June 21, 2023 / Esther Choy

Gina Fong

Photo Credit: Vin Reed

“Given the choice between trivial material brilliantly told versus profound material badly told, an audience will always choose the trivial told brilliantly.” – Robert McKee.

Eating bagels, playing baseball, or commuting to work. While they are common, everyday occurrences, when told brilliantly these experiences can make for powerful, relatable stories.

Gina Fong, for example, started her convocation speech last week with: “Recently on a rideshare to work a complete stranger gave me a gift.” Gina, a Certified Story Facilitator and Clinical Assistant Professor of Marketing was named Outstanding Professor of the Year at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. In her speech, she uses the story of an everyday event of meeting a stranger on her way to work to bookend the wisdom she had to offer the graduates.

Her rideshare story illustrated what the gift of understanding looks like and just how powerful, yet simple, it is. Not only that, her story opened her listeners’ hearts and created connections.

A few days after the ceremony, Gina received an email from someone who attended the graduation. This stranger thought Gina’s speech was the highlight of the ceremony and was inspired to share the “gifts” she had received from her rideshare drivers with Gina. Memorable stories can create meaningful conversations, even with strangers.

With her own kindness and curiosity exuding in her graduation speech, it’s easy to see why Gina was voted Outstanding Professor of The Year by her students. Congratulations, Gina!

If you are interested in honing your storytelling skills as well as empowering others to tell their stories, join our supportive Certified Story Facilitator community!

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