INTEGRATING THE THREADS OF
Leadership Communication Stories
Your leadership is drawn from your lived human experience, a resource as rich as water or sunlight. Your words have the power to move people and break down walls. And as a leader, you can source this power, frame it, and organize around it in order to be more fulfilled in your work, more authentic to your values, and more inspiring on stage and off.
I help my clients to find and integrate life lessons and experiences, translating them into applicable wisdom, matching this wisdom to further strategic goals and feed your various platforms. This process strengthens leadership presence, helping you stand on the stage with tools and skills and content to take you audience on a journey into unknown territories, and bring them to the destination of your own design.
Along the way, this work can bring joy and revitalize your purpose, as you tell a new story into being every day. Here are a few clients that I have been fortunate enough to support.
Seeding a New Company
Jessica Rolph's first company, Happy Family Organics, was well on the move, having grown from nothing into an industry leader. Yet deep down, Jessica knew she had another story to tell. Through a year of working on speech development and story development, we helped reshape her storytelling landscape, retell the Happy Family story and give her stage presence a boost.
Along the way, one discovery she made - what she learned about early childhood brain development - became the foundational insight for her next start-up, Lovevery, which has skyrocketed to success and recently raised $26 Million.
“Our work together helped me organize my insights and stories for speaking and also for launching my new company. In fact, I've been using one of the stories that you helped me with in many successful pitches. We got a huge amount of mileage out of that story!"
- Jessica Rolph, Co-Founder of Happy Baby and Lovevery
Leveraging Human Connection
Before working with Retellable, Matthew was already on the stage many times a year, often in front of thousands of audience members of the travel network he founded. But the pressure to create something new was overwhelming. He'd lock himself in his office weeks before each event, mind mapping company innovations, industry insights, and data required to make his main points. He was stifled, asking himself, "How many times can I say the same thing over and over again?" I remember feeling a bit nervous when I said this, not knowing how it would land. "It doesn't seem like much fun," I said.
He paused for a long time. "You're right. It's not much fun."
Fun, it turned out, became a driver. But memorability was the metric. We started with his keynote for Virtuoso Travel Week, and began with the company origin story. We began at the beginning, gathering initial insights and stories of how Virtuoso came to be, his own leadership journey, and where it was going. We layered in key data and initiatives, finding anecdotes, metaphors and impact stories that brought his ideas to life. We shaped stories using the Journey Curve, and also shaped the macro presentation using the same framing. Here's his recent keynote in front of 4,000 people at Virtuoso Travel Week.
From that first keynote, we moved to the next and the next. With each speech, Matthew built more strength as a communicator. His stories carried over to smaller speeches, to meetings, and to media presentations, of which he did many. Matthew came to love the Journey Curve and even put up a poster of it in his office. It helped him shape his own journey through the pandemic, he said.
Now, after working with his stories and focusing his insights, rather than asking the question, "How many times can I say the same thing? He feels like the opposite: His well of content is deep and wide. "Developing my stories with Jay for the small stage and for the big stage has changed my personal and professional life." And better yet, it's a load of fun.
"My work with Jay has helped me refine the way in which I can tell a story that allows people to put themselves in the story and see a path to the future."
- Matthew Upchurch, CEO and Chairman, Virtuoso
Connecting with a Cross-Cultural Audience
Jorge had great stories but needed help making use of them. And often he needed to share them in English, his second language. Through an intake process, we explored his landscape of stories, his messages and his needs. Then, over Zoom sessions to Spain, we workshopped various applications for the stories, and shaped new ones as they arose. Here is a commencement address that he gave using one of his favorite stories to deliver a message.
- Jorge Manzur, Managing Director, Anantara Villa Padierna
Catalyzing Social Transformation Through Social Media
Charles used to dread getting up to speak. His hands would sweat, and all his ideas and words would blend into one. It was immediately clear to me that Charles was not only a great businessman, he was a powerful visionary. His main idea was to make his business, Antis Roofing and Waterproofing, into a vehicle for community good. He was on many boards already and they had donated roofs for both Habitat Humanity and the Ronald McDonald House.
We worked hard to endow Charles with a framework that would hold his inspiration and his message. We shaped a collection of go-to stories so he could quickly prep and organize for keynotes and media appearances, and eventually to fill his emerging social media channel. In 2020, Charles starting taking his story shaping to another level, creating posts on LinkedIn for his various social good projects, sometimes garnering thousands of likes from the stories he told. Through these communications he has been able to significantly elevate his transformational vision of using business to give back to the community - and sell more roofs along the way.
"The more we give," says Charles, "The more we grow."
"I'm in a whole different place as a communicator as a result of this work."
- Charles Antis, CEO and Founder, Antis Roofing and Waterproofing; Board Member, Ronald McDonald House, Habitat For Humanity
Applying A Lifetime of Lessons
Ken had been speaking for 40 years when he walked into my office in Berkeley. He had spoken in front of millions of people, and mentored CEOs and even presidents. But as a life-long learner, Ken knew there was always something left to study. So we began gathering his stories, and looking at them from different angles. He began putting these stories into speeches and presentations. And along the way we became friends and, over time, "menterns."
The greatest output of our sessions together became a shift in Ken's role as 'The Agewave Guy,' from solely doing research and writing and speaking on aging to stepping his own role as elder. His recent book, Radical Curiosity: One Man's Search for Cosmic Magic and a Purposeful Life depicts many of the transformative stories from our sessions. Many of these stories became fodder for media appearances and interviews, which he has shared on stage, in social media, and in the press.
“Even though I have been working to hone my public speaking craft for decades, Jay's wise insights and masterful guidance have given me an entirely new perspective on how to understand and feel my stories far more deeply, and how to tell them far more effectively.”
- Ken Dychtwald, Keynote Speaker, Author of 18 books, Founder of Agewave
A Speech That Becomes Legend
"You should be aware," Becky said when she walked into my office, "I'm a dedicated student." And she was. Becky was the only woman leader of a national non-profit in America. Her passion was clear and her voice was strong. And yet, as we went through the process of gathering her life and her stories, Becky went deep into the process of studying her own path and her own lessons, as well as the landscape around her and her team's work. She came to use these stories make a powerful, clear speech that captivated her audience.
We would only work on one keynote together. Tragically, Becky died a few months after giving this speech.
This speech would become a part of her legacy, and one which we are immensely honored to have helped to birth.
The insights that she brought to this work have informed how I think about the world. One of her lines was this: “We need to remember that the work of our time is bigger than climate change. We need to be setting our sights higher and deeper. What we’re really talking about, if we’re honest with ourselves, is transforming everything about the way we live on this planet.” She is quoted on the opening page of Naomi Klein's recent book, This Changes Everything.
Matthew Upchurch, CEO/Chairman, Virtuoso Travel
This story work helps you discover yourself and integrate, actualizing the threads of your life. It is very much future thinking; through integrating you can move forward.