From Bravado To Belief: Making The Leap To The Story Source

At the beginning I had more bravado than courage.

Last year, at 54, I made the leap from a known brand (my beloved broadcaster CBC), a title, a steady paycheck, benefits and the potential for a good pension. I called a meeting with my boss, and told him I was resigning to start my own business.

To be honest I wasn’t sure exactly what that business looked like, but I figured I needed a job title, and then I needed to announce that loud and proud.

“I’m going to do storytelling and capacity building for non-profits,” I said, when my work colleagues asked why I was leaving. “Congratulations!” (right, I hired myself!) or “You’re brave” (did they mean, "you are crazy! You have a great job and have you forgotten you aren't 20 anymore?")

The story part made sense to me. I have been passionate about story all my life, first as a songwriter and performer, then as a radio documentary maker, and then in news and current affairs. 

A few weeks after I gave my notice I bumped into an old colleague of mine. What are you up to, she said. “Well,” I said, taking a deep breath, “I’m leaving CBC to work in Storytelling and Capacity Building for Nonprofits,” I said it loud and proud, enunciating so those words sounded like they were capitalized -- and like I knew what I was talking about.

"Oh," said connector-extraordiare Geraldine de Braune, "you should call up The Winnipeg Foundation. They might be looking for a storytelling trainer."

That lead to me the first contract I landed --  as a trainer for Winnipeg Community Foundation’s Fast Pitch program. It’s like a Dragon’s Den for nonprofits. I co-created a Power of Story workshop along with David McLeod, and we took leaders through a two-month process that culminated in each one giving a three-minute pitch, without notes, in front of a live audience.

Every one of the participants kicked it out of the park, telling impactful stories that lead to a strong call to action. Working with Fast Pitch completely convinced me that using story as a practice, teaching storytelling as an essential skill, and coaching others to make strong connections using story is my path.

These days any bravado has been replace with a deep and renewed belief in the power of story.

A year after I started this leap, I work with entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, helping them articulate their own stories in a way that connects with their customers and teams; I work with leaders of all kinds, exploring ways to use story to engage teams and articulate strong calls to action; and with boards of directors to help them identify and share the story that brought them to service.

And that’s enough about me for now. What I wanted to say is “Welcome to my new blog!” I have thought long and hard about what I can offer in this space. I hope to share some of the amazing stories I get to hear every week, tips on discovering and telling the stories you need to tell, and resources that I have found to be of use and inspiration on this story path.

And now I am off to do as poet Mary Oliver instructs: "Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it."

Cate Friesen