Why I got Started
Only with divine intervention did I discover the rich mother lode of story material that surrounds us. One Sunday I was listening to Reverend Dr. Dale Kent explain the parable of the talents: God gives everyone a talent, and He expects each of us to use it to the best of our ability. As I was nodding in agreement, I noticed an amazing by-product of that familiar story—interest. People who had been nodding off or daydreaming were suddenly attentive. Even though they knew the story and its ending, still they listened. In a flash, I understood that people like stories and will listen to them. I realized right then and there that “Let me tell you a story . . . .” could be an irresistible invitation.
What a great way of communicating, I thought. Why can’t we use storytelling in our company, Armstrong International, Inc.? I loved the idea of telling a story to get a point across. People have always done it. Storytelling pre-dates written languages. Cave men told stories recapping their hunting triumphs by painting pictures on cave walls. Native Americans told stories to pass along their culture from one generation to the next. Mountain folks told stories to entertain family and friends. Jesus was a master storyteller. The fact that hundreds of millions of people around the globe still read his stories and parables speaks volumes about the endurance of stories and storytelling. Right there in church, I decided we would tell stories in our company. We’d tell stories about our goals and objectives. We would use stories to explain our core values and share our vision of the future. We’d even celebrate our victories with stories.
I started telling stories at Armstrong immediately and, as I had hoped, storytelling turned out to be an amazingly effective form of communication. Rules, either in policy manuals or on signs can be inhibiting. But the morals in stories are invariably inviting, fun and inspiring. Thanks to storytelling, our people have a very clear understanding of what Armstrong stands for. And what we won’t stand for.