The Power of the Surprising Twist in Storytelling

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In September this year Nike threw down the gauntlet with a dazzling 2-minute piece of storytelling that stars Colin Kaepernick (and his voice over) and highlights the achievements of Serena Williams as the most superb athlete of her time.

It's a video full of inspiring surprising twists.

It also highlights several other people who have made incredible achievements as athletes - with the focus on people who are not just athletes but roles models who've not just pushed the envelope but shredded it.

The surprising twist is a technique that masterful storytellers use to tell superb "change hearts and minds" stories.

Storytelling coach Bobette Buster who's book "Do Story: How to tell your story so the world listens" (which I devoured in one afternoon) shares it like this in her Medium blog “Some advice from Hollywood: The 10 Principals of Storytelling.”

"Juxtapose: Take two ideas, images, or thoughts and place them together. Let them collide. Remember German philosopher, Friedrich Hegel, here: That in posing two opposing ideas, a whole new idea is created (thesis + antithesis = synthesis). This tool wakes up your audience, and is the root of all successful stories."

The Nike ad does this brilliantly. Here's my takeaway:

>> Kaepernick may never play professional football again. He might instead become a full-time advocate. Nike's cool with that. 

Note: as of December 22, 2018 this video has been seen over 27 million times on

>> This video has some of the usual suspects of athletic super-stardom but it also focuses youth, people of color, women, people with tough handicaps (like the amazing young wrestling champion), and those who've overcome the incredible hardship of war.

>> The homecoming queen. I'll leave it at that not to ruin the surprise if you haven't seen it. It made me cry. Actually the whole video made me cry. It's that good, that profound. 

>> This is a video for the world, not for US major league football fans who are offended by players who take a stand by not standing. 

Yes there are those who think Nike is biting the hand that feeds them, but in a fascinating blog by marketing guru Bernadette Jiwa I learned it's estimated that of Nike’s $35 billion in annual revenue, $20 billion is generated overseas. Two-thirds of Nike consumers are under 35 years old.

If you're going as a speaker try better connecting with your audience through a juxtapose about yourself, your work, or someone you feature in your talk. 

Through surprise you can move them and give them powerful "aha" moments to see the world in new ways. 

We need a cadre of brilliant storytellers to get this world choosing biking, walking and public transit. Will you become one of them? How can you bring a surprising twist into your own storytelling?

5 Social Media Trends to Embrace for 2019

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With 2019 just around the corner it's time to look at 5 smart social media trends you can embrace to better tell the story of the wonderful work you do.

1. Storify Your Social

This is from a terrific blog recently by Hootsuite "Social media is pivoting from text-based platforms originally designed for desktop use (think early Facebook) to truly mobile-only networks that enable users to capture in-the-moment experiences—and Stories embody that pivot."

Bravo to Bosch eBike Systems for this wonderful short sweet storytelling video above that brilliantly showcases this concept.

No, not all of us have the budget to do this type of video but we can get creative with the cameras on our phones.

2. Encourage Company Leaders to Become Savvy Social Media Mavens

In Inc. John Hall notes "CEOs and other company leaders need to use social media to share their insights, connect with their community, and listen to their audience. They may be busy running a business, but part of doing business in 2019 is being active on social."

Walking, biking, public transit and other active mobility advocates, orgs and brands that bring their leaders front and center on social media will give people a personality to rally behind and be inspired by.

3. Actively Listen to Your Fans & Followers

Use social media to engage in real conversation not just promoting your policy, product or plan. This can lead to marvelous synergy with...

4. Artfully Re-Use Content from Your Fans & Followers

Make your audience and customers your heroes.  It works not just in presentations but in branding and marketing.

Again from John Hall in Inc. "Start looking for the best content from your followers, and consider showcasing that content (and giving credit to the creator) on your own channels. It can help grow your base and give your audience a sense of connection."

5. Format Your Content for Each Social Media Platform

Yes, it's great there are apps that save you time by re-posting what you place on Instagram to Twitter, or Facebook to Instagram etc. BUT many of them just share a link, not the actual image you worked so hard on creating. When this happens you lose serious social media momentum. 

Each social media platform not only has specific sizes for photos, and ideal length for text, the type of text you share, AND also times of day that it's best to post. Take a look here at Sprout Social's "Always Up-to-Date" image sizes for social media to make sure you know what size to create your images for each platform.

Note: Remember is a fantastic low-cost way to easily re-format images and graphics for your social media.