See The Story

628. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

I haven’t a thought in my head. It’s late and I just finished teaching a class on story to entrepreneur’s preparing to make pitches to investors. They’ve created apps and need capital to fulfill their business vision. I helped them to stop thinking of their apps as “things” and to start thinking of them as “motion:” a pitch is a story of a yearning meeting an obstacle, just like any story they see on a screen. Yearning initiates motion. They were amazed when their focus shifted from selling a product – a focus that limits – to the recognition that telling a story always opens possibilities – a focus that expands. Motion.

It is funny where life takes you. Not so long ago I was a pariah to the business community; I am an artist and, therefore, non-essential. It occurs to me that I spent a long time being a pariah, going where I knew I would not be welcome, saying what I knew no one could hear. Apparently I am clearing some karma or I’m an odd sort of masochist! At this late hour I can’t even remember why I thought it was a good idea so long ago to go into businesses hocking my story wares. I knew I could see what they could not and what I saw was useful and beautiful (I’d never use the “b” word in business, it makes their ninnies twist and eyes bulge). I’d attempt to get them to look through the lens of story and they’d roll their eyes.

So you can imagine how delightful and existentially curious it was for me to live long enough to witness the swing of the pendulum: my business pals are now routinely asking me in to help them learn to thrive in ambiguity. Tonight a class full of MBA candidates listened to me like I held the key to obscene wealth (I do, by-the-way). The key to better business is story. Consider this: a world of absolutes needs stasis: black and white thinking is useful to folks that refuse to change. So is a hierarchy. In our world, where change is the only constant, it is useful to know how to shape shift, it is essential to learn to dance with what is there, not what we think should be there. Assumptions are routinely popped in this fast moving stream. Hierarchies need a bottom-up energy or they move to slow to be useful. Motion, shifting forms, ambiguity.

Prior to class I went to the Apple store to pick up a new printer and the man that helped me told me the most difficult (and rewarding) part of his job was staying on top of the changes. “Things are obsolete the moment they hit the shelves,” he said. “I’m constantly learning and adjusting to the next innovation.” I wish I’d recorded him so I might play this fundamental insight to the public schools so they might recognize the mismatch. This economy is not their grandfather’s Oldsmobile.

Tonight, a student in the class said, “Seeing our app as a story has made me realize, much to my surprise, how human our work is.” I smiled a crooked tooth smile. She hit the nail on the head: “product” is anonymous; story is personal. Business is not business anymore.

2 Responses

  1. Amen, brother.
    This is why there may be many David Robinsons in the world, but only one YOU.

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