All Conferences Should be Storied

I’m a little surprised not to have known about Business Innovation Factory’s Collaborative Innovation Summit before this year, given that the fifth one is happening Oct. 7-8.

BIF5.jpg For this is a conference not of speakers, but of stories, as Saul Kaplan describes it:

No PowerPoint presentations, no matrix, just stories. One glorious story after another in no particular order, from storytellers (not speakers) sharing personal and raw insights about what innovation means to them. After about four to five stories back to back with no boring Q&A to break the rhythm we take a long break where all of the storytellers and participants can interact, connect, and share their own innovation stories and experiences. No breakouts, flip charts, or prescriptive assignments.

Naturally there’s a story behind how this storied conference came about:

I will never forget meeting with my friend and mentor Richard Saul Wurman (RSW) to get his advice prior to our first summit five years ago. As an innovation junkie it doesn’t get any better than having RSW as a mentor. … I went to the meeting prepared with an approach that I had worked on for weeks. As an MBA, of course I had a matrix, with speakers organized by theme. RSW heard me out and could only shake his head saying, Saul you have a lot to learn about how to create an emotional connection with an audience. He patiently told me to throw away the matrix. He said it was as simple as inviting people to a dinner party. Ask speakers that you want to have dinner with to share a personal story that you are selfishly interested in and invite others to listen in. RSW has been a storyteller at every summit we have hosted.

As blogger Denise Graveline points out, the well-known TED (technology, entertainment, design) conference also emphasizes storytelling. It’s not surprising that TED’s founder was Richard Saul Wurman.

Wouldn’t it be great if all conferences were storied and all presenters storytellers?

A Storied Career

A Storied Career explores intersections/synthesis among various forms of
Applied Storytelling:
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  • organizational storytelling
  • storytelling for identity construction
  • storytelling in social media
  • storytelling for job search and career advancement.
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A Storied Career's scope is intended to appeal to folks fascinated by all sorts of traditional and postmodern uses of storytelling. Read more ...
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Dr. Kathy Hansen

Kathy Hansen, PhD, is a leading proponent of deploying storytelling for career advancement. She is an author and instructor, in addition to being a career guru. More...


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The following are sections of A Storied Career where I maintain regularly updated running lists of various items of interest to followers of storytelling:


Links below are to Q&A interviews with story practitioners.

The pages below relate to learning from my PhD program focusing on a specific storytelling seminar in 2005. These are not updated but still may be of interest:

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