I believe in the power of stories. For quite some time this has blown my mind and made me a fanatic of every project out there that tempts to promote the human side of the world through stories. One of my favorites is “Humans of New York”. This project, started by the photographer Brandon Stanton on 2010, is a photo blog that has become a bestselling book featuring street portraits and human stories. We all are collectors of stories; creator of our own and borrowers of some others that make us move. This is a part of my most recent collection, shared to you.
A few days ago, I had the opportunity to be part of the World Economic Forum in Davos, which happens every January since 1971. This event brings together over 2,500 representatives from 140 countries, more than 200 heads of state of government, Nobel prizes, celebrities and many business people from every single industry. It is overloaded with excitement being surrounded by the people who have inspired you in so many ways.
At first, my approach to the forum was filled with activities based on just trying to look for specific people and opportunities to talk with them. It was not long when I realized I got it all wrong. The forum was not actually about super heroes, but about humans, human beings with some amazing stories to share.
So coming back and writing about it, I wanted to share this -more- human side of the forum. A part of tales, failures, struggles, love, but after all stories that actually make us Human Beings. Here my collection of the best stories I gathered, which made my Davos experience much more human and my collection much more fulfilled.
For this first story, I must admit I really didn’t see it coming and it might be my story for 2015. It was a normal dinner session at the Forum; food, experts and interesting topics. This kind of sessions are my personal favorite, nothing better than good food and great talk.
The topic of that night was “Legendary Leaders”, I turned to the emptier table with only 3 men seated, and on the side the most original man I met on the forum. We started talking, and he looked very interested on knowing what I do, what I think, what I feel. This was a very genuine conversation with someone that really wants to listen. Just as he began to tell me about himself, his first words were “I’m a storyteller.” He continued, “I believe in the power stories have to humanize the world.” As he finishes those words, dinner started and with that I realize that he was one of the panelists, Platon.
We listened for 20 minutes the stories of the other panelists — their lives; their challenges and how their believes made them legendary leaders. Platon took the microphone and the first thing that he talked about was his passion in photography. For many years he toke pictures of many presidents, artists and celebrities worldwide. He witnessed power, maybe not felt it but definitely got in physically contact with it.
After the small context of who he was, he started telling us the story, and at that point we met Lola. Lola is a homeless woman in the city of Moscow. After talking with her for a while Platon asked her “If you had any wish you’d like, what would it be?” Lola very confident answers, “For you to be happy.” Struggling to keep it together after the response he got, Platon adds, “Lola, if there is someone that would definitely deserve a wish is you. Why would you give your wish to me.” And Lola gave him an answer that changed Platon’s life “I believe that if I wish for you, then something good will come for me. So now that I have a wish for you, what are you going to do?” After this, Platon realized that the great stories were not only behind the most powerful and complex people but also behind every single human being. Since then, Platon has portrayed many stories that have change the world. Some of the most amazing stories about Civil Rights, Immigration and this amazing story behind the picture that made Colin Powell endorse Barack Obama for President on 2008.
Andrés is a fellow Global Shaper from Caracas, Venezuela. I have been a Global Shaper for around 3 years now, and on this time I`d been blessed to meet so many of them from all around the world. With every single Shaper I get to know my perspective on the world changes. Not only because I have the actual opportunity to share their cultures, traditions, history but specially because we get to also share our dreams and struggles, which for my surprise, are so similar all around the world. This, in so many ways, makes my world so much more human. When I see news on some of their countries it’s not about something so far away, it becomes real and personal.
And this story is a great example of how and why. For so many years, I have heard things about Venezuela; its political, social and economic status is constantly on the news all around Latin American and the world. Coming from the entrepreneurial field, I had always wonder how could any young entrepreneur survive all the Venezuelan status quo?
After meeting Andres, I must say the key is a whole lotta love. This amazing entrepreneur and father have the same fears, problems and passion as any businessman that loves his country and believes what through business we can create change. His way of loving Venezuela had made him create a company dedicated to provide health services in Venezuela. Employing more than 200 Venezuelans, Venemergencia Group impacts almost 400.000 affiliates nationwide with companies that vary from emergency medical services to home-care services.
No one can argue Andres is an amazing entrepreneur, but on the human side he is also a brave Venezuelan that shows again that the best way of saying is actually doing. This last statement is so inspiring considering that a few mouths ago on local television the government of Venezuela was calling him and other Shapers, “traitors of the nation” just because he is part of a global network. This is where; bravery and love take a completely new sense.
This brings me to ask, what actually makes someone love its country so much that is willing to risk even his own safety for it? At least for me, it`s not the government. It’s rather every single citizen and their stories, every tradition and the opportunity on making new ones. Andres represents that in so many ways. He once told me “If we don’t stay, who is gonna?” as a way of telling me, love is not only about being there when everything is OK, but about pushing, working and loving even harder when it is needed the most. I wish and I hope to hear more stories about this face of Venezuela, a face that actually makes me care, matter and love a country that is not actually mine.
I could keep on going; story-by-story of all the amazing people I have met on the Forum. And “Yes” we can find the most powerful 1% of the world there, but behind, around and among them I found stories that have moved my world (and hopefully yours).
So if I must add a piece of advice let me tell you the following: next time you are with someone, REALLY LISTEN . It doesn’t matter were you are or with who. You never know when a great story is coming your way.
Originally published at storieson.com on May 25, 2015.