Telling Your Story One Drip at a Time

The other day, as I sat at the kitchen counter, I happened to look up and saw that what had been a rather small yellow stain on the ceiling the week before was growing.

This filled me with dread, of course, because it meant we probably had a water leak in the upstairs bathroom. Which is just above the kitchen. After investigating, sure enough, the floor around the edge of the upstairs toilet was wet.

My first thought was that the wax seal under the 20-year-old toilet had gone dry, was cracking, and needed to be replaced. Which sucked, because it wasn’t the kind of thing I felt qualified to fix. Which meant calling a plumber. Which meant an extra expense we didn’t need right now. Hence the dread.

Still, it was the best course of action if we didn’t want the kitchen ceiling to fall in on us one morning during breakfast. So my partner and I resolved to call the plumber the next day.

When the next day came, I decided to investigate the situation more closely myself before making the call. I took an old towel, dried off the floor, and the toilet and the thin water pipe that feeds the toilet. Then I waited to see where the water was coming from. I sat there for almost half a minute doing this. On the floor. My head under the toilet. Not my most graceful moment, I’ll admit. But I wanted to know before I made the call.

Half a minute later, I saw it. A single drop of water. Not coming up from under the toilet, though, but down from the tank.

I waited a bit longer, and half a minute later, I saw another drop, seeping out from under the plastic bolt that seals the hole where the feeder pipe meets the bottom of the tank. As I watched, it gathered itself, gained size, and once it had grown heavy enough … fell to the floor.

I reached up, found the plastic bolt had some give to it, and tightened it.

Half a minute later, there was no new drip. Likewise half a minute after that. And an hour after that. And three hours after that. In fact, the underside of the toilet was now completely dry and stayed that way all day. All because of a simple half-turn of a plastic bolt.

So we didn’t end up calling the plumber after all.

After this, I did the math in my head. Two drips per minute. That’s 120 in an hour. Almost 3,000 drips in a day. According to Google, there are 15,000 drips in a gallon. So over the period of a week, more than a gallon of water was dripping onto the ceiling downstairs.

Left unfixed, those drips would eventually have had a dramatic impact.

“Drip by drip” is an expression that one of my heroes, Seth Godin, uses to discuss everything from brand marketing to culture change.

Here’s how he put it in a blog post from several years ago:

Incremental daily progress (negative or positive) is what actually causes transformation. A figurative drip, drip, drip. Showing up, every single day, gaining in strength, organizing for the long haul, building connection, laying track—this subtle but difficult work is how culture changes.”

Your business story is a kind of drip, drip, drip. It’s not meant to feel like a waterfall or an expensive Super Bowl ad.

Like any great story, it’s meant to drip, word by word, into the mind of your customer, accumulating weight and meaning. And trust.

Until eventually, the kitchen ceiling falls down on your customer’s head.

Not literally, of course. Because that would be bad.

But figuratively, if you’ve told your story well, there will be that moment when the reader sees themselves working with you, buying from you, having a relationship with you. That “ceiling on the head” moment when they click the button and connect.

That’s how a great business story works. One drip at a time.


Randy Heller
Randy Heller
Randy Heller is a writer and storytelling guide for small and solo businesses who aren't sure where to get started. Randy began his career with a Master's degree in Creative Writing and a love of computers, which then translated into 25 years as a digital marketer, web developer, and Marketing Director. Most of those years were spent in publishing, bibliographic data, trade magazine, and libraries space, always keeping him close to the world of written words and ideas that are his lifeblood. In 2018, Randy shifted gears to focus entirely on writing and storytelling and is now able to leverage his natural creativity and decades of corporate marketing experience and insights to help small businesses pursue their dreams. He can be found posting weekly about the secrets to business storytelling and owning one's personal narrative (often with a decidedly nostalgic bent) at, as well as on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (see links above). He can't wait to meet you and ask that magical question: "So ... what's your story?"

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  1. Welcome Randy! Great story and great philosophy.

    I’m so glad you didn’t have to call the plumber. As a homeowner myself, I admire your willingness to problem solve. It can be such a time and money saver in the end!

    I’ve also had my share of under the toilet moments and the part where you write, “I sat there for almost half a minute doing this. On the floor. My head under the toilet. Not my most graceful moment, I’ll admit.”

    I’ve totally been there before!

    • Thanks, Joanna. Of course, the down side is that preferring and often being able to fix things myself can sometimes result in situations where I wait too long to ask for help and trust the professionals. So it’s all a matter of balance, right?

  2. I just joined BC360 and this is my first ever comment on the platform. I enjoyed this piece so much. I could feel every drop of this. I was waiting with anticipation for the next droplet to fall. We share a similar approach to marketing, it’s the small efforts that build. I can’t wait to read more from you and get to know you better. There seems to be some synchronicity in approach and thought when it comes to marketing.

  3. Welcome Randy. Great article. Life and what ever one deems success is a slow and steady process. We often hear of an overnight success and there may actually be a few, but many of our so called overnight successes, spent many weeks and years honing their skill, adjusting and or changing their message and improving their craft. As I was told long ago, keep moving forward. Some days you will take two steps forward and other days four steps backwards, but keep moving forward. When things look impossible, then Look up, Get up and Never ever give up. Better times and better people will come into your life.

  4. So happy to see you here, Randy.

    I know I have used this quote recently, but your drip, drip, drip brought it up for me again. We got to keep dripping.

    “Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” Peter Jackson through the voice of Gandalf.

  5. Randy, this was absolutely wonderful! I loved your drip story and ended up with goosebumps when you got to, “Like any great story, it’s meant to drip, word by word, into the mind of your customer, accumulating weight and meaning. And trust.” Yes. This. Really lovely writing. I’m so looking forward to reading more of your work and delighted you’ve joined the BizCat family! Welcome!

  6. Welcome Randy! Great to see you.
    What a great comparison of that single drip and how it emulates to a potential flood.
    Observation is a powerful tool.
    Being able to see the drip and it’s impact will be a tool in the result you want to experience. What you do about it and if you fix it.
    Thank you for this great story my friend!