Telling a Story
My roommate in college went through the extremely bureaucratic process of designing her own major. After much research she chose to study: “The Narrative: The Art of Storytelling.” It was a combination of history, comparative literature, and social studies. Her goal was to map the way in which historians, technologists, and artists frame their impact. The types of impact she studied varied - leadership, product, and revolution.
Spending four years of precious college time to study the ambiguous “narrative” did not make much sense back then, but it does now. More than ever. Storytelling and the framing of one’s narrative, both in one’s personal and professional life, is crucial. In venture capital, especially, an entrepreneur can have the best product in the market but without a narrative to frame his/her thinking (i.e. why he/she chose the space, how the product will transform the market in the future, and who will become the staunch competitor) — the company is stale.
Steve Jobs was my generation’s greatest storyteller, and talked us into the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. He gave us prologues to life-changing narratives, and then let his products do the talking. Apple products have the simplest and most compelling story lines. Short, but captivating.
Jobs and Apple continue to remind us that narratives command enormous importance in the technology landscape. The best companies start with a strong narrative, that in turn builds the foundation to a stronger product.
Does your product have a story?