No one ever made a decision based on a number

decision based on a number

An unexpected “bucket list” moment

Last week I was sat in the centre of the front row at the Royal Festival Hall as Hannah Gadsby came back on after her incredible show Douglas to receive the acclamation of an adoring crowd. It had been one of the best shows I’d ever seen in my life, the crow was making so much noise and there was so much applause.

One thing was missing, I realised. A feeling rose in me, articulated in my mind as: “This woman deserves a standing ovation”. I looked from side to side and realised that nobody was standing. In a fraction of second, I realised I had to stand. From my place at the front of the theatre, I did just that, then I didn’t look around, I could simply hear and feel the crowd of 2700 all stand as one and the volume increase still further.

Hannah briefly made eye contact as if to say “thank you”, then, no more than a few seconds later, she left the stage. If I’d had “start a standing ovation at the Royal Festival Hall” on my bucket list, then “tick”.

Now a question. After reading that, do I have your attention, and are you at least a little interested in seeing Hannah Gadsby’s show “Douglas”?

Always, always start any talk, any presentation, any pitch with a story.

What kind of story? Why a story?

There I stood on the burning deck

Last week I was supporting some businesses in preparing for giving their “pitch” at a networking event. The catch was that they only had one minute, so more important than ever that they made an impact with the first words they said.

One of them, when it came to their turn, started with the words: “The CEO stood there crying in the pouring rain in the middle of the highlands, frozen in his tracks by the question from the murder detective”.

Got your attention? It certainly did for Dave Stewart of the Fresh Air Leadership Company, who provide high impact leadership development programmes and events. If you want something that really cuts through in this space, talk to Dave.

The key here is to start at a point of high emotional impact. Don’t tell them what you do, connect them viscerally.

A master of story-telling and teaching others how to tell stories. I shared learnings from Bob in an earlier post called: “there I stood on the burning deck

No-one ever made a decision based on a number

In an earlier post, I wrote:

Cogito Ergo Sum – I think, therefore I am


Sentio Ergo Sum – I feel therefore I am

Are we rational beings driven by our thoughts, or are we led by our feelings?

That earlier post was simple. It had three powerful movie/video clips. Watch them, then sit with yourself for a moment and consider what you are feeling afterwards. I promise you, your feelings will be so strong you won’t be thinking much at all!

Now, to close this post, a tweet:

Thank you to Carl Richards of Behaviour Gap for sharing this on twitter with the words: “Jack is doing the work I would do…if I had any skill!”. Perhaps too self-deprecating for the legendary “Sketch Guy”, and at the same time, I love the simplicity with how Jack of VisualizeValue has captured the essence of that statement from the brilliant Dani Kahneman, the originator of what we now understand as Heuristics and thence the field of Behavioural Economics. (see post “You cannot eliminate your biases“).

No one ever made a decision based on a number. They need a story.


Also published on Medium.