Psychologists, anthropologists, everyone who studies the human brain, tells us we are hardwired to respond to stories.

I recently watched two documentaries, both of which chronicled stories told by storytellers who were later indicted for fraud,  Billy McFarland, founder of Fyre Media, and creator of the Fyre Festival and Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranaos. Perhaps because I watched them back to back, I was struck by the common themes. 

Both founders passionately believed in their stories and told them well, so well, that investors and buyers flocked to them. In the case of Theranos, people and companies who in retrospect you could argue “should have known better” e.g., Walgreens, bought their stories without doing due diligence.

One question worth exploring another time is whether these storytellers, and others like them, set out to commit fraud, or whether they believed so passionately in their stories that they were blind to the facts. Regardless of their intent, their stories were compelling and captured the attention of many.

Stories are what binds us in relationships, both personal and professional.  Stories are what motivates us, think TED Talks. Stories are what compels second and third generation family members to want to take over the family business, or not.  And, stories are what inspires customers to buy our products and services, talented individuals to come work for us, and donors to support our philanthropic efforts.

What’s your story?

Elisa K Spain

Are You a CEO or President of a Privately Held Business? If you are also a lifetime learner and want to learn more about my Vistage Group, click here

Share this story