By Janine Saunders, November 17th, 2010

Michael Margolis is the President of Get Storied, an education company that teaches people how to feel, think, and see in narratives. As an evangelist for storytelling and the creative process, Michael works with clients ranging from Audubon, Omnicom, and Zappos.com . Michael is also  author of Believe Me: a Storytelling Manifesto for Change-makers and Innovators, which is available as a complimentary digital download.
believe me

WorkBook Project: How do you see storytellers adapting to changes in authorship and the realities of a participatory culture?

Michael Margolis: Ownership is a false and outmoded concept. If you’re a Digital Native, you accept that everything you do online is recorded, and therefore shareable. You naturally borrow, adapt, and remix. Anyone who is creatively using the web, can’t help but recycle existing ideas, graphics, and concepts. It’s just inevitable. In a word of infinite knowledge, everything is a derivative in some fashion. We have to learn to let our egos get out of the way.

WBP: What are some of the interesting approaches that you’ve seen in regards to storytellers embracing these changes in authorship?

MM: Don’t get me wrong, we all deserve to be compensated for our hard work and efforts. What people will pay for is packaging the idea in a variety of formats, from freemium content to deluxe packages and premium experiences.

Especially if you’re trying to make a name for yourself. Since trust is low, you have to break through the noise and lower the risk of trying/experiencing your content. Musicians, book authors, and consultants all embrace this concept.

Consider the Gift Economy – which is a primal human instinct to offer gifts as the social lubricant of relationship building. In indigenous culture, gift economy is a demonstration of status and power. You are so confident and secure in your position, that you can share your bounty with others. That’s how you build and gather a tribe in today’s information overload environment. Give away something of high perceived value, and through familiarity and rapor – the money will follow.

WBP: In your opinion what’s the value of creating a personal brand and what’s the best way to go about it? Can you give us 5 things to consider?

MM: Perception is reality. You already have a personal brand: it’s called the stories that people tell about you. So whether you’re thinking about it or not, people are forming an impression in their mind as who you are, what you stand for, and what they share in common with you. Personal branding from a story perspective is about inviting people into relationship.

1. What do you want to be known for? (how can you embody that?)

2. What is your back story? (We want to know where you come from)

3. What are you willing to fight for? (People want to hear a point-of-view.)

4. What imperfections can you share? (quirks, vulnerability, make it real)

5. What myth or archetype do you embody (think of a persona others will relate to)

WBP: It’s been said that story will drive the next generation of social networking and app development can you explain why?

MM: We have entered the Age of Storytelling. Because in a era of infinite knowledge, we are struggling to find real meaning and understanding. As humans, narrative is how we make sense of things. Narrative is how we express ourselves. And narrative is how we connect with each other. There’s no accident that storytelling is a huge cultural meme reshaping the landscape of media and communications in all forms. There is a movement a foot to rehumanize business and culture. It’s no wonder our more basic human technology, storytelling is at the center of the equation.

WBP: What’s thing that you’ve learned the hard way that you wish someone would have told you?

MM: The old adage – that we teach what we need to learn most. In my case, storytelling is my medicine. My father is an inventor and my mother an artist – so living in a world of possibilities always came easy. I also grew up across many cultures, and in the process often felt lost in translation. As a social entrepreneur, I experienced my share of success and failure. Yet, I could never shake the feeling of being misunderstood. No wonder, I’ve devoted the past decade on decoding the role of narrative in our work and lives. Sort of like – we create the drama we seek. Yet, as I continue to imbibe my medicine, I not only heal myself, I heal the world. And thus take a few steps further in fulfilling my mission.

So, what’s the riddle you’re trying to solve? Get clear on what’s driving you forward, what fuels your curiosity and passion. There’s a new level of clarity that emerges when you learn how to shape the stories that shape you. We are no longer a victim of our own story. Instead we get to reinterpret the arc of our lives as we see fit. That’s the heart of reinvention.

WBP: Why the Reinvention Summit and why now?

MM: We’re in the midst of a dramatic shift. Just about everyone I know is in the midst of reinvention. redefining their careers, rethinking values, revitalizing an organization, or rebuilding community, etc…Talking with thousands of people over the past year, I discovered how reinvention is the new normal. The old assumptions of how the world worked are no longer true. For one, job security is an illusion. So why not follow your passion and live your truth? Unfortunately, most of us don’t have a vocabulary for how to navigate through the reinvention process, or translate that desire into a sustainable economic path.

Connect that with the power of storytelling and its ability to reinvent our world. Narrative is the fundamental language of reinvention. So we all need to learn and deepen our knowledge of narrative principles. That’s the intention behind the Reinvention Summit: 2-weeks, 32 sessions, 400 participants, who all believe that story is core to their work and mission.

We’re gathering a new tribe of storytellers: change-makers, marketers, creatives, innovators, and seekers – who see storytelling as fundamental to their work and mission. And in the process, the Summit is breaking out of the silos  - exploring the role of narrative across a range of topics: branding, marketing, social change, community building, transmedia, career development, spiritual growth, social media, and more. Its a bold experiment to expand the discussion and re-story possiblities.

Hope you’re readers decide to join us, they can still register and join midstream. Sessions are also all recorded for playback. www.reinventionsummit.com/program

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Janine Saunders is a producer, media collaborator, and DJ living in NYC.  She has worked as a producer since a very early age, in music, video and publishing. She has worked closely with writer/ documentarian/ graphic novelist Douglas Rushkoff, and directed and edited Life Inc: The Movie.

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