Scratch the surface in a typical boardroom and we’re all just cavemen with briefcases, hungry for a wise person to tell us stories.

~ Alan Kay, Hewlett Packard Executive

In my last blog post I introduced you to the high-stakes environment of the Green Beret, where our transactions with tribal leaders are usually so intense we have to connect in five minutes or less, or we’re dead.

A question I often get is, “Yeah, cool story—but what does that have to do with me in sales, or running a small business?”

Have you noticed how rapidly things are changing? Think about it. It’s tougher than ever to sell. People are so skeptical that they won’t give you the time of day. There is almost no trust. And even if you find someone who trusts you, how in the world do you stand out in the ever-growing flood of data, tweets, texts and sound-bites?

Imagine this: What if you adopted this life or death focus around the connections in your life? Imagine a mindset and skill set that treated your relationships—not as casual encounters, like your competition does—but as deep, essential connections that are key to your survival, in life and business. What would that look like?

What can be done? How can you overcome these new realities and pain points of a trust-depleted world to increase your effectiveness in sales and leadership? The same way I dealt with that Pashtun Warlord… 

Connection and story.

One of the best ways to make deep connections to your prospects, clients, and employees is through powerful stories—your stories. This is the greatest tool for creating empathy and the rewarding social dynamic of reciprocity, where folks who work with you do things for you, simply because they want to.

Do you have a backstory of your life that you can tell in these situations? Do you have relatable stories that you can share with skeptical prospects and impatient clients? There is no greater way to bridge the trust gaps in our lives, and persuade people to buy from you and follow you.

The same way that I talked about my grandfather and agriculture with my Afghan counterpart, you can find sources of connection and pain points that will connect you at a very human level, even with the most skeptical client or employee. From there, you simply craft and apply authentic stories that connect you with them inside the story…some type of struggle and empathy for their plight is often the best approach.

More than 200,000 years of evolutionary reward for social behavior at the top of the food chain can’t be wrong. It works when lives are on the line, and it will work in your world.

This stuff never goes out of style. “Story is a business tool with irresistible power,” says the Harvard Business Review. The worst mistake you can make is to assume that the rat race tempo at which we live our life makes connection unnecessary. This is what most of the world does, and their profitability and viability in these turbulent times will continue to suffer.

Meanwhile, those of us who are seeing the trust erosion below the waterline, and who know how human dynamics really work, will continue to surge into the gap, and lead the pack.

Here is the deal, if you want to meet your sales goals, maintain solid client relationships, grow your business, contribute in your community, and lead your family in this hyper-digital and conflict-riddled world today, you should connect as if your life depends it…because, when all is said and done—it does.

Scott Mann is a Green Beret, Speaker, and President of MannUp Leadership Training. He is also the author of the #1 Amazon International Best Seller, GAME CHANGERS

Scott trains Army Green Berets, FBI, and specially vetted business leaders like the Capital One Elite Leader Program. He is a regular contributor on Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business News, and National Public Radio. Scott has been featured on Business Insider and Fox and Friends. Scott lives in Florida with his wife and three sons. To book Scott to speak and to train your tribe, contact him at [email protected]om


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