3 Words Pixar Exec Swears By (And You Should, Too!)
Make me care.
— Andrew Stanton, Pixar Executive
We've studied storytelling, especially as it applies to business, for the better part of seven years. And one of the touchstones in our learning, is the TED Talk delivered in 2012 by Pixar executive, Andrew Stanton.
You may not know Stanton's name, but chances are pretty good you know his work. Stanton was the Pixar mastermind behind films like WALL-E, the Toy Story franchise, Finding Nemo, and Finding Dory. He's also produced or directed many other films, including Monsters Inc.
But what makes Stanton stand out for us, is his uncanny ability to explain in simple but powerful terms what storytelling is, how to apply it, and how to do it.
He does this beautifully in his 2012 TED Talk, entitled: The Clues to a Great Story.
Let's dive in.
What’s the Tip?
Today's tip from Stanton's TED Talk is simply, "make me care."
Early in his talk, Stanton references Fred Rogers from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Apparently, Mr. Rogers always carried a card in his wallet given to him by a social worker. The card said, "Frankly, there isn't anyone you couldn't learn to love once you've heard their story."
Stanton uses the quote to set up what he called "the greatest story commandment" which is make me care. "Please - emotionally, intellectually, aesthetically, just make me care."
How Do You Use It?
Ok. You're not a Pixar executive or animator. You're not a Pixar producer or director. So how does this tip, make me care, help you?
The tip does two things:
- It raises the standard of your communications in a shockingly simple but powerful way. Make me care reminds you that whatever you're trying to communicate needs to actually make YOU care. Because if it doesn't make you care, it's going to be pretty difficult to make someone else care.
Seems obvious, right? But too often, we get so caught up in the point we're trying to make, we fail to make sure that what we're communicating is connecting with the audience we want to reach.
- Along with raising the standard for your communications, the make me care tip ensures you're not only acting as a producer of content, but that you're also serving as a consumer of content. It repositions you, in effect, as a consumer of what you're producing.
Again, a shockingly simple concept - but playing both the role of producer and consumer when you're creating content will help you connect better and faster with your audience.
What's An Example?
What storytelling does better than any other discipline (copywriting comes in as a close 2nd) is shorten the distance between people. Remember the card Mr. Rogers kept in his wallet?
When you shorten that distance, you create what we call, proximity. Creating proximity, especially emotional proximity, is key to making people care.
Here's an AMAZING example of the power of storytelling to create proximity. Fittingly, it comes in the form of a story we both read (independent of each other) on LinkedIn.
The author is Tareq Hadhad. He's the CEO and Founder of Peace by Chocolate. Here's the story quoted verbatim from his LinkedIn post:
I made a new friend on a plane.
I started the conversation with the passenger sitting next to me and we had an interesting and heated but respectful debate about the value of immigration to our communities, and that immigrants don't come to take but to contribute and live peacefully, with which he disagreed very firmly.
Shortly after, we were discussing what to watch on a 3-hour flight, and I said I heard this movie called "Peace by Chocolate" is quite good as I was told. (I was very biased, I have to say - for those who don't know, this is the movie that tells the story of my family).
He took my advice and watched the entire film without knowing anything about me yet. I just wanted to get a neutral reaction from him to our journey since coming to Canada a few years ago without stereotypes or prejudices.
Honestly, I have never seen anyone that engaged with a movie in my entire life. The man was crying, laughing, clapping as if he was in his own theatre, which was absolutely remarkable. I enjoyed being a fly on the wall there and observing all of this.
After he finished watching, at the end where we show who our real family is, he looked stunned at me and said: "Has anyone told you before that you are the exact spitting image of that real Tareq guy at the end of the movie. You two are brothers or identical twins, aren't you?"
I had to unveil my identity right then 😉, but this truly was the most hilarious and surreal experience of my life. Knowing that my new friend left the plane with a different perspective about immigrants and refugees is very rewarding to everything we are doing.
Being proud of our stories truly changes the world.
What’s the Benefit to You?
The primary benefit of the make me care tip is that it can increase the chances that what you're communicating is actually going to connect.
Today's tip is one of the best hedges, even antidotes, against spending time on something you want to say, publishing it or sharing it in some form, but then having it land with a big, loud thud.
- The shortest distance between a brand and a buyer is storytelling.
- Storytelling creates proximity which makes connecting with your audience much easier.
- When creating content, you're less likely to find yourself screaming into the content void and not connecting, if you assume the role of both producer and consumer.
To watch Andrew Stanton's TED Talk, click this link: https://youtu.be/RRipEeg9mlw
Whenever you're ready to start creating powerful narratives in your business content, we can help!
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We hope this issue has been helpful. We look forward to seeing you next week!