“Work doesn’t come to me; I go out and look for it.”
– Whoopie Goldberg
“If women ran the world we wouldn’t have wars, just intense negotiations every 28 days.”
– Robin Williams
In my last post here on WordPress, I wrote about the benefits of storytelling, something we see and appreciate from our childhood and on. Today I want to continue this series, and share what I’ve learned about the changing infrastructure of stories. I want to share how an entrepreneur can use that knowledge in his/her “workflow”. To carefully craft his/her business plan, brand, digital footprint for social media, and open doors to sharing one’s mission and service/product with others.
Entrepreneurship today is about harnessing time, honing one’s creativity, and scaffolding one’s intense feelings about a collective problem that needs fixing, i.e. one’s passion with precise patterns of action. The trajectory and rate of success hinges on how hard one is willing to work for it. But I believe that it also hinges on two seesaws; humanity vs. technology and architecture vs. artistry. I write more harnessing time and about the first seesaw in my upcoming book, The NICE Reboot. I’ve written a series of blog posts on creativity and the second seesaw in my Tumblr blog in November and December which you can find here.
Life is so fast paced and complicated today. Our balancing acts are thus becoming more crucial to our physical, mental, and emotional well being. Our priorities are changing, or should, based on what’s going on around us. Our Story therefore needs to change and keep up as well. Life is a series of actions and reactions varying in intensity, to behavior; ours and those around us. I learned this by living. I learned this by doing. I learned this by working in the educational arena for a long time; first with children with Autism as a speech therapist, and later as an educational technology consultant, teaching people how to integrate Apple™ software and then iOS Apps into educational curricula and professional “workflows”.
Economics is more than just the study of mathematical statistics. It is about understanding human behavior and how it affects trends in commerce all over the world. That’s why the book by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner and their blog and podcasts on that book, Freakonomics provide such ground breaking thought leadership. That’s why Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs gets so much attention in business, especially re: marketing strategy. It’s even the subject of Chip Conley’s book Peak. It’s now on my radar and is listed in my Amazon Collection NICE Reading List, which you can have a peek at here.
Human behavior is about our pervasive reactions to patterns in the environment; social, educational, technological, and cultural, all of which are essentially an agglomeration of what drives our economy. Not just pop culture. Not just Wall Street. Not just the government, although as a woman I am very pleased that Janet Yellen’s been named “Fed Chief”.
A person’s Theory of Mind is comprised of episodic memories and perceptions gleaned from the 5 senses of what’s going on around him/her. It contributes to a person’s ability to negotiate successfully, display social communication proficiency, persuade and be persuaded, and sustain momentum i.e. add to the pages of a person’s Story; things for entrepreneurs who are inherent marketers to keep in mind.
That’s why social media is such a powerful tool! It’s not just about posting selfies, or promo-selfies (comments about the posts of others, where you list your abbreviated signature with links to your digital footprint). Its power lies in sharing helpful information that provides thought leadership and virtual mentorship. It’s about showing how the work you do and the ideas you have matter, and add value to the collective conversation. Social media is thus about leveraging the human factor to advance your business and to advance the education of others along the way. Leveraging social media takes work, but I think it’s worth it. I think it should be a viable, active, and important part of your overall strategy to:
• Create a visual mission statement of sorts and a bread crumb trail for others to find (re: your company’s purpose)
• Promote your Story, to enable it to intersect with the Story of others, to orchestrate meaningful and yes, profitable change (re: your entrepreneurial legacy).
How do you do this? By understanding the infrastructure of storytelling! I majored in speech-language pathology AKA speech therapy & communications science and minored in English in college. I thus learned all about storytelling and its impact on human communications. In my graduate courses at NYU (on language and literacy development in children with Autism), I even wrote about various aspects of storytelling. Some of which made their way into final papers that morphed into my master’s thesis and later, expanded to become my Socially Speaking™ Social Skills Curriculum . I continued to write about storytelling in my book; which I excerpted for Slideshare in a white paper you can read here. For now, I want to share the elements of great storytelling and provide some food for thought on how to implement them:
Storytelling Elements & Implications for Entrepreneurship:
• Informative: You come away with takeaways of what to do/not do when faced with a similar situation. This type of storytelling is virtual mentorship in action. Tim Ferris, author of The Four Hour Work Week, also writes blog posts that are filled with personal stories, usually cautionary tales and how he learned something we can all use. You can see what I mean by reading this. Rachid Sefrioui recently wrote a very interesting post filled with takeaways of how to succeed in entrepreneurship and lead a successful entrepreneurial life. It got on my radar because of his comment that he hasn’t seen too many books showing both sides. I invite him to be in touch with me so he can read mine!
• The Heroic Arc: You come away identifying with the hero or heroine’s journey and the obstacles they faced and hopefully overcame, or didn’t, leaving you with much to ponder; about leadership, about resiliency, about life. This type of storytelling is thought leadership in action. Joseph Campbell wrote all about the hero’s journey and process in storytelling, which I have touched on before here on WordPress. A hero of a story is usually one of the most compelling characters, the one you notice and want to root for. Brittney Ervin writes how this helps with branding, which you can read here. Jeff Haden writes an insightful blogpost why we need heroes, and heroic stories for that matter, which you can read here. Denise Brosseau writes more about the process of thought leadership in her new book, which you can learn about here.
• The Conflict & The Resolution: You come away with an adrenaline rush and a better understanding of Causality, at least in that particular context/circumstance. You follow how the story’s scene is set, the buildup of suspense is handled, and the solution to the problem determined. This type of storytelling is what entrepreneurial architecture, inbound content marketing, and the entrepreneurial “elevator pitch” i.e. “The Hook” is all about. Barry Feldman writes more about this in a Hubspot blogpost, which you can read here. Steve Goldstein writes how to use this type of storytelling to further your brand, which you can read here.
• Emotional Resonance: You come away feeling empathy for those depicted in the story, and maybe even the one who shares it. You have a visceral response to the story, such as humor (which I will cover in a future post in this series), a “warm, fuzzy feeling”, or outrage, depending on the nature of the story. This type of storytelling is what civic engagement and social entrepreneurship, as well as visual content based marketing are all about. Think of Robin Williams and his narration in the recent iPad Air ad going viral, because of its monolog about poetry and life, from The Dead Poet’s Society film. I wrote more about that in my latest Tumblr post, which you can read here. Think of the Harry Potter books. Think of the cool TV show Once Upon A Time or Once Upon A Time in Wonderland, both of which I love. Both have been crossing generational divides re: popularity. Read about Nancy Duarte’s TED Talk on why Dr. Martin Luther King and his story resonates with us still. You can also click here to read about her subsequent presentation at the LinkedIn Speaker Series, which Brett Wallace covered.
• Visual Imagery: You come away with a picture/pictures painted in your mind that transport you re: time and place. Reading this type of story becomes a totally immersive experience, a form of transcendence, that allows you to tap into the collective Theory of Mind and episodic memories of others. In today’s Digital era, where iMemory and digital archives are in the realm of possibility and no longer science fiction, it’s easier than ever to harness this type of storytelling. This type of storytelling is what entrepreneurial artistry and leveraging social media are all about. Think of the power of digital media; commercials, films, and television. Think of the 2014 Oscar nominations announced yesterday. Think of the why this video First Stars I See Tonight is going viral. So is this one from values.com named Our Beautiful World. The accompanying John Denver song really helps. But it the visual medium that is a conduit to our inner landscape. I’ve known this for years as an Autism Specialist. Now everyone knows it too. It is why so many people were interested in the tweet by Peter Mayhew about behind the scenes photos from the original Star Wars trilogy. Those photos went viral, which was why they were written about by many bloggers and writers such as Ron Dicker and Pam Wright.
• Inspiration: You come away with the passion and strong desire to act. To leave a sustainable legacy behind. To change your course of action, adopt a new one, or join forces with others who feel the same need and therefore bond and become part of your tribe. This type of storytelling is the blue print for a Call to Action, and is all about entrepreneurial leadership in action. Think of Pamela Slim and her two books, both of which I recommend: Escape From Cubicle Nation and Body of Work. Think of the speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Tony Robbins and Sir Richard Branson. Think of the viral blog post, Dear Daddy in Seat 16C which touched me as both an Autism Specialist and fellow blogger. Inspiration takes on many forms and has many creative outlets, especially if you are a writer. Especially if you are an entrepreneur. Dr. Michelle Mazur writes about 12 leadership lessons from Star Wars, one of my all time favorite movie series. Carmine Gallo writes about leadership lessons from the Jobs movie, portraying one of the most inspirational leaders to date. I’m referring to my first virtual mentor who truly impacted on my professional life- Steve Jobs. I even created a tribute video to him, which you can see here. Walt Disney understood the power of inspirational storytelling, which is why he forever changed the landscape of mass storytelling. How? By introducing The Disney™ Experience; films, theme parks, books, and more into the mainstream. It’s why he fought so long and so hard to secure the rights to the awesome Mary Poppins stories written by PL Travers, and the basis for a wonderful movie, Saving Mr. Banks. The soundtrack in itself is inspiring, which is also the case for another inspirational movie. One by inspired and inspiring master filmmaker James Cameron and his musical maestro partner James Horner. I am referring to another of my favorite movies- Avatar. But that’s the subject for another post…..
Where am I going with this? I will leave you with words I wrote in my book, on my Vimeo channel, and had the opportunity to again use in context….in a comment (on the blogpost about the Summer Travel ad from Heineken) I made before I attended Hubspot’s Inbound 2013 Conference (where storytelling was touted as the raison d’être of content marketing):
Visual Content Marketing is the driving force behind new trends in social media, but at the end of the day, it’s finding the absurd in the human condition, and “sharing a moment” by collectively laughing about it, that spurns collective change, promotes content marketing, and gives the competitive, solitary, sometimes grueling nature of entrepreneurship its wings to be free, and be more in touch with humanity.
Social media helps us be more in touch with humanity. Visual content marketing, when done correctly using storytelling and humor, lays the groundwork for those conversations and attempts to connect with others via social media. What’s the entrepreneurial Story you want others to know? To know about others? Because in the end, we follow someone’s social channel because we’re curious. We read stories and posts about the ideas and events of others because we’re curious. Being curious is the # 1 trait an entrepreneur needs to have.
What kind of social media threads do you follow? Why? Are the train tracks of your social media train taking you to your desired destination? Are they intact and up to speed re: functionality, design, and performance?
Honing your copy, your writing, and SEO & analytics savvy etc. are all part of that maintenance; the architecture of entrepreneurship. Honing your curiosity, your visual digital avatar, your humor, and your mindset, are all needed for your entrepreneurial artistry and individuality. I wish you much success in remaining curious about stories, and enhancing both the architecture and artistry of yours.
To be continued……