The power of STORY

I have been gripped in the power of story this week. My mother passed away unexpectedly but peacefully a couple weeks back. At 92 it was a life well lived, but it was still a shock and it’s been tough getting her affairs sorted, and keeping up with business commitments. While I kept up weekly e-newsletter group communication, my blog took a hit. But I’m back this week to share a few insights.

My Mom had a love for writing, and left over 10 hand written journals containing many familiar stories, some with new insights and background, and still others as new tales. They told family history, gave perspective on her travels, her life as a young woman during the war years, her philosophy on teaching, a love for anything daring, a deep faith and belief in God, and the life of a fiercely independent woman who could have traveled many routes, but deeply impacted those on the one she took.

I took a bottle of wine to her place last Saturday evening, sat on the deck at sunset and later by candlelight, and poured through them into the early morning hours. What I was left with, beyond the obvious personal connection, was the lingering reminder all week long of the utter power of simple stories, well told.

I shared this photo innocently on my Facebook page last week. It was the most comfortable way for me to tell an extended circle of folks what had happened. The photo obviously proved enough curiosity to beg reading the copy, and I’ve been overwhelmed with outpouring over the story behind it – both on Facebook and through direct messaging, email, phone and in person. As one good friend in theater said, “That photo says so much. Simply on its own, that tells a story.”

Stories have the power to move people. It’s where we connect on a human level. Facts are easily forgotten, but wrap them in a story and they will last forever. While I subconsciously have often used stories in my writing and in talks I deliver, this simple insight will now power all future blog content here. I think it’s something we could all learn from.

In a transition that I could only make on the heels of the Victoria Day long weekend (affectionately known as the May 2-4 weekend back east in honor of the cases of beer that get consumed in cottage country as folks open cabins), and one my Mom would no doubt find amusement in, I’d like to apply this power of power of story insight back to beer.

Molson Canadian beer to be specific, and a promotion they have embarked on to honour Canada’s 150th birthday this year. They have re-launched the “stubby”, a short bottle that frankly brings me immediately back to high school and university days in the 80s prior to the shift to long necks. That in it self could be wrapped in a historical story, but they have also embarked on a competition to have people submit stories of Canadians they know that personify the values of being Canadian. They will celebrate those 150 winning stories through a campaign leading up to July 1st, and no doubt a lot of sharing on social media, and will award the winners an iconic Molson Red Beer Fridge. You can link to the video about the contest HERE. Or learn about the submission criteria HERE. 

Beyond the obvious eventual goal to increase awareness for the brand and to drive sales, what I love about the idea is how it is wrapped in the power of telling stories. Molson is simply hitching along for the ride as a brand. That’s powerful marketing, and something we could all learn from.

So with that, I’ll tip you a cheer from my red chair up the coast with a stubby in my hand, toasting the arrival of a long awaited summer in Canadian style. I’ll be reflecting a little more over the coming weeks on the power of story, and how I might leverage the insights from my Mom’s sharing as I move my own brand forward. How about you? What’s your story? How could you leverage it? Or hitch a ride in the telling of others stories?

There’s undeniable power in simple stories, well told. Until next week, thanks for being here and connecting.


Mary Charleson


  1. Your blog is a treasure trove for small businesses with big dreams! Thank you for sharing your insights- will be dishing through your back log of posts and watching eagerly for new material.

    • Thanks Amanda. I thought I had replied to your post originally but just noticed nothing was there. I’m sure you haven’t been dangling on a thread waiting in the mean time, but I certainly do appreciate the comments. There is material dating back to 2008 if you dig far enough, and posts weekly. With the new website update the year tracker disappeared. I think I need to bring it back! What type of business are you in?

  2. Thanks Amanda! I really appreciate the feedback. I’ve been blogging since 2008, so there’s lots to discover here. In my recent website re-design I didn’t keep the yearly listing of content for quick scrolling, rather doing it by subject area. But I think I’ll bring that feature back, since I’m not sure it’s now obvious how much useful stuff there actually is here for small businesses wanting to learn about marketing. Thanks for digging in though. Feel free to spread the word too!

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