Category: Living

Elements of Storytelling

Last week we explored what it takes for a story to exist: an audience, a storyteller, and a journey to share. Now, let’s delve into the elements of story with organizations who bring Storytelling to life through their work. While we already know that it takes a beginning, middle, and end to craft the arc of a story, it can be more difficult to understand how to craft a health care Experience story, how to record that story, and then, how to disseminate it (it is called Storytelling after all). Where do we even begin this practice in our organizations?

This week, we’re featuring three different methods of bringing Storytelling to life. Envision what these Storytelling methods could look like in practice within your teams, and remember, while each day we are working tirelessly to change health care, we are also creating the stories to share with our team members, providers, patients, and guests.

Humanity’s Story


We love the folks at StoryCorps who are on a mission to “preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.” They work tirelessly to record the stories of ordinary people and share them in a way that properly celebrates the beauty of humanity in all of its challenges and triumphs. Initially StoryCorps was known for their  mobile tour —taking their iconic recording studio on the road to cities around the country to ensure they’re hearing stories in their most raw form: straight from the storytellers’ mouths. Next they added the StoryCorps app — putting the power of story gathering and storytelling into our hands. And now, during this time of Pandemic they’ve added a virtual tour to their suite of story collection methods. Partnering with various artists, StoryCorps selects particularly poignant stories to be illustrated and shared on YouTube and other social media platforms to appeal to visually driven audiences. Be sure to sign up for their podcast to hear a new story each week.

The Camera is the New Keyboard

The way we share our lives is changing. Open Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram—and TikTok and we’re greeted with the “stories” of everyone we follow: brief flashes of photos or videos from the user’s past 24 hours. Words are being replaced by images that tell a vivid story. The goal is to make our social media profiles as much like real life as possible–quick visual glimpses into the normal day-to-day. Spurred by Snapchat, the other social media platforms quickly realized that technology needed to shift as we share more and more of our lives. Stories are now widespread across most popular social media platforms, and although it was originally a Snapchat concept, the other platforms quickly realized that it’s better to be a copycat than to be a has-been. Plus these photo and video story platforms also make it easy to document the and share the story as it unfolds.

The Original Method

When stories were first told, they were not read or recorded – they were simply spoken aloud. The Moth, a non-profit organization founded in New York City, aims to keep the beautiful art and craft of Storytelling alive by organizing live audience events and now even some virtual StorySLAMS across the country.

After organizing many of these events and hearing a lot of stories, the team at The Moth soon learned more about what it takes to tell a truly great story. Exemplifying many of their tips is Kevin McGeehan, party planner extraordinaire (listen to his story to learn just how great of a party this was). In order for a story to be authentic and best understood, it should be told from the heart—not read from a page—it should hold some high stakes, and you must stick the landing (the end of a story can make it or break it). Be sure to check out the Moth’s newly transformed Story stages. 

Intro to Storytelling

Welcome to a month focused on the principle of Storytelling. Since the beginning of time, humans have used Storytelling and narrative to record the past, define the present, and dream of the future. Storytelling is the thread that binds us together and helps create shared Experiences.

Over the next five weeks, we’ll be exploring the stories we tell within our organizations, both internally and externally. Organizational narrative is defined not just by the people within it, but by the culture they create and the stories they weave and share. A single story has the power to change the conversation, change actions, and change outcomes.

This month will help us understand why Storytelling matters, where story appears in the health care Experience, and how to integrate the ancient practice of Storytelling into our organizations and our lives.

Remembering There’s a Story in Every Face

Resident physician at New York Presbyterian Hospital and contributor at The New York Times, Dr. Dhruv Khullar, is quick to admit that while he’s a successful clinician, he was not always great at seeing patients as people and listening fully to their stories…and he sees that as an enormous problem. It took an eye-opening Experience with a dying patient to remind him that it was the patient’s story that mattered—not the last time he’d had a bowel movement. As treatments and technology continually improve, we are slowly losing sight of the empathy, understanding, and ability to see patients as people.

For Dr. Khullar, one can only get better at practicing medicinediagnosing and treating the ill and helping the well thriveby understanding that the way to best serve patients is to “see not only who they are, but also who they were, and, ultimately, who they hope to become even at the end of life.”

Invite team members to learn the story of someone they interact with in a clinical, administrative, or support position. Have team members share the stories that remind us of why we are grateful to do the work that we do.

The Story Economy

Much like economics, story matters on both the micro and macro scale. The first part of micro Storytelling, both for the listener and the teller, is being empathetic. We have to know our audience—their needs, what they’re trying to achieve, and what they care about—in order to shape a story that matters. It’s about connecting and understanding at an intimate level. Once we understand all of these things, we can craft a story that serves as a bridge for connecting with others. The good news is that we can cultivate empathy within ourselves to help us better shape these stories.

As we expand story from the micro to the macro level, we can see that the future of our economy across all industries depends on Storytelling. The economy is seeing an increase in narratives and more and more brands are utilizing the power of a good story. Think of the difference between a mass-produced chocolate bar and one crafted by hand. People may no longer become loyal customers because they’re satisfied with a particular good or a service, but because the Experience evokes a feeling within them based on the story in their life, whether past, present, or future.

Think of a service or good you have recently purchased or invested in because of the feeling it gave you rather than the need it fulfilled?

Tesla: When the Story is the Company

When Tesla set out to change the automotive industry as we know it, they didn’t do it with a car. They did it with a Story. And that Story has evolved. What began as an all-electric, environmentally friendly, future without fossil fuels is now a promise of safety with autonomous driving technology and more accessible pricing. The very future of the definition of a car is being reimagined as a beautiful story of what is yet to come. Tesla’s market value shockingly surpassed Ford’s, not because of what they’ve already proven, yet because their stories are simply too good not to be true. Who wouldn’t want to invest in the future of clean energy, safety, ride sharing, and the future of transportation for the good of our planet?

*As we set our sights on creating a bright future for health care, what do we want that Story to be? How might we invite others to be active contributors to that Story?

Bringing Life to the Industry

Memorable Experiences don’t just happen by chance, they happen by choice. In Staging our environments and Experiences, we have the potential to elevate the meaning of each performance. This week, we explore ways that leaders from across various industries are taking inspiration from our intrinsic human needs to help them Stage purposeful and meaningful spaces and Experiences. Take note in how they use props and how they bring forth their authentic selves to truly LEAD.

Stage to Farm to Table

In an effort to win over the millennial audience from low-cost fast food restaurants, like Chipotle, Kimbal Musk, the younger brother of Elon Musk, changed the game with a radically different affordable and nutritious option. His farm-to-table food concepts called Next Door American Eatery and The Kitchen are in 16 locations with plans to expand. In each, he has partnered directly with farmers in the area with a menu that will highlight what’s easy for local farmers to grow (and sell). These principles are trending across fine-dining establishments, but here’s where Musk differs: his average entree is priced at or below $10. He is also Staging the ideal environment for millennials to hang out (safely during the COVID-19 pandemic) including full table service, happy hour, patio spaces, and weekly events.

To drive appreciative younger consumers into his spaces, Musk started Square Roots, an urban farming incubator program that installed “Learning Gardens” in over 300 schools across the country. The students who benefit from Square Roots are sure to be loyal consumers of Next Door in the future. “Next Door is about human trust — Where does the food come from? Is the farmer treated well? Is it nourishing for the body? Is it nourishing for the community and the planet? Our constituency really cares about all these things,” Musk says.