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Meet Mike Wittenstein of StoryMiners®

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mike Wittenstein.

StoryMiners happened over coffee at Starbucks in 2001. Two colleagues, Mike and Thom Milkovic were discussing what they wanted to do individually vs. what the market was saying. They landed on the notion that the companies both wanted to work with were having a hard time connecting with their clients and future clients. Those clients’ stories were self-centered and, well, boring. It was hard for their customers to relate.

Without having a name or any sales material for that matter, the duo made some calls to set up appointments to check out their ideas. Six calls and six sales later, they realized they had something.

StoryMiners was incorporated in 2002 and has since become well known for its ability to help identify a company’s real intent and values, it’s Reason for Being, and convert that into experiences that clients and customers notice, remember, and share. StoryMiners has enjoyed working with over 500 clients on 700 projects in two dozen countries since then. Mike leads the company while Thom leads his own firm in California. The two collaborate from time to time.

It’s still a fun ride!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Any business has its ups and downs. Some have their way-ups and way-downs.

StoryMiners is no different. Even though we’re focused on the future and we help our clients prepare for it, we still get blindsided by unexpected shifts in client preferences, technology, and a quickly changing media landscape.

Here are some examples:
–Tech makes doing work easier all the time, it also tends to isolate people from what were their usual communication habits. Staying in touch with people takes more effort.

–The gig economy (easy access to talented individuals who will work on a project basis) is more economical than hiring (and takes much less paperwork). Not working with the same people from project to project means you have to explain yourself more and that takes time. Also, clients can’t enjoy the relationship with team members that grow over time.

–Marketing and communications take greater effort than before. As suppliers’ business models evolve (google, facebook, youtube, twitter, email campaigns, etc.), small business owners are forced to adapt the way they communicate. This creates efficiencies but can cause a lack of familiarity due to automated messages which sometimes don’t make sense.

The hardest moments for StoryMiners have been economic downturns. When clients (ours generally come from that pool of leaders who are future-focused) start feeling cynical about their prospects, their attention turns toward today’s top issues. That makes it harder for some of them to consider us as we specialize in the future.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about StoryMiners® – what should we know?
StoryMiners is a pioneer in the use of story as strategy and in the development of customer experiences that raise a company’s awareness, loyalty, and profits. We routinely measure the economic impact of our work on our clients, and we can conservatively say that we’ve helped raise sales, reduce costs, and find new revenue streams to the tune of about $1.6 billion for our clients.

StoryMiners works as a consultancy and experience design firm. In addition to strategy, design, and consulting, I also enjoy speaking, coaching, and running workshops.

Our proudest achievements come pretty regularly. They happen when customers get their individual epiphanies about what they can achieve in their businesses with a new experience design and a fresh story. As a company, we’re proudest of our ‘business of the future’ work for brands that are pioneering game-changing approaches to doing business. We share backstories of these on our website under ‘client stories’.

What makes StoryMiners different from most other consultancies is that we run our firm the same way we consult with our clients. We are adaptive, practice customer-back design, and always focus on value creation for our clients before taking profit for ourselves. It works!

Any shout outs? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Hundreds of people and organizations have helped us progress throughout the years. We had a board of directors which got us on the right track. We’re part of several organizations (CXPA, IMC, NSA, RDI) that keep us current on trends.

Dozens of publications and research organizations give us great research, insights, and tools. Our clients provide us with feedback and suggestions to keep our edge sharp. (We like to think we never stop practicing our craft). Individual mentors include Lou Carbone (experience design), Steve Haeckel (adaptive enterprise), David Ing (systems and design thinking), Peter Block (consulting), Peter Drucker (management + simplicity), Chuck Reaves (sales), Austin Jackson (finance), Thom Milkovic (creative), John Sheehan (confidence), Jackie Goldstein (never let tech get in the way of a good story), Marge Bell (never teach a pig to sing—it doesn’t work, and it pisses off the pig), and many others.

Hundreds of authors, consultants, design colleagues, performers, scientists, and artists have also contributed to projects as well as to the shape and potential of StoryMiners.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Iñigo de Amescua, Cindy Brown

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Alan Bergstrom

    August 2, 2018 at 3:31 am

    Mike has always been an innovator and master at drawing out clues that can build an organization’s future and unveil hidden opportunities. I’ve enjoyed working with Mike as a colleague and as a client! He’s a great teacher and consultant.

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