I learned to tell stories ... growing up at home. My grandfather couldn’t talk without telling a story or joke or illustration. I learned that is the way that communication works. Like a lot of guys, I started school early at age 4. Physically, I couldn’t compete with the boys in my grade, so I had to use wit and humor and skills to survive. Little did I know that it’s possible to use one’s mouth like legs for speed.
I prefer to tell stories to ... either adult or mixed audiences. I like to tell longer stories that get more developed.
If my life were a story, it would start ... Once upon a time ... there was this skinny little kid in southwest Nebraska. Even though he lived in a relatively poor environment, he thought “Someday I’ll be able to stand in front of people and talk, and they’ll listen.”
My tricks to getting an audience to respond are ... it doesn’t matter if you tell a classical or personal story, they all have universal themes. Everyone has generally the same hopes, fears and questions.
The biggest storytelling mistake I think people make is ... taking too much time introducing the story.
I think being a good storyteller is ... like being a musician. It can be learned — for example, I work with middle schoolers where they learn storytelling skills.
My favorite type of story is ... “Jack” stories. Jack is the archetype of the wise fool.
My favorite thing to do on a Saturday afternoon is ... pitch horseshoes or gardening.
My favorite quote I try to live my life by is ... not really a quote, but it’s “Be positive.” Either that or “Expand your appreciable universe.”