150 – In praise of small stories

A slight change in mindset can improve your entire day. Listen to hear some examples of small stories that have a big impact.

Father teaching son to drive

Welcome to the 150th episode of Anecdotally Speaking! This week, Rob Grundel fills in for Shawn, who recently celebrated his daughter’s wedding! And Rob and Mark take turns sharing small stories. 

Rob kicks things off with a story he shared during an Anecdote team meeting last week, which inspired the theme and name of this episode—in praise of small storiesWhen sharing his second story, he mentions Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez, which seems to come up a lot on this podcast! 

Thank you for tuning in! We’ll be back next week with another episode! 

For your storybank

Tags: attention, attitude, bias, gender, leadership, mindset, small thing big difference, values

This story starts at 01:58

Last week, Rob Grundel and his family had breakfast around their kitchen bench. He has two boys, Finn and Tommy, who are 10 and 8.

The night before, Rob had read that Virginia Satir, the family therapist, had said that you need four hugs for survival, eight for maintenance, and twelve for growth. So as his kids were getting ready for school, Rob told them this and said, “Let’s get some hugs in!”

Tommy hugged him several times—once, twice, three times. Finn, his ten-year-old, hugged him too.

Then, they got their bags and headed out the door, Finn with a skateboard under his arm. Finn paused, turned, and said, “You know, Dad, something else for growth is that you can say ‘I get to,’ instead of, ‘I have to.’ For example, ‘I get to go to school!’” And with that, Finn closed the door behind him, leaving Rob with his jaw on the floor. 

Finn’s comment was all Rob could think about for the rest of the day. He had been struggling with a few things at work, but every time he hit those hard things, he thought to himself, ‘I get to do this.’

This story starts at 07:35

In 2014, in Melbourne, Australia, the newly-appointed CEO of National Australia Bank (NAB), Andrew Thorburn, stepped on stage to launch a new strategy. Thousands of people were in attendance, and tens of thousands of people watched online. 

He talked about the strategy and reinforced the bank’s values, one of which was lead by example. To do the latter, he shared an anecdote. 

He said, “Look, one of our values is lead by example, and I’d really like this to be a focus over the next few years. Just three weeks ago, I was teaching my son to drive. His driving test is coming up, and I want him to do well.

“We were driving down the road, and he changed lanes without indicating, or he only indicated briefly. So I said, ‘Look, pull over.’

“I turned to him and kindly explained that every time he changes lanes or turns a corner, he has to indicate for at least three seconds. It’s the law, and he has to do it every time.

“He turned to me, laughed and said, ‘Come on, Dad, you never do that.’

“And at that moment, I realised that it’s so much easier to say this stuff than do it. And that’s why leading by example is something I want every leader in NAB to focus on in the next few years.”

This story starts at 12:24

When politician, broadcaster, writer and author Sandi Toksvig was at university a couple of decades ago, she studied anthropology.

One day, a female professor approached Sandi and her peers with an antler bone. The bone had 28 human-made markings on it.

The professor said, “This is believed to be man’s first attempt at making a calendar.”

The students gathered around it, looking at the bone, amazed.

The professor continued, “And tell me, what man needs to track a 28-day cycle? I think this is woman’s first attempt at a calendar.”

This story starts at 15:38

For a few years, Anecdote collected stories for an Australian technology company. One story shared throughout the company went as follows.

One morning, I went down to Gary’s office. He’s a general manager, and I’m doing a big project for him, but I’ve hit a roadblock. He’s really busy and very senior, so I was nervous.

I knocked on his door, and he just looked up and invited me in. He came to the table in the centre of his office, leaving his phone and computer on his desk. He gave me his complete attention for about 10 minutes, and together we resolved the roadblock. Now we’re full speed ahead again. It was a great experience.

This story starts at 23:14

A workshop participant recently told Mark that he plays football (soccer) and loves it but is an average player. Nonetheless, he always tries to give 100 per cent.

Last year, his team had some talented players. They made it through to the grand final, which has been his dream. But he thought he wouldn’t be selected to play because the team had so many stars. So he spoke to his coach. He asked her, “Should I be getting my hopes up?”

She responded, “Are you joking? When I select the team, your name is first on the list every time because every game, you give 100 per cent!”

About  Anecdote International

Anecdote International is a global training and consulting company, specialising in utilising storytelling to bring humanity back to the workforce. Anecdote is now unique in having a global network of over 60 partners in 28 countries, with their learning programs translated into 11 languages, and customers who incorporate these programs into their leadership and sales enablement activities.


  1. Kam Amilthan says:

    This episode is brilliant. Very small stories – very inspiring.
    Mark said – Don’t let it go to the keeper. Yes indeed dont let the stories that are around you go to the keeper. I’ve been guilty of this.

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