Storytelling tips for introverts: an ambivert’s perspective

‘Storytelling tips for introverts’ might sound like a weird thing to discuss. However, as someone who bangs on consistently about the power of storytelling for leaders in business, I’m often asked by my more introverted friends and clients about how they can become more comfortable telling stories to increase the reach of their message and their influence.  They often say “it’s easy for you Jo, you’re an extrovert.”  But the truth is, I don’t see it that way. I don’t think that it naturally goes hand in glove that if you are a particular personality type you are a better or worse storyteller.

You see, I’m actually one of those ‘personality types’ who fall squarely in the middle of the introverted-extroverted spectrum. Most people probably do consider me an extrovert – I’m a party girl, I love being on stage, I talk a lot and I’m not generally awkward with strangers. But there’s also a huge part of me who is introspective, who derives great energy from being alone, and who just doesn’t really like hanging out with people all the time!  And for that reason, I have never been truly comfortable with the ‘extrovert’ tag, but also don’t really identify with true introverts.

For the longest time, the ‘ambivert’ was an unknown quantity. The extremes was where it was at. You were either quiet, talked less and liked isolation or small groups of close friends rather than lots of people, therefore was an introvert. Or, you were loud, confident, energetic around large groups of people and loved the limelight so were deemed an extrovert. Thankfully Carl Jung identified a third type – the ambivert – who sits between the two, and who generally has a good balance of both ends of the scale.

In an article I recently read on Inc. com, apparently us ambiverts tend to be more successful and influential than the extroverts, particularly in the sales arena. Ha! Who would have thought!  Continue reading

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Less hustle, more alignment

I’ve never resonated with whole ‘hustle’ movement that has been prevalent in the entrepreneurial / business world in the last few years. It feels aggressive, fake, and is usually served with a big dose of inevitable burn-out.

I must admit I actually cringe when I see the word in marketing spiels now.  It’s over done, it’s been done over and it feels like the thing you do when you don’t actually have any control over your thing. And can you believe there’s people walking around with t-shirts with the following printed on them: ‘Less talk, more hustle’, ‘Same hustle different product’, and ‘Hustle: the most important word ever’, ???  Really??

Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely times when you need to move fast, put in the hours, be uber motivated, drive harder than ever before, and shut your eyes and just take a leap. Continue reading

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Use everyday moment storytelling for maximum impact

You’d have to have been hiding under a rock if you weren’t aware of the power of storytelling in business. EVERYONE seems to talk about it now. Well, it’s for good reason. Storytelling captures people’s attention, engages them emotionally and therefore helps to cement the messages you’re trying to convey.

The thing is though, I don’t want you to think that you have to have a big sweeping hero or rags-to-riches story to be an effective storyteller. This is a common misconception, born out of the umpteen conferences we attend in our corporate lives, where paid speakers trot across the stage, tug on our heart strings then leave, and the myriad trumped up entrepreneurs we hear on virtual stages across the world delivering talks to make money.

When most people think of storytelling, they think big, elaborately crafted stories like we see in movies or perfectly designed TedX talks. The ones that use techniques like plot structure, character, and scene design and usually either a bunch of comedy or tragedy.

There’s certainly plenty to learn from that kind of storytelling, but it’s not practical for everyday use in business.

The truth is you don’t need a BIG story to have an impact as a business leader.

Continue reading

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Your story in three words

I bet that if you were asked to describe a friend in just three words you could do it easily.  You might say he was kind, generous and loyal. Or that she was fierce, driven and creative.

But would it be as easy to describe your business’ characteristics in the same way? Could you summarise your story in three words?

As entrepreneurs and business owners we invest SO MUCH TIME and effort in raising our profile, being seen, and becoming known …..without actually clarifying what we want to be known for. Continue reading

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Leadership storytelling: a crash course

What is leadership storytelling? Why is it important to understand this concept?

Let me give you my opinion on this…because that’s what ‘thought leadership’ is….giving your opinion, offering your original thought around a articular subject.

Leadership storytelling is the intentional assertion of your point of view.

The key word in this sentence is intentional.   Deliberate. Purposeful. Planned. You intentionally take a stand on a particular topic and then illustrate that stance via a story. The story gives the stance context. It offers the listener/reader a memorable framework in which to concrete the lesson.

Used well, this under-utilised leadership skill will create cut-through, will inspire your tribe, and will elevate your standing in your niche/community/industry.

But how do we sharpen these business storytelling skills quickly?

Let me share my top tips to getting started with leadership storytelling, inspired by 5 great quotes.

  1. “Given the choice between trivial material brilliantly told versus profound materials badly told an audience will always choose the trivial told brilliantly.” (Robert McKee, author of Story)

You don’t have to have invented a cure for cancer, or created the next Facebook to have the right to tell your stories. Your life, your experiences are more than enough fodder to illustrate your value. You do need to have the right tools however, and you do need to practice intentionally and you do need to solicit feedback that will help you improve.

  1. “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” (Maya Angelou, poet and civil rights activist)

Your audience is the most important factor when it comes to business storytelling. This is where most so-called leaders fall down. Don’t get wound up in your own importance and brilliance. When delivering your story, it must resonate with your audience. Tell it from their point of view. Always be thinking: ‘how do I want to leave my audience feeling at the end of my story?’ Continue reading

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Your truth vs the marketer’s truth

I read somewhere once that you should get new trainers (you know, sneakers/joggers/sandshoes/runners) every 3 months if you exercise regularly. Apparently if you don’t your shoe will no longer provide you with the support and shock absorption you signed up for.  You’ll be ‘at risk’ of all sorts of things.  I’m wondering whether that was purely marketing hype put out by a sports shoe company, but regardless, it stuck with me.

Every 3 months I should be shelling out around $150 for a new pair of trainers.

Really?

Continue reading

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Is your business persona solid to its core?

So I was watching the Voice last night. I’m a little bit obsessed with it, although I am now at a point when I can actually feel a ‘backstory’ coming on before it happens 😫 (jaded? not yet, not really!)
 
And so last night as I saw Sheldon step on stage, and then the first notes of Alessia Cara’s ‘call-to-arms’ song “Scars to your beautiful” played, I immediately wondered whether he is really living the story he is portraying. He makes no secret that he is battling with accepting who he is (a very flamboyant and theatrical young guy who loves wearing makeup and ‘dressing’). He’s trying to figure out not only what kind of artist he is, but what kind of person he truly is, all whilst doing it in one of the most public forums possible (with harsh critics everywhere). That song, which is all about acceptance of self, seemed to perhaps be more aspirational than a reality for him.
 
I was so interested to hear Delta’s comments afterwards about whether he was fully congruent and genuine. There was definitely something left unsaid. It was an interesting angle for her to raise, but given she sees him off-screen as well as on maybe there was merit?
 
I make no judgments about him at all, because I don’t know him one iota, but what the exchange threw up for me was this whole notion of creating a public persona, then stepping into it, versus uncovering who you really are and wearing that with pride.
 

Then the question arises…are we ever able to truly know who we ‘really’ are?

 
Or are we all just versions of a persona we created yesterday, five years ago, when we started our business, when we got married, when we became a parent, or when we were teenagers…?
 
Too often I see people on social media, whose business personas start to crumble at the slightest hiccup. The slightest nudge in the wrong direction makes them quiver, the first ‘bad client’ sends shockwaves through their bones, the mere hint of criticism serves to knock them sideways. And their bravado falters, and sometimes shudders to a halt.
 
Is your persona, your story, your public face, solid at its core? Is it yours or one you’ve bought or borrowed from someone ‘successful’ in your industry? Are you living it every day, on and off the stage?
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From BLISS to BLACKOUT; counting my lucky stars

How life can change in an instant…

Just wanted to say a few quick words about my past 7 days. For those who don’t know, which is probably quite a few, I had a terrible car accident last Monday night. It happened on a local freeway, at high speed, and I sustained a head injury. The good news is, it only knocked some sense into me.

In short, I’m bloody lucky to be alive.

Continue reading

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Gifts for absent husbands

I was buying a present for my husband for this birthday this morning from one of his favourite stores.  I felt a bit rushed and somewhat perplexed about what to buy him.  Normally I don’t struggle at all but this year it’s a tad different. There was an added element of complexity to the ordinarily joyous process of gift-giving. The gift had to be small and light and not contain anything ‘tricky’, so that it could make its way effectively overseas to where my man is currently living.

I was staring at all the stuff, beautifully displayed, hoping something would jump out at me. The woman working in the store came up gently and said “you look like you need a hand”.

I explained my situation and as a I did she slowly nodded and leaned in with this look of ‘knowing’ on her face.

During the course of her ‘recommendations’, she spoke to me about how her husband spent 30 years travelling overseas for work, how it took time to reconnect when he returned (but that it did get easier), how her children were often wary of their dad and where he fit in to the scheme of things when he got back, how she encouraged immediate bonding with the kids and their dad by disappearing for the weekend with girlfriends, and how she used to cope with it all.  She joked about how she always struggled with gift-giving when he was away, so eventually they simply celebrated when they were next together. She told me how now, in semi-retirement, they travel back and forth to Noosa more often (the place they would take family holidays) and enjoy each other’s company in different surrounds.  She runs her own interior design business and he consults in the city, but they allow themselves breaks after a big project. She spoke of the simple pleasure of the perfect small leather travel bag which she keeps packed with only the essentials, so that she’s ready to join him wherever and whenever their fancy takes them. And the big lesson… she spoke of how she’s come to realise that a marriage is about quality not quantity.

The strategies she imparted were wonderful and her gift ideas were spot on. The way she relayed her experience touched me deeply, as it was emotive, personal, yet helpful, and therefore highly powerful. I bought more than I intended to because I was so intrigued by her story, I just wanted to keep listening. I believed in her and the ideas she proposed, so I chose them all.  I wanted to breathe in her experiences and make them my own. Hell, I want to be her in 15 years time!

Again, the lesson is clear. Be relatable to your prospects.

Tell your story in a way that matters to them. Find some common ground. Help them with their predicament. Make your story interesting, intriguing. And they will ask for your help. They will buy.

Go and be you. Unapologetically you. And tell your stories to those who need to hear them.

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The moments in between

A friend of mine was once upgraded to First Class when flying for work.  She was stoked! To be fair, her company had paid for all the flights that gave her the status credits to be chosen for the upgrade, but that’s cool – she was the one actually travelling!

The cabin crew, of which there were four, only had eight passengers to look after – how’s that for a ratio! There’d be no “umm, excuse me…excuse me….excuse me….can I please have a glass of water? Oh ok, when you’re ready….”

Continue reading

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