Tell To Win – Review


Peter Guber, former CEO of Sony Pictures, uses Tell To Win to convince businesses to unleash the power of story. It is an engaging book that draws on a wide variety of stories from successful people, and it is worth reading for anyone interested in how narrative can be used to string facts together in an emotional way. 

The author starts off in Part One by describing the power that a story can have. The book is full of his personal examples, all of which are entertaining. Here, he draws on his failure to sell the Las Vegas mayor on hosting a minor league baseball team. After convincing the reader that stories do have power, the author follows it up with the elements of a story and who can tell it.

The short analysis of what makes a story is great. Though there is not much information given, you will learn exactly what a story is and how to frame a story when you present it. One of the things I really liked about this book was the discussion about “violation of expectation” and how it makes a story.

The last chapter of Part One is titled The Story That Runs Your Story. This chapter contains very little information and I would recommend skipping it. The author talks about Deepak Chopra and narrative medicine and getting past the story that “runs” you so you can tell other stories effectively. Not helpful.

Part Two contains more practical information about how to craft stories, tell stories, and deliver them. It is still light on the “how-to” aspect of storytelling, but it does have many great examples that should help you gain perspective on storytelling as an art form. While this section is good, how it relates to business seems like an afterthought rather than a main thrust most of the time.

This book is great, and one that I would recommend to anyone that wants to learn more about the power of story to convey truths, whether in business or not. Not surprisingly, it is told through stories instead of a practical how-to guide, but it still would have been nice to include more practical advice throughout.

*Pros
– Great read, great examples, easy to follow.
– Subject matter handled with ease. You will learn more about the hidden power of story.
– Will help anyone convey information in story format. I can see this being very useful for non-fiction writers from all walks (even though oral storytelling is much more powerful according to the author)

*Cons
– Most of the professionals quoted are from UCLA, where the author teaches. Would have been nice to expand research and expertise beyond.
– While you will realize the power of story, the how-to most has to be derived from the many examples
– Hard to think of this as a “business book.” It’s a good book that is really addressed to a wider audience than business alone.