Tell Me a Story…


After the relief of receiving her high school diploma in 1967, Carmi’s next thought was, “Now what?” Her friend said, “College,” so Carmi did that and four years later, with degree in hand, she thought, “Now what?” And then, “Work.”

So, she did that, not knowing that every few years, when she sensed an invisible wall being built or a window closing, she would think, “Now what,” and something interesting would happen. Carmi had no sense of the map for this work journey, but she became a seasoned traveler. While on the road, she had pitched her tent in ten work territories and held 15 different jobs.

One day, more than four decades later, just as the daffodils started to peek through the old, brown leaves on the ground, Carmi knew that “Now what?” was not just a question thrown out to the universe. It was a call from deep inside, something she would answer with her own map, with joy and confidence. And so she embarked.

*         *         *

And that, dear Reader, is my first story that I’m sharing with you in my last post as a GovLoop guest blogger. “Carmi” is me (and the name of a dear aunt), and I did not know until I wrote this how “Now what?” worked like a genie with a magic lantern. Behind that question is my personal and professional need to keep learning, growing, contributing and blooming in new gardens.

Thank you, GovLoop, for making this discovery possible.

If you’re not already familiar with the idea, I encourage you to consider how telling stories (fact-based, please) might help you connect with those you are trying to influence. As many years as I’ve spent in communications, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit I was not really aware of this concept as a best practice. Then, my career coach pointed me to Andy Goodman, who helps organizations, as he says, win hearts and minds.

But first…win the heart. People are human and respond to the human condition…to something they can identify with…rather than to numbers. If you’re coaxing your agency to make data-driven decisions, this seems like a turnabout. Goodman, though, suggests capturing the heart and, while it’s quivering in your hand, shoot a couple of compelling data points into the mind to bring it all home.

What a lucky guy to have a last name like “Goodman”! His training and publications are available for a cost, but his regular emails and online archive are free for you to browse and use. We’re going to attend online training over the next month, and I’m interested to see how we can improve our connections with citizens. I think adding a bit of storytelling will perk up my own writing and personal communications.

As my GovLoop journey ends, I want to thank the administrators, editors and all the contributors in our online community. You made something interesting happen.

Toni Messina is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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