Effective “Inception” Requires a Mastery of Storytelling

Why we gave “Inception” with DiCaprio two thumbs up!

“I specialize in a very specific type of security. Subconscious security.” Since movies have been made, we’ve never seen something quite like Christopher Nolan’s cerebral yet hugely enjoyable 2010 film Inception, and we’ll probably never see anything like it again. This endures as a film that elevated originality and creativity all while taking its foundational ideas from textbook facts about dreams and the subconscious mind. Of course the film took creative liberties when it comes to the brain, but post-viewing, audiences pondered the idea that the subconscious rules all.

Led by Leonardo DiCaprio, the mission of the “dream team” is to implant an idea in a rival character’s subconscious that will influence the rest of his decisions and result in the breaking apart of his business empire. It’s one simple thought, whittled down to one sentence. When meeting with a client you’re more or less attempting to do the same thing; implanting a positive idea about your business to affect their business decisions, because it all comes back to one thing: the subconscious rules all. Stories inform emotions, emotions inform actions. We all have a conscious brain, what we are actively thinking about now, and a subconscious brain, stuff that is going on beneath the surface. Our conscious brain methodically deals in facts and figures and can process only up to 9 things at a time while our subconscious brain is a messy composite of deeply influential experiences and emotions, processing millions of ideas simultaneously.  Thinking in stories, the subconscious brain moves with lightning speed and serves information up to our conscious brains on its own terms. Now this is both fascinating and frightening as we realize that the subconscious could be a great enabler and deciding factor.

The “dream team” in Inception knows this, so they hold a meeting and essentially Story Gather. Harnessing thorough research, they identify what story they will tell to the rival character and what story he will tell himself, therefore activating his subconscious and causing a small idea to grow. They need to sell this idea; you want to sell your product or concept. They turn a business concept or product into an emotional idea through the information that is available. Because our subconscious rules, how can you make the final quarter push to harness this knowledge?  You want to use stories because you’re dealing with the subconscious brain, which is the decision maker.

Psychologists used to use a famous drawing to explain feelings and action, called the Event Feeling Action Cycle. Now we have discovered the powerful truth that what is really happening is, as an event occurs our fast subconscious brain crafts a story based upon all the relevant data stored under the surface, the same place our dreams come from.  This story is served up to the conscious brain and subsequently makes us feel one way or another. Based upon our feelings, we take action based upon our biased Story, whether factual or not. What I store is what I thought I experienced. Another person could experience the same thing yet interpret it differently; nonetheless we are both biased by our subconscious brain and how we relate this event to the rest of our shared Stories. Effective “inception” requires a mastery of storytelling; knowing which stories to use and knowing what story the client tells themselves. What story will spark emotions in their subconscious, which is the thing that truly drives them?

Why Columbo Enchanted us & how he won every case

Why Columbo enchanted us & how he won every case

(Spoiler alert: He used Empathy 101)

From 1971 until 2003, audiences were entertained with an atypical whodunit television show where a character played by Peter Falk named “Lieutenant Columbo” solved mysterious crimes. For those unfamiliar, Columbo was like a more empathetic, personable Sherlock Holmes. As viewers, we already knew who played the perpetrator; so we were entertained by the detective’s skill in finding the clues to uncover and understand the facts. Columbo used high-level communication skills. He asked a lot of questions and then he cocked his head a bit and does a curious thing: he just listens. He patiently observed the subjects and thought about their body language, their words and their emotions. This secret weapon he used always resulted in a winning case. People trusted him, opened up, shared theories and supported his vision. Why and how did he do that? Empathy 101.

“Empathetic Understanding goes beyond understanding the facts that are presented by your leaders; it is knowing how they feel, think and perceive things. Clear communication, dialogue, and gaining understanding by listening with an empathetic ear unlocks learning and growth. This is a key leadership skill.”

Back to our business reality today…As leaders, we too, need to be a Curious Detective.
No matter the current status of your leadership journey, communication steps out as a critical skill in managing people. Be clear, have a structured message, listen curiously, and allow for feedback and discussion.
As you advance your career, you’ll find that there’s nothing more satisfying than recognizing people’s strengths and then collaboratively solving problems or attaining goals in innovative ways. It is extremely important for you to learn how to harness everyone’s full potential. The most effective Leaders love challenges and are unafraid to “let go” to help unleash the team’s creativity even when it feels risky.

Develop high level communication skills to empower your teams/leaders by learning and coaching Empathy. Look forward to these outcomes:

  • Colleagues’ and clients’ sharing will open up and Trust skyrockets
  • As growth is experienced, people accomplish more.
  • Soft skills of emotional intelligence and feelings become differentiators when competing for new business as well as keeping current clients and coworkers feeling appreciated and happy.

This is an important tool in your leadership portfolio. Ask yourself, “Do I listen well? Do I know or ask for people’s whys or goals? Do I know how they feel, think and perceive things?
While this exercise may feel like taking a turn onto an unknown “Dirt Road”, be assured, it’s filled with pleasant surprises. The discoveries will help strengthen your Empathy muscle and begin developing your leaders in a way that allows them to emerge to their full potential.
NUDGE: Try your hand at being a curious detective. Listen to understand, cock your head to the side a bit. And just listen.

Communication for Your Highest Potential in the Digital World

If you’re like us, you know the world is moving faster and you are managing multiple communication platforms via social, digital, and mobile technologies daily. If clear communication and dialogue are key to gaining alignment for teams and projects, it’s important that these tools are helping and not hindering.

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Is Trust Still Important and Does Upholding Commitments Matter in this Fast-Paced Digital World?

The world of digital disruption, ubiquitous communication, and generational shifts in the workforce is changing everything. People are moving faster; they are always “on” and bombarded by inputs from social/digital media. Our customers tell us that the negative effects of these great communication technologies are constant feelings of pressure and stress with shifting priorities. They often do not have enough time in the day to accomplish high priority items. The result: work longer hours to catch up or leave feeling crushed by the pressures of work. They have too much to do and feel frustrated. If you are not among this group, congratulations.

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Empathy and Understanding, or, Results: A clear case of “And” versus “Or”

Can you have it all with the Human Side of Digital Disruption?

I have read several articles recently about the need for empathy and understanding in the workplace. Fortune MagazineMcKinsey Insights, and LinkedIn have all had them. It is often related to the needs and wants of millennials; a generation that wants to make a difference, have a better work-life balance, and is always connected. The pleas for empathy and understanding come from the knowledge that our fast-paced world is shifting. Millennials and digital disruption are creating great opportunities for new business models with seamless service and delivery, disrupting a lot of current mainstay businesses that have built their empires over decades of inch-by-inch strong growth: Uber vs. Taxi Cabs, Tesla vs. VW, or Salesforce vs. Microsoft.

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TATN: The Art of The Nudge augments existing Leadership and Sales Training Programs

Wyomissing, PA: CI Squared announces two new training programs based on their innovative Communications Framework, TATN, to help change the conversation for leaders and sales teams. John Geraci, Co-founder and President said, “The pace of change has accelerated in our digital/mobile world creating miscommunication, misalignment and sapping productivity. We are helping leaders change the conversation to unleash more of the untapped human potential, inspiring action. We tested a behaviorallearning model, applied to our Framework, for leaders and sales teams. The goal was to build workshops to accelerate learning and skill building. The training is applied to specific work projects so there is immediate value for participants. The exercises, pictures, and work documents are all designed to elevate performance and collaboration in a fun learning environment”.

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Alignment: What is it? How do you know if you have it? How do you get it?

The topic of alignment, like many things in life, is both simple and complex. It is simple because you can define alignment with a couple of words, “Gaining Buy-in.” It is complex because you must determine what level of buy-in you need…how do you know who you need buy-in from? And how can you tell whether they are bought in enough to accomplish the joint task? In some instances, figuring this out is easy. Take the sport baseball, for example, and the interaction between the shortstop and second baseman on a double play. Two outs, both members are in alignment. One or no outs, someone missed the toss, missed the bag, was slow getting it to first, bobbled the ball: No alignment. Unfortunately, it is much harder to see this kind of scenario in the fast-paced world of business. Often people are overly busy with full plates, leading to increased stress and shifting priorities, leaving little time to slow down and communicate appropriately.  Miscommunication and lack of communication makes it increasingly difficult for leaders to understand what’s happening until they see the bad affects in missed results, poor performances, and workplace conflict. Is there another way?

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Empathy, Understanding, and Results Can you have it all with the Human Side of Digital Disruption?

I have recently read several articles in Fortune Magazine, McKinsey Insights, and LinkedIn about the need for empathy and understanding in the workplace. These articles are often related to the needs and wants of millennials; a generation that wants to make a difference, have a better work-life balance, and stay connected. The pleas for empathy and understanding come from the knowledge that our fast-paced world is shifting. Millennials and digital disruption are creating greater opportunities for new business models of seamless service and delivery, disrupting a lot of current mainstay businesses that have built their empires over decades of strong inch-by-inch growth. Uber vs. Taxi Cabs, Tesla vs. VW, or Salesforce vs. Microsoft.

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Chip Kelly Fired by the Eagles: Leadership Skills for the 21st Century – Technical or Human?

Last week Chip Kelly was fired by Jeffrey Lurie, the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, in the 3rd year of his contract. Chip came to Philadelphia from a winning Oregon team with a lot of fanfare and bravado. He was recruited heavily by Mr. Lurie and negotiated both a lucrative contract financially ($6.5M per year) and a lot of power over the team as Head Coach and General Manager. He had authority over all personnel decisions and seemed excited to be here and make a difference, trying to connect with fans.

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Commit to an Amazingly Successful 2016!

What will you Nudge this year?

How will you inspire others to action in 2016?

As you reflect upon this past year and the new year to come, take the time to create 3 specific Nudges – both personal and professional – that will inspire yourself and others to action. Make a resolution to gather, build, and tell Your Stories: Company, Vision, Lessons Learned, Why I Do What I Do…to help you and others slow down to speed up in this “Age of Digital Disruption.”

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