Honest and open stories

We are surrounded by stories.

We tell stories all the times. About ourselves, our family, our work, the situation we are in, what happened yesterday, the last weekend, the last time we went on vacation, our childhood, our adulthood. Others do as well, and so all we hear all day long, every day of the week, are stories.

Companies tell stories as well. The story of a company is sometimes more complicated, as it is a mixture of its values, products, customers, stakeholders, shareholders, and so on. There are, in general, more interests involved in the story of a company, yet that does not mean it is not a story.

As your exposure increases, and this is valid both for individuals and for companies, you progressively lose the grip on your story. Sometimes you might hear that somebody does not believe it, that they have a different version, that they have seen you do something that is not line with what you are narrating.

Facebook has for long time been the platform bringing people together. Its story was one of communality, of moments and likes, on sharing interests (and stories) with your friends and family. Nowadays, Facebook is the platform that has rigged elections in many countries, where hatred and fraud spread, and people with mean intentions can organise to easily find an audience.

Amazon has for long time been the best shop in the world. Its story was one of outstanding customer service, attention to details, low price and convenience. Nowadays, even though it is not remotely in as bad waters as Facebook (and other social media), we hear more and more about how it basically pays no taxes, how it devours every competitor in every market it chooses to enter, and how its CEO is the richest person in the world while its employees are sometimes overworked and strictly surveilled.

The more a story is told, the more its audience grows, the more the power of the person or the people telling it, the more it is difficult to believe it. It’s just how it is, and the only thing that you can do to attempt to mitigate this risk is being honest and open.

Honest, because the closer the story you are telling is to how things actually are, the easier it is to stay on its track. How do you behave when nobody’s watching? If your interest is in getting people together, why is your main source of revenue advertising?

Open, because in telling the story you need to be sensible of the people you are affecting. Is my story beneficial to my community? Am I willing to lose profit to address something that unexpectedly happened while I was living my story? Am I ready to quit, should the damage be too much?

Telling stories is complicated, and we don’t spend quite as much time as we should trying to define them.

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