JAY GOLDEN, CO-FOUNDER
Jay Golden has nearly 20 years of experience as storyteller, story coach and strategist. After selling his first business, a binocular rental venue at concerts venues, Jay spent three years working and traveling around the world – from Kathmandu to Cusco to Marrakech – by train, bus and boat. It was on the road that he became a storyteller, recounting tales of adventures and lessons to fellow travelers and later in his writings in the SF Bay Guardian.
Jay’s storytelling skills proved useful when he landed in San Francisco in the mid-90′s, as he helped found Learn2.com, a site that Yahoo! called “The Most Useful on the Internet.” He went on to create interactive projects for companies like Levi-Strauss, Phillips Electronics, and Oracle. Jay also produced some of the first major-label online music videos (Shockwave.com), and an array of action-driving web animations that were seen by millions (Freerange.com).
Yet as the social media universe expanded, Jay found clients were putting an increasing focus on story tools expertise rather than storytelling expertise. It wasn’t just about finding someone to tell a great story, Jay knew. As a leader, you have to be able to tell the story yourself, in a dozen different ways, to bring it to life. And that part of the puzzle was largely untended.
So in 2009, along with Joel ben Izzy, Jay created Wakingstar Storyworks, with the vision of transforming the world through well-told stories. Today, Wakingstar crafts stories and trains leaders at Facebook, YouTube, the CDC, and the Rainforest Action Network.
Jay also is the creator and host of Journeys, a live and interactive storytelling show.
JOEL BEN IZZY, CO-FOUNDER
Though Joel ben Izzy has been telling stories all his life, his professional career began in 1983 after he graduated from Stanford with a self-designed degree in storytelling. From there, Joel set off to travel the globe, gathering and telling stories from Tel Aviv to Tokyo and Paris to Petaluma.
Joel’s own career took a sharp twist when he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Though usually a treatable form of the disease, in this case there was a strange complication. When he awoke from surgery he discovered he could no longer speak. At first the doctors thought the loss was temporary, but later they decided it was permanent. So it was Joel found himself living inside a story as strange as any he had ever told, filled with twists and turns including the last and strangest twist – the sudden return of his voice long after he had given up hope of being able to speak.
This led to his award-winning memoir, The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness (Algonquin Books, 2003). Now in its fifth printing, it has been translated into fifteen languages around the world, has been optioned for film and is being developed for theater.
Joel’s journey left him with many gifts and lessons as well as a passion for helping people do good work and find and tell their stories. This took him to realms rarely frequented by storytellers – the worlds of technology, community development, law and entertainment. And then one day, he walked into Saul’s Deli…