Richie Norton

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Tell to Sell: Harnessing the Power of Storytelling to Build Your Brand

Cindy Stagg is a rockstar client of mine that you will LOVE! In only a few short months she’s taken a proven concept that she has used with her business and clients and turned it into a #1 bestselling book! I did an interview with Cindy that I know will help you tell better stories, sell more products/services and build your brand:

Richie: Tell us a little about yourself and the book.

Cindy: Thanks, Richie! I’m so honored to be here. I’m a writer, and I know this sounds cliche, but I’ve been a writer my whole life. I grew up in Arizona, where I loved listening to Native American Legends in school. I was the kid who stayed in from recess just so I could write stories.

Richie: That doesn’t sound nerdy at all…

Cindy: Right! Well, I wasn’t into kickball, so writing it was! Anyway, I’ve been writing professionally for about fifteen years and started my own copywriting business, The Bright Words, about three years ago. I learned that the best articles were the ones that utilized some sort of story.

My book is called Tell to Sell: Harness the Power of Storytelling to Build Your Brand. As the title states, it’s all about storytelling and how businesses can use it to create brand alignment.

Richie: What inspired you to write it?

Cindy: I actually came up with the idea after attending a business conference in Salt Lake City last February. The theme of the conference was storytelling, and speaker after speaker stood up and told their personal stories. As I sat there listening, I realized that I was a storyteller myself, and that I could use that skill to help other entrepreneurs and businesses create alignment through stories.

Richie: Sounds like a pivotal moment.

Cindy: It was! You were one of those speakers, and your story inspired me to take my stupid idea and turn it into my smart reality. Nine months later, I have a book climbing the charts on Amazon, I’ve spoken to various groups about storytelling, my business is growing, and I’ve developed the Kitchen Table Phenomenon.

Richie: The Kitchen Table Phenomenon?

Cindy: Yes. The KTP is the process I developed for creating powerful stories. One of the things I discuss in the book is going back to your roots to start your story. My story begins when I was a kid. We had relatives from Holland who came to visit us here in the states. We didn’t have the internet back then, so except for birthday cards sent through the mail, we really didn’t have regular communication. When they arrived here, we were practically strangers! We had to get to know each other – and the way that happened was around the kitchen table. We shared meals and got to know each other through stories about each other. The kitchen table was where we forged bonds as a family.

The kitchen table is a nearly universal experience. Feelings of safety, belonging, and gathering are all part of it. When people feel safe, they’re willing to open up and start talking. And that’s when the magic happens. This is alignment.

So that is what I do. I’m an outsourced CMO of sorts. Perhaps I’m an outsourced CSO – Chief Storytelling Officer! I gather everyone within an organization around a table, and we flesh out powerful brand stories.

Richie: Besides the KTP, what else can people get by reading Tell to Sell?

Cindy: In the book, I discuss how stories engage more areas of the brain than say, a list of product features. Did you know our brains are literally designed to hear a story? I give several examples of large companies that have successfully used storytelling to sell everything from coffee to cars.

Readers will also learn about the elements and subtle nuances that make up the formula to telling good stories. Finally, they’ll learn about the three crucial keys that make up the Kitchen Table Phenomenon.

Richie: Three Keys?

Cindy: Stories, connections, and people. But they’ll have to read the book to find out why!


Why Storytelling?

Are you part of the new revolution of creative entrepreneurs, trying to get yourself and your brand recognized? Do you have a great product or service but just don’t know how to get it noticed? You know storytelling is important to your brand, but maybe you’re just not sure what your story is or how to tell it.

Whether you’re a “one man show” or an established business with employees, it can be difficult in the sea of online marketing, viral videos, mommy bloggers, adventure photographers, and even foodies to get yourself noticed, let alone make your brand stand out. The old way of advertising was to offer a list of features, maybe sing a catchy jingle, and tell someone that they needed your product. That was a great formula before social media.

But things have changed.

The new way has actually been around longer than the written word: it’s called STORYTELLING.
Human Beings are naturally wired to be drawn to stories – our brains actually crave them!
In this easy-to-digest, actionable book, Cindy Stagg show you the steps you can take right now to tell a powerful brand story that will resonate with customers and align them to your brand.

By drawing on her own personal experiences, Cindy walks you through what she calls The Kitchen Table Phenomenon and gives you the three keys essential to powerful storytelling.

Tell to Sell gives you actionable steps you can take right now:
– You will learn WHY your brand needs a story and how to benefit from it
– Learn the three crucial keys necessary for powerful storytelling and brand alignment
– How to develop and tell a great story
– How to use your story to align both employees and customers alike to your brand

Tell to Sell is a quick read that will give you lasting benefits. It provides you with the tools you need to start developing your story. Whether you’re just starting out or looking for a fresh way to sell your existing product or services, you’ll find plenty of useful information to get you on your way to brand alignment.

 Click on the book cover (below) to get your copy now!

Written by on November 18, 2015 | Permalink | Trackbacks (0) Topics:

Book Review

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Is it Time to Disrupt Yourself?

Richie Norton with the book Disrupt Yourself by Whitney Johnson
Get the book Disrupt Yourself by Whitney Johnson by clicking right here.


Choose for yourself…

Here’s what the heavy-hitters are saying about Disrupt Yourself:

Disrupt Yourself reads like a handbook for innovation: it shows the incredible value of recognizing what you are good at and finding unexpected ways to apply those strengths to the marketplace. The dramatic ‘jumps’ that Johnson encourages us to take truly form the basis of creativity and success.” – Steve Wozniak, co-founder, Apple, Inc. and Chief Scientist, Primary Data

“I have used the word ‘disruption’ to understand how some companies blossom while other wither. Whitney has applied the word in a different context – to understand why some individuals succeed in remarkable ways. Enjoyed this book!” – Clayton M. Christensen, Harvard Business School, NYT best-selling author of The Innovator’s Dilemma

“Playing it safe is not safe in today’s fast-paced marketplace. Disrupt Yourself is a must-read for anyone looking to stand out from the crowd and pursue innovation in our highly uncertain business climate.” –Eric Ries, bestselling author of The Lean Startup

“Wow! Disrupt Yourself wins the “plain English” award–which is to say I’ve seldom if ever read a better written business/career development book. The advice is compelling, clear-as-bell, research-based, and actionable. And it’ll work as well for a forty-something as a twenty-something.” –Tom Peters, bestselling author, In Search of Excellence


Disrupt Yourself is packed with powerful information that will revolutionize the way you live and work. I love it! Here’s a quick excerpt from this incredible book:

“As you embark on a journey of personal disruption, you are in search of a yet-to-be-defined market. But like an explorer, you have a plan: to discover and conquer new territory. It will sometimes feel scary and lonely, and you will undoubtedly end up in places you hadn’t anticipated. But your willingness to do things different than they’ve always been done will help you successfully discover your way up the S-curve of personal disruption.”

Richie: Why did you decide to write Disrupt Yourself?

Whitney: My “a-ha” moment around disruption came when I was reading The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen in 2005. As an equity analyst, I was already persuaded that the frameworks of disruption explained why mobile penetration in Mexico was quickly outpacing fixed-line penetration. But as I read the book closely, I wondered, do these frameworks also apply to individuals? And, if innovation is an inside game, can an organization truly drive corporate innovation without personal disruption? In 2006, I had the privilege of co-founding a boutique investment firm with Clayton Christensen, the father of disruptive innovation. As I immersed myself in applying these frameworks to investing, my ideas around personal disruption began to coalesce, beginning with one-off articles in the Harvard Business Review. In truth, though, this book would not be in your hands, if my publisher, Erika Heilman, and agent, Amy Gray, hadn’t said enough already: “Stop talking. Start writing.” Or in the words of my editor friend, Melissa Stanton, “Don’t just think it, ink it.”

Richie: How do you hope people apply the principles of the book?

Whitney: My hope that people will see this as a framework for managing change, whether at the organizational or individual level. But even more simply, my hope is that these ideas will help people to move from stuck to unstuck, or to move forward even faster.

Richie: What was your greatest take-away, personally, after researching and writing the book?

Whitney: There is a widely-held, albeit unconscious, belief in investing that if a stock is up one day, the next day, it will be down. Similarly, most of us believe that things can go our way only so long before the tide turns. What I learned in my research is that this is a fallacy. The better a stock does, the better it is likely to do. The more things go our way, the more likely they are to go our way. The more we disrupt, the better we get at riding the S-curve waves of disruption. This was a powerful learning for me.

Personally, this book for me is a game-changer and I know it will be for you too.

Get your copy!

Written by on October 23, 2015 | Permalink | Trackbacks (0) Topics:

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Startupland: How to Ask Your Friends for Money—And Stay Friends – The Story of Zendesk

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Such a privilege to receive a review copy of Startupland: How Three Guys Risked Everything to Turn an Idea into a Global Business. This book takes you on an incredible journey about what it takes to create a startup and succeed. In fact, this is “the real story of what it takes to risk it all and go for broke,” the story of Zendesk by Mikkel Svane.

Startupland is that rare book every entrepreneur wishes they’d read years ago. Mikkel Svane tells a story that will grab you by the hand and give you an honest look at what it takes to launch a successful business. Read Startupland to be inspired, entertained and to help you discover practical ways to turn your idea into a global business.

Below is an excerpt from the book about raising money from friends and family and how you can ask your friends for money–and stay friends!

Hat in Hand

So, without any other options, we did something I never originally wanted to do, but what so many founders find themselves doing. We went to friends and family and asked them to invest. I now realize it was a last desperate action. Truthfully, I didn’t realize how desperate it was at the time. But think about what a terrible thing this is to do! There was a greater chance we would fail than succeed. And here I was asking my friends for money that could be lost, that would likely turn into nothing, that almost assuredly (statistically at least) would be wasted. Why was I risking this? What would become of these relationships if things deteriorated? I wasn’t taking the long view. But I didn’t try to sell anyone either.

“You are going to lose this money,” I said to these potential funders. “Think about it like a lottery ticket. There’s a much better chance that you’ll get nothing out of it.” Still, we made this friends-and-family fundraising round a formal process, working with a lawyer to draft the documents and creating a presentation in which we pitched the idea. I invited potential investors in to meet with us. In these discussions I made it clear that they would have no control or influence over how we ran the business. (They had no experience with what we were doing, so giving them any power could only bite us in the ass.) They would be completely blind as to what was going on.

And yet, despite all of this, these people, family, friends—maybe fools—wanted to invest anyway. I was surprised by the level of interest but also so heartened. They wanted to invest because they believed in us. They believed in the crazy idea that we could make something out of nothing.

It’s also just as true that we were really lucky with the timing. The climate for individual investors was perfect. We were still months away from the credit crunch in 2008. Real estate in Denmark was crazy hot. People had equity in their houses, and they had disposable money. They saw this as another opportunity.

My old friend Michael Hansen, the big-hearted, bigmouthed so-called king of Denmark, invested a bit. My friend Joachim, a television producer, invested and told his boss, who also invested. In fact, his boss wanted to invest more than our round allowed. Word spread, and it was fun to see so much interest. Most people put in around $10,000 to $15,000; the biggest investment was around $30,000. We even turned away some people. Some of our family members really had no idea what we were talking about; they just wanted to help and be supportive. We couldn’t accept that kind of money. And we had what we needed.

How to Ask Your Friends for Money—And Stay Friends

The first rule of asking your friends for money is never to ask your friends for money. The second rule of asking your friends for money is never to ask your friends for money. OK, got it: You should never ask friends for money. That is, unless they have way too much money. In that case, knock yourself out.

If you really are so desperate that you need to raise money from friends and family, make it clear that they will never get it back.

  • Set expectations low. Make it like a lottery ticket.
  • Don’t use the Zendesk case as an example. We’re the exception. Make it into a Scratchcard lotto game—something that is fun, but most likely just a waste of money.
  • Don’t give any influence in return. People are unsophisticated in this area. They don’t know how to run a business, invest aggressively, or take risks. They may not realize that a big portion of the investment basically goes to your own salaries. Don’t provide insight into the business. If you succeed, the last thing you want on your cap table (or roster of major shareholders) is a bunch of unsophisticated investors with influence.
  • Prepare yourself mentally for disappointing a lot of people. Even if you have succeeded in setting expectations low, you will still disappoint people. Even though they believe they can afford to lose the money when they invest, their financial situation may be very different twelve or twenty-four months out. And you may ruin a lot of relationships.
  • Prepare yourself for that—and don’t do it if you cannot live with that.

Excerpted with permission of the publisher, Wiley, from Startupland: How Three Guys Risked Everything to Turn an Idea into a Global Business by Mikkel Svane with Carlye Adler. Copyright (c) 2015 by Zendesk, Inc. All rights reserved. This book is available at all bookstores and online booksellers.

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Written by on January 14, 2015 | Permalink | Trackbacks (0) Topics:

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