How To Use Storytelling To Build Your Brand

Storytelling in Business

I had this insight to bring, storytelling, that I did in the entertainment business, to champion people and make them better at building their brand and own their voice.

Today I interview Audrey Cavenecia, the Co-producer and co-host for the Amplify Voices podcast, alongside NFL coach Pete Carroll and host of the “Unlikely podcast” on leadership. A talented, storyteller, and visionary Audrey has decades of experience in, leadership development, entertainment production, and content marketing with a focus on championing humanity in all people.

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Bio

Audrey Cavenecia is the Co-producer and co-host for the Amplify Voices podcast, alongside NFL coach Pete Carroll and host of the “Unlikely podcast” on leadership. A talented storyteller and visionary Audrey has decades of experience in leadership development, entertainment production, and content marketing with a focus on championing humanity in all people.

She has worked alongside some of the most influential leaders in the world—including speaker and author Tony Robbins and Oracle founder Larry Ellison—to develop and empower new visionaries through stories and insights around authentic human connection. No matter the sector, she continues to build bridges between what is and what can be, with, storytelling, as the scaffolding.

Audrey’s back story

Myrna: I know you are an expert, storyteller, what’s your story?

Audrey: Well, you know, it’s interesting because I grew up, I was born in Oakland, California and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. My parents were pretty much the extreme polar opposites in every sense of the word, my mother is white. And when I say white, I mean white, like blond hair, blue eyes, can’t even tan, white from Germany.

She came here to the US when she was about 12. My father is African Latin from South America. He had dark skin, kinky hair, all the features as a black man. So, think of this mixture of German culture and African Latin culture and your get total polar opposites in so many ways.  They meet in church and five children later; we each have a roll of the dice of that race of that mixture of all of that.

So, I think we started out, especially for myself, started out very early, being forced almost to be an observer of society. Because I didn’t have my, my tribe. I couldn’t point at somebody and be like, oh, you’re exactly like me. I couldn’t find the Mexican culture and fit in with them. Every single person was like, No, you’re a little bit different. You’re a little bit on the outside, and maybe it wasn’t even them maybe it was just me.

And my own perception of where do I fit when I come from these two narratives that are so different. And then I live inside of my own Americanization while still being pulled into both of their cultures, different languages in the household and all that.

Most of those movies we watched were white people. My dad comes to the United States and marries a white woman.  So, it’s another layer for me to look at and be like, Oh, what am I not beautiful? Because my father didn’t even marry somebody who looked like me. What does that say about me? My parents owned their own business, like a lot of people that come from other countries. And so my first foray into just self-expression was, storytelling, and finding myself in the theater, because I thought, in that place, I can pretend with, storytelling, because I have no home, I have no tribe, and I can be anything.

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Introduction to leadership development

Myrna: I am sure you had problems there as well, not being black enough for certain roles, and not white enough for others.

Audrey: That’s right. And but I did have some extraordinary experiences. I toured with the work inside of the African Repertory Theater, and Berkeley toured with plays with individuals was on the Wayans brothers show. So, I had a great time being inside of, storytelling, and that was my lead into, leadership.

So, I went to the, leadership development, in my 20s, I went to the, leadership development, course and there was something about it, it had the beauty of theatrics of being onstage.  It had that spiritual kind of nature of going to church and that physiological kind of feeling that you have in your chest and in your heart when everything opens up that is where, storytelling, is born. I fell in love with, storytelling, as a, leadership development, tool.

I threw myself into it. I dedicated all my time to, leadership. I was single mom at that time as well. And so, I rose through the ranks, I became a really successful leader in that regard and then one woman said something to me.  She said, Okay, great, so what?  You can be a superstar, but can you create other superstars?

I thought to myself, why isn’t the whole point of competition to be the best, why would I want to develop people to be better than me?  But it really stirred something in my heart and in my soul. It spoke to something that was way down deep there which was being a champion for humanity.

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Storytelling in leadership

Audrey: And now I threw myself into understanding the art of, storytelling, in, training and development. I wanted to do everything possible to help people that have failed.  The people that no one can turn around, the people that have given everything and couldn’t find themselves. I trained the shy people introverts the art of, storytelling.

I want to pull all of them up and make them the best, storytellers, in front of crowds. I want to make them the best public speakers. I did just that and that’s when people like Tony Robbins and all those others in the, leadership development, space started searching me out and having me work with their, intellectual property.

And then I had this insight and I listened to my heart and my mind, and it said, now bring those two things together, bring, storytelling, that you did in the entertainment business, and bring this, storytelling techniques, to champion people and make them better at their own purpose and voice. Bring them together. Storytelling, and leadership development, is something unique. I opened my own agency, and it took off from there.

I’ve worked with some of the biggest names out there, I not only champion them and rise them up and help curate and formulate their voice and their audience, all of that, but I combine, storytelling, with their actual content. So now I’m in publishing. I have this media company with Pete Carroll, and we’re pulling in people right and left.  Our company it’s called “Amplify Voices” for a reason. We’re going into the margins of, leadership, with, storytelling. We need to expand what, leadership, is.

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What does leadership look like
  • what does it looks like,
  • what size it is,
  • what color it is,
  • what its hair looks like,
  • what his nose looks like,
  • what his what his voice sounds like,
  • where it lives,
  • what it does,
  • its temperament,
  • its emotions, all of that.

We need this more expansive view of, leadership, because there’s so much to accomplish in this world.

Myrna: Beautiful, wow. So beautiful. I love how you found your voice through, storytelling,  and entertaining in theater and, and now you’re helping people to tell their story through, storytelling.  I love what your definition of what a leader looks like, smells like, tastes like etc.

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Amplifying voices of the Black community

Audrey: For Amplify Voices, the voices we’re focusing now are on podcasts, podcasting. So, I’m on finding particular people out there that have a voice.  We’re looking for voices that are timely, that are important. Like for instance, Reza Metacam, is a writer of grandmother’s hands African American male, who specializes in, body trauma.

We’re asking people to be together;

  • Leaders are asking people to work on their divisiveness,
  • Some are asking people to work in their business environment,
  • Everyone is asking them to be great parents, but we have not confronted the trauma that lives in their bodies, especially black bodies. Black bodies are not the only ones who’ve experienced trauma, white bodies have trauma as well.  Before black people were enslaved, they were enslaving white people, it’s in our history.

And so, our bodies have this pain, this fear of one another.  You look in the world right now we feel resonance, such an important voice. So, what we do is we find people that that are out there speaking when they have a book or they’re a public speaker, or they’re doing workshops with businesses, or a community leader or something.  I approached them, I have dialogue with them and if I feel there’s a real sense of synergy, there is collaboration.

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At Amplified Voices, we take them over and start developing their content.  We become a support for them, not only in the production process and the postproduction process, but also helping them in shaping their brand through, storytelling, and marketing. We take them through those ranks and then when they get to a certain point, get them right in front of the right people for their book deal, or television show or whatever else becomes the natural progression. There’ll also be projects that they’ll do independently on their own by nature of this collaboration and some things we’ll do together.

Developing authentic human connections

Myrna: Awesome, this is how can we empower, leaders, basic, human connections. We talked a little bit about, storytelling, and what, leadership, looks like.  What is an, authentic human connection? I know that, human connection, is connecting with someone, But I think you probably have a broader definition of it.

Audrey: Actually, I’ve got a simpler definition for, authentic human connection. It’s not actually quite broad. It has depth, but it’s quite simple. The very myopic interpretation and narrative we’ve had around, leadership, and, authentic human connections, is this “sharing yourself.” If you share yourself that is where the magic happens.  Just think of the last three days of your work lives, maybe even your relationships, maybe even with your children. Are there moments where you wanted to say something, and you didn’t?  Where you felt like you wanted to reveal something, and you didn’t?

Did you want to ask for help or support and you didn’t?  You didn’t because of your pride, or shame, or because of the way you were raised.  We do not have the freedom to express ourselves.  As, leaders, we can’t tell people “I don’t know how to meet payroll at the end of the week”  Leaders, can’t tell people “I have an eating disorder, I may be drinking too much because of the stress and the pressure” But it truly is accurate statement to say “bitch this will set you free” Getting rid of the, imposter syndrome, and establishing, authentic human connections,  won’t just set you free, It will actually allow people to grow inside your, leadership.  It is the greatest possible thing that you can do.

Myrna: One of the things that people love about Gary Vaynerchuck is that he’s very transparent. He made, Storytelling, and, transparency, necessary for all leaders. Transparency is one of the ways to develop, authentic human connections, because you are sharing yourself and letting others see your pain.

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Transform your Mind Podcast Index
How does Diversity and Inclusion affect Leadership

Audrey: Harvard has done studies behind, diversity and inclusion, this is not a moral compass conversation. This is an economic conversation because we are talking about business.  I know everybody gets like, yeah, we know we need, more Black people.  I’m not talking about a moral compass. What I’m saying is, look, in the world, there are 6.5 billion people, do you think all those people only like white things? They think all those people only want to hear from aggressive, outspoken, black people. Diversity, makes economic sense.

Well, here’s the thing. It’s the pretend part. That’s so damaging. Because you can’t pretend, unless I’m hiring you to be an actor and film. There’s really nothing beneficial about pretending. Pretending doesn’t get you to the other side. Pretending doesn’t get you help from the team, pretending doesn’t give you an opportunity to experience failure and learn from it.

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Conclusion

Myrna: How can people connect with you on social media and listen to your podcasts?

Audrey:  Okay, well it’s very easy to find us at www.amplifyvoices.io. You’ll find everything there. Find me all our podcasts on our website and our social media handles. We just won a prestigious award so we’re very happy that people have received it so well.

Additional Resources

How to Develop Emotional Resilience At Work

 

 

 

How to Rewrite Your Life Story and Achieve Organizational Wellness

Rewrite your life story

When you rewrite your, life story, you can start living on purpose.  You can then transcend the negative stuff from your story all the things that makes you uncomfortable. When you do this as a leader, you can then show up in your organization as your best self and that contributes to, organizational wellness.

My guest today is Sam Morris, Managing Director and chief Culture Officer at Five to Flow LLC, a global collective that builds integrative, organizational wellness, solutions designed to achieve and sustain, peak performance.

Listen to the full interview Here:

Coach Myrna Life Story

I want to start off by sharing my, life story.

I decided to think about my, life story, I realized that as a youth I didn’t identify with my, life story.

My, life story, is that I was born in a very poor Third World Country, Guyana. My mother and father didn’t have much. Both my grandmother and my mom were domestic servants. During that time, I was also, sexually abused.

I never identified with that, story, because somehow God put in my heart and spirit all of the things that I was good at an early age.  I was good in school, I had a great personality, teachers liked me etc. Now that I’m a, life coach, in the personal development space, trying to motivate and inspire others;  the, story, that I tell myself now is that I was born for greater things.

The, life story, of my birth to me is just basically like Jesus, we were both born in poverty and lack in order to transform you into a spiritual teacher.

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Helping Men Rewrite their Life Story

Myrna – Sam you mentioned that you help men overcome their, life stories, traumas, and blocks to be the men the world need them to be.  I’m assuming that you have a, life story, that somehow parallels this, because we have to go through something before you can help other people do the same.

What is your, life story?

Sam – My, life story, is that I was born with my umbilical cord wrapped around my neck, so I couldn’t breathe. From birth to almost 30 years of my life, I was extremely sick.  I had severe food allergies, actually a long list of food allergies. People say that I was allergic to basically everything except water and air; but then a therapist affectionately pointed out to me that actually I was allergic to air, because I also had asthma!

There was a period in my mother’s womb when she thought she had cancer, she didn’t know she was pregnant.  So my energies and my soul and my spirit were immediately put into fighting to survive mode.

As a child and adult, self-love, was not a part of my vocabulary or thought process. I had this idea that I needed to fight for breath and also fight for love.

Overcoming Your Life Story

My, life story, became that in order to be loved, someone had to save me. People were constantly having to save me from my asthma attacks and choking, and this saving mentality got imprinted on my heart as this is what love looks like.

If I am in a relationship with a woman, friend, parents or family member, I believed that for anyone to show me that they loved me they have to somehow save me.

Later in life, I battled addiction from my early 20s into my late 30s.  Really hardcore destructive addiction.

So my, life story, of being needing to be saved was very detrimental and destructive to me and that is why I coach men on how to rewrite their, life story.

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Transform your Mind Soundcloud podcast

Your Life Story and Organizational Wellness

Myrna – How does rewriting your, life story, help with organizational, wellness, and, peak performance?

Sam – Your story, is important in, organizational culture. The, culture, is where I focus all my all my energies on.  Five to Flow focuses on the, organizational culture, because a culture of, inclusivity, allows an organization to thrive.  By, inclusivity, I mean the whole, diversity and inclusion, conversation. The, inclusion, I’m talking about here is the, culture, of feeling safe, allowing your employees to be creative, to be innovative, to show up for work as their best self!

When you rewrite your, life story, around I’m living my purpose, I’m transcending the negative stuff.  I’m transcending my negative story, I’m transcending that, lifestory, that keeps me uncomfortable. I am transcending the, lifestory, that’s familiar, but not productive or growth oriented. I choose to transcend that, lifestory, and show up in my organization as my best self, that mindset contributes to organizational, wellness.

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Transform your Mind Stitcher

Rewrite your Lifestory by Going Back to Your Childhood Home

Myrna – I was listening an interview on Oprah Super Soul Conversations and the author talked about going back to your childhood home and looking through the window. What were your thoughts back then as a child when you looked through the window? Did you envy your friends because they had better clothes than you? Did you want to be white and have long straight hair? Looking through your childhood window allows you to understand your mindset and rewrite your, life story.

A lot of times you have to go back to the trauma and look at it from those eyes and maybe you will see something different. Looking back you could see something someone said to you that had traumatized you for years and now you see it was nothing.  The, story, that you been telling yourself for 30 or 40 years did not happen as you saw it.

How men can be vulnerable as Leaders

Vulnerability, for a guy is like being open to show your feelings even though you have told that real men don’t do this or that.  The things that society doesn’t let you talk about because you’ll look weak. Vulnerability, is like a beach ball in the ocean. Imagine you have a beach ball and it’s fully inflated and you’re trying to push it under water, it’s gonna to always pop back up. That’s like your trauma popping back up and you keep trying to push it back down.

That leads to self-sabotage and repeated destructive patterns.  The beach ball represents, vulnerability. If you open the tab and let some of the air out of the beach ball you will be able to keep it under water.  As a leader you have to become vulnerable to prevent self-sabotage.

Myrna – I remember Tyler Perry talking about this particular subject.  He was taught that men don’t cry and that he’s gone to funerals and people have told him don’t cry, you’re a man. But in an office nobody’s crying, what’s an example of, vulnerability, in a leader that showcases organizational, wellness?

Sam – In organizational, wellness, it is the action that you take to avoid the insecurity of fear. One of those insecurities could be something about like the President implemented a strategy that proved ineffective and someone else presented a better policy.  The President could fear loosing his job and being replaced.

 

Organizational Wellness and Your Life Story

Myrna – Tell us about your organization Five to Flow, I understand your mandate is to help foster, organizational wellness.  You identified that, health and wellness, is important to organizational success.

Sam – What we do at Five to Flow is we look at five areas of, organizational wellness:

  • On our website www.fivetoflow.com we have a, wellness, wave which is a diagnostic tool that anybody take and it will spit you back a score. There’s two versions, a short version and a long form version that any anybody in the organization can take. You get a score from one to five back on how all their employees answered questions in these five areas:
  • process,
  • people,
  • culture
  • analytics and
  • technology.

Each one of these areas has 25 questions for the long form and five questions for the short one about they’re employee or the leadership team or the CEO c-level, c-suite team about their experience of those five areas of the business.

 

Conclusion

I want to remind you guys if you’re if you’re listening on iTunes please subscribe.

You can also subscribe to the Transform your mind YouTube Channel.

Finally, I want to invite you guys to join my Facebook group called life coach for daily inspiration from Coaches and thought leaders from around the world.

 

Additional Resources

Are You Trapped By Your Past?

How to Find Beauty in Your Now!

How Women Get a Seat at the Table

Women are you invisible in the boardroom and have no say? Do men listen when you speak? If the answer is no, then find out how to get, a seat at the table.

In this episode I interview Kimberley Bussey Lewis, Author of , A Seat At The Table, Or Part Of The Meal: Creating A Culture Of Diversity

How did you come to become passionate about, diversity and inclusion, for, women of color?

How to Get a Seat at The Table

I first really started thinking about, a seat at the table,  when I was a very young reporter in Charleston, South Carolina.  I was the only female reporter at the time within this 600 person company.  And what I was struck by is that there were so many decisions that were being made that we would complain about; but none of us had, a seat at the table, to help make those decisions.

I realized that if I didn’t have a place in the room that I was both invisible and silent; so it didn’t matter how much I complained or how much I didn’t like what was going on or simply just didn’t understand it because I was not part of the discussion; I needed, a seat at the table.

So that’s where my passion for, diversity and inclusion, was born.

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CNN wrote a column on getting, a seat at the table, for women. They were discussing congresswoman Harris, basically what they’re saying was that women are invisible and they have no say.  When they speak no one listens.  So I understand what you are saying.

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What happens when there is no seat at the table

I stayed in that company as a reporter without, a seat at the table, about 12 years.  It took me that long to get that awakening.  Sometimes we think that we are fortunate to have a job so we don’t want to stir the pot.  I just increasingly became more and more of a little rebel challenging the status quo. Eventually I left  and ventured out to write my first book.   I was scared to death.  Because here I am I’m going to write a book, I’m going to leave my job.  I took a leave of absence to write the book;  but it was really a step of faith and in writing the book and doing the research.

I became energized when I interviewed older relatives, my mother and great-aunt who were already in their 80s and 90s at the time. I  became energized by their tenacity as, Black women. I knew that we had a lot of strong men in my family, but my eyes are really flew open at the strength of the, black women, and how they held businesses up,  they held a family up and the men of the family up, and brought us all together.

I stumbled into the nonprofit arena by my volunteer work. I was volunteering and working on writing the  book and one thing led to another.  I got to a small job at an organization that was run by a, black woman, who became my mentor.  She took me under her wing and even though I was  just volunteering she taught me so much about strength and tenacity and making your voice count.

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Diversity and Inclusion for Women of Color

Her company was called Family Assistance Management Services

And she was the first black female insurance broker in SC. She had been a full time teacher before she built quite a nest egg with her husband. They owned several pieces of property in Charleston SC. She then became a broker and started several businesses, an insurance company, a computer training clinic all kinds of other businesses, because she had a passion for helping people.

You got your feet wet on the nonprofit arena and but it sounds like you have, a seat at the table, at Goodwill Industries. Why you write the book, “A Seat at the Table or a part of the meal?”

I was born in September 1964 a month after the discrimination Act, and my parents had not long moved to Charleston, SC. All of my siblings, I  have one brother and two sisters, they had all been born at home in the country by a midwife so since it was now illegal for place public places to discriminate my father thought, well I will take my wife to this nice Hospital for my fourth child to be born.  So my mother was in labor he rushes her down to this hospital the Medical University of South Carolina and by this time she’d begun to hemorrhage as I was a breech baby.

It was pouring down rain and he got my mom into the emergency area into the lobby and he started screaming for the doctors to come and help they turned looked at them and turned their backs right away.  All the white doctors and nurses ignored them, so he ran up to them and screamed my wife is bleeding you got to help her and someone told him to just sit down we’ll get to you.

So he scooped her up, put her in a wheelchair and ran with her down the street to the black Hospital. McLennan banks Hospital in the pouring rain with my mom gripping for life on that wheelchair.  He pushed her up into the emergency area and as soon as they saw that she was drenched in blood they rushed her into the emergency room and delivered me.  The doctor who delivered me was a, woman of color, from  South Africa and he named me Kimberly after the Kimberly diamond mines.

Black Women are born to be at the table

It sounds like you were born in to do this work!

I was tried of being the only, Black woman, in the room. I felt we as, Black women, have to do something to get , a seat at the table. If anyone was going to wave that flag of, diversity and inclusion, equity and of, diversity, it should be Goodwill Industries. So it really began then.  We started a task force with a group of CEOs and started to study, diversity and inclusion, and equity programs with fortune 500 companies and fortune 100 companies and other nonprofit organizations. We studied who was doing it well, what were they looking at, what were the metrics and how do you build that diverse pipeline.  We came up an implementation plan.

We were really intentional about attracting, maintaining and keeping a, diversity, workforce.  Whether it is individuals who are Hispanic or individuals who African-American or LGTBQ or disabled.  We recognize that all of that build a table of, diversity.

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The first time that I heard the phrase, a seat at the table, was from one of my coaching clients and I’ve heard it several times since. I heard Gabrielle Union say it that she’s just gonna make her own table because you know the black actresses in Hollywood are still working to, get a seat at the table.  They go through the same discrimination with, diversity and inclusion.  It’s not just in Corporate America or in the board rooms.

Women of Color getting a seat at the table

Kimberly you have, a seat at the table,  what advice would you give to women who are hitting the glass ceiling and get, no seat at the table.

African-American women unfortunately have been absent from the room!  We have not even been invited into the room much less have, a seat at the table, for quite some time.  Women in general have been hitting the glass ceiling for quite a long time.  I’ve heard that men are hired based on what their hiring manager or that supervisor thinks that they can do while women are hired or promoted based on performance.  it is that way because the majority of the, seats at the table, are already held by men.  Predominantly white males and they look for men who look like act like they came from where they come from.

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Black women in order to get, a seat at the table,  have to do 3 things:

  1. They have to network. It’s all about relationships. Else there is, no seat at the table. Everything that you do is about relationships and it’s about networking.  If you didn’t grow up playing golf, learn.  Go around places and do things that make you feel uncomfortable. But you must be part of the conversation. Go to the theater,  go to the Opera, you could serve as an usher and get free tickets.
  2. Get a mentor – All women should have a mentor.
  3. Get a Sponsor – a sponsor and a mentor are two different people. A mentor is someone that you can talk to about your fears and your aspirations. A mentor can give you sound advice and can talk you through some of the issues that you’re having and help you create a plan a plan of attack.

A sponsor on the other hand is going to be that person who’s going to make sure that you’re invited to that meeting.  They’re going to take you under their wing.  They’re going to make sure that there’s a place for you in the conversation and that there is, diversity and inclusion, that you are a part of the discussion. Sponsors are usually white males.

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Additional Resources, A Seat at the Table

https://blog.myhelps.us/how-transform-your-career-with-purpose/

How to Ask for a Raise or Anything you Want in Life.

What are the, Secrets to Success,? Here are my 10 Secrets

https://www.demos.org/research/taking-our-seat-table-black-women-overcoming-social-exclusion-politics#Black-Women%E2%80%99s-Leadership:-Making-a-Way-out-of-No-Way

https://www.talentintelligence.com/blog/bid/377611/inclusion-and-the-benefits-of-diversity-in-the-workplace