The Story and Drive website is live. Thanks to the great people at Lavish Creative for doing such a good—and astonishingly quick and painless—job. Now, let us help you tell your story.
I have collected many quotes about story, which I hope will help my intended audience understand my ideas. Some of these you can find here on my blog. In fact I kicked the blog off with my favourite, from Muriel Rukeyser: “The universe is made of stories, not atoms.” I have that on my visiting card. But the one that probably does the best job of saying what I really feel about communications is from Neil Gaiman:
“We who make stories know we tell lies for a living. But they are good lies that say true things, and we owe it to our readers to build them as best we can. Because somewhere out there, there is someone who needs that story. Someone who will grow up in a different landscape, who without that story will be a different person. And who with that story may have hope, or wisdom, or kindness, or comfort.”
Neil writes fiction. I think his words are just as applicable to non-fiction. And successful communication in general.
“Why write stories? To join the conversation.”
No way. You can’t be everything to everybody.
No matter how big your ideas or ambitions, it pays to think small—well, highly targeted. Know what you are trying to achieve, and with whom, and stick to achieving that aim cutting out anything that doesn’t further it. Not unlike the editing process of a good publication.
As the below article in Forbes points out, we are all in the media business today. I believe this is producing a unique opportunity to claim thought leadership positions in all sorts of areas. But in order not to waste it, careful thought has to be given to the areas and how best to approach them.
In the article, veteran marketer and storyteller Joe Pulizzi offers the terrific advice you’d expect from such an experienced practitioner. I agree with everything, but more than anything, about adopting a niche approach. The only thing I’d add is to make sure you pick your niches well, and that they all add up to the bigger story you want to tell.
“People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it’s the other way around.”
“Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark.”
I hate content. Well I hate the term when it refers to the stories on web sites. If we just call it content, how can we expect for more than unengaging, boring and ultimately futile text and images just filling the clever and beautifully designed grid. That’s no way to build a following and influence people. We need to aim higher. This article in today’s Evening Standard has it right.
In Gottfried Keller’s 1874 novella “Kleider machen Leute” (translation: “Clothes make the man”), the fine clothes worn by Wenzel Strapinski, a tailor’s apprentice, lead to him being mistaken for an aristocrat. His life takes a new path of good fortune but as the story around him grows, he loses control of the situation and after a short sweet sabbatical from his real life, it all unravels. Being a kind of fairy tale, it all works out well in the end, thanks, of course, to true love.
Something similar is happening to all of us today—people and organisations alike—but as happy an outcome as Wenzel’s is far from guaranteed. In a world where information, communication and transactions are increasingly taking place online, we are becoming what we appear to be to the various electronic services we use or are used by others, whether we like it or not. At the same time, we are being given a unique and perhaps one-time-only opportunity to shape the image that will end up defining us to the world, and being set the challenge of keeping control of that image as we move forward. There’s a lot at stake, just as there was for Wenzel. What would we rather be: prince or pauper; in control of our destiny, or victim to it?
The answer to me, of course, involves story. But we all need to give a lot more thought to what all this means. To further fuel those thoughts, why not look at Gartner Group’s Christina Milanesi’s take on the future of smartphones and what that means to us (follow the below link). If you want someone to help think this through with you, call me.
The universe is made of stories, not atoms.