[Year in Review 2020] ‘Stories bring ideas to life’ – 50 inspiring quotes on the power and practice of storytelling

Beyond facts, stories can emotionally inspire and mobilise people. These quotes show how entrepreneurs and changemakers leverage stories for success.
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Launched in 2014, StoryBites is a regular feature from YourStory, featuring notable quotable quotes in our past articles. Share these gems and insights with your colleagues and networks, and check back to the original articles for more insights.

Drawn from our comprehensive coverage of India’s startup ecosystem, we present 50 quotes on storytelling in action. We have divided these quotes into nine categories: the power of storytelling, impacts, practice, pandemic era, business, entrepreneurship, creativity, the India story, and trends.

See also YourStory’s Changemaker Story Canvas, a free visualisation tool for entrepreneurs and founders, and our write-up on Storytelling Tips from the Global Knowledge Summit.

Check out our annual picks of Top 10 Books, Top 10 Turning Point stories, Top 20 Author Interviews, Top 10 Heroes of the Pandemic, and Top 50 Entrepreneurship Quotes. Make it a habit to check out YourStory’s Daily Capsule, Turning Point, and Pivot and Persist series.

YourStory has also published the pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups’ as a creative and motivational guide for innovators (downloadable as apps here: Apple, Android).

YourStory wishes all founders, innovators, changemakers, and storytellers a Happy Holiday Season, and all the best for success and impact in 2021!

The power of storytelling

Stories bring ideas to life. - Jean Storlie and Mimi Sherlock, ‘Once Upon an Innovation’

Every great leader is both a storyteller and a magician. The very best leaders are well-versed in the art and science of story. - Michael Margolis, 'Story 10x'

If you look at the positive side of every event and people, there is always a story inside. And there is hope. -  Sudha Murty, Infosys Foundation

Storytelling can bring people together and can be a voice when you often can’t find the words. - Ridhima Lulla, Eros Group

Story impacts

One of the hardest things that humans do is tell riveting, engaging, and inspiring stories. When you get it right, it's a lever that can change the world. - Jeff Bezos, Amazon

When you tell a story with conflict and real protagonists, it brings with it the power to convince people. - Joshua Shabtai, Lowe's Innovation Labs

Stories impart wisdom and empathy from different points of view that collectively reveal patterns and possibilities. - Jean Storlie, ‘Once Upon an Innovation’

If story is magic, vulnerability is the magic wand that unleashes genuine connection with our audiences. - Miri Rodriguez, ‘Brand Storytelling’

Creativity completes the art of storytelling that your Annual Report does on behalf of your company. - Hussain Kalolwala, K&A

One way that groups cohere is through storytelling. - Daniel Pink, 'When'

All the populists around the world, whether it’s Erdogan or Modi or Trump are gifted storytellers. They can tell a false story well and the only way they can be fought is by telling a true story better. - Suketu Mehta, ‘This Land is Our Land’

The practice of storytelling

Storytelling isn’t about the gift of the gab; it is about believing in the story you tell. - Shan Kadavil, FreshToHome

The narrative strikes a chord on the other side. It has to come from the heart and has to mix with the substance of your business plan effortlessly – so that it becomes a part of you. - Anup Jain, Orios Venture Partners

Original content is the cornerstone of creating memorable stories that resonate with the viewer long after the show is over. - Prashanti Malisetti, Pixel Pictures

There is always science, art, and magic in storytelling, and discipline ties it all together. - Sameer Nair, Applause Entertainment

Read your audience first before crafting your story and hit where their need is. - Akhila Deshpande, Prime Venture Partners

The big problem is, businesses squeak about successes, but none on failures. Hence, it is not easy to learn of the corporate bloopers and gain experience therefrom. - Robin Banerjee, 'Who Blunders and How'

Celebrate failure stories and broad-base the learning within the organisation. Eliminate fear of failure. - Richard Lobo, Tata Chemicals

Storytelling in the pandemic era

Government hospital workers also need to be protected and people need to know the story about these field workers. - Shivang Tayal, Tayal Foundation

Every day we are hearing heroic stories of how those on the frontlines are working around the clock to protect the public. - Ruchee Anand, LinkedIn

As an antidote for long days in front of a computer with limited opportunities for casual conversations, storytelling provides a simple way for co-workers to connect with each other and cope with isolation. - Mimi Sherlock, ‘Once Upon an Innovation’

Customers are looking for brands that can convey simple stories and connect to their thinking in the post COVID world. - Durga Madhab Dash, Styched

During this pandemic, storytelling has taken the popular marketing strategy tagline “humanise your brand” to the next level. - Miri Rodriguez, ‘Brand Storytelling’

Collaboration is a crucial component of journalism’s response to a story as complicated and all-encompassing as COVID-19. - Alexios Mantzarlis, Google News Lab

Storytelling and business

Facts answer the what. Stories help you see the so what? - Jean Storlie and Mimi Sherlock, ‘Once Upon an Innovation’

Narrative drives everything. Data is useless without interpretation. Interpretation is an art, and storytelling helps the process. - Ramya Ranganathan

Power of branding lies in the idea of storytelling. - Jalak Rawal, Monk Entertainment

If you don’t shape your brand narrative, then somebody else will do it. - Meeta Malhotra, The Hard Copy

Narrative intelligence or competence is about being able to interpret the story at a higher level than just is what is being said. A story can be interpreted in many different ways. - Gabrielle Dolan, Stories for Work

The story of money is woven into our very being, uniting us, dividing us, giving us a sense of identity and indeed mapping people or the nation’s powers, progress, crises and triumphs. - Rezwan Razack, Museum of Indian Paper Money

Storytelling and entrepreneurship

The art of storytelling is an important attribute for a successful founder. - Shekhar Kirani, Accel

Good startup founders are good storytellers. Unless you have a good story, you won’t be able to pique any interests. - Saurabh Jain, Paytm

Every overnight success is a five to 10-year-old story, and takes the blood and sweat of hundreds of team members. - Ritesh Agarwal, OYO Rooms

As much as it is the founder’s job to tell the right story, it also is the investor’s job to elicit the right things in a pitch. - Rajat Agarwal, Matrix Partners India

Pitching is more about having a conversation or telling a story, as opposed to going through a deck. - Karan Mohla, Chiratae Ventures

Stories about failures are kept under the wraps. Startup founders do not talk about it except to their close friends. - Dhruv Nath, ‘Funding Your Start-Up’

Universities can only train, people should decide what they want to do. What can really move a lot of great talent into this space is great success stories. - Ajay Maniar, Aavishkar Fund

The India story

India's digital story is now globally talked about; our IT professionals are being globally appreciated. India has become the third biggest startup movement in the world in the last five years. - IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad

When it comes to the tech skilling landscape, data analysis is taking center stage in India’s growth story. - Srikripa Srinivasan, Dell Technologies

With more and more success stories coming out of India, we will reach out to foreign markets. We are moving in the right direction. - Pankaj Makkar, Bertelsmann India Investments

Just as we say that a bird with one wing cannot fly, women that make up more than half the population of India must also be part of the growth story. - Jahnabi Phookan, FICCI FLO

We are a nation of storytellers, and if children everywhere can have access to a story with just a click, we are close to meeting that societal goal. - Rohini Nilekani, ‘The Hungry Little Sky Monster’

Weavers always have a story to tell. Like why he chose a particular colour. Why was a saree not in green or pink but in red or blue? - Nishant Malhotra, WeaverStory.com

Creativity in storytelling

Well-executed branded podcasts are not about just the podcast, but about everything from strategy to research to storytelling to distribution. - Karthik Vijayakumar, Design Your Thinking Labs

Podcasts have emerged as a clear favourite among many listeners, with storytelling, comedy, devotional, inspirational, and kids being the top genres. - Prashan Agarwal, Gaana

Unlike a novel or a work of non-fiction, a collection of short stories is usually from different points in your life. - Nisha Susan

If you read, your book is kind of your friend, because it's like the book is telling you its story, and you’re the listener. - Natalie Portman

Music and stories go hand in hand. There's a certain rhythm to a story and a certain narrative to a song. They melt into each other. - Anmol Malik, ‘Three Impossible Wishes’

Storytelling, songs, and other creative media are far more appealing to children when discovering something new, as against mere instruction. - Sneha Sundaram, Kutuki

The road ahead

Data-driven decision-making is the biggest competitive differentiator in today’s world and storytelling can play a huge role in sensemaking and decision making. - Sejal Vora, 'Data Storytelling'

Immersive storytelling will soon be the next frontier where brands will incorporate holograms, interactive applications, and wearable tech to their brand storytelling experience. - Miri Rodriguez, ‘Brand Storytelling’

In this decade, authenticity is going to count a lot. Irrelevant products and stories won't matter. - Philip Alexander, Auravedic

From your neighbour to your mother, teacher to even your friend, every woman has a story. On a side note, men also have stories, but the challenges a woman faces, compared to that of a man, are relatively vast. - Nitya Rathi, Rebel Girls

The opportunity is as vast as a broad canvas, it is up to us to paint the story we want to paint. - Vijay Swaminathan, Draup

YourStory has also published the pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups’ as a creative and motivational guide for innovators (downloadable as apps here: Apple, Android).

Edited by Megha Reddy

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