Attention, identity, and Google Glass

In a 2011 post on mobile identity, Rebekah Cox wrote, “In its most basic form, your identity is the product of how you manage your attention and others’ access to that attention. Those areas where your attention is focused assemble to form a set of experiences that shape and influence where you’ll direct future attention.”

Prior to reading this post for the first time a couple of weeks ago, I had never thought to define identity in this way. In fact, the things I typically associated with identity—an email address, password, Facebook profile—were precisely those things Rebekah called out as not identity in the preceding paragraph.

But once this new perspective planted itself in my head, I started to spot other expressions of the same idea. There’s this quote from a post by Etan Zapinsky on Snapchat’s recent iOS update: “More than anything else, the people we communicate with define who were are. A timeless phrase sums it up beautifully, “Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.”

And this observation from a Times adaptation of the commencement address Jonathan Safran Foer gave at Middlebury: “My daily use of technological communication has been shaping me into someone more likely to forget others. The flow of water carves rock, a little bit at a time. And our personhood is carved, too, by the flow of our habits.”

And finally, this excerpt from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyil’s Flow: “Each person allocates his or her limited attention either by focusing it intentionally like a beam of energy or by diffusing it in desultory, random movements. The shape and content of life depend on how attention has been used. Entirely different realities will emerge depending on how it is invested.”

If the things we pay attention to determine our experiences, our beliefs, and ultimately, our identities, it follows that the devices mediating so much of our communication with others, our consumption of information, our management of daily to-dos—in short, where and how we direct our attention—would end up shaping who we are.

Consider the way we talk about our smartphones: “extension of myself,” “intimate connection,” “a second brain.” They’re often the first thing we reach for when we open our eyes in the morning and the last thing we put down when we go to sleep at night. For some, the thought of being away from our phones for an extended period of time is enough to induce an anxiety attack. A glimpse of a stranger’s home screen would probably tell you more about them than you’d learn sharing a meal.

In this context, it becomes easier to understand the visceral opposition Facebook Home encountered when it attempted to not so much “wrap” as smother users’ phones. Facebook is a pervasive part of many people’s daily routines. But it’s not the only aspect of our identities, or the most accurate one (as much as it would like to be). The tidy and edited lives we lead on Facebook remind me of Ingrid Bergman’s request that cameras focus on the “good side” of her profile.

One of the promises of Google Glass and its successors is technology that gets out of the way and helps us experience more of the here and now. v1 falls short, but it raises an interesting question: What kind of habits do we want to encourage in our future selves and how can devices like Glass nurture those habits? Is it reasonable to expect that they would nudge us to be more mindful, more present? To focus attention on productive pursuits and avoid distraction? To develop empathy and compassion for others? There are no easy answers, but the alternative is to wake up one day and realize we’ve become strangers to ourselves.

On giving effective feedback

We’re in the midst of performance review season at work and giving actionable, insightful feedback has been on my mind lately. Two observations:

Make sure everyone is in agreement on the metrics that matter.

My coworker in the office across from mine keeps a well-stocked candy bowl on her desk, which ensures a fairly reliable uptick in visitors around mid-afternoon. The other day I overheard this exchange:

Hungry 1: “Gee, how many chocolates did you take there?”

Hungry 2, glancing down at his full fist: “I’d say about 5 minutes worth.”

While it’s obvious our diets shouldn’t be based on how quickly we can pack food away, the same goal (manage my sweet tooth) can mean very different things to different people (number of chocolates eaten vs. how long it takes to eat said chocolates). Giving actionable feedback requires clarity and alignment on the metrics that determine success.

If you’re an education company and one of your goals is to improve the quality of your online courses, should you measure student satisfaction scores, referral rates, or the number of people who enroll in another class?

If you want to become a better cook, does success mean you’re able to create healthy, everyday meals for yourself, or that you’re able to throw dinner parties for friends?

The metric you focus on not only determines how you work towards your goal, but the type of feedback that will help get you there.

Often, the most insightful feedback identifies a pattern of behavior.

I’ve been taking swing classes for a few months now and am at the (not at all advanced) stage where small mistakes in the fundamental shapes add up quickly.

The last couple of classes have been particularly hard for me; as soon as I made one adjustment something else would be off. I struggled to keep up until one partner leaned in after a song and said, “You’re anticipating a lot. You have to trust me to lead.”

Lightbulb.

Many of my seemingly discrete mistakes—not leaning forward enough, failing to square my hips, moving too quickly out of a turn—were symptoms of a larger problem.

That one insightful observation helped me connect the dots in a way that lots of tactical feedback never could. More importantly, it gave me a lens through which to evaluate future mistakes.

It’s worth noting that the person who picked up on this tendency was a drop-in to class that day, and not a regular. Fresh perspectives are often helpful in spotting a problem’s root cause that those closer to the issue might miss.

How often does your product deliver good news?

In high school I babysat a sibling pair; the girl was around eight and her younger brother three or so. After hanging out with them for a couple of months, I noticed an interesting pattern of behavior.

The girl, let’s call her Mia, would come running to me with news that her brother, let’s call him Jack, had done something remarkable. These praiseworthy acts ranged from uttering a difficult word like “helicopter,” to walking down a flight of stairs unaided, to solving a tricky puzzle.

A simple story of a precocious toddler and his doting sister if it wasn’t for the fact that Mia’s recounting was often exaggerated, if not entirely made up. Jack never seemed able to repeat the feat with additional audience members. This didn’t deter Mia from retelling the stories to her parents when they came home, usually with more gusto than she had the first time.

I never fully understood the motivation behind Mia’s behavior until I picked up Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence. One of Cialdini’s key principles of influence is how much we like someone, which is determined by five things: attractiveness, similarity to ourselves, flattery, repeated contact in cooperative situations, and degree of positive association.

Positive association comes in many flavors: sensory (a scent reminds you of your mom’s perfume), temporal (you first met so-and-so during a particularly happy time in your life), spatial (you were standing at the corner of Perry and Hudson when you got the job offer), etc. A less salient type of positive association, and one that I imagine a lot of older siblings grasp early on, is to be the bearer of good news.

Like our tendency to shoot the unfortunate messenger who tells the King of battlefield defeat, we can’t help but project positive feelings on those who bring happy tidings. In Mia’s case, she had learned that a reliable way of earning goodwill and some of her parents’ increasingly divided attention was to play up her brother’s achievements.

As adults, this same impulse is at work when we brag about our successful friends, delay bad news longer than we should, and use the first-person to discuss sports victories (“We won last night”) versus the third-person when we suffer defeat (“The Seahawks lost”).

How can you take advantage of this dynamic when designing your product experience? Look for opportunities to be the bearer of good news, e.g., LinkedIn’s “Top 5% most viewed profiles in 2012” email; Zappos’ habit of expediting shipping times; Airbnb’s holiday card campaign that let hosts and guests send each other digital cheer.

Alternatively, you can replace an unpleasant association with a pleasant one. Take Uber as an example. If you’ve ever tried to hail a cab in the rain when you’re late for a meeting, you know the experience is exasperating at best and demoralizing at worst. The first time you try Uber, the convenience, control, and speed of it all stands in such stark contrast to previous memories that it feels like magic. And recreating this sense of magic is what brings you back to the app.

Or look at Dropbox. Many of us know the frustration of pouring hours into a presentation or group project only to encounter an “Upload failed” or attachment limit bounce back right at the moment when we’re ready to pack up and call it a day. Dropbox showed us that this process can and should be painless, if not even a touch whimsical.

Incentives to participate on Quora, Quibb, Medium, and Branch

In the past year, I’ve joined four content and publishing platforms—Quora, Quibb, Medium, and Branch. The first two have stuck. The other two haven’t (yet).

While each service is taking a different approach (Quibb, for example, is geared towards professional news), the shared emphasis on high quality content makes for an interesting comparison. A few of the differences I’ve observed so far and thoughts as to how they affect participation across the four platforms:

How easy is it for new users to get their feet wet?

Setting aside long-term visions for a moment, here’s the current atomic unit on each of the services:

  • Quora: question
  • Quibb: link
  • Medium: post
  • Branch: branch (topic of conversation)

The threshold for active contribution is much lower on Quora and Quibb than on Medium or Branch. Most of us can probably remember the last time a question popped into our heads that wasn’t easily answered by a quick search, or the last time we came across a thought-provoking news article. Asking a question and sharing a link are relatively straightforward and low risk actions.

Conversely, the activation energy required to write a post on Medium is high. Collections serve as thematic inspiration, but the site still caters to those of us who are writing-inclined to begin with. Their notes feature is a step in the right direction in terms of lowering the threshold for active participation.

Branch is an interesting middle case. Theoretically, starting a branch is not much different from sharing a link on Quibb or asking a question on Quora. But the framing of branches as conversations attaches more of a social risk. While it’s acceptable, though not ideal, for a question to languish on Quora unanswered or for a link shared on Quibb to get no comments, no one wants to talk to themselves.

Inviting participation vs. reserving seats at the table

I’m a big fan of invitations to participate like Quora’s “Ask to answer” and Quibb’s “Ask to comment.” Branch has a similar feature where you can add people to a conversation. An effective way to convert passive readers into active contributors is incentivizing them with the knowledge that someone wants to hear what they have to say.

Contrast this with the “Ask to join” aspects of Medium and Branch, where certain collections and conversations are open only to invited members. While I understand the motivation for these gating features in the beginning stages of a product, the trade-off is that you alter the dynamic of the community in subtle ways. I think it’s preferable to either screen members at the door (like Quibb) or use a combination of technology and user input to bubble up the good stuff (like Quora). Open membership plus selective contribution can feel arbitrary, especially for products that are supposed to put more emphasis on content rather than authorship.

Look and feel

Of the four, Medium comes across as the most polished. Nonetheless, scrolling through the homepage, I’m struck by a feeling of homogeneity. The overall impression is of Medium-ness, the product, as opposed to the personalities and voices of individual contributors. Branch, Quibb, and Quora have been more successful at taking a backseat to their communities.

Laura Copeland’s insightful answer to the Quora question “What is the best way to get to know someone in a short amount of time?” has applications to the design of publishing platforms as well. There’s a tricky balance between setting the right norms and expectations for your product while still letting members bring their own quirks to the table.

What does it mean to be a digital native?

It’s funny to think that getting online used to be something you actively blocked off time to do. Nowadays, the internet only tends to enter our consciousness in those moments when it’s noticeably absent—the wifi at Starbucks goes down, our bus passes through a tunnel, a plane prepares for takeoff or landing.

I remember the ritual of dial-up back in elementary school. While our computer serenaded the entire house with its chhhhhhhhh-neeenerneeenerneee-dooooooooo electronic jangle, I’d pass the time by doodling on floppy disks or wandering into the kitchen to hunt for a snack. I’ve never warmed to the word “Initializing…”

My brother, on the other hand, who’s seven years younger, has wielded a smartphone since middle school. He treats his Facebook like a model home, maintained to keep up internet appearances but otherwise devoid of life. For him and his friends, Twitter is where the action happens.

Today, parents conduct due diligence on search results and available domain names before deciding what to call their first-born. Toddlers see a screen and instinctively reach to pinch, swipe, and zoom. During a recent family vacation my manager’s youngest son ran to him, distressed. “Dad, the TV is broken!” Turns out the hotel TV was working fine; Zach had just never encountered commercials before.

It’s astounding to consider the surface level changes the internet has produced in a few short decades, and even more fascinating to think about how it’s shaped our aspirations and inclinations. What beliefs, attitudes, and values define a generation of digital natives?

Self-aware & self-sufficient

For better or worse, this is a generation inclined to capture and share quotidian snippets of daily life, from tweets about the weather to Instagrammed photos of homemade raspberry strudel. Call it an optimist’s view, but one upshot of this narcissistic navel-gazing is increased self-awareness, an ever calibrating sense of your likes and dislikes, tastes and preferences. Combined with the ability to measure and track everything from sleep quality to energy consumption and you have an unparalleled degree of insight into personal habits and behaviors.

We’re also more empowered to act on this data than ever before. An internet connection is all that’s needed to teach yourself subjects as diverse as Farsi and machine learning. And it’s never been easier to solicit advice from someone you admire, whether through a(n) tweet, comment, email, message, etc. Extend the spirit of “Just Google it” and you have the modern day version of “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Seeking out global perspectives

The degree of interpersonal connection and accessibility enabled by the internet means that globalization is no longer a concept confined to multinational corporate strategies or the pages of The Economist, but something that’s meaningful on an individual level. With a few clicks of the mouse you can book an Airbnb apartment in Hanoi and receive a local’s welcome, read a Quora answer on what immigrants find most surprising about American culture, or apply for funding to spend six months in Chile working on your startup idea. We’re not far off from the day when our digital first or digital only connections rivals that of our offline ones, and that’s an exciting prospect.

Attention divided 

Digital natives might pride themselves on being adept multi-taskers but the reality is that we’re more productive and creative when focused on one thing at a time. Unfortunately, there are a lot of distractions to contend with in a constantly plugged-in world. Technological progress pushes us to pack more computing power into ever more compact form factors, but there will continue to be demand for well-designed, single-function devices like the Kindle.

Renewed appreciation for quality craftsmanship

The Industrial Revolution put a long chain of factories and machinery between physical products and end consumers, a trend that’s reversing with the Maker Movement, 3D printing, etc. At the same time, we often have a closer connection to the digital apps and services we use today thanks to the dissemination of low-cost tools and resources to pick up the requisite coding skills. The combined result is a newfound appreciation for quality design and technique.

Personalize it for me 

Personalization will be at the heart of future digital experiences. The dimensions are numerous and growing: location, time, demographic profile, stated preferences, past behavior, social graph, interest graph, etc. This expectation extends to the world of storytelling as well—digital natives want marketing messages that are tailored to them and their unique situation. The trick will be balancing what people want (personalized results) and what’s “good for them” (diversity of perspective).

Inspired by Whitney McNamara‘s post “When the internet is your hometown

The 3 ingredients of an effective marketing message

It’s always fun to watch someone who’s at the pinnacle of their field in action.

In a former lifetime, Mark Penn was the CEO of Burson-Marsteller as well as pollster and political strategist for the Clintons and Tony Blair. He now serves as head of Strategic and Special Projects at Microsoft. A few of us at Bing had the chance to pick his brain on ways to talk about our social search features.

In chatting with Mark, it became clear that the most powerful kind of marketing message meets 3 successive criteria:

1. It’s true to the product. This is ground zero, the basis of your credibility and the long-term relationship you establish with consumers. As obvious as it sounds, you’d be surprised how easy it is to paint with an aspirational brush as opposed to one that accurately represents your product today.

Yes, marketing’s job is to romance, and this isn’t meant to put all of the burden on the product team. But the reality is that the former can only go so far if the fundamental value prop isn’t solving for a real pain point or user need.

This is actually where product design can borrow from marketing’s playbook. At Amazon, the first step in the product development process is to write a consumer-facing press release as opposed to a detailed spec. Not only is this a much more efficient and cost-effective means of concept iteration, if you’re struggling to come up with a concise, “Oprah-speak” way of communicating the end user benefits, it’s probably a sign that the feature isn’t very compelling.

2. It resonates on an emotional level with your target audience. Your messaging should highlight how your product meets a basic human need or desire: to be appreciated, to feel safe, to relax, to learn, to make sense of information, to express ourselves, to perform our jobs to the fullest, etc.

3. It stands for something larger than the product itself. The best kind of brand marketing operates at this level. Think of the way that Coke invokes simple pleasures; Nike conveys an indomitable spirit; and Apple exemplifies beautiful, intuitive design. These metaphors increase the “spreadability” of your message and help it to transcend any one particular campaign or product launch into something more enduring.

Design for the behavior you want to encourage

“Community over code.”

I overheard someone say this in a meeting recently; the speaker was arguing that for teams building a consumer web product, especially one that involves user generated content, nothing is more critical than attracting the right users.

He was exaggerating to make a point but the spirit of the statement isn’t far from the truth.

At the expense of pithiness, I would adapt the phrase to say that code, and by extension the product, is only as good as the kind of community interaction it nurtures. Yes, it’s important to target a receptive seed audience in the beginning. But scaling requires that you drive the right type of behavior among the broader market.

Step 1: Aligning user motivation, behavior, and long-term value

Growing a strong community is a two step process with distinct challenges at each phase. The first step is identifying your early adopters or group of “must have” users. As a consumer startup it’s tempting to view your target market as anyone with an internet connection, and while this may be theoretically true, it’s not very actionable. Focusing initially on one segment is no guarantee of success, but there are plenty of supporting examples: Facebook began as a college only network; Yelp spent its first year and a half in the Bay area; Pinterest gained early traction among design bloggers; Quora got its start with tech-minded folks in the Valley, etc. [1]

The benefit of this approach is that it allows you to iterate your value prop with an audience who’s more forgiving of missteps and eager to give feedback—so don’t be shy about asking for it. Much of the meaningful data you collect at this stage will be qualitative. Your goal is to understand motivations driving user behavior and how well they align with the value you want the community to create in the long-run.

Look for two kinds of misalignments in particular: The first is a gap between the source of uber value and actions users are taking, e.g. if the former is connecting people based on shared interests and areas of expertise, but most users end up following friends from Facebook, consider changing your onboarding flow. A second gap can exist between the source of long-term value and people’s motivations, e.g. if users are taking the intended action of writing reviews but their behavior depends on monetary incentives, it likely won’t scale.

This is also the time to establish product signposts that signal what type of community norms and expectations are in play. Quibb, a network for sharing and discussing industry news, gives a friendly prompt to “Please capitalize when appropriate” if you begin typing a comment with a lowercase letter. As another example, Yelp doesn’t allow users to post reviews from the mobile app. You can jot down notes about your waiter’s endearing accent so you don’t forget, but you’ll have to wait until you’re in front of a computer before you can hit publish. It’ll be interesting to see if this policy changes given where things are going, but it’s not hard to understand the reasoning. You’re about as likely to peck out a thorough, nuanced review on your iPhone keyboard as you are to find good sushi at a Brazilian steakhouse.

A lot of the iteration at this stage involves stress testing the implicit bets in your product vision. Take Medium as an example: One of the team’s principles is to focus attention on high quality content irrespective of an author’s popularity, the hypothesis being that people will appreciate compelling storytelling regardless of its origin. To that end, there are no public metrics like follower counts or number of shares; you can tweet or recommend a particular post but the latter is visible to just the author on an anonymous basis. Early versions of the product didn’t even identify the author until the end of the post. The design has since changed to display a brief bio in the top left-hand column as the lack of context probably gave readers too little idea of what to expect before committing.

A final note about this initial phase of building community—don’t forget to give back. Sandi MacPherson at Quibb has done a great job of being transparent with her thought process behind evolving the product.

Step 2: Crossing the chasm 

Once you’ve figured out how kickstart a sustainable contribution loop among early adopters, it’s time to focus on the harder task of scaling.

The biggest challenge here is that new members tend to differ radically from your seed audience both in terms of attitude and goals. They care less about the product’s potential or long-term vision, and they’re less willing to invest the time to figure things out. You need to make it obvious which types of behavior will lead to the best experience and deliver your lightbulb moment as quickly as possible. And in keeping with the 90-9-1 rule of internet participation, the majority of these users are here to passively consume versus actively contribute, so you should make the consumption experience as frictionless possible.

If you can offer a lightweight means of contribution as people are passing through, all the better (the hope being that you can gradually increase their level of engagement). Instead of implementing a standard upvote system to rank reviews, Yelp presents 3 dimensions—useful, funny, cool—to give more options for one-click interaction. Quora’s “Thank” feature is in the same vein for users who want to express appreciation in a non-public way.

The best part of this community orientation is that it focuses design decisions around what results in the most value to the broader ecosystem instead of subjective opinion. The key is to start with a strong vision of how your community creates long-term value and then design for the behaviors that make it a reality.

[1] Instagram and Snapchat may have gone from 0 to millions of users almost overnight, but they’re also a slightly different type of product as mobile-first apps with significantly lower barriers for content creation.

How routine can make you more productive and more creative

How many decisions do you make in a typical day?

10?

15 to 20?

They add up pretty quickly: what time to set your alarm, whether to go to the gym before work or after, what to wear, what to eat for breakfast . . . And that’s before you’ve even arrived at work to tackle any higher order decisions for the day.

Research has shown that the simple act of making a decision impairs your ability to make further decisions. Like our reserve of willpower, our capacity to make crisp judgments is a finite resource that depletes throughout the day. It’s harder to pass on that afternoon cookie if you’ve already denied yourself a doughnut for breakfast. Similarly, if you spent 15 minutes debating what you were going to wear this morning, that’s already taken a small tax on your brain when you sit down later to figure out the research budget. It makes sense why people like Steve Jobs and Barack Obama keep a fairly homogeneous closet.

By eliminating (or at least reducing) choice for many daily tasks, you free up brainpower to tackle more impactful decisions. The key is to instill the right routines, of course—keeping the fridge stocked with fruits and vegetables, taking the stairs when it’s less than five floors, not bringing your laptop to bed 30 minutes before going to sleep, etc. The Power of Habit describes how you can introduce good impulses and alter bad ones by paying attention to the habit loop of cue, routine, and reward.

A second benefit of routine is its ability to nurture creativity. It’s a bit counter-intuitive at first, as we often associate the latter with spontaneity and trips to far-off places. But sustainable inspiration usually comes from an environment where the mind feels at ease, safe from external distractions and free to focus inward. That’s why writers and other artists typically have all sorts of idiosyncratic routines that help them get in the right mindset. Joan Didion, for instance, has to sleep in the same room as her book when she’s nearing the end of her writing process. And it’s why people are often struck by epiphanies during routine breaks like taking a shower or going for a run. Train your brain to expect periods in the day when it can put the rest of your body on autopilot and wander off on its own tangents. You’ll be surprised at how creatively productive that time can be.

Do you have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset?

Below are two hypothetical compliments:

A. “You’re such a natural public speaker. I wish I could present as well as you.”

B. “I really liked the way you structured that presentation. What was your thought process?”

Now, which would you rather receive?

At first blush this might seem like a silly question (a compliment’s a compliment, after all, just take it and be happy, Lulu) but my guess is that B sits better with most.

Why?

Statement A praises an innate ability, attributing success to an enviable predisposition. Statement B, on the other hand, commends someone’s process and approach, focusing on things that are fully under a person’s control.

More generally, you could say that the first encourages a “fixed mindset” while the latter favors a “growth mindset.” For a full explanation of the difference between the two mentalities, I recommend reading Sandra Huang’s Quora answer to the question “Why are some people more resilient than others?”

Turns out this distinction isn’t just something parents should keep in mind—it’s also a good rule of thumb for gauging the health of our relationships. In thinking about why I tend to feel more energized and optimistic after hanging out with certain people, I’ve realized that a commonality they share is a relish for seeking out learning opportunities and a belief that a successful outcome is always within reach.

“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with,” as the saying goes. With that in mind, one of my longer-term resolutions for the new year is to spend more time with people who exhibit a growth mindset.

Why storytelling matters

A few weeks back I went to see an optometrist to update my contact lens prescription and switch from two-weeks to dailies. After trying a couple of disposable lenses that didn’t do much to improve the dryness I felt at the end of the day, I asked my doctor about Acuvue TruEye, which seemed to be the most comfortable line by that brand. He told me the office didn’t carry them so I asked what the equivalent in other brands would be.

Doctor: “What do you mean?”

Me: “I guess I’m wondering what the most breathable dailies are for the other brands?”

Doctor: “Oh, you can’t compare the lenses like that. [Insert a bunch of technical optometrist speak about the chemical makeup of different contact lenses]”

Me: “?”

I’m in no position to argue with years of medical training; asking for the “most breathable” lenses was a major oversimplification, sure. But my doctor didn’t have much success getting buy-in for the lenses he recommended by speaking jargon. As a patient, I’m expecting him to recognize the spirit of my question and the underlying concerns motivating it, and respond in kind. I’m expecting, in essence, for him to tell me a story.

Storytelling is traditionally viewed as the domain of marketing departments, journalists, and recluse novelists holed up in cabins. The truth is that it touches every aspect of our personal and professional lives. You tell a story about yourself every day through the clothes you wear, the food you eat, the entertainment you consume, and the people with whom you choose to spend your free time.

On the job, storytelling is the skill of pulling back from the details of your day-to-day activities to help people understand why any of it matters.

Designers translate pixels and typefaces (among other things) into a visual identity.

Marketers translate specs and features into a product’s value prop and associated emotional benefits.

Doctors translate symptoms and medical histories into a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Lawyers translate precedents and statutes into a compelling case.

Bankers translate interest rate movements and investor sentiment into a capital raising strategy.

Whether it’s stated in your job description or not, storytelling is one of those intangibles that distinguishes out-performers across the board. Everyone can benefit from becoming a better storyteller and there are an endless number of mediums through which to develop the skills—writing, speaking, visual arts, movement, sound, physical design, etc. Find one that inspires you and practice, practice, practice, until you excel at it. (And then practice some more.)