Experiences shape our world: New Book Excerpt

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A few years ago I got asked the question, ‘Why does your agency specialise in experiential marketing‘? This isn’t that unusual but at the time this question did make me think a bit harder about my stock response and the power our experiences have on us.

Experiences are incredibly powerful in influencing people and changing their behaviour and we, as an agency, exist to utilise this by creating brand experiences which do just that.

In 2018, we published a book, Live.Keep.Tell. | Experiences Shape Our World, in an attempt to illustrate the power of experiences and also go some way to explaining how and why we focus on ‘the experience’ and how we harness them to the benefit of brands.

Through a series of 66 vignettes from historical and contemporary figures, the book explores the power of experiences: how they influence our behaviour and shape our World. It’s an eclectic source of inspiration, human triumphs and whimsical facts which should be experienced by everyone!

For a copy of the book please get in touch (ideas@ambientww.com) and in the meantime, here’s the introduction to give you a flavour of what you can expect.

– Jonathan Schultz


Experiences Shape Our World

by Jonathan Schultz and Harriet Compston



I remember the day so clearly. There had been weeks of waiting. I was finally there, standing in front of our house on a hot Sydney summer afternoon, eagerly counting down the final few minutes. Cicadas buzzed in the background, blue skies punctuated by the swift movement of a flock of Indian Mynas and Galahs. Finally, I spotted the right car – the one containing my dad with his restrained grin driving around the corner in his aviators, back from the dealership.

For years, my dad had been wishing for a new car. I had sat with him on and off for weeks studying the brochure, helping him pick out the colour, options, model and upholstery. I was with him when he placed the order and now, here I was, a boy, not much more than eight years old, about to sit in a brand new car for the very first time – and it was ours.

Dad pulled up in front of the house. I hopped in. I recall in vivid detail the sound the door latch made when I opened it and the secure thud it made when closed. The muted soundtrack and sense of serene allowed my senses to be acute enough to capture every detail. The stereo, dashboard, array of buttons, automatic gear stick, fabric upholstery, spotless floor mats, lush carpet – and that new car smell. I looked for the handle to wind down the window and remembered we had the electric windows in the front, and a sunroof. Then we took it for a drive – and that was it. It was everything I’d hoped for – and more. The experience, sitting there, blew my mind.

Of course, the natural urge of most humans with a great story is to share it. So, later that day I ran down the lane to one of my closest friends and gave him the full, dramatic account of the experience pausing on each and every detail. The message spread. Six months later, his dad took delivery of the exact same car.

In 2002, I co-founded a marketing agency specialising in the creation of “brand experiences”. As the agency evolved, this childhood story kept resurfacing and seemed to encapsulate perfectly what we were aiming to achieve for our clients: experiences which engage emotionally with an audience, change their behaviour and provide opportunities for them to influence their peers, friends and family through the stories of the experience shared.

Reflecting on this I was curious to see what other experience-led stories I could think of which had a similar or greater impact. This led me to consider a few questions. How powerful are experiences in influencing behavioural change? Is there a way to better understand experiences and how they affect us? And, in studying them what can we learn to help us create better experiences?

Why focus on Experiences?

From the moment we are born our experiences help us. They help us determine what is safe, what is comfortable, who to trust, who to form relationships with, what we like, what works, what doesn’t. Later in life they shape our careers, inventions, interests, purchases and our choice of partners.

Following our experiences, what we are left with are memories that stay and take on the important role of guiding us. They change the way we behave as we move forward. And, not only do they provide us with the basis for us to make decisions, they also form the basis of our own stories. Through the stories we tell others our experiences and these shared memories live on to influence others. Like threads of a unique and endless tapestry, the network of influence extends to become part of the greater world, entwining with other stories and affecting many people.

Therefore, Experiences shape our world. QED.


If there is a way to distil how experiences shape our world, from this observation, it can be summarised in three words: Live, Keep and Tell. Experiences we live leave memories which change our behaviour to keep providing us with stories to tell.

Before I even considered setting out to write this book I was looking to simply compile a set of stories to highlight the power experiences have in influencing people’s behaviour in order to better understand the type of experiences most likely to have a lasting impact.

As our research developed, we were gathering an extremely rich and diverse range of stories which fitted into this Live.Keep.Tell. bracket so I was compelled to take this project one step further and compile a book. But to truly bring these stories to life I needed some help. I was fortunate enough to meet Harriet. With an impressive journalistic background, Harriet has been furious in seeking out, researching and writing many of the stories which are as diverse as they are inspiring. From surfing in the Philippines to the Amazonian inspiration behind a world-famous chef and from the ambitions of a war journalist to the acceptance of same-sex marriage in Germany – this book spans a captivating and diverse range of cultures, subjects and sources. Stories of love, of loss, of friendship, hardship and happiness.

I hope you enjoy this book. If you have a Live.Keep.Tell. story you would like to share with us, we’d love to hear from you: livekeeptell@ambientww.com. The stories you share will influence others and shape our world.

Acknowledge the power of experience.
Don’t be afraid to let them find you.
Share your stories as only humankind can.
Let experiences shape your world.

– Jonathan Schultz, 2018

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