As part of this class I'll be reflecting on several aspects of storytelling as well as sharing some of my tales (or ramblings if we are keeping with this websites theme!). This week we looked at several things, but one specific item we watched was Steve Jobs' Commencement speech from Stanford (2005). In particular we are tasked with focusing on what makes his stories powerful and what makes them memorable.
First... the video.
Several things struck me when watching this speech. In particular I was taken with the way in which he connected tiny details of his own life and experiences to a larger picture. Even though he is arguably one of the most successful figures in computing (and one with a reputation as being a jerk), he still manages to come across as relatable and down to earth, he comes across as an everyman, even when we all know that he is not. In telling his personal story, he was also teaching a few life lessons. For instance- the first story seemed to speak to the idea that there are different paths to success and that regardless of where you are right now, you can succeed. The second story spoke about how failure, while sometimes hard to swallow, is okay. In fact, it can be a good thing, and lead you down new, better paths. Lastly, he spoke of death- this part gets a little tricky. In 2005 it probably spoke mostly to the idea that no one is promised tomorrow and that life is too short to waste doing something you don't feel passionate about. In 2015, this sections is more bittersweet, since we know he doesn't beat the cancer, that eventually he was right, and that one day was his last. You listen to it know and hope that he did string together days that were filled with things he loved.
So what about those stories made it memorable? Powerful?
For me it's that he appeared to make himself vulnerable. Although he was in complete control of the situation, he was still able to take some personal stories and relate them in a way that people listening could say "yeah, me too." and that is a big part of being remembered. People often want to see themselves in their stories, either in that they have been there or that they want to get there. Jobs manages to attain both- he shares his hardships and people can see themselves in those stories, but he also shows that you can rise above and reach new heights, leaving people in the audience thinking that they too can succeed to that level. Stories like this are powerful because they pull you in, teach a lesson and then leave you feeling inspired. Which is exactly what Jobs was tasked with as a commencement speaker. Part of being a storyteller is selling what you are saying, and Jobs is a stellar salesman. He knew his audience and knew the task and crafted a set of stories that would accomplish all his goals. Hook them in, take them on a journey and inspire them.
This page is my home for all my studies. Initially started when I was a graduate student at Syracuse University in Library & Information Science:School Media, it has seen me through that degree plus a CAS in Cultural Heritage Preservation.
Starting in the Fall of 2018 I will use it for my newest endeavor, a certificate in Native American Studies at Montana State University.
On occasion I will also post interesting articles or my thoughts on things related to my job as a Middle School Librarian in an Expeditionary Learning School.