Every June members of congress gather on a baseball diamond to play the annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity.
Last year on June 14th, 2017 the players gathered for their last day of practice before the big event at Nationals Park, the home field for the Washington Nationals.
Early in the morning as they warmed up, a shot rang out. A gunman, who was living in his van across the street, set out to kill some congressmen. Multiple shots were fired and five players were hit, along with congressman Steve Scalise who was critically injured. Thankfully, he and the others all survived and with some therapy is back to work.
One of the members of the team, who assisted Steve Scalise with medical attention on that fateful day, recently visited my office.
Friday I interviewed U.S. Congressman Brad Wenstrup on my podcast. He told the story of the shooting in amazing detail along with his personal story as well. The congressman is an amazing storyteller, although I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. In order to be elected to the U.S. Congress, you would think being a storyteller is a prerequisite.
As I listened to my guest I realized how important storytelling is to forming relationships. When someone shares their personal story with you it gives you context for what makes them tick. It helps you understand why they think the way they think. Stories help you understand why people believe what they believe.
Brad Wenstrup told me about how he grew up collecting pop bottles to pay for his baseball cards, and how his mom made him put money aside for savings before he was allowed to buy the cards. He told me why he decided to become a doctor and then why he decided to run for office. He told me about how he lost his first political race running against Mark Mallory in the race for Mayor of Cincinnati. He told me about how his sister overcame cancer.
His story gave me context for him as a person. His story revealed his humanity.
Likewise, I shared my story with him.
When the congressman and his representative arrived at the front door, I thanked them for coming and as I do with most of my guests, I gave him a brief history of the building. That it was built in 1900 and how Theresa and I remodeled it from top to bottom. I shared with him how I started my real estate brokerage after the crash of 2008 after my cabinet business and my real estate business tanked in the aftermath. I shared with him how I became a storyteller after every other method of business development led me astray. I shared with him about how writing and podcasting led me to write a book. I shared with him how I grew up very poor and started my own business at eight years old from an advertisement I saw in the back of a comic book.
You see, when our interview was over the congressman and I had full context for one another. We had affinity for one another. All because we shared our stories.
As I do with many guests I gave him copy of my book. Before he left, he looked me in the eye and said, “Well, are you gonna sign it or what?”
I laughed and said, “Of course, I’d be honored.”
Stories are the currency for developing relationships.