SVN Workshop – Telling Your Story

Posted by | April 08, 2011 | General | 2 Comments

SVN‘s Spring Member Gathering convenes socialprenuers from for-profit and non-profit enterprises who are working to change the world.

The morning workshop I attended today was offered by Peter Forbes & Ginny McGinn Co-Directors of the Center for Whole Communities on Telling your Story.  Ginny described her defining moment in storytelling, which happened while she and her husband were working for Odwalla in 1996 when a young girl died from an e-coli contamination in Odwalla juice in Colorado.  In response to this, Ginny and her husband had to travel around the country pulling product from the shelves.  They found it most effective to tell their personal story with the Odwalla Company & brand to their distributors/trade partners in order to maintain the company’s relationship with these stakeholders.

Quoting Ursula Guin, Peter said, “many great societies did not use the wheel, but there are no societies that did not tell stories.”  One of Peter’s goals is to help people be more intentional in their use of stories to connect us to each other and to connect people to our work.  Peter is a photographer who’s interested in our connection to the land and each other.  He says that understanding our story can help us to lovingly transform it or to fully occupy it.  Learning our story enables connection, it enables us to paint a picture of the future that people want to go towards, and it helps people see one another, fear one another less, reduce boundaries, connect & transcend.  (Who wouldn’t want that?!)

Peter emphasized that when we’re trying to create change and products that build relationships, we have to explain what our dream is.  Stories reach beyond differences and grab and unite us.  He encouraged us to ask ourselves, “Who am I really?”  “What is my purpose?”  “Who is my tribe?”  “Who are we & where are we going?”

Stories in which others cannot see themselves will not affect them; you must be able to touch others to be effective.  Currently, the really successful social movements are not about one person or one location.  Rather, they are about groups of people and their stories, such as the work being done by, which provides a great example of an organization utilizing the power of storytelling to create social change.

Jeff also acknowledged that stories can be used for good or evil, as addressed by the TED Talk given by Chimamanda Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story:

Consider what’s more important, your brand or its story.  What’s more important, your story or how you tell it?  For your message to be heard it must be compelling to your audience; only then will they be moved to act.

About Lara

Lara Pearson is a trademark attorney with Exemplar, where she also serves as the firm's Sustainability Steward. Lara's legal practice focuses on trademark and copyright law, including: intellectual property audits; trademark search & clearance; trademark and copyright registration & maintenance; intellectual property transfers; transactional work; and dispute resolution, including litigation when necessary. Lara primarily represents other social enterprises -- those leveraging their businesses and brands as catalysts for positive social and environmental change. Such businesses engage in CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) to have a positive "triple bottom line" of people, planet and profit. As Exemplar's Sustainability Steward, Lara works with others in her law firm to measure and reduce the firm's carbon emissions and encourage engagement in social responsibility initiatives, including pro bono legal work and volunteering. Lara is a proud member of the Social Venture Network. Brand Geek is a member of 1% for the Planet and a Certified B Corporation, whose Incline Village office is certified under the regional Keep the Sierra Green program. Exemplar Companies is the most innovative professional services firm in the New Economy. Our unique, diversified expertise spans the disciplines of corporate law, business advisory, and capital/investment banking to better meet the needs of our high-potential customers. We have assembled a comprehensive suite of service to meet the complex issues facing companies in today’s challenging business environment. Our unique, holistic approach ensures the growth and success – and greatly increases the competitive advantage - of our customers. The Exemplar team is comprised of knowledgeable, highly skilled experts in a wide range of industries and disciplines. They work closely with our customers to provide trusted advice, incomparable support, expert guidance and the ultimate competitive advantage as they accelerate their businesses and position themselves to transform industries.


  • Jennifer says:

    In this video Chimamanda expressed the consequences of the single story, a misleading story that can negatively affects a readers opinions of something they are not familiar with. I think people often forget the power of story telling and how persuasive it can be when talking about an idea, impact, or opinion. I especially liked when the woman said it is not about the story, but rather how you tell the story. That is very important for speakers to distinguish. For social ventures especially, story telling can be their means of communication to volunteers, donators, businesses, government, or other individuals relevant to the sustainability of the organizations future. Overall, storytelling can be a successful portal for messages to be heard and impact able.

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