Having Trouble Telling Your Story?


How to Make Your Story Compelling

I encourage you to take ‘this free, online crash course on pitching. Spend as little or much time with it as you want. Get the basics in 10-15 minutes or spend a few days honing your story. It’s available through Stanford’s new, online crash course platform.


Take Free Stanford Course ONLINE – “Creativity: Music to My Ears”

Stanford, Warner music, some of your favorite recording artists, and creativity – what’s not not love about this upcoming, free online course – “Creativity: Music to My Ears”? My colleague and dear friend, Tina Seelig, will be teaching it, and she’s amazing (as validated by her winning the prestigious Gordon Prize in engineering for her innovations in teaching and education). You’ll have a blast.

It starts on April 2. To learn more, read this course description, where you’ll find information on how to sign up.

Here’s an excerpt from a brief article about the course:

Musical talent is not required to participate in the course – just an interest in exploring factors that influence creativity, such as reframing problems, challenging assumptions and working on creative teams. Music provides a universal context to put these skills into practice, which is where the legendary experience of Warner Music Group comes in.

“The music industry is in a state of constant evolution, and everyone involved – from artists to executives to technologists – must have the skills to both adapt to a rapidly shifting landscape and to forge exciting new creative paths,” Strang said. “Warner Music Group is honored to be collaborating with Stanford and Professor Seelig in this unique online course, which we hope will give students creative skills and real insight into how our business spearheads innovative commercial models and develops the next generation of extraordinary talent.”


Watch them talk about it here.

The “I’ll Be Damned!” Test

I was once the chief marketing officer for a company whose CEO who was both incredibly tough and incredibly brilliant. We were developing a type of technology offering that was very new in the market and in what the Lean Startup gang and my Stanford colleague and serial entrepreneur, Steve Blank, would call that sloppy, iterative “customer development phase” of evolution. This is that point at which there are lots of possible ways to position the offering in lots of possible markets, and you’re trying to figure out which will get you the most traction the most quickly.

The CEO told me, “I want our customers to hear about this and get so excited, they say to themselves, “Well, I’ll be damned! We have to have one of those!”

And I thought, “Yes!” That’s a brilliant acid test for whether you have something you’ll be able to sell, even before you get out there and start testing it with prospective customers. And certainly, once you do start taking it around, that’s the reaction you want or else you know you have more work to do. The closer you are to an “I’ll be damned!” reaction, the easier it’s going to be to make your numbers each quarter. More importantly, your margins will be higher, because business impact will matter more to the buyer than cost.

So ask yourself: What would it take to get my customers to react with a “Well, I’ll be damned!…”?

Want to User Test Stanford Material and Improve Your Pitching?

Want to try out a new Stanford crash course on pitching? I’ve created a multi-media crash course of my Stanford pitching workshop for a new online platform we’re creating there. Fill out and send the form below if you’d like to participate in user testing of the material and give feedback – I’ll forward to the person coordinating it. Free eBooklet to the first 10 people who conduct testing. Takes 20 min to a couple of hours (your choice). You’ll learn: “Pitching 101: How to Make Your Story Compelling.” Improve your pitch for any audience, duration, situation. Student testers are ideal, but others are ok too!

[If you’ve been wondering why the radio silence lately with my blog, this is the reason. I’ve been knee deep in helping to develop a bunch of these online crash courses. They’re called JOLTs – Just-in-time online learning tools. More details to come soon when we roll out the platform in a month or two. Very exciting stuff!)