How Stories Can Turn Impossible Into the Inevitable
Jan 30, 2020
by Michael Margolis, Storied (October 8, 2019)
Another book on storytelling?
I have dozens in my office. Story and leadership, story and marketing, story and change, story and writing, story and relationships, story and cooking, just to name a few. Over the years, however, I’ve noticed the authority Michael Margolis holds for innovators and leaders in diverse industries. He is known as an authentic, brilliant, and fun master of storytelling and cultural anthropology. A shaman for disruptors. And a chocolate addict.
Michael offers three steps of his foundational framework, listed in the table of contents. In an era where we are suspicious of three-step oversimplifications, that’s a strike against the book, or so I thought. Michael goes there. And that’s where we, the readers, are.
No matter how complex the world has become, we need a method that is real, doable, and adaptable. A way that runs deep and is flexible at the same time. This book does that. Once you understand and feel the three dynamics (and Michael makes sure you do), you begin to recognize them in the transformative stories you hear and use them in those you tell. He accompanies you as YOU discover your own human capacity to handle this power.
I admit to holy envy. I wish I wrote this book. But then I think, I did, and we all did because Michael names what we have already known but could not name. And that is powerful.
The book is not all sunshine and lollipops about the magic of storytelling. Quite the opposite. Michael makes startling assertions here. Take for example his claim of being able to “bend the curve of reality” such as overcoming limitations of time, money, and people. Or the statement that “we are best at teaching what we need to learn most” including the riddles that have been pestering us all of our lives. Here is another one: conventional view of "change as a burning platform" has become counterproductive. These are not mere words though, but insights that are tried and tested in the furnace of his vast professional experience of helping organizations disrupt, integrate, and change a larger story.
He claims that we can turn what seems impossible into the inevitable. I thought, "yeah right, show me." As the current of the book floated me forward, I emerged on the other side with a new capacity to do just that. Now I know I can and I know how.
For courageous corporate managers and executives, social change revolutionaries, or unstoppable compassion workers, across industries, age, and worldviews, Michael brings language that resonates with our shared human experience. There is no lingo. No made-up complexity. No false promises. Instead, you find kindness, truth, and zero manipulation. It's like being thirsty and drinking a cup of clean, cold water.
This storytelling art and science can be overwhelming. Sometimes we feel it is simply too hard to apply all the good advice we hear. But it need not be. At Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, they have a saying “You spot it, you got it.” (Look for 90%, follow the ice-cream cone lesson, and many more.) This book is not just another inspiring book to put on the shelf after you read it and then hope to train yourself and apply it, someday, in the future. Instead, you read it, you got it. It works before you decide that you will make it work.
Pages are paced with well-selected quotes, master’s tips, tried tricks, and powerful exercises. There are humorous landings as well as surprising valuable throw-away lines that I had to regularly copy into my notebook under the title: For Immediate Use. The series of 21 Questions for an Undeniable Story at the end of the book alone is worth 10x the price.
The author challenges (always graciously and with generosity) conventional wisdom that keeps storytelling stuck or lost in the noise. He deftly flips the classical storytelling framework on its head. In a world where the amount and cacophony of stories are bordering on oppressive, we don’t know who to trust and what to believe. Our primal wiring is stretched to the limit, he says, then offers a liberating and empowering guide that people will be discovering for a long time. STORY 10x is a riveting read about the riveting experience of being human.