Stone Storyteller – interview with Bill Liao (31 January 2010)

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billliaoIntroduction

Last year, Debbie Jenkis introduced me to Bill Liao’s work. When his book was published and I was looking for people to interview, she suggested I contact Bill and I am very happy I did. His work in interesting, as you will no doubt discover from what you read below. Therefore, without further ado, I have great pleasure in introducing to you, Bill Liao …


Aneeta: Bill, thank you very much for agreeing to this interview.

Bill: You are most welcome Aneeta, thank you for having me.

Aneeta: Let’s start with a little about you – where were you born, what was your youth like, where do you live and what do you do for a living?

Bill: Well I am from Earth. Was conceived in Taiwan, born in Australia and have lived and worked all over the world most recently in Switzerland. Being an entrepreneur and coach / investor in other entrepreneurs has brought me business success. Being a member of the St Kitts and Nevis Diplomatic Corps has opened many doors for me especially recently in Copenhagen at COP15 where as a philanthropist my experience with the Hunger Project and founding neo.org and weforest.com gave me real insights to what we have to do to save our precious world. Also now I am an Author of Stone Soup – the secret recipe for making something from nothing.

Aneeta: Of the many things you’re involved in, I understand that you’re the co-founder of a social network service called ‘XING’. Can you please explain what this is all about?

Bill: Networking is crucial to business success. When Lars Hinrichs came to me with the XING concept of a social network to assist people do accomplish better business networking on a grand scale, I was immediately hooked. XING quickly grew into a European phenomenon. XING was cash flow positive in 90 days after its inception, which is a pretty good sign that people loved the service and XING went Public in 2006.

Aneeta: The website I was referred to by Deb Jenkins was http://www.stonesoupway.com/. What is Stone Soup Way?


Bill: Success and failure both have lessons to tell yet it is our failures that inform us the most. Stone soup is a philosophy that draws on the many mistakes I have learned from and which gives the reader an actual recipe for successfully starting a business or an NGO literally from nothing. You see I have for years used the Fable of Stone Soup to illustrate how you need everyone to contribute if you want a successful venture and it hit me that this fable was actually an entire paradigm for making successful ventures. If you read Stone Soup and you follow the recipe with integrity I know you can succeed. So much so that I invite readers to find me in their network and pitch their businesses to me for investment and provided they have followed the Stone Soup Philosophy or Way I will be happy to consider any type of business.

Aneeta: Let’s look at some of your philanthropic endeavours. Can you please explain the ones you find most beneficial and fruitful?

Bill: For many years I have been an avid supporter of the Hunger Project www.thp.org which is an excellent organization whose primary method of impact is to empower women in developing regions. Then I became interested in the empowerment of all people and founded neo.org so that people could empower themselves using language and so that people could reward each other’s good deeds. Neo has a virtual currency for people to reward each other and I realized that there were no virtual currencies backed by carbon so neo.org created WeForest.com, which is a charity dedicated to empowering our planet by reforesting 20 Million Square Kilometers by 2020. If we do this we can potentially end climate change within our own life times. Please look at the short film on www.weforest.com/video.php

Aneeta: How does storytelling feature in your work?

Bill: Stone Soup is first and foremost about the power of articulation. You see that there are facts in the world and yet how you perceive those facts governs the actions you take. If you see a dog in front of you and your perception of dogs is that they are friendly then you have no fear and the likely outcome is the dog will be friendly. Put another way perception governs the impact on us of reality and as perception occurs in language and language is mutable so our stories can change how reality is for us. I use story everywhere in my life and Stone Soup demonstrates how anyone can use story to achieve anything they desire provided they act with integrity.

Aneeta: As you know, this website caters for storytellers. What advice would you give to those who would like to venture into storytelling?

Bill: Be interesting. Indeed be curious as you can so you can be interesting. My friend John Lloyd the British producer has a show called QI (Quite Interesting) and he has an entire philosophy of interestingness, which I am convinced is the right thing for any story teller to engage with. Indeed while some people have posited that we live in an attention economy I think we actually live in an interestingness economy and so to a story teller I say be interesting. Use interesting words and keep it punchy and quick and witty and fun.

Aneeta: Bill, this is all I have to ask. Is there anything you’d like to add?

Bill: What I would add is simply this. There are two kinds of stories the ones we tell ourselves in secret in our heads and the ones we tell the world. For the former give it up and throw it away because what you tell yourself about you is useless drivel. Focus on the latter, the stories we tell each other and be a listener listen to your audience even as you speak, listen with your eyes and your heart and you will know if you are being interesting.

Aneeta: Bill, thank you.

Bill: Thank You Aneeta! 🙂


This piece may NOT be freely reprinted. Please contact editor @ howtotellagreatstory.com for reprint rights.

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