Danger: Proceed with Maximum Curiosity

I recently came across a fantastic piece from the consistently wonderful – and generously free! – Brain Pickings weekly newsletter (BrainPickings.org) about the American educator Abraham Flexner. What got my attention was Flexner’s exploration (way back in 1939, no less) of our “dangerous tendency to forgo pure curiosity in favor of pragmatism.” Now, it must […]

Big data means big human stories

The term “big data” means different things to different people.  Some of my clients have teams of people dedicated to analyzing it and some of my friends sit in fascination (usually with a coffee and other friends) wondering where it is all going.  While big data on its own sounds rather intimidating, anyone who spends […]

Prey Lang: the brand project. A brief personal statement and case study

Prey Lang: Cambodia National Forest A story-focused branding and strategic communications initiative Conceived and directed by Bjorn Turmann,  Founding Director, SpeakingEnergy Ltd. (with project funding from USAID Cambodia)   Covering over 3,600 square kilometres that stretch across four northern Cambodian provinces, Prey Lang is one of the world’s Top 10 most important biodiversity hotspots. ** […]

Objective vs. Theme: both matter, but one will get you closer to results

The desire of companies to want to call an objective a theme is something I often encounter in my strategic storytelling work. At times they may appear similar, but the reality is, themes serve objectives much more powerfully than an objective will serve a theme. Objectives, to apply a simple definition learned from my boss […]

“We live with our experiments”

The title of this story comes from a quote attributed to the iconic architect, Zaha Hadid who died suddenly this month at the age of 65. Ms. Hadid was known for “building the unbuildable.” Her structures can be seen in some of the world’s most prominent locations – and for very good reason. When clients […]

You against the world?

“Do we need to worry about you?” CIA officer “Hoffman” (Scott Shepherd) asks Tom Hanks’ lawyer character, “Donovan,” thirty minutes into Bridge of Spies. “Not if I’m left alone to do my job.” Thematically we immediately get where this story is going. We feel it. Donovan against the world. A man who wants to do […]

Don’t get emotional! Too late, we already are

Fact: we decide based on how we feel. Like it or not, we are just emotional, feeling humans who feel a little (or a lot) different today than yesterday. There are over 7 billion of us, so that’s a lot of individual feelings we have to contend with. How do we work with feelings? Emotions […]

Let’s Agree to Agree

So why do we choose to agree with people—accept them and their story? A question I spend a lot of time thinking about in my work with global clients. Last week I came across a fascinating online piece in Politico Magazine written by Matthew MacWilliams (http://tinyurl.com/jrafytg) that said the “single statistically significant variable” that predicts […]

Acknowledge: the most powerful word in the English (or any) language

“Acknowledge by signing here….” or words – indeed instructions – to that effect.  Acknowledge, as defined, means “undeniable.”  When someone acknowledges you the impact is undeniable and often it feels good. They have connected to you, recognized you, congratulated and thanked you. Acknowledge can bind us – contractually and emotionally – to something real. Social […]