Great leaders are great storytellers. But as a leader, it’s not your job to tell a great story.  It’s your job to drive great performance — for your cause, your team and yourself.  Good storytelling might be emotionally rewarding — but does it create results? Behavioral science gives us powerful insight into what fuels choices and change — but how do we apply it in real world situations? Our mission is to help you build a narrative that is not just a story, but a powerful performance engine.

Think of this as the narrative version of chocolate and peanut butter. By fusing the best tenets of storytelling with the cutting edge insights of behavioral science, we can build something entirely new: a scientifically based performance engine with real emotional impact, designed to last through all the setbacks of the real world.  That’s what we’ve been working on for years. And that’s what our work is all about. 

More specifically, the SPARK narrative programs can:
  • Help you identify the hidden strengths and, possibly, the nagging weaknesses in your current narrative.
  • Coach you and your team to be more effective storytellers, from your largest campaigns to your daily interactions.
  • Offer field-tested, proven strategies to make your audience more emotionally invested, to fuel performance, and overcome the inevitable setback.
  • Give you specific, evidence-based criteria to make your own work stronger, and to evaluate the work that others do for you.
  • Deliver tools, ideas and insights you can use to create fresh narratives or reboot stale ones. 
  • Build a new narrative structure to drive better performance for your campaign, your team — and for yourself.

Our signature workshop, The Science of Storytelling, teaches the core elements of our model, and gives you new tools, insights and strategies to build a better narrative. If you’re looking to make a bigger impact, find new tools to build performance, or energize your team, it’s a great place to start.

the science of storytelling

our signature workshop

What does every kayaker know that every CEO needs to?

What narrative insight saved Bruce Springsteen’s career (and can save your brand)? 

When George Washington’s troops refused to re-enlist during the darkest days of the American Revolution, what story did he tell that convinced every one of them to finish the fight?

And how can these stories help with the challenges you’re facing right now?

Our signature “Science of Storytelling” workshop blends storytelling, science and business strategy into a session designed to get you started on your new narrative journey. 

  • Storytelling. We tell true stories from history, business, politics and culture — from Michael J. Fox to the US Army War College to the movie Inside/Out.  We explain how a narrative reset relaunched Bruce Springsteen’s career, how important it is to choose a worthy adversary, and the story Douglas MacArthur told that led to his Medal of Honor. 
  • Science. Through these stories, we teach the core elements of the SPARK model and the science behind the stories: the principles of narrative structure, behavioral economics, neuroscience or cognitive psychology that explain why these stories made a difference. 
  • Strategy. With every element, we offer specific tools and strategies that help you apply this learning for your core audience, your team and yourself.

At the end of this workshop, your team will feel inspired, energized, and armed with new tools to transform the story that you’re telling: to your customers, your colleagues….and to yourself.

In the past few years, we have conducted these workshops for leaders from Pfizer, Kaiser, Novartis, AARP, Research!America, Georgetown, REI, Adidas, Taco Bell, The Nature Conservancy, UCSF, and dozens more.  References are available on request. 

Beyond our signature workshop, we also create tailored programs depending on the specific needs of your team.  Each of our programs is built around three core elements: we tell stories, we show the science that fuels those stories, and we give you specific strategies to help you apply that strategy to your own narrative programs.  

Narrative Reset

Narrative Reset

Starting a new project? Trying to freshen up an old one? Or just looking for a boost for team morale? Our narrative reset offers insight to engage your audience at a deeper level, to break through competitive clutter or break up apathy.

You'll learn Michael J. Fox's insight on holes that don’t stay empty, how the behavioral scientist Daniel Kahneman perfectly explains the difference between Homer Simpson and Spock, and what the US Army War College has in common with Joseph Campbell.

Everyone on your team will leave the workshop feeling refreshed and inspired, with specific tools and strategies to tell a new story.

Fuel Performance

Fuel Performance

Since time began, stories have been our instruments of change. In this workshop, we talk about how to build change narratives – stories that will get people to act.

We’ll talk about what every successful political campaign has in common, how two people changed the fate of the children of Vietnam, and why you never want to pay off your biggest credit card first.

Through stories like these, we'll leverage cutting edge insights from mindset science, behavioral economics and cognitive psychology. We'll share the power of the "one degree shift", how to change brain chemicals to overcome barriers, and the most effective narratives to turn huge problems into real progress.

You'll get new insights into what kinds of stories get people to act -- and specific ideas for how you might apply those strategies to your situation.

Build Resilience

Build Resilience

Setbacks are a universal part of every story. These programs draw on stories of our favorite setbacks, from Tylenol, Michael Jordan and General Douglas MacArthur.  We’ll go over the surprising strategy  that proved most successful in a study of 140 companies facing crises.

We’ll connect those stories to key insights from neuroscience, resilience and hardiness, and the power of the “explanatory style.”  We’ll talk about why failure can strengthen your relationships with your team and your customers. And you’ll learn why one of our favorite mantras has become “Don’t worry. It’s only the abyss.”

At the end of this program, you'll have a new attitude about setbacks, and specific new strategies to overcome them.

Narrative Kickstart

Narrative Kickstart

Sometimes you just need a good new story for yourself. Our creative kickstart gives you a whole new set of stories you can tell.

With the creative kickstart, we go one step farther: we work with your team to create a new architecture for your narrative. We identify the weaknesses that might be holding you back, and the opportunities you might not have seen before.

Then we build a fresh narrative playbook, with a set of sample stories, strategies and insights that you can use to fuel your narrative for years to come.

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