Maybe you’ve heard about the 30-something who went out with a bunch of her buddies one night (this was in pre-covid times). She told them about her new job as a copywriter for a big-city advertising agency.
“Great work!” her friends said. “How did you get it? Did you see it in the newspaper, or on some online job site?”
“No,” she replied, “I predicted it.” Her friends seemed startled and confused, so she explained.
“One of my school buddies told me that whenever I wanted a new career challenge, I should write a news article about myself getting named to that job. I did that a couple years ago, and I imagined all the people I might need to talk to, or write, or meet, who might help me get that job.
“Then I started talking to those influential people. They told the ad agency about me, and last week I got hired. This ‘future news story’ I made up helped me plan a way to make my dream job a reality.”:
What do we know about the first biography ever communicated? Actually, not anything!
It wasn’t written, but simply conveyed from one human to another in some primitive spoken, drawn, or sign-language format.
It might have been two cave people telling their individual stories around a campfire. Or it could have been in memorial form…a tribe speaking about another tribesman who had passed away.
Whatever the case, we think it contained three elements: (a) the person’s ancestry, life chronology, and progeny; (b) the person’s skill or specialty; (c) how other tribespeople can benefit from knowing that person.
In the many centuries since then, we’ve made entire professions out of history, biography, and sociology, which give us a better understanding about human nature and the complexities of society.
But what interests me most is an often upspoken element: what special message can each of our life stories provide to others?
The secret: Each time you read a biography or a memoir, ask yourself what special message that person has left for future generations.
Biographies come in all sizes. I’ve seen some that are only a few paragraphs long. Other bios of famous people can run over 1000 pages.
But my special interest has always been micro biographies. What are they?
I don’t define them by length, but by what the tell. To me, a micro bio points out the primary skill or achievement a person is known for.
My Dad often told this story. He was at a graveside funeral service one day when one particular tombstone caught his eye. It gave the person’s name, birth and death dates, with this description underneath: “He grew peaches.”
A man’s lifetime profession and accomplishment summed up in three words. What words might we apply to Aesop (wrote famous Fables) or George Washington (first American president)? My Dad’s summation: Many of us would like to be remembered for one special skill. What is that?
Take a look at Rix’s new book: How to Sell Ideas With the Minute Message.