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Episode 002: Quantum Storytelling and Improvisation for Business with Mike Bonifer of bigStory


“Just by being restless you rustle people who are contented to sit and squat, the people who say ‘stay in your lane.’”  Mike Bonifer of bigSTORY.

I’m proud to say that Mike Bonifer and I have been good friends for at least the last 10 years.  He truly is one of my favorite people.  He always inspires, surprises and entertains me.  He never disappoints.  I love that he has done so many interesting, creative projects, and had a fascinating career path.  But mostly what I love about Mike is how spontaneous — improvisational, if you will — he is.  And, he is hands-down one of the best storytellers I know.  We got to talking about all of this during his interview, including his most recent venture bigSTORY which you can read about here.

Mike is many things — an author, film maker, improvisor, and storyteller — and so, so much more.  As much as it wouldn’t be right to define him solely by these labels, he also eschews labeling others, especially using the “creativity” label.  More on that later.  Mike has written books and articles, and has worked in the entertainment industry, doing publicity for Disney, as a founding producer for the Disney Channel, and on several notable films and television shows, such as “Splash” and “Tron.”   When Mike and I spoke we covered a lot of ground, including his childhood on the the family’s Indiana farm (his late father “Cowboy Bob” operated a theme park built around rescued horses), and the documentary film Mike made about him, “Finding Bill Murray.”  Mike shares his realization that his effort to reconcile his conflicting views of his father as both a hero and a fool helped him understand his father’s story and now motivates his use of storytelling techniques to help his clients understand their own stories, or as he puts it, “what is going on their farm.”

“ Start the story without worrying about what the ending will be.  Begin the journey, take the step. ”  

Enter bigSTORY.  Mike’s latest venture bigSTORY accounts for how stories are created, live in networks, and influence behaviors.  bigSTORY’s process is the only one of its kind in the world.  Through storytelling workshops and strategy sessions, it puts its theory of storytelling into practice with the goal of helping its clients create more meaningful connections with their employees, partners and customers.  Organizational storytelling is an emerging science that accounts for how the stories of an organization and those of its employees and customers connect, influence behaviors and shape the future.  It uncovers stories that no one is telling or would hear, otherwise.  bigSTORY offers a way of connecting its clients at network scale with those voices and the stories they tell in order to help them shape and achieve their vision of the future.

Mike and I also discussed the idea of “who is creative” —  that everyone is born creative, but that “we get calloused over by the rough and tumble of life.”  We talked about the “tyranny of the creative class,” and how the hoarding of the creative process actually hurts American business.  We forget how learning is connected to growth and inextricably related to creativity, especially when our colleagues tell us to “stay in your lane.”  Mike’s advice to us is simple and sweet:  “Start the story without worrying about what the ending will be.  Begin the journey, take the step.”  I think I will.

I hope you enjoyed this episode with Mike Bonifer of bigSTORY.  I enjoyed creating it.

Find Mike Bonifer here,

and also at  bigSTORY.

Please leave me comments and suggestions for stories you would like hear, people you would like me to talk to, questions you would like me to ask.  You will find me on  @roamhowl on Facebook, @jenbgardner on Twitter, and   here  where you can email me.  I am also on the web at www.jgardnerassociates.com where you can read about my approach to practicing law here.   Maybe by listening we will learn something and be inspired to do the next creative, fun without a box thing in our own lives.

If you like what you hear, please review and subscribe to this podcast at iTunes.  you can also email me  and let me know your suggestions for people you would like me to interview, topics you would like to hear about, questions you would like me to ask.

Thank you for listening, and I hope you enjoy.

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