The Power of Story
The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in. —Harold Goddard
I first learned about the Power of story after reading a book by Daniel H. Pink called A Whole New Mind. While I don’t believe in the simple concept of left brain and right brain thinking from a biological lens, I do believe that there are divisions between people, and people have varying strengths and weaknesses, some people prefer simplicity, others prefer the complex, some enjoy mathematics and logic, and others excel in the arts. What they all can agree on is the power of a good story.
Story according to Pink is a narrative added to products and services, not just a unique value proposition or your selling points, a story, like a brand is greater than features, benefits and values. Although, Pink introduced me to the importance of story, stories had been affecting my decision making long before I read A Whole New Mind. If anyone has purchased an unknown style of wine before, you understand the difficulty of choosing a bottle of wine. One of the most notable times I have experienced this challenge, where the price appeared too good to be true was purchasing my first bottle of Malbec.
Story in Practice, and Wine
The Malbec I am speaking about from the Mendoza region of Argentina, if you haven’t it’s a fantastic intense red wine with velvet like texture and flavors of fruit. So let me propose a test. Which of the following wines would you buy?
Trapiche Oak Cask
“Trapiche is located in Mendoza at the foothills of Los Andes and is Argentina’s largest exported Premium brand, exporting today its wines to more than 80 countries world wide.
Trapiche represents “the richness of diversity” in Argentina. Throughout its history, it has understood like no other the strength of the viticulture in Argentina and it has specialized in obtaining the best from every site to create unique wines.
This diversity is founded in more than 1,000 ha of its own vineyards and obtaining grapes from more than 200 independents producers in the best winegrowing areas of Argentina.
In its wide and diverse portfolio, Trapiche proposes the best wine for every consumption occasion, being always at the forefront of the international trends in wine styles and packaging.
Quality, innovation and diversity have always been Trapiche’s fundamental drivers, the basis on which it stands and moves forward. “
Don Miguel Gascon
“Don Miguel Gascón Malbec hails from Mendoza, a mountainous province at the foot of the Andes Mountains, along the western edge of Argentina. Regarded as the most important wine producing province in Argentina, Mendoza accounts for more than 80% of Argentine winemaking.
By selecting grapes from vineyards at varying elevations throughout Mendoza’s high valleys, our winemakers achieve superb balance in the finished wine. The high altitude places the vineyards under intense sunlight, which translates into fruit with extraordinary flavor and aromatic expressions.
Don Miguel Gascón Malbec is a full bodied wine with a deep violet color, showcasing flavors and aromas of blackberry, blueberry, plum, dark cherry, and a hint of mocha. The wine is elegant and rich in texture, with soft, round tannins and a long velvety finish.
Gascón Malbec pairs well with grilled red meats, wild game, pasta dishes and chocolate molten dessert”
“The Thieves were hungry to search beyond California for their next varietal, and so headed down to a land of cowboys to Mendoza, Argentina and found the perfect complement to their California Cabernet Sauvignon: The Show Malbec. Enjoy The Show!
This Malbec comes from two very special regions within Mendoza, Argentina. 85% of the wine comes from the acclaimed Lujan dec Cuyo sub-region from a vineyard called “El Alto”, which is 3,000 feet above sea level. This region brings dark fruit character and broad ripe tannins to The Show Malbec. The other 15% of the Malbec comes from the Uco Valley, which is south of Lujan dec Cuyo, yet closer to the Andes Mountains and at an even higher altitude. This region adds Malbec with more acidity and complexity. The Show Malbec was aged for 9 months in 25% new French oak.
The Show Malbec is a delicious wine with flavors of blackberry, cranberry, white pepper and spice, with toasty vanilla and violets. The wine has smooth tannins, a velvety texture and a long, lingering finish.”
“Red Grapes, Water, Yeast, acids, juice and sulfates. 1997”
Why does it matter?
If you noticed, not a single one of these stories focused on the ingredients of their wine. Imagine if you’re attorney profile was a wine. Would anyone buy it off of a shelf? If all that was listed were Law School, Legal Experience, Writing skills, negotiation skills, etc. How interesting is that? How can you tell the difference between one wine and another, when they have the same ingredients? All three of these are are great wines, you can find Malbec’s for under $6 a bottle. Don’t let the price fool you. They are a very solid red wine for casual drinking. Next time you are at the store, try to choose a new wine, based on the story on the back of the bottle alone. You will also find that one of the key difference between good and great attorneys is their ability to tell a story.
It shouldn’t be a surprise as Chris Bradly mentioned in his article on The Lawyerist, that the attorney bio or profile page is often, in my experience always within the top three pages that law firm website visitors visit and spend a considerable amount of time on before converting into a lead. To me, that means it’s important to realize this and show some character, differentiation, and reasons why someone should contact you.
Additionally, for younger attorneys out there storytelling is a great way to show that you are developing your skills, and although you can’t be older, wiser or more knowledgeable in the law. You can demonstrate through story telling your capabilities, continued professional development, and active leadership role in your community.
For attorneys with experience, demonstrate that experience in creative ways that don’t end up with a wall of text, list only the most important and recent achievements. This allows you to highlight your most notable achievements and you appear fresh and competent in today’s legal environment.
Not many attorneys use their profile to communicate their personalities, tastes, backgrounds and experience. This should change. Your attorney biography should include your passions and experiences that may appeal to your potential clients. You would be surprised how many people might share your interests. Be sure to have a current professional photo on your attorney biography.
A story about an attorney doesn’t end unless your career ends. So if you are practicing law, and not updating your attorney biography, you’re sharing a story that really isn’t accurate anymore. The story is a living thing, it changes each year, new ways to tell the story develop, while parts of the story change to reflect new information and reflection on past experiences. So if you haven’t done so recently. Update your attorney biography on your website.
Stories motivate people towards becoming greater than they are. Stories are how human beings have related to each other, passed down knowledge, skills, and experience. Don’t be a list of the requirements to make an attorney. If done successfully, you will have already engaged your client in developing a feeling about what type of attorney you will be, especially when compared to other attorneys who don’t see the value of a modern biography. Also if I have done my job successfully, you will probably pick up a bottle of Malbec sometime soon. A testament to the power of story.
Photo by Justin Ornellas