Nagging doubt about the story thing

Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

Seth Godin has done his usual excellent job of provoking thought with All Marketers are Liars. He seems to have a knack for taking an idea dramatising it, and packaging it in a way that gets people thinking and talking. He writes really sharply. And, as ever, people are busy making their own meanings out of what he says.

I wish I could put my finger on what it is about this that troubles me. I have this sense that something is missing here. And I’m not sure if it’s about what Seth says or what others are saying he says.

It might be this: an awful lot of storytelling is done after the event. Stories rationalise action. If they are great stories, they sometimes provoke action, setting in train some more actions which will later be post-hoc rationalised as another story. Somewhere in this, there has to change and surprise (otherwise, it’s not much of story).

But if the aim of the storytelling is to conform to an established world view, where’s the surprise? Somehow it feels like storytelling is being reduced to a calculated exercise in getting people to do things. Somehow that feels undynamic to me and lacking in the disruptive, unreasonable persistence of many entrepreneurs. The way some people are parsing Seth, the element of disruption and risk taking is getting lost in favour of what feels a bit paradigm-sustaining, rather than paradigm-changing. Find out what people think and recycle it to them with a bit of flourish. Where’s the author’s own passionate world view – the risk taking?

I was thinking about this reading Evelyn’s post about the writer who took Einstein’s brain on a journey. Did he set out to identify a valuable market niche… or did he act on impulse? My hunch is that he followed an impulse.

Does this make some sort of sense? Comments, brickbacks, sarcastic remarks welcome.

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