The title of this segment is The Story Happens In The Listener’s Head, Not In The Teller’s Head.

There’s a story about Ernest Hemingway.

Ernest Hemingway is in a bar and there are a bunch of other writers at the bar. They have a little bet, a little challenge.

They say, “How many words do you need to tell a story?”

One of the writers, he says he can tell a story in 10 words. Another writer says, “I can tell a story in 9 words.” Somebody else says, “I can tell a story in 8 words,” “7 words.”

Ernest Hemingway says, “I can tell a story in 6 words,” so there’s silence at the table. Ernest Hemingway, he tells a story in 6 words.

What is that story? He says, “For sale, baby shoes. Never worn.”

Notice that that story did not take shape until it had some time to rattle around in your head. That story did not have any shape when it came out of my mouth. It only took shape, it only took life, in your head. Stories take life in the heads of your listeners …


About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, London, and Madrid for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.