How Can Storytelling Empower Your Business?

That stories have a powerful impact on us is well known. Here’s how storytelling actually works in favour of the storyteller~

~ Stories create an instant emotional bond between the narrator and listener.
(helps build empathy with the narrator)

~ Stories engage a greater area of the brain than a string of monotonous data or facts.
(translates into better engagement and attention)

~ Stories help synchronize the listener’s brain with the narrator’s brain.
(that’s gold dust for a marketer!)

~ Guess what would you remember better? A well told story or facts?
(better memory= higher brand recall!)

~ Stories have the ability to change chemistry of the brain.
On being told an emotionally engaging story, the brain produces oxytocin, a substance shown to increase generosity, empathy and trustworthiness. (research conducted by Dr Paul Zak)

~ Stories impact behaviour of the listener.
(imagine the potential to guide consumer behaviour.)

Where and how can we use storytelling to further our professions or business?

With the explosion of social platforms, the internet and their bearing on our lives, we seek to know more. At the same time, as we are inundated with non-stop stimuli from multiple directions simultaneously, we also build up a resistance to these inputs and become more selective or choosy.

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The How And Why Of Powerful Storytelling

Each one of us must have read books or heard stories during our younger days which leap into our consciousness even today as clearly as is if we had read them or heard them yesterday. How and why does this happen?

The mind tells its own stories
As we read, or see a movie, our minds go on their own little travels..creating strong associations, filling in gaps in the story and playing the guessing game about ‘What’s next?’. Of course, now there’s so much research based on neuroscience about how storytelling impacts the brain. This article is not about the bio-chemical connection between story and the brain. It is about the fine art of storytelling.

So what makes for Powerful Storytelling?
Just as The Mahabharata is a memorable story, there are others which are so forgettable. So, let’s look at elements of great stories ~

The Power of Emotions
When we read passages in a story with strong emotional content, they evoke equally strong emotional reactions in us. An engaging story manages to grab us by the scruff of the neck and does not let go. We begin relating with the characters, their circumstances and ‘feel their feelings’.Read More

3 Key Elements of Personal Development

What’s the connect between Personal Branding and Personal Development?
In my view, they  are deeply interconnected. We must first discover our inner stories in order to be able to radiate them with conviction to the outer world. Just as our communication keeps on evolving, there’s always room for improvement and refinement on the personal front, isn’t there?

What must I do to stay on track, in alignment with my purpose and vision?
Asking ourselves questions results in clarity of thought and perhaps, yields the right answers.

1) What’s My Story?
This is perhaps the crux of it. Do we know ourselves well enough to chart out a life roadmap or are we on autopilot, guided by the winds of opinion and our own whims? There MUST be a deep connect between what really fires us up and what we do.
Authenticity is the magic word here.
It is so, so easy to fool ourselves into buying the wrong picture of life. A life which we don’t belong to. We must take a deep dive into the core to come out with the answers. For in the end, all the answers are within us. I use meditation, writing and mind mapping as tools to express my subconscious into the conscious realm. You may have your own methods. Mentors are fabulous at this too, such as my gifted Mentor & Coach, Jennifer Sertl~ she virtually holds a mirror to my soul.Read More

And Her Heart Went Click, Click…

Armed with a MBA, she took to a career in finance, a subject she liked. However, her passion was elsewhere and her heart often whispered to her to return to what was dearest to it: Photography.

It is said that the forces of the universe conspire to unite us with what we
desire from the bottom of the heart.

Meenal Jaiswal did convert her passion to her profession of choice. No, it wasn’t exactly a eureka moment. The opportunity to change careers presented itself when her husband quit his offshore job to an onshore career. Her heart said to her,
“Psst! Nobody’s watching, let’s escape!”

If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint.”  –Edward Hopper 
It went back a long way back. She got her first camera as a gift when she stood first in class one- she meenal-jaiswalwas all of five years! Since then, whenever she found a moment worth capturing, her heart went click, click, click. She was brought up in a family where scientific temper ruled, as her father was a M. Tech and mother a history and psychology student. A memory which is indelibly etched in her mind is that of an incident of April, 2004. The family had met over a dual cause for celebration. Her younger sister’s birthday and their parent’s anniversary on the following day. Meenal wanted a family photograph to be shot which was thwarted due to the studio being shut. Two days later her father passed away.Read More


3 Key Elements of Authentic Storytelling

1) Unravel Your Story
Let’s beginning at the beginning. Discovering ourselves is at the core of this process. A good way to do so would be to ask oneself, “Who am I?”  If you were to ask someone this question, you’d often be greeted by responses such as, I am a Doctor or Engineer or Entrepreneur and so on. People tend to mistake their qualifications or professions with their identities. This has possibly been ingrained in most of us because of the emphasis we place on our source of livelihoods. Just how much do we really know ourselves?

ReflectionReflection is a great way to do this. For me, meditation works like magic! The insights I draw from a meditative session help settle the dust and bring clarity and I then benefit from profound insights. Mindfulness and journal writing also works for many. Mentors help highlight our true strengths and show us facets of ourselves which we haven’t been able to identify on our own. Which are the values you cherish the most in yourself? (or in the people you admire).

Another simple way is to examine what gives us joy and involves us deeply. What are you passionate about, what kind of work do you actually look forward to doing? This will be close to the ‘core you.’ Also, we are all unique. So what is it that makes me stand out from the crowd? By deliberating on these questions we could arrive at a fairly accurate assessment of ourselves, what are our core strengths, values and objectives.

2) Empower Your Story

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”
― C.G. Jung
You will come across any number of people who live their lives as defined for them by their parents,Staircase circumstances or even by themselves, at odds with where they should ideally be headed. This is because a real effort to align purpose and career/objectives/vision has never been made. There is a disconnect between authentic selves and choices made. Vision boards can help in this respect, based on the key first step of this exercise.

While understanding ourselves is one aspect, conviction is an even more important factor. Fortunately, I happen to be quite decisive in this respect . The day I realised writing and communication it was for me, I switched careers right away. It set me free. Career hopping might not be everyone’s cup of tea, though.Self-alignment is not limited to one’s career as such. It has to reflect in one’s important choices, relationships, goals and vision.

3) Share Your Story
What story are you telling?
“Story? What story?”
We live in a linked, networked world where connecting with people across the world is getting easier. At the same time, every post, every image uploaded, like, comment and blog of ours tells a story. A story about us, lodged indelibly in thousands and thousands of followers who have access to our Social Media profiles. Therefore, there’s a story written about you and me in the readers’ minds and each day this grows, takes shape, indelibly..word by word, pixel by pixel.

Effectively, your Story defines your Personal Brand.

3-kidsOur Online personas must resonate with our offline behaviour and vice versa.
Popularity on SM come at a cost~ responsibility. Let’s suppose I were to regularly share posts which make fun of women, even slighting them. How authentic or convincing would I sound if I said “I have the highest regard for the capabilities and potential of women” while honoring a lady at a function? (I actually have observed this kind of duplicity in a few people I know).

“What happens is of little significance compared with the stories we tell ourselves about what happens. Events matter little, only stories of events affect us.”
Rabih Alameddine, The Hakawati
Highlight your key strengths in your communication as much as possible. This ‘story’ must be consistently narrated to your readers /audience. It helps build a positive brand image (aligned to the true you), endears you to your existing social circle (Online/Offline) and attracts the right sort of new friends/associates into the fold.

So are you telling your story with Authenticity?





How Can Personal Branding Help Financial Planners?

Personal Branding works best where mass media won’t!
Doctors, Surgeons, Chartered Accountants are bound by a professional code of conduct, as are some other Professionals. In fact some are specifically barred from advertising by their apex associations.

Let’s take Financial Planners.
What makes Personal Branding an ideal vehicle for Personal Financial Planners?
I have the advantage of insights drawn from my  entrepreneurial experience of over thirty years, of which eight were spent as an Independent Financial Advisor.

The nature of Financial Planning offerings is highly complex and we in India are in a transition stage when it comes to intermediaries. Expertise is at a premium and so is credibility. Although there has been a clampdown on unethical practices by Governing Authorities such as SEBI, IRDA, AMFI and RBI, there still exists a trust deficit. Market research reveals that consumers make financial and investment decisions based on advice of relatives, neighbours, office colleagues and media. Only a miniscule few refer to experts.

How can Personal Branding change this lopsided equation in favour of Professionals, whose voice often goes unheard?Read More