My Posts

Tell Great Stories at Work and in Blogging

In case you haven’t noticed, I love telling stories. Something I will never forget about my late grandfather was his love of telling great stories. Whether it was from his childhood or from last week, you could always tell when a good story was coming. Some of what he said was so transparent and predictable but you still anticipated it as he told it. The cadence of the words increased, you started listening more intently and waited for the pay off. It was almost always something funny but there seemed to be a one liner after the story completed that had everyone in stitches.

I’m not going to attempt to reproduce his stories because I don’t think I could do them justice. That’s not the point anyway. The point is: great stories connect us to one another. We can relate to stories, they are emotive, they live and reproducing them (well) allows others to experience a part of our lives. That’s compelling.

The relation to blogging is obvious. If you are a great story teller, you can rely on your content to be the foundation of your site. Not to say that marketing won’t help you increase your audience substantially. If your content is great, you have one less worry though. It is also important that when you do tell a story, you are passionate about it. Some people think HR is boring. I couldn’t believe it either. When you write about something you are passionate about, it helps bring your voice to the forefront and helps you connect with your readers.

I am not going to lecture on what is best for blogging. Even I have short-comings in this area so I wouldn’t be very authoritative. This post is supposed to be about work after all.

Places that are great to work at generally have a great story behind it. Sometimes, this is an exercise in employer branding. You’ll see that at some places and it will be completely transparent and obvious that it is branding.

A great story has a consistent message. If you take General Electric (GE) for instance, their message has been broad innovations since its inception in Menlo Park, New Jersey. The founder of GE, Thomas Edison, has over 1,000 patents in all kinds of areas. Today, GE is known for it’s broad innovation (from medical to aviation to energy) consistent with their founder’s story. You meet people from GE and they understand this.

Newer companies work on this as well. Google started in a garage in Menlo Park, California based on their technological innovation and focus on usability and simplicity. They have used this humble story to grow into one of the best places to work for.

A great story isn’t an old or new company thing. It isn’t an east coast or west coast thing. It is what great companies do: they root themselves in that starting philosophy and grow their businesses on those principles. Those stories of the founding of GE and Google reinforce the mission of the company much better than any silly mission statement stuck in the policy manual on page 18. Why?

The story is compelling. It connects. It shares a piece of the company that is personal, emotive and that people can relate to. Everything else about a company may be cold and unforgiving but that story… There’s something special about that.

By Lance Haun

Strategy for The Starr Conspiracy. Former HR pro. Portland guy (Go Blazers!) and WSU alum (Go Cougs!). I get to write about what I want here.

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