Writing stories to pass values from one generation to the next

Values Storying for Business

Values Storying for Business

Photo Credit: jasonlam / / CC BY-SA

When I write and speak about values storying, it often comes from a context of family. However, values storying–the passing of values from one generation to the next through the stories we tell…and re-tell–is true in a multitude of contexts. Think churches, schools, sports teams, non-profit organizations. Today, I want to take a look at values storying for business…beyond simple selling to building a brand.

Values Storying for Business

My favorite commercial of all time was a television spot for Jimmy Dean sausage.  No, not the recent “cheesy” ones (See what I did there?) with the sun.  A really old one.  A short and to the point one.  It might have lasted 15 seconds.
Here’s the script.  (Setting: Jimmy Dean sitting at a breakfast table, relaxed and wearing jeans and a flannel shirt)

“You know how a lot of times we ask somebody to do something for us and they do it and we forget to say ‘thank you’?

“Well, I asked you to buy Jimmy Dean sausage and you did and I thank you.” (Fade to black)

That’s it, the whole commercial.  The spot is probably at least 30 years old, and I still remember it clearly. Jimmy Dean’s value was gratefulness. He communicated it through a simple “thank you” ad that passed along that value to another generation of sausage buyers. There seemed to be no pretense to the ad, just a simply thank you.  That’s values storying for business. It did not come across as a clever marketing ploy (though I leave room for the possibility that it was).

I can tell you this, though: the commercial made me want to buy Jimmy Dean sausage.  It made me think that if I bought that particular brand, Jimmy would be grateful, that my purchase would not be taken for granted.

You Didn’t Have to Do That

Values Storying for Business

A full-page ad in a St. Louis newspaper, valued at approximately $20,000 by the Boston Red Sox after the 2013 World Series, is a favorite print ad.  It reads:

On behalf of our partners and the entire Red Sox organization, thank you St. Louis. The warm Midwestern welcome you extended to our team and our fans during this year’s hard-fought World Series is truly appreciated. Your region, its people, and the entire Cardinals organization represent everything that’s great about baseball.
We share the same colors and rich, storied baseball history that stretches from Musial and Williams, to Molina and Pedroia. We’re both home to the most loyal, passionate fans in the game. And the four World Series in which we’ve gone head-to-head are all etched in the memories of those who love our sport.
So we tip our caps to each and everyone one of you. We look forward to seeing you again next August. Let’s hope that it’s just a prelude to meeting again in October.

The Red Sox organization didn’t have to do that. But they did. To their credit. Their value was appreciation for a fan base that rivals their own in appreciation for the great history of the game. Chances are, not one single Cardinals’ fan switched loyalties over the ad. But that’s what the top businesses in each sector do: they do what they don’t have to in order to communicate the values of the organization to a new generation. That’s values storying for business.

Values Storying for BusinessA Values Storying for Business Case Study

Check out this spotlight story I did last year on a local business with which I consulted to help tell their story:

Values Storying Spotlight: Southern Roots


Need help telling your business’s story? Email me ( and let’s talk.

About Al Ainsworth

Al Ainsworth is a values storyteller. He works with individuals, businesses, churches, and other organizations to pass along their values through the stories they tell…and re-tell.

Al is the author of Lines in the Gravel, Stories from the Roller Coaster (of a Faith Life), and the Coach Dave series. Subscribe to his email list for more values storying.

What do you think?