The Story Economy Blog

Single Source of Truth: Good for Content Strategy, Tough for Life


When I’m not writing essays about how I realized my daily glass of wine wasn’t so great, stories about teenage YouTubers, or books about honesty, I help hospitals figure out their web content.

I spent a few days last week with the marketing team of a large hospital system that is developing a new website and needs a new content strategy. I was there with the agency I’m partnering with on the project, and we had wonderful discussions with stakeholders who are frustrated with the sprawling untidiness of the content, but have very little time to take a step back and assess.

I heard the same thing over and over: We are working ad-hoc, which is making us crazy. What we really need is a single source of truth.

The idea of a single source of truth is an important concept in marketing and content strategy, and marketers use this term to talk about how data is stored or which analytics measures will be used to determine the success of a particular campaign. Single source of truth is also about content governance, as in, these are the business objectives we all agree on, and this is the strategy we will use to make sure each page of content is working toward those objectives. Each content decision is aligned and fits neatly inside a hierarchy and a defined process.

It’s a bit of a puzzle to figure out, but fortunately for me, I like content puzzles like this because they tap into the analytical part of me that is obsessed with record-keeping and list-making. So I know that I can help them get to that single source of truth for their content.

But I’m not so sure about getting to the single source of truth in, you know, life. Having just written a book about honesty, I’m slightly obsessed with truth right now. Hence, I’ve been thinking about what my personal single source of truth is.

My first instinct was to say my single source of truth is my family. But then I remembered how I spent the bulk of the last chapter of the book pulling apart the narrative I had constructed about my place in my family, and about how family is really nothing but narratives we construct based on feelings and experiences. The metrics for measuring anything in a family are terrible. The love is true. But the data is questionable, and tends to be riddled with blind spots.

Everything I thought of—a personal mission statement, a list of core values—they are all interesting and important, but none seems to have the weight or certainty of a single source of truth.

Life is just ad-hoc, isn’t it? Every day, we’re making it up. Or at least I am. I believe that I have a strong moral compass, but as for some kind of governance that keeps me singularly focused on a key objective? Um, no. My objectives change every hour. Which I don’t perceive as a problem, but rather, as a healthy way to live, because it means I’m able to react as things happen and create experiences I never would have imagined inside of any kind of “strategy.”

Rather than thinking we can access the “one” source of truth, I think it’s far more helpful to consider how we come to know what is true inside of any interaction or experience.

This is all to say: content is much easier than life!

PS. The picture is from my wonderful trip to San Diego with my 11-year-old son last weekend. It may not represent a single source of truth, but it does represent the purest essence of my kid’s personality: too close to the edge but more aware of it than it appears, and thinking hard about something but probably in a way others don’t think about it.


Book Giveaway!


I’m giving away a copy of my new book, WOULD I LIE TO YOU? THE AMAZING POWER OF BEING HONEST IN A WORLD THAT LIES . . . and a copy of Camille Pagán’s wonderful novel, I’M FINE AND NEITHER ARE YOU.

Both books are about my favorite topic: Honesty! My book is a non-fiction exploration of what it means to live a more honest life and be more honest with your spouse, and Camille’s features a husband and wife who decide to try being more honest with each other to improve their marriage.

The giveaway ends on FRIDAY, JANUARY 31 at 5:00 p.m. EST.

Click through to my Instagram post to see the rules and to enter!


Hear Me Talk with Podcast Host Matt D’Elia

I got the chance to be interviewed by Matt D’Elia, host of the podcast Matt D’Elia is Confused. Matt is a likeminded contrarian and as (charmingly!) neurotic as me about truth and lies. We had a really fun and meandering conversation. Listen here.


Want to Order the Book?

To order the book, follow these links to buy it at your preferred bookseller, including the audiobook (which I narrated). The library is a terrific option too. If your library doesn’t have it, recommend they purchase it.


Order through IndieBound


Order through Amazon


Order through Barnes & Noble


Next Cincinnati Book Event

My next event will be at The Bookshelf, an independent bookstore that is just down the street from my house. This is a little gem of a bookstore and I am so excited about having an event right here in my community!

It will be Sunday, February 9th from 2:00 – 4:00 pm. More details to follow!


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