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July 2019

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This is not just a story about storytelling.

It’s personal.

Because it’s about your storytelling.

A Difficult Truth.

The way that you tell your business’s story is very likely to be nowhere near good enough.

This is a difficult truth.

It’s because most business leaders don’t value storytelling enough.

So they don’t invest in storytelling enough.

Which is strange.

Because it is one of the single biggest reasons that businesses don’t maximise.

Storytelling.

I am fascinated by how world-class storytelling actually works.

And I want to drag you into my world.

Just for a moment.

I want to expose you to my curiosity around world-class storytelling.

So I have explored one of the most sophisticated and difficult kind of storytelling possible.

Storytelling without words.

No Words.

TV and film Scriptwriter (and ANGELFYSH team member) Debbie Owen is currently (amongst other things) creating stories and scripts for BBC flagship, CASUALTY.

I have listened to Debbie talk about her TV and film scriptwriting experience for years.

And I know that Debbie has worked on lengthy scenes and sometimes entire productions – as a scriptwriter – that have no words at all.

I wanted to find out more.

Debbie Owen

Scriptwriting is storytelling.  And story doesn’t have to be told verbally.

Every story will have characters who need a journey, with actions, motivations, purpose, emotions. Whether those characters speak or not doesn’t matter.  We must still feel for them and care what happens to them.

As a scriptwriter, I write the words the actors say… but I also write how they deliver those words.  I write the pace, the pauses, the tone, the emotion.  I write how they feel, where they move, what they wear.  I write the atmosphere, the style of the space, day or night.

I visualise every aspect of the scene on the page, so that the director and the actors know exactly what I have in mind.  Then they can accurately interpret my script onto the screen.

A script without dialogue, is still storytelling.  And it still has to relay all of the above.

Here’s an example:

ACT ONE – PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL WARD. DAYROOM. DAY

A sparsely decorated room.  No ornaments, the pictures are screwed to the wall and have Perspex fronts, the TV is housed inside a wooden box with a Perspex front.  Chairs, too heavy to throw, are arranged in social groups.

At the back of the room are 2 doors: 1 internal, with a spy hole, leading to the rest of the ward.  1 external, with a small window, leading to a courtyard.

Around the outside of the room, a track is worn in the carpet – someone walks the same path, over and over.

DOUG sits, nervous.  He stands, he sits, he doesn’t know what to do.  This is all new to him.

He moves to the internal door and tries the handle – locked.  He looks through the spy hole, but he’s on the wrong aside to see anything.  He knocks.  Listens.  Nothing.

He moves to the external door – locked.  The outside world is so near and yet so far.

OFF:  from beyond the internal door, a scuffle can be heard getting closer.  Heavy breathing and fighting coming from unseen, unknown people.  DOUG’s terrified.  Are they coming in here?!  He backs as far away from the door as he can… and waits.

That’s storytelling.

Storytelling.

Your business has a story.

Or if it doesn’t.

It bloody well should have.

And you need to find it.

Then tell it.

Beautifully.

Because an impressive story told badly.

Or a bad story told impressively.

Is just as bad as no story at all.

In all these circumstances.

Your business is treading water.

Connect.

Debbie shows that it is possible to connect and evoke deep emotion and connection without one word being spoken.

So what a shame it is that almost every business I see is not maximising as a business because they are not connecting.

They’re just using (normally far too many) words to tell me what they do.

And there’s no story.

It’s bland.

Unsurprising.

Forgettable.

They sound the same as everyone else in their category.

And the business owner is surprised when nothing changes.

Rewarding.

There is a really important reason that I have taken the time to write this story.

It’s because great storytelling is transformational.

It is endlessly rewarding for your business.

And everybody in it.

So please.

Focus on and invest in beautiful storytelling.

And if you cannot do it yourself.

Call me.

Jimmy Daly is a content marketer from a company called animalz.

Jimmy says:

This is how career growth feels to me.

Say “yes” to everything early on to get lots of experience.

Slowly start saying “yes” less often and eventually say “no” to nearly everything.

I’m somewhere in the middle now and learning to say “no”—but it’s hard!

He’s right.

And I am not very good at this currently.

But I’ll get better.

Trend. 

The only thing I’d add is that.

Whilst I agree that the overall trend is how Jimmy describes.

I can have ‘yes’ chapters later in life too.

Short periods where I transgress.

To explore a little.

To deviate from the path.

To help people out.

But as  general rule.

On the subject of career growth.

I agree with Jimmy.

As a very young child.

I never accepted.

That toys can’t fly.

I used my imagination instead.

Imagination. 

I’d pick up a toy.

With my little hand.

And an outstretched arm.

And one achy shoulder.

And I’d lock my eyes on the scaled down aeroplane.

Or rocket.

Or Pterodactyl.

For hours.

Because I never accepted that toys can’t fly.

Vision.

My eyes edited out my hand as it supported the tiny aeroplane’s flight.

And my young mind edited in the clouds.

And the engine noise.

And the other aeroplanes that were chasing me.

At four years old I was good  at visualising.

At four years old I was good at focusing.

And at four years old.

You were great at this kind of thing too.

Toys Can’t Fly.

So why is it that.

As adults.

Such fanciful ideas – born from visualisation and focus – are harder to muster for most people?

You see, I am still imagining.

I am visualising and focusing on growing a brand that creates the best hand knitted jumpers in the world.

I am visualising and focusing on evolving my Brand Collective to become one of the UK’s first to only work with contributive businesses.

And I am visualising and focusing on developing a publishing brand that encourages people to tell their own story, too.

And just as I edited out the hand that held the aeroplane as a child.

I edit out negativity.

And naysayers.

And all the other things that can potentially hold me back.

Age.

Strangely.

It’s a bit harder to believe at 51 years old.

Harder than it was when I was 4 years old.

But it’s just as magical.

And that’s why I do it.

Many great tunes start very, very quietly.

They build.

Great brands are like this, too.

Lean in.

Great  brands slowly draw people in.

They get you to lean in.

To listen.

They take you with them.

Patience.

Great tunes show restraint as well.

They’re not showy just for the sake of being showy.

Just because they can be.

We know that Christina Aguilera can hit and hold the high notes as well as anyone in the whole wide world.

But in ‘Say Something’ by ‘A Great Big World and Christine Aguilera’

She doesn’t.

We wait for it, of course.

We lean in.

But it doesn’t come.

And that’s as it should be.

Because great tunes.

And brands.

Show restraint.

And they are doing it on purpose.

So we lean in.

Brands.

So.

Brands.

Be brilliant.

Be really brilliant.

But show restraint too.

And go slow.

Because if you re worth waiting for.

We’ll wait.

And in the meantime.

Make us lean in.

And before you know it.

And before we know it.

You’ll have us.

Go here: https://www.50odd.co.uk/lean-in/.

If I were a cat.

I’d not be a House Cat.

I’d be an Outdoor Cat.

Outdoor Cat.

It’s because I think that’s what cats are made for.

Being outside.

Adventuring.

Buggering about.

Nearly dying 9 times.

Exploring.

Being creative.

Taking risks.

House cats.

House Cats, it seems to me, stare out of the window.

They stare at the world.

Through half-open eyes.

Blinking slowly.

Purring randomly.

Burping.

And all that punctuated by jumping down from the window ledge.

Sauntering into the kitchen in slow motion.

And dropping their big tummies down onto the kitchen floor.

Next to their reliably filled food bowls.

To graze.

Outdoor cat.

Whilst outside.

The other side of the window.

Outdoor Cat is going bonkers.

Successfully climbing trees.

Or successfully falling out of them.

Stalking the early bird.

That is stalking the unsuspecting worm.

Where sometimes the food chain clicks in and everyone is full.

Or sometimes the food chain fails and everyone goes hungry.

That’s the way it is with Outdoor Cat.

Cats.

So.

What are you in life, then?

An Outdoor Cat?

Or a House Cat?

And are you happy where you are?

If not.

Pop to the door.

Go on.

Give it a little shove.

It’s open.

50odd is 1 year old today.

I’m 1 year in to writing 1 story each day.

For 10 years.

365.

Thanks for sticking around if you’ve been here for all 365 stories.

Thanks for joining if you jumped on board part way through.

I’ll continue to write just for me.

And if it resonates.

Stay.

And if not.

Thanks for being here for a while.

Chester. 

Anyhow, to continue my self indulgence.

Here is Chester Bennington looking, sounding and being brilliant.

Less than a year before, aged 41, killing himself in 2017.

There is, I think, a little internal battle going on when he sings this.

Especially around 2 minutes and 25 seconds.

A battle he lost.

Battle.

When you have your battles.

As you and I will have had in this last 365 days.

Be kinder to yourself.

Life is hard enough sometimes.

You can do without you making it harder.

Holding on
To so much more than I can carry
I keep dragging around what’s bringing me down
If I just let go, I’d be set free

Go here: https://www.50odd.co.uk/365-2/

 

I used to think that there could not be anything worse than having nothing.

Feeling unfulfilled.

Empty.

Sad.

And alone.

But nowadays.

I think that there is.

It’s having everything.

Yet feeling unfulfilled.

Empty.

Sad.

And alone.

Choose.

Choose what success looks like for you.

With great care.

Because chasing the wrong everything.

Is worse than chasing nothing.

I’ve run businesses for 20 years.

I’ve experienced cold, hard competition.

And warm collaboration.

I prefer the latter.

Sharing. 

When you decide to share.

And it goes well.

Business is lovely.

As is life.

Bacon Sandwiches.

My 3 year old daughter Izobel wants to share and collaborate sometimes.

The most recent example was a bacon sandwich from The Cycle Hub.

Izobel looked up at me with her big brown eyes.

And asked to share.

I, of course, entered into the agreement.

Only to discover that Izobel’s idea of collaboration and sharing.

Is that she gets the bacon.

And I get the bread.

Just Be You.

There is sometimes a gap between the idea of collaboration.

And the practicalities.

I tend to base collaboration on just one thing.

Not terms and conditions.

Not negation.

I choose – ‘Just Be You’.

What I mean is, seeing if the natural state of all parties really is caring as much about about each other as themselves.

This is the values bit, I guess.

The ‘can you look each other in the eye’ bit.

The ‘do we talk about each other in the same way when we are in the same room as when we are apart’ bit.

I don’t know what it’s called.

But do know that.

When you are sharing something.

It’s very important.

There is a way to be virtually recession proof.

And that is to be excellent at what you do.

Excellence. 

Not just quite good.

Or one of the best.

The best.

By your own set of measurable, of course.

You have no choice but to come up with your own set of measurable.

Because ‘best’ is subjective.

Its your job to make ‘your excellence’ as objective as you can.

For your target audience.

A target audience that you will, of course, understand like the back of your hand.

So they can see.

And agree.

That you are the best for them.

That’s the way to be virtually recession proof.

Just be excellent at what you do.

Over the last 11 years of Wimbledon Men’s Singles Championships.

Just 2 men have won 8 of them.

And 2 more won the remaining 3.

These guys.

Especially the 2 that won 8 titles.

Are The Elite.

The Elite.

I wonder who they looked to in order to get to where they are?

To become better.

To get to the top.

It will certainly include – each other.

It was probably ever so.

McEnroe envied aspects of Bjorg’s play.

Bjorg envied aspects of McEnroes.

They were what they were.

To a degree.

Because of each other.

Left and Right.

Do you do this?

Do you look left and right at the great people around you.

To learn.

Or do you bury your head.

Because you don’t like them.

Because you wish they weren’t fucking there.

Because if they weren’t there, that would leave the way clear for you.

And that would be so much better, wouldn’t it?

So if you don’t look at them.

It’s easier to imagine that they never existed.

The Elite.

If you have aspirations to be the elite.

Then look at today’s elite.

Take a good look at those that are better than you.

In fact you can learn things from those that are currently not riding as high as you are of course.

Because in the blink of an eye.

You may be in their place.

And they may be in yours.

So look around.

And learn.

(In case you were wondering.

In the last 11 men’s singles finals at Wimbledon.

Djokovic won 5.

Federer 3.

Murray 2.

Nadal 1.

Take a look at the photo: https://www.50odd.co.uk/elite/)