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On Friday Breaker was joined by Dr. Tom Guarriello, the Chief Idea Officer of True Talk Consulting, for a session on Storytelling.

Humans crave narrative, its a core element of our culture; one which transcends culture, gender, and race. Tom describes stories as being the software of our humanity, and our brain is the hardware. Our hardware drives and shapes software; stories are a delivery system for the six basic emotions.


Emotion is defined as a feeling state with physiological, cognitive, and behavioral components. Using this definition, our feelings are: fear, anger, disgust, sadness, surprise, and joy.



Tom posed a question to the Breakers, “How can you embed your product or experience in an emotionally engaging story? Stories are written for the moral, and follow the same basic structure that Aristotle codified.

To explain the question in more detail, Tom answered it for us. He told us the following story:

Tom was working one day and became very tired, he went to Starbucks and got a venti americano. He was so refreshed that he was able to finish his project.

In this story there is a victim, villain, and a hero. The villain is fatigue, preventing work from being accomplished. While the hero is Starbucks, saving Tom and enabling to complete his work..

Many people are not comfortable with the idea of a corporation being a mentor or hero in their lives. This is not the way people consciously think. Tom went to Starbucks for some coffee, not for a guide to show him the path towards vanquishing his villain. Yet when people attach memories or beliefs to a brand this is precisely what they are doing. Powerful brands enable us.

When crafting your brand’s story, be cognizant of the emotions you utilize.







For those interested in learning more about this subject here are a list of resources:


This post is cross-listed on the Breaker Tumblr

MTV Scratch

July 9, 2012 — Leave a comment

For the fifth week of the Breaker Project we were hosted by MTV Scratch for an ‘ideating’ session. According to their website,

“Scratch is a SWAT team that channels the reach, connection and creative force of Viacom in new ways to drive culture and commerce. Through consumer insights, consulting and award-winning creative, Scratch is engaging with our partners to transform industries and activate audiences.”

What does that actually mean? Scratch is part consultancy and part creative agency. They leverage the research, insights, and connection to culture within Viacom to help clients make an impact among their target makret.

Our brainstorming session was fantastic, it was led with the framework of ‘yes, and’. Meaning that as we talked about ideas the Scratchers forced us to dig deeper into each thought. This one day enabled us to take our weeks of research and boil them down to the beginnings of several potential firms.

The patterns of our research that emerged during this session were:

  • Our values for this project are not monetary, we seek people to make a time commitment to motivate change
  • Story is very important to us, and we seek a solution which will capture people’s attention

As a Breaker I cannot thank the Scratch team enough for helping us to refine our ideas. I look forward to hearing their feedback at our mid-project presentation next week!

(This post is cross-listed on the Breaker Blog)



Productive Uses

June 6, 2012 — Leave a comment

As a Breaker I had the privilege of  hearing five visionaries speak about Civil Engagement and society last week at TED’s offices in NYC. It was an amazing night, and has laid the foundation for what I expect will be an amazing project.

One of the visionaries, Clay Shirky, told us something that blew me away:

  •  Wikipedia, the largest online reference tool, took 100 million hours of human thought to build and update
  • Americans spend 200 billion hours a year watching television

Think about that for a moment, Wikipedia is paramount to the amount of time we watch commercials on the weekend. There is an enormous amount of intellectual capacity which is not utilized every year. My background in economics leads me to think about this huge inefficiency in our economy, and I wonder what improvements could be made to our world if people turned off their televisions.

I’m not asking you to swear off television, but I urge you to consider your motives the next time you sit down to watch a sitcom. Is there a project you can’t seem to make time for? A loved one you don’t get to see as often as you’d like?