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Episode 49: Making Great Things Happen

In this episode of The Family Biz Show, Michael Palumbos introduces Heather Smith, who shares her journey from an exhibition designer to the creator of StoryFile, a platform that combines human emotions with technology. Heather's initial work involved designing exhibitions, notably around Holocaust and genocide themes, which sparked her interest in preserving stories through technology.

She discusses the inception of StoryFile as a means to allow future generations to engage in interactive conversations with people from the past, capturing the essence of their experiences and wisdom. Heather explains the technology's development and its potential applications, from personal legacy preservation to business and educational uses.

Michael reflects on the significance of storytelling in family businesses, emphasizing how StoryFile can capture the founding narratives, values, and insights of family members for future generations. Heather envisions a future where everyone has their own StoryFile, making the preservation and sharing of personal narratives accessible to all, thereby enriching the collective human experience.

Episode  49 Transcript


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Diversity.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Welcome to the family biz show everybody, my name is Michael Columbus from family wealth and legacy in Rochester New York and today.

 

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Michael Palumbos: i'm super excited to bring heather Smith, to the show and we're going to be talking about the hybrid heart when human emotions me tech and so i'm really excited story file is the name of her business we're in for a treat today welcome heather.

 

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Heather Smith: Thank you for having me Michael i'm excited.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Great we're super excited that you're here we do we have a tradition, when we have a new guest come on.

 

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Michael Palumbos: We have found that very rarely does somebody start in what they're doing today and so Would you mind you know, maybe, giving us the abbreviated heather Smith story, you know where did you where did your career start and then how did story file come out of this.

 

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Heather Smith: Okay, the really short version I started as a.

 

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Heather Smith: kind of a temporary or traveling exhibition designer.

 

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Heather Smith: Okay, build exhibits in order to travel from location to like look.

 

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Michael Palumbos: For trade shows you would do the exhibits for people.

 

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Heather Smith: off NUTS on but no more for museums and cultural cultural and things like that so um.

 

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Heather Smith: For some reason I actually got into doing a lot of Holocaust the visions that were related around Holocaust and genocide which may sound odd but.

 

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Heather Smith: It was fascinating it completely enthralling and.

 

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Heather Smith: misty I mean just you can, the more you learn, and the more you talk to these people, the first of all, the richer your life gets.

 

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Heather Smith: You you really realize the value of life itself and what it takes to be truly resilient.

 

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Heather Smith: So these people had such amazing stories to tell us, and what I was finding is I could only you know, like when you do a documentary do an interview, you know you talk to these individuals for hours on end, but you can only put in five minutes of the conversation.

 

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Heather Smith: So what I what I wanted to do for future generations, because I realized my grandchildren would never have the opportunity to talk to these people or learn from them, or have the conversations that I was having.

 

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Heather Smith: And it, you know they've written autobiographies they've done all of the the narrative interviews the oral history interviews for the show foundation they've done movies.

 

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Heather Smith: You know it's a they go into classrooms and they've talked to children for years and years and years, but there wasn't a way to replicate an actual conversation with them.

 

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Heather Smith: And so I got to thinking about this started about 2009 I got to thinking, I am I need to find a way to replicate that experience of them going into.

 

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Heather Smith: A library, for example, giving a story and telling their story and then answering the children's questions because that was the moment that you see the magic in the audience and I bet you anything if any of you.

 

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Heather Smith: listeners can close your eyes and think of a lecture that you've been to in your lifetime and picture the minute that the audience was open to asking questions the energy changes and all of a sudden everyone's engaged everyone's interested in all the hands go up you know so.

 

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Heather Smith: it's not enough to just tell your story the way you want to tell it people have questions they have things on their own minds, they are they're curious about things that you might not have even talked about so.

 

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Heather Smith: We needed to find some way to to to replicate that I went to the show foundation I formed a partnership with them and another technology company also which happened to be at usc I didn't know that when I started with them.

 

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Heather Smith: And we ended up creating.

 

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Heather Smith: Essentially, the world's first way to replicate that conversation that QA.

 

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Heather Smith: Then I started taking those into those those recordings of these individuals around the world and people were using them and talking to them and having these conversations and it was impacting them.

 

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Heather Smith: But the one question kept coming up all the time it was can I do this myself, can I do this with my family can I can I do this with my grandparents, can I do this with my aunt can I do this with the founder of our company.

 

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Heather Smith: I can't tell you my go how many times I got that question and you know, at some point as sort of an entrepreneur is i've been self employed my whole life, you have to say okay.

 

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Heather Smith: You don't have to you know you first you're knocking then you're pounding and then you're like breaking down the door like okay you don't have to break down the door.

 

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Heather Smith: So in 2016 17 we started thinking, what would that look like, if you if you were to make this ubiquitous for everyone to be able to do.

 

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Heather Smith: And it had to be very different obviously than the studio recordings the the high you know professional studio recordings that we were doing with them, I mean.

 

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Heather Smith: We go to great lengths to capture people's images and their stories to the point where we do volumetric shoots which is probably the capturing the most data of an individual that is ever been captured.

 

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Heather Smith: To date, so much data to the point that you can't use it right now, which we so we call it future proofing because, eventually, you will they will find ways to use all of that data.

 

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Heather Smith: But now it's it's it's growing but it's somewhat still narrow.

 

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Heather Smith: But people still you know they they we we did that, for the historical figures for sure, because you never know you know 50 years from now you're going to have to be able to.

 

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Heather Smith: visualize it the way people are visualized used to visualizing things you know you can't you can't play a CD of something you know, in the future that it's so.

 

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Heather Smith: Anyway, what would it look like if we did it you bet if we made it ubiquitous.

 

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Heather Smith: And for that it had to be automated had to be online people had to be able to do it with whatever camera they had available to them, we don't have.

 

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Heather Smith: You know, video cameras so much handheld video cameras anymore it's all on your phone your laptop things like that, so we completely.

 

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Heather Smith: rebuilt, the E what story, you know and created story file and completely rebuilt, the and we call it conversational video but completely rebuilt being able to replicate a Q amp a with a relative or a family member or a favorite teacher, you know or a mentor.

 

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Heather Smith: With.

 

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Heather Smith: People that maybe you don't have the opportunity to talk to in person.

 

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Heather Smith: And that just people that have done really interesting things in their lives and and trust me when I say that everybody has a story there's not one person on this planet, that I could not learn something from.

 

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Michael Palumbos: So let me jump in hi there, this is great, I really appreciate this.

 

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Michael Palumbos: My I just want to share this story real quick because it'll it'll help the audience you get this my father in law retired in his early 40s.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Okay, had a successful restaurant and an business before that.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And you know.

 

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Michael Palumbos: How do I say this, I just was curious as an entrepreneur myself.

 

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Michael Palumbos: You know I wanted to know.

 

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Michael Palumbos: You know what did you sell the business for and how much have you, you know how much have you saved and you know.

 

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Michael Palumbos: To be able to retire at such an early age and live the lifestyle that you did and do all the things that you get it just the math wasn't adding up the question you know the questions were you know there for me to to answer to ask and so he shared all that information with me.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And it was amazing you know he retired.

 

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Michael Palumbos: At about 1980 to 1983 and so now think about this from a standpoint of luck, a little bit the stock market went on a tear from 1983 to nine to 2019 99 basically.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And averaged about 16% a year during that period of time crazy it just an unheard of bull market that we had at that time and that's when he retired.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Now he didn't plan it that way, he didn't know what was going to happen, but everything kind of worked out and the reason why i'm sharing the story is because you know, I was talking to my wife about her father strange because, how do you know that.

 

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Michael Palumbos: I never knew that, like, I asked the question yeah so go back to you know what are the questions, how did How did we do things, and you know what is our history and, what is your history and all that stuff we have these questions.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And you know when and story file provides a way, if I understand it, what you've got here is a you know, an automated way of asking questions and capturing the answers, so that people can see and learn from the past.

 

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Heather Smith: yeah it's not just a I will tell you, though, it's not just recording it you don't have to watch five hours of this individuals recording.

 

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Heather Smith: You know and and then listen to every you could, if you wanted, but it's meant to create conversations with this individual and when we create a conversation when we ask our own questions of individuals.

 

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Heather Smith: We connect with them differently than passively listening to something so and you also have a chance to maybe go in a little bit deeper depending on how many questions they answered and and just find out a little bit more like tell me more about that or.

 

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Heather Smith: You didn't mention where you were at this time, or how old you are how how old were you when this happened.

 

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Heather Smith: For example, when did you get married or a tell me about your wedding when you said, and they tell you all about the you know the the wedding.

 

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Heather Smith: Where it was hot maybe how many guests that were you know who married data, but they don't tell you what were you thinking.

 

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Heather Smith: Before you went down the aisle like right before you got married you know or was there anything any doubts that you had going into it like did you get.

 

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Heather Smith: cold feet and things like that, or what was the funniest thing that happened at the wedding they don't tell you all those little details.

 

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Heather Smith: So you need to be able to have those opportunities to ask those questions and really get at it and story file oversee that because they ask all those questions.

 

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Heather Smith: And then you can have these conversations and I guarantee you, you will have conversations differently at different stages in your life.

 

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Heather Smith: Because at 25 we we asked a certain witness it will certain questions at 35 we're going to ask different questions at 55 we're going to ask even different questions than we had asked earlier.

 

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Heather Smith: And I think that's the thing about losing someone that you love so dearly is you, by the time that happens.

 

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Heather Smith: You do have a lot of questions after that they that you didn't think of necessarily to ask earlier on in their life so.

 

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Heather Smith: You know I can't emphasize enough the you know how many people that have you heard of that keep a recorded message on their phone of their parent just so they can hear their voice.

 

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Heather Smith: You know and.

 

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Heather Smith: It just it's such a gift to give to your generations in your family.

 

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Heather Smith: You really have no idea.

 

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Heather Smith: What a gift, it is, and you may need You may think Oh, this is really narcissistic and oh I don't have a story to tell and data.

 

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Heather Smith: I guarantee you if you've lived on this planet for any amount of time you have a story to tell and the ones that people that love you that are close to you will want to remember that story and be able to remember your life.

 

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Heather Smith: yeah tough, I would urge everybody to do it.

 

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Michael Palumbos: love it, and so, for our audience, because this is the family biz show we're talking about family businesses.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Over and over again when when a business owner is successful and going from generation to generation to.

 

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Michael Palumbos: A huge milestone.

 

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Michael Palumbos: yeah and and you know.

 

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Heather Smith: And it's often a very difficult milestone.

 

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Heather Smith: You probably know this statistic I grew up in a family business, and this, the statistics of the second generation taking over and being successful at running that business and keeping it alive or very low very low.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Right and so and part of that you know I we talked about those statistics and I share it with family businesses, they all know that.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Any business, regardless of whether its family or not, the statistics to get past year 10 in any business, regardless of family or whatever is tough so.

 

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Michael Palumbos: So it's not just about a family business statistic i'd like to make you know, let people know that, because if you once you get past your 10 in any business you're successful.

 

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Michael Palumbos: You have done wonderful good good things in order to get it to the next generation, there are lots there is lots of work that needs to happen for those things to happen.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And where what's really interesting is generation to.

 

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Michael Palumbos: is talking with generation y.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And they learn from generation when they get to see it.

 

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Michael Palumbos: But the odds are.

 

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Heather Smith: The generation one.

 

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Michael Palumbos: may not be around the child tell generation three.

 

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Michael Palumbos: what was going on, when they started the business and what was what was happening, and I have a client comes to mind right now.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And they had some very special unique things that grampa did to start the business grandma and grandpa did it together.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And they're not with us any longer, they diagnose 60s, and so we they died early and so all of those special stories I work to try to extract from their children, but they don't remember them exactly the same way that their parents did.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And so, for this for this purpose, you know.

 

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Michael Palumbos: there's a there's a family business in Rochester there an amusement park sea breeze amusement Park, they were around during the Spanish flu.

 

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Michael Palumbos: They were in business when the Spanish flu flu was here so here's a family that they don't remember those things but.

 

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Michael Palumbos: You know, could you imagine if somebody had recorded and talk to, and we didn't have the ability to do it back then, but the people that were you know that own the business what they were doing at that time.

 

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Michael Palumbos: What they were thinking during the Spanish flu and then be able to record what they were doing through this pandemic and be able to compare those notes as a family.

 

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Heather Smith: yeah amazing.

 

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Heather Smith: be pretty popular yeah and a lot of people don't really they.

 

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Heather Smith: They you know a lot of naysayers will say Oh, you know the circumstances were so different than and we had technology we had this and we have that actually life is pretty predictable and it's pretty.

 

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Heather Smith: There are you universal things that we do as human beings.

 

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Heather Smith: all the time.

 

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Heather Smith: That work and that and that you know you, you may have to tweak it a little bit for a given environment but it's there are basic things that have always worked and will continue to work, and you know you to learn those is like I said before, it's a gift yeah.

 

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Michael Palumbos: In the family business so let's let's dig a little deeper into the you know how a family business could utilize this technology for them.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And I think you'll connect with some of the things that i'm saying, and some of them you'll just help me to take it down where you want to go with that, but.

 

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Michael Palumbos: I believe that the families that do end up making it to that generation three or four or beyond are they do it because the family is driven by a purpose beyond profit.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And that is one of the you know it once there's a purpose beyond profit and we can think about this, this is i'm just a steward of this purpose, right now, and we utilize the business as part of that it makes a giant difference.

 

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Michael Palumbos: You know it's my time to be the story of it.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And when the family has a set of values that they can connect to that purpose and pull all those two pieces together.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Now, when we start talking about capturing the story of G one you know, sometimes when G one generation one started the business was because they needed to eat, they need to put food on the table for the family, but then it morphed into something bigger than them and.

 

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Michael Palumbos: yeah So how could a family business utilize this for.

 

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Michael Palumbos: For them themselves.

 

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Heather Smith: Just hearing the stories about what was important to you what were those values, you know what was your purpose at the time okay 10 years later it's successful now, what is your purpose.

 

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Heather Smith: You know why do you get up in the morning and do what you do.

 

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Heather Smith: Did you enjoy what you did you know.

 

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Heather Smith: You know, and things you know what would you have done differently um, what is your, what do you think your legacy was and what would you like to see happen.

 

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Heather Smith: To the business in the future, what do you think I should pay attention to what do you, what do you think is important for us to concentrate on you know always where's our North star.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Basically yeah.

 

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Heather Smith: You know, and if you if you do you want, if you're lucky enough to really have a family business, and I mean really have a family business completely owned on your own.

 

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Heather Smith: If you're right, you have to look at it, as your stewardship your you are.

 

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Heather Smith: The gatekeeper for only a period of time.

 

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Heather Smith: You know, and your purpose.

 

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Heather Smith: is to leave that in better shape than you found it.

 

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Heather Smith: Hopefully.

 

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Heather Smith: But that you need those those past generations to reinforce that and to really drive it home, you know, and you really have to feel it, it has to be in you.

 

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Heather Smith: At the issue with you know, I have some some family business owners, they do want to pass a you know, and they do story files they do them with the intent of I want my kids to really know my story know what I went through know the values know what.

 

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Heather Smith: What I would like them to think about you know and the purpose, like you said in the values and have I don't think that they're really at their age, right now, I don't think that they're going to be asking me those questions.

 

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Heather Smith: And it might be too late.

 

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Heather Smith: You know, God forbid, I get diagnosed with I don't know what you know i'm i'm 55 and it's.

 

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Heather Smith: it's it's a reality, and if you don't have that that legacy written down or videoed I would encourage you to video it simply because nonverbal communication is a lot of how we communicate.

 

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Heather Smith: So you don't get the full picture, when you write it when you write an autobiography so it's and it's and it's not even.

 

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Heather Smith: Just audio capturing it, you need video to capture it, you need to look into that person's eyes see them tell the story in order to fully connect with that individual and feel the values feel how important that was to them, and why so yeah it's.

 

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Heather Smith: I think passing that on is critically important to the success of the generational success of a particular business absolutely.

 

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So.

 

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Michael Palumbos: How I want to talk about other ways story file is used and and things that you've done with it, but before we do that, I do want you what's the is it just story file not calm is the website.

 

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Heather Smith: yeah either story file.com and it story file.com forward slash life if you want to go directly to live for you can get on it through stripe out.com.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Okay, so story file.com slash life, and it will take you to what we're talking about here.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And you told me at the beginning and do I mean, I know, prices will change in time and whatnot but we're talking about an insignificant amount it when you're talking about the the power that you're.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Bringing to especially family businesses and talking about you know capturing that legacy and capturing those questions and those things that could be so important.

 

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Michael Palumbos: it's it was under $1,000 to get started on this process and it's just silly you know I really encourage people to be looking at.

 

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Michael Palumbos: capturing their story, whether you story file or some other way I haven't I haven't been telling people to capture this for years, I just think it's so important because.

 

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Michael Palumbos: You know there's there is a friend of mine, a colleague said when somebody dies it's like a library burning.

 

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Michael Palumbos: All of those stories.

 

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Michael Palumbos: All of those tales all of that knowledge is then gone and so you know you only get this chance to do it and it's usually too late for most people most people don't do this, and I know that, but the ones that do it's so powerful.

 

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Heather Smith: opener for me just eat it's a you're giving of time that's what you're giving you know you it takes you time to do this you're right, but what you're giving to those generations is.

 

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Heather Smith: it's it's the gift of life, it is it's that whole library.

 

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Michael Palumbos: yeah um.

 

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Michael Palumbos: You mentioned something before we started about grandchildren and I think it's really important that people.

 

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Michael Palumbos: start thinking about this, not from your perspective or not, maybe not even from your kids but what are the grandchildren why, why do you want to talk, why do you want to do this, for your grandchildren.

 

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Heather Smith: Because they they will ask different questions at 20 and 35 and then different questions at 35 they will have for you.

 

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Heather Smith: And you won't be there when they're 55 the chances of you being there when they're 55 are very low, although I do have one client that says that we're all going to be living to.

 

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Michael Palumbos: 120 25 I like that person.

 

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Heather Smith: he's a very fascinating work that they've been doing it's called reboot and they're amazing but anyway um.

 

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Heather Smith: You.

 

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Heather Smith: You just have different question you go through life and you get you hit different stages in your life and at different things, obviously, and.

 

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Heather Smith: it's inevitable we learn through living and we learn through experience, then we have different questions, we can relate to people differently and.

 

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Heather Smith: Those kids are going to have the same questions that we have now, but what if they can actually have them answered, what if they could talk to their grandparents when they do have those questions or just.

 

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Heather Smith: Even from the fact of remembering them do you have it, I often do this in lectures, I have the entire audience close their eyes and I want them to picture a loved one that has passed away, and then I asked them.

 

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Heather Smith: To.

 

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Heather Smith: picture how amazing, it would be to just be able to say hi to have that that just you know just a conversation with that individual.

 

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Heather Smith: And remember, who they were and and then that person obviously meant something to you because they they popped into your head first right.

 

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Heather Smith: How about what it would be like to introduce that person to your children and your grandchildren, who will never have the opportunity to meet that person who influenced your life.

 

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Heather Smith: You, we are all products everyone on this planet is products of who lived before us and our our past our descendants and and our.

 

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Heather Smith: Generations before us we're all a product or identity is a product of that.

 

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Heather Smith: We should know as much about that and keep that and pass that on as we can and.

 

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Michael Palumbos: it's really interesting, I want to make sure that people are capturing what's different about story file because i'm not sure.

 

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Michael Palumbos: The way that we capture it so story file, you know the the foundation of it is the video and all and thousands or hundreds of questions that you're being asked that something that somebody is being asked, but the delivery, then, is artificial intelligence.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And that's what but we haven't we I think we skipped that a little bit and so it's that artificial intelligence.

 

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Michael Palumbos: That works through your system.

 

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Michael Palumbos: That allows you.

 

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Michael Palumbos: To have a conversation with this person that doesn't exist any longer it's not on this planet any longer.

 

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Heather Smith: But it is very important that we don't edit or manipulate anything that you've set.

 

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Heather Smith: And that's very important to us as far as you know, with regard to story file line.

 

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Heather Smith: There are several companies out there, that will build you an Avatar that looks exactly like you they'll capture your voice they'll do a clone of your voice, and they can make you say anything.

 

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Heather Smith: That they want basically.

 

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Heather Smith: We do not feel that.

 

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Heather Smith: I don't want my story told.

 

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Heather Smith: In some other different way that some computer decides to tell it.

 

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Heather Smith: I want to be able to tell it my myself with my body language, for example, I just put my my hand up and down and that that tells you something instead intuitively it tells you something about me.

 

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Heather Smith: there's no computer alive, that will be able to duplicate or replicate the body language that I have when i'm expressing or telling a story, and so it, it does make a difference to be authentic and to record your authentic self.

 

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Heather Smith: whatever way you want, you know you can you can do it in a Bikini you can do it in your dining room, you can do it in you know.

 

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Heather Smith: Your living room I anywhere outside your favorite chair doesn't matter you can do it from bed, you know it doesn't matter it's passing on.

 

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Heather Smith: You and it's having those future generations, look into your eyes and hear and know exactly that that i've said that i've told this story, and this is coming from me.

 

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Heather Smith: And it's not messed with you know it's not edited it's there's nothing that's manipulated in it, and I think that's that's key to what we do.

 

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Heather Smith: And the other thing that's different is that you're actually having a conversation you're not just passively watching Somebody tell their story which is, it was very important to do.

 

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Michael Palumbos: love it so it's that it's taking technology that's available today and utilizing it and i'm i'm on the story file life.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Page right now and it's really interesting it's it's great because you William shatner joined you to do to do his story file.

 

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Michael Palumbos: and allowed you know you're using it on the web page there, but the what you say on here is, you know, in the past, and I think about my mom with all the photo albums.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Yes, yes, and we used to do everything through photo albums and you would just you would guess like we, I have a picture behind me and my grandmother my grandfather, and my father and uncle have both debated as to whether that was really him or not.

 

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Michael Palumbos: yeah it was a young picture.

 

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Heather Smith: of him so tell you what what the great thing about story violence, so not in this version of story for life but soon, and if you did if you did do the $500 package you'd be able to do this when it comes out.

 

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Heather Smith: We want people to be able to do it with what we're calling a talking album.

 

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Heather Smith: And just exactly what you said I show this picture and i'm going to now describe what's happening i'm going to describe where this where this picture was taken what the story behind it, why I kept this picture, why it means so much to me who's in the picture.

 

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Heather Smith: You can say whatever you want about that picture and that data that that what we're calling box tacking that that voice data goes with that picture, then so if I pull up.

 

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Heather Smith: Do you have any pictures of your grandparents wedding you you with the the that picture will show up and you, you would hear you we would hear you tap talking about who's in that photo and what was happening.

 

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Heather Smith: that's going to be an amazing feature, I think, for a lot of people, because it gives you a lot of it, it allows you to bring in your past relatives who didn't have the opportunity to do a story file life.

 

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Heather Smith: And it allows you to talk about them and tell tell your future generations a little bit about who you know and who was involved in your life.

 

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Heather Smith: And why they were important to you.

 

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Michael Palumbos: right we do a lot of our clients, one of the first stories that we start to integrate is we do a family meeting.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And I asked the current generation that's doing the estate planning work, I asked them to describe to their children.

 

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Michael Palumbos: How the estate plan was done between their parents in them and.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And what did they like about that estate planning process what didn't they like about the estate planning process, which you know why we're all together today.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And you know what didn't what What did you learn about money from your your parents, what did you learn about money from your grandparents and when we start asking those questions I just did this, it was last year, we had a family that we did the family meeting and.

 

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Michael Palumbos: The mom the current matriarch of the family.

 

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Michael Palumbos: started to cry and and she was like we never talked about money.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And our family we we thought we were going to be broke forever because we just didn't know what the next day was going to hold and what was going to happen, where we're at and here's a family that.

 

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Michael Palumbos: You know they broke seven figures as a family, they have some wealth not not exorbitant you crazy wealth.

 

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But.

 

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Michael Palumbos: She couldn't spend.

 

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Heather Smith: yeah.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And the kids the kids started to cry because they're like oh you're always thinking and feeling, you know that you're going to be broke because of where you came from and how you did things and oh my gosh and we get it that conversation sparked.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Many other conversations, which was really helpful and the ones that came from that is that they are now taking a family vacation all together, because what the kid said his mom the money doesn't mean anything to us, we want to do things with you.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And now mom has the ability to spend some of that money.

 

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Michael Palumbos: To do things.

 

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Michael Palumbos: With the family that they would have never done.

 

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Heather Smith: Think about that, having that conversation earlier in their life and and how it would have changed them all, it might not have, but you never know.

 

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Heather Smith: You know and and thank God they've had.

 

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Heather Smith: data, thank God, you started that conversation, because you you knew the questions to ask they might not have known those stories had they've not gotten into a conversation with her and just kind of it led them to that story, you know, a because they might not have asked specifically.

 

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Heather Smith: So that's what story file allows you to do is to have those kinds of conversations you can even have a really difficult conversation with a loved one and they don't even have to know that you've had it.

 

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Heather Smith: You know and and then, once you've had that conversation with them, maybe if they still are alive, you can have a completely different conversation with them.

 

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Heather Smith: For example, you know mentors and experts and fields, they get asked the same questions over and over practically every day right and they know them they know all of them, what if I could have that conversation.

 

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Heather Smith: Just with you, you know, wherever I am in the world, whatever time I want I asked those questions I get that base knowledge, right now, if I met you in person.

 

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Heather Smith: Having that base knowledge how different would our conversation be how much more important and deep and really getting at it and learning would that conversation be tremendous wouldn't.

 

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Heather Smith: Read So those are the types of conversations that story file life can can enable and allow you to have.

 

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Michael Palumbos: So inside of you know, the family business world, the family thriving family enterprise world there's just the there's there's stories about wealth.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Their stories about you know the business Their stories about family values there's you could lots and lots of different ways that you could do this eventually with you know Could somebody you know, like the story life.

 

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Michael Palumbos: walk me through that's how many questions or how many hours of video.

 

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Michael Palumbos: and actually in something like that.

 

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Heather Smith: story file life if you did it.

 

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Heather Smith: You know the if you did the product on your computer your you know your grandchild filmed you on their phone, or whatever you wanted, however, you wanted to do it.

 

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Heather Smith: You we've got available to you right now about 1600 questions, and I know that sounds daunting.

 

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Heather Smith: But obviously you know, unless you're a World War Two veteran.

 

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Heather Smith: you're not going to answer that that line of questioning.

 

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Heather Smith: So there are a lot of very specialties scripts in that, but there are there are some things you can go into a topic, and you can pick individual questions or you can just select all.

 

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Heather Smith: You can answer as many questions as you want in.

 

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Heather Smith: In a bit.

 

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Heather Smith: Another iteration of this is going to have follow up questions that people can add to the interview on the spot, so if if I wanted you to clarify something that you said in an answer and i'm a grandchild and i'm interviewing you I would have the opportunity to ask follow up questions.

 

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Heather Smith: So that's coming down the Pike as well, so it's.

 

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Heather Smith: it's.

 

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Heather Smith: You don't have to answer that the you know you don't have to do it all at once, you can do it, you know different days, and there are some things that you might want to pay attention to like.

 

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Heather Smith: Do I look the same Am I wearing the same thing I my capturing myself in the same environment.

 

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Heather Smith: Or you can say I don't care about that i'll do it wherever I want to do it whatever whatever answer i'll do is yeah we have some people that wanted to do the same 250 or 300 questions.

 

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Heather Smith: Every 10 years of their life, you know and and just have that that kind of that timeline of Oh, I want to see how different if I ask you the same question about your values at 25 What were they then it's 65 you know in in different things in.

 

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Heather Smith: It you know how cool would it be to be able you're 35 and you talk to your your 16 year old your 16 year old daughter or 15 year old daughter talks to you at 16.

 

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Heather Smith: it's it's or even you know, we have one parent that wanted to do wanted to do story files, with their children before they went to college and then she wanted to do another story file when they got out of college and they finished.

 

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Heather Smith: Just so they could see the difference in their thinking and their their answers during that period of time that short period of time even.

 

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Heather Smith: So there's there's a lot, you can do a lot of things with it, you just your imagination leads to.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Unbelievable um you know I mean you can answer a lot in five minutes.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And then, and then there's other questions you could dig deeper and put it all.

 

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Together I love this.

 

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Michael Palumbos: What happened I what haven't we talked about that we should not you know what I want to talk about i'm.

 

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Heather Smith: Saying.

 

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Michael Palumbos: I want to go back to the right where we started, we talked about the exhibits because now that I see the picture.

 

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Michael Palumbos: I can see it a little differently, and I understand it, a little differently, now that we've had this conversation, but when you're talking about doing an exhibit at a museum and you did it for the Holocaust.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And what you set up with that when you started to switch over this way of doing things you set up live conversations with Holocaust survivors to this Ai enabled video chat and that's really what I mean that's that's pretty powerful, so what.

 

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Heather Smith: It was interesting because when I started this so it was 2009 and we had our first prototype that we built in that we were testing in the public into.

 

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Heather Smith: Early 2013 you know 2013 and don't forget Skype had been around since about 2007, I think, but it didn't really become ubiquitous until 2012.

 

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Heather Smith: So it was hysterical because we would go in and the people would come in the room.

 

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Heather Smith: And we would tell them, this is a video recording of an individual that you're about you can ask this individual any question you want, you can have a you know, a conversation with them and we just want your your feedback.

 

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Heather Smith: I mean, we would have people that would actually thank that person.

 

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Heather Smith: like thank them for talent for you, for talking to them and taking the time and you don't know how how important this is my grandchild you know and just go into it, we had women that would literally fall in love and as this.

 

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Heather Smith: You know where are they are they single you know, we had people that would thank them.

 

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Heather Smith: When they were leaving their, thank you for talking to me and.

 

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Heather Smith: It was interesting because they really thought that individual was there.

 

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Heather Smith: Just because there was no other reference, it was just they thought they were talking to a person on Skype.

 

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Heather Smith: So it's it's fascinating it was fascinating to see you know and how people once they get into it.

 

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Heather Smith: You know it's it's it might seem a little strange it's like talking to siri you know you hold the button down, and you, you ask a question.

 

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Heather Smith: In it at first, but then, once you get into it, you lose that sense of technology, you lose all the technology around you and it's just about you, having this conversation that seems.

 

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Heather Smith: And if this person's done a lot of questions like answered a lot of questions they've got a very large database, you can continue these conversations for very long time, and ask a lot of different things about a lot of different subjects so.

 

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Heather Smith: it's it's a it's going to be a fascinating world when everyone has a story file.

 

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Michael Palumbos: yeah every.

 

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Heather Smith: Everyone on this planet will have a story file their own story file.

 

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Heather Smith: that's pretty you could it, you would have one, and you would put it on your linkedin and you would have a bio view.

 

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Heather Smith: And you answer just a standard 40 questions about yourself about your bio like and you put it on your linkedin and people can actually ask you questions about your life.

 

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Heather Smith: what's your education, you know why do you do what you do, where do you work things like that, and you can you automatically feel like I know you like I get like I get a sense of you.

 

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Heather Smith: Rather than just reading your bio and seeing a picture of you.

 

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Michael Palumbos: love it and that's starting to happen.

 

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Michael Palumbos: A little tiny bit with linkedin you mentioned linkedin where they.

 

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Michael Palumbos: You know they have you can put a little video and say hi 30 seconds, or whatever what you're talking about is you know, being able to have a conversation with that person you'd be able to know whether you want to work.

 

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Michael Palumbos: With that person quickly that's pretty cool.

 

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Heather Smith: yeah yeah think of it for for hiring people, you can actually go on you don't have they don't have to know.

 

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Heather Smith: You can have you have a conversation with these individuals and then you can call in and have interviews with people that you really want to have in interviews with.

 

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Heather Smith: You know, because you've already done that it's not just looking at a CV or resume it's it's actually having asking that person seeing how they talk about their life, and you know how they communicate and seeing if you have that kind of rapport with them, and you want them to come in.

 

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Michael Palumbos: lava lava.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And the family business so like i'm thinking about this from a family business perspective and I a couple people are coming to mind right now.

 

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Michael Palumbos: One is you know they're in their 70s, still in the business day to day and.

 

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Michael Palumbos: They have a granddaughter that.

 

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Michael Palumbos: hasn't you know graduated from high school yet okay.

 

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Michael Palumbos: You know, and her parents, you know that in between generation two is running the business and doing things we have no idea whether that granddaughter will want to be in the business.

 

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Michael Palumbos: 10 years from now.

 

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Heather Smith: But there's a possibility that, within the next 10 years they may not be with us any longer right.

 

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Michael Palumbos: So now right now is the time to answer all of those questions and whether it's your granddaughter that you're answering the questions for about the business or it's whoever is running the business in the future, because a business can be infinite.

 

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Michael Palumbos: We are all finite you know human beings are finite.

 

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Michael Palumbos: A business, if you so choose can be infinite if you've done the work to put together a leadership team.

 

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Michael Palumbos: you're always gonna want your influence on that other generation doesn't have to be bindings.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Right.

 

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Heather Smith: that's what this is you, you can you can tell this story is about it, he you know you can ask the incoming CEO or whoever's running it takes it over they want to know about liquidity, how do you deal with liquidity like not having enough.

 

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Heather Smith: enough cash, how did you do, did you do yeah What did you do when you had surpluses, what would What would you like the business to.

 

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Heather Smith: have done or see do with those surpluses, you know, would you expand, would you do this, you know where, how do you feel about all of that.

 

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Heather Smith: I mean.

 

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Heather Smith: it's an it's an it's an opportunity for you to have some sort of influence on that generation yeah.

 

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Heather Smith: Why don't you do it.

 

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Heather Smith: Leave that for them so they know.

 

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Michael Palumbos: i'm so excited you know it's it's funny because through the years, just so you know I have interviewed other people that believe in this the power of story and i'm a firm believer in the power of story and again that but, having a platform that was affordable and.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And as thought filled as what you've put together, I really am I haven't seen that, I mean I know people can go to your recording studio and have the white glove treatment, and you have professional interviewers and all that and that's an option that's available through story file.

 

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Michael Palumbos: But what you've created through this package that's $500 right now is pretty incredible to do you know a lot of this stuff.

 

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Heather Smith: We really wanted it to be ubiquitous and we wanted everybody to be able to do it, you know he things like this and telling your story and passing on that influencing future generations it shouldn't be something that just the 1% of the world can do.

 

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Heather Smith: Right sorry.

 

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Michael Palumbos: It was crazy as there's you know what somebody that is worth you know.

 

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Michael Palumbos: More than seven figures, but not but not Jeff bezos rich and a lot of times we don't feel that we could do those things, and so even there you know it's like this is like at $500 it doesn't matter whether you're worth $40,000 or whatever, this can be you know.

 

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Michael Palumbos: a Christmas gift, this is our gift or whatever your mother's day father's day I love it.

 

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Heather Smith: Absolutely.

 

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Michael Palumbos: i'm thinking one other thought.

 

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Michael Palumbos: So.

 

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Michael Palumbos: you've got access to over 1600 questions, sometimes when we're talking about business, I hear you asking the business focused questions inside of that 1600 questions my gut says that it's more focused about my life.

 

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Heather Smith: But your life is in your careers, a huge part of it.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Is what i'm thinking is.

 

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Michael Palumbos: If I wanted to do a.

 

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Heather Smith: business life.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And you know that's all about, so that if people wanted to do that could I have to story files.

 

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Heather Smith: Yes.

 

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Michael Palumbos: or whatever, what I or what I just maybe spend more time, if I have unlimited conversations that maybe it's just you still could do it in one store one story file is that what you're saying i'm just.

 

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Michael Palumbos: what's the best way to do that, I guess.

 

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Heather Smith: You can have different story files, if you want, you can do one for a business community, for your your you know that you would just have to use a different login and possibly a different email right now.

 

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Heather Smith: or call us up and ask us to give where you, you know go through our customer service and tell them what you do a different ones, we will have the ability to do several and put it on your timeline.

 

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Heather Smith: But the story file life you're right is focused on family heritage and legacy.

 

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Heather Smith: But your career is is a very big part of that So there are a lot of questions about your career and about your values and about you know experiences that you've had or may have had.

 

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Heather Smith: And a lot of opportunities to tell stories they you want to tell So if you can do a public facing one, and you can do a private one which is.

 

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Heather Smith: I think what you're asking also is you share it with whomever you want to share it with everything is is private on this particular site there in the future, there may be another vehicle.

 

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Heather Smith: A story file vehicle where you can put all of that, on public and make it public, to anyone that's one that's one use.

 

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Heather Smith: This particular story for life is a private so you have to invite people to actually share your story how.

 

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Heather Smith: You can make it public could be posted like, for instance, if you posted on your Facebook page, you can that would be making it public right now.

 

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Heather Smith: Video for you, but you can keep it private so yeah you can do different story files for different audiences, you can do private, public whatever you want absolutely.

 

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Michael Palumbos: soaked interesting love and love what you're doing so do you have a goal, or you know is Jim Collins calls it, the big hairy audacious goal for story file.

 

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Heather Smith: Everyone will have a story about of their own.

 

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Heather Smith: I I, I would say 10 years give me 10 years.

 

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Michael Palumbos: love it.

 

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Michael Palumbos: I, like you know.

 

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Michael Palumbos: What come on Bill Gates want to have a computer and everybody's desk.

 

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Michael Palumbos: yeah and that happened it that has definitely happened.

 

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Heather Smith: conversation on video what we've built we've created conversational video and in general.

 

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Heather Smith: will be ubiquitous I mean it will be used in your daily life and and story file life is is a part of it.

 

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Heather Smith: it's that.

 

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Heather Smith: The personal part in, you will be able, people will be able to communicate with you via your story by light.

 

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Heather Smith: via your story, but.

 

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Michael Palumbos: you're actually part of web 3.0 it with what you're doing putting Ai in there, and this is really, really cutting edge.

 

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Michael Palumbos: so excited to have you with us.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Again, everybody story file calm is the website heather Smith was our guest today, my name is Michael Columbus.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Family wealth and legacy in Rochester New York and you've been listening to the family business show, please make sure you subscribe, so that you don't miss future episodes and we look forward to speaking with you again.

 

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Michael Palumbos: In the near future.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Thank you, everybody.

 

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Heather Smith: And you're doing a fabulous job that these families are very fortunate to have you.

 

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Heather Smith: Thanks for letting them, thank you.

 

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Heather Smith: Okay, very lucky.

If you’re a family business or a family business consultant and want to be on the show, share your story and help other family businesses, send us an email to producer@thefamilybizshow.com or fill out a contact form here!

*not affiliated with Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp.

Michael Palumbos is a registered representative of Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. Securities and investment advisory services offered through Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp., a broker/dealer (member SIPC) and registered investment advisor. Insurance offered through Lincoln affiliates and other fine companies. Family Wealth & Legacy, LLC is not an affiliate of Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. and its representatives do not provide legal or tax advice. You may want to consult a legal or tax advisor regarding any legal or tax information as it relates to your personal circumstances.

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