August 19, 2019 / Esther Choy

Lauren Young offered me a new perspective

Imagine that a friend brings you an optical illusion she just found. You stare at it for several minutes, wondering, where on earth is this badger I’m supposed to be seeing? Then your friend motions to the portion of the painting where the badger is lurking. Suddenly, it pops out. What had been impossible to see just a few moments earlier now becomes impossible not to see.

This is what we can do for each other when it comes to crafting better stories. It’s hard to see the story’s strengths and weaknesses until someone points them out to us. Then it’s hard not to see them!

A different perspective can help you see your story differently and improve it. My calling in life is to be the person who can offer that perspective for others. Occasionally, I also have the privilege of meeting someone who can do the same for me. When I met Lauren Young of Theory 61 in 2018 I knew I had found that kind of person. We have both honed each other’s ability to apply storytelling to our real world contexts.

“Storytelling Is A Major Part of My Work”

Lauren attended my class at Kellogg on Major Gifts, choosing it specifically because she knew it would be a challenge. “Soliciting major gifts was one of the most difficult parts of being a nonprofit leader,” says Lauren, “so I naturally wanted to take this class.”

Lauren came into the class appreciating the value of storytelling. “Storytelling is a major part of my work,” she says, “as I consult with various businesses and nonprofits on reinforcing their brand.”

She shared two takeaways from the Kellogg Major Gifts class that I taught:

  • Applying the “why.” “I began to start my presentations with the ‘why’ instead of the ‘what.’ Simon Sinek’s work is referenced frequently, but I do not see people utilize it with the same frequency.”
  • Building relationships through stories. “I loved the reference Esther made about telling stories to build relationships by being more interesting than boring, but more relational than eccentric. Finding that balance will help when trying to find common ground with new audiences.”

Storytelling Reinforces Our Brand

During the class, I learned that Lauren is an expert at helping companies reinforce their brand. In other words, she could assess how well Leadership Story Lab was telling its own story, providing expert feedback and seeing the company’s marketing with fresh eyes.

Authenticity is one of my core values, so I wanted to weave Leadership Story Lab’s authentic character into every touch point. Lauren helped make that a reality. We love it when we form lasting connections with people like Lauren who attend our workshops and classes. The journey of improving a craft like storytelling is a long and exciting one, and we are so happy to have companions on the journey who can provide perspective and encourage mutual excellence!


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Need to hone your leadership storytelling? Contact us for a complimentary working session!. Leadership Story Lab trains and coaches managers in storytelling techniques to help them become more engaging and persuasive communicators. Whether you would like to stand out in the interview process, add punch to a presentation, or make a compelling case for a new initiative, we can help.Esther’s new book, Let the Story Do the Work (published by HarperCollins Leadership), is now available!

Photo credit: Courtesy of Lauren Young

Esther Choy

Esther Choy founded Leadership Story Lab in 2010 to help others leverage the art of storytelling to create extraordinary opportunities.
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