Newsletter #7  
September 2012 
S Lakshmi Narasimhan 
Welcome to this edition of the Voyages of Discovery Newsletter, the newsletter that is all about you and your voyages of discovery of your genius.  If you missed our previous newsletters, get them here from our archives.

In This Issue
Humor - The Holy Grail of Happiness
Storytelling - your DNA
Next Issue
Humor - the Holy Grail of Happiness 
laughter is the best medicine
Are you laughing enough? Make laughter your driving force.


Jokes make your day. The first available opportunity to exercise our laughter muscles in a day filled with stress and overwork is just too good to be passed up. But it is not just a "good feeling." They do not say laughter is the best medicine for nothing. Laughter, the most significant manifestation of humor is therapeutic. It gives you both a physiological and psychological boost. It virtually banishes your blues.

Dr. Edward De Bono, the inventor of Lateral Thinking ( says humor is the most significant behavior of the human brain.

We like to be around people who can tell great jokes or in general possess a great sense of humor. It lightens the atmosphere, relaxes your brain (which it is craving for all day long) and just makes life so enjoyable. No wonder even something as artificial as canned laughter slowly makes you get into the situation and laugh it out.

Humor's role 
Humor should have pride of place in the world of motivation. We should welcome it with a smile. But do we? For the most part, we are so engrossed in our hectic lifestyle, we rarely pause to savor a funny incident or laugh heartily at a joke. Life it seems is a drudgery. Even more tragic is the way we learn and the tools that are available for learning. Our school or college text books are so staid and boring that all proclivity to study is killed. However, humor is a fantastic educational tool.

A driving force
I recently experienced an amazing illustration of humor as an educational tool. My family and I had just arrived in Jersey City in the US where we had relocated in January 2012. I was applying for a Driving license in the State of New Jersey and had to go through a vision, knowledge and road test. Although I held a Hong Kong Permanent License for 14 years and I had been driving for more than 25 years I welcomed the Road Test considering that I would be driving on the right side of the road for the first time in my life after being used to the left side for more than 25 years. Believe me, this is an orientation to which your brain must give acceptance. I had to literally become "right brained!"

Anyway, without digressing from the point, I passed the vision test and the knowledge test (the latter, a motivation killing, boring tome running into 225 pages, no less!) and was getting ready for the road test when my Insurance Agent mentioned to me that there was a one of its kind Driving License Course Online that I must go through. He said I would enjoy it with a twinkle in his eye. I had no clue what he was talking about. His offer of a specially discounted price for the course could not be refused. So, I paid and enrolled in this course which consisted of 12 Lessons each followed by a Test which I had to pass with minimum 80% marks (surprise surprise!). Talk about buying your way to trouble. Anyway, I set myself a goal to complete the entire course in two weeks time (my road test was 3 weeks away) and started in earnest.

Before I could even complete the first lesson, my stomach was complaining profusely not to mention aching at the amount I laughed during the lesson. Then I discovered why this course was unique. The entire course was based on the New Jersey Driving Manual (that 225 page monster) but with a humorous twist to it. It was full of caricatures, spoofs and jokes about driving, drivers, cops, rules, regulations all related to the manual closely. In the midst of all these laughter missiles, the relevant Driving Manual rules and regulations were inserted contextually and unobtrusively. It was brilliant and a revelation!

As a contrast, while studying for the regular Knowledge Test (which was more like a memory test for traffic Rules than anything else), I was constantly cursing the humorless goliath of 225 pages. After going through it three times I was having a hard time remembering even half of it (Pass score was again 80 marks). My vaunted memory power was taking a severe beating.

However, going through this rollicking version of that same manual, miracle of miracles (actually not surprising at all knowing what humor can do to the brain), I could remember almost all the key rules and passed the entire online course with flying (or is it driving?) colors.

I can even now vividly remember the jokes. The spoofs on cops and the conversation between cop and driver was nothing short of belly achingly funny. 

Amazing happenings
However, in all this non-stop laughing, two amazing things were happening:
- my brain was relaxing (it had got so stressed out reading the original soporific treatise)
- my lessons were getting over faster than I thought originally possible.

In fact, I thought the master stroke of whoever created that course was that right amidst all that caricaturing, spoofing and joking they had quietly slipped in relevant rules from the New Jersey Driving Manual. For example: on the rule of Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels, while the conversation between the cop and the drunk driver (he was so drunk that he could not recognize the cop and was addressing him as some other person!) and the accompanying cartoon were hilarious, simultaneously the minimum BAC levels and what they represented in terms of different volumes of spirits were also slipped in. I was so busy laughing that I did not even realize that my brain in that relaxed state was drinking in (pun intended!) all those boring rules. And because I was so relaxed the retention was more than just temporary. Science has proven that memory is stronger when related to emotions and I just proved that to myself.

Can you imagine what it would have been like to have your text books on company law, income tax, business organization and so forth written in a humorous vein? Not only would you have cursed less but more importantly you would have retained more. It is indeed a pity how course text books are so devoid of any humor. They are designed to put you to sleep and they fulfill that design requirement very well.

So the next time, you are presented with an opportunity to learn, don't laugh it away, but laugh it out!

Let me leave you with this question.

Would you not want to relax your overworked brain through laughter and humor? Would you not want to grant your brain that nourishment which it is begging for? 
It is paradoxically no laughing matter anymore!!

 Storytelling - your DNA


Have you voiced your unique story yet?


Just as your finger print is your own unique DNA, so are your stories. People can connect on a deeper level with the person who can craft a powerful story.


And who does not have a story to tell. All of us go through experiences unique to ourselves. Our stories are a treasure trove of learning, hope, joy, opportunities, inspiration, validation, and yes, frustrations, sorrow to name just a few. But the most engaging feature amongst all these is the stamp of your own, personal voice - in short, a story like no other. It is your own Best Seller.


So, what is it about storytelling that is so riveting? In most instances it is the emotion and singular experiences you go through that drive these stories. There is a common thread that all of us can identify with. It immediately strikes a chord.

The tales you tell hold powerful sway over your memories, behaviors and even identities, according to research from the burgeoning field of narrative psychology. "For better or worse, stories are a very powerful source of self-persuasion, and they are highly internally consistent," says John Holmes, PhD, a psychology professor at Waterloo University.

Innate skill
Storytelling is an innate skill wired into every human being. Your stories express your inner most thoughts complete with their own medley of frustrations and accomplishments. Your stories are also your inspirations. You are motivated to take up causes because of your own life stories. 

Humans think in metaphors and learn through stories. Instead of relating an incident like it is prose you weave a story around it with characters, emotions, ups and downs and a conclusion. It is the drama of life being enacted in your stories.

Why do you like telling stories?
Storytelling, creating narratives is one the basic functions of the mind. If you did not have a story to tell you would drown in details of complex events. In order to give it structure you detect patterns in these events and that morphs into your story.

Storytelling has numerous objectives. It may be to entertain, educate, inspire, warn, create fear, foster hope, establish principles and so forth. However all stories have a deeper meaning beyond the narrative. They symbolize more than just the elements of the story. They stand for something.

The single most long lasting effect and the most motivating as well are the validations that stories give you and your unique identities. Irrespective of whether you are able to articulate your thoughts and aspirations, your stories have already been indelibly seared into your mindset. You breathe, walk, talk and behave a lot based on your inner stories, the ones that are close to your heart - they are your beacons. Anything for which you have a burning passion is actually your inner story surfacing. That is why, when your story resonates with your audience, you feel a connection that lifts your spirits. Your passion gets a further dose of the adrenalin. You have been validated. And getting validation is one of human beings' most basic want.

When you are watching television, or reading an article and you come across some event, say an act of kindness, a rags to riches story, a period of struggle, the triumph of good over evil and any of these match your own inner story, you feel very nice inside. Your mind tells you your story has got parallels and is true. It reinforces your inner beliefs.
The Epics
Storytelling has been prevalent for ages and some of the greatest stories that are told over and over and have influenced millions are the ones from the world's great religions. The Epics of Ramayana and Mahabharatha are replete with stories of valor, triumph, sacrifice, camaraderie, juxtaposed with weakness, failure, treachery and we are all affected by these stories. In many instances, for those of us who have heard them from childhood from our grand parents and parents repeated over time, they have literally molded our personalities. These stories have survived because in the process of being retold they were able to make the transition from simple narrative to something more meaningful. They become your personal folklore, something you and only you own.

"Stories are how we learn. The progenitors of the world's religions understood this, handing down our great myths and legends from generation to generation" say Bill Mooney and David Holt, The Storyteller's Guide 
Storytelling in business
Storytelling has its own place of honor in the world of business. Since they can change the way we think, act and feel they are often used by business leaders to influence and motivate their teams to excellence and beyond. Stories have the power to break down barriers and turn a crisis into a victory.

Stories can capture our imaginations in ways that business facts or data just cannot. Facts make the output merely a matter of function. But stories go right to the core of our hearts and beliefs and touch them in a life changing way. Advertisements are great examples of the power of stories being utilized to market a product or service. That is, if they are done well.

One of the most powerful examples of storytelling in advertisements is illustrated by the German luxury car icon BMW. BMW cars are never advertised in terms of their function or even features. You never hear about the BMW engine although that represents state of art technology and the product of cutting edge research.  They are advertised in only one way - through emotion, straight into the hearts of its fanatical customer fans. This is why a BMW is advertised as "The Ultimate Driving Machine." The story that BMW uses is the ultimate driving experience. All of us know that driving is such a personal thing. It is almost a reflection of our personality. Our emotions surface most openly when we get behind the wheel. And that is the story they zero in on.

However, this is just one manifestation of the power of storytelling in business. Apple as the world's most valuable company (as of date measured by market capitalization) is another business that perennially uses stories to power its products to cult status. This was of course the vision of the late Steve Jobs who right from the creation of the Macintosh Computer way back in 1984 to the modern day retina iPads and Mac book Pros evangelized the "think different" paradigm. The story that Apple used was always (and like BMW) user experience. Their products were not just functional, they stood for something far beyond that - innovation, drop dead gorgeous design, simplicity and integration. Stories that resonated so strongly with their customers that they did not just buy their products by the millions, they became raving evangelists themselves for Apple worldwide.

Metaphors drive stories a great deal. Stories are elevated to a new level when metaphor is piloting it. It makes us perceive new meanings to what is being communicated. We begin to see x in terms of y and that is core of the metaphor concept.

In closing, let me quote Tom Peters who would say, you are the CEO of your life (a metaphor and story bundle in itself). And as CEO what story are you crafting in your life? Think about it.
Let me leave you with this thought: In this age of Facebook and Twitter leading the charge in social media, where private space has turned public in a life changing way, what is your unique story?

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Next Issue (see you in October 2012)
Discover your Genius
The road to your passion

Have you found your inspirational time of the day - magic moments of stimulation, creativity and purposeRead why and how.


You need to be out of the box first to think outside itAre you?

and many more......

Feedback on the newsletter is welcome including any suggestions for improvement and may be sent to

Believe in yourself and discover the genius in you.

Talk to you soon.
S Lakshmi Narasimhan
Author of the just released Book: Discover the Genius in the Mirror

About Ignite Insight LLC: I am the Founder of Ignite Insight LLC, a Consultancy specializing in providing Group/Executive Training, Coaching and consulting services to companies, business groups and individuals. We empower you to discover the genius in yourself!

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