Roger Sorkin

#457: The Trick to Producing Viral, Resilient Stories

#457: The Trick to Producing Viral, Resilient Stories

As storytellers, we want to produce viral, resilient stories that captivate and move our audiences to action. Right?

But that’s way harder than we think it is.

So I’m excited to have highly-award-winning documentarian, Roger Sorkin, with us today to share how he approaches his storytelling to make as big of an impact on the world as possible.

Roger is the founder of the American Resilience Project, a nonprofit that produces award-winning, mission-driven films focused on practical solutions to environmental challenges.

“The American Resilience Project wields the power of strategic narratives to meet the greatest threats to human security and civilizational stability. Our work is designed to strengthen civic engagement for achieving the energy transition, adapting to sea level rise, managing the climate crisis, strengthening food security, and more.”

He discusses the power of storytelling to address complex and divisive topics such as climate change and sustainability.

Sorkin emphasizes the importance of finding common ground and using trusted messengers to effectively communicate with diverse audiences.

He also highlights the role of humor and positivity in engaging and inspiring people. Sorkin concludes by discussing his recent work in telling the sustainability story of airports and the potential for nonprofits to provide storytelling services to other organizations.

Here are the two examples we reviewed:

Discussed in this episode:

  1. Understand where your audience is coming from: what are the pitfalls, buzzwords, rhetoric to embrace or avoid?
  2. Don’t think that the frame that appeals to you is the frame that appeals to them, e.g. Conservative Uncle Frank will not be persuaded at Thanksgiving dinner that he should stop hunting, get rid of his pickup and buy an EV because you’re worried about polar bear habitats.
  3. Keep hopeful. Negative frames push people away. Without glossing over the negative too much, show a light at the end of the tunnel that empowers the audience.


  • 00:00 Introduction and Background
  • 00:35 The American Resilience Project
  • 03:40 Finding Common Ground
  • 07:35 Using Trusted Messengers
  • 10:17 The Role of Humor and Positivity
  • 13:40 Telling the Sustainability Story of Airports
  • 21:38 Tailoring Communication to the Audience
  • 27:32 The Power of Humor in Communication
  • 33:44 Telling the Sustainability Story of Organizations
  • 38:40 Conclusion and Contact Information


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