Bernadette Jiwa says her little brother (died at 31) never greeted her with a “hello” or “how are you.” His greeting was always, “What’s the story?”
“This is a common way to greet people in Ireland. It stands for Hello, what’s up? What’s going on? How are you? I believe the English expression stems from the Irish aon sceal, which literally means “any story?” or “have you any story?” (Difference, The Story of Telling Press, 2014)
She says that asking “what’s the story?” means “tell me everything that’s important to you right now.”
“People want to be a part of something, to have a story to tell, to have something to believe in. They want—actually, no, they expect—the people they do business with to understand them and to build around their wants, their needs and even their unexpressed desires.” (Jiwa)
What’s your story?
For ten or twenty years, the power of story has been the central tenet in the study of business. Malcom Gladwell is a story teller. Donald Miller builds advertising campaigns for the Lincoln automobile (and other companies) around the concept of story. You are compelled to do business with those whose story you assume you know, like or identify with. Marketing used to begin with the product and tell you why you should buy it. Today, marketing that works begins with the consumer’s story.
A troubling thought: Target knows more about you than many of your closest friends. They know your story that you told them through your purchases, questions you answered when you applied for discounts and what you “like.” You benefit by their offers to you based on your “preferences.”
Guinness and Cadbury are more than fascinating to me. I want to know the rest of the stories. In their experiences of huge success and failures and personal adversity, are solutions for the larger society and insight for you and me.
What’s your story?
Your story is more than your biography or résumé. It is about your preferences, likes, dislikes and triumphs. That Louisiana lady’s story that I remember is her beauty, demeanor and her classiness.
This sounds contradictory. While Facebook learns more about us, we work harder at retaining our privacy. One of the central characters in the Southwood Series is slightly and superficially modeled after a lady I met in Louisiana. We were on opposite sides of a potluck table after a concert. She was a beautiful lady. I was attempting to engage them after someone said the couple had recently celebrated an anniversary. I asked how they met. Her husband looked at me and said, “I met her in New Orleans. She was working as a stripper.” He then asked me to pass the green beans. A testimony on Sunday morning that begins with, “When I was stripping in New Orleans” will quiet the crowd, but is not what I’m talking about.
Transparency and authenticity does not mean telling all your secrets. Guinness beer is my favorite beer although I have not (to this point) tasted it. I reject out of hand expanding the tax rate of the top1% to deal with poverty. But the story of Dr. Lumsden and the Board of Directors making drastic, sweeping decisions based on moral ethics and driving core values of the Guinness family is the story that changes the poverty landscape with private enterprise.
“Story” in marketing doesn’t mean the silly little dramas in the TV ads. Sears stood for quality and behind their products. If the Craftsman tool you bought ever broke or stopped working, the lifetime warranty guaranteed a free replacement. That was their story. Dependability, standing with and for the customer.
As I was preaching the other day, the dominant feeling in my spirit was, “People, what is your story? It has the power to influence.” If you will follow this link—www.difference.is you will find the Difference Map. It will give you tools to answer, “What’s my story?” You will unearth your Spiritual gifts, you dreams and the key to joy, how to witness your faith and how to successfully sell hamburgers or widgets or….
What’s the story? Thank you.
©2016 D. Dean Benton—writer & wonderer