Storytelling at work

The “new” job is less new every day — Friday marked seven months since I joined Blackbaud. (It is still awesome.)

Friday was also the first ever UX Day event at Blackbaud. It was a day filled with great talks about various aspects of user experience, and how everyone — not just practitioners — can benefit from learning more about UX principles. I was happy (and a little bit freaked out, in a good way) to be asked to give the keynote. As I was putting together my talk, here’s what I told the organizers I’d be talking about:

What can:

A Venetian boatman’s web-footed daughter,
talking animals,
Jesuits in space,
a storyteller with questionable ethics,
and a tiny red leaf

teach you about user experience?

Trust me, I’m telling you stories.

Fortunately, this worked for them and that’s the talk I got to give. I work with some really fantastic people.

If you are curious, you can grab this PDF version of my talk.

“real life is only one kind of life”

Are my stories true, you ask? No, they are imaginary tales, containing fantastic characters and events. In real life, a family doesn’t have a child who looks like a mouse; in real life, a spider doesn’t spin words in her web. In real life, a swan doesn’t blow a trumpet. But real life is only one kind of life — there is also the life of the imagination. And although my stories are imaginary, I like to think that there is some truth in them, too — truth about the way people and animals feel and think and act.

— E.B. White, in a letter to his young readers
[via Heading East]

Don’t truckle

This is the power of story, my friends — to ask us questions we can never answer right; to remind us of what we cannot bear to remember, to teach us what we cannot bear to know, and to make us fucking laugh right before we cry. To make us like it. To make us want to go back to the story well and do it all again.”

I am grateful Kelley Eskridge chooses to share so much on her blog.