Sustainability, Storytelling and Rock Climbing: Staff Picks

Our Staff Picks this week include a rock climber who raises money for sufferers of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, an aspiring forest ranger, a filmmaker and a student studying sustainability who loves to travel.

Heading off our post is the visual storyteller and Hawaii-native Quincy Woo. Quincy tackles thought-provoking ideas in his art to both challenge and move his audience. A photographer and filmmaker, Quincy embeds his Vimeo onto his page to showcase his work.

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writing your visual story

How to Craft Your Visual Story

Last week our friend Patrick Ewers (@PatrickEwers) of Mindmavin told us why you should create a visual story. This week he explains how you can craft your visual story.

The Best Part About Stories is Sharing Them

Stories are powerful because people enjoy sharing them. Think about it. Social media has become so popular, that it has become a perilous addiction for some. It proves that as a culture, we are addicted to staying current with each other’s stories, sharing them and adding our input to those stories.

For that reason, one of your goals should be to empower the people around you to want to share your story. No wants to share a bland, abstract story. A person will be far more likely to share an interesting, visual story. If you can come up with a great visual story, it creates a domino effect: you’ll get mentioned more often simply because it’s fun to mention you; being mentioned often results in more opportunities coming to your doorstep. In sum, great visual stories will allow your network to help you become more successful

Sold? Now that we’ve covered the why, lets move onto the how.

The Art of Storytelling

A visual story is something that evokes an image or a series of images. It’s created using words that possess a certain honesty and vulnerability which describe feelings and pivotal moments in time.

An abstract story would sound something like this: “I have been very passionate about video game development from a young age.” While this gets the point across, you’re not getting the reader’s visual cortex firing. A much better way to tell the very same story would be:

I was 12 years old, sitting in my room playing Call of Duty, loving every second of it. I started to get hungry and wandered out to the kitchen for a snack. On the TV, I saw a commercial for a video game graphic design course. I stopped dead in my tracks. Before that moment, I had never even thought of this possibility. From that moment on, I knew what I had to do. I enrolled in a program to allow me to be that guy who makes those amazing games. Here I am today, ready to do just that.

Stop now and ask yourself what that second story did for you.

You could probably see his story: you can see the boy in his room playing video games, it isa dark room, you can see him walk past a TV, see him stop, eyes widening at the idea of apotential dream come true, forgetting all about his snack. The point is, you can see, understand and resonate with his “A-ha” moment. You probably have a few similar ones of your own.

The fatal error in the first story is that abstract concepts or descriptors like “I am passionate” will be quickly overlooked because it’s an empty claim and unproven. The images are what cause the reader’s brain to infer and understand those qualities you’re trying to get across.

The reason this inference is so important is because when somebody infers something, they own it, they believe it, because they constructed it in their own mind. There is absolutely nothing more powerful than if a person thinks that they were the one who came up with the idea that you are passionate and motivated. Most importantly, they will want to share it.

Work It Out

It may seem daunting, you may think your story is boring, you may not be the “creative type”.

Fear not, there are four simple steps that you can take to create your story.

  1. Come up with a bullet point list of the abstract type of strengths that you have that you want to show off to the world, such as: dedicated, motivated, intellectually stimulating, etc.
  1. Think about events or scenarios that were able to illustrate those attributes about you. Specifically, try to come up with some moments that were unique, pivotal or simply powerful. Write these examples as sub-bullets as they pertain to each attribute.
  1. Try to tell a very visual story for each one in a very brief paragraph, not more than 3-5 lines. If you need some help here, you can try out The Visual Thesaurus.
  1. Tell the story to someone who knows you well and afterwards, ask them, “What did that story make you think of me in terms of who I am?” If that story works, it should circle back to one of the original attributes from your list.

Today’s header photo is by our friend @DavidSherry36 from @deathtostock

Creating a Visual Story

Starting this week, we’re excited to be sharing some career and networking advice from the minds at Mindmavin. This week’s post is by Patrick Ewers. You can find him on Twitter at @PatrickEwers

Why create a visual story?

Storytelling is one thing that basically transcends almost all cultures on this planet. Regardless of culture, time or location, knowledge has been transferred through storytelling. Now, you might be picturing a tribal community sitting around a fire sharing stories, but even right here and now, we get all of our news through storytelling. Before the comforts of modern technology, storytelling was the only technology for sharing knowledge.

Of course, the modalities of storytelling have become more advanced because we have more channels through which to communicate, like television and the internet. All of that aside, when you get down to the bare bones – it’s all stories. Whether it be in print, or through word of mouth, the more visual the story is, the better it is. Storytelling is so powerful that it has created multi-billion dollar industries, with Hollywood as just one example.

I believe that the reason storytelling has survived since the dawn of man is simply because our brains are hardwired to store most of our memories and knowledge in the form of images. In fact, almost 50% of the human brain is involved in visual processing. This might be why so many of our memories are recollected as images and not words. We do not read our memories, we see them, smell them, hear them and feel them.If you ask anyone where they were when 9/11 happened, most people will tell a very visual story because it’s those images that have stayed with them and best tell the story.

It is rare that someone would just say,“Oh, I was in class during 9/11.” Instead, they would say, “I was in a college course in which the classroom window had a perfect view of the towers. When I arrived, there was a TV in the room, which meant only one thing: nap time. The typical pre-class chatter abounded, this time about one of the towers smoking, and we reached a consensus that there must be a fire. The professor came in, shrugged off the alleged fire and closed the shades so he could put on the movie. We didn’t know it, but when class ended and those shades went up, our world would never be the same.” This is the story you would hear. These are the types of stories that stick with us and get passed along.

Visual stories like the one above make it much easier for people to remember compared to abstract facts. “[Memories] are mental reconstructions, nifty multimedia collages of how things were, that are shaped by how things are now.” People will be more likely to remember you if they can reconstruct your story in their mind. The first place to fail here is to not have a story at all.

Stories are Sticky

Visual storytelling is very powerful for several reasons. One is that stories which create images are sticky.  Applied to the business world, storytelling can be a powerful means of educating people about the types of opportunities that you are interested in. Your goal should be to create images in their brains with visual words instead of abstract descriptors, like “She is very motivated”.

When you use an abstract descriptor like “motivated”, you are begging the question, “Motivated to do what? Scale a mountain? Win a pie eating contest?” Words that beg similar questions like, “strong work ethic”, “committed”, and “problem solver” are just empty words for whoever is reading your resume, there’s no proof.

In contrast, visual words create an image, like this story. “One of the moments I enjoyed most was walking home from the office in the quiet stillness of 3 in the morning, after completing a client project just in time for them to use it. Though exhausted, I was simultaneously invigorated and overjoyed by the fact that I got the job done and made our client happy.” A story like this will prove to a potential employer that you are hardworking without ever having to use the words.

Our header photo today is by our friend @DavidSherry36 from @deathtostock

Page Tips: The Creative Lens

Creative types view life as a journey of self-expression. Thus, creative professionals can find it hard to identify with platforms that don’t give their users the opportunity to express themselves visually. Creatives observe everything. Naturally, this is reflected in their professional careers: they pay excruciating attention to detail, ask big questions, and aren’t afraid to take risks. The platform enables creative types to showcase their work without losing touch with their personality.

Brett Henley‘s page is a great example of how creatives can tell their story on our platform, and foster engagement amongst users. Since the last time we checked, it seems like Brett has updated his page a little bit and we can learn from both versions. In this post we’re going to dissect his page so that you too can create a compelling page, whether or not you consider yourself a creative type.

Background Photo
Brett clearly understands the rules of photo composition. When you’re selecting your background photo, try to keep these things in mind:

  • Keep it simple. This is your page, so naturally, you should be in the photo, but try to keep it simple, while still expressing some of your personal style. Imagine a camera crew following you around one day; what is the best image they can capture of you that visually tells your story?
  • Avoid the middle. This allows you to have space for your biography section, without cluttering your page.

Headline + Biography
Remember, you are more than your job title.  Be creative in the way you write about yourself. Oftentimes when asked what we do in our careers we say, “Director of…but really I do X, Y, and Z.” Use this space as an arena to explain that X, Y, and Z, but don’t forget to tell your story not just professionally, but personally, too. On Brett’s page, instead of just writing “Co-Founder and Writer,” he showed his personality by using phrases like “Chief Smasher of B.S.” and “Instigate where needed.”

Whether you’re making a new page, or updating your existing one, take a step back and view it as an empty canvas waiting for your creative expression. As always, if you need help or just want some feedback on your page, feel free to send us a tweet or visit our support page. Don’t forget to visit Brett‘s live page and send him a compliment!

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