Tuesday, October 25th, 2011
I was at a wedding this past weekend. The happy couple kissed. The dancing began. And soon enough it was toast time. One by one friends and family took the microphone to pay tribute to the bride and groom. And one by one those loving tributes turned into beautiful disasters. Still, everyone was in a good mood and laughed off the hot messes who were doing their best to fete the happy couple. After all, you’re allowed a certain amount of slack at a wedding. But when you fail to get your story straight when the stakes are higher—say, at a job interview—the consequences are often much worse. That’s part of the reason I’ve taken the short story form into the work world, both in my Six@Work sessions at company’s and staff retreats, and as a teacher at The Hired Guns Academy.
As the editor of SMITH, I think a lot about what makes a good story. And as I watched the Six-Word Memoir project turn into such a powerful force for short, poignant storytelling—from classrooms and boardrooms to Veteran’s groups and youth groups—I realized just how effective parameters can be. Among the many surprising places my love of short, personal storytelling has taken me is into school settings. I’ve been a guest speaker in classrooms of every description, and for the past few years I’ve been teaching “What’s Your Story?,” at The Hired Guns. “What’s Your Story?” is about getting to the essence of your story in the work setting, sort of like a personal elevator pitch. The next class is this Thursday, October 27 in New York City. Hired Guns classes are among the most unique I’ve ever encountered: they’re interactive, intensely useful, and end with a cocktail party. Check out The Hired Guns for more details.