Life as a Story

Over the past few months, Godin’s All Marketers are Liar’s blog (for/about his upcoming new book) has gotten me thinking recently what my mindset would be like if I lived life like it was a story:

  • Characters, plot, tension, resolution. The arc, baby. You’re always trying to figure out all of those.
  • When things go wrong, it’s because your story isn’t going as expected.
  • When you can control your story, you’re happy.
  • If people identify your story, they can use it:
    • They can predict what your character will like and do in response to plot-twists.
    • They can predict where your plot is going and cash in on that foreknowledge.
    • They can do things to make you happy because they’re furthering your story.
    • They can realize they don’t like your story, and stop reading it.
  • You can realize you dislike your story and — if you can figure out how — switch over to a new one. At the very least, you can start a new volume with a different plot after wrapping up your current novel.

Sure, that’s kind of corny, but it seems to make a good tool for metaphorically thinking of things.

Whichard's Blogging Theorem

I’m always happy to see someone’s company-blogging light bulb off, especially in such detail.

Everyone knows that Brandon likes the weblogs, company-internal and otherwise. After having our internal blogs at BMC for awhile (1, 2), and getting some positive results from them, he came up with what I call Whichard’s Bloggin Theorem:

The number of people who read a weblog matters much less than who reads a weblog.

Put one way, in addition to all the benefits Marion points out, blogs are a supra-effective tool for internal marketing. And if you don’t think that’s important, you must work for the perfect company.

I’m an instant-evangelist for anything I like — booze, blogs, Apple products, etc. — so I tell everyone at work about our internal blogs: not just about them, but that they need to post to them. Many of them have the same reaction: “Yeah, I created an account. But only a couple people seem to post to them.”

The Blackhole

There’s either one of two perceptions: (1.) it’s not worth it posting to the blogs, or, (2.) the blogs are just the toy of a select groups of people. But then, Whichard’s Blogging Theorem comes in, and all bets are off.

There’re several high-level people who read the blogs, all NewsGator’ed up to suck down the RSS feeds every 30-60 minutes. If an idea starts at the bottom, it can instantly get high up into the management stratosphere.

We call this effect “The Blackhole.” You know, there’s all those movies where you can leap countless light years in space by zipping through a blackhole or wormhole (the second would probably be better, but the first is what’s stuck).

Linking to the New

But, back to internal marketing. In hooking up all these types of things at work — wiki, blog, Google mini powered search — I’ve found that the most effective way to advertise it’s presence is to somehow broadcast, essentially, ads into the traditional internal collab-space: email lists, the intranet site, etc.

That’s an obvious rule-of-thumb, but the take-away is that the early majority needs a bridge to new collab-applications. You can’t ask/expect all those people to jump a huge chasm between existing apps and new apps: you’ve gotta connect them together with a few links.

The problem with that, of course, is that different people often control the two ends of the bridge. The new stuff is usually all DIY: someone had a spare server, so they just install a wiki, a blog, or a build/development site. These folks don’t have access to dump links in all those traditional sites.

There seems to be a boot-strapping problem, as ever. Then again, if you’re in this sport, why not test the “theory of just asking,” and fire off an email or phone call?