LifeBook. The business of family storytelling

I’ve lost count the amount of times I’ve had conversations about genealogy and family history and heard the regret tinged stories of others who’ve ‘thought about doing something’ about recording their family story but have been defeated by a toxic combination of a lack of know-how and precious little free time.

I finally came across a guy who was proactive and bullish about his own family history. In fact he’s built a business and template to help others take the same journey.

Successful businessman Roy Moed devised ‘LifeBook’. His website describes it as ‘a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to professionally write a unique autobiography of a life’s achievements as a special gift and lasting legacy for all the family.’ Compelling stuff. It’s certainly pulled at the heart strings of all those I’ve canvassed since meeting Roy. What greater driver is there than ones own flesh and blood?

Roy intimates that the chosen subject matter could be a grandparent, father, mother or relative that a person or family know little about, have maybe become estranged from or in many cases ‘think they know all about’, only to get a more complete or even different narrative from the book. Roy explains that people are far more likely to open up to strangers than those they know and love. They feel far less inhibited or likely to be judged. The interviewers chat informally and this frees the interviewee to express themselves and reveal family stories that may have never seen the light of day.

Essentially Lifebook works because it utilises the skills of experienced and vetted interviewers who attend the premises of the subject over a period of 3-6 months. They are no longer than one hour visits that steadily help piece together a life story. This will be subsequently fed back to an experienced writer who will edit and construct a narrative that will help convey the voice and personality of the subject in an honest, authentic and engaging way.

There is also the option for families to get involved and add their input to the process so it becomes a collective journey. Either way, Roy believes the whole process to be ‘cathartic for the subject and family members themselves’. He believes this has helped restore family cohesion and engender a greater understanding between generations. How many times have we heard about the tragic passing of a loved one and the regret about the missed opportunities to have spent more time and to have said the things we’ve always wanted to say. This is painfully pertinent in our 24/7, time poor, modern world.

Roy has also ensured that the physical end product, the book itself does justice to the time, skill and storytelling of all the participants. It’s presented in a beautiful case box – imagine high end stationary sets or boutique luxury packaging.

Requests are now filtering in from people across the world. Roy has already embarked on a project with Gujurati translation so both sides of a family can enjoy their life story.

It’s telling that one of the BBC’s most popular documentary series is called ‘Who do you think you are?’ (it has already spawned a number of imitations) revealing the genealogy of well known personalities. LifeBook is already surfing that wave and seems well placed to offer this service to a wider audience, a global audience. In our transient and ever-changing world many feel that natural desire to reconnect with one other and get a sense of their own family journey and who they actually are. The need to discover their own part in our incredible human jigsaw seems greater than ever.

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