How to be a successful storyteller like Kobe Bryant

April 4, 2022


Kobe Bryant transitioned from a Hall of Fame encore career as a basketball player to pretty much immediate success as a content creator. In two and a half years off the court, he accomplished than most of us will in a lifetime.

He built a creative studio, used that creative studio to win an Oscar, and then earned $800 million off of a single investment in Body Armor. How come he was so successful?

#1 — Study the greats

Kobe studied the great storytellers in history. His teammates would sometimes ask him what he was doing by himself when they were on road trips and he would say, “I’m reading Joseph Campbell” or “I’m reading Paulo Coelho.”

Kobe claimed he was preparing for his second act as a content creator for the last 15 years of his career, so this is something he was committed to. No one ever questioned his work ethic, which can be applied to content creation as well.

#2 — Practice

After his 60-point career finale, Kobe told reporters he needed to go. He was learning how to create story arcs and write compelling plots by spending hours alone practicing. The same tenacity Kobe had on the court was funneled into his content creation.

As content creators, it can be easy to think we can’t be equally physically active as we are creative, but there’s a similar intensity in the art of marketing. Kobe recognized that and pursued it similarly.

#3 — Publish confidently

Kobe was obviously never shy. He didn’t allow inexperience to keep him from putting things out there. Some of them were complete misses (i.e. when he tried to be a rapper), but that didn’t stop him from trying or cause him to care what people thought.

“I got a lot of funny looks when I was first starting out. Most people thought I was depressed, but I knew I wanted to tell stories and I just had to write in order to get better.”

-Kobe Bryant

#4 — Aggressively pursue collaboration

It wasn’t the first time Kobe called famous director Glen Keane that he said yes, but Kobe continued to go after him and eventually got him as a partner. The same thing with the composer John Williams, whose music you’ve undoubtedly heard.

Kobe was a rookie in their space. He was a novice. He was an amateur compared to these people who had been in the craft for a long time, but he was committed to the craft.

Sure, yeah, he was a celebrity, but there are a lot of celebrities who think about becoming content creators, entrepreneurs, or marketers and end up fizzling out. A lot of them end up giving up.

Kobe continued pursuing his ideal collaborators. That’s a great lesson for all of us.

#5 — Love what you do

Kobe had a true love of the craft. That was his unfair advantage across basketball, content, whatever it might be. When he found something he was going to commit to, he was completely dedicated.

“I love the idea of creating content. I believe content can inspire people and give them something tangible that they can use in their own lives.”

-Kobe Bryant

That is the same motive that drives each of us back to the creative table. That’s why we’re all doing this, why we are in this space. We believe we can affect the lives of different people through these mediums.