The space in the Russian culture centre is filled with people eager to learn about the journey of the fellow person; the story of their making. The room is lifted by the ethos and power of storytelling defying gravity and inspiring change. The event is well-received and ends with acclamation. As people are exiting the venue they are appreciating the effort, praising the platform. All the minds are expressing their best wishes to him and his team. While he is reciprocating to them, his mind is stuck on the 15 minutes before the show. The moment of appreciation has passed, people have parted ways but the 15 minutes are still lingering around his mind, occupying him completely. 15 minutes before, he had an intriguing conversation with an aged man about the event; he had explained the event to which the man had sarcastically remarked: “Who would pay to listen to stories?” This conversation made him think from a different perspective; a perspective which he had not thought from. While that conversation had him occupied, there came a battling thought as a white knight. The battling thought was about the response of the people who had witnessed that event. The white knight was slowly winning over the other as; if the case of the conversation was true then there would have been no reciprocation, there would have been no audience.
By the time he had reached his home, the battle was won and the conversation had faded to black. Sitting on the windowsill with the night accompanying him, he recollects the day of the campaign meeting. The meeting had him, his ad agency, the client and the foreign agency with which they had tied-up for the campaign. The person representing the foreign agency gave a presentation through the medium of the story of how they had branded a new product and taken it to greater heights. This story had him hooked and made him think that if a foreign brand story could be this fascinating then there must be stories of our local brands as well. On intense brainstorming, he started seeing even a bigger horizon, which not only included one industry but all the industry and the people who were there in the process of building that industry. The idea of storytelling had him absorbed to the level that he had put aside his work for the day and started to think about the name and everything associated with it. Amidst this organized chaos arose a name “THE STORYTELLERS”. The intensity and excitement were off the charts. He was working on logo and designs of the same and was pumped as he had found something that he knew, could and will have a drastic positive impact.
Revisiting that memory lane brought a sappy smile to his face and as he was parting ways with the night; the company he had throughout this visit, he felt a sense of accomplishment; as he had been able to create a dot in the audience’s lives and he knew for fact, that sooner or later the dot created will connect in that person’s life in one form or another.
“The one thing I believe in is that if there is a dot; it will connect sooner or later.”
High on the overwhelming positivity, he dozes off. Come next day, he has the cruel mistress – reality; waiting for him. Thing was-though the event went well; was applauded and cherished, it was a huge loss on the financial aspect. This problem was there but the burning problem was something else. The burning problem was about telling the loss to his team because, see, in the beginning of this, he was the only one working but when he showcased the logo along with the concept behind it, he had 6 of his students from The Presenter’s Club as his team members and the agreement was, be profit or be loss he would take 50% of it and the rest 50 is split among them. Now, since they are students he knows very well that even after splitting, it would be a little heavy for them to lift those expenses. He wanted not to keep his team in dark and hence made up his mind, to tell the truth and only the truth; and see if the truth brings the light or burns his world.
“Revealing the truth is like lighting a match. It can bring light or it can set your world on fire.”
The team being the passionate kind was more concerned about the value they were creating rather than the money that was being generated. The truth was a lightbringer indeed. In this moment, he was proud and he had every reason to be so. The mistress is a stubborn one and would not leave him so easily. He was there and so was his team; but the mistress was pounding them hard with a single question, “WHAT NEXT?”
Times like these surely comes; which is why he always has his Beatles story stacked up in his arsenal. The story has four members of Beatles on their way to a gig. The climax comes when suddenly they drive themselves off the cliff. Three members are worried about the scenario while the remaining member asks to three, “Can we push the car uphill?” “Can we walk ourselves to the gig?” to which the three reply “no” to both the questions; the one asking the questions counters again stating “Then what is the point of worrying?” followed by another statement, “Something will happen”. He uses the story as he shares the same philosophy. He is constantly repeating the same statement: “Something will happen”.
The series of other few incidents continue to happen in his life until one incident again fires him up and makes him change his whole outlook and his mindset. The Storytellers had its sessions and in one of these sessions, he had a big personality speaking in the show. The person had well-deserved it; to share their story. What he wanted to do was give suggestions as to what can be incorporated into the story and what can be improvised. But at the same time, there was the risk of being pushy. Nonetheless, he thought, you definitely need to give it a shot and put forward what you feel would be better, which is what he did. To his amusement, the speaker gave a couple of replies like, “Is it so?” “I see what you are trying to say” “I love this idea of yours”. That was a moment of high spirits right there for him. He had realized that all the insights he had been giving was from a storytelling viewpoint and he had not been anywhere around the other person’s business which was why the speaker respected his insights. This made him realize even more that we are indeed humble people who respect each other’s field and instead of a backfire, the gesture was well-received by the other. Till date, the gesture has never been a backfire.
This moment was a spark as well; as it made him reason with himself asking the question, “Why Stories?” This question though had been asked to him but he had never had the monologue with himself; a face to face with himself. The answer did not come right away and it’s not like he had not searched for it. But it is all about timing, isn’t it? A little after that one of his student comes to him and expresses his tendency of getting easily disappointed and demoralized. This tendency was not of one but of many which is why inspiring change was that important; change in the mentality and the attitude was that important. To make people believe that if you really want it; the desired thought is possible to transform into reality. Monologing he says, “To do the above is why I have chosen the medium of stories”.
“Stories are such powerful medium that it can transform a person’s life and bring about a positive change in the most subtle and effective form”.
Knowing the “why” was now bugging him in different ways. He now, was constantly thinking and questioning himself, “Was the goal only to sustain?” “Was the vision only to get a brand name?” “Is break-even the revenue model you are settling for?” All of these questions had the same answer, “NO”. Now he knew the way of work needs to change and he needs to go all in.
“I realized, until and unless there is fire up your ass, the necessity to run an office space, pay salaries, handle it all; anything that you do will always be secondary.“
He quits his job and has decided to go all in on the storytelling idea. With a sheer acceptance, he feels fortunate to have married to his wife who wholeheartedly supports the initiation and agrees to join him on this. Now, he has a passionate team of 9 people that includes 6 of his students, his wife, 2 new members and himself to get the wheels rolling. The idea of going all in scares him as he feels he has the responsibility to take care of this beautiful team. He is further scared on this as there is no reference to take inspiration from; now because he has gone all in the only bread winner is his idea.Also, being a pioneer in this field, paving the path is always the hardest but again at times like these he reloads his arsenal and fuels himself through the Beatles story.
Sitting on the windowsill yet again with the night accompanying him he walks through the journey that he has made and reminds himself that he is in this passionately and that passion is DANGEROUS; as 20-year-old version of him was passionate about music; 3 years after he was passionate about advertising and marketing; along came the passion that he never thought would exist which was teaching and now he has pivoted into storytelling. He reminds himself not to think that this is it; there sure are more passions to come.
Going all in he is trying to build a storytelling culture and cover all the avenues of storytelling. If anybody comes with a clear, honest and humble approach to work in building this culture together and inspire change he welcomes it wholeheartedly; BUT if the ill intention is tagged along then he and his team prefer rather stay small than go big.
He is Prashanta Manandhar and this is the story of the storyteller.
“Inspiration is so elusive that you never know when and where it is going to hit you. And that small spark of elusiveness can actually bring out a powerful story within you with a power to further inspire many. Be wary because there are so many stories waiting to be crafted. Because its never too late to craft your own story.”
Prashanta Manandhar, The Storytellers
Written by Sagar, The Octopi