The Two Stories of Fahrenheit 212

by Julie Anixter

 The Two Stories of Fahrenheit 212Somewhere in New York — ON THE ROAD TO OUR 2014 Innovation Cities Tour

Creating a narrative that sticks, carries and sustains you for the long haul is interesting work. First, you have to believe that you have one, then you have to find, state and create it, and then to make it live, to make it real, you have to embody it. Watching High Hopes, the new HBO documentary on Bruce Springsteen last night, about the making of his 18th album of the same name, it was hard not to feel awe at the Boss’s ferocious mix of consistent intensity and and the hunt for brand new creative juice. Springsteen’s narrative of love, hard work, loss and redemption plays out through the Rock and Roll airwaves, and floats across, and shapes, our cultural landscape.

Businesses aren’t bands, but they have narratives too. At least some do. When a business commits to building its brand it’s really in hope of creating a narrative that sticks and resonates with its audience, and draws them closer in a way that marketing simply can’t.

Late last year we launched our 2014 Innovation Cities Tour and went looking for a few good partners. Admittedly not for everyone, we were looking for people that valued stories, enough to partner with us on helping collect and deliver 100 stories of disruptive innovators to the public this year. The first place we went knocking  in New York, was to the downtown offices of Fahrenheit 212. Not because we like them, but because when it comes to story and capital N narrative, they get it. When they started out in business they declared their own —  Money + Magic — as a commitment to only doing work that would produce commercial value, which while it seems obvious, stood out as a gutsy declaration that suggested their focus went beyond the sticky note, the ideation, the concept, the testing, the launch to the cold hard cash of market acceptance. And then they put some of their fees at risk.

So when they agreed to serve as New York city host we were delighted. When we asked them how they use stories in their work, Mark Payne, president and founder, and architect of Money + Magic shared the following with us in public conversation you can listen to here:

“There are always two stories going on when you work on innovation: the story of the customer, and the story of the company. Unless those two can come together in a meaningful way,  you won’t succeed.”

That duality struck and stayed with me. What does it look like to marry up and get those two stories working together? We’ll be exploring that and more with Mark over the coming year as we head out on our Cities Tour. And in act of serious play, a nod to their own duality, they have made a few enhancements to their space to bring their narrative to life — which you can see below.

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Julie Anixter is the executive editor and co-founder of Innovation Excellence. She also serves as the Executive in Residence for the Disruptor Foundation, where she is helping launch Disruptor Lab.  She’s the co-author of three books including the Big Moo with Seth Godin. She speaks, consults and helps organizations get innovation into the water system, and to become cultures that can make a difference. Find her @julieanixter