stories or numbers? observations #23

Daniel Lapin tells a story about working for his uncle, a successful sales rep, as a young man.

Upon returning from my 700-mile excursion with nary an order to show for my mileage, I began a lengthy and complicated explanation of why I had not sold any merchandise.

He gently interrupted me, “Daniel, you don’t have to give me the story because I am quite good at putting together the story myself. You just give me the numbers, and I’ll tell you the story. How many stores did you visit? How long did you spend at each store? How many other people were in the store? Were they customers or other salespeople? How many products did you demonstrate? How many orders did you write?”

My uncle, the business professional, was teaching me, the rabbi, a Torah lesson. In Hebrew the same word Sofer is used to describe a scribe, a scholar, and a counter, which is to say, someone good with numbers. You can never become an accomplished scholar without allowing numbers to root you in reality. Stories allow your imagination to soar unencumbered by anything as inconvenient as the laws of physics. Numbers are real and can reflect reality far more quickly and far more accurately than stories.

That’s a succinct explanation of how I want to help others–tell the story from the numbers.

Life is a journey. And these are observations from ours.


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