This week sees the start of national share a story month. Its intended purpose is to bring children and stories together but, as you’ve heard me say many times, storytelling is critical in business too. So, to mark the five weeks of May that are dedicated to celebrating the power of storytelling and story sharing, I thought I’d share five great stories that will sharpen your business thinking or skills.
Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
By Yuval Noah Harari
There are said to be books that can change your life. This might just be mine.
‘Within 70,000 years the human species has managed to change the global ecosystem in radical and unprecedented ways,’ Harari tells us. Then, over the book’s some 400 pages, he looks at what that means for where we are headed next as a result. This isn’t science fiction but it is as compelling and, at times, scary.
What Harari is brilliant at is linking advances across sectors, countries and ideologies to deliver extraordinary insight – including what it likely means for the future of business and employment.
If the only thing you took away from Homo Deus was the importance of making interlinkages in our global, matrixed, business world – that would be valuable. But I guarantee this book will deliver so much more, opening your mind in unexpected ways to leave a lasting impression.
Our Iceberg Is Melting
By John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber
In our ‘always on’ world of business transformation, it can sometimes be difficult to thrive. This book is a fabulous go-to for anyone looking to better understand and manage change.
This is storytelling at its best, the authors invent a fictional penguin colony near Antarctica to share their eight key steps to lasting change… in any sort of group!
This is an easy, engaging read and you’ll end up with a powerful and practical change framework to boot.
Don’t think of an elephant
By George Lakoff
No, I haven’t got a thing about books containing animals – honestly!
But if you are looking to improve the power of your communication, then Lakoff is a great place to start. As a linguist Lakoff really understands the power of words, their frames and how they can change things.
In business we spend much of our time trying to persuade others – the language we use determines our success. This book is particularly helpful if you are challenging business as usual or the status quo. It’s a must for anyone involved in sustainability, community outreach programmes or more widely in bringing about social change.
There’s no one better than Lakoff at setting out why our word and language choices are so critically important and then bringing it all to life with practical examples.
By Kate Raworth
“When something tries to grow forever within a healthy, thriving system, it’s a threat to the whole. Why do we imagine our economies can buck this trend and grow forever?” I was intrigued by this. After all, in business don’t we spend much of our time obsessing about growth?
This book’s premise is that we need to rethink economics. It’s not that our economic story is simply outdated but that following the financial crises, it no-longer holds true and is harming both people and planet. Understanding you never achieve change by fighting the old, this book sets out a new economic story.
Raworth’s genius is her use of metaphor – in this instance a doughnut. At the doughnut’s outer edge is our ecological ceiling. At the inner edge our social foundation. We’re currently bleeding beyond both edges. The trick is to design a new economic system that keeps us in the doughy bit – the safe space for us all to live.
This book is proof that even the most complex of subjects can be simplified so if, like me, you’ve never picked up an economics book in your life – you won’t be biting off more than you can chew with Doughnut Economics!
Talk like TED
By Carmine Gallo
This is the best book I’ve ever read on public speaking. Having studied 150 hours of TED presentations and spoken directly to many successful TED speakers, Gallo share’s nine common elements that go into delivering a great speech.
If you want to discover the secrets of making Emotional, Novel and Memorable speeches this book is bursting with great advice.
If you’ve discovered brilliant books that have helped you in business, please do leave them in the comments box – it is share a story month after all.
Alex was employed by internationally-loved household brands to craft their words for two decades. She left to establish not A Duff word in March 2017. She now helps businesses, brands and boards to wordsmith words that work, master their messages to matter and sculpt standout stories. Her blog ‘early words’ is published Thursday mornings at 07:00.