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What fairy tales tell us about what makes people tick

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Ever wondered why children love bed time stories so much?

And why they particularly love hearing the same stories over and over?

Believe it or not, understanding the answers to these questions can help you convert more of your prospects into customers.

It all starts from the foundations, which in the case of fairy tales, are archetypes.

Think of archetypes as the building blocks of all the stories humans have been telling since we started roaming this earth.

Stories of warriors, magicians, lovers, kings, family etc.

It’s all these primordial images we have in our minds (even before actually learning much about life) that are carried on through generations.

But where does the true power of archetypes really lie?

It’s in the fact that such simple concepts carry so much information.

Actually, let me correct that…

There are 2 types of data we can describe:

  • Information: what we convey when we communicate
  • Exformation: everything we discard in order to convey information

These two concepts are at the foundation of “The user illusion”, a book you might have heard me blab a lot lately…

Anyway, you might think information is what matters, when in reality, exformation matters a whole damn lot too.

Ok, take a deep breath now, we’re going deeper…

Enter the “Tree of talking”:

This illustration shows you how humans communicate. Not only in conversations, but in writing too.

What’s important to understand here (and something almost nobody talks about online) is how much data we have to discard before communicating anything AND how much data the person receiving it generates in their minds from our simple transfer.

This is why fairy tales are so powerful.

Combine archetypal images + the way our minds work (associating, brainstorming, coming up with novel connections, ruminating, linking past experiences…), and you can see how easy it is to impact our thinking.

And it just takes a short, well crafted story that grows into empathy in the listener’s mind.

As the author says:

“Great storytellers like Hans Christian Andersen or Karen Blixen are masters of knowing precisely which attractors are to be found in the mind: at playing on precisely those inner pictures that are the most fundamental, archetypal, and dynamic in any mind, young or old.

They are masters at staging plots that use very small amounts of information to make the entire register of previously produced exformation grow forth in people’s heads”

This is also the reason why children love adults reading them stories and repeat them over and over. It’s not only about getting the plot…

It’s also about the human connection and the reaction in both the listener and the reader.

How words turn into shared emotions and feelings, how they grow from the root, into a tree, that’s where the secret lies.

I find the tree of talking fascinating.

Think of how ChatGPT works for example.

You have to train the AI first and then it returns a result.

But that result is only the product of its acquired knowledge and of the associations it can make.

Same thing for us humans, even though we are much better at making those associations and combine them into something interesting – for now.

I’m starting to develop a theory for how we can use this model to better instruct AI.

In the meantime, keep the tree of talking in mind.

When you’re writing copy, simple yet meaningful often works best.

It’s all about what ideas you can pass on and have readers grow in their minds.

Have a great weekend.

P.S. This week’s Youtube video just dropped. I walk you through how I use ChatGPT to write a usability testing study for a SaaS website.

Quote and reflection of the day:

“Ultimately, the world treats you more or less the way you expect to be treated.”

  • Bob Burg, The Go-Giver

Expecting the best is not entitlement when you earn it.

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