The Power of a Compelling Story

humans_of_new_yorkThis story begins with the creation of the blog Humans of New York (HONY): one guy (Brandon Stanton) with his a camera on a mission. First, it was pictures only. Then, it was pictures with captions in a subject’s own voice. Now, see how one of his snapshots has taken on a life of its own. Visit the HONY Facebook page, scroll down to January 19, and follow along to enjoy the story of Vidal, Ms. Lopez, and the students of Mott Hall Bridges Academy. Here’s a brief synopsis.

  • January 19: Vidal describes his Principal and the positive impact she has had on him.
  • January 22: The Principal, Ms. Lopez, shares her dream to provide these kids hope. Brandon, Ms. Lopez and other school leaders brainstorm ways the HONY community could help the scholars at Mott Hall Bridges Academy succeed. They land on an idea to create an annual field trip to Harvard University so these students can see that they can go anywhere and they can belong. A crowdfunding initiative is launched with a goal of raising $100,000. One of Vidal’s classmates, Adrian, was asked “What’s your biggest goal in life?” His answer?

“I want to make it out of the hood. I don’t have to go that far. But if I can just live an inch outside, then I’ll feel safe and know that I’m straight.”

  • January 23: The goal has been shattered within 24 hours. Enough has been raised to fund 10 years of Harvard trips. A new goal is established to fund a summer educational program.
  • January 26: Now that 10 years of the summer program has been funded, it’s on to the next goal. The crowdfunding continues to establish The Vidal Scholarship Fund, with Vidal designated as the first recipient.

As of this writing, over $900,000 has been raised in less than a week. The HONY Facebook page will probably have 12,000,000 followers by the time this is published, which is more than the circulation and digital readership of the 10 largest newspapers in the country combined.

This story has captured the hearts and minds of tens of thousand of people, in a similar fashion to how the ice bucket challenge went viral in the summer of 2014. It’s a reminder that while facts and figures are important, telling stories and putting a face to an experience can be even more powerful. As I ask myself this question, I challenge you to ask yourself, “How are you finding your voice to use compelling stories in your work and personal interactions?”

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