Friday, May 16, 2008

Puttin' on the Ritz

Last night was the first story telling night in Flemington, and it was a great deal of fun. Great stories, great people.

In a way, creating Louder Than Words has been not unlike putting together a Frankenstein's monster, with a little piece here and a little piece there. Click the picture, and enjoy.

All the stories were so different from each other. People from such different walks of life. Put them all together, and boom!

So, the next one will be June 12th.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Thoughts about Story Telling

As I have become more and more transformed by the stories of story telling, I was compelled to Google search, and found the following quotes about story telling on the website: under "story wisdom". Enjoy.

  • Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.
    – Hannah Arendt, German Political Theorist
  • Without the story – in which everyone living, unborn and dead, participates – we are no more than bits of paper blown on the cold wind.
    – George Mackay Brown

  • Storytelling is an interaction between teller and listener. It ultimately becomes a mutual creation.
    – Dr. Rebecca Isbell

  • We tell ourselves into being, don’t we? ... I think that is one of the great reasons for stories. I mean, we are the storytelling animal, there is no other creature on earth that tells itself stories in order to understand who it is. This is what we do, we’ve always done it, whether they are religious stories or personal stories, or tall stories, or lies, or useful stories, we live by telling each other and telling ourselves the stories of ourselves.
    – Salman Rushdie in an interview with him in The Spectator

  • Alongside the seemingly innate human drive to converse, probably one of the most powerful human linguistic compulsions is storytelling, the art of congealing the runny dialogue of real-time conversations into a cultural artefact. Stories then have the added benefit of being able to be packaged up, sent out, unwrapped and explored by whosoever sees fit in whatever way they deem appropriate.
    – Scott 'Scotland' Drummond, editor of Marketing magazine
  • ... Stories are what people are interested in. From novels to biographies to tabloids, and from comic books to television shows to movies, we understand stories. They are the stuff of real life - and the stuff of fantasy. They engage us. They connect with us, with our hearts, with our minds. They illustrate truth, tragedy, the way things should be, the way things really are, and on and on.
    – "Guest Author," Impact, a blog for Southern Baptists

  • The spirit that motivates great storytellers is "I want you to feel what I feel," and effective narrative is designed to make this happen. ...the challenge for the business storyteller [is that] he [sic] must enter the hearts of his listeners, where the emotions live, even as the information he seeks to convey rents space in their brains. Our minds are relatively open, but we guard our hearts with zeal, knowing their power to move us. So although the mind may be part of your target, the heart is the bull's eye. To reach it, the visionary manager must first display his own open heart.
    – Peter Guber, Harvard Business Review

  • Throughout human history, stories have been used to pass on the wisdom and values of society as well as to nourish and strengthen the minds and spirits of those listening.
    – John Porcino, “Stories, the Teaching Tool.” Spinning Tales Weaving Hope; Stories of Peace, Justice and the Environment. Brody New Society Publishers, Philadelphia PA. 1992. 11- 21

  • Stories have to be told, to be expressed, for they are part of the narrative quality of existence that can be shared and that therefore compensate for all that cannot be shared. ... When we tell our tales, we give away our souls (p.940). ... We are our stories. We become our stories. (p.115).
    – W. Doty, “Stories of our times” Ed. J. W. Wiggins. Religion as Story. New York: Harper and Row. 1975.

  • In recent years, social scientists have come to appreciate what political, religious, and military figures have long known; that stories (narratives, myths, or fables) constitute a uniquely powerful currency in human relationships. . . . And I suggest, further, that it is stories . . . of identity — narratives that help individuals think about and feel who they are, where they come from, and where they are headed — that constitute the single most powerful weapon in the leader’s . . . arsenal.
    – Howard Gardner, Leading Minds, An Anatomy of Leadership, Basic Books. New York. 1995.
  • ... stories are not reducible to mathematics, so they are unlikely to impress our peers... facts are mute. They generate neither the desire to understand, nor appeals for the patronage that science requires, nor the judgment to do A instead of B, nor the will to overcome a seemingly insuperable failure. Actions, small or large, are taken at a certain time by human beings—who are living out a story.
    – Roald Hoffman, “Storied Theory - Science and stories are not only compatible, they’re inseparable, as shown by Einstein’s classic 1905 paper on the photoelectric effect” American Scientist, Volume: 93 Number: 4 Page: 308)
  • Stories (and even individual parts of stories) have a resonant, alchemical relationship with the way we experience life.
    – Tom Atlee
  • Narrative in any form helps to connect us with our own and others' humanity. To tell a story is to be human, in some sense, for we are storytelling animals. Story is the way we define ourselves, make sense of the world, learn about ourselves, share our experiences, and form group identities.
    – Victor Sierpina, Mary Jo Kreitzer, Elizabeth MacKenzie, and Michelle Sierpina in "Regaining Our Humanity Through Story," Explore, Nov/Dec 2007
  • Storytelling ... is one of the most powerful tools for achieving astonishing results. For the leader, storyelling is action oriented – a force for turning dreams into goals and then into results.
    – Peter Guber in Harvard Business Review
  • Storytelling is an amazing tool because it is holistic, engaging the whole person. It makes it possible for people to bring all their resources, head and heart, to bear on creating new solutions.
    – Seth Kahan, in an article by Sue Dancy
  • Words are how we think; stories are how we link."
    – Christina Baldwin

  • Decision-makers look for the most compelling story from their persona library of possible solutions, comparing each to the current solution.
    – Gary Klein, Sources of Power
  • Leaders achieve effectiveness largely through the stories they relate ... Stories must in some way help audience members to think through who they are ... and frame future options.
    – Howard Gardner, Leading Minds

  • The biggest stories anyone has ever told are all held in people’s live.
    – Prof Hamish Fyfe, University of Glamorgan
  • There are more truths in twenty-four hours of a person’s life than in all the philosophies.
    – Raoul Vaneigem in The Revolution of Everyday Life
  • It seems to me that every community has a memory of itself. Not a history, or an archive or an authoritative record…a living memory, an awareness of a collective identity which is woven from a thousand stories. The sum of these stories creates a meta-narrative that is far greater than the sum of its constituent parts.
    – Prof Hamish Fyfe, University of Glamorgan
  • A leader's job is to create stories that are worth believing."
  • – Austin Hill of Billions with Zero Knowledge
  • "Storytelling is the art of expressing meaningful change in the life situation of a character in terms of values to which the listener reacts with emotion." – Robert McKee, screenwriter and instructor of screenwriting seminars
  • "We are all storytellers, homo narrans, by birthright. Stories are the most powerful tool we have for communicating because they engage our imagination. Homo narrans learn by telling and hearing stories, relating our experiences, and transferring messages created in our imagination. ... Storytelling persuades when the listener can place himself inside the story with ease, listen deductively, absorb a story that explains the conflict early on, articulate the story in his own terms, and filter the evidence selectively to be consistent with his personal story, world experience and understanding of the world order. ... Moreover, we believe what we understand. We understand what comes to us in a story that mimics our life experiences, our world views. Storytelling is such a natural, instinctual process that we sometimes are hard-pressed to fully comprehend its uses or more importantly, to explain its effects.... Listeners journey – virtually – with you into a different world, an imagined reality, another mental location where the story actually exists while never having left their physical state. The process of transition from physical world to virtual world is active with the listener energetically conniving and conspiring with the attorney all the time to actually will the virtual world into existence. Why? Because the factfinder wants to believe the story and that they can do something which matters. Facts do not engage. Facts cannot engage. ... Storytelling thrives on imagination. Images touch the heart and become sensations, sensations trigger memories, memories create meaning, and meaning leads to listener action. – Diane F. Wyzga, RN, JD, in an interview conducted by Stephanie West Allen
  • “We are made of stories. Stories contain power. People don’t just tell stories. Stories tell us who we are and how to live.” – James Ball, formerly with Fox TV and ABC and now with smartMemes
  • "Unsung, the noblest deed will die." – Pindar, 500 BC
  • "“Storytellers help us process our lives.” – Abbott Joseph
  • "Stories are a powerful medium for creating and making meaning. Because leadership means, in part, making sense of the variety of often complex and ambiguous experiences, stories can help us. Stories communicate deeply held individual and organizational values. Listening to the stories.. is like reading the maps that guide our thoughts and behaviors. Stories reinforce culture. One important task is telling stories about our history. We learn from the mistakes of the past and better understand the present and where we want to go in the future. Stories promote the weaving together of leadership, spirit, and community, generating new energy and vitality." – Russ S Moxley
  • "Looking at humans from an evolutionary psychology viewpoint may explain why telling and recording stories is becoming an important part of formal knowledge management and learning strategies within many organizations. Telling and listening to stories has been at the very core of human communication since the dawn of time. As technology has advanced, our stories are now more likely to come from books, television, film, and the Internet, rather than from fellow tribe members seated around a campfire. But, stories still remain central to human life."

    – Richard Nantel

  • "The lessons we take from the stories become part of us."

    – Sandra J. Sucher

  • “Storytellers will be the most valued workers in the 21st century. All professionals, including advertisers, teachers, entrepreneurs, politicians, athletes and religious leaders, will be valued for their ability to create stories that will captivate their audiences."

    – Futurist Rolf Jensen, Director of the Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies

  • "Without air, our cells die. Without stories, ourselves die. ... Because a story evokes both visual image and emotion, it is likely to be remembered."

    – Sandra Morgan and Robert Dennehy

  • "We are always telling stories; our lives are surrounded by our own stories and those of other people. We see everything that happens to us in terms of these stories, as we sometimes try to lead our lives as if we were recounting them."

    – Jean Paul Sartre

  • For a huge collection of story quotes, see this article on
  • "Stories are a natural stimulant. They are the antidote to boredom and indifference." – Lori Silverman, author of Wake Me When the Data Is Over
  • "Stories are best shared, don't you think?" – Dandelife Web site
  • "We create meaning by telling ourselves stories. Storytelling is the DNA of all communication and meaning." – Annette Simmons quoted on One Thousand and One Web site
  • "If your goal is to educate, persuade, or simply connect in a meaningful way with a particular audience, storytelling is the single most powerful communications tool available to you." – a goodman Web site
  • "Our Selves are nothing but cross-sections of stories. Our identities are created by a vast web of stories, as is out relationship with reality. We understand and identify things by placing them in stories we tell about them: just like selves, things do not really exist outside of stories." – Stefan Snaevarr in Philosophy Now magazine
  • "What do people get from ... stories? Some pick up bits of wisdom they can apply to their own work—do’s and don’t’s of planning and design, maybe a technical insight that helps solve a problem. Some are inspired by stories of success. Most gain a greater sense of connection with the organization, because they hear about what colleagues have been doing, because the stories express values and aims that tellers and listeners share, and because they are participating in a communal experience. I believe building trust and relationships is a more important effect of organizational storytelling than knowledge transfer." – Don Cohen on
  • "Telling our story, and sharing the meaning we find in our life, also helps to connect more to the human community. By sharing our story, we find that we have a lot more in common with others than we might have thought. This sharing of stories creates a bond between people who may not even have known each other before. After sharing, or listening to, a life story, a connection is established that remains even if we don’t see the other person again. ... We discover in the process of telling our life stories that we are more sacred beings than we are human beings. A life story is really a story of the soul of a person." – Robert Atkinson in The Gift of Stories: Practical and Spiritual Applications of Autobiography, Life Stories, and Personal Mythmaking

Monday, April 21, 2008

Call for Story Tellers

I wish to take this opportunity to thank Sherry Weaver and for helping me promote Louder Than Words Stories. I have received many emails from interested story tellers from around New York City.

Also, I saw Mike Daisey's show, How Theater Failed America, at Joe's Pub. I reccomend seeing it if you can. Also, I took Mike's Story Telling Intensive workshop, and the only thing I can say is---they say, "Those who can't do, teach."

This guy does both extremely well.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Welcome to Louder Than Words Stories

I have been doing stand-up comedy for about 20 years, give or take a month or two. Or three. My first time on stage was in 1979; next time was 1983. Back then every comedian was new, different, unique. Late night at the Improv, Catch, The Comic Strip was virtually a "who's who" of comedy. And the occasional "who the hell was that?" thrown in.

Then came TV. Big time. A young wannabe comedian in Kentucky or Ohio or Arizona could watch TV, and get the picture "Hey, that's what is funny!". He/she could repeat what they heard on TV, and voila, a new "comedian" was born.

Comedy began to die under the weight of its own success---or at least the art of comedy did. Comedians began to look like every other comedian. The zenith of comedy on TV was "Last Comic Standing", the Survivor/Big Brother of comedy biz.

I think that Jay Mohr developed the concept almost as a joke within a joke, but either way, "Last Comic Standing" is stand-up comedy's Jump The Shark moment. When the entertainment came in the form of who could be voted off comedy island and not the comedy itself, whoosh went the weasel.

So, I discovered story-telling. Real stories by real people. A new creative muscle was being exercised. And I am endeavoring to bring this entertaining art form to New Jersey. Blog away.