Anecdote’s Top 10 posts of 2014

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —December 22, 2014
Filed in Business storytelling, News

2014, our 10th year in business, was a watershed for Anecdote. Our partner network has grown to 27 partners in 17 countries and it continues to grow. Apart from our partners’ deep skills and wonderful expertise, they are a great bunch of people who are a joy to spend time with. We are looking forward to our partner conference next year. 2014 also saw our first corporate partners who have licensed our programs and are delivering them inside their organisations.

To wrap up the year we’ve selected the top 10 posts which give an insight into the topics that have sparked our attention and that you have found interesting in 2014.


10.  6 ways to avoid a common business storytelling blunder

The last thing you want your audience to feel is that they’re simply watching a performance. What you do want them to feel is that you’re sharing an experience with them, just like what happens when people catch up informally over lunch. Here are 6 ways to keep your story conversational and authentic.

9. One simple way to bring your stories to life

Often people mistakenly think oral stories are about words when in fact good oral stories are about pictures and emotions. When you hear a story and can see it happening you’re transported to the place where it’s taking place and you relive it with the teller. This natural and effortless collaboration between teller and listener is one of the reasons stories are so engaging.  It’s all about moments.

8. The Power of Failure Stories

Your willingness to share a failure can have a powerful effect. A failure story encourages the person you are hoping to work with to share their own failures, or those sensitive things that are really happening in the organisation. It helps people to open up. After you get over the hurt of the failure, you’ll find that its retelling will be extremely valuable. I recommend you have a few failure stories ready to be told.

7. How an Indian hotel chain turned their customer satisfaction around using stories

A participant in our public Storytelling for Leaders program was  Balaji V., human resources director of Mahindra Holidays and Resorts India. Right after the training he started a major narrative project as part of their brand relaunch that was designed to find the stories of success and amplify them throughout Mahindra Resorts. He put together this case study of what they did and the great results they achieved.

6. How to spot a story – a simple story framework: Infographic

With so much talk about business storytelling you’d think business people would be telling more stories. Sadly we see lots of people talking about stories but very few telling them and you just don’t get the benefits of storytelling unless you are telling a story. So here’s an infographic you can pin to your wall or save to your smart phone that gives you some simple guideposts to help you spot stories.

5. An indicator of group fear in organisations

Over the years I’ve shown a clever little animation in our workshops to illustrate our propensity to tell ourselves stories when things are ambiguous and unclear. It’s how we make sense of the world. But in running this video, perhaps hundreds of times, I think I’ve discovered another interesting use for it. It seems to give an indication of group fear.  Here’s a little background on how I use the video and show you how the indicator works.

4. Whoever tells the best story wins

In 2001, Annette Simmons published her book The Story Factor. The book has been widely acclaimed as one of the most influential business storytelling books written. When we heard that the Australian Storytelling Guild NSW was hosting Annette in Sydney on 5 June 2014, we jumped at the chance to be the Gold Sponsor for the event. The workshop, titled Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins was aimed at leaders at all levels of an organisation.

3. How to get on Millionaire Hot Seat

First and foremost Millionaire Hot Seat is an entertainment show. They are looking for people to be entertaining. Sure, you need to answer some questions but they are interested in your story. And to be selected it helps if you have a number of tales to tell.  The episode I appeared on was filmed on November 23rd 2009. I started off well, answering the first 5 questions without much trouble. Then I hit a question I didn’t know.

2. 10 Story-eliciting questions to be a wonderful conversationalist

You know that networking is important. But if you are like me, you find networking events hard work. You’re not really sure what to say or how to get a good conversation going. Here are 10 good story-eliciting questions to ask when you are at a business dinner, a cocktail party, a professional society awards night or a networking event for business folk.

1. How to remember a story so you can retell it

Have you ever wondered why you can remember someone’s job but not their name?  To remember a story we need to give it meaning.  Here’s a simple technique to remember an oral story, and a way to remember a written story so that you can tell it orally.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a safe and enjoyable new year.  The festive season is a great time to collect stories, especially from your family. See how many stories you can get others to tell.

Until next time.





About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:


  1. Mike Brown says:

    Great advice Shawn. Especially like the infographic.

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