Tune-Up Your Stories – by Doug Stevenson

When I was living in LA in the 1970’s, I decided that if there was ever a place to own a convertible sports car, LA was the place. So I bought a 1972 green MGB sports car. It was a really nice ride with a stick shift and lots of power.

During that time, I used to drive to Chicago to spend time with my family for Christmas. I would drive instead of fly to save the money. My best friend, Michael Augenstein, was also from Chicago, so one time we decided to make the trip together. What I didn’t think about was how cold it could be in a “low-to-the-ground” convertible that was built for the English countryside, and not for our American Midwest winters.

For some reason, my MGB wasn’t running well by the time we got to Chicago. We diagnosed that the problem was the carburetors. This car had dual carburetors, and for some unknown reason, I thought I could adjust them.

I got out the manual and started to read about tuning up my engine and adjusting the carburetors. After an hour or two of fiddling, I had succeeded in making the problem worse. It was so bad that the engine wouldn’t run at all, and I had to have it towed to a shop.

I don’t know what I was thinking. There are people who work on foreign cars for a living and here I was, a total ignoramus when it comes to cars, trying to do it myself. In the end, I had to take it to a specialist who was able to fix the problem – and he did it in a jiffy.

One of the things that has held me back over the years is thinking I can save money by doing things myself. For example: I wasted many months, if not years, trying to record and edit audios before I finally broke down and hired a guy with a recording studio. The result was my beautifully recorded Story Theater Audio Six-Pack. Since 2001, I’ve sold thousands of Six-Packs, therefore making the initial investment of hiring an audio professional “pennies on the dollar” – or “cents on the Euro!”

I’ve had to learn this lesson over and over. When it comes to investing in the next level of anything that will help me in my business, I need to hire someone who specializes in that area of expertise. Every dollar that I’ve spent on web design, technology, graphic design, photography, video production, licensing attorneys, etc., has been worth it, ten times over.

Which leads me to you and your stories. Are you aware that a great story can be worth millions of dollars? It’s true. One great story can be the basic building block of an entire speaking business. In my case, my streaking story was the springboard for the first five years of my keynote speaking business. It not only got me hired to do hundreds of keynotes, it was the story that launched the development of The Story Theater Method and the Story Theater Retreats.

In the beginning, my Story Theater Retreat students were primarily professional speakers and people who wanted to be professional speakers. Over the years, the participant profile expanded to include trainers and HR professionals, then executives and entrepreneurs. All of these began with one really well-developed story.

Now my client list reads like a Who’s Who of Fortune 500 companies; Coca Cola, Microsoft, Google, Oracle, Hewlett Packard, Caterpillar, Verizon, Blue Cross-Blue Shield, Amgen, Genentech, The Nickleodeon Channel, Con Agra Foods and many more. And it all started with one story.

If you’re a leader in your organization, or want to move up the ladder to the next level of leadership, your ability to influence and engage peoples’ attention with a compelling story can make the difference. One of my students was in a competition for Angel Investment funds for a Silicon Valley startup. Using the story he worked on in The Story Theater Retreat, he won the competition and raised over $20 million dollars.

Do you have a million dollar story that isn’t paying off because you don’t know how to take it to the next level? Perhaps you’re thinking that you can fix it yourself and save the money of going to a coach. In my experience, hiring a professional always pays huge dividends.

I should never have tried to tune up my MGB. It required someone who worked on MGBs all the time to make it hum.

I’m a story “Tune-Up” specialist. I can take your $3500 story and make it a $1,000,000.00 story. Storytelling is an art and a science. Great storytelling looks simple, but it’s not easy. The magic is in the details. It’s as much about story crafting as it is about story telling. The telling is easy, if the crafting is sound.

There are three ways you can improve your storytelling. The first is to hire me to come into your organization and train your people. The second is to attend my Story Theater Retreat. The third way is to enroll in my Next Level Storytelling Video eLearning Series.

People come to you for your area of expertise. People come to me for mine. Do you want career advancement or professional development? Do you want more bookings as a speaker? Amazing storytelling can be the way. Whether you want to be a speaker, a better leader, or to build your business, one great story can get you where you want to go.

Doug Stevenson
@February 2014
Reprinting only with written permission by the author.