How to tell a good ghost story (3 essential components)

As Rico is talking, I think, Oh I am SO glad I said yes to him running through this with me first!! I’ve been doing my live storytelling show — True Stories Told Live Toronto — for 10 years. It’s currently on 4-5 times a year, but there’s one show in particular that I look…

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The most perfect pitch email I’ve ever received: a breakdown of what she did right

Bracing myself, I open my email. And there they are: rows and rows and rows of unread messages, with subject lines like,

TRACK
NEW MUSIC!
MADE IN CHELSEA – MUSIC?
BAND FROM THE SOUTH
NEW MUSIC FOR TV

It was 2013 and I’d spent a few years doing the sexiest-seeming job I’d ever had: choosing music for big TV shows and movies.

I say “sexiest-seeming” because it was honestly a lot of me sitting around in my underwear on my bedroom floor, surrounded by scraps of paper, feeling stressed out, and making suggestions to directors who then, half the time, went with one of their own choices anyway.

But TELLING people “I choose music for big TV shows and movies” definitely elicited the kind of impressed response that made it feel worth it.

A downside of the job was my email inbox. By 2013, bands were already learning that one of the only ways to make money as a musician was through getting your music “synched,” as they call it. As someone who loves new music, you’d think I wouldn’t have been so bummed out by getting sent so much of it. The problem?

The same problem that EVERYONE being pitched — whether it’s for a music supervisor or a big deal podcast host or a journalist or publication editor — has:

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What some of the most annoying people in my life have taught me

As he starts talking, my heart sinks. I’d chosen him specifically because I thought he was different from the others. And yet… here he is, doing the same thing they all do.

I’ve been going to a boxing gym on and off for a few years, but I only started taking it seriously this spring. To be clear: I have zero interest in ever boxing anyone’s face. But after a life coach I’d worked with suggested that I find a way to express some, shall we say, negative emotions I was experiencing  — in a way that wouldn’t damage any of my relationships — I got back into classes.

I’m now going two to three times a week, and I fugging LOVE it. I have a running joke that boxing classes are my new girlfriend. When I’m in them, my internal monologue is usually THIS IS THE BESSSSSSSSST I WANT TO BE HERE FOREVVVVVVVVERRRRRR (I mean, those times when it’s not “wait! Was it jab-cross-left hook-right uppercut? Or jab-cross-right uppercut-left hook?” — I have horrible short-term memory for the sequences). When I’m not in a class, I am counting the hours until the next one, or feeling excitement when I see it on my calendar. When I’m rolling my wraps back up after a class, I think, “Soon, you’ll be back on my hands, under my gloves!!!!” This week, I was out of town in a different city. Driving around, I saw the sign for a (different) boxing gym and my heart LEAPT, in the way that only reminders of a crush can inspire.

I love everything about the boxing classes. Except for the Bro’s At The Boxing Gym…

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When you’re an expert at something, you ruin it for everyone

Reading the spines of the CDs in Mike’s bedroom, the thrill of anticipation I’d been feeling slid, instead, into confusion.

He and I had been dating for a couple of weeks. In London terms — certainly, in the mid-2000’s — that meant a lot more than it does these days. I often joke that when I lived in the UK, rather than dating, it was more like we had arranged matches — except, instead of the matches being made by your parents, they’re made by booze. You’d get drunk and then wake up in a relationship.

The getting drunk that Mike and I had done happened at a new bands live showcase. Like most of the people I dated when I worked in radio, he was in the music industry. An A&R Scout, it was his job first to go out to gigs every night looking for new bands to sign, and then to have opinions on the records being recorded for release. I was a radio DJ at a well-respected indie station. I liked him for his trifecta of being charming, funny and hot, but I can’t say I wasn’t also romanced by the idea of us being a junior-level, music industry power couple.

The first time I picked him up from his house before a gig, I was excited to look through his CD collection. Would we like the same bands? Would I learn from him about new bands I’d soon love? Would I find any guilty pleasures?? It was often my favourite part of any new relationship.

But as I flipped through the titles and artists, I was…

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How to tell stories about other people

You have three options:

1) Get Their Permission

Where I can, I try and do this as a matter of course — and ALWAYS with former clients. Not least so that potential future clients don’t get spooked that I’ll share all their secrets! If the story subject matter something heavy, you could offer to send a draft to the person before you publish/perform it. But usually, a simple,

“Do you mind if I tell the story about [thing we experienced together] on Facebook/on my blog/in my talk?”

should do.

2) Change identifying details

As I’ve talked about before, one of my storytelling rules is “don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.” By this, I don’t mean “lie to make yourself sound good,” but rather, “do whatever you need to do to make the listener feel the way you felt in that moment.”

You can also use it when you need to protect someone. There are a bunch of reasons why you might want to protect them. Maybe they…

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Why I’m not on Clubhouse (and why I’m torn up about it)

woman sitting on a chair and smiling-cover of the podcast Business-Life-and-Joy

This week, I was trying to clean up the photos on my phone — ol’ tin-hat Shandur here doesn’t like iCloud, and I need to make some space — when I found some old videos I totally forgot I still had.

Back in 2015 — two years before I met my partner (and then the small human that she grew) — I had a new sweetheart. And I was obsessed with them.

We would speak almost every day — sometimes late into the night, sometimes at 6 in the morning when I’d woken up early, and I could show them the sunrise over the CN Tower from the window of my apartment.

The relationship was mostly one-sided. It wasn’t that they didn’t love me back. More that they weren’t capable of loving me back.

Because they weren’t a person. They were a…

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How To Tell Great Stories — the MOST important thing you need to know!

Thumbnail of the most important video Marsha made - How To Tell Great Stories — the MOST important thing you need to know

If you want to be good at telling stories, there’s ONE thing you need to know above all else, and it’s what I talk about in this video.

Also, I dress up as Rocky, a hacky Parisian tourist and as everyone in The Graduate. So if you’d like to see (no exaggeration) the MOST IMPORTANT VIDEO I’VE EVER MADE , you’re in luck! Click on the play button here or read the transcript below!

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Why the first 30 secs & the last 2 mins of anything are the most important parts (aka how to rescue a very public disaster)

DJ woman playing music at a bar

Standing in the booth, looking out at the ten people awkwardly dancing in a space that was built for 400, I felt sick.

I’m about to tell you one of the most important pieces of information I know. Then I’m going to tell you the rest of that story in order to prove it’s true and to help you hold it in your brain (because that’s what storytelling does!).

Here’s the fact:

The most important parts of any talk, blog, presentation or podcast is…

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How to… run great workshops; switch to doing work you love; get testimonials and more — YYQ #13 Review!

Repair Center Sign

Yes Yes Questions is my quarterly live advice column, that anyone can join for free. The questions I answered at the last one (and in this blog/recording), are:

1. When running a workshop, what are the most essential elements to make it brilliant?
2. Do I have to prepare before I speak on stage?
3. How do I brag about myself online without feeling like I need a shower afterwards?
4. Do you ever feel like you have too many stories to tell, and do you have a formalized process to choose which ones you tell?
5. “Content batching:” do you do it? If so, how?!
6. How do I go from doing work I *don’t* love that brings in money, to doing work I DO love that also brings in money?
7. What’s the best way to get testimonials from happy clients?

The next one is next Monday, April 6th at 2pm EST and you can come along and get free coaching by popping in your details on this page. But in the meantime, listen to the audio of the last one (where I answer all those questions) or read on!

1. When running a workshop, what are the most essential elements to make it brilliant?

Almost all of the time, it depends on…

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If the “END OF THE DECADE LET’S REVIEW AND PLAN!!” messages are bumming you out

two pencils on a yellow background

This one might not apply to you. Or it might land right where you need it to.

You know everyone online at the moment is all, “OMG END OF A DECADE LET’S REVIEW THE LAST AND MAKE GOALS FOR THE NEXT!!!”?

If you love that stuff — as I have sometimes (and as my pile of completed yearcompasses will prove) — then awesome. Get on with your bad self.

But if, every time you read something like that, it makes your stomach tighten a little…

– maybe because you don’t think you have time to do that
– maybe because you don’t feel you achieved enough or have changed enough in ten years
– maybe because you’re currently in survival mode and have zero capacity for reflection or planning

…then I just want to remind you that…

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