I’ve become a story in a book. In fact, it’s a story about stories. I have Josh Linkner to thank for that. I started working with him about five years ago, and while I’ve gotten a little older, he’s become a) the CEO of a venture capital firm, Detroit Venture Partners, b) a wildly successful public speaker, c) the author of two New York Times bestsellers, Disciplined Dreaming the first and The Road to Reinvention the second, d) a professional jazz guitarist, e) the chairman of the company that he founded, ePrize, f) one of a group of business people saving downtown Detroit, and oh yes, g) he’s gotten married.
When Josh came to me to see about becoming a professional speaker, I had no idea what a dynamo he was. My first clue came when he kept asking me questions about the public speaking business as I described its ins and outs to him. Questions like, “Really? Why can’t we reinvent that? Surely there’s a better way to do it than that? Let’s not just start a speaking business here; let’s reinvent the whole speaking biz world!”
Josh’s secrets for success? He works harder than anyone else, and he asks more questions. I have a sneaking suspicion, in fact, that he never sleeps. Disciplined Dreaming, his first book, outlined a five-step plan for creative approaches to life, business, and your career. The Road to Reinvention applies the same creative thinking to businesses, to Detroit’s efforts to come back from bankruptcy, and to your career path as well.
Yet the one thing Josh wasn’t able to do then, more than five years ago, was bring two key parts of his working life together. I pushed him often to figure out a way to bring his jazz guitar expertise onto the business stage to combine it in some way with his message about creativity. You can imagine how frustrating that was for Josh, who is constitutionally incapable of accepting limits, and me, with a lot of professional pride invested in being able to help speakers speak meaningfully about anything.
We considered and rejected scores of ideas for bringing jazz guitar in the speech, but rejected them all because Josh didn’t want to just be playing to show off his talent.
I’m thrilled to report, then, that Josh has finally cracked it, and the new Reinvention speech has jazz guitar and a whole lot more in it. If you get a chance, go see and hear Josh talk about the Road to Reinvention and enjoy the music.
And somewhere in the book, in Chapter Six to be precise, he talks about how to tell a great story to ensure that your audience, your clients, your customers, or your public – or all of the above – understand and remember what you’re doing. That’s where I come in, with five classic stories to choose among to make it easier for you to find yours. Shakespeare used all five, and if they’re good enough for him, they’re good enough for the rest of us. At least, that’s my thinking. The stories? Quest. Stranger in a Strange Land. Rags to Riches. Revenge. Love Story. I’ve blogged on them before, and written three books about them and other things. The latest is Power Cues, where I talk about the neuroscience of storytelling and how it allows you to control – literally – the minds of your listeners.
Road to Reinvention as a whole is packed with reinvention starters – at the end of each chapter — so there’s no excuse for same old, same old if you’re a speaker trying to kick start a professional career, a business person trying to put some life into a tired product line, or a politician trying to save a city. Josh calls these reinvention starters “Tools for Transformation,” and by themselves they’ll pay you back for buying the book.