The Storyteller’s Secret | Book Review

Successful leaders build an award-winning culture with stories that bring the company’s purpose to life. (p. 169)

Carmine Gallo’s examination of five kinds of storytellers:


Who Ignite Our Inner Fire
Who Educate
Who Simplify
Who Motivate
Who Launch Movements


Leadership Workshop(s)

Personal Leadership Philosophy (PLP)
Communication | E2L Profile
Motivation & Coaching
Personal Leadership Philosophy


Seems a natural companion to Dan Pink’s To Sell is Human, exploring a variety of TED speakers via chapters (p. 7) sharing the storyteller’s story, their tools in more detail, and ending with a short summary of lessons learned, or their After Action Review.

Gallo informs us a great story (p. 5) releases a rush of chemicals like cortisol (pay attention), oxytocin (feel empathy), and dopamine (pleasure), and repeatedly highlights authenticity as a noteworthy leadership theme (p. 49 – authentic stories, p. 90 - “Chief Storyteller,” authenticity is key - p. 99). A summary of twenty-one Storyteller’s Secrets are listed on pages 235-236, and this review focuses on selected secrets and stories related to leadership.

Secret 1 | Identify Your Brand’s Core Purpose

Sure, Apple has terrific products, and has enjoyed extraordinary successsince Steve Jobs’ returned in 1997. However, if we wish to launch a movement more than superior products are required. Jobs believed marketing is about values, and that we need to be really clear on what we want them [customers] to know about us (p. 14). Think about your organization’s values, how well your PLP aligns with them, and how well you educate others about your ideals.

Secret 4 | Share The Backstory

What is your organization’s backstory? Not just the vision or mission statement, many of those look and sound the same. Kat Cole passionately describes (p. 179) a movement: “The only brands and businesses that will survive in the next five, ten, twenty years are not brands and businesses that have a particular product. They are the brands and businesses that have the discipline and the core competency of being able to partner.” Kat is describing both the core story of an organization, and a leader’s ability to share their tale leading to new relationships sustaining the company.

Secret 5 | Tell Stories of Struggle and The Lessons Learned

Most of us are drawn to stories of hardship and overcoming great odds. Drama can motivate and inspire. Adam Braun, author of The Promise of a Pencil, has learned personally that “The ability to captivate another individual through storytelling is essential to the early stage growth of any company.” (p. 182) Most enterprises, especially in their first years, have inspiring tales well worth sharing.

Secret 7 | Consistently and Publicly Frame Your Vision in A Founder’s Story.

Howard Schultz frequently tells the story of his father to explain his company’s mission and values (p. 46) concluding Starbucks is in the people business. Not the actual company founder, Schultz had the idea of building a “third place,” between work and home. That’s a pretty motivational story, and a focus on creating an appealing environment is very good timing. In 2015, Millennials, the 82 million young people born between 1980 and mid-2000s, officially became the largest group of employees in the U.S. (p. 53), and they place far greater emphasis on purpose, passion and meaning.

Secret 11 | Enrich Your Story with Specific and Relevant Details

Especially in the internet age, anyone can learn about a product specification or customer service rating. How about a story explaining why one should buy a product, and a corresponding, exhilarating vision? SOL REPUBLIC’s (Soundtrack of Life) cofounders share a vision of changing the way people listen to music by making great-sounding headphones at a more reasonable price than the high-end products on the market (p. 84).

Secret 12 | Unleash Your Best Storytellers

Some leaders have gone even further than including their backstory or values in their leadership philosophy. SAP Chief Executive Bill McDermott hired Julie Roehm as “Chief Storyteller,” to make the company’s message human, authentic, and relevant to the lives of its customers (p. 90). It’s a terrific idea, and it sounds as though Ms. Roehm has a most energizing assignment.

Secret 15 | Be Succinct; Use A Few Well-Chosen Words

Most writers agree short stories are more difficult to compose than novels. It’s the same for us as leaders. Charles Michael Yim, creator of Breathometer explains: Whether it’s Shark Tank, Richard Branson, or any other meeting, I need to be able to clearly articulate, communicate exactly what I’m trying to build (p. 140) whether it's a product or a service.

Secret 20 | Inspire Employees to Be the Hero of Their Own Customer Stories

Everyone wants to feel good, that they truly matter, which may ignite an inner fire. “If you can make someone feel good about themselves, they will love you for it. They will be loyal to you.” (Steve Wynn, p. 160) At Wynn Resorts supervisors ask “Does anybody have a story about a great customer experience they’d like to share?” Think about starting your weekly staff meetings or direct report coaching sessions on such a positive note. The best leaders do.


“A business is also a culture of people, men and women who are bound together to sell products and services that improve the lives of their customers and move the world forward."

(p. 231) says Apple Store Chief Angela Ahrendts.

Let’s hear your leadership story.

Thank you Dennis Haley for providing a copy of this book

JE | June 2016