Listen for epiphanies: Those stories can make your case

Listen for epiphanies: Those stories can make your case

There’s a story about a corporation that abruptly became a sustainability leader. “The CEO visited the North Pole,” a friend explains. “His point of view changed, right then and there.”

When someone experiences an epiphany, it creates personal commitment that makes things happen and creates long-lasting behavior change. (Think St. Paul seeing a bright light on the road to Damascus. Or Jean Valjean being handed the silver candlesticks by the bishop in Les Miserables.)

An epiphany also creates a story that can persuade others. And it doesn’t have to be a CEO.  In focus group after focus group, we’ve found that personal experiences are what most often trigger sustainable behaviors. A mother discovers that her child has food allergies; a man finds out that he has cancer; a family visits relatives in South America and sees the impact of clear-cutting. Nothing is more powerful than personal experience.

Listen for those personal sustainability moments. A good story or anecdote can convey more than a dozen PowerPoint slides.

It can appeal to emotions, and people tend to remember and re-tell those stories.


Posted on

August 21, 2013

About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.

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