25 episodes

What's Your Story is a podcast dedicated to helping business leaders use storytelling to improve the impact of spoken communications within their organizations. If you’re looking to learn communication and storytelling strategies, as well as best practices from leadership and talent development experts, this is the show for you.

Each episode features an interview with an executive or thought leader, discussing topics like: effective storytelling, executive presence, influencing others, corporate communication, leadership and talent development and more.

The What's Your Story podcast is hosted by Sally Williamson and brought to you by SW&A.

What's Your Story: How Leaders Tell Stories to Influence and Connect with Audiences Sally Williamson & Associates

    • Management
    • 4.8 • 12 Ratings

What's Your Story is a podcast dedicated to helping business leaders use storytelling to improve the impact of spoken communications within their organizations. If you’re looking to learn communication and storytelling strategies, as well as best practices from leadership and talent development experts, this is the show for you.

Each episode features an interview with an executive or thought leader, discussing topics like: effective storytelling, executive presence, influencing others, corporate communication, leadership and talent development and more.

The What's Your Story podcast is hosted by Sally Williamson and brought to you by SW&A.

    The Big Pitch with Rachel Spasser

    The Big Pitch with Rachel Spasser

    This episode's topic is The Big Pitch. And it’s a discussion of one of the most important presentations you may ever give. It has a definitive and measurable impact. It’s rarely shared with a large audience. And while the audience may be small, they are a critical one. Because their interest and reaction to the presentation may change the future of a company. And in fact, that’s actually the point. Today, we’re going to talk about “pitch” presentations. Those opportunities when a start-up, mid-size or even a large corporation wants to be acquired.
    The Big Pitch is a different kind of storyline with huge expectations and potential disappointments. And when you’re the communicator, it’s a crash course in how to position your company in a story that will resonate and attract a buyer.
    In our podcast today, you’ll hear a lot about those expectations and some best practices on how to think about The Big Pitch.
    More about Rachel Spasser
    Rachel Spasser is a Managing Director and Chief Marketing Officer at Accel-KKR Consulting Group. Rachel provides strategic guidance as well as sales and marketing leadership across Accel-KKR’s portfolio. Prior to joining Accel-KKR’s Consulting Group, Rachel was the Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Ariba, Inc., an SAP Company. With over 25 years of experience in marketing, business development and general management, Ms. Spasser has spent the past 20 years focused on the business-to-business technology space and speaks frequently on topics such as marketing strategy, demand generation and management and customer adoption marketing.
    Show Notes
    What are Pitch Presentations? Rachel Spasser Managing Director and Chief Marketing Officer at Accel-KKR What is the market like today after an unprecedented year? Q2 of last year was quiet. Companies that were going into investment during Q2 pulled back to wait and see what the market was going to be like going forward. Q3 through the end of the year was very busy. A lot of capital in the market and investment firms need to deepen that capital. Acquisition has become an essential part of the growth strategy. Listeners and the buyers are financial backers and sponsors. Listeners are the deal teams Strategic side Development department and functional leaders interested in acquiring that business. Make sure you understand who the listeners are going to be prior to the pitch. What are people listening for? Expertise Metrics of their business Leadership and the team dynamics Common mistakes in storytelling. People fall short on the presentation itself by rambling or going deeper than the listener can comprehend and not reading signals well. Data is important and should support the story you’re telling. Telling the rearview mirror story rather than the forward story. Backstory is great color and great context but there has to be context of what the future looks like.   Seller can make the story real with good examples and buyer can have a vision for tomorrow. The deal makers and the bankers - most knowledgeable about the situation. What role do they play? The best bankers are the ones that can coach and bring the team along and develop a compelling way to bring the story along. Communicator - or the seller. Typically not a normal sales process. Pitch is high pressure environment. Salespeople are the most prepared for pitches. The pitch team should consist of: Key functional leaders CEO and CFO and senior leadership team CTO Head of Marketing Chief Customer Officer What do you do when your Chief Operating person or Executive is not comfortable in this space? Don’t bring them into the room. Hire a coach to help them feel comfortable presenting even a small part. Investor is looking at the team asking “can these people get me to where I want to go?” and sometimes the CEO do

    • 39 min
    Disrupted! A Talent Acquisition Perspective

    Disrupted! A Talent Acquisition Perspective

    Disruption happens every day across the corporate world. As employees, we experience reorgs, layoffs and acquisitions, and as disrupters ourselves we move cross country, chase ideas and challenge norms. But amidst all the disruption we all experience, some of us seem to thrive in times of turmoil.
    These are the communicators who have mastered the two secret arts hidden within corporate disruption: learning how to establish a compelling brand and build an intriguing career narrative. They are skills that take time to perfect, but they’re the differentiator factors between those who are cast adrift from disruption and those who prosper from it.
    We believe in this strongly...and it’s why we wrote our latest book: Disrupted! How to Reset Your Brand & Your Career.
    But don’t just take our word for it. On this episode, Hurst Williamson is joined by 2 Talent Acquisition specialists to share their perspectives on the trends they see every day and what makes a job candidate successful…or forgettable.
    More About the Guests
    Elisa Abner-Taschwer is the Talent Acquisition Manager at FORUM Credit Union in Fishers, Indiana. She has over 30 years of HR experience, primarily in Talent Acquisition. Elisa lives with her husband of 27 years and their Mini Golden Doodle, Max.
    Lauren Baksh, M.Ed. is the Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition at Graphic Packaging International. She has over ten years of talent management experience in the manufacturing industry and currently supports her team with the design and executi
    Show Notes
    Careers are no longer on a straight and narrow path. People will change their job/career 7-10 times throughout their career. Interview determines if there will be a next change in a person's career.What does it take to make a job a candidate memorable or forgettable? What percentage of people are good at interviewing? Less than 5% Not as many people are good at interviewing that think they are good at interviewing. Those that think they are good at interviewing usually lack authenticity.  
    What goes wrong in an interview? Lack of prep - didn’t know much about the company or the interviewer. Lacked confidence - unaware of body language. Lacked impact - didn’t understand their experiences well. Prospective employee must be interviewing the company as well as being interviewed by the company. Preparation will help a candidate seal the deal. Good story tellers have better impact in an interview.  
    Virtual vs. In-Person Interviews Same challenges exist in a virtual interview as an in person interview. Candidates see virtual as more informal and have a low awareness of their setting and background. Fewer people ghost virtual interviews.  
    When prepping for a virtual interview, consider it the same as if you are going to meet with someone - dress professionally. Potential employers encourage prospective employees to ask questions about the attire and the platform being used to the interview. How many resumes for a potential position are reviewed?  Far too many 20-30+ resumes for an open position 30-50 resumes  
    What really makes a candidate stand out? Individuals who understand the organization and the culture. Candidates with confidence in themselves and the ability to have a good vision as to what they want in their new position. Candidates must be a good cultural fit. Candidates must ask questions in the interview and understand the opportunity.  
    The most critical skills for a top candidate: Problem solving and thinking. Collaboration and cooperation. Communication and influence. Advice to stand-out in interviews: Translate the experience you had with the job you want to do. Think about things that you’ve done that have given you that experience. Update your resume annually and add accomplishments from the previous years. Highlight how you work on a team.

    • 39 min
    Disrupted! A Talent Development Perspective

    Disrupted! A Talent Development Perspective

    Disruption happens every day across the corporate world. As employees, we experience reorgs, layoffs and acquisitions, and as disrupters ourselves we move cross country, chase ideas and challenge norms. But amidst all the disruption we all experience, some of us seem to thrive in times of turmoil.
    These are the communicators who have mastered the two secret arts hidden within corporate disruption: learning how to establish a compelling brand and build an intriguing career narrative. They are skills that take time to perfect, but they’re the differentiator factors between those who are cast adrift from disruption and those who prosper from it.
    We believe in this strongly...and it’s why we wrote our latest book: Disruption: How to Reset Your Brand & Your Career.
    But don’t just take our word for it. On this episode, Hurst Williamson is joined by 3 Talent Development specialists to share their perspectives on what makes an employee a high-potential candidate and what traits they look for in tomorrow’s leaders.
    More About the Guests
    Alexandra Daily-Diamond is the Northwest Regional Talent Development Manager at Gensler, a design and architecture firm. In her role she identifies people-focused solutions to HR challenges. She focuses on organizational and employee development and engagement, talent management, coaching, and HR strategies that promote wellbeing.
    Hilda Currey is the Enterprise Learning Management Systems Administrator for Methodist Health System, a non-profit healthcare organization located in Dallas, Texas. Hilda has over 25 years of experience in corporate & healthcare learning and talent development, and has held a series of progressive positions in the training and development field.
    Megan Breiseth is the Senior Director of Learning and Development at InsideTrack. Megan has worked  in employee development since 2006. At InsideTrack, she coached online adult learners and eventually moved into Learning and Development leadership. During her career, Megan has built and managed learning programs that unlock the potential in coaches, managers, and support staff.
    Show Notes
    Disruption is happening across the board in companies and for employees. Employees no longer have a mapped-out career path. Seek opportunities to expand your skills and repackage your potential. What do companies think about talent development?  What percentage of the workforce has needed to do some kind of rest in 2020? 100% of the team had a reset in priorities, personal goals, and how they do the work. All training was converted to virtual learning, 10% of corporate employees shifted to work from home. 100% of people's jobs changed and circumstances changed. Staff neededg to focus on what is most essential for students and institutions to meet their basic needs. Prioritize safety, wellness, and how to set up systems to support employees so they could show up.
    Pandemic aside - What other things would be examples of organization disruptions? Integrating separate systems into one Transition from for profit to nonprofit business  Change roles to be more scalable and sustainable More efficiency changes in the workplace Pandemic heightened changes that would have happened otherwise but pandemic made it more urgent. Economy is a general factor in disruption. - Global company and global economic impact. Companies are shifting to have a clear focus to elevate the human experience.
    What is the organization's responsibility in an employee’s development and what is the employee's responsibility in that? Company being intentional to listen and empower. Employees seek out feedback on what the individual could do better. Ask the questions that are going to get employees thinking deeply. Empower employees to own their career and see themselves. Have a specific program for leaders. Offer employees training or tuition reimbur

    • 48 min
    Disrupted! A Podcast with the Creators: Why We Wrote It & What We Learned

    Disrupted! A Podcast with the Creators: Why We Wrote It & What We Learned

    Disruption happens a lot across the corporate world. Sometimes, from a company’s perspective through realigning functions. And sometimes by employees themselves as they make choices to try different things. But whether disruption is caused by a company or an individual, it’s occurring more frequently.
    And from our vantage point, we see individuals who aren’t ready for it…and aren’t good at resetting around a challenge or an opportunity that disruption causes. The book sets out to help individuals understand why disruption occurs and how to plan for resets.
    This episode of What's Your Story has guest host, Lia, who interviews Sally, Hurst, and LaKesha about book insights, highlights and maybe see if they'll share a few tips from our latest book, Disrupted! How to Reset your Brand and Your Career.
    More about The Creators
    Sally Williamson is the founder of SW&A and an expert in all things related to spoken communication. Sally brings more than three decades of experience, insights and a general love of connection to empower more than 15,000 leaders and managers to influence and impact any group. Disrupted! is her fourth book.
    Hurst Williamson is the ultimate utility player who can uncover client needs, lead a workshop or weave an incredible tale. He owns every room and brings genuine engagement to communication. He is the heart of the career journey and a proud member of the generation most disrupted. But he sees it as an opportunity to tell your story and own your journey. And he’s helping many of our clients do just that. Hurst co-authored Disrupted! and it is his second book.
    LaKesha Edwards is a life-long learner who loves research, insights and discovery. With a Ph.D. added to her own career journey, she questions what we’re learning and how we’re solving it. And with SW&A, she creates the steps to continue a development experience by thinking through what we learn, what we teach and how we coach. And quite frankly, she keeps us all on our toes. She led the research behind Disrupted!
    Show Notes
    Disrupted! How to Reset Your Brand and Your Career Disruption happens all over the world and it’s occurring more frequently. This book sets out to help individuals understand why disruption occurs and how to plan for resets.
    Why Disrupted! How to Reset Your Brand and Your Career was written: It felt like the right time for the topic and they had the tools to sell it. As a communications firm they have a broad view of business change. SW&A wanted to support individuals and how they deal with disruption. This time, around wanted to include two new minds in the process to have fresh perspective about a topic that will directly affect their generation. The timing of COVID-19 offered the space, insight, and necessity for this book. This book has blended all their different talents together.
    What was Disrupted! How to Reset Your Brand and Your Career trying to uncover and discover? Focus on developing the skills of current employees. Noting talent strategies have shifted with business beliefs. Talent acquisition is trying to bring in the needed talent to solve for gaps. Where does that create insight for a reader or an individual who’s thinking through their own career path and development? Talent Leaders have encouraged employees to take ownership of their own career path. Training for employees to directly support company goals is 82%.  8% of their time is focused on development outside of company goals. If your interest does not align with the company's goals, it will not be a priority. Talent development is in charge of supplying the people to let that growth happen. Goals get narrow fast - if an individual doesn’t fit in the scope, they will fall behind. Employees must take ownership to develop their skills to make sure they stand out. Employees must not rely on somebody wat

    • 30 min
    Helping Tech to Talk Exec with Mac Smith

    Helping Tech to Talk Exec with Mac Smith

    From a distance, you could assume that product creation and innovation is easy because it seems to happen quickly. But you’d be wrong. It actually requires an army of technologists and engineers to keep innovation moving and to deliver products in a speedy fashion. And they aren’t alone. Long before a product reaches a build phase, there are multiple steps to analyze a market, identify a need and propose a product against a market opportunity.
    Sometimes there can be a communication conflict between senior leaders and technical teams, and often, the outcome is a lack of understanding and buy-in. It’s why one of the key development needs amongst technology teams is learning to communicate with an executive audience. 
    On this episode of What’s Your Story, Sally is joined by Mac Smith, who leads Cross Portfolio Research for Search & Assistant, at Google. And he’s going to share his experience with why communication conflicts happen, and how they can be improved.
    More about Mac Smith
    Mac is the Head of Cross Portfolio Research for Search & Assistant at Google. He leads a 25 researcher organization on research programs that bridge Google Search & Assistant product lines. The team combines product support with cross portfolio programs and processes that increase the overall speed and quality of a 100 person research organization. Before this role, he was the Head of User Research for the Core Search Product.
    Show Notes
    Is there a struggle between executive teams and tech teams? Much of the content struggles to connect at the right altitude to connect with the executive teams. For tech teams who are thinking about how a particular product would work, much of the content in the area of comfort lies around their expertise: The how Data Risks  Blockers - etc Try starting with the main point instead of throwing details.  The experts struggle envisioning not having all the details to make a decision.  The challenge has always been there are repeats on different scales. What has changed as they increase scale is the amount of time the execs have, as well as the complexity they are dealing with has grown exponentially.  Perspective difference hasn’t changed - as the organizations have grown, the amount of time you have to make that decision has changed. In smaller scale companies, you have more of an opportunity to work with those decision makers. As the company grows, it becomes more structured and you have fewer opportunities to make those connections. Most of the leadership has spent a considerable amount of time as product engineers prior to becoming executives in tech. It’s important to understand the complexity of systems that run your business so you can make decisions that bridge business, experience and technology. The challenge is many of the engineers have never been in the executive position. From the executive perspective: the aperture of their view, the connection, and the time have all changed - that is the biggest perspective. Executive teams need to come in the door and think about what decision they will make that day. Leaders connect dots. Looking at something a moment in time vs something over time. For researchers there are two parts to the job: 1. The craft of collecting information. 2. The role of being an advisor and a steward of that information. If you are advising or influencing a leader your job does not stop upon delivery of the information, you also need to help/guide that person (the executive) to make a decision.  The need for people to have effective communication in their roles has gotten greater. Growth makes communication more challenging. In the early stages of a company, you see more expert to expert conversation. When the audience grows you are no longer having those expert-to-expert conversations. Growth requires you to evaluate how you communicate. Ho

    • 41 min
    The Stories Behind a Purpose with CeCe Morken

    The Stories Behind a Purpose with CeCe Morken

    These days, we’re all exhausted. And it’s not just the physical tiredness of managing kids, virtual schooling, shifting work locations in a house, or balancing disruptions as our personal lives and workspace converge. It’s a mental tiredness and fatigue, and the effects are pretty dramatic.  
    It’s a good thing that companies were already working on body and mind wellness. Wellness support and training has become an integral part of many company’s benefit plans and training initiatives. The added stress and uncertainty of the pandemic has intensified the conversations about mindfulness, meditation, and a company called Headspace.
    On this episode of What’s Your Story, Sally’s guest is CeCe Morken, President and CEO of Headspace, and she’s here to share her experience with how she found herself in this role and the benefits of finding your purpose.
     
    More about CeCe Morken
    CeCe Morken serves as President and Chief Operating Officer of Headspace. She is a highly accomplished technology industry executive with 35 years of experience building and growing organizations, from start-ups to global, publicly traded companies. 
    CeCe joined Headspace after 13 years at Intuit, where she led multiple business units. She served as Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Strategic Partner Group, responsible for the accountant, financial institution, and enterprise platform business generating $700M in annual revenue — in addition to leading both the Corporate/Government Affairs and Corporate Responsibility functions for the company. Morken was also responsible for building strategic partnerships between Intuit and financial institutions, government and educational entities, and enterprise platforms, and also responsible for expanding global engagements, which doubled the velocity of contracts in the target countries of the UK, Australia, Canada, and France.
    Before serving in this capacity, Morken led Intuit Financials Services (IFS). She led this business through a technology and business model transformation that moved the business to the number one ranking in share and product design across online and mobile platforms, leading the industry in open platform designs. Subsequently, CeCe led the strategic decision to divest the business and close the sale to the private equity firm Thoma Bravo in August of 2013.
    Morken is a graduate of North Dakota State University, with majors in Economics and Business Administration, and attended the University of Chicago Booth’s executive development program. Morken currently serves on the Boards of GENPACT and NDSU College of Business. 
    Morken has also been recognized as one of The Most Powerful Women in Accounting (2017), National Diversity and Leadership Most Powerful Women in Technology (2017 and 2019), and has received the Intuit CEO Leadership Award in 2011, 2014, and 2017, and the Bill Campbell Coaches Award in 2018.
     
    Show Notes
    Headspace: Improve health and wellness of the world. This organization helps people build healthy routines through mindfulness in an app. 46% of people over the age of 18 will have a diagnosable mental health issue 60% of those are untreated Purpose of Headspace: Corporate social responsibility and working in service for the greater good. What is the impact of mindfulness thinking? How mindfulness has changed the workplace Study by Headspace: 65% of employees report that most of the stress they feel is from work 42% state that work/life balance is the greatest source of stress 45% of those lose 2 hours a day because of stress There has been an increase of CEO’s listing mental health and mindfulness as a priority in the workplace. With the emphasis on this from other companies there are positive results and improvement. Employers need to enable people to bring their whole selves to work. Virtual environment has mad

    • 27 min

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