Attitudes to Story Telling and Value

Why do people buy stories?  Why do people pay story-tellers to tell them the stories that they’ve gathered out in the world?  

I’m not talking about the bulk of book & movie purchases, which seems to be fiction: made-up, complicated and modernised versions of ancient themes.  They’re generally reassurances that all is well – even when they’re about serial-killers and child-torturers we feel better because we know that it isn’t happening in our little corner of the world.

When it comes to someone going out and experiencing the world and then coming back and interpreting what they’ve seen for people back at home, (ie the stuff I’m trying to do here) I’ve experienced four attitudes:

1. You go and look, and tell me what’s going on, I’ve got plenty of stuff here to keep me busy, but I am interested in what’s out there and what you think.

2. I’m afraid that I may be wrong about how the world works, please show me evidence that I’m right after all.

3. Even though I hate to admit that I’m wrong, I know that I grow most by hearing different points of view.  Give me something to fight against and maybe learn.

4. I don’t really get what you’re doing and I don’t have time to work it out for myself.

5. La-la-la! I’m not listening! Go away, you’re wrong, your methods are wrong, I hate you, etc.

So far, I think, I’ve only really engaged with Types 1, 5 and to a certain extent 4 where I’ve tried to turn them into a Type 1 – because within Type 1 there are those who will pay up front to make sure this kind of thing happens and there are those who won’t.  

Types 2, 3, 4 and some Type 5s (yikes!) are the next stage of engagement. I haven’t had to deal with this yet because I haven’t really done any interpretation, I’ve simply reported on what happened, sometimes what I thought about it, but not really in any depth.

But this is where the real value is, this is where the benefits emerge for readers: “evidence that I’m right”, “growth… something to fight against and maybe learn”, having something presented simply that “I don’t have time to work out for myself”  

Things that they might be willing to pay for in one form or another.

Originally posted on Please Look After This Englishman

Learning Pool & That T-Shirt

Here’s me in my Learning Pool t-shirt while I was in New Orleans.  Ray Nichols kindly took me along to an event called “Be The Change: A Celebration of New Orleans Social Entrepreneurs”.  It was great – a few hundred energetic people, all full of big ideas about how to change their bit of the world.  We talked and talked and talked.  

As full disclosure, Learning Pool gave me the t-shirt and $200 towards the trip.  In return I said I’d wear the shirt and let people know (including through this blog post) what i thought about their new product mylearningpool.  Oh, and I had some promotional postcards to give to people who might be interested in the product at SXSW and other places I went.

I’ve known Dave Briggs, their Community Evangelist for as long as I’ve known anyone on the social web and I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know the founders, Mary and Paul better since I met Mary at the UK GovCamp in 2010. What impresses me about every “Poolie” I meet is their passion for understanding how to create value for their customers, coupled with their commitment to improve public services.

They have a wide range of Learning and Development products for public sector organisations but their new baby is mylearningpool, a collection of (currently) 20 or so online courses for all sorts of people in social enterprises or the voluntary sector.  They cover basic skills for individuals such as:

  • using social media
  • finding a new job
  • presentation skills
  • personal health and safety

but also modules on subjects like:

  • procurement
  • customer service
  • technology and change
  • managing stress
  • data protection

New modules are being added all the time, I’m told.  And I’m sure the content will be updated regularly.  The modules I saw in the demo were easy to work through and learn from but the thing that caught everyone’s eye when I spoke to them about it was the price – £25 in the UK, $40 in the USA – in general, people’s attitude was: “Well at that price, you only need one of them to be any good and you’ve got value for your money”

Originally posted on Please Look After This Englishman

Keep Helping Me Solve It

The one thing I want to learn from The American Trip is that asking for help in this way really works.  Also that sticking with the process, no matter what, is what makes for the most amazing experiences.

So here are the elements of today’s conundrum.  

On the debit side:

  • I have no paid work at the moment, nor any lined up.
  • I am behind with my rent and some other bills for last month as I didn’t raise enough to cover my overhead back here while I was travelling.
  • Though I’ve paid the slew of 1st of the month bills, I’m now running short of cash for day-to-day expenses.

On the credit side:

  • I have just had an amazing adventure, the type of journey that most people never get to make in their lives.
  • I have learned from and been inspired by countless other artists, entrepreneurs and creative people during the last month.
  • I have a great number of stories, ideas, photographs, bits of audio and video from the trip that I’d like to make something meaningful from.  There is at least some analysis of the value and flows of social capital and a broader narrative about the style of travelling as a metaphor for the future of work and organisations.  There are doubtless other products in there that I haven’t started to draw out yet.
  • I’ve continually expanded my network among people I’ve met on the road  

I can imagine immediate flow coming from the following directions:

  • Paid gigs (part- or full-time) doing what I do or something else you’ve seen me do.
  • Micropatronage or sales of music.
  • One-off Donations, perhaps from people who enjoyed watching #plate11 as the live bit unfolded and would like to see more but didn’t get round to contributing earlier.

And then there are sales of what I can produce from the trip as well as looking at grant funding in the longer term.

A big lesson of the last month is not to let my imagination limit what can actually happen.

I have no more doubt that the answers will come, one way or another, than I had that you could help me get from San Francisco to New York City via all sorts of adventures just over a month ago.

And so I thank you, once again.





Originally posted on Lloyd’s posterous