Storytelling at Work
January 11, 2024
What a Story Is Not


For the past three years, I've been facilitating Wisdom Circles in the US, Mexico, and Australia. They have been an absolute delight -- wonderful gatherings of open-minded people who intuitively understand the power and glory of storytelling. And yet, during that time, I've noticed a curious phenomenon: Even though the word "story" is well-known to everyone, not everyone understands how to tell a story with impact.

I am not going to give you instructions for how to do that. Why not? Because you already know. You do. It's just that, sometimes, funky old habits get in the way. When you let go of those habits, the story you want to tell will shine. (Kind of like what Michelangelo said when asked how he made the David: "I simply took away everything that wasn't.") goes: six things storytelling is not:

1. A Chance to Tell the Story of Your Life: Just because you have a captive audience doesn't mean you have to rewind the tape of your life and tell them everything. No one really wants to hear it. While you may feel better at the end of your monologue, no one else will.

2. You Talking About Things: Simply stringing together a bunch of things that "happened" to you is not a story. It may be a report, a list of accomplishments, or you "waxing poetic" about something you care about, but it is not a story. Stories have a dramatic arc -- a beginning, a middle, and an end. TheY flow, like a river, to the ocean. They are not random puddles.

3. A Sanitized Summary of an Experience You'd Had: Most amateur storytellers tend to underplay or completely omit one of the most important elements of a story -- the obstacle. Little Red Riding Hood had to deal with the Big Bad Wolf. Perseus had to deal with the Minotaur. Luke Skywalker had to deal with Darth Veda. No obstacle, no story. Of course, this obstacle might be an "inner" obstacle like fear, doubt, or procrastination. That's fine. Just don't forget to give your obstacle its proper due.

4. Multiple Stories Threaded Into One: Dizzy Gillespie said it best: "It took my entire life to learn what not to play." Translation? Be economical in the telling of your stories. Be selective! Know what to leave out. Just because something in your story reminds you of something else, that doesn't mean you should include it. If you do, you run the risk of spreading yourself too thin and your audience losing interest.

5. Talking to Yourself in Monotones: Some aspiring storytellers, not sure if their story is a "good" one or that anyone will listen, have a tendency to speak in a very soft voice or forget to make eye contact. Oops! Not a good idea. If no one can hear your story, what good is it? And remember, it's not just about the words, it's about the feeling behind the words.

6. Retelling an Experience (Instead of Reliving It): It is not uncommon for aspiring storytellers, in their commitment to "tell what happened", to leave out the emotion of the story. Facts are one thing, feeling is quite another. Without feeling, your story becomes lifeless -- merely an 11:00 news report. Embodying your story is the real work. Inhabiting it -- not just hydroplaning on the surface of events, but diving in to the deep end of the experience you are attempting to convey. (Big shout out to Gail Larsen for this important distinction.)

Painting: Lisa Dietrich

How to Tell a Good Story
Why We Tell Stories
Ten Reasons Why People Don't Tell Their Stories

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:37 AM | Comments (0)

August 29, 2023
Why Human Beings Tell Stories

Speak up2.jpg

Mention the word "storytelling" to most people and they will immediately think fairy tale, CNN spin doctor, or teenager explaining why they haven't done their homework. Good for entertainment and distraction, perhaps, but not much more. Guess what? Not true. Storytelling is the most powerful communication tool the human race has ever conceived. Why? Because it delivers the goods in at least nine different ways:

1. TO DISCOVER WHAT WE ALREADY KNOW: I don't know what your nationality is. Nor do I know what your religion, philosophy, or IQ is. But there is one thing I do know: You are a human being -- a member of a species known as "homo sapiens" -- a Latin phrase that translates as "the wise ones".

A quick glance at the evening news is likely to reveal otherwise, of course, but if you a dig deeper, you cannot help but notice that our species has learned a thing or two along the way. And not just how to use our opposable thumbs, make fire, and open 25,000 Starbucks. Like how to be compassionate, for example. Like how to be grateful. Like how to be of service to others -- all aspects of what it means to "know thyself."

All of us have had at least one "know thyself" moment. For some of us, this moment may have been sparked by the birth of a child. For some, it was a near death experience. For others, maybe it was meditation, meeting a spiritual Master, or being on the receiving end of a stranger's kind deed. For most of us, these moments are fleeting. Like dreams, they quickly fade from memory. But out of sight, does not necessarily mean out of mind. Invisible is not the same thing as non-existent. Our "wise one" moments are simply hidden from view. They are merely hiding. And where they are hiding is in our stories -- the life experiences we've had that, once told, give shape to insight, feeling, and deep lessons learned.

"Don't tell me the moon is shining," said Anton Chekov, "show me the glint of light on broken glass." That's why stories are so powerful. They give us a way to see the light of our lives reflected and a chance to share that light.

Tuning into our stories allows us to reverse engineer what we know -- to decode and decipher the hidden wisdom of our lives. Just like the atom contains protons, neutrons, and electrons, our stories also contain essence -- the invisible distillate of our life experiences. The microscope we need to see this distillate? Our own curiosity, much in the way an archeologist is moved to dig beneath the surface of things. But curiosity is only half of what's required. The other half? Speaking our experiences aloud! Because, more often than not, it is in the telling of our stories that light is shed on our wisdom. And the more that light that is shed, the more of our wisdom is unearthed. Now, we don't just know. We know we know.

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2. TO CAPTURE ATTENTION: This just in: The attention span of the average human being is one second less than the attention span of a goldfish. According to Canadian researchers, the average goldfish can concentrate for nine seconds. The average homo sapien? Eight.

The reasons for our distractability are many, but the biggest can be attributed to our increasingly digitalized lifestyle. Bottom line, there's simply too much coming at us to stay focused on anything for very long. And so, we look for shortcuts. We tweet. We text. We check our Facebook news feed.

Knowing that you, dear reader, have only eight-second attention span, I am going to cut to the chase and give you one more reason to tell your stories. They capture attention! They help your audience (whether its one person at the dinner table or a thousand in a ballroom) unplug from their mental chatter and focus. Assuming you have something of value to share, it can only happen if people are listening. And a story, well-told, is the simplest, fastest, most effective way to do that.

3. TO CONNECT WITH OTHERS: What do most people on a first date do besides wonder why the person they are talking to looks older than their picture? They tell stories. That's how people get to know each other quickly. That's how we connect. Because in the telling of our stories, the other person gets a peak of who we are beneath the surface -- our values, our interests, and what moves us. Yes, on a first date, we might dress up. We might put on cologne or perfume. We might tell a joke or two, But the most effective way to get closer to the other is to tell your stories. Boundaries dissolve. Rapport is established. Doors open.

4. TO ELEVATE THE CONVERSATION: 90% of the news you are exposed to on any given day is bad news -- updates on death, destruction, war, corruption, fires, floods, and terrorism. That's why journalists like to say, "If it bleeds, it leads." Bottom line, human beings have what sociologists call a "negativity bias" -- a phenomenon that can be traced to our amygdala -- the survivalist part of our brain that is our built in danger detector.

If you hear something rustling in the leaves, your amydala interprets it as danger -- a possible tiger ready to pounce, instead of the gentle rustling of the wind. Get enough people focused on the negative and you have the state of the world today, everyone primed to expect the worst.

But it doesn't have to be that way. We don't always have to default to worst case scenarios. And that's where storytelling comes in -- your chance to change the narrative -- to tell stories that uplift, awaken, and inspire. I am not suggesting you ignore the bad news. No. I'm suggesting you consider your options. You can, of course, continue the habitual dissemination of the bad news or you can help break the trance by sharing some of the good.

5. TO TRANSMIT TACIT KNOWLEDGE: Years ago, when people wanted to learn a trade they would apprentice themselves to a Master -- someone who deeply understood how to accomplish a particular outcome in the most elegant way possible. Indeed, in Europe, the guild system was set up to facilitate this kind of knowledge transfer. Those days are gone. Few people, in the 21st century, have the time or humility to become apprentices anymore. Now we google what we need to learn. Or maybe download a three-minute video. And while there are definitely things that can be learned this way, the deep transmission of tacit knowledge (i.e. the hard-to-communicate-essence of a particular realm of understanding) doesn't happen this way.

Still, there does remain, in our world today, a classic technique of knowledge transfer that remains largely untapped. And that is storytelling. When a story is told -- assuming it is the right story, told in a compelling way, at the right time -- it has the potential to get to the heart of the matter quickly. And by so doing, it has the potential to spark great insight, awareness, and meaning -- an ancient "teaching technology" with the power to inform everything the listener does from that moment forward, and HOW they do it.

Indeed, since the beginning of time, storytelling has been one of the most effective ways the world's wisdom traditions have passed on their knowledge to the next generation.

Listening is a superpower.jpg

6. TO INCREASE LISTENING: Here's the paradox: No matter how powerful a story might be, it will have no impact unless there is someone listening to it. And listening, these days, is in woeful short supply. Most people who strike the appearance of listening, aren't. They are impatiently waiting their turn to speak. "Conversational endurance" is what I call it. And it seems to be getting worse with each passing tweet.

Is there any way to reverse this phenomenon -- any way to build the atrophied muscle of listening in this world? Yes, there is. And, if you are up for the paradox of it all, storytelling is the way to go. Because when you tell a story, assuming you tell it in a compelling way, the people on the receiving end get to practice listening. They get to experience what it is like not to interrupt. They get to experience what it's like not to counter with a fact, question, or objection. They get to feel something. In short, they get to practice the art of listening. And, as the old saw goes, "practice makes perfect."

My hope? The more people listen to your stories, the more their listening muscle will be exercised and the more able they will be listen to other people even in non-story situations.

My father was a storyteller. Not professionally, but in his every day life. Other than yelling and stomping around the house, storytelling was his preferred means of communication. My response, as an all-knowing teenager, was to ignore, deflect, or judge his storytelling. "Not again," I would think to myself. "Jesus, I've heard this story a thousand times before." Heard? Yes. But listened? No. More often than not, I interpreted my father's storytelling as either a bogus way to hog the conversation or a feeble attempt to teach me something I already knew. And while I was, even as a young boy, very much into learning, I was not into being taught.

Years passed. Many. It wasn't until I was 45 that I understood the game I was playing. Addicted as I was to shooting the messenger, I was missing out on the message -- one that was hiding in my father's stories.

Methinks my little story-resisting dance with my father is not all that uncommon. Indeed, it's a phenomenon that plays out everywhere -- not just from child to parent, but from generation to generation. Driven by our adolescent need to individuate, even the most conscious of human beings have a tendency to ignore the elders in their life -- dismissing them as old-fashioned, irrelevant, or just not cool enough.

This just in: NOT TRUE! The stories of our parents, their parents, and the generations who preceded them are absolutely relevant. Indeed, they are part of our lineage and the collective unconscious of planet Earth, having, embedded within them, great value and meaning -- if only we would listen. The indigenous people of the world know this, big time. And always have. It is how the wisdom of their cultures have survived, one beautiful story at a time.

So... the next time you see an "old" person, realize they are not just old, but are an ELDER, an influential person of your tribe or community infused with the wisdom that comes from experience, even if they are not officially designated as a "sage." They may not have the same politics, philosophy, or spiritual path as you, but they have something more important -- and that is the potential to be a catalyst of great insight, knowledge, and wisdom.

Forget about the package for a moment. Forget about your judgments and your previous relationship with them. Just listen. Honor your elders. They have a gift for you and the gift is wrapped in STORY. All you have to do is open it.

Storytelling is powerful.jpg

8. TO INSPIRE ACTION: Storytelling is kind of Swiss army knife. It has many different uses and can be applied in many ways. But ultimately, its purpose is to inspire action, even if that action is just a new way of thinking about something that will lead to an action in the world.

Bottom line, storytelling is a tool designed to spark change -- and the change begins in the listener's mind. Teachers, politicians, and spiritual leaders tell stories because they, ultimately, want their audiences to do something different -- to act in a way that is consistent with the message they are delivering -- whether that message is a plea for more kindness, perseverance, creativity, social responsibility, or self-esteem.

A story, well-told, activates people's ability to shift how they perceive what's possible. It's a tool, a lever, a way to move things. And how they move things is to inspire people to move things.

You have a story to tell. I know you do. Actually, you have many stories to tell. Some of them are expressions of memorable experiences you've had. Some of them are the retelling of stories you've heard or read that shifted the way you experienced yourself or the world. Both kinds of stories are pearls. Both need to be shared with the people in your life. Go for it!

9. TO SPARK INSIGHT AND WISDOM IN OTHERS: Human beings spend a lot of time in survival mode. Making a living. Keep a roof over their head. Finding food. You know, the basics. The amygdala rules, the default condition of our brain -- the part of our psyche that is on constant lookout for danger, more interested in surviving than thriving. And because this survival-seeking part of our species is usually dominant, we are not always alert to the more subtle promptings of the heart, the higher octave messages coming our way, variably known as hunches, insights, and epiphanies.

Something deep within us knows this. Which is why we go to church or temple on the weekends -- to take a break from the 9-5 and tune in to the timeless.

Stories have the potential to deliver the same kind of elevating truths we seek out in our religious practices. On any day of the week. At any time of the day. No dress code required. Because embedded in the stories we hear are a kind or radioactive isotope of wisdom -- insight sparking mojo with the potential to activate the sleeping sage within us.

That's one of the reasons why storytelling is so powerful. It democratizes wisdom. It takes the ancient truths out of the buildings we've constructed to worship God and makes them available to everyone -- no holy man or holy woman required. Just our willingness to share our stories. And everyone has a front row seat.

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Upcoming Wisdom Circle Facilitation Training
Storytelling for the Revolution
Illustrations: gapingvoid

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:28 PM | Comments (0)

July 19, 2023
You Have Wisdom to Share (and it's hiding in your stories)


All eight billion people on planet Earth are composed of the same six elements: hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorous. And all eight billion people, no matter where they were born or what language they speak, are composed of 75% water, 23 pairs of chromosomes, and approximately 37.2 trillion cells.

That's the measurable stuff of which we are made. But there is also some unmeasurable stuff -- that which is not immediately visible, even under a microscope. And this unmeasurable stuff is a clue to why our species has been named "homo sapiens" -- the "wise ones."

Hmmm... wise ones... really? Given the sorry state of the world these days, the "wise ones" seems like a misnomer, but in reality, it is our true nature.

Human beings are more than just carriers of viruses, projections, and DNA. We are also carriers of wisdom -- the ability to perform an action with the highest degree of adequacy under any given circumstance. "Truth in action," you might say. What Solomon was famous for. And Socrates. And a whole lot of other sages since the beginning of time.

But not only known sages. Nope. Unknown sages, too. And unknown regular people, as well. Like your grandmother, for example... or your grandfather... parents... teachers... friends... neighbors... coaches or, this just in -- YOU!

Sages, Masters, and Elders may be the most historically recognized "keepers of wisdom" on the planet, but they are not the only ones. The rest of us are also keepers of wisdom. The thing is -- we don't always know it. Our wisdom is often invisible to us. Unseen. Unacknowledged. And unexpressed.

Not only do we see the glass as half empty, we often don't even see the glass.

Where is our wisdom hiding? More often than not, in our stories -- much like water is hiding in underground springs and gold is hiding in mines. But just because our wisdom is hiding, it doesn't mean it's non-existent.

Everybody has wisdom inside them. Everybody has something meaningful to share, based on what they've learned from the own life experiences. And the simplest, most powerful way to communicate this knowing is story.

Story is how the wisdom of the ages has been transmitted since the beginning of time. This is how our ancestors shared the best of what they knew. This is how all spiritual traditions pass on their knowledge. And this is how the best communicators on the planet communicate what is truly worth communicating.

YOU just happen to be one of those people. Your hidden stories are treasures. There is great wisdom, meaning, and inspiration in them. They need to be told. Especially these days, when the daily narrative that rules our lives is often so dark and depressing.

Are you ready? Are you willing? (I know you're able).

PHOTO: unsplash-logoGift Habeshaw

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

October 30, 2022
A Good Story, Like Perfume...


A good story, like perfume, is evocative. Listening to it calls forth a response that moves a person from one state of mind to another, not just for the moment, but for all time -- because a story, well-told, is long remembered. And what it is that moves inside us is not just the plot, or the characters, or even the message, but the space of discovery that the story opens up.

Music is a perfect example of this phenomenon. A good piece of music is composed of pauses as well as notes. Indeed, it is the spaces between the notes that is often responsible for evoking the feeling, allowing the listener to more deeply experience what is being heard.

Amateur composers tend to do too much. They clutter their compositions with themselves, making the music more about their own proficiency than the depth of what's possible to evoke in others -- a phenomenon that led jazz-great, Dizzy Gillespie, to once confess, "It took me my entire life to learn what not to play."

The same holds true with story. Skillful storytellers don't say too much, don't clutter the tale with their telling. Instead, they provide just enough nuance for the listener to enter their world and participate. That's the goal of any work of art -- to create a space for something meaningful to be explored.

Ultimately, the storyteller's task is a simple one -- to create the stage upon which the human heart can dance -- what hearing a cello in the distance evokes at dusk or how you might feel just before opening a love letter.

"Creating a stage upon which the heart can dance" -- Prem Rawat
Excerpted from this book
Not excerpted from this book
Photo: Drew Collins, Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:04 AM | Comments (0)

July 01, 2022
POLL RESULTS: What Kind of Stories People Want to Tell


Social scientists tell us that 65% of all our conversations take the shape of stories. That got me thinking about what kind of stories human beings like to tell. So I posted an online poll to see what I could learn, asking people to rate the following storytelling themes on a scale of 1 - 5 for how interested they would be to tell a story, from their own life, about that topic. 49 respondents, so far. Here are the results:

4.30 -- A small moment that taught me something big
4.14 -- A transformational moment with a Teacher, Mentor, or Master
4.10 -- Discovering my true self
4.06 -- The power of love
4.04 -- Amazing synchronicity
3.97 -- Standing at the crossroads
3.95 -- Tapping into my inner strength
3.93 -- The most remarkable moment of my life
3.93 -- Accepting what is
3.86 -- Letting go
3.84 -- The sudden appearance of unexpected help
3.82 -- The power of trust
3.82 -- The power of forgiveness
3.78 -- What I learned from my biggest mistake
3.71 -- The power of intention
3.69 -- A childhood experience I will never forget
3.68 -- Going beyond fear
3.68 -- Taking a leap
3.65 -- Divine timing
3.63 -- Expressing myself fully
3.63 -- What I learned from someone very different than me
3.60 -- Removing the mask
3.56 -- Choosing
3.56 -- Ask and ye shall receive
3.53 -- A mysterious connection with a stranger
3.51 -- What I learned from a child
3.48 -- Perseverance furthers
3.47 -- An unforgettable moment with my father
3.45 -- Being guided by unseen forces
3.44 -- Against all odds
3.40 -- A single, word, glance, or gesture that changed my life
3.39 -- The best gift I ever received
3.37 -- Everything happens for the best
3.36 -- Asking for help
3.34 -- True tenderness
3.32 -- Starting all over again
3.28 -- An unforgettable moment with my mother
3.28 -- Being called. Following my muse.
3.28 -- The biggest surprise of my life
3.27 -- When time stopped
3.27 -- A remarkable premonition
3.22 -- A missed opportunity. A chance not taken.
3.22 -- Being alone
3.20 -- It's all a matter of perspective
3.18 -- My biggest victory
3.15 -- An unusual collaboration
3.14 -- A story I've never told anyone
3.08 -- There is always a resolution
3.06 -- My earliest memory
3.02 -- Putting down my heavy load
3.00 -- Facing my opponent
2.95 -- Being saved
2.93 -- The most incredible dream I ever had
2.93 -- A near death experience
2.82 -- The power of immersion
2.73 -- My most embarrassing moment
2.71 -- Making my mark
2.69 -- An angelic visitation
2.63 -- Contact with the other side
2.53 -- Honoring my incarnation
2.39 -- The agony of betrayal
2.36 -- A past life memory
2.28 -- A family secret
1.93 -- My first kiss

Respond to the poll here
What stories will you tell today?

A culture of storytelling
A simple way to identify the seeds of your own stories
Photo: Ali Arif Soydas, Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:05 PM | Comments (0)

June 08, 2022
LISTEN UP: The Storytelling for the Revolution Podcast


If you would like to learn more about my 2018 book, "Storytelling for the Revolution", and how storytelling can be a huge catalyst for innovation and the sharing of wisdom, you may want to listen to a guest podcast I did on Will Sherwin's Innovation Engine.

25 minutes worth.

"The world isn't made of atoms. The world is made of stories." -- Muriel Rukeyser

The book's website
Available on Amazon

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:33 PM | Comments (0)

May 28, 2022
When Your Last Story Is Told

white cloud.jpg

Let's assume for the moment that you are intrigued by the notion of telling your stories. So you begin thinking about your memorable moments of truth and begin writing them down -- at least the titles, that is. The more titles you write, the more stories you remember -- stories from your childhood, travels, work, relationships, quest for meaning, accidents, disappointments, visions, victories, breakthroughs, synchronicities, near death experiences, strange lights in the sky, and so on.

Let's say you top out at 85 titles. But let's take it one step further. Let's say you actually write your stories. But not only write them -- you tell them, too, until every story of yours has been told.

You could, of course, choose to tell your stories again to other people in other ways. You could choose to turn them into screenplays, novels, blog posts, songs, sitcoms, workbooks, iPhone apps, or webinars. But you don't. You feel complete, every story in you having been told.

So there you are with no more need tell a single story (not even the story of why you are no longer telling stories).

Like small puddles evaporating after a storm, your need to tell your stories has completely disappeared. Now there is only solid ground beneath your feet and a cloud floating by.

Your friends and fans, accustomed to your delightful story telling, are keenly disappointed, but you say nothing. You say nothing because you have nothing to say. You have no point to make. The words you would normally use to populate your tales have gone south for the winter. They are vacationing somewhere on a remote island, cocktail party chit chat for the night.

Your last story has been told.

Though you are fully awake and can see many things happening, you have no need to connect the dots, no need for a plot, characters, conflict, or resolution. Everything is what it is. You are what you are, breathing slowly, wanting nothing, enjoying the time before the first story was told.

You think of telling that story, but don't. You let it go. Like the milkweed floating by.

Or the leaf.

Excerpted from Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:15 AM | Comments (0)

May 01, 2022
The Art of Using Story as a Way to Communicate Big, Hairy Ideas


A priest, a penguin, and a newspaper reporter walk into a bar. The penguin orders a shot of Red Eye. The priest starts juggling three flaming chain saws. The newspaper reporter turns to the bartender, smiles and says: "I know there's a story here somewhere."

And yes, there is. There are stories everywhere. As the poet, Muriel Ruykeser once said, "The world is not made of atoms. The world is made of stories."

Almost everyone in business these days -- at least the people responsible for selling big, hairy ideas -- knows that the difference between success and failure often depends on what kind of story is told -- and how well. Content may be King. But it is Story that built the kingdom. Or as Steve Jobs once put it, "The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller."

The question, these days, isn't whether or not storytelling works. It does. It's worked for thousands of years. If you have any doubt, just ask your local neuroscientist. The question is how do you tell a really effective story -- one that not only informs and entertains, but gets results -- the kind of results that opens minds, influences behavior, and is remembered.

And this is precisely where the proverbial plot thickens. Why? Because most people don't think they know how to tell good story. At least, that's the story they keep telling themselves -- that they don't have the chops or experience to tell a good story. Spoiler alert! Not true.


Social scientists tell us that 65% of our conversations boil down to story -- narrative accounts with a beginning, middle, and end. Throw in a likable hero, a setting, some obstacles, a few juicy details, plot twists, and a resolution, and voila, you've got yourself a story!

Simply put, storytelling is "an unconscious competency" -- something human beings naturally do. The thing is -- we don't know how we do it. Like breathing, for example. Or thinking. Or riding a bicycle. But just because we can't explain how we do it, doesn't mean we're not good at it. Kapish?

You already know how to tell a story. You do. You've been telling stories ever since you were a child. In fact, you tell stories many times a day. On the job. Off the job. Hanging out with your friends. Wherever. Story is in your DNA. Indeed, neuroscientists like to say that the human brain is "wired for story." It's how we make sense of our lives. It's our communication default position. We are storytelling animals. And the more we practice, the better we get.

The simplest explanation of what story is? A narrative -- an account of what happened or what might happen. That account, of course, can be utterly boring ("I woke up. I picked up my dry cleaning. I returned home.") Or it can be utterly captivating -- what every movie you've ever seen or novel you've ever read has tried to accomplish. To capture your attention. To deliver a meaningful message. And to influence what you think, feel, and do.

For the moment, think of storytelling as a big, yummy pot of soup. It smells good. It looks good. And it tastes good. But at first glance, you can't tell what the ingredients are -- or the spices. Do you really need to know every single ingredient if you're being served a bowl of soup from a reliable source? Probably not. But if you're making the soup, you most definitely do. So let's sit down with our penguin, priest, and newspaper reporter for a few minutes and see if we can demystify what this whole mumbo gumbo story thing is all about.


First things first. If you want your story to pack a wallop, you've got to know your audience. If they're allergic to eggplant, don't put eggplant in the soup. If they're vegetarian, lose the chicken. And know your end game -- what it is you're attempting to communicate -- what you want your audience to think, feel, or do differently after listening to you. Whatever message you want to leave them with, be able to boil it down to 10 words or less.

Years ago, this would have been known as your "elevator speech". These days, if you can't deliver your message upon entering an elevator, you're screwed. Think about it. When Steve Jobs launched the iPod, he cut to the chase by distilling his message down to just five words: "1,000 songs in your pocket." That's what the iPod was. Technobabble? No. Overwhelming factoids and data? No. One clean soundbyte surrounded by a compelling beginning, middle, and end. When you think about the story you want to tell, be sure you can distill it down to a memorable meme -- what screenwriters do when they pitch their idea to a movie studio.

Just like the iPod has a shape, so does a story -- the beginning, the middle, and the end, as I've said before, but I'm saying again because I want you to remember just how important structure. It's the spine of your intended result.

The beginning is where you set things up -- the place where you hook the attention of your audience, the place where you set the scene and introduce your hero -- hopefully a likable one. Then you introduce the Big Bad Wolf -- the obstacle, the conflict that begets the drama -- which, in your case, if you are trying to sell a product or service -- might be the competition, a government regulation, or the cost of entering a new market. Get the picture? Someone or something exists and that someone or something wants to move forward towards an inspired goal, but his/her/its path is blocked. Time for nail biting and some popcorn. Hooray for adversity! Without it, there is no story. No Star Wars. No Rocky. No Three Little Pigs.

And the broth of the great story soup you are concocting? What might that be? Passion! Your passion. Your passion for the message you're communicating and your passion for the act of storytelling itself. No passion, no power. No passion, no presence. No passion, no purchase order. It's that simple.

Wizard Storyteller2.jpg

Bottom line, story is all about "emotional transportation" -- the journey you take people on from here to there, from known to unknown, from no can do to what's the next step?"

No matter how logical, linear, or analytical your audience might be, unless you can speak to their heart, you will never win their mind. Yes, of course, if you are making a business presentation, you will need to spice up your story with the fruits of your research, but only enough to keep the story moving, only enough to soothe the savage beast of the left brain. Data is the spice. It is not the main ingredient. If your audience isn't feeling what your saying, it doesn't matter how many statistics you throw their way. As Einstein said, "Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted, counts."

It's Little Red Riding Hood on her way to Grandma's house we care about, not her shoe size or SAT scores.

Other things to be mindful of as your prepare your presentation? Keep your stories short. Speak in the language of the people, not the technologists. No one wants to hear an epic poem. What you're trying to do by telling a story is create an opening to drive the Mack truck of possibility through and maybe pick up a few hitchhikers along the way. You are building a bridge, not a shopping mall.

Lose the complicated back story. "The world doesn't want to hear about your labor pains, they want to see the baby," said Johnny Sain, an American right-handed pitcher for the Boston Braves, born in 1917, who was the runner up for the National League's Most Valuable Player Award in 1948 after leading the league in wins and compiling a lifetime ERA of 3.49 -- the last pitcher to face Babe Ruth). See what I mean? Your team may have put a lot of effort into the project. Months of work. That's great. That's nice. Show us the baby!

And please don't read from your PowerPoint slides. Not only is that boring, it's rude. Borderline, inhuman. There's no way in the world you can build rapport and "read the room" if you are staring at a screen. If you want your audience to look into the future, you've got to look into their eyes, not one boring slide after another.

Here's something to think about: If you really want to get the attention of your audience, "violate expectations." Like what Bill Gates did when, in the middle of a keynote presentation on malaria, he released a bunch of mosquitoes into the room. Talk about buzz! At the very least, infuse your presentation with some visual buzz -- analogies and metaphors that paint a picture for your listeners -- something they can see, not just hear about.

And when you want to crank things up, ask a compelling question or two. Then pause... and listen to the response. The more you listen, the more your audience will listen. Know that a good story is also a good performance. So, unhinge yourself from the dead zone -- the spot on the floor to which you have nailed both of your feet. Move around the room. Vary the lengths of your sentences and the volume of your voice. Gesture. Make facial expressions. Speak to one specific person at a time, not the generic "audience." But above all, trust yourself. If you don't trust yourself, no one else will.

Of course, you can only trust yourself, if you are prepared. So practice your ass off. Know your talking points. Write out a script. Understand the flow of what you want to say, the key milestones along the way and whatever anecdotes and facts you want to include. Then distill the whole thing down to few main points on note cards. Get the story in your bones. Then throw your note cards away. Or, if you absolutely need to hold onto your note cards, glance at them only occasionally. Otherwise, they will become a rectangular 3x5 PowerPoint show in your hand, yet another slow leak in the bucket of your storytelling brilliance.

Remember, there is no formula for telling a good story. Only guidelines. And there is no one right way to tell a story. There are thousands. Maybe millions. Or billions -- each one according to the style and personality of the teller. Your job is not to tell a story like Steve Jobs or Garrison Keillor or Winston Churchill. Your job is tell a story like YOU! And while it is perfectly fine (and often, useful) to read books on storytelling, study TED videos, and attend cool workshops, in the end, all you need to know is this...


You are sitting around the tribal fire with the elders. They want to hear from you. You've been on a big adventure for days, weeks, or even months. You've got important news to share with them, vital insights to reveal, memorable experiences to convey. The survival of the tribe depends it. You're not trying to get promoted. You're not worried about being cast out of the tribe. The only thing that matters is telling your story in a way that informs, inspires, and enlightens.

End of story.

Penguin Photo: Ira Meyer
Storytelling at Work
The Storytelling Workshop
Spark the innovation mindset with story
60 minute radio interview on storytelling at work

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:56 PM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2021
Ten Reasons Why People Don't Share Their Stories

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I'm sure you've heard the expression, "Suppose they gave a war and nobody came?" -- a question whose roots go back to an old Carl Sandburg poem. The same question holds true for the storytelling revolution. I can flap my mouth about the power of personal storytelling until the cows come home, but unless you and a critical mass of others step up, nothing much will happen. This is a volunteer army I'm talking about, a self-appointed crew of courageous people willing to make their way to the front lines of their own life and tell it like it is -- to share stories that will spark reflection, insight, wisdom, and love in others.

Are there obstacles on this storytelling battlefield? Of course there are. But the biggest ones are invisible -- old thoughts, assumptions, and beliefs that stop us from speaking up. What follows are the ten most common of these obstacles:

This is the biggie, the mother of all obstacles -- the belief that you are not heroic or important enough to speak up -- that your stories are mundane, insignificant, and meaningless. Nothing could be further from the truth. You are a human being, the "crown of creation", a member of the species known as homo sapiens -- "the wise ones".


You already have a ton of experiences worth sharing. If you don't think your stories are interesting, it's probably because you haven't probed them deeply enough. In other words, if your story was a box of Crackerjacks, you haven't found the prize yet -- or what William Blake, the 17th century poet, once described as "eternity in a grain of sand."

Bottom line, everything becomes interesting the moment you become interested. You can find meaning anywhere. The stories you tell don't need to be earth-shattering. They don't need to be cosmic. You don't need to be a spokesperson to speak. All you need to be is a human being who wants to elevate the conversation on planet earth. Sometimes, it's the simplest of stories that pack the biggest wallop.

Well, it is certainly possible that no one will care about your stories. And it is certainly possible that no one will listen -- especially these days, when ADD is almost epidemic and listening is in short supply. Your assumption about this, however, most likely comes from your past experiences and if you buy into this belief, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Maybe, from time to time, you've made attempts to tell your stories and have had little success in getting people to pay attention. Join the club. But just because it's been that way in the past, doesn't mean that's the way it's going to be in the future. Just because your last relationship ended badly, doesn't mean your next one will. Hopefully, you have learned something from your experience -- something that will increase the odds of your next relationship being all you want it to be.

The same thing holds true for storytelling. If you want to increase the odds of people listening to your stories, there are some simple things to pay attention to:

- Make sure you care about your story.
- Practice telling it and get feedback from friends
- Choose a time to tell it when people are most available to listen
- Be animated in the telling. Modulate your voice.
- Before beginning, set some context and get permission to tell it.

There's a high probability that you and I have never met -- that I know nothing about you other than the fact that you are reading this. But that's not entirely true. One thing I know about you is that you are a way better storyteller than you think you are. First of all, you are very experienced. You grew up on fairy tales. You watched TV, movies, and read books -- all of which were made of stories. Indeed, 65% of your present day conversations, explain sociologists, are composed of stories. It's the DNA of how human beings communicate. It's the spine of our interactions.

Psychologists refer to this ability of ours as an "unconscious competency" -- the ability to do something without totally being aware that we are doing it. Like breathing... or complaining.. or riding a bike.

The other reason you think you're not a good storyteller is because you have a tendency to compare yourself to other storytellers. Like Garrison Keillor, for example. Or your grandfather. Or your favorite TED speaker.

Cease and desist! It is a waste of time. The storytelling revolution you are being asked to join will not be covered on the nightly news. It will not be turned into a screenplay by Steven Spielberg. The storytelling I'm asking you to do takes place on the front lines of your life -- often with an audience of only one -- maybe your best friend who will love you no matter what. But if you keep telling yourself you're not a good storyteller, you silence yourself. And silence is not what's needed now. What's needed now is millions of people stepping forward to share what really moves them.

We can't wait for Sundays or someone "in a position of power" to shape the narrative. Look where that's gotten us. We need you and all your friends to come out of the closet and let it rip.

wake up.jpg

And why might that be? Usually, because you don't like feeling self-conscious or stressed or judged. Or maybe because you think people will think you are "full of yourself", "hogging the show", or otherwise being a prima donna. Fuggedabout it!

While it may seem as if storytellers are the center of attention, the reality is this: the listener is the center of attention. Or, even more accurately, the meaning of the story is the center of attention. The storyteller is merely a catalyst, a facilitator of a moment of insight and understanding in the mind/heart of the listener.

Is an actor, on stage, the center of attention? For a brief moment, yes, but only to capture the attention of the audience so they can feel something and leave the theater with that feeling becoming the center of attention in their own lives. Of course, there are always people who want to be the center of attention for all the wrong reasons: Egomaniacs. Narcissists. People looking for approval. They care less about what people get from the story than being remembered as the person who told the story. But that's not you. You are not about hogging the show. You are not about trolling for love. You are about speaking authentically and sparking moments of insight and understanding in others (and all without proselytizing, evangelizing, or trying to convince anyone of anything).


Public speaking is a bigger fear than the fear of death. Strange, but true. Standing in front of an audience (or even one person) is so anxiety-producing for some people they say they would rather die. Ouch! OK. I get it. You imagine yourself on stage and everyone is looking at you and some of the people looking at you are frowning or bored or checking their email under the table. Of course that would be stressful. But guess what? I'm not asking you to stand on stage and be a public speaker. All I am asking you is do to is share your stories in the informal flow of your own life. One-on-one, with your best friend or your mother, is absolutely fine. No pressure!

The storytelling revolution I'm inviting you to participate in is happening wherever you are. It is not a big deal. There will be no marketing campaign, no slogans, and no dues to pay. And, if all else fails, remember the words of Mark Twain: "If you speak the truth, you never have to remember a thing."

Kapish? To tell your stories, you do not have to memorize anything. You do not need to affect an English accent or look longingly into the distance. All you need to do is tell your story.

Here's as simple as it gets: There's a person (you) with a goal and some obstacles to overcome. Then there's some kind of resolution. That's it. All I'm asking you to do, when the time is right, is to share a meaningful story from your own life -- a surprise moment, an unexpected victory, or a lesson learned.

HINT: Speaking is not stressful. What's stressful is focusing on what people think of you.

Of course! That's totally fine. Your stories are your own. They are no one's business until you choose to make it their business. Indeed, there are some indigenous tribes living deep in remote forests who believe that if someone takes their photo, they will also take their soul. This is sometimes how we feel when telling a story -- that the person who had heard our story will now have power over us, that we have given away access to a sacred part of us that will now forever be violated by "the other". This is especially true if you are very identified with your story -- an experience, in fact, you consider to be sacred.

Telling one of those stories to a disinterested, arrogant, or judgmental audience will put you in the "pearls before swine" zone. Totally understandable.

That being said, you have two choices: You can choose not to tell stories about parts of your life that are "out of bounds" for the general public. Your second choice? You can see yourself as a catalyst for change -- that, somehow, your life experiences, told in story form, may be of benefit to others, a way to help them gain easier access to parts of themselves they may out of touch with.

That's what Woody Allen does in his movies. He puts his neurosis on the silver screen and "takes one for the team". He gives shape to the collective psyche so the less adventurous people in the audience can get in touch with aspects of their own life that may be hidden or ignored. This, of course, takes courage, insofar as some members of the audience may become so uncomfortable with what they see on the screen that they shoot the messenger. C'est le vie.

If you truly want to be on the front lines of the storytelling revolution, you will need to come out of your privacy closet and let it rip.


Here's my simple answer: Yes. Sometimes, you will be judged, but so what? First of all, you are already being judged almost all the time by others -- including the people closest to you. It comes with the territory of being human. You could, of course, choose to isolate yourself from others, armed only with your favorite mobile devices and some ice cream, but even then people are going to judge you from a distance. "Your FB posts are too long." "Your texts have too many typos". "You wait too long to respond to my emails".

What you need to remember is this: At the highest level, storytelling is not about you. Not only are you not the center of the universe, you are not even the center of your own story, even when logic dictates that you are. You may be a character in it -- even the hero -- but the real center of the stories you tell is the meaning other people will derive from it -- the learning, the lesson, the insight, or wisdom they will be able apply to their own lives.

See #7. Having "trust issues" is simply another way of saying that you think people are going to judge you. You've been hurt before by others. Or ignored. Or misunderstood, blamed, abused, dissed, diminished, ridiculed, mocked, or disempowered. Yup. Welcome to the human race. If you let trust issues have their way, forget about becoming part of the storytelling revolution. You'll be holed up in your house filing your papers or waiting for your next lifetime.

Remember... my asking you to join the storytelling revolution is not the same thing as asking you to go on CNN and hold forth as the spokesperson for the storytelling revolution. All it means is that you are willing to share your stories with at least one other person at a time and place of your choosing.

Certainly possible, but so what? Songwriters, whose songs are "covered" by other singers, always run the risk of their songs being stylized until they're barely recognizable. What began as their song will be interpreted in countless ways by others. It will morph. It will change. A folk song may become a blues song. A blues song may become a rock song. This is not a bad thing. It may, in fact, increase the shelf life of the song. So let people change your stories. Remember this is really not about you anyway. You are just the messenger. This is about the meaning people will make of your story and how they will apply the essence of your story to their own lives. Your storytelling is just getting the party started.

You have a story2.jpg

Ah.. welcome to the fabulous world of storytelling Zen koans. The thought that your story isn't ready to share can be both true and untrue at the same time. Indeed, it is the tension between these two polarities that most commonly leads to inaction. On one hand, it is absolutely true that your story may not be ready for prime time. You may be in the process of incubating on it, refining it, hatching the "story egg", so to speak. If you tell your story too early, you may be trotting out a half-baked message that will fall with a thud. Yup. It's the same thing with new ideas. Sometimes you might have an awesome idea, but if you communicate it too soon, you might subvert its potential of it actually landing.

But there is another side of the storytelling coin for you to consider. Sometimes, the assumption that "my story isn't ready to share" is simply a function of perfectionism -- the same reason why you don't try anything new. You tell yourself you don't have enough information, or enough degrees, or haven't done enough research yet. Please be mindful of this tendency.

Sometimes, the only way your story will be ready to share is to tell it. Or what Tom Peters meant when he said, "Ready, fire, aim!"

This is the same reason why many Broadway plays start off in Peoria. "The path is made by walking on it," goes the old adage. Start walking.

The Wisdom Circles of San Miguel
The facilitator of Wisdom Circles
Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:19 AM | Comments (1)

September 23, 2021
Storytelling and Islam






You have wisdom to share
Ten reasons why people don't share their stories
Why kind of stories do YOU want to tell?
Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:59 AM | Comments (0)

August 12, 2021
The Path Is Made

Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:34 PM | Comments (0)

July 02, 2021
44 Awesome Quotes for Writers


Thinking about writing a book? Inspired to write a book? Feel called to write a book? Excellent. If so, take a look at the following quotes on writing from 44 accomplished writers who have been there and back and lived to tell the tale. Find a few quotes that really sing to you and contemplate them. Enjoy the journey! You can do this!

1. "You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children." -- Madeleine L'Engle

2. "If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that." -- Stephen King


3. "If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." -- Toni Morrison

4. "One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple." -- Jack Kerouac

5. "Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." -- Benjamin Franklin

6. "You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write." -- Saul Bellow

7. "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader." -- Robert Frost

8. "A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people." -- Thomas Mann

9. "Read, read, read. Read everything -- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window." -- William Faulkner

10. "You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you." -- Ray Bradbury

11. "Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly -- they'll go through anything. You read and you're pierced." -- Aldous Huxley

12. "How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live." -- H.D. Thoreau

13. "I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn." -- Anne Frank

14. "Let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences." -- Sylvia Plath

15. "Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college." -- Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

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16. "Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly." -- Franz Kafka

17. "I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in." -- Robert Louis Stevenson

18. "You can make anything by writing." -- C.S. Lewis

19. "A word after a word after a word is power." -- Margaret Atwood

20. "Tears are words that need to be written." -- Paulo Coelho

21. "Writing is like sex. First you do it for love, then you do it for your friends, and then you do it for money." -- Virginia Woolf

22. "To survive, you must tell stories." -- Umberto Eco

23. "Always be a poet, even in prose." -- Charles Baudelaire

24. "If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster." -- Isaac Asimov

25. "The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself." -- Albert Camus

26. "I write to discover what I know." -- Flannery O'Connor

27. "Words do not express thoughts very well. They always become a little different immediately after they are expressed, a little distorted, a little foolish." -- Hermann Hesse

28. "Writing books is the closest men ever come to childbearing." -- Norman Mailer

29. "Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write." -- Rainer Maria Rilke


30. "As a writer, you should not judge, you should understand." -- Ernest Hemingway

31. "A good writer possesses not only his own spirit, but also the spirit of his friends." -- Friedrich Nietzsche

32. "The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do." -- Thomas Jefferson

33. "If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can't allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative." -- Elmore Leonard

34. "Writers live twice." -- Natalie Goldberg

35. "To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme." -- Herman Melville

36. "Words are a lens to focus one's mind." -- Ayn Rand

37. "I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within." -- Gustave Flaubert

38. "Writing is its own reward." -- Henry Miller

39. "A blank piece of paper is God's way of telling us how hard it is to be God." -- Sidney Sheldon

40. "I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged." -- Erica Jong

42. "Half my life is an act of revision." -- John Irving

43. "Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good." -- William Faulkner

44. "When you make music or write or create, it's really your job to have mind-blowing, irresponsible, condomless sex with whatever idea it is you're writing about at the time."-- Lady Gaga

Jump Start Coaching for Aspiring Authors

My most recent book
And the one before it
What you get when you google "writer"
Cartoon: gaping void
Painting: Lesley Dietsche

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:39 PM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2021
How to Discover the Stories You Want to Tell


"The most important question to ask is: What myth am I living?" -- Carl Jung

No matter what your age, a lot has happened to you in this lifetime -- the good, the bad, and the ugly -- finding love, losing love, being hired, being fired, overcoming obstacles, falling on your face, births, deaths, victories, failures, and everything else in between. Choosing which of this stuff to tell as story presents an interesting challenge. The good news is there are many ways to make that choice.

1. ACKNOWLEDGE THE STORIES YOU ALREADY TELL: All of us have favorite stories we tell -- often, more than once. Even if you don't consider yourself a storyteller, there's a good chance you have recounted some of your life experiences to others -- people you trusted, loved, or wanted to communicate something meaningful to. Maybe it was your parents, sister, best friend, client, teammate, neighbor, doctor, spouse, or local bartender. Every time you tell one of them the story, he or she listens. What are those stories?

2. CHUNK OUT THE MAIN EVENTS IN YOUR LIFE: If you were about to die and your life was flashing before your eyes, what would be the key scenes you would see? Growing up in your parent's house? Your first day of school? Falling in love for the first time? A traumatic incident? The birth of a child? The death of a loved one? Seeing a UFO? Deciding to quit your job? Moving to a foreign country? What else?

3. IDENTIFY UNEXPECTED MOMENTS OF TRUTH: All of us have experiences that are unplanned -- surprise occurrences that challenge our sense of self, blow our minds, and teach us important lessons. Sometimes, all it takes is a trigger phrase to remember them. Take a few minutes now to review the following phrases and notice which stories they spark for you

-- Overcoming an obstacle
-- Trusting your gut
-- Adapting to change
-- Getting help from an unlikely source
-- An embarrassing moment
-- Rising to the occasion
-- Discovering a hidden talent
-- Extreme patience
-- A random act of kindness
-- Going beyond the call of duty
-- Being rescued
-- An unlikely synchronicity --
-- Emerging victorious against all odds
-- A powerful spiritual experience
-- Making a difficult choice
-- Letting go


-- Faith
-- Courage
-- Intuition
-- Resourcefulness
-- Creativity
-- Collaboration
-- Flexibility
-- Perseverance
-- Paradox
-- Celebration
-- Immersion
-- Surprise
-- Love
-- Focus
-- Intention
-- Community
-- Paranormal
-- Magic
-- Truth
-- Dream
-- Playfulness
-- Fear
-- Compassion
-- Learning
-- Ritual
-- Sleep
-- Holiday
-- Overtime
-- Proposal
-- Follow-up
-- Listening
-- Music
-- Loss
-- Connection

Now, jot down the titles of at least three stories that have come to mind as a result of this little exercise. Then circle the one you most want to tell.

Excerpted from Storytelling at Work

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:29 PM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2021
What Have You Accomplished?

Mitch SMA clarinet.jpg

Halfway through the 73rd year of my life, I find myself at a curious crossroads -- the intersection of WHO and WHAT, one of those strange intersections far out of town where the sagebrush rolls and the GPS signal is just out of range. In semi-self isolation in an Australian AirBB, I ask myself a question highly unlikely to make me the life of the party: "Have I done anything of significance these past 73 years?"

It's an age-old dilemma, methinks, a classic rite-of-passage -- the time when a man takes stock of himself and realizes his so called "portfolio" of accomplishments doesn't necessarily measure up to what he imagined it would one day be. And though I have always felt a breathtaking magnificence inside me, OUTWARDLY much of what I have expressed, in this life, seems to have been lost in translation -- not unlike a child's game of "telephone" where you whisper something to the person next to you and they, in turn, whisper it to the person next to them and so on and so forth around the circle until the last person blurts what they've heard -- a jumble of words not even remotely close to what it was the started the whole game.

Six months shy of 74, focused more, today, on the butterflies in my stomach than the ones that herald spring, I find myself looking in two directions at once. One is forward, trying to make out what I see with the time I have left. The other is backwards, trying to make sense of the forces that have brought me to this precise moment in time.

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What I see, behind me, is my father coming home from a long day's work. He's exhausted, unsettled, my mother greeting him with a martini and the officiousness of a 50's housewife, me tentatively approaching, receiving a quick hug and the all-too-familiar question my father routinely greeted me with: "What have you ACCOMPLISHED today?" -- a kind of Zen Cohen that always left me feeling I hadn't done enough.

Yes, I played roof ball and punch ball and kick ball and stick ball. And yes, I played with my dog and read the backs of my baseball cards. But did I accomplish anything? Did I do anything that really mattered?

The older I got, the more my father's accomplishment mantra embedded its way into my psyche, a kind of microscopic parasite a person might pick up on a quick trip to a third world country. And though I couldn't see it, I could FEEL it -- radiating outwards, driving me to DO, DO, DO -- moving me to create something I considered "significant" -- something meaningful enough I could sign my name to once and for all.

My friends, I think it is time for me (and maybe you) to answer the question my father used to ask. Ready?


While the intention may be harmless, the act of being ruled by it is not. "The foolish man is always doing," said Lao Tzu, "yet much remains to be done. The wise man does nothing, yet nothing remains undone."

Kapish? In the end, there is nothing to do! Nothing to prove! Unless we can live fully in this present moment where everything is already perfect, our life will never be more than a programmed/neurotic/obsessive attempt to achieve -- a carrot dangled in front of us by the collective hallucination that we have never really done enough.

Guess what? We have.

Face it. There is absolutely nothing we can do that will ever be enough compared to the outcome we IMAGINE it should be. Maybe that's why Van Gogh cut off his ear. Maybe that's why countless creative souls drink too much and think too much. You see, the obsession with proving our worth is a losing game. First of all, the self does not need to be proven. It is ALREADY complete just the way it is. And second of all, there is no second of all.

THIS is the moment. THIS. NOW. HERE. Just the way it is!

In the end, WHAT we do is way less important than HOW we do it. When that recognition dawns, joy replaces struggle, gratitude replaces complaint, and everything comes to us in its own, sweet time...

Prem Rawat's Lockdown talks

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:31 AM | Comments (1)

March 05, 2021
A Simple Way to Identify the Seeds of Your Own Stories


No one knows, for sure, exactly how many species of fruit there are on planet Earth, but with 7,000 species of apples, alone, it's fair to say there are hundreds of thousands -- most of which you and I have never tasted. Inside of each of them is not only a sweetness, but a seed -- or many seeds -- nature's way of ensuring the proliferation of that particular form of nourishment. The seeds come in all shapes and sizes, but no matter what shape or size they may be, if you want to get to the seed, you will need to get past the rind -- or in some cases, the shell.

And so it is with story. Stories also have seeds, the embryonic life force contained within them, but getting to the seeds of a story is not always easy.

To begin with, the rind of a story, especially your own story, can sometimes be difficult to penetrate. Secondly, our stories often contain more than a single seed. The first one may be easy to find, but the second or the third may not. And finally, the person trying to locate the seeds doesn't always have the motivation, tools, or tenacity to get past the rind. And so, the story just sits there -- like piece of fruit in a bowl. It may have color. It may have shape. It may have texture, too, but it's essence remains unexplored.


In modern-day parlance, the seed of a story is called the "moral" -- the key point, lesson, or message. In most fairy tales, the moral is relatively easy to identify, which is why we tell them to children. The Three Little Pigs? Hard work and dedication is often the difference between life and death. Little Red Riding Hood? Obey your parents and don't talk to strangers. Cinderella? Go beyond obstacles and seek your highest dreams.

But your stories and my stories don't always reveal their essence as tidily as fairy tales. The messages contained within them are often hidden from view. Effort is required to get to the core, but it is an effort well worth it. Why? Because contained within the seeds of our stories is the distillation of our deepest insights, knowledge, and wisdom. Our stories, bottom line, are a kind of secret code. Encrypted within them are clues to the mystery and meaning of our lives -- a kind of hieroglyphics of the soul. Yes, the meaning of the stories we tell is sometimes obvious and requires no deciphering. But other times, some inner archeology is needed -- committed digging, poking, and prodding into the hidden chambers within.

If this kind of self-inquiry interests you, it is my pleasure to offer you some digging tools -- tools, in the form of questions, to help you make your way past the rind into the place where the seeds of your life experience abide.

These questions can be asked of two different kinds of audience. The first audience is you. After writing or telling a story, you can simply ask one of more of the following questions to help you get to the core meaning of your story. The second audience is everyone else. But remember, if someone tells you one of their stories, you will first need to ask their permission before asking your questions. Some people, after telling their story are not comfortable being asked questions about it. To them, it may feel like an invasion of privacy or too much of an intellectual exercise. So before asking any of the following questions to the storytellers in your life, be sure to get their permission.

If they say, YES, you're on your way. If they say NO, thank them for sharing and move on. But all is not lost. If you are really taken with the story you were told (or read), you can ask yourself any of the following questions to get to the seed within.

Ready to dig?

1. If there was a "moral" to the story, what would it be?
2. How would I describe this story in 25 words or less?
3. How would I explain this story to a five-year old?
4. What are three things I learned about the hero of the story?
5. What do I find most fascinating about the story? Surprising?
6. How has the story given me pause or changed my outlook on life?
7. What part of the story do I want to know more about?
8. If I were going to rename the story, what would I call it?
9. What elements of the story require more reflection on my part?
10. How can I apply the message of the story to my own life?

Excerpted from this book
Not excerpted from this book
The author of those two books (and this blog post)

Photo by Joshua Lanzarini on Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:48 PM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2021
The Power of Storytelling

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:01 PM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2021
Take Back the Power of Story

Very informative, inspiring, and authentic talk by story activist, Mary Alice Arthur. 18 minutes worth of goodies.

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

December 11, 2020

2 Universe.jpg
I don't know how many "theories of the universe" exist, but I am guessing there are probably a lot -- ways in which philosophers, astrophysicists, savants, and pundits have attempted, since the beginning of time, to wrap their heads around the unwrappable -- one of the fun sports of being human, I guess, no less meaningful than collecting stamps, crocheting, or guessing how many jelly beans are in a jar.


One of these theories I find particularly intriguing -- and that would be the "holographic universe principle" -- the one that William Blake, the 16th century poet, once described, without knowing it, in a single sentence -- "seeing eternity in a grain of sand" -- or what Henry Miller, God bless him, described in the following way: "The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself."

I am not an astrophysicist, nor do I deeply understand the nuances of the holographic universe, but I do understand one thing -- that, somehow, EVERYTHING is encoded in the smallest thing -- or as some people like to say "as above, so below."

In other words, one does not need to go to the Himalayas or outer space in order discover the so-called "secret of life" -- one needs to simply pay close attention to what's right in front of them or, as the more spiritually inclined of our species like to say, "what's inside" of us. (NOTE: There are some astrophysicists who claim that the universe is curved and that if you looked long enough through a powerful enough telescope you would, eventually, see your own butt.)

Anyway, enough theory for now. It's time for a story or why Jean Luc Goddard once said, "Sometimes reality is too complex. Stories give it form."

Some years ago, while MC'ing an event for Prem Rawat, in Los Angeles, I had the great, good fortune of experiencing one of these holographic universe moments. And the catalyst for it was very unexpected -- a 3x5 index card.

The setting? The Shrine Auditorium -- the same venue that had, over the past, few decades, hosted 24 Academy Awards and Grammy ceremonies -- an iconic environment with a ton of history and now, for me, a ton of presence. You see, a few weeks earlier, I had been asked to MC an event that would feature my long-time teacher, Prem Rawat, and I was both thrilled and anxious -- thrilled that Prem had enough confidence in me to play the MC role and anxious because I knew, all too well, the kind of impeccability that would be required of me that night.

My "handler" for that weekend -- the gentleman responsible for ensuring I would do a good job -- was Jean Marie Bonteaux, a relaxed, experienced, and knowledgeable fellow who had the knack for delivering just the right amount "get-ready-to-MC" information to me without triggering my "uh oh" response. Jean Marie was cool. He was calm. And he was very collected -- modeling the kind of vibe I was aspiring to abide by that evening.

And so, before the event, Jean Marie, spent some quality time with me, giving me the lay of the land, sharing some useful tips, and explaining the announcements I would need to make later that night. As he shared the announcements with me, I dutifully wrote them down on a 3x5 index card, wanting to be totally sure I had the correct information in order to communicate what needed to be said as accurately as possible and in the right sequence.

When the download was complete, I could see there were five announcements I would need to make, each one now neatly written on my index card, preceded by a number I had circled and a few words, underlined, to help me remember the gist of everything.

OK. So far, so good.

My task for the weekend appeared to be a simple one -- to sit there in the front row (whoo hoo!) with my headset on, listen to Prem and, at the same time, be alert to the cues I would get from the sound guys when it was my time to mount the stage and make the next announcement. And this is exactly what happened.

Well... sort of.

Soon after the program began, I noticed Jean Marie approaching me from the side, kneeling at my seat and, in a very soft voice, letting me know there was one more announcement I would need to make -- one that I rapidly jotted down on my index card, squeezing it in, in smaller print, between announcements #1 and #2.

Great. Got it. No worries. I had one more announcement to make. No big deal.

A few minutes later, I noticed Jean Marie approaching me again, still very relaxed and, upon arriving at my seat, knelt and let me know that there were, actually, TWO more announcements that needed to be made after the break.

As I began jotting down these new announcements on my index card, it soon became apparent that I was, most definitely, running out of room, so I flipped the card over and wrote the new announcements on the flip side -- drawing an arrow from the newly noted Announcement #2 to the far edge of the card, a clever reminder for me to FLIP THE CARD OVER when it was time to speak, which, as far as I could tell, would be happening in just few minutes.


Meanwhile, Prem, with great eloquence, flair, and humor continued holding forth, me now toggling back and forth between listening to him and inspecting my increasingly crowded note card to make sure that I actually UNDERSTOOD the announcements I would soon be making and taking the time to CIRCLE a few key words for emphasis and UNDERLINE a few words, here and there, to help me remember the flow.

But the more I sat there, the more I noticed that the index card I held in my hands was beginning to look a lot like a kidnap letter. The writing seemed agitated, shaky. Some of the words were BIG. Others were small. And there were entire sentences that had been relegated to the MARGINS, including phrases that now appeared to be vertical, requiring me to turn the card SIDEWAYS in order to follow the trail of the message I was supposed to deliver the next time I mounted the stage.


Oh, and here comes Jean Marie one more time. He is still mellow. He is still conscious, it seems, of not wanting to overwhelm me or make my job any harder than it needed to be.

"Mitch," he begins, "there is ONE MORE announcement you will need to make at the end of the program," proceeding, in his very relaxed way, to reveal its content, assuring me, in no uncertain terms, that it was absolutely FINE for me to make the announcement in my own words and that he had great confidence in me to deliver the message in the way most appropriate to the moment -- a vote of confidence that was very reassuring, especially now, since there was no room remaining on either side of my index card to write anything else. Indeed, the content of the card, to my untrained eye, began to take on the appearance of performance art. Words were everywhere. Arrows, too. Numbers were circled. Random phrases were underlined, and now, memes that made sense to me just a few seconds ago, were completely indecipherable.

My choice was becoming clear. Either sit there, in my front row seat, attempting to make sense of whatever I had written, or stand up, leave the auditorium, and rewrite EVERYTHING so I could actually UNDERSTAND what needed to be said without squinting, frowning, or turning the card this way and that.

Ah, the moment of truth!

On one hand, it made absolutely no sense to leave the hall. I mean, after all, I had traveled 3,000 miles to listen to Prem, right? And I had a front row seat, right? And I certainly didn't want to "abandon my post." Exiting the event, at this moment, seemed totally counter intuitive -- a move that probably said more about my lack of faith in myself than it did anything else. And yet, only a fool would fail to recognize that the card I was now holding in my left hand now was increasingly looking like a fragment, in Aramaic, from the Dead Sea Scrolls -- something that would take even the most pedigreed linguist weeks to decode.

It was at that precise moment, in the middle of Prem's timeless talk, that I stood and exited stage right, looking for a fresh note card or maybe just a regular piece of paper so I could rewrite the content of what I needed to say, in a few moments, with confidence, clarity, and consciousness.

And that is precisely what happened.

The note card appeared. The pen appeared. A surface to write on appeared. And the whole rewriting of the Dead Sea Scroll note card took less than two minutes to complete. Badaboom, badabing.

I returned to my seat. I put my headset on. And 20 seconds later, I got my cue from the sound guys to mount the stage and make the announcements which now, I was thrilled to see, actually made sense.


OK. On one level, the above story is funny and maybe even entertaining. But it is also, at least from my perspective, an example of how the so-called "holographic universe" works. In other words, my index card -- my grain of sand moment at the Shrine Auditorium -- had contained, within it, everything I needed to experience in order to wake further up. The dimensions of what I had to work with -- the "canvas", if you will -- was limited -- only 3 inches by 5 inches. Not much room to express myself in any meaningful way -- a familiar theme in my life of feeling that what I really needed to say didn't quite fit the limited dimensions available to me -- perhaps one of the reasons why Van Gogh cut off his ear and all of my musician friends are wondering what to do with their unsold CDs.

YES, I made my effort to make best use of the limited resources available to me and, YES, I applied various strategies, in the moment, in order to increase my chances of success. But in the end (or was it in the beginning?) -- the SINGULARITY of my own life was upon me. All bets were off. My old "paradigm" didn't cut it any more. My plan was a joke. Life was calling for the tango and I was still doing the cha cha.

And then, as the time ticked down and the stakes went up, I was faced with a CHOICE -- one that flew in the face of logic, rationality, and the litany of my own preferences. TO DO WHAT I WAS MOVED TO DO. To respond to an inner calling. To trust that which was being announced INSIDE of me with every fiber of my being. Bottom line, to GO FOR IT.

I realize, of course, that if somebody else was MC'ing that night, it is highly probable that he or she or it or they would have made a different choice, taken a different path. And if they did, everything would have worked out just fine for them. But it wasn't anyone else MC'ing that night. It was me on the receiving end of whatever it was I needed to experience in order to "get it" -- the learning, the lesson, the sound of one hand clapping.

The main takeaway for me?

That when I am in the consciousness of SERVICE, everything becomes crystal clear and there is always a happy ending.

You see, a big part of me, that night, just wanted to sit back and listen to Prem. That's it. Just listen and absorb what he had to say. But then .. ah... THEN came the moment beyond expectations. The moment of clarity. The moment of realizing how precious service is! I was there to serve! THIS was the organizing principle around which everything was taking shape. This was the tuning fork -- the medium to ensure I was vibrating at the right frequency to resonate with the present moment.

Leaving my seat to find the space and time to rewrite the announcements was not "leaving" anything. I was not "missing" anything. There was no problem. I was simply following the yellow brick road of the moment.

The so called "resolution" of the seeming conundrum took less than two minutes. That's it. Two minutes.

All of us, methinks, especially during these crazy days of the Coronavirus, are faced with a similar holographic moment. At first glance, it doesn't seem like we have enough of what we think we need to succeed -- that the situation we find ourselves in is difficult... dense.. or indecipherable. But then... the Red Sea parts... time stops... a choice is made... and the clarity becomes radiantly available to us.

Take a moment now to look down at YOUR index card. What is written on it? What does it say? Are you able to decipher it? And if not, in this moment, what choices will you make to better understand WHAT is written on your card and what it is you really need to say or do?

Photo #2: Chris Lloyd, Unsplash
Prem photo: courtesy of TimelessToday

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:42 PM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2020

Camel 18.jpg

Storytelling is the swiss-army knife of transformational catalysts. Done well, it can be used to build community, inspire, delight, transmit tacit knowledge, share wisdom, educate, inform, change behavior, and spark elegant solutions. The following story (a re-telling of a classic tale), accomplishes many the above, but is primarily about sparking elegant solutions. When you come to the end, I invite you to take a few minutes to reflect on the questions that follow.


Once upon a time, in Egypt, there was a much beloved camel merchant named Hamid. Hamid was known throughout the land as not only a connoisseur of fine camels, but a kind-hearted, generous, and wealthy man. So, when, one hot summer day, at the age of 55, he had a sudden heart attack and fell off his camel, the entire country went into mourning.

In no time at all, thousands of people gathered at his estate for the funeral and celebration of his life. When the gathering was over, Hamid's Chief Executor sat down with the camel merchant's three sons for the ritual reading of the will.

The boys were stunned by the size of their inheritance, but of all the treasures bequeathed to them, the most precious were their father's prized camels -- 17 of them, which he requested be divided in the following way: one-half to his eldest son, one-third to his middle son, and one ninth to his youngest.

But since 17 cannot be divided up equally in this fashion, the three sons began arguing, then pushing each other, then wrestling on the ground . Realizing they needed help to resolve their disagreement, they called for the local wise man.

After listening to each of the three sons make their case, the wise man explained he needed some time to think about the matter and would return, God willing, in an hour.

Sixty minutes later, the three sons, in the middle of yet another argument, look up and see, off in the distance, the wise man, riding a very large camel, approaching them.

"Boys," he exclaimed, upon dismounting, "I have so much respect for your father that I've decided to donate one of my own camels to your inheritance. Now you have eighteen.

"Let's see..." he said, stroking his beard. "Half of 18 is nine... so the eldest of you will inherit nine camels. And... hmmm... one third of 18 is six, so the middle son will inherit six... and one ninth of 18 is two which means the youngest of you will inherit the remaining two.

Then he looked up at the sky, paused, and spoke again.

"Based on my calculations, 9 + 6 + 2 = 17 -- which is the exact number of camels your father bequeathed you. That leaves one camel left over -- mine -- so i guess I'll just get back on top him and continue on my way. May Allah be with you, oh sons of Hamid. Enjoy this fine day!"

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Every problem has a solution, even if the solution may not be immediately obvious. Your challenge is to think about your problem differently than you usually do. It's possible. It is. You just need to let go of some old assumptions, go beyond the status quo, and look at things from a fresh perspective.

What pressing problem of yours, these days, do you need to approach differently? To begin with, you might want to frame your problem as a question, beginning with the words "How can I?"

20 elegant solution-sparking questions

Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling as the 18th camel

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:35 AM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2020
The Art of Unpacking Stories


Stories are gifts. When received, they animate, uplift, reveal, and inspire. Like any gift, however, stories need to be opened, not just received. Being given a gift is one thing. Fully enjoying the gift you've been given is something else -- and that requires removing the gift wrapping to see what's inside.

How do you remove the wrapping from a gift you've been given? How do you unpack the stories that are shared with you in order to discover what's contained within -- what most people refer to as the "moral" or the "message"?

There are many ways to do this. There is no one, "right" way.

Ultimately, it all depends on the setting, the timing, your interest, and how much permission the storyteller has granted you, as story listener. Nevertheless, there are some time-tested principles you may want to consider before responding to the stories you are told:


1. Pause and reflect
2. Trust your first response
3. Get curious
4. Ask questions
5. Double click
6. Relate the story to your own life
7. Go beyond the urge to analyze and advise


1. Pause and Reflect: When somebody gives you a gift, your first response does not, necessarily, require words. It's perfectly fine to savor the feeling of having been given the gift. The same principle applies to the moment of just having listened to a story. Nowhere is it written that you must rush to respond. It's perfectly OK just to let the story in and feel it in your bones. While your mind may want to respond immediately, something else inside you is content to savor the moment and how the story makes you feel.

2. Trust Your First Response: As the Zen Masters like to say, "first thought, best thought." The same holds true for story listening. Your first thought or reaction to a story usually has a lot of mojo associated with it. It's a clue, a catalyst, and an indication that a connection has been made. Indeed, the first response that comes up for you upon listening to a story will likely be a very meaningful one -- and possibly, time allowing, worth sharing with the storyteller. Your choice.

3. Get Curious: After listening to a story, see if you can tune into what it is that fascinates you about it -- what piques your interest, what grabs your attention, what you find especially memorable about it. This rising curiosity will often inform what you choose to express to the storyteller and how you express it. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it won't kill you or the storyteller. Quite the opposite. It will open up a rich vein of exploration.


4. Ask Questions: Take a cue from the Greek philosopher, Socrates -- he of the "Know Thyself" school of life. His approach to communication (i.e. the Socratic Method) has stood the test of time and is a powerful way to spark meaningful dialogue via the asking of provocative questions. If the story you have heard sparks a question in you, consider posing that question to the storyteller. Your asking not only builds rapport with the storyteller, it has the potential to spark a very nuanced response -- for both of you.

5. Double Click: If you have ever used a computer, you already understand the concept of "double clicking" -- the act of tapping on a folder or link to further explore your need for more information or knowledge. Similarly, you can double click after listening to a story. How? By requesting the storyteller to elaborate on a particular theme, character, image, obstacle, or plot point. Sometimes there is more to the story than the storyteller has let on. Double clicking is a gift you give the storyteller -- a way to further explore the meaning of what has just been shared with you.

6. Relate the Story to Your Own Life: Often, the stories we hear trigger memories, feelings, and past experiences from our own lives. The story we hear, in effect, becomes an alchemical catalyst to help us get in touch with aspects of ourselves that are begging for attention. Letting the storyteller know how their story affects you is a wonderful way to unpack the buried treasure of their story and, by so doing, facilitates a rich dialogue about what it means to be a self-aware, resilient, and open-minded human being.

7. Go Beyond the Urge to Analyze and Advise: It is not uncommon for people to ask an artist what their work of art "means". It is also not uncommon for the artist not to respond -- wanting their work of art to stand on its own, knowing, as they do, that "art appreciation" is a subjective experience and that overly explaining their creative expression can often leach the life right out of it.

It's the same with storytelling. Indeed, unpacking a story, for some people, feels wrong. They believe that a story, like any work of art, should stand on its own. And while there is something to be said for this approach, there is also something to be said for the process of unpacking a story -- as long as it's done with heart, skill, sensitivity, and presence. And please remember this: unpacking a story does not give you permission to analyze, therapize, advise, or "fix" the storyteller -- especially if the story told reveals some of their vulnerabilities, imperfections, or questionable choices. Your role, as a story listener, is simply to be fully present. The telling of the story, itself, and the non-judgmental dialog that follows will often be enough to facilitate whatever "healing" needs to happen.



-- "I'd love to hear more about 'X'. Can you elaborate?"
-- "The image of 'Y' fascinated me. Can you say more about that?"
-- "If you were going to give your story a title, what would it be?"
-- "I can totally relate. Something like this once happened to me."
-- "Are there any parts of the story you chose to omit?"
-- "What do you think the message or moral of your story is?"
-- "How did the experience you referred to impact your life?"
-- "What fairy tale or myth does your story remind you of?"
-- "What did you learn about yourself or life from this experience?"
-- "What advice does the hero of your story have for the rest of us?"
-- "If there was buried wisdom in your story, what would it be?"

Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling at Work
The Wisdom Circle Facilitation Training

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:51 AM | Comments (0)

September 16, 2020
There Is No Storytelling Without Story Listening


When small children speak their first words, the reaction of their parents is fairly predictable. It begins with lavish praise, high fives, hugs all around, and the ritual calling of Grandma and Grandpa. Everyone is thrilled. The baby has spoken! But the first time the child listens? No response at all. Indeed, it's a rare set of parents who even notice when their child listens for the first time.

As a species, speaking is far more highly regarded than listening. The ability to express... to make one's case... to be heard is primary. Listening, it seems, is the booby prize -- only suitable for people who have nothing to say or nothing better to do than be on the receiving end of someone else's monologue.

In high school, you will find debate clubs, but no listening clubs. On the political circuit, "stump speeches" rule. It's the rare politician who goes out on a listening tour.

Bottom line, the people who make their case the strongest are the ones who rule the roost. And the people who are listening? Well, more often than not, they aren't. Yes, they may be hearing, but hearing is very different than listening. "Conversational endurance" is what mostly happens -- people striking the appearance of listening, but are merely waiting impatiently to get their turn to speak.

You know the expression "if a tree falls in a forest and there's no one around to hear, did it really make a sound?" The same holds true with storytelling. If a story is told, but no one is listening, is it really a story? I don't think so. Words may be uttered and words may be heard, but the actual story falls on deaf ears.


Simply put, story-listening (or any kind of listening, for that matter) is in short supply these days. The reasons are many, but perhaps the biggest of them all is the exponential growth of technology and the undeniable fact that human attention, these days, is more fragmented than ever before. Besieged by an ever increasing amount input (emails, texts, tweets, robocalls, alerts, and advertising), most homo sapiens live in a state of total distraction.

Here's the only related factoid you need to know: Goldfish have a longer attention span than humans beings. The average goldfish can focus on something for nine seconds. The average human being? Eight seconds -- one second less than a goldfish.

Is there anything an aspiring storyteller can do to change the game? Most definitely. Here are five simple ways to increase the odds of the stories you tell actually being listened to.

1. Choose the time and place wisely: Instead of blurting out your story on-the-fly, be attentive to the readiness of your audience to listen. If the people you want to tell your story to are multi-tracking, distracted, or on-the-run, do not begin. Not only will your story fall on deaf ears, you will likely end up feeling diminished. Choose a different time and place. And if, in your intoxication to share your story, you notice your listeners are flaking out, say something like, "It seems this might not be a good time to share my story. Might there be a better time and place?"

2. Get permission: Instead of robotically launching into your story, ask for permission. "Mind if I share a two-minute story with you that relates to what we've just been talking about?" Once the person you want to tell a story to gives you permission, the odds of being listened to increase dramatically.

3. Preview your story: Before launching into your narrative, provide the listener with some context, a preview of what's to come. "This little story happened to me five years ago on a plane", you might say. Or "what I'm just about to share with you changed my life in just three minutes."

4. Stay connected to your audience: Sometimes, storytellers, intoxicated by their own narratives, end up in "air guitar" mode. Enamored by the sound of their own voice, they lose all connection to time and space. Fun for them, perhaps, but not for the listener. Stay connected to your audience! Tune in! Make eye contact. Notice their body language. Adapt and adjust your storytelling to the subtle cues and feedback you are getting.

5. Go beyond the words: Communication experts tell us that there are three elements to any communication: Body language, voice dynamics, and words. Of these three elements, body language is the most important. It accounts for 55% of the impact of what's said. Voice dynamics is the second most important aspect of communication and accounts for 38% of the impact. The words? Only 7%.

And so, if you want to increase the odds of people actually listening to your stories, be mindful of your body language and voice dynamics. Move around the room as you speak. Be animated. Make hand gestures. Modulate the sound of your voice.

Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:03 AM | Comments (0)

August 08, 2020
FOOD FOR BEYOND THOUGHT: The Nourishing Power of Storytelling


Years ago, in a faraway land, there lived an evil sorcerer who was in a bad mood most of the time. Plus, he smelled bad.

One day, in an especially cranky frame of mind, he decided to work his dark magic in a particularly nefarious way -- he cast a spell throughout the land that locked everybody's arms at the elbow.

The first few days of this massively uncomfortable condition wreaked havoc throughout the land, especially at meal time, because people could no longer feed themselves.

The only way anyone could get food in their mouths was to eat like a dog, an option that was not a popular one to this proud race of people. Indeed, mostly everyone chose to go hungry rather than eat this way.

That is, until the third day of this mass affliction when one particularly bright young girl came up with a brilliant solution.


"If it is no longer possible for us to feed ourselves," she exclaimed, "then let's feed each other!"

Bingo! Bango! Problem solved! And that's exactly what happened. "Locked Elbow Syndrome" no longer meant people went hungry or had to eat like animals. Now, all they had to do was feed each other. So simple!

Know this: the service you perform every time you share one of your heartfelt stories is very much the same as the service performed by the people from this faraway land. Every story you tell, from the heart, is food for others -- infused with the kind of nutrients that nourish, comfort, strengthen, and sustain life.

You don't have to be a professional storyteller to do this. You don't have to be a hero, wizard, or keynote speaker. All you have to be is a human being and be willing to extend yourself just a little bit.

If you want to share your stories with others, online
What Stories Will You Tell Today?
You Have Wisdom to Share
Storytelling for the Revolution
Photo: The Creative Exchange, Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:53 AM | Comments (0)

August 07, 2020
You Tawkin' to Me?

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:33 AM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2020
NEW FROM PREM RAWAT: Once Upon This Time There Lives You

NEW from the master storyteller, Prem Rawat! ONE 2 ONE, a series of daily talks about the story of all our lives -- the real plot... the true telling of the tale... and YOU are the character.

Feel free to subscribe to his newly launched YouTube channel to stay up to date with the timeless.


Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:14 AM | Comments (0)

July 05, 2020


Here's a great podcast from Guy Kawasaki's Remarkable People series of podcasts. Begins with a refreshing look at the power of storytelling to deliver a message -- then gets into lots of good stuff on branding. Well worth a listen.

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:41 PM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2020
The Dying Art of Storytelling in the Classroom


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.

unsplash-logoBen White

Storytelling for the Revolution

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

May 15, 2020
30 Storytelling Tips for Educators


Storytelling is not just a bedtime technique to help children fall asleep, it is also a technique to help children wake up -- a powerful teaching tool that increases attention, insight, engagement, and learning that sticks. Here are 30 storytelling tips for educators -- ways to help them leverage the power of storytelling in the classroom. PS: Parents are also educators. Please DO try this at home.


How storytelling builds attachment
Helping children understand the meaning of a moral
Ditch the grammar and start teaching storytelling again

Photo #1: Yanns H., Unsplash

Photo #2: Kuanish Reymbaev, Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:06 AM | Comments (0)

May 05, 2020


There is a scene from Fiddler on the Roof that has taught me more about life than most holy books I've read.

In it, two men are heatedly arguing over the age of a horse. When they see Tevye, the town milkman/sage, walking by, they begin passionately pleading their case.

"Tevye!" blurts the first, "I've been cheated! Last month I bought a horse from this sorry excuse for a man. He told me the horse was six years old, but it's 12!"

Tevye listens carefully, strokes his beard, nods his head, and smiles. "You're right!" he says.

"WHAT?" screams the second. "No way! Not true! The horse I sold him was six years old and I have the papers to prove it!"

Again, Tevye listens, strokes his beard, nods his head, and smiles. "You're right!" he says again.

A third man, who'd been watching the argument from the beginning, boldly steps forward.

"Tevye... with all due respect. how can he be right" (pointing to the first man) "and he be right" (pointing to the second).

Tevye listens, strokes his beard, nods his head, and smiles. You're right!" he exclaims. Then he starts dancing like a madman, arms raised to the sky.

Next time you think you're right... remember Tevye.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Life is full of paradox, contradiction, and seeming dissonance. Everyone's got a point of view. Everyone thinks the way they see things is THE way to see things. Your choice? Like Tevye in the town square, to dance your way through it all without making anyone wrong. Look for the sweet spot, the oasis, the place beyond duality -- or what Rumi once referred to as "the field beyond right doing and wrong doing."


And now, Fiddler on the Roof with a Coronavirus spin!

Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:37 AM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2020
The Importance of Family Storytelling During the Difficult Daze of the Coronavirus


"It has been said that next to hunger and thirst our most basic human need is for storytelling." -- Kahlil Gibran

While it's true that the Coronavirus has brought some dark clouds into the lives of millions people, each of those dark clouds also has a silver lining. And one of those silver linings is the undeniable fact that families now have more time to be together.

For some families, however, this extra time is good news/bad news. Theoretically speaking, having more time to be together sounds great. But practically speaking, it doesn't always turn out that way. Confined to a small space, with few breaks from each other, and the stresses that come from all the unknowns, it's not uncommon for family members to get impatient with each other, cranky, or simply space out on TV and video games.

Is there an antidote to this phenomenon? Yes, there is -- and it's thousands of years old: storytelling!

If you are a parent, one of your main responsibilities is to protect your children from harm. In many ways, of course, you are already doing this. (Hand sanitizers! Social distancing! Masks!) But physical health is only part of your job. The other part is to protect your children's metaphysical health -- their state of mind.

MIMI and Mitchie2.JPG

That's where storytelling comes in.
Family storytelling (AKA Wisdom Circles) has many benefits: it strengthens relationships, provides comfort, defuses anxiety, entertains, imparts values, builds trust, transmits wisdom, and gives everyone in your family a voice -- especially the children.

That's why I'm inviting you to create some special "storytelling time" with your family this week. But instead of merely reading stories from a book, I'm inviting you and your family to tell stories from your own lives. Memorable moments of truth. Obstacles overcomes. Life lessons. Revealing episodes. Cool experiences. You know, the good stuff.

Simply put, a Family Wisdom Circle is a chance for you and your loved ones to unplug from the world and simply BE together -- no news, no Netflix, no TV, no internet, no bills, no dishes, no worries, and no problems -- just some sacred time, in each other's company, to share from the heart.

Here's what Tanya Kubitza, a Whittlesea resident, had to say about a Family Wisdom Circle she hosted in her home.

Interested? If so, here are ten guidelines to make sure your family Wisdom Circle is as meaningful as possible:

1. Create a cozy space to meet, ideally in a circle.
2. Light some candles to create the meeting-around-the-fire feeling
3. Decide on who plays the role of "facilitator."
4. Let everyone know that storytelling is voluntary. No pressure!
5. Each storyteller gets five minutes to tell their story
6. When people aren't telling a story, their task is to listen
7. Turn off the TV, all cell phones, and devices
8. At the end of each story, have a conversation -- unpack it
9. Cookies! Popcorn! Tea! Juice! Marshmellows!
10. At the end of the circle, ask your children how it can be improved.

Storytelling for the Revolution


PHOTO #1: Pablo Merchan Montes, Unsplash

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

April 11, 2020
Neuroscience and Storytelling

Shortest distance2.jpg

Good article from NPR on the neuroscience behind storytelling, why storytelling is such a powerful communication tool, and how it connects and influences people.

Big thanks to Peter Blum for the heads up

Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:14 PM | Comments (0)

April 02, 2020
ONCE UPON A TIME: An Invitation to the Families of Whittlesea


Dear Moms and Dads of the City of Whittlesea:

Hello! My name is Mitch Ditkoff and I am working, these days, with Al Siraat College in Epping. Part of my work here includes storytelling -- or, more specifically, Wisdom Circles (a form of storytelling). I am also an author of two books on the power of storytelling (this one and that one) and a long-time researcher in the field.

The reason why I'm reaching out to you now is a simple one -- to share with you about the value of storytelling, in your own home and how it is likely to be a great resource to your family, especially during these stressful days of the Coronavirus.

As a parent, one of your biggest responsibilities is to protect your children and to make sure they have the best chance to thrive and grow. In many ways, or course, you are already doing this. Protecting your children's physical health is part of the process. It is also important, however, to protect your children's "metaphysical health" -- their state of mind -- by doing everything possible to lower their stress and anxiety.


One of the simplest ways to do this is via storytelling.

Storytelling has many positive benefits: it helps families bond, strengthens relationships, relaxes the mind, provides comfort, entertains, imparts values, builds trust, transmits wisdom, and gives children a voice -- allowing them to express themselves in healthy ways. And that includes the opportunity to air out their worries, concerns, and fears.

And so, I'm inviting you to create some special "storytelling time" with your family. But instead of just reading stories from a book, I'm inviting everyone in your family to take turns telling stories from their own lives -- personally meaningful, life-affirming experiences. Lessons learned. Challenges met. Breakthroughs. The good stuff.

The stories your family members tell do not need to be profound. They can be very simple -- whatever the storytellers think would be of interest to the others in the Wisdom Circle.

If you are the Mom or Dad, maybe you begin by telling a story from your own childhood. Or maybe you tell a story about a parent or grandparent. Or maybe you talk about a challenge you overcame... an act of kindness you experienced... a risk you took... a remarkable moment... or even something silly your kids might like to hear about.

"Gee, Mum, I never knew that about you!" your child might say. Or, "Hey, Dad, that was so cool! Do you have any other stories like that you can share with us?"

Of course, you also want to give your children a chance to share their own stories. And to help them do so, you can give them some topics to choose from:

-- My most memorable moment
-- The best gift I ever received, and why
-- A risk I took
-- An experience that changed my life
-- A moment of kindness
-- A funny thing that happened when I was smaller
-- The coolest surprise of my life
-- My biggest success
-- Something that scared me, but doesn't scare me anymore

Here are other topics you might want to consider.

Simply put, a Family Wisdom Circle is an opportunity to unplug from the world and simply be together -- no news, no video games, no TV, no internet, no bills, no dishes, no worries, no problems -- just some sacred time, in each other's company, to share from the heart.

Here's what Tanya Kubitza, a Whittlesea resident and employee of Al Sirat, had to say about a Family Wisdom Circle she recently had in her home.

Into it? If so, here are ten guidelines to increase the odds of your Family Wisdom Circle being as good as it can be:

1. Create a cozy space to meet, ideally in a circle.
2. Light some candles to create the meeting-around-the-fire feeling
3. Decide on who plays the role of "facilitator."
4. Let everyone know that storytelling is voluntary. No pressure!
5. Each storyteller gets five minutes to tell their story
6. When people aren't telling a story, their task is to listen
7. Turn off all cell phones and devices
8. At the end of each story, have a conversation -- unpack it
9. Cookies! Popcorn! Tea! Juice! Marshmellows!
10. At the end of the circle, ask your kids how it can be improved.

If you have any questions about Wisdom Circles, email me and I will respond. If you actually have a Wisdom Circle in your home (and enjoy the experience), feel free to let me know about the value of it and I will post your comments on my blog for other families to read. ( PS: Good news travels fast!

Here are some articles about storytelling you might find useful:

Storytelling builds attachment
Telling stories calms anxieties
The power of simply listening
You are a universe of stories
Dadda, do you have time to catch my bubbles?


Who am I?
Storytelling for the Revolution
First photo: Jude Beck, Unsplash
Fourth photo: Muhammed Ruq, Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:12 AM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2020
Another Lifetime


One thing that is cool about telling a story is that almost anything in the world can spark it -- a glance, a kiss, a word, a chance meeting on the street, almost dying, a dream, an argument or, with respect to what follows, a past life regression. Speaking of which, it is not at all unlikely that you, upon reading the phrase "past life regression" may already be telling yourself a story about the value of reading the still-unread narrative below.

"Flaky," you might be thinking. "New Age mumbo jumbo." "Man overboard."

And that, of course, is not only your right, but also your meaning-making machine in action. Moment by moment, second by second, each and everyone of us are coming up with conclusions about everything we see, hear, feel, and touch. That's just the way it is. We are story makers, connecting the dots of our lives in our own, unique way, and then using the lines we have drawn BETWEEN those dots as a kind of subjective map of the world -- OUR world and THE world -- both of which tend to be the same. Thus Paul Simon's fabulous line, "One man's ceiling is another man's floor."

You have a story4.jpg

The story that follows is a story I have told to only five people in the 44 years since it happened. I know that it's a risk to tell this story because I set myself up for ridicule and judgment -- my hesitation to tell it nothing more than my own chicken-shittedness in response to my projection of other people poking fun at my already thinning persona. So be it. C'est le vie. I guess that's the risk we all take every day upon getting out of bed. Our words and our actions... our silence and our non-action are all subject to the opinion of just about everyone we meet, save for a few Bodhisattvas, children, and people too absorbed in their own thoughts to even notice.

Be that as it may, here goes:

One day, a friend of mine, in the mile-high city of Denver, Colorado, asked me if I wanted him to guide me through a past life regression -- an ability he had recently developed that very few people knew about. While I was wary of the rapidly emerging "New Age" scene at the time, with it's questionable promises of instant access to the great mysteries of life, there was something in the way my friend presented his offer that disarmed me. There was no visible ego to his invitation. Nothing superficial. Nothing phony. To me, it felt totally pure of heart.

"Sure," I replied, "Why not?"

Twenty eight years old at the time, newly divorced, and standing at yet another major crossroads of my life, the time felt right to take a fresh look at things -- even if that look took me back several centuries. And so, we dove in.

Either my friend was a master regressionist, or I was super-suggestive, or BOTH, because in just a few minutes I found myself experiencing a deeply felt panoramic re-living of eight past lives of mine -- almost as if I was watching a movie that had been masterfully made, but stored in some dusty back room.

Can I prove it? Was it real what I saw? Hallucinated? I have no idea.

Suffice it to say, that what follows -- the recounting of a past life memory of mine -- is just a STORY. However flawed, filtered, falsely remembered, or conjured it might be, on the deepest level it doesn't really matter -- because, in the end, all of our communications (to ourselves and each other) are just that -- stories... the personal way we stitch together the flora and fauna of our lives into a tellable tale -- the curious way we make sense of things.

My hope? That my story, newly told, will spark an opening for you... an insight... some kind of recognition... a glance into the mirror of your own life so you can more clearly see something that is begging to be seen.

Here goes:

I am a yogi, in India, living deep in the forest, alone. I have been there for a long time, silent, content, free of desire, and without a care in the world. One day, I see a radiant man with a full head of white hair walking towards me. It is Shri Yukteshwar, Yoganananda's Guru, a man of great purpose and power. He continues walking towards me, in silence, and places his hand on top of my head. Suddenly, everything turns to light. White light. There is nothing else happening other than this light. Nothing else exists. Nothing.

When I open my eyes, the radiant man with the white head of hair is gone. In his place is a woman, someone I surmise to be my wife. She is doing things. She is busy. Preparing food. Cleaning things. Many things. Making order, all in silence. Every action is purposeful. There seems to be some kind of sequence to her tasks, like she has something in mind and knows what she's doing, though I am not exactly sure what it is.

Years pass. We have a child. A son. When he turns 17, he decides to move away. And so he does. Then there are just two of us in the forest -- my wife and I. Then she decides to move away, which she does, leaving me, in the forest, alone again. More time passes. Then I decide to move away. Why not? Why should I be the only one who stays? As I exit the forest, I am bitten, on the ankle, by a poisonous snake. Falling to the ground, I begin sucking the poison out of my wound, spitting the poison out of my mouth as fast as I can. I do that for a minute or so. Then I lose consciousness and die.

Is this past life memory of mine real? Is it imagined -- the fevered attempt of my psyche to make meaning out of various unconnected dots in my life? God only knows. For now, all I am asking you to do is think of my past life memory as just a story. Nothing wrong with that, right?

In this lifetime, the Mitchell Lewis Ditkoff lifetime, there was a period of 2-3 years, in my early 20's, when I used to frequently spit for no reason. My friends would notice and ask me why I spit so much and if I was alright. I don't remember what story I made up to explain this strange behavior of mine. But after my past life regression in the mile high city of Denver, Colorado, my story changed.

In the end, YOU get to decide what to make of my story. YOU decide what meaningful memories of yours, if any, my story sparks and IF it makes sense for you to pay any attention to them. Choice. Your choice. Always your choice.

Storytelling for the Revolution
Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:58 AM | Comments (1)

March 31, 2020
ONCE UPON A CORONAVIRUS: Telling Stories Calms Anxieties


Here is a wonderful, timely, wise, and practical blog post for parents from the folks who wrote How to Tell Stories to Children. If you are experiencing the challenges of self-isolation, lock down, or quarantining with your young kids, this one's for you!

AN EXCERPT: "As coronavirus spreads and schools close their doors, parents are feeling anxious. Social distancing and empty shelves have us gasping for normalcy. We need skills for handling the disease, but we also need tools for managing the anxiety that treads in its footsteps. Storytelling is a time-tested way to do that, and scientists have collected many of the reasons why.

Stories help us redirect and center our attention -- something that is especially useful in the wake of media reports. As politicians and journalists battle for the narrative of the coronavirus, parents are engaged in a different battle -- the narrative in our children's hearts. By telling a story, we provide a common narrative for the whole family, something that young children especially need."

How storytelling builds attachment

Helping children understand the moral of a story
Ditch the grammar and start teaching storytelling
Storytelling for big kids -- like YOU, for example

Photo: Mark Zamora, Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:34 AM | Comments (0)

March 30, 2020
Enjoy Family Wisdom Story Circles in the Age of the Coronavirus


This just in from Tanja Kubitza, one of Al Siraat College's front office staffers who recently participated in a three-hour Wisdom (storytelling) Circle training and then, God bless Tanja, applied what she learned by hosting a Wisdom Circle in her own home, with her own family! If you are currently self-isolated, locked down, or quarantined in your home, today would be a great time to follow Tanja's example. At the end of her story, below, I have noted some simple guidelines to increase the odds of your home Wisdom Circle being as beneficial as possible.

And now, here's what Tanja has to say:

"I would like to share with you that I had my first go at facilitating a mini Wisdom Circle at home last night. Earth Hour 2020 provided the perfect background setting to gather my small family tribe around the campfire of candles in our living room.

Tanja cnadles.jpg

At the commencement of Earth Hour at 8:30 pm, we turned off all the lights and power inside the house and came together, in the living room, to reflect on the last couple of days. We started off with some remembrance of God (dhikr) as 'verily, in the remembrance of God do hearts find rest.' (Qur'an 3:28)

We then shared stories of previous times when we were cut off from power for several days in the middle of winter and how we overcame those cold days by the kindness of friends dropping off food and hot drinks while we had no power to cook or access to our tank water which was supplied by electric pump only. The kids remembered doing their homework by candlelight and how I read an entire book to them night after night with them providing me torchlight.

Earth Hour was only meant to last for 60 minutes, but we kept on talking way past 9.30 pm, with my teenage daughters asking me not to turn the lights back on so we could enjoy the candles instead.

"It's so beautiful, serene and peaceful, mom," they said.

After some time, we all fell quiet, without it being an uncomfortable or awkward silence, but rather one of quiet contemplation while being in each other's company.

We have extended Earth Hour to become a regular event in our family.

Last night, my daughters asked me to switch off the lights, again, in favor of candlelight and more storytelling for a few hours until almost midnight. We shared fun stories of our own times at school, back in the day, and some of the mischief we got into."


1. Create a cozy space to meet, ideally in a circle.
2. If you have a fireplace, light a fire. If not, candles are great.
3. One person plays the role of "facilitator."
4. Storytelling is voluntary. No pressure!
5. Five-minute limit for storytelling
6. Consider featuring storytelling themes to prime the pump.
7. When you're not telling a story, you are listening
8. Turn off all cell phones and devices
9. At the end of each story, unpack the story. Ask the storyteller a question... or request more elaboration... or talk about what the story means to you.
10. Cookies! Popcorn! Tea! Juice! Marshmellows! Chocolate!

What is a Wisdom Circle?
Storytelling as a nest, haven, and home base
You have wisdom to share and it is hiding in your stories
My teenage daughter, me, and storytelling
What stories will you tell today?




If you want to participate in one or more FREE online Wisdom Circles, send me an email with "Online Wisdom Circles" in the subject line and I will forward you the schedule as soon as it's ready.

Who am I?
MY BOOK: Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:08 PM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2020
EXTRAORDINARY EDUCATION: Learning in a Graveyard

An inspiring 12-minute talk, with two very powerful stories, by Mufti Aasim Rashid, Director of Islamic Education and Studies at Al Siraat College in Epping, Australia.

Al Siraat YouTube channel
Aussie interfaith Wisdom Circles
Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:45 AM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2020
A Call for Silver Lining Stories

You have a story8.jpg

Mother Teresa once said, "If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one."

Towards that end, I am inviting you and anyone else reading this post, to send me ONE "silver lining story" you've heard (or been a part of) that relates to the coronavirus outbreak. And by "silver lining story," I'm referring to examples of the unsung spread of kindness, love, neighborliness, selflessness, giving, care, goodness, tenderness, compassion, hope, heroism, and beyond-the-call-of-duty benevolence that is also happening in the world during these difficult times.


Maybe it's something you witnessed in your town, village, or community. Maybe it's something you read on the internet... or heard about... or saw on television. Maybe it's a project you are a part of or a "good deed" that blew your mind. You decide.

What I'm attempting to do on this blog is feature these kind of stories at a time when we need to balance the bad news with the good.

I'm not suggesting that you ignore the stark coronavirus updates we need to pay attention to or candy coat reality. All I'm suggesting is that we call more attention to inspiring examples of the what's possible when people go beyond fear, reach out, and express the very best of what it means to be a human being -- truth in action.

And one of the simplest ways to do this is via storytelling.

Not fiction. Fact. Real, living, breathing examples of how human beings are rising to the occasion.

If you decide to submit a story, please keep it to 500 words or less and include 1-3 photos or images. Please only send images for which you own the copyright. I am not guaranteeing that I will publish all the stories I receive. But I will do my best to read them and choose some to feature on this blog. NOTE: By submitting your story, you are granting me the right to edit it, as needed, for publication. Wash your hands!







What story will you tell today?

What kind of stories people want to tell
Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:58 AM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2020
Aussie Interfaith Wisdom Circles


Yes, these are very difficult times we find our selves now living in -- many of our assumptions, concepts, and beliefs challenged to the core. And yet, even in the midst of so much change, chaos, and confusion, there is also the possibility of clarity, community, and consciousness.

As Leonard Cohen once said. "There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in."


Yesterday, at Al Siraat College (a K-12 school, in Melbourne, where I have been working for a month), I had the blessed opportunity to facilitate a Wisdom Circle for four members of the school and four members of the Whittlesea Interfaith Network. In attendance were five Muslims, two Christians, and two Jews. Their countries of origin? Australia, Pakistan, Germany, India, and the United States.

For two hours, the nine of us shared memorable, meaningful moments of truth with each other, in the form of personal stories that confirmed our humanity, sacred connection with each other, and the undeniable fact that, no matter what our outward differences might be, inwardly we are all the same.

That's just one of the powers of storytelling. It affirms and amplifies the very best of human nature.

Tomorrow, I will reconvene with these fine folks to teach them how to facilitate Wisdom Circles in their own homes, communities, and organizations. Know this, my friends: In the midst of worldwide meltdown, shutdown, stress, challenge, weirdness, and fear there is also light, love, kinship, hope, and learning. Or at least the possibility of it. Our choice. Always.





What people are saying about Wisdom Circles
Online Wisdom Circle facilitation training
You have wisdom to share

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:14 PM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2020


A Wisdom Circle is a lightly facilitated, personal storytelling gathering -- a chance for 6-12 friends, neighbors, colleagues, or co-workers, in a relaxed setting, to share their meaningful, memorable, real-life stories with each other -- usually focusing on a few pre-selected themes. Storytelling is voluntary. Some participants may choose to tell one or more stories. Others, may simply listen and get inspired. There are many benefits to a Wisdom Circle:

-- Builds connection, trust, and community
-- Gives participants an engaging chance to have a voice
-- Enables people to share the best of their best practices
-- Inspires, awakens, empowers, and energizes
-- Transmits insight, wisdom, and tacit knowledge
-- Accelerates positive behavior change

A Wisdom Circle is not a class, seminar, workshop, or lecture. It's more participatory than any of those formats -- a way for people to share their own life-lessons with each other, through the medium of story, in a supportive, non-judgmental environment. Bottom line, it's a no-pressure get together where real listening and peer-to-peer learning happens.

caveman boardroom12.jpg

You have wisdom to share
What a story is not
Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling at Work
How I connected with an Islamic school in Australia
You are a universe of stories
Storytelling as nest, home base, and safe haven
Why human beings tell stories
Ten reasons why people don't tell their stories

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:39 PM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2020
Good Leaders Tell Stories That Help People Trust Them with Power

Plan A:B.jpg

Are you a leader trying gain the trust of the people you lead? While there are many ways to approach this bold challenge, one of the simplest and most effective ways is storytelling. Abraham Lincoln was a master of the craft and, indeed, many historians claim this is what enabled him to distinguish himself from others aspiring to be President of the United States at the time. Read about it here. Plus more.

Idea Champions
Mastering storytelling in the workplace
Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:58 PM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2020
Stories Get You to the Heart!


Wonderful article here about Jane Goodall's perspective on the power of storytelling to make a huge difference in the world.

EXCERPT: "Early last year, at the same World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland where Greta Thunberg ignited a powerful social movement, Dr. Jane Goodall made an important speech. When asked how to speak effectively on the subject of climate change with political and business leaders, she said, 'What you have to do is to get into the heart. And how do you get into the heart? With stories.'"

You are a universe of stories
Time to catch my bubbles?
Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:27 PM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2020
What Kinds of Stories Do People Most Want to Tell?

If you have five minutes to spare, I invite you to respond to this just launched poll -- my attempt to find out what kind of stories people most want to tell. I will post the results here in a few weeks. Thanks!


Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:32 AM | Comments (0)

January 29, 2020
Why Storytelling is Essential to Jews and Judaism


Wonderful article by Rabbi Jonathan Sachs on storytelling and Judaism.

AN EXCERPT: "Tibet has been governed by the Chinese since 1950. During the 1959 uprising, the Dalai Lama, his life in danger, fled to Dharamsala, in India, where he and many of his followers have lived ever since. Realizing that their stay in exile might be prolonged, in 1992 he decided to ask Jews, whom he regarded as the world's experts in maintaining identity in exile, for advice. What, he wanted to know, was the secret? The story of that week-long encounter has been told by Roger Kamenetz in his book, The Jew in the Lotus. One of the things they told him was the importance of memory and storytelling in keeping a people's culture and identity alive."

Big thanks to Steven Ornstein for the heads up.

Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:55 AM | Comments (0)

January 25, 2020
KIDS CORNER: How Storytelling Builds Attachment

blondkid reading4.jpg

If you have ever heard a child say, 'Tell me a story,' you may have thought she merely wanted a good story. Not necessarily true. There's a very good chance the child was motivated more by the need for your attention -- a chance to connect, bond, and simply BE with you. More about this phenomenon and how it relates to attachment theory in this lovely blog post by the authors of How to Tell Stories to Children.

Big thanks to Janice Wilson for the heads up.

Storytelling for big kids. Like YOU for instance
Learn to be a transformative storyteller

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

January 21, 2020

MicroLearning Storytellers.jpg

One of the powerful things about storytelling is that it doesn't take a lot of time to deliver the goods. Indeed, a meaningful, life-changing story can easily be told in five minutes or less. Sometimes, one minute or less.

And yet, curiously, most storytelling workshops and books require hours of your time. Sometimes, days. Which is precisely why I've created a super-simple way for aspiring storytellers to get what they need in order to develop their chops without a lot of huffing and puffing -- and without a lot of expense.

I call it "Micro-Learning for Storytellers" -- the perfect blend of simple, deep, fun, engaging, and self-paced.

It begins with a live, 90-minute, online Storytelling Master Class from award-winning author and Wisdom Circle Founder, Mitch Ditkoff. After the session, participants receive a link to Mitch's Micro-Learning for Storytellers page -- access to more than 100 mind-opening videos, articles, stories, and podcasts on how to become a transformative storyteller.

Who is this for? Anyone who wants to explore new and better ways of communicating a meaningful message via the medium of oral storytelling.

The next Storytelling MasterClass is planned for May, specific date to be announced. Very affordable.

Interested? Simply click this link and then the "email us" link and Mitch will get back to you ASAP.

Mitch Ditkoff
Storytelling for the Revolution
What people are saying about the book
Storytelling at Work
Wisdom Circles

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:55 PM | Comments (0)

August 13, 2019
Kurt Vonnegut on Story

Big shout out to South Bend Slim for the heads up

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:17 PM | Comments (0)

August 02, 2019
The Sagwa Zibi Dance

Here's a brief video that features an extraordinary, original composition by Paul Kwicienski about the river across his house in South Bend, Indiana. Paul told the story of how this piece of music came to be in last night's Woodstock Wisdom Circle. Hat's off to Paul for not only sharing his inspiring story, but making it come even more alive by playing us the soundtrack.

Co-composers: Paul Duffy and Jodie Sleed
Dance and choreography: Kate McGowan and Matt Smith

What people are saying about Wisdom Circles.
Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:39 PM | Comments (0)

August 01, 2019
Songs Are Stories, Too

Joan Baez telling it like it is.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:28 PM | Comments (0)

July 31, 2019
The Power of Storytelling to Change Our Future

Thanks to Evelyne Pouget for the heads up

Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:27 PM | Comments (0)

July 29, 2019
A Tidal Wave of Storytelling in Germany Has Begun!


Ta da! Proof that Storytelling for the Revolution has an international audience! Here is the very wise, talented, multi-lingual, creative, brilliant, contemplative, self-aware, humble Rainer Poulet reading it in Koblenz, Germany! Might this be the beginning of a tidal wave of interest in Germany and all of Europe?

And Rainer isn't the only one who likes my book. Here's what other people are saying about it -- some of whom you might know.

Available on Amazon and in my garage. Soon to be available as an audio book.

My other book on storytelling

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:01 PM | Comments (0)

July 15, 2019
Helping Children Truly Understand the Moral of a Story


As a so-called "thought leader"in the field of storytelling and an author of two books on the topic, Storytelling at Work and Storytelling for the Revolution, I tend to think that I am quite knowledgeable about the matter. And while this may true in some ways, a few months ago I had a chance to experience how little I really understand.

My epiphany was not sparked by newly released research or reading someone else's book on the subject. No. My epiphany was sparked by 26 second grade students attending Al Siraat College, an Australian K-12 school, in the Islamic tradition, just outside of Melbourne.


As part of my series of residencies at Al Siraat, I'd been invited by one of the school's most progressive teachers, Ms. Najma, to teach her second grade class how to write and tell stories.

Ms. Najma's invitation had come as quite a surprise to me, especially since I had never taught a second grade class before, my usual students being upwardly mobile movers and shakers from a wide variety of corporations. Not a single student in Ms. Najma's class has a corner office, reserved parking space, or high blood pressure. What they did have, however, was a noticeable twinkle in their eye and a whole lot of curiosity about what it took to become a writer and teller of tales.

Up for the challenge, I spent the night before figuring out what a three-week storytelling curriculum for 8-year olds might look like. I googled. I noodled. I made lists. But in the end, it became clear that this was going to be an organic process and that all I needed was a game plan for Class #1. The rest of the classes would take care of themselves.

Class #1 was a gas. Apparently, my quirky sense of humor and willingness to begin the class with a juggling demonstration was more than enough to win the kids over. In just a few minutes I had them in the palm of my hand, or, if not the palm, then at least somewhere near my elbow. They loved it. I loved it. And the aforementioned Ms. Najma loved it.


Not wanting to overload them, I kept things super-simple, asking them to tell me why stories mattered, why stories were so popular, and what their favorite fairy tales were. Then I gave them a brief tutorial about the five elements of a story. Boom! Victory! They got it!

A bow, a wave of the hand, and a promise to see them on Wednesday and I was out the door.

Class #2 was not only gas. It was also a hoot. I read one of my own stories and after it was told, we deconstructed it together -- teaching, from the "inside out".

Inspired as they were, I gave each of them a post-it pad and one instruction -- to think of a story they wanted to write and, as soon as they thought of it, to write the title of their story on a sticky note.

Somehow, for an 8-year old, having a title for their story is extremely beneficial. Like having a handle for a cup, it provides leverage and a sense of power -- something all of us can use just a little more of these days.

Titles written, I asked each student, one by one, to read their title aloud. Wow! 26 stories were begininng to take shape, 26 products of their imagination would soon be written and read!

Class #3 was the day of my unexpected epiphany -- a lesson I will never forget. Technically speaking, I was the teacher. But in reality, I was the student and the students were the teachers -- even if they had no idea that what I was about to experience would be a life-changing moment for me, as a teacher, writer, father, and storyteller.

For most second graders and, indeed, for most of the rest of humanity, stories are a kind of entertainment, a pleasant way to pass the time or be distracted from the "real world". The real purpose of storytelling, however is not to distract, but to communicate a meaningful, memorable, message -- a timeless piece of wisdom that will evoke, in the reader or listener, increased awareness -- what most of us have come to know as "the moral of the story."

The seed. The teaching. The takeaway.

This is the topic I wanted to introduce to Ms. Najma's class of second-graders -- how to increase the odds of the stories they wrote having a meaningful message at it's core.

At first, upon bringing up the topic, the students looked at me blankly, as if I was introducing them to geometry. Taking my cue from their confusion, I floated out the titles of a few fairy tales and asked what they thought the morals or messages embedded in those tales might be. Bingo! They got it. The concept clicked. Game on! So I gave each of them another post-it pad and asked them to write down the key message of their story.


Two minutes. That's all the time it took them. Only 90 seconds longer than it takes a kid to eat a cookie.

"Fantastic! That's great! Good job! Now, please stand up, come to the front of the room, and post the morals of your stories on the board."

Twenty-six students stood. 26 students found their way to the front of the room. 26 students posted, thrilled that their story's message was now, somehow, official. Then, at my instruction, they sat down on the floor so I could call on each of them, one by one, to read their morals aloud for everyone to hear.

I removed the first sticky note from the white board and read it aloud.

"Don't be rude," I announced to the class. "OK," I added. "That's the first moral of someone's story: 'Don't be rude'. Now let's see what the second one is all about."

I pulled the second one off the wall.

"Don't be mean." And then I pulled a third, "Don't go outside." And a fourth, "Never talk to strangers." And a fifth, "Don't interrupt".

A definable, disturbing pattern was emerging. Every single moral was a negative one. Every message began with either "Don't" or "Never". One by one, I pulled each sticky note off the wall and read them to the class. And one by one, I began to understand what the 26 second graders in Ms. Najma's class really thought stories were -- cautionary tales. What not to do. What shouldn't be done. Behaviors that were either not permissible, dangerous, or bad.


I could feel a great sadness welling up inside me. But at the same time, I could also feel a great opportunity, as I, again, read the first moral of the story aloud: "Don't be rude."

"Can anyone tell me another way the writer of this story could say the same thing -- maybe in a way that offered the reader a positive message?"

"Be kind?" one of the students offered.

"Yes. 'Be kind' is another way the moral of that story can be expressed. And do you know why delivering the message in this way is something you might want to try?"

"Because it feels better?" replied one of the kids. "Because it's not so scary?" said another.

"Exactly! You got it!" I responded. "And also because framing the moral or message of your story in a positive way gives the reader or listener something they can do -- a positive behavior they can try."


Class over, I made a bee line to the office of Mufti Aasim, the school's spiritual director and the Head of Islamic studies to tell him what I had just witnessed.

His response was immediate.

He put his head in his hands, closed his eyes, and shook his head from side to side, lamenting about the way in which society, schools, and parents have misused stories for far too long. Then, he asked if he could read me a few passages from the Quran which represented the essence of that holy book and how the true teachings of Islam focus on the bright side of what's possible -- what we can do, not what we can't.

"Would you teach the next class?" I asked him. "I want you to experience this first-hand."

And so he did with great love, patience, clarity, and wisdom -- reading three stories from the Quran and asking the students to identify the real message embedded in each of the stories he told. And when, they framed those messages in negative ways, as they had been accustomed to doing, Mufti Aasim gently worked with them to help them frame the messages of those stories in positive ways -- what they could do instead of what they couldn't -- choices of thought and language that helped those 8-year old students more deeply understand the timeless wisdom embedded in the Quran and how each of them could live their lives in harmony with that wisdom.

A WORD TO THE WISE: If you are a teacher, parent, grandparent, big brother, or big sister and find yourself reading or telling a story to a child, please be mindful of the way in which you frame the moral of the story. Like the second graders in Ms. Najma's class, it's all too easy to default to the cautionary tale zone -- to use story as a way to control behavior -- to warn, instill fear, or make wrong. This is not the high path. This is the low road.

The real purpose of stories is to increase the odds of the reader or listener becoming discerning, making wise choices, trusting their higher self, tuning into wisdom, and understanding what it means to be a fully conscious human being.

Using stories like a stick to control behavior is not the way to go. It's a misuse of the sacredness of story and a misuse of your opportunity to help a still-forming human being tap into their higher self. And while it is true that many stories provide a context for children to make distinctions between "good and bad", the real opportunity we have as teachers or parents is to help the young ones think for themselves and make wise choices, not just roboticly follow rules, warnings, or the instructions of their elders.


Cookie photo: unsplash-logoFischer Twins

Al Siraat College
Mitch Ditkoff
Storytelling for the Revolution
13 brief storytelling videos

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:16 PM | Comments (0)

Tangled Up in Blue

Every story, when retold, is a kind of cover by another musician, taking on new twists and turns and dimensions. Done well, it honors the original source material and keeps the story alive and moving people in new ways. Like this version of Dylan's Tangled Up in Blue by K.T. Tunstall.

Thanks to Val Vadeboncoeur for the heads up

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:22 AM | Comments (0)

May 07, 2019
No More Stories to Tell


Let's assume for the moment that you are intrigued by the notion of telling your stories. Fantastic. Great. Wonderful. begin... thinking about the memorable moments of truth in your life and start writing them down -- at least the titles, that is. The more titles you write, the more stories come to mind -- stories from your childhood, first love, travels, relationships, work, quest for meaning, accidents, victories, near death experiences, strange lights in the sky, and so on and so forth.

Let's say you top out at 359. But let's take it one step further. Let's say you actually WRITE your stories down. But not only write them -- you TELL them, also, until every story of yours has been told.

You could, of course, choose to tell your stories, AGAIN, to other people in other ways. You could, of course, choose to turn your stories into screenplays, novels, songs, sitcoms, i-phone apps, or webinars. But you don't. You feel complete, every story in you having been told.

So there you are with no more need tell a story (not even the story of why you are no longer telling stories). Like a small puddle evaporating after a thunderstorm, your need to tell your stories has completely disappeared.

Your friends, accustomed to your story telling, express their disappointment, but you say nothing. You say nothing because you have nothing to say. You have no point to make, no wisdom to impart, nothing to elucidate.

The words you would normally use to populate your tales seem to have gone south for the winter, vacationing, as they are, somewhere on a remote island, cocktail party chit chat for the night.

Though you are fully awake and can see many things happening around you, you have no need to connect the dots, no need for a plot, characters, conflict, or a resolution.

Everything is what it is. You are what you are, breathing, wanting nothing, needing nothing, enjoying the time before the first story has been told. You think of telling THAT story, but don't. You let it go. Like the milkweed floating by.

Excerpted from this book

Not excerpted from this book
This guy wrote both of them

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:28 PM | Comments (0)

April 18, 2019
The Idiot Savant's Guide to the Power of Storytelling


Click here to listen (and view) my November 22nd webinar on storytelling in the workplace. Entertaining, mind opening, and practical. Hosted by the good people at PatSnap.

If you are interested in learning why and how storytelling is the ideal way to increase employee engagement, build community, transmit tacit knowlege, and spark a mindset of innovation, this will be a very good use of 48 minutes.

"He that tells the stories, rules the world." (Hopi Indian saying)

Microlearning for aspiring innovators
More goodies on storytelling

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:11 AM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2019


If you are an aspiring author or storyteller, but find yourself stuck, spinning your wheels, or needing support to write your book, you are in good company. Most people who want to write a book experience something similar. It's normal. But it's also frustrating -- especially when you know you have something meaningful to share with the world and the clock is ticking.

This is precisely why I have launched Jump Start Coaching for Aspiring Authors -- a simple way for wannabe writers (with a budget) to get their act together.

As an author of six books, I have experienced, first hand, the good, bad and ugly of what it takes to write and publish a book. And, as an innovation consultant to a wide variety of forward thinking organizations since 1987, I also know what it takes to navigate the muddy waters of the creative process. Now I am combining both of these experiences and offering my services to writers on the cusp of a breakthrough.

MitchDion photo.jpg

Simply put, my job is to get you into the kind of motion that is going to lead to the completion of your book. How I do this is a combination of creative process coaching and creative writing coaching, so you can become the best writer you can possibly be. Not Hemingway. Not J.K Rowling. Not Shakespeare. But you!


1. You and I have a brief chat to explore the possibilities
2. If we agree, you decide which Jump Start Option works for you
3. I send you a Letter of Engagement for your signature
4. You pay my first month's fee in advance
5. You and I have coaching call #1 to clarify the following:

-- Your purpose and intention for writing the book
-- The key themes and message of your book
-- Your audience
-- Your strengths as a writer/communicator
-- Your inner and outer obstacles to writing a book
-- The structure and flow of your book
-- Your creative process (and the discipline required)
-- Support you need
-- Next steps

6. I send you links to videos and articles of mine.
7. You send me a sample of your writing
8. I read your stuff and send you my feedback & recommendations
9. You and I talk again to review my feedback and dig in deeper
10. We have one (or more) coaching calls to continue the process


1. Jump Start Ruby: $500 (four hours)
2. Jump Start Silver: $875 (seven hours)
3. Jump Start Gold: $1,500 (twelve hours)

AND A FOURTH OPTION: If you find value in my coaching and want to continue the process after our first 4-12 hours, we can extend our collaboration at whatever interval works for you ($120/hr.)


"I look forward to every call and meeting with Mitch. His warmth, humor, presence, and insights build my trust that I have something to say that matters. The quality of support, interest, and presence that Mitch brings to our work together boosts my enthusiasm and self-confidence in my writing. Mitch has helped me understand how to differentiate and integrate storytelling and message. Since we began working together, I feel more relaxed in my writing process and am experiencing renewed juicy writing flows. Mitch's coaching has also helped me have greater clarity about how to visualize and organize the book I am writing."

- Roberta Wall, author of the forthcoming, DANCING AT THE INTERSECTION

"What I like about my writing mentor, Mitch Ditkoff, is his way of triggering buried memories. It is true that I only meet Mitch through the Skype screen, but his warmth, smile, and concern for me travel miles in split seconds across the globe, warming up my heart and unwinding all of the locks to my inner being. He always begins with 'Tell me how Sadika is -- Sadika the human.' That simple question is enough to draw a smile on my face. How many people look you in the eye today and inquire about your well-being? Mitch is one of those rare persons who really cares. He is exactly what a mentor should be -- a human being who has shed all of the labels society, culture, and religion tags us with. I am so grateful to have Mitch as my mentor!"

-- Sadika Kebbi, author of the forthcoming BEING HUMAN

Want to schedule an initial, 20-minute call to see if this is a good fit?

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:48 AM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2019
How the Inuits Use Storytelling to Teach Their Children


Click here to learn about how the Inuits of the Arctic Circle use storytelling to teach their children. Curiously, a recent study has confirmed that good storytelling skills, among 89 tribes of indigenous people, are prized more than hunting skills or medicinal knowledge. Wow!

Big thanks to Carole Clement for tuning me into this.
Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling at Work

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:44 PM | Comments (0)

March 08, 2019
The Afghani Cab Driver


A four-minute story of a moment I had with an Afghani cab driver in Minneapolis that changed my life and the way in which I looked at the world.

Excerpted from this book
Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:50 AM | Comments (0)

February 28, 2019
Jump Start Coaching for Aspiring Hudson Valley Authors and Storytellers

You have a story5.jpg

If you are an aspiring author or storyteller in the Hudson Valley, but find yourself stuck, spinning your wheels, or needing support to write your book, you are in good company. Most people who want to write a book experience something similar. It's normal. But it's also frustrating -- especially when you know you have something meaningful to share with the world and the clock is ticking.

This is precisely why I have launched Jump Start Coaching for Aspiring Authors -- a simple way for wannabe writers (with a budget) to get their act together.

As an author of six books, I have experienced, first hand, the good, bad and ugly of what it takes to write and publish a book. And, as an innovation consultant to a wide variety of forward thinking organizations since 1987, I also know what it takes to navigate the muddy waters of the creative process. Now I am combining both of these experiences and offering my services to writers on the cusp of a breakthrough.

MitchDion photo.jpg

Simply put, my job is to get you into the kind of motion that is going to lead to the completion of your book. How I do this is a combination of creative process coaching and creative writing coaching, so you can become the best writer you can possibly be. Not Hemingway. Not J.K Rowling. Not Shakespeare. But you!


1. You and I have a brief chat to explore the possibilities
2. If we agree, you decide which Jump Start Option works for you
3. I send you a Letter of Engagement for your signature
4. You pay my first month's fee in advance
5. You and I have coaching call #1 to clarify the following:

-- Your purpose and intention for writing the book
-- The key themes and message of your book
-- Your audience
-- Your strengths as a writer/communicator
-- Your inner and outer obstacles to writing a book
-- The structure and flow of your book
-- Your creative process (and the discipline required)
-- Support you need
-- Next steps

6. I send you links to videos and articles of mine.
7. You send me a sample of your writing
8. I read your stuff and send you my feedback & recommendations
9. You and I talk again to review my feedback and dig in deeper
10. We have one (or more) coaching calls to continue the process


1. Jump Start Ruby: $500 (four hours)
2. Jump Start Silver: $875 (seven hours)
3. Jump Start Gold: $1,500 (twelve hours)

AND A FOURTH OPTION: If you find value in my coaching and want to continue the process after our first 4-12 hours, we can extend our collaboration at whatever interval works for you ($110/hr.)


"I look forward to every call and meeting with Mitch. His warmth, humor, presence, and insights build my trust that I have something to say that matters. The quality of support, interest, and presence that Mitch brings to our work together boosts my enthusiasm and self-confidence in my writing. Mitch has helped me understand how to differentiate and integrate storytelling and message. Since we began working together, I feel more relaxed in my writing process and am experiencing renewed juicy writing flows. Mitch's coaching has also helped me have greater clarity about how to visualize and organize the book I am writing."

- Roberta Wall, author of the forthcoming, DANCING AT THE INTERSECTION

"What I like about my writing mentor, Mitch Ditkoff, is his way of triggering buried memories. It is true that I only meet Mitch through the Skype screen, but his warmth, smile, and concern for me travel miles in split seconds across the globe, warming up my heart and unwinding all of the locks to my inner being. He always begins with 'Tell me how Sadika is -- Sadika the human.' That simple question is enough to draw a smile on my face. How many people look you in the eye today and inquire about your well-being? Mitch is one of those rare persons who really cares. He is exactly what a mentor should be -- a human being who has shed all of the labels society, culture, and religion tags us with. I am so grateful to have Mitch as my mentor!"

-- Sadika Kebbi, author of the forthcoming BEING HUMAN

Want to schedule an initial, 20-minute call to see if this is a good fit?

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:56 AM | Comments (0)

The Magical Science of Storytelling

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:30 AM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2019
Solomon the Storyteller

caveman boardroom2.jpg

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:58 AM | Comments (0)

January 28, 2019
Storytelling is the Trojan Horse of Wisdom


Most people, sometime in their life, enter into a period of seeking. The language they use to describe their quest may be different, but the intention is the same -- to tap into a higher dimension of knowing and become self-realized. The specific form their seeking takes is quite variable. Some go on pilgrimages. Some retreat to caves or mountains. Others join ashrams, read holy books, meditate, practice yoga, or try to find a great teacher.

But no matter how you slice and dice it, the underlying assumption of all these seeking strategies is pretty much the same. "There is something I don't know. There is something I've not yet experienced. There is a deep wisdom I need to find." And so begins the hero's journey. Or the heroine's.

And while all this seeking sometimes leads to the kind of awakening the great sages have been talking about since the beginning of time, methinks there is a complementary, start-where-you are strategy that also needs to be considered -- not to replace the classic quest for Knowledge, but to help seekers understand that they already have, within them, much of the wisdom they are seeking. It's just hiding.

And where it's hiding is in story -- those magical, memorable, tell-able moments of truth that have already happened to us -- times when the light went on and we connected to a timeless knowing, even if the catalyst for that unforgettable experience seemed mundane.

Story, quite simply, is the trojan horse of wisdom, the shape our life lessons take, the container for all the clues we need to live a conscious life. But until and unless we open the "trap door" of this trojan horse, much of our potential remains unknown to us.

It's like the classic story of the poor farmer and his wife. Every day they worked the fields from dawn to dusk. Every night, for dinner, they ate boiled potato skins and shivered in the cold under the only threadbare blanket they could afford, Then, one day, the original owner of the house stopped by, escorted them into the kitchen, and lifted a loose floorboard to reveal a big bag of gold, which he then bestowed on them. For 50 years, the farmer and his wife had been walking above it, never more than a few inches away, living their lives in total poverty. But now... they were rich beyond belief.


If you like, think of your journey into the power of story as a lifting of the floorboards. What you will discover is the great treasure there and the undeniable fact that you have already learned much of what you need to know. Now all you need to do is reach in and grab your stories, explore the riches within them, and start sharing them with others. Not only will you benefit from the telling, but so will everyone else who is privileged to hear what you have to say.

It's a revolution of storytelling that's being launched, folks -- each of us coming out of the closet to share what we know and what we've learned along the way -- not to preach, impress, manipulate, educate, or bend others to our will, but to fan the flames of wisdom in a world that sorely needs it.

Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling at Work

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:30 AM | Comments (0)

January 26, 2019
STORY THE FUTURE: Online Workshops and Interviews on the Art of Storytelling


Click here to register for STORY THE FUTURE'S most recent online offering -- a great way to learn more about the art and science of storytelling. Includes a wide variety of sage input, methods, techniques, and conversation from some wonderful thought leaders, change agents, and on-the-ground practitioners in the storytelling space.

My most recent contribution to the field

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:59 AM | Comments (0)

January 24, 2019
The Man from Croatia

Writing with red pencil.jpg

It was a bone cold night in January, four hours after my wife and kids had gone to bed, and I was sitting alone in my man cave, with nothing but a laptop, i-phone, and the painful recognition that even though I had written five books, created a successful company, and had supported my family for 15 years, I had yet to accomplish a single meaningful thing in my life.

This is a feeling many writers know all too well, the moon howling moment of dread when they recognize that their early promise of genius had either not yet born fruit or the fruit they did manage to pick was rotting in a bowl of an unhungry stranger many miles away -- the kind of feeling, I imagined, that was at least partially responsible for Vincent Van Gogh cutting off his ear, a man who had sold only a single painting his entire life, and to his brother, at that, a man he knew was buying mostly out of pity.

It was at precisely at this moment, too late to be early and too early to be late, that I just happened to glance down at my inbox and noticed an email coming in from someone I did not recognize, a man with very few vowels in his last name.

Clearly, this communication wasn't from a friend of mine. No. This was something from a stranger -- a man, he explained, from Croatia, who had been reading my blog for the past five years and now that he had been diagnosed with a terminal disease and maybe had three or four months left to live, wanted me know that last night's posting had touched him deeply in a way that filled his whole being with gratitude. An oasis the writing was for him, he explained -- a place where he could rest and renew. He was writing to me at this late hour to thank me and request that, no matter what happened in my life, I continue making the effort to write... and that it mattered, at least to him.

I just sat there, stunned, my whole body shaking, tears of joy rolling down my cheeks.

Excerpted from Storytelling for the Revolution.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:54 AM | Comments (0)

Wisdom Circle Ground Rules

Circle Hands 2.jpg

A Wisdom Circle is an opportunity for a small group of people (6-12) to come together in a relaxed setting to share their life stories with each other -- memorable moments of truth that have, contained within them, a specific kind of message or meaning.

Simply put, all of us have wisdom inside us -- insights, awakenings, or "lessons learned" that we have experienced along the way. A Wisdom Circle is an opportunity to share this good stuff with others and then "unpack" the stories a bit. The message or meaning we have for each other is delivered via the telling of our stories -- not by teaching or preaching or advising. The storytelling does most of the work.

In order for a Wisdom Circle to be effective, the people participating in it need to be willing to abide by a few key ground rules. These "banks of the river" keep the energy flowing and increase the odds that everyone will enjoy the process and receive maximum value.

Here are the ground rules:

1. Keep your stories to five minutes or less.

2. When telling your story, remember you are telling a story about a specific "moment in time" (with a beginning, middle, and end). You are not telling the "story of your life" to a captive audience.

3. When someone, in the circle is telling their story, listen deeply and non-judgmentally. Be fully present!

4. When it's time to respond to someone's story, after they've finished telling it, either ask a question or reflect on how the message of the story applies to your own life. If you have nothing to say, that's fine.

5. No therapizing, fixing, or advising allowed.

6. Allow the facilitator to facilitate. In other words, if the facilitator asks you to wrap up your story (because you are exceeding your 5-minute limit) or if the facilitator intercedes for any reason, allow that to happen.

7. Honor confidentiality.

Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling at Work
The creator of Wisdom Circles

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:22 AM | Comments (0)

January 23, 2019
26 Quotes on Storytelling

26 inspiring quotes about the power of stories and storytelling.

Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling at Work

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)

January 14, 2019
Testimonial from the Executive Director of the San Miguel Writer's Conference & Literary Festival


This just in from Susan Page, Executive Director of the San Miguel Writer's Conference and Literary Festival in response to my storytelling presentation at the January 10th Literary Sala.

"Mitch Ditkoff is a wonderful ambassador of the power of storytelling to transmit wisdom and has the rare talent to keep an audience riveted. His message is inspiring and authoritative, and his presentation, entirely entertaining. For a keynote or workshop that will leave your audience smiling and diving deeper, long after the talk, and in love with the speaker, don't miss this seasoned, skilled presenter."

More about what I am up to these days
Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:34 PM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2018
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words (and makes a great gift)

Stories can be told in many ways. Most are told in words, but there are other stories, equally as powerful, if not more so, that are told with images -- like the fabulous art of Evelyne Pouget.


If you find yourself in San Miguel de Allende this holiday season, you are in luck. The artful Ms. Pouget is having a studio sale in her home: framed digital paintings, oil pastels, and oil paintings. Discounts of 40%. Price start from $30US. Lots of choices. Sets of four greeting cards are only 300 pesos.

December 11 - 13: 10:00 am - 12:00pm
December 14: 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Las Moras 61, Colonia Allende (between 5 de Mayo and Las Flores).

No worries if you are out of town. Evelyne can ship prints to you.







NOTE: All of the above images are from San Miguel de Allende -- the Concheros and the architecture. Wow.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:02 PM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2018
The Dark Side of Storytelling


All of us tell stories -- whether we speak them aloud or not. Our stories are our handy dandy way of interpreting reality. Often, however, the stories we tell are nothing more than ways to protect ourselves from reality -- our strategy to maintain our sense of self-worth even when "real life" has something else to say to us. In this spot on 11-minute TED talk, Suzanne Duncan, a thought leader in the investment management industry, elaborates on this phenomenon -- and it's downside for anyone in business.
Storytelling at Work
A Storytelling Workshop for People in Business

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:53 AM | Comments (0)

November 10, 2018
Ditch the Grammar and Start Teaching Storytelling Instead

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Great article from THE GUARDIAN on the need for schools to pay more attention to teaching storytelling to kids instead of so much focus on grammar. My experience, exactly! What's a few dangling participles between friends? Or, in the famous words of a grammar-poking Winston Churchill: "This is something up with which I will not put."

Chris Learns a Lesson (from Ms. Najma's second grade class)

Storytelling for the Revolution
The power of personal storytelling workshop

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:02 PM | Comments (0)

November 03, 2018
STORYTELLERS: Speak Your Truth!

Excerpted from this book

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:45 PM | Comments (0)

October 12, 2018
An Invitation to Forward Thinking Readers of This Blog

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GREETINGS! Mitch Ditkoff here, author of this blog. I have just launched a GoFundMe campaign to create the support I need to write, edit, publish, and promote my next book on storytelling, tentatively entitled Storytelling for the Revelation. Click this link for more info and a simple way to contribute. Every little bit helps. Thanks for considering this and for being a Storytelling at Work reader.
Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:35 AM | Comments (0)

August 30, 2018
The Shamanic Four Questions


Storytelling for the Revolution

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

August 29, 2018
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 10, 2018
Storytelling as a Way to Stop Bullying and Help Kids Feel Peace


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.



"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)

July 13, 2018
When Your Enemy Becomes Human

Inspiring story, well-told by a woman with a powerful message for us all.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:48 AM | Comments (0)

July 05, 2018
My New Book Now on Amazon!


I am thrilled to announce that my new book, Storytelling for the Revolution, is now available on Amazon. If you are a fan of storytelling, insight, wisdom, love, choice, humor, learning, breathing, the human condition, or this blog, there is a good chance you will enjoy my book. Right now, only the paperback version is available. In a few days, the Kindle version will also be available. Click below for testimonials...
Idea Champions
The book on Amazon

"Mitch Ditkoff knows that the real revolution comes from within and then extends outward to action. He writes with rare wisdom, depth, humor, and insight. Each story he shares has the capacity to inspire the rest of us to action that matters." -- Gail Larsen, Author Transformational Speaking: If You Want to Change the World, Tell a Better Story

"This is a powerful and important book. When we have the courage to tell our stories, we form a bond with each other that no one can defeat or overwhelm. Mitch Ditkoff makes an indisputable case for the essential role of storytelling to create change." -- Susan Page, Director, San Miguel Writers Conference and Literary Festival

"What I love about Storytelling for the Revolution is the compelling way it liberates humanity's biggest untapped resource -- our collective wisdom lurking just beneath the surface of our lives." -- Marshall Goldsmith, New York Times #1 best selling author of Triggers

"Mitch taps into the deep well of our collective wisdom and reclaims the collective narrative for the greater good. Storytelling for the Revolution is a rallying cry for people to recognize their deep meaningful connections with others and reminds us that we are not alone. It is a groundbreaking work in its simplicity and profundity. An important, seminal work for our age." -- Michael Frick, CEO,

"Mitch Ditkoff's stories are beautiful and a huge encouragement for the rest of us to share our own stories with each other. This is what's needed these days -- the authentic sharing of what we know to be true, based on our own life experiences and inner wisdom. Not fake news. Real news -- the news of the heart." -- Cassandra Wilson, Grammy Award Winning Jazz and Blues Singer

"Today, I read the first six of the 40 stories in Mitch Ditkoff's Storytelling for the Revolution. Immediately, I felt my heart replace my mind and called out to my new wife that we had something delightful to read together in bed tonight. Big thanks to Mitch for helping me shift gears in the 80th year of my life. Anyone who can quiet themselves enough to pay attention to their own inner wisdom will find great value in this groundbreaking book." -- Tim Gallwey, Author of Inner Game of Tennis and the Inner Game of Work

"Through Mitch Ditkoff's master storytelling we are welcomed under a big tent called humanity with stories that whisper truths, uniting and celebrating us all. His stories rumble deep from within, where cleverness meets humility and tragedy dances with angels. Mitch's stories inspire reflection while the field guide provides the step-by-step guidance needed for readers to mobilize the storyteller within and lead their own personal revolution." -- Doug Stuke, Director, Sales Excellence, The Hartford Insurance Group

"Mitch's stories have the power take us deeper into our own selves, encouraging us to pay closer attention to every aspect of our lives. Storytelling for the Revolution is an inspirational work to say the least. It is a book that has no timeline and will be here forever, changing lives, page by page." -- Sharon Jeffers, Author of Love and Destiny, Discover the Secret Language of Relationships

"Storytelling, like music, is a universal language that evokes shared emotions and connects us to each other. In Mitch Ditkoff's second book of stories, Storytelling for the Revolution, he deftly weaves tales that give vivid insight into our hearts and emotions, helping us interpret and understand our own lives in a very personal way. This book of stories, meditations of the human soul, will positively transform your life." -- Geri Presti, CEO and President, The Cleveland Music Settlement

"Stories are all about gathering personal and collective experience and knowledge. They gain meaning when the storyteller communicates with verve and creativity. In Storytelling for the Revolution, Mitch Ditkoff beautifully fulfills this promise and offers precise prompts for accessing the wisdom tucked inside the tale". -- David Gonzalez, Award winning storyteller, poet, and arts advocate

"I loved this book and will be sharing it with sacred activists around the world. I especially loved the way the author made the connection between revolution and revelation. Highly enjoyable." -- Kurt Krueger, President, Success Systems International

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:22 AM | Comments (0)

July 04, 2018
Telling Stories that Create Monumental Change


Here's a refreshing, 36-minute podcast/interview on the power of storytelling to spark big, positive changes. Especially relevant to business people engaged in Six Sigma or Lean Six Sigma projects. The interviewers are Elisabeth Swan and Tracey Roarke -- two movers and shakers in the world of LeanSixSigma.

Idea Champions
Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:06 AM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2018
Paul McCartney's Carpool Karaoke

Stories can be told in many ways. I love the way Paul McCartney tells the story of his past with visits to his old haunts, conversation, music, and performance. This is a pearl. And James Corden is masterful in the role he plays in all of this.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:55 AM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2018
We Are All Storytellers

Storytelling at Work
Creating the Innovation Mindset via Storytelling

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:34 AM | Comments (0)

June 01, 2018
The Three Daughters

Some stories deliver their message by what's NOT said...

Thanks to Ron Brent for the heads up
Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:57 AM | Comments (0)

May 28, 2018
NEW PODCAST: The Stories We Tell and Their Impact

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Click here for Mitch Ditkoff's 5/25 appearance on VoiceAmerica -- Wanda Wallace's Out of the Comfort Zone interview. All about the power of storytelling.

Storytelling at Work
Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:19 PM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2018
THE AUTHOR OF THIS BLOG, on Radio: Fri, May 25th, 2:00 pm ET


Idea Champions' co-Founder, Mitch Ditkoff, will be interviewed, live, on May 25th, 2:00 pm, EST on Wanda Wallace's VoiceAmerica radio show. Topic? The power of storytelling. Click here to tune in on May 25th. If you miss it, a podcast will be available.

Mitch Ditkoff
Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:44 PM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2018
One More Really Big Reason to Read Stories to Children

Excellent article from Psychology Today on why it's good to read stories to children.


Storytelling at Work
Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:37 AM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2018
How to Tell a Story

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New York Times on How to Tell a Story. Nice and simple. Three key points. Worth the read. But the real question is this -- regardless of how the New York Times makes its case. When are YOU going to start telling your stories? And I'm not talking about anecdotes, snippets, and drive-by blurting. I'm talking about real stories, from your own life, with a beginning, middle, and end, an obstacle, a resolution, lots of juicy details, and some memorable meaning. You have a ton of these stories inside you. I know you do. Now's the time to let them out of the cage of your memory and share them with the world -- or, if not "the world", then at least a friend, family member, co-worker, or neighbor.

Storytelling at Work
Storytelling for the Revolution
These two rabbis walk into a bar

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

April 21, 2018
Why Stories Matter

Two Electric Heads.jpg

Here's a super simple way to better understand why stories matter -- 15 brief videos on the topic from the mind and heart of Mitch Ditkoff.
Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:19 PM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2018
Why Leaders Should Tell Stories


Here's why. Insightful article from Forbes Magazine

Storytelling at Work
Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling and the Innovation Mindset

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:29 PM | Comments (0)

April 05, 2018
The Future of Storytelling Summit

FOST website

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:40 AM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2018
Demystifying Charisma

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February 07, 2018
Micro-Learning for Storytellers


Time-crunched as you are, I know you don't even have two-minutes to read this. So thanks for your 119 seconds.

I'm not going to sell you on the power of storytelling. You already know it's powerful. What you don't know is how to make it real in your organization. I know how to do that. That's what my Micro-Learning for Storytellers service is about. And all it takes is 15 minutes a week.

What you will get is 52 weeks of my content (i.e. videos, podcasts, stories, and articles) to distribute to your workforce one bite-sized piece of wisdom at a time. Mind openers. Thought starters. Tips. Tools. Techniques. Guidelines. And just enough inspiration for people to make the effort they need to become storytelling masters on the job. Or in the class. Or wherever.

WHO AM I?: Mitch Ditkoff, President of Idea Champions, author of the award-winning Storytelling at Work and the forthcoming Storytelling for the Revolution. My clients.

Intrigued? Email me today with the word STORYTELLING in the subject line: and I will get back to you with more details.

Micro-Learning for Innovators
Photo: Sidney Perry, Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:55 AM | Comments (0)

January 21, 2018
A Different Way to Close a Sale


Anyone who owns a business, whether they've been to business school or not, knows one thing: You need customers. No customers, no business. How you get customers, of course, is the question.

In my business, one of the main ways to get business is responding to RFPs -- requests for proposals. Here's how it works: a company hears about you, checks out your website, contacts you, schedules a call, tries to figure out if you're the real deal and, if you pass their sniff test, asks you to submit a proposal.

In the beginning of my career, I would get very excited whenever anyone asked me to submit an RFP. It meant I had a big one on the line, a horse in the race, my hat in the ring, or whatever other metaphor I could conjure up to reinforce my belief that I was actually going to make a living. Like a beanie wearing college freshman, I dove into the proposal writing process with great zeal.

In time, however, responding to RFPs made me cranky. I came to learn that only one in ten proposals would make the grade and that the other nine, which I had so diligently crafted, were merely my response to bogus fishing expeditions from the client. Either they had already decided on their vendor, were testing the waters, wanted to get free insights, or were merely on the hunt for the low cost provider.

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So when MTV Networks called, I was betwixt and between. Do I play the game and spend the better part of my day writing a proposal or do walk my talk and do something different?

Since I'd already done some work for MTV, I decided the time was right to experiment, so I asked myself a question: "How can I radically reduce the time it takes me to write a proposal that gets results?" The answer came quickly -- the TWO WORD proposal. In 200 point type, I wrote the words "TRUST US" with an asterisk after the "S" -- and, at the bottom of the page, in 8 point type, noted our fee. That was it. Two words and a bottom line.

On the day my proposal was due, I walked into the office of MTV's CFO, Jim Shaw. After the ritual chit chat and cup of coffee, he asked me if I had the proposal.

"Yes, I do, Jim. But first let me ask you a question. 'Do you get a lot of proposals?'"

He laughed, pointing to a huge stack on his desk.

"And do you like reading proposals?"

Jim looked at me as if I had asked him to stick forks in his eyes.

"Good!" I said. "Then there's a good chance you will love my proposal. But in order to give it to you, I need to get further away from you."

And with that warning, I began backing away across the room. When I got as far away as possible, I stopped and held my proposal in the air.

Even from across the room, Jim could read my two words: TRUST US! Smiling, he beckoned me forward, took the proposal from my hands, lowered his eyes to the bottom line, and extended his hand.

"You got a deal," he said.

Two words in big bold type and a bottom line. That's all it took. Two minutes. Not two hours.

FOR YOUR REFLECTION: "We have 60,000 thoughts per day," said Deepak Chopra. "Unfortunately, all of them are ones we had the day before." That's how most human beings roll. Creatures of habit, we find a groove and stay in it until it becomes a rut. Then it's so deep, we have a hard time getting out of it, so we decorate our walls with Dilbert cartoons and pictures of our last vacation.

Sometimes, we need to do something different. Will this "something different" work every time? No, it won't. But it will work sometimes. My two-word proposal was the perfect thing for MTV. It wouldn't have been the perfect thing for a new client or the IRS, but for MTV it got the job done.

NOW WHAT? Think of a proposal, pitch, or presentation you need to make in the next few weeks. On one side of a piece of paper, write down all the reasonable things you can do to get the gig. Then, on the flip side, write down all the unreasonable things -- new approaches, new ideas, and new ways to make your case. After you write your first wave of unreasonable approaches, write your second wave. Then pick one of them and go for it. Inspiration for you.

Excerpted from Storytelling at Work.
Idea Champions
Mitch Ditkoff

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:50 AM | Comments (0)

January 16, 2018
One Stop Shopping for Links on the Art & Science of Storytelling

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If you are interested in the power of storytelling to engage, inspire, and spark the transfer of insight, knowledge, and wisdom you have come to the right place. Below are links to a variety of recent articles of mine and other story-mavens who inspire me on this most important topic.

Awesome quotes on storytelling
Storytelling is the trojan horse of wisdom
How to use storytelling to foster employee engagement

How to spark massive employee engagement in 90 minutes or less
The irresistible power of storytelling as a strategic business tool
Harnessing the power of storytelling
Jean Houston on the urgent need for transformative storytelling
Why your brain likes a good story
What stories will you tell?
How to tell a good story
Why create a culture of storytelling?
Radio interview: Storytelling as a way to change a culture
New storytelling blog
Wisdom circles
My recently published book on storytelling
Why did I write my book on storytelling?

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:58 PM | Comments (0)

January 13, 2018
The Library Where You Borrow People (& their stories), Not Books!


How cool is this! A library where you don't borrow books, but people. Instead of reading a book about a topic you want to know more about, you actually "borrow" a person who has mastery on that topic and the two of you sit down and talk. They share their stories and knowledge. You listen and ask questions. Another great example of the power of personal storytelling. Brilliant!

Photo from Unplash (high quality, free photos)
Storytelling at Work

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:20 PM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2018
Storytelling at Work Podcast

13243667_1006058016179629_5443324524480421443_o.jpg Are you interested in the topic of storytelling -- especially storytelling in the workplace? Got 36 minutes? Breathing? Ever eaten a piece of cheese?

If so, this Innovation Engine podcast hosted by Will Sherlin and featuring yours truly (Mitch Ditkoff) will float your boat.

"The world is not made of atoms. It is made of stories." -- Muriel Rukeyser
Storytelling at Work
Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:42 AM | Comments (0)

December 27, 2017
What Story Are You Telling?


Illustration: gapingvoid

The stories I'm telling

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:28 PM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2017
She Cooked a Christmas Meal

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

December 10, 2017
How to Leverage the Power of Storytelling in 15 Minutes Per Week


Once upon a time there was a forward-thinking organization that understood what a powerful culture-building tool storytelling was. THEY GOT IT. But what they didn't get, was the fact that the effort to turn theory into practice was way easier than they imagined.

In honor of the fact that a goldfish's attention span (9 seconds) is one second longer than a human being's (8 seconds), Idea Champions is now offering a bold, new, online, micro-learning curriculum for time-crunched people for who want to leverage the power of storytelling in the workplace. Like YOU, for example.

Fifteen minutes a week is all is will take. Or, if you are caffeinated, ten.


1. You and I have a 15-minute phone conversation about WHY you want to bring more storytelling into the workplace.

2. Based on your needs, I create a customized Leveraging Storytelling in the Workplace curriculum for you -- a landing page of links to 52 engaging articles and videos of mine on the topic.


3. Each week, for the next year, you forward one link to your team (or whatever part of your workforce is participating in the program.)

4. Participants read/view the link in preparation for a weekly meeting that you or one of your surrogates facilitates. All you need to reserve on your agenda is 10 minutes for the storytelling topic. NOTE: This is micro-learning, not head-banging.

5. You (or your designated meeting moderator) facilitates the storytelling-topic-of-the week conversation. This deepens the learning, ensures accountability, quickens the sharing of best practices, sparks creative thinking, and establishes a robust, intrinsically motivated learning community.

OPTION #1: I send you a simple "Moderator's Guide" that includes powerful, conversation-starting questions for each of the 52 topics in the curriculum. Helps ensure that your weekly storytelling meetings are as effective as possible.

OPTION #2: I participate on your launch call to help you set the context, inspire participation, and answer any questions people might have about the value and purpose of the program.

FEE: $695 for an annual license.

WHO CREATED THIS PROGRAM? Mitch Ditkoff, Co-Founder of Idea Champions, Author of the award-winning Storytelling at Work and the forthcoming Storytelling for the Revolution. Creator of a wide variety of storytelling workshops, keynotes, and trainings. Innovation Blogger of the Year, two years running. And Master storyteller. His clients.

Interested? email Mitch today:

Why Create a Culture of Storytelling in the Workplace
The Power of Storytelling in the Workplace
Great Quotes on the Power of Story

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:14 AM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2017
The Power of Quitting

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:14 AM | Comments (0)

November 28, 2017
Why Storytelling Is Such a Powerful Way to Communicate


Here's a three-minute video of me talking about why storytelling is such an effective way of communicating a meaningful message.
My HuffPost articles on storytelling
Podcasts, interviews, and videos on storytelling

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:36 AM | Comments (0)

November 26, 2017
The Idiot Savant's Guide to Becoming a Better Storyteller


Click here to listen (and view) my November 22nd webinar on storytelling in the workplace. Entertaining, mind opening, and practical. Hosted by the good people at PatSnap.

If you are interested in learning why and how storytelling is the ideal way to increase employee engagement, build community, transmit tacit knowlege, and spark a mindset of innovation, this will be a very good use of 48 minutes.

"He that tells the stories, rules the world." (Hopi Indian saying)

Microlearning for aspiring innovators
More goodies on storytelling

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:58 PM | Comments (0)

November 17, 2017
Tuning Into the Ancient Story of Indigenous Wisdom


Here's a wonderfully, innovative project happening in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico -- a groundbreaking event being planned for the coming summer that celebrates the indigenous wisdom of the Americas. Click here for the just launched GoFundMe campaign by the Founder of the project, Evelyne Pouget. During the next nine months, the Heart of Innovation will post periodic updates about this most inspired event, including excerpts of interviews with tribal elders, Concheros dancers, project coordinators, and children.

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:28 PM | Comments (0)

November 16, 2017
The Most Powerful Person in the World is the Storyteller


"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." -- Steve Jobs

While this may seem just a bit exaggerated, there is something very TRUE about what Jobs was on to. The Hopi Indians said the same thing: "He who tells the stories rules the world."

This goes far beyond the Creation myth and "Once upon a time." This is about the way we perceive, conceive, and construct reality -- then share that construction with others in a way that is immediately grasped.

What is YOUR story these days? What story are YOU telling -- to yourself and to the world? We are, methinks, as a species, in the difficult time BETWEEN stories. The old story is dying and a new one is being born. Like any birth, the experience is both ecstatic and painful. Me? I am toggling back and forth between these two poles -- not the POLITICAL polls, but the far edges of the two narratives that rule my life.

Here's what I invite you to do in the next 24 hours. The next time someone approaches you with the DOOM and GLOOM story, after listening with compassion, see if there is ANOTHER story that will emerge from either of you -- a story of possibility... a story of awakening... a story of courage... or resilience... or breakthrough... or whatever you feel guided to say.

Stories are like water. We can drown in them or they can give us life. Choose life. Drink deep. And share your water with anyone you cross paths with who is even just a little bit thirsty.

Transformational stories from the world of work
Storytelling as a way to spark innovation
Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:01 PM | Comments (0)

November 10, 2017
Garrison Keillor on Storytelling


From the Maestro himself
A Prarie Home Companion

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:57 PM | Comments (0)

November 09, 2017
We Need New Fairy Stories and Folks Tales to Guide Us Out of Today's Dark Woods


Here is a wonderful piece, by Andrew Simms, from the Daily Guardian, about the need for a new wave of folk tales and fairy stories. The times sure are grim. Are you the next Grimm? Got a modern-day story to tell that speaks to the lessons we need to learn these days?

Here are some of mine
And the new collection to be published in June

Illustration from a Brothers Grimm Snow White fairy tale, circa 1900

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:06 PM | Comments (0)

November 03, 2017
The Yummy Relationship Between Storytelling & Lean Six Sigma


These two Lean Six Sigma practitioners walk into a bar. Wait... no... I mean three Lean Six Sigma practitioners walk into a bar. The first is wearing pink tights. The second is mumbling something about a fishbone diagram. The third is just back from a 10-day vacation in Croatia. Now that I have your attention, click here for a rousing 60-minute webinar on the relationship between storytelling, innovation, and Lean Six Sigma. The interviewer? The fabulous Elisabeth Swan, Managing Partner of GoLeanSixSigma. The interviewee? Mitch Ditkoff, President of Idea Champions and author of Storytelling at Work. Enjoy!

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October 20, 2017
16 Brief Videos on Storytelling


Click here 16 brief videos of Mitch Ditkoff talking about the power of storytelling (and sharing some of his own "moment of truth" stories in the workplace).

These brief videos are part of an exciting new presentation platform called "GlowDec".

PS: What story will YOU tell today -- a story that will inspire, spark reflection, or transmit insight or wisdom to another?

Idea Champions
Excerpted from this book
Podcasts, videos, and interviews

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September 28, 2017
Storytelling Is a Powerful Way to Transmit Tacit Knowlege

My book on storytelling

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VIDEO: The Power of Storytelling to Spark Innovation on the Job


Click here for a 33-minute interview of Mitch Ditkoff talking about the power of storytelling to ignite innovation, insight, and wisdom in the workplace. This link will expire on April 9th. Enjoy!
BOOK: Storytelling at Work

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July 12, 2017
Jean's Wine Cellar

wineJean (1).jpg

It all began in Paris. That's where Mr. Boulet, the wine merchant, would knock at the front door and sit with Evelyne's father, Jean, once a month and talk about all things oenophilic -- the uncorking, the flavor bouquet, and the best buys of the season being just a few of them. Mr. Boulet, a rather large man with shiny black shoes, would pass his knowledge on to Jean, one sip at a time, and then, just before dinner, with great respect and a joke or two, make his best attempt to sell, he too having a family to support. Evelyne, only seven at the time, watched from across the room, her mother in the kitchen or, if someone's button had fallen off that day, sewing nearby.

When Evelyne turned ten, her father, having just been promoted, moved the whole kit and kaboodle to Strassbourg, 397 kilometers away from Mr. Boulet, but fortunately, deep in the heart of Alsace, the region, some Alsacians like to say, that's the birthplace of France's finest wines. For the entire time Jean lived in Strassbourg, he never bought a single bottle from a store. Not once. He couldn't. He wouldn't. Only from a vineyard would he buy, needing to be close to the source.

Wine, always better than the weather in Alsace, was much more than a hobby for Jean. It was, a kind of layman's sacrament -- an alchemical blend with a nose, the fruit of God's green earth and his own unquenchable effort to master something wonderful in this world.

In 1965, Jean Charles Pouget built his first and only wine cellar. That's when he moved the family West to the village of Courcelles-Chaussy. Once a year, in August, he would drive the 14 hours to his mother's farm in Aveyron, his wife in the front seat, his daughters in the back, and there, on that farm, they would stay for 30 days and nights. Evelyne and Joelle lived in the attic with their three cousins, jumping from bed to bed and taking turns looking out the only window to the fields below. Sometimes they would see their grandmother twist a chicken's neck until it moved no more. Sometimes they would see her, barehanded, pull nettles from the ground.

At the end of the month, on his way back home, Jean would stop once or twice at selected vineyards and buy a case of the best wine he could afford. Later that night, he'd carry both his girls from the car to their beds, then the wine to the cellar. Bergarac was always positioned top left, Gaillac below it. Cotes du Rhone was in the middle, Bourgueil and Gris de Tohl always on the right, each shelf marked with a small paper label in his own script -- the only handwriting that remains of this man today.


Sometimes, Jean would invite Evelyne into the cellar to help him turn the bottles so no sediment would form. A few feet behind him was a hutch, it's hard-to-open drawers now filled with corks. On the highest shelf is a large jar of dried mushrooms, one Evelyne's mama can no longer remember. In the middle of the room sits an old tree stump -- the place where Jean sawed wood in winter to carry upstairs and feed the fire -- sitting as he did with Henriette, and sometimes, his daughters, sipping wine from that night's selection. You can still see the groove in the tree stump from all his many cuts.

More of my stories
Unspoken Word

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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

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May 24, 2017
The Wisdom Circles of San Miguel


Going to be in San Miguel de Allende this summer -- especially July 20th and August 15th? Good. Then come to either or both of my Wisdom Circles -- transformational storytelling for people who know that great wisdom abides in the heart and soul of everyone. Click here for the details.

My book on storytelling

My website
Unspoken Word

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May 18, 2017
The Power of Story

A lot of insight, wisdom, and thoughtfulness in this presentation. A good primer for anyone wanting to use storytelling wisely in their company (or in the company of others).
Silver Medal Winner: Axiom Business Books Awards
Idea Champions

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April 27, 2017
The Storytelling Animal

Storytelling at Work

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April 20, 2017
Leadership Storytelling

Steve Denning, formerly of the World Bank, makes a compelling case for why storytelling is such a powerful communication tool in business.

Using storytelling in conferences
Sparking innovation with storytelling
Fostering employee engagement with storytelling

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

April 19, 2017
The Power of Personal Storytelling in the Workplace

MD back cover.JPG

Want to get a good sense of who I am and what my storytelling work is all about? Click here for 13 brief videos (less than 4 minutes each) of me waxing on about the topic. Half of the videos are me telling on-the-job "moment of truth" stories. The other half is all about the art and science of storytelling. How it works. Why it works.

My book
My storytelling workshop
Why Create a Culture of Storytelling?

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April 18, 2017
The Best Opening to a TED Talk

OK. Andrew Stanton takes the cake for the quickest, boldest, most memorable opening to a TED talk I've ever heard. A play within a play, insofar as uses the shortest form of story -- the joke -- to kick start his 19-minute talk. PS: If you don't like "X-rated" jokes, you may want to skip this one.
My book on storytelling (with nary a goat joke)
How to use storytelling to spark innovation

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April 16, 2017
DON DAVIS: Storyteller Supreme

Storytelling at Work

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April 03, 2017
The Art of Storytelling According to the Founders of StoryCorps and the Humans of New York


A three-minute read
Storytelling at Work
Creating the Innovation Mindset (workshop)

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April 01, 2017
Story as a Leadership Tool

Here's a lovely animated intro to why STORYTELLING is such a powerful communication and business tool -- by the author of Circle of the 9 Muses.

Storytelling at Work
More useful links about storytelling
And more

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March 29, 2017
Share Your REAL Best Practices
Storytelling at Work

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March 28, 2017
The Fine Wine of Storytelling


I have always been a big believer in serendipity -- that magical moment when something "out of the blue" shows up in our lives to amaze and delight us -- an occurrence beyond logic. Well... here is one of them. Last week, I facilitated a three-day conference for Nations Roof, a great organization highly committed to becoming the "Mercedes of Customer of Service" in their industry. A key element of the conference was storytelling -- not just my stories, but the stories of nine of their key movers and shakers -- memorable "moments of truth" on-the-job that revealed big insights, wisdom, and best practices worth sharing.

A few minutes ago, Larry Morgan, Nation's Roof highly committed (and very entertaining) Director of Sales, sent me the above photo. As Larry tells it, a couple of days after the conference, Larry and his wife went to a wine event and there, on the first Pinot table, stood this bottle of wine. Front and center! Ta da! Makes for a good story, no? And one more reminder of how storytelling is everywhere.

Thanks, Larry, for being alert to the clues and taking the time to share this delightful reminder with me.

We Are All Storytellers
Storytelling as a Way to Transmit Tacit Knowledge
13 super short videos of mine on the topic
My award-winning book on storytelling

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March 24, 2017
The Power of Storytelling to Deliver Meaningful, Memorable Messages in the Workplace


Mitch Ditkoff on storytelling in the workplace

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March 07, 2017
Tell Your Stories


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March 03, 2017
What Kind of Stories Would People Tell in THIS Universe?

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October 15, 2016
STORYTELLING AT WORK goes to college (and it never took an SAT!)

SAW cover2.jpg

Good news! My award-winning book, Storytelling at Work, is going to be used, in the Spring, as a textbook for a very innovative Business Communications course at The Sage Colleges in upstate New York.

The idea for this was the brainstorm of Dr. Haidy Brown, who was looking for a different way to introduce her students to the power of personal storytelling. I think Dr. Brown is a genius! The two of us will be meeting, in December, to explore various ways she can use my book as a catalyst for breakthrough in the lives of college students.

If YOU are affiliated with a college and want to explore the possibilities with us, contact me: I have a dream -- that Storytelling at Work will be the "go to" textbook for business communication courses all over the world within the next two years.

My story-centric podcasts, interviews, and articles

My storytelling blog

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:26 AM | Comments (0)

May 12, 2016


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.


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.


-- 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

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March 29, 2016
COMING SOON! The Woodstock Story Festival: April 30 & May 1


Q. What do Alice B. Toklas, Willie Nelson, and the Woodstock Story Festival have in common?

A. They were all born on April 30th.

Alice was born in 1877. Willie was born in 1933. And the Woodstock Storytelling Festival was born in 2016 -- or should I say will be born in 2016 -- just 33 days from now. It's long awaited birth (April 30th and May 1st) will take place at the Mountainview Studio and you are invited to attend.

No need to bring a gift -- just yourself and your appreciation for the power of story to transform lives.

Billed as a "celebration of story in The Arts, Education, Therapy, Business, Mythology and Medicine", the festival promises to be an extraordinary gathering -- an inspired weekend of storytelling, musical performances, community building, fun, and reflection on our planet's most ancient form of communication.

Presenters come from a wide range of disciplines and include Peter Blum, Goia Timpanelli, Elizabeth Cunningham, David Gonzalez, Mitch Ditkoff, Doug Grunther, Barbara Mainguy, Paul McMahon, Lewis Mehl-Madrona, Richard Schwab, and Shelley Stockwell-Nicholas.

Tickets? $150 for both days or $95 for either Saturday or Sunday. Due to the cozy size of the venue, advanced ticket purchase is encouraged.

Wizard Storyteller copy.jpg

Woodstock Story Festival website

WSF Facebook page

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:35 PM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2016
A Bag of Small Red Berries

SMA abuela.jpg

Today, I was sitting in Mesa Grande, the cafe I most love to frequent in San Miguel, when I noticed an old, weathered woman entering the place. Dark skinned, wrinkled, and small, she was moving very slowly across the room, more like shuffling than walking, stopping at each table and attempting to sell whatever it was she was carrying in her gnarled left hand.

Averting my eyes, I felt myself withdrawing, not wanting to encounter yet another beggar of the day needing something else to survive, but she kept coming, pausing now and then to rest.

When she finally made it to my table, all she did was stand. That's it. Stand. She said nothing. She did nothing. She just stood there, holding, in her hand, what appeared to be a bag of small red berries. I continued pretending to be busy, looking down, not wanting to be yet another refusal she would get that day, hoping she would leave, but she did not -- now the still, sudden tribal center of the room.

Unable to ignore her presence any longer, I slowly raised my head, then looked into her eyes. She held my gaze. Like a flower. Like the way a baby, without guile, looks at a stranger. Gently, she shook her bag of berries, explaining without a single word that she was NOT a beggar, simply a seller of small red berries on a Tuesday afternoon. In the distance, I heard the familiar whooshing sound of a cappuccino machine.

"Cuanto?" I asked, holding her gaze.

"Veinte," she replied.

"Veinte?" I asked again, wanting to stay with her for as long as my Spanish would allow.

"Si", she said, "veinte."

"Bueno," I replied, pulling a 20 peso note from my pocket and placing it in her small brown hand. Smiling ever so slightly, she handed me the bag of berries, paused, bowed, and continued on her way.

I checked my email. I made a list. I ate a piece of fruit. Ten minutes later, Carlos, the waiter, walked over to me, saw the bag of berries by the sugar bowl and asked if he could have one.

"Si Carlos", I said, opening the bag so he could choose his favorite.

An hour later, when it was time to pay the bill and figure out the tip, I handed Carlos the bag and asked him to share the contents with his esposa and hijo when he got home that night. A few people came and went. Someone ordered a croissant. But Carlos and I just stood there, grinning, unmoving, a bag of small red berries now the center of our world.

Photo: Jesse Ditkoff

More stories from the author of this blog
Storytelling links for you

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January 12, 2016
Storytelling Shapes Culture and Humanizes the Workplace


More goes on in the modern-day workplace than meets the eye. Indeed, it's often the stuff that meets the ear that makes all the difference. Click here to listen to Mitch Ditkoff's 60-minute VoiceAmerica interview on the power of personal storytelling in the workplace.

THE BOOK: Storytelling at Work
THE KEYNOTE: Storytelling at Work
THE BLOG: Storytelling at Work

Photo by Jesse Ditkoff

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December 14, 2015
David Gonzalez on the Four Main Elements of Storytelling

Big thanks to Peter Blum, Founder of the forthcoming Woodstock Festival of Storytelling, for the heads up.

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:35 PM | Comments (0)


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:
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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