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12 books and 6 videos that influenced my thinking about the storytelling in 2018

by Matej Bacovsky on January 10, 2019

Topics: Storytelling

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From my early childhood, I was reading a ton. Since there was no internet back then, I was consumed by the stories delivered through hundreds of books. Luckily, I kept this habit. Only adapted the technology, as there's less time to read the old fashion way. Mostly thanks to audiobooks, my curiosity, hunger for stories and knowledge is being fulfilled. So I thought to share those that were influential to me and hope that you might find some interesting as well.

I want to dedicate this blog post to storytelling. I've realized that the art of storytelling is one of the most significant powers that form who we are, where we belong and how we connect to the world around us. So without further ado, here are some of the great stories that influenced me in 2018 — happy reading.

The BIG picture

B01-harari

History, present, and future of humankind

In my opinion, Yuval Noah Harari belongs to one of the most prominent thinkers of our era. His views on the evolution of humankind: Sapiens, our possible future: Homo Deus, and our current state: 21 lessons for the 21st century are breathtaking. His ease of dealing with complexity and serving it within a captivating story is one of a kind. He demonstrates that storytelling and the ability to believe in fictional stories enabled us as humankind to get to where we are, ahead of any other species. Recommended by Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Sir Richard Branson, his books are a must-read for anyone who is interested in understanding the world around us, what shaped it and where it's heading.

Influence of storytelling

B02-power-of-communication

The power of communication

These are very different cookies to one another. But all of them have at least one thing in common. It's the impact of how and what we communicate to the world around us.

Nonviolent communication is a great book to explore the world of communication, learn how to internalize principles that help us to connect with others and achieve more together.

On the opposite, Win Bigly shows how powerful and scary communication could be when used together with persuasion techniques. It just confirmed to me the importance of critical thinking and how little is being used when people make decisions based on twisted stories.

Finally Start with why was hugely important, because of crafting the story of Why, How and What we do in Wings4U. It helped us to define and understand our core guiding principles and live them within anything we do.

Stories of storytelling

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Science, magic, and technology

I will digress from books in the following two sections, as following videos are connected to storytelling. When working on the new concept of how to approach the storytelling of customer success, which is what Wings4U bread and butter is, I browsed TED.com for talks on the subject and found these four jewels.

Two of them delivered by Uri Hasson (This is your brain on communication) and Anil Seth (Your brain hallucinates your conscious reality), both neuroscientists, portray the science behind the stories and how we use them to connect between each other. Andrew Stanton, a filmmaker working in Pixar - one of the most successful storytelling companies - reveals in his talk (The clues to a great story) what makes the great stories great. And Joe Sabia (The technology of storytelling) explains in a playful way how new technology has always helped us to tell our stories.

Storytelling of success

B04-success

Emotional storytelling

Connected with the research I mentioned about two paragraphs above, I viewed tons of Customer Success videos last year. Many from our own production, but also those of our customer's competitors.

One that I was getting back to many times is Schneider Electric case for SalesForce. What I love about it is how they tell the captivating story about two, on first sight, boring topics - electricity and software. It delivers all the vital information about the cooperation, but what's more, it connects with the viewer via a strong story that elevates those "boring" topics into the new heights. This story was part of the inspiration for us in Wings4U when creating a new framework of customer success storytelling.

The other video is dear to my heart because it's one of the reasons why I became a partner in Wings4U. Years ago Microsoft Czechia wanted to make a story about the implementation of Azure for the dealership of Harley-Davidson in Prague. The owner of the dealership agreed to do that with one condition. It won't be the classic talking heads video. I was asked to help Wings4U with this creative challenge, and we delivered an unusual take on customer story. Why is it here? Because we pulled out this story for a customer presentation this year to showcase a different angle that can be taken to tell the stories of customer success.

Riding on the shoulders of giants

B05-giants

Curiosity, curiosity, curiosity

Spread across centuries, three very different characters, three very different stories, all of them deeply inspiring. Leonardo's endless curiosity about the world around, Musashi's deep curiosity about the inner world and Feynman's playful curiosity inspire us to be, wait for it... More curious! I believe that's one the most important keys to storytelling. Ability to explore, listen and contemplate enables us to create stories worth telling.

Exploring the future

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From fiction to prediction of the future

I always enjoyed Sci-Fi stories and was astonished by the boundless creativity of their authors. I was also always amazed how storytelling can influence innovations and our progress.

That's why I've revisited one of the Sci-fi's most classic books: Neuromancer from William Gibson. Harari believes (in 21 lessons for the 21st century) that the most significant development that will change the way we live is a combination of information technology and biotech. Neuromancer takes place in the world where both of those are already a reality. Telling the story of the future we are arriving to.

Niel Stephenson is one of my favorite authors, because of his ability to portray complex fictional worlds in captivating stories with great detail of how they work. I won't spoil the story of Seveneves and will mention only one thing. Part 2 of the book starts with three words "5000 years later". Curious about what could be happening there?

The Inevitable is a not really a Sci-Fi, but when reading it, it sounds like it. It's author Kevin Kelly - one of the world's most influential futurologist - predicts what will be the forces that will be surrounding us within the next 30 years. Many will massively influence how we will consume and tell stories in the future.

Into 2019

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Let's make 2019 worth of storytelling

Talking about the future. We are on the verge of a new year. So I would like to conclude this blog post with a wish that 2019 will be the year full of inspiring stories. Stories that we will be able to tell with excitement to our children, partners, friends, and colleagues.

 

Ideas, comments?

I would love to hear from you! Any suggestions for books to read, videos to watch? Did you read any of the books and want share your opinion? Any ideas to share? Let's connect via my LinkedIn and start the conversation.

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