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Book Review – “Lead with a Story” by Paul Smith


Storytelling in Business

by Kelly Vandever

Experience is the best teacher.  A compelling story is a close second.       Paul Smith, Author of Lead with a Story

I’ve been searching for an excellent book on storytelling in business.  And I found it:  Paul Smith’s Lead with a Story.

Lead with a Story encourages leaders to use the power of stories to engage their audiences and move them toward the desired business action.  Smith practices what he preaches by sharing over 100 stories which he then encourages the reader to retell in order to make their points with their audiences.

Throughout the book, Smith dissects what made the stories effective and helps the reader see how to perform similar feats with stories of their own.

I truly adore this book and recommend it to busy executives who want a quick source of material to use in their presentations and communications.  Or to those devoted to adding stories to their presentations in order to connect and appeal to their audiences.

Quotes from Lead with a Story by Paul Smith

Here are some of my favorite gems from Lead with a Story.  There impacts are even stronger when you read the story that goes along with the quote.   But you’ll have to get a copy of the book and read it to see for yourself!

“…a failure story about yourself … earns you respect and appreciation from the audience unlike you can get any other way.  It shows humility too rare in leaders today.  People will recognize and appreciative that.  They know it’s much harder to share your own failures than it is sharing someone else’s.  To them it shows you care enough to help them grown at the expense of exposing your own shortcomings.” 

“It’s impossible to train employees for every possible scenario.  They’re infinite.  But through stories like these, they can learn on a more intuitive level what great customer service looks like.”

“It’s okay to tell a fictional story as long as your audience knows that’s what it’s getting.  The danger of not properly starting your stories this way is that the audience might think the story is factual, only to be disappointed to find out it was fiction.  Then the audience feels betrayed.  As the storyteller, you’ve not lost all credibility.”

“Remember, that you’re a business leader, not a comedian.   You don’t have the license to just make stuff up.”

“But the most powerful character you could ever choose for a story is you.  Stories about you have the most authenticity and are almost always identifiable with your audience.”

“Telling a story about how you got lucky is no way to provide guidance and leadership, since it can’t be replicated.”

“Words that draw attention to themselves – or to you as the storyteller – are a barrier to good storytelling.”

“Some leaders think the modern workplace should be an emotion free zone, restricted to rational thought and logical decisions.  That might be true if your job is limited to managing machines and processes.  But leading people requires something more.  Humans make emotional decisions.  Good leaders recognize that and aren’t afraid to lead with both sides of their brain.” 

There’s many more sections highlighted in my copy of Lead with a Story.  I hope you’ll take the time to read this whole book for yourself!





Kelly Vandever is a leadership and communications expert who helps leaders and organizations thrive in today’s attention-deficit, entertain-me-now, wait-while-I-post-that-on-Facebook world.   Connect with Kelly and discover how opening up and speaking practically can bring you better business results. 

Contact Kelly by phone at 770-597-1108, email her or tweet her @KellyVandever.