Story lines sell

My brain is exhausted and aching. I’ve been sold to for two days straight. I’m at the 21st Century Financial Education Summit in Melbourne. I’m here because my brother and I have plans to start a business and because I want to hear Tim Ferriss and Richard Branson speak.

Just a kilometre away our diminutive Lord Mayor Robert Doyle is setting the police on non-violent protesters. Once upon a time I would have been there protesting. Somehow I’ve missed the whole “Occupy” thing. Whilst lefties are videoed allegedly being punched by police, I’m at a finance summit. How is this so?

Back at the summit, when a presenter yells out an obvious question such as: “Do you want to make money while you holiday?”, I snidely refuse to join the chorus of “Yes!”. When they tell me a product usually goes for <ridiculous number> but today it goes for <ridiculous number divided by two> I smirk. When they tell us to stand out from the herd but give out free Herald Sun newspapers I enjoy the irony.

But I admire their sales craft. And I admire the people attending, from all walks of life, who have a desire to start a new life, a new story line. I love the hacking of systems and strategies, and I recognise that today the means of production, of marketing, the means of hell everything are open to… well anyone…

As the joke goes, “I’m unique… just like everyone else”. I was researching cold reading recently and realised that apart from being used by palm readers and the like it is also a sales tool. Cold reading is based on the fact that we like to hear good things about ourselves and discount bad things, that we fall into only a few personality types, and that our lives follow predictable trajectories. If you’re in your late teens, you are trying to find a role, in you twenties you can get caught up in what you should be doing, and in you 30s you question earlier choices, and in your late 30s (where I am) you…

“No matter what a man has achieved in life, at (almost) 40, he is likely to feel worn-out, on edge, weighed down and unappreciated. Men deal with these feelings in different ways. Some become self-destructive, while others channel this energetic tension toward a more positive outcome, such as developing their gentler and more principled side.”

Wow. Sounds like me! But probably also sounds like most men approaching 40. So where am I? Am I on the clichéd arc from teenage idealist to hard-nosed pragmatist? Am I on the verge of middle age re-invention or decay?

Are these story lines natural like gravity and the tides, El Nino and La Nina, erosion and eruptions?

People sometimes feel they are stuck in the middle of a story that never changes but this of course, like all things in nature, isn’t true. Other people are addicted to beginnings. A bartender told me last night about her one-way ticket to Kathmandu! Geez it sounded like a good beginning!

Where are you on your storyline?  Can you accept it and use it to your advantage, or will it be used against you? Are you ready to buy a one-way ticket?

Inspired by Venkatesh Rao

“Whatever goes wrong goes wrong any how”

Neil Murray, Lights of Hay

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Venkatesh Rao (@vgr)
    Oct 31, 2011 @ 01:49:49

    Yup, the ‘almost 40’ state is sorta like that for me too 🙂


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