“If you just focus on the product, people will tune out. You have to share stories.” ~ David Hendrickson, founder of apparel company Hendrick & Co., who kicked off his brand-building with a heart-tugging tale about his sick puppy William (from Inc. Magazine, February 2015)
Think about it. The only way to pull people in, is through story.
A compelling anecdote. A visual. Set the scene. Bring the reader there with you. Compel them into silence.
Then they’re yours.
We are born storytellers. I love to share some juicy details and weave a narrative path for people, watching their mouth change shape and their eyes widen in disbelief, or belief, and share the ecstasy of emotion together as we crest the waves of life experience.
That’s good storytelling.
Bad storytelling is Me-Me-Me – just listen to me!
Good storytelling brings everyone who listens or reads there with you. Let’s give it a try:
He walked in from the 30-degree cold gray day, his face flushed pink, his eyes alight. “That was amazing,” he said. He was speaking of the hybrid bicycle that was his bar mitzvah present, his first ride through the neighborhood. “The ride is so smooth.”
In my son’s eyes I saw fire burning, passion for the freedom of feeling the breeze against his face, the excitement of the speed, of going the distance by the strength of his own muscles. In my eyes, I saw the little boy growing up and flying away – so exhilarated to do so, but always returning home to share the important moments with me.
Better than saying, “My son is growing up and eventually he’s going to leave,” right?
The key to all connection is story. It’s the way we humanize our strongest points, the way we build points of reference, common ground, shared experience.
So if you think you can build business without story, you’re probably going to have a very tough time.
What I love most about being an adult is that you can decide to do anything with your time. Today after school, my son and I had a date. It didn’t matter that it was a school night or a Monday; we went to the movies and saw “Still Alice.”
Toward the end, the main character spoke about how what she hated the most about her illness, Alzheimers, was that her memories have always been her most cherished commodity – and they were evaporating into the air.
Stories. They are what help us make sense of our world when we are young, teach us to name places and people, concepts and colors.
They are what carry us into education and into possibility, and as we grow older, they are what get us into predicaments and what help us escape them. When we are grown and far away, shared stories connect us with people we don’t see often.
Late on summer nights when my sister, brother and I are all together in northern Michigan, our 10 children playing on the grass, our parents and spouses gathered with us, holding glasses of wine and gazing at gorgeous sunsets, we inevitably fall into the “do you remember…” line of conversation.
And we do. We always remember, and that makes us smile and laugh and tear up and carry each other with us as we drive away down different roads to separate homes, to distant lives.
Stories connect us. They are what make every success possible.