Episode recap: Storytelling with David Intrator

On the second episode of the Joy Superpowers series, we had the honor of hosting David Intrator – musician, founder of The Creative Organization, and founder and president of Smarter Storytelling. Here are some key messages from the interesting episode regarding storytelling and creativity.

What is creativity?

David’s creative journey started back when he was a young boy playing the clarinet in school. From that he moved on to other musical instruments, eventually finding the classical scene and jazz music, which was appealing to him due to the improvisation aspect. Since then, David has continued playing the saxophone while also working in the advertising field and teaching others about business storytelling and creative techniques. David mentioned that he has been making stuff all his life, and that’s how he also defines creativity – it’s essentially about making things. He says that any creative endeavor includes a sense of intention and coherence, and the act of making decisions and following a route that you’ve created.

According to David, creativity is also the key to success in the 21st century. He says it’s about dealing with ambiguity, coping with the ever-changing world and being comfortable moving ahead when you don’t know what you’re doing.

Impactful storytelling

In the episode, David proposes that storytelling is more about technique and temperament, not so much about talent. He explains that when trying to tell an emotional story, the speaker should not be concerned with their own emotions, but rather making the desired emotions happen in the audience. “Be emotional? No. Craft a story that’s emotional”.

According to David, this temperament can be taught and it’s something that he teaches in his courses as well. He highlights again the importance of being comfortable with not being good and not knowing what you’re doing, and being in an environment where it’s okay to say stupid things. “If you can’t write a good story, write a bad one.” A restrictive environment is not good for feeding into creativity in general.

Stories and creativity influencing our lives

“We live in a story, each of us”, David states, and to an extent, we can tweak our own stories. David explains that as you get older, you may feel that your life has followed some sort of logic or plan, or you may feel the opposite – that your life has been totally random. Finding some logic in your life story makes you feel like all of this was meant to be. There are transition periods in our lives, where the stories we have created for ourselves are no longer making sense or working, and that’s when we have crisis points. But according to David, there is a way out – just change the story! However, this may be easier said than done.

David says that learning to operate in a creative way has tremendous psychological benefits – you get to know who you are and what you really want. “A more joyful life is dependent on knowing your own mind. — The process through which one arrives at that understanding, I would call a creative process.”, he explains. He emphasizes that this process includes a lot of editing, throwing out things, going around in circles, and most of all, hard work. Acquiring technique, whatever your project is, requires practice and repetition. It can be overwhelming at times, but there is also joy in it – when you repeat things, you come to own that knowledge – it’s your knowledge. When you own the knowledge, you can start to be free.

David also shares his tips for any creative process: “Trust the process and it will take you somewhere. — Have trust in yourself, and a little bit of thick skin.” When starting out a creative endeavor, he suggests separating your messy side from your judgmental side – to just start doing the work and being judgmental later. This will help you form your concept and move forward from there.

What’s your favorite story of all time?

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