Storytelling at Work
December 25, 2019
Flawed Beautiful Creatures

Big thanks to Scott Cronin for the heads up

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:50 PM | Comments (0)

December 21, 2019
The Winter Solstice Begins a Season of Storytelling

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Fascinating (brief) article from Smithsonian Magazine about the Native American (seasonal) approach to storytelling. Tis the season, my friends. Go for it!

Storytelling for the Revolution


Photo: Pigoff Photography, Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:15 AM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2019
My Slightly Goofy Introduction to Black Magic

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There are a lot of things I have never been into. Biodynamic gardening is one of them. Shopping at Wal-Mart is another. And black magic. I realize, of course, there is a value to biodynamic gardening. It's good for the earth. Shopping at Walmart, I suppose, also has its advantages. Like the option of buying three months of toilet paper in one fell swoop. But black magic -- the use of supernatural powers for evil and selfish purposes? Nope. Not my cup of tea. Not even close.

Ever since I was a small boy, I've always thought of myself as one of the good guys -- a light bearer, a healer, a champion of the oppressed. Black magic was as far off my radar screen as learning Swahili. But that all changed for me one rainy Tuesday night in Los Angeles, the City of Angels, in 1982.

Having just arrived from New York on a three-day business trip, I found myself being invited by a friend to join him for a "different kind of evening" -- an evening, he explained, with a trance medium -- a psychic who, apparently, had the ability to channel Merlin the Magician, King Arthur's chief advisor.

Curious, I accepted my friend's invitation and made a beeline, the day after, to the hotel on the outskirts of town where the gathering would take place.

Not in the mood for small talk, I found a seat in the back of the room, signing no guest book, wearing no name badge, and speaking to no one. In front of me, a highly animated group of LA types talked non-stop, anticipating, it seemed, some kind of cosmic experience that awaited them.

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Me? I was in a different kind of mood, slipping slowly into my East Coast alter ego -- Big Vinny from Brooklyn -- the pizza-eating, wise guy nihilist with a low tolerance for anything that smacked of woo woo. Let's just say that Vinny wasn't all that impressed by what he was seeing in the room.

And then, show time -- the Merlin-channeling channel made his appearance, stage right, wearing a blue blazer, his shoes much shinier than mine. All eyes were upon him as he sat down, mumbled a few, unimpressive words of welcome and closed his eyes.

And then? He started shaking and twitching, which quickly morphed into a kind of full-body shuddering, apparently vacating the premises to make room for the 800-year old featured speaker of the evening. When he opened his mouth to speak, his voice was very different than the one that had welcomed us just moments before. It was a booming, British voice. Serious. Shakespearean. And apparently in charge. This continued for an hour or so, Merlin tuning into various members of the audience and saying things that sounded alternately profound and a Saturday Night Live sketch.

"Bullshit!" Big Vinny screamed inside me. "Total bullshit!"

Intermission came none too soon. I stood, made a bee-line for the parking lot, found my rented Toyota, and turned on the Mets/Dodgers game. The score? 5-2. Pitching? Ron Darling, just back from three weeks on the disabled list. Bad hamstring, I think.

The New Yorker in me wanted to stay in the car -- at least until the Mets took the lead. The rest of me didn't, semi-concerned that my disappearing act would seem to be a slap in the face to the friend of mine who had invited me. And so, I begrudgingly returned.

As soon as I entered the room, I got chills up my spine. Major chills. The hairs on the back of my next stood up. Whoa! Something, I could tell, was going to be very different than before.

In walks the trance medium. He sits, closes his eyes, shudders, and speaks. "There’s a man in the room," he announces, "who is a scientist of ideas. He knows all about white magic. But where he's going in this world, it's black magic he will need to understand. And his name is Mitchell."

OK. Badaboom, badabing. Now he had my attention. Everything he was saying was totally true. I was a scientist of ideas. That's what I did for a living -- helping people in corporations navigate their way through the maze of their minds and develop game changing ideas. And yes, it was also true that as a former poet, monk, and hippie, I knew a lot about white magic. Benevolence was my middle name, We Are the World my theme song. But in the dense, patriarchal, aggressive, hyper-competitive, bottom-line focused, take-no prisoners-world-of-corporate America I was, shall we say, over my head -- Mr. Magoo at an Illuminati convention.

My approach to corporate America, up until then, had been on the light and fluffy side -- a curious blend of Bodhisattva, Woody Allen, and Einstein. Black Magic was not something I noticed upon walking the halls of power, although I did see other things that gave me pause -- like mind games and power plays, selfishness, greed, maneuvering, manipulation, fear, and a kind of icy cold addiction to logic that gave me the creeps.

Maybe it wasn't black magic, per se, I was seeing, but it was definitely on dark side of the spectrum. Like maybe gray, perhaps. Or, on a bad day, dark grey. Whatever color it was, one thing was clear: I was not a master at dealing with it.

The trance medium continued. More sage counsel issued forth in his booming British voice. Merlin, apparently, wasn't satisfied to merely share his 800-year old counsel with me. He also had a very specific reading list he wanted to me to know about -- a bibliography of heavyweights whose books I had shied away from whenever frequenting a spiritual book store: Like Madame Blavatsky, for instance. Alistair Crowley and Alice Bailey. Ouspensky and Gurdjieff.

These were not my peeps. Nor were they the peeps of my peeps. I was more a Rumi and Hafiz kind of guy, with a sprinkling of Zen Buddhism thrown in for good measure. The Mentalists, they of the furrowed brow? Too mental for me. Too heady. Too dense. Too convoluted.

I have no recollection how that evening ended, no memory of how I got back to my car or what I did later that night. All I know is I never read the books Merlin recommended. No, I didn't. But I did manage to hold them in my hands a few weeks later and turn the pages. In a strange way that makes no sense to me, just the act of holding those books shifted something inside me that changed the way I approached my work. It was, as if, I'd been given a homeopathic dose of something or other that tweaked my sensibilities and the way I operated in the business world.

Slowly at first, and then with a steady progression, I found myself moving away from my New Age, smiley face mindset into a much more grounded one. Slowly, I began paying a different kind of attention in the marketplace. Yes, I continued seeing the good in people. And yes, I continued giving everyone the benefit of the doubt. But I didn't stop there. Goodness, indeed, was a good place to start, but it wasn't the whole story. There was shadow, too, that I needed to be mindful of.

And so I started paying attention to a more subtle dimension -- a kind of unspoken corporate hieroglyphics: The tilt of a head... a change of expression.. the clasp of a handshake... eye contact.. or the lack thereof.. how long a glance was held.. and why... a joke... a wink... the feeling I had when someone entered the room... or left... what was said.. what wasn't said...and how what wasn't said wasn't said.

It was, for me, as if a veil was lifting and I began experiencing something I had either ignored or been blinded to for years -- what dogs hear that their masters cannot. Not the invisible elephant in the room, but the invisible elephant behind the invisible elephant. The jealous rock 'n roll road manager skimming an extra 5% off the top while the band parties on.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Take a moment now to think about the various scenes you are in these days -- especially business scenes. Where might there be some subtle black magic going on? Or, if not black, grey. Who might be withholding information... or trying to deceive you... or maneuvering around you in a way that doesn't feel right? What are you seeing that you would rather not see? What are you feeling?

If these questions make you uncomfortable, good. Think about them, anyway. Open your eyes. Open your mind to what is unspoken verbally, but still speaks loudly in other ways. Is there any action you need to take? Is there something you need to do differently, going forward?

MitchDitkoff.com
Storytelling for the Revolution
Idea Champions

Photo: Samuel Zeller, Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:48 PM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2019
13 Videos for Aspiring Storytellers

Click here to view 13 brief videos (7 minutes or less) of me waxing on about the art and science of storytelling. Includes five stories from my newest book, Storytelling for the Revolution.

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Big thanks to the fine folks of GlowDec for creating this cool platform. Big thanks to David McCarthy for his videographic mastery. Big thanks to Rolan Pizer for his olympic tenacity and vision. And a big thanks to Jesse Ditkoff for his graphic wizardry, creativity, and sense of humor.

MitchDitkoff.com

My storytelling workshop
Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:33 PM | Comments (0)

December 09, 2019
The Dream Architecture of San Miguel de Allende

One of San Miguel de Allende's remarkable qualities is it's colonial architecture. Simply walking the streets has the potential to put you in a very benevolent trance. Evelyne Pouget, painter, photographer, and digital artist brings out the best of San Miguel's architecture in the following series of digitally enhanced photographs -- all of which are available for purchase.

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"What is now proved, was once only imagined." - William Blake

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"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few." - Shunryu Suzuki

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"If someone says you can't, that shows you what to do." - John Cage

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"You must do the thing you think you cannot do." - Eleanor Roosevelt

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"I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it." - Pablo Picasso

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"I don't dream at night, I dream all day. I dream for a living."
- Steven Spielberg

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"In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd." - Miguel de Cervantes

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"The shell must break before the bird can fly." - Alfred Tennyson

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"If not you, who? If not now, when?" - Rabbi Hillel

All of the above are available as prints: framed and unframed. For more information about sizes and prices contact: mitch@ideachampions.com

San Miguel's danzantes
Evelyne's Pet Portraits

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:59 PM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2019
Raise Your Online Voices High

What if ONE LIT CANDLE was produced this way?

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:09 AM | Comments (0)

December 07, 2019
The Digital Art of Evelyne Pouget

What follows are examples of Evelyne Pouget's digital art, inspired by the danzantes of San Miguel de Allende. Her work is an alchemical blend of photography and digital effects.

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"The world is an illusion, but you have to act as if it's real." - Krishna

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"Not everything that counts can be counted; and not everything that can be counted counts." - Albert Einstein

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"When you speak the truth, you don't have to remember anything." - Mark Twain

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

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"The world is not made of atoms. It is made of stories." - Muriel Rukeyser

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"Just remain in the center, watching. And then forget that you are there." - Lao Tzu

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"Everything you need is within you." - Prem Rawat

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"The world is how you see it." - Baba Muktananda

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"What is there at this moment that you lack?" - Zen Saying

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"I have nothing to say. I am saying it. That is poetry." - John Cage

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"Awareness cures." - Fritz Perls

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"Kindness is my religion." - Dalai Lama

More About Evelyne Pouget
PougetDigital
Evelyne's pet portraits
Evelyn's people portraits
Evelyne's equine portraits

If you are interested in commissioning Evelyne's portraiture services or would like to buy any of her danzante prints, contact mitch@ideachampions.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:36 PM | Comments (0)

The Robbers

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When I was 13, my sister was 18. She was the proverbial big sister. I was the proverbial little brother. And though she called me "twerp" and I called her "fatso", it was always comforting to know she was in the next room, especially on the nights when our parents went out. I wouldn't be alone. My sister was there.

But when she went off to college, everything changed. Now I was the only child in the house. Now it was just me.

I will never forget my first night alone. My parents, after dinner, casually informed me they were going out for the evening but would be back at a "reasonable hour." They petted the dog, gave me a hug, and were gone in a flash. I stood by the front door, listening, until the sound of their Oldsmobile disappeared into the distance. Then I made myself a huge bowl of ice cream, retreated to my room, turned on the TV, flopped down on my bed, and started doing my homework.

So far so good. The ice cream was yummy. The capital of Montana was Helena, and the Mets were leading 4-2. That's when I started hearing the SOUNDS -- very strange sounds coming from the kitchen... troubling sounds... scary sounds... the kind robbers make when looking for things to steal.

Like my mother's set of sterling silver, for example -- the extremely expensive set of sterling silver given to her years ago by my rich Uncle Herman.

The sounds from the kitchen continued -- sounds I had never heard before. And then... absolutely nothing... nothing at all... just silence... a deadly silence... the kind that could only mean one thing -- the robbers had just poisoned my dog. Or strangled her.

The moment of truth was upon me. Laying on my bed, eating the last of my ice cream, I had a decision to make. A big one. Do I turn up the sound of my TV so the robbers will know someone is home and leave on their own, or do I confront them, saving my mother's sterling silver before they get away?

It may have seemed like a choice, but it wasn't. I knew, in my heart of hearts, there was only one thing to do. So I got off my bed and began making my way, ninja-like, oh so slowly, out of my room, down the hallway, past the bathroom, closer and closer to the closed kitchen door. My heart was pounding, my breath coming faster, my mind was racing. Standing just a foot from the door, I stopped and listened. An eternity passed. The sounds from the kitchen continued. And then, raising my right foot, I kicked open the door and leaped into the kitchen, letting out the kind of scream karate guys make when they attack.

The first thing I saw was my dog, Doxie, looking up at me, wagging her tail. She was alive! Alive! I bent down to pet her, no robbers in sight, having obviously heard me coming and vamoosed out the side door. I stood up and walked a few steps to the table where the sterling silver set was supposed to be in its velvety blue box. It was there -- just a few inches away from the spice rack and the stack of Life Magazines. I open it slowly. Not a fork or spoon was missing. Not a knife. I made my way to the pantry and gave my dog a treat. Then I returned to my room, finished my ice cream, memorized the capital of Vermont (Montpelier) and watched the end of the baseball game. Then I turned on my clock radio and went to bed.

This same drama must have played itself out at least 50 times in the next two years. My strategy, I must say, worked like a charm . From the time I was 13 until I was 15, not a single thing was ever stolen from our house.

COMMENTARY: This little story of mine played out 59 years ago. For the six decades that followed, only two people ever heard about about my heroics -- my best friend, Matt, and my wife, Evelyne. And yet for me, now 72, taking the time to reflect on this story and share it with you has been a revelation. While laughable in many ways, I've gotten some keen insights into my psyche and how I, at an early age, became wired to deal with the unknown, whether real or imagined. My self-invented rite-of-passage was how I learned to deal with fear and the choices before me. First, I learned I needed to be alert to the subtle clues around me. Then I learned I had a choice. Then I learned I had to choose. Once my choice was made, everything was cool. I was no longer a victim, no longer a boy hiding in his room, but a man of action. And the danger? Gone.

Excerpted from Storytelling for the Revolution
Pet Portraits by Evelyne Pouget
Photo: Artem Sapegin

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:49 AM | Comments (0)

December 06, 2019
Barney and the Gatekeepers

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My father, a pharmacist by profession, retired to Florida at the age of 55. His retirement lasted three weeks. After a lifetime's worth of waking up each morning with a PURPOSE, now he had none. Golf didn't count. Nor did watering his lawn or reading People Magazine. In fact, nothing counted.

Without having something to DO that had meaning for him, my father was very much lost at sea. And so, he decided, one fine air-conditioned day, to begin importing exotic foreign cars. The business model was a simple one. Buy low. Sell high.

As his only son, I was impressed. Mercedes were not only way cooler than nose drops, there was a much bigger profit margin. Plus, who knows, it was always possible that one of them might trickle down to me one day.

My dad's foreign car venture lasted six months.

Now 56 and, again, unemployed, he decided to take a left turn and open an art gallery with my mother -- a move that shocked the entire family. It wasn't fine art they were selling, mind you. It was decorative art -- the kind that newly retired people were in search of to match their living room couch. Like maybe something in green.

That venture lasted two years.

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Now, closing in on 60, with two false starts under his belt and a shrinking nest egg, my father decided it was time to get his real estate license. After all, he reasoned, the building boom was huge in Florida and somebody had to sell all those houses -- right -- so why not him?

Getting his real estate license was easy. He studied. He took the test. He passed. Getting customers? Not so easy.

With tons of other real estate agents to compete with, he needed a creative way to differentiate himself from the competition. Newspaper ads were out. Too expensive. TV commercials were out. Also too expensive. And so, in honor of Willie Sutton -- the bank robber who once replied "That's where the money is" when asked why he robbed banks, my father launched his West Palm Beach "gatekeeper campaign."

Here's how it worked: Armed with nothing but his electric yellow business cards, he "made the rounds" to the guard houses of the most popular gated communities in the area. After the requisite amount of schmoozing, he introduced himself as "Barney the Real Estate Agent", handed a stack of his cards to each gatekeeper and declared, "If you ever meet anyone looking to buy a house, give them my card. For each person you refer that buys a house from me, I will give you $100."

Once month, after that, my father would make the rounds again, bringing each security guard a fresh supply of business cards and a hot pizza. Soon, he had a "sales force" of 25 armed security guards representing him -- a uniformed crew of highly knowledgeable locals perfectly positioned to introduce him to hundreds of the house-buying public.

Two years later, my father was making more money as a retiree than he ever made in his prime. He worked until he was 89.

FAST FORWARD: I am now the age my father was 17 years into his retirement. Like him, I find great meaning in work. Like him, I have gone through my own rites of passage. And like him, I cannot afford to hire a sales force to get the word out about the services I provide. Which is why I have, in honor of the man who brought me into the world, just launched my own version of my father's gatekeeper campaign in my efforts to represent the portrait painting services of my wife, Evelyne Pouget. Maybe it will work and maybe it won't, but I just love the feeling of reprising my dad's idea and tweaking it for the times.

This is just one more reason why stories are such powerful agents of communication. First, the story I just told you, above, is how I remember my father's experience. Secondly, the story helps me reflect on its meaning and apply it to my own life. And third, it's how I share the wisdom of it with you.

Who knows? Maybe my father's experience, so many years ago, communicated via STORY to you now, will be enough to get your own wheels turning, as you figure out a newer, cooler, simpler way to get the word out about the service you provide in the world.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: What "unusual suspects" in your life, might make for good referral agents -- people who can help you get the word out about what you do and, somehow, be compensated for their efforts?

Evelyne's Pet Portraits
Evelyne's horse portraits
Evelyne's people portraits

NOTE: If YOU want more information on what my Barney-inspired "gatekeeper campaign" (in service to Evelyne's art) looks like and how you can make a 10% commission for your efforts, email me with the words "Barney's Gatekeeper Campaign" in the subject line.

mitch@ideachampions.com

Inspiring quotes on possibility
ONE LIT CANDLE: Stuart Hoffman and Jennifer Edward's new anthem

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:05 PM | Comments (0)

A Horse of a Different Color

If you are a horse lover, horse owner, horse breeder, or just like to horse around, you may want to commission Evelyne Pouget to paint a portrait of your favorite equine. Oil pastels and oils are the two mediums Evelyne uses to work her magic. Scroll below for samples of her work, as well as some of her other pet and people portraits. Intrigued? Want to find out how to engage her services? Scroll all the way to the bottom.

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Evelyne's Pet Portraits

Evelyne's People Portraits

CONTACT: Mitch Ditkoff (mitch@ideachampions.com)

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:54 AM | Comments (0)

December 02, 2019
Wisdom Circle: El Arbol de la Vida

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More info here
What people are saying about Wisdom Circles
Storytelling for the Revolution
The facilitator

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:49 PM | 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.

Order the book:

MitchDitkoff.com
Click here for the simplest, most direct way, to learn more about Idea Champions' semi-fearless leader, Mitch Ditkoff. Info on his keynotes, workshops, conferences, and more.
Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling for the Revolution is Mitch Ditkoff's newly published book about the power of personal storytelling to elevate the conversation on planet Earth. Provocative. Evocative. And fun. YOU have stories to tell. This book will help you tell them.
Storytelling at Work
"The world is not made of atoms," wrote the poet, Muriel Rukeyser. "It's made of stories." Learn how to discover, honor, and unpack the stories of yours that show up "on the job" in Mitch Ditkoff's award-winning 2015 book, Storytelling at Work.
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Mitch Ditkoff, the Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions, has recently been voted a top 5 speaker in the field of innovation and creativity by Speakers Platform, a leading speaker's bureau.
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