Working in an innovation space can feel lonely when only a small number of people outside of your team understand what you are trying to accomplish. Or you are proudly rolling out a new project that solves a client’s problem, but they don’t understand how they fit in the solution. The program may be badly needed, but if the people who need your service don’t understand how it helps them, it won’t succeed. It is impossible to sell a product or service if you cannot clearly define it to your ideal customer, clients or co-workers.
Seeing your concept with an unbiased point of view is sometimes called ‘The Curse of Knowledge”. While you may understand the value that you deliver if you cannot concisely explain why someone needs your offering getting a ‘yes’ can be very difficult. This applies to work colleagues as well to clients. If you cannot convey why a new process is important or what the changes to a program mean it is very difficult to get people to comply.
We can solve this problem with a strategic narrative.
A narrative strategy distils a complex concept into a simple story to create clarity around a project, product or service. This shareable story assists in forming a culture of understanding around your innovative solution to motivate people to get on board.
Let’s explain this in further detail with a simple story.
Your ‘Story’ needs to cross the bridge that divides a ‘New Project’ from the land of ‘Implementation’. Once the ‘Story’ journeys across this bridge it explains where it is going to people in the land of ‘Implementation’. ‘Story’ is successful on its journey because people in ‘Implementation’ understand how they can help it on its way.
This is how a story can work to bridge the gap between a new product or service and being embraced by clients, colleagues or the community.
True innovation relies on a clear vision for the future. This is where understanding your unique story becomes truly powerful.
Stories are not born spontaneously in a magical puff of smoke; they are shepherded into the world by a guide and supported by a flock. This shepherd is a strategic narrative advisor who creates clarity around the story of your work so it can move into the future.
Creating the world that we will live in tomorrow requires a bridge to connect your vision to a community. Let your story do the work for you.
Let’s chat! Schedule your 15-minute strategy call now!
“Whatever You Are Seeking Is Seeking You.”
Rumi was a was a 13th-century Persian Sunni Muslim poet, among many other things. He was a very busy and talented man to say the very least. And he wrote the words quoted above. It is hard to imagine, but this statement has travelled through translations and centuries before it appeared in this post. Is it a bit mind boggling isn’t it? But we found each other none the less.
It seems logical and impossible at the same time. But it did, who we are looking for is, in turn, looking for the people who are like us. Rest assured they are out there.
Now the next question is why? Why or how did this statement find me, how did it come to my attention?
For me the answer is –
- I found it interesting
- It responded to a question I had around how people manage to find and connect with the right people
- It excited my imagination
- That excitement lead me to write this so I could share it with you
Sharing content that excites and speaks to you is not new. In fact, this is an ancient practice that predates Facebook! This is why the beautiful poetry of Rumi exists in our world centuries after it was written. As new generations of people find him, they, in turn, share him and so on and so forth.
To spread your message, be like Rumi –
- Fashion a straightforward and inspiring message or story
- Share it
- Wait for it to come back to you
I know what you are thinking! How can I become a 13th-century mystic poet? It is ok; you don’t have to. We will take the points I made above and make them work for us in a modern context.
Your story must be simple so that people will remember it. It should also deliver a message that delights the individual who finds it. The surprising power of pleasure is unquantifiable.
I recently listened to a podcast featuring Adam Robinson. Robinson repeatedly stressed that giving the gift of unexpected pleasure will return to you in ways you could never foresee or expect. This will open doors and provide insurmountable opportunities for your future.
This brings me to the reason I am sharing Rumi’s quote with you. I am launching a new style of an agency, a storytelling agency. We do more than digital marketing; we create culture! We are expert storytellers that build relationships to take your business into the future.
We look at you, your business, project or service. We find the best story gems and fashion them into ongoing narrative content. We then find the best way to tell that story as serialised content. Like chapters in a book or the next episode of your favourite TV show. We will have the audience asking, ‘What happened next?’ and coming back for more!
From FacebookLive to newsletters, to a 360-degree video, each story is told through the medium that gives it the most power.
We monitor the story as it evolves to ensure it continues to delight your audience. We want them to share it with their community as well.
And this brings us back to the beginning, whatever you are seeking is seeking you.
Stories make us feel good. Yup, that good.
According to novelist and neurologist, Robert Burton, when we hear something with a beginning, middle, and an end, we get a hit of dopamine. Dopamine is our natural feel-good, high chemical. This is why we love and are addicted to stories. From childhood fairytales to novels, to TV shows and movies, stories have us hooked.
From an evolutionary standpoint getting high on stories makes sense. Stories serve many purposes in society. A few of the primary functions are to educate, inspire, motivate or entertain. A story that creates a shared point of view allows us to see from the same place of understanding. This is key to creating a culture of agreement and shared values.
The following is a story my mother told me about road safety when I was a little girl.
When my mother was a girl she lived next door to a boy who liked to play basketball in his front yard. One day, when he was playing ball, it bounced out into the street. He ran after it, without looking both ways. A car swerved to miss him, but it was too late. He was rushed to the hospital with a broken leg and needed a cast. Even worse than that he needed bed rest and his birthday was a few days away. He had to miss his own birthday party. And that’s why you always look both ways before crossing the road.
When you are a kid death is a big concept to grasp. Even as an adult, it is difficult to come to terms with. But missing your own birthday party? That is terrible, we all know that!
I am now an adult, but I will never forget that story. It has taught me to remember to look before crossing the street and become a useful storytelling tool. Thanks, Mum!
It is a simple story, but the message is clear, ‘Always look both ways before crossing the road.’
Are there any challenges you are facing within your business or organisation? A simple story maybe just the thing you need. Imagine a story that explains how a product or service works, or a narrative that inspires your customers to follow you on a social media storytelling journey.
A narrative strategy could be just the ticket. A narrative strategy uses the power of stories within your personal or professional realm to create a strategic way to inspire, education or motivate your employees, co-workers or clients.
I used the story of the little boy who missed his own birthday to explain how attaching a story to a message is effective. It conveys a message in a memorable and efficient way. The right stories addressing the right pain points within your business or organisation will create the same results.
If you want a hit of story, get in touch about my mini-narrative strategy sessions. I come to your location and run a short session to create a story for a problem that you need to solve.
Feed your story addition with me, it will feel good, I promise!
“I went to the hospital to remove the knife that I had swallowed. When the surgeon found the five others in my stomach it turned into a much bigger ordeal than anticipated.”
Want to hear more? Yes you do. A person swallowing one knife, let alone five is shocking.
I paraphrased this from a webinar I took with Alex Bloomberg of Planet Money and Gimlet Media fame. Alex focused on the power of surprise to create an engaging story. The quote was from an interview he conducted with a person who had a compulsion to eat metal objects. Alex knew the person went into surgery to remove a knife, but the subsequent five was a complete surprise.
During the webinar Alex played the audio of the original broadcast. He was so surprised he exclaimed, ‘What the f*ck!” The radio version was beeped, so why did he choose to keep this strong reaction in? He explained moments of surprise give stories power. If the interviewer was surprised, they know their audience will be as well. The shock expressed by the interviewer helps to build the dramatic tension as they and the audience get to the bottom of this shocking statement together.
To tell a story with a hook or surprise might sound hard, but it is achievable. First you have to understand why the story you are telling is interesting before you can find the element of surprise.
Alex Bloomberg has a formula to achieve this. My story is about (X) and it is interesting because (Y). If I was to apply this formula to the story about the knives above it might go something like this –
“My story is about a person who can’t who can’t stop swallowing metal objects. They are so fearful of judgment they hide their condition from everyone. Even from doctors, including one who was operating to remove a knife they had swallowed and during the operation found five more knives inside their stomach.”
The theme of this story is people who suffer from mental health issues often find it difficult reaching out for help. This is a troubling situation, but without a unique angle it won’t necessarily create an engaging narrative.Delving into a uniquely personal story about mental health to find a unique twist makes it a sticky story.
I heard that story just once and I can recall it very easily. When creating a story for a blog post, an article or even a presentation, if it doesn’t contain a surprising insight, you haven’t dug deep enough.
What are you waiting for? Get digging!
What is Snap Chat?
Have you snapped anyone lately? This doesn’t mean participating a heated discussion or argument. Snapping is messaging via the app SnapChat. If you haven’t had time to explore this mystifying platform, read on!
Snap Chat is a video and photo-based messaging app. The reason why people and brands are flocking to it is because it is one of the only social media platforms that offer true storytelling capabilities. How is that you ask? Isn’t it just a private messaging app for teenagers and uni students. Technically yes and yes, but it is also so much more!
The gold of SnapChat the ‘Stories’ function. Stories give people the ability to publish live content to a story that can be viewed by anyone who has added you on SnapChat. The public nature of a ‘story’ means that it is a good way to ‘show’ people snippets of your life.
Keep it ‘Snappy’
When telling your story on SnapChat be snappy, consistent and fun! Add different people into the mix with interviews, as well as thoughts from yourself. One of the central tenets of storytelling is showing and not telling your audience what is going on.
You get 10 seconds per snap before the app stops your ability to record more. That is fine, just add your snap to your story and continue by recording your next snap. Each snap is only visible for 24 hours after publishing, but the beauty of the story function is the ability to continuously add content. This leads to continuity and higher engagement with people returning to see what happens next!
‘Show’ Don’t ‘Tell’
What is ‘Showing’ vs ‘Telling’? Telling is explaining or describing something that could be conveyed better visually or through action.
For example, you are enjoying an evening on the town. Filming a menu and various shots of food as it arrives at the table ‘shows’ people that you are having a meal out. ‘Telling’ would be a shot of just your face as you explain you are in a restaurant waiting to have dinner. Showing people what the restaurant actually looks like and the action of receiving food is more interesting than you explaining this in isolation.
That does not mean that there should never be elements of ‘telling’ in your snaps. There are times when it is important to add commentary so viewers understand what you are showing them. Say during our hypothetical dinner a dish arrives at the table only to be removed untouched a few moments later. This is where added commentary is important to ‘show’ your audience why that happened. It would be important to say to the camera, “We ordered the crab but received lobster accidentally, so we have sent it back to the kitchen. We can’t wait to try the crab here, this place is famous for it.”
The reason this isn’t ‘telling’ is because the comments explain something that you would not be able to understand otherwise. While ‘telling’ supports the action, it should never replace it.
Get Personal With Your Story
One of the most powerful aspects of storytelling with SnapChat is the ability to use it as a diary. Use it to share your thoughts or interview people who your audience might find interesting. For light-hearted interviews use a filter for a bit of fun. Personal thoughts can offer insight into ‘why’ you do what you do. It is a fun way to share what makes you tick and what your daily life is like.
Is It For Me?
The short answer is yes. Everyone from financial planners to entrepreneurs to health and wellness professionals are on SnapChat. The question is not, ‘Is SnapChat for me? The question is, “What can SnapChat do for me?” The answer to that will vary, but the apps ability to deliver engagement and followers does not.
If you are interested in learning more about SnapChat and live in Melbourne I run workshops, check out the next date Workshops here. All you need to bring is something to take notes on and your smartphone with SnapChat pre-downloaded.
There was nothing unusual about the small wooden pipe except for a tiny glass rectangle protruding from the bottom of its bowl. This piece of glass is so small it could be easily missed. For those who don’t miss it will see a black and white image if they press their eye against it at just the right angle. A magnified image of a woman wearing a peasant style dress with loose dark waves of hair around her face sits within a gold frame.
The woman in the image has a slight smile on her relaxed lips, not unlike that of another mysterious famous lady, The Mona Lisa.
How can one compare the Mona Lisa to a miniature photo of a peasant woman magnified on the bottom of a pipe? The similarity lies not in what it is, but what it represents.
The image in the tiny glass window the size of a hole in a large knitting needle is fascinating. Who was this woman? Was she the wife, daughter or lover of the pipe’s owner? And who was the skilled crafts person who created such a small and perfect magnified glass image on the bottom of this pipe?
This is something that I am not ever likely to find out. That is what makes this story great. It is a mystery with more questions than answers. This pipe and its hidden treasure are very old and the woman, the pipe’s creator and the original owner are all long gone.
A good story does not have all of the answers. A good story leaves something for the imagination of the reader to insert his or her own interpretation into. A story that asks questions allows the audience to create their own meaning in the story.
Who is the lady in the pipe? Who do you think she is? Tell me in a comment below!
I have a secret super power, the power of story. I am not the only one who posses this power. We all have it. Some of us understand this power and use it to the best of our ability. There are others who have not yet fully realised their powers.
There is always a period in every super hero’s story where the power comes out unexpectedly and surprises everyone. Take for example Superman. When Superman was just a boy on a farm named Clark Kent, a tractor rolled over trapping his father underneath. Clark heard his cries for help and rushed to him, pulled the tractor off and saved his life.
There is a plot device in storytelling called the Hero’s Journey. The mythologist Joseph Campbell coined this term. He says that all stages of a hero’s journey are similar. There is always a part of each narrative where adventure calls a character to accept a journey. The character then trys to talk himself or herself out of taking the challenge. The call is eventually answered and the hero goes on to meet their destiny. This is what happens when Clark Kent accepts his extraordinary powers and becomes Superman. The challenge and journey represents the process of becoming yourself. It is also what unlocks your ability to help those around you.
So what does this have to do with the power of storytelling? Your stories are your super powers. Your story can connect you to the right people to move your personal and business goals forward. Stories ‘show’ people the kind of person you are, what your skills are and what makes you unique.
Like all super powers storytelling is something we are all born with. It just takes time to hone it with training and persistence.
How do you do this you ask? I will be running my interactive Storytelling Board Game soon.
Stay in touch with me here and I will let you know more!
I hate writing; I love having written.
– Dorothy Parker
Stories are written behind locked doors in a room with windows drawn by a figure hunched over a desk. Their fingers flying over a keyboard, stopping only for food which is quickly eaten without even tasting it.
Sounds like fun right? Wrong! It doesn’t sound fun at all. In fact many writers describe the act of writing as a process of that extracts it’s pound of flesh.
However, all great writers have great readers. Every story comes into this world with a support system around them. Writers share their stories with treasured friends, editors, agents and publishers who help them shape their narratives as they come to life. That process of sharing is what keeps the writer from going insane and on track as they create their story.
Creating a story doesn’t have to be hard or lonely. I have created a way for people to come together in a collaborative way to tell a single story. I have developed an interactive board game to train teams of people the fundamentals of story structure. We then take the story structure and connect it to a narrative that connects to a theme and delivers a clear message.
Stories are what create and maintain cultures. They shape not only how we see ourselves, but how we see the world.
Storytelling is part of communicating effectively, as well as create cultures around our collective narrative. Learning the fundamentals of storytelling in a fun and interactive way will facilitate change in your organisation through the power of story.
This is only the first chapter, stay tuned to hear what happens next!
When Whoopi Goldberg was a little girl she loved watching Star Trek. The following is a story she tells about her relationship with that show. She remembers seeing the character Uhura for the first time and being absolutely floored. She had never seen a black woman on TV as anything other than a maid or in a service role.
Apparently the young Whoopi sat up and said, “Momma! There’s a black lady on TV and she ain’t no maid!”
In that moment she realised she could be anything that she wanted to be. She realised then that the future was open to her and anything was possible.
Whoopi Goldberg has a long career in stand up, film, hosting talk shows and advocating for human rights, women’s included. No doubt about it, Whoopi is kind of a big deal and it all started with seeing a black woman in a position of respect and power.
This week I attended the opening of One Roof Coworking. Yes, another coworking space has opened in Melbourne, not usual in the scheme of things. What is unusual is that it is a female focused coworking space, the intention is to attract female entrepreneurs, cofounders and CEOs in the start up and business community.
I know what you are thinking. I thought the same thing, “How is separating women into their own space a solution to some of the problems currently happening in society?”
I used to agree until I heard the story about Whoopi Goldberg. I understood that sometimes it is important to put yourself in a place where you will be seen. So that someone who identifies with you, will see you and understand what is possible.
I think this is important. Not so women can be separated or secluded or sequestered, but so we can easily be found. If there is someone thinking can I do that, is that path open to me? I want to be there to help, to be found and be seen.