Assembly Required: Masters of the Story Recap

As the new year approaches, we can’t believe our third installment of Assembly Required has come and gone!

With two events under our belt, we knew that Assembly Required: Masters of the Story would be bigger and better than our previous events. And with the help of our amazing sponsors, vendors, speakers, and attendees, we all worked together to create a truly unique experience — an experience centered around the magic of storytelling.

Assembly Required: Masters of the Story combined food, friends, and storytelling, no different than our nostalgic memories of sitting around a campfire.

Missed out on the night? Or maybe you just want to relive the event. No worries, we’ve got you covered.

Networking + Bites

We can all agree there’s no better way to kick off an event than with food.

The night began with lively networking and delicious hors-d’oeuvres provided by our amazing vendors. Attendees were treated to a variety of snacks from businesses like The Pelican House, Batch 13, Uncle Ben’s, Indie Plate, Red Stick Spice Co., and Whole Foods.

Between bites, attendees could also network with our other sponsors at the vendor fair, including Envoc, Mercedes-Benz, Louisiana Technology Park, Sparkhound, Dima Ghawi, Business First Bank, Wonder South, Republic Finance, Century Link, and My House Social.

With proverbial s’mores in hand, attendees gathered in the hearth of BRCC’s Magnolia Theatre to begin the main event.

The Storytellers

As attendees began to file into their seats, Stuart Haddad filled the air with soulful piano music, each note deliberate and smooth. Then, Chancelier “Xero” Skidmore, Executive Director of Forward Arts, stepped on stage mixing his poetic words into the piano’s rhythm as everyone settled.

Together, they crafted an impeccable story of a modern-day hero’s journey, setting our event off on a creative high note.

To hear his poetry, click here.

Taylor Richardson

Our host for the night, Taylor Richardson, started the night by saying what we were all thinking: “This Assembly Required is totally different than any that came before it.”

As she explained, storytelling is a subject so dear to every person’s heart, meaning this event was sure to impact everyone. Storytelling is everywhere: in our understanding of the world, in history, in memories; we rationalize everything through storytelling.

And with that, she introduced our first storyteller.

To see Taylor’s opening monologue, see here.

Jon Youshaei

Jon Youshaei, Head of Creator Product Marketing at YouTube and author of Every Vowel, has cracked the code on going viral. With a four step process, he told attendees the exact forumula to making it big.

That formula? Content, consistency, collaboration, and community.

He first emphasized that content is key. It’s what goes out to the public, and it’s what represents you. “Do you spend hours creating for every second they’re consuming?” he asked the audience.

“Consistency is just as important as content”, he continued. Game of Thrones didn’t make it big by posting whenever they feel like, he explained, so neither should you. Make a schedule and stick to it.

Next, he praised the virtue of collaboration. “Collaboration is growing your audience by borrowing from others.” Making the right connections and choosing the right relationships can make a major difference in your personal engagement.

Finally, a creator is nothing without a community where they can create. Going the extra mile to include your community in your process pays off in the end.

To hear Jon’s full speech, click here.

Bob Allen

Bob Allen, Founder and Chief Storytelling Officer at IDEAS Orlandoexplored storytelling in a scientific manner. He opened with a lighthearted joke before jumping into the scientific method, diving into the logistics of why we tell stories. He reminded the audience that “everyone is creative,” no matter how hard you believe otherwise.

He explained that “the brain loves the story.” Humans have a constant need to make sense of everything, so we love stories because they provide structured answers to our questions. And as we move into what Allen calls “World 4.0″, our stories are evolving to catch up with our digital and online usage.

“Now storytelling is about curation. It’s about listening to the stories we care about and saving the ones we find relevant.” 

This new method of storytelling has paved the way to innovation in marketing, he continued to explain. Brands must find a way to become an active story in order to stay relevant in consumer minds. Consumers crave transparency and relationships when they’re choosing brands.

And through this, Allen summated, “humanity has moved away from the ‘what’ and into the ‘why'”.

Chancelier “Xero” Skidmore

Xero returned to the stage with a story, poised to perfection. He told the simple tale of how he and his friend Sean met the infamous pop artist, Prince. With all of his usual enthusiasm and emotion (minus the rhythmic beat of his slam poetry), Skidmore transported us all to the fateful evening. His words made it seem like we were there when Prince handed Sean his guitar. We could almost see the horrified expression on Skidmore’s face as Sean and Prince bopped to Bambi together.

His story finished, and he began the lesson. Skidmore pointed out that he wasn’t the protagonist of his own story. His story was about his friend Sean playing guitar with Prince. And it’s okay that he was only a side character, he told the audience.

Be bold like Sean. Be generous like Prince. But don’t forget, it’s also important to be the witness, like me.” 

Skidmore has since been the witness to many other successful stories. He urged the audience to “be the witness to young people, to the marginalized, to the people who just need you to say ‘Yes, I was there!'”

To hear Chancelier “Xero” Skidmore’s full speech, click here.

Sarah Anthony

After a brief intermission, documentary film producer Sarah Anthony set the stage with her own story; the series of tumultuous steps that led to her successful career.

She began by telling the audience that the Greeks had two different concepts of time, Chronos and Kairos. “Chronos is what is planned to happen. Kairos is what is supposed to happen.” 

She then explained that her job as a producer is marrying the two concepts. She told attendees that, though her official job seems a lot like storytelling, most of it is calculated guesswork. She then recounted her history, from sweeping the streets in Los Angeles to helping victims of human trafficking across the globe.

Her career has been busy and demanding, but she has stuck to her core values the entire time.

“If you find your ‘why’ in life,” she told the audience, “the ‘how’ will just be details.” 

Sarah Anthony’s passion and conviction in her “why” was clear as she spoke. Her enthusiasm brightened the whole auditorium as she urged the crowd to go one step further. “Once you find your ‘why,’ don’t forget to share it. You never know who will hear your ‘why’ and want to help you.” 

To hear Sarah’s full speech, click here.

Katie Greenman

Katie Greenman, Director of Programs, storyteller & facilitator at Dear World, began her presentation by explaining a little about her company. Founded in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Dear World began as a way to bring the community together. It has now taken off and reached countless individuals across many different countries.

As she put it, “It’s our story to tell your story.” 

And so she told the stories of a few memorable Dear World participants. As each story passed, the emotion in the room grew stronger, each audience member basking in the solemnity of the stories.

Greenman reminded us that “the things that matter the most to us are often the simplest things.”

She spoke of Stuart Scott’s daughters, who reached out after their father’s passing. She recounted the stories of those affected by the Pulse nightclub shooting. Finally, she invited our very own team member Justin Hutchinson to tell his story.

Hearts grew heavy as Justin told his story. With strong emotions and deep inspiration in the air, Greenman then invited the crowd to tell their own stories. Paired up, attendees told each other a simple story, and after Greenman left the stage, each person was invited to write their stories on their body, for the camera to memorialize.

The story of Dear World ended the night on a vastly inspiring note. Warmed from nostalgia and touched by the stories of others, attendees left with a sense of purpose, and most importantly, with a story to tell.

As Greenman told us, “people are important. People are the root of our learned lessons.”

As a bonus for our attendees, we invited everyone to take their own Dear World headshots. Our collection can be found here.

We thank everyone who took part in Assembly Required: Masters of the Story. We hope you enjoyed the stories you heard, but we also hope you crafted some stories of your own.

We’d also like to thank Alex Barbosa of Barbosa’s Barbeque for providing a great dinner for our attendees, as well as Curbside for hosting a rocking afterparty! Check out our recap video below.


Our final installment of this season’s Assembly Required is coming soon! Stay tuned to hear more about Creatives in Tech, happening this February.

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Our new conference series, Assembly Required, is in full swing. Tickets for innovators in Food are available now.