by Christina Weaver
As I pulled up to the large red doors of the Detroit Foundation Hotel, I knew I was in for treat. It was one of those great days at work that doesn’t feel like work because you get to do something you are passionate about. Something that inspires you. Something that will inspire others.
The venue alone was so cool—the former fire department headquarters now part of Detroit’s rebirth and entrepreneurial vibe. We were recording podcast episodes that day in the hotel’s hip, street-facing studio.
With coffee and water from the adjacent Apparatus Room restaurant (open concept, long bar, art-like light fixtures)
We perched on comfortable chairs, watching passersby walking along Larned Street. Warm sun gently streamed through plate-glass windows, as I listened to an episode about bees, host Lynne Golodner talking with national and local experts. Passion shined through stories of beehives and their relation to humans, stories of hardship, health, and new beginnings, told through laughter and tears.
After listening to just that one episode, I was convinced, if just for a moment, that putting on gear and facing a hive head-on was an experience I should try.
Next, Lynne and I, friends for years and new colleagues, shifted gears to talk about foundational messaging, storytelling, and brands taking stands. These are topics we’re both passionate about. We’ve had many discussions, many debates. We’ve deconstructed issues and words over wine, put them back together while having lunch, and laughed about all things over dinner.
Shortly after my session, I reflected on how fortunate I am. I love stories. They bring me joy, make me laugh. I can be reflective or introspective after hearing a story or well up with sadness. I’m inspired. I re-tell stories to friends and family. Stories shape who I am.
And, I get to be part of storytelling every day.
Norm was there to commemorate our podcast’s first anniversary—he was Make Meaning’s very first guest when the podcast launched on July 9, 2018, Norm’s 80thbirthday.
In the first episode, Norm and Lynne talked about what it takes to build a life of meaning and purpose. They talked family and work, relationships and inspiration. Norm is Lynne’s best business advisor. You can see the love between father and daughter.
This time, a year later, he was there to talk about the significance of the 75thanniversary of D-Day. A history buff, Norm shared stories of what it was like to be a child during World War II. He shared memories of food rations, of family members fighting in the war on both fronts, difficult goodbyes and joyful reunions.
Our conversation continued well beyond the recording sessions. Over a delicious lunch of salads and sandwiches, he shared other tales. I sat, with easy appreciation and wonder, listening to his experiences spanning over 81 years of a well-lived life.
He was 12 when, hockey gear in hand, he took a bus by himself from Detroit to Windsor, Ontario, to play a game he loved. I chuckled thinking of my 12-year-old son, also a hockey player, safely tucked into our car as we travel the state of Michigan for hockey games. Norm played with his buddies until well into his 70s and remains a diehard Detroit Red Wings fan to this day.
He shared stories of his world travels. He and his wife, Sonny,—Lynne’s mother—experienced the breathtaking hills of Positano, Italy, the cold beauty of Norway, the warm people near the beaches of Normandy, France.
He once flew the Concorde from Detroit to London. What a joy to listen to him explain how fast and how high the plane traveled.
The afternoon slipped away as time often does when you are so involved in the moment, so taken by the people, words, and environment. I recently heard a character on the popular Game of Thrones series say, “There’s nothing more powerful in the world than a good story.”
As I reflect on that day spent with wonderful storytellers, I believe that to be true.
What a gift it is to slow down, listen, and enjoy the craft of storytelling.
Christina Weaver is Your People’s VP of Content and enjoys making meaning and discovering purpose through storytelling.