Reviewed: Believe Me – A Storytelling Manifesto for Change-Makers and Innovators

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Being able to clearly articulate what is important about you and your organization is critical– and this is doubly true for nonprofits.

Not only must nonprofits rely on motivating others to give of their time and money (usually), they also have to be able to locate themselves within the larger story of the community in which they work.

This isn’t merely soul searching. As President Barack Obama wrote in Dreams From My Father, “I had to understand my own story before I could listen to and help other people with theirs.”

What the writer, then far from future Presidency, was getting at was the imperative to sort out of a canvas of life that was  at once believable, inspiring, and true.

Believe Me, a readable guide to notable storytelling for companies and nonprofits, provides a concise overview of how to create and sell your story. Author Michael Margolis takes a direct path to action by presenting the why and how of making your story stick. And he does so without belaboring the details of what is “good literature.” Instead, his approach is more that of a guidebook, a “‘storytelling for dummies” guide.

The book is available as a free PDF download at

Margolis has credentials on both sides of Main Street — both as a business consultant and as a serial nonprofit entrepreneur (he helped launch Volunteer Solutions, now part of United e-Way’s volunteer matching system). Today he is an in-demand spokesman and trainer on the power of storytelling, and Believe Me is the most recent product of his mission to help organizations discover and put to use their own narrative.

Broken into three sections, Believe Me helps the reader uncover the story in their work, develop a plan for using that story to engage and influence others, and leverage that influence into action and change. Throughout the book are scattered relevant and inspiring quotes from high profile storytellers and poets such as Maya Angelou, and advice from several leading business authors such as Tom Peters.

Among the key realizations behind the power of Story are:

  • Humans are not always rational — we are also looking for inspiration and imagination.
  • Stories are how we communicate intangibles and connect with others to plug their activities in with our own.
  • Leadership is in part the process of helping others find the story within themselves and inspiring them to act on it.
  • Good stories reflect choices made by the story teller about what — and what not — to include.

Believe Me can be used as a “how to” manual for newcomers or as a tool to refine an existing story. For the seasoned veterans, the book may simply act as a reminder of the power of storytelling. Those who are new to leadership, in particular, will find guidance on how to communicate your story in a way that is relevant and inspiring to those you wish to lead.

Readers can use the well positioned questions at the end of each section to challenge yourself and stretch your understanding of how and why you tell your story. And if you’re just looking for inspiration – Margolis has peppered the text with quotes and comments from great poets, philosophers and leaders, and has added a Bonus Quotes section at the end of the text.

Learn more about Believe Me.