The Power Of Stories To Communicate

Greg Pashke at play
click Pashke consulting

It’s my pleasure to introduce a man of the highest ethics who has proven himself an outstanding accountant, strategist, futurist and business consultant for corporate clients large and small. I am honored Greg has agreed to share his insights and humor for Thinking Big Works readers. Enjoy. – David VanAmburg


I’m a big believer in the power of stories to convey a message and to elevate communication. A story is a wonderful way of expressing an idea, fact or point of view. In the hands of a skillful master, a well-crafted story can both simplify and communicate complex concepts. One of my favorite gifted story-tellers was the late Carl Sagan who could convey difficult scientific theories in terms that were fascinating, memorable and yet understandable by the average Greg. And trust me. That is no small accomplishment.


For example, rather than a boring recital of the scientific explanation of “artificial selection” which Wikipedia defines as “the process of intentional or unintentional modification of a species through human actions which encourages the breeding of certain traits over others”, Carl Sagan had another approach in his landmark PBS series, Cosmos.

Imagine we have a magic window in which we can peer into the past. The year is 1185 and you are watching a great naval battle in an inland-sea in Japan. There are two warring factions of samurai warriors. The smaller fleet is defending the right of the seven-year old Emperor to rule Japan. The larger fleet consists of warriors who feel they have the right and obligation to rule the land. As the battle ensues, it becomes clear that the smaller fleet of the emperor is losing badly. We watch in astonishment as rather than surrender, the remaining samurai warriors of the emperor and the emperor himself cast themselves into the sea where they all drown. An honorable death is cherished more than potential survival through the humility of surrender.

Our story does not end here however. We continue to observe what happens in this inland sea over the next 800 years. We observe the fisherman who catch crabs from its waters. They look at the back of each crab that they trap. If the shell back bears any resemblance to the face of a samurai warrior, they put it back, out of respect for the fallen warriors. In the early years after the battle, the returned crabs have a vague resemblance to the face of a samurai warrior, but as time passes we see that more and more of the crabs begin to bear an uncanny resemblance to the honored samurai. The scientific explanation for this remarkable process is called artificial selection. Those respectful fisherman, over the course of eight centuries intervened in the natural selection process.They determined which biological characteristics were most desirable. They literally changed the course of nature and the evolution pattern of the crabs. From our view into the past we see that human intervention can have profound implications for other species.

Isn’t Carl’s approach more robust, illustrative and memorable? Think of the impact this story has to convey the relationship between man and our environment and the fiduciary responsibility that accompanies it.

First figure out WHY you want the students to learn the subject and WHAT you want them to know, and the method will result more or less by common sense.” – Richard Feynman

Carl’s style emulates the “Philosophy of Teaching” of another hero of mine Richard Feynman: First figure out WHY you want the students to learn the subject and WHAT you want them to know, and the method will result more or less by common sense. Carl had a masterful way to harness the power of stories to embody this approach.

Together, our challenge is to use the innate power of story-telling to better convey ideas, improve understanding, and to enhance the effectiveness of our communications. Whatever your profession or field of endeavor, I urge you to give stories a try. There is a latent storyteller (and maybe a little ham) in all of us that needs to be free.

So please accept the challenge:

Once upon a time there …….


Thank you for the honor of being a contributor to Thinking Big Works. I’ve always been impressed by the breadth and depth of your business and organizational endeavors. Your commitment to life-long learning, your passion for excellence and your ability to comprehend and communicate knowledge and significant trends has been an inspiration for me.The fact that we met so early in our childhood has simply given me additional time to learn and grow from our relationship.

Greg Pashke , CMC is  President of Pashke Consulting and provides business mentoring, strategic and tactical planning, and financial modeling services. Greg is a devout generalist who believes that it’s essential to have an “overall” perspective for the diverse functional aspects of an organization to work in harmony towards overall objectives. He is committed to continuous learning and skill development. Greg’s mantra is “to get a lot done & have a lot of fun”.

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