It was springtime. Friends and the Rachel cut, was a huge hit when and I started working for an international magazine as a junior rep.
It was so exciting to be surrounded by brilliant writers and ad people sashaying down the halls wearing gorgeous designer suits. I’d only ever worked with engineers, techies and buttoned up consultants before so my wardrobe was well, modest.
That didn’t bug me though because I was eager to learn the biz and anyway, no one pays much attention to the new junior.
My first week launched with departmental intros and training - it was a boot camp style initiation into publishing. That’s when I met the director of research, Linda. She was there to show me how we gathered numbers to better understand our markets.
Fascinated, and because I’m a bit nerdy, I asked WAY more questions than she expected - the twinkle in her eye let me know she was more than fine answering.
As we went back and forth, and as I later became better skilled at analyzing numbers and presenting them to clients I learned - almost by accident - one very important thing...
Numbers don’t sell. Not really. The people who make up those numbers (and their stories), that’s what sells. They’re the star, the numbers are there for scenery, like extras in the background.
Big clients, like Apple, and smaller clients alike signed the dotted line because of well presented stories. In fact, Apple is known for their phenomenal storytelling in ads, in stores and on stage. They don’t just sell, they tell.
Linda taught me to look beyond data and interpret what the data means. She didn’t have a sales or marketing background but she was adept in understanding people, their behavior and the significance of it all. From Linda, I learned that stats and graphs and charts tell a story about someone, somewhere.
In a few short years, I went from junior, to senior and then executive by using Story as strategy. New directions, presentations, negotiations, there wasn't one scenario where story didn't fit.
If I can offer you one piece of advice it’s this...sell stories not products because stories rally in a better future and everyone, from boardroom to bedroom wants that.