Three Storytelling Lessons from Inspiring Leaders

Three Storytelling Lessons from Inspiring Leaders

By Brian Keefer

At VTLO, we believe everyone’s story is worth telling. We demonstrate this within our organization by encouraging team members to share their stories on our intranet platform. Our team has flourished as a result, and as team members learn more about each other, they collaborate better. We share our storytelling abilities with our customers. In my experience, whether you’re an expert or an amateur, there are lessons to be learned from good storytellers. Here are three lessons I’ve learned from business leaders who exemplify storytelling that resonates.

  1. Stories don’t need to be limited to one type of venue or audience

Late Apple founder Steve Jobs was known for his ability to tell a good story. From his famous Stanford commencement speech to co-founding Pixar that created Toy Story, the first computer-animated feature film, Jobs knew the power of storytelling. In fact, he is famously quoted saying, “The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller.” Skillfully using stories that resonate with the audience, Jobs encouraged leaders to bring their storytelling skills to every area of their lives. The lesson? Don’t limit storytelling to one venue or audience. From one-on-one meetings to town halls to blogs, use storytelling to connect with your audience at every level.

  1. Stories don’t always have to be personal to create impact

When I attended the Workhuman conference earlier this year, one of the speakers I had the privilege of listening to was Kat Cole. Kat’s personal story is indeed an inspiring one – she started as a restaurant hostess, became a vice president at FOCUS Brands at 26, and is now COO and president. However, what struck me the most is that she didn’t always use stories from her personal life. For example, in her talk, Kat related a story of a problem she faced in her time as president at one of the company’s franchises and how she managed to turn the situation around with a positive outcome. The business-focused story had a powerful message that made her relatable and authentic and emphasized what’s important is that you learn from the lesson and move forward.

  1. Stories don’t need to have a positive thread woven throughout the storyline

Entrepreneur Richard Branson understands the impact stories can play in a successful business. Interestingly, in an interview with Carmine Gallo for Forbes, he observes that “the Virgin story — its ups, downs, opportunities, and challenges — is what attracts people to its products and services, as well as attracting employees to join the Virgin family.” In 2017, Branson dedicated an entire month to storytelling on the Virgin website. What you will notice is that these articles don’t always focus on successes; instead they have trials and challenges woven into them. For Branson, “the ability to tell a story with passion, humor and heart” is what builds trust.

Storytelling has been around for centuries and to this day remains one of the most powerful forms of communication. While its popularity continues to grow, it’s important that business leaders understand its importance and relevance in every area. For more information about ways VTLO can help you tell your story, email us at or call 732-238-6622.

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