Telling To Win By Dropping Your Script

The word came down that Terry Semel, Warner Bros’ CEO, was going kill Peter Guber’s movie, Gorillas in the Mist, just months before the start of production. Guber begged to grab 15 minutes of his time. Guber knew he had to move Semel emotionally. Entering his office, Guber aimed his story straight for Semel’s heart and said, “Someone’s killing your relatives.”

“What!?” he replied.

“Your relatives are minding their own business,” Guber continued, “and they are surrounded by enemies who want to steal their land and their food. They’re under attack by murderers who shoot them through the heart and then cut off their hands and feet as trophies.”

Semel said, “my relatives?”

“Yes,” Guber replied, “these gorillas are our closest genetic relative. Preserving them gives us the opportunity to learn so much about ourselves through them.”

Semel signaled his secretary for his next meeting.

Guber fell to the floor; arms outstretched and dropped his script.

“What’s the matter?” Semel asked.

“I’m a wounded gorilla,” Guber said.  “If you’re going say no, it’s to them, now. And I’ll bet my fee it will work.”

Guber couldn’t afford to just appeal to Semel’s economic interest – Guber needed to draw Semel into the story so Semel could own it and see that Guber’s heart and wallet were going in the same direction.

Semel said, “Ok get up.  We’ll make our picture, but remember you’ve bet the farm.”

Two years later, Gorillas in the Mist was nominated for five Academy Awards.  And, the gorillas are still there.



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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