The Nordic Business Forum is the toast of the business community, providing chances to network, make deals and learn from world’s leading thought ...

Nordic Business Forum 2018: It’s all about the story

The Nordic Business Forum is the toast of the business community, providing chances to network, make deals and learn from world’s leading thought leaders. However, this year’s forum also highlighted the importance of telling a good story.

As the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Obama needs no introduction. His deeds and achievements in office are numerous enough that when he speaks, the world listens. And as such, he was clearly the highlight of the Nordic Business Forum 2018.

The former president held forth on numerous topics, ranging from inequality to the impact of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence. Obama also used the opportunity to stress the need for businesses to engage with governments to ensure that the products they develop are socially responsible. While he praised the technological innovation and connectedness brought about by social media, he also cautioned companies against shying away from engaging with the government.

“Too often there’s a tendency for business leaders to avoid the government as much as they can. That may work for a time, but eventually, as Facebook has now discovered, you’re going to have to engage,” he explained.

His message on engagement struck a chord, particularly in light of the work we do at Spoon, and the clients we work with. After all, with context-driven content marketing strategies, we help our clients tell their story and engage with the world at large. Obama’s words drove home the point that this must be an essential part of every brand’s strategy as they seek to survive in an interconnected world.

The (business) value of telling a good story

The emphasis on telling a good story also came from a most unusual direction. Aswath Damodaran, Professor at the Stern School of Economics and one of the world’s foremost experts on corporate valuations spoke about how he values companies based on not just their financial numbers, but importantly, also their stories.

He cited the case of Uber as an example, having valued it at 6 billion dollars for being a ridesharing service. That is until someone from Uber told him his valuation was wrong since Uber considered itself to be a logistics company and hence deserving of a valuation of over 50 billion dollars. By clearly defining its story, the company was opening itself up to embrace a far larger market.

“Behind every value, there is a story, and behind every story, there is a value,” said Damodaran, as he urged companies, particularly young companies, to not forget the value of a story in helping up one’s potential.

Upping one’s potential was also a key talking point for speakers like James Hewitt, Chief Innovation Officer and Performance Scientist at Hintsa performance.

“We cannot always be on,” he said and talked about applying methods from training for endurance sports to tasks involving cognitive thinking. This includes analysing the times when your performance switches from low to mid to high cognitive gear, and apportioning analysis and strategy work to when you hit high-gear, and more menial work to when you are in mid-gear.

This is especially important for us at Spoon as we go about creating compelling and engaging content. We do intensive, cognitive work and our approach to it must be the same as that of an athlete preparing for a race, in order to achieve peak performance.