The #1 Question People Ask Me

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The number one question I get asked about Lodi Live, above all else is this: "Where do you get your stories?" I never quite know how to respond. "I don't know," I'll say. "Everywhere. People just tell me." Well, that's true and not true. I do get my stories from everywhere, and people do just tell me, but it's a little more complicated than that. So, in this post, I'm here to answer the number one question I get asked. Where do I find my stories? In a nutshell, I look for them, and when you start looking for something, you find it everywhere.

If you go onto my website, there's a section you can click on to send me information on potentially good news. I also ask people to share the good news with me on my social media channels at least once a week. But you know what? Almost no one responds. I'm not saying no one answers, I'm saying most people don't respond. I get a good suggestion, maybe once every other month that way. Even my friends aren't always the most helpful. I have a couple of great contacts who share good news stories, like at the Lodi Chamber of Commerce or Lodi Unified School District, or even from a couple of the local nonprofits, but that's also not where I get the majority of my stories. 

For the majority of my stories, I'm looking for them, and I find them all around me. I'm not living a more blessed life than you where I have more good things happening all around me than you do, I'm just looking for it, so I notice it more. You can only see what you're looking for.

Let's back up, and I'll explain how that works. What do you do for a living? Assuming you're good at your job, I bet you notice things all the time other people don't see. If you're an insurance agent, I bet you're great at identifying potential problems (and thinking of insurance plans to protect from that potential problem). If you work in hospitality in restaurants, I bet you're acutely aware of how long it takes a server to greet your table and get you your drinks. If you're a teacher, I bet you're very mindful of how people are speaking to children. And if you work in finance, I bet it stresses you out when someone opens their purse or wallet, and there are receipts and cash and cards flying around in apparent chaos.

You notice things other people don't based on what you're looking for. There are lots of whimsical quotes to describe this (my favorite is Roald Dahl's "Those who don't believe in magic will never find it."). There's also some science to it too. When we train our brains to look at the world a certain way, we start seeing things that support what we're looking for. Our brain picks up on things and feeds it to us to support our view of the world. That's why I'm always telling people to look for good because when you search for good, you'll see more good (and vice versa).

So because I’m looking for good stories all around me, I start noticing more good stories. I’m looking at the kind things people are doing, and the little things they’re doing to add value. When I’m looking at these things, I like to ask myself a few questions.

  1. Would this person be open to telling their story? To get a good story, people have to be willing to open themselves up for genuine connection.

  2. Does this stand out, and if so, why? Sometimes that means big things, like riding your bike across the country, other times its little things, like giving a homeless person a meal. Both of these acts are valuable and stand out. I’ve found if I can see the value in it often others can too.

  3. Is there an image to share? I have lots of stories, some of my favorite stories, that don’t translate well to on-air stories because there simply aren’t enough visuals. And that’s okay because I know some stories are best for print, some stories are better for tv, and some work both ways. I have a previous post on the Do-Gooder blog all about things to include if you’re trying to get a story on the air.

  4. What’s the impact of this person’s actions? What’s the why? It’s got to be more than “because it’s a nice thing to do that helps a good cause.” For example, there’s a LOT of great fundraisers going on all the time in Lodi that I don’t generally share and that’s because sometimes it’s hard to find the why. Even if your fundraiser benefits a lot of people, how are you sharing that story? By far the best fundraiser I’ve ever been to that connected people is one from Lodi House (that you can click here to read more about). Being able to connect people to the why is crucial.

  5. Will this help people? I wonder, if someone reads this story, will they be inspired to be better or do better, or help someone else? That’s why some of these smaller stories work so well. Sometimes I think they inspire people the most.

So there you have it! In a nutshell, that's how I get stories for Lodi Live. Basically, I'm looking for good news stories, so they come to me. I know it sounds too simple, but that's really about how it goes. When you pay attention and look for good news, you'll start seeing it all around you. If you have any other questions (or story ideas!), let me know.

Until next time, Do-Gooders, keep putting more good in the world!