4 things young changemakers taught me about storytelling-and how these can help you, too

Marte Siebenhar
6 min readMay 6, 2022

I recently collaborated with a small group of scholars from the Watson Institute at Lynn University, a social impact incubator program that is part of the university’s business school. At Watson, students “major in their mission.”

Our purpose together? To prepare the class of 16 seniors for post-graduate and professional life through intensive, high-impact storytelling.

By the end of our 4-week course, each scholar launched a professional website or online “portfolio” with the story of who they are, what they do, and most importantly, why.

IMO, this is the most important class of their college career.

Why?

Because the #1 mistake I see nonprofits and creatives make?

Assuming people understand

who they are,

why they do what they do, and

why it makes impact.

When the truth is:

No story, no supporters. No champions.

No (t enough) funding. Small (er than necessary) impact.

My work with hundreds of nonprofits and creatives has consistently proved one thing:

If you don’t learn to practice storytelling as part of your everyday work,

what you can accomplish will be so much less

than what you could accomplish.

Because story is how people:

find,

understand,

fall in love with, and

support what you do.

Watson Institute senior scholars reflecting on the value of storytelling, photos by the author

Here are 4 key takeaways (from among many beautiful ones) these young changemakers shared with me about the value of storytelling — and what that means for you and your work.

  1. How you show up (and that you show up) matters.

It’s instructive to learn how others perceive you and your work by doing a simple Google search of your name and area of…

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