Peter Guber: How to Use Storytelling to Build Relationships for Life

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Peter guber Film producer and Mandalay Entertainment CEO and Chairman Peter Guber is a man of passion. He inspires people by sharing his stories about success and failures.

He’s well known for a number of  Hollywood successes but most noted ones include Rain ManBatmanThe Color PurpleMidnight ExpressGorillas in the Mist: The Story of Dian FosseyThe Witches of Eastwick,  Missing and Flashdance, all of which have led to more than 50 Academy Award nominations.

“You can’t look at failure as something that cripples you, you have to look at failure as your partner, because with it comes great opportunities,” says Peter.

“Stories are not the icing on the cake, it’s the cake – it’s everything,” he adds. “Stories are the way we make sense of our world.” And what are stories made of? Stories are our dreams he reminds and adds, “hits are not born in the head, they’re born in the gut and the heart. The idea is when you’re trying to get someone to do something, you need to connect to them viscerally and emotionally.”

“How do you create relationships for life?” he asks. What is key, he asserts, is telling Purposeful stories. You first must have a purpose, and with conviction and heart, you then “tell” that story in a way that will motivate your audience to action. It’s a combination of having great content, passion and purpose.

He then talks about motivation. He quotes Arianna Huffington and says he feels the same way about motivation and getting things done. To really get something done, you must get into the same room with the other person, breathe the same air as the person and then be congruent.

In other words, don’t go into the room unless you really show up….show up and be congruent, because if you’re not congruent and not in alignment, including the minute details, such as your breathe, your audience will know.

Once you’re congruent and you’re ready to to motivate, it’s key, he says, “to motivate yourself first.” “When you walk into the room and before you open your mouth, you’re already telling your story. Your intention shows up first, long before your words do.”

He encourages us to rethink our roles and what business we’re in. He says that we’re all in the Emotional Transformation Business. It’s our job to transform, motivate and move people to action. Clients don’t want to just be called clients, they want relationships. They want connection.

Connection starts with the dance you do the moment  you walk in the room. Once you’re in the room with an audience, they don’t want a conversation, they want an ‘experience.’ Make the emotional connection first, not second.

He moves into the topic of preparation and presentations, encouraging people not to use notes when they give a presentation. He says he likes notes because they provide a good reference point to refer back to, but not to have it as the basis of your presentation. Once you begin your talk, he says you should speak from the heart and just see what comes out of you, “be spontaneous and let the canvas open up in front of you.”

The key to get action from your ‘story’ is not just to be purposeful but to also have an end goal. All purposeful storytelling has a Goal. Peter says, “your role is not to hide it but to pride it. If you hide it, people will know and not trust it.” In other words, the more generous your goals are, goals that include the “we,” where they win too, they’re much more likely to take the risk and dive in.

He also emphasizes the importance of Transparency in your story. It’s important that your goals are completely transparent because people will feel and know what your true intention is.

Peter tells a touching story about a call he received from Nelson Mandela after he got out of prison, who called him directly to ask for his help. Mandela’s mission was to come to the states to have two parties, with the following goal in mind: to get businesses and entrepreneurs involved in willingly helping South Africa through their transition.

Peter talks about the transparency and congruency of his pitch and because his pitch was authentic and with purpose, people opened up their wallets and moved to action. He said with conviction that if the world doesn’t get involved, that “we” will keep their dreams in prison.

The fourth key component to storytelling is Interactivity. “The best storytelling is interactive,” he says. It’s not a monologue, it’s a dialogue. When it’s a dialogue, you metabolize it, you get your audience to own it in their bodies.

Once upon  atime

He tells people to Surrender Control. Peter says, “you’re not in control of what your audience is going to do and how they’re going to feel. When you surrender control, magic happens. When they own what you tell them, they pay it forward.

They become advocates for your proposition and then, they become your army. And, when you surrender control, you create space for them to come forward and act on their own. Detach yourself from judgment and just trust that the rest will take care of itself – that’s part of the elegance of it, he says.

Now for the Story itself. Finding stories is easy, he says. “They’re everywhere. There’s no magic in it – stories are everywhere, they’re the stories of our lives. They’re all around us – use your nose, your eyes and your ears. It’s really that easy.” He says, “no gift from me to you, you already have it. It’s the way we’re all wired.”

When we discover what our story is or what one we want to use, he says, “ask yourself, is it generous. Is it congruent with who you are? Is it transparent? Is it authentic?”

Stories live in your head – that’s an experience. Stories live in your heart – that’s an experience. Peter says that when the stories come from your own experience and we are reliving that expeirence in real-time in front of people, they will feel it. That’s what I mean by us being in the “emotional transformation business,” he says. “If you really own that story, then you will move people.” The Methodology of the Tell is What Makes the Difference.

Wherever there is emotion, there’s a story. In other words, there must be an emotional palette when you engage with someone. Essentially, you’re trying to get people to Go on a Journey with you. He says, “I always look for a place where I can connect to a story I hear.”

The stories we hear and that we tell ourselves are bits and pieces of data that we metabolize and soon, we become those stories. The narrative that we tell ourselves over and over again are the reality and belief systems we create. In other words, create empowering stories that inspire and invoke change for the better.  “Tell a better story than the stories you hear around you. Don’t we owe that to ourselves?” says Peter.

He reaffirms with conviction and passion: do it, enjoy it, own it and tell your story from that place and the story will be paid forward.

Photo Credit: UCLA School of Theatre and Television. Second image credit: http://janecanstant

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