I was transfixed when a 13-year-old girl raised her hand and declared she tried to kill herself twice, once by hanging. She said this to Tony Robbins, renowned life strategist, in front of a diverse audience of 8,000.
I’ve known Tony Robbins as a great story teller for almost a quarter of a century. But it was only then that I realized that story listening was as important as story telling. For the next hour-and-a-half, the girl spewed forth her story and then retold it in response to Tony’s prompts.
Later, explaining his method to me, Tony said, “My job, through the questions, prompts and listening with acute sensitivity, is to lay the narrative bread crumbs like a trail they can pick up and follow to change their own story.”
Tony’s acute listening and laser-sharp questions guided the girl to tell herself a new, totally authentic story yielding a new meaning.
Tony’s larger goal is to give individuals in his audience the insight and opportunity to craft a new story to tell to themselves and others, one whose meaning can change their lives. The process of engaging a volunteer in the audience to share his or her problem provides the content whereby Tony becomes the surrogate teller. In this role, Tony listens “like a hawk,” reading every aspect of the person’s behavior and psyche. This creates an empathetic connection allowing the vulnerability of the teller to come forth and be transparent to the entire audience so they get that they can make that change too. This process translated to big, back-of-the-room book and product sales.
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.