Storytelling at Work
August 30, 2018
The Shamanic Four Questions

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Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:44 AM | Comments (0)

August 29, 2018
The Dying Art of Storytelling in the Classroom

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Learning by doing is a very important approach to any conscious teacher's approach to education. However, teachers who take too narrow view of this approach have a tendency to dismiss the value of storytelling in the classroom, assuming it is "too passive". Not a good idea. Here's an interesting perspective on this phenomenon.

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Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:54 PM | Comments (0)

Storytelling as Truth Telling



Thanks to Doug Robinson for the heads up

Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling at Work

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2018
Cavemen with Briefcases Waiting for a Wise Story to Be Told

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Storytelling at Work: The Workshop
Storytelling to Create the Innovation Mindset
Storytelling at Work: The Book
Storytelling in the Workplace: The Radio Interview

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:10 AM | Comments (0)

August 10, 2018
The Digital Art of Evelyne Pouget

evelynepouget01-u18817.jpgEvelyne Pouget was always artistic, even as a small girl growing up in France. But she didn't become an artist until she fully accepted the words of her Spiritual Master, Baba Muktananda, when she was 41.

For many years, Baba had referred to Evelyne as "The Painter"-- a phenomenon that Evelyne interpreted as her teacher mistaking her for someone else. Because she had no identity as an artist, his words never landed for her. Until they did one fine Spring day in 1994.

That's when she took her favorite photograph of him and sat down in her living room to paint his portrait. What happened next astounded her -- three hours of what seemed like "lost time." Somehow, she had entered a realm where time did not exist. When she looked up, what she saw in front of her was a portrait of Baba that evoked the very essence of who he was -- and this from a woman who had never picked up a paintbrush before.

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It was at that precise moment that Evelyne knew she had a gift and needed to make the effort to open it.

The first 22 years as an artist found Evelyne working as a landscape and portrait painter in Woodstock NY, moved as she was breathtaking vistas of the Hudson Valley and the people who lived there. Oils and oil pastels were her preferred medium. Toggling back and forth between motherhood, painting, and a wide variety of humanitarian projects, her life was full.

Upon visiting San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, for the first time, in 2003, she soon noticed that the subjects of her paintings began to shift. Moved by the culture and people of Mexico, she began focusing on the colorful street life -- the flower vendors, musicians, and abuelas. Evelyne may have continued in this vein for decades, were it not for the sudden appearance of a profound new influence in her life -- the Concheros -- the indigenous street dancers of San Miguel and the surrounding area.

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The first time she saw the Concheros, dancing up Umaran to the Jardin, she was stunned. She had never seen anything like this before -- 500 people adorned with feathers, beads, body paint, and headdresses moving together to the beat of the drum like a tide. There was something about the way they moved, with so much nobility, power, and purpose, that was archetypal for her. Whatever power was calling the Concheros to take their ancient mysteries to the street was also calling Evelyne to play a much deeper kind of attention -- a classic kind of call and response.

Each year Evelyne returned to San Miguel, it was only matter of time before she heard the Concheros drums calling her. That's when she would grab her camera, her heart beating faster, and follow the sound. She took thousands of photographs, content, for a while, to have captured a bit of their essence. But the more she photographed, surrounded by tourists with their i-Phones poised, she couldn't help but notice there was kind of superficial gawking mentality on the street. For Evelyne, the words of Thoreau came to mind. "Its not what you look at. It's what you see." And what she was seeing, she knew, needed to be celebrated in a way that a simple photograph did not seem capable of -- a way to contextualize the spirit and sacredness of the Conchero dances.

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Entranced, Evelyne began researching the history and traditions of the Concheros. She met with local elders and wisdom keepers. She searched the internet for whatever she could find to further tune in to what she intuitively knew was at the heart of the Conchero's dancing -- a physical expression of a metaphysical reality deeply connected to Mother Earth and indigenous wisdom.

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Not unlike the Concheros, she entered a kind of trance state as she explored this new art form, spending hours at her computer -- experimenting and discovering, fascinated by the "happy accidents" that were being revealed to her. In time, she also began applying the technique she discovered to feature the beautiful architecture of San Miguel.

NOTE #1: Evelyne's digital art making is not done with Photoshop. She just stumbled on a technique that worked and has been refining it ever since.

NOTE #2: All of the digital art on Evelyne's website is available for purchase. Contact Evelyne for more info.

NOTE #3: Evelyne is available for commissions.

WEBSITE: www.PougetDigital.com
EMAIL: EvelynePouget2@gmail.com

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www.PougetDigital.com

www.EvelynePouget.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:19 PM | Comments (0)

Storytelling as a Way to Stop Bullying and Help Kids Feel Peace

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Storytelling can be used in a lot of different ways -- to entertain, build community, transmit wisdom, and heal. Ora Munter's Ice Veil Tales accomplishes all four of these in a very creative way.

Her series of 11 fantasy & adventure stories about a Drama Queen who magically becomes a Peace Queen capable of outsmarting bullies provides children, 6 - 9, with a simple way to understand the phenomenon and develop the skills and mindset needed to make the shift from victim to victor.

Yes, this kind of behavior change requires practice, but Ora's ICE VEIL TALES makes practice fun -- enabling children-at-risk to calm themselves, have greater access to their own common sense, and become empowered.

Also available, with Ice Veil Tales, is a "Coach's Playbook" -- a simple step-by-step script that helps teachers and parents guide kids through the stories while empowering them to:

-- Recognize bully tricks & traps
-- Release stress caused by bullies
-- Re-connect with inner peace
-- Respond with calm, clarity and confidence
-- Avoid Trauma

Bullying, unfortunately, is on the rise around the world. If the children in your school, home, or community need a simple way to better deal with bullying, consider Ora Munter's Ice Veil Tales.

PS: One of the cool things about Ice Veil Tales is that it is more than just a book. It is also a series of YouTube videos -- designed to foster insight, conversation, and behavior change.

RAVE REVIEWS FOR ICE VEIL TALES

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"Ice Veil Tales uses great graphics and engaging stories to teach children an essential truth: that you can manage your emotions and stay centered even in difficult situations. Bravo to Ora Munter for bringing this message for kids in such a compelling and creative way!"-- Cedar Koons, author of The Mindfulness Solution for Intense Emotions

"WOW! WOW!! WOW!!! This is truly AMAZING! I LOVE this book. The graphics are wonderful, the writing exceptional, the whole package is INCREDIBLE. This is deep yet easy to understand. Written the way girls that age think and talk." -- Michelle L. Marina, Las Vegas, NV

"In the grand tradition of The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland, Ora Munter's heroine, Kiki, finds herself transported to a strange, but beautiful world. Brilliantly illustrated by the author, this book is a fun ride for children and parents alike. Using lots of alliteration ("tooted his tofutti trumpet") and strong and vibrant words, Ms. Munter creates a fantasy world that is sure to become a family favorite. -- Marchelle Tosdale, Long Beach, CA

"This fascinating material imparts wisdom to children. It speaks to the unconscious mind which is quite an achievement." - Dr. Paul Grossman, Psychiatrist.

"Prior to the puppet show we practiced a few Mindful breaths. Once the puppet show started, all four students (three girls and one boy) were engaged in the episode. I would stop, as you suggested, and ask them to tell me what happened. One girl from the group was able to recite the plot. Keep in mind I'm working with students with very low recall abilities. What I found super cute was another student would say "inhale, exhale, trust the ice veil" at appropriate times, suggesting she really enjoyed the practice. It appeared that the students enjoyed, and were interested in, the content and practice." -- Katie Brown, Special Education Teacher

"Fantastic! So creative and what a wonderful way to educate kids about Mindfulness. I was so impressed I shared Ice Veil Tales with several colleagues. And they all agreed!" -- Danise Lehrer, L.Ac., L.C.S.W., Instructor of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy

"Ora Munter has created a whimsical and vivid tale here. Along with its surface delights, it contains wisdom for young people, with lessons about self-esteem and trusting what is inside you to get through difficulties. Kids of all ages will enjoy this beguiling yarn."
-- Kathleen Sullivan, Malibu, CA, Librarian

"Thank you for all of the support and faith you put in Natasha. She has a wonderful, positive self image that in no small part has been developed under your tutelage." -- Linda Zale, mother of Natasha Marcuse, Voice Over for Kiki/Cocovanilla

"Wow, I wish we had Ice Veil Tales when Alex was a little girl. What a valuable message you are sending to so many young minds and hearts, a message that may change their lives forever." -- Hollis Henning, Malibu, CA

"I have enjoyed both the story and the illustrations. Munter tackles in a deceptively simple way some very deep emotional issues. I thought some of the wordplay was especially clever." -- Peter Lovenheim, Author, In the Neighborhood

"It's engaging, colorful and kid-oriented. Love the rhymes and the word play -- clever metaphors that parents can also enjoy. And the idea of teaching kids to do deep breathing, and to stop and think, and get in touch with their inner self is definitely a good one. I'm really impressed that Munter did the illustrations, too." -- Judy Newman, Madison, WI

"Our mission is to unleash the creative potential of indie authors around the world, so I'm always gratified to see unexpected gems. Cool artwork, inside and out by childrens' author/artist Ora Munter."
-- Mark Coker, SMASHWORDS Founder/Owner

"I love reading this book. Each page is filled with brilliant, colorful, and imaginative illustrations, and a story that holds your interest all the way to the end. I gave the book to my eight year old niece and she thought it was the greatest. Author Ora Munter has a special talent for creating a fantasy world that all children would like to escape to." -- Joyce L. Foster, Los Angeles, CA

Munter introduces us to an edgy youngster from New Jersey who quickly finds herself swept into an alternate universe (a Willy Wonka-ish planet). My favorite character was Rocky Road. Not unlike the Land of Narnia, conflict quickly ensues between the "towns people" and an evil, would-be King, a wicked wizard, an avenging giant, magical butterflies, romance, non-stop action, and suspense round out this exciting adventure." -- Julie Webb, Culver City, CA

Ice Veil Tales Facebook page

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:42 PM | Comments (0)

STORYTELLING FOR THE REVOLUTION is now the #1 Amazon New Release in Performing Arts

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A surprising turn of events for me. One day after the Kindle version of my book comes out, Amazon declares it to be the #1 new release in its Performing Arts category. There is a God. Of course, this likely falls into the "15 minutes of fame" category, also. Nevetheless, I am still tickled.

Buy the book
Check out the website
Find out what Bolero has to do with it

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:39 PM | Comments (0)

August 08, 2018
What I Learned From Ten Chemical Salesmen and Some Masking Tape

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As a person infinitely more interested in alchemy than chemistry, not once during my formative years as a young entrepreneur did I ever, once, aspire to sit in a room with 10 middle-aged, overweight chemical salesmen from New Jersey -- modern day Willy Lomans driving 100,000 miles each year to call on purchasing agents from Maine to Virginia in a heroic attempt to sell more of their company's product and, eventually, win the "President's Award" that would be bestowed on them, at their year end pow wow, in the Oakwood Room or the Bellmore Room or some other vapidly named meeting space in a modestly priced hotel still trying to figure out how to reduce their high rate of employee turnover.

But that's exactly where I found myself.

Somehow, their boss, my client, a Regional Manager responsible for convincing upper management that this year was going to be a banner year -- had gotten my name and asked me if I could help his people get out of the box and increase sales by 20%.

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While my more politically correct friends chided me for choosing to work with a chemical company, I had absolutely no problem with my choice -- having long ago made peace with the fact that every business, no matter what industry or how skillful its PR department was in raising its perceived value, had something wrong with it.

Unless I wanted to be a potter in Vermont, there was always going to be something unseemly about the marketplace. And besides, I had a wife and two young kids to support.

The morning session with the ten chemical salesmen was all they hoped it would be -- an upbeat opportunity to bond and brainstorm. The ideas were flowing and so was the coffee. Everyone was happy.

During the lunch break, I stayed back to set things up for the afternoon session -- one I was planning to begin with a hands on activity that required me placing a 20 foot length of masking tape on the floor, parallel to the entrance, which I proceeded to do without a second thought.

At 1:00, the time I had asked everyone to be in their seats, the room was totally empty. Just me and the briefcases they had left behind.

Maybe I had the time wrong.

I looked at my watch. I looked at the clock on the wall. Both of them had the exact same time: 1:00, the time the afternoon session was supposed to begin. Then I looked at the door. It was open, but all ten of the chemical salesmen were standing outside the door, in the hallway, unmoving, as if they were waiting for a bus.

"C'mon in guys", I called. "It's time for the afternoon session to begin."

"We can't", they replied, standing their ground.

I walked across the room and asked them why.

In unison, they pointed to the 20-foot length of tape on floor.

"Hey it's OK, guys. It's just a piece of tape -- just part of an activity we'll be doing in a little while. It's no big deal."

But they just stood there, looking at me. Frozen in time. As if the tape was electrified. As if they were about to do something very wrong. As if they were going to make a BIG MISTAKE they would, somehow, later regret.

COMMENTARY:

It is now 20 years later and the image of those 10 chemical salesmen, unmoving, convinced they were not allowed to step over the line, is still very much with me, burned into whatever part of my brain is reserved for moments like this.

I owe these gentleman an eternal debt of gratitude because they helped me understand a part of the human psyche that I had never seen as dramatically before -- how the decisions we make about what we can do and what we can't do are often utterly arbitrary, ruled more by the meaning we ascribe to phenomena than by any intrinsic, irreversible Laws of Nature.

The chemical salesman saw the masking tape on the floor and interpreted it as meaning STOP. Their conclusion was a function of their collective generalization of past experiences they had about lines -- unbroken white lines in the middle of a highway, property lines separating neighbor from neighbor, and countless "B" movies where the tough guy draws a line in the sand with a stick and dares anyone to cross it or "else."

Yes, of course, some lines serve a purpose. I'm glad that the guy driving 75 mph in the oncoming lane doesn't cross the line. That's a good thing.

But the moment with the chemical salesmen was not the interstate. It was just a piece of masking tape on the floor in a hotel meeting room. No game was being played. No rules had been set. There was absolutely nothing to lose by stepping over it.

Wherever I go in corporate America, I see this same phenomenon playing out in a thousand different ways -- less visible, perhaps, than my moment with the chemical salesmen, but just as limiting.

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What are we so afraid of? What line are we afraid of stepping over? What imagined consequences paralyze us at the threshold and prevent us from moving forward?

One of the reasons why innovation is inert in so many organizations is because masses of intelligent, innately creative people are interpreting tape on the floor as lines that cannot be crossed. We are fabricating boundaries where none exist. We are drawing lines in space -- lines that separate, isolate, and marginalize. Lines between us and our customers. Lines between the past and the present. Lines between what's possible and what's not.

The bottom line?

All obstacles are no more than 20 foot lengths of masking tape on the floor. Whether you put them there or someone else puts them there, they have no power other than the power you attribute to them. If the lines are no longer useful, remove them. If you try to remove them and you are besieged by a raging hoard of anxious people trying to convince you to stop, it may be time to move on. Find another company with less lines. Or start your own.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

On an 8 X 11 piece of paper, napkin, wall, or extended stretch of sandy beach, make two columns: Column #1: "20 Foot Pieces of Masking Tape I Haven't Yet Stepped Over" and Column #2: "What I Will Do This Month to Step Over Them."

If, having done so, you still aren't inspired to step over the line, contemplate the following quotes from some of my favorite steppers over lines.

"Don't be afraid to take a big step. You can't cross a chasm in two small jumps." -- David Lloyd George

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." -- Goethe

"Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." -- Helen Keller

"It's not because things are difficult that we dare not venture. It's because we dare not venture that they are difficult." -- Seneca

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go." -- T.S. Eliot

This story is excerpted from my forthcoming book, WISDOM AT WORK: How Moments of Truth on the Job Reveal the Real Business of Life. If you are a publisher or know of a publisher who would resonate with this kind of material, email info@ideachampions.com.

Excerpted from this book
Another one from the book
Idea Champions
Step over the line
Step over the line with some aspiring innovators
Help others step over the line

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:24 AM | Comments (0)

ABOUT THE BLOG

Storytelling at Work is a blog about the power of personal storytelling – why it matters and what you can do to more effectively communicate your stories – on or off the job. Inspired by the book of the same name, the blog features "moment of truth" stories by the author, Mitch Ditkoff, plus inspired rants, quotes, and guest submissions by readers.

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