When leaders talk, is anyone really listening? The best way to ensure the audience is tuned in is to emotionalize and personalize your communication. As the leader, you are the master of your organization's narrative. Just as the shamans of old gathered people around the fire to share wisdom and lore, you, too, can tap the power of storytelling.


The message I wanted to convey was how, out of devastation, hope and rebirth emerge. My challenge was how to say that so that people didn't just hear the words, they actually felt them. Instantly, a story came to mind, about the wildfires a couple of years ago in California that destroyed millions of acres and countless homes and cost many lives.

The wildfire was perilously close to where I live, impacting thousands of people. Very late one night, as the air was thick with smoke and flames were visible in the hills nearby, I tied a bandana over my face and went outside to hose down our house. It was such a stupid, futile thing to do, but I couldn't just sit there and wait. I had to pretend I was in control.

At around midnight, my wife yelled to me, “We're out of here!” She preceded the fire department's evacuation by seconds. Minutes later we left, taking with us only photographs of our kids when they were younger; these were memories ...

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