(July 6, 2022) When he dropped out of the school at the age of 15, many of his friends and family members thought that he was making the worst decision of his life. Many cautioned him, saying he wouldn’t find any proper employment after growing up. However, today Jyoti Guptara is a celebrated story strategist, novelist and motivational speaker. Counted among the “100 Most Important Swiss” and a Novelist-in-Residence for a UN partner organisation, the author was recently awarded a Scroll of Honour for Special Services by the County of Los Angeles for philanthropy, literary achievement, and inspiring other young people.
“I always had a knack for writing, so I decided to leave school early and became a full-time writer at the age of 15. At that time, I don’t think my teachers would have imagined that they would be inviting me back three years later to speak as a bestselling author,” he shares, as he connects with Global Indian from Switzerland. Jyoti is one of the early architects of business storytelling in Europe. He has worked with several leading organisations, including Deutsche Telekom, SwissRe, World Vision, The Global Humanitarian Forum, Bildungsdirection Kanton Zurich, University of St. Gallen, the Geneva Centre for Security Policy and the United Nations.
Born to write
Born to an English mother and Keralite father and based in Switzerland, Jyoti is a citizen of the UK as well as of Switzerland. He has a twin brother, Suresh, whom he shares a very close bond. They would do almost everything together, from falling in love with Star Wars and Chronicles of Narnia, to writing their first book, Conspiracy of Calaspia. “We had the same influences, so we loved the same stories and books growing up,” shares Jyoti, adding, “So, when we were 11, we had an idea for a fantasy story. I remember, I snuck down to my parent’s room to use the computer to start writing the story. We promised each other that we would finish the book, no matter how long it took.”
Those night-time expeditions to the computer resulted, six months later, in Conspiracy of Calaspia. “No publisher wanted it,” he laughs, adding, “We edited the book several times and about six years later the book got published.” The book was launched in Delhi, by the then Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, who called the brothers “born storytellers.”
While students his age were busy planning what they wanted to do in their life, Jyoti already knew he wanted to be an author. “I had started writing articles when I was 15 and already two had been published. I think the Universe had given me a signal that my writing career would flourish. So, I left school and only focused on writing,” shares the author.
The power of storytelling
Although their first book was a worldwide bestseller, and fetched the young writers widespread praise, only Jyoti continued to write books. However, writing alone came with many challenges. “I had only written with my brother, I had to rediscover the process since I would be writing on my own,” says the storyteller, who took a job with the Swiss government to ensure a regular income.
Going through a rough patch financially at the time, Jyoti decided he had to reinvent himself. And that is where his journey as a business storyteller began. “When I was a Fellow and Writer-in-Residence at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, I realised that people’s best content often came after presentations, informally over coffee – where people told stories. I was quickly able to apply my decade of experience with fiction to executive education, helping business leaders find and tell stories to give better talks, to pitch ideas and influence meetings,” says the author.
Business storytelling, Jyoti explains, “Is the quickest, cheapest and deepest way to influence anyone. A lot of people have a great product or idea, but struggle to convince people to buy it. I help them with a framework, to connect to the right people, convince them and convert it into sales.”
Ten years of writing fiction meant Jyoti brought with him a skill set seldom seen in Marketing / Communication circles – the ability to tell a gripping story. He worked with business leaders on their presentations and discussions, helping them weave their own real-life anecdotes, experiences, and personalised learnings into the narrative. In Europe, where he was one of the first business storytellers on the scene, Jyoti offers workshops, coaching and global consulting services for both individuals and organisations. He has worked with a range of companies, including “start-ups, SMEs and Fortune 500s with executive education, story systems, proven brand messaging frameworks and immersive storytelling in virtual reality,” Jyoti says.
However, despite his very busy schedule, Jyoti is still working on his books. “Recently, I distilled my experience in a 100-page start-now guide: Business Storytelling from Hype to Hack. This Amazon bestseller explains why Forbes calls storytelling the most important business skill, and shows how you can master the skill enjoyably – before your competition does.,” says the author, who lives with his wife in Switzerland.