Saturday, August 27, 2022


 One of the most impactful commencement speeches was delivered by Steve Jobs at Stanford University in 2005. Jobs made many powerful points but people still remember and talk about them till date is arguably because of one reason- Steve Jobs used personal stories to drive home the key points.

He included three stories from his life: one, in which he tells an anecdote about dropping out of college; another, about the lessons he learned from being fired by Apple in 1985; and lastly, his reflections on death.

That stories make presentations memorable is a well-known idea but one of the aspects of story telling that many struggle with (atleast I did) is how to recall stories from our own lives and leverage them to authentically drive home the point.

What mental models should one follow to recall and deliver stories from one's own life ?

Nancy Duarte in her effective Harvard Business Review blog (link in comments) shares about quite a useful framework to unleash stories from our own lives. Key points from the article:
1. Most people try to recall memories chronologically, which may not always be effective.
2. Sit down with a notepad and think through the nouns that are important to you.
3. Unleash stories from your life via the nouns- People , Places, Things- that matter to you.
4. Take the story kernels you arrive at, write one line summaries and catalogue them.
(Find the summary in my sketchnote)

Simple points, but like with anything meaningful skills, it will require rigor and discipline to master.

As Jobs later says in his speech- “You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards."

Cataloging our own life's stories gives us a better chance to look back and connect the dots.

What do you think ?

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