Archive: March 2010


Contrast Derived From Old World Versus New World

I enjoy a story that depends on a contrarian bent. If someone revealed that Steve Jobs prefers Bad Religion on vinyl or that Michael Arrington leads a Bible study group, I would read those stories. So naturally, I gravitated to the piece “A hammer — yes, that low-tech tool — helps mold noses of Japan’s …more

The Wall Street Journal Prints Lame Name-calling Article

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal included an article that caught my attention. Titled “New Google Hire Takes Aim at Apple,” the piece – can’t bring myself to call it a story – recounts how a Google employee ( Tim Bray) recently poached from Sun used his personal blog to say nasty things about Apple’s mobile phone …more

The Power of Saying "We Blew It"

This headline in BusinessWeek was so good, I decided to borrow it. Writer Patrick Lencioni, head of management consultancy The Table Group, chronicles the Domino’s Pizza ad campaign that takes introspective to a new level. In short, Domino’s falls on its rolling pin, publicly sharing focus group opinions that call out the pizza maker for …more

The Economist Showcases the Anecdote as an Art Form

I’m a big fan of The Economist. The writers have perfected storytelling for a business audience. Of course, the writers toil in relative obscurity with a no-byline policy that leaves readers to wonder “Who the hell wrote that piece?” So I can’t tell you who penned the masterpiece called “A Different Game,” addressing data storage …more

Toyota Crisis: Hell Hath No Fury Like a Car Maker Scorned

Scorn makes for good storytelling. It brings out emotion and ultimately unscripted drama. Look no further than the bevy of reality TV shows cranking out the profits to understand the appeal of NOT knowing how the story will turn out. With this in mind, I suspect we’re going to see and read a helluva story …more

Toyota Crisis PR: Customer Letter No. 4 Loses Its Way

When it comes to a crisis, everyone tends to fixate on the “bad press.” I think it’s more revealing to zero in on the communications controlled by the offending company. How are they telling their story within their control? That’s why I find the Toyota open letters to customers so fascinating. Just because you control …more

Creative Writing 101 from Kurt Vonnegut

I rarely address fiction in this blog. While many of the same concepts apply to storytelling in business, there’s still a gulf between the two disciplines. But Sarah Lafferty pointed me to a book of Kurt Vonnegut short stories published after his death. The introduction includes what Vonnegut calls “Creative Writing 101,” which offers sound …more