the living art of storytelling in Massachusetts

Running your own business can be liberating but it can also resemble running through a maze, constantly trying to catch up, find your way, peek over the next short, being your own boss can be exhausting!

Storytelling is magical, yet the work can be extremely solitary when we are out of the 'spotlight.' Taking care of your own business requires long hours and is very different than working for a boss who has control over everything, both good and bad.

I came across this article by Will Spencer. While it seems to be written primarily about businesses that are unreleated to those of us in the genre of performance art, his words are wise and can easily be applied to our passion as well.

by Will Spencer

1. Humility
Every morning say this affirmation to yourself: "I am a complete idiot. I am a complete idiot. I am a complete idiot." The learning process can only take place by first accepting that you do not know.

2. Study Like You Have Never Studied Before
There is an enormous amount of literature in the field of business. Read it. Read lots of it. 90% of it is complete tripe. Read it anyway. Sifting through the bad is the price you pay for the 10% that makes the effort worthwhile.

3. Listen Twice as Much as You Talk
Everyone you run into will have some piece of the puzzle you are trying to solve. Some will have big pieces, some will have small pieces. You need all the pieces to finish the puzzle.

4. There Is A Reason Major Corporations Have A Board of Directors
GE and IBM are run by very smart people. Those people maintain the Board of Directors as a council of trusted advisors. Maintain your own council of trusted advisors. On important decisions, never ever listen to just one advisor. Listen to as many trusted advisors as will speak with you. Pick your trusted advisors carefully, and then evaluate everything they say carefully. No one is right so often that their input should not be carefully analyzed.

5. If Your Advisors Are Agreeing With You; Get New Advisors
Yes men don't add value; Get rid of them. Advisors don't have to argue with you constantly -- but they should add content that you have not considered to 90% of the discussions you engage in. If not, get new trusted advisors.

6. All Good Business Deals Are Win-Win
If you approach a business deal thinking "How can I get over on this guy?" you will never ever succeed in business. You may make one or two deals, but you will never succeed in the long term. Business success is built upon successful relationships. Successful relationships are built upon trust and openness. If you make it your task to ensure that you succeed, you will fail. If you make it your task to ensure that your clients and partners succeed, they will make it their take to ensure that you succeed. If your clients and partners do not reciprocate -- get new clients and partners. Do not hesitate; These are not the people you want to surround yourself with.

Before getting involved in a deal, define each entity involved in the deal. Define what they put into the deal and what they get out of the deal. If you can not define, for every entity involved, how they are getting out more than they are putting in - keep working the deal until you can. If any single entity in the deal is putting in more than they are getting out -- they may choose to withdraw from the deal at any time. Where is your deal now?

7. Honesty Hurts
The kind of honesty that really hurts is when you have to seriously injure someone's ego -- someone you care about. This is the burden of being in-charge, telling people you love that they are full of shit. Learn to deal with the pain.

8. Greed Is A Success Killer
Before entering into a business deal, always remember the saying "You can't cheat an honest man." If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The way people get you involved in bad deals is by promising you the earth and the sky. Avoid those people like the plague.

9. Good Deals Are Simple
Examine every deal before you enter into it. Do you understand the deal? If not, run like hell. Complex deals are less stable than simple deals. Do not wager your future on a house of cards.

10. Be Prepared To Work Hard
The people who think "I will be in charge and I will make everyone else work and I will slack off" will never ever succeed. Study after study shows that executives put in more hours than any other category of employee. If you manage five people, you are the steward for the careers of five people. If you manage fifty people, you are the steward for the careers of fifty people. You are responsible for very important things - slacking is unacceptable. When you hear the term "manager" or "boss", mentally convert that into "servant" before digesting it. That will give you a much truer picture of reality.

Like Jack's beanstalk we are always growing. To help my own business expand, in November of 2008 I began publishing a monthly, online newsletter for storytellers, teachers and librarians. There are story sites, lesson plans, crafts, etc., and of course, sites to help your business grow! I have compiled those business sites below, along with my written synopses. You may download the full newsletter issues here, which offer other resources on storytelling and education for free here:

3 Types of Marketing to Make Your Business Grow - Effective “attraction tactics” to help your business soar!

3 Things to Never Do With Your Social Networking Profile
by Michele Pariza Wacek - "I'm sure you've heard of it. You might even be doing it. But the real question is, are you doing it right?"

12 Ways to Attract Clients with Your Business Card – by Bill Lampton, Ph.D. Twelve ways to assure that prospects will read your card, and will become more likely to do business with you.

Business Know-How-10 Ways to Make your Flyer Stand Out in the Crowd

Business Blogging Benefits and Risks – “Some experts say that Twitter is replacing blogs, but …there are many blog functions that Tweets can’t perform – such as any kind of meaningful discussion about anything.”

How to Become Fearless Business Owners in Uncertain Times
. Seven great tips from author Robin Fisher-Roffer.

Seven Tax Tips for Businesses and the Self Employed

Six Advantages to Virtual Trade Shows by Susan A.Friedmann, CSP - "A virtual trade show is a cross between a webcast meeting and a video game. And it's the next big trend in trade shows. Although a mere 1% of all trade shows are now held online, industry experts expect that by 2015, more than 25% of trade shows will be conducted in virtual environments. That's a market you can't afford to ignore."

Slideshare - Upload your presentations and share them with others. There are thousands of presentations to download, and edit for your use.

Ten Ways to Make Your Flyer Stand Out In a Crowd - ´ A flyer is an inexpensive and highly effective way to grab attention in a very busy marketplace. How do you make your flyer stand out in the crowd? Here are some techniques that professional designers use to make flyers "pop." - Please visit my Business of Storytelling page at my website for many more links to help your business grow!

If you wish to use any of the above sites from my newsletter, and accompanying synopses, please contact me for permission at

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Grand Prize for South Shore Grand Slam Story Slam generously donated by Nicolette Heavey and Stories In The Streets (A Maine Get Away)

Stories in the Streets in an outreach literacy program that focuses on families in at-risk areas and fosters community engagement in storytelling by: 1) Creating opportunities for public storytelling wherever families gather — a farmer’s market, laundromat, or food line; and, 2) Offering storytelling workshops that raise family engagement in literacy, cultural awareness and community understanding.  The program is currently active in Lawrence, Brockton and Randolph.


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