Dan Pink’s excellent book, “A Whole New Mind,” was a wonderful bit of neon holiday reading. It worked great on the airplane to add a splash of color with the huge title and bright orange cover. Seriously now, the book helped recognize some important trends that make certain skills much more valuable and critical in the new economic environment. Specifically, abundance, Asia, and automation are making the previously lucrative analytic and left brain skills less of a competitive advantage. And it makes right brain abilities like design, empathy, and narrative, much more important. There’s a lot of material in Dan’s book for blogging, but I’ll stick to narrative for this one.
The picture to the left is a photo from my mother’s school newspaper when she was growing up in Hawaii. Dan Pink’s book helped me to see that photo, as a result of following his advice and looking up StoryCorps as a way to develop my narrative skills. I found the link before I arrived at the place of my spawning in New York City, and after reading the link I was encouraged to interview my mom on video tape again. I’ve videotaped interviews of other peoples parents, but the interview process never clicked for me before – despite a deep desire to record and remember the stories and heritage from my parents, relatives, as well as friends and even strangers. People have also recommended using the Genealogy Bank website to uncover more of my family’s history hidden away in newspaper articles and obituaries from bygone eras – it’s a powerful resource and grants access to over 2 billion genealogy records. The idea of taking my camera to new people and asking interesting questions has appealed for many years. The StoryCorps site helped me generate a set of questions that led to some amazing discoveries when I interviewed my mother on the kitchen table. I never knew she had won several competitions, including airplane trips to other islands, and was chosen as a 4H club beauty queen. She pulled out a scrap book and I saw her many photos in old newspaper articles, one of which was the national 4H club magazine.
If you want to set up your own interviews, check out the StoryCorps online question generator program, get a tape recorder and ask away. Just a little bit of preparation and planning makes a big difference for a good interview. With that I learned some new stories and some old stories, and hearing those stories made the world richer for me, maybe it can for you too.