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5 Stories Every Leader Must Have – Sage Advice: Episode 49

By July 8, 2019July 25th, 2020No Comments

G. Riley Mills, Co-Founder and COO of Pinnacle Performance Company, met with us at ATD International a few months ago and shared a simple framework of stories that every leader should have as part of his or her arsenal. Take a moment to watch his interview, and then read on below to determine what events and experiences in your life would translate well to each of these categories.

Story #1: The Origin Story

How did you start your business? Where did you meet your spouse? Where did you come from? These stories help build history around who you are and make you (and your struggle) more relatable.

Story #2: The Crucible Story

What’s a significant challenge that almost broke you, and yet you prevailed? Think about a time where something bad happened and you had to change or reinvent yourself in order to succeed.

Story #3: The Leadership Story

When did you have the opportunity to take control of a situation in which people followed you? What was a time where you stood up for someone, or where your voice was echoed by the support of a group? Have you ever mentored someone in a way that tangibly improved their lives?

Story #4: The Helper Story

Have you ever gone out of your way to help someone in need? What happened? What was at stake that prevented others from stepping in? Maybe you helped a stranded driver during your commute; what made your decision to pull over and help them, rather than just driving on toward your destination?

Story #5: The Pie-in-the-Face Story

Can you recall a time in which you were gloriously humbled in a way that taught you something? Maybe an embarrassing moment that had you smiling in recognition of an overlooked flaw? 5 stories every leader must have People love hearing these stories because they make you seem more human and fallible, and self-aware in a way that isn’t arrogant.

Having these stories in your back pocket can help you combat objections during a sales meeting, entertain people that are losing focus or attention, and better connect you – empathetically – to those in your network. 5 Stories Every Leader Must Have Use stories, and listen to the stories of others. It will dramatically improve your life and the ease with which you communicate from day today.

If you’re interested in reading Mills’s book, you can find it here:


G. Riley Mills:                        Every leader should have these five stories. Number one, your origin story. How did you come to what you’re doing now? How did you come to your company? How did you meet your partner, your spouse? How did your company start? Everybody loves a good origin story, so that’s one. Second, crucible story. Something terrible happened, something rough happened, a challenge you came up against, the economy crashed and you’re in real estate. Now, how are you going to reinvent yourself? Third, a leadership story. So a story where you can demonstrate, “I took the lead. I took a risk. People followed me.” That’s a good story.

Helper story is number four. What’s a story where you empowered somebody, you mentored somebody, you helped somebody, really served as a role model or an inspiration for somebody? That’s great. And then the final one, which everybody loves, pie-in-the-face story. You screwed up. Wow, you made a really stupid choice. And the lessons that you learned from it are this. People love those. And as a leader, if we can show that we’re human, we’re fallible, we’re not perfect, we’re self-aware, pie-in-the-face story is a great one for that.

We use stories for a lot of different things in the corporate environment, right? To overcome objections, to create a vision, build rapport, as I said, with an audience, everybody loves a good story, to entertain, you and I are going out for drinks. If I have a great story that I want to tell you, chances are if I love telling this story, you’re going to like hearing it.

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