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E-Book Testimonials

"Thomas Clifford has made something useful here. This report will give you some really catchy, useful ideas.

It made me reconsider how I do what I do, so you might give it a look-see, too!" 

Chris Brogan, President, Human Business Works 

"Tom Clifford is by trade a filmmaker. For most of his life, he rarely wrote anything longer than a brief comment in the margin of a script. 

Now, though, he's producing tens of thousands of words a year, first as a Fast Company "Expert Blogger," and then as a writer for the Content Marketing Institute. 

How did Tom go from a non-writer to a prolific and much-read one? His eBook, '5 (Ridiculously Simple) Ways . . . , ' holds some of his secrets."

Mark Levy, Author of "Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content"

“Tom is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet—if you have the privilege to meet him. And he does sterling work as well. But don’t just take my word for it.

Read this free report and you’ll not just love its tone and content, but learn a lot as well.”

Sean D’Souza, Psychotactics.com

“Anyone who wants to improve their writing needs this e-book. A lot of ebooks are short because they just don’t have much substance to offer. They’re not worth your time (and so are many of the long ones, too, for that matter). Tom’s is short because he’s so good at giving you only what you need to know. 

‘5 (Ridiculously Simple) Ways to Write Faster, Better, Easier’ lives up to its promise by example as well as in the words themselves. Tom used the very same techniques he teaches you to write this book. 

And what’s in here is not just a rehash of the same tired ideas you find coming from people who have suddenly fancied themselves as writing gurus. There are tricks in here I never heard of (like the Writing Funnel) and some I had forgotten about and was glad to be reminded of (like Sporadic Writing).” 

Michael Martine, Blog Alchemist, Remarkablogger.com 


How to Tell a Story with NPR's Scott Simon

Got three minutes? Here are some neat tips on how to tell a story from NPR's Scott Simon. (RSS readers click thru.)


PS. Hat tip to employee engagement coach David Zinger for the video.


Believe Me: A Free Business Storytelling Book for Innovators

Extraordinary Business Storyteller Michael Margolis has had his new storytelling book out for just a short while now. It's called, "Believe Me: Why Your Vision, Brand, and Leadership Need a Bigger Story."

In the holiday spirit, Michael is now releasing the book to everyone as a free digital unabridged download version.

I bought my copy the day it came out on Amazon.com but, hey, you can now get your copy for free. And yes, it's a fabulous book and I highly recommend it. Check out the book's awesome reviews on Amazon.com for yourself.

Heck- what are you waiting for? Go grab your free digital download from the book's website, "Believe Me The Book."

PS. If you're going to tweet this, mention @getstoried or hashtag #bigstory.


Top 10 Most Rockin' Posts of 2009

Here's a baker's dozen of my most popular articles in 2009. FYI: Not every article was written this year, but hey, that's ok, right?

If you like these articles, you can read more in popular posts.

Thanks to everyone who read, commented, or shared these articles. Your support has rocked me throughout the year. I wish you a rockin' 2010.

1. 17 Invisible LinkedIn Tricks Revealed
Lots of hidden gems in this one! I created this list after presenting live LinkedIn workshops to nearly over 450 people this year. It's the tips and tricks 99% of the people on LI totally miss or don't use. My most popular article ever in three years of blogging.

2. My 22 Best On-Camera Interviewing Tips Ever
The ultimate guide for interviewing someone. Heck, there's great tips if you're ever going to appear on-camera. This one generated lots of comments.

3. 10 Tips to Create Your "Remarkable" Corporate Video
On oldie but goodie. Seems like this riff will remain a "classic" for some time.

4. Are You Asking These 11 Stimulating Interview Questions to Capture Your Company’s 'Honest-to-Goodness' Video Story?
Here's a list of neat questions you can keep with you at all times. Use them just about anywhere, anytime.

5. Tom's Twitter Profile
Most readers miss this page because it's the page Twitter folks see from my Twitter profile. What makes it so unique? It's where I share my many passions outside of media-related topics.

6. 7 Interesting Storytellers to Follow on Twitter
Even if you're not on Twitter, you'll definitely enjoy reading the tweets from these very cool people.

7. 3 Steps to Make Your Corporate Video Jump Off the Screen!
Just integrating these three simple elements will go a long way in transforming your media into something engaging and believable.

8. 7 Sure-Fire Steps for Creating Your Company’s Documentary
After 25 years in the biz, this is my "DNA Code" to visual narrative storytelling for organizations.

9. 9 Super Simple Ways to Rock Your Company Video
This got tweeted by Guy Kawasaki and wow- it got tons of eyeballs!

10. The Hero's Journey Pt.2: Preparing the Video Interview
Of course, preparing for an interview is just as important as the interview itself.

BONUS: Ummm...this is the "baker's dozen part. :-)

11. The Fascination Method
Creative writer and positioning guru Mark Levy pens the first-ever guest article here. Mark's idea is so cool anyone can use this technique for just about anything.

12. Three Keys to Good Storytelling
And this second guest post article rocks, too. It's written by the Blue Dot Productions documentary team- quantum activists and brilliant leaders in conscious filmmaking.

13. My Interview with Author and Communications Coach Nick Morgan
You've read Nick's awesome book, "Trust Me: Four Steps to Authenticity and Charisma," right? No? Here's a glimpse. It's a must-read book!


PS. If you want to share this list, you can with the "Share Article" button below.


19 Often Overlooked Questions to Propel Employee Conversations 

Smart leaders ask interesting questions.

These questions are ignored by many; used by a few.

Here are a handful of questions to help you bridge the gap from "cubicle to community."

The companion article to this post is "19 Surprising Questions To Help You Energize Employee Conversations."

These 38 questions in total will provide you some amazing answers for any media program you are designing and implementing.

Your mileage may vary but I wonder which ones might work for you?

What would happen if we:

1. Connected disconnected pieces to show the “big picture?”
2. Created a visual map making it easy for everyone to know where we’re headed?
3. Shared more success stories?
4. Showed stories of how problems were solved?
5. Showed stories of how ideas failed?
6. Learned to be more trusting?
7. Invited employees to share their personal leadership tips?
8. Listened by asking what matters most to them?
9. Simplified complex business ideas with personal experiences?
10. Encouraged and told stories that point to something bigger than ourselves?
11. Presented more personality and humanized our company?
12. Started thinking “community” instead of “corporate?”
13. Saw or heard stories of leaders capturing our imaginations?
14. Told employees why we are in business in the first place?
15. Demonstrated our values in action when recruiting potential candidates?
16. Stopped using or creating strategies that don’t work?
17. Simplified things?
18. Considered today as the first day we had a communications department?
19. Integrated employees regularly in our communications?

What's your take?
What questions have you used to drive employee conversations? What approaches work for you?


PS. If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it with the "Share Article" button below.

Originally posted in FastCompany.com.


Boosting Employee Engagement with Multimedia Storytelling: Jim Haudan Interview 

As soon as I had this book in my hands, I knew I had to interview Jim Hauden!

“The Art of Engagement: Bridging the Gap Between People and Possibilities” is not only an engaging piece of work, it’s practical, relevant and compelling. And the real kicker? Jim is a big proponent of visual storytelling.

It doesn't matter what position you hold, what title you have or how long you've been with your organization. If you're wondering how to inspire and connect people to their work and to your organization's "big picture," consider this book your survival manual. Get it. Read it. Use it. Repeat.

Thanks, Jim, for sharing your time and insights with us here. I hope your book and this interview inspires everyone reading this as much as it has inspired me!

Lately, we’re hearing a lot of talk about employee engagement. What is it, really, and why does should anyone care?
“Engagement” has become a somewhat dangerous word in the workplace. Some people think “engagement” is a recycled version of “people are happy here, and we know this because our employee satisfaction scores are high.” But that’s a far cry from true strategic engagement, where people are fully mobilized to bring something to life that doesn’t yet exist.

Strategic engagement requires three things:
1. The ability to think in systems,
2. Being connected to the strategy in the way that’s most relevant to you, and
3. The knowledge that allows you to take actions make a difference

First, engagement absolutely requires the ability to think in systems. Many of the most important things in our lives are systems. It’s critical to see how everything fits together. Then, it’s just as important to see how your own work fits into the whole and how you contribute to the business – how you make a real difference. This knowledge makes you think and act in very different ways. How all this happens is astutely connected to the way people want to be engaged. It requires tapping into their curiosity, helping them feel comfortable and safe in saying what they think, and allowing them to take part in solving the puzzles of the business.

Why do employees become disengaged at work? What are some of the main forces behind it?
Disengagement happens when people see themselves as separate, as doing work that isn’t connected to the success of the business and to what their co-workers are doing. Engagement is defined in ways that are relevant not to the leader, but to the follower. Bigger than all that, disengagement is a result of people not believing that they’re part of the future, that they don’t make enough of a difference. It’s those internal voices that tell us that we’re not really as good as we think we are, that keep us from seeing our place in the system or how we contribute.

Engagement and money. Is there really a connection?
We can cite productivity statistics, satisfaction statistics, and engagement statistics. They all point to the same conclusion – when we tap into the heads, hearts, and hands of our people, we get better results. Better said, we need to access the dormant human potential of all the people in our organizations. Leaders need to help people to bring out the best versions of their people so they can mobilize around the strategy that we are trying to bring to life for the future.

You’re a big advocate of using stories to ignite conversation and move people into action. How can organizations harness the power of multi-media to help employees feel and act more connected to their work and the organization’s mission?
A number of companies are starting to see the difference between using multi-media to “tell and sell” and using it to create insight and to model examples of success. One company calls their examples “proof points” of what behavior looks like when it is in concert with a new strategy. Multi-media can be a powerful way to answer one of the most profound questions that people rarely ask regarding strategy: “What does it look like?” As long as people are concerned that what they think it should look like might be different from what leaders are picturing, they’ll sit back and wait for others to go first. But if leaders can vividly create insight through multi-media in terms of what it looks like when strategy is being executed, we can start to close that gap. We begin to reduce the apprehension that people feel when it comes to taking the risk to bring new strategies to life.

Having engaged employees is only half of the equation. Strategy execution is the other half. How can video or audio stories help leadership execute their vision and strategies so everyone on board “gets it?”
Engagement without purpose is, well, purposeless. It’s like teamwork without a challenge. If you’re pursuing engagement for engagement’s sake, it’s a waste of time. But if you see a challenge that needs to be brought to life, and know that people are the ones who are asked to bring it to life, engagement is the mechanism, and strategy is the target for that engagement.

What would you say to those who think multi-media stories can’t a make a difference in their engagement efforts?
I’d say, “Rethink your assumptions.” Multi-media doesn’t have to be glitzy and aggressive. It can’t be just a show-and-tell in an attempt to persuade people to become motivated and inspired. That’s a total fallacy because people ultimately inspire themselves. As leaders, we create the opportunity for people to be inspired on their own by inviting them to think about the business and their role in it.

Here’s an example. Hampton, one of our hotel clients, is working mightily to redefine the role of a general manager. There are a lot of ways to use multi-media to simply tell people what leadership thinks they need to do to succeed in that new role. However, a better use of multi-media is to create a story that is documented from the associate perspective, the customer’s perspective, and the community perspective. This is the way to show the impact that a general manager has on people’s lives when they lead with excellence. They can figure out the “how’s” on their own.

From your perspective, what’s the biggest mistake people make?
When it’s time to engage their organizations in strategy, leaders can forget what it’s like “not to know.” They may have been working on strategy for six months, and may have become bored by content that hasn’t yet been fully understood by their people! Henry Ford once asked his marketing department, “When are we going to stop running that ad?” The response was, “Sir, we haven’t released it yet.” There is a gap between what’s new to one group and what’s old to another group, and that gap tends to create incorrect assumptions.

Any advice for organizations thinking about integrating storytelling in their engagement strategies?
The key is to make storytelling part of your entire culture. The most successful organizations create the opportunity for people to tell stories that illustrate, reinforce, and personalize the behaviors that are most critical to future success. For instance, if your strategy includes extraordinary customer intimacy, open meetings by telling stories about examples that have occurred in your own life that can be translated into your business strategy. Another example could be risk-taking, ways of providing innovative ways to think about products, services, and processes. Ask people to place a spotlight on this aspect of your strategy by telling stories. Use experiences that people have every day to challenge the way we are executing our strategy.

Jim Haudan's bio:
For the past 20 years, Jim Haudan has not only built a thriving business, but has helped numerous individuals unleash their hidden potential. With origins as a coach and school administrator, its easy to see what led him to co-found a company dedicated to business learning. His innovative, creative methods draw people into a business by tapping into basic human curiosity and intelligence. By fully engaging people in their work, they become ready, willing and able to deliver on company strategies, producing real results. Root Learning has made the list of the Best Small and Medium Companies to work for in America for five straight years and was recently recognized by the Wall Street Journal and Winning Workplaces as one of the top small employers with exceptional workplaces. Obviously, Mr. Haudan is on to something.

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