Telling stories

In CIDA’s inimitable style, I’ve been doing some public lectures on creativity in business both here and overseas just recently, and notice that, increasingly, people are coming up to me afterwards to comment on all the stories I tell – they are clearly an effective tool to get particular points across and I guess after 30 years in the business, I tend to have quite a store of them! So, since I’m about to go on leave for a week, I thought I’d offer you one of my favourites –

About eleven years ago, when I was just setting up CIDA, there was a fresh young graduate called Clare who was setting up her graphic design business just across the corridor from us. She was very good – in fact we used her a lot and she’s just redesigning the CIDA website, even as I write! After she had been in business for a couple of years, she allowed herself a week’s holiday and flew off to the sun to relax and laze beside the pool. On the first day, she got chatting to the chap lying on the lounger next to her. He was an American, about sixty, intelligent and full of life experience. They found that they really enjoyed each other’s company so, each day for the week, they sought each other out and generally put the world to rights. It turned out that he was leaving the day before Clare was and, on his final day, he came over to say good bye. ‘It’s been a real pleasure meeting you, Clare’ he drawled. ‘Give me your business card and I’ll get in touch when I’m back in the office’. Now, Clare was lying there in her bikini but, being a clever girl (and trained by CIDA!), she leapt up and drew a business card from the pack she had tucked into her top. They said goodbye and, a day later, Clare returned to England and pretty much forgot the exchange. Two weeks’ later, she received an email. It was from her new best friend in America. He was commissioning her to redo the corporate livery for his company. And his company had offices in 60 countries around the world ……….

Obviously, the moral of the story is never, ever be without your business card – no holiday is complete without them!

That story won a spontaneous round of applause the other week from an audience of 500 leading CEOs of listed companies – a lovely response but one which rather took me by surprise. I guess you’re never too senior to learn!

(And by the way, Clare’s company is