What’s Going On
Storytellers Channel is Morphing
Nine years ago, last Tuesday, nine storytellers took to Richmond Triangle Players’ stage to tell stories that mattered to them to an audience of family and friends. Throughout the evening, I heard comments like, “I didn’t know what this was. The wife said, ‘Come’ and here I am. This is fun.” Or “Who do you know?” By the time the evening was over, everyone knew everybody better than when they had arrived. Strangers were now a community. So much so, that we had to make people leave the theater. No one wanted the evening to end.
From that delightful evening, I convinced myself a business could be built. I would ‘clone’ myself and 36 video-production units would create enough content to populate a cable channel dedicated to everyday folks sharing stories that mattered to them with the nation 24 hours a day 365 days a year.
Right before the pandemic we were asked to submit a proposal to a distributor. We arranged a team to raise the funding we would need. And we had a clear plan we believed we could execute to achieve our dream. By the time the pandemic had become endemic the opportunity had evaporated.
A CEO’s job is to be realistic, and the reality is we are back at the beginning.
We’re going to pivot. We’re going to focus on finding and sharing stories of how people use story to lead. Specifically, as it impacts the culture of families, communities, and businesses. Leaders don’t just lead at work. They have responsibilities at home and in their communities as well.
In the interval between my 20 years in the theatre and our starting The Storytellers Channel, Inc. I worked as a consultant. I’m going to bring those skills to the table to listen to family, community, and business leaders and share their stories with you. Sometimes I’ll tell the stories myself and sometimes we’ll hear them from the source.
Where will we hear them?
Starting Friday January 6, 2023, I will be hosting an hour-long show on the International Business Growth Radio Network. IBGR.network is the #1 international, internet radio network. In addition, the show will be distrusted as a podcast commencing shortly after the initial airing.
Our other projects, the Hearts Afire Storytelling Series, the Mountain Mac Virginia Liars Contest, The Poe Project, and Speaking Truth to Power: Gayle Turner Tells Stories of Moses are all in a holding pattern as we evaluate our resources: personnel, time, and funding.
I will continue publishing the newsletter, as well, I will begin publishing content on social media to solicit inquiries relating to our consulting with senior management and Boards of Directors about how story impacts organizational performance. The anecdote, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” comes to mind.
Stay tuned for redemptive stories of how leaders lead. Even the most mundane situations can be riveting when people’s livelihoods are at stake.
“Stories constitute the single most powerful weapon in a leader’s arsenal.”― Dr. Howard Gardner
Growing up I wanted to be The Boss. My dad was The Boss and I wanted to be just like him. I wanted to give orders and have people obey. It’s not an uncommon mistake. Many people believe being in charge means telling others what to do.
I admit, there’s a self-centered part of this equation. But mainly, I just thought, ‘I knew better.’ It may have been true. And just as my dad was very paternalistic, I’m sure I thought I was taking care of all of us.
But the driving force was gaining recognition for my accomplishments. In the language of archetypes, I was a warrior striving to prove my worth, my value.
This modus operandi culminated in a conflict with the Board of Directors of the theater company I led. It resulted in my leaving to take over another more prestigious theater where I lost everything. I wound up living in a basement in less than two years.
My most obvious mistake had been assuming the success of the organization was due to me and not the team we had built. The second egregious mistake had been failing to understand that becoming a leader meant assuming responsibility for those in my charge.
My dad used to tell me an officer’s first responsibility is to take care of his men. I understood this on a surface level. I made sure their needs were met before mine. They were paid before I was. I executed my responsibilities in a perfunctory manner, but below the surface it was about my being a star.
During the period after my fall from glory, I began to focus on the idea of servant leadership at a foundational level. Over these past 30+ years, I’ve grown to see serving in a leadership role for what it is; an opportunity to serve. Not for glory or recognition, but for the satisfaction of hopefully being not a part of the problem, but a part of the solution.
I strive to ignite hope, establish security, become worthy of trust and to exhibit compassion in my decisions and my actions.
Looking back on my younger self, it’s understandable I misunderstood what it meant to be a leader. It’s a common mistake. That said, I shake my head when I realize that although I learned so much about leading by watching and emulating my dad, I missed the crucial ingredient of humility.
It’s taken innumerable defeats before that simple concept was revealed in a manner that I could understand it.
I quote Peter Senge when I say leaders only do three things: they initiate and sustain change and they grow leaders.
I hope I can depart the value of humility as defined by Richard Forest as “Living as close to the truth as possible. The truth about yourself, the truth about others, and the truth about the world we live in.”
As I read back over this I thought, “Is that all you’ve got offer?”
After a moment, I thought, “That’s about it. Take care of the people in your charge. Not for your sake, but theirs. And do it staying a close to the truth as you can.”
Not a grand a revelation, but one that transformed my life.
I’d Love to Hear from You
Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving.
We’ve entered Advent. Enjoy the anticipation of Christmas.
Reach out to me if you have any redemptive stories of men and women bringing hope, establishing, or maintaining stability, leading transparently with compassion.
Til next time,