Why this Storyteller Wrote a Book about Proverbs

According to a 2016 study by Pew Research, 20% of Americans feel overwhelmed by the deluge of information that they face every day. A 2015 Microsoft® study revealed a side effect to this information overload—that the average human attention span has dropped from 12 to 8 seconds, making it shorter than that of a goldfish. And the problem is getting worse as our social networks ping us incessantly, Russian bots spread fake news, and machine learning gobbles up this content to create even more.

The problem? We are meaning-seeking beings paddling rudderless in a sea of non-contextualized information. We yearn to understand and to be understood. And yet, without an effective way to do so, we make snap judgments, adopt extreme political views, and ultimately pull our communities apart when we should be pulling them together. If we’re to extricate ourselves from this funk, we need less information and more meaning.

But how can we convey our thoughts succinctly? How can we fill this meaning-gap without contributing to the information overload problem? I began finding answers in a short, narrative story-form that humans have used since the invention of language: the proverb.

Proverbs are tiny linguistic devices that convey more meaning than the words used to construct them. They’re policies for making better life decisions, passed from the experienced to the inexperienced. The simplicity of their presentation lies in stark contrast to the complexity of their function. Proverbs are both objective and subjective and contain both premise and conclusion. They are accepted generally yet applied specifically. And since their power of persuasion comes from both logic and emotion, they wrap their inductive and deductive reasoning in literary devices such as symbolism, alliteration, rhyme, and rhythm.

I’ve learned much about these little powerhouses during my two years of collecting and studying them. For example, after running fifteen-hundred English proverbs through linguistic analyses, I found that proverbs are not only short (all 1,500 contain less than 129 characters), but they are also easy to read (4.75 grade reading level). In other words, proverbs are both tweetable and…wait for it…you don’t need to be smarter than a fifth-grader to understand them. Their dual ability to help proverb-speaker’s teach and proverb-listener’s learn is a testament to their immense power. And most importantly, proverbs are universally-human, as they’re found throughout history, across all languages, nationalities, cultures, and creeds. The Proverb Effect is the first book to define a simple and repeatable process to convey one’s deep meaning through self-created proverbs.

My hope is that the more people that use this miniature story-form will make us better communicators, speakers, and teachers. Therefore, I want to get the book into as many hands as possible by offering free Kindle copies to readers of this blog prior to its official release on November 5th, 2018. If you’d like an early-release copy, click on the “Take me to the registration page” button below.

Wisdom is gained through experience and shared through proverbs.




Introducing The Proverb Effect


Three years ago, I published a deck of playing cards that helps people apply storytelling to their business communications. The StoryHow™ PitchDeck is now being used by business storytellers in 24 countries. Today, I’m announcing a new addition to the StoryHow™ family of products–a book that teaches a deceptively-simple technique that great communicators have used since the invention of language. Some call them idioms or wise old sayings, but we’ll call them proverbs, like:

  • Slow and steady wins the race (Aesop, ~550 BC)
  • Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today (Chaucer, late 1300s)
  • Stupid is as stupid does (Gump, 1994)

Proverbs are the ultimate long-stories short. They’re universally human, and thus effective across time, culture, and language. And while it’s tempting to dismiss them as droll or trite, doing so just underestimates the powerful roles they play in both human understanding and teaching. The Proverb Effect is the first book to define a repeatable process for conveying deep meaning through self-created proverbs.

I wrote The Proverb Effect to help you become a better writer, speaker, and teacher. Read it to learn:

  • Why proverbs reign supreme over other message types
  • What makes proverbs the triple-threat of communications: memorable, repeatable and most importantly, persuasive.
  • A step-by-step methodology to apply the most powerful communications device in human history

Lastly, in addition to teaching people how to tell stories, I’m also a working storyteller. So, I wrote The Proverb Effect as a business fable. It’s the story of Samantha Kim, a young project manager whose disastrous presentation sets her on a journey to become a better communicator. She meets Tina, who teaches her how to convey deep meaning through studying everyday proverbs. When Sam’s company loses its largest client, the resulting financial crisis threatens her firm’s very existence. Can Sam learn enough from Tina to win back the client, save her company, and finally redeem herself from the disastrous presentation? The Proverb Effect has the answers.

My goal is to get this book into as many hands as possible. Therefore, I’m offering readers of this blog and subscribers to the Dragonslayer Digest an opportunity to register for a free Kindle copy of The Proverb Effect prior to its official release on November 5th, 2018. If you’d like a copy before its official release, click on the “Take me to the registration page” button.

I’m very excited about sharing this new project with you. Stay tuned for more information as we get closer to the release date.