George Clooney & Charlie Engle: On Telling A Story

For The Curious,

One of my favorite parts of public speaking is watching young people in the crowd who’ve had their cell phones out put them away when they get caught up in one of my stories.

That’s why it didn’t surprise me when I saw a piece in the New York Times recently about the growing popularity of storytelling workshops.

Just because young people are entrenched in social media, that doesn’t mean they don’t love stories. For centuries, we’ve been wired to love them -- and depend upon them to lead and inspire. I believe the deeper we into technology, the more important storytelling is going to become.

Think about it. Why are young people constantly checking their phones, anyway? Because they’re curious. And it’s curious people who lean into stories.

There’s an explosion of data all around these young people. They know better than anyone how hard it is to get attention.

Sooner or later they find out: Stories grasp attention.

When people come to understand how stories can set up a winning pitch in business as well as make a sale – they start enrolling in storytelling workshops.

I thought I’d put on a tiny workshop for my youngest listener this week. Marlena was born on Christmas Eve in 2018. And already, she’s a devoted listener to Big Questions.

So I decided to go to the archives and pull out a golden oldie from an Esquire Magazine interview years back – just for her.

It’s George Clooney telling me a childhood tale about his eccentric uncles. It’s short, but contains all the ingredients that make a story work. You don’t have any idea where it’s going – which is why your curiosity keeps going along with it. Anybody with uncles like George’s would have to become a good storyteller.

Also, this week, is the story of Charlie Engle, who purged his drug addiction through running. When I say running, I mean 50 miles a day for 111 straight days across the Sahara Desert.

Charlie’s story contains so many takeaways for all of us, including the ability we have to see the world through fresh eyes and what can happen when we’re constantly taking on new challenges.

Thanks for coming along on the journey. And, please, send me photos of the city or town where you listen to Big Questions. It delights me to see the different points on the globe where all these stories are landing.



Kevin Hekmat