David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
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Screenwriting for Executives

Question: What are some screenwriting lessons for \r\nbusinesspeople?
Robert McKee: Well, in business, the \r\nproblem is persuasion, how to get people to do what you want them to \r\ndo.  How to get the employees below you, wherever you are in the pyramid\r\n of power, how to get the people below you to do what you want them to \r\ndo; how to persuade the people above you and the board of directors, or \r\nhigher management, or whatever, to recognize that what you’re offering \r\nis of real value and do things again to further your work, and the \r\ncorporation as a whole.  So, the problem is persuasion.  And there are \r\nthree ways to persuade people.  One is rhetoric, and this is, of course,\r\n the PowerPoint presentation where you try to build an argument out of \r\nfacts.  This pie chart, that statistic, this quote from authority, this \r\nblah, blah, blah, therefore at the end of the day, we should do this.  \r\nThe problem with rhetoric and PowerPoint presentations is that the \r\npeople you’re making the presentation to have their own facts, their own\r\n statistics, their own authorities. And while you’re laying out all of \r\nyour evidence, they’re arguing with you.  Silently.  Because they know \r\nthey have another set of facts.  Okay?  What’s more, they know in your \r\nPowerPoint presentation you have left out everything negative.  \r\nEverything that’s wrong with this company, everything that they have \r\nfailed at, every projection that says this is not... everything that is \r\nnegative has been left out, and they know from business because they are\r\n in business too, that the business world is full of things negative.  \r\nAll kinds of problems and labor unions and government agencies and who \r\nknows what, okay, that are in your way.  But the rhetoric leaves all of \r\nthat out.  So they know you’re lying.  They know that you are \r\ndistorting.  And so PowerPoint presentations rarely ever work to \r\npersuade anybody.
A second way to persuade is coercion.  You \r\ncan bribe people, you can bully people, you can seduce people, you can \r\nthreaten people, you can manipulate people in one way or the other, \r\neither by seductions or by abuse.  And you can get them to do what you \r\nwant them to do that way.  That is every day at the office.  The trouble\r\n with coercion is that it is short-term.  You might be able to bully \r\nsomebody into doing what you want, or seduce somebody above you to see \r\nthings your way, but because it’s not founded on anything real, in turn,\r\n that snake will turn around and bite you in the ass.  And so coercion \r\nas a short-term affect may or may not help, but in long-term, it just \r\nbuilds resentments and blah, blah.
The third way to persuade \r\npeople is with story.  You take all the facts that you would have used \r\nin a PowerPoint presentation, you take all the emotional impact that you\r\n would have used coercing people, and you create out of that a story \r\nthat imparts those facts emotionally.  And the story stars you, or stars\r\n the corporation, or your division as an underdog up against very \r\npowerful forces and admits to the existence of the negative.  When you \r\ntell a story, it isn’t just and then, and then, and then, and we all \r\nlived happily ever after.  It’s that and then, and then this and that, \r\nand that and this, and by admitting that somebody stole our patent and \r\nwe had to go out and fight that in the court, but we got it back, some \r\ncompetitor stole our best people, but we rehired and we got even better \r\npeople, and so forth.  By describing the dynamic of life, and therefore \r\nthis product is now, da, da, poised to win the market share, or \r\nwhatever.
By telling story dynamically, you hook them \r\nemotionally, because everybody’s rooting for an underdog struggling to \r\nsucceed.  You tell the story honestly because you’re admitting all the \r\nnegative side, and you’re telling the story emotionally because they get\r\n involved and they have a huge stake in the storytelling. Is this \r\ncompany, or is this product going to win?
And so storytelling \r\nis, by far, the greatest leaders of business and government, for that \r\nmatter—people with great power gain that power by being able to \r\ncommunicate a story to the citizen, to the workers, to the board, that \r\nhooks them and holds them and pays off.  The trouble with that, of \r\ncourse, is it takes talent to do that.  Not everybody is a natural \r\nstoryteller.  That’s why people lean on PowerPoint presentations because\r\n it’s an essay form and they can do that.  But it’s dangerous to tell \r\nstories if you don’t have talent because you just bore people.
But\r\n the best leaders have that talent, or they learn that craft and the \r\nknow how to beguile people and move them and excite them with their \r\nvisions and persuade them.

The most successful leaders of business and government gain that power by being able to persuade their constituencies with a compelling story.

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