Making Your Messages Stick With a Story

tellstories

When I was still a young little lad in kindergarten, before tortoise shell glasses and bowties, before I was fully comfortable with printing my long name on lined paper with an oversized yellow pencil, one of my favorite “classes” was story time.

The entire class would surround our teacher in growing anticipation, each of us seated on the carpeted floor with our legs crossed so that we could see the colorful pictures and hear the engaging words. I loved listening to my teacher read each sentence as I imagined the unfolding story play out in my mind.

There is something special about really good stories and their ability to move us.

It’s the reason why Apple described the iPod as “one thousand songs in your pocket” instead of focusing solely on the technical specifications. Or why political candidates spend so much time crafting their narrative and defending themselves against accusations about their past.  It’s why marketing, branding and social media consultants remain in demand, and why videos are a critical component of every successful Kickstarter campaign.

The power of stories is the reason why, even as adults, we crave colorful and fun stories that remind us of our youth, like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings and Happy Feet. And as you will see in this post, stories are even useful during interviews or for those venturing into the business world.

But telling a good story, especially in the professional context, takes some work.

How do you do it?

Continue reading →

This Strange Fruit: Part 6

girl running

The passengers stared at Ariana with confusion as she burst into the train car and began trotting toward the far door, squeezing past a young woman holding a stroller with shopping bags dangling from the handlebars, the baby crying loudly while the young woman fumbled with her Samsung Galaxy phone, perhaps trying to get enough reception to let a loved one know that she was safe.

Ariana moved quickly, straining to see past the dark shadows, guided by the amber emergency lights on the floor of the train car, her eyes focused on the destination ahead. She felt for a moment like she was a young girl again, running through imaginary forests in the living room while pretend enemies, usually played by her younger sister, Maricel, followed closely behind. They would dash into and out of dark caves in the kitchen in search of buried treasure, or sometimes hang upside down from the bunk bed trying to reenact scenes from Spiderman.

Her older brother Maximiliano, who everyone called Max except her parents, would run outside as soon as they got home from school to play with the guys, but her grandparents expected her and her sister to stay inside like nice young girls and watch cartoons.

She had always felt like life was unfair.

Continue reading →

What I’ve Been Reading: 4 Book Recommendations for August

bookshelf

I hope the month of August is off to a great start! The year is flying by!

I just spent a fun week in Cambridge, MA helping to coordinate the 2014 MIT Online Science, Technology and Engineering Community (MOSTEC) Conference.  It was an amazing time and I look forward to working with the students over the next few months to help them grow and prepare for college success!

While at MIT, I was reminded that before life got complicated and we became absorbed with finding the right career or gunning for the best promotion, we simply enjoyed learning for the sake of learning. Waking up each day, excited about using our talents and skills to invent something new or brainstorm solutions to problems in our community. I love reading and am trying to do it as often as I can because it keeps me grounded and reminds me that there is so much to learn and learning is beautiful.

This past month was a busy one and I am still finishing up a few great books. In the meantime, check out four books I finished in July below.  I hope you add one or two to your list for August.

Continue reading →

Movements Are A Habit: Forming New Identities

church movement

In my last post, I discussed the power of weak ties and how they can be leveraged to grow social movements beyond a small group of close friends.

This is a topic that is relevant for many people; whether on the job or among friends, we often want others to listen to our ideas and support our vision by joining our cause.

My last post was the second in a three-part series discussing lessons learned from Charles Duhigg’s bestselling book – “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” – in which he explains that social movements are built upon three elements of social habits: (1) a movement begins with the social habits of friendship; (2) a movement grows because of the power of weak ties; and (3) a movement endures because participants embrace a fresh sense of identity and a feeling of ownership.

In this third installation of the “Movements Are A Habit” blog post series, I will touch on the third element discussed by Duhigg in his book: the important of followers developing a shared self-identity and how identity forming habits can help movements endure.

Continue reading →

Movements Are A Habit: The Power of Weak Ties

freedom summer

In my last post, I began discussing why movements are, in many ways, driven by social habits.

In Charles Duhigg’s bestselling book – “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” – he explains that social movements are built upon three elements of social habits: (1) a movement begins with the social habits of friendship; (2) a movement grows because of the power of weak ties; and (3) a movement endures because participants embrace a fresh sense of identity and a feeling of ownership.

Many of us are interested in persuading others to adopt a unique point of view, or corralling a group of people around a worthy cause. This blog series will continue to explore how social habits help make this happen. This post will dive into the second element of social habits discussed by Duhigg: the power of weak ties.

Continue reading →