The Inside Out Power of Storytelling

Good storytelling is a multi-sensory experience because it engages your imagination, gets and keeps you your attention with emotion, while it follows narrative conventions, even when it breaks them.

Pixar excels at the craft, and this time it looks like they have outdone themselves by bringing together the character-istics introduced in countless stories to create a new adventure from the point of view of some of the emotions themselves:

  • joy – she's glowing, isn't she?
  • fear – a slim version of a fuller form
  • anger – all action
  • disgust – defiance personified
  • sadness – true blue

I watched the trailer for the upcoming movie half a dozen times and you know what I cannot find? See if you can guess it. It has had a role in all their movies, often when you least expected it.

Yup, it is surprise. I'm thinking that is the point. I can't wait to go see the movie to find it!

Do you have the Pixar touch?

Four years ago, when my grandmother was still alive, I had the good fortune of being able to visit her with mom. Rented a car for the day on impulse and headed to see her, at that time already immobilized by bad legs.

She was sitting there, curved on her chair as I had seen her so many times in the past at the sawing machine. In the chaos in the small room that erupted with chatter from cousins and their children because of our visit, only her eyes moved from one person to the other. Under the weight of her handmade shawl, she took the small baked gift I had brought her in her frail hands, and turned her cheek for my kiss.

As it was time to leave, she whispered softly: “thank you for bringing her to me.” She meant mother, I knew, because with her she could be herself, she had once confessed it. It was a very emotional moment, to have acted on impulse with the car rental and made that visit possible. I did not have a camera with me, so I snapped a quick picture of those eyes, still alive with love, using my iPhone.

That was the last time I saw her. Work and client obligations kept me on this side of the pond the last Christmas she was with us. She died the day before I gave my talk on influence at SxSW in 2011. She was 96. I had planned a trip two weeks later — two weeks too late.

You'll forgive me, I hope, for the detour. The story rushed at me as I was watching this second video in this post: A Christmas surprise that will pull at your heartstrings, because it is a frame within a longer story seen from a very special point of view.

Products play a supporting role in our lives. When they make them better… we should dig deeper, tell that story.

More emotions here#.


Valeria is an experienced listener. She designs service and product experiences to help businesses rediscover the value of promises and its effect on relationships and culture. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. Book her to speak here.