#116 - A Fundamental Lesson in Strategy and Storytelling
Three Simple Words that Blew My Mind
I had a whole post planned. Drafted, staged, and ready to go. Then I had a colleague blow my mind in a meeting yesterday. We’re working together on a project to help a client make some tough decisions about their business. And, as with most strategic projects, they have a few options and it really comes down to choice. Informed choice, but choice.
It brought me back to a fundamental lesson I learned early in my career when I was still just a baby strategist. It’s a simple one and one I wanted to share with you immediately (I had the fortitude to wait a day and send it in this post). That lesson? Simple: all strategy, whether it’s brand, business, communication, or any other type is just about choosing. Strategy is making choices. When it was said to me by my first boss and mentor in this field, I remember thinking it seemed simple but was also mind blowing. It has guided every project I have worked on since. Because often those choices are tough choices.
So how was my mind blown again yesterday. A build on that concept. In reiterating my point but also extending empathy to our client, my colleague said, “strategy is sacrifice.”
She said, strategy is sacrifice. My brain fritzed a little as I almost, screamed YES in the middle of our meeting.
Strategy is sacrifice. It’s choosing between, if you’re lucky, a few good options. (Sometimes, unfortunately, it’s choosing between a few bad options.) But in choosing one path you’re saying no to others and that can be hard. In journalism school I had a professor explain about editing that as writers and creators we needed to be willing to kill our babies. Those beautiful sentences we’d structured or magical ideas we’d conveyed so elegantly that just didn’t need to or couldn’t live in the context of limited space or attention spans. Strategy, is a lot like editing, it comes down to being willing to kill your babies. If you want the thing you’re working on to be any good.
You may love a particular path for your business or campaign, but your brand, your context, or your audience may demand something different. Because strategy is sacrifice, and it’s hard. But it’s also how you build a successful brand, business, or career and it is what leads to great stories. So, kill your babies (the softer version is “darlings” but who needs soft?) and let me know how it goes.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this concept. Send a note or head to the blog to leave a comment.
A Story Well Told
It’s spooky season, which is not usually my favourite time of year. But a campy Halloween classic, Hocus Pocus, got a sequel after 29 years and I am here for it. Hocus Pocus 2 a fun campy romp perfect for non-scary spooky seekers like me. It’s a little silly and a lot of fun with just a touch of nostalgia if you watched the first one as a kid.