Stories change the world. For thousands of years, ordinary people have used stories to communicate ideas. They convey meaning, facts, and fictions. They have inspired movements, raised armies, and influenced change across the globe.
Stories influence change on a personal level, and on a global scale. And without ordinary people sharing their stories, we would be a much lesser society. Here are 3 ordinary storytellers who used the power of stories to influence and inspire change.
Before she became a national icon, Maya Angelou was a fry cook, prostitute, nightclub dancer, and performer. But more importantly, she was one of the great believers in the power of stories. Her life inspired her revealing work as an author, poet, and activist, that has been heralded as a defense of Black culture.
Angelou’s work helped drive significant change during the Civil Rights movement in America, as she became America’s most prolific and transparent black woman autobiographer.
By all accounts, Angelou was not afraid of the controversy her sometimes explicit stories attracted. And understanding the profound catharsis her stories could bring, in her 1969 autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings writing “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
If you’re an entrepreneur, run a small business, or have even thought about taking your business online, chances are you’ve heard of Gary “Vee” Vaynerchuck.
But before succeeding as a New York Times bestselling author, and hugely successful entrepreneur, Gary grew up as an immigrant to the USA. He struggled through school and eventually helped run his parents very ordinary, small liquor store.
A natural entrepreneur, Gary saw the potential of the Internet and YouTube early on. Turning a small town liquor store into an online success through years of hard work and storytelling. He continues this, sharing his story through his new book (and ongoing web series) #AskGaryVee, web series The Daily Vee, many NYT bestsellers, and via social media.
His raw authenticity, inability to pull punches, and willingness to bare the deepest parts of his soul have made him a go-to source of guidance, and inspiration for heaps of entrepreneurs across the world.
When it comes to telling stories, it helps to have a profound, extraordinary story to tell. Few come close to Scott Harrison’s journey from NYC playboy to prolific philanthropist.
But while he was still young, his mother was exposed to carbon monoxide. Her immune system was destroyed, and she became an invalid. As a result, Harrison spent much of his early life taking care of her.
Instead of trivializing his story here, I urge everyone to take a few minutes to check it out. Sufficed to say, it is powerful and inspiring.
It is this story that sits firmly at the core of his organization, Charity: water, a non-profit dedicated to bringing clean water to third world countries.
Though his NYC playboy days were lavish and extraordinary, Harrison manages to make them relatable. His feeling that he could do more, and disgust knowing real people are suffering while we live in excess are thoughts and feelings many of us can relate to. Harrison uses his story to tap into our social conscience, and, in doing so, drives charitable giving.
To writers, musicians, artists, and photographers, storytelling comes naturally, and it’s easy to think theirs are the only stories that will make a difference. What’s more, with countless bloggers popping up all over the place, it’s easy to feel that your story doesn’t matter. After all, what could you possibly say that’s different to anyone else?
The truth is, every story matters, including yours. Every story can create meaning. Every story can help others grow, and understand the world a little better. No matter how small, or insignificant you feel your story might be, it could be the spark that changes one life, or a million lives. You will never know until you hit that publish button.
At Blogo, we believe everyone has a unique, inspiring story to tell. While millions of us have already found our spark, we know there are millions more who are daunted by the idea. So we are going through some major changes to help make sharing stories a whole lot easier for our community. Take a look at our manifesto letter, and find out what’s in store for Blogo’s future.