Are you a powerful storyteller? Andrea interviews strategy and storytelling expert Rob Tait, who shares examples of and suggestions for great stories. These insights apply to stories from and about both product brands (marketing) and people brands (personal branding). NOTE: the accompanying free “Storytelling Tip Sheet” includes Rob’s 9-step process for creating compelling presentations and lots more to help you become a better storyteller.








Well, hello there and welcome to talk about Talk Podcast Episode #151.  The Power of Storytelling with Rob Tait.

Yes, this is episode #151. I’ve been doing this for a while. I remember way back in the early days, when I was learning the craft of podcasting, I used to listen to a podcast called,  The school of podcasting with Dave Jackson. I listened to it every single week. I considered him to be my podcasting coach. Kind of like the way I hope that I am your executive communication coach. Anyway, one day I finally got the nerve to email him, and then he ended up featuring me on his podcast a couple of times. 


Before one of the interviews when he interviewed me, he asked me to suggest a specific TAT podcast episodes that will give him some idea of what I do. I remember this. Viscerally. I suggested that he listened to podcast episode number 58, mentally preparing to communicate with confidence. In our conversation before the interview, he said to me, I listened to that episode you suggested. You definitely know what you’re doing. That podcast was full of exceptional storytelling. I remember thinking: he didn’t tell me I was a great podcaster. He didn’t tell me I was a great communication coach. He DID say I was a great storyteller. 


Since then, I’ve become acutely aware of the impact of storytelling. I’ve noticed in my own business that the workshops where I really knocked it out of the park , Those are the workshops where I was telling stories. I also know that the podcast episodes that get the most downloads, including that episode on communicating with confidence, those are the episodes that are full of stories. 


Evidence regarding the positive impact of storytelling goes on and on. That’s not what this episode is about. We’re past the point of establishing how storytelling is important.  I think you get that. Otherwise you wouldn’t be listening to this episode! This episode is about helping you craft storytelling in your communication. 


You may be a marketer, looking for stories to tell about your brand. 


You might be looking to tell stories about your own experience, creating your narrative around your personal brand.


You might be looking for a story to weave into an important presentation that you’re preparing for.


Or you may be looking to generally improve the effectiveness of your communication through storytelling.


The guest expert I’m about to introduce you to is going to help you with all  this. Are you ready?


Welcome to the Talk About Talk podcast episode number 150, The Power of Storytelling


In case we haven’t met, let me introduce myself. My name is Dr. Andrea Wojnicki and I’m your executive communication coach. Please call me Andrea!
I’m the founder of Talk About Talk, where I coach communication skills to ambitious executives like you – to elevate your communication, your confidence and your clarity, so you can establish credibility and then accomplish your career goals.


If you go to the website, you’ll find many resources to help you out. There’s information there about one-on-one coaching, online courses, some amazing bootcamps that I run every few months, corporate workshops, the archive of this bi-weekly podcast, AND, I really hope you’ll sign up for the Talk About Talk newsletter. That newsletter is your chance to get free communication coaching from me every week. 


Alright let’s get into this.


You’re about to hear my interview with Rob Tait. Rob is the ideal person. To seek expertise from in terms of storytelling for a couple of reasons. 


First of all, Rob’s background. I met him when we were working together on advertising. I was a brand manager at Kraft Foods and he was a creative director at the advertising agency. He’s the one who created the stories around the brands that I was managing. So that’s the first reason. He knows how to tell brand stories, 


The second reason robs insight is so significant here is that now for a living, what Rob does is through his firm “Tait Strategy & Storytelling.” He has lots of pragmatic and well tested advice to share with us. 


And 3rd, as you’ll hear me mention in the interview, Rob. When I was working with Rob, I noted several times that he was typically the smartest person in the room. He’s very wise. Humble and wise.


Here’s how this episode is going to go. 1st, I’m going to briefly introduce Rob and then we’re going to get right into the interview. And then at the end, I’m going to summarize with three, yes, of course, ALWAYS! three of the main thoughts or themes that I want to reinforce for us.


Before I introduce Rob, I just want to highlight two important things about this episode in particular. 


The first one is that based on the amazing insights from this interview, I decided to create a one page “Storytelling tip sheet” that I hope you will download and use to boost your own storytelling skills. The info in this storytelling tip sheet are based on the insights that Rob shared, plus previous episodes that I’ve done on storytelling, plus my own experience and coaching on storytelling.


Here’s what you need to do. Go to And then you can download this one pager. I’ll remind you about that again at the end.


The second thing about this episode that stands out for me is the long list of valuable resources that Rob mentions. If you go to the show notes for this episode on the Talk About website or on your podcast app, you’ll see links to all of these resources, including the many ads he mentions, the experts he mentions, like Nancy Duatre, and his favorite podcasts. So please do that. You have two things to do then, right? First of all go to to get your storytelling tip sheet and secondly check out the show notes and in particular the resources that I listed for you there. 


Alright, let me introduce Rob. Because Rob is such an eloquent writer, and former creative director, I thought I would be doing a disservice if I edited or paraphrased his bio. So I’m going to read to you exactly what he sent me. Here goes.


A seasoned marketing communications veteran, Rob is a strategist, writer, and swashbuckling storyteller who helps clients make the complex simple, and the simple compelling.


As a passionate practitioner of content marketing and brand building (and a former advertising Creative Director), Rob has worked with some of the most successful companies in the world creating and executing marketing programs that span content, digital, CRM, experiential, and traditional advertising. Currently Rob is working with the Facebook for Creator’s brand marketing team in New York. Past clients include McDonald’s, Hilton Worldwide, Apple, Roche Biotech, Microsoft, Mazda, and Kraft. (That’s where we met, when I was a brand manager at Kraft)


Founder and principal at Tait Strategy & Storytelling, Rob has also held senior creative roles at BBDO, McCann and Redwood CC. Rob’s reputation is that of a highly strategic creative thinker, a deft writer, and an engaging presenter who delivers engaging, meaningful, and memorable stories that connect with audiences, build brands and drive results.

ANDREA  0:00  

Thank you so much, Rob, for joining us here today to talk about the power of storytelling. 

My pleasure. Glad to be here. 

So Rob, you and I met years and years ago, when we were working together on advertising. And so I thought that’d be a great place for us to start. Can you share with us a few of your ideas about why storytelling is so effective in the context of brands?

ROB  0:29  

Sure, there’s a couple of things that go on. Really, just two. So the first thing is, is like, we’re actually hardwired to love stories. You know, if you heard in your good story, your pulse quickens the eyes dilate, those old sailings, like I was on the edge of my seat or, you know, made me cry like a baby. So we actually just sort of their inherent in enough, then you think about oral tradition, going back 1000s of years, all three stories. The second thing is a little bit more practical from a brand standpoint. And that’s that stories allow us to engage emotionally. And when you look at the way people make decisions, they generally make a decision, they act based on emotion, they then will use reason to post rationalize what they acted on. So if you’re engaging somebody emotionally with a story, you’re more able to get them to actually take an option. So from a marketing standpoint, you want somebody to buy something, you really need to engage them emotionally, they got to feel something that’s what brands are all about. Brands are about, what do I What value do I see in that product or service? What values do they hold? So that’s sort of the basis of why stories are so powerful in marketing and for brands.

ANDREA  1:37  

Okay, so to help make this a little bit real for the listeners, can you share with us some examples of brands that are doing a great job of storytelling.

ROB  1:49  

And, you know, a lot of brands are not, that’s the funny thing. But historically, Apple, Apple have been great storytellers. And, you know, you can go back to, you know, 20 years to the iopc. I’m a Mac campaign that really launched iMac into the binocular after the 1990s were disastrous for Apple, to even some of the local or student some of the latest iPhone 15 ads, which are great. But right. Currently, the one that sort of pops to mind is Volkswagen. It’s got a couple of ads out there right now, which are great stories. And what’s interesting, they’ve clearly been created with a global audience in mind, because they use no dialogue. So there’s one with you know, you see a guy getting all dolled up, sort of, like 1970s, he’s got the, you know, like the obesity roller haircut, he’s tagged himself, he’s got these short shorts on, he’s got an old tank top on any poses in front of his brand new Volkswagen, and his wife takes a picture. And then you know, you see them packaging it up and driving, and they show up at his father’s house. And he takes them gives them you know, as a present to his father, this picture, and we see a picture of the Father, in 1970s, dressed like the Son is dressed now with the short shorts and the tank top and the city ruler haircut in front of his Volkswagen from the 70s. And you know, that, like, it’s endearing, it’s a great story. It talks about new products, it talks about quality old products, talks about people being in love with the brand because it stays in the family. So that’s a really good recent example of stories.

ANDREA  3:27 

So as you were describing the apple ads, and the different versions, they have been great storytellers over the year, one thing that occurred to me and I’m interested to get your take on this. You said, starting out with the I’m a Mac, I’m a PC story. And then we’re like, is that really a story? And actually, like I have an opinion about that it is, but it depends on how you define storytelling. Right? One thing that I tell my clients when I’m coaching them, you know, is to tell stories whenever they can, for the reasons that you said at the very beginning. And I said, but don’t be don’t feel overwhelmed by that, because stories don’t need to be epic. It doesn’t have to be like introduced the main character. Right. So please, elaborate.

ROB  4:24  

Well, for one thing, Apple had been great storytellers. You know, before it was funny, because Apple did not do well in the 1990s. But some of the best advertising in the 1990s were were Apple ads. And, of course, you know, the the historic Superbowl ad what, which launched Macintosh in 1984. Right. You know, that’s considered one of the greatest commercials of all time, but

ANDREA  4:47  

I just interrupt. I would say that that is an epic story, right? Yes. But they don’t have to all be epic stories to be effective.

ROB  4:55  

No, really what makes a story is is a structure Oh, Right. So if you think of, and, you know, like when I talk about presentations, I talk a lot about structure of presentations at work a story arc, and, but essentially a story arc, you know, has exposition. So you’re setting something up, you have rising action, climax, falling action, and then you do know denouement, or you know, resolution. And so if you think of the Iowa Mac on a PC, you know, you always start with an exposition, PC has got a problem, right? Stories are about problems and solutions. And then and, you know, they’re sort of the antagonist. The hero is, is Mac. And you know, so the problem escalates, Mac as a solution, or offers a key differentiating benefit to being on a Mac versus a PC. And then there’s usually a nice little button to close it off at the end. So it calls a nice story arc. So

ANDREA  5:50  

the classic story is the hero’s journey. Right? Yeah. So yeah. So I was just going to ask is, is that story follows the story arc arc that you it’s one version of the story arc, right, that you just described?

ROB  6:12  

Yeah, I mean, the thing about Hero’s Journey is that if you get caught up on a hero’s journey, because you hear or hear a hero’s quest, you hear about that a lot is, you

know, a story archetype. So if you if you start out thinking, oh, I want to create a tragedy, or I want to create a comedy, or, you know, you’re gonna get caught up, you want the story to emanate authentically, from whatever pitch you’re making, and especially in branded marketing, right? But you want to create characters, you know, and you do want to, if you can have a hero, you always want to have a protagonist stories have to have a protagonist, the product can be a protagonist, you know, and the problem your product solves can be the antagonist can be the villain.

ANDREA  6:49  

So let’s switch a little bit to storytelling as an executive. So I was gonna say, as a person, but actually in the context of being an executive, right? So you’re either telling a story about your career, or you might be telling a story about the product that you’re selling. So you work with a lot of a lot of creators at meta, right? And you do partnerships with creators? So how does this translate, I guess, I mean, we as humans are storytellers, we as executives are storytellers. And then brands, we as humans, create stories around brands, are there are there important distinctions that we should be keeping in mind between the different types of stories depending on what the context is?

ROB  7:39  

No, I don’t think so. I think it really you look at you look at structure. So when you talk about like when I’m working with meta, the part of the meta that I work with deals with creators, specifically Facebook brand, for creators. So in that case, there’s sort of two parts to that. There’s Facebook, trying to support creators, and providing them training on how to become better storytellers. Although most creators are naturally very good storytellers. That’s often what they’re, they’re doing. And you know, whether they’re, you know, they’ve got a smaller yoga studio, and they’re using content, and being a creator to build their business, or build awareness, or they’re a baker or they’re a musician, they’re generally naturally pretty good storytellers. What I usually get involved in is working with executives inside internally, to make them better storytellers. So that when they’re communicating with creators or organizations outside of meta, that they’re using storytelling as part of the way they pitch whatever they’re trying to pitch, whether they’re trying to cool, yeah, trying to drive some kind of metric. That’s good for the, you know, good for Metis business.

ANDREA  8:47  

Okay, so I buy that there’s, there’s no, you know, major distinction that I’m sure they’re minor minor tweaks, but major distinction depending on the context and or the source of the story. You said, naturally, good storyteller. There are some naturally good storytellers create and craters may tend to be that maybe they have a great story is in their quest to become a creator. Right. So what makes for a great, it’s subtly different from what makes for a great story, what makes for a great storyteller? Like, who are the folks that are great, what are the skills that they have?

ROB  9:23  

Um, that’s actually tough, because it’s really, it’s really tenuous, I don’t, I’m not sure what makes a good storyteller, except for a couple of things. Generally, they’re very authentic. Right? They’ve actually believed the words they’re saying, they have passion for what they’re talking about. You know, and they think more in they think more about their audience. Which is interesting because if you’re if you’re actually talking about, you know, within the business context of creating using storytelling as part of a presentation, when in the skills, things that I teach, the first thing I say you need to do is AUDIENCE Do audience analysis. So who you’re talking to? Right? You know, what are their pain points? What do they think of you right now? What do you want them to think of you all those sorts of things. But it’s really hard to say what gives a person that sort of natural ability to have a cadence when they’re trying to tell you something, where they’re going to SET set up a proposition, you know, and then they’re gonna build, you know, either through facts or benefits or whatever to say, again, here’s the solution. And then sort of, and now, this is how we’re going to, you know, execute on that solution. And that’s it. So that’s that rising story arc, that exposition that rising action, falling action and resolution.

ANDREA  10:38  

Got it? That’s, that’s fair. You said cadence, I might, I might dig into that a little bit. So you said, three of the criteria that make great that, that are, I guess, common amongst storytellers, three things love it, the power of three, authenticity, passion, and focus on the audience. And I was like, those are all great things for storytellers. But those are all actually great things for anyone who’s communicating anytime. And in particular, when you’re giving a formal presentation, right? If you are authentic, passionate, and you know your audience, almost almost every time you’re going to nail it. So So then let’s shift then to what makes for a great story beyond the arc. Right? So what are the criteria that make some stories better than others? So I can imagine that one of the questions you probably get when you’re doing your training is, I was going to tell this story. Or I might tell this other story, which one should I tell Rob? And how do you decide which stories are worth telling? Okay,

ROB  11:43  

two quick things. Just going back to what you said about you know, great communication, great communicators, I would contend that you cannot be a great communicator without also being a great storyteller. Oh, I

ANDREA  11:55  

love it. Yeah, Rob, you’re gonna be quoted on that you’re gonna be quoted.

ROB  12:01  

Great. Now to talk about, oh, shoot, I lost my train of thought. I got the ADHD and me right, you said something, and I just can’t let it go that making the point I wanted to make.

ANDREA  12:17  

So So could you repeat my question? Yeah, the question is, if, if we are all of these things, and someone comes to you with two different stories, how do you identify what stories are more, quote, unquote, were worth telling?

ROB  12:31  

Perfect. Okay. That’s easy. Because again, I’m going to do this in the context. Because I think with business people, where storytelling becomes the most important is in the presentation. Right? Okay. And you doesn’t mean that you’re mean doesn’t mean that you have to be standing up a group of people with a slide deck behind you, it could mean that you’re in a lunch, and you’re pitching somebody an idea, you’re still presenting. So I would say that with every presentation, you have an objective. So if you’re vetting, saying, you know, what story, should I tell you no story A or story B, you vet that against your objective? What is going to be more persuasive to getting somebody taking the action that you want them to take? So

ANDREA  13:09  

relevance? And yes, I guess, relevance, I was gonna say persuasion, but the persuasion is the outcome. It’s you need it to be absolutely relevant to your objective. Right? Absolutely.

ROB  13:21  

And again, if I’m going through, I have this nine steps that, you know, I teach people to follow when they’re creating a presentation. The first one I mentioned was audience analysis. The second one is, set your theme or set your objective. You know, I’m Who am I talking to what I want them to do. That’s number one. That’s step two. Notice we haven’t opened up PowerPoint. Number one mistake people make when they say, Hey, I want you to give a presentation as they go in. They open up PowerPoint. That’s Step five, right? 

ANDREA  13:47  

Yeah. Yeah, I agree. 100%. I, I usually flip your one and two, but I’m in agreeance. With you, right? You need to have What’s your main point? Or what’s your objective? And then really understand who you’re talking to? And then we get into fleshing out and then eventually, it’s the PowerPoint slides. Yeah. Yeah. How many people say, I think in PowerPoint, have you ever heard Have you ever had books meta say that to you? Well, I think PowerPoint. Well, it’s interesting.

ROB  14:17 

Step three is collecting information. And the way they collect information is they, you know, to say think in PowerPoint, they go back and they start collecting all this past slides that have data points that they want to make, or, uh, you know, the features and benefits, they want to highlight whatever that is. But they still have yet Not yet. figured out what story they want to tell they’ve got the information collected, but then they need to go to Step four, which is okay, what story am I going to tell I’m gonna set the narrative? Right.

ANDREA  15:46  

You know, I never thought about this when I was working with you, Rob, I shared in the introduction, how I always felt like you were the smartest guy in the room. I always thought you were this. I want I want to say that publicly. I thought you were compared to the Vice President and the director that I was working with in my firm and the other folks that the client service folks at the advertising agency, I always thought you were the smartest person in the room. So it was your ability, I think, and now that I’m talking to you to create a story around a brand, given a bunch of data and objectives that we were giving you, right? I mean, you can agree, yes, maybe that?

Unknown Speaker  16:27  

Yes. So

ANDREA  16:31  

I guess we’ve highlighted kind of what makes for a great storyteller. And what makes for great story, how to choose a story. What are the most common mistakes that you see folks making? When they are trying to incorporate storytelling into their communication?

ROB  16:51  

Often will not often, but the story gets in the way, what they’re really trying to say, because they haven’t gone that they haven’t gone through the due diligence, of saying, Here’s my objective. And then everything after that should be going does this further my objective? Because the story further my objective? Or is the story not relevant? So you think about, like a lot of the stuff that we met, it’s all product based. And so a lot of product people, they, they’re engineers, they’ve been involved in creating these incredible features. This product can do this can do that it can do this. And they’re very excited about it. I mean, it’s they’ve worked so hard on it, they’re passionate about it, and their audience doesn’t care, one lick about their features, their economy, and their audience cares about what’s in it for me, what does it do? What’s the benefit? So I would say in that case, I mean, that’s a sort of an example of where they think they’re telling a story, but they’re really just giving you a list of features. If you start thinking, Okay, what is the feature do to a person? How does it help? Right now you start to naturally bring in storytelling, because a benefit solves a problem. Okay, the minute I set up a problem, and then I create an arc to solve that problem, I’m, you know, Finley, but you’re in the realm of storytelling,

ANDREA  18:08  

right? Yeah. So as you were describing that, a couple of things came to mind. One is, when I was working in brand management, we talked a lot about the brand benefit letter ladder, right. So you start with features, benefits, and then you get up to emotions, right? And it’s like these human needs. And the higher up that ladder that you can get in a way that’s real, though, right? So you’re, it’s not that you’re being airy fairy, it’s like you have this fundamental need. And this product, or this service, or this brand is going to help you accomplish whatever your goals are associated with that need.

And the second thing that I was thinking as you were talking is in terms of testimonials. So as a coach, I know how important testimonials are and we knew even with the brands that we were working on together, you know, food brands, that word of mouth is important, right? And those are sort of informal or formal one on one testimonials if you want to think about it that way. I feel like their stories may serve almost as a testimonials and it’s very indirect, right? But when you tell a story about someone who has, for example, done what you’re you’re encouraging your audience to do and this is where they went. They This is here’s where they started. And here’s what they evolve to through this product you’re providing them with with even though it’s coming from the source that’s trying to sell them right. You’re providing them with a story of something that might happen to them. And it is like a test. It is like a testimonial again, as you said at the very beginning, it needs to be absolutely authentic. Like, you can’t if you’re making it up, they’ll smell it a mile away. raxil

ROB  20:07  

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that’s why testimonials do work. You know, they’re, you know, from an advertising ad agency sometimes hate them, right? Because they’re sort of they, they’re taking the creative juice out of the agency, and they’re, you know, putting it in the place of some person who’s used a product and service and wants to speak well of it. But people don’t get testimonials by listing features and benefits give people a testimonial, saying, I had this problem. And this thing came along, and it helped my problem. And, you know, and they’re usually, you know, they’re, they’re enthusiastic about it. And and if they’re genuine, you know, it’s, it’s second best to word of mouth, right, you know, in anything you do. Anything you do, having somebody behind the scenes going, oh, you know, you hired them, you can’t go wrong, right, that’s the best thing that can happen. I mean, it’s cool. If I, if I may, I was doing this as a number of years ago, but I was doing a gig with an unnamed agency, they had brought me in to create a content strategy for a big marketer, who was, you know, doing as many marketers did, you know, starting 10 or 15 years ago, they started to move away from advertising to creating content, right. And sort of, instead of interrupting people’s content they chosen to create, they were creating content that people were actually choosing to consume. And so I was at this agency, I had been hired on the recommendation of somebody, but the team I was working with didn’t know me from a hole in the wall. And they were, they were a little dubious, let’s say, and so I had done two or three weeks with them, I was trying to build up their confidence in my abilities. And then we had our first big meeting with the market or refer the client, right. And I had worked for the client previously, when another at another agency. And so we arrived at this meeting. And I didn’t really let the agency I was working with know that I knew some of the people at the client. And I wasn’t sure if this one very, very senior person was going to be in the meeting. But I had known that person for a very long time. And we had mutually high opinions of one another. He was a very, very smart guy. But anyway, we’re walking into the meeting, and he comes in at the tail end of his team. And goes, holy crap, I didn’t know we had paid on this. Awesome, awesome, good to see you again. Wrong. And it was like, problem solved. Yeah. Then, you know, from then on, I had an opinion with my team at the agency. They listened. Because clients are thought, oh, yeah, she said, He’s talking about so testimony.

ANDREA  22:45  

And it was genuine. If you had if you had spoken to him before and said, Are you going to be there? It would really help me then when he showed up? He would have been like, oh, Robert, right. But he was genuinely surprised. I love that story.

ROB  22:58  

And the meeting was minor enough that I think the agency was surprised if it’s going to be in it. Right, he was he was senior enough to usually wait until we were further along in the process before he started getting his opinion. Anyway. Beautiful,

ANDREA  23:10  

that is beautiful. Do you have any other anecdotes, like some small stories or epic stories that you want to share? Possibly about successes or failures of of some of your, your clients, or the folks that you’re working with, with storytelling? Too many? Oh,

ROB  23:30  

I used to. I used to be an instructor to, you know, continuing education for premium Marketing Association. And it was in, in live classes in person classes. And so I could tell my stories, because nobody was taping me. And I could sort of say, you know, I could bear, you know, bear the truth of what happened sometimes behind the scenes. And the minute they went and put that class on tape, the effectiveness of my teaching, you know, was diminished completely, because I could no longer tell those stories, you know, when told in Vegas, stay in Vegas. And it’s kind of the same situation here. Ah, but it’s funny, because we’re talking about storytelling and making points, you know, like, that pitch. So if I may, there’s one example I often use in when I’m when I’m teaching this, talking about, you know, using storytelling to make a point. And it comes from an old TED talk, and most people have seen this TED talk. It’s Ken Robinson, back in 2006 2008. Talking about creativity.

Unknown Speaker  24:36  

It’s the number one TED talk of all time. Yeah.

ROB  24:38  

So so people will will know this. But there’s, it’s interesting because he’s giving a presentation and he has no slides. Yet. It is a classic presentation, in that he builds a story arc. He uses a little bit of Nancy Duarte talks about you know, we talked about classic story art. She uses the same thing where she says, you set up what is As the status quo, and then you present what could be, right, and you want that gap between what is and what can be fairly large, and that’s the loftiness, where she goes loftiness of your idea. And that’s the way she uses story arcs in presentation calling, and he uses that to perfectly. But he’s trying to make this point about creativity. And he tells a story about a, you know, a little girl who, you know, didn’t do very well in school. And they’re in a drawing class. And the teacher notices that she’s working a lot harder than usual at her drawing. So the teacher wanders over. And she says, What are you drawing? And that little girl says, a picture of God. And the teacher goes, well, nobody knows what God looks like. And little girl says they will in a minute. And the point he’s making is that while that kids, our kids are naturally creative, they’ll take a chance. And while being wrong is not the same thing as being creative, if you’re not willing to be wrong, you’ll never create anything original. Yeah. And then he draws out, he says, the problem was our schools is we punish being wrong, right. And he draws it out that a lot of large corporations we punish being wrong, therefore we make the act of being original, or creative, very difficult. Yeah. And What’s always interesting is he could have made that same point, using charts and showing the neurological change of children as they grow older, and how we sort of lose our creativity and all that kind of thing. We told the story about a little girl. Yeah, and it’s a perfect example of he used that story as a visual aid. But the visual aid had no visuals. It was just the picture he painted in everybody’s mind of this little girl. My

ANDREA  26:36  

brain is my brain is exploding. Rob, I keep thinking, no one has ever asked me for data to prove that the coaching I do folks, whether it’s workshops, or I mean, they’ve they’ve asked, like, you know, what are your ratings on the workshop, but they haven’t been asked, what is the lasting impact of it of workshops, or of one on one coaching, no one has ever asked me for that. But when I tell them stories about the transformation that has happened with some with some of my clients, one that really comes to mind is I was coaching a really smart CEO on his personal brand to help him really think about his professional identity. He was he was moving jobs. And he told me after two or three sessions together, where we had really started to nail what his superpowers were right. And he was trying to feel really confident and focused. He told me that he went to a job interview. And it was maybe the second or third interview that he’d had with them. And they said, you have any questions? And he said, I have a really important question, actually. Are you looking for a new CEO? Who is going to charter open waters? And you know, take this company to new heights? Or are you looking for the CEO, that’s going to prevent us from hitting icebergs and other ships and other debris in the sea? And like keeping things safe keeping things, you know, status quo? And they said, great question. Very cool metaphor. The answer is in the short term, it’s status quo. And in the long term, it’s it’s charting open waters, and he stood up. He very politely thanked them for their time. And he said, I’ve been getting this feeling over the last couple of interviews. And I just want you to know, I am a trailblazer. I need to be charting open waters, or I will die slowly inside. And I don’t want to waste your time. I really, really have enjoyed meeting with you. And this guy, you don’t know him. Obviously, he’s a really nice guy. He would, he would never do this in a disrespectful way. But he said, Andrea, the work on my personal brand, made me confident enough to physically walk out of a job interview. And I was like, well, and I’ve told that story a few times, and people are like, whoa, that’s amazing. Like that story is more telling than any data could ever be about the power of personal branding. Right? So

ROB  28:57  

Oh, yeah. And it’s interesting, because, you know, if I think back in my old ad terms, he wanted to check on the brief. And when the brief wasn’t what he actually did that a couple of times back in the ad world where you’d be in presenting creative, and the first thing in the meeting is you go back through the creative brief. Yes, is what the agency has been asked to do. This is the strategy these are the most important thing you want to say here’s the support for the most important thing to believe the reasons to believe and having you know, presented for the first time to a very senior person and you go through the briefs in the garage. I’m not sure about the brief, but let’s see what you got. And having to stand up and go if you’re not sure the brief then when I have mixed notebook because it’s all built on that brief so you don’t go away and Lou trouble I bet.


I bet you have specific stories where that actually happened. It did. Yeah.


Wow happened on happened on a couple of more than one occasion. So, and it was one of those things where you know, the account people were very angry with me. But I was working for good creative directors who supported the decision. So always nice. But that’s essentially what he did. I mean, he sort of went, what he, you know, is very smart.


Yeah, yeah. Yeah, he is a very smart guy. He’s now. Yeah, very, very happily employed in his in his new position, which is completely aligned with a superpower. So you mentioned Nancy duart. I just wanted to touch base on that. So she, I’ve read a couple of her books, and she is famous for working with Al Gore. Right, in the early days.


You know, I actually discovered her through a TED talk. And, and what I find interesting is where she came up with the what is to what could be was all just by looking at, I mean, it was funny, she, she, you know, dissected Steve Jobs. I think it’s 2007 iPhone introduction, Keynote, at Macworld, which is considered one of the best product pitches ever. Right? If you haven’t seen it, go watch it on. I sure it’s on YouTube.


But she she dissected that, and then she dissected things like Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech. And she found that they both followed, there’s still get back to the word cadence this,

Unknown Speaker  

what is what could be. And what idea was going to bridge that? What is the status quo, to what could be, you know, the threshold, or the new bliss, as she says, the language she uses?


Right? Beautiful.

Rob, are there? Is there anything else you want to add about storytelling?


You know, the only thing I’ll do just because we’ve talked about presentations, I’ll just, you know, I’ll just add one of the things. So when you’re thinking of a presentation and a story arc, this is why I counseled people to think of what you want to say, break it into three chunks, you know, Act One, the beginning act to the middle, Act Three, the end. And then each of those chunks, has the, you know, what is what could be, what is what could be what is what could be, and then you mentioned it earlier, the power three, then structure your presentation. So I’m going to tell you what I’m going to tell you, I’m going to tell you, and then I’m going to tell you what I told you. And you do that three times. So if you think of the flow of a presentation, you know, you have your opening remarks, thank you for being here, the washrooms are over there, hold your questions to the end, yada, yada, yada. Then you have a creative opening, which is often like an anecdote or something that catches the, the audience’s attention, then you set your sights set, set your sub subject, which is we’re here to do this. And I’m going to talk about agenda one, agenda two, agenda three. Now I’m going to do body one. Everything I want to say under agenda one, everything I want to say under agenda two, everything I want to say under agenda three, and then I’m going to sum up one, I’m going to sum up to I’m going to sign up three. And now here’s my conclusion, which is should be okay, I’m willing to follow the accident or, you know, whatever your you’re doing. And so that’s sort of a really practical way on how a storytelling arc works into a presentation just to sort of close the loop on all the talk about


presentations. That is absolutely beautiful. So I’m going to end up I think creating a list. It’s a current, it’s a chronological list, right of how the presentation should go. And when you’re pulling it together, you look at that list, you first think about your audience, as you said, right? And then you think about what your main point or your objective is. And then you can start filling in the points here. For those of the listeners that are actually watching on YouTube, they and you probably saw, I have a massive smile on my face, because you’re talking about the power of three. I also talked about, say what you’re gonna say, and then say it and then tell them what you said. Beautiful, I love it. In fact, that’s what I do with every podcast episode. A really smart podcast or Dave Jackson told me once that people don’t get on a bus unless they know where it’s headed. So that’s why the very beginning Isn’t that beautiful. Learn. Yeah. And and so he’s, that’s people aren’t going to listen to a 45 minute podcast episode unless they know what they’re going to learn, or even what you’re just going to talk about, right. So I love that I will create a chronology and share that as well. So now let’s move on to the three power of three. rapid fire questions. Are you ready? Yep. Okay, question number one, introvert or extrovert?


I could say what do you think? But believe it or not, when I do all that? I’m an introvert.

Unknown Speaker  

I believe it. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker  

People often don’t, but I am an introvert. Yeah, I


think people miss attribute. So you’re not socially awkward. You’re not socially anxious? That’s actually different from an introvert. It’s right. It’s about your energy. And, okay, I would have guessed that a lot of the smartest folks that I know are introverts. I’m just gonna say that, as an extreme extrovert, I have noticed that. Question number two, what are your communication? Pet peeves? The things that bug you?


You know, actually, this is going to be kind of, like, given the fact that my biggest client right now is, you know, a technology company. But I kind of missed the old fashioned phone call. Yeah, like a string of texts, rapid fire texts. Sometimes, sometimes it’s fine, but sometimes just my thumbs can’t keep up. So that kind of, it’s like, if you’re doing a rapid fire, you know, 20 texts in a row to get a point across, it really would have been a lot quicker if you just picked up the phone, or jumped on a Google meets and said, Okay, let’s talk about this,


then. So is it a is it about the time that it takes? Or is it about the effectiveness somehow of the communication? Or is it both?


I think it’s a little bit both. It’s definitely you just don’t you just, it’s just like, you don’t know where somebody’s going. And, you know, it’s like the stream of consciousness, which we do when we talk, but somehow we tend to organize our thoughts. I think more when we’re, you know, in person with somebody.


Okay, last question. Is there a podcast, I’m gonna say, a podcast or a book that you find yourself recommending lately?


 I think you had mentioned to me previously, Adam Grant. So I love I like Adam Grant. And I also like whether I listened to it on the radio or on the podcast, Terry O’Reilly under the influence, which is all about advertising. And so I know, for one thing I know Terry, he used to be radio producer, and I’ve worked with him. nicest guy in the world. Talk about being the smartest guy in the room. He was always at incredible Director of Talent. But he just just reminds me of the good old days, but also really informative and interesting. And he’s a master master storyteller. Yeah. And


you know what, Rob? I should you’re just making me think I should interview him for a podcast episode not about storytelling, necessarily, but just generally about communication. That would be great. Yeah,


he would be great to that. And then the other one, it’s one of my, you know, you know, guilty pleasures is, you know, my wife and I, we watch Jeopardy every single night. And when we can’t watch it, we tape it. So are we DVR? So inside Jeopardy? Oh, behind the scenes stories of you know, what’s going on in jeopardy land?


Ah, that’s really interesting. You know, I feel like, even though Jeopardy is about memorizing trivia for, for lack of a better word, right. People that do really well on Jeopardy are very high IQ typically. Right? And here you are saying that it’s your favorite show. So I’m not surprised.

Okay, I’ll put that in the show notes as well. Thank you so much, Rob, for sharing your insights. We’ve got lots of gold here. Thank you for sharing your insights about the power of storytelling.


Thank you. I’m really happy to be here with you.




Thanks again to Rob for joining us and sharing your insights.  


Like I said at the very beginning, we’re past the point of establishing how storytelling is important.  I think you get that. Otherwise you wouldn’t have listened to this episode. That said,  I love how Rob pointed out that– stories are SO much more engaging and persuasive than data. Ask Rob, the advertising executive.  Ask the executive communication coach. Ask anyone. Just use stories!!


Before I summarize, I want to remind you about the storytelling tip sheet I created for you. It includes this summary and lots more.  Just go to to download your free copy.


OK  the top three things I hope you to remember.

  1. What distinguishes great storytellers from not so great storytellers
  2. The #1 most important element of a great story
  3. Robs 9 step process for creating exceptional presentations


Number one:

What distinguishes great storytellers from not so great storytellers.  Do you remember? I know.  I hate quizzes too. 

Rob highlighted that the best storytellers are authentic and they engage with and know their audience. That’s a nice list. Authenticity, Engaging and Focused on the audience. So the next time you’re communicating a story, make sure it meets those criteria.


Number two:

The most important element of a story. DO you remember what Rob said?  It’s the arc of the story.  The trajectory. The journey.  Even if it’s not an epic story, there’s tension and a climax.  So ask yourself when you’re telling a story whether there’s structure – a compelling arc.


Number three:

Rob’s Nine Step Process for creating exceptional presentations. He mentioned this in the interview and emailed it to me later.  Here are the 9 steps:

  1. Audience Analysis ( particularly the decision maker)
  2. Set Your Objective (and focus on it)
  3. Collect Information (data, evidence, content)
  4. Develop Your Narrative (your three acts – or agendas. This is where you can add a relevant story)
  5. Create Your Slides 
  6. Read/Click Thru (get a sense of timing, Prepare for Q&A)
  7. Rehearse. Rehearse. Rehearse (and Make sure your technology is working)
  8. Deliver it 
  9. 20/20 review 

Many folks, like Rob said, start with the slides.  That was step 5 of 9 in his process.


This story is over.


Ove last reminder about the tip sheet. This is a document packed with suggestions that you can print or save to help you elevate your storytelling.  I hope you’ll go to and get your free download.


Thanks again to Rob!  And thanks to you for listening!


If  you enjoyed this podcast episode, I hope you’ll share it with your friends and leave me a review on whatever podcast app you’re using. It really makes a difference and I appreciate it.


If you want to connect, I’d love to her from you. You connect with me on LinkedIn and message me there.  You can also go to the website and send me a message there. 


Thanks again for listening.  And talk soon!