The Story Factor – “How to” Series

Sam Thurman’s story is short (5 minutes) and delightful. Please listen to it before reading my comments so you can have the full listener experience.

Imagery and Present Tense

One of the things I really like about this story is that Sam uses present tense from his first sentence: “I am in Tokyo, Japan.” Suddenly, we are too. Thirty seconds later we are in a mosh pit at the Fuji Rock Festival listening to a Jamaican Punk hardcore band the “Bad Brains.”


“I’m timid.” Stories need contrast and Sam’s level of authenticity invites trust. Don’t be afraid to reveal personality traits that you fear might be misinterpreted. This is the nature of bringing humanity back into your communication. It is oh so human to have flaws.

Metaphors and Similes

Sam uses some wonderful metaphors, but my favorite (I wear glasses) was “the crippled corpse of my glasses.” There are others if you pay attention, “carried like driftwood” and “like a human ladder.”

If you were Sam, how would you use this story in business? Which of the six stories might this story be? Please comment on other successful storytelling techniques you admire (and may want to use) in Sam’s story.


11 thoughts on “The Story Factor – “How to” Series”

  1. Great story and well analyzed. Thanks for sharing. I also liked his use of surprise. At about 2 min in, he describes an arm around his neck, then a foot in his back, and then a hand over his face, and then he says, “And then I realized that a small man has begun to climb me!” Describing it in that order allowed us to be surprised like he was when it happened. Less experienced storytellers might have first told us that “A small man started to climb me!” and then explain how it happened, “He wrapped his arm around my neck, then put his foot in my back, and then his hand grabbed my face. . . ” which would have been much less effective, I think.

  2. Great clip, Annette. Thanks for sharing. I’ve been reading lots of Chris Vogler, Lisa Cron, Jonah Sachs, & yourself, as well as writing more stories, aiming to become a better storyteller.

    It’s great to see an example of one in Sam Thurman.

    In biz, I’d use this story to “improve participation”, in certain reluctant staff or clients.

    This story seems to fit more than one type:

    1. Who I Am (ie: NOT as timid as I thought.)
    3. Teaching (ie: Things aren’t always what they seem.)
    4. Vision (ie: The challenging mosh pit experience was “worth it”)

    Or maybe I’m just not yet good at discerning one type of story from another lol 🙂

    Thanks for sharing.

      1. Ah, great to have affirmation of my understanding/application. Thanks for helping me improve my story skills, Annette.

        P.S. Even though I checked ‘Notify me of follow up comments by email’, I didn’t receive notice that you replied, almost missed your msg & felt ‘ignored’ at first — will check my spam folder 🙂

        1. I will check into it! I’m not qualified to fix it by myself so please be patient! And I’m glad you are using the series. Did you listen to the second one? Ameera Chowdhury? Her story is priceless!

  3. Liked Sam’s pacing. He begins slowly, in keeping with his “I’m timid.” As he reaches the crescendo his pacing picks up and his body language is more dramatic. The moment he throws the man behind him and uses the f word is so well placed. Enjoyed it and your comments. Thank you.

    1. Your comment made me go back and watch again and YES! I see it! And the f-word is strangely delightful. Just yesterday I heard a story from Lois who is now 83 telling about her 90 year old mother – who had never uttered a curse word in her life. She was dying a messy miserable death and was clearly suffering a nurse’s attempt to move her. Lois broke down and said, “Mother, just say Shit. I promise you will feel better.” She said it and a few minutes later, “My, I DO feel better!”

  4. I think Sam’s evident humility helped make this story pack a punch – his own surprise at his hidden potential. His naivety. Even Japanese people like to let off steam every once in a while – if a gig’s labelled Jamaican Punk Hardcore, then you’re probably going to get what it says on the tin. Lulled into a false sense of security, ‘timid’ Sam reveals he’s quite ‘open’ to hardcore, so long as he can view it in a safe environment. The ‘surprise’ is the key theme here – and I believe this would sit well in the ‘vision’ category. This kind of story would free up people’s imaginations and allow them to visualise more creatively. The most ‘timid’ individuals may well be surprised to find they can enjoy some much needed relief and relaxation in a more aggressive (albeit still with boundaries – people did help him find his glasses) environment. This kind of film might help to convince some very glum accountants that a day out in the woods shooting each with paint balls could be just the ticket!

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