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Why founders should watch Taylor Swift's, folklore: the long pond studio sessions

Matthew Gira
5 min read

Every single entrepreneur should be watching folklore: the long pond studio sessions on Disney+ ASAP. That might sound crazy, but here's why it isn't.

As entrepreneurs, we all strive for excellence in storytelling, empathy, and leading people. All three areas being incredibly difficult to be elite at. Yet, Taylor Swift, who has grown up in front of the entire world since she was 16 years old, showed the world that it is possible to be elite at all three areas in her new documentary.


Storytelling is hard enough on its own with standard wording. It's even more difficult to turn that wording into songs, and for that matter, songs that are masterpieces. In folklore: the long pond studio sessions, we get to see Taylor's storytelling process for every song on her new album, folklore.

Now, a lot of creatives can string together multiple concepts or ideas that are in their head and put them together in a beautiful way. It's a different level when you have "scenes", as Taylor puts it, running through your head and tying concepts together.

To put this into context - Taylor mentions that she created three characters: Betty, James, and Augustine. She not only weaves them together in one song - but through the entire freaking album in several different ways. Oh - did I mention she puts you in their shoes beautifully in different songs? More on that later in this post.

Taylor took these characters to tell so many different stories throughout each song. Heck, she purposely wrote songs so depending on who was listening to it, they would hear a different version of the story.

This being evident in her song, epiphany, where she weaves her grandfather's World War II story into the story of healthcare workers on the frontline for combating COVID-19. Telling any story from WWII is hard enough.

Finally, she packs a punch in some of these songs. Like entire life stories in detail. I just want to be able to pitch like that at times and yet here she is not only telling us, but telling us in a masterpiece of a song. That was evident in the song, the last great american dynasty, where she tells the story of Rebecca Harkness, in such a cool way. Every lyric is purposeful. Could we tell our customer's stories where every word is purposeful?


It would be really easy for Taylor Swift to be living and singing about an entirely different world that only she and few others can live in. She can live quite the privileged lifestyle if she wants and just keep writing songs about her life like she has in the past. Except - she didn't do that this album.

In this documentary, she showed us that she's staying in touch with the "real" world as some may put it. I don't know about you, but from my perspective, that's not easy given that she's been in an "alternate" reality of sorts since she was 16. Her ability to stay humble and connected to others is remarkable.

For example, she mentions that she was "thinking about addiction". First, why? Second, she really doesn't have to if she doesn't want to. However, because she cares and wants to impact people that are hurting with addition, she not only thinks about it, she does an incredible job stepping into their shoes.

She talks about how they might feel about not getting credit, about the small steps of progress, and decisions that seem small, but are actually significant for those battling addiction. She nails it and you can tell in her ability to describe it all, that she just cares deeply. She did everything she could to understand which is what we should all be doing at times.

She did everything she could to understand others which is what we should all be doing.

To top it off, she writes a song in a perspective I've personally never seen done. She writes a song, Betty, from the perspective of a man. WHAT. Yes, she had help in writing that song, but it's still incredible that she can mentally step into those shoes, especially when she's most likely been on the other side and felt incredibly hurt.

Team and Process

There is so much I could talk about for the way she worked with others and the processes she went through to create this album. This could be a book itself.

One, she's like the rest of us: COVID-19 drastically altered her life and she was scared about it too. She had to work from home like the rest of us and was really unsure about it. Plus, she didn't create some beautiful home studio to create this album. She's literally tucked underneath blankets with cats in the background fighting. I think we can all relate to that at some level.

Second, she was willing to abandon her standard processes. COVID-19 has made us all do this to an extent, but for someone who has the power she has, she could probably force her old processes on people. She didn't though. She created new ones and allowed her teammates to stretch those new processes.

As she puts it, she was "pushed" to the thing that made her uncomfortable with writing hoax and she let a teammate push her like that. That's incredible. She doesn't have to be pushed into that if she didn't want to be great.

Third, she might be one of the biggest celebrities in the world and one of the best musical artists of our lifetimes. Yet, she deals with imposture syndrome like the rest of us.

She goes into detail about how she was "too scared" to ask to collaborate with Bon Iver. I just wanted to jump through the screen and say "You do know you're Taylor freaking Swift, right?". Not only that, she couldn't believe that it was actually happening. She respected another artist so much that she mentions "it would have hurt too much if he said no" to collaborating. You have to have enough self-awareness and humbleness to feel that way about others in your field.

My fourth and last point, is that she lets her teammates do their best work and she fits wherever she is needed. She talks about the string arrangement in epiphany and how that came together, and then how they came to her with the melody for mad woman and she filled in the lyrics.

There were so many different creative processes happening between all of her teammates that I was just in awe. To see all of that and her just fitting into whichever slot she needed to be in was jaw dropping to me. For most, that won't be noticed, but to me, that blew my mind. It shows how elite she is with creativity and how she can lead at an unbelievable level.

With all of this, I'm incredibly curious what's next for Taylor Swift. These last two albums were surprises to us all, but they were much needed for a year like 2020. I was never a huge fan of Taylor Swift before all of this, but man, after these two albums and watching the way she's going about her craft, how could I not be a fan?