I first heard this phrase “facts tell, stories sell” when I came across my first Dan Lok’s video on YouTube titled “How to Sell Anything to Anyone Anytime – SELL ME THIS PEN”. I fell in love with the phrase instantly because I agree with it totally!
Imagine me coming to tell you that I have a solution to all your money problems and I want to share with you the secrets on how to be a millionaire and after much speaking, you get all motivated and pumped up at the end of the talk, seminar or whatever form of public speaking it was. Then, you rushed out to catch another glimpse of me—your new inspirer or mentor—in adoration and total awe.
And there I was, boarding a bike or any other form of public transport! You will probably wonder, “If he truly has money, shouldn’t he have his own car? Or at least be taking a drop or Uber?” And all that energy and burning desire you had built within due to my message, well you will agree with me that all that will go down the drain! Right?
Even if I had given you all the laid out principles or “facts” that will definitely work if applied, if I don’t back it up with my own success stories, you still won’t be motivated enough to give what I had said a try.
Many people might claim to have the knowledge or principles to unlock the secrets of the universe, but we will only follow the ones whose lives are evident and proofs to their claims. It’s as some will say, “empty barrels make the loudest noise”. We are not after what you (think you) know, but what you do, your evidence.
I remember some time ago, my dad handed me a book on how to be successful. As I read it, I decided to stop for a moment and turn to the back of the book to see the author and read his biography—a Nigerian lecturer or professor with a number of academic qualification but nothing about his business, company or wealth. Though there were so many motivational quotes (Oh my Lord, I love quotes!), I couldn’t bring myself to finish the book.
But when I took up Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” and Dan Lok’s “F.U Money”, I devoured them and took down keynotes which I peruse every now and then…before I lost the note. This is because the first writer was preaching “Facts“, but Robert and Dan were preaching “Stories“—their “success” stories.
During my service year, the corp members serving in Owerri and environs were instructed to assemble one day at the Owerri stadium where a lady addressed us telling us about the same HSE, PMP, HRM, etc short courses different speakers come to pitch to you in the everyday SAED classes when still in the NYSC orientation camp. But unlike the previous speakers in the camp, she got about half the attendees registered and committed to the program.
Why? The speakers that came to pitch in the camp came with power-packed facts, but this lady, she backed hers with so much “real life” stories (well maybe) that the corp members (included me) got caught up in them and committed right there.
If you search Google or YouTube for “How to Make Money Online in 2019” and you see two results: “How to make money in 2019” and “How I made my first $1,000 online”, which one will you open? You are most likely going to view the second one, right? Why? Because we want to know what works or worked for you, and not what you think will work for us. And people trust your words more when you back it up with your own stories.
There is little to no passion and self-confidence in telling facts as there will be if you are telling your own stories. There is little to no attention or motivation when an audience perceives that there is no correlation between your life and what you are telling them. That’s why organizers of church services, seminars, and talk shows are very stringent when it comes to appointing speakers for their events. If you want to organize “an entrepreneurial workshop”, you won’t invite a simple keke napep driver, but rather someone who runs a keke napep transportation business.
In today’s society, what are the facts, and what are the stories? The facts are:
- “Hard work pays”,
- “Get quality education, come out with a university degree and you should be able to land a good job”,
- “If you start a business, avoid spending your capital but rather invest your profit back into the business, then over time you could become a successful business mogul”, etc.
A message was being shared on social media on how a guy was embarrassed in the class by a professor, saying that he wears “uniform” (same clothes) to class every day. It further addressed said person’s predicament in the university, and then whoosh, shoots to the future, where the said person comes off as the manager of an oil company. And then it closes with these same facts stated above—hard work pays… blah blah blah.
This is a “factious message” and not a story as the writer may portray it because now I’m curious and confused as a reader because I have questions, “how did such person with such belittling beginning rise up to an exalted end? What and what did he have to do (that I too can do) to uplift his predicament and change his situation?”
You can see that these are lacking and answers to these questions are what any person in a similar predicament really needs! The solution!! Not empty motivation and false hope with a pat on the back telling them everything will get better, all they need do is figure it out for themselves!
Oh, because we are living a fairy tale, right?
Now, what are the stories today? You guessed it.
Hustle oh! Make you pick and blow!
Why do you think almost every Nigerian youth is flocking towards the “hustle” or whatever it’s called? Because these are the stories that are selling today! It’s so preached that even a baby still in the mother’s womb is interested in doing it.
Even some parents take their wards by the hand—accompanied with wine—to appeal to successful “hustlers” to take in their ward under “apprenticeship” and teach them the hustle. If not for the restrictions of moral foundations and religious strongholds, probably nobody (probably me too) will have any refrain from getting into the hustle.
Alrighty, story time!
Osakpolor is an unemployed graduate with an MBA but two years down the line, he’s still hanging on to “facts” that he will eventually be lucky if he’s patient. But he’s got bills to pay, his fiancée is thinking of leaving him, his parents aren’t been hospitable to him because he’s still under their roof”. When will things get better?
Then one faithful day, returning on foot with his CV clasped under his arm, IK (his former coursemate) pulled over to offer him a lift in his Venza.
“Wow, Ik is this your ride?”
“Guy, na my third car be this sef, I’ve got a Benz and a Range Rover too. I even just finished my second house.”
“But how you take make this money?”
“Guy! Na the hustle oh. Work nor dey this country, las las school na scam. Na so I take carry files up and down dey look for work like you before I go learn this work. I don dey the game for only 6 months when I take pick correct block, see as I blow! Come and join my HK make I teach you work and soon you sef go blow!”
Now Osakpolor have to decide, “facts” or “stories”?
Well, four months down the lane, Osakpolor is chatting a foreign woman confessing undying love for her in the guise of a white soldier called to duty in some third world country.
What about crossing the Saharan desert in search of greener pastures? With so much dehydrated and fallen bodies count, many people are still determined to take such risks? Why? Because the dead bodies lost in the sands are not alive to tell their stories. Rather, the stories echoing in our ears are those coming from across the border, the stories or testimonies of the triumph of those who have successfully crossed. And that is just about enough motivation to get anyone hooked.
So storytellers and motivational writers and speakers out there, let’s share detailed success stories of whomever story we want to use to inspire others on a righteous path. Let’s tell their struggles, their hurdles, their rise and falls, how they persevered, and finally got their reward. That’s what we need to take on any advice, path, or offer you want to sell us on, their stories, not facts because facts tell, but stories sell.
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