On a recommendation, I’ve been reading Jonah Sach’s Winning the Story Wars. While it’s ostensibly about marketing/advertising, which interests me not, I was intrigued by the possibilities to understand stories from a different perspective. I was surprised to find that it offered much more.
The book does cover the history of advertising, going through some classic examples of old-style advertising, and using some surprisingly successful examples to elicit a new model. Some personal stories and revelations make this more than a conceptual treatise.
The core premise is turning your customer into a potential hero of an important journey. You play the role of the mentor, providing the magic aid for them to accomplish a goal that they know they need, but for a variety of reasons may have avoided. The journey is motivated from core values, a feature that resonates nicely with my personal quest for using technology to facilitate wisdom.
The book also provides, as one of the benefits, a nice overview of story, particularly the hero’s journey as synthesized by Joseph Campbell across many cultures and time periods. If you find Campbell a tough read, as many do, this is a nicely digested version. It talks in sensible ways about the resistance, and trials, and ultimate confrontation.
The obvious focus is on new way to build your brand, tapping into higher purpose, not the more negative fears of inadequacy. So this book is valuable for those looking to market in a higher way. And I do intend to rethink the Quinnovation site as a consequence. But I suggest there’s more.
The notion of the individual being offered the opportunity to play a transformative role seems to be a useful framing for learning. We can, and should, be putting learners in meaningful practice roles, and those roles can be coming from learners’ deep motivators. One of the heuristics in learning game design is Henry Jenkins’ “put the player in a role they’d like to be in”. This provides a deeper grounding, put the learner in a role they aspire to be in.
I think this book provides not only practical marketing advice, but also guidance for personal journeys and learning. I think that the perspective of designing stories and roles that are based on personal values to be a great opportunity to do better design. I haven’t completely finished it yet, but I’ve already found enough value in the majority of it to recommend it to you.