Storytelling at Work
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

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June 21, 2018
My Vision for Fostering a Revolution of Inspired Storytelling

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Although I have been deeply involved in the world of storytelling for the past six years, I think it's fair to say that I am relatively new to the game. Anthropologists tell us that oral storytelling emerged about the same time as language -- approximately 100,000 years ago. Based on my calculations, that puts me about 99,994 years late to the party. Oh well! Better late than never, eh? As I understand it, Grandma Moses didn't start painting until she was 64 and Abraham didn't get circumcised until he was 101. Some things take time, I guess.

That's one of the cool things about storytelling. Done well, it has a way of helping people experience that which is BEYOND time. Not "out there" stuff only noted in holy books. But "in there" stuff, embedded within each and every one of us.

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And this is precisely what inspires me, these days, about storytelling. Storytelling is one of the simplest ways to spark awareness, connection, wisdom, and behavior change. Indeed, it is why I wrote my new book, Storytelling for the Revolution and why I wrote my previous book, Storytelling at Work. It is also why I deliver keynotes, workshops, and Wisdom Circles.

This, of course, is all "well and good", but not all that remarkable -- the kind of life story that could easily be dismissed as one man's attempt to create a cool way to make a living. But that would be a fiction. That is not my ultimate goal.

I'm not just interested in selling books and getting a few good pay days. What is way MORE interesting to me, is sparking a revolution of meaningful storytelling on planet Earth -- the kind of storytelling that uplifts, inspires, and awakens -- a simple way, available to ALL human beings, to elevate the conversation.

Towards that end (and to answer a question I was asked, yesterday, in a Mexican cafe), I share with you, now, my current vision for how I intend to accomplish the above. If you see yourself plugging into this vision in any way, let me hear from you. I'm just an email way.

1. GET MY BOOK into as many hands as possible.

2. CREATE AN AUDIO BOOK, so people can listen to my stories, not just read them.

3. DELIVER KEYNOTES and WORKSHOPS to forward thinking organizations.

4. DEVELOP A MODEL for how schools can leverage the power of storytelling to create community and spark lifelong learning -- beginning with an Islamic school in Australia where the work has already begun.

5. COACH movers and shakers committed to becoming transformative storytellers.

6. TRAIN THOUSANDS of people how to facilitate Wisdom Circles in their communities.

7. CHOOSE TO TELL A LIFE ENHANCING STORY whenever the opportunity arises.

8. BE A GOOD LISTENER (so others are encouraged to tell their stories)

9. CONTINUE PRODUCING my storytelling blog to support aspiring storytellers

10. COLLECT THE FAVORITE STORIES of living sages, teachers, and Masters -- then produce a book of them to demonstrate how ALL spiritual paths are basicially telling the same story.

Big thanks to Carey Berkus for asking me what my vision is.
Photo: Evelyne Pouget

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:31 PM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2018
KURT VONNEGUT SPEAKS: On the Shape of Stories

MitchDitkoff.com
The shape of stories in the workplace
Storytelling as a way to spark innovation

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March 24, 2018
The Power Over Story

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Amazon Reviews of Storytelling at Work

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January 18, 2018
Alan Rickman on Storytelling

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Exhibit "A"
Storytelling for the Revolution
Workshop: Innovation and Storytelling
MitchDitkoff.com

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January 06, 2018
How Your Process of Creating Stories Can Be More Creative

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So... you want to write or tell stories? Fantastic. But how can you ensure that your writing or telling is as creative as possible and not just the "same old, same old?" What follows is a list of 20 tips to keep you operating at the highest octave of your creative potential:


1. Identify what blocks your creativity:
When Michelangelo was asked how he made his iconic statue, The David, he explained, "I simply took away everything that wasn't." From his point of view, the statue was already in the stone. All he had to do was remove what obscured it. What is in your way of telling or writing your stories? What can you do, this week, to remove this clutter?

2. Immerse: Creative people have a unique ability to dive in and stay with a project for long stretches of time. They don't just hit and run. Instead, they get absorbed. That's why Einstein once said, "It's not that I'm so smart. It's just that I stay with problems longer." How can you make more time to really dive into your storytelling project?

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3. Reframe failure: Creative people are less afraid of making mistakes than most people. They understand that many experiments are needed and that trial and error comes with the territory. When Thomas Edison was asked how it felt to fail 800 times before coming up with tungsten as the filament for the light bulb, his reply said it all: "Fail? I didn't fail once. I learned 800 times, what didn't work." How can you create more "storytelling experiments" in your life?

4. Go beyond your limiting assumptions: Often, the suppositions we make at the beginning of a project are completely bogus -- a strange concoction of our past experiences, false beliefs, and personal myths. Innovators have a knack for being less bound by limiting assumptions than most people. Their state of open-mindedness allows them to explore bold, new territories. What is your biggest limiting assumption about being a storyteller? What can you do to go beyond it?

5. Stay inspired: I know of very few depressed or despondent people who are consistently creative. And while it's true, that creative people can sometimes get depressed or despondent, they don't stay in that space for very long, realizing that a positive mindset is one of the keys to their success. What is the simplest way you can stay inspired as you proceed with your storytelling project?

6. Ask WHAT IF: Asking powerful questions is a great way to enter into a creative mindset, one that is infused with curiosity. And of all the questions you can ask, asking "What if?" is the most powerful. What if you weren't afraid to fail? How would that affect the choices before you? What are three other "what if" questions you might ask yourself?

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7. Make connections between seemingly disparate elements: One of the qualities of a creative thinker is the ability to synthesize -- to see new relationships between this, that and the other thing. MTV, for example, is nothing more than the result of someone seeing a new connection between music and television. Drive-in banking? A new connection between cars and banks. What new connections can you make between seemingly unrelated elements of your project? List all the elements of it, then look for intriguing new connections between them.

8. See through others' eyes: One of the biggest obstacles to creativity is our odd little habit of viewing everything through our own eyes/lenses/filters. Addicted to our own point of view, we develop a weird kind of tunnel vision. The simplest way to free your self from this constraint is to look at your storytelling project through the eyes of someone else. How would Mohammed proceed if he was in charge? Rosa Parks? Richard Branson? Lady Gaga? What clues about proceeding do get from their approaches?

9. Pay attention to your subconscious mind: Ideas come to us from two places: the conscious mind (i.e. brainstorming, thinking, planning) and the subconscious mind (i.e. dreaming, intuition). Most great ideas seem to come to people from the subconscious mind, when they are taking a break from the problem at hand and not trying so hard. Where and when do your best ideas come to you? How can you honor these ideas more than you currently do?

10. Suspend logic and linearity: Most of us are rational beings. Our default condition is logic and linearity. But there is another part of us, too -- the free thinker, the dreamer, the one who likes to play with possibilities, often called "right brain thinking". How can you suspend your tendency to allow logic and linearity to dominate your life? How can you make more time to play around with possibilities?

11. Trust your instincts, intuitions, and hunches: Albert Einstein once said, "Not everything that counts can be counted; and not everything that can be counted, counts." Indeed, when he got stuck, he used to conduct what he called "thought experiments", a fancy name for daydreaming. Bottom line, he trusted his hunches more than most of us do. What are your instincts and intuitions telling you about your emerging storytelling project?

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12. Entertain the fantastic: Gary Kasparov, the former Soviet Union Grand Chess Master, had the ability to strategize 26 moves ahead. But when, in 1989, he was asked what enabled him to beat Big Blue, IBM's mainframe computer, in a two game chess match, he attributed his success to "the ability to fantasize". Einstein, too, was a big proponent of fantasizing and once said "the ability to fantasize has meant more to me than my ability to absorb positive knowledge." How can you make more time, in your life, for blue sky thinking?

13. Collaborate: Some people assume that creativity is the result of a lone wolf genius inhabiting an ivory tower and returning to the "marketplace" with a brilliant breakthrough. And while this sometimes happens, it is mostly a myth. Often, creativity is sparked by being in relationship with other people -- jamming, brainstorming, and playing around with new ideas. How can you increase the amount of creative collaboration in your life? Who, specifically, can you invite to be one of your collaborators?

14. Have more fun: This just in! "Aha" and "Haha" are very much related. In the aha moment, the person with the insight ends up surprised about a given outcome. He/she is "dislocated" from their common assumptions, i.e. Archimedes in the bathtub. The haha moment is similar. Indeed, the reason why most of us laugh is because our expectations get disrupted. Creativity and humor are joined at the hip. Get too serious and you diminish the odds of creativity flourishing. In what ways can you infuse your creative process with more playfulness and humor?

15. Look for happy accidents: Do you know what penicillin, Post-It Notes, and Velcro have in common? They were all the results of accidents in the lab. None of them were the result of a brainstorming session or strategic plan. But instead of being dismissed as mistakes, the innovators associated with these discoveries, got curious. They played around with these unanticipated occurrences until they discovered their commercial value. Indeed, research indicates that 75% of all product and service breakthroughs are the results of serendipity, surprise, and happy accidents. What curious insights have you stumbled upon recently that the logical part of your mind may have dismissed as inconsequential?

16. Change environments: Sometimes, the simplest way to spark creativity is to change environments. Socrates knew this. That's why he invented his "Peripatetic School of Education" -- a way to get his students to walk the talk. This is why so many of us get our best ideas during or after exercising. Where can you go to refresh and renew yourself whenever you are feeling stuck?

17. Be comfortable with ambiguity: Creating something new is not a function of a predictable, sequential process. It often requires lots of time spent not knowing or being confused. Ambiguity comes with the territory. If you are not mindful of this phenomenon, you will likely grab onto the "first right idea" to settle yourself down. This is not a good idea. In what ways can you give yourself more permission to be uncomfortable as you proceed with your storytelling project?

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18. Acknowledge your progress: Creating something new is often frustrating. Results don't always come quickly. Consequently, aspiring innovators tend to get discouraged and enter into a cranky mindset. Inspiration, optimism, and positivity go out the window. The simplest way to neutralize this phenomenon is to take a few minutes at the end of each day to acknowledge the progress you have made, no matter how small. Think about your emerging storytelling project. What progress have you made on it today? This week? This month?

19. Give and receive feedback: Often, aspiring innovators are on the right track, but their addiction to "being right" gets in the way. What they need to do in order to open up their creativity is get feedback from people they trust. Unfortunately, this happens infrequently. All too often, we interpret feedback as criticism, so we don't ask for it. In what ways can you get more feedback about your storytelling telling project? Who can you ask today?

20. Honor your polarities: People who want to be more creative, would love there to be some kind of blueprint or map. Guess what? There isn't And even if there was, it would include lots of contradictory directions. That's because the act of "being creative" is often a contradictory process, which is why Niels Bohr, the Nobel-prize winning physicist, once said: "Now that we have met with paradox, we have some hope of making progress." The creative process is not an either/or phenomenon. It is both. Which of the following polarities do you toggle back and forth between?

-- Patience/impatience
-- Solitude/collaboration
-- Urgency/relaxation
-- Seriousness/playfulness
-- Divergence/convergence

What other polarities do you experience in your creative process? What can you do to honor them more than you currently do?

Excerpted from my forthcoming book, to be published in May.
MitchDitkoff.com
My storytelling workshop

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December 07, 2017
The Elevator Speech

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In the past few weeks, quite a few people have asked me for the "elevator speech" about my book. I get it. These days, if you can't deliver your message in 60 seconds or less you're screwed. So here goes. Consider this my elevator speech (though the building you are riding in is a hundred stories high).

I wrote Storytelling at Work because I wanted to do everything in my power to unleash what I have come to realize is one of the biggest untapped resources on planet Earth -- and that is the collective insight and wisdom of human beings everywhere. No matter what our education, culture, or profession, each of us has a storehouse of brilliance inside of us -- a deep knowing (hiding in our stories) that, when expressed, has the power to uplift, inspire, and transform.

I'm not talking about the rote communication of book learning. Nor am I talking about the transmission of data, facts, and information. I'm talking about the communication of the very best of what human beings have to share with each other.

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Look at it this way: If you want to transport water to a thirsty person, you need a container -- a cup, a bottle, or canteen. If you want to transport wisdom, you also need a container. And the best, most available, container we have is story.

This wisdom conveyance phenomenon has been going on since the beginning of time. It's how our species is wired. It started with cave paintings. It continued around the tribal fire. And it eventually found its way into the wisdom teachings of every civilization on earth.

In modern day business, this storytelling phenomenon has morphed into various, more commercialized forms, all considered to be ways of furthering an organization's success -- branding, advertising campaigns, leadership pep talks, and the sharing of "best practices."

Fine. No problem. But what I'm inviting people to share is not just new ways to sell products, convince others to work harder, or "continuously improve". I'm inviting people to dig deeper and share their "tacit knowledge" with each other -- the harder to express stuff about what they've really learned about themselves, life, and what it means to be a human being -- on or off the job. The juicy stuff. About adaptability. About resilience. About risk taking, courage, creativity, trust, failure, perseverance, passion, intuition, humor, commitment and whatever else they've experienced that is truly meaningful to them.

Without the expression of this wisdom, work can never be more than a job and life can never be more than thanking God for Friday.

Awesome quotes on storytelling
Why your brain likes a good story
Storytelling as a strategic business tool
Why my book matters + excerpts
The shortest elevator speech ever (book excerpt)

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October 19, 2017
What Stories Will You Tell Today?

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Here's a story you can probably relate to: You are walking down the street when a friend, coming the other way, stops and asks "Whassup?" It's a question you've heard a thousand times before -- the default, open-ended salutation. Your choices are many. You can answer any way you want, from the predictable "Fine, whassup with you?" to an elaborate monologue on any number of topics: the weather, your vacation plans, the economy, the latest terrorist attack, local politics, your job, and the latest viral video.

In that moment, there is no correct answer. You get to decide what story to tell. What you don't get to decide is the impact your story will have. That's up to the listener. But know this: your story will have impact. Everything you say, everything you do has impact, even a seemingly casual moment of passing a friend on the street.

If you watch TV, you can see this phenomenon playing out daily. With an almost infinite number of topics to report on, the news TV reports on is mostly bad news: war, violence, political unrest, terrorism, famine, corruption, plane crashes, murder, scandal, disease, gossip, and unemployment with an occasional human interest story thrown in for good measure.

68% of Americans believe that TV news broadcasts focus way too much on bad news and yet we keep tuning in. The impact? Our state of well-being declines. We become sadder, more negative, more hopeless and depressed, exacerbating whatever personal worries and anxieties we already had before tuning in.

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I'm not suggesting that news outlets airbrush the negative out of their reports. Nor am I suggesting they stop reporting on the bad stuff that's happening around the world. What I'm suggesting is that they find more of a middle path and make more of an effort to change the narrative to honor what's good and holy about being alive.

You and I are also news stations. You and I are also reporting on what's going on in the world. Like the TV executives behind the scenes, we also get to decide what stories to tell -- even on the street when a friend asks us "Whassup?" That is our moment of truth. That is our broadcast.

Will our stories be local versions of the nightly news, skewed to what's bad and wrong, full of gossip and complaint, or will we choose to tell a new story, one infused with possibility, progress, insight, awareness, and hope?

Excerpted from this book
The Story Workshop
The MotherShip

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October 07, 2017
THE WISDOM REVOLUTION: The Text of My 2018 TED TALK

Wizard Storyteller3.jpgI stand before you tonight for one purpose and one purpose only -- to launch a revolution. Not the kind that overthrows a government. Not the kind that replaces one political system with another. And not the kind that takes life. No. The revolution I am launching gives life -- a revolution of wisdom or, better yet, a revelation of wisdom -- a way that each and everyone of us can change things for the better on planet Earth.

My weapon of choice? Not a gun. Not a hand grenade. Not a bomb. My weapon of choice is a story. Yes, you heard that right -- a story.

Most revolutionaries have a manifesto -- a strongly worded statement of their purpose. I have one, too, but you won't need to write it down to remember it. My manifesto is already encoded in your cells. It lives inside you and always has. Like the neuroscientists like to say, "the human brain is wired for story". We are storytelling animals -- going all the back to our tribal ancestors standing around the fire and telling their stories of the day.

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No matter what our differences, there is one thing we all share in common: We all belong to the same species -- "homo sapiens" -- the Latin term for "wise person".

Yes, we all know something. We do. Our challenge? How do we communicate what we know to each other? That's the real question. Because once we do, things will begin changing for the better.

Steve Jobs may have said it best. "The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the values, mission, and agenda of an entire generation that is yet to come."

And Steve is in excellent company. According to the Hopi Indians: "He that tells the story rules the world".

Powerful words, but what do they really mean? Well, instead of talking about story to make my point, allow me to actually tell you a story.

Once upon a time, there was a wealthy merchant traveling across India on a month-long buying trip -- a journey he made twice a year, going to off-the-beaten-path villages to buy the finest of silks and brocades.

Two days into his journey, while dining at a roadside hotel, the merchant was approached by a young man.

"Oh merchant," the young lad began. "You are old and I am young. You are frail and I am strong. Allow me to assist you, to carry what needs to be carried. Your journey will be more successful and I will get a chance to earn a much needed living."

And so the merchant hired him on the spot. Each night the two of them dined together on the finest of foods and each night, about 20 minutes into the meal, the young man would politely excuse himself -- not to use the bathroom or go for a walk -- but to search the merchant's room, looking for money to steal. Alas, he never found a single penny. Then, on the final night of the journey, racked with guilt and a big dose of curiosity, the thief confessed.

"Kind sir, ever since we met I have had only one thing in mind -- to rob you. Each night I searched your room, looking under your pillow and everywhere else, but I never found your money. Your kindness has humbled me and now all I can do now is ask your forgiveness. But before we go our separate ways, I must ask one thing: Where did you hide your money?"

"Ah..." replied the merchant. "I knew from the moment we met that you were a thief. That was obvious. So I hid my money in the only place I knew you wouldn't look. I hid my money under your pillow."

The riches I'm talking about tonight is not gold, stock options, or the almighty buck. I'm talking about what money cannot buy. Insight. Understanding. Meaning. And the highest expression of all: Wisdom. Inside of each of us there is great wisdom -- an intuitive knowing of something beyond space and time. But like the merchant's fortune, it is hiding. Where is it hiding? Under our pillow. And the pillow is story.

How does a person experience wisdom in the first place -- something actually worthy of communicating?
There are many ways. Some people read holy books. Some meditate. Some are initiated into it by a Wise Teacher or Master. And for some, wisdom simply comes with time. But no matter how we get our first taste of it, the challenge, eventually, is how do we communicate what we know to others?

Deconstruct any scripture, any sermon, any TED talk and you will find story! That's how most meaningful messages are conveyed. Indeed, social scientists tell us that 65% of all human conversations are made up of story -- either narrative accounts of what's happened in the past or our imaginings of what we'd like to see happen in the future.

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Story is everywhere. As author, Madeleine D'Engle, noted: "There are entire societies that have never used the wheel. But there are no societies that did not tell stories." Other than breath, story may be the single most common denominator we all share in common.

Here's what the neuroscientists tell us: When a storyteller shares their experience, the same parts of the brain light up in the listener as lit up in the storyteller's brain upon first having the experience they are sharing. "Mood contagion" it is sometimes called. "Somatic states". "Neural coupling" -- the phenomenon of one person being able to transmit not only information about X, Y, or Z, but a feeling imbued with the power to spark transformation. "Mind Meld" as Dr. Spock would have called it -- how one person transmits hard-to-communicate "tacit knowledge" to another.

The question isn't whether or not storytelling works. It does. The question is: Are we going to step up and tell our stories?" And, equally as important, What kind of stories are we going to tell?

Storytelling, you see, is like a knife. You can use it to spread butter on toast or you can use it to poke somebody's eye out. Sages, rabbis, priests, elders, teachers, and light-bearing people of all kinds use story to communicate meaningful, memorable messages -- timeless truths and principles. That's the good news. But there's also a dark side to storytelling. It can be used to manipulate and control. Think political spin doctors. Think revisionist history. Think advertising at its worst.

If you really want to witness the power of story to color our collective mindset, all you need to do is watch the evening news. The stories the media likes to tell? Stories of violence, corruption, war, greed, rape, murder, bombings, terrorism, fraud, fires, and scandal -- with an occasional cat being rescued from a tree just so we don't just all jump off a bridge and screw up their ratings.

90% of all nightly news stories are negative. I get it. Bad news sells. I get that there's a lot of "bad stuff" going on in the world and knowing about it is the first step toward doing something about it. Please don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating that we airbrush the bad news from our lives. Even Fairy Tales have "bad news" -- the monster, the demon, and the Big Bad Wolf.

True. But how about we strike more of a balance? What if each and everyone of us chose to share more of the good stories with each other -- not just on Sundays, but everyday -- stories of breakthrough, learning, insight, and kindness -- stories that inspire, awaken, and yes, spark wisdom.

What would happen if we elevated the conversation -- one story at a time on this big, beautiful planet of ours?

Because what we say, what we express, what we put out there in the world is not just about reporting on so-called reality. It's also about shaping reality. Like one novelist put it, "People think human beings create stories. In fact, it's the other way around."

And all of this begins with you and me. Not our so-called leaders. Not the government. Not the movie makers, novelists, and programmers -- though they can certainly help. It begins with us.

I'm sure you've heart the expression "Power to the People?" Yes? And I'm sure you've heard the expression "Information is Power?" Yes? Well... what I'm saying is that if you want to be informed about what really matters, if you want reclaim your power, then get on the front lines of storytelling.

You may not own CNN, FOX News or NBC, but you are in the broadcasting business. You are your own news station. You get to program the kind of news that goes out into the world.

In 1993, a group of 4,000 meditators in Washington DC, over the course of two months, demonstrated that crime could be reduced in the U.S. capital -- in their case, by 23%, simply by meditating. (Before this experiment, the DC chief of police claimed that the only way crime could be reduced by 20% was if there was 20 inches of snow!)

I can't tell you how that mass meditation experiment worked (fans of Rupert Sheldrake might explain it as the "morphogenetic field.") All I know is that it worked. What if all 7.8 billion of us began telling wisdom stories? What might change? How might the conversations we are having shape our reality?

Here's an example from my own life.

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Some years ago, I was hired by a large food manufacturer to facilitate a brainstorming session to help them invent a new kind of salty snack food. On the morning of the session, my day began like any other day. I woke up. I showered, shaved, dressed, picked up a USA Today from the lobby and got into a cab. Glancing at my driver's photo and name on the dashboard, it was clear to me he was not from this country. The spelling of his name seemed odd. It has many consonants in a row, kind of like someone had put a bunch of scrabble tiles in a bag, shook them, and randomly pulled them out. At that moment, I had a choice, I could have napped, read the paper, or checked my email. Or I could have started a conversation with him -- a risky proposition, as many foreign cabbies, in my experience, especially ones who worked the early shift, didn't seem to like Americans.

Screw it. I spoke.

"Where are you from?" I asked.

"Afghanistan", he replied -- a piece of information that stopped me dead in my tracks, America being smack in the middle of that horrendous war. Yes, that could have been the end of the story, but I decided to ask him how it was he came to live in America.

There was long, silent, pause, and then he spoke.

You see, he was out for a walk with his daughter, one day, in a field outside of his village when his daughter stepped on a landmine. So he ripped off his shirt and made a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. Then, with his daughter on his back, he went madly in search of a doctor. But there were no doctors. Villagers took him and his daughter in, applying home made remedies to her mangled leg, but his daughter was rapidly losing it, drifting in and out of consciousness. Then, one of the villagers told him of an outpost of nurses from the Mayo Clinic not far away. He got there and collapsed. They tended to his daughter, kept her alive, and flew her Minneapolis for surgery. Then they flew him and his wife to join their daughter as she went through more surgeries, the fitting or a prosthetic leg, and major rehabilitation. They decided to stay in America. Eventually, he got a job as a cab driver and I was now in his back seat.

You know they expression "worlds collide?" Well.. I was in the epicenter of it.

When we finally got to my client's headquarters, my driver and I both got out of the cab. I paid him. Then we hugged. No words were spoken. As I got into the elevator, I knew I had a choice to make. Do I begin my session with a traditional icebreaker or do I start with the story of my journey from hotel to headquarters? It wasn't a difficult choice to make. As Maya Angelou said, "There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you".

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So I opened the meeting with my Afghani cab driver story. And while I was sure I needed to tell it, I wasn't sure how the people in the room would react. It could have bombed. They could have looked at me, cross-eyed. But they didn't. Their eyes didn't cross. They opened. So did their minds. And so did something they all-too-rarely bring to work -- their hearts. My little story had a profound effect of them. Peter Guber, author of Tell To Win, refers to this as "emotional transportation".

This is the kind of revolution I'm talking about, folks -- the revolution of feeling... the revolution of perspective... the revolution of wisdom shared via the medium of story.

Indeed, a single story has the power to change mood, change minds, and change what's possible. My life changed in the telling of that story. And theirs did, too. There was a revolution in the room. You could feel it. With the telling of my Afghani cab driver story the people in the room were now revolving around something much bigger than before the story was told. A new kind of orbit was born.

Every day, when a friend passes you on the street and asks "Whassup?", you have the same choice I did. You can talk about your aching back, the weather, and the latest scandal, or you can elevate the conversation by telling a story that matters. I'm not suggesting you enter into some kind of long-winded monologue or try to convince your friend of something. No. Many stories can be told in 90 seconds or less and the good ones deliver the message without the teller having to evangelize.

As Hannah Arendt once said, "Story reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it."

I've told two kinds of story tonight. The first one, the story of the merchant, is known as a Springboard Story -- the kind of classic tale that has, embedded within it, a universal message. Every tradition has them. Sufi stories. Zen stories. Stories told by Hasidic rabbis. Stories from the Bible. Or any number of Fairy Tales. This is how all of the great sages, teachers, and masters teach and this is how we can teach each other.

The second story I told tonight -- the Afghani cab driver story -- was a personal story. I didn't read it in a book. I lived it But equally important, I told it. I shared it. I got it out of my head and into the world. I took that knife and spread some butter on your toast.

You, too, have stories to tell. I know you do. Some of them may be of the Springboard story variety. But you also have your own, personal stories to tell -- your own spontaneously occurring "moments of truth" -- an obstacle overcome... a lesson learned... a breakthrough... a rite of passage... a random act of kindness. All of us have these experiences. Every single one of us. And they have great power. But only if they are shared.

You may, like many people, think you are not a good storyteller. You may think people won't listen or you will bore people. Not true! You are already a good storyteller. You've been telling stories all your life. It's what psychologists call an "unconscious competency". Like breathing. Or thinking. Or riding a bike. You may not be able to explain how you do it, but you know how. You do. You're a natural. It's in your bones.

So this is my invitation to you: Join the storytelling revolution. Step up to the plate and let it rip! Don't just evolve. Revolve! Revolve around a much bigger sun than bad news, gossip, and complaint. Liberate the storyteller within. As one pundit put it: "The role of the storyteller is to awaken the storyteller in others."

This has been my job tonight. But it's your job, too -- that is IF you want to change the collective narrative that shapes our lives.

How to begin? It's simple. In this moment, think of a story you have heard that inspires you -- maybe something a friend told you or a grandparent, or a teacher, or someone you sat next to on a plane. Or maybe no one told you. Maybe you read it a book -- a story that, like a beautiful piece of music, you never get tired of hearing. Got it? Good.

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The second kind of story I want you to remember is one of your own -- something that happened to you -- a memorable moment... a challenge overcome.. a lesson learned... almost dying... falling in love... the birth of a child... a chance encounter... like what happened to me in the back seat of the cab. Got it? Good.

Now, oh comrades of the newly forming Storytelling Revolution, if you are willing to share your story with someone in the next few days, I invite you to stand up. Go ahead, take a stand for story. Are you with me?

Cool. Stay standing.

You may be wondering how to begin. It's easy. There is only one sentence you need, one segue, to get the ball rolling when you're in a conversation. And it is this: "That reminds me of a story". As long as you are listening and the story you tell connects in some way to the conversation you're in, you are on your way.

And when you're done, give the person you're talking to the gift of your attention. Give them space to respond. Don't just hit and run now that your story has been told. Stay in the space your story opened up. Perhaps your story will remind them of a story they want to tell. And relax. You won't need lot of time for this. Just a few minutes is enough. After all, you'll watch the evening new for 30 minutes at a clip. All I'm asking for is ten. And with the other 20 minutes you will have saved? Have some fun. Or walk the dog. Or read my book.

In the revolution I'm inviting you to join, we're all on the front line -- the line called NOW. No one is injured. Everyone is healed. No one is killed. Everyone lives. Lives! Not just survives! LIVES -- and experiences what it truly means to be conscious, awake, and an active member of the world community of wise ones.

You in? That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

NOTE: My TED talk has not yet been given. Telling you the story of my future TED talk is my next step in creating it. Intention matters. Words matter. The stories we tell ourselves matter. Stay tuned!


Storytelling is the Trojan Horse of Wisdom

The Secret Code of Tacit Knowledge
Why Tell Stories?
What Kind of Stories Will You Tell Today?
The Art of Using Story to Communicate Big Ideas
Real Moments of Truth on the Job
My Podcasts, Videos, and Interviews on Storytelling
Storytelling at Work: My New Book

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:02 AM | Comments (1)

August 09, 2017
The Four Healing Salves

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MitchDitkoff.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:01 PM | Comments (0)

August 06, 2017
Why Your Brain Likes a Good Story

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Lucid, Harvard Business Review article on why your brain likes stories. Oxytocin anyone?

Storytelling at Work
Oxytocin-generating book excerpts

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:30 PM | Comments (0)

July 21, 2017
Why Tell Stories?

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In the last 60 seconds, here's what happened:

168 million emails were sent, 700,000 Google searches were launched, and 60 hours of YouTube videos were uploaded, not to mention all the spam, banner ads, phone calls, Facebook posts, tweets, texts, and telemarketing calls that found their way to your doorstep.

A whopping 90% of all data in the world has been generated in the past two years alone. Think about this: Before the dawn of civilization, approximately 5 exabytes of information had been created. Now, that much information is created every two days!

The common term for this head-spinning phenomenon is "information overload" -- the inability to absorb and process all of the information we are exposed to.

And while the gory statistics change every nanosecond, the results are the same -- leading to what is increasingly being referred to as "Information Fatigue Syndrome" (IFS) -- a condition whose symptoms include poor concentration, depression, burnout, hostility, compulsive checking of social media, and falling into trance-like states.

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This describes the mindset of many, if not all, of the people you are attempting to influence on a day-to-day basis, be they customers, clients, friends, voters, volunteers, children, or your mother-in-law.

If you are committed to delivering a meaningful, memorable message to another human being, the burning question you need to be asking is this: "How can I cut through all of the background noise so my message can heard and remembered?"

Fear not. It's possible. According to neuroscientists, psychologists, theologians, sociologists, advertisers, linguists, and marketers, the answer is a simple one: storytelling.

Storytelling is the most effective, time-tested way to transmit meaning from one human being to another. It's been going on since the beginning of time when our first ancestors stood around the tribal fire. It's how civilizations pass on their wisdom to the next generation. It's how religions pass on the sacred teachings of their faith. And it's how parents, via the telling of fairy tales, transmit the values they want to impart to their children.

Here are just a few of the reasons why storytelling is so powerful:

It quickly establishes trust and connection between the speaker and listener.

It increases receptivity, captures attention, engages emotions, and allows the receiver to participate, cognitively, in the narrative.

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It communicates values, not just skills, decreases teaching time, builds community, ignites five more regions of the brain than mere fact giving, helps people make sense of their world, shapes perceptions via the subconscious mind, reframes frustration, paradox, and suffering, changes behavior, and provides a dependable way for people to remember, retrieve, and retell a meaningful message.

Think about a message you want to communicate to someone today. How might you do that via story, instead of overloading them with more information, statistics, and pep talks?

Excerpted from Storytelling at Work
My newly launched storytelling blog
PODCAST: Storytelling at Work

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:39 PM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2017
The Afghani Cab Driver and the $250M Dollar Salty Snack Food

The story in the Huffington Post
13 of my video stories on GlowDec
Podcast, interviews, and storytelling links
Who I am in the marketplace

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:12 PM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2017
How Top Companies Use Storytelling to Drive Results

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A well-written article, from Inside HR, on the power of storytelling in organizations. A 3-minute read.

One size does not fit all
MitchDitkoff.com
My storytelling workshop

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:15 PM | Comments (0)

May 08, 2017
CUSTOMIZED WORKSHOPS: One Size Does Not Fit All

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If you are looking for a simple way to leverage the power of storytelling in your organization, but haven't found an "off the shelf" solution, I know why: it doesn't exist. And WHY it doesn't exist is because your organization's needs are unique. One size fits all does not fit all. That's why Idea Champions' storytelling workshops are all customized. We mix and match from a broad selection of modules to create the perfect fit for you. All we need to know is what topics you'd like to see us address and in what ratio. Simple. And we don't charge for customization.

THE MODULES
-- Building a business case for the benefits of storytelling
-- Improving listening and feedback skills
-- Activating the innovation mindset
-- Sharing in-house best practices
-- Communicating tacit knowledge (i.e. insight and wisdom)
-- Going beyond your organization's old story
-- Generating new ideas and solutions
-- Increasing trust and teamwork
-- Improving idea selling skills
-- Inspiring action and meaningful follow through
-- Fostering a culture of storytelling in the workplace

TWO EXAMPLES:
Creating the Innovation Mindset
Storytelling at Work

OTHER RESOURCES FOR YOU
We wrote the book
We also wrote the blog
The workshop is taught by this gent

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:46 PM | Comments (0)

May 05, 2017
Why Storytelling Matters

Some good stuff in this one about the structural elements of good storytelling.

Silver medal winner of the Axiom Book Awards
MitchDitkoff.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:36 PM | Comments (0)

May 03, 2017
Pixar's 22 Rules of Storytelling

Storytelling in Business
Share tacit knowledge at work
WORKSHOP: How storytelling can spark the innovation mindset

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:05 PM | Comments (0)

May 01, 2017
Why the Best Superbowl Ads Are Structured as Stories

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A two-year analysis of 108 Super Bowl commercials has revealed that it was the structure of the content -- not the content itself -- that was the biggest predictor of its success. And the structure that was most linked to Superbowl ad success? Stories. This Harvard Business Review article elaborates on why storytelling is such a powerful communication tool.

Storytelling at Work

Awesome quotes on storytelling
MitchDitkoff.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:21 AM | Comments (0)

April 30, 2017
Tell Me a Story

This is a pearl of a TED talk by the co-founder of Story Engine. Deep, authentic, and entertaining. Worth watching twice. Great quote, at the end, by Fred Allen.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:37 PM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2017
Allow More Time to Be Creative

Writing a book? Preparing a storytelling performance? Working with kids? Coaching other people? Leading a team? If you want to crank up the creativity, allow more time for it to flourish!

Carl Jung chimes in
Idea Champions
Allow more time for storytelling!
Play time at AT&T

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:43 AM | Comments (0)

October 26, 2016
You Are Never More Than a Minute Away from the Big Breakthrough

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I want to tell you a brief story about 60 seconds of my life, nine years ago, that felt like an eternity -- an experience that was so totally infused with meaning that I am still drinking from it's fountain almost a decade later. Here goes:

The night before Prem Rawat's 50th birthday party event at the San Diego Convention Center, to be attended by 3,500 people, I was asked to be the MC. My response to this unexpected invitation? A curious blend of fascination and fear. Fascination that Prem had the confidence in me to do the job. And fear of totally screwing up. But since I barely had any time to prepare, I couldn't afford to indulge in the part of me that was freaking out. So I went to the dress rehearsal, studied the announcements, made sure my fly wasn't open, and got ready for the evening gig.

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So there I am, backstage, waiting for my cue, when I am hit upside the head by the worst case of stage fright I imagine anyone, anywhere, anytime, has ever experienced. This, my friends, was well beyond anxiety or nervousness. STUCK. I was completely stuck. Frozen. Fried. Terrified. Totally in my head. I had never, in all my life, experienced such an all-encompassing sense of dread. I was the poster boy for UPTIGHT. Jonah in the belly of the whale. Mr. Weirdo. I was SO uptight, in fact, I soon found myself PRAYING for someone to call in a bomb scare or the building would catch on fire -- anything to GET ME OUT OF THERE!

Richie, the very laid back stage manager in charge of time and space, could see I was quietly freaking out, and so with just five minutes left before show time, he walked over to me and began giving me a shoulder massage -- a kind deed which only succeeded in MAKING THINGS WORSE, because now I knew, for sure, that my inner meltdown was so totally visible to the outside world that Richie, my handler, felt obliged to cool me out. Doo doo. I was in deep doo doo.

It was now only FIVE minutes before the program began and, though my body was sitting on a folding chair backstage, the rest of me was on Mars. No make that an ASTEROID -- a very small, rocky, cold asteroid orbiting absolutely nothing.

Now there were FOUR minutes to go. Now there were THREE. And there was absolutely no sign, anywhere, that my hyper state of out-of-control-self-consciousness was going to abate anytime soon. This was clearly going to be the end of me. In three minutes, everyone in the hall would know, for sure, that I was a complete idiot, a fraud and a buzzkill -- someone likely to become a future synonym for the phrase "consumed with terror" -- as in "Hey, don't pull a Ditkoff on me."

The clock was ticking. Now there was only ONE MINUTE left. One minute! And then... completely out of the blue... with no warning whatsoever, two things happened that I will never forget. Not in this lifetime. And not in the next. First, on the house PA system, I heard Daya singing my favorite song, Find the Miracle -- a song that always managed to bring me back to a place of complete ease. The second thing? Up from the depths of my being percolated the remembrance of something I heard Prem say many years ago -- something about the CHOICE we all have every single day of our lives.

"You can spend your entire life gritting your teeth and praying for it all to be over," he said... "or you can just say YES!"

Wow! Incredible! Amazing! I HAD A CHOICE! I could sit there in the wings, a complete and total mess -- or I... could... EMBRACE the moment and say YES to whatever was going to happen next. So simple! So, so, utterly simple. A choice! I had a choice!

That's precisely the moment I said YES. And that's precisely the moment when Richie stepped forward, leaned closer, put his hand on my shoulder, and said these words: "Three.. Two... One... Go!"

I stood. I took a breath. I boldly walked on stage. This wasn't the plank I was walking. This was my life! FREE! I WAS FREE! Completely free! Unshackled. Unhindered. And uncontainable! Nothing was holding me back. Nothing! Every ounce of who I was had become totally available to me. Everything! Whatever I needed in that timeless moment to play my part fully was fully present and accounted for. And the FEELING behind it all was pure JOY! The rest of my MC experience for the next two days was a total breeze...

Now I finally understand what the expression "the darkest hour is just before dawn" really means. Tell me, who of us doesn't battle with doubt, fear, and self-consciousness? Who doesn't want to run and hide when the going gets tough? Though it may not be how we want the world to see us, it comes with the territory of being human. Not just YOU. And not just ME. All of us! But more powerful than fear is REMEMBRANCE and the deep KNOWLEDGE that we have everything we need to play our part fully in any situation. We may not feel it all the time. We may not trust it. But it's there. It is. In the end, it all comes down to CHOICE. We can grit our teeth and pray it will all end. Or we can just say YES. What do you choose?

TimelessToday
Words of Peace Global
PremRawat.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:41 PM | Comments (1)

May 12, 2016
CREATING THE INNOVATION MINDSET: A Storytelling Workshop

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All business leaders worth their low-salt lunch, regardless of their industry, will agree on one thing -- that innovation a key driver of their company's success. What they don't agree on is how to ensure that innovation actually happens. Lots of time and resources are invested in sending out surveys, re-engineering processes, inventing new reward systems, and giving pep talks, but all-too-often nothing changes. Why not? Because most business leaders rarely get down to the root cause -- the innovation mindset of their workforce.

Bottom line, organizations don't innovate, people innovate -- inspired, curious, creative, and collaborative people. If you want more innovation, that's the place to focus on.

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After 27 years of providing innovation services to some the world's most forward thinking organizations, Mitch Ditkoff, Co-Founder of Idea Champions. has discovered the holy grail of moving the "innovation needle". Storytelling. Yes, storytelling -- the skillful communication of personal narratives that change mindset, increase engagement, transfer knowledge, and spark commitment. Archimedes once said that if he had a lever long enough and a fulcrum to place it he could move the world. In the realm of innovation, storytelling is the fulcrum.

TOPICS ADDRESSED IN THE WORKSHOP:

-- Why storytelling is a powerful way to communicate on-the-job
-- How an organization's "old stories" constrain innovation
-- How to use storytelling to make meetings more effective
-- The 20 leading indicators of a corporate innovator
-- Using storytelling to increase employee engagement
-- How storytelling accelerates the sharing of insight and best practices
-- Identifying stories worth telling
-- How to communicate stories that spark innovation
-- The art and science of creating a culture of storytelling
-- Using storytelling to communicate bold, new ideas
-- Creating a new story of your organization's future
-- How to design and facilitate "Story Slams" in the workplace

Storytelling at Work
VoiceAmerica radio interview with Mitch
Storytelling podcasts, interviews, and articles

PHOTO: Jesse Ditkoff

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:44 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.

Order the book:

MitchDitkoff.com
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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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Highly engaging learning experiences that increase each participant's ability to become a creative force for positive change
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Your "best and brightest" are the future leaders of your company, but unless they know how to foster a culture of innovation, their impact will be limited. A one-day workshop with us is all they need to begin this journey.
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