How a Smoke Ring Saved This Pilot’s Life

SmokeRing  JamesGoodson
“People say smoking costs lives. It saved my life.” –Lieutenant Colonel James Goodson

The Washington Post writes, “During a WWII strafing run over a German airfield, ace pilot, James “Goody” Goodson, was shot down. Injured, Goody fled into a white birch forest, but was eventually captured by the enemy. Threatened with execution, Goody recalled his German captor asking him if he wanted ‘a drink or another indulgence’ before being shot. Goody spied a box of Havana cigars, asked for a stogie and blew a few (farewell) smoke rings. It shocked the German who had never seen this before.” They struck up a conversation and before long Goody was teaching his captor how to blow his own smoke rings. Goody recalls, ‘Instead of being shot I was transferred to a prisoner-of-war camp. People say smoking costs lives. It saved my life.’”

Lieutenant colonel James Goodson recently died from pneumonia at a hospital in Plymouth, Massachusetts at the age of 94. His honors included the Silver Star, the Purple Heart and 21 awards of the Air Medal.

If this story caught your attention you will appreciate how storytelling still works, despite the fact that our brains are skimming material faster than ever due to the Internet experience. Just check out the chart below.

Stop and “Smell My Flowers”

Digital Usage Up 30% Increases Skimming

Twenty years ago research indicated that 80% of readers don’t read the body copy in ads. Now, thanks to the Internet, our digitalized brains are skimming even faster. So how do we get our communications and solicitations noticed in the turbo-charged Internet age? Research indicates that the answer is to slow down and call attention with “trigger words” and “trigger visuals” called “eye bytes.” Now more than ever it’s important that we find ways to stand out from the pack and get prospects to stop and “smell our flowers.”

“Water No Good!” –Neanderthal hunter

Our client experience, supported by marketing research, indicates that one of the most effective ways to call attention to our digital content, social media, advertising, mailers, e-mails, website content, magazine articles, and so forth is good old-fashioned storytelling. It gets noticed.

Reportedly, this goes back to the cavemen days where survival was dependent on paying attention to what others told us. Our evolved brains have learned that paying attention to stories is an important survival instinct. If a fellow Neanderthal hunter told us a certain water hole would make us sick, we paid attention or we paid the price.

Don’t pay the price of wasted communications by getting overly slick with your messaging. Storytelling is an extremely cost-effective way to accomplish this, if done the right way. Stay tuned for the next blog, “How to Use Testimonial Storytelling to Overcome Skimming and Engage Constituents. It will contain 10 tips for testimonial storytelling and include five powerful real-life examples.

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