How 16 Characteristics of Greatness Apply to Storytelling

Don Yaeger, Author and Speaker, joins the Business of Story Podcast to discuss how empathy is the core of compelling storytelling, why questions are key, and the 16 characteristics of greatness.

In This Episode:

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Full Episode Details

Don Yaeger_InstagramQuestions are Key

Ask the right question and the world will open up for you.

Well, at least a person might, and from that you can get a fantastic story.

Don Yaeger walks us through his interview process and his sources for inspiration as a prolific author and editor. He’s written twenty-five books, is a nine-time New York Times bestseller, and was an associate editor for Sports Illustrated.

He’s adamant that there is no such thing as a ‘go-to’ question in an interview. You must really know your subject so that you can give yourself the opportunity to ask unique and driving questions.

Don also believes that empathy is a core storytelling component and that including humor in your work and being deliberate about your inner circle is paramount.

Through his careful efforts and years of interaction with extraordinary individuals, he has extracted 16 characteristics of greatness that he openly shares and applies to storytelling.

In This Episode

  • What the 16 characteristics of greatness are and how you can apply them to your story
  • How to ask the most interesting questions of your interviewees
  • Why humor is an important tool for accessibility
  • How empathy is at the core of all storytelling
  • Why keeping good company that challenges you is a key to success
  • How to break down barriers and open up your audience


Quotes From This Episode

“I’m focused on my circle. By surrounding myself consistently by people who push me, who encourage me, who challenge me, I think I’m a better me every day.” —@DonYaeger

“The key to good storytelling is empathy. It starts there.” —@DonYaeger

“Those who tell the best stories, those who are able to inspire others to action based on the story you tell them are those who change the world.” —@DonYaeger

“If you take excuses off the table, if you stop making excuses every time you fail, and if you stop blaming someone else every time something doesn’t go your way, you will learn how to hate losing more than you love winning. Because as long as you can blame somebody else for your failure, you’ll never own it and you’ll never hate it.” —@DonYaeger

“I try not to focus on the superhuman, even though the superhuman is what might draw people to want to read about them originally. I want to focus on the human.” —@DonYaeger

You cannot lead people you do not know. That became a real driver for me to realize that it doesn’t matter how big or small my company is, I need to know as many of them, as many of the things that they’re challenged by. I need to know in order to truly be their leader.” —@DonYaeger

“Their emotional dynamic and their willingness to engage increases dramatically when they’re getting into a conversation that’ll make them laugh.” —@DonYaeger

“The way we break down walls is that we understand each other better, we know each other’s story.” —@DonYaeger


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