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How to Tell a Story About Yourself That Leaves a Lasting Impact on Your Business

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We all have a story to tell. For business professionals writing books, creating brand stories, and delivering presentations, it can be hard to share the raw and emotional aspects of that story. If you’re nervous about telling your story, you’re not alone — 61% of employees “cover” their identities in some way while at work.

Your mind might flood with worries around how to tell a story about yourself in a business context. Vulnerability — particularly in professional settings or published business books — feels like an existential threat. Our minds make up stories that if people knew certain things about us, they’d be scared away and withdraw their trust or business.

These assumptions are generally incorrect. When sharing vulnerable aspects of my own story, 90% of the room leans in. I recently spoke to a crowd of 50 business leaders about vulnerability at work, and a few of them leaned away when I talked about stealing from my first employer; meanwhile, the majority of attendees trusted me more for telling them how I wasn’t trustworthy. This is the power of vulnerability and the value of allowing ourselves to express emotions within a business context.

The Struggles of Storytelling for Professionals Using Their Left vs. Right Brain

Adding to the problem of business storytelling is the left vs. right brain challenge. Many people in business invest their educational resources in the left brain, which enhances intellectual horsepower. The right brain — the creative side — is often underdeveloped in comparison.

It leads to what psychologists refer to as Maslow’s Hammer: If the only tool you have is a hammer, you begin to treat everything as if it were a nail. Similarly, when your left brain is dominant, everything becomes an intellectual problem to be solved. But an intellectual approach doesn’t lead to great storytelling for professionals — creativity is necessary.

“Content” is made up of two primary ingredients: the information and the delivery system (if you interpreted “delivery system” to mean the technology used to propagate content, that was your intellectual brain showing bias). The delivery system is the medium (e.g., film, business memoir, whitepaper), and since businesses often include plenty of left-brain thinkers, they often don’t consider artistic delivery options for content.

When you use data-centric delivery methods, readers can’t easily see themselves in the data set. When audiences hear a story, however, they insert themselves into that world intuitively. Stories activate our imaginations and create greater connections to the subject. This points back to the benefits of sharing emotions and the power of vulnerability, particularly in a business context.

“The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller.” – Steve Jobs

How to Tell a Great Story

Here are a few storytelling techniques for business that professionals can use to activate the imaginations of their audiences:

1. Invite people into the room where it happened.

There’s a difference between telling an audience what you learned and inviting them into the moment — when you learned it — in a cinematic way.

For example, if I want an audience to understand the power of vulnerability, I don’t just cite research; I tell a vulnerable and personal story, like the time I had an opportunity to cheat on my wife. I share how much personal development work I was doing and explain that my wife rarely joined me because she’s extremely private. I felt lonely, and I ended up bonding with one woman as we shared our experiences. I had cheated on girlfriends when I was younger, but I made it clear to this new connection that I had no desire to repeat this cycle.

When I told my wife I had set these boundaries, she accused me of emotionally cheating on her (which she said was worse). I made good decisions and still almost ruined my marriage! My wife eventually understood the depth of my loneliness and joined a program with me, which repaired our relationship. At this point in the story, I typically ask audience members to notice their body language. Is my vulnerability repelling them or pulling them toward me?

The imaginations of those leaning in are activated to a point where their physical reactions defy logic. The intellectual side of their minds might be saying that vulnerability is too risky, but their physical responses made them feel drawn to me when I was vulnerable. Business storytelling and inviting people into moments like this can provide greater emotional connections that build trust between you and your audience.

2. Share the origin story.

When we want to persuade an audience to trust us, we assume they need a list of achievements demonstrating our authority. If I want you to believe in my ability to capture the defining stories of your life, I can say I’ve been trusted by clients like the CEO of Zappos or executives with Microsoft. I can use these data points to build a case for your trust. But would you feel in your bones that you trust me? Probably not.

Instead, I might talk about an instrumental time when I helped a member of a company’s leadership team articulate the moment he started dreaming that a future without his wife (whom he lost many years ago) might still be possible for himself and his son. Helping him reveal a vulnerable story to his team — and having that story become an essential part of what the company stands for — was an origin story for him, for the business, and for me.

When we take the time to explore the stories that define us and experience the benefits of sharing our emotions, we invite the world to see how the universe has prepared us for what we do. That builds trust in ways that data cannot.

“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world.” – Robert McKee

Focus on the five senses.

How can we engage our audience to tell them a great story? By focusing on the five senses and giving just enough detail that their imaginations fill in the rest.

For example, I could tell you that I learned about the power of connection when I was 10 years old and stared into my baby cousin’s eyes at my grandparents’ house. If I want to activate your imagination, though, I could share the following:

  • Sight. Visually, what do I recall? The blue shag carpet in my grandparents’ living room, and my cousin’s eyes staring back at me.
  • Sound. What do I remember hearing? My cousin’s coos and the rustle of his pajamas against his diaper when he wiggled his arms and legs.
  • Smell. What is my scent memory of that moment? My grandmother’s famous chopped liver and my grandfather’s signature bagels and smoked fish.
  • Taste. What could I taste? Remnants of baby powder from kissing my cousin’s forehead.
  • Touch. What did I feel at that moment? His tiny hand in mine.

When we focus on the five senses in business storytelling, we allow our audience into the moment with us. Don’t share so many details that there’s no room for them to play; offer just enough to shift them from audience members to participants.

Embrace the power of vulnerability and invite your audience into the room with you. In doing so, you’ll create the kind of content people are excited to revisit, reflect upon, converse about, share, and, most importantly, act upon.

Corey Blake is the founder and CEO of Round Table Companies, the publisher of Conscious Capitalism Press, and a speaker, artist, and storyteller. He has been featured on the cover of the Wall Street Journal, and his work in storytelling has appeared in the New York Times, USA Today, Inc., Forbes, and Wired magazines. Corey has spent more than 15 years guiding CEOs, founders, and thought leaders to build storytelling ecosystems around their brands. He is also the creator of the Vulnerability Wall and the “Vulnerability is Sexy” card game. His documentary of the same name won 2017 ADDY and HERMES awards for branded content, and his recently released animated short film “We Heard You,” has generated more than 2 million views. Corey delivers keynotes and facilitates storytelling workshops and vulnerability sessions for conferences, leadership groups, and organizations of all sizes.

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How Your Friends Determine Whether You Succeed or Not

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Can anyone do without having friends? We all have our friends, we share ideas with them, talk together, have fun, and fight. Yes, that’s the baseline of friendship. But, do you know that aside from you, your friends can determine whether you achieve success or not?

There are two things in friendship which are the ability to ”love” and the ability to “influence”. This means you are loved and you are influenced. How do your friends affect your success in life? How are they one of the biggest deciding factors of your success? Let’s find out.

What type of friends do you keep? 

First, what type of friends do you keep? Who do you call your best friend? There are two different kinds of friends, good friends, and bad ones. A lot of people have lost their pathway to success and some have also found their road to success all because of the friends they keep, the people they mingle with. 

Who is your best friend? Answer carefully. Having a best friend means you find each other compatible and understanding. Analyze who your best friend is. If your best friend has not motivated you to do something positive, if who you call your bestie has never given you positive advice, lastly if your best friend has never informed and advised you on your shortcomings, then you don’t have a best friend.

This quote tells us “birds of the same feather flock together”. Countless people have changed from their good nature into a bad one all because of friends. One thing to note is, “negative people move with negative aura”. If your best friend is filled with negativity inside-out then you will surely be affected by his/her negative aura.

They influence your success with positivity or negativity 

The friends you keep can either influence you with positivity or negativity because your friends have the power to change your kind of person completely. 

This is how your friends influence you:

  1. They influence you indirectly with what they do
  2. They influence you directly by teaching and giving you advice 

Yes, that is how they influence you. For instance, you watch a movie and you like the way the actor walks. The question is if you truly like the way the actor walks, won’t you try to imitate the actor? Of course, you will.

Just the way you imitate the actor is the same way your friends can influence you with their character. However, the funny part is, they don’t have to teach you to do things like them. You just find yourself imitating and copying them gradually.

An important question to ask is, are you imitating a good friend or a bad one? If you imitate a good friend then you will be good, but if you imitate a bad person, you will surely become a bad person.

Everyone wants to succeed, a good friend will always teach, enlighten, and motivate you for success. A bad friend will only motivate you to do evil things (smoking, drinking, fight, envy,).

And you should know that things like that are a great enemy of success and even of God. So, if you have these bad elements in your life, how will you achieve success? There is no way!

And also, they can teach and advise you directly. But, what do your friends teach you? When you ask them for advice do they inspire you positively or teach you the bad stuff.? A lot of people have regretted lifelong decisions just by listening to the advice of friends. 

The company you keep has the power to influence and change you. Never forget that a positive influence will teach, motivate, and brush you up for success. While a negative influence will inspire you to become a bad person, change your good nature, and leave you with regrets in the end.

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The 3 Step Process to Building a Profitable Pitch

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As a communication coach, one of the top questions entrepreneurs ask me is how to deliver a winning pitch to potential investors. They want to know if there’s a magic formula to get an investor to say yes and buy into their dream and their business. (more…)

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The 4 Pillars of Wealth and Abundance

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Have you ever wondered what the formula for a wealthy and abundant life is? Many people have. Lots has been written about the subject of wealth creation and living an abundant life. It was a breaking point in my journey and pursuit of success when I found out that there is a clear path to achieve success in life. Thanks to those who have shared their journey, we can clearly see and follow the principles of prosperity. (more…)

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Here Are 4 Reasons Why You Should Have a Podcast, Youtube Channel or Online Show

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Confidence comes from a place of strong understanding of self. After close to three years on radio, I’ve grown from a shy introvert to a shy introvert with an extrovert persona. When the mic is turned on, I can channel a version of myself that some say is attractive, strong, and of course, confident but it wasn’t always this way.

What I want to share with you is what I discovered on this journey into broadcast that you can apply to your life, your ventures, and your personal development. This doesn’t require any fancy gear. It does require a leap of faith on your part because once you go down the road of media; it can change your life.

1. Perceived Expertise

When you go to a doctor, you expect their knowledge will guide them to a solution to your problems. When you have a show, you become your listeners’ doctor. For all the multiple thousands, maybe millions, of YouTube channels, podcasts, and user-created content in the world, each person that gets behind a mic takes a position on their passion, their opinions, and their themes.

They challenge the status quo for the benefit of their listeners in hopes to entertain and educate. With consistency on your side, those fans place you on a platform and give you permission to influence them.

2. Global Acknowledgement

One of the benefits to increasing confidence is when you receive thank you notes from people you may never meet. The feeling of enriching someone’s life from halfway around the globe, provides validation you’re enhancing someone else’s life with your wisdom and your wit.

The very first time I was told I was making a difference in someone’s life in a country other than my own, I felt like I caused massive impact that transcends my circle of influence. When you experience just how much you can cause impact and it comes back to you, it’ll change your worldview.

“Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining – it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems.” – Zig Ziglar

3. Backed By Numbers

One of the most exciting ways to measure success is to quantify your growth. It’s not enough to just broadcast. Having subscribers and downloads helps to know, numerically, how well you’re doing. Word of caution. This can be a way to set yourself up for distress because of number envy but if you understand what the numbers mean; you can control the narrative of the numbers.

The major number that makes most people smile is 10,000. I’d advise it to be 1. Here’s why. As you grow in your industry, so does your reach. If you learned that the one person that subscribed totally changed for the better because of you, wouldn’t that be worth the effort?

4. Effective Communication

While it’s not talked about much, having a show is documentation. You create a dynamic account of your life, your industry, and the pulse on what’s important simply by having a show. When you find a channel to improve your communication skills, you demand attention and people will listen to you. You become more trusted as a leader and people will follow you once they believe you can lead them to their wants and needs.

“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” – Tony Robbins

These insights have helped many people become leaders and, ultimately, move others to their best selves. It’s worked for me and I hope it works for you. At the end of the day, it’s all about showing up and showing out.

Have you ever thought about having a radio show? If so, what would you talk about? Let us below!

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