Synergy

by Doug Stevenson 2002

This is the SYNERGY issue

“We never become truly spiritual by sitting down and wishing to become so.

You must undertake something so great that you cannot accomplish it unaided.”

Phillips Brooks

SYNERGY

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Synergy is defined as combined action or operation. It simply means working together. Mastermind groups are about synergy. Working with a mentor or coach is a synergistic relationship. I like the above quote for this month because it eloquently speaks to where I am in my career and in my life, and to the need for synergy.

Story Theater is an outgrowth of tremendous synergy. As a result of this synergy, Story Theater has taken me all over the United States and now to England and back.

If you are trying to build your business alone – you are going to suffer from one of the most debilitating diseases known to man or woman – singular ignorance. You won’t know what you don’t know because there is noone to witness your mistakes. You must know to grow.

Others can show you the way. They have been there. Get some synergy going. Connect with people.

Find people who can help you. Get in a mastermind group. Join a club or association. Take a class. Hire a coach or find a mentor. AND…join the new Yahoo Story Theater discussion group. Details are at the end of this newsletter!

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THE UNIVERSAL POWER OF STORYTELLING

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Deborah and I recently ventured “across the pond” in a big fat plane to hobnob with speakers and trainers at the Professional Speakers Association of Europe(PSA) Annual Convention in Daventry, England.

Marie Mosely and Bob Harvey, the co-chairs of the event, had invited me to do a Story Theater keynote on Saturday morning for the 250 members in attendance.

Marie had seen me at NSA conventions and thought her colleagues in Europe would enjoy my rowdy style and original Story Theater techniques. Talk about synergy. She needed my program for her conference and I needed her audience to expand Story Theater to Europe.

In the keynote, I performed my streaking story and then analyzed what I had done. Afterward, I was mobbed with eager speakers asking questions and sharing ideas on how they could incorporate more storytelling into their programs.

A week later, in Birmingham, England, 24 of us got together for a one-day Story Theater workshop. What transpired in that small conference room was nothing short of amazing.

Brendan Power from Ireland got up and, using techniques he had just learned, performed a very powerful story about the discrimination he and his family faced during his childhood. Ian Woodall from the Principality of Andorra, told a harrowing wartime tale of stepping on a landmine and surviving. Abigail Wright from Hertfordshire, England, had us all laughing as she discovered her comedic style during an improvisation exercise.

What I learned from the people in that room is that stories have the same transformational effect in any language, in any culture and in many forms. Their power lies in their universality. We all share common human experiences and stories allow us to experience that bond as no other form can.

That’s good news for us Americans who are invited to speak overseas. Your stories will work…if…you do your homework. Before venturing to another country, you will need to run your stories and especially, your humor, past someone who can save you the embarrassment of saying something offensive.

Here is an example. In one of my stories, I do a bit about getting a cup of coffee and some cookies from the food table in the Red Carpet Club at O’Hare. On my way back to my seat, I see on the departure board that my plane is delayed for a second time. In frustration, I toss the hand with the cookies up in the air and let go of the cookies, saying, “I got so upset, I tossed my cookies.”

This always gets a laugh – in the States. In England, it got uncomfortable stares. I was later informed that in England, the word “tossed” describes masturbation! What was a funny double-entende instantly became inappropriate and gross.

The lesson…do your homework.

I also was pleased to see how easily people from different cultures were able to integrate Story Theater principles into their stories, without compromising their unique styles. Hey…this stuff works everywhere!

There were Brits, Scots, Irish, Belgians and even two Andorrans in that room (Andorra is a country between Spain and France, twice the size of Washington DC). We all shared a commonality that was revealed in our stories.

As we take time for ourselves this holiday season and reflect on the challenging year that we are just completing, let us remember that we are all one. Let us dwell not on what seperates us, but on what brings us together and makes us one world community.

This past year has given us many reasons to be suspicious of others. The cumulative effects of 9/11, Enron and the weak economy, are enough to cause one to lose hope.

Those events have had a direct impact on us as speakers and trainers. There are fewer events happening, and for many, less income. Our clients are hurting and they look to us to inspire them, to reflect the light at the end of the tunnel that they may not be able to see. In order to reflect that light to others, we must see it for ourselves.

What is the uplifting story of hope that you will bring forward since the events of 9/11? What did you learn about yourself and others? How did 9/11 make you grow? How are you different?

The world needs to hear those stories. As you sit around the dinner table with friends and family this holiday, tell your stories and ask others to do the same. Lift each other up. Let’s all move into 2003 with renewed hope and enthusiasm, knowing that there is a divine plan and all is well.

Happy Holidays from my family to yours.

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THE STORY OF A BOOK

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Two years ago, I embarked on the exhilarating journey of writing a book and getting it published by a major publisher. I still don’t have a book to hold in my hand and sell. The exhilaration has now turned into pragmatic dedication. In other words, I’m still on the journey, but the path has had some twists and turns.

Over the course of this journey, I’ve written and sent out query letters; composed and distributed three different book proposals to interested agents and publishers; and have met with three New York literary agents who wanted to represent me. I even had a promising deal with a BIG New York acquisition editor at one of the BIG New York publishers… fall through after six months of discussions!

With their invaluable input and guidance, I have now written MOST of a how-to book and MOST of another business novel. Two partially completed books, but nothing to hold in my hand. Am I discouraged? Not a wit!

I am back where I started two years ago, but I am not in the same place at all. I have an entirely new perspective based on many lessons learned along the way. I am back to the book that I set out to write two years ago and have begun the new journey of self-publishing.

Sound familiar? If so, here are some lessons I learned that might help you towards your book.

1. Everybody has a different idea of what you need to do and how you need to do it. They are all potentially right. If you can relax and enjoy the ride, the gift is in the process.

2. Literary agents are a great help in determining if you have a saleable book and who will buy it. Just like publishers, there are big ones, medium sized ones and small ones. The challenge is to find one that fits for you. They are good folks who live to help writers get published. They are not, however, absolutely necessary.

3. The BIG publishers will only buy a book that they KNOW they can sell. Therefore, if your book is different or blazes a new trail, and there is no proven market for it, it is up to YOU to define the audience and prove that your book is saleable. This may mean self-publishing and selling it yourself. Publishers are in the risk-reduction business.

I did not know what I did not know. After two years of synergy – I know more, but still very little. There are people that can help me self-publish and sell my book and I am asking for that help.

4. I am the only one who truly knows what this book needs to become. I have a vision. It is therefore up to me to manifest my vision through self-publishing. At a certain point, you’ve got to make a commitment and get it done.

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Copyright 2005 by Doug Stevenson. Reprinted with permission. Doug Stevenson is the creator of the Story Theater Method. He is an author, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. Reach Doug at www.storytheater.net or 800.573.6196