Celebrating the gift of storytelling

Minot native creates Storyology

Jake Kramlich

In an age in which technology appears infinite and ever-present, Minot native Jake Kramlich, is making sensational strides to save the ancient art of face-to-face communication.

Founded in 1998 and presently manufactured in Minneapolis, Kramlich’s Storyology invention is the latest game sweeping the nation.

From its modest beginnings at the University of North Dakota to garnering the interest and acclaim of The Walt Disney Company, along with the hit television show “Shark Tank,” Storyology is a popular game with a timeless concept.

With a spin of a wooden wheel, families and friends are getting to know each other better through sharing random information about their treasured memories and life-changing experiences.

Inscribed on the wooden disc are subjects ranging from hobbies, music, animals, travels, professions and a wealth of other conversational topics.

Today, Storyology is not only entertaining circles of friends, it’s also helping to revolutionize memory recall for elders residing in assistant living centers while aiding youth to build rapport with school guidance counselors.

Glory Kramlich, the mother of Storyology’s founder, Jake Kramlich, expressed overwhelming joy to see her son achieving his dream.

“Storytelling is a love that Jake shares with everyone he meets,” Kramlich said. “He loves stories, he loves history and he loves people. I’m really amazed and excited for him.”

As a nurse, Glory Kramlich saw the potential of Storyology and encouraged her son to pursue his passion.

“During my time of working at the psychiatric unit in St. Joseph’s, there were group therapy workshops and I could tell the patients struggled because the therapy was too invasive. Privacy was an issue and it was hard for patients to reveal things they were ashamed of or worried about. When Jake showed me Storyology, I said ‘Jake, this could help so many people.'”

Twenty years ago, the Minot inventor designed Storyology as an ice breaker for social events.

Presently, Storyology is assisting medical professionals, educators and practitioners of mental health care to build trusting relationships with the people they serve.

Barb Boyeff, a retired school counselor and former educator of Kramlich, recalls the positive rapport that Storyology established with students during her counseling sessions.

“I was in education for 40 years and a counselor 18 years, so when Jake brought Storyology to me, I started using it right away,” Boyeff said. “When children came to me, they saw an adult and initially they didn’t know me. When we start playing this game, within two to three minutes they’re smiling at me, listening to my life story and I’m getting to know them. Storyology is a game that allows us to sit, play and build relationships. The game is really easy to play.”

Similar to Kramlich’s mother Glory, Boyeff was impressed with her former student’s idea and continued to foster his new game.

“My parents had dementia,” Boyeff said. “Storyology would’ve been a great tool to take into nursing homes and say ‘Mom and Dad, tell me the first pet you remember getting.’ I believe this game could have helped to get some of the wheels going again.”

For Kramlich, the success stories resulting from Storyology continue to be both humbling and exciting for the young entrepreneur.

As popularity and public demand for his lastest invention continue to spread, Kramlich credits his Minot family and community for encouraging his curiosity and creativity.

“I’m so grateful for the endless list of folks who have been a huge part of this project,” Kramlich said. “All of the community support makes me take a deep breath and feel very fortunate. I am thankful for the people who were able to see a rough product with a creative imagination. In today’s age, I feel like real talent is having the compassion and curiosity to see the potential in others. This type of talent is few and far in between. The people in Minot have this rare talent and it feels really good to know that we’re persevering together.”

Across the Magic City, Storyology is generating interest from the Minot Public Library, Trinity Homes, the Anne Carlsen Center office, Jim Hill Middle School, Minot High School DECA and Minot State University Theater.

Locations including Gorilla Games and Barnes & Nobles sell Storyology.

Prior to Kramlich’s re-invention of the wheel, the foundation for Storyology was laid at home amongst family and friends.

“Jake is a free spirit who could’ve been born in the ’60s or ’70s,” Mary Kasper, Jake Kramlich’s aunt said. “Jake liked to do his own thing and had a unique way of seeing the world.”

Described by family and friends as kind-hearted and generous, Kramlich is one of eight children of Gary and Glory Kramlich.

“Jake comes from a very close family,” Jennifer Walther, Jake Kramlich’s cousin said. “They all have great stories to share.”

From farming to spending time on the lake, Kramlich learned the art of storytelling from his immediate family and nearly three dozen cousins.

Throughout Kramlich’s life, stories about honesty, laughter and never giving up have inspired the Minot inventor to follow his passion.

“I’m really happy for all the success Jake is experiencing,” Walther said. “Storyology is his baby, sharing stories is what Jake likes to do and he hasn’t given up on it.”

During Storyology’s 20-year journey, Kramlich has given countless hours to improving the design, promoting the product and increasing the ways Storyology can share the stories of its beholder.

Recently, Storyology has been translated into Spanish and newer topics have been added to the popular game.

“Jake has a heart of gold and I’m really excited for him,” his uncle Donald Kasper said. “Jake has some good ideas and he has morals. Jake is going to do good things because he’s a good person.”

To learn more about Storyology, visit online at www.storyology.com.

(Prairie Profile is a weekly feature profiling interesting people in our region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Call Editor Mike Sasser at 857-1959 or Regional Editor Eloise Ogden at 857-1944. Either can be reached at 1-800-735-3229. You also can send e-mail suggestions to msasser@minotdailynews.com.