No Story No Fans Adds Richly to Story-in-Business Conversation

When Raf Stevens first challenged me to present more examples of good storytelling two years ago this month, I scarcely imagined I would later get involved in his effort to produce an important new ebook in the applied-storytelling space.

I had criticized the lack of storytelling quality among the winners of a slideshow contest, and Raf wanted to know what elements would have contributed to better stories. Raf’s question sent me on a quest that resulted in at least seven blog posts in which I explored the question of what makes a good story — especially in presentations.

Now, in his just released ebook, No Story No Fans, Raf devotes a whole chapter to what makes a good story.

I’m honored to have played a small part in this book’s development; I wish I had done more. Raf asked me to do several things for the book that I ended up not doing, but I think other shining stars in the story world did those things better than I would have.

Raf has created a remarkable compendium on the value of storytelling as “the New Trade.” In an attractive, accessible, reader-friendly volume with many extras (such as QR codes!), he frames the book as “start of a conversation” rather than a how-to; yet he offers tons of how-to suggestions.

Raf also includes the thought leadership of the most brilliant luminaries in the storytelling world. The chapter on the ROI of storytelling is a treasure unto itself.

Here are 10 ways this book really stood out for me:

  1. Its generosity of spirit. I have found that most story practitioners freely give away their work and ideas. Raf does so with No Story No Fans, as illustrated in the early oages of the book, where he writes, “You are given the unlimited right to spread this story. Feel free to copy parts from this book or to distribute it via email, your website, or any other means. You can print out or scan pages and put them in your favourite coffee shop’s windows or your doctor’s waiting room. You can transcribe my words onto the sidewalk, or you can hand out copies to everyone you meet.” He also gives away a preview of the book on its Web site.
  2. Some of the best-known and highly touted books about using story in business are surprisingly light on … stories. The same cannot be said of Raf’s book, which offers a cornucopia of stories.
  3. Bulleted lists of lessons in red type provide easily digestible how-to information.
  4. Chapter 3 about what makes up a good story is must reading for anyone interested in applied storytelling. Raf uses excellent examples to vividly illustrate what makes a good story. He also quotes participants in my Q&A series on how they define story.
  5. Raf nicely sums up each chapter with an “elevator pitch” at the end.
  6. Case studies in Chapter 4 illustrate some of the many ways story can be used effectively in business.
  7. Raf introduces his own model for storytelling, The Matryoshka Principle, based on nested Matryoshka dolls: “Like the nested dolls, re-storying your company, or even yourself, can only be successful if you take all layers of the power of storytelling into consideration.”
  8. Raf teaches practitioners to get at those layers through exercises.
  9. The book’s “checklist to help you design your (bigger) story” is a gem, though I wish it were longer.
  10. The list of “7 bullet points on why storytelling is useful in a business context” in the penultimate chapter sums up why this book is so valuable; through the learning gained in No Story No Fans, practitioners can apply stories to each of these contexts.

The site for No Story No Fans is also a terrific new resource, with lots of ways to connect and learn, including extended book content.