Muhammad Ali was the heavyweight champion of the world, maybe the greatest ever.
Yet, he didn’t have the executives in Peter Guber’s office attention as he called for them to prepare for a film yet to be shot. It was apparent that his audience wasn’t interested.
Ali was consumed with the production of a film version of his autobiography The Greatest. These executives who were hearing him so early in the development process didn’t see the reason for Ali’s concern and they sat with their arms crossed as he fired off the reasons why the film would be so important.
Reading his audience, Ali changed tactics. “Get up,” he shouted. “Stand in a boxing posture, and keep your arms up and bodies moving.” For ten three-minute rounds of non-stop activity, Ali engaged them with the story of how he prepared and trained to beat Ken Norton after having suffered a humiliating loss.
At the end of that half hour story they were all banging away, laughing, exhausted and hugging one another. Ali’s tell had brought them inside the experience of boxing and proved that winning takes more than just punching. It takes preparation to go the distance. This transformed their attitude around the importance of preparing early and hard for Ali’s movie. Ali anchored that experience by taking pictures with every one of them which he knew they would hang on their wall and retell their story to all who saw it. That day the greatest proved to Guber that he was the heavyweight champion of story telling.
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.