Storytelling for science and start-ups
Whether it’s your frontier-edge science, or your newsletter for your next business venture, let’s shape your story in language that’s clear, concise, and persuasive as hell.
Stories about science: When you first got started, you knew that if you could transfer your hunch into science, that you and your team could improve the lives of thousands, maybe millions of people. A few years later, your lab work confirms that your hunch was spot on. Your cutting-edge research has produced a few articles and you have a few more in the queue. (Nicely done!) And now, with more success comes more responsibility.
Your research project is amazing, and your story deserves — nay — needs to be told with a level of brilliance commensurate with the project itself, especially if you’re going to win big at the NIH.
Stories for start-ups: The terms (and conditions) are pretty similar. It’s your story, about your company, but you’ve been successful as the decider, not the storyteller. And, as your subscriber base continues to grow, it’s a struggle to provide them with value every week — or two or three times a week even!
Can you find the time and the head space to describe your life’s work in language that’s clear, concise, and compelling?
So, what would it be like to have a member on your team dedicated to this particular task?
The right partner, with the right tools for the job
Three things inspired me to get a Ph.D.:
- My love of reading, thinking, and writing.
- My love of teaching.
- My certainty that the academy was the best refuge for people who didn’t like sales.
And, oh boy: when I was young, I didn’t like sales. mainly because I had been traumatized by a vacuum. For three weeks in July, while I was still in high school, I sold Kirby vacuum cleaners — or, well, I tried. And didn’t. That experience stuck with me. The preying on residents in low-income neighborhoods. The weird affect. The sociopathic Glengarry-Glen-Ross ethos of always be closing. It just wasn’t in me.
Years later, I earned my Ph.D. (CUNY Graduate Center, sociology), and I taught courses at NYU, Case Western, and Oberlin College, where I became a dean of studies and well-versed in the arts of persuasion. For 11 years, I persuaded hundreds of students to let go of the little things, to think strategically, and to graduate. In my first six years at Oberlin, our office helped drive the six-year graduation rate from 81% to 88% — the college’s highest figure to date. In 2017, I decided to transfer my interest in research, writing, and producing solutions to the world of copywriting and project management. Since then, I’ve kept my skills sharp via courses in the MBA program at Cleveland State University, the Copywriter Club Accelerator Program, and the EdX program at Harvard University.
I also have a side hustle writing about rock’n’roll and other stuff. Some samples here.
Odds and ends
In case it’s helpful: I grew up in Northern California on a diet of iceberg lettuce and casseroles, and I attended a handful of universities in Southern California. Just as the irrational exuberance of the dot-com era swept through my beloved San Francisco, I packed up and moved to New York City. Five years later, I followed my wife to Oberlin, OH, a couple dozen miles west of Cleveland, which is a damn fine city in its own right.
It’s been a few years now, but I still get the occasional note from fans of my book, Stealing All Transmissions: A Secret History of The Clash (PM Press). That project was a hoot. I got to interview deejay Meg Griffin (WPIX, Sirius XM), guitarist Ivan Kral (Patti Smith, Iggy Pop), and drummer Chris Frantz (Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club). Many thanks, too, to the librarians at Oberlin College and the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame Archives for their enthusiastic assistance.
Today, for balance, I ride bicycles and paddleboards with my daughter. I’m also an avid bike mechanic and, over the years, I’ve built more than a dozen bicycle wheels. It’s just like knitting, but with aluminum, brass, and stainless steel.
Favorite writers: Zadie Smith, Dave Hickey, George Saunders, Joan Didion, and Don DeLillo. (I still marvel at the breadth and brilliance of Underworld.)
Favorite dog: our moronic Wheaten Terrier (canine loopy).
There are a couple different ways for us to join forces.
I look forward to learning more about you and your work.