Everyone’s Complain Department: Story Peddlers

The ‘Everyone’s Complaint Department’ series of comic strips began as random doodles and reflection pieces of Alvin Teoh, ECD of Naga DDB Tribal.

These little stories featured in MARKETING magazine were originally posted on Facebook and are an ongoing tribute to life in Adland. The comic depicts Alvin’s early days in the advertising industry and words from the Executive Creative Director (ECD) himself.

From time to time, I turn to the peeps at Pixar for a good dose of inspiration. And like most people whom we admire, they disarm you completely with their simplicity, their humility and their down-to-earth point of views. At the heart of it, they’re storytellers.

So how exactly do they get so good at it? I’m absolutely sure there’s no satisfying answer. And no short cuts, of course. But they do try to make sense of it for the rest of us mortals.

“Go to the core of what you are” they advise. Storytelling doesn’t come from thin air, even if it felt like so. It’s been brewing in your subconscious mind for some time. Storytelling comes from deep within and the key to unlock that vault is through the art of reflection.

I believe outward observation is pointless unless you know how to connect what you observe with what’s happening inside of you. I think it’s getting harder and harder to do that because our time-deprived industry is distracted by everything marked ‘urgent’ and when we have that illusive free time, we bury ourselves in our devices idling precious time away. We’ve filled our lives with so much white noise, it’s drowning out our souls. The inner voice is silenced. When that happens, it effects how you filter the things you observe.

So let’s pursue these few questions more: What’s really happening inside? And how do we connect that to what’s happening outside? We all see the same things. But we understand these things differently. So, for me, a storyteller begins by being a sponge. Take in what’s inside, take in what’s outside, connect the dots, (Here at Naga, we call it the ‘crossroads.’) and find that story that’s already written deep within.

We filter these things, create from it and give it back to the world. And you’ll be able to tell if the work you see comes from a place of deep reflection because it will speak to your soul. And that’s what a good story is. It has the power to make you feel and think stuff. So yeah, don’t only keep walking, but keep listening, keep observing, keep reflecting and let those stories flow.

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