The importance of story

Stories and StorytellingI love a good story.

I love to read a good story and I love to create stories…although they may not always be “good.:)

In fact, I love a good story so much that I’m researching the topic of stories and storytelling as a mechanism for knowledge capture & transfer within project teams.  See a presentation I did on that subject here -> Stories, Projects & Knowledge Management. Oh..here’s another article of mine on Using Stories to Share Knowledge.

Stories have a ton of good qualities. They help set context.  They help share values and beliefs.   There are lots of good things about stories.

But the most important is one that we often overlook.  It’s the importance of YOUR story to your life.

Chris Brogan pointed me toward Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years (affiliate link) a few months ago.

Chris recently said the following about Miller’s book: “It’s about the importance of living your life as if you’re the main character in an important story.

He hit it spot on.  This is a wonderful book.  Not only did it make me laugh, it made me think long and hard about MY story.  And about YOUR story too.

What’s my story?

I used to think that my story was one of small town farmboy who makes a name for himself in the big city.  I was going to work hard and climb the corporate ladder and become the CEO of a large organization one day.

But…as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that my story is changing.

I no longer want anything to do with being employed by a large organization. I’d rather be a part of  small group of people doing something fun and important.

My story has evolved and I’m evolving with it.  I’m longer interested in the office politics that some people play. I’m more interested in finding that smart group of people who want to do something fun and challenging.  Those folks that see that things CAN be different.

My story has evolved from one of perpetuating the ‘sameness’ that is corporate America to one that of wanting to be a part of (and perhaps starting) a small business.

My story includes me working hard and playing hard.   It includes my wife and I spending more quality time together traveling and actually engaging in our passion of photography rather than wishing we could.

My story isn’t the classic American Story, but I think its one that will become the neo-classical American Story.

I think people are getting fed-up with the large, bureaucratic environment found in most large busiensses. Those businesses that look at the numbers before they look at the people.

That said, my story is my story and I’m living it as though I’m the lead character.  My story is one of hundreds of millions in this country, but its an important one to me.

What’s your story?

I look out at the people I interact with on a regular basis and realize that, for the most part, I don’t really know their story.

I have almost 1400 followers on twitter but i really only know less than 20 of them. On Facebook, I’ve kept my friends to those that I know fairly well but there are still folks who I don’t really know what well.

This blog receives about 6000 visitors a month and has ~1800 RSS subscribers but I don’t know the story of every one of these visitors or subscribers.

Of course, there’s no way for me to know everyone, but I do get curious about what drives people to my site and why they decide to come back (or subscribe).

I’m always interested in hearing your story so drop a line and let me know what you are working on and/or where I can learn more about you.

The Importance of Story

As I’ve said, story is important.   Not only does your story help define who you are, it helps define were you’ll go.

Based on this post and the little bit of background I’ve provided, can you tell where I’m headed in life?  Do you know the next chapter in my story?

Do you know they next chapter in your own story?  Are you writing your own story or letting someone else?

Me – I prefer to write my own…and hope to continue doing for the rest of my life.

BTW – if you DO know the next chapter of my story, don’t tell me 🙂

Book Review: Trust Agents

Trust AgentsI was lucky enough to receive a pre-release copy of Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith but I wasn’t lucky enough to be able to get through it until now.

Have you ever wondered how Chris Brogan became Chris Brogan (outside of Chris’ parents conceiving him and birthing him)?  This book will give you the system that Chris has used (and perhaps Julien as well…I’m not that familiar with Julien’s background and experiences) to build up his community.

In addition to outlining the tools & a systems, this book does a wonderful job of explaining why trust is so important today (hint…it’s because we are all human).  The world today is full of marketers, pitchmen (and women), scammers and con artists and the ability of these folks to reach new people is magnified with the use of the Internet.   Building trust is key for any person or organization to be able to break through the noise of spam and scams to build up their community.

Any company in the world can benefit greatly from the information presented in this book. Companies today must provide much more intimate messages to their communities….the blast messaging of the past no longer works.   Chris & Julien sum this up beautifully with a passage on page 259:

Brands will need to earn a place in our heads with a sense of personal intimacy as well as the consistent messaging they’ve been using to get us to trust them.

Good stuff. This one sentence sums up the entire reason for organizations and people to read this book and practice the art & science of the Trust Agent.

At the end of the day, this book isn’t about the tools and systems that you can use…it’s a treatise on being human.  Treat people well, help them without expecting something in return and give back to the community at large.  Do this and you’ll become a Trust Agent.

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These folks aren’t boring

OK…now that I’ve riled up “America’s Greatest Marketer” by calling him Boring, how about I show some love for some folks who are saying some great things right now.

Check out some of these Blogs for great content:

OK…now that I’ve placed these folks on notice, they have to keep the great work going 🙂

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Inbound Marketing Summit Dallas – Great event

I had the pleasure of meeting some great folks at the Inbound Marketing Summit in Dallas.  I learned a lot and had a lot of the ideas that I already had reinforced.

The best thing of the event?  I figured out that every large organization has similar problems when it comes to Social Media.

A few of the folks I met (and can remember…it’s been 2 whole days!) are:

There were some great speakers at the event and some amazing conversation.  Glad I went…if you happen to run across a Inbound Marketing Summit in your area, I’d highly recommend it.

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Links for April 26 2009

How I failed as a Product Owner and the lessons I learnt in the process by Martin Proulx on Analytical Mind (hat tip to Craig Brown for the link)

The Crucial Difference Between Creativity and Innovation by Mark McGuinness on Lateral Action

Leader vs. Ruler: Which one are you? by Jurgen Appelo on NOOP.NL

Culture Matters by Jamie Notter on Get Me Jamie Notter

A company’s corporate homepage is Google.com by Len Kendall on Marketing Profs Daily

Get On the Right Side of the Fence by Chris Brogan

5 Warning Signs of a Project In Danger by Georgina Laidlaw on WebWorkerDaily

Managers unprepared for the recovery by Nic Paton on Management News

What you say, what you do and who you are by Seth Godin

What San Francisco/Silicon Valley can learn from the Twittering company: Zappos by Robert Scoble

You Think You’ve Got Morale Problems? by John Baldoni on HarvardBusiness.org

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Chris Brogan on Writing

I’m a big fan of writing and I’m always working on improving my writing. I read everything I can find about writing and am always on the lookout for new thoughts on how to improve my writing.

I found an interesting take on the subject written by Chris Brogan titled “Cultivating a Writing Habit“.  Great post…jump over and read…I’ll wait. 🙂

Chris’ approach is a fairly simple method: Read, Write, Write.

  • Read – Read more.  Read everything you can.  Read things that you wouldn’t normally read.
  • Write – Write all day regardless of whether you are in front of a computer or with paper…write in your head.  Think about what you can write and/or how to reword something.
  • Write – Write daily. Write often.  Write as much as you can.

Nothing earth shattering here but Chris does gives us a glimpse into his writing regime.

If you don’t know Chris, look him up…he’s quite well know in the Social Media world and is considered to be one of the SM experts.   He’s a prolific writer and his blog posts are always well thought out and well developed…definitely someone to listen to on the subject of writing.

There are some excellent tips on Chris’ blog…great ideas for improving your writing (and mine!).

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