You see a photo of a man in a blue jacket standing in front of McDonalds. That photo contains at least 3 pieces of information.
Information is content.
2. Blue Jacket
Content without context is boring.
The reason that photograph was taken was to encourage you and elevate your hope.
Does that surprise you? It should, because you haven’t been given any context.
The man in that photo, Brian Scudamore, was a 19-year-old kid sitting in his car in exactly that spot in that McDonald’s drive-thru line when he noticed a ratty old pickup truck that had rounded the corner a few vehicles ahead of him. Spray-painted on the side of that truck were the words “Junk Hauling” along with a telephone number. Brian thought, “I could do that,” and as those four words echoed in his brain – “I could do that” “I could do that” “I could do that” – the world’s largest private junk removal service was born.
Brian’s company is about to break through the clouds into the sunlight of one billion dollars in annual revenue. Just below the bottom frameline of that photo, the logo for 1-800-GOT-JUNK? is monogrammed on that blue jacket.
Ray Bard retired a few years ago, but people still speak in hushed tones about his genius.
Brian Scudamore has that same kind of genius.
Ray Bard put it into words for me several years ago while we were having lunch. He said, “Every dazzling success has four components, but everyone, everywhere has the first two.”
I raised my eyebrows to indicate that I was listening.
Ray said, “Number one is a Big Idea. Everyone has a Big Idea. Number two is Nuts & Bolts; the step-by-step, the how-to, along with a few examples that demonstrate the big idea. Everyone has a Big Idea and some Nuts & Bolts.”
“Okay, what are numbers three and four?”
“Number three is Entertainment.”
I raised my eyebrows again.
“Entertainment is the currency that will buy you the time and attention of a too-busy public. Information is the medicine they need, but entertainment – wit – charm – enchantment – are the spoonfuls of sugar that help the medicine go down.”
“And number four?”
“Number four is Hope. People don’t just need advice, they need genuine encouragement. When you give them a glimpse of a future that is better than the past, when you help them see a tomorrow that is better than today, and they see it is within their grasp, you have done the only thing that any business ever needs to do.”
Ray stopped talking and just looked at me.
I looked back at him, waiting for him to continue. It was one of those moments when time stands still. I honestly can’t tell you whether it was 15 seconds or 3 minutes, but it felt like forever.
He finally said, “Roy, the objective of every business is to make someone happy.”
Brian Scudamore knows that, and I think he may have been born knowing it.
And now you know it, too.
So here’s the question: What are you going to do to make someone happy?
Roy H. Williams
PS – If information is content, then context is the framing of that information; the presentation of it, the backstory, the angle of approach that makes the information interesting. Your goal as a storyteller is revelation and delight, to pull back the curtain and reveal a mystery.