Data Superpowers - May The Best Stories Win!



I’ve been obsessed with telling stories for as long as I can remember. But I was always a cynic about using data to inform creative: focus groups, research, and the like. I was a doubter.


Part of it is that sometimes I’m a stubborn know-it-all. But also, it seemed like a scam: smoke and mirrors people employ with their boss or client to back up their crazy ideas. It struck me as unnecessary, since storytelling was always second nature to me.

A Flashback:

1975, Delray Beach, Florida, 81 degrees, Poolside, Christmas carols playing on an AM radio station. My mom, slathering herself with baby oil, and my Grandma Millie introducing (5-year-old) me in front of a small crowd of her friends: “Ladies and Gentlemen, introducing Danielle, telling a delightful story: Fortunately and Unfortunately!”


My two big hits at my grandparents’ retirement community were Fortunately and Unfortunately and Ghost with the Bloody Fingers. All it took was the teensiest bit of promotion from Grandma, and I was a viral success, way before the internet.


No real surprise that I turned to a life of storytelling: broadcast journalism major; theatre minor; TV news reporter; documentary producer; book author; magazine columnist. Now: advisor to brand storytellers.


My sister snarks resentfully: “Danielle, no offense but you do realize, no one has ever been able to get a word in edgewise when you’re at the dinner table, right?... If your stories weren’t so great, we’d all hate you.”


My friend Ivy runs a storytelling workshop and salon, like The Moth. I’ve been going to open mic nights, watching and listening. I got up to the mic one time recently to tell a story.


But even for a natural-born storyteller, it takes work to get good at this. There are best practices. Things that work in this format. Things that don’t. And how do I gauge what’s “working?”


In episode-one of the Amazon show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Midge takes notes in her journal, logging the audience’s reaction to her husband