Magazine article Communication World

Riveted

Magazine article Communication World

Riveted

Article excerpt

It's a living cliche. The audience hangs on every well-chosen word.

First there was the woman who recognized that her other-than-business relationship with the boss was wrong.

Then the candidate who admitted he lied on his job application and was hired just because he made that admission.

And the waitress who paid such close attention to detail that you'd think she owned the restaurant.

The laborer who says it's his job to do, not think, because his boss only tells him what to do but never gives him sufficient information to think through a situation.

The attorney whose boss told him to "lose" records, and though the case was settled out of court before he had to choose between his boss and his ethics, he still left the law firm.

The mine operator who refused to give up even four days after a mine explosion, and ultimately found 18 dead - but five people still alive.

J.G. Pinkerton is that former mine operator and he tells stories. Stories about work. Stories about work that other professional storytellers send him from around the world via e-mail.

PawPaw is what he calls himself. And no doubt that's what his seven grandchildren call him, too. You can just imagine a preschool, pig-tailed listener climbing on the knee of this man who looks just like Santa Claus, and reveling in tales of life in the small, rural Texas town where PawPaw grew up.

From Junction, Texas; through World War II and university studies; and working for a natural resources company in the United States, Australia, and Panama; PawPaw listened and remembered. Several years ago, he was a corporate manager when he found himself a captive audience of an airline in-flight magazine, reading an article about the renaissance of storytelling. Now he is "retired" and dedicated to the art. He has traveled six continents performing and teaching and promoting storytelling.

"Storytelling keeps the present in touch with the past, reaffirms values, and passes on wisdom in an entertaining and memorable manner," Pinkerton says. If that sounds like something a grandfather should do, it is. It's something business people should do as well, he says.

A growing number of corporations see storytelling as a critical piece of knowledge management. Eastman Chemical, IBM, Walt Disney Imagineering, Ernst & Young, Hewlett-Packard and Capital One are among many companies training employees to apply storytelling to business concerns such as narrowing the cultural gap that hinders the transfer of information. …

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