#204) Three Steps to CONCISION: The CHAT GPT/ABT Concision Tool

One of the most important goals for communication is concision. By combining Chat GPT and the ABT you can achieve it in ways never before possible.

ChatGPT Answer

Enter the text of an article into Chat GPT, tell it to use the ABT, and this is an example of what you’ll get back. Not perfect, but close, and of course incredibly fast.



I gave a talk on this a year ago at a gene therapy meeting — basically how to use the ABT with Chat GPT to produce a concise statement of the narrative core of a text. It’s time to formalize it for everyone. It’s very simple.

1 ENTER THE PROMPT: Type this line into Chat GPT: Using Randy Olson’s ABT Narrative Framework reduce this text to a one sentence ABT with the words And, But, Therefore:

2 ADD THE TEXT: On the same line, copy and paste in the ENTIRE text of whatever you want reduced to its ABT narrative core.

3 BINGO: It gives you the one sentence ABT. Yes, it’s that simple.



This morning I randomly chose an article from the front page of the NY Times about “Strike Madness” in Germany. The article was 1,275 words in length. I ran it through the three steps above, here was the output (color coded so you can see the three ABT elements).

Workers at the SRW scrap metal plant in Leipzig have been striking for over 136 days, marking the longest postwar strike in Germany, AND while Germany prides itself on peaceful labor relations, recent widespread strikes across various sectors are challenging this notion, BUT the country faces economic difficulties with a shrinking workforce and rising living costs, THEREFORE, workers like those at SRW are demanding fair wages and better conditions to secure their future in a rapidly changing economic landscape.

Is this perfect? Of course not, but it did 90% of the job in just one second. From here you need to tweak it according to what you’re wanting to say and to whom.

For this particular ABT I’d be inclined to reduce it to this for clarity:

Germany prides itself on peaceful labor relations, BUT the country faces economic difficulties with a shrinking workforce and rising living costs, THEREFORE, workers like those at SRW and elsewhere are demanding fair wages and better conditions to secure their future in a rapidly changing economic landscape.

For concision I reduced the set up and broadened the THEREFORE element. It is now a one sentence concise and powerful statement of “the story” that the article tells.

It’s more than just the subtitle that the NY Times provides with the article, yet it is still short enough to digest quickly. And again, is powerful.

You should use it for any text you have that you find yourself staring at, annoyed, wondering, “What in the hell is this thing trying to say?”

The New York Times really should have it as a feature in their daily email that lists all their major articles. There should be an ABT button next to each title that you click and it instantly gives you this nicely structured summary of “the story” being told.



Narrative is about a journey. Reporting is about current events.

You can see this divide clearly by looking at what the newspaper provided as their subtitle for the article versus what the ABT produces. Here’s what the newspaper provided for this article.

THE NY TIMES SUBTITLE: A wave of strikes by German workers, feeling the sting of inflation and stagnant growth, is the latest sign of the bleak outlook for Europe’s economic powerhouse.

Their subtitle is static — saying the article is about “the latest sign” of a problem.

The ABT gives the SET UP (a past of peaceful labor relations), then introduces the problem that has arisen (economic difficulties), followed by the consequence (strikes). It provides a journey, making it more active and thus more powerful in communication itself.

The bottom line is that narrative is built around three act structure. Journalism is built around the Inverted Pyramid model.

They are not the same. At all.

#203) Testimony Debacle: The ABT Could Have Prevented It

Ironically, as we were working with a biomedical company last week, hammering out delicately formulated and legally correct ABT-structured answers to common questions for their product, several university professors were imploding in front of congress. Sadly, they didn’t have to end up in such a mess.

LOST THE NARRATIVE. There was no narrative flow to most of what they said in their answers.



How much planning do you want to do in advance of a grilling? If you do none, you run the risk of rambling wildly.  You do too much, you over-think and over-complicate. There’s a clear optimum, as well as an optimal level of complexity to the answers.

Last week three university presidents, tragically, secured their place in history with a catastrophically bad grilling session. It doesn’t matter how many hours the session was or how heroically they performed. When it comes to mass communication, perception is reality.

The perception was so bad one of them has already resigned from her position.

What should they have done?



Of course everyone will be engaged in literally Monday morning quarterbacking today (the Monday after the event). All I know is what we would have done to prepare them.

Here’s how you get ready for important and potentially dangerous questions.

1) EXPERT ADVICE – You bring together your subject and legal experts
2) QUESTIONS – You think up the questions you’re most likely to be asked’
3) DRAFT ANSWERS – You come up with first drafts of answers (using the ABT structure)
4) REVISION – You keep revising your answers until everyone is comfortable with them
5) REHEARSAL – You rehearse until the STRUCTURE is embedded in your mind (not the words)

The key element here — that was missing from their testimony — is the ABT structure.



One of the cornerstones of our entire ABT Training program is what we termed, long ago, “The Liz Moment.”

It refers to Dr. Liz Foote who used the ABT for a presentation in 2014, found it to be powerful, then wrote to me, relating three main features. I wrote this up in my 2015 book, “Houston, We Have A Narrative.”

Using the ABT, she found her talk to be:

1) EASIER TO REHEARSE – the ABT structure locks into your mind better than any other structure
2) ENGAGED THE CROWD – she felt her audience more connected to her presentation than ever before
3) RETAINED FIDELITY – in the days after, as people regurgitated on social media what she had presented, she found their accounts to be more accurate than for any previous talk.

By coincidence, on Tuesday we did a session with a biomedical company we’re working with where we hammered out the ABT-structured answers to their three most common questions they get about their main product. It was a tremendous session. We were all so psyched with the results.

But then our hearts sunk on Thursday watching the three academics over-complicate their answers as they failed to get to the THEREFORE’s that were needed.

What can we say. As far as we know, there is no other model for narrative structure (which is the essential element to provide answers that are clear, concise, and confident).

It’s tragic to watch something like that hearing take place. The ABT could have helped a great deal. If you want to hear more, get in touch with us, we’ll be glad to walk you through it.

#202) Chat GPT is a Gift to the ABT Framework

Chat GPT 4.0 is beyond amazing. Maybe not in terms of CONTENT so far (it makes lots of mistakes and even bullshits), but if you understand FORM there’s no way you can be anything but stunned by it. On a parallel note the ABT (And, But, Therefore) Framework is also about FORM. So what this means is that Chat GPT is the ultimate tool for the ABT Framework PROVIDED … you have narrative intuition. Allow me to explain further …


For the past 30 years I’ve had a mentor (a Hollywood veteran) in my journey into and through Hollywood. Five years ago he began warning me what was coming with Artificial Intelligence. He steered me to two important books, “Our Final Invention,” by James Barrat and “Life 3.0” by Max Tegmark. Together they paint a picture of the future and probe the question of whether A.I. will ultimately be benevolent or malevolent.

I asked him recently what he thinks are now the best books on this. He said those two are still pretty much all you need to make sense of the strange new world emerging There’s about to be a lot of change that most experts feel is going to be unlike anything we’ve ever experienced.

As you probably (and hopefully) know, Chat GPT 3.0 was released last fall to little fanfare yet quickly became the most rapidly adopted app in history. That by itself underscores its importance. And then last week was Chat GPT 4.0 which is the real stunner.

And yet, lots of people experimented with 3.0, saw it was making informational mistakes, and dismissed it as over-hyped. But here’s why that’s a bad mistake to make.



Communication consists of two parts: the information you’re wanting to convey (CONTENT) and the way you put it together (FORM). This divide is crucial in considering what is so powerful about Chat GPT.

Chat GPT is not that great so far in terms of CONTENT. You can just use Google and do a more accurate job for a lot of topics. It’s the second part — FORM — that you begin to see is truly stunning.

Let me draw on two grand masters to help make this point …



In 2015, as I was preparing for the release of “Houston We Have A Narrative,” my mentor buddy that I mentioned above did a very cool favor for me. He is friends with Matt Stone, one of the two co-creators of the animated series,South Park.” He sent Matt the chapter of the book where I thanked he and Trey Parker for the knowledge from which I initially derived the ABT Narrative Template.

Matt wrote back a really nice email. It included this extremely profound bit, which I cited in the second edition of, Don’t Be Such A Scientist. He said:

Hey man this is really cool. If there is anything Trey and I work hard on it’s structure. It’s so important and so so hard to get right. We beat ourselves up so that causality is really there or at least emotionally implied. Then we put in some dick jokes and poop stuff and, voila!

Take a look at what he’s saying about “structure” which means FORM.

He says it is “so important” yet “so so hard to get right.” The second part is what’s crucial– that he gives structure (FORM) not one, but two “so’s.”

And there you have it. THAT is why Chat GPT right now is so so stunning. Which it truly is. Chat GPT takes that second element and changes it from “so so hard” into instantly solved. Bingo.

For example, a friend had me use Chat GPT 4.0 to write a Shakespearean sonnet about a frog that fell in love with a platypus. That’s the sort of thing where the CONTENT is easy to get right — not a lot of mystery to what a frog and platypus look like. But the FORM … making all the words rhyme properly and constructing it to have Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter?

THAT is the part that traditionally would be “so so hard.” It would take a person like me at least a month, if not a year (if not a lifetime).

Chat GPT solves it in an instant. BOOM! That … that is your miracle of Chat GPT, broken down into communication dynamics. And that is why it is a huge opportunity as a tool to allow you to do rapid repetition in ways I never could have imagined.



So now let’s look at the two ways we will be putting Chat GPT to use in the ABT Framework course.



From the start, we’ve said our philosophy for Narrative Training is this simple formula:

S + R = I

Where S is SIMPLICITY, R is REPETITION and I is your ultimate goal of narrative INTUITION.

Look at the R element. That is where Chat GPT comes in. It allows you to create a first draft of an ABT (in using it you should tell it “Using Randy Olson’s ABT Framework create a one sentence ABT about …” — this gets you directly into ABT structuring versus other ABT’s like American Ballet Theater).

Then you can begin tweaking it, rapidly. This ends up being the same process as “Rapid Prototyping” that CAD/CAM brought about for machinery.

We’re just start to explore its power, but here’s the start of an example use of it …

Using Randy Olson’s ABT Framework create a one sentence ABT for why legislation is needed to curb gun violence.

And: Gun violence is a significant problem in many communities across the United States.

But: Current laws and regulations are insufficient to address the issue, and innocent lives are being lost due to gun violence every day.

Therefore: Legislation is needed to curb gun violence and protect the safety and well-being of all citizens.

Now add to the “And:” statement the number of deaths per year in the US from gun violence.

Sure, here’s a revised ABT statement:

And: With over 40,000 deaths per year in the United States from gun violence, it is a significant problem in many communities across the country.

But: Current laws and regulations are insufficient to address the issue, and innocent lives are being lost due to gun violence every day.

Therefore: Legislation is needed to curb gun violence and protect the safety and well-being of all citizens.

Now make the “Therefore:” element more specific by mentioning legislation that has been proposed in the past to address this problem.

Sure, here’s a revised ABT statement:

And: With over 40,000 deaths per year in the United States from gun violence, it is a significant problem in many communities across the country.

But: Current laws and regulations are insufficient to address the issue, and innocent lives are being lost due to gun violence every day.

Therefore: Legislation such as universal background checks, assault weapons bans, and red flag laws, which have been proposed in the past, are needed to curb gun violence and protect the safety and well-being of all citizens.

There is so much you can do with it. We’ll give more updates on this element soon.



The above example shows you exactly what I’ve been saying for the past few months — Chat GPT is like a beautiful and awesome race car, BUT … narrative intuition is the steering wheel. Without narrative intuition, you’ve got an amazing gadget that races all over the place but ultimately amounts to nothing.

You need to steer the process. To do this, you need narrative intuition. The ABT Framework helps you develop this. Without it, you’re going to maybe have lots of fun, but also … you’ll end up wasting too much time. 

And that is bad news in a world where time is increasingly in short supply.


#201) Using the right tool: A “HOWEVER HAMMER” for diplomacy, a “BUT BOMB” for the masses

Scientists love their HOWEVERs. It’s the more diplomatic, less forceful word of contradiction with which to introduce the problem portion of your ABT. We have data to show how much scientists love it. BUT … the more powerful and more widely used word of contradiction is THE BUT BOMB. Keep that in mind in matching your content to your INNER CIRCLE versus OUTER CIRCLE audiences.

TONE DEAF? Okay, maybe this wasn’t the most tactful t-shirt for us to make for our World Bank friends given current world events, BUT … come on, have a sense of humor (please insert in your mind a smiley face emoji here). The term BUT BOMB was coined by the graduate students of Drs. Marlis Douglas and Keisha Bahr and first presented in our latest version of the NARRATIVE GYM series of books.



Narrative structure consists of three forces: AGREEMENT, CONTRADICTION, CONSEQUENCE. The ABT Narrative Template embodies these three forces. It uses the most common word of agreement (AND), the most common word of contradiction (BUT), and the most powerful word of consequence (THEREFORE). These three elements add up to AND, BUT, THEREFORE which is the ABT.

So here’s what’s fascinating about the central element. BUT is the most commonly used word of contradiction, but … there are other words that can work as well. The most common alternative to BUT is HOWEVER.

So why use BUT versus HOWEVER?

Here’s why…



Last fall a group of us from the ABT Framework course compiled a few stats on our two Narrative Metrics (the AND Frequency and the Narrative Index of BUTs to ANDs). Early on, Marlis Douglas suggested that we also count the use of the word HOWEVER by scientists. Sure enough, there was a pattern.

We analyzed 25 articles each from three publications which we designated as BROAD (The New Yorker), RESEARCH (Molecular Ecology), and TARGETED (research reports from IUCN).

What we found was that writers in the New Yorker almost never use the word HOWEVER. Their average ratio of HOWEVERs to BUTs was 0.02.

The IUCN reports had a much higher usage with the average score of 0.53.

But the highest use of HOWEVER was the pure research papers of Molecular Ecology which averaged 0.78 — approaching 1.0 which would be using HOWEVER as much as BUT. In fact, a few of the papers did have more HOWEVERs than BUTs.



In 2015 I did an ABT workshop with 15 diplomats from the State Department. They told me that one of the first things they are taught in their training is to never use the word BUT. The same thing happens with improv actors.

Why? Because BUT is so powerful, and is a word of negation.

BUT … they had nothing to say about HOWEVER, nor do improv actors. Why? Because it is a softer, less forceful word, which makes it perfect for diplomacy (or beating around the bush).



So here’s the big point. Think about your audience. If they are your INNER CIRCLE they’re already listening closely to you. They don’t need to have their attention grabbed. In fact, they would appreciate if you’d respect their knowledge and be a little more gentle with them. That’s the whole idea of diplomacy — speaking softly. So you use HOWEVER as your word of contradiction in the ABT structure.

Think of it as THE HOWEVER HAMMER — a delicate tool for fine detail work. It’s a much softer tool than the BUT BOMB.

Now think about your OUTER CIRCLE — they’re not listening as closely, are not as clued in on what you’re saying, and more likely to need a jolt to get their attention. Writers at The New Yorker know this intuitively, and that’s why they use BUT almost exclusively as their word of contradiction.

So that’s what you need to learn here.

Chose the right tool for the right job. If you’re talking to scientists or diplomats, use more HOWEVERs. If you’re talking to the general public, you want lots of BUTs.

It’s a simple difference, BUT … is a fundamental element of effective communication.

You can learn lots more about narrative metrics in my 5th book, Narrative Is Everything.

#200) 2023 is the Tipping Point Year for the ABT Framework

There’s lots of excitement around Chat GPT AND it’s clear Artificial Intelligence will soon put an end to human culture (as Maureen Dowd conceded yesterday in the NY Times), BUT in the meanwhile Narrative Structure is still everything, THEREFORE we’re hard at work in 2023 propagating the ABT everywhere possible.

Suddenly the ABT is being put to work in a lot of places. Yay.



It’s taken a decade. From the World Bank to Pfizer to the Smithsonian to Cornell University … people are seeing the power and application of the ABT Framework as a tool for finding the narrative core of your material.

All we can say is yes, it works.

To learn more:  ATBFramework.com

#199) Al Gore’s “Wrong Problem” 16 Years Later: Wants vs Needs

Hollywood screenwriters like to talk about wants versus needs for characters. In 2006 Al Gore announced his “want” with his landmark movie, “An Inconvenient Truth.” He pointed to the ultimate problem of global warming and announced that he wanted very much to stop it. But then the question to ask (that he never really did) was, “What do we NEED to achieve this goal?” The specific answer was 60 votes in the U.S. Senate for significant climate legislation. And even more specific would have been a plan for how to change minds to achieve those votes. That was never addressed. Lots of science, very little politics. And now, on Meet the Press this week, he was once again blaming the right for everything and calling them “deniers,” but not addressing that fundamental question of how to change minds. Still.

For decades Al Gore has talked about how he wants to end global warming, but he’s never answered the question of how to change minds. Still.



One of my best friends from my science days, now a senior scientist at NIH, sent me an email yesterday asking me this simple question. He, of course, asked it in reference to all the work I’ve done with narrative structure, the structure of stories, and the anti-science movement in general. My answer was basically I don’t know.

This is the same question that Al Gore should have been addressing in 2006 with, “An Inconvenient Truth,” but he didn’t. He hosted a movie that presented a huge amount of scientific evidence, wrapped in a moralizing tone of shame on us if we don’t fix this.

The result, 16 years later was his appearance yesterday on NBC’s Meet the Press where host Chuck Todd seemed to call him a visionary for having foretold all the climate mess we have today.



Yes, Al Gore foretold disaster, but he failed to provide a realistic plan to avert it. What happened?

Why wasn’t a couple hundred million spent on experimentation to see how to actually change minds on the climate issue?

At the core of changing minds is communication. Why wasn’t there an explosion of experimentation and exploration on communication, sponsored by the major foundations who by 2011, when I gave my, “Dude, Where’s My Climate Movement,” talk at the 50th anniversary of World Wildlife Fund were already spending hundreds of millions of dollars on climate. Why wasn’t there a gigantic initiative underway to answer this most important question of changing minds?

But there never has been. The climate movement has spent a fortune throwing science at the public, but where have been the experimental, exploratory projects on communication? At the end of that 2011 talk (at 22 minutes) I told the story of the group at CDC who created the Zombie Disaster Preparedness Kits project that won the “Wow, Innovation” Award from a professional advertising society then asked verbatim, “Why isn’t the climate community winning Wow Innovation awards?”



More important to me — as we prepare this fall to run our ABT Framework Narrative Training program with major organizations like Pfizer, Genentech, the World Bank, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Georgia Medical School Consortium, the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration, and lots and lots more … I have one over-riding question, still.

Why are none of the foundations interested in even talking about the ABT, and why is there not an initiative to address the real question that Gore never has been able to answer.

How do you change minds?

#198) Crowdsourcing Our Knowledge of “HOW TO TEACH THE ABT”

What do you do when you’ve created an incredibly powerful communications model that has you so busy training people with it that you don’t have time to write a book on how to teach it? You crowdsource it. Which is what we’re doing now as people contact me with their great stories and publications on how they are using the ABT Narrative Framework in teaching. Our podcast, “ABT Time,” has become our forum for this with two in-depth discussions (so far) of How to Teach the ABT, Parts ONE (2021) and TWO (2022).

THE NEWEST BATCH OF ABT TEACHERS. From English to Geography to Biology, the ABT Narrative Framework is spreading rapidly. Tune in to our two podcast discussions (so far) to hear how complete strangers to us are weaponizing the ABT for teaching.



Q: We’re too busy to write a book on how to teach the ABT, what should we do?

A: Crowdsource it!

Time for an ABT (if you don’t know what an ABT is read this article in Ensia).

ABT: We’ve spent a decade developing AND understanding the power of the ABT Narrative Template, BUT teaching it turns out to be a whole separate challenge, THEREFORE we pulled together a special episode of our ABT Time podcast last June for an initial discussion. It proved to be our most popular episode to date (of 41 episodes) drawing in a crowd of listeners somewhere between 2.5 million and a couple hundred (our tracking numbers are a little fuzzy).

In the year since then I’ve continued to receive a steady stream of awesome emails from people telling me how they’ve been using the ABT in teaching. Which led us last week to do a second installment on teaching the ABT.



Last week, a year after our first teaching special episode, we pulled together 4 more professors who have been using the ABT in teaching. They’ve even written a book built around it (Alan Crivellaro’s, “Effective Scientific Presentations: The Winning Formula”) and published an academic paper about its use in teaching geography (Robert Wilson’s paper, “Writing Geography: Teaching research writing and storytelling in the discipline”).

And guess what, I’ve already got another batch of folks who have contacted me with further experience in teaching the ABT. I’ll probably pull them together for a Part 3, in probably just a few months.

If you’re using the ABT in teaching please write to me directly at rolson@usc.edu to join our crowd!

#197) Two Examples of how the ABT is for EVERYBODY

Yes, we use the ABT Framework in working with the most sophisticated folks from the Federal Aviation Administration to Pfizer’s Global Epidemiology Team, but I also help my friends use it on a daily basis for everything from love letters to wedding speeches. Here’s two great examples from the past couple weeks of friends using it for a GoFundMe campaign and a non-profit fundraising video.

This is the photo from the GoFundMe page for Jesse Bielmann that has proven hugely successful. The concise ABT-structured text has been a major strength.


EXAMPLE 1: GoFundMe Campaign: ABT is on the job

This is a really tragic and painful story of my best friend Brian Bielmann’s military veteran son, Jesse having a complication from medication he takes for his military service ailments. The medical bills were staggering so we put together a GoFundMe page. I helped them write the one paragraph of text for it (not three pages of content as was their initial instinct — that “more is more”).

Look at what we posted. Very simple, with one big BUT right in the middle of it, then the last sentence is the THEREFORE (help us out). Plain, simple — set up, problem, solution.

Greetings, Friends – My name is Gina Cubero, and I am the Proud Mother of Jesse Bielmann, a highly decorated combat war Veteran. We need your help. My son Jesse served six years in the Air Force as a Special Operator with multiple deployments including a combat deployment to Afghanistan. As an Air Force Combat Controller, he was involved in very intense combat. His courageous journey has been manageable until now. Jesse successfully coped with the significant physical and psychological trauma from horrific combat experiences. But, in March 2022, he had an adverse reaction to prescribed medications for his physical and psychological traumas. Jesse had multiple seizures that left him in a coma with sustained heart and organ failure. He is unable to work while he is on the pathway to recovery. Daily necessities and crippling medical costs have caused severe financial duress for himself and family. Normally, Jesse is strong, resilient and resourceful, but his medical and financial challenges can not be met alone or with just family support. The funds that we raise will cover Jesse’s bills until he can get back on his feet. The time has come to ask for your help!


EXAMPLE 2: Non-profit Fundraising video: Paging Dr. Dobzhansky

My friend Laura Pavlakovich has been written up in the New York Times for her amazing work running a non-profit for Type 1 Diabetes. I’ve introduced her to the ABT and the Dobzhansky. This post from her a couple days ago says it all…

#196) The 4 ABT Long Haulers: Palermo, Howell, Padilla, Knowlton

They were there from the very first round of the ABT Framework Course in April, 2020. Two of them gave guest lectures in the first round (Palermo, Howell), two of them connected with elements of the business world from Park Howell that instantly resonated with them (Padilla, Knowlton) resulting in them joining the instruction team. By two years later the four of them had combined for over 100 guest presentations as well as embodied the single most important trait for the ABT Framework, which is the ability to LISTEN. They are true role models for effective communication and lead spokespersons for the ABT Framework.




The ABT Framework course has not been your basic “media training” program. It has been an incubator as we’ve slowly developed “strengthening the ABT” into a 3 step model. After two years of running the course, it looked by Round 24 drastically different from Round 1.

In the beginning there was no 3 Step Model, no books, no Working Circles — not much more than just the three word narrative template and the ABT Build exercise. But by the end there was a whole second level of detail.



Similarly, each of the guest instructors went through a sort of selection and change process. In the first year we brought in a wide range of guest speakers. It was partly to entertain myself during the height of the pandemic — a chance to have fun with old friends.

The guest speakers came from a diverse range of disciplines — filmmakers, scientists, actors, journalists — each making a connection with the ABT Template. But by the second year it became clear that four of the guest instructors needed to be recurring characters.

They became the central cast of: improv actor Brian Palermo, business podcast host Park Howell, senior scientists Dianna Padilla and Nancy Knowlton (all pictured above). Each one developed their individual presentations going from “a bunch of stuff” on their topic in the beginning, to eventually mostly their ONE THING which was LISTENING (Brian), CLIENT AS HERO (Park), PROPOSALS (Dianna), and OPTIMISM (Nancy).

By the end, each one fit together like puzzle pieces, following my 5 introductory “Nuts and Bolts” lectures on the basics of the ABT Framework. There were lots of great rounds of the course, though a few (the coral reef scientists, fisheries biologists, some of the National Park Service rounds, and East Carolina University) really stood out as exceptional.



One of the greatest parts of the whole project has been watching two senior scientists Dianna and Nancy fully absorb the power of the ABT Framework. I had them talk about this in a little detail a year ago in this 5 minute video.

The two of them, along with fellow septuagenarians Mike Strauss and Rick Nelson (formerly of USDA and USFWS, both central members of the instruction crew), demonstrate that it absolutely is possible for older scientists to learn the ABT Framework. This is a super-important point. I have had some older scientists say to me, verbatim, “I’m too old for that communications stuff.” Nope. Sorry. Turns out it’s actually easier for older folks, provided they’re willing to LISTEN.



As I’ve said, two years, 25 rounds, over 750 ABT Builds for me … it’s been an intense and fun incubator for the ABT Framework. Now it’s time to apply what we’ve learned. As Matt David has pointed out, we’ve completed the “arouse” part of the “Arouse and Fulfill” couplet, now it’s time for the fulfillment.

So the course has been a huge success AND we’ve all had a ton of fun, BUT we want to see the ABT Framework in action for a bit, THEREFORE … we’re launching a new phase starting May 4.

I’ll be explaining this in detail in a blogpost in a few days.

#195) 25 AND UP: 2 Years, 25 Rounds, 750 Graduates, time for the next phase of the ABT Agenda!

What more can be said about a course that was born by the pandemic, gave rise to 250 one-hour sessions, 200 conference calls among the 20 instructors, produced over 750 graduates, plus a podcast (ABT Time) that just produced its 35th episode. We developed the first ever detailed model for narrative structure (NOT storytelling) (you can read about it at ABTFramework.com) which is now detailed in 4 books. And of course the best news of all: We’re only getting started!




On Friday, April 10, 2020 I was surfing with a buddy who began telling me about the online course he was designing around his book on child behavior. My ears shut off, my brain lit up.

By the following Monday we had announced our “ABT Framework Course” on Twitter. By the end of the week we had filled all 50 slots for the first run.

Last Friday we completed the 25th round of the course. We eventually trimmed each round to 30 participants, producing a total of somewhere between 750 and 1,000 graduates.

This past February we hit maximum intensity as we ran 4 concurrent rounds (NPS, Cornell, ECU, Pfizer). Now it’s time for a little breather.



It’s fitting that last week’s episode of our ABT Time podcast was with Dr. Tom Hollihan of USC Annenberg School for Communication. He’s the guy, 24 years ago, who told me about the iconic couplet of “Arouse and Fulfill,” that lies at the heart of effective communication.

With the first 25 rounds of the course we have performed the “arouse” element — training up a whole cohort of ABT users. Now it’s time to move forward into the “fulfill,” phase.

This week I’m doing a series of 6 blogposts.  I’ll cite the 20 or so amazing amazing instructors involved with presenting the course at various stages. I’ll tell about the 4 books that arose from the course. I’ll dive into some of the details we learned about the ABT Narrative Template as we developed a deeper understanding of how it works. I’ll tell the story of the “sentient robot” who has worked tirelessly with me from the start and now threatens to know the ABT better than me.

And best of all, I’ll present the outline of our next phase, which is going to be called THE REAL NARRATIVE GYM, starting May 4.

Lots to share. Lots ahead. We’re just getting started building Mount ABT into something so large that even the skeptics (who continue to say “it’s just not that simple”) will be forced to take note!