"Naughty". That’s one of the songs in Matilda the Musical. The music and lyrics were written by Tim Minchen. The song is about story, and if things don’t go as you want or planned, just change your story. Words of wisdom.
Story. That’s what content is. Whether it’s an article published on LinkedIn, a podcast in iTunes, an image on Instagram, or a keynote speech at a conference, it’s all story. Some is fact, some is fiction. People love to listen to stories. Some of us get our stories from TV, others from books. There are many different ways to impart story. It’s not necessarily the vehicle that makes a good delivery, it’s the content. But they’re both important.
If you have a story to tell, and you write it or speak it or paint it or strum it, how will anyone know that it’s there and available for consumption? Some of the most talented artists and creatives that I know are lousy marketers. Some of the marketers I know are hawking lousy products. Or products that are being offered to the wrong audience. Niche it down. Translation – find the right audience for your content.
Now I’m not a marketer but I play one on TV. Not really. I’ve just always wanted to borrow that line and make it my own. I’m an entrepreneur who’s trying to school myself on the ways of the ninja marketer. Knowing WHAT to do is not the same as knowing HOW to do it, and, how to do it effectively. If you have a product or service, that’s a little more tangible than content, IMO. For those of you of a certain generation or don’t use computers much, that means “in my opinion”. I am of that certain generation (baby boomer) but I’m a tech geek so I know most of the lingo.
Do you realize what I’m doing here? I’m telling you a story. It’s not about my product (I don’t have one) or my services (still working on those). I’m just thinking, and putting those thoughts to virtual paper.
I used to work with a guy named Bob P. Yeah he has a last name but I’m not at liberty to say what it is. Actually, I just don’t want to. Anyway, Bob P. could spin a yarn about anything. He was a master storyteller. He could go on about the perfect cup of coffee or travelling to Iceland on business and having a bathroom so small in the place he was lodging that it doubled as a kitchen. We’d be blocking the hallway at work just listing to Bob P. recall his escapades about how his bio-diesel car would belch French fry smells from its tailpipe because he’d fill his tank from fast food restaurants getting rid of their old cooking oil. Boy could Bob P. tell stories. After listening to him, we’d walk back to our desks wishing that we could tell stories as good as Bob P. None of us ever came close. We were missing that gene on our double helix.
Garrison Keillor is another of those great storytellers. He can write it in the pages of a book, or recite it to a crowd of a few thousand when he’d go on tour with “A Prairie Home Companion”. Naturals, these two guys. Some of the rest of us, well let’s just say that we’re working on it.
So how do we get better at stories? You noticed I didn’t say storytelling? I didn’t say storytelling because sometimes we’re not the ones telling the story. Sometimes we’re facilitating others to tell their stories. When I say story, I’m thinking of communicating the story AND changing your own story. Or mine.
I’m in the process of changing my story. I’m working my 8-5 and trying to change my story to fulltime entrepreneur. And not just any entrepreneur – a successful one. How do you measure success? Ask 5 different people and you’ll probably get 8 different answers.
Most entrepreneurs that I’ve interviewed on my podcast measure success by being able to make a decent living and in turn giving up their day jobs, if they have one. Sure there are a lot of entrepreneurs that are way past that goal, but I just haven’t interviewed them yet. Details, details. And those entrepreneurs or soon to be entrepreneurs are changing their stories. They’re crafting out a niche for themselves and their stories. They’re advancing their stories through marketing, community, and word of mouth. It’s a big circle.
But hey, I’m just stating the obvious. I’d love to quote the last couple of stanzas of "Naughty", but I don’t have the money to hire an attorney for the subsequent copyright infringement lawsuit. So I’ll just paraphrase. Do I need a lawyer for that?
The lyrics talk about changing your story because no one else can do it for you. So what’s my story? I’m glad you asked. One of my goals is to become a professional public speaker. I was originally a theater major when I went to college right out of high school. On the advice of a neighbor whose kids I babysat and who had tried to make it as an actor in New York City before said kids were born, he gave himself two years to get cast in a show. Needless to say he became a stock broker after two years and kissed Broadway goodbye.
I gave myself one year to get into the cast of a show in college. Not a lead part mind you, just any part. I wasn’t up to the “chewing the scenery” level when I was 18. Unfortunately, I didn’t attain that goal. It was either because I didn’t suck up to the appropriate people in the drama department (even a college drama department has its own politics), or I didn’t have the talent. It’s a toss up, but probably a little bit of both.
I did get an A however in my acting class where I had to memorize the lyrics to a song. I chose “Suite Judy Blue Eyes” by Crosby, Stills, and Nash. It was an assignment where you had to take song lyrics and make them your own so I pretended I was having a phone conversation (a real phone, remember those?) and the lyrics were my side of the conversation. It was a hit, both for CSN and me. That’s a long song with a lot of lyrics.
In order to attain my public speaking goal, I’m taking an improv class at a local theater. I do not intend to do improv. It’s just a means to an end to get back up on a stage, and learn how to think on my feet. And occasionally, in my everyday life, I have awesome episodes of spontaneous wittiness. So that might come in handy.
I’ve also joined a local storytelling group. I took the plunge and told a story about my mother titled “The affair that my mother never had that produced
two children”. Explanation – my sister and I are adopted and no, my mom didn’t have an affair. She got a job without telling my dad and he thought
she was . . ., well just use your imagination. The story title got a chuckle. I was able to tell the story without the memory of my mom inciting tears to rappel down my cheeks. The crying gene is definitely set to turbo mode in my DNA. I cry at baby powder commercials. I’m not kidding. Ask my daughter.
I’ve also submitted a proposal to be a speaker at a conference this summer. I’m still waiting to hear. Oh thanks for wishing me luck. If I don’t get picked, I’ll see it as an opportunity to work on my pitch. If I do get selected, I’ll see it as an opportunity to work my butt off so that I can provide a great story with a great delivery (AKA quality content) so that the next one will pick me, and the next. One foot in front of the other or as they say in the trades, baby steps.
So what are they reasons that sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty? If your story is not the one you thought it would be when you were a kid, or hasn’t turned out like you planned, then change it. No one else can do it for you. You’re the key to changing your story. Get going.