JAY GOLDEN, CO-FOUNDER
Jay Golden learned the craft of storytelling on the road, traveling from Kathmandu to Cusco to Marrakech by train, bus and boat. With time, he became skilled in the traveler’s commerce – sharing stories, person-to-person, with those we meet along the way.
Landing in San Francisco in the mid-’90s, he found his storytelling skills useful as he led dozens of productions, including websites that taught (Learn2.com), music videos that entertained (Shockwave.com) and viral animations that did both (Freerange.com). With time, however, Jay began to see that as social media expanded, there was less attention paid to the original social media: sharing stories, person-to-person, with those we meet along the way.
The actual telling, Jay realized, was at the center of every media campaign he had ever done. So in 2009, along with Joel ben Izzy, Jay created Wakingstar, with the vision of crafting retellable stories that shape the world. Today, Wakingstar crafts stories for and trains leaders at Facebook, YouTube, the CDC, Abbott Diabetes Care, Rainforest Action Network, Levi Strauss and Environmental Defense Fund, helping them tap the power of well-told stories – so they can connect with their audiences, inspire their networks, and shape the world.
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…