About the author.
My name is Ashraf Ramzy, Narratologist, Business Story Consultant, Coach, Author, Speaker, Founder and CEO of MasterStory®. Some 30 years ago I attained a master’s degree in Narratology, the science and study of Story. Since then I have been quietly putting the power of Story to work for visionary brands, organizations and leaders. And, with great success. During those 30 years, a systematic and effective methodology emerged. One that ensured the successful development of a business narrative with impact. Be it a campaign story, a customer story, a target audience story, a brand story, an organizational story, a corporate story or a masterstory. Building further on that methodology I developed StoryMeter®, a diagnostic tool that measures the power of story and its impact on business. In addition I have developed the StoryMaster® program, a 3 day workshop to equip and license you to use the MasterStory® methodology and diagnostic tool. In the weeks, months and years ahead I will post (infrequent) updates on my work, my methodology and my own journey. So make sure to check this page every once in a while. Or subscribe to our newsletter.
Story is made of action.
Life happens while you’re making other plans. Well, I had planned in July 2017 to continue my blog in September, after the summer break. However, I got busy with assignments and I just couldn’t find the time or the mental space to write. Having just finished the projects, I am eager to return to where we left of. So let’s reboot and continue our journey of discovery into the laws and logic of story. But first, as a reminder, if only for myself: why is it so important to understand what story is and how story works?
Because nowadays everything is storytelling. And everyone is calling themselves a storyteller. Looking at what passes for storytelling these days or who pose as storytellers, I have my serious doubts. Just because something tastes nice doesn’t make it nutritious. Just because something is shiny doesn’t make it precious.
The focus in this storytelling hype is not on the Story but rather on the Telling. Not on human essence and truthful substance. But on slick and polished expression form, communication style and presentation techniques. Mostly by imposing story structure on words and sentences.
But Story isn’t made of words and sentences. Story is made of action. Specifically, Heroic action. At the heart of Story there lives a Hero. Someone willing to run into the line of fire. Someone willing to risk his own life to save others. Someone willing to do the right thing, no matter what the cost.
“A young Moroccan armed with a Kalashnikov and a knife was subdued by three Americans on a high-speed train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris, Friday 21st August 2015, as he was preparing to open fire on passengers. Anthony Sadler, a senior at Sacramento State University, was traveling with childhood friends Spencer Stone, an Air Force serviceman of Carmichael, California, and Alek Skarlatos, a National Guardsman from Roseburg, Oregon, when they heard a gunshot and breaking glass. They saw a Thalys train employee sprint away, down the aisle followed by a gunman with an automatic rifle. As he was cocking it to shoot it, Alek Skarlatos yelled, ‘Spencer, go!’ Spencer Stone ran 30 feet down the aisle, towards the gunman, made first contact and tackled him. While Alek Skarlatos wrestled the gun away from him, the gunman pulled out a box cutter and sliced Spencer Stone a few times. The three of them beat the gunman until he was unconscious. British passenger Chris Norman helped tie the gunman up. The wounded Stone then quickly turned to help another passenger who had been wounded in the throat, stopping his bleeding until paramedics came. The would be terrorist was arrested.”
No matter how bland this article is, or how boringly told, it cannot hide that its story contains the stuff that epic legends are made of. Peace disturbed. Evil threat. Mortal danger. Heroic Action. Lives saved. Evil defeated. Peace restored. All is well that ends well.
And at the center of it, driving it, shaping it, making it all happen, Spencer Stone: the Hero. Someone willing to run into the line of fire. Someone willing to risk his own life to save others. Someone willing to do the right thing, no matter what the cost.
Without a story there is nothing to tell. And without a Hero, there is no story. And all you’re left with is sound and fury signifying nothing. No amount of words, no matter how carefully chosen or carefully arranged, will conceal the absence of a Hero or compensate for the lack of Heroic action. It will be a hollow tale and your audience will feel the void even if they can’t explain why. Story is not about words. It is about Heroic action.
So, the next time you are composing a leadership or corporate or brand story, please ask yourself: are you busy with finding the right words? Or are you busy trying to do the right thing, no matter what the cost? Are you trying to look good and sound good? Or are you trying to find the Heroic within yourself, your organization or your brand?
Remember, Story is not about words. It is about Heroic action. After all, there is a difference between the man who tells you he is funny and the man who makes you laugh.
Stay tuned. In the next episodes we will deal with the Hero’s Profile: the 8 traits, the 2 drivers and the 4 archetypes that define and determine the Hero.