Hollywood heavyweight Peter Guber explains his M.A.G.I.C. storytelling business philosophy to operators at the 2012 International LCT Show.
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — With a collection of films on his résumé that have earned more than $3 billion worldwide and 50 Academy Award nominations, film executive Peter Guber, the Chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment, knows a little something about success. He also knows quite a bit about failure.
“Failures are inevitable; growth is optional,” Guber said to an audience of limousine service operators who packed a grand ballroom at the MGM Grand during the 2012 International LCT Show. “Inside every movie I have made were the seeds of failure, and inside failure were the seeds of success. Success is very, very close to failure. The two are separated only by a fine line, so you can’t be scared of failure, and as executives, you can’t be risk averse.”
Guber, who has personally produced or executive produced films including Rain Man, Batman, and The Color Purple, explained to operators that telling a purposeful story about one’s business is a critical component for success. Storytelling is innate in every human being, he said, because it’s how our species was able to share with future generations the survival tips and rules that allowed humans to go from the bottom of the food chain to the top of the food chain.
“Stories create an emotional experience for the audience, and this is vital because experience bonds with events,” Guber said. “If you go on vacation and something magical happens to you, you’ll remember every single detail. If you’re robbed or poisoned, you’ll also remember every single detail.” This concept is especially important for chauffeured car service operators because the customer’s experience is critical to whether or not he or she will become a repeat client. If the service stands out, they will remember it, and if it’s awful, they will remember that detail as well.
Five steps to telling a purposeful story
Guber said there are five elements to telling a purposeful story, and he offered the acronym M.A.G.I.C., which stands for Motivating Audience to Your Goal by Interacting with Content.
- Motivation: Know your own motivation and intentions, because those are the first things people pick up on when they meet you. Intention comes out from your body and is spoken before any words are spoken, so make sure to put your intention before your attention. Attitude is also critical, because attitude puts aptitude on steroids. If you aren’t sure of your intentions, don’t go into any business meetings because prospects will notice that you’re “wishy-washy.”
- Audience: Don’t look at people as customers; think of them as an audience for whom you are trying to create an experience. Experiences are aimed at the heart, where they can plant deep roots of loyalty to a company or brand. Relationships trump transactions, Guber said, so being audience-centric is the best approach to building a successful business. Always think, “What’s in it for them?”
- Goal: Every story in the world has a goal, a call to action. Your call to action can be to convert people into story tellers, not just story listeners. Make your business the hero of your audiences’ story. Solve their problems and exceed their expectations. Once they are story tellers, you get exposure to a whole new audience and the work is already done for you. When selling your business to prospects, it takes some effort and skillful to craft that important trust factor, but there is often little or no resistance to a friend’s recommendation because of the innate trust factor of friendship.
- Interactivity: The limo operator’s audience doesn’t just want to be passengers; they want to be participants. You must enjoin them in the conversation and make them participants of your story so that they feel it is also their story. The story has to be a dialogue, not a monologue. Being interactive means also being a good story listener, because that engages people in the heart. Of course, many busy clients enjoy having their space to work or relax during their ride, as their lives can be a constant stream of noise and demands and the overall chaos that comes with the business life. But understanding their needs and responding appropriately, even if that means a chauffeur remains silent during the entire trip, is also a way of interacting, because it shows the audience that you have paid attention to them and are creating the exact atmosphere they want.
- Content: Once you manage to active the above four concepts, the content you share with your audience can be any story. It’s best if it’s drawn from personal experience and it must relate and resonate with the audience. Tell a story that will turn your clients into an audience, and give that audience something to enjoy and relate with. The human connection is the most vital factor because we as a species are hardwired to react to emotional connections. Guber said that hits are born in the heart, while flops are born in the head.
— Michael Campos, LCT assistant editor