The Importance of Stories

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December 2, 2015

Yesterday at the Philadelphia Social Innovation Journal’s launch event, I was reminded about the power of the story.

Leaving the event I was overflowing with information on a wide array of innovative projects happening all over the city and of people and organizations working to foster more of these innovations. As I went over the event in my mind, the social innovation pitch done by a start-up called Donafy[1] was the one thing I remembered the most.

I realized the reason this pitch stood out above all the other pitches for important and much-needed innovations was because the presenter, Nikki Johnson-Huston, began the pitch with her personal story of how she experienced homelessness as a child. She then went on to explain how Donafy is designed to help people avoid the experience that she had.

Story is a theme that is coming up in both leadership development and planning projects Strategy Arts is currently engaged with:

  • 2015WINTER_TOP_AD.fwWe are incorporating the skill of using story in a leadership development program we are designing for art educators, and
  • We are working with two collective impact projects to figure out how to incorporate people with lived experience into the meetings so their stories can be heard.

My experience yesterday affirmed that storytelling is powerful and telling personal stories is the most powerful. But how many of us discount our own personal stories, telling ourselves that they aren’t interesting or relevant? This was a confronting thought for me. What I would tell others is that your personal story and how it informs your work and your actions is actually the most relevant story there is, and you have to find ways to bring it to the forefront. Hmm… I’ll need to see if I can work on taking my own advice.

Meantime, I encourage you to read the latest PSIJ edition– Launching Social Innovations through Business and Social Enterprise Incubators, Labs & Foundation Competitions: Regional and National Models that Work

[1] Donafy developed an app for helping individuals locate, notify, and donate to local nonprofits.