In the first of our monthly episodes on finding and raising your voice, storytelling trainers, Katie Annice Carr and Vishal Thacker, share their own fears and reflections around storytelling, making sense out of our life stories and starting your own business.
Find out how storytelling helped us to direct our own lives, while also being open to new adventures and some of the things we’ve learnt from our students.
4,00 For Katie’s story
33,00 if you want to skip to Vishal’s story
Books mentioned: “The Shift” by Lynda Gratton, “Your Life Plan” by Erica Sonsa and “The Hero With A Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell.
Find our website at www.stepupcreate.com Follow us on Instagram @step_up_create Follow us on Facebook @stepupcreate Vishal’s website is www.beyourownstory.com
Follow my art at www.katieannicecarr.com an on Instagram at @katieannice
Original music written and performed by Jonathan D. Mellor licensed to Step Up Create S.L.
Welcome to Finding and raising your voice with me Katie Carr and me Vishal Thacker
So we thought this would be an interesting part of the podcast because we both teach storytelling, and to help other people to find their stories, raise their voices, and basically use stories to improve their lives and their businesses. And yet we both find it quite difficult to do that for ourselves. And so we wanted to share a little bit this journey that we are going on in terms of finding our own stories and raising our own voices. Vishal, do you want to say, maybe you could say something about what you, what you do.
Well, where do I start, there’s actually a lot of things I do, But if I were to focus on the three macro things right now. The first thing I do is I have a consulting company that works with higher education to help students, essentially come to terms with their own stories and take decisions about how they want to move their stories forward essentially how what they want to do with their lives and their careers in a way that’s meaningful and coherent with themselves and with their with their desires, and a lot of times these people want to make certain shifts in their stories, so making shifts in your stories is a lot harder. So we really focus a lot on what allows you to make that shift. So that’s the first thing I’m doing it’s a consulting company I’ve been running for the last three years. The second thing I’m doing is very new. This essentially a tech startup that I’m building, which again is focused on enabling people to have story based conversations, because that’s something that as a conscious collective we’ve forgotten about. So in some way we want to kind of re instigate that. And the third thing I’m doing is actually I’m working on a book. And that’s, it’s a science fiction book funnily enough, which is comes as a surprise to a lot of people who know me well yeah that those two big three projects of my life at the moment.
I think if you, if we were to sort of identify the art that you work most with, it would be poetry and writing. So, yeah, there’s an artistic side as well to the storytelling, which I think we also both share. So there’s a lot of overlap between what you and I are doing and one of the reasons we know each other is because we work together occasionally you working for Step Up Create or be working for someone, and, and that works really nicely. So we’ve got different I think different approaches to storytelling in some ways but in other ways, it’s, it’s very similar. And there seems to be something that unifies us especially which is this idea of storytelling, being able to help us to humanise business and humanise society again get people back to actually having these conversations, sharing these important things, rather than just, you know, kind of facts or very quick information that you need in order to close interactions.
Yeah, for sure. Yeah, this is something that actually when I first started out my career I didn’t realise that this is something I would end up doing my when I first got when I first started my career but when I first started working with students, I was under the impression that I would do just one on ones. But then I started realising that actually the more research I did into this and the more I started doing the business itself I realised that the problem was a lot bigger than just, you know, helping people on a one on one level, even though that’s beautiful. In some way, there is a need as you rightly said, for us to help people move from just talking about facts to talking about stories. Right. So on that note, what’s your story with stories with now I feel like we’re talking about facts.
Katie: We’re still in that comfortable zone and a little bit we’re setting it. It’s easy to. It’s easy to escape from telling your story, I don’t know whether you find that, but I often, I obviously try and start classes new classes with a story instead of sort of giving the facts about my CV or whatever. And I always find that really hard, it’s like the last thing I prepare and I end up, you know, preparing it, okay, but I just find this so many resistances, and I think it’s to do with practice more than anything else, and you can see now that I’m not answering your question, and going off on a tangent to avoid telling my story storytelling,
Vishal: I guess. Well, let’s let’s do it.
Katie: This was something that we talked about before, and we said, let’s try and prepare something which is each of our story was storytelling. And both of us kind of did it, I think, and we’ll talk a little bit. After hearing both stories, how we prepared, and how we feel about it because this is part of the idea of this podcast to kind of share that feeling and that development that we’re going through and we’re obviously asking other people to do this, and we’re thinking that this is something that’s very beneficial for them. And yet, we’re still finding it hard ourselves.
So my story was storytelling. I was lucky in that I grew up in a house full of books. My parents loved books and my some of my earliest memories are of my dad reading stories to us. I particularly remember him reading the Greek myths, which wasn’t a great thing to read to a child of about eight, really it was part of the way I was brought up. There was also a friend of the family Mason minutes who we would often go away with them and their family had kids of a similar age, and he would tell us these stories of magical sheep in the, in the place where we were staying in the Yorkshire Dales, and it was just amazing to feel that imagination I remember running through the Yorkshire Dales really feeling like it was a magical place thanks to the stories that Mason had created so there was quite a lot of influence in terms of literary stories from when I was little. And then what happened. There were kind of a few things that kind of brought me down to reality family illness and things like that and I started to discover the joy of escaping into a story, and escaping into fiction books at this point they were Nancy Drew books I don’t know whether you’ve heard of Nancy Drew it’s American detective or young girl detective, she went around solving mysteries that were in which nobody died and there was everything was very protected and nice. So, basically I kind of started to see stories as kind of a support as well. And then I had to decide what to go to do at university, and one of the things that I loved was being able to create stories through drama and make up these stories and that was the last thing that I became interested in, before I went to university, so I went to university and did drama, and it was great, it was a lot about storytelling, it was a lot of practical stuff, but it really wasn’t going to help me that much in getting a job, so I decided to do law. And one of the things I absolutely loved about law is that it law in the UK is case based, the cases are basically stories, so it just loved reading these, these cases and it was lucky because we had absolutely loads of them to read stories kind of followed me into law. And after I finished Loris that’s working in a defamation firm which is also about kind of people telling stories on other people right working with famous people in London, and that was kind of cool, but it lacked the international bit that I wanted so I went to the European Commission, and work there were the stories are really stories that I generated with the people from there because my work had absolutely nothing to do with storytelling at all, but we had a pretty amazing time 700 recent European graduates from all over the Union. It was amazing. After that I moved into a law firm in Madrid, and I couldn’t practice law. So I started working communication, and that became my career, just sort of, in itself, and when I joined the IESE business school. My whole job was to go around finding stories funny stories about the students finding stories about, you know, real human connection, and I’m telling them because nobody cares about the contents of an MBA. Well, I guess, people who are going to do the MBA do care about that but that’s not what makes the school different right.
So then I have different story roles in different institutions and that was amazing, and I got to tell stories in the Financial Times, not under my own name, but under other people’s names, and pitch all these wonderful ideas to them, some of them, that they took on board and some of them didn’t. And that also ended up taking me to Costa Rica and to Nicaragua and where I could make my own stories as well as hearing all of these about the students. And I think now, my story is sort of going off a little bit it’s getting becoming a little bit of a, this happened and then this happened and this happened, but you probably for one of your students you’d step in and go, yeah, it’s getting a little bit boring now, what’s the point.
Yeah, I didn’t want to I don’t want to step off, learning about you so it’s pretty cool. I’ve known you for what eight and a half years plus time.
Yeah, well, this is, I mean you can I’ve redone my website recently so you can read some of this but, as you know, depends what the focus of the story is like my life story I sort of say this to students and I think it’s really true. Your life story is like a Hollywood film, all of the reels of film that have been taken, like all of that, and you have to edit it down, and you could edit it down in different ways you could edit it to say, you know my life is all about storytelling, Or you could edit it say no, my life is all about finding reason or whatever, but you got to pick the things right, which is kind of what I’m seeing I haven’t done with this story.
But it’s true about the editing but in fact in screenwriting they say that the editing is the final right of the film. So they say that the first write is when the actual screenplay is written. The second write is when the directors filming it and the third, the final right is when the editor is putting it together. And I was, I was watching a short clip once about how was it, American Beauty I think it was the film with Kevin Spacey, Kevin Spacey right yeah. And apparently, during the editing they changed the story completely so the storytelling in the screenplay is not the one we’ve seen in the film. It’s completely different so they shifted it around completely so yeah it’s true the editing is so
happens to me and storytelling as well, or in class right because I think this this that I’m kind of referring to now is my first draft, so you do a first draft. And then I’d go through and make a beat sheet of it and think about you know the specific points and link them together. That would be kind of the second draft or maybe get some opinions of other people third draft. And then when you get on stage, or you’re in the interaction. Whatever happens happens, doesn’t it, I mean it’s, it may have not very much to do with what you actually prepared but the fact is, having had it prepared. Makes you feel a lot more able to tell it.
Oh bother. So, so what happened after after Costa Rica because I’ve been dead and missing and missing like six, because I know, so I’ve heard you were still there, but now I know what you’re doing now, which is Step Up Create. So how did we,
This is quite interesting isn’t it because you’ve actually become interested enough in my story. Basically, it wasn’t actually after Costa Rica, it was after I finished working in his Saturday or towards the end of that I was in Dubai. On a admissions trip so I was basically interviewing candidates for the MBA in the MSCs and Dubai is really not my favourite place at all. I would say, yeah, it’s just somewhere I don’t really like very much and I was just there on my own in this hotel, where the wine cost like 15 euros a glass. And I was just in this kind of meaningless void thinking what the hell am I doing, I’m travelling all over the world to these places where everyone thinks I’m having an amazing time but actually, I’m kind of on my own in hotel rooms, most of the time or, really, really tired from interviewing so many people, sometimes I would get out to the weekends and make a real effort to do this to go out and see different places but quite often I just, either in sort of locked in and Dubai is a kind of a place like that if you if you like things like shopping malls, or big hotel complexes, things that are all manmade. Dubai is probably fantastic, but for me it was horrible, I hated it, especially as you know that I would go a lot to India and India is kind of the opposite of that. So you would go out and it just be kind of life in your face immediately and it would completely transport me from, from what was the kind of interviewing in the formal process into like something that was really human and real. So, yeah, I was in this place in Dubai to see what is going on, and I had two books with me one book was called The Shift by Lynda Gratton, which was all about the kind of change in the way we’re working move more towards people working independently, less dependency on companies more of a freelance culture, that kind of thing that is to hugely generalise what she said and there was one point that’s really interesting she talks about serial mastery, the idea of developing mastery in one thing, and at the same time then building up something else so kind of overlapping different careers and being very versatile, and I found that really interesting at the same time I had a book called Your Life Plan by Erica Sonsa and this is just basically going through your life as a story, and planning it as a story imagining what you want to do as a challenge, as this sort of challenge that the main character goes on and how are you going to design that so this is kind of story doing or story making, and that I find that really inspiring and the combination of those two books, and the expensive glass of wine made me think I need to I need to leave this life that I made and I need to actually finally set up my own my own business, which I took the decision to do and then took ages to actually launch, which I think most people do all of those resistances around actually going out there and doing it. So I left my salary job, and took that plunge into working for myself, and at the same time got this offer in INCAE to work as a consultant doing their international communications. So that’s where I kind of moved a lot of my focus there to Central America and working with the communications but at the same time I had some time to develop my skills and develop my experience in different areas and what I really wanted to do and what I focused on when I looked at what can I do and what do people want is focusing on communications creativity and at the time I called it confidence because I wanted it to begin with a city, but really its leadership. Yeah, those are the things that I chose that I would focus on. And then over the next few years I really tried to build upon those in terms of what training do I need or what would be what would be useful for me like coach training or, or whatever else. And what courses should I try and give. And at the beginning, I basically just tried to teach anything to get as many hours and as much experience as possible just to experiment and and basically I did that for quite a while for three years, something like that before then going okay now. Now I can choose, I’d got my Master’s in transdisciplinary art therapy I could then connect the dots back to my drama degree art work that I’d done through my whole life. And it kind of felt like okay now it makes sense. Now I’m not just doing whatever anyone says in order to really get experienced more than make money but, I mean making money was obviously there as well as part of, part of the motivation, because suddenly not having a salary is kind of
not very, it kind of puts you into a situation I think you’ve probably experienced this as well, where you’re like, Okay, now I feel a little bit insecure. One month I’m good at this and the next one. You feel exposed. Yeah, and that’s great because that’s a place where from that place you can get some interesting ideas and you get a lot of energy. Yeah, but at the same time,
you know, it’s kind of throwing yourself into rehab, isn’t it. Yeah, yeah, for me it was a bit like that, where it was just going, Oh, I didn’t realise that this wasn’t really coming in on the first was something that kind of taken for granted, consistently, suddenly it was, you know, every month, the question was raised okay where’s it gonna show up from this time.
You know what else happened to me which just made me think about that. It was interesting to be aware of how much I was playing to the crowd, and kind of being worried about other people’s perception or wanting to please. And then when you sort of start working on your own suddenly there is no one who’s going to give you a pat on the back. Well done. This recognition which I didn’t really feel like I needed I never kind of went looking for it, but I, I always felt like no I just worked bloody hard, do a good job, and you know you’re in the right place. Whereas when you’re on your own, you’re like, okay, am I doing a good job or, I don’t know.
Yeah, this is true, yeah working face off like the one of the things that I found, in terms of myself, is this going back to what you’re saying. The way I translate that is there’s this, it’s, it’s, it’s important to establish a relationship with yourself as being the one who is managed and also one who manages right, so for me it kind of comes down to that in the sense of, because like this question of am I doing a good job, I don’t know this long I was done with me. So I have that sort of some sort of splited bind where it’s going, okay yeah I can, I can tell myself that I’m doing okay and I could just, you know, take it easy on me. And the other one was where I have to go okay I need to step up. Yeah, it’s an interesting dynamic that sounds like. Okay So sounds like after all this after you did the transdisciplinary answer correctly. So you see the dots connecting and it sounds like your story is coming closer to being full circle inch after this whole journey that you’ve been on and now you feel like, oh, this makes sense and this kind of stands on its own in a way,
was that, yeah, I mean, it’s, I think this is something that, that kind of happens because we push it right. Yeah, so I’ve always felt a little bit like I’ve been interested in many different things I could have done Sciences at university, and I chose to do arts, and I’ve always had languages as well and just kind of like knowing lots of things and doing lots of things, and I’m generally good at them not maybe excellent but good. At most things, maybe not maths but anyway. So that just means that I kind of am really generalist, And in order to make that work. I felt like I need to really sit down and decide what do I actually like, I mean, one thing is being able to do things and being able to compete with other people do the well, and the other is actually enjoying do them doing them, and feeling like that is something that’s kind of part of what you want in your life. And so that part of story making is something that for me became more clear, when I went through my coaching programme, so it sort of started when I was doing my MBA and we had some leadership stuff and I sort of thought well this is kind of interested. Interesting to reflect on what I actually want because I’ve never really done that before, always making my own decisions, but never really thinking Okay. Does this make sense or whatever else. And then when I, when I trained as a coach that’s obviously quite intensive, and you spend quite a lot of time being coached, and also seeing other people’s coaching journey. And in that, I started to realise that, that there were certain things that were kind of floating around that if I put them together would make a coherent story, and would make me feel more comfortable as well in both explaining what I do and doing what I do. And taking that step towards sort of going okay I do this, and there are loads of other things I could do which if you asked me about, you know, I’ll probably do, but I’m not going to put that on my website, I’m not going to tell you about that directly because I need to choose what I want to do my part my story path.
Yeah, exactly. It’s kind of like what’s the most essential version of yourself right. The most essential version of yourself that is actually relevant for what you want to build in your future. And that’s the version you want to go, like, that’s me. Right.
And that is so hard because I don’t know where you are working with people and stories, and you say, I’m the sort of person who or something is the story of my life, and getting people to choose something as a story of my life is really hard, or that most important thing is that it’s not one story there’s lots of stories right. But in order to make it to design your story to design your life where you want to get it to even in the medium term, you have to actually call.
Yeah, some kind of some sort of narrative some sort of coherent narrative of the past must be built, and must be condensed into all of this has happened to me and this is the narrative that makes the most sense for the direction I want to go. And without that narrative, it’s really hard for us to, you know, to be directed at something in the future. And I think it’s just as humans, we’re so we’re so we have this tendency to believe that the impact on making better making and pattern recognition, it’s a very human thing. So the sense, so there’s almost inherent like this almost inherent aspect of our brain going, I need to make sense of this, and it’s got to fit in something so I guess that’s why the magic really helps us to go out. All of this has happened and therefore it creates what I have now, which sets me up for what I want to do next.
Yeah I think it’s what’s really interesting about what you just said is that if you, if we don’t consciously create a narrative. We unconsciously create, and that includes lots of things from our past things that people have told us that may or may not be true, or family myths, and stuff like that that is unhelpful. And we take is true, we’ve included in our narrative, because we haven’t actually gone back and gone. Okay, what is the story if I’m the filmmaker of my life. Yeah, I’m 80 years old but I’m really good at making films. How am I going to tell that story, both where, where I am, until where I am now, and also, going forward. And that’s, that’s really tough, but it’s so worth doing because like you said, you get your past a bit clearer. Your future suddenly becomes clearer and you’ve still got all the options you’re still open to doing whatever comes up and taking all the opportunities, but you just come across as a much more focused person, and even inside having reflected on it. Yeah, I think you’re much more focused.
Yeah, you can just feel clearer. Yeah, it’s true. Yeah, totally. I think we’ve had enough of my story was stories, we could. Well, I could draw a little bit more.
I could say that I started teaching storytelling because someone Did someone ask for it. No I can’t yet know, one of the, one of the business schools I went for us for it I was like, brilliant yes I really want to teach this, and then I had to learn all about and it turned out to be a lot more complicated than I thought. And I think I’ve taught it now to probably about 20 different classes in different ways in different places, but kind of started without me having conscious decision to do it, it was definitely a my reaction when they offered it to me was like fantastic this is actually something that I’d be interested in doing, but I didn’t go out and do it and that’s not until now that I’ve just put out my own storytelling course that people can sign up to from wherever they are without going through some kind of institution, but it’s taken me like six or seven years of teaching this so, anyway, if you want to do that by the way, you can sign up. Yeah, We’ll give you the links in the show notes.
So, okay, so before we switch. Oh okay, my thought is that I was hoping I could ask a few questions and it made the small,
okay, go ahead you can string it out a little bit longer.
So I did have one last question for you, which is how do you see yours, or how would you like your story to be evolving from here. And like what do you see is next, what’s the next chapter look like.
Okay, so right now I’m really enjoying having connected these dots together and having both the Arts and Business in my life and in my career. And I also think that’s really powerful and I love seeing the power of the Expressive Arts in business because I think quite often business forgets about the arts or things oh you know that you know they’re nice, nice to go to the theatre at the weekend but nothing to do with me, when actually it’s something that can bring in a lot to business, and we often think about business bringing into the arts but maybe not so much about the arts bring into business, so I love that connection I can see that that’s something that I really want to build on. I’m also really enjoying working as an artist, and this is something that I read started taking seriously a year ago, and created my website, and created a almost daily practice in a space in order to in order to make paintings and drawings and whatever else. So having that that combination of those two, I think is great. It makes me feel also that I’m being true to my word, and that that’s something that’s important to me as a value that I’m not just telling people what to do or, or that this is important, but to actually kind of be living it, so being able to live the business in the arts, I think is something that’s really important. My next part of my story. I got two young kids so there’s definitely a family aspect here and this has taught me more than anything about limits, because before I would just work at any time any hour I’d be sitting in my pyjamas from seven in the morning. Maybe 11 At night, having maybe had a shower in between maybe not, whereas having kids really puts kind of a structure on your day, and limits it means that you know I know that if I need to get something done, I’ve got a course coming up this Sunday. I don’t have Saturday to prepare that I need to make sure that everything is done on Friday, and it’s in the car, everything’s ready to go. So, there’s something about balancing family life, balancing artistic development and balancing the business side. And I think my story is, is going to go that way, I’d like to also see a return to more international work, it’s something that I deliberately let go down, whilst I was going through tea leave and having the kids really small, but it’s something I’ve really enjoyed so I’d like to see that pick up out some courses each year and other countries and when we can all move again and after, after COVID If that ever happens. But yeah, I think I’m feeling in a pretty good place right now to be stepping forward in my story, and taking responsibility as well as something, I guess we’ll probably talk about this other points, because it’s something that’s really important for self development and also for storytelling is taking responsibility for moving things forward. And for me this year that’s meant learning all about digital marketing, and really put myself forward there and not kind of waiting for clients to come along or even go out and meeting clients but really taking on part of my business or part of what I do, I want to be directly to clients to individuals that is, and part two companies and part two business schools and part hopefully art sales so we’ll see how that works out.
Yeah, it sounds like there’s a. It sounds like you’re, you’re in a moment of like, you know the moment before something just explodes. A lot of stuff comes out of it, it feels like that because I’ve been just watching you over the last year you’ve been, you’ve been doing a lot of backstage stuff, like you know putting together the new webinar, and focusing on your painting and. And all of this building this new product and learning the digital marketing itself sounds like you’re just going, okay, got a lot of creative things to get out there and just prepping the moment well it’s all like, sounds like
that’s what I’d like it to be obviously there’s like several scenarios. The problem is having a kind of art and a bit like there’s always like this dreamy side of yes great it’s like a rocket that’s about to fire off but there’s also this very rational side of yeah but let’s do three scenarios, let’s do the best case scenario, the worst case scenario and the most likely. So no, I I kind of I feel like that is the case, I felt like that. In February, 2020, I really felt like I just got back off maternity leave, I’d rented a new space. this is this is the time, I can get the business working properly. And then COVID came in I was like, Oh, God, like many people. So, hopefully, now is the time to start doing things and it’s not just going to be a space rocket, you know, a kind of rocket that goes up in the sky goes,
even if it is there would be a few of those before it goes off right so yeah
and I think one thing about thinking of life as a story is it’s interesting that the best stories have ups and downs, certainly there’s really boring if the story is all kind of like, oh you know and then I did an MBA and got an amazing job and then I lived happily ever after you like Yeah, I think I’d rather the adventure route.
. Absolutely, absolutely.
So I think you’ve escaped your story for long enough. So tell me, tell everybody, what’s your story with storytelling.
I’m still figuring it out to be honest. Yeah, still figuring it out I think at some level,
at some level, I’ve only recently seen that stories are incredibly powerful medium, embracing them very recently in my life. But the real story is how I how I got there and how that happened for me. So when I was a kid, I was quite curious about how, how we see meaning in the minds of people. Like, for me it’s really fascinating language like speaking right now I’m doing that I’m entering your brain through words and I’m leaving little seeds of meaning in your mind. So for me this is really fascinating that, that we do this to each other, right. And so I was I was always like a little curious about that as a kid I remember just making up strange words and wondering why we call things, what we call them. There must be some reason for it right, but obviously that was never answered. And I took notice also a couple of things like when I was a now I’m only seeing this in retrospect, so some of my English teachers when I was growing up actually recognised, a lot of potential in me as a writer so they noticed that, like for instance, when I was a kid. One of the stories that I had related. As part of my English exam, my teacher she called her out and she went and whenever when they were giving back the evaluations. She said, Oh, there was one story that was written and the examiner was the best and it was an impulse from Michelle and why don’t you come up here and and read it to the whole class, and I was super surprised because I was not a very bright student, so I was surprised to see that my story was the best in class there were other, there were other kids in class who I thought were more brilliant than I was. And she asked me to come up and read the story. And I remember standing in front of my class and I took my own, you know my own feet, and I was trembling, I couldn’t believe the story that I had written. And I was so nervous that the teacher asked the other guy to come and lead by story so there was another Caitlin from the class. And it was a weird moment where I think that was the first time in my life I saw this aspect of myself, where, oh, I do have the capacity to write interesting things, but I’m scared as hell to stand up in front of a crowd and share it. So that was an interesting thing to see. So the first thing that I did at that point in my life was I started addressing my public speaking skills because I thought that it was a challenge with public speaking. So I started my public speaking in a couple of years I took care of that. And I develop that skill. But later on, through time I realised that was not just about my public speaking. But anyway, that’s something that only showed up later. But obviously this notion of, you know, I’m interested in using communication and language as a way to get ideas through people was not something that I could even make any career decisions. So I just started, I started kind of writing poetry on the side so fortunately became my main outlet. I started writing poetry as a teenager. And on the professional side I first went towards engineering. I realised it wasn’t for me, I was in Dubai for a year I did engineering in Dubai for years I lived in Dubai for a year and I know exactly what you mean and I was like, this is not the place for me and neither is engineering. So you’re after that I dropped out and went back to India, and there was only one university that had a spot available for students because the academic years were differently time. So by the time I went back to India all the universities were already closed. There was one that was a kind of an international university, and it was a business school. And so I had to choose between marketing and finance and a couple of other things. So I said you know what I’m interested in this notion of communication so I’m going to pick marketing and see what happens. So I picked marketing. And because it was an international school I had to, I went to Swansea, to finish my PhD in marketing, and that’s where I discovered the idea of branding. And I was instantly. I just fell for it instantly. When I was researching I had to do this paper on branding and I just researched the hell out of it. And I realised that in the end of the day. A brand is an idea that’s dropped in the minds of the users or of the customers. And that drives the way they learn it drives the decisions they make. So at some level I felt, oh I could feed my curiosity of, You know, of feeding meaning in people’s minds, and branding could actually be a viable career option. So I decided to pursue that. And I got pending I went back to India welding grinding for a few years, came to ESADE to do my way which is when I met you, and then I continued in branding after Assad is an entirely, I was still writing a lot of poetry. But when I was in I started two things happened. One I went through a massive period of personal depression, which made me question a lot of stuff in my own life.
Just in case you know anyone from a ESADE is listening it didn’t have to do with the school itself.
Yeah, this thing. Thank you for the disclaimer now it had nothing to do with being an F 30 I just had some personal stuff going on in my life. That was, that was actually the experience of my MBA was marked by my depression. And it was marked by one other thing, which is that I was helping some of my classmates make career transitions that they wanted to make. And I realised later that the only thing I was actually doing was asking them a lot of questions, listening to their stories and helping them realise what part of their story what part of their narrative essentially was most useful for the goals they had. And so helping them re articulate their narrative, and take decisions about what sort of direction they need to be going in and how they needed to communicate. So that, so that they could essentially move in the direction that they wanted to go. So I did that for a few of my classmates and that’s when I realised that okay this is something I could do as well. This is another viable career option, and then on my 20th birthday I decided okay I need to I need to get out of this mess, so I took some drastic decisions about my life and came out of it, got another job and planning. And I did that for about a year and a half. So in 2016 I started my job in web as a global brand strategist, which was actually my dream job post MBA, and a year and a half and I realised that I wasn’t happy. I was also going through a massive personal process of personal development at the time because I was coming out of my depression. So I was working a lot myself as well. So raising these questions of what I want to do with my life, you know, and in parallel, while I was working in web, and these personal questions we’re going on at some point, about a year in your and a half into my job at Web, I realised that I wanted to do something to help people again, and not just help a company sell sugary products children. So, I didn’t know what helping people would look like. So I spent a few months, thinking about it. And that’s when I realised that I knew how to help MBAs, and I knew what the MBA scenario looked like, because I had been to B school myself. So I started doing two things I started doing one on one sessions with MBA students just for free to see what is it that I really do. And I started interviewing people in careers departments in the B schools. So for about a year, I was working Monday through Friday, my job and Friday afternoons and Saturdays and Sundays I was doing free sexual interview career services professionals. And that happened and by 2018. I decided to quit. I started beer on story with the, with the you know with the same notion of what you mentioned earlier, which is that if you’re directing the film of your life. What does it look like, really what the essence of your own story is which is, how do I direct this by my own volition, right, as opposed to being directed by somebody else’s design. And then we landed the project with ESA. And then, finally, there may be less. This could be a full blown business, so 2019 we launched song, Davide is your business partner, yeah, my business partner, yeah, who was actually my friend and we ended up, you know, building this methodology together which we applied an ESA, and then it became the basis of the consulting company becomes the basis of the new business we’re building now. But yeah, that happened. What happened was in this time, I started researching about the structure of stories, because I said as I was listening to my students, I was essentially listening to their stories. And so I, I knew at some level, from two points of view so I had to. I know not to one very interesting stories because throughout my life I hadn’t been that interested in studying biology was poetry. So poetry was really my creative outlet so I wasn’t into fiction at all. Like I never read fiction growing up. You know I, I just wasn’t into fiction, I was more into reading business books, I was more into reading nonfiction stuff. So, but I was watching a lot of movies though.
Saturdays and Sundays I was doing free sessions that interview Career Services professionals. And that happened and by 2018, I decided to quit. I started beer on story with the with the, you know, with the same notion of what you mentioned earlier, which is that if you’re directing the film of your life, what does it look like? And that’s really what the essence of your own sort is, how do I direct this by my own volition, right, as opposed to be directed by somebody else’s design? And then we landed the project with ESA, and then the 30 then I realised that this could be a full blown business. So 2019 we launched song Naveed is your business partner? Yeah, my business partner, yeah, who was actually my friend. And we ended up, you know, building this methodology together, which we applied an ESA. And then it became the basis of the consulting company, it also becomes the basis of the new business we’re building now. But yeah, that happened. What happened was, in this time, I started researching about the structure of stories, because I realised that as I was listening to my students, I was essentially listening to their stories. And so I, I knew at some level from two points of view, so I had to, I had no not to one very profound interest in stories because throughout my life I hadn’t been that interested solely mildly, was poetry. So poetry was really my, my creative outlet. So I wasn’t into fiction at all. I never read fiction growing up. You know, I, I just wasn’t into fiction. I was more into reading business books. I was wanting to be nonfiction stuff. So, but I was watching a lot of movies, though. They’re interesting.
You say that? Oh, just just to interrupt. Normally, if anyone says that, like I, oh, I only I only read non fiction, kind of I kind of trust them a little bit less.
Yeah, I see it. Now. I didn’t see back then. back then. I was like,
when you go into someone’s house, and there were no books? Yeah. I’m sorry. It’s definitely it’s judging totally. And now that everything’s on Kindle, and, you know, it could just be that they, they have a Kindle library. And that’s it. But I kind of just think, I’m not sure this is the type of person I want to be friends with right.
Now, and that was fine. I think at the time I didn’t. At the time, I wasn’t that enamoured by fiction, because I felt that nonfiction is, you know, it’s more, it’s more serious, and so on and so forth. I was a bit of a heavy case. So, so yeah, it wasn’t that much into fiction. But then when I, when I realised that I was essentially listening to stories of my students, and, and then, during my own race, learning my own personal development processes, well, I realised that there was a lot of knowledge from mythology, and the structure of stories in why we tell stories, and how stories are designed, and how stories are shaped. And that the common patterns that are there in all stories, all of these things started coming up. And I realised that this is something I needed to research. So I kind of went ahead and I became obsessed with the work of Joseph Campbell, who, essentially, he was a competitive mythologist. And he compared all the MCs from all over the world. And he noticed the underlying pattern of stories that have come up in all human civilizations across history, which means that this underlying pattern is a human thing. It’s not a it’s not a cultural thing. And so I started realising that at some point, this title was also playing out to the students in space, and in the story of my own life. So I realised that Oh shit, something really interesting is going on. I became obsessed with this structure of the story called the hero’s journey. Yes, I started selling storytelling to screenwriting, I started watching a lot of movies, and I started seeing these patterns in movies as well. And I started applying all of these things I was distilling, from studying about comparative mythology, and screenwriting and Orbeez. And it kind of started building my own little frameworks of how when I’m listening to someone’s story, where I can place them in this framework, so that I can understand what they need to do next, like what what really comes in their life next, so I can help them and guide them better. And so all of these things kind of came together. And this has been very recent in my life. And a couple of months ago, so the beginning of this year, I had several different ideas in my mind. And they all kind of came together and they found this idea baby that I wasn’t expecting, which was a science fiction book. And now I’m working on that. So for me, if you had told me like someone had told me, I don’t know even even two years ago, someone had told me that I would be writing a science fiction book out of laughter their face, because I never saw myself as a fiction writer. But now I’m realising that actually, well told stories are the greatest medium for us to pass on knowledge about what it means to be human, towards the person who’s receiving That story, right? So I feel that actually it is, in fact, the best medium. So, so here I am actually just working working on that as one of my main projects because it’s something that, increasingly I realised that I’m really excited about and aligns with what I believe in. But I never expected I would be doing it. So yeah, that’s, I know, it’s not been very clearly told. But that’s my story with stories, I guess.
I think that’s that’s your resistances speaking. Okay, cool. pretty clear. It’s interesting what you say about analysing stories that you hear around you, because now I honestly, I just feel like I’ve got a carte blanche to watch Netflix, and HBO and whatever else. Because you can learn so much from your stories. I was just watching White Lotus, great on HBO. So good. It’s such amazing storytelling, you can’t unknow storytelling, once you start getting to know about how it works and the structure, you can’t unknow it, you can still enjoy a really well told story. Some of the things that are on television now like Game of Thrones, that the stories within stories within stories, is it’s just it is epic. It’s epic in the in the sense of, of how its told, but it’s epic in a storytelling sense, as well. And you can learn so much from from all of that. And I think if we just take a 1% of Game of Thrones and put it into our own life, we can get some pretty, pretty interesting stories going on.
Yeah, for this aspect is, is super interesting in the sense that we, when I listen to a lot of conversations around me, it’s weird because we have a tendency to share facts in our life as opposed to stories, which is also why we do what we do. And we kind of invite people to share stories as opposed to facts. and if we talk about storytelling as a concept, in certain circles, especially in business circles, it almost seems like a hippie idea that they don’t talk about. But if we listen to the conversations that some of these people have of their own volition, if we would take down all the professional stuff and make them talk about something that they’re actually interested in, it’s very likely they’re going to talk about some movie or some show, without realising that that’s, in fact, the story. So it’s a massive industry that we love, and that we adore and that we emulate. And that we celebrate, but we don’t realise that it’s, in fact, just stories.
So just quickly, how was it? How did you go about preparing that story? Honestly, how about preparing?
Honestly, I didn’t I just kind of, I just kind of worked it out right now in the sense of, I know that the story that I the first story that I said, which was the story about how as a kid, I was asked to read my story in front of the class. That’s something that’s come back to me a lot in the last few months. So it’s been it’s been kind of available to me to share more easily. But the rest of it. You know, I didn’t really I don’t think I really prepared it. I just, yeah, I didn’t prepare it at all. It’s just something that I’ve, I think I’ve been thinking about a lot and trying to process it on my own as well. Like, what’s really what is the connection? Like, what’s the narrative? I’ve been thinking about it. So when, you know, when the moment came to share that I just kind of went just kind of went with that. Yeah, kind of improv that.
Yeah, it’s, I think it’s sort of similar to what I did. I haven’t written down I’ve not been reading it, but I had kind of brainstormed connections with stories through my life. in mind, I think what I’m missing is the editing part. Don’t go back and take out stuff that’s irrelevant. And also some kind of unifying idea, as my connection was stories, because I was thinking about this this morning in Vegas often think about useful things. What is my story with storytelling? And I think one of my stories is that it’s for me, it’s been very gratefully receiving the stories, and somewhat reticent Lee, telling my own story.
Yeah. Yeah. I’m sensing an opening here. So do you mind if I share something a bit more? Yeah, go ahead. Yeah. I think this is also going to kind of go back to this point we mentioned earlier, which is that it makes it easier for us to work with the stories of others, but we struggle with sharing that on and so for me, the thing that you mentioned that the thing that you just mentioned has to do with Honestly, I think at some level my story with with storytelling and this even this idea of I want to get meaning across to others. At some level. I have struggled with feeling heard my whole life, right. So that’s been a massive part of shaping My child that says, and therefore, I kind of became as a result of that. So as a kid, I always had the feeling that, oh, I struggled with being hurt, which is also where I couldn’t leave my stability in front of the class, and which is also why public speaking is something that gives me a lot of joy, because it kind of feels that way. But that’s also why I don’t want others to feel that pain. So like hearing their stories and helping them process their stories, it helps them, you know, heal that part of themselves, where they necessarily feel unheard, right. So they can find out the most essential or the most interesting part and be able to communicate that. But at the same at the same level. So even though I can do that, for others, doing it for myself, it’s still hard because I still have that pain in me at some level. And even though you’re growing and maturing, and increasingly, I don’t identify myself with that pain, it’s still there. So when it comes to sharing my story, it’s still kind of gets in the way a little bit. And I don’t know how you feel about this. But I want to I want to share a quick, quick anecdote, which is super interesting. Like lately, it’s come to my attention that in pretty much all languages and cultures around the world, there is some saying that is off the notion of something on the on the notion of the cobblers children without shoes, or in the home of the goldsmith, the cutlery is of wood. There’s always a thing like that, which means it’s a human food, if all cultures of the world have seen as a must be human truth. So, so it must be human. Let’s go, Oh, I’m going to doing this to others. But I can’t do it for myself. Which means there’s only two possibilities. One, I’m good at doing it for others, and I kind of myself because I have pain, and I’m healing it and others. or two, I’m so good at it. I’m always fixing it in myself, which is why I don’t have it. Yeah. So if I wouldn’t call blue for instance, I know what it’s like to grow up barefoot. So I make sure that people have shoes, but I still have the pain of being barefoot. Whereas on the other hand, if I don’t, if it’s not pain of being barefoot, if it’s from a genuine love of making shoes, then my own shoes are always a work in progress. And so it’s better for me to walk barefoot. Right? away, I feel like, I feel like that’s something that kind of sums up why we struggle with our own stories. And we’re okay with helping us. How do you feel about this? Like this? Is this, this little rant? I just went positivity.
Interesting. In terms of the own shoes, I think it’s to do with, yeah, this trying to help others more than helping yourself. In my case, I think it’s, that’s something that happens to me. So in coaching and things like that, I’m really good at coaching other people. I’m not so good at coaching myself. That’s why we as coaches or as therapists, you always get someone else to help you, right. And that’s kind of why I was thinking this is a good thing to do on the podcast, because I think we can kind of help each other. I don’t think either of us need to do a storytelling course, where we’re sort of forced into sharing our stories, because we’re the ones teaching it. But we kind of need something that forces us to tell our stories, or be aware of how we hone them a little bit better. And all the rest of it, I think there is, for me, there’s a little ego in this as well. There’s a little bit of a fear that when I share my stories, my standard has to be so much higher than anyone elses. Because I’m the one who’s kind of teaching storytelling. So therefore, I should be so amazing at this blown away, when in reality, that’s just not that’s just ego. It’s not, it’s not really what’s going to happen. I don’t have to be amazing at storytelling, but I need to be practising it. And we need to be using it and using our own tools. So to go back to the colour analogy, I don’t have to be wearing the most amazing shoes. I have to be capable in it. And I have to be choosing which type of shoes I’m going to wear, I guess. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. The other thing that you were talking about that I thought was interesting was how it connects to things, you know, when you were growing up? For me, it wasn’t so much that I was I felt like I wasn’t heard. But I was sort of told that I you know, it’s not about you was one thing I was told. And the other thing I was told was don’t show off and petition things that it could be sort of family myths or in in trajectories. Those two things really influence how you kind of step up and start telling your story because, yeah, you’re told not to blow your own horn, but then you have to we can’t avoid doing these days. And you have to be able to do that in stories. Using euro. In careers in, in your own business. Yeah, if you can’t pitch yourself well to a client, you don’t get the client. You don’t put your own phone To website, you, you’re not going to people are not going to connect with you as stupid as that sounds. Yeah,
that’s totally true. It’s the biggest thing you mentioned about. Like, it’s not about you and don’t hold your level, there’s an underlying, there’s an underlying narrative. You need to play small, right? Like, keep a lid on and essentially keep a lid on it. So what that I feel like, for me, that’s how I translate feeling heard is keep a lid on. Don’t toot your own horn. And then what happens if something resonates with you. But what happened with me was, I was given that feeling of Oh, I got to keep a lid on it. I had two responses to it. The first response was that other people must be more interesting than me. So let me take an interest in them. And the second response was that when I took the lid off, I did have a scale of how
I would just show up like, either all out or all. Yeah, that kind of sums up my MBA is like,
Yeah, I was kind of lucky because I had theatre and drama outlet. So that meant that I could basically take on other characters. And this is another thing that I think is interesting. For me, I have absolutely no fear of going on stage as someone else. Absolutely not at all. And telling someone else’s story, no problem. It’s really not on your own. And your own part of it is quite interesting. The other day, I was doing a course on clowning, being a clown, right. And so when that comes to mind, you might think, Oh, this buffoon who’s doing silly things fast. But one of the interesting things about clowning or learning to be a clown is that the actual the funny part of it comes from you connecting with your inner child. And the idea is that you go on stage as yourself. You don’t go on stage to act out and do all these big things. You go on stage as yourself as you as a small child. And that’s like going naked on stage, which I’ve also done, by the way. So Vishal, what has inspired you this month,
something really strange happened. weeks ago, I realised that the book I’m writing and the new business, are actually not that separate. So at some level, I was a couple of a few, you know, if I had, if we had had this conversation, about two months ago, I would have seen the book I’m building and the business I’m building is still very different. Very different realisations of myself. But now I’m actually seeing after a few conversations I’ve had about the business, I’m actually seeing that they might not be so separate, after all. So for me the reason, the reason that’s inspiring and that’s interesting is because it’s becoming increasingly clear that the life choices we make, that each of us make as individuals, at some level, we make them because of something inside of us, that makes us want to make them there’s something about us that makes us have that idea and want us to do that. And so there’s always some kind of internal logic and internal cohesion that actually makes everything makes sense. But we don’t often see it in our life, in some adult, some moments where it just kind of fits those that Oh, I’m actually everything I’m doing kind of makes sense. Kind of like when your story came full circle. It’s beautiful. So for me, those moments are really nice.
We’re really good at avoiding cognitive dissonance right when
So what inspired you,
I have spent most of the last month sitting on the balcony of the house in Palo moss, looking at the sea, but also looking at a lot of people walking around having a normal, relaxed summer holiday where I’m trying to sort out my business. But at the same time i’ve you know, really big, fun, creative challenge to try and figure that out. And to find out online, you know, what do I need to fit together. So I guess I’ve kind of inspired myself in a way that I’ve managed to keep that rhythm going. But it has been nice being next to the sea being out of my normal place where I work, which is very nice as well, but different. And so I’d say that more than anything else. And I’ve also been reading a book by Brian rutenberg, who’s an artist in the US. He talks about different ways of seeing and different ways of representing the feeling of being in a space I hate that I find that interesting because I, as an artist work with paint, but I also have all this training in batter’s box. So I kind of like to think about the way that the person interacts with the piece of art, which again, is a form of storytelling. So
yes, spaces, spaces, definitely an interesting
thing. But we are looking for a story prompt for our next podcast episode. So something in mind. So the random word generator is giving us just next month, what do you reckon? Yeah, I
think it’s really good. Kind of would have have a lighted phone conversation, obviously. Yeah, just yeah, let’s
see if I might, my challenge to myself will be to create a simple story around this because I generally have a tendency to complicate everything only creates a simple story, to challenge to yourself on this one,
but I’m going to do a light and funny story, I would like to share the light and funny story from my life, because I have a tendency to keep things super heavy. So just the fact that the wind just has come up for me, it’s just so yeah, preparing kind of something just having looking at some light moments in life.
Okay, so thank you very much for listening to this first edition of, of Katie and Vishal talk about storytelling or whatever it is. And we will see you next month. If you got this far, thanks for listening to this step across us. And we will see or hear you very soon. Please give us a follow in a review if you can. It really does make a difference to help us to get the podcast a little bit out there and reach more people.
This podcast is written produced and presented by Katie Annice Carr with original music compelling music composed and performed by Jonathan David Mellor.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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