In business, storytelling is all the rage. Without a compelling story, we are told, our product, idea, or personal brand, is dead on arrival. In his book, Tell to Win, Peter Guber evangelizes for the power of a story in human affairs generally, and business in particular. Guber argues that humans simply aren’t moved to action by “data dumps,” dense PowerPoint slides, or spreadsheets packed with figures. People are moved by emotion. The best way to emotionally connect other people to our agenda begins with “Once upon a time…”
Until recently we’ve only been able to speculate about a story’s persuasive effects. But over the last several decades psychology has begun a serious study of how story affects the human mind. Results repeatedly show that our attitudes, fears, hopes, and values are strongly influenced by story. In fact, fiction seems to be more effective at changing beliefs than writing that is specifically designed to persuade through argument and evidence.
What is going on here? Why are we putty in a storyteller’s hands? The psychologists Melanie Green and Tim Brock argue that entering fictional worlds “radically alters the way information is processed.” Green and Brock’s studies shows that the more absorbed readers are in a story, the more the story changes them.
And, in this, there is an important lesson about the molding power of story. When we read dry, factual arguments, we read with our dukes up. We are critical and skeptical. But when we are absorbed in a story we drop our intellectual guard. We are moved emotionally and this seems to leave us defenseless.
Guber tells us that stories can also function as Trojan Horses. The audience accepts the story because, for a human, a good story always seems like a gift. But the story is actually just a delivery system for the teller’s agenda. A story is a trick for sneaking a message into the fortified citadel of the human mind.
Most Nu Skin distributors are taught to persuade with a dispassionate presentation of facts. But we are beasts of emotion more than logic. We are creatures of story, and the process of changing one mind or the whole world must begin with “Once upon a time.”
Pop quiz, hotshot: What’s the most important skill you must have in order to be successful as a Nu Skin distributor?
Is it salesmanship? Is it social media savvy, or product knowledge?
Or is it tech stuff, like the ability to set up and manage Nu Skin’s new online prospecting website, capture leads, manage an email list, and so on?
If you answered any of these, important as they might be, sorry, you’re wrong.
You don’t need to possess any of those skills, because you can outsource them, or you can go out and learn them anytime you want.
You can learn anything nowadays, usually for free. Want to learn how to field-strip an obscure Russian firearm that hasn’t been manufactured since 1927? I’ll bet someone has made a YouTube video showing you how.
All the knowledge in the world is literally at our fingertips. Yet only a handful of people break through from wanna-be-successes to true successes. So what’s missing?
What distributors need most isn’t knowledge. What they need is the ability to evolve.
You must analyze and adapt.
There’s a lot of talk in Nu Skin circles about how if you don’t keep doing what your upline has come to expect from you, you’re just confusing your downline. If you do something odd and out of character, or not within the current ”duplication model”, your business won’t grow….blah, blah, blah.
What terrible advice.
Even big companies that become dogmatic get slaughtered nowadays. Look at the music and film industries, and the crap they tried to hand us to protect themselves while their inflexible models drowned.
Now, look at the success stories.
While Borders bookstores were dying, Amazon led the e-book revolution with Kindle. They also went from selling books to selling everything under the sun, and started providing tech services like Amazon S3 media hosting.Google entered a market that already had dominant search engines, like Yahoo and Lycos, but then branched from search into apps, smartphone operating systems, voice communications, mapping and navigation, co mmerce services, and just about everything else. And now who’s the household name?
Nu Club started as a blog about network marketing. Then it became more about social media, online communities. Then we began innovating with training, now we are developing new concepts and systems that leverage the latest technology for Nu Skin distributors.
At no point did I think, “Woah, wait a minute… a website that promotes new ideas and business models? That’ll confuse everyone” and ditch the whole thing to go back to only writing blog posts.
Mindlessly sticking to what used to work is overrated especially in network marketing. In North America some of our leaders have both feet in the past trying to recapture long lost glory. You know the definition of insanity right?
Nobody knows how to describe us. This includes myself. People ask us what we do, and I never know what exactly what to tell them and I love that. It is always progressing and changing. And that freaks out some in Nu Skin as well.
In the next few months, we are going to focus exclusively on Epoch Oils and our new product launches, get deep into mobile computing, work on a new book, write more of those epic blog posts, expand into digital publishing, and host more unique and amazing Nu Club events.
That’s a lot of change coming for me, but I can tell you one thing for certain: if at any point I’d stuck to my guns and said, “I’m a network marketer,” or “I’m a tech guy” or “I’m a blogger” and refused to evolve, I’d be out of business today.
And I see numerous Nu Skin distributors on their way out the door because they think their business should not evolve.
Change your mind. Right now.
Sometimes people ask me why I talk so much about stuff that’s intangible, stuff that you might describe as “upping your mental game.” The reason is because it’s the only thing that will make a difference Nu Skin business.
Meaning: You don’t need more knowledge, because you have access to more knowledge than you can handle.
What you need is the mindset to actually go out and use what you know.
You don’t need skills. You need meta-skills.
You’ve got to learn to be uncertain and take risks. If you stay within what’s known and safe, you will never be truly successful in Nu Skin. Doing what’s uncertain and risky isn’t easy, and that’s why the people who dare to do it are rewarded.
I of course have all the admiration in the world for leaders in North America that have had big successes in the past but what they did should not necessarily be what you should be doing. This includes myself.
You’ve got to learn to lead, which simply means going out and doing things. If you do things instead of always thinking and talking about doing things, then congratulations, you’re a leader. Others will follow.
You’ve got to learn to solve problems. I unschool my kids because I believe that children don’t need to memorize facts — especially in a world that changes this rapidly. They need to learn how to look at a situation, determine which resources they need, and then go find those resources in order to solve the problem. We must all learn to fish instead of relying on others giving us fish.
You’ve got to start believing you can do it. That sounds rah-rah, but it’s very important. We train ourselves into believing that we can do some things and can’t do others. Think you can’t do calculus? Wrong. You can’t levitate on Earth without assistance or superpowers. There’s a huge difference between those “can’ts.” (Other manifestations of this: “I’m not that kind of person,” “I wasn’t raised that way,” and “What will my parents/friends/neighbors/Twilight fan club think?”)
You’ve been a little bit brainwashed by the circumstances you’ve lived through. It’s okay, because we all have. But what you need to understand is that that cultural brainwashing puts you at a disadvantage as an entrepreneur and Nu Skin distributor.
It may sound trite to talk about upping your mental game … but if you don’t do exactly that, you’ll be stuck forever.
Can’t make yourself do what needs to be done in your Nu Skin business? Are you afraid? Are you uncertain? Do you get stuck? Do you know everything you need to know — and know exactly what you need to do — but just … can’t … seem to … do it?
That happens because you’re believing lies that you’ve been told or have learned, and have internalized those lies as rules and limitations. But they’re not true.
They are not true.
How are you struggling in your mental game? Let me know in the comments …
Let’s face you are going to get lots of advice from both upline and crossline leaders as you build your Nu Skin business. Unfortunately there will be times you should ignore that advice.
Here are 4 phrases you may hear from people that I have learned are clues that you should turn around and head the opposite direction as fast as possible.
1. “Don’t ask questions about what your upline is telling you”
Ugh. If anyone ever says that to you the first thing out of your mouth should be, “Why not?” If they persist in their obstinacy find someone else to partner with. Your job is to ask questions. And it’s one of the ways you grow and find new and creative ways to be successful.
2. “We’ve tried that and it does not work”
The conversation could look something like this:
You: “I don’t know, maybe you didn’t have what it takes to make it work.”
Them: “And you do?”
(This is when you put on that smug little grin that drives people nuts.)
No, don’t be smug.
But you never know: you just might have the angle or the outlook that a particular challenge needs to succeed. And it doesn’t really matter if you succeed or not. Even if you fail your ability to remain creative will provide a footing for you to build toward future successes.
3. “Don’t try anything stupid”
You kill creativity and innovation when you worry about what other people think about you.
4. “It’s never been done before”
I don’t know about you, but when I hear that phrase I immediately think challenge. I’m a sucker for a challenge. And I like to prove people wrong.
There was a Harper’s Weekly article (“The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge”) that was written back in 1939.
The article was about the role uninhibited curiosity played in technological breakthroughs—discoveries that would never occur under regimented conditions.
In essence, the writer argued that pragmatic purposes are not behind breakthroughs. What’s at work is sheer curiosity—allowing someone to explore an idea simply for the sake of satisfying that curiosity.
While those curiosity driven explorations might not end in a significant discovery, those explorations pile up until someone pulls all that information together—and boom. We have a substantial breakthrough.
And that, my friends, is why creativity is so important in your Nu Skin business and why you should support and reward it in your own organization.
I have no interest in trying to drag people across the finish line. I will work with my team members by matching their efforts. I make a move, they make a move, then I make another one. I don’t do two or three moves in a row.
I want to get down in depth and work with developing leaders, causing excitement to work its way up the group. But the key word there is “developing.”
I won’t chase people because they have potential any longer as it is a complete waste of time. The beaches of the world are littered with the bones of MLMers that tried to succeed by chasing after people with potential. Potential is only meaningful if it is matched by a willingness to work.
People have to show me they want it and are willing to take action. Otherwise I would rather move on and discover the next person with a dream.
Sometimes the obvious stares us right in the face.
The most common question I get is “What makes a strong Executive?”
If you answered, “When I get 3000 points” you would be only partly correct. The real answer and the one I have been explaining for 27 years is “When you have LOTS of product users in your group”.
According to Nu Skin these are the facts.
1. New Executives that grace in Month 1, 83% fallout within 6 months
2. New Executives that do not grace in Month 1, 53% are still Executives 6 months later
3. New Executives at 3000 points in Month 1, 60% are still Executives 6 months later
4. For New Executives at 3000 points and have 12 product users in Month 1, 68% are still Executives 6 months later
Now here is the BIG ONE, drum roll please…A New Executive that has 12 or more product users in Month 1 is nearly 5X more likely to maintain Executive status compared to a New Executive that has 5 or fewer product users in Month 1
Ok…it’s your choice, focus only on finding “business builders” or focus on having lots of product users in your group and enjoying a 500% better success rate.
Never follow a duplication model that does NOT make product users a first priority. Business builders come from a strong base of product users not the other way around.
Monte Schumacher is a 31 year Direct Sales industry veteran. He leads one of the largest networks of independent sales reps in the world.