Drawing from Memory: FableVision Co-Founder and CEO Paul Reynolds

This is a special year for FableVision. We’re celebrating 20 years of designing and developing engaging media that have inspired, taught, and moved people to action. Behind this mission-driven company is a team committed to creating positive media to help move the world to a better place – and at the helm of that team are our co-founders: Peter H. Reynolds, Paul Reynolds, and Gary Goldberger.

Storyteller, creative educator, and award-winning author Paul Reynolds is a passionate advocator of life-long learning. He’s a true proponent of harnessing the power of story and media to create authentic, engaging educational experiences for learners of all ages. As CEO, Paul’s strategic insights have helped build key partnerships for the Studio, FableVision Learning (FableVision’s K-12 educational technology publishing company), and the non-profit Reynolds Center for Teaching, Learning, and Creativity (TLC).

We sat down with Paul to talk about this incredible anniversary milestone. Read up on all our anniversary celebrations on our website here and save the date for our anniversary party on November 18!

In your own words, tell us the tale of how it all began.
I remember when Peter showed up at Cosmic Blender in Watertown, MA, the corporate educational media firm I helped build for over a decade. He was renting one little office as a satellite space for his creative work at Tom Snyder Productions (TSP). He named his mini-studio “FableVision” and sported a cap adorned with the logo that remains virtually unchanged today. After TSP was sold, he took this nest egg and decided to spin out FableVision as a separate entity. He was committed to being independent and focusing on using media/interactives to have a positive impact on the world.

Of course, being Peter’s identical twin brother, I think I felt a calling to join the FableVision mission. I had loved what I had been doing at Cosmic Blender, yet Peter’s inspiring vision pulled me toward a greater cause. So, after over a decade at Cosmic Blender (blessed to work with one of the most amazing creative teams ever) I left a very secure, well-paying position to join Peter, Gary Goldberger, and John Lechner in 2005. I put everything I had into growing FableVision from fledgling start-up into an enduring, sustainable force that could carry out its 200-year mission.

I was ready to help build a company whose core objective was to move the world to a better place by using media to inspire our best, most powerful, purposeful, creative selves. The rest, as they say, is history.

You’re a natural-born storyteller. How does FableVision inspire you to keep writing?
By the nature of FableVision’s mission, we draw organizations that are mission based and we’re constantly working together to find innovative ways to move the world to a better place through storytelling. It’s a joy to be able to use my creativity to help bring those “stories that matter” to life in a way that amplifies critical messages – and inspires action.

Here at FableVision, we like to say that we have a 200-year mission to move the world to a better place through story, media, and technology. What do you think that will look like when we meet (and exceed!) our goal?  
Storytelling is an ancient, powerful tool to convey big ideas. Media can bring those stories to life in ways that engage and move people to action. And technology helps scale, connect, share, amplify, and mobilize action in a way that is unprecedented in the history of the planet.

It’s good to know we’ve still got another 180 years to complete our mission, but I’d love to have significant impact in my own lifetime. To do that, we need to use these tools and partner with kindred spirits who are as crazy as we are to think we can use our creative superhuman powers to tackle the world’s biggest problems. That’s why FableVision loves collaborating with like-minded people and organizations.

I truly believe that the world’s creatives can and will help bring the world into balance – using creativity to achieve what today seems impossible. I can envision a time (hopefully within the next 180 years) where the ripples FableVision has contributed will help transform ALL schools into places where creative human potential is fostered and realized for EVERY child, powerful stories have moved people to action to eradicate extreme poverty and inequality, every child can sleep in peace and wake to a new day of positive potential, where people’s courage and unconditional compassion have been kindled to take care of the planet and each other.

If you don’t believe me, just check in with me in 2196.

What do you think is the secret ingredient for the success that FableVision has cooked up? 
Being a relentless believer in a positive vision – and finding kindred spirits who share that vision both in staff and clients.

Paul’s three sons Nathaniel , Benjamin, and Joshua at Ben’s graduation from MIT

You’ve learned a lot over the years. Any valuable lessons you’d like to share?
Seek out kindred spirits who believe in the same crazy vision as you do and create a supportive climate where they can connect, collaborate, and flourish. The rest will take care of itself.

Looking back 20 years ago when FableVision was first developing, what is the biggest piece of advice you’d give to your younger professional self?
Don’t worry. Be fearless. Keep being crazy enough to believe in the impossible – keep walking through the walls. It will be okay. I promise.

Where does FableVision’s mission to create story-driven educational media intersect with your own history and career as an educator?
I’ve been teaching media production at Boston College for nearly thirty years. It’s a joy for me to teach storytelling and digital media skills to young people with encouragement to use that talent and power to have a positive impact on the world. Just about anyone can shoot, edit and broadcast a video now right on their smart phone. But it takes a special sensibility to use that toolset to be a positive change maker in the world. I hope that my students are inspired to use these incredibly influential digital media/storytelling skills to move the world to a better place.