Story is more than meets the eye

The Storychick approach to storytelling is not just about how to spin a yarn – it’s more than writing or telling stories.

It’s about LISTENING.

There’s a magic to it, when you open your ears, heart, and mind.  And an art.

When you are building and strengthening a community, listen to those with stories to tell.  Listen to those whose voices are not often heard.  Listen indiscriminately.  Set bias aside and listen without judgement.

When you are talking to customers, listen to what they need, what they’re struggling with.  Listen to how they approach problems and questions, to the language they use.

In order to share YOUR story – you need to know where your audience is coming from, what moves them, what will resonate with them.  This is learned when you listen.

But wait …. there’s more!

Listening shows that you care.  It builds a bond between you and the teller, you and your audience.  It satisfies, encourages, and thrills your audience before you even start.

As I’ve said before, it’s about getting someone ready to share talking to someone willing to listen.  THAT’S where the magic happens.


BTW, this week on ROC Soup, a tale of coyote and badger, the Farmer’s Tavern & Inn, and more.


Once upon a time, I gave a TEDx talk!

My TEDxRochester video went up on YouTube a few weeks ago – right around when my laptop blew up and posting got, well, wrinkly.  It’s nice to have all of your tabs and files where you know you can find them.  I’m on a backup, but I should be getting my real computer back today with (almost, knock wood) all files intact.

So, my video!  As you may remember, I opened the show, after Larry Moss told his ROC Soup story. This was an awesome experience on the incredible stage provided by TED for ideas the world over.  So curl up as the summer rain falls and discover the power of story.  And share the idea with any and all! Happy Friday!

And finally, there’s one more week left to vote for Storychick in the Chase Mission Main Street grant contest. 250 votes will get me to the judging round. I could still use lots of votes. It’s very appreciated.

Storychick and ROCSoup at TEDxRochester

Saturday was a huge day!  Not only for myself, Tony K, and the organizing team, but for all of the speakers – including me – who I’ve come to know through gathering and sharing their backstories over the past 6 months!  (I still need to do one more.  My bad.)

You can catch up on the Superhero Backstories here. Each speaker’s name links to their backstory post – except for Matt. Working on that. The backstories are largely transcripts of what each speaker told me, but some kneading and shaping of the dough of the story does take place to get it just right – not revealing too much, teasing enough to draw the curious.

My talk was first. After Larry, the emcee, opened with the story of ROC Soup, I picked up the metaphor and stirred the pot.

My objective: get people excited about story and what it can do to strengthen communities. To lift the blinders that sometimes fall into place and bucket “storytelling” with children’s storytimes only. I had an exhibitor table where I had additional information about some other examples in my talk, recipes for different types of stories to spur ideas, and bookmarks with opening lines, closing lines, and recommended reading.
The TEDx stage is a story of its own. While some may consider it a local event and akin to speaking in front of a large crowd elsewhere, that really loses the point of TEDx and the TED mythos. Think of all of the amazing people and ideas that have come from TED and their associated events. The video of my talk goes onto YouTube from TEDxRochester and is curated by TED folk so that it could be seen by so many more! The audience is smart and motivated and want substance to give them ideas on making our city and world better. No pressure – tons of pressure.


I had fears that the talk I had memorized at the top of the week and had run in my head probably 5 times a day was not going to be there when I stepped into the spotlight.

But I stepped out and it flowed. I had fun telling my stories and talking about my passion and where I think it can take us. The ROC Soup metaphor was strong and pulled the pieces of the talk together nicely with the call to action. Here’s the opening bit, as a teaser – of course I’ll post the full talk here when the video is ready.

ROC soup, the pooling together of the resources on hand to create a scrumptious new whole. There’s so much awesome in the concept.

The Vietnamese have a saying “A grief shared by many is half a grief. A joy shared is twice a joy.” Imagine sharing our joys and woes, our stories, in a great community pot. People can toss their stories in, building into a comprehensive community story. Amplifying joy. Diminishing grief. Pulling us together in celebration of the story.

All it takes is people willing to share – to toss their stories in – and someone willing to listen.

Do you want to know what’s really cool? It’s already started!

People told me that I seemed quite calm and natural, that I’m obviously a born storyteller, that the talk just flowed. Phew! However they saw it, they were excited. I got a lot of great traffic at the table and had some great exchanges that will hopefully lead to good coffee/beer/lunch conversations and future projects! I pulled Twitter responses to the talk together here.

Storytelling tools (part 3)

I was checking out some feeds recently and found a link to this TED talk, posted to their site in 2011 (during the time I was in a black hole of sorts):

I love it. It nicely sums up what I’ve often try to say here – how people tell stories evolves as the ways we communicate evolve. The iPad story in this video was a bit closer to a Powerpoint of sorts for me, but the potential is there.

Tablets offer a myriad of ways to tell stories in an interactive fashion. Much like the physical manipulation that pop-ups gave us, there are opportunities to watch, play, or listen to parts of the tale unfold. As interfaces and display technologies progress further – the truly immersive tale lies before us. Think of the skills of Sam on the TV show Profiler – being able to see the crime unfold. We could step into stories even as soon as Google Glass. Think about it.


Open my eyes that I may see



Along with my fave tech and design blogs, I’ve woefully neglected TED talks while otherwise employed this last year and a half.  As I scrolled through my app today, several caught my eye, but Neil Harbisson drew me in completely.

Harbisson was born completely color-blind – a difference in perception that I find fascinating. After years of working with developers, Harbisson became a cyborg – wearing a digital eye on his head that attaches to a chip near his skull. This device allows him to “see” color – by hearing it.

Colors in front of the digital eye are translated into pitches or tones by the device. Using this, Harbisson not only translates daily life, but creates audio portraits of faces. A side effect is that regular sounds are also now identified by his brain with the colors they match in pitch, so that music and voices are rich with color for him now, as well. He creates geometric, color rich paintings of these sounds, while he also “listens” to Picasso. The sound of color and the color of sound effect his approach to even the everyday

If I had to go to a funeral, though, I would dress in B-minor (turquoise, purple, orange).

Now, I can eat my favorite song.

I found Harbisson’s perspective refreshing and full of the wonder of new explorations. He has started the “Cyborg Foundation” – to work on ways to extend our senses via technology. I’m not sure what I would want to enhance. I think seeing sound might be cool. Or something that would be able to warn me if a pickle was hidden in a sandwich.

I can envision a counter-movement, however. Just as there are some in the deaf community would disapprove of and protest implants that allow others to regain their hearing. Is it too artificial? Playing with what God gave us? Taking our unique view of the world and conforming? IMHO, Harbisson demonstrates that conformity is hardly the path he is following. So long as these extensions stay individualized and aren’t as accessible as contacts, they seem to simply open a new world. To me, anyway.

What senses would you enhance, or extend, if you could? Do you feel that any “fall short” for you, as with color-blindness or poor hearing, that you may want to augment in a different fashion? Or do you fall in the “don’t mess” camp? I’d love to hear your thoughts.