Nowadays people often ask me Raf, how did came about doing what you do today… that storytelling stuff??. ?Why are you writing that book ?The New Trade???
Well? that?s a long story.
But you asked for it!
Frustrated after a successful ?classical? career of 15 years, I decided three years ago to leave the corporate world. Reason for this frustration was the fact that I slowly became convinced of the fact that the classic management style, the classic business models, and the classic business talk, lead to de-humanizing of employees. We are trained to work with analyses, factual information, structures and models, and the notion that correct models will necessarily lead to the right conclusions and the best business, without room for emotions or the human factor. However, I am convinced that real connection, real depth of thinking, and -eventually- real business success, can only result from authentic human contact. Today’s world is showing an increasing amount of detachment. There is no more faith in industry, religion, or in the political structures and institutes. More than ever, there is need for connection, and real connections can only originate and exist between human beings, and are are based on trust.
After I left the corporate world, I took up part-time teaching at the Artvelde College. The remaining time I spent on reading, thinking, drinking coffee, and reflection. I knew I wanted to do something with my feeling that the world suffered from detachment, but what exactly, I had no idea yet. And whether or not I should make money with this feeling was the least of my worries. Yet it was hardly a ?sabbatical?, as it is so eloquently called in the classic corporate world. On the contrary. It kept me busy 24/7. I discovered the power of social media and communities. I was already an active user of LinkedIn, and now I had become curious about Twitter and those type of things.
And then it hit me! I had gotten in touch with other people who had exactly the same view on the world as I had. Not bohemiens or unworldly gooders, but just intellectual human beings with often, like me, a big or small career in the corporate world, and with a vision. The power of these contacts slowly but surely made me believe in myself again. And, more important, I re-developed a feeling about what really matters to me, a feeling that I had lost in the corporate world due the fact that one was typically supposed to apply for one specific job there, like marketing manager or business development manager, and then got stuck in that role for a while which was something I had a problem with. Anyway, there I was, sitting at my computer, socializing with equal minded people, and it felt good. It gave me infinite amounts of satisfaction. Of course I still had meetings, only this time they were in caf? ?de Verleiding? in Wolvertem. Over time, I met more and more like-minded people with which I had in-depth conversations about the future of communication, and how this could contribute to a better world. Through various sources of reading, I discovered so many angles of approach that I began
feeling like a college kid again. A better version of it though, since this time I really wanted to learn something. To know, to understand and to discover, and then to connect with equal minded people about all this. That, in itself, was already enough.
But people kept asking me time and again ?What exactly is it that you do these days??. I used to answer ?I teach?. ?Ah, teaching?, was the scornful answer from my friends in the corporate world, who considered this a weakness. So a few months later, my answer would be: ?I am part time teacher, and I am also working on some other interesting projects?. The next question would then invariably be ?What kind of projects??. In short, I apparently needed a name for all this.
The name I chose was ?Corporate Storytelling?. And my network around what I was doing became bigger and bigger. Internationally as well, because as soon as I had chosen the subject ?Storytelling? as main thread, I came in contact faster and faster with more and more people and their stories. Storytelling, I think, is th? way to get in touch with people. Today, I call equal
minded people, with similar ideas, ?peers?, and that is how I finally came to a phrase as ?peer-to-peer storytelling?.
As I was busy with storytelling anyhow, and because it seemed only appropriate to share this with the world (concepts like communication, sharing and connecting had by now become self-evident for me), I had started a blog. After one year of blogging, I figured that it may be time to let the ?corporate world?
know what I was doing. Sure, every now and then (and through my network!) I landed a ?story project?, or a workshop or lecture, but I had the feeling I could pull more out of it. And I definitely wanted to get paid for introducing this expertise into companies, if nothing else, because this money would give me the freedom to keep developing and growing, or, in other words, to keep looking into how communication can contribute to a better world.
That is why about six months ago, aside from my blog, I also launched my website. This implied that I had to go back for a little bit to thinking in boxes the way companies do. It wasn’t a nice thing
to do, but it was necessary. Companies often told me: ?Very inspiring, Raf, but what exactly is it that you are selling??. Making the site was, for me, the proces of molding my ?corporate storytelling? into a business framework. And it worked, because since that time I have received more requests than ever before for management of ?story projects?, and also for workshops and lectures. I choose to do only projects that I believe in for the full 100%, and that I like to do. Believe me, I could do more otherwise!
But having a website and maintaining it is, in a sense, a curse. Companies have pinned you down in a corner, albeit a successful one, and try to keep you there. For example, I already received several requests from advertisement agencies to work with them on a regular basis. But that would pin me down even more.
Hence ?The New Trade?. A project to create a book in a completely new way, a way that is best described by phrases as ?crowdfunding?, ?crowdwriting? and ?crowd distribution?. A book with, of course, my passion as subject: connecting the dots, networking, communities, change, believe, trust, storytelling and a new world. Today, I use the phrase ?peer-to-peer storytelling? for all this. The book comes to life in their minds, and more and more in my network as well. I want to conceive it together with the people in my network. I want to discover all aspects of it, share it with the world, and, maybe, make a little money with it.
my story. You asked for it!
I would like to connect my story to yours. Please click here and let?s start sharing.