WCOA 2018 Shekhar Kapur - WCOA Sydney 2018 | The Best Accounting Conference

International Convention Centre, Sydney Australia  |  5-8 November 2018

The storytelling fire inside us all

Filmmaker Shekhar Kapur says telling great stories is about unleashing our innate abilities, writes Kate Rafferty.

WCOA 2018 Shekhar Kapur

Following your dreams won’t unleash your inner storyteller, believes Indian filmmaker and storyteller, Shekhar Kapur. “It’s become too much of a cliche,” he said at a day-three WCOA session. “Follow your passion, follow the fire that you have – that’s important.”

Kapur, a former chartered accountant, has directed many Hollywood and Bollywood classics, including the controversial Bandit Queen and Elizabeth, starring Cate Blanchett.

He spoke to delegates of the need for accountants to connect with their sense of self, passion and ultimately, their greater story.

Kapur explained why he thinks Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ success could be linked not only to the quality of his products but the narrative behind them.

“A good story is something that connects with your subconscious at that time,” he said. “When Steve Jobs created [his] products, somehow you held them and you were looking at a story. The design of the products were great stories.”

Recognising there is no limit to what is and isn’t a story, Kapur offered two ways to unleash the power of the storyteller inside you.

“I’m obsessive about preparing. I’m like a general going to war. And then I try and panic.”

Kapur said panicking can help clear the mind and allow basic instincts to take over. This is something he said is critical for creating a compelling narrative.

At question time, Kapur addressed some concerns unique to accountants and the profession. Especially how to balance work – numbers, management and workplace duties, with play – creativity, storytelling and passion.

“In this new world, if the world has to progress, and if accounting is really an important profession, it has to come out of the comfort zone,” he said. “If numbers are the comfort zone, then come out of the numbers. Understand the world and then reassess your numbers.”

Kapur spoke of the “constant assault of change” driven by technology that is shaping the challenges facing accountants. Considering artificial intelligence, Kapur shared his counterview: ‘We’re worried, constantly worried, that AI will take over human beings. That’s something to fear; it has been fed into us, that ‘I will be replaced by a robot’. But computers cannot be completely random. I can.”

Kapur also spoke about the apprehension accountants – or anyone – might feel when approaching the unfamiliar territory of words and stories. “You just need to talk to children and realise we are born with the art of storytelling,” he said.

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