The Story Economy Blog

The Story of How Judi Made a Video

I’ve been waiting for weeks to share something with you: my new video! It’s live on my home page (tucked neatly into my header), and on YouTube. Making this video was very exciting and different for me. There was no way I was just going to do something ordinary. Instead, I do cartwheels, sprinkle pixie dust, knock things over, and hold up signs I made (I learned to decoupage!).

But of course, there is more to the story. There’s always more to the story. In fact, my next video should be about the rest of the story of making this video about storytelling, because it led to a crazy cool insight.

 The Story Behind the Story

This is how it went: I was inspired by Danielle LaPorte’s Credo For Making it Happen, and I wanted to do the Judi version of that. So I wrote a script for the video, and concepted how I wanted it to look.

In my head, it was going to be something between Danielle’s straight-talking high energy stuff and Feist’s quirky rendition of 1, 2, 3, 4 on Sesame Street (but without the furry creatures). It was going to be funky, quirky, urban, bold, energetic, and—of course—credo-like.

I reviewed what I wanted with my fantastic videographer, Bob Mills. (I say “my” like I own him, but I was lucky to book his time, because the dude is amazingly talented and in demand.) I told him about the location I found, the props I was bringing and the ideas I had for scenes and B-roll. “Yeah, absolutely we can do that,” he said.

And then, once on location, he took one look at this tall African grass and planted his tripod. The grass? Really? What about the river and the concrete and the funky sculptures? Shouldn’t I be shouting from atop a giant rock or something?

But he had a look in his eye. Girl, get yourself in the grass. Trust me.

So I made a path into the grass, started doing my script, and something happened. The grass started to sway in the breeze. Subtly. Gracefully. Quietly. But in a way that you couldn’t not notice.

That swath of grass was exactly where I belonged in that moment. It so perfectly illustrated my brand and how I work. I’m not quirky or funky or loud or boldly energetic. Actually, I am those things—in my head, and in some of my life choices (no one would ever accuse my husband and me of doing things “normally”).

But I don’t read as those things. They’re not my brand. It’s not a matter of whether or not I can pull off Danielle LaPorte. It’s that I’m actually not her. But I can 100 percent pull off me.

After that, nothing about making the video felt weird or forced—which allowed me to do all kinds of fun stuff. Everything I did felt like what I would just naturally do (yes, I do handstands naturally; I’m doing one right now).

Funny though: I still had this idea about the music. I mean, of course it should be Feist-like, right? “Uh, yeah, sure, I can find a track like that. But I have another one you might like too . . .” Bob said as we were wrapping up.

And then I saw the rough cut with the track he picked. Thank goodness he ignored my request, because of course what he picked was perfect. Of course it’s what I needed. Just like the grass, it’s me.

I’m telling this story because (1) I want you to watch the video (duh, of course) and (2) because of the insight it provided. First, Bob is the man: let’s just all agree about that. But it’s not because he knows how to compose a shot. It’s because he saw straight into my brand and knew when to listen to me, and more importantly—when to ignore me. He knew when to direct me, and when to just capture the stuff I was doing.

I recognize this only because it’s exactly what I do for my clients. Instead of holding a camera, I’ve got my fingers on the keys, capturing the words that come out of their mouths. I’ve learned that I can only help someone figure out about their brand if I accept that a big chunk of what they say is the warm-up for what they really need to say.

You can only really create good stuff for people once you understand when to ignore them, when to encourage them, when to challenge them, and when to just be absolutely silentand let them talk or be or do.

Discernment is the real skill in this business. Those of us who work in branding—we’re one big community of discerners. We discern stuff for each other much better than for ourselves. But I’m pretty okay with that. Because it leaves me to do what I do best: tell people’s stories.

So let’s talk about how to tell yours. Because in case you didn’t get the message from me saying it 87 times in the video (drinking game!), you need to tell the story of your business. Preferably, now.


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