How to Use Toy Stories to Connect
My fondest childhood memories include toys.
I had a boy-doll named Rocky. Later I had a James Bond 007 spy attaché case with secret compartments and a gun that could be assembled into a pistol or a rifle. Both versions had a scope.
The original Morrison farm, situated on a dirt road in Bradford, Maine, burned to the ground before I was in first grade. (Mom was a Morrison.) The only memory I have of the farm includes a toy.
I remember playing with my fire engine in the sloped hallway between the kitchen and the front room. I was probably two or three. The slope was useful.
I had a Lost in Space set with a battery powered chariot that ran on a course I configured with my imagination. I wanted to be Will Robinson (Bill Mumy).
I turned thirteen the year Neil Armstrong walked on the moon (July 21, 1969). I still remember the grainy pictures and hearing Commander Armstrong say, “One small step…,” punctuated with beeps. I built models of the Apollo space craft and the lunar lander. Before Apollo, I built the Mercury and Gemini spacecraft.
Sometime in my early teens I used my Chemistry set to create an explosion that shook our house. There were no injuries or fatalities, just fear that I was going to ‘get it’. I didn’t.
I’ll never forget my raspberry red five speed Western Auto Buzz Bike with a banana seat, high-rise handlebars, and gear shift. (This image is the right model, but the wrong color.) I bought it with my own money at Western Auto.
4 questions to connect using toy stories:
- What was your favorite toy when you were a kid?
- What was it about that toy that you enjoyed so much?
- What did that toy enable you to do?
- Who did that toy allow you to become?
Skillful leaders connect with people.
What was your favorite toy when you were a kid?
How do leaders connect?
Note: My childish exuberance allowed me to exceed 300 words. I apologize.
That was an awesome bike and that still is an awesome bike.
One of my favorites, Lego, is still going strong. In fact better now than ever. Although back in the day you bought bricks and made whatever you imagined. Now it is mostly kits to make pop culture icons.
You reminded me of Link n Logs! I had tons of fun with them. We also had tinker toys. At least I think that’s what they were called.
I know I loved it. 🥳
This will work in many cases, but please consider your audience. If anyone has been in the foster care system or been unhomed at any time, they may not have had a toy or may have lost a toy due to circumstances beyond their control … a situation they may not care to share publicly.
Thanks Luci. Your compassion for less fortunate folks is admirable.
Good memories Dan, minus the burning farm and explosion. I like the detail in each memory you shared. It took me back, with you, now I vibe you a little differently …in a new (good) way.
P.S. mine was, “little golden book” Cinderella. It made me feel something, I can’t quute put it to words like you did. I carried that little book everywhere.
When I was a kid, it was GI Joe “Go Joes” but when I was 12 I won a huffy 12 speed bicycle. This gave me my first real taste of independence and freedom.
Connection is the key in this one. Connecting with your employees and customers helps grow relationships. It shows you are invested in those around you. The connection can be formed by simple conversation about what they are purchasing. Engage with people.
Lindsey T. Davis Store Manager Ace Hardware 11000 207 W Main Havana, IL 62644 P: 309-543-2638 ________________________________
You made me think of so many memories. I had forgotten about Western Auto. I had a similar bicycle. Loved those banana seats. I loved Barbies and I had her in so many careers. I used her to help plan my future as a career woman. She could do it all.
Lindsey Davis, my dad, and my uncle (my dad’s brother) both managed Ace Hardware stores for many years, so I grew up in them. I have so many fond memories of being in the stores. I didn’t have a Barbie doll, like all of the other girls in my neighborhood, because my dad’s Ace Hardware didn’t sell Barbie dolls, they sold Tammy dolls. She was bigger than Barbie, so I had to make all of her clothes and had to use my imagination because you couldn’t find “Tammy” houses, cars, boyfriends (Ken), etc. I didn’t like it then, but when I look back, I had more fun creating her Tammy world, than having everything already made for me. and my Tammy doll. We could make it anything we wanted! I also had a brother a year older than me, so we played a lot of army men! Thanks for the memories!
Asa small child, Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys were my favorites, and helped nurture my interest in building things, which I did (as a hobby) for many years, everything from furniture to sheds and barns. A few years after those building toys, I got an electric train set which was the foundation of my lifelong interest in trains and my hobby of more recent years, model railroading.
Connecting with others via conversations about things like toys, hobbies, pets, sports and other personal interests can be a useful tool for leaders, and one too often neglected, I fear.
Oh wow. I had the same spy weapons, only Napoleon Solo (Man From U.N.C.L.E.) branded. The snub-nose revolver lived under my pillow. (I was a anxious kid. Still am. No CCL though). And I built all those Project Apollo kits, too, and flying model airplanes, the balsa-and-tissue kind. Still love airplanes.
Just look at the connections in the comments! Thanks especially Luci, Kathy, and Mary Beth.
Have you seen “The Toys That Made Us?” Fantastic documentary.
Reading this article in today’s NYT reminded me of this thread so I came back to share it. I hope others will read the article and think about it before asking strangers about their childhood experiences. (I don’t mean to be a big downer on Dan, who so often has such wonderful advice! But this one worries me.)
32 Years After Civil War, Mundane Moments Trigger Awful Memories https://nyti.ms/3zZAXng