The Ultimate Guide to Storytelling: Incorporating the 20% Rule for Personal Growth

Alessio Frateily

Alessio Frateily

Jul 25, 20234 min read


The Ultimate Guide to Storytelling: Incorporating the 20% Rule for Personal Growth

Storytelling is an art that requires creativity, vision, skill, and practice. It is not a process or technique that can be mastered overnight. Just like any other art form, storytelling is a trial-and-error process of mastery. However, it is a crucial part of successful marketing campaigns and sets vibrant brands apart from simple businesses.

In the world of marketing, storytelling is at the heart of inbound marketing. It is a valuable tool that can be added to your marketing arsenal. But what does storytelling have to do with the 20% Rule? Let's explore.

The 20% Rule, popularized by figures such as Thomas Edison, Salvador Dali, and even Navy SEALs, emphasizes the importance of deliberate learning and experimentation in maintaining our economic health. Similar to the recommended dosages of vitamins and exercise for physical health, we need to set a minimum dose of learning to thrive in our careers.

The long-term effects of intellectual complacency are as insidious as neglecting physical health. Not learning at least 5 hours per week, also known as the 5-hour rule, is equivalent to the smoking of the 21st century. It is detrimental to our personal growth and professional success.

Many successful individuals and organizations follow the 20% Rule. Google, Genentech, 3M, and even Navy SEALs allocate 20% of their time to activities that involve experiments and skill-building. 3M has even had an informal 15% Rule for decades, allowing engineers and scientists to pursue their own projects and look for breakthrough innovations.

Navy SEAL Jocko Willink makes a strong case for the 20% Rule, stating that SEALs should spend 20% of their week training to improve. He highlights the fact that certain professions require ongoing learning, and this dedication to growth is what sets them apart.

Genentech, one of the largest companies in the world, also follows the 20% Rule. They encourage their scientists and engineers to spend 20% of their workweek pursuing pet projects. This commitment to personal growth and exploration has undoubtedly contributed to their success.

Surprisingly, 95% of people surveyed believe that following the 20% Rule would make them more productive. A 4-day workweek combined with a 1-day learning week was seen as an opportunity to increase lifetime productivity. This suggests that individuals recognize the value of continuous learning in their personal and professional lives.

The examples of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Thomas Edison, and Elon Musk further support the importance of dedicating time to learning. Bill Gates has spent an hour a day his entire career on learning, and Warren Buffett has spent 80% of his career reading and thinking. Thomas Edison famously followed the 10,000 Experiment Rule, and while Elon Musk hasn't publicly stated the percentage of his time spent reading, he is known for his voracious appetite for knowledge.

Based on research, it is clear that increasing learning time is essential. Finding 10+ hours per week for learning is easier than you think. By following the 20% Rule, you should spend 8-14 hours per week on learning, depending on your work schedule.

But how can you find the time for learning when you already feel overwhelmed? Introducing adaptive learning, a proven approach to finding time for personal growth. Adaptive learning involves identifying pockets of time throughout your day and utilizing them for learning. It could be during your commute, lunch breaks, or even early mornings.

In conclusion, storytelling and the 20% Rule are intertwined in their emphasis on continuous learning and personal growth. Incorporating storytelling into your marketing efforts and dedicating time to deliberate learning will set you apart from the competition. Remember, storytelling is an art that requires practice and creativity, and the 20% Rule is a guiding principle for personal and professional success.

Actionable Advice:

1. Allocate at least 20% of your time for deliberate learning and experimentation. This will ensure continuous personal growth and improvement in your field.

2. Identify pockets of time throughout your day for learning. Utilize your commute, lunch breaks, or early mornings to engage in reading or online courses.

3. Embrace storytelling as a crucial tool in your marketing strategy. Develop your storytelling skills and use them to create vibrant brands that resonate with your audience.


  1. "The Ultimate Guide to Storytelling", (Glasp)
  2. "Thomas Edison, Salvador Dali, and a Navy SEAL all follow the 20% Rule", (Glasp)

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