In my upcoming book I present something I have labeled as “The Dobzhansky Template” for finding the core theme or message of a narrative. Marco Rubio gave a speech yesterday that felt almost like he had used the template. It was a model of clear messaging.



I’m not a fan of Marco Rubio (the dude’s a climate skeptic for starters), but he showed the kind of aggressive messaging that the right wing is so adept at in a speech yesterday, labeling his opponent, Hillary Clinton, with exactly that word — “yesterday.” Here’s what he said.

RUBIO: Just yesterday, a leader from yesterday, began a campaign for president by promising to take us back to yesterday.

Skillfully done. And kinda funny, too.



In our Connection Storymaker Workshop of the past 5 years we developed the idea of a template for finding “the one word” at the core of your narrative using the famous quote from geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky (“Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”).

The idea is the search for “the one thing” that captures the bulk of the narrative. Here’s the sentence as a template:

Nothing in _____ makes sense except in the light of _____ .

And here’s the template as Rubio would have used it.

Nothing in HILLARY CLINTON’S CAMPAIGN makes sense except in the light of YESTERDAY.

The object of messaging is that once you figure out that one thing — you hit the note over and over, from a variety of angles. As Rubio did in a single sentence. I’m not sure about the rest of his speech, but he could easily have continued hitting that message in multiple ways — always coming back to the bottom line — that his opponent is out of touch with today.

It’s a very simple and fairly harsh label to put on her, but that’s how it’s done by the big boys — creating the frame around their opponent before the opponent can create their own frame. Whether it sticks remains to be seen, but for now, it was a model effort for how a challenger takes on a superior opponent. It’s also a cue for her to swing back, which she hopefully does with equal skill.

One is complete, the other three will finish by the end of next month. Ten hours and you’ll never view text the same.


ABSORBING NARRATIVE STRUCTURE AT THE GUT LEVEL.  The four prototypes that started in late January.

It’s very simple. At the core of it everything is the ABT — the simple structuring device that tracks back to Aristotle. It’s the narrative ideal. Everything else is either a tiny bit more boring or a tiny bit more confusing.

It’s five people doing 10 one hour sessions where they first, analyze the narrative structure of abstracts, then work on their own stories using the narrative tools developed in our Connection Storymaker Workshop.

The specifics are laid out in my new book, “Houston, We Have A Narrative: Why Science Needs Story,” coming in September. All of the sessions have been recorded. We are about to begin analyzing the videos, producing a novel data set on how people improve their communication skills.

Story Circles is the solution to the problem I laid out in the third chapter of my first book. The chapter was titled, “Don’t Be Such A Poor Storyteller.” It puts you on the path to solving that problem.

Big thanks to George Harper (Hendrix College), Mike Strauss (USDA), Alan Thomas (NIH/Univ of Chicago) and all the wonderful participants.

Wanna know what the new book is about? It’s pretty much right there in the Table of Contents.