Last night I was sitting down to write a blog post about customer experience when my 16 year old came downstairs saying, you will not believe what Jay-Z wrote in this song, you have to listen to this. So he plays me this song by Jay-Z but before he does he tells me how their story, Jay-Z and his mom’s, “is so like ours, it’s unbelievable, it’s like we could have written it, so crazy.” He’s just vibrating with excitement about these lyrics and when I hear the song, I burst into tears. He’s right, it’s like he’s telling our story. I hug my son and we have one of those moments you know you’ll remember for the rest of your life because someone’s story took you somewhere, inspired you, and made you feel deeply connected.
Imagine connecting with your audience like that?
Humans are wired to share stories. Why do we ask ‘how was your day?’ Because we want to hear a story. Why is leaning over a fence talking to a neighbour so pleasurable? Because we’re telling stories. Why has social media changed the landscape of communication as much as the Gutenburg press, perhaps more? Because we are all sharing stories with each other! It’s no different than leaning over that neighbour’s fence, or pouring a cup of coffee for a friend, or sliding a martini glass across a table and asking ‘what seems to be troubling you?’ Except it’s global, instant, and digital.
I had the pleasure of seeing Richard Wagamese tell stories the other night at UVic. He is a master storyteller because he gets out of his own way and just lets his humanity, his truth, pour out of him. I could paraphrase but thought to quote instead directly from his beautiful blog because paraphrasing Richard just seems, well, wrong. Here’s his thoughts on why story connects us:
Stories are elemental. By that I mean that every culture has them. Every person from whatever background has stories as their touchstone. The idea of sitting around a fire with the wood crackling and the sound of someone’s voice telling a story is something that excites all of us.
When we tweet about our lives, when we blog, when we check in with Foursquare, or ask questions on Quora, we are connecting, leaning over the virtual fence, and saying: tell me a story. Share. Connect. Speak in your authentic voice. Here’s Jay-Z, also a master storyteller, with the song, Anything, that so inspired my son.
Forget the old paradigms of marketing. Embrace the ancient tradition of storytelling–it’s what fuels our shared experiences and makes us human.