Those who tell stories rule the world

“Those who tell stories rule the world” is the title of a TEDx talk by Shane Snow, a technology journalist and self-described geek. On the TEDx stage, Snow said he hung the Native American proverb on his wall to remind him of the importance of stories.

I heard about Snow from Liz Satterthwaite, one of my co-presenters on storytelling at the recent ECO Net Summit. I had to check out Snow’s talk, given my fondness for both storytelling and TED.

One of the stories Snow told was about the French poet Jacques Prevert and a blind beggar. The beggar’s sign read: “Blind man without a pension.” He told Prevert that life wasn’t so good: not many people were giving him money.

Prevert changed the sign to read: “Spring is coming, but I won’t see it.” When Prevert stopped by a couple of days later, the beggar said that things had greatly improved. Many more people were helping him out. In fact, he had filled his hat three times that day. Changing a simple statement to a story had led to more people caring enough about the man’s situation to give him money.

Snow said that stories have power to:

  • Build relationships
  • Make people care
  • Distill information

Here’s the video of his entire talk. Among other things, you can find out why people trust J.K. Rowling more than Queen Elizabeth.