The stories we tell ourselves is what we tell others and in a way determines our reality.

When we convince ourselves of the stories, we may be influenced or look to influence. As old as the words, ethos and pathos, values are used to espouse messages and convince a crowd to take action.


One such technique for this is known as public narrative which has been used by business figures and politicians like Elon Musk and Obama. It is a method to structure speech created by Harvard Professor, Marshall Ganz. The technique is used to persuade and turn values into action.

Public Narrative: A technique that Obama was well-versed with

Public Narrative is about bringing three stories into one:

  1. A story of self - a personal story that sheds insight into why one is called to do what they plan to do. It is about sharing values, the journey of the challenge and the outcomes. It is a story that invites listeners to connect with the teller.
  2. A story of us - a collective story which highlights shared purposes, goals and vision. Like the story of self, it is a tale of a challenge, a choice and an outcome. Here however, it is about inviting others to be a part of the community.
  3. A story of now - the challenge which the community now faces, the choices it must make and hope to which we can aspire to solve it. It is here where the tale is about inviting others to join in to take hopeful action against the pressing challenge.

As examples of how this work, observe Elon Musk’s application of this in cold calling rocket expert, Jim Cantrell:

I’m Elon Musk, I’m an internet billionaire, I founded PayPal and X.com. I sold X.com to Compaq for 165 million dollars in cash and I could spend the rest of my life on a beach drinking Mai Tais, but I decided that humanity needs to become a multi-planetary species to survive and I want to do something with my money to show that humanity can do that and I need Russian rockets and that’s why I’m calling you”.

Elon uses a story of self, a story of us and a story of now in three sentences.

Elon first starts with the story of self:

I’m Elon Musk, I’m an internet billionaire, I founded PayPal and X.com. I sold X.com to Compaq for 165 million dollars in cash

Before proceeding to us:

I could spend the rest of my life on a beach drinking Mai Tais, but I decided that humanity needs to become a multi-planetary species to survive

And finally concluding with the story of now through espousing his values and what needs to be done:

I want to do something with my money to show that humanity can do that and I need Russian rockets and that’s why I’m calling you”.

It is a story that I think is quite common too when one is filled with bullish optimism for a cryptocurrency project.