Stories

Context

Without context, pie charts, bar graphs, scatterplots, histograms, and gauge charts are more like artwork than representative of data that informs their creation. The challenge to us is to present the graphs with accessible context. There is a story within each, an opportunity to take the viewer on a journey. How might we employ graphs to support our efforts and avoid confusing those looking for meaning? 

Done But Not Over

Imagine announcing ‘this is a wrap’ to a sold-out, best-in-class gathering that consistently improved over ten versions (thirteen years due to pandemic disruptions). An event attended by super fans, individuals so inspired they broke numerous world records for fun, including this year’s iteration with the most individuals dressed in T-Rex costumes.

When we build something magical, authentic, memorable, and one of a kind, we might consider adopting a river mindset. We are visitors to the confluence point between individuals and events. The main channel moves forward at some point, and the merge is complete. We cannot stay forever at this liminal boundary where two things combine, but we might capture the spirit and retell the stories. These imprints will serve us well as we encounter what is around the bend as we navigate the next section of the canyon.

As Barry Lopez reminded us, “Everything is held together with stories. That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion.”

Thank you, World Domination Summit, for a transformational journey and living the values of community, adventure, and service. It was remarkable and shall live on.

Why Human-Centered Strategies?

It is convenient to believe that the money our cause raises, the facilities we build, the programs we nurture, and the brand we build are the core of our cause’s work. However, none of these elements can tell our story. They are the results of our work. The people who inhabit these space, donate resources, attend the programs, and ride for the brand are the story-tellers. They represent the conduit through which our narrative transfers from one individual to the next.

The bib I wore during a nordic ski race and the medal that might come with an age-group award are just ordiments. They alone do not have much depth, possibly props in my story. I can hold them-up to talk about the fierce cold and headwinds that faced the race participants. I can point to them and describe the pack of skiers who worked together to battle the elements. I can hang them on the wall and they remind me of an adventure, but they do not tell the story.

Our travel photos capture a moment in time but are exponentially more powerful when they support the story. Was our Eiffel Tower photo taken during a romantic walk, evening run, from a train crossing the Seine, or just a screenshot? The photo might be memorable but the story provides a greater dimension.

We must get comfortable elevating our stories. Unless we can compete on scale and overwhelm our fans with endless offerings, our narratives will be our strongest point of engagement. If we agree to amplify our stories, then how might we generate human-centered strategies to support our community? How might we be remarkable for the behaviors and experiences we curate?

Our Stories

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My story works because of the characters who inhabit its narrative.  An amazing wife, two remarkable children, transformative parents, friends to share wondrous adventures, inspirational mentors, and antagonist who challenge me to think differently.

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There are chapters in which the days are sun-drenched, breeze at my back, and I appear to be the first person to encounter this corner of the world.

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Then the route closes.  The way I travel everyday shuts down abruptly.   I must detour.  It feels daunting, uncertain, and does not come easy.

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Or the conditions are not as advertised in the brochure.  My expectations derail.  Hope must somehow rise above despair.  Finding safety versus pressing-on narrates each step.

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However, the opportunity this moment is to take flight.  To spring forth with ideas and beliefs and share them.  To make visible that which is unseen.

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Thank you for being a character in my story.  You allow the story to work and together we narrate that which was invisible by contributing a verse.

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Charles Russell’s Letters

IMG_6091The 100 Best Illustrated Letters of Charles M. Russell is a fascinating book.  The letters provide unique insights into the American West in the late-1800’s.  What makes the letters remarkable to me are the illustrations Russel added to tell a richer and more colorful story.  The drawings themselves illuminate a deep, focused experience.  Russell’s work is a great reminder that when we tell our stories the use of images adds exponential value.