Force Multipliers #4

The best stories aren't told.

“I don't like being pressured into making a purchase. And I'm not alone. The moment we feel pressured to buy, we pull away. And if we're told what to do or what to think, our defenses go up. In other words, buyers don't put much trust in you and your ideas. However, everyone trusts their own ideas. Accordingly, today, products are bought, not sold.”


– Oren Klaff

Launching a newsletter, especially the paid version I had for years, seems like an unusual choice for me. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, in the past, I had found that video and in-person interactions were more financially lucrative for me, at least on paper. I'll delve deeper into this topic in later issues.

Secondly, the traits that make a newsletter successful, in theory, are masterful storytelling, entertainment, and curiosity. You know, the things I am not particularly skilled in.

Lastly, typically, when the muse strikes, I write using pen and paper which I never get around to transferring to a digital format.

So, all this writing is the lowest dollar-per-hour activity based on the evidence, I don't have the skills to be successful writing and my best writing will likely never hit a digital screen. And yet, here I am. It doesn't make any sense at first glance, but you should know by now that it's very dangerous to make sense of things quickly.

Let's start with an email I wrote years ago:


I'm going to make three statements that I believe to be accurate:

  1. Stories sell. In fact, nothing sells better than stories. 

  2. I don’t tell stories, it’s not in my DNA, but I still sell a lot of stuff. More accurately, a lot of people buy my stuff (If you saw my email series around sales, you know by now that letting people buy is FAR better than selling them). 

  3. Most of my sales, referrals, and reputation comes from… stories. 

Your monkey mind will reject those three things all being true because it wants to make sense of things quickly and move. But your monkey mind is wrong.

Let me explain. 

If you want to build a strong brand, establish a positive reputation, and attract droves of customers to your products, it is essential to use powerful storytelling. There are two ways to do this:

The first is obvious to the monkey mind: be a great storyteller. 

A talented storyteller has the ability to captivate an audience, educate, entertain, "infotain" and influence beliefs through their stories. While this skill may be considered rare, it can be learned and developed. One way to improve storytelling skills is to study the techniques of successful storytellers, such as those at Pixar. They consistently use a specific framework in their storytelling, which greatly contributes to their consistent success.

The second, and my preferred, method is what I call "let them watch". To lead by example and let my actions speak for themselves, rather than relying on words. This allows others to create their own narrative about my brand.

There are two primary reasons I prefer this strategy:

First, It’s far more difficult to change our behavior than our words, so very few people actually master this. 

And second...

People always trust their own ideas over the ideas of other people. The narratives we create for ourselves always hold more weight than those conveyed to us by others.

I’m not going to tell you what to do or not to do, your brand should authentically reflect who you are and what you're good at. But I can share some surefire ways to muck this up:

  • Avoid promoting values or principles that you do not personally practice. Too often, stories fall apart when we meet our heroes in real life. Be a hero worth meeting.

  • Don't distract people by being verbose. Practice brevity.

  • Avoid telling people about yourself. Seriously. If you're seven feet tall, you do not have to tell people you are tall, it'll be obvious.

  • Don't blend in. Instead of using pictures and copy to create a pattern interrupt, become a pattern interrupt.

Thought Bomb:

My challenge to you is to watch your words. Compare them to your actions.  And then have an honest conversation with yourself about which of the two tells a better story. 

If your words tell a better story than your behavior, you’re standing on very thin ice, my friend. 


PS. If you want to close the gap between your actions and words, I strongly recommend you buy my book Bumpers and dive into the free tools over at

You can also check out the 3C framework and why "starting with the end in mind" is NOT the same as inverting a problem in yesterday's post here.