The old man sat by the campfire, inhaling the smoke from the pipe. He carefully thought about his words, reflecting on what to say. The children sat in anticipation, wondering what wonders were about to appear before their eyes. Slowly, he opened his mouth, and the pictures began to form in vivid color…

In times of old, the only way to carry on from one generation to another was through stories. Stories were interesting so people would retain them. Only the most necessary and interesting facts were shared from generation to generation if they made it to the story. Otherwise, the concept died.

Then slowly we began to put away our storybooks and try to teach in new methods. Textbooks. Grinding phrases and ideas out in many different formats. Requiring people to memorize grueling details just to move to the next level.

Does it work? If you’ve ever memorized a bunch of useless data for a test, you know the answer to that one. Nope. If we don’t have a reason for the data coming in to our heads, it leaves as fast as it enters.

We are all visual in nature. We don’t learn things because we’re forced to; we learn things because we want to.

If something is interesting, we care. If we can relate to it, we’re interested. And if we find it fascinating, we want to learn more.

That’s why businesses are challenged with the concept of creating more than useless data that people simply overlook. If they can create a story that people care about and are fascinated by, the more they will thrive.

But how do we do that?

Lets consider statistics for a moment. Yep, a lot of people think numbers are incredibly boring. And they can be. What if I provided you with over 200 years of data on 200 countries around the world, and how a person’s age longevity relates to their wealth. Sounds boring, right? But what if you were told the same information in a story instead? Hans Rosling is well known for his ability to spin compelling stories around somewhat mundane ideas. Take a look to see what I mean.

Does that make you look at things a little differently?

People care about the concept if the information is shaped into a story we can relate to and understand. If it gives us personal meaning, we’re more likely to care about it. And have the desire to be a part of the business venture, whatever that entails.