When I was nine years old, I thought about what I wanted to be when I grew up. After exploring options like veterinarian, teacher and librarian, I finally settled on one thought: I want to write things that make people think.
Flash forward…a lot of years. I am now helping really smart people build compelling stories about very complex products. A big part of my job involves being a good listener. I listen to engineers talk about the fantastic, creative products they have dreamt up, designed and built, then created with the help of a team of other really smart people. I extract what I know will make a great story and help them build it with the tools and techniques I have honed through…a lot of years of studying the works of great writers and building stories for many companies.
There is nothing more satisfying to me than helping someone tell their story – whether it is a biography, a product messaging platform focused on the customer’s needs, or a white paper on the benefits of 40G or Class 4 antennas. Recently, I helped a team hone the strategic message for a new product launch. The product is cool, innovative and complex. At the end of a two-day messaging session with a team of eight, the leader of the team delivered a pitch based on the foundation we had just built that was clear, concise, and truly compelling. It truly confirmed that I am doing exactly what I set out to do: write things that make people think.
But it’s more than that – it’s about making people look at the way the way they tell their stories – about their products, about themselves – in a way that moves people. We are so jaded as a society, authenticity is the only way to be heard, to make an impact, whether it’s to become more authentic as a creative professional or to tell a more compelling brand story, find a way into the plot or the painting or any other creative expression. It is about watching people become more open and comfortable telling their story in a way that matters. I help people give words to their story so their voice will be heard through the clutter of blogs, social media, reality TV shows and 20 million channels of clutter. My work is about helping others give voice to ideas, to technology, to new ways of thinking. I am always honored to be a witness and participant in this process.
At nine years old, I didn’t know what my vision would look like…many years later. 🙂 But I feel blessed to know that I had a vision. And that I am able to use it every day.
If you are feeling lost, think about your vision of your life when you were nine years old. What did you want to do? What did you hope for? You may be surprised to find that you are already doing it. If not, ask yourself why. Then go for it.