March 19, 2023 / Esther Choy

On Forbes, I just published an article about how ChatGPT has the possibility of changing the leadership storytelling industry. It’s power to create first drafts appears unstoppable, but here are a few samples of why we don’t have so much to worry about, yet.

When asked: “Write a leadership story I can use in a business presentation,” ChatGPT replied:

Once upon a time, there was a small tech startup with big dreams. The CEO of the company, Jane, was a visionary leader who inspired her team with her enthusiasm and unwavering belief in the company’s potential.

One day, the company hit a major roadblock. Their main product, a mobile app, was facing technical issues that threatened to delay their launch date. The team worked tirelessly to fix the issues, but they were running out of time.

Jane knew that the situation was critical. She called for an emergency meeting and gathered the team together to discuss the problem. As they brainstormed solutions, Jane listened carefully to everyone’s ideas and concerns. She encouraged the team to think outside the box and to consider all possible options.

After several hours of intense discussion, the team came up with a plan to fix the technical issues and meet the launch deadline. Jane knew that the plan was risky, but she also knew that it was the best option they had.

With her leadership and guidance, the team worked around the clock to implement the plan. Everyone worked together, putting in extra hours and doing whatever it took to make the app launch a success.

Finally, after weeks of hard work and dedication, the app was launched successfully, and it received rave reviews from users and industry experts alike. Jane’s leadership had not only helped the company overcome a major obstacle, but it had also helped to strengthen the team and build a culture of collaboration and innovation.

While this ChatGPT sample story does have a beginning, middle and end, just like every story should, as I  describe in the IRS method, it’s completely boring, riddled with cliche, and unbelievable. Its plot and characters are vague and uninteresting, the conflict expected, the resolution a snooze. If someone actually used this story in a presentation, most of the audience would be on other their phones or daydreaming.

The point of adding a story to business communication is to breathe life and emotion into the information you are presenting. It’s a chance to build relationships and connections with your audiences and persuade them to take action.

ChatGPT misses all of this. And that’s not even the worst of it. The chatbot can just flat out present falsity as truth. When asked: “What is the story of Leadership Story Lab?” It spilled out this nonsense and half truths:

Leadership Story Lab is a company founded by Esther Choy, a storytelling expert and author. The story of Leadership Story Lab begins with Esther’s personal journey and her passion for storytelling.

Esther was born and raised in South Korea, where she was raised with a deep appreciation for storytelling. She moved to the United States to pursue her education, earning a degree in psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

After working in marketing and consulting roles for several years, Esther realized that storytelling was the key to effective communication in business. She founded Leadership Story Lab in 2010 with the goal of helping leaders and organizations leverage the power of storytelling to communicate their messages more effectively.

Since its founding, Leadership Story Lab has worked with a wide range of clients, including Fortune 500 companies, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. The company offers workshops, coaching, and consulting services to help leaders develop their storytelling skills and use them to achieve their goals.

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The story of Leadership Story Lab is a great example of how one person’s passion and expertise can be leveraged to create a successful business. Esther’s background in psychology and business, combined with her love of storytelling, gave her a unique perspective on how to use storytelling to drive business results. By creating Leadership Story Lab, she was able to share this expertise with others and make a meaningful impact in the business world.

This “story” is also boring and completely inaccurate. I was not born in South Korea. I did not work in marketing and had no formal psychology background before founding Leadership Story Lab. Where or how ChatGPT decided to add these falsities, I have no idea.

Together, these samples show that ChatGPT has a lot of bugs to work out before it can write a compelling story. We don’t need to rely on it for templates, and can not rely on it for facts or emotional interest. The one thing it did achieve: it is so outrageously untrue I actually laughed out loud.

If challenge is the nerve center of a story, change is the soul of it.

A straightforward story filled with nothing but glory and happiness is a boring story. What draws audiences to a story, what makes people feel a sense of connection, is the difficulty we face, the pain we endure and the revelation we arrive at. Above all, what makes a story memorable is the meaning that we generate from the experience. For most people, coming to one’s leadership story requires the passage of time, the willingness to reflect, and the skills of storytelling.

If you are interested in uncovering the true possibilities of leadership storytelling, try one of our Story Labs, where real humans will help you discover your stories and workshop them with you. It’s a place where relationships and stories are full of heart.

Esther Choy

Esther Choy founded Leadership Story Lab in 2010 to help others leverage the art of storytelling to create extraordinary opportunities.
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"This is an amazing and insightful post! I hadn’t thought of that so you broadened my perspective. I always appreciate your insight!" - Dan B.

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