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How To Quantify Your Storytelling Skills

(or how to sell $129 worth of crap on eBay for $3,613)

I’m convinced that storytelling is one of the most overlooked skills on the planet.

So, naturally, I was amped up when I stumbled across the work of Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker last weekend.

In 2009, they designed a brilliant experiment to measure the value of great storytelling in a more objective way.

They bought a bunch of cheap, random crap from thrift stores and hired some professional writers to write a story about each object with the goal of “[attributing] significance” to it.

Then, they posted each item on eBay (using the story as the item’s description) and started the auction at whatever price they had paid for the thing.

The result?

From Austin Kleon’s book Show Your Work!:

By the end of the experiment, they had sold $128.74 worth of trinkets for $3,612.51.

Glorious.

I hope to see the day where storytelling moves from being a “soft,” nice-to-have skill to something with more quantifiable value.


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