About Jordan Bower: Storyteller.
The Short Story:
Jordan Bower is an organizational consultant who specializes in communication, creativity and transformational change. He has dedicated his career to developing a unique, non-traditional skillset that combines facilitation, public speaking and leadership coaching with a personal artistic practice in the art of storytelling.
Jordan is the founder of Transformational Storytelling, a leadership storytelling training business, as well as the co-founder of Rocket Science, a strategic innovation advisory. He has spoken at many conferences and provided storytelling training for companies in the US, Canada, Europe and Asia.
Jordan works with CEOs, executive leaders and visionary entrepreneurs, supporting skill development and transformation for them and their teams.
The Longer Story:
Growing up as the oldest child of divorce, I developed the fundamental skill of translating from one perspective to another. Dad said this… Mom said that. This was my adolescence in a nutshell.
This upbringing introduced me to the very postmodern idea of subjectivity in perspectives. Dad had one idea for what family meant, Mom had another. Both ideas were wrong… and also right. Perhaps being Canadian also contributed to my fascination with other people’s stories.
When I was 17, I spent a semester studying abroad in Europe. This experience catalyzed an obsession with independent travel, which played out over the next fifteen years through a progression of extraordinary travel experiences. In college, I backpacked Southeast Asia and Australia, studying abroad once again in Hong Kong—the semester got cut short by the onset of SARS. Back home in Canada, I found a job with the luxury travel outfitter, Butterfield & Robinson. The early part of my career was spent planning exotic vacations and collaborating with vendors and contacts all over the world.
Soon, I found myself hungry for more travel experiences myself. From 2006-2012, I visited India and Nepal four times, spending a total of more than two years meandering through these kaleidoscopic places. Somehow in the midst of all that, I embarked on a solo, 316-day hiking trip down the Pacific Coast of the US, through Washington, Oregon and California.
Each of these remarkable and privileged experiences were fundamental to my development—as a person and as a storyteller.
Self-Discovery Through Traveling
Looking back on my travels from today’s perspective, I suppose I was a proto-Influencer. I took tens of thousands of photographs and wrote long essays about my experience on my travel blog. But this was pre-Instagram: there were no obvious ways to earn income from my experiences…and, frankly, I had little desire to commodify them. I was much more fascinated with what now seems like a very naive, early Internet idea: how to tell stories in a way that engendered mutual understanding and, maybe, contributed to a better world.
My heart was in the right place, even if I had gotten drunk on a digital version of the White Man’s Burden.
I threw myself into the study of storytelling. I quickly discovered that this ancient art form was about much more than “how to win friends and influence people”. Psychology, sociology, philosophy and spirituality are as much components of storytelling as structure, plot and character.
At first, I looked at storytelling through the lens of a photographer. My idol was the famous National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry, whose intimate portraits—including the famous one of the green-eyed Afghani Girl—had once provoked my curiosity in other cultures. While traveling, I dedicated myself to photographing people without quite understanding why—or fully understanding the power dynamics and cultural implications.
At the same time, I was highly curious and open-minded—willing to see other people’s perspectives and, in the process, question my own. During my long trips in India, I devoured books on post-colonialism and the Indian experience. In backpacker cafes, I engaged in vibrant debates with locals and other travelers from around the world.
As I matured, my opinions evolved. My experiences humbled me. Over time, I came to regard being a “storyteller” with newfound respect and even awe. I formalized my study, seeking out teachers who included Hollywood screenwriters and performance artists.
During this 6 year retreat from the professional world, I was able to plant seeds that would one day flourish. But I couldn’t see that at the time. Often, I was terrified of my future. As far as I could tell, the career options for “professional storyteller” were limited. I might well have been still living in a wooden shack in the Himalayas today, if it wasn’t for a series of unexpected and profoundly difficult events that led me to walk by myself from Canada to Mexico. Along this transformational coming-of-age journey, I found new inner strength, and new hope for my future.
I returned to life believing that I had become a changed man. And the inspiration for Transformational Storytelling was born.
Coming Back Home Again
It turned out that I was right: there were no job postings on LinkedIn for “professional storyteller.” But now it was 2013, and Instagram was very much a thing. The broader business world was slowly becoming interested in “digital storytelling”. I saw an opportunity to become a storytelling trainer, helping professionals adapt how they communicated to the new digital reality.
Slowly, with trial and lots of error, I developed a business model. At first, I offered my services to marketers. And then, sales people. The landscape was evolving quicker than anyone imagined. By 2015, we all had smartphones in our pockets, and improvements in bandwidth flooded video and other image-based media into our feeds. The whole world of leadership communication had transformed overnight, and even though many professionals were saying “it’s the same as it’s always been,” I was one of the people who argued that things were changing irrevocably.
That year, I was invited to speak at the Future of Story Telling Festival in New York City. Other speakers on the bill included Edward Snowden, Margaret Atwood and Al Gore. This experience strengthened my profile and my confidence. My bookings increased. Over the next few years, I traveled the world, delivering storytelling workshops and trainings to clients across North America, and in Europe and Asia. My client roster quickly swelled to include tech unicorns, Fortune 500 companies and government agencies. Momentum was building. Now, everyone in organizations wanted to learn how to be better storytellers—executives, sales and marketing people, but also finance leaders and change managers.
By the end of the decade, digital transformation was sweeping through every company in the world. My intimate insight into so many different clients and industries helped me focus on the communication—meaning, the human—aspects of the challenge. I could see the heavy-handedness, the focus on data and process over people first-hand. I also heard many, many people complaining about the lack of meaning and burnout.
I began integrating these insights into my keynote speeches. But I was just one tiny little voice. Then, in March 2020, the world stopped, and storytelling suddenly took on a different kind of importance, especially in light of the social and cultural changes that were accelerated by the pandemic.
Personally, during lockdown, I stepped back to re-evaluate. I didn’t want to be a storytelling trainer forever, but I couldn’t quite imagine what else might come next. This period was very much like a metamorphosis. An old version of my self died and a new version grew in its stead.
In 2022, I co-founded a new business called Rocket Science that expressed my new vision of myself in novel ways. Rather than replacing my old storytelling business, Rocket Science has enlivened it with new depth and impact.
Collectively, my experiences have taught me the value of embracing change—of leading with authenticity, creativity and vulnerability. These insights, drawn from my real failures and successes, are at the core of all my work.