Episode 133

Exploring Stories: Illuminating the Teachings Within

I’m invited to a very high-level martial arts seminar to provide communications training to the attendees. These attendees are not your average martial artists, however: they train governments and militaries all over the world. And they’ve all traveled here for this event.

Tommy, the person running the event, starts the morning by having everyone gather around him. He reaches into his duffel bag, pulls something out, and holds it in front of each person, inviting them to take a calculated risk.

Silence. But then, slowly, one by one they all rise to the challenge… until there’s just one person left in the room who hasn’t tried it yet. 


Even though I’m not here to show off any martial arts skills, everyone’s eyes are still on me because they know I’m a martial artist, too. And now everyone is waiting – and watching – to see what I’m going to do next.

So what exactly was this experiment, and how did I respond to the challenge? Today on the Storytelling School Podcast, we mix things up with a brand new “Exploring Stories” master series where I dive into one aspect of storytelling or a piece of a story and show how you can use these insights, tools, and perspective to take your storytelling to the next level. And in this episode, I reveal the calculated risk that I (and the other martial artists) took that day and the powerful lesson it taught me. I’ll also teach you:

Why do calculated risks make for such great stories to tell? And what’s the one caveat you need to be careful of when it comes to storytelling?

What you will learn in this episode:

What you will learn in this episode:

  • What kinds of calculated risks you can take as a speaker or storyteller
  • How you can enter into a story and its lesson
  • How your story can have multiple lessons (and what influences which lesson you teach)

A little bit about me.

As a Speaking Strategist and founder of Storytelling School, I’ve had the pleasure of working with over 500 speakers, business leaders, and entrepreneurs worldwide for over a decade. No matter if those folks were getting ready to take the TED or TEDx stage or preparing for a high-stakes presentation with everything on the line, my specialty is High Stakes Short Form Communication. I’ve seen what works when influencing change and what doesn’t. It turns out storytelling is one of the most powerful tools you can have in your arsenal. That’s why I’m building a movement of master storytellers to affect change in the world on a global scale to help people tell real stories that have influence and impact. With effective storytelling, you change people’s lives.

Since competition for potential client attention is fierce, a story can make the difference between being memorable or irrelevant. You’ll find me sharing my matcha tea mishap to discuss perfectionism, my quest for Bruce Lee and Hello Kitty art to explore kindness, or the six months of live blade training I underwent to illustrate presence. I spend my days showing the power of using stories to help cement ideas and bring lessons to life and teaching my clients to do the same.

If you think business owners can’t tell stories or don’t have stories to share with their clients, staff, donors, followers, or investors, I invite you to reconsider your perspective. There’s no better place than in business to tell your stories so audiences, no matter how big or small, can understand how you think and what you value.

Now it’s your turn… If you’re ready to become a master storyteller and effect change in our world, you’ve come to the right place.

Want to take your storytelling skills to the next level?

I've got your back!

Learn how to craft a story that will make your brand unforgettable

The Proven 5-step process to captivate any audience


my proven 5-step process for short-form storytelling that you can apply to your stories forever


and craft your own Spotlight Story that you can use in a plethora of scenarios


on where and why to use storytelling in a variety of business situations to become unforgettable


clarity on the most common mistakes storytellers make and learn how to avoid those

...and so much more!

I want to stand out!

The best storytellers are memorable for a reason.

Traver Boehm

2-time TEDx Speaker, Author, Coach, and Founder of the Uncivilized Movement

Mo Barrett

TEDx Speaker, Anecdotist, Connector, Mischief-maker, Retired Military Commander, Keynote Speaker

Katy Stevens

Musician, Performer, Recording Artist, Voice Teacher

Greg Smith

TEDx Youngstown Organizer and Voice Coach, Chairman and CCO of Compco

Than Baardson

Entrepreneur, Speaker, Connector, CEO of Unseen, Humanitarian

Cathy Sommerville

TEDx Speaker, Coach, Advisor, Leader, Author, Vice President


I'm ready to stand out!