Storytelling For Fun & (Business) Profit

Which business would you rather work with?

  • The one that displays a paragraph on its website listing the year it was founded, by whom, how many employees it has and that it belongs to the local Chamber of Commerce?
  • Or the one with the interesting story about how its founder started his 600-acre farm by trading chicken manure from his family’s chicken farm for banana starts and how things developed from there? (True story.)

Some of what we do here at Talk Story Press is to gather families’ stories together in one place and weave them together into an interesting narrative arc. We retell them in a rich, full way, and then help the family create a printed book from it all. We also do this for individuals who want to tell their own stories, or that of a family member or dear friend.

And we do the same thing – tell a good backstory – for businesses. Because what’s more interesting when someone wants to learn about a company they may hire, or decide to work for? Reading an ad or a dry press release? Or reading a story – a narrative – about how the business came to be?

Talk Story Press, Leslie Lang

This Wall Street Journal article, Why Your Company Needs a Moving Start-Up Story, uses a Bruce Springsteen encounter, among others, to talk about the importance of having an epic story.

Take the legend about FedEx founder Fred Smith’s gamble with the last $5,000 in its checking account. In the book “Changing How The World Does Business,” Roger Frock, one of the founding executives of the company, told the story of how, in the make-or-break start-up days of the company, Mr. Smith took the $5,000 in the company’s checking account to Vegas and bet it all….

Read the rest here.

You can use your epic start-up story to make employees feel like they are part of something amazing, and, of course, to draw in customers. To show them what is special about your company. To make yourself stand out from the competition.

We also help businesses and organizations write special anniversary books that capture the whole history of a company.

Can we help you write the story of your business? Let us know if you’d like to know more or to explore the idea.

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Saving Face, & Voice, & Stories

My father died in 1983, when I was 20 and he was only 50.

I don’t know of any recordings of his voice that still survive, but I’d sure love to have one.

He died way before we were all walking around with cameras capable of recording video and audio in our pockets (or our hands).  Apple II

How he would have loved this digital age, by the way. Because of him, my family was an early adopter of the Apple II, with its Pong game and all, but really my dad missed about all of this digital era. He was a “techie” type, and there’s no doubt in my mind that he would have loved it.

But nowadays, with all this readily available technology all around us, making it so easy, do we remember to videotape/audiotape our parents? Our grandparents? How often do we record our family moving around and talking, so we can show our kids and grandkids later? So that later they will still be real people, just like us, instead of just names on a page? So we ourselves can see and hear them again decades from now, like magic?

And if we do, I don’t know if we always make sure to back up the recording and store it separately. And put it on a DVD, and label it. Does everybody think to make a few copies, and give them to different family members, or at least store them in different places, so they don’t all perish in the same disaster?

It’s so easy to do, whether casually or professionally (if you don’t have the time, know-how or energy, we can help you with it here at Talk Story Press). And it’s priceless to have later.

Verlyn Klinkenborg (is there a better name, by the way?) writes in the New York Times about getting his old voice back, after surgery to remove a papilloma on his vocal cord. And about voices that “recover memory and emotion and loss itself.”

What would we know if we could hear the voice of Cleopatra? How odd would Napoleon’s Corsican accent sound to modern French speakers? And what if we had two minutes of the voice of Shakespeare, who managed to leave so little of his personal self behind?

We might feel awe at hearing these voices, but very likely the recordings would be mere artifacts, overwhelmed by legend, deed and word. And these figures would still be strangers. It would be nothing like hearing again the intimate sound of a voice that has gone missing in your own life, a voice that recovers memory and emotion and loss itself.

Read his whole New York Times essay So Many Snapshots, So Few Voices Saved.

And don’t forget to take advantage of this great technology we have all around us, and record your family members – their faces, voices and stories. Someday, you, and others who come along later, will be so glad you did.

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