Storytelling is the most valuable skill any person can develop. We're all storytellers, but most of us don't realise it, and less realise it's importance as a skill to be improved.
When I was in high school I was torn between two potential career paths - computer science (engineering) and working for Disney as an animator. These were my two strengths and passions, and it pained me to choose only one. I chose computer science, and started a 10-year journey that would lead me to combine these two in an attempt to improve the world through entrepreneurship. Today I'm trying to catch up on a decade of missed practice in telling stories well, and I'd love for you to join me.
Recently, I realised that the common thread between these two areas of passion of mine was that I loved building things for people that they couldn't do themselves - it was like having a magic wand that would make people happy. Engineering is about solving challenges with technology. As a teen I'd write software tools to help people automate tasks, clean viruses off their computers, etc. With animation it was telling entertaining stories that invoked emotional responses and the spread of new ideas that would stimulate the audience to ponder for a time after the short film. Each of these was really about enriching lives of people, solving pains or creating gains.
As sentient animals full of wisdom, our most valuable superpower isn't only our ability to build technology. Matching this is our ability to communicate and to tell stories, to share and spread ideas between yourself and many. Storytelling is the key to collaboration and community. It's a tool of negotiation and building relationships. Things you need to be a successful person in life, whether as an entrepreneur selling a vision, an academic pitching for research funding, or a skilled worker getting their manager's support for a great idea.
People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
I highly recommend everyone find time to go through this online series by Pixar and Kahn Academy on storytelling. If you want to practice, let me know and I'll join you. Also don't forget the pitch practice forum!
The Art of Storytelling