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Article first published as Book Review: 'The Art of the Nudge' by John Geraci & Christine Miles on Blogcritics.

October 14, 2015

The Art of the Nudge:
Unlocking Your Hidden Potential
John Geraci & Christine Miles
Aviva Publishing (2015)
ISBN: 9781943164134

New book advocates use of story to nudge us to greatness in business and in life

The Art of the Nudge: Unlocking Your Hidden Potential by John Geraci & Christine MilesAs a former English professor and an author, The Art of the Nudge is a book I greatly admire for how it takes the concepts of storytelling and applies them to business to help companies and organizations achieve greater success. Drawing upon psychology and neuroscience, authors John Geraci and Christine Miles were inspired to begin an amazing journey of discovery about the power of story that led to their forming their company CI Squared and now writing this insightful book.

Geraci and Miles first met at a storytelling seminar. They both felt an immediate synergy between them and believed they could create a new way of doing business. Since then, they have used their new model to help numerous companies and organizations develop both better internal and better external communication with their customers. Early in the book, Geraci describes the initial ideas and processes that Miles and he underwent to arrive at the idea of using “Nudges” as a tool for motivating people:

“Since the brain has tremendous unused power and potential, what if the Mind vs. Matter and Nature vs. Nurture discussions, which had been debated throughout history as far back as Aristotle, were inaccurate descriptions? What if this potential could be tapped into with an AND, not an OR—harnessing the power of both? What if we ‘slowed down to speed up’ and shifted and grew with ‘Nudges’ vs. pushing people to make large changes? These seemed like game-changing ideas, but could we test them out in real life with real companies to see whether they worked and added value?”

They quickly found that they could test them on real companies, and the result was a new communication framework they named The Art of the Nudge™ (TATN) with the core principles: 1) Slow down to speed up, and 2) Small Nudges can inspire Action.

Soon, Geraci and Miles were teaching people new ways to communicate in a business setting. They cast aside the boring PowerPoint presentations and replaced them with exercises in storytelling that helped people to empathize better with one another and promoted overall greater consistency and teamwork. The power of storytelling has largely been forgotten in our harried, fast-paced digital society, but by slowing down and telling stories, we can ultimately get to our end goals sooner because of improved communication.

Throughout The Art of the Nudge, Geraci and Miles use many examples, provide illustrations to support their concepts, and include several metaphors to bring home their points. They talk about how difficult it is for people to change and how we often, stubbornly or out of fear, prefer to take a dirt road we know than to get on a superhighway we don’t know, even if it will get us where we want to go sooner. Other metaphors include that of the elephant and the rider, and the iceberg. All of these metaphors relate to the untapped potential we all have inside of us. The purpose of Geraci and Miles’s work and book is to help people unlock that potential.

Geraci and Miles know it is difficult for people to make quantum leaps, which is why they meet their seminar participants and their readers where they are. They then give them a Nudge to move them further toward their full potential. Telling stories unlocks that potential because it allows people to relate to one another by identifying with the characters in their stories. The authors discuss how stories have been valuable since ancient times: “Story was used to pass down culture. It was how younger tribe members learned new things. Through the use of story, they saw and got new ideas of what to do, not to do, and what improvements to make.” Today, stories can serve the same purpose of providing us with innovative improvements in our lives.

In their seminars, Geraci and Miles teach people how to tell stories—which isn’t as easy as it sounds; after all, we all know people who can talk nonstop and never get to the point. Good Story Telling has several elements, but before it can even happen, Story Gathering must take place. Geraci and Miles teach both processes to their readers.

I won’t give away Geraci and Miles processes, but I will say that this is not just a “feel good” approach to business. Telling stories helps people to empathize with each other. It makes them like each other, and we all know that people do business with the people they like. Telling stories improves internal communication and makes team members feel deeply connected to one another so they can work as a team. Stories also work to win over customers, making them able to relate to a company and its product. Stories allow companies and people to show their vulnerabilities; too often in business, we feel we have to promote an image of success, but the truth is we are all vulnerable, and storytelling allows us to show our human side and help people relate to us.

I hope readers will be vulnerable enough—and wise enough—to take a chance on using the power of storytelling. The Art of the Nudge offers a brilliant way to revolutionize business so it isn’t just about the almighty dollar but about creating a better culture that benefits everyone. We all have potential we don’t use. There isn’t one of us who can’t use a Nudge now and then. Let this book be the Nudge that takes you off your dirt road and puts you on a superhighway to your full potential, both for your business and for yourself.

For more information about John Geraci, Christine Miles, and The Art of the Nudge, visit http://cisquared.net.

— Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D., and award-winning author of The Gothic Wanderer and Narrow Lives

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