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S2 EP6: Leading with Heart: Using Storytelling to Enhance Relationships and Inspire Others

Listen in as Coach Madhuri, a storyteller and coach specialising in personal branding and leadership development, shares the power of storytelling to enhance professional relationships and inspire others. With an MBA and extensive coaching experience, Madhuri discusses the importance of connection, the use of storytelling in recruitment and team motivation, and the art and science behind telling a good story. Madhuri’s goal is to help individuals find hope and magic in their personal and professional lives by using the power of storytelling.

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Victoria: Welcome to Season Two of Hello CoachCast. I’m Victoria Mills. In today’s climate, it’s especially important for leaders to be able to connect with their team on a very personal level. This episode delves into the power of storytelling to enhance professional relationships and inspire others. Our guest, Coach Madhuri, specialises in helping job seekers, leaders, and entrepreneurs build their personal brands and achieve their full potential, Madhuri is a gifted storyteller with an MBA and extensive coaching experience.

She co-authored an international bestseller and co-founded a platform that conducts inspiring interviews with women leaders to promote career equality for women. In this episode today, Madhuri will share her valuable tips on designing a story kit that can be used in various situations from recruitment to team motivation. I’m absolutely delighted to have you here today and welcome Madhuri.

Madhuri: Thank you so much, Victoria. It’s my pleasure to be on the Hello CoachCast.

Victoria: I am fascinated by your gift of storytelling, and I know our listeners and myself would love to know how did you end up becoming a professional storyteller, and it’s something that you became certified in along with your MBA?

Madhuri: Yeah. It’s quite a journey for me to become a storyteller. And I believe that all of us are storytellers and we love telling stories as well. But the question is, do our stories create those magical pathways that can inspire others? In my case, I was doing my MBA. had done my 15 years of experience as a talent acquisition person uh, executive search person.

And during one of the projects, I felt that something is amiss. I need to do something else and I need to connect with myself. And that that awareness actually led me to storytelling, which is where I got myself certified as a storyteller and a puppeteer. So, I do puppetry as well for children, and I make my own puppets from recycled material and bottles and boxes.

So that’s been the journey. But along the way I thought storytelling is a part of our life. So whether we are telling stories to recruit or whether we are telling stories to pitch a product or a service. I think storytelling plays an important role. So that’s where my love for storytelling and coaching came together.

Victoria: Tell me, I find this very fascinating. I mean, as kids growing up, we always loved, going and seeing live puppeteer show, and it’s just something that we just don’t see as much anymore, and there’s such magic in the art of being able to tell a great story.

Tell me what is it that you are wanting to achieve and the problems that you are wanting to solve through your storytelling? Now, obviously I know with the use of puppeteers, it’s more prevalent for children, although. I think there’s probably lots of adults that would still enjoy a puppeteer show as well.

But what is it primarily that drew you to this space that you wanted to be able to use storytelling and what problem were you wanting to really solve?

Madhuri: Yeah, that’s a great question. Victoria. So as a child or as an adult, all of us need to have a belief. We need to have hope. And that actually started off whether it was a special needs child or whether it was somebody going through a crisis or wanting to prove it to the world, wanting to prove their worth. Everybody needed a little bit of hope, and that magic of hope came from those stories. And the power of storytelling is such that, that magic can, bloom you, make you feel powerful and start, or just help you work towards that goal.

Victoria: So, when you are using your stories to share inspiring wisdom, what are some of the most common questions that you get asked around the challenges that leaders and managers are facing with disconnection with their teams?

Madhuri: Yeah, that’s an important part of storytelling, I guess, the connection. So for me, that connection is extremely important. And often leaders would ask me, how can I inspire my team? My team is not performing, what do I do? And for me, it’s really are you telling them your stories? Have you told them what you went through if you were in their shoes or when you were in their shoes? So how did an entrepreneur who started, it’s a question to you.

How did an entrepreneur who started in a garage create the most iconic product launches in business history? Or how did a human rights lawyer earn TED’s longest-standing ovation? Or how did Facebook’s executive launch a movement to encourage millions of women to lean in? And the answer to all of this is they told brilliant stories. So, whether as a leader you’re trying to inspire your team or a movement, storytelling, is it?

So what is it? In storytelling, it’s the interactive art of using words and actions to reveal elements and images. So, you kind of create a vision for your listeners and that is what people follow. So as leaders lead the team or inspire them towards a great idea, and that is what storytelling can help.

Victoria: I know that there is an art and there is a science behind telling a really good story, and obviously you just shared some examples of some global entrepreneurs that have clearly made a mark in the world. What are the really valuable and critical ingredients that you need, and leaders and managers that you can help, give them a toolkit.

What would be those ingredients in their storytelling toolkit that they could then go and start using storytelling as a process? You know, and having that conversation is certainly a, it is an art form to be able to tell a story. So, what would be some of those ingredients that make up a storyteller’s kit?

Madhuri: A storyteller’s kit is always by the storyteller or by the leader. And it can be your pocket full of stories or it can be a briefcase full of stories. Leaders often ask me, does that mean that I keep telling stories all the time? Well, the answer is no. Most often when you are, when we ask the teams that, what do you remember about a particular leader? Teams would answer. It’s the storytelling.

And it’s not like the leader is telling stories all the time. It is only 30% of the time probably that they’re telling stories. So, stories with a purpose or stories that can inspire people. So, I often feel that in this today’s world, like you said earlier, in this current climate to inspire people, let’s have a story kit ready and that story kit can be, probably, how your company was founded to inspire people. And I know Victoria, you have done that too for Hello Coach, that, to get people on board. That’s the story you told. How did you start and how did you become a coach? Or the story of just a change or a transformation of a company.

If your leadership is going through a transition, what’s going on and why is it happening? Or setting a vision and communicating that as a strategy. Even in fact recruitment is an important part, which I tell leaders that you need to have a recruitment story with you. Why should people join you?

So, answering those whys is so important, and that can help you build that story kit. And it can be really vast. It could be a pocket full or it could be a briefcase full.

Victoria: I Love that response. Having a pocket full of stories or a briefcase full of stories, because look, regardless of whether it was Hello Coach or someone else is doing another startup, we’ve found that I think that there is… how I storytell, and I don’t probably use that word, but when creating the vision of Hello Coach, it’s being able to create hope, in your message.

And for me, that is always the core ingredient behind, I do believe, every successful brand and company is that they are problem-solving and they’re creating solutions for something where hope may be dissipating in the marketplace with whatever it is. And to be able to align that message of hope with people’s personal, their own personal mission statements for what they’re wanting to create in their own lives.

And I think that’s always really important to be able to align when you are an employee or a contractor being able to align, firstly, what is my purpose, and then do I align with the company’s purpose? And I found that in our best team that we currently have at Hello Coach, the company’s vision and mission aligns with every single person that we have on the team. Every single person that touches Hello Coach. And it doesn’t matter what role you have, you see a piece of yourself aligning and you take deep accountability and commitment and passion towards what you do every day. And I think this is an area that I believe lots of managers have struggled with. More since, obviously we’ve gone through the epidemic, is that people are now questioning how can I actually create a deeper sense of purpose with the work that I’m doing? And rightly so. and people aren’t just a cog in a wheel. They are human beings and they have thoughts and feelings and ideas, and they’re also very creative.

And I think a lot of organizations have an opportunity to encourage that storytelling because stories go both ways. I believe the best stories, yes, there’s listeners, and yes, there’s the person talking, but it’s being able to engage everyone on that story journey. And I think that’s when organizations and people start to truly see a great shift on the floor.

Madhuri: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And, like you rightly said, it’s the hope because you’re selling hope for everybody, and then people are aligning with that hope. So, if you can get clarity on why are you telling stories and what’s the most powerful way of inspiring uh, team I guess it’s the purpose, like you said, reminding people about the purpose and aligning the purpose to your company’s mission and values.

I do have a little formula, which I can share.

Victoria: I would love you to share your formula. You are the magician of storytelling.

Madhuri: Okay, not magician, but yeah, I do have this magic formula. So, when you narrate stories, you have three E’s. And two C’s. So the formula is three E and two C. Now, what does three E mean? It is emotion, expression, and enthusiasm. And when it comes to two C’s, have clarity and confidence in the story that you’re telling.

So if the three E’s and two C’s are packed with your message, Your story is going to be a super hit and can definitely inspire magical journeys.

Victoria: I just love that, can you just summarize that for me again? So you’ve said

Madhuri: Emotion, expression, enthusiasm. So those are the three E’s and the two C’s, which is clarity and confidence.

Victoria: That is the magic five ingredients of how to tell a fantastic story.

Madhuri: Absolutely, because unless you have that connection with your audience, and unless you can answer the question, ‘What’s in it for the listener?’ your story might just not connect with everybody. So, I always, before I start a story, I always do this, check on these five points. That is the three E’s and two C’s is my story fitting into it.

Victoria: I’d love to hear an example of someone that you have coached, what they came to you for, and how you use the art of storytelling to help them create a shift in their life.

Madhuri: What comes to mind is this group of women entrepreneurs who started off a platform, an educational platform, and they were all returnees that is they had taken a break from their careers and were all starting off this as a venture. The underlying message was their friendship and their passion towards education.

And once that was revealed during the workshop, everybody had stories that would connect. Now, how did they use these stories? All of them were handling different functions. So, there were accounting people, there were uh, salespeople. And the salespeople took all these five, six stories to actually go out into the market and create that messaging.

After the workshop, which was about four sessions and two one-on-one, that’s what they came up with a story kit for themselves, which was a collaborative one, which everybody had something to say, so everyone from the team felt connected.

Victoria: That is a great example. I’m loving the fact that if you are wanting, I think if you know, if you’re having a challenge in your world, often it can diffuse sometimes the seriousness of it or the deep angst that we may be feeling around something and using storytelling to give perspective to a situation.

And I love these five points, the two C’s, the three E’s clarity, conference expression, enthusiasm, and emotion to be able to harness these ingredients to, tell a great story.

Thank you so much for coming on today and sharing your storytelling magic. I do believe there’s an element of magic in telling a great story and being able to understand and have for you also as the coach, to be able to tie someone’s journey of their own emotional state and help bring them through the other side where they are feeling more inspired.

And yes, I will use the word hope in any situation where someone’s actually wanting to create change in their world. Thank you so much. Love the five points, three E’s, the two Cs. Thank you very much for joining us here today.

Wonderful to have you on the show and I’d definitely love to bring you back on another time because I would love to be able to unpack all those five ingredients, I think we could have a great storytelling conversation just around those.

Madhuri: Oh, definitely, definitely. It’s my pleasure being here and I want to leave this small little quote. “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did, but people will never forget what you made them feel and how you made them feel.” So all the three E’s and two C’s are your power pack and magical formula to help people craft their magical journeys. Thank you.

Victoria: Thank you so much, Madhuri. That’s wonderful. What a great summary. I don’t need to summarise. You’ve just done it for me. Thank you so much. Thank you for tuning into today’s episode of Hello CoachCast. If you’ve enjoyed the content, we would absolutely love for you to subscribe like, share, or leave a review on your favourite podcast platform.

Also, if you’d love to start working on, you’re building out your own storytelling kit, you can find Coach Madhuri on us at hello-coach.com. Thank you again for listening, and we hope that you’ll join us again next week.

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