Our generous donor Esther Choy has agreed to help support the StoryCorps Listening Challenge by offering a challenge grant opportunity to match every gift dollar-for-dollar up to $5,000 until the end of our campaign on May 16. Given this generous opportunity, we wanted our community to learn a bit more about Esther and why she gives to StoryCorps.  

Esther is the President of Leadership at Story Lab, a training firm dedicated to teaching classical storytelling to modern leaders. She also lectures in Kellogg’s Executive Education Programs. Since 2010, she has coached hundreds of executives, helping many gain promotions and motivate their teams and customers through storytelling. Esther also recently published her first book, Let the Story Do the Work. She is a storyteller at heart and understands the power of our stories and the impact they can have on others.

We wanted to get a better sense of what drives Esther to support our work, so we asked her to share with us why she is passionate about StoryCorps.

Why do you love StoryCorps?

Why do I love StoryCorps? Where do I begin?! Listening to StoryCorps’ stories makes me smile, cry, laugh, ponder, reflect, think. Most importantly, I feel hopeful when I listen to StoryCorps.

Why do you think listening is important?

A very wise person once said, “To become a great storyteller, one must first become a story collector.” Without listening, how can anyone collect stories?

Since I train executives on becoming more persuasive through the application of storytelling, I see listening as a prerequisite for this very critical 21st-century skill set. Though most clients I’ve met understand why listening is important — at least in their heads — they don’t know how to do it well. Modern life is incredibly distracting, after all. That’s why I devoted a whole chapter on how to listen even when you feel like you can’t in my upcoming book, Let the Story Do the Work, which comes out in July 2017.

Listening, however, is about more than becoming great storytellers. We live in a divided, partisan world. At times, it seems like there is no way back to any sense of unity. In fact, there is a way.

Years ago, I was in a week-long mediation training. The most important message that the trainer stressed over and over again was how important acknowledgment is. He likened acknowledgment to stabilizing patients in the ER. It’s the first thing you do with people in conflict. When people are hurt, it’s nearly impossible for them to think rationally and work constructively until they feel listened to. Listening is acknowledging. Listening is healing.

Why do you give to StoryCorps?

Like all good public services, we can’t sit back and wait for someone else to pitch in. We all have to pitch in. It’s my job. It’s your job. It’s everyone’s job!

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We are beyond appreciative of Esther’s generous matching gift for the StoryCorps Listening Challenge. If you would like to take advantage of this amazing opportunity and double the impact of your gift, take the Challenge today. Listen! Donate! Share!