13 ways to unearth stories for your execs

Leaders are often Type-A number crunchers who hate telling stories. The result? Data-clogged speeches, dull videos, stuffy blogs and op-eds no one will publish. Here’s how to mine gold.

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Story strategist Justina Chen once was meeting with an executive when she learned he was an avid fisherman.

Chen, a novelist and author of ” The Art of Inspiration: Lead Your Best Story,” asked “What do you learn from fishing?”

“Patience,” he told her.

“Give me an example of using what you’ve learned from fishing and applied to a business challenge?” she replied.

It was an ah-ha moment. It dawned on the executive that a personal story could make an abstract lesson concrete and real to his audience.

Whether you’re writing a TED Talk, producing a video or crafting an op-ed, stories are one of the most powerful means of communication. Why, then, is it so hard to get some leaders to tell them? Here are some tips for mining stories in your organization:

1. Do your research.

Before meeting with the principal, research to find what stories he or she has told in previous profiles, speeches, videos, writing and interviews, says Jeff Shesol, founding partner at West Wing Writers and a former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton.

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