Peter Guber was wrong. Thank God! While making the film, Rain Man, certain that Dustin Hoffman was the hero of the story, Guber implored his director, Barry Levinson, at the rough cut screening to have Dustin give the audience a gesture conveying he made it – that his life would be different.
However, Barry, who would go on to win the Oscar, patiently explained that the hero of a story is the character that makes the hard decisions and actually makes meaningful change happen externally and internally. Dustin’s autistic character was passive – he was incapable of changing his own life. It was Tom Cruise’s character that made all the key decisions and ultimately changed his point of view and own life. By changing himself he changed life for his brother, so he was the hero of our story.
And that’s precisely what Tom Cruise told Peter Guber when he interviewed him on his AMC television program, Storymakers, that compelled him to take the role of Charlie. Barry told Cruise, “Look, this picture rides on you being able to make this transition credible, because everybody’s going to step into your shoes. Everybody’s going to say, what if my wife had an accident and was brain damaged? What if I had a son or a daughter who had this? How would I have to change to manage that problem?”
The lesson the audience took from the story wasn’t how to count cards like Raymond, but how to transform their own attitudes and aptitudes.
MORE ABOUT TELL TO WIN
To validate the power of telling purposeful stories, Guber includes in this book a remarkably diverse number of ‘voices’ – master tellers with whom he’s shared experiences. They include YouTube founder Chad Hurley, NBA champion Pat Riley, clothing designer Norma Kamali, “Mission to Mars” scientist Gentry Lee, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, former South African president Nelson Mandela, magician David Copperfield, film director Steven Spielberg, novelist Nora Roberts, rock legend Gene Simmons, and physician and author Deepak Chopra.
After listening to this extraordinary mix of voices, you’ll know how to craft, deliver – and own – a story that is truly compelling, one capable of turning others into viral advocates for your goal.