A few takeaways from The Power of Storytelling

There are not so many conferences out there that can have such an intimate yet forceful impact on us. The Power of Storytelling is an outstanding gathering where you will never be the same after you reach the end.

October 19, 2018
Reading time 5 – 7 minutes
Oana, George and Vlad

A week later we want to share with you a few takeaways from Story#18. We do that both for having a closure for ourselves, but also for encouraging you to step outside our comfort zone and expose yourself to different experiences than the ones you are accommodated.

Oana on rewriting with confidence

Even after four years of attending The Power of Storytelling (once as a community glue, third times as a quiet learner) I’m still mesmerized about how this conference touches me in various ways. I loved stories since I was a kid and I invented a lot of characters and situations to capture my buddies’ attention and curiosity. It felt natural, and it gave me a lot of good energy and a strong sense of belonging. And yeah, you could tell that I was one of those children who talk quite a lot and ask way too many questions. My curiosity was and still is a creative fuel.

This type of emotional attachment is kindly reinforced every time I attend The Power of Storytelling — an experience where award-winning journalists, artists, photographers, and Co. share their best work, their biggest struggles, their huge ambitions to change the world for the better. This conference not only reminds me about how stories keep us together and help us be in alignment with our inner-why, but it is also a generous opportunity to acknowledge that each of us can drive positive impact out there.

My key takeaway from this year’s edition is very intimate, and it has to do with a specific layer from my own story:

After two days of an emotional rollercoaster, I feel more confident to rewrite pieces of it — such as finding a better balance for the relationships I’m carefully growing with the people around me (friends, teammates, even family).

After Mila Turajlic‘s and Nina Berman‘s speeches I feel more equipped to embrace the challenge of rewriting the red thread I too often ignored and move on for a better life, better relationships, better me. Thank you, The Power of Storytelling!

Vlad on questioning your own beliefs

This year, one thing sunk in more with me than the last time: there are immense strength and value in being vulnerable.

I’ve got close, too close at times, to deeply personal stories by people who, by anyone’s standards, succeeded in their quest; people who are household names in their fields; people who should sit firmly on their feet because, at least professionally, have everything to be proud of.

But no, I’ve seen these “rock stars” crumble on stage, in front of 500 people, when they could have easily omitted certain things and no one would have blamed them. They chose the hard way the same way they did in the stories that brought them recognition. Strategically or not, this sometimes brutal exposure of their true self, elevated the shared experience to a whole different level. Even a lump of wood would have resonated to their message.

Apart from the importance of vulnerability in telling a (personal) story, there was another narrative where, fundamentally, their willingness to lay down their guard, their biases, even their life experience, brought them closer to a deeper understanding of the world.

Some people call this being open-minded, or questioning your own beliefs — I would call this “gazing naked at your worst nightmare”.

Could you manage to relate and even show empathy toward a former ISIS fighter that walks you through his training, his first execution, his vivid recollection of the “other side”? How about taking in-person interviews of white supremacists wholeheartedly, enthusiastically trumping you and your core beliefs, all the while being flanked by the rest of the “gang”?

This disposition to take risks and expose themselves emotionally, intellectually, but also physically to the dark side of this world brought them closer to understanding the mechanisms at work in fueling it. I am deeply grateful to them and others alike for making those leaps so you and I can understand the world better and hopefully contribute to a brighter future.

George on being able to follow your mission

It was the first time I attended a conference targeted outside of my main area of interests, and it was a great way to discover that it’s surprisingly related to what I’m doing day-by-day.

Besides the content itself, I was surprised by the way the speakers narrated their stories, and a good part of the experience of attending this conference was merely in those subtle details through each one captured the moment and conveyed their emotions to the public.

George and his takeaways from The Power of Storytelling

I deeply believe it was important more than elsewhere to be present in the space, open to my reactions and connected to the people around me to sense the real power of storytelling beyond mere words can convey.

There were many moments when I felt personally related to a story, even if it happened in a completely different environment.

Anne Hull is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and to carry out many of her stories she always had to be strong on her position and not get involved in helping the people she worked with, even when they need to carry out their sick children to the hospital, and she was the only one around with a working car.

She calls it “just being there” and be able to observe the real an unaltered story, spread it to others, ignite their interest and bring them together to create a more significant change. She was following a bigger mission and only by achieving it would make her efforts have a greater impact. This is something that I would like to keep in mind and follow more often in my leadership role at Pixelgrade.

Once again, I believe it’s super hard to explain why you should attend this conference in a list of bullet points because it feels more like a series of TED speeches more than anything else. You will no longer be the same after attending The Power of Storytelling. C’ya in 2019!

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