At breakfast today I read about Stephen Gordon in my wife’s college alumni magazine (Drew). We would know Stephen Gordon as the founder of Restoration Hardware—a wildly successful upscale home decoration store. (Yes, they have working doorknobs, but far more decorative than the ones in my house.)



“Gordon’s success can be traced to his ability to ‘emotionally connect with people’ by telling stories. At Restoration Hardware, she recall’s there’d be a bowl of doorknobs—but it wouldn’t just be a bowl of doorknobs. There’d be a sign, with a paragraph of text that Stephen wrote. …..he told you the story of why this doorknob was made out of brass and the original foundry, the history the people and why brass was the best material to use. All of a sudden, he’s made this emotional connection…..’You’re finding yourself getting really emotionally attached to a brass doorknob that you don’t even need’.”

How much more powerful are his stories than a sign that might merely reads “Made from Brass—A Proven Metal”. or “Locally Handcrafted”?

The ‘emotional connection’ of the story implies an internal motivation. The exclamatory phrases suggests an external motivation as if not purchasing these doorknobs will make you less cool or make you unhappy.

What kind of salesman are you at work? Do you speak in short pitch phrases trying to persuade? Or do you have a story to tell about why this project, task, initiative, or strategy is important. Can you make an emotional connection to help your employees to adopt the story as their own; give them something to which they can relate or something that is important to them?

Jonathan Shaver