Story: Capital, Story: Currency

We last produced our Four Peaks television show three years ago. Now it may be unusual for a graduate program to have its own show, but it always afforded us the opportunity to extend our brand and connect to our region’s influencers — from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to Julep’s Jane Park. It’s a fundamental part of our methodology to produce content to connect to others in order to inspire some kind of change. In this way, the “Communication” in “Communication Leadership” is about how we generate the currency of human relationship, and invest it wisely to incite action.

I’ve also endeavored to put ourselves at the locus of Seattle’s highly collaborative energy, with this grandiose concept to establish our place in the world as the “story capital.” It’s founded in the notion that even as we create and engage differently here, it’s an approach that can be shared with others as we fearlessly tackle the epic challenges we all face today.

In that way, in our better moments, “Comm Lead” is as much a graduate program as it is a movement (the featured image in this article was created by one of our graduates who works at the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, of which I’m a board member). Our alumni are firmly embedded in some of the planet’s most influential organizations, and many of them are charged with the mandate to tell the stories that support their employers’ and clients’ objectives.

Still if we’re going to promote organizational storytelling as an activity that enhances the bottom line, we need to continue to practice it ourselves.

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Setting up our 4K recording gear for this week’s shows

In the coming days, we’ll be setting up our virtual reality camera rig, collaborating with our well-placed alumni to create a signature event in the future of content strategy and storytelling, presenting on the future of media to visiting French television executives, and working with our students to begin to build a “storytelling co-operative” — an agency within the graduate program that gives our more advanced creators and strategists paid opportunities to provide professional services to our community partners.

And yes, we’ve rebooted Four Peaks to leverage its ongoing currency of human connection with renowned media makers and narrative artists Chase Jarvis, Bianca Giaever and Mark Gonzales. These are public figures who have been invited to speak in our classrooms and at our salons — further incentivized to accept those invitations because we will create content from their appearances to syndicate through a diversity of channels.

As we produce our own stories about these storytellers, we must consider our own narrative for this rebooted series. At a recent retreat, we considered what our overall vision is for the graduate program, and how it should align with everything we do. I’ve sprinkled elements of it throughout this piece, but here’s our working draft:

we are a connected learning community

fearlessly tackling challenges

through creative stories that

inspire change

So with Four Peaks 2016, we’ll integrate our production into classes and events, working with our students as we explore the DIY tools that give us quick access to the opportunities and people that cross our path. We’ll film in 4K using relatively inexpensive cameras, give you a horse’s eye view of Seattle from my bike and embed fun, branded content from our partners such as GeekWire. We’ll also ask our featured guests to share the “wicked problems” they’re fearlessly tackling and consider whether there’s a chance we can help them out along the way. And since it’s really all about currency and capital, I’ll have my eye out for any relationships that can support our connected learning community, financial and professionally. Such is the immense value of the stories we tell and share.