The Power of Persuasion: From Camp Courage to Kinnernet

March 26, 2009 in Other Than That - news, business & other nonsense | Comments (0)


What’s your story?
That’s a question one might hear when meeting someone new. It’s a blanket query designed to get someone to share a tale that represents who they are.
The world in which I live takes its direction from the professional – meaning that oftentimes when the question is posed, it’s in the context of what one does rather than who they are. But the truth, especially in today’s world, is that the story of who you are – your fears, hopes, dreams, ambitions – plays a critical role in your overall ability to communicate what it is that you *do*.
And if we’re talking about the world of innovation, technology and start-ups, this ability becomes even more critical. So many people try to create a “story” about their business, something that catches attention. Not only is this a bad idea because of what could happen if the story is found to be something other than truly authentic, it’s a bad idea because these stories have no real foundation, they are not part of the individual’s or business’ DNA.
By finding a way to connect with *your* story and integrate that into all you do one not only gains a stronger sense of self, but in doing so the story will have exponentially deeper impact.
So, as somehow who’s always considered herself rather adept on the tale telling front, you can imagine my surprise when I found that I had a hard time doing this myself.
It was the end of January. I was in LA for Camp Courage and we began an exercise on the “story of self”. And I found myself strangely at a loss for words.
Yes. You heard that correctly. Me. At a loss for words.
Okay you can stop laughing now.
The truth is that while I can tell stories about pretty much anything, and I don’t exactly shy from sharing tales, whether personal or professional; my story – specifically about my identity as an out, lesbian woman – just isn’t in my repertoire.
What, you may ask, does my being gay have to do with personal story in business? Simple. While it may not be relevant on a day to day basis in my work, the truth is that it is still deeply part of who I am. It colors how I view things – just as the fact that I’m Jewish tempers my perspectives, and my being from the East Coast, and my being a dog lover … all of these, along with the myriad other ingredients baked into the multi-layer cake of me, matter …
The trick is, how to best integrate all that is me with what I do, in a way that is relevant.
Some might say that in order to live a life that is truly “authentic”, it’s imperative that you engage with others in a deeply personal way. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and share.
For the record, I don’t disagree with that. At least not at face value. The part where things get sticky, I think, is that spot where people shuffle, skip, step and sometimes full-on leap over that razor-thin but generally well-defined line of “appropriate.”
In other words, just because you have the ability to blast your every thought and opinion far and wide, doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the right thing to do.
So how to balance? How to share something that is deeply part of who you are while at the same time maintaining some semblance of … well … social decorum and then how to best bring that story home and weave it into the fabric of all you do?
It’s about willingness to take time, examine your life experience and be able to polish that. If you can tell your story “with feeling from the heart” you can talk to anyone … and they will feel it.
It’s about learning how to excavate your life for those gem-like moments. Those times when you encountered a challenge and had to make a choice and then what was the outcome.
This weekend I’ll be leading a workshop on this very subject – trying to take what I’ve learned in my own story-telling education and bring it to the digital denizens of Kinnernet.
No doubt there will be great stories to share …


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