At the invitation of my new friend, marvelous Priya Parker, a gifted entrepreneur, facilitator, conversationalist, and more (she is the Founder of Thrive Labs and a TEDx Cambridge Speaker), I attended a fascinating evening last night at a place in Chelsea store called Story.
Story is a store with a short attention span. And it's all good. Every six weeks or so, the store completely revamps itself and chooses a new theme around which to select the merchandise they will sell for that next season. They take out all the current merchandise (just where do they put it? Or do they give it away?) and they redo the store interior to match the new theme. I'm told, for example, that for their Christmas store, they redid the store to feel like someone's New York apartment and you wandered from room to room, sat on the sofas, drank warm drinks, and bought stuff.
The current theme is "Design" and every item in the store appeared to have been selected because it was just, well, cool design. From a new (at least to me) kind of band-aid that you draw on so you design your own wound-covered (I know plenty of kids who would love that and it comes complete with its own crayons), to cool looking furniture to chocolates from Paris. The place is cool. And it didn't hurt to have generous pourings of Stolichnaya vodka, thanks to that brand who likes the story people a whole lot.
The evening featured three pairings of people who interviewed each other about what was on their mind, loosely centered on the theme of design. Priya's partner was James Patten who is a TED Fellow and runs a studio where he makes this with his hands for corporate clients who seem to like him a lot. Priya helps people design their lives and she talked of methods she uses to engage people, earn their trust, then help them voice the kind of things that will propel them to do the cool stuff they've always wanted to do.
The other two pairings were fascinating as well, especially the third one in which each of the two people revealed their deep dark fears, rarely shared with others. Apparently they felt safe sharing those fears with strangers, like me, because they did so with flare. I was fascinated to learn, for example, that Jessica Banks, a Roboticist and the Co-founder of RockPaperRobot, is afraid of mattresses. She gets agitated at seeing a mattress so always gets someone else to help her change her bed linens.
Go figure. But trust me, that's a conversation ice breaker if you ever needed one...