The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Business

December 22, 2012

DAVID MASTOVICH | That’s my story and I’m NOT sticking to it

— As I channel surfed the other night, I came across the Tom Cruise movie “Cocktail.” I’m not sure why, but “Cocktail” is one of those movies I end up watching for at least 10 minutes every time I stumble onto it.

The premise is that Brian Flannigan (Cruise) leaves the military and goes to the big city to make his fortune. He’s unable to find a job without experience or a college degree, enrolls in business school and meets bar manager Doug Coughlin (played by Bryan Brown), who hires him.

In typical Cruise fashion, he becomes the coolest bartender of all time, tosses bottles of liquor in the air without breaking glass or spilling anything, takes three minutes to make one drink while dozens of bar patrons excitedly watch him and never complain.

All the while, Coughlin provides cynical commentary on life.

I clicked on just as Flannigan was writing his own obituary for one of his college classes.

He makes himself a billionaire senator who died in the arms of his seventh wife who happened to be about 60 years younger.

Hey, he was writing his own life story, why not make it big?

Storytelling for you and your company isn’t like Flannigan’s fake obituary. You can’t just make things up and hope people believe it.

But you do need to focus on what makes you unique. Your story has to resonate with your target audience, not just those with a vested interest in the organization. It has to be real. Authentic. Believable. Concise.

Can you tell your story to anyone, anywhere, anytime and have them take away the main points?

Test it.

Practice telling friends and family. Tell it again and again internally. Tweak it as you learn what resonates and what doesn’t.

And, when you finally have a memorable story, remember that storytelling isn’t a one-time thing.

Your story has to evolve over time and change with the times.

Tell it. Test it. Tweak it. Tell it again. Then change it as your company changes.

That’s my story and I’m NOT sticking to it.

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