you too? Read on. Your origin story is the written or spoken account of the series of events that explain why...

Time Travel For Change

Have you ever wondered why time-lapse videos of landscapes are so compelling to watch? They give us a sense of standing apart from the regular flow of time. For a few minutes, they remove us from our human condition and elevate our point of view. Our perspective...

Simple Question, Big Meaning

You’ve probably heard it before. People will often ask you a simple question that sounds a bit like this: “So, how did you start?”. Or if they haven’t asked it yet, they are probably wondering about it. In any case, what people want to know then is your “origin...

The Value of Wandering

You’ve probably heard it before. People will often ask this simple question: “How did you start?”. Or if they haven’t asked it yet, they are certainly wondering about it. Depending on the context, “you” might refer to your company, your project, your product, your...

Never Done. Always Due.

“Design projects are never done. But they are always due”, as my teacher Jeff Barlow used to say. Building a strategic narrative for your company is that type of project. In fact, it’s not a project, it’s a process. There is always a reason to spend more time...

You Are Not Delivering Value

“Delivering value” is a misnomer. What your company does has no value. It’s not like you can show up at your buyer’s door and say” “Hello, I am bringing the value you ordered. Where would you like me to drop it?” Notice how the value of an object depends not only on...

Brag Zone: Strategic Narrative Underground Session 13

One of the main differences between a story and a narrative is this: A story has an audience. A narrative has participants. This difference really matters if your goal is to motivate people to engage in new positive behaviors actively. That difference is powerful. A...

Quick Test

Which one of these two calls to action makes you want to take action? Call to action. #1: “Buy our stuff. It’s the best. Get it here.” Call to action. #2: “We are a company on a mission, and we invite you to join us because it will transform how we all live. For this,...

For When You Want More People To Participate

If you’re trying to mobilize people to participate in a new opportunity, remember this: the goal is not to make things all about you and your solution, product, or service. The goal is to make everything about them. If you’re the star of the show, everyone else is a...

Mission & Vision Ignored

How often do you think business leaders turn to the wall where the company’s mission and vision are posted, so they can read it and make sure their decision aligns with it? That’s right. Rarely. First, nobody has time for that. When you are in the midst of closing a...

Why Most Pitches Stink

Why? We put things in the wrong order: product, then pitch. We build something, and then we make up a story. We come up with something new, and then we spend a fortune asking, “Who wants it?”. Meanwhile, our competitor also built a similar thing and is also yelling at...

Five Days Left

Your words matter. They mobilize people. They sell your ideas and your products too. The good ones are painful to find but powerful to own. Your words are the indispensable foundation for the movement you should build around you. Join The Strategic Narrative Workshop...

Easy And Hard

Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard. Saying inspiring stuff is easy. Living up to your words is hard. Busyness is easy. Productivity is hard. Starting something is easy. Growing it is hard. Writing a strategic narrative is easy. Acting on it is hard.   But...

Do It Yourself, But Not Alone

I got a request to “translate a strategic narrative into a more impactful version as a presentation, on behalf of the company's CEO.” I turned it down; unless I can work with the CEO to guide him and rebuild it from scratch. Here is why: If the architecture of your...

The Real Goal

I recently came across a quote from Jonathan Stark that defines the mindset required to build a company like a movement. “Making money isn’t a useful goal. Making money is a side effect of improving people’s lives. Start there.” Movements start with the goal of...

What It Takes

In a previous post, I mentioned Tesla as an example of a company that offers the best product on the market (the Model S) and created a movement. Over time, the company perfectly balanced a “product-first” strategy with a “movement-first” strategy. Tesla changed the...

A Broader View

Many people think building a strategic narrative is about making their sales or company presentation deck look better. This is a very limiting and dangerous view. So I’d like to suggest a way to broaden it and give you a useful tip. Although a strategic narrative can...

Organizations And Movements

Organizations organize. Movements revolutionize.   For the former, the purpose is stability. The latter requires a bit of insanity.   Although they’re not from the same list. Like Yin and Yang, they need each other to coexist.   Take a company for example. Its...

I Will See It When I Believe it

We are, of course, used to the reversal common phrase. But this sentence points out something that we are all subject to every second of our day: we can’t see things that fall outside our mental models. It takes a lot of effort to accept something new without...

Last Call To Get The Early Bird Price For My Workshop

Final reminder: the Early Bird price ($900) for The Strategic Narrative workshop ends tonight (West Coast time). After that, it increases to $1,250. It happens online, and when you attend this workshop, you will transform the way you, your team, and everybody else...

From “Product-first” To ”Movement-first”

Some companies thrive because their product is so amazing that people have no choice but to fall in love with it. Therefore, the other competitive alternatives disappear from people’s minds. Think about Sonos, Clarins, or Dropbox. They’ve set the bar so high for the...

What To Do Before They’ll Quit

Would you mind raising your hand (or reply to this email) if, during this post-pandemic period, you have been reevaluating your priorities regarding work and life? A study by Microsoft found that 41% of the global workforce would consider leaving their current...

Three Seconds Away

I am sitting at one of my usual writing spots near the wide windows overlooking my front yard. My writing process is simple. Sit in front of the computer. Put my hands on the keyboard. Start moving my fingers to help my mind pick up an idea worth sharing with you....

Regions Have One Too

Building a strategic narrative is not exclusively for organizations. If you’re a company of one, you should build one too. The same goes for solopreneurs or independent practitioners. If you are one, you have an opportunity to boost your impact with a thoughtful...

The Value Of Effective Collaboration

Yesterday, I posted a video on Linkedin to invite people to join my upcoming workshop. My friend Erik Molano commented: “Sounds amazing! I wonder... how can brands or leadership teams exist without a strategic narrative?” Here was my reply: “Thanks, Eric! Exactly....

How Much Is This Worth To You?

“Is a strategic narrative demonstrably valuable?” That’s a crucial question. And a challenging one too. At the core of any successful movement, you can hear, feel and see a narrative. A strategic narrative makes your organization run like a movement. It gives it an...

When & Why: Strategic Narrative Underground Session 10

There are hundreds of stories about your business. Which one should you tell? The question is not to find which one dominates every other one. You can’t erase stories just like that. The question is, how do you organize those stories into a coherent system. Then, how...

Like A Rolling Stone

A few years ago, my colleague Seth and I were having fun coming up with ideas for a new business we might start together. That’s what geeky entrepreneurs spend their breaks doing, after all. At a table of Sushi Kudasai that day, we started talking about our recent...

It’s Here For You

Today, I am announcing a new service that I am really excited about: The Strategic Narrative Workshop. Until now, the only way people could work directly with me was through private custom consulting engagements. They’ve been very effective, but they’ve limited my...

Principles: Strategic Narrative Underground Session 9

How do you build a company that people want to buy from and work with? These days, great products alone are not enough. Just look at how people interact with big brands, small businesses or even non-profits. We expect something more powerful than a simple transaction....

Money Hides It Well

Some companies have been extremely lucky in the past 18 months. They’ve enjoyed just the right change of trend to make the COVID crisis a huge opportunity. Their profits have skyrocketed. This week, on one of my sales calls, the CEO at a prospective client company...

The Other (Hugely Important) Thing Storytelling Is For

These days, storytelling is all about clarifying your message. It’s all about making what you do more compelling, appealing, interesting, easy to understand, and emotionally connective so that people buy your stuff. This common assumption is a dangerous trap. Here is...

The Value Of Imperfection

One of my clients has a crucial meeting tomorrow with a potential partner organization. They could potentially resell their products and services in large quantities. The impact would be to improve the daily job of many more users who are suffering from inefficient...

Is It Different?

How do you know if your strategic narrative is working? So far, I’ve proposed four questions you could use as a framework to do a rapid diagnostic: How Well Did You Articulate It? Look at your messaging, marketing, what you say, write, and show inside and outside your...

Back On The Menu

Summer is here. Cafes and restaurants are reopening in Paris. So, today, I am feeding you with a post that I wrote last year around the same time. I am bringing it back on the menu because I am currently working on more ideas and research about The Perspective Story....

A Critical Language Difference

Sellers want to sell a solution. For that, they like to speak “Seller-ese”. The “Seller-ese” dictionary is mostly comprised of words about features and benefits, curated by marketing. On there other end, buyers like to speak “Buyer-ese”. The “Buyer-ese” dictionary has...

Product Story: Strategic Narrative Underground Session 8

How do you position new products and services, so people sense that it will change their life (in a good way)? That’s the goal of the product story, the fourth element of my strategic narrative system. And this is the topic we explored on Thursday during the Strategic...

Musical Interlude #5 – Giorgio

Who is Giorgio? You already know him, or you’ve already heard something from him, I should say. In their last album, Random Access Memories, Daft Punk invites the music personalities they admire to play with them. On some of the songs, you can hear Neil Rogers,...

Is It Recognized?

Earlier this week, I started to lay out the questions that you should explore to figure out if your strategic narrative is effective or not. You could use these as a framework to self-evaluate it, which is always a good thing to do. So far, I highlighted the following...

Will You Be That Leader?

If you or someone in your organization is wondering, “What’s my/our story?”, I doubt that you’re just looking for an anecdote starting with “once upon a time…”? We’ve heard it a million times from CEOs, executives, founders, and entrepreneurs. That question connects...

Did You Integrate It?

OK, let’s say you’ve articulated an inspiring strategic narrative. And let’s assume that you have a great new presentation about it. You and your team are excited to use it externally. Are you done? Well, not exactly. Here is the thing: writing your narrative is one...

Does It Inspire People?

It’s good if you have a mission and a vision. But here is the thing: you can’t succeed if you only make things about yourself. Your mission and vision are about your company. They usually tend to be defined by people who will brand your business, just like when we put...

How Well Did You Articulate It?

Your business has a strategic narrative. You’ve either made the intentional effort to build it, or you’re discovering what this concept means. How do you know if it’s working effectively? The first thing that comes to mind is communications: your messaging, marketing,...

Perspective Story: Strategic Narrative Underground Session 7

Does your organization operate based on a perspective? I would say yes, no matter what. Is that perspective clearly articulated? Inspirational? Integrated? Recognized? Differentiating? Maybe not. In that case, these are questions worth exploring if you’re claiming to...

Jobs’ Story vs. Jobs’ Narrative

Jobs’ story vs. Jobs’ narrative: what’s the difference? As of today, the price of the story of Steve Jobs’ life is $8.91 on Amazon. As of today, the value of Steve Jobs’ narrative is so high that it’s priceless. And climbing. He innovated and transformed entire...

For Everyone, Especially Leaders

Everyone has the potential to think, talk and act like a leader and should seize the opportunity to do so—especially those with the privilege of a position of leadership. Knowing how to build a strategic narrative helps you do that. It’s never too late. You can still...

What Gets Noticed

Let’s do a quick test: take a look at the diagram below. What do you notice first? I am ready to bet that your brain almost immediately focused on the shorter bar. Contrary to common belief, it’s not because something is bigger that you will notice it more. So, if...

Opportunity Story: Strategic Narrative Underground Session 6

This weekend, my family and I are staying at the Truckee Donner Lodge. It’s a standard hotel, with standard amenities and nothing exciting. From the front desk to the bathroom, the whole experience is a well-known, well-rehearsed process. Check-in happens the same way...

Your Strategic Narrative In 30 Seconds Or Less

Here is a good question from the survey people take when they sign-up for this list. How can I share my strategic narrative in 30-second or less? Ok, so first, let’s highlight the assumption that most of us make: narratives = a piece of communication. When we use the...

You Can Still Join

It’s never too late. You can still join the next Strategic Narrative Underground Session tomorrow. I am looking for a few more people interested in learning about strategic narratives and giving me feedback on my writing manuscript. Here is why I do this: I believe...

Selling Explorations

What drives people to embark on explorations? This seems like an interesting question to explore because, as business leaders, we use the theme of exploration all the time as a metaphor to describe the purpose of our jobs. Our language is filled with expressions such...

How To Figure Why Your Work Matters

To figure out why your work matters to your buyers, ask them this question: “What would you miss if I stopped doing the work that I am doing?”   To figure out why your work matters to you, ask yourself this question: “What would I miss if I stopped doing the work that...

When Inspiration Is A No-Show

What do you do when you’re not inspired? You admit it. Truth always wins. I admit that I wasn’t feeling inspired to write anything today. I was going to skip my daily ritual. That was actually a good reminder of the power and the importance of inspiration. In our...

Your Origin Story: Strategic Narrative Underground Session 5

The origin story is one of the four stories in my strategic narrative model. The insights that you gather when you explore it and write it can change the narrative with which you go by today and help you make better business decisions for the future. One of them is...

Creating Participants

Why are some organizations so attractive? They don’t treat people as an audience. They make them participants. How do you do that? Instead of telling a story about your product only, which is focused on serving shareholders only, tell a story about how you can help...

Two Lessons From Our New Online Meetings Narrative

It feels like we’ve already said everything about online meetings. What else can we possibly learn from the last 18 months regarding zoom meetings? I can think of two more ideas. They may even help you build a new strategic narrative. New narratives emerge from...

How To Help Customers Choose You

A strategic narrative introduces your own unique way to see the world. In my four-story model, that’s mainly what the perspective story does. The other three stories are: the origin story the opportunity story the product story Since those stories are all connected as...

Wisdom Instead

Ask around why people want to build a better narrative. Most of them will tell you that it’s because they want to share more information about their business. More information can be OK when it’s understandable. But it can quickly clutter the mind, stopping action,...

Tip To Write Your Origin Story

In his book, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation, Parker J. Palmer wrote the wonderful quote below. I could help you frame your origin story. “Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you....

The Story You Don’t Want To Skip

Using a strategic narrative to launch a project or grow your business does something that a single and isolated story alone can not. You will move people from the position of audience to the position of participants. A strategic narrative is a system of four main...

Strategic Narrative Underground Session 4

I am inviting you every Thursday at 9:00 am Pacific to attend a free 30-minute talk+conversation about one of the strategic narrative principles in the book I am writing. I call these meetings Strategic Narrative Underground Sessions. It is a FREE opportunity to...

One More Reason To Be The Anomaly

“Normal leads you nowhere.” Kelly Cultrone Yet another reason to add to the list of reasons to think differently. A bientot, Guillaume  

What It Should Really Do

As you embark on a new challenge, you will need help. For instance, the invention of the COVID vaccine required the support of the entire scientific community. Charity: Water, wants to give access to everyone to clean water. This takes the support of everyone, in new...

Story Or Viewpoint?

In the context of strategy, you can use the word “narrative” in two ways. “Narrative” as “story” That’s the most common case. Here, “narrative” and “story” are interchangeable. “Narrative” is therefore associated with a piece of communication, and for many people, a...

How To Find The Next Narrative

We all have a purpose. But your purpose might not be what you think it should be. Entrepreneurs often realize that their company should change course and pivot. We start a company with an idea in mind, and then, later, we realize that we can have a bigger impact than...

Musical Interlude #4 – Jon Batiste

Sometimes, people think that Jazz is music from the past. Jon Batiste deconstructs this old narrative, making Jazz sound fresh and contemporary, and innovates with a new narrative. Not only that, but he also uses Jazz as a powerful metaphor for democracy and...

Machines vs. Humans

"Words should be weighed, not counted." — Yiddish Proverb   Machines count words. Humans count on meaning. Who is your narrative for?  

Strategic Narrative Underground Session 3

Every Thursday at 9:00 am Pacific, you are invited to attend a free 30-minute talk+conversation about one of the strategic narrative principles in the book that I am writing. I call these meetings the Strategic Narrative Underground Sessions. In today’s session, we...

What Realizing Your Dream Really Takes

A good question from my post-opt-in survey: How do you connect early-career folks with the idea that at the end of the day, a compelling mission and strategy requires hard work and some sweat equity from people like them to realize the dream? Let’s explore the...

What’s Up With Your Attitude?

One of the biggest problems I run into when I help CEOS, Leadership Teams, and entrepreneurs create a strategic narrative is their attitude. It’s not that they have the wrong one. No, it’s more that they don’t have one at all. As a result, their strategy is too fuzzy,...

About That Blank Email You Got

Friday’s “This Email Intentionally Left Blank ” post triggered many reactions. You sent me replies like “???”, “Nice!”, “Made me smile!”, “This piece is worth a lot.”, or “I don’t know what this is, but it makes me want to write.” And even if you didn’t hit “reply”, I...

Mother’s Day Decency

In the United States, 55 percent of working women supply half or more of their family's household income. Women make up a majority of essential U.S. coronavirus workers. Only 19% of U.S. employees have access to family leave paid through an employer— and those who...

Why Your Business Needs A Common Enemy

On this day, 76 years ago, celebrations erupted throughout the western world. The allies of World War II accepted Germany’s unconditional surrender. May 8th, Victory in Europe Day, is celebrated across European nations as a public holiday. Although it’s less the case...

Strategic Narrative Underground Session 2

Yesterday, during the second session of Strategic Narrative Underground, we focused on the first chapter of my book, the Narrative pattern. Talking points about the first pattern - narrative: To illustrate the characteristics of a strategic narrative, I used two...

Why Some Businesses Change Lives, And Others Don’t

“Why Some Businesses Change Lives, And Others Don’t” is the sub-title of my new talk, “The Next Narrative”. As I mentioned to you in my intro email, sometimes, oh, surprise, surprise, I will also tell you about my services. Speaking is one of them. Of course, I do all...

Are You Optimizing Or Transforming?

What is the purpose of your business, optimization or transformation? This is a valid question to explore because optimization and transformation mean two different kinds of strategic narratives. One is not better than the other, but they mean different implications....

Your Opportunity – Part 4

A new strategic narrative is a new opportunity to call people to action. When you change the traditional way people view the world, you engage and motivate your community. In part 1 of this brief email series, we talked about the main idea behind the concept of...

Virtual Events: The Future Of Strategic Narratives

More and more, virtual events will play an essential role in the development of new strategic narratives. We are still figuring this out. For instance, a poll by the journal Nature highlights that 74% of their readers think that scientific conferences should continue...

Strategic Narrative Underground Session 1

The first Strategic Narrative Underground session happened today. If you were on the call, I want to thank you for showing up with curiosity and benevolence. This time together led us to a great conversation about why strategic narratives matter now more than ever....

The Perfect Time For Your Next Narrative: Now

It’s a great time to take on the role of an entrepreneurial leader. Whether you’re inside a large company or ready to jump ship…. Entrepreneurs are multiplying. The numbers of the US Census Bureau for the beginning of 2021 continue to show the same trend. In the face...

Join The Strategic Narrative Underground Sessions

What are you doing on Thursday at 9:00 am? To find out, read this message. ___________________________________ I’ve been working on a secret project that I am excited to share with you. It’s a book, and it’s for you. What is this book about? Imagine a sort of grimoire...

Choosing Courage

The companies I help range from organizations with a handful of people to tenths of thousands. What they do is also very diverse. For example, NuOz builds networks for large retailers. Spencer Stuart finds the next CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. The L’Oreal brand IT...

Your Opportunity – Part 3

This is the third email of a brief series on the opportunities coming from crafting a new strategic narrative. In part 1, we talked about the main idea behind the concept of strategic narrative. Here it is again: Seek to create a new narrative. To grow your impact,...

Your Opportunity – Part 2

To build a business world that champions sustainability, equity, and well-being, you must first change people’s beliefs. That’s what a new strategic narrative helps you do. In recent years, a striking consensus has emerged about the importance of businesses and brands...

Your Opportunity – Part 1

Before I do a keynote speech or a workshop, I always make sure to really understand my audience. Typically, I send out a brief survey to participants ahead of the event. That’s what I did a couple of years ago when I was invited to speak in front of a group of about a...

What If Recycling Didn’t Count As “Good” Anymore?

Right after diner tonight, I asked one of my sons to go empty the kitchen recycle bin. He got 10 points on the board where we keep track of the family chores. He felt good about that. Recycling as we know it today is an example of a powerful and dominant narrative. A...

A Story To Back A New Narrative

If you’re looking for examples of powerful strategic narratives, here is one that is rapidly emerging for the art market: direct trading of digital art with NFTs. When you see the Mona Lisa in Paris and take photos of it, you don’t own it. The same goes for digital...

Bienvenue Again

It’s been great to have you here. I mean, on this mailing list. I value the time you spend reading my emails. So, today, I felt like explaining why I share my insights every day with you. Hopefully, this will provide some useful context and help me meet your...

Your Strategic Narrative As Coordination Device

This week, you are going to have a chance to tell, show and listen to dozens of stories. Storytelling is now a common practice in business, although I would argue that our field is still trying to define it and understand how to effectively use it. There are many...

Pain & Response

If you’ve found the pitch exercise that I shared yesterday valuable, here is another one. I call it the Pain & Response Pitch. It follows a story arc that you might have heard before:   "I saw the pain first hand.” “I felt that we needed to do something.”...

Does Grandma Get It?

My Mom emailed me to let me know that she listened to my conversation with Mike Rohde in the last episode of his podcast. Good news, she said she finally started to understand what I do for a living. That was sweet of her to listen and let me know. Her note reminded...

Musical Interlude #3 – Reggie Watts

As you probably noticed from one of my prior posts, I am anti-bullshit. Like an alcoholic, I’ve been to treatment and I am cured. Well, mostly. I sometimes have little relapses. Today’s musical interlude is about Reggie Watts, another artist cut from the same cloth of...

To Innovate, Turn Your Back To The Old Narrative. Literally.

The high jump changed forever when Dick Fosbury won the gold medal at the 1968 Olympic Games. Fosbury re-invented the high jump competition with the use of his own “Fosbury flop” method. Instead of using the dominant straddle method, which consisted of jumping while...

When Your Strategic Narrative Fails

"Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." - Mike Tyson Over the past few weeks, I’ve been helping a new entrepreneur to craft his strategic narrative. I typically focus on business leaders with a bit more experience than him, but I will add a young...

To Boost Your Leadership, Change The Narrative About Drawing

I am willing to bet that you used to draw pretty much every day. That’s until you started to believe that you were not a good artist or that drawing was for babies. Somehow the narrative about drawing changed for you at a young age, most likely towards the end of...

Three Rules For Your Business Plan

The University of Washington Dempsey Startup Competition started this Friday. The first step is a screening round during which judges will review your executive summary if you’re participating. Over the weekend, I’ve been analyzing six of them, and it’s my twelfth...

Courageous Idiot

In the beginning of my career in the USA, when I had conversations with clients who had complicated things to say, I was feeling lost. My English wasn’t as good as it is now, and in general, I don’t understand very complicated things. I like simple and clear ideas....

A Pattern For Better Purpose Statements

Describing your company’s purpose with a short statement is helpful. It will help everyone understand and remember why your organization exists. However, trying to encapsulate something as big and powerful as purpose in a short sentence is challenging and can be...

Drunk Presenting

"Most people use Powerpoint like a drunk uses a lamp post - for support rather than illumination" - David Ogilvy We see it all the time, and yet we let it happen. Especially if it’s the boss doing it. But who has time for a reading of the presenter’s teleprompter?...

Bullshitters Anonymous

AlphaDingDong Corp. is a leading provider of innovative high-speed, world-class networking infrastructure application solutions. Our customer-centric approach to maximizing the synergies between our customers and their ecosystem enables high levels of performance....

Helping People Feel Good About Bad Choices

There are hundreds of burger places in Seattle. But Blue Moon Burgers has me hooked; not just because eating their Blue Shroom burger with extra bacon is just the most delightful sin I’ve ever committed, but because they also give me good conscience about it. Their...

Learning From The Early Years Of Netflix

To innovate, attack the old way of doing something with a new and revolutionary narrative. Watch how Netflix did it. Do you remember the late fees that you had to pay when you were late returning a movie? In 1997, Netflix embarked on a mission to eradicate them, along...

FAQ: Should Our Narrative Be Different For Each Audience?

Here is a question that I am frequently getting: “We have to create a sales deck and internal deck about our service. Should we create two different narratives?” Although tailoring a message to an audience is always a good thing, your strategic narrative should stay...

Letting People Improvise

If you want to solve complex problems really fast, there is something to be said about letting go of control and letting people improvise. If your company culture is all about scripting everything and improvisation is new to you, it may look like chaos in the...

Hope

What are we selling? Simply put, a better version of our customer; the promise that they will be better off with our product or service. That’s all. That’s the destination of the journey. But that only works if our promise aligns with their goal. The more aligned, the...

Narrative First

We seem to always forget that at the beginning of any organization, there is nothing, but a narrative. Since the dawn of time, we’ve survived thanks to our ability to believe in common myths. We do this through fictional narratives. When we imagine things...

To Make Your Narrative Work, Name It – Part 2

It’s a big deal to give a good name to a new narrative if you want your community to embrace it. When we introduce an innovation, we can categorize it as different if we introduce a new narrative. The name of this new narrative has important implications. If we want...

To Make Your Narrative Work, Name It – Part 1

In the US, bars are reopening. Who will be your designated driver? The narrative The term “designated driver” is common for most Americans, but it wasn’t the case until 1988. In the 1980s, the rate of deaths caused by drunk driving was at an all-time high in the US....

Will You Build Curb Cuts?

The City of Seattle has been building more curb cuts in our neighborhood. I am happy to see that. There is still a lot of work to do, but there is progress. Curb cuts make public spaces accessible to people with disabilities. In reality, they help everyone. If you’ve...

Narrative Inspection: How To Scratch The Surface

“Let’s tell our story”. “What’s our story?”. “Our CEO tells a great story”. The company story is not enough. What matters is the company narrative. Let’s admit it. We think of business storytelling as a sales and marketing thing. Most people understand it as the...

Focus

I understand. It is not always easy for your brand to get into the mind of your customers. You have to grab their attention constantly, and attention is a rare commodity these days. In this situation, it’s tempting to come up with a hundredth product idea to launch....

Purpose At Work: A Direct Method

The core of a strong company narrative is “why” the company exists, aka its purpose. For most business leaders, the default way to articulate the company’s purpose is through a statement. Ideally, one of the applications of having a statement is to help you make...

A Bit More Help

A few weeks ago, I launched a research project to better understand how business leaders think about organizational purpose. I have already gathered some great insights that I am planning to share soon with anyone interested. I need a few more executive leaders in...

A Powerful Historical Narrative

In 1887, John W. Nordstrom, at 16 years old, left Sweden for the United States. He arrived in New York with $5 in his pocket, unable to speak a word of English. The young immigrant labored in mines and logging camps as he crossed the country to California and...

D’you Know That You Can Use It?

Showing up with talent and a great idea is just a minimum. You can’t inspire people around you and make things happen with a lukewarm heart. Passion is essential. Fall in love. Get furious. Defend with fervor. Passion is the fire that fuels everything. And when...

Why Should You Have A Support Network

Leadership is a solitary experience, which is why it is so hard. I realized this many years ago after helping a CEO develop her company narrative for about six months. One of this project's milestones was to inspire people to support her organization during a talk on...

Reinventing Organizations

There are many reasons to be concerned about where humanity is going. And there are just as many reasons or more to be excited about how it’s evolving. It’s your choice. "Doom is inevitable. Gloom is optional. Gloom has no positive effects on ameliorating doom. Doom...

We Plan

"We plan, God laughs.” From a Yiddish proverb.   A good reminder not to get too carried away with our predictions and strategies.  

Who Defines The Company’s Purpose?

In the research interviews that I am carrying these days, I am constantly hearing that an organisation's purpose has to be defined by the CEO, the leadership team, or the board of directors. It’s like we all assume that the bosses know better than anybody else. As...

Using Communication As A Forcing Function

The surface level of our narrative is essential. For instance, it’s the sales presentation, the website, or the keynote speech where we tell people about our vision and inspire them about possibilities. To create it, we usually focus too soon on making it perfect. We...

Challenge vs. Problem

A problem is something we don’t want to have. A challenge is something we want to overcome.   A problem is something we run into. A challenge is something we chose to decide to take on.   A problem has negative consequences. A challenge has the potential to...

Musical Interlude #2 – Lous and The Yakuza

Lous and the Yakuza, is a Congolese-Belgian singer, rapper, songwriter, model, and artist. Lous is an anagram of “soul,”. Yakuza means loser or a person outside of the norm. It’s also the name of Japan’s infamous crime organization. "Soul" and "anomaly" are two themes...

Five Rules To Fix Your Dysfunctional Meetings

Last week, I attended an international virtual conference during which we were introduced to an inspiring method for organizing and running a meeting. At the beginning of the session, the facilitator shared the following rules: 1 - Whoever comes are the right people....

To Grow Your Business, Grow Your Impact

"We don't make movies to make more money. We make money to make more movies."—Walt Disney. This quote made me think that the transition to leading a company with purpose as your core strategy has profound implications. One of them is that growth is no longer the...

Shrink Your Brag Zone

Here is a pattern I see everywhere. When we talk about an idea or our business, we somehow feel the urgency to describe all the amazing things that it contains. In fear of not being credible, we jump quickly to what it is. We demo our product, rush to our solution,...

Guest Article: Change Starts With A Different Vision

My wife Deana was very kind to write for you about the work she does with young generations when she changes the narrative on gender equality. The article below is from her:   Today, March 8th, in honor of International Women’s Day, I started a unit about women’s...

Forgetting About Competition For A Moment

Traditionally, we’ve seen Big Pharma companies obsessed with beating each other. This week, President Biden announced that pharmaceutical giant Merck would help make Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot coronavirus vaccine. This is one of the latest examples of...

18 Reasons To Think Differently

Many years ago, one of my colleagues in the US used to call me an “anomaly”. He was referring to the way I think and work. I was not too fond of it, but I never told him. We all want to belong, to be part of the tribe and feel accepted. Hearing myself being called an...

Celebrating A Winning Narrative

Earlier this week, I wrote about how I helped Robert White. He is the CEO of Sound Sustainability, a Seattle startup on a mission to improve hearing health for everyone by educating, engaging, and increasing access. Robert transformed his investor pitch with my...

A Difference That Can Change People’s Lives

“Come to the United States. This is a place where you can achieve things that you would never achieve anywhere else. But first, you have to come here. Will you come here?” Please bear with me… At the beginning of 2008, that’s the narrative I had in mind as I...

Is Radical Transparency That Nuts?

Radical transparency is rare. Why? We justify secrecy with the concern that our competition will steal from us. But in reality, we’re just afraid to be embarrassed if we publicly share too much of what’s going on inside our organization. In one of my articles from...

The Energy To Call People To Action

Yesterday, I helped Robert, a new CEO. He wanted to improve the one-minute pitch he is preparing for a fundraising event he is attending this week. In only 30 minutes together, we transformed his pitch from average to great, adopting one principle. Treat emotions as...

How To Get In The Right Headspace

In 2001, I had to work with a difficult person high up in a large company's hierarchy. This person would stress me out a ton. I was intimidated by his age, his rank and his ways of working. Yet, I was committed to making this relationship work. To better prepare for...

The Reason Why Purpose Matters So Much.

Search “what is my purpose” on Google and the engine will serve you over 1.5 billion results. Clearly, many of us are interested in finding out why we are on this planet. This obsession is also valid for why companies exist. Corporate purpose is one of the most...

Tragically Funny

Are you thinking of shooting a video to tell your story? Perhaps you're about to add some stock images to your next presentation or your new website? Don’t do this. https://youtu.be/2YBtspm8j8M The tragedy with this hilarious video is how little it exaggerates. Too...

I Need Your Help

I am in the early stages of a research project that I am doing to better understand how business leaders think about organizational purpose. Would you be willing to spare 3 minutes for a survey? I hope you're up for it. Here is the link to my questions:...

The Ultimate Sales Team

Today, during my weekly work session with one of the companies I coach, I heard something really cool. The VP of business development told us that one of her best clients offered to help her sell, by participating in her own sales calls. That's because this client is...

How To Choose If Your Business Should Exist

If you truly listen to your organization’s purpose, you might realize that it can’t continue the way it is. How do you know if it should still exist? Here is a 3-point test from my colleague Frederic Laloux. I find it thought-provoking, so I am sharing it with you...

You’re Invited!

79% of business leaders believe that an organization’s purpose is central to business success, yet 68% shared that purpose is not used as a guidepost in leadership decision making processes within their organization. This is one of the findings of a 2016 study by...

Will You Be Ready?

“If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” This quote carries a compelling message on the power of “Why”. When an organization inspires...

Can You Hear It?

As I was figuring out what life wants me to write tonight, I came across this. In French, the words “voix” and “voie” are homonyms. La voie means the way, the path, the direction. It’s also sometimes used to indicate the vocation that someone should follow in life or...

The Journey Carries On

2020 was the strongest year I’ve ever had with MetaHelm. Despite the chaos in the world, I was extremely fortunate and grateful to achieve this extraordinary result. That’s because I got lucky. Just like Thomas Jefferson, “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the...

How To Break From The Past And Innovate

Is investing in a strategic narrative always worth doing? Everybody in the business community seems to agree that storytelling is an important thing, especially if you are in a leadership position. Almost no-one challenges the return on the investment that shaping a...

The Seven Sins Of Strategic Narrative

Good business leaders help their company survive because they know how to adapt to change. Great business leaders go even further by generating the change inside and outside their organization before they suffer it. Many CEOs look for opportunities to use technology...

The Magic Of Leadership

Chris Anderson, the head of TED, writes this on page 242 of his book Ted Talks: “Almost every human born at almost every place and moment in history has had their potential capped by a single fact over which they had almost no control, namely, the quality of the...

Let’s See How This Resonates

Cymatics is very cool. This is what it looks like. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRFysSAxWxI It is visualized when you coat a metal surface called a Chladni plate with thin particles like flour, salt or sand, and you make that plate resonate. As sound vibrations go...

The One Thing A CEO Must Do

There is a common assumption that I wish would really change amongst business leaders: once the strategy of a company is defined (At MetaHelm, we do this through the creation of a strategic narrative), it will be the job of somebody else to communicate it. For most...

The Biggest Positioning Trap And How To Avoid It

Over the years, I have had the chance to work on many cool products and services. My CEO clients know how awesome their product is. But their problem is that nobody else around them does. At least, not enough people, and not soon enough. My job is to help them reframe...

Can You Last More Than 14 Seconds at This?

As a team leader, what could you possibly learn from the practice of bedside medicine? To find out, watch the video of Abraham Verghese TED’s talk called “A doctor's touch”. Professor for the Theory and Practice of Medicine at Stanford University Medical School,...

Getting Your Creative Juices Flowing Again

Today, I’d like to share a few tips that might come handy if you need to get ideas flowing as you’re working on a piece of work that requires you to think creatively. Doing the deep work Let’s say you're working on something like an email, a memo, a report, a case...

How To Differentiate In Your Market

How to differentiate: Give your opinion. Politicians know that very well. Change the narrative. Show the outdated way, and compare it to the new and relevant way. Reframe, don’t just repeat or summarize your understanding of your customer’s problem. It’s OK to take...

Narrative and Innovation

A few weeks ago, I caught myself explaining to one of my CEO clients that she should work backwards and think of her product just as the manifestation of her company narrative. She was working on a presentation for an early-stage conversation with a potentially large...

A Three-Question Self-Diagnostic

How strong is your company narrative? You might think this is a question for Marketing to figure out. I would argue that this is a question for everyone, because if your organization doesn’t have a strong narrative, you are probably not cutting through the noise and...

Story vs. Narrative? And Why it Matters

For most of us, story and narrative are the same, interchangeable. Pay attention to your next conversation and let me know if you notice that too. In a way, it is correct. Collinsdictionary.com says the following: Story: a story is a description of imaginary people...

Who is your hero?

It’s that time of the year: back to school. That’s valid for kids and also for my emails. After a break of a few weeks, they will start hitting your inbox again. Although I took a break from sending you my thoughts on strategy and storytelling, I didn’t stop helping...

Stand For Something Or Die

In Paris, there are 40,000 restaurants. Jérôme was one of my former colleagues at a tech startup where he was the VP of sales. He had a side job. He was also a food critic. Our team would always ask him to share his list of “hidden gem restaurants,” and he’d sometimes...

The Shapes of Stories

This week, I will be teaching an online training workshop I named “The Bigger Story: Strategic Storytelling to Drive Profit and Engagement". Anyone in a position where the art of strategy, storytelling and persuasion is essential could benefit from this class. This...

A Musical Interlude

Sometimes, you just need a break and some music. Music brings everyone together, no matter their age, race, gender, political opinions, etc. Music puts you in a good mood on a Wednesday morning, when it feels like it’s already been Friday. “Where words leave off,...

The Most Important Myth You Can Build Right Now

In a matter of days, the priority for many businesses went from growing like crazy to surviving. In our current tough reality, all the rules have changed, people have modified their habits for good, and also lost trust along the way. For instance and sadly, some of my...

Leading Is Not Selling Anymore

Look around. We live in a post-advertising age, where nobody wants to be “sold” anymore. Nobody wants to be interrupted to hear the pitch. Instead, we will stop, lean forward and listen if we are inspired by a story that conveys truth, ideally relevant to us. That’s...

Which Language Should you Speak to Your Buyer

When they present their company, none of my clients want to sound like a pushy salesperson who tries to trick you. I don’t think anybody wants that. When I worked in retail sales, I hated myself for failing to avoid that mimicry. Why is it that at some point, we all...

Black Lives Matter – From 2020 Vision to Reality

The business community had high hopes for 2020. A few years back, 2020 was the year when your big visionary strategy was supposed to become a reality. Your company had to have a “2020 vision”. Whether it was just vaporware or a real thing, if you had one, at least it...

Take Down That Construction Sign

Business strategy is not a project anymore, it’s a continuous process. If you’re still building your strategy as we used to build software in the ’90s, through the waterfall technique, you’ve got a problem. Does the concept of the annual strategic planning retreat...

How To Be Heard

I used to think that big words would make me sound smart. I used to think that a long phrase was a trait of a wise man. At least it felt like that’s what schools, firms, peers and work deemed to be right. Then I learned that it’s not true. And that made sense. I saw...

A 3-minute Masterclass on Leadership Alignment

It is 1980 and the band Queen is about to release one of the greatest hits of all time, the song Another One Bites the Dust. Written by bass guitarist John Deacon, the song was inspired by "Good Times" by the disco group Chic. At the time, Disco is the new game in the...

The Dream of Every CEO

When I started my consulting business, I couldn’t really explain how I came up with the business name of MetaHelm, beyond the fact that “Meta” is a prefix that I always found cool and “Helm” is the second half of my first name in German. That’s Wilhelm - also William...

Parlez-Vous Strategy?

My wife Deana teaches French. She is a language teacher, a real one. Unlike a native speaker who can’t explain grammar better than by responding “that’s just the way we say it” (that would be me), she can go to the root of things. She can really teach French. She will...

How To Not Dream Alone

The most powerful force in getting your message to people is clarity. What else is more important than people understanding what your business is about? I am always surprised to see how many business leaders struggle to explain their strategy in simple terms. At the...

Where to Start

If you have something to sell me, like a solution, a product, a service, an idea, a strategic plan or anything of that sort, I suggest that you resist the temptation to tell me everything about you and your stuff for as long as you can. Don’t tell me what it is yet,...

Change, In One Sentence

How are we going to make people care more? This is a fundamental question. People care and therefore people change because they react to what’s at stake to them. Whether it’s about a change in your life, a change that your clients should operate, a strategy change in...

Repetition

Aligning a whole team on the ultimate direction of your business takes time and repetition. How many occasions to present, discuss and illustrate your perspective will you need until people believe in it? Go ahead, what’s your estimate? Now that you have that number,...

What’s in a Name

Everyone is talking about storytelling in business. And there’s a good reason for this. We all know that a good story will make us more engaging, creating more emotional and meaningful communication. But that’s not all. What almost no one understands about...

Who Cares

The hardest thing about strategy is to implement it. Anybody can have a great plan, but that plan is only as great as the ability of the people around to understand it, believe in it, and make it happen. It comes down to culture. For that reason, Peter Drucker’s quote...

Inner Beauty

I’ve reviewed and transformed hundreds of sales and strategy presentation decks in my career. The number one question that I get when clients ask me to take a look at there slides is “Help me make it look good. I want to be proud of it.” Beauty comes from the inside....

There is the antidote

The mind is a story-making story-storing machine. As a result, stories live in minds far longer and far more vividly than facts and numbers. Stories help us make sense of who we are, what we stand for, what we fight against, and what we can do for others. When your...

When Things Get Complex

The future belongs to a new kind of leader, those able to co-create stories with people. We are in a global idea economy. Technology was already transforming every industry, making any idea possible, and redefining the word success. Now, it has just redefined the word...

Understood

Is your business customer-centric? Of course, it is. As business people, we all know that being customer-centric is important. It’s the condition for staying relevant. In truth: we struggle with it. It’s not because of neglect or because we don’t care. It’s more of a...

Three Minutes That Changed My Life

In 2001, TOTAL, the biggest energy company in France, had invested $150M+ in building an innovative electronic procurement system that would save ten times that amount by consolidating thousands of suppliers and millions of SKUs (Single Keeping Units) into a single,...

Pull the plug on the presentation autopilot

Jumping on PowerPoint is the knee-jerk reaction to any need to communicate with our peers, stakeholders, and clients. Based on what I see when I teach or attend executive meetings, it looks like this isn’t going to stop anytime soon. Before you start creating another...