Behind the Scenes with John Mayo Smith

Behind the Story Shares organization is a series of talented, experienced professionals who dedicate their skills, time, and passion to improving the quality of our platform so that we may reach more struggling readers, more effectively. We are immeasurably grateful to these volunteers, and so much of our current success and forward movement can be attributed to their input.

We want to share with you – our parents, teachers, fellow educators, and readers – the personalities behind our library and its goals. This will be the first in a new series of blog posts that will feature the individuals whose feedback and efforts have shaped our organization from the start and continue to inspire its growth and development.

That said, there is no better place for us to begin than with John Mayo Smith, Story Shares adviser and coiner of our Relevant Reads slogan: Easy to Read. Hard to Put Down. John is a voting member of the Marketing Hall of Fame Academy and on the Board of the International Dyslexia Association. He works with global business leaders at the intersection of Marketing and Technology and never misses an opportunity to raise awareness for for matters pertaining to literacy, and his support of our organization and goals has been invaluable. We had the opportunity recently to ask him a few questions about his organizational role and what it was that drew him to Story Shares. Read on to see his great responses!

 How did you become involved with the Story Shares organization? What inspired you to become such a strong advocate for improved literacy?

I was introduced through The Poses Family Foundation. I know many people (including members of my family) who benefited from a structured approach to reading instruction. In the information age, literacy is not optional. Executive director Louise Baigelman is doing fantastic work and I look forward to helping Story Shares scale to the next level.

For our readers, can you offer a behind the scenes look at what it is like / what it entails to be a member of the Story Shares board? 

Story Shares is a startup with fantastic founders who inspire board members to contribute skills and expertise in ways that can help struggling readers. Its a privilege to be able to volunteer time.

You were the one to coin the Story Shares motto: Easy to Read, Hard to Put Down, and have single-handedly been one of the greatest influencers of the organization’s marketing to date. What is some key advice that you have for nonprofit organizations looking to broaden their reach/impact?

We're all inundated and in my opinion, tag lines are increasingly important because sometimes it's all people have time for. I come from an agency background, and while I'm not a copywriter, that's the way I was trained to think. Louise has a very clear vision for Story Shares and yet, is always open to new thoughts and ideas; it's a privilege to be able to help.

Instead of advice, I would offer an observation. When it comes to reach and impact, nonprofits have what for-profits want, and that's a passionate audience. I think about how soft-drink companies spend millions cultivating fake customer passion for their products. Meanwhile, nonprofits start off on day one with a passionate audience - it's a huge advantage in so many ways. Passion for literacy is genuine and doesn't cost as much to unlock because it's real.  Nonprofits don't have big budgets but they start three quarters up the marketing mountain compared to for-profit counterparts.


---- Stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes looks as we check in soon with more of the Story Shares team! ----

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