Storytelling and the Latticework of Chicago Ideas Week

“As a storyteller, I have an opportunity to be a magician. I have an opportunity to go inside other people’s hearts and minds.” – Terry McMillan, CIW 2013

“There is no better way to enter the mind of another person than by reading their fiction. You will not get a better window into the experience of your fellow man.” – Tracy Letts, CIW 2013
Every speaker who takes the Chicago Ideas Week stage—whether novelist Terry McMillan or playwright Tracy Letts, entrepreneur Bre Pettis (of MakerBot fame), National Geographic photographer Alison Wright or countless others—is a storyteller. They are not all storytellers by trade; you won’t find the phrase on Bre’s resume, for instance. But each speaker, including Bre, has certainly learned to weave the strands of their work and personal lives into compelling, illuminating narratives that help connect us to the individual’s dreams and visions.The power of stories extends much further than compelling intellectual recreation. Good stories are the key to marketing and advertising,of course, but also for writing academic grantsthe creation of strong family bonds and even accounting. I believe that most successful individuals have had to study the “magic” of telling a good yarn to end up where they are today.To me, the magic of CIW is in the stories. Even beyond that, it’s often in the latticework of how multiple stories within a given session weave themselves together. I was first introduced to latticework by Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s legendary partner. Charlie uses latticework to refer to the concept of learning a handful of the most important and useful ideas from all disciplines of knowledge, so that one can use those ideas together to solve difficult problems.CIW takes this basic framework and puts it on the stage. The speakers rarely plan this weaving. It’s the curatorial team at CIW who is dedicated to presenting stories that, when taken together, are revelatory. By presenting a diverse group of experts and exploring a topic from all different sides and perspectives, CIW allows us to open our minds to new ways of thinking, new perspectives—and the exceptional,often magical power of a diverse set of stories creating unexpected lessons.

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