Knowing My Story

by Daniel Jacobs

When I was five years old, all the children in my kindergarten class were asked to stand and share what we wanted to be when we grew up. Most of my friends stood and shared typical five-year-old answers: they wanted to be firefighters, baseball players, ballerinas. 

Finally, it was my turn. I looked around at a sea of little eyes fixed on me, and I stared back at them proudly. Before the teacher could even prompt me, I said, “I want to be a rabbi, a writer, or president of the United States.” 

The teacher smiled and said, “Daniel, why would you choose those jobs?” 

I didn’t need to consider my reply. I felt I’d known the answer my whole life:

“I want to be a rabbi… like my dad… because maybe my stories can help people at important times in their lives. I want to be a writer… like my mom… because maybe my stories can help people even after I’m gone.” 

“And why do you want to be president of the United States?” my teacher said. 

“Because politics is really messed up. Maybe I can help with that too.” 

This morning I reflected on that moment, 32 years ago. What I remember, almost as much as the words I spoke, is my certainty. I knew who I wanted to be. And I knew I would do whatever it took to be that person. 

Today, I run an organization that helps people tell powerful stories that improve their lives, their teams, and their organizations.

Today, oddly, I am not a rabbi, writer, or president of the United States. But I feel like I get the best of all of those worlds: I run an organization that helps people tell powerful stories that improve their lives, their teams, and their organizations. 

Those stories help people at the most important moments in their lives – like I’d hoped. And those stories will live beyond, even, my own life – like I’d imagined. And although politics seems to have only devolved over the years, our work does help people find clarity in the midst of chaos.

I feel overwhelming gratitude to do the work I wanted to do when I was five years old. And I wonder: how much of my journey has been pure happenstance? And how much of it is connected to knowing, deeply, the story I hoped to live?

—Daniel Jacobs, Avanoo CEO & Co-founder

About Daniel

Daniel Jacobs is a husband, father, inventor, and storyteller. His work has been featured on Fortune, Inc. Magazine, Business Insider, Apple News, HuffPost, and most major news publications in the United States. He is CEO and co-founder of Avanoo, which uses the power of stories to drive connection, belonging, and performance in the workplace.

About Avanoo

Avanoo brings together the world’s oldest artform – storytelling – and the world’s newest technologies – AI, machine learning – to support teams in experiencing more connection, belonging, and performance. Our app makes it easy for employees to share and listen to each other’s stories wherever they are, and our insights dashboard makes it easy for leaders to understand where and how stories create lasting impact on their teams. Learn more:
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