I went to CES expecting to see some cool new technology. I went thinking I'd see interesting examples of what to expect in the future from both major tech manufacturers and startups trying to capture our attention. I even expected to learn more about trends and technology I was less familiar with. I figured I might even find a little inspiration--after all, I write about tech every day. Surely, there'd be something in Las Vegas that would help get my creativity flowing.
It turns out, there was, though it had very little to do with technology--at least not directly. I actually heard it twice, in different ways and in different places. Still, the theme was the same. It was about telling stories.
It first came at the Quibi keynote with Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg, who shared their plans with the world to introduce a new way of telling stories only on mobile devices. To be honest, I'm a little skeptical that the world needs yet another $5 per month streaming service--which is what Quibi is--but there was something that struck me.
Since Quibi only exists on mobile devices, the idea is to tell big stories on small screens. At first, that seems like a huge challenge, but that's what I really liked about it. It forces creators to ask themselves how the story would be different within the limitations of the device it's watched on.
Plus, the company is building some really interesting technology that allows new ways of telling stories. At some level, they might seem like gimmicks, but in the hands of a gifted storyteller technology--and its limitations--fuels creativity.
The second time was during a panel discussion where Mandy Moore talked about the power of stories to help us connect. Moore is the star of This Is Us, one of the most popular shows on television, which gives us a look into what it means to be a family and accept one another.
When asked by host Natalie Morales what the future of TV looked like, Moore's answer was that the future of television will always be about the same thing--great stories. Don't get me wrong, the cast--including Moore--are fantastic, but it's the story that people connect with.
Stories are how we understand one another and the world around us. Stories are how we connect, and if you run a business, stories are how people engage with your brand.
What I love about the thread that runs between those two ideas--the challenge and power of technology to help tell stories--is that it's such a great lesson for all of us. You have access to more technology and tools than anyone before you in the history of mankind to tell a story.
And here's the thing--while technology continues to change, what doesn't change is the power of a story to move and inspire people.
Too often, brands think that telling their story requires the right piece of technology or better gear. They come up with reasons not to create because of the limitations of their budget or what they have on hand. But the lesson here is that limitations aren't a reason not to create, but are often exactly what you need in order to find a compelling new way to tell a story.
So, I guess it does have a bit to do with technology after all. But really it has to do with using whatever technology you have, and pushing against whatever limitations you encounter, to think differently about how you tell stories. Because you have a story to tell. And that should be inspiring to all of us.