628. Going All in for the Power of Story
Patrick knew his hard work mastering Polish had paid off. He was sitting on a bus, listening to a woman who survived a concentration camp. He realized she was telling him her story in her own language, and he understood. He felt the power of story.
Patrick Ney is a British film maker and storyteller living in Warsaw, Poland. His provocative and inspiring social media movies drew more than 25 million views in the past year alone. Driven by a passion for his adopted land, Patrick is on a one-man mission to bring the tragic, heroic story of Poland’s history to the wider world through viral online videos. His life changed overnight when he was attacked and severely injured, requiring major surgery. He says, “We only have one life. I almost lost mine already, so I feel the clock is ticking so fast and there is so much more I have to achieve.” In his day job, he’s director at the digital marketing agency, James Cook Media, building end-to-end digital sales and marketing systems for global clients.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
Growing up in Ipswich, England, Patrick (“Paddy”) delighted in writing “cheeky scurrilous, surreptitious things” and poking fun at authority. But his writing took a serious turn at 14. “I was lying face down on my bed. Suddenly I felt compelled to write something. My body was pushing me toward the pen and paper. I started to write, and I wrote a 17-line poem about rape, a terrible subject. I have no idea why I did it. I gave a copy to my English teacher, and it blew her away.” Recently, that same feeling—of being compelled to write, as if by an outside force—returned strongly. “It came back to me in November of 2014 when I wrote a piece that would go on to become my first viral video. I had read about that kind of epiphany-like experience from other writers.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
Rising quickly on the staff of a charismatic woman in the British Parliament, Patrick’s political career put him at the center of the storm when the global banking crisis struck. “It was crazy—with 120-hour weeks. It was exhausting and pretty much broke me. In another six months, I probably would have had a nervous breakdown. That’s when my life changed significantly. My girlfriend at the time was living in Poland. We had one of those conversations about what are we going to do in our relationship? I said, ‘I’m 27, haven’t got kids, I’m a little bit tired of London. Maybe now would be a good time to go live in Poland.’ That was obviously a big sea change in my life.”
The Most Powerful Lessons Learned?
“I very quickly realized that if I was going to live here in Poland—and I did so very much want to stay here—I had to go all-in. I didn’t want to be living on the surface, on the top of the iceberg.” As he went deep, learning the language well, a whole new world opened to him, and he learned the immense power of story. Hearing the hero stories of survival, resistance, sacrifice and courage, raised questions like: What are you prepared to do for someone you don’t know? What are you prepared to do for someone you do know? What choices do we make in life about who we want to be?”
Steps to Success from Patrick Ney
1. Be proud of what you’re good at. Own it all. Never be shy about saying you are good at the things you do.
2. Understand that your horizon is far greater and wider than you think, so take a single-minded approach, with clarity about what really matters to you.
3. Make sure your work is a labor of love, and remember, we all do things for love which are irrational.
4. When you find the passion that drives you, go all in. Don’t be content just to stay at the surface, immerse yourself deeply.
Connecting With Patrick Ney
Four(4) free video master classes on storytelling in the digital age. Learn about marketing and how to connect with your customers in a different way. jamescookmedia.com/masterclass
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