I sat there on that long boardroom table surrounded by radio people being grilled by questions of what my company was all about. We were there to develop a campaign. I never felt so inadequate in my life.
At the time, I had recently been asked to take on the role of general manager for three very different companies. Earlier on this particular day, I had spent the whole morning wrapped up in one company and suddenly, there I was in the midst of this group getting grilled about a different company. It was dizzying.
I recall sitting there at that table feeling like the spotlight was completely on me and yet… inside, all I wanted to do was run. I felt so overwhelmed, unprepared, and inadequate for what I was asked to do with running these companies.
As the questions kept coming from every side, I remember bowing my head for a few moments. I could hear the questions coming, but, for a moment, I felt like I had slipped away.
“Dear God, I have no idea what I am doing. I feel so inadequate. I don’t belong here. I don’t know how to answer these questions. I need your help. I give up.”
It was a moment where I was in the room, but not in the room. It was a silent call for help to the only One I knew could hear me right then and there.
And yet the questions kept coming…
“What is your core demographic?” came from one end of the table. While from the opposite end came… “Why should people shop with you?”
And yet, there I was, momentarily checked out from the constant questions saying a silent prayer… a plead for help.
“Tell them stories.”
I remember that moment like it was this very second. As I have said before, it was like a thousand arrows had simultaneously hit their mark. Something changed, there was a pivot… my countenance was suddenly different as I remember looking up and around at the many faces gathered at the table.
3 words… tell them stories. And so I did.
Suddenly, I felt like a different person. I felt emboldened as I began to tell the countless stories of the many people I had come across while working on the sales floor. It was really quite surreal as the stories seemed to flow out from me as if I had rehearsed them before the meeting.
At one point, I could sense that those gathered around the table were on the edge of their seat and moved at what they were hearing. I remember seeing a few even begin to tear up as I was rattling off several experiences.
It was one of those moments to remember. I wonder if they had sensed it too?
“That’s it.” were two words that came confidently from one end of the table. “Just tell the story. That’s the campaign.”
And so we did. A few weeks later, I went back into that office, but this time, to enter the studio. Unscripted, we flipped the record switch and began telling stories.
But what happened on that one day? Sometimes we can get so overwhelmed with seeking the perspectives we think we need, when all along, its much simpler than that. The perspectives we thought we needed were merely based on the same old stuff. This is what we always do, so… let’s do it again. In other words, these are the building blocks and formulas for building a successful campaign. But, don’t you think that somewhere along the way, we lost sight of what a true campaign should look like?
I learned how to tell a story in first grade. Miss Britt had us all take turns reading from picture books in front of the class as they all sat on the floor in front of you.
Thirty years later, I learned how to surrender my anxieties in a board room as a still small voice spoke three words… “Tell them stories.”
In the process, a campaign was born and to this day, was the only campaign I ever remember people talking about.
But, to tell a story… you need a story. And, when you feel alone, know this… you are not alone.
There is power in those three words. So, live life to be a storyteller. We all have a story. Is anybody listening?
Yep! In a still small voice, He said… “Tell them stories.”
Three words and a cry for help.
And here I was thinking I was inadequate. I was trying to respond to the questions in a way I thought I was supposed to. I was never so wrong. God heard me that day and showed me that I did belong there and that I was the very opposite of inadequate. I just needed to be me. I just needed to be… a storyteller.
I wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t asked for help? Two words… train wreck.
I wonder what would happen if I lived life with my eyes and heart wide open to those around me?
3 words. So… tell me.