The appointment started out like many others. She jumped right in to the nuts and bolts of what I could offer. Pricing, account management, product offerings. Across the conference room I kept wondering what significance that entire wall of trophies had. So at a good time, I asked. She came to life. Stories about her brother and company softball teams.
The name of the company seemed odd to me. So I asked about that. More life. “Dad made acronyms out of everything!” She told stories about the early days when her dad started this printing and advertising company in his house back in the early 1970’s.
There were paintings and pictures of horse racing…again…I asked. Again…more life. Pimlico Race Track is located in Baltimore. Her Dad worked very closely with Pimlico. He developed the first 64 page, full color, race day program for the track. She told of all the coordinated efforts and time it took to pull off that program back then. Now, today, it could all be handled probably in a few hours on a computer. He noticed that the back of the betting tickets was blank. He found a way to generate revenue by placing advertising on the back. There was a large billboard at the track with nothing on top. He found a way to generate revenue by convincing a beer manufacturer to pay for the use of the space to advertise their beer.
We all have a story. Our family, our friendships, our jobs, our careers…we…as people…have a story. A business meeting that started out average at best became a fun, vibrant, lively story telling conversation.
I recently got an email from the wife of a friend. She told me a brief story about the year or so their family had been having. It hasn’t been an easy time. She told me a story of how my friendship with her husband has been an encouragement to her at times. It’s funny because I met her husband during a time in my story that I needed some encouragement, guidance, and counsel. He entered my story at a crucial time and is now part of my story as it continues to be written.
If my curiosity hadn’t gotten the better of me I would have missed the stories. If my friends wife hadn’t told me her story I would have never realized that in some small way I was helping a family that had helped me.
What’s the connection? How often do we ask for the story? And then listen. Engage. Experience. How often to we open ourselves up…plant our heart on our sleeve and tell our story? And then listen. Engage. Experience.
Our stories bring life, build connections, create environments for learning, provide opportunities to grow and care…our stories are valuable. Our stories are different. Our stories are…quite frankly…us. Ask for the story. Tell the story. Not just “the” story…Tell “YOUR” story…