The Digital Dreamer is what The Week refers to him as. His life, as Mr. Ameen Haque puts it, has always been associated with stories and tales in some form or the other.
‘I believe stories are wisdom disguised as entertainment,’ says Ameen to YourStory and that is exactly what he aims to achieve through his entrepreneurial venture, Storywallahs. He has a two-decade long career in advertising and also pursues his journey as an actor in Theatre. A story coach, an innovation consultant and a diversity champion are just a few of the hats he dons. We had the privilege to get a short interview where he was kind enough to weave his life story for us.
Q: Storyteller, trainer, innovation coach, a theatre artist, an amazing speaker! These are facets of Ameen that everyone around is familiar with. Introduce us to the Ameen that is private only to you and your family. AH: At home and with family members, I am usually the one who speaks less, reads more and loves playing table tennis, listening to music and watching good cinema, in any language. I am also a big foodie and love all kinds of food, e.g., kappa (tapioca) and fish curry from Kerala, litti and chokha from Bihar, undhiyo from Gujarat, rista and gushtaba from Kashmir and Bengali food. Q: Was Ameen Haque always fascinated with stories? What inspired you into becoming a storyteller? AH: During my childhood I was an extremely shy and reserved kid and spent most of my time with books, i.e. stories. Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Enid Blyton stories, Tinkle, Target, Indrajaal comics, Panchatantra, Arabian Nights, and Hardy Boys were the staple diet that I grew up on. And, of course, Ramayan and Mahabharat. Subsequently my work in advertising was nothing but applied storytelling. Theatre, in any case, is nothing but stories brought alive on stage. So, most of my life has been connected to stories in one way or another. However, the switch to making storytelling my profession was another story. I saw a ‘professional storyteller’ tell stories once and was surprised to discover that she made a living telling stories and conducting workshops. It was a revelation to me that this could actually be a career. And the more I thought about it, the more I believed that I could do this too. And within six months, I had taken the plunge. Q: What, according to you, is the most important characteristic to be able to weave stories that touch people's hearts? AH: The right intention. If the intent is right, everything else falls into place. Q: Does being an actor and a storyteller help you become a more efficient trainer? AH: Absolutely. However I think there is more than that. I worked extensively in Brand Consulting, Strategy and Marketing. I think what makes Storywallahs a winning proposition is that we operate at the crossroads of Performing Arts and Business. And the fact that we are able to bring their understanding of both of these worlds to bear upon our work as trainers. Q: Management is a science. Storytelling is an art. Or so is popular belief. How do you fuse the two? AH: True magic happens when Art and Science blend together. In music, science, architecture or even management. We fuse the two together organically as our approach is based on a deep understanding of Business issues, Technology, Innovation, Strategy and Leadership on one hand, and stories, folklore, mythology and theatre on the other. Q: What does Ameen Haque do on a day he is left to himself? AH: Read a little, go for a walk, listen to music, watch a movie, eat good food and read a story. Q: How has your experience been on training IPL cohorts on storytelling? A word of advice that you would like to give? AH: Absolutely gratifying. Here’s why: a) The average age in the class is about 39 years. So, most of the students come with a lot of work experience. This makes the conversations real and business-focused rather than theoretical. This is a HUGE advantage. b) The students rate the faculty members - and this feedback is extremely useful for anybody who wants to improve their craft. c) Many people are good at developing products but do not know how to tell a good story about it - I am extremely happy that I am able to solve a real problem. Q: Why is storytelling so important in the business world today? Why must professionals and leaders learn to tell stories? AH: No matter which business you are in, you are already in the business of storytelling. I have always believed that 'Great stories happen to those who can tell them’ (Quote by Ira Glass) and good leaders are also good storytellers. Nothing communicates better than a story. It is the oldest technology of impactful communications and remains ever so important even today.
Ameen Haque’s talks at TED and Google are awe-inspiringly beautiful tales of life, leadership and values. Make sure you don’t miss out on his interesting talks.