Based on the storytelling podcast with Jerry Zaltman: metaphors, memes vs. GIFs, and 5 fascinating facts about stories

(You can skim this email or click on one of the many LINKS to learn more!)

Jerry Zaltman at HBS

For this week’s podcast, I am thrilled to introduce you to one of my favourite professors of all time (actually one of my favourite people of all time), Harvard professor and author Jerry Zaltman. Jerry Zaltman’s work focuses on “the representation of thought” in terms of STORYTELLING & metaphors, marketing, sociology, innovation, social change, and more. I would characterize Jerry Zaltman in two words: “generous intellect.”  He has published 23 books, he holds several patents, and he just won a lifetime achievement award from the AMA!  So yes, he is a very intelligent and accomplished human.  But he is also generous and gracious. An example of this: recently Jerry Zaltman created a donation program for his book, “Unlocked: Keys to Improve your Thinking.”

As a student of Jerry Zaltman’s, I appreciated how he always made time to invite students in to his office for meaningful conversations regarding about a book he just read or about our own research struggles. During one of those meetings in his office, Jerry encouraged me to make a promise to myself (and to him): Promise to write at least one page EVERYDAY.  Jerry Zaltman's books on Andrea Wojnicki's deskRecently, when I called Jerry to ask if I could interview him for Talk About Talk, I confessed to Jerry that I broke my promise. Of course, Jerry graciously forgave me.  However, I am making up for it now, doing research, writing scripts, writing shownotes and writing blogs every week.  And – I keep Jerry’s books handy on my desk as a reminder and as inspiration.

In this podcast focused on Storytelling, you will learn:

  • a few things that the best storytellers do
  • how reading, writing and talking are all valid modes of learning, and
  • why we should all focus more on HOW we think (as opposed to WHAT we think)

Storytelling with Jerry Zaltman

THANK YOU, Jerry Zaltman!


Have you heard the term “Meme” a lot lately? Well I have, and I did some digging to learn more. According to wikipedia:Storytelling and memes

An Internet meme, commonly known as just a meme (/mm/ MEEM), is an activity, concept, catchphrase, or piece of media that spreads, often as mimicry or for humorous purposes, from person to person via the Internet.[5] 

MEME is a very general term.  It can be any type of idea, including but not limited to shareable media: a photo, quote, video, whatever. You may have also heard the term “GIF“.  A GIF is a type of meme that is in bitmap image format, usually a short video on a loop.  You can’t go wrong just calling it a meme. GOT IT.

Interested in adding memes to your social media feed? You can make your own meme or you can copy a meme link from various websites. 

You could say that memes are short stories or vignettes.  And there is usually a story behind a meme.  That’s what makes them popular and share-worthy. Major pop culture events often provide material for memes.  Recently, we witnessed Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper getting intimate onstage at the Oscars. Hello memes!

Sometimes memes (or GIFs) are short snippets from TV shows or movies, like SNL or Star Wars:

My favourite GIF is one that makes me LOL every time I see it. (Apparently I’m not the only one that appreciates it!)  And this meme is marketing! It’s a GIF series with Shaq selling clothing for JCPenney.  I hope it makes you smile too…. ?


  1. The OLDEST story we know is The Epic of Gilgamech, the mythological ruler of Urek in 2700-2500B. That’s >4500 years ago!
  2. The term BOOKWORM comes from the lovely insects who live in and feed on the binding of books. (Still, being called a “bookworm” is a compliment, right?)
  3. ? The TOP-SELLING books of all time are:(1.)The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien; (2.) Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) byAntoine de Saint-Exupéry; and (3.) Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. RowlingWait – what about THE BIBLE? The Bible is the most read book, and refers to many scriptures or texts.  It has evolved over time, it is translated, and the content is adjusted for various languages, groups and traditions.  Not coincidentally, the English word Bible is from the Latin biblia,  meaning “the books”. 
  4. ? The most popular FAIRY TALE is probably…. Cinderella.  Also known as “The Little Glass Slipper,” this story has evolved over time and across cultures.  The earliest version of Cinderella is believed to be the 7BC story of Rhodopis, about a Greek slave girl who marries the king of Egypt. 
  5. Apparently “OLD BOOK SMELL” is a real thing!  While more and more people are reading books on their screens, there are plenty of us who ❤️ the smell of old books. They call us “Bibliosmiacs.” Furthermore, scientists can analyze the chemicals responsible for “old book smell” to determine the age of a book using a process similar to carbon dating.  That’s so cool!  


Every week we share a few quotes worth talking about.  This week we focus on STORIES and STORYTELLING:

Storytelling with Jerry Zaltman - quote

I hope you enjoy this week’s podcast on STORYTELLING with Professor Jerry Zaltman.

As always, I would ❤️to talk! I appreciate your suggestions, your topic ideas, and anything else you would like to talk about. You can always connect with me at Thank you to those of you have reached out recently. I received a few comments from Talk About Talk blog readers who appreciate all the clickable links, particularly for the COLOUR Blog. (I’m so happy to hear you like the format! My objective is to create a short blog that you can either read quickly or you can click-through to learn more.)  I also heard from some of you who fondly recalled the Tide box-inspired front cover of the FastCompany issue in 1997.  (Blast from the past, right?!?

One last ask. PLEASE forward this email or this link to anyone you think might be interested in learning about Storytelling with Jerry Zaltman and Talking About all things “Communication.”  Thank you!!!

TALK soon!

Andrea Wojnicki headshotDr. Andrea Wojnicki
Founder & Chief Talker – TalkAboutTalk

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