Monday, January 07, 2008

Book Notes: The Power of Story

Just finished reading a stunningly wonderful book called "The Power of Story: Rewrite your Destiny in Business and in Life" by Jim Loehr. I tend to take these types of books seriously and spend the time to do all the exercises and in trying to squeeze everything I can out of the experience.

This book in particular opened (or re-opened) my eyes to the power of a good story. The core premise of the book is that in order to create true success and fulfillment, you need to have a powerful, purposeful story that guides your every action, thought and movement. The book walks through tons of great examples and has exercises galore that have you writing and re-writing your "old and new story." These exercises are not easy! and are incredibly illuminating if you commit to telling yourself the truth.

For myself, in this great time of change, I started to realize what is driving me and what I'm passionate about. The book helped me clarify for myself a new story and a new direction. The power of good storytelling as you all know is not simply one piece of the puzzle when constructing messaging around your non-profit. It's the one thing that you need to get right. It's the first thing.

One of the key exercises the book lays out is the idea of imagining your own tombstone and making sure that you can live with whatever it says. I found out that I had a real need to rewrite my own story. It's not easy.

As many of your know, Beth Kanter is trying hard to raise funds for The Sharing Foundation using social networking and leveraging the power of networks. I've been wracking my brain trying to figure out some ways to help her and think that a good place to start is with the story she's telling, or trying to tell. She's trying to get folks who don't yet know about the foundation to pony up $10 to "route out poverty for Cambodian children.

She's telling what seems to be a compelling story, but it isn't catching on. Something is missing. Not only is it really hard to find new donors, it's even harder to get first time donors to donate without first cultivating a relationship.

I love headlines like this (from Beth's blog), but have to wonder if she can't take it even further by connecting it to what's relevant in each of our own lives.

It Takes A Whole Village: Ten Dollars, Ten Minutes, Help The Sharing Foundation Change the Lives of Over 1,500 in Cambodia!

Beth goes on to say "The Sharing Foundation's programs have touched all the children of Roteang Village who have been immunized, full series. In the U.S., childhood immunizations are routine and taken for granted."

This is good, it starts to get at being relevant but I don't think it goes far enough. What if my children weren't immunized and got sick, or worse?

It's also worth mentioning that "full series" is not exactly clear messaging. What does that mean? Clear, simple words work best.

Existing widget headline: Route Out of Poverty for Cambodian Children

Try guilt: Don't let it happen, donate to save children from the worst poverty
Try hope: You can be the difference. Save a child from poverty.
Try fear: If you don't act now, another child's life will be lost forever in horrible poverty.

Try these and test them... then when you find something that resonates, do that.

Go further Beth! Push it until it hurts and your messaging is as sharp as the edge of a knife.

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