Need a Master Class in Storytelling? Start with 5 Lessons from StoryCorps & Humans of New York

Telling your own story is hard. But over the course of collecting more than 75,000 stories from regular people around the world, the founders of StoryCorps and Humans of New York have become experts in both the process and collaboration required to do so successfully, meaningfully and respectfully.

The good news  

As the curator/conservator/agent of the story, you can help create an environment that yields good stories. There are questions you can ask to steer the narrative. Your input is critical. You can make stories stronger.

The (possibly) bad news

 You have to care about the storyteller and the story. You have to suspend your judgment as the story unfolds. You have to be kind and compassionate. You have to be a human talking to another equal human. No one can put you in that mindset. It comes more comfortably to some people than others. But you can practice. You can get better. 

The five key takeaways

From founders Dave Isay (StoryCorps) and Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York):

  1. A supportive culture breeds good stories.
  2. Engage deeply. Interrupt kindly.
  3. Trust in people.
  4. Do not commodify your stories.
  5. If you have a calling, pursue it relentlessly.

Dig deeper

For context, real life examples and more about each of these five points, read The Art of Storytelling, According to the Founders of StoryCorps and Humans of New York on

For a more personal take, listen to the conversation between Dave Isay and Brandon Stanton.

To make sure you're continuously immersed in exceptional storytelling, check out StoryCorps and Humans of New York.

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