Narrative and Numbers

Narrative and Numbers: The Value of Stories in Business

by Aswath Damodaran

Aswath Damodaran is a professor of finance who has written several books on business valuation, including The Little Book of Valuation: How to Value a Company, Pick a Stock, and Profit.

In this book, he computes valuation based on the business narrative. “One of the most important lessons I have learned is that a valuation that is not backed up by a story is both soulless and untrustworthy and that we remember stories better than spreadsheets.” Conversely, “when a storyteller has wandered into fantasyland, the easiest way to bring him or her back to Earth is with data that suggests the journey is either impossible or improbable.” Thus, “you need to bring both stories and numbers into play in investing and business, and valuation is the bridge between the two.” Continue reading

One Little Spark

one-little-spark

One Little Spark! Mickey’s Ten Commandments and The Road to Imagineering

by Marty Sklar with introductions by Richard M. Sherman and Glen Keane

Marty Sklar was hired by Walt Disney in 1955, prior to the opening of Disneyland. He rose through the ranks to president of Imagineering, the group responsible for Disney’s theme parks worldwide. He retired in 2009 after a 54-year career with the company.

The first part of the book explains Mickey’s Ten Commandments, guiding principles developed by Sklar in 1983. The second half of the book consists of career advice from 75 Imagineers. The most prominent recurring theme in this book is storytelling. Continue reading

Outside In

outside-in

Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business

by Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine

“Customer experience is how your customers perceive their interactions with your company. Once you understand that, you can manage your business from the outside in… To achieve the full potential of customer experience as a business strategy… you must manage from the perspective of your customers, and you must do it in a systemic, repeatable, and disciplined way.”

The benefits of providing exceptional customer experience are “higher revenues resulting from better customer retention, greater share of wallet, and positive word of mouth, plus lower expenses due to happier customers who don’t run up your service costs.” One example from the book is a $1.7 billion per year savings in customer service costs and bill credits as a result of Sprint simplifying its confusing plan options. Continue reading

Contagious

contagious

Contagious: Why Things Catch On

by Jonah Berger

Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger has studied why certain ideas and products get talked about and shared more than others. He refers to the “psychology of sharing” and identifies six common attributes: Social Currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value, and Stories.

Berger puts the hype of viral marketing in context. “Word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20 percent to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions.” However, “Research by the Keller Fay Group finds that only 7 percent of word of mouth happens online… Continue reading

The Brand Challenge

the-brand-challenge

The Brand Challenge: Adapting Branding to Sectorial Imperatives

Edited by Kartikeya Kompella

The Brand Challenge consists of four general branding topics followed 11 sector-specific chapters, namely: luxury, retail, business-to-business (B2B), media, financial services, non-profits, fashion, hotels, cities, technology, and football (soccer). Each chapter is written by a different author. Continue reading

TED Talks Storytelling

ted-talks-storytelling

TED Talks Storytelling: 23 Storytelling Techniques from the Best TED Talks

by Akash Karia

The premise of this book is that “the best speakers on the TED stage were the ones who had mastered the art of storytelling.”

The first 30 seconds are critical. “Opening with a story is a tested and proven method for grabbing audience attention and keeping your audience mentally engaged.” Continue reading

Life’s a Pitch

lifes-a-pitch

Life’s a Pitch: The Essential Guide to Presentations

by Terry Ward

Terry Ward uses a broad definition of the word presentation. “Every time you want to persuade, motivate, or inspire, you are making a presentation… The spoken word is a persuasive media… If you want to move people to action, speak to them.”

“The most important aspect of being an effective presenter is your state of mind… We are talking about adopting a state of mind that is listener focused…The more you disappear into your message, the more your audience will trust and respect you… The speakers we remember most are the ones who talked to us in plain English and with sincerity and simplicity. They were authentic in their intentions to bring value to the listeners.”

A recurring theme in this book is to keep things simple and concise. “Present only information that is CORE—concise, organized, relevant, and essential—to your listener… Make it simple and easy to understand… In fact all four essential elements of communication—behavior, content, interaction, and state of mind—benefit from a focus on keeping it simple.” Continue reading