I Licked a Wall Made Out of Sugar…Ask Me How! / by Tania Katan


I am still high on PHXStartup Week! People like Marco Ceglie and Brian Critchfeild digging into narrative arc to connect with people; learning new acronyms: KPI, ROI—and my fave—CTA; and being immersed in the collective energy of people generating NEW ideas! Since last Monday, ideas have been leaking out of my brain and making their way into blank journal pages in the middle of the night. And, at the peak of my high (Thursday) I was invited to keynote at House of Genius!

House of Genius is awesome! It brings together 18 diverse, smart, and creative minds (attached to bodies, of course), once a month to listen to 3 entrepreneurs share a problem in their business. Then, the 18 take turns freely offering ideas, insights, and resources.

So, they wanted me to talk about storytelling. And, as if I needed an additional selling point, they said the walls were made out of sugar and I could lick them. If that’s not a house of genius… What is?!

I made my way up to the 12th floor of a building that felt like it was transporting me to New York or LA. When exiting the elevator the first thing I noticed was a sparkly, textured, edible wall. YUM. I casually inquired about licking the wall and received a smirk, “Oh, we just tell people that because they look like sugar. They’re just stone.”

Did that stop me from licking the wall? Hell NO! People laughed, we got settled in, and then I began to talk about storytelling.

“As a budding playwright in school…” I started, “All of your teaches, cohorts, and audience members give you the freedom and trust to create an entirely new world! But in order to create a new world, you have to SEE the world around you first. You have to see the everyday as extraordinary, dull as delightful, and the mundane as magnificent!”

As I talked about the tools I was given to see the ordinary as extraordinary: narrative arc, Aristotle, eavesdropping, empathy, conceptual and critical thinking, reading books/plays/poetry, attending poetry readings/plays/dance performances, visiting museums, watching films, I had a HUGE realization!

If businesses and organizations want the edge on engaging customers through storytelling, they NEED to hire people who have been trained to create entirely new worlds just by looking at the world around them!

So, I’m proposing a NEW idea: We rewrite the story of Why, How, and Who we HIRE. We start by going to plays, dance performances, poetry readings, art installations, and then we find out who the playwright is, the choreographer, the poet, the artist, and we invite them into our companies and organizations, and we offer them the freedom and trust to create and grow an entirely new world with us!

Let’s hire people who are trained to see a plain ol’ stone wall as one made out of sugar and who are brave enough to lick it!