Sunday, December 11, 2011

Stories Add Value!

Do you have a junk drawer at home? We do. It's in the kitchen, and it's where we put everything that doesn't have a place. We also fill it with those items we're too lazy at the moment to put away properly. Recently, I cleaned out the junk drawer, and stuffed in the back of it was a broken, clear, pink ruler loosely held together with some tape. Before I tossed the ruler into the waiting trash bag, I asked my 16-year-old if she knew whose it was. She snatched it from my hand and told me I could not throw it away. I astutely pointed out that the ruler was broken and she could use one of the others.
Smiling she said, "You don't understand the story behind it." She then told me the story of the ruler. Now, I understand: my daughter wasn't interested in the ruler. She was interested in the people behind the ruler ad the fun they had being silly.
What's your broken ruler? The story prop you just can't let go. A good story adds value to what appears at first glance to be junk. A story can turn a trinket into a treasure.

Trinkets are lost or forgotten; props are remembered and shared. What's the story behind your broken ruler?
Let me know in the comments.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Tell Me a Story!

Story. It's everywhere. If you spend any time online, chances are you've seen articles, videos and blog posts about "Story" or "The Power of Story" and its uses in business, marketing, education, medicine, etc. Maybe you've seen all this and thought  "What's the big deal?" or "I don't have time for stories." After all, you know what a story is. You've heard them and told them all your life. So, what do stories have to do with the real world or the bottom line?
Just about every family has stories they tell and re-tell when they get together. When my family in south Louisiana gets together, they love to tell stories about the trouble my cousin and I got into as kids. My children can't wait to hear those same stories they heard at last year's Christmas. Now, my children know these stories by heart, but they thrill at hearing them told again by grandparents, great-aunts and older cousins. Why? Because these stories connect with them emotionally. They tell them something about who they are. In my kid's minds, these stories are about them! These stories create a bond between the teller and the listener.
That's the power of a good story: connection. Your students and your customers want connection, not information. Stories invite, information bores. If you've ever sat through a bullet-ridden Powerpoint presentation, you know what I'm talking about. You don't remember statistics or mission statements that sounded like they were plagiarized from Dilbert. You remember the stories shared, whether they applied or not. Your customers are the same way. They won't remember features and benefits as much as the connection shared through a story.
That's what this blog is about: Stories - how we use them, share them, tell them, find them, nurture them and create them. Whether you don't think you have any stories to share or you have so many you can't pin one down, join us as we build a community powered by our own stories!

Monday, October 31, 2011

7 Ways Stories Are Like Halloween Costumes!

I remembered it was Halloween today when Darth Vader passed me in front of Berry College. As I thought about the costumes I wore as a kid, I recognized some similarities between Halloween costumes and Story that I wanted to pass on to you.
1. Costumes reflect on you. A costume says something about you, good or bad. A good one fits who you are. A bad story doesn't fit you or your brand. It doesn't match up with the values you project as an individual or a business. A bad story reflects poorly on you.
2. Costumes say you just want something. A pirate and a princess at the door indicates kids want candy. A poorly chosen or poorly told story gives your customer the same idea -- you just want something from them, and you are not that interested in getting to know them as people. You just want what they have. This is the exact opposite of an axiom we taught our kids, "People are more important than things." Don't confuse the two with a poor story.
3. Costumes represent your level of  planning and/or interest. Take a good look at the older trick-or-treaters at your house this year. Their costumes often tell how much time and effort went into its creation. A memorable costume reflects planning, just like a memorable story does. Telling a effective story for business reflects thought about its message, emotion and audience.
4. Costumes reflect you. At the end of the evening, the best costume you saw today will stand out in your mind. Its creativity or execution will push it beyond average into memorable. An effective story stays with the listener, because it is compelling. It's not just another vignette told to get a laugh or a sale. It has a purpose that is in keeping with who you are, and it develops your relationship with your client.
5. Costumes hide who you really are.  Small children use the plastic masks with the elastic around their head to hold it on. They're able to slide it up easily to see better or to show you who they really are. Easy enough. The large latex masks are different; they conceal the wearer's face completely, so you can't see who they are. Your use of poor stories can hide who you are to your customers, and that's dangerous for business. To the listener, it comes across as disinterested or worse yet, dishonest. Stories should enhance who you are, not hide you.
6. Costumes inhibit communication.  Often when children wear masks, the mask makes it difficult for the candy-passer-outer to understand them. Fortunately, on Halloween, you still know what they want. It's not that easy for your clients. If you choose the wrong story at the wrong time, you might actually get in the way of good communication, and that's not easy to rebuild.
7. Costumes don't help you stand out from the crowd.  I expect to see a number of Thor's trick-or-treating tonight; I saw the costumes on sale at Wal-Mart and Walgreens alike. It is true, however, that once you've seen one store-bought Thor costume, you've seen them all. Poorly chosen stories can effect people the same way -- heard one, heard them all. That's why it is so important to tell YOUR stories, not stories you've heard or read somewhere else. Tell your story, not someone else's.
Which of these apply to you? Leave a comment and join our community!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Stories Are Universal!

‎"The story — from Rumplestilskin to War and Peace — is one of the basic tools invented by the human mind, for the purpose of gaining understanding. There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories."
                                                                     ~ Ursula K. Le Guin

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Audio Book Review - "The Bride Collector" by Ted Dekker

Sick, twisted, creepy - all of these terms have been used to describe Ted Dekker's books. Come to think of it, they've been used to describe Ted Dekker.  I must confess, Dekker is one of my favorite authors. I enjoy his explorations into the mind.

I just finished listening to the unabridged version of Dekker's novel The Bride Collector. This book will give you the creeps. A serial killer is killing women so they can be God's brides. The FBI special agent in charge of the investigation  but I can't imagine it being better without the voice acting talent of John Glover. He played Lex Luther's dad on Smallville, and his narration of Dekker's novel is superb.

It's an deep exploration into how we see value, beauty and worth.

In an interview at the end of the audio book, Dekker says the theme of the book is "what if every person is the most important person in the world?"