Finding order in your scenes: Just wait

Eudora Welty, American writer best known for her 1973 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Optimist’s Daughter, was a woman of huge intellect and daring. (Her application letter to the New Yorker in 1933 is worth a Google search – as a sample, this is how it starts: Gentlemen, I suppose you’d be more interested in […]

The storytelling power of props

“Show don’t tell” is one of the most important phrases in storytelling. A phrase my clients hear me passionately repeat. And for good reason. It’s easy to “tell people” what you are capable of, it’s quite another to show them you actually can. In the showing is action. Quoting Socrates, “Say what the story demands…the […]

Finding powerful stories from simple scenes

On a recent trip to northern Laos (Xam Neua – extraordinary place!), I was given access to many things I have never seen before. Some of them scenes one would expect in Laos (the stunning landscape, for example) and some of them experiences that surprised me and made me think – a lot.  The latter […]

Story scenes in 2017. Set your scene

The most obvious statement now is: we live in a storytelling world.  How can companies be better equipped to participate in this world – regardless of our business or our products?  My answer is: think much more clearly and strategically about the story scenes you create. Humans understand scenes. We live them every day. We […]

Danger: Proceed with Maximum Curiosity

I recently came across a fantastic piece from the consistently wonderful – and generously free! – Brain Pickings weekly newsletter ( 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 […]

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 […]