What Do You Say “Yes” To?
Are you the type of person who says Yes? The other week I was listening to extemporaneous speeches given by our students in a leadership development program. We've been working with them on storytelling and presenting skills. Their charge on this morning was to randomly [...]
Strength in numbers: how community can become your superpower
As a small child, I didn’t get out much. I grew up on a farm several miles outside a small town, to parents who were 45 and 52—old enough to be grandparents. I did not go to preschool, and my parents’ friends didn’t have kids [...]
6 online marketing lessons from smart businesses in my small town
About a year ago, I relocated to a small Midwestern farm town called Geneseo, Illinois. It’s a picturesque little community full of Victorian-era homes and tree-lined streets. Straight out of a Hallmark movie, you know? You really should come and visit us sometime. When my [...]
Tools of the Trade: Where did I Put That List?
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t keep some kind of list, whether it’s grocery, ToDo, or “bucket” style. Entrepreneurs have become millionaires by creating methods to not just help us generate lists, but to get us addicted to the high of “checking the box” [...]
We edited “story” out of our stuff, and I’m sorry about that
Whenever I tell people what I do for a living—helping people bring storytelling and creativity into the workplace—I’m met with immediate interest. “Wow! Cool! That sounds like so much fun.” It is! And not just fun, but useful. The ability to craft and tell a [...]
Don’t Get Mad. Make It Up.
It started out as a joke, a silly way for us to blow off steam. We invented something out of sheer frustration.Ever since I started teaching creative writing, students have been asking me for the magical elixir: What is the formula for writing a story?I [...]
Your quest to be more creative starts here
How To Be Creative is a theme that surfaces again and again when I sit down to write. Not because people flock to me asking, “Oh Beth, you creative wizard, will you please publish your wisdom?!” Nope, that’s not the spark that lights my blog-posting [...]
How Long Is Too Short?
When it comes to professional development, how long does a training have to be? The answer of course is, it depends. Imagine preparing to teach and standing in front of a roomful of quiet, nervous colleagues who don't know each other and aren't quite sure [...]
Want your point to have power? Here are 7 things NOT to say.
Lucky you! You get to speak at an industry event, corporate conference, or team meeting. No doubt, your presentation will include a set of slides. Slides are a de facto requirement for most business presentations. You gotta have ‘em, right? Incidentally, Jill and I have [...]
How to turn “I don’t know” into a conversational advantage
As 2022 drew to a close, several of my friends announced that they were stepping away from social media, at least until January. To detox from the digital noise, they chose to disconnect. Stepping away can be good practice for analog conversations, too. In tense [...]
Happy Holidog: Always Changing, Always Staying the Same
Each holiday, my wife puts out HoliDog. This cute little bit of fluff gets gussied up depending on the holiday. Last month it was a pumpkin for Halloween. This month it will get a Santa's hat and a red bowtie. You know you're at our house [...]
Eliminate acronyms from your vocabulary (except the ones I invented)
So much workplace communication is just crap. Big words trying to sound smart and important. Vague words trying to obscure the specifics. Jargon trying to belong with the insiders’ club. And OMG the acronyms. Several years ago, I invented an acronym to illustrate just how [...]
Smile! You’re On Camera
Video. When I watch myself in a video it's sort of an out-of-body experience; is that really me on the screen? Do I look like that? Why do I keep doing that weird thing with my eyebrows? We are forever critical of ourselves and our [...]
Your predictable headlines have no story to tell
As the holidays approach, I’m refining a new party trick. Let me try it on you, right now. “I bet I can guess the slide headlines on your most recent presentation.” “No way,” you say. “You don’t even know what I do for a living. [...]
Think you’re not creative? Think again.
When people ask me what I do for a living, I say I’m a creativity consultant. The obvious comeback is, “Huh?” And for that, I have an answer: “I show business people how to use creativity and storytelling to communicate and get things done at [...]
Am I Out of a Job?
Have you see Flippy, the robot designed to manage the fryer in fast food restaurants? It's pretty amazing until you watch it for a few minutes and realize how terrifyingly human it seems. It's "artificial intelligence" or AI, and is supposed to help cook french fries better, [...]
You’re boring. Stop that.
When Jill and I started our Story Mode program, we easily landed on our motto/tagline/hashtag: Refuse To Be Boring. This phrase is our “way.” It’s our constant reminder and also an apt description of how we think, act, talk, create, work, relate. It’s how we [...]
Brainstorming? 39 ideas will pack a powerful punch.
A decade ago, I accidentally invented a brainstorming rule. Scratch that. The only “rule” in brainstorming is that no idea is a bad idea. Otherwise, no rules. So, what should we call this thing that isn’t a rule? Is it a concept? A theory? A [...]
Do You Have the Right Time?
The best writers--creative and business--understand the importance and power of time I’m waiting for the plumber to arrive. Ever since our revered plumber/friend Larry retired, our plumbing issues have either been ignored or a fix has been attempted by me. Never a good idea. There [...]
Stories need struggle. Storytellers do not.
“I thought it would be easy.” When Jill and I use this prompt as a warm-up exercise in our Story Mode workshops, the result is always a fascinating variety of struggle stories. After just three minutes of writing, participants share vivid scenes that range from [...]
Blocks and Blockages
https://instorymode.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Blog-Banners-1.mp4 I don’t believe in “writers block,” although that doesn’t stop me from whining about not being able to write. Clearly, I’m not the only one. I recently read about this cafe in Tokyo that offers free coffee and human naggers to check on you every [...]
We’ve outlawed disclaimers. Here’s why.
When it comes to creative communication, I am not fond of rules—unless I’m breaking them. I tweak templates, bust boundaries, and write wrong. Perhaps this is why I’m self-employed; I take serious pleasure in challenging “the way we’ve always done it” and going against the [...]
DON’T Mind the Gap
Have you ever ridden the London tube? “Mind the Gap” is what you hear over the loudspeaker every time the Tube stops and the doors open. The 'gap' is the space between the train and the platform. The phrase has become iconic and it has [...]
Stop inventing C.R.A.P. business words
While Jill and I were guestcasting* on the Grounded Content podcast, Jill said: “You can take one piece of content and repurpose it in a hundred million different ways, and each of those repurposements ...” Yes, my business partner is fond of both hyperbole (A [...]