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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The one (fun!) thing you MUST do to become an excellent storyteller

It’s very important to understand THIS about the culture of the London Underground:

It’s not just that the passengers don’t talk to each other.
It’s that they don’t communicate IN ANY WAY.

Even when you’re smushed right up against your neighbour, your head jammed into the gap between their face and neck, the custom in London is to do everything you possibly can to act as if you are the sole occupant of that subway carriage. Casually check your phone. Read your book, even though it’s three inches from your eyes. Listen to your music on full volume, the tinny sounds trinkling out of your headphones. It’s surreal. But it’s What We Do.

On this particular morning, I had a seat – one of the advantages of living quite far from the centre. I had my headphones on, but there was no music, and the voice that I was listening to was quiet and calm – which made it even easier for everyone around me to imagine that I wasn’t there.

Suddenly, I gasped – and with the sharp in-breath, a loud, high-pitched noise escaped from my mouth before I clapped both hands over it.

Everyone in the carriage – EVERYONE – jerked their heads to look at me…

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V quick tip to avoid p*ssing off someone who just helped you out

A move keeps being made by people I’ve just favours for, that makes me want to stop doing them favours.

Running True Stories Told Live, my live storytelling show, I get a lot of requests to be put in touch with this person and that person. Because I <3 getting people tell their stories, I help these people out. I give them email introductions - and what happens next, is what almost always happens, and what REALLY annoys me: I get sucked into the email chain between these two people. Here is a very quick and classy way to get around that:

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Feeling called to do something inconvenient or scary? This one’s for you!

You know what it’s like:

You get offered an opportunity. Maybe it’s something big, like telling your story onstage. Maybe it’s something more personal, like having an awesome friend come to visit. You know you should do it. You know you kind of want to do it. But at the same time… it requires effort, and inconvenience.

Here’s why I think you should always say yes…

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15 Things I Learned From Moving Across An Ocean In My Thirties

Marsha Posing

Five years ago tomorrow, wildly in love and ready to leave London, I picked up my stuffed suitcase, and got on a plane, to move to Toronto.

While the romance didn’t last forever, we managed to spin our love into a best friendship (thank you, two years of couples therapy – worth every penny) and, as well as that, I’m left with profound, parental love for my ex’s kid, and unbridled devotion to this city, which feels absolutely like my home. I can’t imagine EVER wanting to leave.

So, in honour of my FIVE YEAR CANADAVERSARY, here are 15 things I learned:

(1) It’s hard. Like, really, really hard

When I was moving, so many people I told said, “You’re so brave!” and I would reply, “No I’m not! If I don’t like it, I’ll just come back!”. What I didn’t anticipate was that it would be really hard and I would still want to stay. About six months in, once the honeymoon period (“Wow! I really did leave all my problems in London!!!!”) wore off, I suddenly realised, “Oh. THIS is what they were talking about….”

(2) The hardness last about a total of two years, tapering at the end

From talking to a lot of other people, it seems this length of time is mostly universal. Putting this out there in case you’re thinking of moving somewhere.

(3) The things that you find hard aren’t the ones you’d expect to

Yes, I missed my mum and my friends, and change can be difficult. But what was hardest were the little things. Like knowing…

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How my patronising altruism WILDLY benefitted me

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t publicly admit having had this thought process. It shows that I can sometimes be an egotistical dick. But I like the end of it so much that I want to tell you.

I come to you from the train I’m taking from St Catharines (no apostrophe) back to Toronto. Last night I ran a workshop – my third in a year – for Brock University, on Networking That’s Effective and Actually Fun, for their entrepreneurial students in their BioLinc incubator.

One of the things I teach the students was how important it is to add value to people, long before you ask for anything.

An amazing way to add value is to thank people for teachings you’ve enjoyed, being specific where you can. Another is offering to make…

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How to Avoid Small Talk – with the Perfect Question (VIDEO)

My friend was once in a queue and overheard the man behind him loudly declaring, “You see, I’m the kind of guy who really doesn’t like to line up. I like to just get in and get out. But this? Not for me.”

I feel about him the way I feel about the kind of smug, annoying person who…

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