Interview Date: 12/24/2017

The Creation of a Personal Story

When did your story begin?  It took time for me to develop an idea that answered a personal question for me.  I discovered that I couldn’t find the answer on my own and it was through an insight mentioned by a personal friend that brought me to the idea personal stories are meaningful. Bringing the scope of this idea into a business format took a few years longer.

With help from others, I realized trainers, outreach organizations, private companies, non-profits, churches, state and local government all had a strong desire to reach out to the public.  I learned that is was not enough to be remembered by having a catch phrase, the public needed something personal to relate with that meaningfully captured the reason for the organizations’ purpose.

The idea of Branding is changing from the impersonal to a new way to say to others, here is my history and here is my value.  For example: no longer was it enough to say “I work repairing elevators” now, one could say, “I help provide the vertical transportation for the day’s ups and downs.”  I don’t know where it began but no longer was it enough to hear about the “real thing.”  Now the interest was about knowing what the “real thing” was and measuring what was authentic to individualistic personal values.

In many ways, moving to New Orleans and meeting the people and the culture of change was a big step.  I soon realized that the great storms and floods had done more to shape an indelible history and change the ideology of people than did wars, social or political trends could.  I saw through others examples how hard it was to establish continuity when whole sections of community were wiped out and had to be rebuilt.

Ideology became focused on traditionalism and family became centered on the importance of food and its preparation.  Family roots were frequently torn up and replanted and its frequency was dictated by how severe a storm was blowing through.  Yet, somehow the history and beauty of the cityscape survived.

The energy of re-branding in creative ways became the community’s strength.  This was an intrinsic part of the heritage.  A personal story has a great advantage of uniquely capturing the imagination of the audience and for gaining personal meaning.  Our personal life’s journey is an enrichment that tells something that others relate to.

It effects change.

Our attitudes and feelings change, it effects us in ways that are either personal, family or in our community.  Writing a successful personal story can be elusive, more importantly everybody has a story that is a journey about choices and travel that relates and becomes our “brand.”  Discovering the brand by looking at relationships in a personal story becomes the vehicle for learning and change.

What are you doing today that is different from expectations?

I chose to break from the traditional roles I previously took of support staff and data reporting to move into a leadership role of writing grants for corporate, private or government entities and by providing story telling interviews that support branding and social media.  In the nonprofit industry it is so important to have a complete and well rounded composite that describes the need of what cause the organization is supporting.

To me a successful outcome and goal is the interviewing and providing compelling stories.  I have begun to do this with more frequency as I connect with others who also see the need for developing this.  I have made many refinements with each experience because the interviews become personal messages that emerge from the story.  It’s very exciting.

When the team I developed around me introduced me to volunteering and networking, I became more personally involved with community need.  As a result I have a well of resources to draw from for inspiration.  In the beginning I would say oddly enough that my community became involved with me when I began to work for a hardware store.

In searching for work, I walked in one day to a hardware store and they hired me for one of their stores in Metairie and eventually I transferred to their main store located in New Orleans. And that began a new career and also my knowledge of housing upkeep, locks, key replicating, plumbing and electrical repair.

What I didn’t understand then was that I was also immersing myself into a very important field.  It was also an important experience for me personally of study.  I discovered all the homes here needed hardware and knowledgeable experts to keep them going.  Here people’s homes, the greatest concentration of in any single area that usually exceeded 100 years, needed extensive maintenance to keep them going.

How important was a hardware store to the community?  Without fail, people whose occupational backgrounds included lawyers, football players, petroleum engineers, doctors, movie stars and all manner of social strata came into the store with a common goal.  For me as a former research analyst, this was a fascinating opportunity to study a community of people putting aside differences for a space a time all together under one roof.  I have never stopped appreciating and learning something new about my community and they in turn have appreciated me.

I look retrospectively of my family sphere and professional colleagues and I begin to see how each has brought me new philosophies, ideas and motivations to my life.   By extension we have an opportunity to be present in everyone we come into contact with.  I am a salesman of myself as we are all that way in life.  I would like to see something of myself that is involved in helping others in my community in a meaningful way.  With my dear friends I can be myself and really shine and my friends in turn all show me something of themselves that ‘imprint’ onto me and I realize I can be a better person.