The Impact of Storytelling: Choosing to Make A Difference by Bonnie Ross-Parker

The Impact of Storytelling:  Choosing to Make A Difference

The story I’m sharing with you happened decades ago, and I’ve decided to tell it because of the compelling effect it had on me.

I’ve told it hundreds of times during workshops and keynotes.  I think it really is one of the most impactful expressions of how we can so easily make a difference in another’s lives. One stormy night in 1891, an elderly man and his wife entered the lobby of a small hotel in Philadelphia. Trying to get out of the rain, the couple approached the front desk hoping to get some shelter for the night. “Could you please give us a room here?” the husband asked the clerk. A friendly man with a winning smile looked at the couple and explained that there were three conventions in town, “All of our rooms are taken,” the clerk said, “but I can’t send a nice a couple like you out into the rain at 1:00 in the morning. Would you perhaps be willing to sleep in my room? It’s not exactly a suite, but it’s good enough to make you folks comfortable for the night.” When the couple declined, the young man pressed on, “Don’t worry about me, I’ll make out just fine,” the clerk told them. “I’m working the night shift, so I will have no need for the room.” After a bit of persuasion, the couple finally agreed to stay.

As he paid his bill the following morning, the elderly man said to the clerk, “You’re the kind of manager that should be the boss of the best hotel in the United States. Maybe someday I’ll build one for you.” The clerk looked at him and smiled.  The three had a good laugh and the couple went on their way. As they drove off the elderly couple agreed that the clerk was indeed exceptional, as finding people who were both friendly and helpful isn’t easy.

Two years passed, (1893) and the clerk had almost forgotten the incident.   When he received a letter from the old man and recalled that stormy night.  Enclosed with a note was a roundtrip ticket to New York asking the young man to pay them a visit. The old man met the young clerk in New York and led him to the corner of Fifth Avenue and 34th Street. He then pointed to a great new building there, a palace of reddish stone with turrets and watchtowers thrusting up to the sky. “That,” said the older man, “is the hotel I have just built for you to manage.” “You must be joking,” the young man said. “I can assure, I am not,” said the older man, a slight smile playing on the sides of his mouth.

You see, the older man’s name was William Waldorf Astor, and the magnificent structure was the original Waldorf Astoria Hotel. The young man, who became its first manager, was George C. Bolt. This young clerk never saw the turn of events that would lead him to become the manager of one of the world’s most glamorous hotels.

The Bible says that we are not to turn our backs on those who are in need, for we might be entertaining angels.

Life is more accurately measured by the lives you touch than the things you acquire. So you see, whether it’s in personal or business life, it is my firm belief that making a difference is the key to success.  I invite you to consider what are some things you’re doing to make a difference in other people’s lives? When might somebody choose to acknowledge you because of the difference that you’ve made? Just imagine the wonderful feeling of fulfillment you can experience knowing that your presence, your generosity, and kindness, made a difference in somebody else’s life. We are all about relationships.  Business is all about relationships. Making a difference shifts the paradigm from “What’s in it for me to what’s in it for them.” Be concerned about others.  Share generously.  Do what you can to change the direction of someone’s life because of the value you lead by the example you set,

You simply never know where what you did, what you shared or how you brought value to someone else will lead. 

You simply never know.


Storytelling.. Bonnie Ross-Parker

Bonnie Ross-Parker
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