016-Story Time! Better communication through narrative
*SO* much about project success is dependent on communication that we love to have communication experts on the show. Today’s guests, authors of the new book, “How to avoid a huge Leadersh*t,” will talk us through practical methods and examples for how to use narrative to effectively communicate – from introducing yourself to a group of people, to trying to justify projects and get stakeholder buy-in. We all relate to stories, so it’s only natural to communicate with them!
ABOUT OUR GUESTS, Brian Harman and Stephanie Taglianetti
Stephanie M Taglianetti, MFA, is an Italian-American writer from Long Island, NY. She has studied creative writing at the distinguished California Institute of the Arts, earning her Master’s degree. Her specialized work in storytelling has pointed her career towards professional screenwriting, copywriting, and education. Outside of her career, she focuses on painting, singing, and guitar.
Brian M Harman, MBA, is an American businessman that has been working in corporate leadership and supply chain management since 2004. He has studied global finance and management science at the University of Oxford and Pepperdine University, earning his MBA degree and currently finishing his PhD in Global Leadership and Change. His specialized work in strategic sourcing, negotiation, and leadership has driven his career in biotechnology. Outside of his corporate career, he is a Professor at San Francisco’s Golden Gate University and Universidad ESAN’s Graduate School of Business in Lima, Peru. His research focus is leadership psychology and humor.
CHECK OUT THEIR NEW BOOK ON AMAZON:
The website for their consulting business is: https://www.bmhallmark.com
And Brian’s linkedin is: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brianharmanspsm/
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For today’s episode, we have the privilege of interviewing authors of How To Avoid A Huge Leadersh*t Brian Harman and Stephanie Taglianetti. They’ll be sharing with us tips on better communication through narrative.
Background of Stephanie and Brian [3:48]
Stephanie Taglianetti is an Italian-American writer from Long Island, NY. She has studied creative writing at the distinguished California Institute of the Arts, earning her Master’s degree. Her specialized work in storytelling has taken her career towards professional writing, copywriting, and education. She is also a brilliant musician and jazz singer. Outside of her career, she focuses on painting, singing, and guitar.
Brian Harman is a non-author/author making his book debut. He is a leadership and management professor and corporate strategy expert based in San Francisco. He has studied global finance and management science at the University of Oxford and Pepperdine University. He earned his MBA degree and currently finishing his Ph.D. in Global Leadership and Change. Outside his corporate career, he is a professor at San Francisco’s Golden Gate University and Universidad ESAN’s Graduate School of Business in Lima, Peru. His research focus is leadership psychology and humor. His specialized work in strategic sourcing, negotiation, and leadership has driven his career in biotechnology.
Stephanie telling the story of writing How To Avoid A Huge Leadersh*t [5:02]
Brian and Stephanie are cousins and started working on assignments in school. They then began having conversations about the readings in Brian’s leadership book. One of the problems they noticed is that they had readings which were stale and have messages which could not be applied in everyday lives. From there, they started conceptualizing a leadership book that was written in a comedic way.
Brian on How to Avoid a Huge Leadersh*t [6:16]
This book is the summary of our experiences and what we learned from our work and bosses that we wrote into a funny story. You could read it in an hour or two and learn a lot of stuff for just $9.99.
Brian explaining the publishing process of their book [7:40]
The publishing process took us the same amount of time as writing the book. But we were lucky to have come across an incredible publicist who helped us throughout the process.
What does Stephanie and Brian do when they aren’t writing [8:18]
Brian and Stephanie have full-time jobs. Stephanie used to work in education with the natural history museum and now works as a web designer and content writer. She uses storytelling approached in her book at her job to build a narrative about her clients and their brand. Brian works as a corporate strategy manager for a biotechnology company. In his off hours, he loves to sail and spend quality time with his young son and wife. They did all this while working on projects in their consulting firm.
The hardest business lesson that Stephanie and Brian had to learn the hard way [10:32]
To Brian, the hardest lesson he learned the hard way is on maturity. According to him, he had to look inside himself first to be aware of who he was, because self-awareness is the number one key to change.
To Stephanie, preparation is everything. She noticed that a lot of leaders step into a meeting or presentation unprepared. Hence, they end up telling stories unrelated to the topic.
Storytelling in business [13:32]
According to Brian, storytelling is an art. It’s what transforms a discussion of data to a work of art that connects our hearts. While in movies, storytelling shapes our culture and society, in business, we want our storytelling to drive our actions and inspirations. Through storytelling, we go back to our purpose and figure out what kind of narrative we want to tell.
Additional Key Points On How To Leverage Stories On Projects [15:25]
1. Make Your Story a Triangle
Research shows that the structure of our story matters a lot more than the content. That’s why we recommend structuring your story in a triangle format, where the left side represents the setting and context of the story. On this side, we’re working our way up a hill. While climbing, we’re building up tension and problems. We want to do this to add focus from our audience and drive up cortisol levels. When we hit the climax, this is what keeps our audience’s full attention.
The right side of the triangle, where you should be falling back down from the hill. This is the point where you’ll be using affirmation statements and confirming examples.
Finally, the bottom right portion of the triangle is where you should have the closing statement. This is when we need a call to action.
Through this structure, you can establish a more emotional connection and increase engagement. It’s extremely important that you are stringing the mission and brand of the company through a story.
2. Add Humor
You can also use humor within this triangle to gain trust. When you make someone laugh, you also gain their acceptance. One tip is that when you’re laughing with someone, throw up your chin and expose your neck. This gesture exposes you as being vulnerable, and shows the other person that you can connect with them. It’s great to use humor, but you have to use it responsibly- steer away from self-deprecating humor, and don’t forget the important points of the discussion.
3. Give Compliments
Specifically, compliment things within their control. Instead of saying “Stephanie is photogenic”, why not say “You know what Stephanie, I love being on a phone call with you, because I’m always happier than I was before I talk to you.” This allows you to connect emotionally by expressing how much you appreciate what a person does for you.
4. Use stories on a daily basis
To easily bring in storytelling in your life, you can start by sharing your own story. You can start it at work, your organization, a small group, or when meeting new people. If someone asks how you’re doing, instead of saying you’re okay, you may start telling a story of yourself. It could be the 30-second version where you talk about who you are, why you’re there, or where you want to go. You can also build a connection by asking questions to break the ice. This will allow you to tell your stories and let the other person share his with comfortability.
Final Tips From Stephanie and Brian [39:38]
Act as a student first by listening to people before you speak. In medieval times this act of listening was considered an act of love. By listening, you also enhance your own stories, because storytelling isn’t a be one-sided activity. If we can listen to more stories, we’ll be able to tell better stories.
Finally, never stop learning, because learning is the most important thing.