Fired up and ready to go

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —November 13, 2008
Filed in Anecdotes, Business storytelling

I was in Singapore last week helping a group of leaders learn how to find and tell their own stories. No templates, no recipes, just helping them become mindful of their own stories and showing that storytelling is a visual practice. Don’t try and remember the words of a story, remember the pictures.

Like many of these sessions some people were naturals and others found it difficult to move from a didactic approach to communicating. There was one gentleman from India who I could tell was struggling. Luckily he was teamed up with a woman from Japan who really understood the idea of personal stories. At the end of the workshop he came up to me and thanked me for the day and said, “I can see how important telling your stories is because I have just seen you change the mood of the group and build a rapport with all of us by simply telling your stories. That’s what I will take away with me today.”

I was reminded of last week’s workshop (stories beget stories) watching this short video of Barack Obama out on the hustings. He tells the story of how he came to use the chant: Fired up; ready to go. To key to good storytelling is detail, detail, detail and painting pictures for the audience’s minds eye. How do you feel at the end of this story?

About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:


  1. John Caddell says:

    Shawn, what’s key to this story for me is that it is his story, from his point of view. The woman in Greenwood is an important figure, but he tells a first-person story–his story–instead of her story. The sense details work because they are authentic. They reveal him to be human (e.g., grumpy from lack of sleep).
    And, of course, the story has a great (surprising but inevitable) ending.
    Thanks for sharing it. I hadn’t seen that before. If it weren’t the end of the day here, I’d be fired up and ready to go!
    regards, John

  2. Nerida Hart says:

    This reminds me of Luke and Lyn Naismith’s presentation at actKM conference a couple of years ago and how the energy of those around you can impact on others. It also says a lot abut how we can react in the workplace and perhaps how the negativity of the energy vampire in the workplace can really destroy the energy of others

  3. Your right Nerida. It only takes one person to bring the others down.
    Hi John, I’m reading an interesting book at the moment about personal stories and why you should tell them. It’s by Jack Maguire and it’s called The Power of Personal Stories. I think you would like it. My main interest in stories, at least at the moment, is around how to help people find and retell personal stories in a business setting.

  4. Intriguing work Shawn…and question, Nerida,
    Curious how the freeing, energizing power of workplace storytelling could impact positively for “the energy vampire”? Wondering how one member of a group often gets stuck with everyone’s projected negativity….a collectively denied motif? Also how you see the inter-effect of personal and collective story? namaste

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