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How Kickstarter and TED use mission and storytelling to build communities

Reading Time: 5 minutes

By Andie Schilstra

The Coolest Cooler: a 21st century cooler that actually is cooler. This cooler is one of my favorite Kickstarter projects. It is one of the most backed projects on the site, making it a really popular idea that thousands of people wanted to make a reality.

On another list of favorites, Dan Pink’s TED talk is one of the most popular talks to date that also happens to be one that I personally love. Pink takes a deeper look at the puzzle of motivation in his TED talk, highlighting what most company managers don’t know—for most tasks you cannot incentivize people with money to make them perform better.

TED and Kickstarter are two companies that have intrigued me over the last few years. Their hip-culture and interesting new ideas are what appealed to me on the surface, and I was soon drawn in, wanting to get a deeper understanding of their business practices. Dan Pink’s experiments and The Coolest Cooler’s creativity are different at first glance, but it’s their similarities that pulled me in.

The ins and outs of both of these companies are elaborate and creative in their own ways, but they share a an outward commitment to their respective missions and their use of storytelling to build connections.

Commitment to mission

Kickstarter’s mission is to help bring creative projects to life. By doing this, they are connecting people, sparking innovation, and making people’s ideas and dreams become reality. TED’s mission is to make great ideas accessible and to spark conversation. With TED Talks, they help people around the globe gain a better understanding of the biggest issues our world faces today, strengthening the desire to help create a better future.

TED and Kickstarter are very different platforms, but they both allow people to express their individual ideas and creative thoughts, share these ideas with others, and connect to people from different corners of the world. One does this through verbal presentations and the other through creative design, but they both have the power to bring people together in order to make a new idea become reality.

Storytelling to build connections

A big part of what makes these companies so successful is their ability to find storytellers who are able to create meaningful connections with their audiences. The support for new innovations or creative ideas brings people together from all over the world, either to listen to a TED Talk or to fund someone’s creative Kickstarter project.

Dan Pink’s TED talk involved new ideas and experiments that intrigued many, making his talk widely heard and discussed around the globe. He told his story in a way that made what he was saying understandable, interesting and relatable. At the same time, innovations like The Coolest Cooler went from being mere ideas to a successful items on the market, because people from all over the world believed in the idea and backed it up to make it happen. Kickstarter projects have to tell a story as well in order to convince people to fund and back the project. Both Dan Pink and The Coolest Cooler connected with their audiences globally.

The commitment these companies have to their mission statements helps drive their respective success and the passion of their associates. It recently hit me that the reason I was so drawn to these companies was because I am inspired by them. I found a connection to their stories, and I was hooked.

Mission + Storytelling

It is the spreading of ideas and bringing people together that make these brands work. The companies don’t do all of the storytelling, rather, they provide the platforms for others to succeed and flourish, spreading ideas and generating creative innovations with one another. TED has had some innovative ideas come to life on their stage, seeming to anticipate the future. Only a few years later many of these ideas became reality. For example, a little over a year after Jeff Han demonstrated his use of a multi-touch interface in 2006, Apple released the first iPhone.

Companies can apply these lessons from TED and Kickstarter by starting to share stories that illustrate their missions. Candidates and customers who find that connection with your mission will be excited to jump on board.

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