Our Story, Our Impact
So here’s the story...
Hi, I'm David Hutchens, and I'm the founder of The Storytelling Leader.
My storytelling career began with my role as an advertising copywriter, working for big advertising agencies in Dallas and Atlanta in the 1990s. I discovered early the power of narrative: If I told a story, people would buy more Coca-Cola.
But I got depressed from writing about hamburgers and banks and cellular service all day. So I left the agency world because I wanted to write about leadership and teams and innovation. I still am a copywriter at heart. Today I bring those advertising sensitivities to my work in organizational leadership.
My “blue pill” moment of immersion into the Matrix of organizational storytelling happened in the late 1990s when I was doing some work for The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta. They asked me to create a communication solution to help employees understand what a “learning organization” was. I wrote a crazy fable about a flock of sheep that outwits a pack of hungry wolves, and in the process, they display the capabilities of a learning organization. I had my illustrator friend, Bobby, creates some funny drawings of wolves and sheep and I titled the crazy story Outlearning the Wolves.
Later a publisher picked up the book, and it ended up being translated into more than a dozen languages and selling more than a quarter-million copies around the world. Soon I started hearing stories of corporate groups that were mounting stage productions of Outlearning the Wolves, and even one police precinct in Japan that presented a “Wolves” puppet show as a catalyst for change.
The “Wolves” phenomenon caught me off guard and made me ask myself, “why did this approach work so well in so many cultures? What was the mechanism by which it created so much engagement, and also led people into a learning dialogue?” That inquiry put me on the story path. It turned out to be so much fun that I stuck with it. And here we are.
The Storytelling Leader was created to help leaders across the world to access their most-human voice of leadership, and to engage their system to move... all by accessing the ageless technology of story.
When I first started doing this work in the late 1990s, people thought it was a weird idea.
Today, our phone is ringing with calls from leaders around the world who say they urgently need to tell stories.
Hundreds of organizations in dozens of industries
From technology to retail to life science to nonprofits and beyond, it seems there is no context where storytelling can't create valuable engagement.
People ask, "Does this work in every culture?" I've brought this offering across Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the USA and can say with certainty: story is universal.
From the books to the classroom learning experience, more than half a million people around the world have joined our conversation around the power of narrative engagement.