In 1949 Joseph Campbell published his seminal work in comparative mythology titled ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces.’ (Wikipedia Link) This publication laid bare the common thread amongst all human myth, stories and religions- that is the tale of the Hero’s Journey.
Countless well known writers, film makers and more have successfully applied this knowledge with massive success.
George Lucas based his Star Wars series on the work of Campbell and attributed his success and debt he owed to the work of Campbell.
Time Magazine placed this book in the top 100 books in English of all time. (Best and Most influential).
Surprisingly very few people know or understand the power behind storytelling and myth. Here I try to explain what this can mean for your business, and how it relates to the Social Enterprise. (Forbes Article StoryTelling For Business)
Myth is an Essential Tool
The Head of Animation For Disney Don Bluth left Disney and took 17% of its staff with him. Disney long known for story telling (now actually bases all of its movies on the ‘Hero’s Journey’) fell away from the ‘Hero’s Journey’ theme in story telling they suffered and the company almost lost itself to a hostile takeover in the mid 1980′s.
Don Bluth sticking to great story telling had critical success with his animation studio’s releases. In the 1980′s his studio repeatedly beat the poor story telling of Disney…all by using the Power of Myth and the ‘Hero’s Journey’. We are talking Huge Success too, $50 or so million and the highest grossing animation film release (up to that time) New York Times Janet Maslin said:
“(Don Bluth) owes a debt to the theories of mythology espoused by Joseph Campbell, whose ideas found a pop cultural outlet in George Lucas’s Star Wars . In congruence with the patterns Mr. Campbell detected in the myths of many different cultures, the film sets forth the idea that a loved one must die to make possible the exploits of a young hero, in this case a tiny brontosaurus named Littlefoot.”
The Little Mermaid (following the Hero’s Journey) released in 1989 was the foundation in what was to become the Disney Renaissance a near 20 year period of success. You may quickly realize the most successful films are all basically the same story…
People relate with each other and have conversations about human experience.
Avatar, Lord of the Rings, Matrix, Star Wars, The Little Mermaid, Iron Man, The Avengers, Batman, are all the same ‘Hero’s Journey’ movie and the list goes on.
How can you relate the ‘Hero’s Journey and Myth’ to your business, brand, marketing and more importantly drive sales?
Pause and ask yourself: ‘Is your Company and experience people have with it the Hero or the Villain?’
Story telling (Power of Myth) requires a change of perspective from YOU and YOUR COMPANY the center. To YOUR CUSTOMERS AND PEOPLE as the center of perspective. The Hero’s Journey requires that you invest in this change of perspective from the company to people and use Pull. (Pull is a concept developed by John Hagel and John Seely Brown that is the foundation behind the shifts in Business from the Machine Age into the Social Age):
1) Digital technology has setting in motion a shift in market power from the makers of goods and services to the people that buy them, and to talented employees from the institutions that employ them
2) The mechanism by which this shift in power from institutions to individuals takes place: That mechanism is pull.
3) Pull gives us the ability to draw from within ourselves the insight and performance required to more effectively achieve our potential.
4) The power of pull puts each of us, individually and together, in a position to collaborate in a complete re-imagination of our biggest private-and public-sector institutions, one that may eventually remake society as a whole
5) Technology is amplifying and transforming relationships.
6) Technology is revolutionary in its implications due to the changes it enables in how people find each other, interact, and collaborate to create and share knowledge.
7) (On Myth) The Power of Myth and Storytelling is how we relate human experiences and how your brand relates to human experience is through this storytelling.
Myth and Money how to Storify your Business. (Harvard Business Review Art of Purposeful Storytelling)
Remember all great stories have DEEP ROOTS.
People are having conversations right now about:
perhaps your company
and how you have helped them, or hindered them, in some way – shape – or form.
People are moved by emotion. The best way to emotionally connect other people to our agenda begins with “Once upon a time…” (Fast Co Create Why Storytelling is the Ultimate Weapon)
Powerful work first published in 1999 was the Cluetrain Manifesto. (I quote this work often). Simply put, Markets are conversations, conversations are held by people who recognize each other by the sound, tone, and inflection of voice. Businesses do not talk like people, they are often New and Improved, Better than, etc. Or Perhaps Businesses communicate in Tarzan Style Chest Beating – yelling- about themselves, rather than what value they deliver for the customer.
You must always communicate with people not at them or too them.
How is your brand communicating its message now?
Until recently we’ve only been able to speculate about story’s persuasive effects. But over the last several decades psychology has begun a serious study of how story affects the human mind. (Fast Co Create Why Storytelling is the Ultimate Weapon)
Results repeatedly show that our attitudes, fears, hopes, and values are strongly influenced by story. In fact, fiction seems to be more effective at changing beliefs than writing that is specifically designed to persuade through argument and evidence. (Fast Co Create Why Storytelling is the Ultimate Weapon)
Is your Company calling your Customers Stupid? (Ryan Air CEO Needs to Ride the Cluetrain)
KevinL Follow @kevinleversee
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