Mind-changing businesses create experiences for their customers the way mind-changing authors and artists design experiences for their audiences.
Those experiences are sent with love and infused with wonder.
They engage us and surprise us by holding up mirrors to what’s best in us even in our darkest hour.
What mirrors are you holding up to your readers, customers, clients?
One difference between writing for yourself and writing beyond yourself is your ability to become an Experience Architect. Aristotle offered the original blueprint for how great story tellers build such experiences. But the past few decades’ emphasis on self-expression and self-esteem, some aspiring artists, authors, and bloggers have forgotten or never learned the art of Experience Architecture.
And the difference could be whether or not your book or blog will be remembered only by yourself and a couple of friends or by your fans and readers you will never know.
Just as businesses have taken cues from superior authors the past few decades in learning the art of Story, so authors and bloggers can take a cue from businesses and entrepreneurs and solo-preneurs for how they engage their audiences.
KYM Airlines changed the way customers experience busy airports by using social media research to surprise them. Four Seasons Hotels have done so similarly.
Nike Air Shoes, with the help of Vivian Rosenthal’s experience architecture GoldRun app, changed customers’ experience of “stores.”
Design artist and I Wonder author Marion Bantjes makes exquisite valentines for her clients.
I have created client micro-movies in iMovie, complete with photos, that tell a client’s year-long creative journey and placed them in clients’ Dropboxes.
I have written client poems on rose paper, folded them up into tiny dissolvable seed boxes, wrapped and tied them up, and mailed them.
I have cut instructional videos with me at my whiteboard for a client to show him what he can do and how his mind can work and create.
These things I do because, well,
I do love each of my clients, and I do love the work we do together and the work I am honored to shepherd into the world.
What does this mean for you if you’re a solo-preneur, micro-business owner with a small team, or an artist or author?
Here are three things to remember to help you finesse your artisan role as Experience Architect:
1. Journeys arc with yearning.
Dorothy yearned originally to fly up high where happy little bluebird fly. Thelma yearned originally to be free from her husband for a few days. Your customers yearn for freedom from pain. Your characters yearn for freedom for pain. Buddha had the scoop on the heart of story: We suffer, and we yearn to be free of it. So define the pain and define the yearning.
Secret: Usually a customer or character cannot even articulate the yearning for herself or himself.
2. Stories arc with wonder.
Wonder has many faces. As an author, you need to know them and how they fit in the book you’re designing – whether nonfiction (like Seth Godin’s Icarus Deception or Susan Orleans’ Orchid Thief or Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love or a teacherly personal growth book) or fiction. As a blogger, finesse them so your audience will be fascinated with insight and astonished at what they can do.
Secret: Learn how to tap into your own or your narrator’s musing voice. Shape Productive Idle time to wander and wonder in the woods of your mind. It’s designed to wonder. As an Experience Architect, you create these quiet and surprising moments of wonder that hold up mirrors to your audience’s minds.
3. Empathy matters. Practice it.
Next to wonder and curiosity, compassion is the most important emotion for you to practice. Faulkner and Steinbeck implored younger writers to cultivate it. Maxine Hong Kingston claims it as crucial for authors. David Foster Wallace spoke lyrically about the compassionate life. Without it, #s 1 and 2 above become formulaic and potentially manipulative.
Secret: My teacher Sri TKV Desikachar gave me a compassion practice. Try writing a letter from your customer’s, character’s, or reader’s point of view to you about what woes them. Listen.
Your art, your blog, your business, your book has potential to change minds, open hearts, and light up imaginations to new possibilities. That’s motivation to finesse the art of being an Experience Architect, isn’t it? You can rise to the challenge. Your patch of the planet needs you to. Your best self needs you to.
I hope this helps you bring a little more love and wonder into the world today.
How do you infuse your work and art with love and wonder? Let’s share some examples.
Thanks for running with me,