The bestselling book, Lead with a Story, catapulted author Paul Smith’s career. “It completely changed my career,” says Smith. “When I wrote the book I had a full time job as Director of Consumer Research at the Procter & Gamble Company. Today, I’m a full-time author and speaker and get to pursue this passion wherever it takes me. Making that jump from corporate life to the life of an author and speaker was the best decision I’ve ever made. But it wasn’t easy to find that courage.”
Published three years ago this month, Lead with a Story, explains why storytelling is so powerful and why it’s vital within the business world. The book includes 100 ready-to-use narratives that show you how to connect with bosses, employees and customers. These narratives can be used as a springboard to provide inspiration for creating your own similar stories to fit any one of the 21 of the toughest leadership challenges identified by Smith. “You’ll also find examples of stories from more than 50 organizations in 30 industries and from 15 countries around the world in the book,” adds Smith.
Two key points about storytelling from Smith are:
- Experience is the best teacher. A compelling story is a close second.
- A story‘s structure should be context, action, result.
In addition, according to Smith, the 10 most compelling reasons storytelling is so effective is because storytelling is simple, timeless, contagious, and appeals to all types of learners. Plus, it puts the listener in a mental learning mode. “In addition, stories can spread like wildfire,”explains Smith. “Additionally, lessons from a story are remembered more accurately, and for far longer, than learning derived from facts. They spark curiosity and interest rather than the urge to evaluate or criticize.”
The book is now in its seventh printing and has been translated into six languages, selling in dozens of countries around the world. The Washington Post named to the book a “Top 5 Business Book.” Today, Smith spends much of his time speaking around the world, professing the power of storytelling. His keynote speaking and training clients include Hewlett Packard, Ford Motor Company, Bayer Medical, Comcast Cable, Progressive Insurance, Walmart, Merrill Lynch, Kaiser Permanente, Luxottica, and Procter & Gamble among dozens of others.
Smith also provides one-on-one coaching for executives who want assistance crafting their own personal leadership stories or corporate stories for their organizations. During the coaching, Smith helps executives work on stories they already know they want to tell, and he can conduct in-depth interviews to find the stories the executives and their respective organizations should be telling.
Last November, Smith wrote, Parenting with a Story: Real-life Lessons in Character for Parents and Children to Share, which is as a collection of 101 original short stories from a diverse group of people from 20 countries around the world. Each story reflects an unexpected moment of clarity in someone’s life when they learned a life-changing lesson. Each one provides insight into an important character trait like integrity, curiosity, creativity, grit, kindness, patience, gratitude — 23 traits in all. Smith spent a year interviewing people from all over the world, across a wide spectrum of ages, races, and life circumstances, and in an astonishing variety of fields and professions.
Smith is currently working on a new book about the use of storytelling in sales. It should be complete and on bookshelves and available online in the Fall of 2016.