The Story Alchemy Workshop

DSC_0337 DSC_0335 DSC_0334 DisneyDeath Valley 014


My wife Cathy and I registered for a workshop with Dr. James Key, an award winning professor of rhetoric and did a road trip to California to attend. His goal is to help entrepreneurs create their “gold story,” the story of their life and business that would encourage potential clients to work with them. It was an inspiring three days with a master storyteller. It began with learning the elements of story.

A story is “a character who wants something, overcomes obstacles to get it (and) is forever changed in the process.” The story itself consists of the backstory, an inciting incident, the story spine, the crisis/climax and a resolution. The first day lasted twelve and a half hours, covering technical details of the different parts of story, the audience and how these parts relate to each other. After a long day crammed full of information, we spent the last part of the day watching the classic movie, The Wizard of Oz. We then analyzed the movie through the rest of the weekend with a partner, in small groups and with Dr. Key lecturing and leading the whole group in discussion.

Dr. Key livened things up by dressing in costume during the weekend. During lectures he dressed in classic professor robes, switching to a lab coat and goggles when we switched to “lab” work, analyzing the movie and story elements. We finished the weekend with writing exercises and working with a partner, describing the basic elements of our own “gold story,” what results we desire from creating this story and the obstacles we face in creating our story. Cathy and I were both inspired by with our weekend experience and Dr. Key. We will return to the Los Angeles area to work with him again in a small group limited to twelve people. In that workshop we will create our gold stories with feedback from Dr. Key and the others in the group. We will also learn to present our story in several different timed lengths to match these to specific audience opportunities while getting feedback from others to refine our presentations.

We topped off our California trip with a fun day in Disneyland and a day exploring Death Valley National Park. We love to visit National Parks and my next blog will discuss our busy year of visiting many National Parks. Death Valley is an interesting landscape and we were there with a temperature of 67 degrees on a day when our home town of Fort Collins had a massive snowstorm that closed schools for the first time in over two years. After our day in Death Valley, we spent a night in Las Vegas and a night in Santa Fe on our way home.