I had a very interesting experience last week. It was both disappointing and exciting. It turned out to be a great learning experience. And it turns out to be a nice wrap-up of this current series.
I’ve often heard the staff at Footwasher Media say, “We want to work with companies that want to change the world.” I never really thought about what that actually means. I always thought, “Yeah, ok, every company wants to change the world, or they wouldn’t be selling their stuff.” My experience this week changed my mind and showed me what “world changers” are and what they do.
I met with a potential sponsor regarding a series of content surrounding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly referred to as Obamacare.
This potential sponsor has a series of products that could be leveraged to save individuals money when this program comes in to full effect. (In the interest of fair disclosure I have not read PPACA, and I don’t know if the products actually save money), but my instinct was to tell the complete story of PPACA from multiple angles. I wanted to look at it from the eyes of an average family of 4, home health care providers, Medicaid supplement providers, lawyers, tax professionals, etc, and position this provider as a thought leader on this entire subject. We could have exposed the product to multiple markets that he had not even considered.
After multiple discussions it became clear that the potential sponsor wanted some content that simply said “Here’s my product, buy it.” There was no interest in going deeper and telling the entire story. I was disappointed that the discussions didn’t go further, but I was very excited, because I finally “got” what the term “world-changing companies” meant, and why some people don’t want to tell their story.
I have often wondered why anyone wouldn’t want to tell their story. My experience this week is a perfect illustration that some people are happy selling their product, widget, gadget, gizmo, etc. whatever it may be. It really doesn’t matter what they’re selling, because if they weren’t selling “that” they’d be selling “something else” and they’re perfectly happy making their numbers and taking home a check (in some cases a very large check). They don’t love what they do. They love the money that comes with it or the rewards that it buys, but they don’t wake up excited to tackle a challenge and make lives better. They’re not out to change the world, and they probably don’t even know it.
Then there are others who are interested in changing the world. Their customers may not even know they need the product, but it’s your job to tell the entire story and explain to them why they need it. You see world changers want to tell their whole story, not because it helps them hit the numbers, but simply because whatever they’re working on is exciting to talk about. World changers could talk to you about their work for hours, and not even know the time has passed.
I saw a touching interview this week of Ron Fournier, Editorial Director of the National Journal. In the interview Ron relayed several stories from a road trip he took with his son Tyler, who has Asperger’s Syndrome. One of the stories he told was of a meeting between his son and former president Bill Clinton. Both Tyler and Clinton are passionate about Teddy Roosevelt. The two had a discussion about Roosevelt, and before long Clinton went on a monologue for 10 minutes and didn’t realize the boy had moved on to something else. Later, Ron asked his son what he thought of the meeting and Tyler responded, “He talks a lot about the stuff he really likes.” This is my point, when you talk about something your passionate about, you should get lost in it.
I realize I’m using a lot of terms and phrases we’ve all heard before, like, world changers, thought leaders, inspiration, and it dawned on me that some people will read this and won’t really “get” what I’m talking about. I know, because even though I’ve heard these words a million times before, I never really “got it” until last week. If you’re not excited and inspired by what you’re doing; if it’s more about the numbers and what you get, than how it serves people and changes lives: if you don’t want to talk about it for hours on end, then you're probably not a world changer.
If you're an inspired world changer, and you have an urge to tell your story right now, leave a comment below, we'd love to hear all about it... and maybe help you tell it better.