This week, we are taking our first foray into the world of business, as Paul shares with us his take on the humanities. I look forward to hearing about how the humanities are used in business, what business leaders think about humanities subjects and students, and how their skills can work together. And probably a bit about football too.
I’m Paul Stallard and I have been invited to curate the We the Humanities for the week of Monday May 12th. It’s a key week for me as it’s my birthday on May 17th!
I currently run my own company – The Story Consultancy. We the Humanities co-founder, Krissie West, works with myself and my business partner Claire Little helping us tell stories for our clients – FTSE companies, SMEs, creative agencies, academic institutions and individuals. It’s quite funny that when Krissie asked me to write for We the Humanities, my first reaction was what on earth am I going to write about!?
I reminded Krissie that my English teacher at Smithills Grammar School in Bolton gave me 0 out of 20 for my first ever English A Level essay. The teacher, Mrs Bardsley, said that ‘Never has so much been written and said so little!’ Some would say that, nearly thirty years later, nothing has changed. I was mortified but also amused at her wit and it spurred me on to actually put meaning into what I wrote.
From as far back as I can remember I have loved to create and tell stories, designing and writing comics with friends in my school days in Bolton. I went on to write articles and create cartoons for the university newspaper when I studied History at Warwick University. I also studied broadcast journalism and had the honour of being interviewed by Sir Tom Hopkinson, the legendary founder for the world famous Picture Post. He gave me a place at the internationally renowned Cardiff Centre for Broadcast, Media and Cultural Studies, where I learned all about print and broadcast journalism. I attained the Chartered Institute of Marketing Diploma to better understand marketing and I am a member of The Marketing Society.
In my media and business career, I have learned how to get the message across as succinctly as possible, often under great time pressures and deadlines.
Also I love sport of all kinds (from football to karate) and have learned that the discipline and team spirit required can be translated into the business world to overcome any challenge. Sport is also rich with legendary stories which can be funny, moving or inspiring…just like life!
I moved to London in 1987 and worked on the launch of Design Week magazine for publishing house – Centaur Communications. Over the next few years, I moved in to the design world, working initially for Michael Peters – often called the University of Design. I have since then worked for many creative world class agencies and also the BBC. I’ve had the privilege of working for BBC Radio Five Live with Mark Saggers and Mark Pougatch and for BBC Radio Berkshire as a producer for Maggie Philbin. Throughout my career I’ve loved working with world class creative and strategic people.
While working at Omnicom, the world’s greatest and, at the time, biggest marketing services organisation, I decided to start my own company, The Story Consultancy, on the 1st June 2005. The company aims to help people, companies and brands tell their ‘story’. We bring together leading broadcasters, marketing and creative talent to explore the best way to tell the story of a company, a brand, a person.
We are inspired by the outdoors because that is where we are free to dream, explore, imagine and think. This feeling creates all kinds of possibilities:
‘Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road’
Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road, 1855
The Story Consultancy firmly believes that people love to hear and tell stories, as they keep our culture alive, through the arts and media of course and in the business world.
Mankind has thrived because of its ability to tell stories, share wisdom (with or without the spoken or written word) with pictures, symbols and now with technology in all its forms. Early man used cave paintings. North American Indians told their stories to the tribe, but never wrote them down, apart from using symbols (the totem pole, costume etc) or through smoke signals.
In the 21st century, who knows what technology can do to help people and companies communicate with each other? In the age of the internet where transparency is key, people want to know the truth behind companies and brands. It’s all about TRUST! Often, though, technology gets in the way of the message. As Brian Palmer (who said to me when I interviewed him fifty years after he produced the very first television commercial for Gibbs SR in 1955): ‘The message will always be the same, but how we tell it through new technology will change.’
I love the whole concept of We the Humanities and think that it will get more popular as people in the humanities share and learn from each other. During the week ahead, I will explore what the humanities are, why they are important, how business and humanities need each other, how you can make your own aspect of the humanities more relevant to today’s society and how I have used my knowledge of the humanities in my own career.
In my view, the humanities are vital to help us all understand, relate and communicate with each other. The humanities enrich our lives, helping us grow as people and make the organisations we represent more prosperous.
I hope you find what I write this week merits better marks than 0 out of 20!