Little Stories are exceptionally important when attempting to teach people why what you do is unique and valuable.
I have been watching the Chef’s Table documentary series on Netflix which follows the careers of notable global chefs. Each episode goes into depth about why globally acclaimed, risk taking chefs are so successful.
While each of the chefs is unique, the thing which unites the chefs is their ability to communicate little stories about why their food is so special. They are evangelists…for their approach to food.
One chef (Massimo Bottura) talks about visiting a museum with an art installation of pigeons in the rafters shitting downwards on the artwork of other artists as being his core inspiration. The idea that he is deliberately taking Italian cuisine and shitting all over it by taking risks and disrupting traditional concepts of what recipes should be is at the heart of his approach to cooking. That little story, which he relates to his customers, is the difference between success and failure. Without it, weird and experimental food seems…just…bad and uncalled for.
Take the example of a dropped lemon tart. During the preparation of a dessert, one of Massimo’s staff accidentally drops a lemon tart onto a plate. Instead of throwing the dessert away, Massimo takes the broken dessert and dressed is up as an “accident, on purpose.” With the addition of a little story, failure is made into success in the minds of restaurant critics.
By attaching this little story to the failed dessert, it’s inherent failure becomes it’s source of differentiation and success. Little stories have that power.