Yale University has a unique program for storytellers.
It's called THREAD at Yale.
And it changed me.
My biggest take away: Trust in you.

A delicious stew of 59 unique storytellers from around the globe flew, drove and boarded trains to make the life-changing journey to Yale University. They came from places like New Zealand, India, the U.K., South America, North America, and even Cleveland.

We all met for the first time at an on-trend beer joint, creatively named BAR. It's smack dab in the middle of downtown New Haven and serves "New Haven-style" pizza. Never knew there was such a thing. But it is good.

After a bit of informal kibitzing and eating, a spry bespectacled man who looked to be at the most 40 climbed up a set of stairs and perched on the landing at the top.
His legs dangled as he looked down at our crew below.
It was our fearless leader, the founder of the THREAD at Yale program, Mark Oppenheimer.
"This is my favorite week of the year," he smiled. "I live for these four days."
It was a phrase we heard over and over and over that week at Yale.
Not just from Mark, but from the other mentors too.
And now I know why.

THREAD at Yale not only taught me how to improve my storytelling, it taught me to trust in myself. Stick up for my unique strengths. Tell my story as only I know how. Stop the self-doubt & get the work done.

Each mentor offered nuggets of storytelling gold.
Here's a quick smattering of what each mentor taught me:

Catherine Burns, Artistic Director of The Moth
: Tell the truth, share the emotion, but don't share your story yet if the feelings are still too raw. Write, write and rewrite.

Jake Halpern, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist: Find subjects you care about, that you want to be invested in, and believe in yourself 100%, even if no one else does. 

Glynn Washington, Host & Executive Producer of Snap Judgement: Follow your passion, if you want to succeed--you will, just never give up. And hire a good team.

Stephanie Foo, Producer: This American Life: Work burn out is real. Take a break sometimes. Take care of yourself.

Peter Aguero, GrandSLAM Champ, The Moth: Don't be a dick.

Jenna Wortham, Staff Writer, New York Times Magazine: Don't be afraid to take that internship, and another one, and another one. Don't be afraid of technology. Try something new, then try something newer, embrace the next.
And finally--fight for what you believe in and think is right.

Jill Abramson, former Executive Editor, The New York Times: Always carry a small notebook so you can write down story ideas, contacts & leads.
Get away from the computer and out in the field!
Remember what you're good at.
Read good books and learn how others tell good stories. (She suggested starting with Winter Dreams by F. Scott Fitzgerald.)
When telling a story, chronology is your friend.
You can be a woman who is married with children and still have career success. You just have to work really hard.
Always be open to new ideas and realize others may see the world differently than you-- and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Sarah Stillman, Staff Writer, The New Yorker: Work your ass off, but stay kind.

Linda Gradstein, Journalist & former Reporter at NPR: Learn to delegate. If you're going to work & be a mother--your house is going to be a mess. But that's o.k. Your family & story telling are more important than a tidy house. 

Finally, the other gorgeous takeaway from my time at THREAD at Yale: There is a wonderful tribe of storytellers out there who want to help you succeed. Who want to help you tell your story. Who want you to realize: You're special just the way you are. (With all due props to Mr. Fred Rogers.) 

So, that's how THREAD at Yale changed me. I'm much more o.k. now with the wacky, passionate, emotional storyteller that is me.
And that's o.k. That's really o.k.