ep. 66 - Kindra Hall: Strategic Storytelling Advisor
Kindra Hall knows the challenges executives, top performers, and brands experience as they try to capture attention in a crowded marketplace. In her role as Director of Marketing and then Vice President of Sales for a multi-million dollar enterprise, Kindra focused all her efforts on identifying standout sales strategies that worked. After years of testing, there was one technique out-performed the rest; strategic storytelling.
ep. 66 - Kindra Hall: Strategic Storytelling Advisor
Gail Davis: Today's in studio guest is a professional story teller. But don't let that title deceive you. You won't find her telling ghost stories around a campfire. Instead, you'll find her in a far scarier setting. Working with and speaking [00:01:00] for companies and executives across all industries. From Hilton to the American Heart Association, from tech to education, from top level executives to mid level managers, Kindra teaches each of them to harness and leverage the power of their stories and today she's going to talk to us about the same.
She is a former director of marketing and a VP of sales. She is a published author, an award-winning columnist, and guest faculty at the Harvard Medical School. [00:01:30] Her work has been featured on entreprenuer.com and Success Magazine, as a weekly contributor at ink.com, and behind the scenes of the New York Times best selling authors. And while she'll never win the bake sale at her kids preschool, she's always a welcomed guest reader in the classrooms. Please welcome to the GDA Podcast, author, communications expert, and professional story teller, Kindra Hall.
Kyle Davis: Hey. [00:02:00] Now that I have to do the mic bobble. How are you doing today Kindra?
Kindra Hall: I'm so well. How are you?
Kyle Davis: Just living that dream, waiting for the coffee to kick in. So, I'm a person who's living under a rock, we just had a pre-recording discussion. But for people, kinda like myself who, maybe, don't know who you are or your background or story, tell us a little about yourself.
Kindra Hall: Well, I'm a Pisces.
Kyle Davis: I am too!
Kindra Hall: You are! That's why [00:02:30] we get along so well.
Kyle Davis: March 15th.
Kindra Hall: February 22nd. Allegedly I'm on the cusp. Maybe I'm actually something else.
Kyle Davis: They did change it recently.
Kindra Hall: I know they did. But I'm gonna stick with it.
Kyle Davis: You're a water sign?
Kindra Hall: Yeah. Fish? I think.
Kyle Davis: That makes sense with New York.
Kindra Hall: Yeah we've had this long conversation about my dreams of moving to New York City.
Kyle Davis: We'll make it happen.
Kindra Hall: Yeah we can do it. So a little bit about myself. Well in the introduction you heard my title is professional story [00:03:00] teller. I made up that title. I think the best jobs are the ones that you make up. Right? No, but I started, I mean I come to story telling from a very long time ago. I told my first story when I was 11. And I think when you look back over your life and you see these moments in hindsight and you realize "wow, that was the start of something right there." And I don't know that I knew it when I was 11, but I told a story to a third grade classroom. [00:03:30] And even within the first couple of sentences I saw that just by telling them this story, this classroom full of kids that was all over the place, bouncing off the walls, was suddenly in the palm of my hand. And I think that was the first moment I really realized some of the secrets behind the power of telling stories.
So I went on to ... I didn't drop out of elementary school at that point. I did finish elementary school and high school. And then I started ...
Kyle Davis: That would be quite the story if you dropped out.
Kindra Hall: Right? And then just became ... Printed my own business cards on [00:04:00] my Inkjet.[crosstalk 00:04:02]
Kyle Davis: Just hustle and flow.
Kindra Hall: I should have. I could ... I did a little bit. I did start advertising myself to tell stories at birthday parties, at bible school at the church.
Kyle Davis: It always has a seed.
Kindra Hall: No, then I competed on the speech team. Super cool. See, my husband and I had this debate in our house because he played division one sports in college. And so our kids are going to be athletes, they're going to the [00:04:30] sports team. And I'm like " You are not a professional athlete. I was on the speech team. Who's the professional speaker?" It's ... Our daughter's pretty good at soccer. So we'll let that one play out.
Kyle Davis: Maybe she'll have the ultimate locker room pump-up talk before she goes and destroys[crosstalk 00:04:47]
Kindra Hall: She could. I can see that.
Kyle Davis: Best of both worlds.
Kindra Hall: I know. Great on the field, great in the locker room. I'm going to start working on that right now.
Kyle Davis: There you go. Listen to Vince Lombardi and be just ... Just getting people amped.
Kindra Hall: [00:05:00] I'll tell you. It's funny when ... And of course we're getting off track, but that's what the best stories do. It's funny when my kids, they're six and four and a half, try to figure out what I do. And my son just asked me the other night, I was putting him to bed and he said " Momma, why do you tell people to tell stories?" And I was like "Wow, that's a loaded question." That's kinda the big question. Basically the question you're asking me right now. And I thought from a child's perspective, that's his whole world, [00:05:30] are stories. The stories that he's learning right now as he's in kindergarten. It's the stories that we tell him about his family and how to understand the world. And for him ... Yeah ... Why do I need to tell other people how important telling stories is? And it's just funny that it's such an important message for businesses, individuals as we get older and we try to figure that out.
Kyle Davis: So, one of the questions that I have, kinda off the top of my head but, this has to do with something that you mentioned [00:06:00] prior to us recording, when you were talking to us about how you grew up. And I think you were, like, five years old for fun you would go down to your closest neighbors house, in your town of 600 people, in rural Minnesota. You would go see the donkey that was a mile down the road, uphill. And you'd walk back uphill, in snow, both ways. Kindra Hall: Well, I lived in Minnesota. So there was snow all the time.
Kyle Davis: Do you think having that upbringing where maybe, you probably didn't have ... I didn't really grow up with TV. You certainly didn't have an iPhone and all that stuff. Having [00:06:30] what some may argue is isolation, did that allow you to have an active imagination? To become more enthralled with the story? To encapsulate it, if you will?
Kindra Hall: I think so. I think the pace of life ... I mean, obviously the pace of life when you're a child is slower than when you're an adult. Period. But the pace of life was slower and so there was time to create stories or to immerse [00:07:00] yourself in the story that was happening around you. So maybe that's why I was so primed when the opportunity came to tell stories, and why I was so hungry and ready and naturally inclined to do so.
Kyle Davis: The only reason I mention it is, I have a cousin who I know who listens to every single podcast.
Kindra Hall: Hi cousin.
Kyle Davis: And her name is Jessica. And so this is me giving a shout out for her. But she lives in a rural town in Oklahoma, or grew up in a rural town in Oklahoma, which I believe has a population of 30.
Kindra Hall: Wow. [00:07:30] Not 639. Wow that was a metropolis.
Kyle Davis: You 50 extra. So, anyways, she's a voracious reader. The smartest person I know. So, hey Jessica. And she's a teacher now. Teaches english.
Kindra Hall: See? Yeah.
Kyle Davis: And government, and some other things. Mom, what am I missing? And all the other things.
Okay cool. So you tell this story in fifth grade, go.
Kindra Hall: So then I joined the speech team, which ... I was super popular in high school. [00:08:00] It's like one notch below glee club, but I think it's one notch above band. But I was also in the marching band so it was just ... I mean my social ...
Kyle Davis: What was your instrument?
Kindra Hall: This is a story. I played the flute from sixth grade until eleventh grade and then my band instructor told me that I actually had french horn lips, which for ... once I started thinking back on that I thought " [00:08:30] Maybe that was inappropriate". But then I talked to somebody who's in band and they were like " No, no, that's a completely normal thing for a band instructor to say in instruments it's all about the lips." So I switched to the french horn and I sounded just like toots and gas in the back of the band. It was horrible. So it's a good thing I had the speech team to fall back on. I think really what ended up happening, there was like a really big turning point.
It was, I ended up telling [00:09:00] stories at the National Story Telling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee. And we're talking about rural towns. Do you know when you can measure towns by number of stoplights? And there isn't a stoplight in Jonesborough. There's a women's clothing store, kind of. There's a restaurant that sells fried green tomatoes. And then there is this Story Telling Festival. And it's the first weekend in October, and the town floods with 15,000 people. And they put up these huge tents and they cram people in on these [00:09:30] little, white, folding chairs, that are half the size of any normal chair, and they put a story teller, who's ... That's their only job. They travel the world telling stories up on stage.
So I was 17 years old at this festival. Just this whole entirely different ecosystem than high school, than boys, than even the speech team. And I remember sitting there, with my mom, who is wonderful, and watching these story tellers. And As I was hearing their stories, [00:10:00] there were a lot different things happening for me. A: I was experiencing the story myself, which I enjoyed. B: I was watching the audience experience the story and thinking "Look at how these ... I mean they were ... It was this entire ... I was a group experience. And then the third thing I saw was, as they were telling these stories, I could see them, not just the visuals that they were describing, but I could see the arc, the formation, the science of the story, as it [00:10:30] was unfolding ahead of me. And it was an absolutely fascinating experience.
And I remember being in the van, in the shuttle, on the way back to the airport with my mom, and my mom turned to me and said "You could do this. You could be a professional story teller." And, you know I was 17 I was like "Mom. What? I'm just going to tell stories for the rest of my life? That's not a real job?" And I know, she's a kind woman. I'm sure every day she thinks to herself "I told you so."
[00:11:00] So my plan really was, okay we went to this festival, fine, I would move on with my life. I went to college and was on the speech team. But I was still fascinated by the effects of stories. So I did an independent study project my senior year, where I actually went into a health care system. I was 21, 22 years old. What business do I have? But I interviewed about 30 nurses and had them share their stories with me. And I had this whole collection of stories at the end of the project and then I [00:11:30] went through and coded them all. What types of stories were in the stories, and did cultural analysis on this hospital based on the stories that they told.
And then I went on to get my masters degree, where I studied org, comm and management. I thought I was going to be a big corporate boss. But my thesis was on the role of story telling in building organizational culture. As people come into an organization, as they stay there, and even as they leave, what's the most important part of their experience was actually the stories versus what's [00:12:00] in the manuals. And so my fascination with the role of story telling, and even at this point I wasn't thinking about it in terms of sales, but in our lives, it was always there.
So then I went to become a director of marketing and then VP of sales for a company. And at the same time I was on the board of directors for the National Storytelling Network, still kind of involved in story telling. And I remember sitting in those board meetings and going crazy because the story tellers couldn't get any business done because all they did was tell stories. And I was like " [00:12:30] What are we doing here? We've got to do something!" It was just too many stories. But then I would go back to my office where it was like a story wasteland. And there were so many stories. Stories of how the company was founded, stories behind the products they were developing, stories everywhere. And that's all I could see. But when I went to develop them, my boss would come in and say "Here's a brochure. Put in a red splotch on the front like 'best [00:13:00] price'" Who cares about that?
So finding this space where stories serve the purpose. And it was just ... Everything happens for a reason, I suppose. To have come from this whole lifetime of seeing stories in one way and loving them and needing them, and then seeing them in business. [00:13:30] I just felt I needed to tell the world about it.
Gail Davis: I've had so many requests during this past year from major fortune 100 companies saying to me " We need someone to come in and work with our executives and teach them how to tell a story, so that they're more engaging." I mean, long gone are the days of the PowerPoint and just running through it. So I know that's where I first learned about you, because I reached out to a college in the industry and he's like " Oh, I know the absolute perfect person." So it's [00:14:00] so funny to me to think that your mom was right! I love it!
Kindra Hall: I know. It's kind of ... Moms are always right.
Kyle Davis: Sometimes. (laughs)
Kindra Hall: Moms are always right.
Kyle Davis: Maybe. Yeah, they are. So one of the things that you mentioned, like the phrase that you ... Kind of came out when you were talking about doing your masters work and ... You said the phrase "The importance to employees [00:14:30] are their stories and their experiences, and not necessarily the brochure or the manual." And I would probably argue that the popular trend, in startups at least, and a lot of these new cultures where you're trying to create a teleology, is that it's all based on a story and a foundation.
And I can remember my days of Square like " What is the founding story? How did it start?" And it's Jim McKinley who had [00:15:00] a faucet that he couldn't sell for $2000 because he was only taking cash and he couldn't take credit cards. And the guy said I'm going to the ATM and he never came back. So he told Jack Dorsey. Jack Dorsey said " We'll make it happen." Thus, the little Square reader was born. Six billion dollars[crosstalk 00:15:17]
Kindra Hall: Oh my gosh. I didn't even know that story. So that right there. Did everybody at Square know that story?
Kyle Davis: Everybody knows that story. And the faucet is in the office.
Kindra Hall: And I mean that's what ...
Kyle Davis: They [00:15:30] should really pay me, by the way.
Kindra Hall: I know. It's interesting, because, I think, where startups have an advantage is the story's still fresh. Right? It's new. It's only a couple years old. And so it still is new. What happens, I think, so you look at the startup community and that story is gold. The story is everything. The story is money. The story is VC. The story is.
But as companies grow, so then you're talking about even the fortune 100 ... As companies grow, [00:16:00] what ends up happening is, over time, that st ... It'd easy for stories to start to sound old to us, and we're bored with that story because we've told that story. We've heard that story. We've lived that story. And so, the further you get away from, since we're talking about founding stories right here, the further you get away from that story in time, and just in repetition, the less interested you, as the company, become in it. That seems to be the tendency. However, we forget [00:16:30] that when you're telling ... When you're bringing in new talent, when you're trying to bring in new customers or clients, they are hearing it for the first time. And so you have to tell that story.
Kyle Davis: And that was part of our sales process. So when we would go in to sell and be like ... Let's say it's a mom-and-pop shop that's never taken credit cards and they've only sold bagels and it's only been cash. How much business are you leaving on the table because you don't take cards? How many people come in and they walk out because "I don't have [00:17:00] the money to pay for it, but I have plastic and you don't take it." Here's a story. We didn't sell with " Here's what we can ... Here's our technology stack. We can get real technical." It's like "Here's some stories that can kind of help you out."
Which brings me back to another thing that you said, which was "Marketing versus story telling". Stamping a big red sign on something and saying "15% off" versus telling the story of how something is going to be used, or importance, or how it can benefit you. So I'm just curious [00:17:30] if you could expand on that for a little bit?
Kindra Hall: Yeah, I mean I think that we, especially now, if not always, we don't ... Marketing that works isn't marketing the item. Right? It's marketing what the item will do. Like, what it offers. I remember I was, and this is a very small, specific example, I was going to get [00:18:00] married. Well, I wasn't even engaged yet, so don't tell my husband, but I was looking up wedding photographers because I knew we were going to get married. So I figured "Why wait? I might as well."
Kyle Davis: Were you one of those people who had a Pinterest page?
Kindra Hall: No, because I got married before Pinterest. So it's fine.
Kyle Davis: But, would you have?
Kindra Hall: No, I really didn't. No I didn't. I was more like ... It wasn't the plan ... like I just wanted ... I wanted what I wanted. Right? So I knew it took ... I wasn't that detail oriented on my wedding. I knew it was just a day. But what I did know is I needed a great photographer so [00:18:30] that I could ... The days ... I could remember them forever. Right? So I wanted to invest in the photographer.
And so I was researching photographers and I found this one and she had beautiful pictures. But, then I went to her "about us" page, or "about me" page, and it told a story. And it said "I'll warn you, I might cry at your wedding." And she told this story about how emotional weddings are for her. And that moment when the bride and the groom ... And so she told the story of her [00:19:00] experience at a wedding. And the way she talked about a wedding, told the story of a wedding, is what I ... I wanted her to tell that story about me. I wanted my wedding to be ... I wanted that. And I don't remember how much she was. She was a lot. I mean, it was a big investment and you could ... you know, the photographers, you could get them for 500 bucks and she was multiple times that. But I wanted that. I wanted her to cry at my wedding. And that's how I knew. [00:19:30] So when all other things are considered equal, everyone else's wedding photography is beautiful. It's that story that sold it.
Kyle Davis: Yeah, one of the things we've discussed a couple times this week, with some other speakers, is that people are willing to pay for experience. But if all things are equal it's just a commodity, and then you're competing on price. So why compete on price when you can compete on experience and the experience is your story.
Kindra Hall: Exactly. And if you can't ... And so the importance of then being able to articulate [00:20:00] that experience through story. Like, going back to the Square example, I would imagine that I you come in, if you went into a bagel shop, as you said ... Which, by the way, do I say bagel funny?
Kyle Davis: No, you're fine.
Kindra Hall: Okay somebody was just asking me that. They were like " That's how you say bagel?" And I was like " Is it bag-el?" I don't know how to ... Okay. Thank you. Is that how they say it in New York?
Kyle Davis: What do you call a canned drink?
Kindra Hall: Soda. I say soda. Cause I can't do "pop". Like that just ...
Kyle Davis: Okay I was just making sure.
Kindra Hall: That was one thing ... I made an executive decision when I was a kid not to call [00:20:30] it "pop"[crosstalk 00:20:30] I was like " I can't do this."
Kyle Davis: I don't want to be regionally focused.[crosstalk 00:20:33]
Kindra Hall: I gotta expand. But when you're talking about going into that pastry shop and you're about to have this conversation with them about the product that you offer by priming them, first, with that story, and telling them a story they know. They know that story. It's not faucets, but they know the story.
Kyle Davis: It's relatable.
Kindra Hall: Exactly. They've lived that story of having somebody say " Uh, okay". They've walked away. They probably live that multiple times a day. So, when you [00:21:00] tell them that story and you share this space together, now what you have done is gone beyond the commodity. You've built a relationship right there, even in that story, primed them for how you want them to think about what you're going to talk about next. And it instantly changes that conversation from "product and price" to "problem and solution".
Gail Davis: You know, it's interesting, I don't consider myself a sales person. But I generate twice as much revenue as any [00:21:30] other person on my team. But I'm a story teller. And I recommend the speakers who I know their stories. And when I get on the phone with someone and I listen, and they tell me what they're trying to create with the event, I really tap into that emotion and then I just tell the stories of the speakers, who I know. Hopefully I've been in their audience because it's a whole lot easier to tell the story if you've been in the audience. And I can get so caught up in that. But it's so easy [00:22:00] for me and I think people can really feel that passion. And that's really, really been helpful to me in closing business. So I guess that's why ... I know it's somewhere on your website it was talking about how you work with people on how to close more sales. I guess that's one of your approaches is to use the art of storytelling to generate revenue.
Kindra Hall: Exactly. And actually that's something that I find happens in an audience, [00:22:30] in a session, together in a keynote, is there's ... Especially if it's about sales, but really regardless of the theme or the overall message, is you have a room full, or half of the room, or however it breaks out, will be people who don't consider themselves storytellers, but who want to get better at whatever it is. And all of a sudden they think " Oh, that's what it is! If I were to learn how to do this it would make me better." And then the other half of the room [00:23:00] are people who have been doing it longer and all of a sudden it's this awareness of" This is what makes me great. This is why I produce twice as many sales as anybody else on my team."
Now where this is particularly valuable is when you have the sales manager, or the owner of the company in the room, and then some of their sales force is in there too. And they all of a sudden, the light bulb goes on, and they realize that, as they're trying to help [00:23:30] their sales team get better so everybody can 2x everything, they're missing teaching them the essence of what makes them great. And that is their ability to tell the stories.
And so that is one of the things that I teach. So after our time together, go home, write down a catalog of the stories that you tell when you're meeting with a new client, when you're following in a consultative sales process. What stories do you, as a person who's been doing this for a [00:24:00] very long time, tell. And then give those stories to the rest of your team so that they are equipped with stories, and that way stories become tools instead of just something fun and fluffy.
Kyle Davis: This is the new kind of hotness in selling, this storytelling component. You see so many companies, at least in my time, in the valley and in New York, that the fallback, [00:24:30] and there's always the fallback, it's like " Hey I'm gonna work out and diet and all that stuff." And a week later you're binging on burgers, beers and you've quit the treadmill. The fallback is always going on this data dump, feature dumping. It's kind of like you mentioned marketing, you know slap a red sticker on it, say it's "15% off" or tell the story. And you're starting to see companies get it. But my question for you is, how can [00:25:00] a company who's, maybe, lost it's focus, come back to it and think about their story, and refocus their energy towards performing and executing the story that they have to tell? And that's a loaded question.
Kindra Hall: Well, I have the answer to that. The answer to that question is my favorite part about what I get to do, because it's a systematic approach.
Kyle Davis: Is book Kindra Hall.
Kindra Hall: I know. That's the thing is I'm sitting like "I [00:25:30] want ... So, that's the problem is I want to tell you ... I think ... So the big answer to that question is, I think too often we look at stories from a very high perspective. Like the 30, 000 mile, or is it foot?
Kyle Davis: 30,000 foot.
Kindra Hall: 30,000 foot. I'm like " Miles is a lot." So we are like "What is our story? What is our story?" And it's very vague. [00:26:00] Versus "What are the stories? Like the actual moments?" And so taking a ... And to think that your company or your purpose can be summed up in one story is doing a huge disservice. Just as I said, as we look back on our lives and we all had those moments where we're like " Ah, that happened and I learned this. And that happened and I learned that." Companies are the same. We're a combination of a lot of small [00:26:30] stories. And so, I think, sometimes, instead of trying to find the big story solution, start small. What are the stories of what you do, in action? And look for those smaller moments versus a bigger story picture. I know. I'm trying not to ... Cause I could give you the 1, 2, 3. And I do give the 1, 2, 3.
Kyle Davis: When you call GDA Speakers [crosstalk 00:26:57]
Kindra Hall: When you call GDA Speakers ... "I want the [00:27:00] formula for telling a great story."
Kyle Davis: I'm reminded of, there's this new ... I'm not going to name the bank's name, but they're a pretty big one, and their doing this new campaign now where they're telling stories about how they did something for "x business" that needed this capital or this or that. And so it's this kind of culmination of small stories that intwine with the large story.
So to use another analogy, instead of the 30,000 foot view, you can say "don't miss the forest for the trees" [00:27:30] but the trees are the story that make up your forest.
Kindra Hall: Exactly. And I think that is exactly what's happening.
Kyle Davis: You'll have to pay me royalties.
Kindra Hall: I know. I'm gonna ... that's ...
Kyle Davis: In your founding stories, the sequoia tree that's in the middle, the big one, the big red oak.[crosstalk 00:27:44]
Kindra Hall: You've gone too far.
Kyle Davis: That's California. (laughs)
Gail Davis: What impact have the TED Talks had on storytelling? You know, they're so wildly popular and for any listener that's never watched a TED Talk, they're only 18 minutes in length.
Kindra Hall: Yeah, so [00:28:00] I think the great thing that TED is doing, or the TED Talks are doing for storytelling, ... which, and then at the same time, that's what's funny about it ... Is they are ... like, anybody who gives a TED Talk knows that the most important thing you can do in those 18 minutes is tell a compelling story, is to be vivid with your imagery, to really take the time. Like, if you have 18 minutes, use 15 and a half of them yo tell a story, and then the rest of it to give the few data points, as you were talking [00:28:30] about, the data dumping and so forth, for a very minute period of it. And yet, so you see somebody who subscribes to the TED channel and they love TED Talks and then they go out to give a presentation or a pitch, and they do the exact opposite.
So I think that's one of the things again, if I were to have a mission, it is to raise the awareness that what is working with TED are the stories. So you should tell stories. [00:29:00] That's what makes this sales person so good, is that they tell stories. That's what makes this brand so revered, is because of the stories that they tell. Their culture was built on stories. And when you have a brand that's built that way, like Chipotle was really good about story ... They would print stories on cups. Do you remember that? [crosstalk 00:29:22]
Kyle Davis: Yeah, they still do.
Kindra Hall: So when Chipotle has a problem, they can get through that because [00:29:30] they have the story trust account. It's huge. Even Lululemon. Lululemon, when it first came out, it was all ... If you went into their store, their walls were covered with the stories of their employees, their goals, what they hoped for. And it was built on stories. So, when they went through their various catastrophes as well, the brand survived, because it was built on those stories.
So, to go back to the TED question, I think that, yes, TED has done a [00:30:00] great job to show what really works. And now people need to see that that is actually what's working about TED Talks and to use it. And, have you seen that movie, the Pixar movie "Ratatouille"? That everyone can cook? Or, Ratatouille, it's the mouse and the belief is that anyone can cook. And I think, that's the next step, is my belief and my experience isn't that some people can tell stories and some can't. It's that everybody can. [00:30:30] It is a skill that can be developed. And so, you could be ... You may not be the "#1 watched TED", but you can be that effective, even if you are a data analyst. You can use stories in that way.
Kyle Davis: So, one of the things you just said was that "A story can be developed." And I know one of the things we talked to, prior to going to record, was some TED residency fellows that we've worked with. They mentioned that the TED residency program is something like three months, and it's nothing but practice, practice, practice. Give your speech, give your speech. But more importantly, it's not "Give your [00:31:00] speech." It's " Tell your story. And then know how to communicate it with somebody who's completely different from you." And what you just said, also, a moment ago, is that people have this idea and then go out there and it all reverts back to, you know, what happened. So what are some things that people can do to help practice and hone their storytelling skills? Just again, 30,000 foot view.
Kindra Hall: I know. I think the most important thing to do is to [00:31:30] choose one specific instance. Start with one thing. One presentation that you have to give. One email that you have to send out. One of my best, and I say this ... That we revert back to. We forget to tell stories. We revert back to the information. I say that, because I do the same thing. I put together a whole marketing piece about myself and I sent it to a trusted advisor, who came back and said "Really, the storyteller is [00:32:00] selling storytelling, without telling any stories?" And I was so embarrassed. And it was true.
And then I had another ... You know, speaking is my business. I was on the phone with a huge, possible client. I told her everything she needed to know about what I do and how I do it. And we got off the phone and I was like "This is happening." I followed up a couple days later, cause I hadn't heard anything, and she's like "I just need something more." And I thought "What more can I give?!" And then I realized I hadn't told her the story. So I [00:32:30] wrote an email that was story of an experience that another customer had had, that I knew that she wanted her audience to have the same experience. So I told her a story that she would relate to. It took me 90 minutes to write this email, like, it took forever. And I sent it, and five minutes later she wrote me back and said "You got the job." And it was because I chose to tell the story, which, duh, okay.
So, that being said, so choose one instance where [00:33:00] you have to deliver a message. Whether it's to your team, whether it's in an email, as I said. Maybe you do weekly videos. Whatever it is, choose one instance and then, instead of talking about something, find one story that illustrates the overall message you want to deliver and just start there. Did that answer the question?
Kyle Davis: Yeah.
Kindra Hall: I was hoping that would be your answer.
Gail Davis: I used to work for a technology company called EDS and it was founded by Ross [00:33:30] Perot. And so, one of my jobs was to do new employee orientations and tell the story of how Ross founded EDS. And I told that story so many times, I had it memorized, I knew all the punchlines. And I love the story. So I was once asked to do it in Mexico City in Spanish. And I, sort of, lead the person to believe that I spoke better Spanish than I really do. But, what was funny is, with a crash course [00:34:00] on learning the words in Spanish, because I knew the story so well, and because I had some much passion around it, I actually pulled off telling that story in Spanish [crosstalk 00:34:11]
Kindra Hall: Amazing.
Gail Davis: And had people eating out of the palm of my hand. Now the flaw was when they started asking me questions in the Q&A and I had to go "Oh, lo siento."[crosstalk 00:34:20]
Kindra Hall: Oh no.
Gail Davis: But it was funny how it translated, when you're excited about it.
Kindra Hall: Exactly.
Gail Davis: And that's the thing. There's storytelling, but a great storyteller loves [00:34:30] their story.
Kindra Hall: And I think that's a really important point, because you just said, and just as you were saying, practice the stories, practice the stories, practice the stories. And it goes back to what we were talking about earlier, that a story can start to feel old to the teller. However, if you remember who this story is actually for, it's actually for the person who's listening to it. Then A: You can use that to tap into the excitement, because now it's your excitement for them as they get to hear the story, [00:35:00] and B: Every time you retell it, it reengages you in the birth of the company and why you're here. So there's a lot of different layers at work in telling a story over and over again. So I think that that's, as you were talking about that TED training ... I think you have to leave room in stories, when it's something that you're going to be telling over and over again, for the spontaneity, so you're not just saying the words, you're actually telling the story. But, yeah, knowing it really well is very beneficial.
Kyle Davis: [00:35:30] Would you say believing it, too?
Kindra Hall: Well, yeah. And people ask me that. They're like "Uh, can you make up stories?" And I just really don't think you should. I think you have all the stories you need that are real, that you've lived, that actually happened. And if you make up a story or you shift a story, the great thing about stories and storytelling is they are powerful tools, [00:36:00] in that, they will be remembered a lot longer than anything else. So, if you tell a story one way, that isn't exactly how it happened, the audience is going to remember it in that way. And when they come back and ask you questions about it, there's a chance that you're not going to remember it the same way that you told it. It's the same reason why you just shouldn't lie, it's a lot easier to remember the truth.
Kyle Davis: Boom.
Gail Davis: Well I think this has been a lot of fun and I'm just so glad you took the time to stop by. And for all those listeners out there that want to have Kindra come and share stories, [00:36:30] as a part of a keynote presentation, or actually to work with executives in developing coaching skills and storytelling skills, you do that as well, don't you?
Kindra Hall: Some I do. I've been getting busier and busier, speaking. So I get to do less of that, but absolutely, yeah.
Gail Davis: I think it's the wave of the future. I love it.
Kindra Hall: Which is funny, because it's also the wave of the past.
Kyle Davis: Well, yeah. Think about it like this. What's like the two greatest stories of all time? Pre- [00:37:00] Jesus, antiquity stuff. Like, old school.
Kindra Hall: Pre-Jesus?
Kyle Davis: Pre-Jesus stories. No, not Adam and Eve. Stumpers right? The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer.
Kindra Hall: Yeah.
Kyle Davis: How were they told?
Kindra Hall: Verbally.
Kyle Davis: Verbally. They were never written down.
Kindra Hall: Right.
Kyle Davis: Storytellers.
Kindra Hall: Well, and I think ...
Kyle Davis: Well, I mean like, I'm just trying to get you guys up to speed, my gosh.
Kindra Hall: Mic dropped. Up to speed.
Kyle Davis: Ugh. [00:37:30] I'm going to Columbia in two weeks for a reunion and on our main library, Low Library, is all of the famous storytellers. Well, authors and stuff. And the first one, the pinnacle, not the pinnacle, the anchor and the foundation on the far left, it says "Homer" and "Plato" and "Aristotle" then "Cicero" then boom, boom, boom. And these are all of our required readings for a year long [00:38:00] lit hum class.
Kindra Hall: Ooh, it makes me want to go back to school.
Kyle Davis: You know, you can. You can.
Kindra Hall: Or I just need to go to New York.
Kyle Davis: Move to New York. We can talk about it. Okay cool, look, if you want to have Kindra come and tell awesome stories, but more importantly, we want to get you involved in how to tell stories and tell your story better, you can do so by contacting GDA Speakers at 214-420-1999 or by going to gdaspeakers.com. For today's transcript, which has some cool stories in it, [00:38:30] as well as photos and other fun stuff, you can go to gdapodcast.com. Don't forget to subscribe on iTunes. So, thank you.
Kindra Hall: Thank you.