Humans evolved the art of storytelling to protect them from animals higher in the food chain, says the master raconteur. Here, he teaches you how to be a predator, not a prey.
Question: Do you consider yourself a storyteller, as well as an entrepreneur?
Peter Guber: Well I was BS’ing since I was a little kid. When I was a little kid, I did a lot of BS’ing at home. And it got me through a lot of stuff until I got caught and then I’d have to up my game to be a bigger BS’er, which has followed me around for a long time. But in all fairness, I never thought of myself as a storyteller. I thought of myself as an individual who was struggling along, trying to make my way in the world. And it wasn’t really until accident from graduate school that I went to Columbia Pictures. And I didn’t know anything about the movies and suddenly I was in the center of the movie universe in the late ‘60’s, and they were making movies. And everybody was talking about movies.
So suddenly, I was a storyteller wanna-be and I spent the next many decades changing a wanna-be to gonna-be to be. So now I’m a… I guess I’m a storyteller. But I’m really not… that’s the ****, that’s not the **** that it really makes me feel… that’s aspirational. What I really aim and my desire is to be considered. I consider myself a teller of purposeful stories. It’s a technique, it’s a talent, it’s a craft that I use to shape my life and my destiny in order to win.
Question: What defines a purposeful story?
Peter Guber: Well, when you determine that your going to tell a purposeful story there are three components: there is the tell, which is about 75% of the whole thing. There's purposeful, that means you have a goal or a reason, a purpose for telling the story, you want somebody to do something, feel something, something, act or whatever. And then there's the story, which is the narrative that is the Trojan horse that you embed the information, data or facts that is proof of process of what you want them to do inside of. The whole concept is designed to get people to work together. It's a social cohesion concept. It's to get you to work with me to get something done potentially for us or for you or for me.
So the idea is, it's a tool of life; it happens to be that business is a life science. It's about getting people to interface themselves, entrepreneurially or executively. So the idea is, there is a conceit that somehow storytelling by telling purposeful stories is alien to my experience. And I'm not part -- it's not part of me. If something that I have to really be... has to be bolted on to me. That's not the truth. Everybody is a teller of stories, everybody. If our species wasn't a teller of stories we would have gone extinct because that's the method of the first hundred thousand years around the planet that held us together, that bound us together. The way we created our ability to have social cohesion long before Facebook, long before twitter, and linked in and My Space there was social networks, they were called Tribes! They worked together. They told stories around the campfire, they didn't have digital 0's and ones, they just had ooh’s and ahh’s. And they used them to pass along the rules, beliefs of the tribe to be able to use the tactics and strategies so they can outrun a lion, outfight a rhinoceros, out beat an elephant. Otherwise, they'd have been eaten. And that's the way it works. Those narratives were our evolutionary advantage and it turned us from the bottom of the food chain to the top of the food chain; from prey to predator. So it is part of our evolutionary tools and our evolutionary advantage. And it's inside all of us, we are designed that way.
Directed / Produced by
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd