Storytelling tips you can try: the importance of fitting in

Posted by  Shelley Fenech —September 1, 2017
Filed in Anecdotes, Business storytelling, Culture

We understand that life gets busy. Between emails, meetings and projects it can sometimes be hard to deliberately think about useful business stories that you’ve encountered recently. We want to make it easier to become better business storytellers, and for that reason we’ve decided to post regular stories that include bite-size tips on how to use them within a business setting.

Here is the first story from a series of new posts.

Storytelling tip - fitting in

Burrell was hired into Apple in February 1979 as Apple employee #282, in the lowly position of service technician, one of the lowest paying jobs at the company. Even though he’d been doing genius quality work as a hardware designer on the Macintosh project for a while now (more than nine months), and he was even filling in for Steve Wozniak on the low cost Apple II project, he still wasn’t officially promoted to engineer as he requested, which was getting pretty frustrating.

Burrell started thinking about what it would take to get promoted. It obviously wasn’t a matter of talent or technical skill, since he was already far more accomplished in that regard than most of the other hardware engineers. It wasn’t a matter of working harder, since Burrell already worked harder and was more productive than most of the others. Finally, he noticed something that most of the other engineers had in common that he was lacking: they all had fairly prominent moustaches. And the engineering managers tended to have even bigger moustaches. Tom Whitney, the engineering VP, had the largest moustache of all.

So Burrell immediately started growing his own moustache. It took around a month or so for it to come in fully, but finally he pronounced it complete. And sure enough, that very afternoon, he was called into Tom Whitney’s office and told that he was promoted to “member of technical staff” as a full-fledged engineer.

How to use this story in business

Imagine you’re trying to help people understand that it’s important to dress for the job that you want. You might tell people this story. You might start it off by saying, “you know, it’s useful when you’re trying to get a job or fit into a team to sort of look the way that they do. There was this guy, his name is Burrell…”, and you launch into the story.

Tags for your storybank: #apple #burrell #fittingin #promotion #wozniak #moustache
Source: Hertzfeld, A 2004, Revolution in the Valley: The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac Was Made, O’Reilly Media.

A storybank is where you store all of your stories. This could be a physical notebook, but we find that using a system like Evernote to be a more popular approach. You can even use Evernote to create tags, making it easier to find stories when you need them.

To be an effective business storyteller requires practice. Our programs are designed to work in a no-nonsense way in a business setting combined with lots of practical tools and tips and ways to practice. Learn more here


Shelley Fenech About  Shelley Fenech

Shelley is a recent Strategic Communication graduate and assists with all things communication. She helps to progress our purpose to help restore humanity to organisations by telling our story through marketing and social media. She also supports our global Partner network in their quest to bring storytelling into business.

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