It is said that experience is the best teacher and storytelling is an excellent means to relay its value. Alex shares his key insights into becoming a highly-skilled ethical influencer by tackling in great detail the four levels of consciousness every story must have.
He also talks about some of the best storytellers in both past and present centuries while examining what we can learn from them. Bringing that into the business side, Alex enlightens us on the power of storytelling in converting sales.
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Experience Is Not Best Teacher
Experience Is Not The Best Teacher, It Is The Only Teacher
Many years ago in Northern Asia, a very outspoken and somewhat arrogant Samurai warrior challenged his Zen Master and asked him to explain the difference between evil and goodness. The Zen Master’s response to the Samurai’s request had a sense of mockery, even disgust, and the reply was, “I will not waste my time with such scum as you.”
That wasn’t very well received and the Samurai reacted in a rage. He pulled out his huge sword and he screamed, “Little man, I will cut you into pieces for your insults.” The monk responded with, “That, my dear friend, is what evil is like.” Upon hearing this response, the Samurai calms down. He started to understand the deep wisdom with which the master was truly teaching him and then he responded with, “Thank you for your insight, my great master.”
The Samurai humbly replied and went down on one knee. The master then looked at him and he said, “That my dear warrior is what goodness is like.” The moral of the story is that experience is not the best teacher, experience is the only teacher, which is the Alexism for this episode. What do we learn from the story? I could go on and on and describe what evil is like, but I’m only touching the surface of evil.
I could go on and on during this episode and tell you what goodness is like and yet it may not be from your own experience and I’m just touching the surface. If I tell a story in this case between a monk and a Samurai warrior, you will know through the story, through the experience of what evil is like by the Samurai’s response and what goodness is like by the second response of humility.
That’s what I want you to do when you are selling because the moral of the story is not as important as how a story evolves. People may have different ideas of what terms are like. Let’s say empathy versus sympathy. Yet, in a very short story, they can get the essence of it, and they don’t even have to agree that your definition is in alignment with theirs.
Let me show you an example of the difference between empathy and sympathy. Those are pretty big terms. It’s tough to get a true definition. You’ll get a lot of disbelief or maybe an argument, internal debate, but here’s the way I tell the story. Within one minute, you know the difference between the two. Everyone is fishing in the middle of the sea. As the boat is rocking back and forth, you’re there fishing with one of your friends.
All of a sudden, your friend gets sick and starts vomiting over the side of the boat seasick. Sympathy is putting your arm around that friend and saying, “Don’t worry, it will be okay.” Empathy is putting your arm around your friend and then vomiting with him.
I’m sorry if that’s a little vulgar, but you’ll never forget the difference between empathy and sympathy described an experience to a story versus giving you my definition of what I believe empathy and sympathy is. This is the power of storytelling. This is why you don’t have to sell. “People hate to be sold,” says my friend, Jeffrey Gitomer, but people love to buy.
If you have a great story to tell, you can unravel any objection, any rationalization, any pushback, any roadblocks, any resistance because the story does all the work for you. The Alexism once again is that experience is not the best teacher, experience is the only teacher. If you’re a parent, you know this is true. If you’re a parent of teenagers like I am, you know it’s true.
I remember when my second child to my former wife and I was born, Breanna Marie Mandossian, and after about two months after her birth, everything was going well, but we had two kids in diapers. My son Gabriel born eighteen months earlier and Breanna. I remember calling my mom up, Carol, and my dad. I don’t know if I fell to my knees or not.
I remember apologizing to them and saying, “Mom, dad, I am so sorry for all the private conversations I had at you.” It’s because I have a sibling. I have one sister. Having two kids is more complicated than having one. I can’t imagine what three, four or five may feel like, but I do have friends who have many kids. I have one friend who has thirteen children.
I’m told that it gets easier and easier after three kids, but I’m never going to be there to experience that. When you experience something, that is the only teacher that can have it sink in. Storytelling or experience is the best way. Whether it’s a near-death experience, people will describe it. People will talk about the light. People will talk about things they’ve seen.
I had a death experience when I was four years old. I had double pneumonia, 105 fever, and according to the doctors, my heart stopped for 45 seconds. I remember exactly what I saw, what I felt and then when I finally came to. My grandmother was there. My parents were traveling at the time, and my sister wasn’t even born yet.
If I described to you what that experience was like, there is no way that you can have the same level of feeling at the mental, emotional, physical or even spiritual level as I did. People who do have death experiences or near-death experiences can relate because the experience is the only teacher. It is said that a picture is worth 1,000 words.
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I’m sure you’ve heard that. A picture is a picture. It’s static, but I believe a mental picture is worth 10,000 pictures. A mental picture is a moving picture. It’s like a mental movie and it’s not static. It’s dynamic. There’s a lot more attachment to the four levels of consciousness that I want to tell you about. The great storytellers of antiquity, there’s Aesop. He was Greek. He lived around 600 BC.
Four Levels Of Consciousness
There is Hodja, which I talked about the story of smuggling donkeys in a previous episode. He was a Turk. He lived in the thirteenth century. Shakespeare was English, sixteenth century. Lewis Carroll in the nineteenth century. Remember Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. John Steinbeck, he lived in California where I live here. He roamed around the country with his dog in a pickup truck.
That pickup truck is owned by one of my mentors, Roy Williams in Austin, Texas. He was a great storyteller of the twentieth century. We learn most from great storytelling, and we sell best through great storytelling. I believe a story hits, not one, not two, not even three, but four levels of consciousness. You don’t have to be spiritually inclined.
You don’t have to be religious, you don’t even have to believe in a higher power for this to ring true to you. The four levels of consciousness are number one, your mind, the head. That’s the mental level of consciousness. That’s logic. The moral of a story has a logical conclusion.
If you tell stories to unwind objections that some of your candidates or prospects may have, that’s a great way to undo an objection rather than talk about features and benefits of your offer. Logic is not what gets the job done. Another level of consciousness is the emotional level. That’s the heart. The head is the mental and the heart is the emotional.
Storytelling grabs both levels of consciousness. There’s the heart and that’s passion. You get emotionally brought into the story. If it’s done with the right timing, it’s like the ancient parable of the Zen Master. I tell that story on stage and there’s some theater involved, there’s timing involved. There are pregnant pauses that I use because I’ve told that story for over a decade.
I get an emotional response from the audience. There’s also a logical response. Those are two out of the four levels of consciousness. The third level is physical. What do you want them to do physically? Do you want your candidate to write something down? That way you have the mental, the emotional, physical, they’re writing something down. It could be a breakthrough that they had.
It could be riding down a model of something and having them observe it, but that’s the third level. If you go four for four, now you are a highly skilled ethical influencer and the fourth is all about spirituality. It’s not religious, but it’s ethereal. It’s something that’s not mental. It’s not emotional. It’s not even physical. It’s something outside of that.
You can think of it this way. We are on this terrestrial ball that scientists tell us. The Earth is spinning around the axis about 1,000 miles an hour, round and round. It’s moving at about 64,000 miles an hour around this 11,000-degree fireball for a campfire that we call the Sun. That Sun is moving through the outer third of the Milky Way, our galaxy, scientists say, at 252 times the speed of a rifle bullet.
Every 225 million years, it makes one galactical revolution. “Nothing happens until something moves,” Albert Einstein says, and it’s true. Movement is life and that’s what stories do. It’s a moving picture that’s worth 10,000 pictures. It’s not static. It’s dynamic.
By utilizing all four levels of consciousness the head, which is mental, the heart, which is emotional, the hands, which is physical, and then the humanity, the future, how it impacts other people, and that’s spiritual. Think about those four levels of consciousness when you are about to tell a story. Make sure that your stories focus on each one of those four points.
If you leave one out, the story doesn’t have the same impact than if you have all four levels of consciousness because it will strike your candidate or your customer. This is not just for prospects and candidates who haven’t said yes, it’s also for a customer, a client, a student, a member, a patient, whatever you call them.
Storytelling Is The Most Powerful Tool
It will hit them at all four levels and it will embody the act of world-class storytelling, which is a highly skilled ethical influence. The best influencers throughout humanity have been the best storytellers. Zig Ziglar when he was living, told a story about every three minutes when he was onstage. Jim Rohn was a world-class storyteller. He was a business philosopher, but a great storyteller.
The funny thing about stories is people don’t have to believe in the same why that the story yields the moral of the story and why it’s important. They don’t have to agree upon that. All they have to do is be brought in to the story, captivated, even if you’re not a dynamic storyteller, you get better and better over time. Like anything that you do more often, you get better at.
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Practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes permanent. I’ve heard many thought leaders say that, so I don’t know who to give credit to, but I know it’s not one of mine. Know that rather than having great sales skills, I want you to have great storytelling skills. When did it happen? Where did it happen? What happened? Who else was involved?
How did it evolve and why is it relevant to the person you’re telling the story to? Simon Sinek was a colleague of mine. He has perhaps the most watched TEDx Talk for all the TEDx Talks combined. Millions and millions of views and he has a world-famous book called Start With Why. That is important, but I don’t agree that that’s the way to start with a story.
Starting with a story and saying, “I’m going to tell you why that the difference between evil and goodness is best described to a story.” I could have started that way, but instead, I said, “Many years ago in Northern Asia, a very outspoken and somewhat arrogant Samurai warrior challenged his Zen Master and asked him to explain the difference between evil and goodness.”
You go right in. There is no frame. You bring them into the movie immediately. Everything else is a distraction. Don’t tell him what you’re about to say, say it. Many sales trainer say, “Tell them what you’re about to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you just told them.” I do that in each episode of All Selling Aside.
I tell you what the three key insights will be and then I tell you a story to demonstrate how powerful a story is. I tell you what I told you, which is the quick review. I have a call to action, which is typically getting my book, Alexisms, for this episode or writing review, hopefully, five stars. I dive right into the story in that part of the episode and that’s what I want you to learn.
There is no seam, like a seam in clothing. There is no seam with a story. Have them dive right in. You’ll grab their curiosity. You’ll grab their level of fascination versus putting a seam on it and saying, “I’m about to tell you a story.” Dive right in. “It was October 26th, the year 2000. It was a warm afternoon, and there I was in the recovery room of Mount Sinai Hospital when I looked at my newborn son and my then wife, exhausted after seventeen hours of labor.”
You know where it is, you know when it is, and then I talked about what happened. That is the story of how my course Teleseminar Secrets and how my reputation as a virtual presenter started. That made me nearly $15 million for the next five years. Everything begins with a story if you want to become a world-class ethical influencer.
There are many influencers that don’t use ethics, and they’ll use little tricks or little binding types of conversation, but they lacked sincerity. It’s tough to judge a story and give it some negative form of judgment, even if it’s coming from someone you don’t respect or like. In fact, you can like and trust someone if they’re a good storyteller, which is the premise of All Selling Aside.
For All Selling Aside, storytelling is the key. I’m hoping that you’re impressed so that you start to become a better storyteller. You look at all the potential objections that your candidates will have. Tell stories to unravel those objections, rather than talk about your features and benefits of whatever you’re offering.
If you’ve heard propaganda, and I’m sure you’ve heard the term, propaganda utilizes stories except that they’re called narratives. Propaganda is usually used in politics, but they’re used in other forms of life. Propaganda is more powerful than the truth, the truth with a big T. The truth has no way of destroying propaganda if the story or the narrative is accepted.
That’s how powerful propaganda can be. Many of the most destructive narratives and propaganda throughout humanity were lies, but the truth doesn’t have any way of moving through that because the story was accepted. That’s the dark side of storytelling.
On the good side of storytelling, if the story has a good moral, if you give them when and where it happened, if you give them details of what happened, who was involved, how it unfolded, and then finally why it’s relevant to them, the why is the final phase. You don’t start with why and telling a great story. You end with why.
That is my belief, and if you’re reading, chances are you’re probably believing it as well. I want you to realize that it’s not about selling. All Selling Aside is all about storytelling.
Here’s our quick review about the specific insights you and I rediscovered in this. Experience is not the best teacher. It is the only teacher. Next are the four levels of consciousness, mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual, head, heart, hands and humanity. Finally, storytelling is the most powerful tool for ethical influencers.
[bctt tweet=”Propaganda is more powerful than the truth.” username=””]
Do you believe that? If you do, it wasn’t because I sold you, it’s because you bought it. “People hate to be sold, but they’d love to buy,” Jeffrey Gitomer said that, I did not. Remember, these insights can only work for you, if and only if you work them. Speaking of reviews, that’s part of the process. Tell them what you’re about to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them.
I want you to go to AllSellingAside.com/iTunes and type in your biggest takeaway or a-ha moment. I want you to go to the review section, and in that section, I’d like you to rate the episode as well. I hope I’ve earned five stars. Go ahead, declare your one big takeaway in the iTunes review section by visiting AllSellingAside.com/iTunes and it will take three minutes out of your day.
What you declare publicly has an impact and it could provide you with a lifetime of learning. If you’ve already done that, then iTunes won’t allow you to make another review. Tell someone else to make a review or pass this on to someone else, a study buddy or a friend. If you’ve already done the review, then you can have an All Selling Aside index card stack of the insights in the big a-has you’ve learned.
That would mean so much to me and I love to hear about them. One final gift that I’m going to give you as an honor of this eleventh episode of the All Selling Aside podcast, there’s a complimentary copy of my eBook that’s titled Alexisms: Useful Lessons From a Recovering Serial Entrepreneur, that’s me. You can instantly download it with no cost at AlexismsBook.com. It’s $20 on Amazon, but it’s better to get it for free.
If you want a hardcover, be my guest. That does it for this episode. I do hope our paths cross again for All Selling Aside. It’s the show dedicated to making an ethical influence within your reach so that you can achieve and even exceed your sales potential. Do whatever it takes to join me on the next episode because our topic will be the three why’s of ethical influence.
I can’t wait for you read that one. I encourage you to invite a friend or bring a study buddy because the self-made success is a myth. I can’t wait for us to connect again. All good wishes.