StorySailing Blog

The Elements of Story


I never thought I’d learn about business while sailing alone on a small boat at sea, but here’s the story: When I was a young man still in college, I found myself—quite through happenstance—in the company of an odd band of folks who lived aboard their sailboats in the free anchorage in Miami. The stories they told about harrowing adventures in faraway places captured my interest. Up until that...

Shipwrecks, Reefs, and Stories About You


Shipwrecks are the ultimate symbols of massive failure. Building and operating a ship is an enormous enterprise that requires people, money, teamwork, and skill. Whether a vessel was sunk in battle or lost to a navigational blunder, every wrecked ship had someone at the helm (or someone who should have been) when the “Oh Shit!” moment occurred. Whether it’s the Titanic or a pile of ballast stones...

Thoughts on Clichés


Since time immemorial, clichés have sneaked in the door when we least expect them to. They’re low-hanging fruit for writers who abscond with them quickly instead of striving for excellence. But to the trained eye, writing clichés stick out like a sore thumb. Authors of this day and age who struggle under the yoke of undetected style errors are too numerous to mention. The good writer puts his...

The Virtuoso, the Teacher, & the Centipede


One Sunday morning not long after I had been introduced to sailing, I was enjoying a cup of coffee in the cockpit of my friend Strider’s boat. The sounds of rustling canvas alerted me to watch a bronzed man on a neighboring boat haul up his sails, walk calmly to the bow, and drop one of his two anchor lines overboard with a buoy attached to it. After sailing up to his second anchor and letting...

Reading Aloud Doesn’t Have to Be Boring

reading aloud

Keep your lis­ten­ers’ at­ten­tion while read­ing aloud. The host an­nounces the next au­thor. She walks to the lectern, of­fers a syn­op­sis, and be­gins read­ing aloud. It’s not bad prose—and I can’t say that for every writer here—but after three pages of pref­ace and an­other six of chap­ter one, I fan­ta­size about ring­ing a gong and ap­proach­ing the stage with a shep­herd’s crook. I...

Storytelling Tips: The Rush of Discovery

storytelling: rush of discovery

Storytelling tips: You’re walking along and you happen to look down. “Hey, that’s not a scrap of paper; that’s a $20 bill!” Isn’t it a rush when something we thought was useless turns out to be meaningful. Stories—whether they’re truth or fiction—are powerful tools for connection and engagement—as long as you craft them well. The following short story demonstrates techniques you can use as a...

My Club Got a One-Star Review


How do you handle a one-star review? Capable leaders are adept at untangling the many stories that compete for attention when problems need solving and egos need soothing. I monitor a FaceBook page for a local chapter of a national organization I’m a member of. I was surprised when one of last year’s guest speakers, a member from another chapter, posted a one-star review of our chapter. The...

Running Aground in the Seas of Commerce


My client, Bill, came to me in a panic. “I’ve hit a wall. My competition is killing me. Styles and trends are changing. I need to rebrand, repackage—start over—new website, new brochures—everything—as soon as possible. “You might be right,” I suggested with a calm voice that probably annoyed him as much as it comforted him, “but humor me for a few minutes before you go running out the door to...

‘Twas the Month Before Christmas


’Twas a month before Christmas, when all through the land Every forklift was stirring, precisely as planned Products were lined on the store shelves with care In hopes that the customers soon would be there   The people were nestled all snug in their beds While Thanksgiving excesses pounded their heads Their guts packed with cranberries, gravy, and sweets Turkey and stuffing, potatoes and...

Thoughts on Thanksgiving


  When the urge to gripe arises, consider that no matter what dark clouds may loom on the horizon, you threaded the needle of human history. Imagine what life would have been like had you been born not so many years ago. This Thanksgiving note offers a few things to think about and be thankful for. Some of them have their dark sides; the automobile and the television are as much a curse as a...

River Stories

river stories

River stories: Numerous stories have been written about rivers. We all have rivers to cross. Metaphorical rivers represent both the obstacles we encounter in life and business and where the “current” carries us. Perhaps a tough conversation lies ahead or we’ve got to hit our numbers for the month. Many of us greet a river of traffic every morning or manage rivers of data at work. Water is an...


Talk to Me!


Talk to Me!

Dave Bricker: StorySailing®