My “Sad Keanu” Slide finally scores laughs!


In recent years Randy has made this story of my initial use of the ABT in what’s been termed “The Liz Moment,” which means that singular, individual first use of the ABT that makes you sit back and say, “Wow, this thing is powerful.” Just about all enthusiastic fans of the ABT can tell you about their Liz Moment where they basically “got it” on the power of the ABT. This was my initial experience.

My story begins with Keanu Reeves. He’s always been known as a pretty chill guy, but in 2010 a paparazzi photo appeared of him looking kind of sullen, sitting on a bench eating a sandwich.

Of course the internet went nuts and immediately memed it, everyone started photoshopping Keanu into various scenarios as the sad guy on a park bench, the sad guy in a crowd, and even Photoshopped him into classic old photos looking sad.

Being a giant nerd, I was into it. Then a few years later I was working on a project to support a Marine Managed Area on Maui, and I made my own version of it to essentially mock a sign that I thought wasn’t particularly helpful in conveying the unique rules for the area. I had a conference presentation coming up, and I wanted to use it somehow, but I didn’t know what to do with it, or how or where I could fit it in without embarrassing myself as a giant dork.

BUT THEN I came across Randy Olson’s 2013 book, “ Connection,” where he first formally introduced the ABT Narrative Template. I found it interesting and figured I’d give it a try.

I basically created a bunch of mini ABTs about my work, each with its own setup-problem-solution dynamic.

Well … before I even gave the talk I already noticed a first thing. The talk was really easy to rehearse. Instead of having to look at my notes a lot, it seemed to have a smooth logical flow to it.

Then a second thing happened. When I gave the talk, I looked out at the audience, and instead of seeing everyone texting, I saw people actually staring at me and listening.

The talk went great…and then a third thing happened. After the talk, I saw some tweets people wrote about it, and they were nailing my message, just as clearly as I’d presented it…it didn’t get all garbled and miscommunicated.

The whole experience really had a big impact on me, from start to finish.

I innocently wrote to Randy, just to thank him for this simple and powerful tool. That’s all. Just a basic fan email. No expectation that he’d upend my life by making me part of his team for the past 7 years, but that’s exactly what happened.

The fact is, Randy can’t help himself when people convey enthusiasm for the ABT. This is actually a recurring pattern you’ll see with other people in our group — you show a little bit of enthusiasm, he recruits you and puts you to work.
That was 2014 when he was in the midst of writing, “Houston, We Have A Narrative.” Sure enough, he told my whole story as a case study, and eventually took to calling it the iconic, “Liz Moment.”

OH, and one last thing — remember my Sad Keanu meme?

Thanks to the ABT, I was able to find exactly the right place NARRATIVELY within that talk to insert my Sad Keanu slide at the end. The image ended up both conveying and reinforcing my message. And guess what happened? Because of that, it made sense, the audience got it, they actually laughed and I didn’t embarrass myself.

So I guess that’s my final bit of appreciation for the ABT – I finally scored my own sad Keanu moment!