The very first biography

What do we know about the first biography ever communicated? Actually, not anything!

It wasn’t written, but simply conveyed from one human to another in some primitive spoken, drawn, or sign-language format.

It might have been two cave people telling their individual stories around a campfire. Or it could have been in memorial form…a tribe speaking about another tribesman who had passed away.

Whatever the case, we think it contained three elements: (a) the person’s ancestry, life chronology, and progeny; (b) the person’s skill or specialty; (c) how other tribespeople can benefit from knowing that person.

In the many centuries since then, we’ve made entire professions out of history, biography, and sociology, which give us a better understanding about human nature and the complexities of society.

But what interests me most is an often upspoken element: what special message can each of our life stories provide to others?

The secret: Each time you read a biography or a memoir, ask yourself what special message that person has left for future generations.

What the heck is a micro bio?

Biographies come in all sizes. I’ve seen some that are only a few paragraphs long. Other bios of famous people can run over 1000 pages.

But my special interest has always been micro biographies. What are they?

I don’t define them by length, but by what the tell. To me, a micro bio points out the primary skill or achievement a person is known for.

My Dad often told this story. He was at a graveside funeral service one day when one particular tombstone caught his eye. It gave the person’s name, birth and death dates, with this description underneath: “He grew peaches.”

A man’s lifetime profession and accomplishment summed up in three words. What words might we apply to Aesop (wrote famous Fables) or George Washington (first American president)? My Dad’s summation: Many of us would like to be remembered for one special skill. What is that?

Take a look at Rix’s new book: How to Sell Ideas With the Minute Message.