Michael Perman and I are giving a storytelling conference at the ARF in New York City today. As the world’s brain is turning right, storytelling is a way to turn boring facts and figures into compelling ideas.
Certainly, stories of polar bears losing their icebergs and swimming for miles into the ocean (sometimes drowning) is a soulful tale that tells us the real impact of global warming.
And as Sangeeth Varghese points out in a recent Forbes, the stories of Bill Gates and Howard Schultz gave compelling backstories behind brands Microsoft and Starbucks.
When I worked (briefly) on the IBM business, my first meeting was early morning so I left from home. Everyone else on the team had been there a thousand times, so there wasn’t much communication on where the client’s office was. I figured no big deal. When I arrived at the I.M. Pei-designed campus in White Plains, I suddenly realized there was not a single IBM building to negotiate, but five. I had the car drop me off at what seemed like the main building and figured I’d get direction from there.
I walked up the reception desk and was greeted by a grumbly grey-haired IBM retiree. I told him the person I was meeting with and he started flipping through a thick phone book, even there was a computer monitor on the desk.
“Why don’t you just look him up on the computer?” I asked innocently.
“Oh, that’s broken,” the retiree grumbled.
That story tells you more about the IBM of the 1990s (surrounded by Apple, Google, Microsoft, Dell and HP) than a hundred spreadsheets.
Stories inform, indulge and inspire.
Make sure you tell yours.