Director Tim Burton needed to woo Jack Nicholson to play the pivotal role of the joker in Peter Guber and Burton’s first Batman movie. It was a costly venture, so they couldn’t afford for the picture to appeal only to kids. Tim persuaded Michael Keaton to play batman. All they needed was a world-class villain, and Nicholson was the man.
Though interested, Nicholson wanted to meet Burton and asked to meet him in Aspen, where he had a home. Once there, Jack called Guber and Burton, upping the ante. “Let’s go horseback riding,” he said.
As Guber hung up the phone Tim said, “I don’t ride horses.”
Guber answered, “You do now. Get ready.”
Whether Jack had done research on Tim and was testing him, whether he thought he might be too quirky to work with, Guber had no way of knowing. But Guber knew they didn’t want to launch the relationship with a “no.” You have to make your audience feel that you’re comfortable and willing to go the distance with them.
Tim didn’t get to choose the context in which he’d tell his story. Guber suspected that was the last horse Tim ever went near, but out there on the trail, Tim passionately told his story of how he and Jack together would change movie history – that the villain was the most important person in the story and that this villain’s character would be multi-dimensional. This was a villain you loved and loved to hate. The telling of that story in that context put Jack in exactly the right mind frame. By ride’s end, he was in.
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.