Smith was a travel writer and journalist when she was approached last year by Michael Acton Smith, co-founder of the sleep app Calm. She’d written an article about the Trans-Siberian Railway and he asked her if she’d like to rewrite it for him, “as a story to send people to sleep”.
While at first she might have been taken aback by such a request, a year later, she has written 15 pieces for Calm, whose catalog of “sleep stories” has been listened to 100m times.
Smith notes that “with most kinds of writing I’m trying to build the tension – here, I’m doing the opposite. Anything exciting needs to go right at the beginning and then it’s all about winding people down, while also encouraging their imagination to play.” A bedtime story requires just enough focus to distract from emails and other workaday stresses to help quiet the mind – but it can’t be too exciting, either.
She also points out that when we were children, we were read bedtime stories to help put us to sleep, and she believes that the same outcome is possible with adults.
As I read this story, it dawned on me that the skill I’ve honed over 30 plus years of putting my students to sleep actually has some value in the marketplace.
While I can’t claim there’s any plot to my lectures like Smith’s stories, I can say with some degree of confidence that there’s a good chance someone listening to them will fall asleep.
And if that’s the goal, then I’m the man for the job.
Here’s a sample of some of the exciting lectures I could put together for the Calm app:
- LIFO inventory valuation under perpetual and periodic systems
- tax effect of double-declining balance versus straight-line depreciation
- pros and cons of using the direct method for preparing the statement of cash flows
I realize I’d have to tone down how excited I get when I talk about these topics in order to enhance the likelihood of a listener falling asleep, but giving my 30-year track record, I don’t think I’d have to tone it down too much.
Smith is going on a book tour next month, and she’s wondering how many people will doze off during her presentation.
If she wants to encourage such behavior, I would suggest that at some point in her presentation she slip in something about how IFRS is different than U.S. GAAP.
If you have no idea what that means, you can always look it up. But I’d suggest doing so only when you are trying to get some sleep.
I’ll be waiting to hear from you, Michael Acton Smith.
(By the way, these blogs might be another good source of “bedtime reading.”)
*image from Tim Kulper’s blog