Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Jessica Flannery and her great story

Today in class Jessica Flannery talked to us about the story behind the creation of Kiva. I was very captivated by the story and got really excited about Kiva. Those are indications to me of a great story and a great storyteller.

As I reflect about what made Jessica's story so good, and with the contributions of all in class, I got to the following characteristics:

1) Focuses on the main messages: Jessica said "too much information can be really bad..." and throughout her speach, she focused on her vision for Kiva (connecting people through stories) and glossed over all of the operational details behind the operation.

2) Uses emotions: Jessica was constantly telling us how she felt and what she was going through. Her emotions made it easy for us to relate to the story and feel more engaged.

3) Uses humor and a "down to earth" style: Jessica used humor and an informal speech that helped keep the audience engaged. As Micah put in class, it was not at all distancing as some of these success stories tend to be.

4) Uses many details in specific points to help create clear images: Even though Jessica was focused on her main message, she used great level of details in some parts of the story to help the audience create clear images in their minds. These concrete images help keep the audience engaged and increase the recall of the message (makes it sticky!).

5) Is passionate about the subject: Jessica is extremely passionate about the stories of the people in developing countries who are struggling to fight poverty and about how Kiva can help them. Her enthusiasm was contagious.

I am also taking Prof. Chip Heath's class on "How to make ideas stick" and Jessica's story pretty much covers all the aspects of the things that make ideas stick: SUCCESs - Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional and Stories. To know more visit

Also, if you want to know more about how Kiva works, check this video out:

Hope this is helpful.


1 comment:

  1. One of the important issues that Jessica mentioned was the importance of timing in the success of her idea. What propelled the project forward was Jessica's passion, but what truly made Kiva take off was being in the right time and the right place. Kiva was being started just at a time when these issues were taking center stage and this created a buzz around the blogosphere that Jessica could not have created on her own.

    I was also moved by how she "paid" for work when the company was in its earliest stages. Offering a guitar or letting an employee sleep on a couch is nontraditional, but works when the person doing the work is passionate about what they are doing.