To persuade someone, drop the data and focus on the story, argues Rose (The Art of Immersion) in this punchy if shallow survey of corporate narratives. Stories have long been viewed as frivolous when compared to data, Rose writes, but psychological studies have shown they’re actually the best way to convey information and captivate a listener. Narratives also provide fertile ground for advertisers, who can beef up their message with a story that elicits emotional rather than rational response. To that end, he points to such brands as Dollar Shave Club, MailChimp, and Warby Parker (launched as the “Netflix of Eyewear”) which have all developed stories buyers responded to. While Rose offers good advice on how to capture attention (don’t treat an audience like just a pair of eyeballs), his focus tends to wander from business and into discussions of pop culture; Pulp Fiction and Westworld, for instance, loom large as examples of ways to tell a story that sticks. More critically, the book’s premise is pretty widely accepted, and it’s hard to imagine a contemporary business leader who isn’t already convinced about the power of storytelling. There’s plenty of good information here, but not enough of it is new. (June)
"Terrifically readable, as compelling as the many successful stories and stories of success it tells."
"Frank Rose’s fascinating new book is an essential companion for our age—when narratives, no matter how incredible, produce real-world outcomes that defy all reason. The Sea We Swim In takes us systematically through the elements that create compelling stories and offers a practical guide both to creating powerful tales and to resisting the pull of the most dangerous."
"A master storyteller on the story of stories. Frank Rose deconstructs them expertly—how they make us pay attention, how they move us, and why we remember them. His eloquent toolkit will help us make our own stories more effective and avoid being buffeted by the strange modern sea of digital stories that surrounds us."
Daniel J. Levitin
"What a delightful read and a novel contribution. The Sea We Swim In is an essential master class in how to think about that next pitch you need to make, letter you want to write, speech you have to deliver, or anything else you hope will be persuasive. The right story can open up a person’s heart and change their mind far more effectively than an argument or set of data—and Frank Rose explains it all beautifully."
B. Joseph Pine II
"If you want to connect with customers—that is to say, with the audience for the experience you’ve created—Frank Rose shows not only that you have to think narratively, but how to go about it, element by element. And he wonderfully exemplifies his ideas, for his stories about storytelling are superbly written and expertly woven together. Read this book to be immersed in the sea of storytelling that’s so crucial to business success today."
'<em>The Sea We Swim In </em>' Review: Sell Me a Bedtime Story - Wall Street Journal - Steven Poole
"...[The Sea We Swim In is] a zingier version, then, of the post-Aristotelian story-theory books beloved of screenwriters, with a rich range of reference that takes in the novels of Gustave Flaubert as well as the twists of ABC's "Lost." But the analysis has a wider salience for anyone who consumes media. Given how much the storytelling paradigm informs everything around us today—including, perhaps especially, the news—it behooves citizens to understand it better."