Tag Archives: storytelling

Celebrating Milestones as a Storyteller

Fourteen years ago this month I took a chance on being my own boss. Having worked in the corporate world as media relations and eAnneWainscott_FinalAuthorPhotomployee communications manager, and briefly in the agency world, I was eager for independence.

Like any rational person used to a weekly paycheck, the prospect of finding clients and managing a business on my own intimidated me at first. Securing a part-time consulting gig with an aerospace company made it a little less overwhelming. That company would be a key client over the next decade.

While not all clients had that kind of staying power, I’ve been incredibly fortunate. Venturing out solo all those years ago turned out to be the right choice for me — giving me freedom to guide my own destiny and find what I most liked to do. In my case, that’s storytelling!  Print

In my time as a strategic storyteller to organizations, I’ve met amazing people and helped them tell their organization’s story. A few highlights include:

– Developing and launching a PR strategy for the world’s most respected U.S. high school robotics competition as it made its debut in Georgia.

– Interviewing public health’s most celebrated ‘disease detectives’ over the last 50 years.

– Communicating how leading business schools are educating the next generation of business leaders.

– Interviewing visionaries at NASA, the DoD and the private sector who are opening up the full potential of space for exploration and communications.

On a personal level, I became an author and connected with other writers and storytellers:

– Writing a memoir after losing my mother to lung cancer that paid tribute to the bond of mothers and daughters in the face of devastating illness from tobacco addiction.

– Researching and drafting an historical novel set in my hometown of Dayton during a catastrophic  flood, a project I hope to complete this year.

– Showcasing other writers and storytellers on The Writing Well, the blog I launched in October 2009.

Special Storytelling Feature in October

In celebration of my blog’s “birthday” and my company anniversary, I will feature my clients’ own storytelling journeys every Thursday in October. Those featured encompass a diverse range of industries and communication challenges. They each have redefined their own communication styles to reach and engage their audience.

Also, on Monday, The Writing Well welcomes author-blogger K.M. Weiland, who will talk about common pitfalls of story structure based on her book, Structuring Your Novel.

To conclude, I would encourage anyone who has ever dreamed of guiding their own destiny and pursuing a creative venture to do it. Make it happen.

JoeyReimanPhotoAs purpose visionary Joey Reiman told me during a blog interview last year, ” purpose drives everything…it engages, enlightens and enlarges one’s capacity to live a genuine life.”

So, above all, pursue your passion. Doing so in my life has given me so many blessings. While I embarked on my entrepreneurial journey before marriage and motherhood, being independent has allowed me to be more present in my children’s lives and to get closer to the elusive goal of work-life balance.

I leave you with the final quote from Vitaly Tennant’s  “My Time Matters Blog” post about the 15 greatest entrepreneur quotes:

“Experience. Dream. Risk. Close your eyes and jump. Enjoy the freefall. Choose exhilaration over comfort. Choose magic over predictability. Choose potential over safety. Be Bold. Be Fierce. Be Grateful. Be Wild, Crazy and Gloriously Free. Be You.”

 

A Conversation with Purpose Visionary and Storyteller Joey Reiman

Joey Reiman speaking to IABC Atlanta in April. Photo: Leland on Location
Joey Reiman believes that if something is worth saying, it’s worth saying well.
As a writer and business communicator, I couldn’t agree more. But, Joey is more than a memorable wordsmith; he uses words to move people and change the world. His core motivation: to help individuals — and companies — find their purpose in service to others.
“The key component of a successful life is to put meaning before money, to find out your why, to discover your purpose because if you don’t define yourself, someone else will define you, and that is a problem – that is the misery of our times,” Joey told me a few days before he spoke to a group of Atlanta-area professional communicators.

Joey, founder of BrightHouse, one of the world’s first ideation companies, believes purpose is both a financial and humanitarian force in the world, and I believe it, too, after reading his 2012 book, The Story of Purpose.

This tour de force transformed how I view the role of business, including my own. Joey opens his book with this question: Can business save the world? His answer is yes, and the path to get there begins with companies rediscovering their origins or “ethos” — why they started to begin with — and then integrating this ethos with a Master Idea or purpose today. 

Quoting from Aristotle,”where one’s distinctive talents intersect the needs of the world, there lies your vocation,” Joey has helped companies as diverse as SunTrust, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, American Standard and Procter & Gamble find this intersection between ethos and Master Idea, talent and need, and in the process, transform their organization.

“Everyone knows intuitively it’s not what we receive but what we give that creates a sense of joy within us. Here, for the first time, business can do this,” Joey says, inviting all of us to take his message and make it authentic in our own way and then spread the word that “purpose drives everything. Inside an organization it engages, enlightens and enlarges one’s capacity to live a genuine life.”

Joey certainly has taken his own words to heart. Happily married with two sons, he tells me he hopes to be remembered first and foremost as a “famillionaire.”

“I’ve always believed that your wealth is in your family and friends.”

And his favorite time of the work week is not engaging with Fortune 100 leaders, but the two mornings he spends teaching the story of purpose to business school students at Emory University. In the 13 years he’s been an Emory adjunct professor, Joey has seen his class become the most subscribed of all the courses offered in the business school.

“The class becomes more popular every year because I think business students are realizing that the it’s not the life of your business that’s important, but the business of life,” says Joey. “These kids are on fire – their eyes are wider. Purpose enlarges their vision — they’re more animated and soulful.” 

Meeting Joey and hearing his purpose message has inspired me to recommit to my own path: this September marks my 14th year working independently as a “strategic storyteller,” where I help my clients tell their message memorably. The “why” behind starting my company has everything to do with independence — to define my own destiny — and not be defined by those with whom I worked. It’s given me flexibility to pursue new projects, including blogging, pursuing my first historical novel, and just being a “mom” to my children.

 I now look forward to helping my clients tell their own story of purpose, while recommitting to my own.

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Subscribe to Joey Reiman’s daily tips at http://ww.dailyjoey.com or visit http://www.joeyreiman.com/.

How Life Drama at the Mall Sets the Stage for Writing

 
Today’s guest blogger is Judy Stone-Goldman, PhD, whose blog, The Reflective Writer, I first wrote about last month during my participation in the 2011 Wordcount Blogathon. I immediately was drawn to Judy’s insightful and engaging posts and her blog’s focus on finding personal and professional balance through writing.

“Each of us has the potential to construct a better life by uncovering and reflecting on our inner experience,” writes Judy, who spent more than 25 years teaching speech-language pathology and counseling at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Here is her post — enjoy!

 
I have been here before. It’s the weekend before a trip, and I am shopping, on deadline. Will I never learn? I purchased a dress for the main event weeks ago, and that left me languid with relief. Unfortunately, I felt so good I forgot about the secondary event. So here I am in the mall, trying on every last pair of light-colored pants that exists in this almost-too-late date of June. 

Shopping brings up a lot for me. I have a long history of shopping failure, or perhaps I should saying fashion failure. Style maven I am not. To go shopping is to evoke a whole library of memories—of shopping and clothes, of appearance and acceptability—memories colored by dread, body despair, low expectations, and complete lack of instinct about what might look good.

I hate to mention my mother and be a cliché of childhood calamity, but she’s behind the scenes in all these memories. She was no more skilled than I in the fashion realm, and she treated my chubby frame caustically, leaving me ashamed as well as clueless. By the time she became more comfortable with style herself and perhaps inclined to act more kindly toward me, I was older and living the clothing stories of my past.
 

The clothing stories of my past—suddenly they are bombarding me: the date I went on wearing a house robe because I couldn’t figure out what to wear, the events I went to in drab work clothes because I couldn’t imagine myself in any other kind of outfit, the endless cycle of hesitant purchases followed by reluctant returns.

No wonder the shopping expedition is so fraught, so laden, with each small hope hounded by fear. I am never really shopping for my life today. I am shopping for the stories of the past, telling these stories in one version or another, deepening their mythology with each repetition.

I find myself thinking about this as I gallop around the mall, parallel threads competing: defeats of the past versus necessities of the present. Which will win? My memories have turned into a drama, and I have acted in this play before. I even wrote the script.
 

But if I wrote the script I can rewrite it, and that is what I must do with these stories. I must write them, retell them, give them life on the page instead of life in real life. Writing gives me a space after memory but before reenactment. Writing is my opportunity to rewrite a bit of history so that what was past becomes part of a new future.

Write, retell, reflect, revise, rewrite, recreate. What do I understand about this story? What is important to me to retain and what can I release? How am I different now and how will that affect the story? As I write my way into a new version of the story, I become a combination of the old and the new—I am still myself, still shopping last minute before a trip, but somehow, something is different.

I emerge from the mall triumphant, the white pants in hand. I am balanced, not frazzled; self-accepting, not critical. This is one story I don’t have to escape, and one pair of pants I don’t want to return. I even have time to pick up that bone clutch I forgot I needed.

Questions for Reflection:  How does this blog take you back into memory? What stories do you find yourself retelling and reliving? What stories from your life would you like to rewrite?  

Writing Prompts: “When I read this post, I began remembering ______” (then keep writing); “One story I relive often is ______” (then keep writing); “When I write about a recurring event, I find ______” (then keep writing); “I would like to rewrite my story of ______” (then keep writing).  

Natural Communicators

As someone who writes scripts on a regular basis, it’s always refreshing when I uncover presenters who are natural communicators. These folks know their subject intimately, and speak to it from a place of authenticity. They get their point across well, engaging their audience with their own experiences, relevant statistics and, above all, a call to action.

Earlier this week, I attended a breast cancer golfing event in Atlanta called Agile on the Green. The event has raised more than $130,000 in its six years of bringing Atlanta’s IT community together to make a difference in breast cancer outcomes. The event’s founder, Tricia Dempsey, started her IT staffing company and the fundraising event six years ago while recovering from Stage 3 breast cancer. Both she and Kelly Dolan, executive director of Komen Atlanta, spoke passionately about the need for more awareness and support for affordable mammograms in a state where one in three Georgians has gone without health insurance over the past two years.

Everyone’s ears perked up when Tricia shared a comment from her recent oncologist check-up. When she asked, “How is the cancer business going?” her doctor replied, “The cancer business is terrible.” That was her segue into an alarming trend of job losses leading to lost health insurance, which in turn, has led to fewer clinical exams and later cancer diagnoses. Kelly stood up and urged everyone in the room to break the 1,000 mark of company participation next year, and provided undeniable stats on the pervasiveness of breast cancer (one in eight women will be diagnosed with the disease at some point in her lifetime). What I found most memorable was Kelly’s personal tribute to Tricia, saying, “To have started the tournament the way Tricia did out of the adversity of breast cancer is a great testament to Tricia’s strength and commitment to this cause, and that is what motivates this entire cause.”

These ladies are inspiring role models who have mastered how to speak well to get their message across memorably.