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Power of Storytelling

I was having lunch with my 12-year old, which is usually when we talk about South Park or Harry Potter or some of the very few things we have in common — she’s at that age where parents are so uncool.  Well, surprise!  She shares some career news.  She wants to do Teach For America.  Notice, she doesn’t want to be a teacher.  She wants Teach For America.  Ah, the power of stories…

My daughter needed to do a biography book report for school and I recommended Wendy Kopp’s “One Day All Children”, Wendy’s firsthand account about starting Teach For America.  An inspiring read and a great business case, the book sells teaching and Teach For America so well because it sucks you into its story and you forget the sell and just come along for the message.  I wanted my daughter to read about an enterprising and current young woman in Wendy Kopp.  In addition, my daughter got sold on Teach For America.

Another great story that I need to sneak into my daughter’s library is Alexandra Levit’s “They Don’t Teach Corporate In College”.   Here again, Alexandra has a great story about her early career climb but it’s so friendly and engaging that you forget you’re also getting excellent career advice.  It also helps greatly that it’s a young person talking to young people.  (For more good career advice for young people by young people, I also recommend Lindsay Pollak’s Getting From College to Career.  It’s got good stories too but reads more in a how-to format).

The power of stories is good news for those of you stumped for perfect interview answers.  Find your stories.  Tell stories about where you worked, what you did, your greatest achievements.  Don’t lecture.  Don’t list.  Engage.  Entertain.  Read the above books for style ideas if you have to, and notice how seamlessly a good story is an excellent sell.

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