Inspiration can come from anywhere, from Chef Dominique Ansel's croissant-doughnut mashup, “the Cronut” to tactics that turn awkward elevator banter into entertaining comedy.
In an era of big data and bigger PowerPoint decks, it’s not always easy to weave in great storytelling, say Horizon Media executives. What has stood the test of time, though, is the creative
spark that makes a story interesting and worth sharing -- something that can get lost amongst the daily hustle and bustle of the media world.
Now, to inspire its employees to re-ignite that
creative spark, Horizon Media created "The United State of Story" series that invites people from the world of cinema, photojournalism, comedy, art, and the culinary world to come and share their
stories, their creative processes and their personal opinions on communicating effectively.
"We wanted to seek inspiration from the people we felt had a great story to tell," says Stephen
Hall, CMO, Horizon Media. "People communicate and share their passions in so many different ways, so we thought wouldn’t it be great if we could learn from all those diverse forms of
self-expression. This isn't about dry words on a power-point slide."
Thus far, more than 300 of Horizon's 700 employees have participated in these free morning sessions. "That isn't too bad
considering the logistics of a busy office," says Hall.
The series kicked off with Matt Besser, Founding Member of the Upright Citizens Brigade, giving employees insight on presentation
skills and the golden rules of improv and live performance. Following Besser, speakers included Alonso Homs, invited by Baz Luhrmann to work as Stereographer for The Great Gatsby; Todd Heisler,
Pulitzer prize winning photojournalist from The New York Times
; Morley, Los Angeles-based street artist; and Chef Dominique Ansel, creator of the Cronut as the grand finale.
"Initially we developed a wish list of people we wanted," says Hall. "We then made numerous calls and tried coordinating schedules. Naturally, you get a few no’s, but we were overwhelmed by how
generous everybody was in willing to take time out of their busy schedules to share their passion and skills with us."
Looking forward, Horizon plans on hosting at least one session a
month, and is in the process of developing another wish-list of potential speakers. "We have a number of comprehensive and ongoing educational programs for our people covering all manner of business,
finance, creative, health and wellness areas," says Hall. "The United State of Story falls into the creative category but also has business benefits. We all work hard so it’s nice to change the
pace, have some fun and also learn a little.