Story telling by leaders

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Story Telling by Charismatic Leaders: Kurian Tharakan

In this episode of "Your Intended Message," George Torok interviews Kurian Tharakan, author of "The Seven Essential Stories Charismatic Leaders Tell."

Tharakan discusses the importance of storytelling in leadership and how it shapes organizational culture. He outlines the seven stories that charismatic leaders use: creation origin, identity, beliefs, and values, the big idea, the enemy we face, the mighty winds (macro trends), the journey we must undertake, and the meta-narrative or "Why We Will Win" story.

Tharakan emphasizes that these stories are primal and necessary to captivate and motivate followers. He warns against overwhelming people with all seven stories at once, instead advising leaders to focus on the most relevant and intriguing aspects for their audience.

The conversation also touches on the impact of the pandemic, the struggle of local businesses against giants like Amazon, and the power of a brand to attract the right customers and repel the wrong ones through meaningful storytelling.

Introduction to the Interview (00:00:14)
George Torok introduces the podcast and the guest, Kurian Tharakan, with some interesting facts about him.

The Seven Essential Stories (00:01:56)
Kurian Tharakan introduces the seven essential stories charismatic leaders tell and their significance in organizational culture.

The Culture of Storytelling (00:02:28)
The importance of creating a cultural framework to infuse the seven essential stories into an organization.

The Seven Essential Stories (continued) (00:03:45)
Detailed explanation of the seven essential stories: creation origin, identity beliefs and values, big idea, the enemy we face, mighty winds, the journey we must undertake, and the meta-narrative.

The Primal Nature of the Seven Stories (00:07:01)
Discussion on the primal nature of the seven essential stories and their importance in major religions.

Telling Relevant Stories (00:08:27)
The importance of tailoring the storytelling to make it functionally relevant and emotionally significant to the audience.

Leveraging the Pandemic Story (00:08:55)
Discussion on how organizations can learn from and leverage stories related to the pandemic.

The Big Idea and Its Importance (00:11:26)
Emphasizing the significance of the big idea as the first thing to sell and embedding it into believers to start a movement.

Religion and Business (00:13:01)
Comparing the cult of Apple to a religious framework and the role of stories in creating resonance with adherents.

The Role of Stories in Building Organizations (00:15:53)
The realization of the role of stories in building and sustaining organizations, with a focus on understanding the customer's story.

The Power of Stories in Successful Companies (00:18:24)
Highlighting the presence of powerful stories behind the success of most companies.

The Amazon Story (00:18:31)
Discussion on the entrepreneurial and practical stories behind Amazon's success, including Jeff Bezos' journey and the company's breadth of selection.

The Customer as Hero Story (00:23:45)
The importance of understanding the customer's story and empathizing with their pain or gain.

Product or Service as Solution Story (00:25:15)
How to make the product come alive through storytelling and present it as the solution to the customer's pain or gain.

Provider of the Toolset Story (00:26:13)
The significance of portraying the organization's values, beliefs, and identity to differentiate from competitors.

Brands as Attractors and Repellers (00:28:02)
How brands should attract the perfect client and repel the most imperfect ones through meaningful and polarized brand messaging.

One-dimensional Promise in Storytelling (00:31:39)
The relevance and promise of a story in attracting and satisfying the market.

Understanding the Motive Stack (00:32:34)
The importance of understanding the motives behind customer purchases and embedding them in the storytelling.

The Book "The Seven Essential Stories Charismatic Leaders Tell" (00:37:10)
A brief description of the book and a special offer for the listeners.

The Power of Storytelling in Leadership: Insights from Kurian Tharakan

The Art of Charismatic Storytelling

Hello, I'm George Torok, host of the "Your Intended Message" podcast, and I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Kurian Tharakan, author of "The Seven Essential Stories Charismatic Leaders Tell." In our conversation, we delved into the profound impact of storytelling on leadership and organizational success. I'm excited to share the insights and lessons from this episode with you in a more detailed and structured format.

The Genesis of Great Marketing

Our discussion began with a nod to Regis McKenna, Apple's first marketing consultant, who famously said, "All great marketing takes its cues from great religion." This set the stage for our exploration of storytelling as a sacred and primal tool for connection and influence, much like the narratives found in the world's major religions.

Meet Kurian Tharakan: A Storyteller's Journey

Kurian Tharakan, a man whose name signifies a divine connection, shared his journey from a small town in Alberta to becoming a thought leader in the realm of leadership storytelling. He cited Dr. Howard Thurman's advice, "Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do that, because the world needs people who have come alive." This philosophy underpins his approach to storytelling and leadership.

The Seven Stories Framework

Kurian's book outlines seven essential stories that charismatic leaders use to inspire and mobilize their organizations. But before diving into these stories, he emphasized the importance of cultivating a receptive culture that allows these narratives to thrive and resonate.

Creation Origin: The inciting incident that sparked the beginning of your journey or organization.
Identity, Beliefs, and Values: The core principles that define who you are and what sets you apart.
The Big Idea: The central organizing concept that drives your mission.
The Enemy We Face: The challenges or adversaries that you strive to overcome.
The Mighty Winds: The macro trends that shape the environment for your business and customers.
The Journey We Must Undertake: The path forward, based on the foundation of the first five stories.
The Meta-Narrative: A combination of all six stories, infused with "keystone elements" that provide the confidence to move forward or persevere.

The Primal Nature of Storytelling

Kurian explained that these stories are not just nice-to-haves; they are primal and necessary to satisfy the curiosity and intrigue of your followers. They mirror the structure of sacred texts, answering fundamental questions about origin, purpose, and destiny.

Storytelling in Practice: The Mighty Winds and the Pandemic

We discussed how the "mighty winds" story is particularly relevant during the pandemic. Organizations must adapt to societal, technological, economic, environmental, political, and legislative trends. By projecting these trends forward and taking a position, leaders can capture attention and lead movements.

The Local Impact: Storytelling for Small Businesses

In the face of competition from giants like Amazon, local businesses must differentiate themselves through storytelling. Without a story, a product is just a commodity. By weaving narratives around their products, services, and origins, local businesses can create a sticky, Velcro-like connection with their customers.

The Three Essential Stories for Businesses

The Customer as Hero: Understand and empathize with the customer's story.
The Product as Solution: Bring your product or service to life as the tool that aids the hero.
The Provider's Story: Share who you are as a provider, your values, and your belief systems.

Attracting the Right Audience

Before crafting your stories, it's crucial to understand your target market. Your brand should attract your ideal clients and repel those who are not a fit. This polarity in brand meaning ensures that you connect with those you can truly help.

The Domino's Pizza Example

Domino's Pizza has chosen to focus its story on being the "pizza delivery specialist," highlighting their strength in delivery rather than the quality of their pizza. This is a strategic choice that aligns with their brand identity and customer expectations.

Final Thoughts for Entrepreneurs

To all the entrepreneurs and leaders out there, remember that storytelling is not just about selling a product or service; it's about creating meaning and connection. Your stories should resonate with your audience's values and aspirations, making your brand an integral part of their narrative.

In conclusion, my conversation with Kurian Tharakan revealed the transformative power of storytelling in leadership. By mastering the art of storytelling, leaders can inspire, engage, and lead their organizations to new heights. Whether you're a seasoned CEO or a small business owner, the stories you tell can define your legacy and impact.