ALICE was the birthchild of a slow-rolling epiphany. Amelia is a social entrepreneur who sold her business to a Fortune 500 company, built a corporate food access initiative, and then launched an impact strategy practice. Winston, after 20 years as a journalist writing for top newspapers and national magazines, had begun consulting for company leaders who wanted stories written about them, whether or not they had spent any time considering what story they wanted to tell. Amelia’s clients wanted a mission statement, a business plan or help raising money, but didn’t necessarily explore how each component of their work fit together. As we jabbered about our projects while cooking dinner or hiking in the Columbia River Gorge, we realized our clients—who came to each of us seeking a wide variety of outcomes—often needed the same thing: story.
Many of the CEOs we worked with considered story a fluffy, post-profitability afterthought—a PR effort or advertising campaign. But we came to understand that story is more than simply an outward-facing tool. Story is strategy. Narrative is the backbone of every good business plan. It informs and inspires the best mission statements. Successful companies infuse story into every corner of their culture, long before anyone thinks about engaging with the press.
So why not combine our efforts? Amelia’s background as a strategist perfectly complemented Winston’s more traditional career as a scribe-for-hire. Together, we developed a methodology for identifying a central narrative and activating it as a strategic tool. We call it Strategic Storytelling. We founded ALICE — which is both Amelia’s great grandmother’s name and that of the protagonist in one of the most wonderful stories — to help purpose-driven leaders, teams and organizations unleash the transformative potential of the narrative arc.