Is storyteller a job title? it is now

[image courtesy of Hugh and Rackspace]

My email signature changed recently to reflect the new job I have here at Microsoft – for a while I didn’t really know what to call myself. An evangelist didn’t seem right (I don’t have a TV show or cloak), a futurologist seemed a bit lofty, and a Director of blah blah seemed a bit Microsoft. So I plumped for Storyteller. I’m not sure it’s the right fit but it’s the best I could come up with.

Basically my gig is what got me started in earnest with this blog a few years back – telling the untold stories of Microsoft and hopefully helping people get to know us a little more. It sounds ridiculous as most people already know of Microsoft (even if by osmosis) but when you get big, the angles from which you’re seen sometimes hide the truly interesting stuff.

Apart from being inspired to write this post by Hugh’s cartoon, I was mainly inspired by Steve Rubel’s post titled  The Rise of the Corporate Transmedia Storyteller. He notes


The reality is, however, that organizations need to do more than just unleash their subject matter experts en masse. They need to activate them in multiple channels at once and equip them in how to create a compelling narrative – an emerging set of skills called Transmedia Storytelling


I don’t know if I’m a subject matter expert but after almost 13 years at Microsoft I have a decent understanding of the company and have prided myself on trying to understand as much of the company as I can – not just one product or division. Hopefully I can do a little of this transmedia storytelling which is partly what I’ve been doing on this blog for several years but it’s now my day job. I have the tools, a new website coming along soon and plenty of support from folks across the company so far (early days yet…that could easily change Smile).


In a weird sort of coincidence, I’ve stumbled across this notion of storytelling several times in the last week or so….Futurist Nick Bilton Sees Media’s Destiny: Storytelling was the title of an interview Wired conducted with the NY Times journalist. Meantime, TBWA has launched Projeqt – they call it a “creative storytelling platform” and while it’s only available to their employees for the moment, you can register for the beta. Some of the current Projeqts look pretty cool.



This storytelling this is clearly a developing meme though as a technique, it’s as old as time. As a kid I grew up around a ton of great storytellers in my hometown of Liverpool. As we sat around at family parties, the person who always got the focus was the great uncle or aunt who was sat in the corner, nursing a whisky and telling a fine yarn about the old days of Liverpool and how the dockers umbrella


image credit [Trevor Owens]

I digress…I suppose I really just wanted to tell you the beginning of my next story. A new job, a new country, a new home, new friends and exciting times ahead.

The start of my Next chapter

Comments (3)
  1. Dave Coplin says:

    Steve, I think you've hit the nail on the head with this.  We need so much more of this, and not just in the fluffy, fun world of consumer tech either.  Stories engage people, sure they are less tangible than  the relative emotional safety of product sheets and statistics, but they end up being the things that people remember long after the gloss and numbers have gone.

    Frank Shaw knows this, others know this, but despite this there aren't many storytellers left – not just in MS but across our entire industry.

    Storytelling is a dying art – inspire the world Steve and make sure others can follow…

  2. stevecla01 says:

    thanks Dave – appreciate the support and vote of confidence!

  3. Alaskan Storyteller says:

    Nice post, and I just wanted to respond that storytelling is not a dying art, in fact, it seems to be a resurgence of storytelling, storyteller festivals, and digital storytelling.  In the UK, there is a university over there that even haS a doctorate program in storytelling – which I wish I could pursue.

    Storytelling is how many of our Tribal communities relate, pass knowledge and traditions and entertain.  I think our scientific and technical communities were just unaware how prevalent storytelling is as a method to communicate and share knowledge.

    Long Live Storytelling!


    Digital Storytelling Trainer

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