Late for your plane? Try this

A guy sitting with a bottle of water

I caught sight of him and my heart sank. I had about twenty seconds to decide whether or not I could hide – then realised that there was no way.

I bloody LOVE airports. Sometimes, after I land (especially in a UK airport), I just hang around for a bit, to soak up the atmosphere.

“Hey, you!!” My friend Talib waved, from three rows ahead of me on the plane. “Are you going to WDS??”

World Domination Summit is a yearly conference in Portland, where several thousand do-gooders getting together to make the world a better place. I go every year – and am now the conference’s Storytelling Coach.

“I am!” I said, waving back. “Let’s chat when we get to Calgary!”

I’d met Talib a few times before and really liked him. He’s smart, articulate, funny, and it’s always a nice change to find a man working in my very woman-heavy field, of coaching and personal growth.

But I love travelling alone. LOVE. And I worried that, him being here was going to cut into my special airplane solo time.

Five hours later…

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I used to be TERRIFIED of selling. These tips changed everything.

Marsha and a text on the background

Getting to the end of Sally’s email, my heart sank. Well, I thought. That’s that, then. Time to give up.

I was a few months into starting my business, and my hopes for getting my second ever client seemed shot.

On the advice of my new business mentor, Kendrick Shope, I’d offered my (then, very small) mailing list the chance to have a “mini-session” with me: a free, 15 minute consult on Skype. I’d started working with Kendrick – famous for her skills as a Sales Coach – because, having spent my entire pre-entrepreneur life in jobs where people were always selling to me (as a radio DJ, and a music supervisor for hit TV shows) I had NO IDEA how I was supposed to sell anything to anyone.

The idea of selling utterly terrified me.

But Kendrick was changing that.

In a gentle way, she (virtually) took me by the hand and started teaching me the basics of non-icky sales – what she calls Authentic Selling (TM). Part of that, was doing free 15 minute calls, where I cold get to know potential clients, and add value to them before asking for anything in return.

The first call I’d done had gone BRILLIANTLY. Sally* was a coach – exactly the kind of client I loved working with – and we’d really clicked. During the 15 minutes, I felt like I gave her loads of helpful advice, and she seemed really keen to work with me.

Afterwards (again, on Kendrick’s advice), I’d sent a follow up email, reminding her of the tips she’d learned in our call and – the scary part for me – telling her how she could work with me. My prices were going up the following week (from $99 to $149!), so I reminded her of that too.

Then, that afternoon, she’d finally written back

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This is easy, makes people feel INCREDIBLE – and nobody does it

food court

Walking into the food court, I looked over at the Greek place and saw that the man wasn’t even there. Relief flooded my chest.

That solves it, I thought – but then, I noticed him. Not behind the counter but in the kitchen area at the back.
As I passed, I could tell he hadn’t seen me. Pushing my way into the dingy washrooms, with the grip of anxiety in my chest, I began my internal battle.

Don’t bother. He doesn’t even know you’re here. You’re scared of talking to strangers, and it’s not a big deal.
The tension released a little.
But, Marsh, it’s the nice thing to do. You’d like it if you were him. And the tightness came back.

Three days before…

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The MOST important part of any story (it’s probably not what you think!) (5/5 in the story series)

I put the CD into the player and felt my stomach fizz with excitement. After months of stillness, finally, I was going to bring the room to life! I pressed play and looked up, expecting to see all the seniors bopping along. Instead: nothing.

No movement. One old lady eventually looked at me and furrowed her brow.

“This is The Beatles?” she asked.
“Yes!” I replied.
“Huh.”
She went back to her newspaper.

I was volunteering at the day centre for seniors with dementia, and I wanted to move them with music. But they had other ideas…

That’s one way to begin this story. Here’s another:

This is a story about the power of music, and surprising yourself – about the time I made a CD for the seniors that I work with, thought they didn’t like it, and then got shocked by an old lady, who danced the jitterbug with me like she was 16 again.

It all started when I first put the CD on. After months of stillness, finally, I was going to bring the room to life…

I ask people (during client calls or storytelling workshops), “Which is the most important part of any story?”
Here’s what they usually guess:

The narrative
The detail
The ending
The climax

In fact, the answer is…

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How to edit your stories but still make them compelling (4/5 in the story series)

As I opened the email, my heart started racing. It was even more exciting than I’d anticipated!

Two months earlier, I’d booked my ticket for Portland’s World Domination Summit – a conference full of do-gooders trying to change the world (like me!). I’d never been before, but knew WDS was a big noise in my industry.

The month before, they’d put out a call for Attendee Storytellers. By this point, I’d been running my live storytelling show for about a year and a half (and coaching all of the storytellers), so I figured I had a good shot. After all, there were, what, 500 people at this conference? So probably 30-odd would apply, and they’d choose around 25 of us.

They needed an inspiring story with a message. I wondered what I’d ever done that was inspiring… and then remembered. Oh yeah. My solo marathon. Two years before, after Hurricane Sandy led to the cancellation of the New York City Marathon that I was due to run, I’d made up for it by running one on my own, in London.

I pitched my story to WDS – starting in an action scene – and sent it off.

“CONGRATULATIONS!” came the email. “You’ve been selected to tell an attendee story on stage!” This was nice to hear, though not unexpected. BUT THEN:

“Hundreds of people applied, and you were one of only twelve selected!”

Well, THIS was exciting! Immediately, I jumped onto Facebook, to my local business group of business ladies.

“GUYS!!!!!” I told them, “Hundreds of people applied to tell a story at WDS, and I’m one of 12 selected!!! I’m going to be telling my story to 500 people!!!”

“Dude,” one of them replied. “The WDS audience is THREE THOUSAND”.

Oh.

Crap.

After getting over the fear of speaking to a room that enormous, I had another problem:

I had to get the whole story – Inspirational Message included – down to one and a half minutes.

As I talked about in part 1 of this blog series, when you’re telling a story, you need as much of it as possible to be action scenes. And, as I told you in part 2: action scenes require detail.

So how do you get the narrative of a very eventful 42 kilometer run – that, in the end, took over 7 hours – into a minute and a half?

First…

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You’re ruining your best stories. Here’s how to stop (3/5 in the story series)

Kneeling on the floor next to her armchair, I lay my head in my Granny’s lap. As the thick wool of her skirt skritched against my cheek, she stroked my hair, and sang to me in Russian.

“Mne nekuda bolshe speshut!
Mne nekovo bolshe lyubit!
M’sheek, ni gani, loshadey”

Three years earlier, when I was 18, my…

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Make every story captivating, using this Hollywood tip (2/5 in the story series)

The young man looked at me, his eyebrows raised in a question. He was handsome, though surely fifteen years younger than me. Stood below him, I flushed, and felt the small grip of panic in my chest. I knew what I wanted, but I had no idea how to tell him.

“S-s’il vous plait…” I stuttered, taking a deep breath…

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The ONE thing you must know, to tell powerful stories (1/5 in the story series)

The night that the doctor told us my granny was dying, my mum and I lay mattresses down on the floor of her room.

We wanted to be near her. For practical reasons, so that we’d be there if she woke up and needed us. But also for primal ones. We’re Russian. We have a strong herd instinct. It was the end, and we needed to be close. So we lay our mattresses down to sleep.

Except – I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking, “What if …

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How to Combat Facebook Envy (and Save Lives)

We all walk around, all day every day, thinking that everyone else has their sh-t together.

We all think that everyone else has a normal background, and normal parents, and a normal, successful career and successful relationships.

Then we get on Facebook and it compounds it. “This person’s getting married!” “That person has a happy family with kids!” “this person doesn’t have kids and so they went on vacation to Costa Rica!” “That person’s making six figures in her business!” – and it just COMPOUNDS that feeling of, “Everyone else has their sh-t together but me”.

That feeling is shame. And what shame does, is builds this metal fortress around you, cutting you off from everyone else.

But then, someone…

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What REALLY happens when you disable your Facebook account

“A year ago, I shut down my Facebook account.” One of the things my clients often worry about, is that their story is not exciting enough to be told. They believe that, for anyone to want to keep reading or listening, there has to be HIGH DRAMA  – life-threatening illnesses, helicopter chases and/or bears. My…

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