The Power of Storytelling in Business With Gabrielle Dolan

The Power of Storytelling in Business With Gabrielle Dolan

We’ve been telling stories to each other for 1000’s of years and we even think of our lives as a narrative so why do we have such an aversion to using storytelling in business and how can we harness this powerful tool to create a magnetic brand?
Today we are joined by Gabrielle Dolan founder of ‘Jargon free Fridays’, best selling author of several books including ‘Real Communication: How To Be You and Lead True’ and ‘The Essential Guide to business storytelling’ and brand storytelling expert and consultant.

She shares why story matters in business and how you can use it to build a magnetic brand from the inside out.

Gabrielle links:

Website – ⁠https://gabrielledolan.com/⁠
Free storytelling starter kit – ⁠https://gabrielledolan.com/starterkit/⁠
Books – ⁠https://gabrielledolan.com/books/⁠
LinkedIn – ⁠https://www.linkedin.com/in/gabrielledolan/⁠
Instagram – ⁠https://www.instagram.com/gabrielledolan.1/⁠
Twitter – ⁠https://twitter.com/GabrielleDolan1⁠
Facebook – ⁠https://www.facebook.com/gabrielledolanconsulting/


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We’ve been telling each other stories for thousands of years. Narratives are even the way we make sense the world around us and ourselves. But when it comes to business, we either dismiss stories or fail to use them wisely. In this episode, I am joined by Gabrielle Dolan, brand storytelling expert and consultant, and she explains how magnetic stories can build your brand.

Welcome to the Unified Brand Podcast, brought to you by Elements Brand Management, a weekly brand building and brand strategy podcast. Help you unlock your brand’s potential, stand out from the competition and create impact. Today, we’re joined by Gabrielle Dolan, founder of Jogging Free Fridays, best selling author of several books including Real Communication, How to Be You and the Tree and The Essential Guide to Business, Storytelling and Brand Storytelling.

Expert and consultant. So great to have you on the Unified Brand Podcast, Gabrielle. It be good to learn more about yourself, what you do on brand storytelling. Thanks, Chris. I’m really excited to be here talking to you all things about brand and storytelling and growth and everything else. Right, yeah. So how did you get into sort of what you do in brand storytelling?

It was I, I started my career well, a long time ago, but I actually started in corporate Australia. I worked for one of Australia’s largest banks, and I actually started in technology. So I was a mainframe computer operator, which is showing my age because I’m not sure there’s many companies that actually have mainframe computers anymore. But I progressively worked my way through the ranks and climbed into leadership positions, and I guess experienced firsthand the challenges of communicating and influencing in leadership.

In some of my last few roles in at the bank were in change management, which is really you trying to communicate and influence to buy into what the change you’re trying to do. And what I noticed is that when I shared a story like a personal story, it actually seemed to get the message across. People not only understood the message, but, you know, remembered it and it had an impact.

And what I started to notice, too, was in the really good presentation was the really good speakers. The really good communicators were all sharing stories. So I left the bank. I left the corporate world about 17 years ago and have been teaching business. People communicate more effectively through stories. And Chris, initially when it started, it was very much with leaders.

How you share stories internally. So like how do you communicate your company values or how do you bring unique change of strategy and more? And progressively over the last few years, it was then like, well, how do we start to use this externally? And that was the basis of the last bull, where it was like this concept of brand storytelling.

How do you then start, you know, sharing stories to not only connect and engage with your employees, but to connect and engage with your customers. So that’s my backstory. That’s great. So yeah, it sounds like an interesting shift from the internal to the external with regards to storytelling. So is that process an easy one to do in the internal to external, or is it something that you need to cultivate in a way that makes sense to the audience you’re sending those stories out to what I found and what I noticed, you know, my time in corporate, it was like internal communication was the job of leaders.

And, you know, perhaps corporate affairs played a role in that. And the external job of communicating was purely for the marketing team or, and some companies would, you know, have external marketing brands. And it seemed to be really, really different. I think with the advent of social media that the communication between internal and external is blurring. So you see now CEOs will put something on Facebook or LinkedIn.

And so by default they are communicating both internally and externally. And that is where I started to notice this use of stories where it absolutely should be used internally, but it should absolutely be used externally. And so it started to blur who was responsible for that. And I think everyone plays a part. But more and more, I think the role the marketing team play and the role the actual employees play needs to come together and need to be more of a combined effort.

Yeah, it’s interesting because I recently put a post on LinkedIn that was more story based, actually, after listening to your book and, it had a massive uptake and response compared to some of my previous posts, just by adding the element of story. So what do you think it is about stories? Why do they resonate with us? Yeah, I experienced the same thing.

First, I write a blog every week, most weeks, and when I share a personal story, it has the more traction the more you know people respond, more, the more likes, the more shares, more comments. And why that’s the case is because, and I guess is the reason why storytelling is so powerful is that story taps into emotion. And when I say emotion, it doesn’t have to be emotional.

It doesn’t have to be like, you know, we all get crying and teary or something, but it taps into emotion. And as humans, we are hard wired for emotion. We, you know, we think we’re rational beings, but we’re actually emotional beings. It’s storytelling in our DNA. It’s the way we communicate. It’s the way we talk. It’s why we hear so, and because it taps into emotion.

So there’s sort of this, you know, I’ve been around in corporate for 35 years. And, you know, I was often told, you know, just give me the facts. Just tell me the facts. No one ever said, just tell me a story like no one ever said that. And we’ve got this, like, bias towards logic in business where I’m not saying you don’t need logic, but we’ve actually stored any form of emotion is bad when the reality is in business, we’re dealing with humans.

We’re actually trying to, you know, get people to trust us. We’re building relationships and story taps into emotion. And that is why it’s a powerful communication and influencing skill. we know this in our personal life. We know this as parents. Any parent, they trying to get a serious message across to their kids, they’ll tell a story. But in business we think, oh no, no, that’s not professional.

So we don’t use it. But the reality is we humans, therefore we’re emotional beings, and story taps into that emotion. It’s interesting. I never thought of that. But yeah, when I’m talking to my kids about something I want to get across, you do tell it in a story and you can see them processing it as a story that walking through the steps of the story in order to get that message, that understanding across, that’s really interesting.

So why are stories apart from that side of things, but why stories so powerful in business? What makes them so powerful for business? Yeah, like even just getting back to the why we share stories with our kids for moment is, there’s a quote that says, experience is the best teacher, but the stories the second best teacher.

I remember when it was probably 17 years ago, we got a swimming pool and it wasn’t a very big swimming pool. So the rule was you weren’t allowed jump in the pool. And instead of saying you cannot jump in the pool because it’s dangerous. What I told my girls, the two kids were my two girls were, when I was swimming and Auntie Ali saw Auntie Ali’s my youngest sister.

She jumped in the pool and she jumped really close to me, but she got too close. And her knee hit my teeth and smashed my front teeth. And she got in trouble of Nana. And I was telling the story and they kept going. Tell me again, tell me again, tell me again. And I kept wanting to tell the story.

But I only realized the power of that when they would have their friends over and they would tell them that story as a reason why we weren’t allowed to jump in the pool. So I’m sitting there going, ooh, that’s story work, that’s story work. So the reality is, in business, it’s the same thing. If we’re trying to get a really important message across and whether that’s about safety, whether it’s about innovation or whether it’s about diversity, inclusion, whatever it is, we can give all the facts in the world we like, but it’s through the story.

People will connect with it. People will understand it, they will remember it. And then the most important thing, they will be able to retell other people without losing its meaning. And that’s why it’s so important in business. Because when you look at communicating strategy, when you look at communicating values, when you look at trying to implement change, that’s what we need to get.

We need to get people to understand what we’re saying, remember it, and be able to retell it to other people if they need to. Yeah, I’m in a networking group and every week we get our, our allotted time to say what we do and how we help and that kind of thing. And for the first couple of months, I would constantly just give facts.

I’d say like, this is what we do, this is how we do it. As soon as I started adding in little stories, and that was taken from other members of the group who are really good at this, I found that we get more referrals and I got more referrals because they had something to connect to and it took them on a little journey in their mind of what the business was about.

It’s like when you sit there about serving pool. I’m actually reliving that moment when you’re talking about it, and I’m thinking about that. And I know now that the next time I go swimming, I’m going to be thinking, I don’t want to jump in because I might get close to somebody and it’s already in there. I can already feel it’s in there, which is amazing.

Yeah. And that’s, when you talk about business growth, when you talk about referrals, you sharing a personal story is someone else is able to retell it, and that’s how you can get greater reach with your messages. You know, we talk about things going viral or whatever, but storytelling is the greatest viral thing there is. Besides, what else can aside besides Covid?

But that’s like, let’s not forget. Cool. So what do you love most about helping businesses to tell their story? I think one of the things I love about the job I do is there’s a couple. I mean, there’s a lot of things, but when I work with clients, some of the feedback they tell me is I just didn’t realize that anyone would be interested in my story.

So that’s a really powerful thing to say. I didn’t think anyone would be interested in this because it seems like relatively just normal. so that’s a good thing. The other thing is, I see, you know, I work with people in the company, senior leaders, and I will say, I didn’t think we were allowed to share stories. And what they’re saying is I didn’t think it was professional, and I can’t even get some people to say it never even occurred to me to share personal story, to deliver my business message.

So that’s what I love about what I do is actually helping people. I mean, yes, I can show them how to do it properly, and I can show them how to implement brand storytelling, and I can train all their ladies up. But the thrill I get is helping them realize that this is so powerful and that they’ve never even thought about it before, or they thought about it, but it’s almost like I think I give them permission to do it.

I give them the permission and the capability, and that’s what I love about what I do. Yeah, I think I felt some trepidation before sharing stories initially. I think you feel a little bit as though you shouldn’t be sharing it on behalf of the business or how it ties into the business, how it reflects on it. But I think you’re right.

As soon as you take that step, you feel liberated. In a way. Yeah, yeah. Do you mean I get sometimes emails people, you know, whether it’s three months later or three years later saying, I did you workshop, I shared this story and I just want to tell you the impact it had and what people said to me, and they’re almost going, this stuff really works.

And it was like, yes, I know, I know, I know, it really works. But I love the fact that they take the time to let me know. So we’ve covered a few of them. But what are the biggest misconceptions that you see regarding brand storytelling and business? I think the biggest misconception I see with brand storytelling and my latest Food Magnate stories is my sixth book, and it’s the first one that’s really had an external focus on brand storytelling.

But the biggest misconception I see is that people think brand storytelling is one story. Sorry, there’s a few I see. I think it’s just one story, and it’s normally like the founder story or the origin story, like how the company started. So they think that is brand storytelling, although I think brand storytelling is about the logo or the font or the corporate video or the strategy on a page.

The amount of people I’ve had say, oh, this is our brand story. And I go, oh, can you show me your brand story? And it’s the strategy on a page. And I was like, but that’s not the story. So it’s thinking it’s one story. It’s not understanding what a story’s. And, you know, again, sometimes you see people go, this is our story.

And I look at it and I go, it’s actually a timeline, a timeline. It’s not a story. I don’t know if you’ve noticed there’s a bit of a trend going on. I’ve probably noticed this the last few years on websites. The About Us page has changed to our story. And, you know, whenever I see, you know, I’m curious, whenever I say our story or my story are getting and have a look and, nine times out of ten, it’s not a story, it’s just a timeline.

So some of the things that people are doing wrong, they just they thinking something’s a story where it’s actually not a story from that point of view. What is a story to what constitutes a story with regards to business? Chris, when I ran my trainee, I sort of say what makes a story a story, and I get people to tell me.

And from a very basic structural level, it has to have a beginning, middle and end and, you know, I don’t know about that seem really obvious, but we all know people who tell stories without an ending, you know, don’t be that person. I just know I was like, even the Neverending story ended. Don’t be that person. And you know, that actually comes from Aristotle.

So 2500 years ago, Aristotle said, for a story to be a story needs to have a beginning, middle and end, which that’s the structure I like, although I’m very, very respectful of, the First Nations people of Australia that have been telling stories for 60,000 years, and they have a more circular approach to storytelling. So, you know, I think they’re the expert in storytelling, but I think in business, a beginning, middle and end is critical.

The other thing is, you need to be really clear on what your message. So, so many people go, oh yeah, I’ve got like this message, this message, this message, one message per story. And the other thing, something actually specific has to happen. So like give me something specific. Because too often in business we talk in generalities and we’re talking hypothetical, which are actually not stories.

And then in some way you’ve got a link. It’s to what your actual messages without sort of saying the moral of the stories, I feel like I should give you an example because we’ve been talking about storytelling. I haven’t told the story yet. Shall I give you an example of what I mean? Yeah, that’d be amazing. Yeah. So I’m going to give you one example.

I love this example. This is an example. So I did some work with a department in my organization. And it was the risk department. And the head of risk her name was Rosemary. And she said the biggest issue I have is whenever I talk about risk to the business unit. So, you know, people I talk about risk. They go, well, you’re the risk manager.

That’s your job. And she said, it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve told them that I cannot manage the risk for them, all I can do is help them manage the risk. Nothing changes. The behavior doesn’t get through. She goes, you know, she goes. I’ve given all the logical information I can, but for some reason the behavior is not changing.

So this is the story she started to share. She said, when I was a kid, I grew up on a farm, and growing up on a farm, there was all these dangers we need to be aware of. But mum would teach us what to do, so we knew what to do. If we ever came across a redback spider in the timber heap, we knew what to do.

If we came across, you know, we knew what to do and came across like when the dam had flooded and all the potential traps in the dam, and we knew what to do if we came across a snake in summer. And I remember this really, really hot, dying mum was yelling at me to get my bike from the front gates or run down the path, and then I just froze because in front of my bath was this massive, massive copperhead snake.

But I remembered everything mum taught us to do. So I climbed statues and I slowly walk backwards until there was enough space between me and the snake, and I ran back to the house to tell mum. And I’m sharing this with you because it reminds him his role playing risk. All I can do is give you the skills, knowledge and advice.

So when you come across your own Copperhead snake, regardless of what that looks like, you will know what to do. So I love that example. And I’m gonna ask you a couple of questions. Chris. And your listeners can answer these yourself. Does it help you understand the role of a risk manager better and the role you play in it?

Do you think it helps you understand? Definitely really powerful. That was pretty powerful. Yeah. So it helps you understand the message. Do you think you’d remember it 100%? 100%? Yeah. I’ve literally just saved your life. If you come across a snake that you know. Yeah. It is funny is. Oh, because you reminded me of it when I was in Melbourne and came across a red buck randomly underneath a pool chair outside a, while we were staying, there was like a sun lounger, and every day we laid it, my wife was on the sun lounger and she’d gone for a job interview on that day, and I was at home and I lifted the old

chair up, sun lounger up and underneath was a redback spider. And being a complete newcomer to Australia, not knowing what to do, I must have looked like a right tourist. But I had a stick in one hand and a rolled up newspaper in the other, and I was kind of musketeer like trying to fend off this thing, this little spider that’s about as big as that.

Like as big as a yes. Dime. Five stamps. Yeah. So imagine if you ever came across a snake. yeah. So that story took me right back to that. But it also put me in that moment of fear. But that in a way. But it heightened how much that imprinted on me, that story. So I was walking through the steps with the person in the story.

I felt like I was in those shoes. Yeah. So that’s what a story does. So it helps you understand the message, you’re going to remember it. And if you had to, could you retell it to someone else without losing its meaning? Definitely. Yeah. And so that’s I mean, even the fact that you said when I was telling you that story, you took me back to a redback spider and it would take people back to anything.

And it helps people visualize it through the story. So this specific event, like something specific, happened. So it’s true that is helped you visualize it and it helped you feel it. And so again you went straight back to the redback spider in Australia. But everyone would go back to a different thing. It could just be you parents telling you about stranger danger.

And even if it doesn’t take you back that you’ve pictured it, you’ve actually pictured it and it’s tapped into a notion. And that’s what a story does. You can’t fight it because you’re human. It’ll tap into emotion and it will help you understand it and remember it and therefore be able to retell it. Yeah, well, even with a copperhead snake, I felt like I was in a situation and I was walking back slowly.

Remember it now, walking back slowly until I was far enough away from the copperhead snake to be able to make a safe run. And then you bike down that kind of thing. So I remember that part of it. And tying that to risk management as well. So yeah, that relates to it. And yeah, that’s got across what the job of that risk manager was in a far more visceral way than any sort of statistics, analytics or handouts could be.

Yeah. And that’s, you know, Rosemary, the woman that shared it, I followed up with a delight. And she just now uses that story all the time, because all that effort she had been putting in to trying to explain factually why this is important, the story is what did it. And she said she would be in meetings and something would come up and the others would go, have we identified all our copperhead snakes?

So the copperhead snakes became the metaphor for risk management, and she said she just couldn’t believe the impact that that story had, where she had tried everything else to get the message across. So that’s why stories are important in business. Whether you’re trying to get your message across or around risk management or collaboration or integrity or investing collusion, whatever it is, do it through a story because it’ll get you the greatest impact.

Then facts and figures and statistics and logic ever will. Yeah. So I love that. I love the fact that they created Copperhead snake is kind to this market for, potential risks. And you can see then how that if you look at like mythology and stuff, how it translates into things like a trident that ends up being an icon for something that taps back into a and stuff like that, how a story creates icons and symbols that come out of it, which are then representative of that particular story and how they tie together.

Yeah, absolutely. It’s sort of the story becomes the metaphor and how it all ties together. But it’s not a metaphor. I mean, she could have just said, or when I was a kid, I grew up in a farm and growing number farm. There’s all these dangers that mum taught us about. And the reason I’m sharing this with you is role playing risk.

But it’s like, that’s the whole story because you’ve got to have the specific event of the copperhead snake, which then then becomes the metaphor. How do you create magnetic attraction for brand storytelling? So how do you create those sort of that into the story to give it that heightened attraction? Yeah. So the example I just gave then was pretty much just the lead, trying to get a message across and how a story could use it.

But when we’re talking about brand storytelling, it’s how does a company and whether this company is a one person company, an entrepreneur, a new company or a, you know, big multinational, how do you get your brand across to your stories? And part of me goes back to what was Brant in the first place. So one of my favorite definitions of brand comes from Jeff Bezos.

And he says that your branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. My take on that is that your brand of the stories people share about you when you’re not in the room, because I think ultimately what they’re saying about you is that they’re telling stories. So it’s like, how do you then take control of that?

So how do you take control of that with the things you do to generate stories, but also the stories you share? And the first place is defining what you want your brand to be. Because a magnetic story. And I should probably explain why I called my book Magnetic Stories, is I was looking for this. I knew a really good story.

Once you heard a story, you had this like immediate attraction, like connection to it, like this immediate, strong connection to it. That was really hard to forget. It was really hard to pull away from. And so I sort of thought of magnet. It’s actually what happens with the magnet, like bang you together and you’ve almost kind of force yourself to pull away from it.

So that’s the concept of magnetic stories. As a little side story, my husband suggested he, you know, I was thinking of and I was trying to think of a name and I thought of magnetic stories. And he came out the next day and goes, author of the perfect name for your book. And I went, what? Anyway, in Teflon stories.

And I went, okay, you know, that’s the complete opposite of Teflon. Doesn’t stick anyway. Are. Yeah. That’s right. That’s not like thank you. Anyway, it did give me a thing is I use stories magnetic or Teflon. But let me give you an example of what a really good magnetic story can do. When I was growing up, I was a bit of a tomboy.

I’d be, you know, playing football, playing cricket, I love cricket, I love my BMX bike and my skateboard, and I’d be playing with my brothers and cousins, and I was never into dolls and I never, ever had a Barbie doll. And so in the last couple of decades with Barbies, I had a bit of a bad rap about being a bad role model for girls and unattainable body image.

I happily went along with that story, and we’ve got two daughters who are now 17 and 20, and when they were born, there was no way no one was going to buy them a Barbie. And I think I even told people that they’re not getting Barbie dolls. I was so strong against it. And in researching for the book, I came across the backstory of Bobby.

Bobby was invented by one the wife of one of the co-founders of Mattel. So Mattel, Mike Bobby. And it was in the 1950s. And what she noticed that when her two children. So they had a daughter and a son named Ken and Barbara and, yes, Ken and Bobby and named after they didn’t. Two children. But what she noticed was that when they both played with their respective dolls, both of them, Ken and Barbara, imagined themselves as adults, and why Ken was encouraged to see himself as an astronaut and a firefighter and a superhero.

Barbie, the only thing she could save herself as was a caregiver and literally as a mother. And so she pitched this idea of the 3D doll with cloth clothing. They could change to be whatever they wanted to be. And, you know, there was a lot of reluctance initially, but she persisted. And in 1959, Barbie debuted on the new Toy Fair.

And clearly the rest is history. But there’s a quote from Ruth Handler that says, my whole philosophy with Bobby was that through the doll, the little girl could be whatever she wanted to be. The Barbie always represented that women have choices. So when I heard that quote, when I found that story, it completely changed my opinion of the brand Barbie and not only change my opinion, but will absolutely change my future buying habits.

So clearly I never bought a Barbie for my daughters. But maybe in a future grandkids that come along, we’ll get a Barbie. And one of the biggest feedbacks I get when people have read my book and give me feedback. Normally the first thing they say is you have completely changed my opinion about the brand. Bobby and I sort of think what a missed opportunity because I had to search really hard to find that story.

What a missed opportunity from Mattel that that story is not front and center on their website. And that story is not on absolutely every single package of a Barbie doll, because that’s the power of a magnetic story. That was one of the things that is when I heard it in the book, I listened to the book, I came home, I’ve got two girls, and we’ve got a five year old and a two year old.

And I came back and told my wife that story about Barbie, and it changed my view about it as well, because obviously there has been a lot of bad press with it, and you think there might even be that? That story isn’t even known internally as well. To a lot of people that are working on the brand and on the business, which is really sad when you think about that, is a the people who are doing product design and stuff or thinking about the next lines coming out, that would be a really good motivator to help them guide them in what they do.

Yeah, man, that’s a really good point to mention. Been involved in producing the Barbie product even like on the production line. But you know, the backstory that you know, the backstory, this is all about girls having imagining whatever they want to be and women having choices and imagining the difference that would make. I mean, you know, you probably the vast majority of people on their production line are probably women.

Yeah, you’re right. I’ve never even thought about it that way before. But the difference that would make internally to the people working on the product, definitely. Yeah, that is a really good story. And it did completely change my opinion of the brand. And again, my future buying habits with regards to my daughters. Yeah, it’s sort of writing a book, Chris, you sort of hope the first bit of feedback you get is, oh my God, I love the book.

He’s such a good writer. No, the first bit of feedback I get is, God, you’ve completely changed my opinion. And Bobby was like, okay, all right, that’s good. That’s going to get in the way because it means that the point you’re making with the magnetic stories proves that it works because it sticks in people’s mind, and they pass it on as well, because I think that’s really.

Yeah. And I can tell my wife about that line, but maybe I should approach Mattel or she’d get a little kickback from, you know, definitely Chris and Barbie sales or some of the best PR they’ve had for years. You know, it’s kind of got it right. That maybe might be I do know I could be an influencer, you know, also, yeah, I recently read the book in, you sort of mentioned why the book was named.

It was what was the catalyst for writing it. So what was the reason for writing it? It was an interesting time. It was it was probably about two years ago. And I did start to notice that I’ve been doing storytelling for over like 17 years. And when I first started, people would talk about storytelling in business and seriously laugh at me.

So I’ve sort of seen storytelling get credibility over that time. You know, when I wrote my last book. So this is my sixth book or something, which is, you know, I find it quite ironic considering I failed English in my final year school. But anyway, the fact that I published six books is astounding. Good editors. Chris, all I say is have very good editors, but what I started to notice is that storytelling was becoming really popular.

So the things we spoke about earlier, I would see people talk about brand storytelling, saying, yes, we’re doing brain storytelling, and I’d look at it and go, but that’s not a story, it’s a timeline. Or it’s slick corporate video. That’s what I saw. A lot of companies doing slick corporate videos, going brand storytelling, and it was like, it’s not even a story.

And also thinking one story. So if we tell the story about how the company started, that’s Brian storytelling. And it’s like going, you cannot communicate your brand with one story. It’s like multiple, multiple, multiple stories and ongoing stories. And that was one of the things I saw people doing it, but doing it wrong. But then I think the real driver, the real catalyst for me was I would speak to people and who had amazing stories but weren’t sharing them and weren’t sharing them because they didn’t think they were relevant or people would be interested.

And that’s when I thought, I’ve got to write a book about these to hope. What I give is clarity around what is stories and what’s not, and knowledge. So if you want to do it, knowledge, how to actually do it. But for all those people that are thinking my story is not relevant or important to actually inspiration, to say it is, it is a Chris, I’ll share this with you.

I still remember distinctly I was at an event probably about three years ago, and I was the keynote speaker, and I had a dinner afterwards. So I was sitting down talking to a couple of people, and one of the people, they told me, you know, you I said, oh, what do you do? And she goes, I own a few childcare centers.

I not right. That’s interesting. How did you get into that? Well, I actually used to be a dentist. I was like, oh, so how did you go from being a dentist owning childcare centers? And she told me that, you know, her and her husband had struggled to get pregnant for about ten years to get pregnant, and they eventually did.

And when she went to go back to work, she was trying to find a childcare center for her son. And I think because the fact that I had tried so hard to get pregnant, that clearly this was the most precious thing in their life, and she said to me, every child care center I went into, I just thought my son wouldn’t love this.

He wouldn’t love it. And she goes, I just decided I wasn’t kind of putting in place that he wouldn’t love interest, but I couldn’t find any that he would love. So I decided to buy one, and I bought one and turned it into a place that he would love. And then I bought another one and turned that into a place that he would love.

And she goes. And every single decision we make is based on whether he would love this or not. And I remember looking at her and said, please tell me that stories on your website. And she went, oh no, we use it internally, but wouldn’t use it externally. And I just said, if I was looking for a place to send my kid and I came across your website and read that story, I would just say, sign me up.

So she just didn’t think that story was appropriate to share externally. It’s like such a missed opportunity. Yeah, that’s an amazing story. And like you said, the amount of care that you know that your child would have if you went somewhere like that and, you know, fun, they’d have just by hearing that story, you know, that someone was that determined to create somewhere that was perfect and allowed the child to sort of enjoy it.

He’d love to it. You’d love to send your child there. Definitely. Yeah. Because what that story does, it taps into the real fear of any parent sending their kid to child care. Like, not only will they be okay here or safe here and happy here, but what they were saying is they would love it here. And it was like, so it just alleviates any fear or any concerns any parent would have with, leaving their kid child care center.

Yeah, definitely. It is one of those fears, even with schools. It’s the same thing with schools. Need you take them to schools and you want to find the right one, the one that you think they’re gonna be happiest in. So definitely a story like that with the wonders for that lady in her business. Yeah. And I think ultimately then when you talk about what stories do you share?

It’s like, first of all, what do you want to be known for as a brand? But in this story, without her even realizing it, she was the story was tapping into the major concerns of her clients or potential clients. Without her even realizing it. So you mentioned these kind of slick corporate videos and how that people think that brand storytelling, and they put it together in they’re sort of they’re very easy to spot when you see them and you know, what’s going to happen and that kind of thing.

Is there a way to do something like that that is more of a story and actually still has that corporate edge, comes across more personable, I guess. So the answer is yes. So there absolutely is a way to do those. And I know I shouldn’t say you can have a corporate video that is actually still good. And still a story.

My hesitation with that is people think it starts and stops there. So we’ve done the slick corporate video. So we’ve done so they go we have done brand storytelling and you go, that’s just the start of it. That’s just the start of it. So yes, you can absolutely do it. Chris. What I noticed though, is when I was researching for this book and I had so much fun researching for this book, because I got to speak to so many amazing companies from all around the world.

And I went out like I went out to, you know, a huge amount of people in, you know, marketing and comms and was looking for examples and the amount of correspondence I got back to say, you should check out this company because they’re doing really good things with storytelling and they send me links to these videos. Some of them were those corporate videos.

And that guy, they doing really good stuff with storytelling, and I would watch the video and go with the story. I was waiting for the story to start. I had so many other people got all these companies doing really good stories around their company values, which I love most. Part of my job is going in and teaching leaders in companies how to communicate their values through personal stories.

So they’ve done videos. So I didn’t look at all the videos, and all the videos were of people talking about what the company values meant to them, but no one was sharing a story. So you could have at a company value of respect and like I oh, that means to me, you know, listening to everyone. And it was like it was video on bullet points.

That’s all it was. And there was no story. And even though it was beautifully shot and genuine and authentic, it was just not very effective at all and in fact, quite boring a lot of the times. So, there’s a place for those good corporate videos, and I have seen some good ones, but brand storytelling doesn’t end there, doesn’t start and end there.

Yeah, that’s interesting because I know what you mean about those sort of bullet point style videos. And actually you have a YouTube channel, and in that we do videos on that. And, one of the things I’ve been trying to be recently is to get more of a narrative into those videos. So I kind of obviously got beginning, middle and end.

But is there any sort of other tips with regards to a structure, to creating a narrative that can work across a lot of different types of information? Yeah. So be very clear on the one single message. And it’s also be succinct, like if you’re going to tell a story. well, I think in business and even in personal people, you get to the point where they don’t get to the point.

The moment anyone’s thinking, get to the point, you are losing them. So how do you just do it really succinctly. So my guide is about 1 to 2 minutes. I remember I did some work, I was sort of mentoring this senior exec, and I was just mentoring her on a whole heap of things around communication and presentation and stuff like that.

But it got to the point where the companies she worked for were rolling out new values, and so they had five values, and they were asking each of the executives to record a three minute video, what the value meant to them. And as soon as she told me this, I’m thinking, I know what’s going to end up.

They just going to be rolling out bullet points about what the values mean to it. And I said, so do you want to tell a story? She did, and we worked with it. And she actually spent two of the three minutes sharing a personal story around this value. The value was really cool. It was cool. to the moon and back.

It was about like courage and taking a risk. And so I work with her and share this story. And she was actually initially pretty reluctant because she said no one else is telling the story. It’s just me. I’m the only one that’s telling the story, you know, getting good. And I, you know, encouraged her to do it. I think she was still a bit anxious, but she did it.

The feedback that she got, like he just says the feedback was amazing. The people are going, I never knew that it’s a festival. I never knew that about you. I never realized that about you. And that got that message across better. So yeah, you can still do videos about your company values, but my big philosophy is that you can’t communicate company values without the ladies sharing personal stories about what it means to them.

And what I mean by personal stories is a story that’s got nothing to do with work. That’s what I mean. What’s a personal story? Yeah, that’s got me thinking about, reviewing our company values. I think in trying to work out what the stories are behind them, because I think you’re right. There’s always the reason you choose those values, or the reason they’re in place is because they mean something to you, and it is to do with business.

It’s something deeper. Yeah. And Chris, a lot of times when I do this work, I’ll be working with like the executive leadership team. And one of the first things I do is go, okay, so one of your company stories is integrity. Tell me what that means to you personally. And they’ll go, it means respect. Okay, okay. What else does it mean?

It means, you do what you’re going to say and what else does it mean? And then, like, I am not sure you’ve put me on the spot here. I haven’t really thought about it this much before. And then 90% of the time that happens after 20s senior leaders, executive leaders are saying, I don’t know, I haven’t really thought about it this much before, but this is a company values that they meant to be role modeling, and they’re meant to be communicating and they meant to be embedding across the organization.

But the vast majority of the time they haven’t spent any amount of time thinking about what they mean to them personally. Yeah, that’s really interesting. Definitely. Do you want me to give you an example? Yeah. You can. I feel like we need to give lots of examples. Yeah, definitely. No, it’s just that I was off in my head and I was trying to think, okay, I was tying the values to things, and I was,

Yeah, I was off thinking about it. Then you got me thinking. Yeah. Yeah. Cool. So worked for the company. One of the values was integrity, which, you know, a lot of companies have that sign, you know, integrity, doing the right thing, whatever it is her name was in. This is what I do. I take people to the process.

So integrity. What does it mean to you. So it means honesty telling the truth okay. What else does it mean to you. Means if you say, you know, do something, do it right, what else does it mean to you? And she sort of win. You know what it really means to me? It means doing the right thing all the time.

She goes, I think we’re pretty good at doing the right thing when it suits us. Not so great at doing it when it doesn’t suit us. She does this a little bit like that, saying do the right thing even if no one’s watching. Okay, okay. So then I take them through the process of, how they can find stories in their personal life that demonstrates they say that they’ve done it or they haven’t done it, or they’ve seen someone else do it or, you know, so I take them through a whole process of how do you actually find those personal stories.

So this is the story she came up with, and this is the story she still shares to this day. She said, in the early 60s, my dad was a professional swimmer, and he reached the point in his career where he actually tried out for the national swim squad. And on the day of the meet, he was winning his race.

And then he got to the end and he did the tumble turn and he slightly misjudged. So he missed the wall. Now this was in the early 60s, so it was well before sensors. They had judges at the end of the pool. But with all that splashing and kicking, he knew they wouldn’t know if he missed the wall or not.

So he had to make a split second decision. Does he go back and touch the wall or does he just keep swimming? And he decided to go back and touch the wall. Now you don’t really recover from a race when you have to do that. And he didn’t. And so he never placed and he never, ever made the national swim squad.

And I would often ask, dad, do you regret going back and touching the wall? And he would said, I’ve never regretted that, because if I didn’t go back and touch the wall, I would have to spend the rest of my life knowing I did the wrong thing. And I’m sharing this with you because it reminds me of our value integrity.

It’s only a matter of time before we will come across our own. Go back and touch the wall moment, and I invite you to consider what my dad would do. So imagine working for a leader and they shared that with you. Imagine what that story would do for you. Yeah, that’s pretty powerful. That’s amazing. Again, you’re transported to that place.

You’re put in that position yourself emotionally. And what you would do, you ask that question whilst the story is going on. Yeah. And then it said, like Anna said, that, you know, every single person that comes and works for her, she shares that story with them because she knows that meetings will happen. You know, whether we do, we do be and people will start deciding, no, you know, technically we don’t have to do it.

Legally. We’re not obliged to do it. And then someone will go, this is I’ll go back and touch the wall moment. What’s the right thing to do? And they go, yeah, okay. I it’s clearly the right thing to do. So you know that’s values embedded. Like too often we try to communicate our values but just saying what they are and explain logically what they are.

But I think until we share a personal story, we don’t really, really connect and engage with them. That’s amazing. For developing company culture to have in that idea of the copperhead snake or the going back and touching the wall, you have these markers, these things that people can relate to, which then replays that story. It’s like a freeze frame that you can then press play on that, replays that story inside them to get them thinking again about them living literally living those values.

Yeah. And it’s what you say it is. These stories become like the cornerstone of the culture. And whether it’s the culture of an entire organization or whether it’s just the culture of your team. So, you know, and has lift companies twice since that. But, you know, she goes, it’s her value, whether it’s the company value or not. It’s her value.

So she still shares that story. And as you said, it becomes like that memory point where we go, this is I’ll go back and touch the wall moment. Have we identified all our copperhead snakes? So you don’t even need to repeat the story as long as everyone’s heard it, they’re all going, oh yeah, Copperhead snakes all go back and touch the wall moment.

They all go straight back to that. This is the right thing to do. Yeah, definitely. That’s amazing. Every time I hear Copperhead Snake. No, I’m just going to remember that story. I’m just going to keep plugging back. And if you ever get back to Australia, you know you know don’t worry about the red back spot. She could have just literally walked away.

You could just pretty more. But yeah, if you come across the snake now you know what to do. Yeah definitely. Cool. So in your book you talk about five types of story that every business should tell. Could you sort of go over those sort of types of stories that you think every business should tell? Yeah. So like I said before, the reason I wrote the book is I saw people saying, you know, it’s just one story.

And in my head, I knew it was more than one story, but I didn’t know how many stories or what types of stories. So there was always a section in my book that had the X number of stories. And during the research and like I said, I had so much fun researching for this book and I got to speak to like so many companies from around the world, it was amazing.

The story sort of fell into five categories and they all start with C, so I do like a nice palate. So the first one is the creation story, and that is either the creation of the company or the creation of a product. So the Barbie story, for example, is a typical example of a creation of the product. It wasn’t why Mattel started.

I’m sure they’ve got their own story there. So it’s either how the story the company started or how a product or service started. So that’s your creation story, the culture story. So culture stories, these are stories about your company values. So for example, to go back and touch the Walmart is an example of the culture story. So if one of our values is integrity this is one of our culture stories.

And we’ll share that story. But you know if you’ve got ten ladies in your company, they all need to have their own version of that. So it’s all sharing their personal stories. The other one is customer stories. So how do you share stories of your customers? But again, it’s not about customer testimonials. It’s making the customer the hero of the story give you a really, really quick example.

One of the great companies I interviewed was Columbia Restaurants in Florida that the oldest restaurant in Florida had their fifth generational company. They do amazing stuff with stories like amazing, amazing story stories. A great example of a customer story is last year on Valentine’s Day, they put on a social media post, a story about a couple that had celebrated their wedding anniversary at Columbia restaurants for the last 72 years, like 72 years.

And the story goes that on their first wedding anniversary, they came to the Columbia restaurant, and on their second wedding anniversary, they came back and coincidentally got sat at the same table. For the next 70 years, Columbia Restaurant had reserved that table for them every single year, and they had come back every single year. So they just put that out on Valentine’s Day.

Same celebration of love and Happy Valentine’s Day to all the love hearts out there. And so it was all about the customer. But can you say by default you’re going, what an amazing restaurant that like so it’s making the customer the hero, but there’s still a, you know, a glowing effect. That’s a great example of a customer story.

The other types of story, a community story. So again, what are you as a company do in the community? But again, this is going beyond your corporate responsibility stuff. You might have employees that are doing really cool things in the community, so you might have employees that are volunteering their time, you know, to surf life saving or volunteering their time visiting old people’s homes.

Make them the heroes because by default, your customers will go, you know, you got pretty cool employees. And if your employees are working for you, you’re pretty cool company. So it’s this ongoing effect. And then the final one is challenge. So how have you responded to challenges and talk about how you’ve done that. And that would normally then tie into your culture and your values?

My advice is don’t get too hung up on is this a culture story or is it a challenge story? The reality is, it could be both. The point of having those five different types of stories is find them trying to find all of those. So we’re moving beyond just the creation story, which is normally where most companies stop.

Yeah, that’s amazing that you’ve got these other four stories that people don’t really know about as much and actually provide a really well-rounded experience for the audience and the customer to understand who you are, what you stand for, what you believe in. And also, like you said, that extension to the employees and the customers but in story format is a really interesting one, I think, because especially the employee one where it’s an extension of your company, that’s really interesting.

Yeah, yeah, because every single employee is an extension of your brand. I run a practice and I literally there’s me and I have a full time executive assistant, and I have got under no illusion that she’s an extension of my brand. She interacts with my customers. She’s normally the first point of call, and she is an extension of my brand.

If I was going to get rid of her for anything, get rid of anyone, is that they’re not demonstrating my brand, and they’re not in line with how I operate and what I want to do. And whether you’re a company of two or 20 or 20,000, every single employee is an extension of your brand, and they should be aware of how they contributing to that or not.

So what are some top tips that you can give the listeners for developing those stories? Finding those stories. What are some tips you can give? Go I would say, and regardless of the size, like I said, you could be a one person entrepreneur, two person like me or whatever. The first thing is, be really clear on what you want to be known for.

So do you want to be known for innovation, or do you want to be known for risk taking? Do you want to be known as a reliable pair of hands? What do you want to be known for as in your values? I’m not talking about your products or services. Yes, you want to be known for those as well.

But I’m talking about your values, which is your brand. Then think you need to educate your employees on the power of storytelling and what they can do to create your story. So if you want to be known for exceptional customer service, you need to be finding stories around exceptional customer service. But you also need to be empowering your employees to deliver exceptional customer service.

So define what you want to be known for. Educate your people. And then I think this is a cyclical thing of how do you capture those stories? How do you communicate them? So how do you get them out there and get them out there multiple ways? And then also how do you create them? So like this is leaving your value.

So like I said, if you want to be known for exceptional customer service, what are you doing tomorrow that’s going to deliver exceptional customer service. So just find ways to do that. I mean know I’ll give you a really clicky saying. Well you know, one of my brands is around authenticity. But I also want to be known as generous.

So I’m like I feel I am generous with my time. I had a long term client today ring me and ask. They wanted to buy four books. So it’s a long term client and I want to buy four books for me. And it was like, please, you’re not buying them. I’m just giving them for you, which just like but it’s looking for opportunity.

So if I want to be known as being generous, there’s an opportunity I’m going to take it. I’m not going to bother sending them an invoice for $100 and just give it to them, the massive supporters and good clients. So why not? And definitely then and also two yes, I’m going to do that. I’m going to do it genuinely authentically.

But you know, potentially she’s going to be talking to other people. You go all surmising they gave me books and I was like, I’m not doing it for that reason. But you know, that’s potentially might be the outcome to the additional outcome. So it’s finding ways to leave. Embrace your brand. I really like that because I think once you like you said, you found out what you want to be known for.

You have those values and you have those things and those opportunities. Then it becomes like so cyclical because there’s an opportunity there for you to live out that value. But that also creates the story that you’ve shared. Now, which ends up reiterating that message as well second hand from the initial event. So it’s quite interesting how that flow into each other and create that cycle.

Yeah, there’s an amazing story I reckon I heard about this about 20 years ago, but I actually did put it in the book. It was around Nordstrom. So Nordstrom in America unknown but you know had a reputation for exceptional customer service. And it’s the story about and this is in 1975 right. So I don’t I what 46 years ago was that.

someone had bought tires from a tire shop and then went to get an exchange. And by the time they came back to the get the exchange, the tire shop, it closed down and there was a brand new Nordstrom store in its place, and they came in and wanted a refund for tires. And the shop assistant, first of all, they didn’t sell the tires to them.

Nordstrom don’t even sell toys, but the shop assistant gave them a full refund. And if you Google Nordstrom tire service story there is I think last time I did it was like 7 million like references and and people are still talking about it 46 days later. It’s in my book 46 years later. Now that person doing that didn’t do it because I’m going to create a story.

They did it because they were living their values. And when you leave your values, stories will be created and you know you have no control over that. But I tell you what, if you don’t live your values, stories will be created and those stories will be shared a hell of a lot easier and faster than the stories of you living your values.

So you make a choice every day. Do we live our values and we don’t do live values. And you sort of think, well, if you know what you want to be known for, and if it’s who you are, then take the opportunity to live your values. Yeah, definitely. That’s a great story. That’s a really good example of a company like you said, just embody what they sample.

I was going to ask you, I was going to say, what sort of a have you seen any businesses recently that you think have been successful with their brand storytelling? But I feel like the Nordstrom example was a really good one. But are there any others that you’ve seen recently that kind of do this, do a similar thing, or have a great story that’s telling?

Yeah, I’ve been really attracted to some of the really new startup companies that have just been doing things really different, being really authentic and genuine and just, you know, you can see it not only in the copy on their website that’s really funny and authentic. So it’d be pretty hard to pull out a few. It’s like, who gives a crap toilet paper was an Australian?

And just the fact that the company called Who Gives a Crap is full and even on being working with Kohl’s, which is a, you know, large supermarket chain in Australia, and I’ve been doing work with them, but I’ve just started noticing on LinkedIn they’re doing some really cool employee stories, so they’re celebrating their employees. And it could just be these employees work with us for 35 years, but they’re putting that stuff out publicly on LinkedIn.

And I never saw that a year ago. So there’s a few companies out there doing some cool things. So I’m working the listeners find out a little bit more about yourself, about your book Magnetic Stories and anything else that you’re doing currently. Where’s the best place to find you? I’ll use the best place. I mean, I’m I’m on all the socials, so Instagram.

But LinkedIn, LinkedIn is probably the best one. But also on my website. So Gabriel dolan.com, what I do have on my website is a seven day storytelling starter kit. So it’s free and it is what it sort of says. It lasts for seven days and it will get you started on storytelling, so it’ll help you start to think about where you could find your stories, where you could share them.

It’s just you sign up, you get an email from me one day a week, one day, seven days, containing a really short video, and it’ll get you started. But, and, you know, on the website, there’s old ones I just books and workshops and stuff like that. Cool. I’ll put all those details in the show notes. And also I’m going to head over there and sign up as well.

So it’s really good. And I encourage all the listeners to do so as well because yeah, it’s been amazing. It’s been really good having you on really interesting conversation. And yeah, just thanks very much. Thanks, Chris. I’ve really enjoyed it. Oh, we’ve just put together a weekly Brand Tip video series, which is designed to help you to unlock your brand’s potential and stand out from the competition.

And if you’re interested, if you just go to elements Brand Management one word locator UK forward slash weekly hyphen brand hyphen tips. Sign up and you’ll be delivered a 3 to 5 minute video a week straight to your inbox. I’ll put a link in the show notes if you’re interested. If you enjoyed this episode and you’d like to receive more, you can subscribe in all the usual places we talk in iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher.

Please. If you get a chance, write in review. It helps the podcast to kind of get a bit more visibility and allows us to keep on producing these podcasts. Have a great week! Catch up soon. Keep these brands unified.

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