Use Business Storytelling to Engage with Customers

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Use Business Storytelling to Engage with Customers


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Starting the conversation:

Stories that create connection may not be the obvious ones. When what we shape and share doesn’t obtain the desired marketing result, we feel immense frustration. That friction is where to take a closer look at shared stories set goals, and discover where there is a gap — which is Gabrielle Dolan, Author and Keynote Speaker at Gabrielle Dolan Consulting, can help us with.

There is jargon we use in our closest relationships, our work settings, and the groups we are a part of. Recognizing a communal communication shorthand helps us acknowledge that outside of those situations, we may be missing something when talking with others. Remember to ask: what do you mean by that?

In this show, you will discover that there are many different types of stories, how to dig into the stories from which you can learn, and to be courageous in sharing stories. When you want to find the right story to create real communication opportunities, prioritize the time and do the necessary work. Jess Dewell talks with Gabrielle Dolan, Author and Keynote Speaker at Gabrielle Dolan Consulting, about making your communication real.

Host: Jess Dewell

Guests: Gabrielle Dolan

What You Will Hear:

Jargon is the nemesis of real communication.

Consequences of jargon: more time, more money, more confusion.

Every group (your company, your family, your friends…) has its own language.

Stories increase connection within the group and between groups.

Know the differences between narratives and stories for business marketing.

The specific use of purpose and values. Psst…they are not aspirational.

Find stores that are realistic, and they can even embrace weaknesses.

Share stories that you learned from and will help us learn too.

Additionally, for the Fast Track Your Business Today Uncut conversation:

The is frustration when opportunities are missed.

Know THE ONE THING that you are basing business decisions around.

Be courageous in sharing your stories!

Two things you need to do to develop your stories.

Matt Church’s Think. Sell. Deliver. Add to that methodology: rest.

Prioritize time management.

Be clear in deciding what you will and won’t do.

It is more important to be real. Don’t make it perfect.

Busy is not a badge of honor. Do the necessary work.

It is BOLD to craft stories that are committed to real communication.

Get started and make a difference in your business with a Growth Framework Reset.

Gabrielle Dolan - Use Business Storytelling to Engage with Customers





Welcome. This is the Bold Business Podcast. Your business has many directions it can travel. The one true direction of your company creates the journey for you to move toward a new, exciting level. We call this the Red Direction. In today’s program, we delve into one idea. The idea will support you as you work on ever-present situations, including how to stay competitive in a changing market, how to break through the business plateau, and how to anticipate the changing expectations of your stakeholders. Jess Dewell is your guide. Jess brings you a 20-year track record of business excellence, where strategy and operations overlap. Your Path comes from consistently working from the special place. Your unique True North. Now, here’s Jess.

Jess Dewell 00:51
Hello, and welcome back to the Bold Business Podcast. This is the place that we are sharing experience. We’re talking about the importance of bringing our uniqueness out. And most importantly, this is the place for you to come when you’re grappling with questions when you’re looking for inspiration because our guests have the experience, the insight, and the expertise to help you along your journey. Not necessarily in the How to but definitely in the let’s shift the way we think so that we can look at where we’re at and decide what’s most important right now. And this program is going to be no different and in fact, slightly different all at the same time. Because one of the things that I hear from you, I hear from our redirection clients is that I think I’m telling the right story, but we’re not getting the results we want. So we know we’re not telling the right story, what do we do? And I get that enough that when I learned about and had the chance to talk with Gabrielle Dolan, there was no better time to say let’s come together. And let’s talk about what it means to make a story that connects what it means for stories in business. Because sometimes it gets so diffuse or so specific that it’s unrelatable. And we’re going to be talking about that because not only does it matter to connect with our customers, it matters to engage with our stakeholders, our employees, the way we talk in our networking groups, the way we show up to our CEO and management peers, how we pitch our ideas, to not only our team but maybe to raise money to I mean, all of that is incredibly important. And the bottom line is it’s about real communication. Gabriela is highly sought after as a keynote speaker. She’s also the best-selling offer author of seven books. And for those of you who are watching this video, you’re gonna You saw I already held up my book, magnetic stories, and I’m so glad that she sent that to me. I’ve already learned a lot from what I have dove into. She has an extensive client lists like Visa, Amazon, eBay, Uber, Accenture. Okay, I could go on and on and on. There’s one more I want to say, which is the Obama Foundation. The highlight, the professional highlight of her career has been meeting Barack Obama while delivering storytelling training for the foundation. I have to tell you, this concept of jargon-free we all talk about, but none of us do really well. Well, not so much so that Gabrielle actually founded the jargon-free Friday concept. And so she’s helping all of us just be dedicated to understand, like, Go speak in regular words be real. And you know, that led to her being awarded Communicator of the Year for 2020 by the International Association of Business communicators. Okay, I have to tell you, this jargon-free Friday thing. I forgot. I have read that for starting. And I know why I like it. But tell me what made you decide to found a jargon-free Friday?

Gabrielle Dolan 04:07
Well, well, thanks, Jess. That is a massive introduction.

Gabrielle Dolan 04:12
You know what I am all about real communication. So I’m about storytelling. But storytelling to me is a way to communicate in a more authentic way. So I guess if you look at, you know, my big word and my big banner that goes over me, it’s all around real communication. And why storytelling is one way to do it, jargon an acronym is one way to not do it. So I’ve spent my entire life in corporate I worked in corporate Australia for the first 20 years of my career until I moved over to doing what I’m doing now. But my main clients are all, you know, business people. And I just see this jargon and acronyms being used on a daily basis. You know, I’d go into meetings and everyone’s talking about getting their ducks in a row and moving the needle and running things. That flagpoles and everyone nods. Everyone nods. And yes. And like, they’re nodding to stop. They don’t even know what it means or you know, everyone’s nodding along to executional excellence. And it was just like, every time I hear that I just think someone’s killed someone. And they’ve done really, really well. So we’ll get it actually, I sort of started calling it out, I guess, as a bit of a fun way to go. And what do you mean by that, and your acronyms like we can talk about acronyms later, they actually lead to miscommunication. Don’t even worry about real communication. And just as a fun way, I had a client actually, that sent me a Dilbert cartoon, and it was something on jargon and, and she said, I thought you might like this on a Friday. And I sent it out as a LinkedIn post. And my LinkedIn Post said, why don’t we just try for one day just today to be mindful of the jargon and acronyms we use? And then later, I thought, well, what if we did this every Friday? And look, it is, it’s a fun way, it’s a fun way to raise awareness to what is actually a pretty serious problem when it comes to communication. So I did remember my mentor said to me, your sounds like you’re going to invest a lot of money in this website, and I got professional videos done with professional actors. He goes, you’re gonna make any money out of this? I went not. But you know, it’s, I actually did about it. I’m passionate about it. So it’s sort of, it’s sort of what I do. And look, I do, do keynotes funny keynotes on the, you know, the consequences of jargon and acronyms, but to me, every time I raise it with clients, how they use jargon, they all know, they all know they do. They all know what’s not good. But for some reason, don’t stop. And so this is, this is I guess, just to raise the awareness of the consequences of, of the unnecessary use of jargon and acronyms. So and I’m very clear on the unnecessary because we all use jargon. And we all use acronyms, but it’s the unnecessary use of it. That’s the problem.

Jess Dewell 06:57
Kind of like the extra cookie or chip?

Gabrielle Dolan 07:04
Well, it’s just,

Jess Dewell
I’m like, huh, is it? Could we be leaner in the sense of healthier, faster, more efficient without a little bit of what I’m hearing?

Gabrielle Dolan
Yeah. And so the point is, people think they’re being efficient. They think using acronyms is efficient, but it’s actually being lazy. Because what you’re doing is you’re putting all the onus on the other person to interpret what the acronym is. So, at best case scenario, they have to do the interpretation in their head. Worst case scenario, they interpreted something completely different. So, you know, I remember speaking, speaking with a client, and we were speaking for about 10 minutes. And I was starting to get actually really frustrated, because I felt like she wasn’t either listening to me, or I wasn’t explaining myself properly, because she actually wanted advice on how to break into the SME market. And I was giving her all my experience and knowledge on it. And she just didn’t seem to be grasping what I was saying. And it felt like we were talking about two completely think different things. And then I thought, maybe we are. So I said to her, when you say SME, you are talking about Subject Matter Experts, aren’t you? And she went, No, I’m talking about Small to Medium Enterprise. So we were literally talking about different things. Because we were both using SME, and it means different things.

Jess Dewell 08:27
Mm-hmm. It’s true. And well, and so that makes, it doesn’t make storytelling harder. It makes us challenge to find out what we’ve considered what we’ve normalized is only normal to our it’s almost like a clique to the, to the small group of people that also understand and we forget, nobody outside of us knows what’s going on. And so that’s where the bigger miscommunication. How does that show up in storytelling? Is that like the biggest issue of a lack of connection and a story? Or is there even something else? That’s bigger?

Gabrielle Dolan 09:01
No, look, look, I think, I think, look, one of the advice I give people when I run training is there’s no, there’s no, like place in your stories for acronyms or jargon, especially when you’re sharing personal stories. You know, if you’re sharing a story about when you’re a little kid and Santa didn’t give you the bike you wanted for Christmas, you don’t describe that as my objectives were not met and Santa didn’t deliver on his KPIs. Because the reality is, we, we, we literally, and this is one of the I’ve had so many people say this what because what you said right, the way we talk in our teams, or in our company, whether it’s our own little language, and if everyone understands that language, that jargon an acronym that’s fine. The problem is once we start communicating it outside so they could even be within your own company. You know, you’re speaking to someone from finance is speaking to someone marketing, someone’s marketing, you’re speaking someone from technology, all those industries have their own acronyms. So every industry has their own acronyms. Every company has their own acronyms. So when you, if you the moment you start talking to people outside that industry or outside your company, like really powerful to you be using your internal language when you’re speaking to your customers, for example, and expecting them to get it. So I see. So when I say storytelling and part of my messages, use less acronyms and jargon, and use more stories. So when it when you look at how effective your communication is, using unnecessary jargon, and acronyms will reduce your communication ability, using stories will increase it. So to me, if you do both of those reduce acronyms, increase stories, you’re lucky your communication will be taken to an absolute next level. So that’s where I sort of see them, like do less of one do more of the other.

Jess Dewell 10:53
Right, that makes sense. And it there. It’s so funny, I want to, I want to make this blanket statement that there should just be no jargon in any company. And I know right? And I’m then I’m thinking, Well, how could I do that? And I’m sitting here gonna fail my own statement.

Gabrielle Dolan 11:13
Yeah, yeah. And your would your word because we, we use words that we don’t realize were using that a jargon like, someone’s pulled me up because I always say, the learnings, what learnings did you get, and they go learning to such jargon. And I sit there and go, what else would you say? And they go, you could say, what did you learn? I went oh, yeah, I could say that. And we don’t realize like the amount of people saying pivot at the moment. Oh, my goodness, me. I used to pivot used to annoy me four years ago. And now it’s just like, Can everyone please stop pivoting? And then I would have people go, Well, what word would you use instead of pivot and go? Well, we used to just say, change. That’s what we used to sell, to say we were going to change and do this now. But now we’re all pivoting. So we would all fail, because, like, who’s gonna decide what’s jargon?

Jess Dewell 12:02
And what’s death? Right? Oh, that’s true. subjectiveness that that’s exactly right. Yeah.

Gabrielle Dolan 12:06
And just joking. I think jargon I think is sort of okay. Like, it’s, but the acronyms are they’re the really, really dangerous one because they just like can lead to such miscommunication.

Jess Dewell 12:19
To your point of SME before that, that’s exactly. We share a soapbox for pivot. What, what that could easily derail our whole conversation and anybody who’s listening who listens to the show goes, please go right past, please go right past because, and it’s funny because it’s a fine word. And you can pivot big and you can pivot small. The thing is, when you pivot, it sounds drastic. And not all pivots that people talk about are drastic, in fact, most are not. And so I’m like, why make it a big deal? MIT sounds overwhelming if you make a bad deal. So that’s my thing about it. This Yeah, in terms in terms of that, but, but to your point, pivot, I just feel like somebody’s coming over here. Nope. Somebody’s coming over here. And everybody’s got to be on the ready. And that sounds exhausting to me.

Gabrielle Dolan 13:12
Definitely. So you know, unless you’re playing basketball or ballerina. Yeah, pivoting. Because if you like, if you do, you know, I know they did the word pivot or was like a drastic, like a drastic turn of direction. That’s what a pivot is, and was like, Okay, we’re not every, every decision you make is a pivot. It’s just, you know, we need to pivot our thinking, No, you just need to think about things a little bit differently, maybe.

You’re listening to the Bold Business Podcast. We will return to the show soon. But first, I want to take a moment and give you a peek into what additional services and solutions you could access to Fast Track Your Business. This program was created to develop your capacity on demand by sharing insights, tips, as well as lessons learned by business leaders, unedited and uncut. And we don’t just stop there. There are three additional benefits to help you reach your growth goals. You will also have unlimited access to one, hearing tips and insights to develop yourself as a leader to get better results more often. Two, experiencing viewpoints from many different business leaders. Three, receiving frameworks to build core competencies and to more effectively focus on business growth and leadership. Altogether, The Fast Track Your Business program will allow you to face uncertainty, anytime, anywhere. You can access what will become your most versatile tool in your toolkit by going to FastTrackYou Now back to Jess.

Jess Dewell 14:45
Basically, I’m going to say we know I have summarized and I will reflect out right now that not all storytelling is the same. And we’re hearing that from the words we use what’s internal to our company, what’s internal to our industry. How, how we have made our relationship and how we are perceived by customers and stakeholders and our own employees along the way. So I’m curious, when we are thinking about the stories because I know me included, everybody here that is going to be part of listening to this now and later, is very, can easily pull up business stories and personal stories that reflect their passion. And so my question to you to get this started, is, we all have these stories, and we can all make them better and be more real. Where should we start when we pick a story? And we’re analyzing it to, to use it differently within our organizations or to use it from the beginning for the first time?

Gabrielle Dolan 15:51
Yeah, it’s just a good starting point where all storytelling is different. And, and it’s sort of is and what I’ve so I guess, when I started doing this about 18 years ago, teaching people in business how to communicate more effectively through stories. So I’ve got, you know, I know I’ve got my own brand, and what I think storytelling is in business. What I see storytelling is really popular at the moment, like everyone’s sort of talking about, we’ve got to share our story. We’ve got to share our brand story, our strategy story, what’s the narrative? So depending on where you’re coming from this concept of storytelling can mean different things. So for example, a lot of marketers use the word storytelling and narrative interchangeable. And what, what they sort of talking about is, what’s our overarching brand, but they call it narrative or story. So people go, people, they get confused. I was like, Oh, do we have a brand story? That was like, No, you don’t have just one brand story, you have lots of read stories. In technology. Now, they talk a lot about data storytelling. And when I first saw it was like, what is data storytelling? And the more I looked into it, it was like, Ah, you just want to present the data in a logical format. And they go, Yeah, to tell a story. And I’m going now just it’s actually not telling a story. You’re just presenting the data in a very logical format that makes sense to your audience. That’s not to me, that’s not storytelling. Now, there will be a whole lot of people that go no, no, that’s data storytelling. I was like, okay, so to me, to answer your question, the very first place you start is actually what makes a story, story. Because what I see is a lot of people sharing case studies, and case studies and stories, their case studies, that’s, that’s actually why they called case studies. Case studies provide really valuable information. They can provide best practice they can you can learn a lot to listen, case studies, I run a business on storytelling.

Jess Dewell 18:09
Wonder if that’s me?

Gabrielle Dolan 18:11
Yeah, I might talk about jargon, I actually made up jargon, called case stories. And actually, in my book you spoke about I actually use that for the first time. They’re, they’re sort of case studies, but they’re told in a way that feels like story. So I called them pay stories. So it’s actually knowing what makes a story a story. I see a lot of companies on their website, they will have a section that says our story on their website. And when I go and look at a timeline, it’s just a timeline. And again, it’s so people are thinking, I think the first place to start is know what a story is. Because a lot of companies are going, a lot of businesses are going no, we do storytelling, we use stories. And I get in and I go show me and they show me and I go, that’s a timeline. It’s not a story. So they sort of think, no, we’re using stories, but it’s not working. And it’s like it’s not working because you’re not actually using stories. You’re just calling something a story and calling something that story does not make it a story.

Jess Dewell 19:11
You know, so that’s the first place what a story actually is. And that’s really interesting. You know, one so one of the things I talk about, with, with the businesses when we’re doing consulting sessions, or we’re doing offsides is what’s actually happening, and it sounds like what I’m doing there is similar to what you’re doing. So I’m going to throw this out there and you can say yes, or I didn’t quite get it. Because one of the things that we do is what’s not what we think is going on what is actually going on. And are we at accidentally disguising something? are we overlooking something because it’s a weakness of ours? Is it just what we think is good enough, even though we’ve presented it differently? All right, so so far it sounds like there could be an that. And that’s in the way we do things, the behaviors that are, that are accepted. What we choose to what rocks we choose to keep in our shoes? And which ones we actually say these are the ones that it’s time to get out. Is that similar to what you have around? Am I reflecting something similar back to you have? These are the things that typically are misunderstood when we’re trying to find a common. Start here?

Gabrielle Dolan 20:30
Yeah, so where my mind went to that, because normally, normally I come and work with businesses when, you know, sometimes I just want to get better at sharing stories. It’s just a general capability built. But normally where I come in with businesses is they’ve defined their purpose. So what do we want to be known for our values and behaviors like, you know, how we go about this and make decisions, and maybe their strategy? So we’ve got our high level, this is, this is our purpose. This is our values, our mission, vision, whatever statement they want to throw in and, and their strategy. And so I come in and help them communicate that both internally and externally through stories. So what I saw where my mind went to when you were saying that with Well, what actually is happening here, your values and behaviors shouldn’t be a wish list. They shouldn’t be, well, we this is the way we act. But we would love to be well, I would love to be known as innovative. Well, if you’re not, if you’re not innovative, if you’ve got processes and systems that sort of stifle innovation in an empowerment in your or in your team, then why have a value of innovative so to me, the real gap is in going and I find this because I find this when we start through the process of we’re, well, let’s find stories, if you want to be known for innovation, or integrity, let’s find stories about that. And when they can’t find any, it’s like, well, here’s a problem now. So to me it to me a company, to me a company’s brand like your own personal brand, it should evolve. So it shouldn’t be a case of just because you’re not innovative now, doesn’t mean you can’t be. So I’m not saying when I say it’s a wish list, but it’s got to be realistic, it still has to be realistic. So let’s just say for example, if you want to be known as integrity, but you have a reputation for not, you have to don’t try to jump from that straightaway, you’ve got to realize that that that will take time, but also to share stories about when you weren’t when you didn’t show integrity. And again, this is from a company or a personal level, and share the lessons you learn from that, and the message and the regret you have. And so sharing stories of when you didn’t live those values and, and why you regret that and why you’ve learned from it, there can be they can be really powerful, but what we tend to do is we tend to ignore all the weaknesses. Even when we’re going through change, we sort of just focus on the shiny, great effects of the change. But ignore that ignore the, the elephant in the room, there’s a piece of jargon for you, of people are actually going, but this is going to hurt this is going to be painful, we might lose jobs, or whatever it is so but we tend to just ignore that we intend to ignore it when I think you need to embrace it. And stories are a good way of, stories are a good way of sharing those, but sharing them in a way that go you know, I know, I know we did wrong. I know I did wrong. And, and what I learned in the stories was show what you learned from it and why it’s important for you that you don’t, you don’t do that again.

Jess Dewell 23:11
Right. Right. It’s interesting. I actually think some of our the most value that we have to give to the world not only as individuals as but as teams comes from the places that we mess up. And I know, in general, globally, messing up is touted as a great thing to do but nobody will admit they’ve done it.

Gabrielle Dolan 23:47
Yeah, yeah, exactly. And yeah, that’s I mean, that’s the amazing work. Dr. Brene. Brown has done where she talks about when we, when we show vulnerability, it’s actually it’s really powerful. Hey, Jess, I’ll give you a great example. business doing this, and it is meant to spin up. This is a client that I worked with years ago. It’s, it’s a, it’s an investment company in Vietnam and the CEO, he’s a he’s an American guy, but he’s lived. He moved to Vietnam about 20 years ago and started up an investment company. And I work with them on really implementing storytelling into their business. Like I spent about five days with them, which was the whole executive leadership team, which was pretty cool over about a 12-month period. And one of the things that he realized was sharing stories, when they made really bad business decisions became some of the most powerful stories. So they used to when they were trying to sell to investors when they were trying to get investors to invest in them so they could invest in companies, he said, what we would normally do is we’d get the investors in a room. And we do our beautiful PowerPoint presentations and talk about all the amazing results we had achieved. And you know, so that’s very typical of what let’s just show the investors with the great results. We’ve done, the great turnarounds we’ve done in companies, after they spent some time and he realized the power of storytelling, they completely change the way they presented, they would get about six of their execs, they wouldn’t use PowerPoint, they would have, they would have all the facts and figures. But each of the execs would share a story around their values around the company’s values. And Chris, his name was Chris and he, he would always started off and he the story he shared, and he calls it my biggest, my biggest mistake I’ve ever made. And he talks about investing in a company. And he just talks about how they did all these things wrong. They sold out too early. They didn’t and just talks about everything that they did wrong. And he said initially, he goes, I decided to tell it because I was really nervous because initially, I thought, What am I doing, if I tell the story, they will just think I’m an idiot, and they will never invest in us. And what he realized that the absolute reverse happened, because sharing the story, he said, I had all the investors saying, Thank you for being honest and transparent with me. So first of all, there’s a building of the relationship, because they’re going, this guy’s really open and transparent and honest, and I can trust him, which is critical when you’re asking people to invest money in you. And the second thing that happened is, well learn all those mistakes. So he’s not going to make them again with our investment. And he literally has said it’s the most powerful story he shares. And that’s, that’s what he shares to investors every time he kicks off the meeting. So there’s real value in, in owning your mistakes.

Jess Dewell 23:32
I love this. That’s great. Okay, everybody listening. This is Gabrielle Dolan. And you know, her latest book magnetic stories is one that I’m reading right now. And she this example she just uses from that. Yeah, I read a little bit about that. So that’s really great to hear that as well. This is the time Fast Track Your Business people, you know where to go. Everybody else you’re like, what’s that Fast Track Your Business today thing? Well, it’s this, it is the uncut version. It is taking these conversations one step further. It is not only getting to know this information, but getting to know our guests, even more, the trials, the tribulations, the successes, and most importantly, being able to be inspired, shift the way you’re thinking about the problems and have access to it. Any, any time. All right. Find out more at Fast Track Your Business today. The rest of you, I’ll see you over there.

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