Stories from Dreamland
We often talk about the importance of stories and the storyteller but just last week, I was reminded that the greatest storytellers tell us more about ourselves than about them.
In literature and film this is more obvious: you write, direct and then act in order to inspire. In the corporate world, sadly presentations often bore people.
How sweet it is then, when the opposite happens. Last week, whilst attending the Salesforce Dreamforce conference, the yearly Mecca for all technology enthusiasts, I had the pleasure of experiencing exactly that, storytelling at its best, and emanating from the most corporate of environments.
It was a privilege to hear some of the most inspirational technology entrepreneurs of modern time, not riding simply on their personalities or companies they represent: Travis Kalanick from Uber, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Sage’s Stephen Kelly and Marc Beioff from Salesforce.
Satya Nadella and Travis Kalanick are pretty much universally recognised as Microsoft chief and founder of Uber, respectively. If you consider their individual brand perceptions, they couldn't be more opposite: one has fundamentally shaped the way we work, a generation who have quite literally grown up using their products; and one who is already shaping our future, changing the way business models work and how the millennial generation will buy and experience services.
What made their presentations so much more interesting is the story they told and how their concepts and aspirations will affect all of us. Nadella talked about the importance of finding your own soul and a deeper meaning of why you work. This becomes even more important when you think about the fact that we spend most of our lives working so his point make sense but is one that you often forget. Kalanick outlined a vision where new car riding models have the power to give us back time and eradicate urban congestion. As the car is one of the most fundamental part of our lives, this vision is one with a potentially profound effect.
Soon, my attention focused more on the speakers than the companies they represented, enthralled by the stories they told about impending societal changes, challenges to the status quo and disruption to current behaviours, models, processes and trends.
The event, the speakers and the content reinforced my fundamental belief that no matter who you are, how life-changing your product, how important the service you offer, how globally recognised your brand, the story must always take centre stage. That is how you inspire, influence and ultimately take people on the journey with you.
This is not something that can only happen on the global stage of Dreamforce. It has to happen in our own offices. When working with our clients, we have to ensure the narrative contributes to their bigger goals but ultimately tell a story about why we care. Ask yourself how the world would look without them and their product – that might be a good starting point.