The Story That Saved An Election

Early in the 1992 primaries, Bill Clinton lost in New Hampshire putting his organization in fiscal crisis.

One of the chiefs of staff called Peter Guber saying they needed to raise $90,000 by the end of that day if Clinton were to proceed to the next primary state. And he hoped, as CEO of Sony, Guber would reach out to the entertainment community.

Clinton picked up. “Hello Peter, this is Bill. Have you ever seen the picture High Noon?”

Clinton knew he didn’t have to recite its story. Out of all the stories he could have told to persuade Guber, what made High Noon perfect was the way it mirrored Clinton’s intention to overcome the odds against him. Like Kane, the hero in the movie, Clinton believed in his own ability to take on the bad guys, and would keep on fighting until he’d won. When the noon whistle blew in the movie, the hero faced his demons, inside and out, and braved his way to victory. And that’s just what the hero, Bill Clinton, and would do if Guber were to play the role of that lone supporter who backed Kane in the movie and back Clinton despite the odds.

This familiar story triggered Guber’s empathy for Clinton’s experience in his campaign. Guber began dialing for dollars using Clinton’s High Noon metaphor as his story content.

At 5:00 Guber called Clinton’s chief of staff. “It’s High Noon,” he said, “and you’ve got your money. Now take on the bad guys and win.” Clinton’s winning streak began then and did not let up.



blog-telltowin-linkTo 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.


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