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Encouraging storytelling in entrepreneurship: An interview with Juan David Aristizábal

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Juan David is the founder of Los Zúper, an NGO based in Colombia that trains young people in the skills they need for the future. He inspired participants at YBI’s recent Global Youth Entrepreneurship Summit with his reflections on how to use storytelling to shape the future of entrepreneurship. We asked him about his journey and the advice he has for other young entrepreneurs.

What is your story?

I am from a coffee region in Colombia. Both of my parents were in the coffee business, but in 1999 they went broke. This was a very difficult financial time for my family. We also had a lot of violence in Colombia and I realised that I had to do something and be involved in change. I didn't like what I was seeing, and I wanted to do something to make a positive difference. After a friend of mine was killed, a group of friends and I decided we had to use our skills for social change. That's how everything started. Today we use entertainment, technology and education to engage people in social action.

What do you think is the key ingredient for a powerful story?

You must first understand and embrace your own story. Be who you are. Know your story and use it to inspire and move people to create action. Our stories are in our past and in our future. So, every time that someone asks me ‘How can I create my story?’, I say, I don't have the answer. What I have is a question for you – What is your story? Everything is there already.

How can we encourage people to become storytellers themselves?

I think we must start sharing our own stories first. If we communicate who we are then we encourage others to start sharing their stories. That's what I have seen in communities in Latin America. Sometimes we ask why other people are not sharing their stories, and it’s because we are not sharing our own. We share the story of our programmes and our organisations, but we don't share who we are and what our dreams are. It’s about knowing yourself and sharing your story, so people will share with you - that's how the brain works. We want to imitate and replicate. If we start sharing, people will start sharing.

Do you have any advice for fellow young entrepreneurs on how to succeed?

Firstly, don't believe in the wisdom of others. Don't believe that other people have the answers for you. In my personal story, what has worked is doing. Making things happen for yourself. It is all about action. Done is better than perfect.

 

Follow Juan David on Twitter and Instagram.

 

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