In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Kindra Hall. Kindra is President and Chief Storytelling Officer at Steller Collective, a consulting firm focused on the strategic application of storytelling to today’s communication challenges. Her Wall Street Journal best-selling book, Stories That Stick, was released by Harper Leadership in the fall of 2019, which Forbes said: “may be the most valuable business book you read”. Today, we’re talking about her most recent book: Choose Your Story, Change Your Life: Silence Your Inner Critic and Rewrite Your Life from the Inside Out.
Most of the “self-stories” you tell yourself—the kind of person you say you are and the things you are capable of—are invisible to you because they have become such a part of your everyday mental routine that you don’t even recognize they exist. Yet, these self-stories influence everything you do, everything you say, and everything you are.
In this episode, I talk with best-selling author, Kindra Hall, about how to take control of your self-story and uncover the clear steps you can take to create the life you want. You can choose your story and live your life in a way that you never have before.
Questions I Ask Kindra Hall:
- [3:28] I want to talk about a particular word in the title of your new book. You pick the word ‘Choose’. So what do you mean by ‘choose’ in ‘Choose Your Story’?
- [4:52] When people say things like, “You’re just in your head, and that’s why you’re stuck” – how different is deciding to choose your story?
- [5:38] If a lot of these thoughts are unconscious, how do you find them to begin with?
- [10:26] Can we talk about the term ‘self-storytelling’?
- [11:18] Is there a muscle that you create or work where you can begin to recognize these tendencies? Is that the eventual goal?
- [12:29] The book is in several parts – could you give us a glimpse into what we’re going to find in those three separate parts and how they go together?
- [16:16] Is the ultimate goal to have built up a series of stories, or what might seem to be affirmations that you tell yourself in certain situations that you need to believe or need to convince yourself of?
- [18:39] One of the stories I think a lot of us tell ourselves is that other people’s stories are crap. What impact do you think this could have on us being more accepting of other people’s stories?
- [20:07] All right. So now I’ve got my library built up. How do I install and activate these stories that I’ve rewritten?
- [22:06] Where they can find out more about your work and obviously get a copy of the book,
More About Kindra Hall:
- Choose Your Story, Change Your Life: Silence Your Inner Critic and Rewrite Your Life from the Inside Out
- Instagram: @kindrahall
- Twitter: @kindramhall
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John Jantsch (00:00): Today's episode is brought to you in part by Success Story, hosted by Scott D. Clary and brought to you by the HubSpot podcast network. Success story is one of the most successful, useful podcasts in the world. They feature Q and A sessions with successful business leaders, keynote presentations and conversations on sales, marketing, business, startups and entrepreneurship. A recent episode had Terry Jones, the CEO of Travelocity and the chairman of of kayak.com. Talking all about disrupting existing industries with technologies so much for us to, to think about and learn in that episode. So listen to this success story podcast, wherever you get your podcast.
John Jantsch (00:55): Hello, and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Kindra Hall. She's the president and chief storytelling officer at stellar collective, a consulting firm focused on the strategic application of storytelling to today's communication challenges. She's the author of the wall street journal bestselling book stories that stick released in 2019. And she's out within new book called "Choose Your Story, Change Your Life, silence your inner critic and rewrite your life from the inside out. So Kendra, welcome to the show,
Kindra Hall (01:33): John, thank you so much for having me thrilled to be
John Jantsch (01:35): Here. So storytelling is it's. I was gonna say, it's having a moment. It's having like a decade. The, you know, when I started my business, maybe you could find one book on storytelling and now there's like whole sections in bookstores, but I was really, uh, pleased to see that you've kind of got a pretty big twist on the idea of storytelling. I mean really more about your life in some ways. Yeah,
Kindra Hall (01:58): I think that, you know, there are, of course, and, and my first book is all about stories in business and, and why they're so important and how to tell them, but it became really clear to me over the past several years, having the opportunity to meet readers or speak to live audiences, that there was another really important story. And perhaps the most important, one of all, not necessarily the stories we tell outwardly, but the stories we're telling inwardly and to ourselves.
John Jantsch (02:29): Yeah. One, one of the challenges that I think anytime something becomes a hot trend, you know, or a hot business technique, you know, people start manufacturing stories because it's a good way to like, get your message across or to influence people. And I think it's kind kind of muddy, uh, the pond a little bit. Hasn't it?
Kindra Hall (02:47): Mm-hmm
John Jantsch (03:29): So I wanna pick on one word in particular in the title, because you know, a lot of people are, write your story, create your story, but you actually pick the word choose. So what do you mean? What do you mean by
Kindra Hall (03:39): Choose? It was, I'm glad you bring that up because there was some discussion about the title, choose your story, change your life is the title. And there was some talk of, yeah, write your story, create your story, uh, change your story. Change. Your life was one that kept coming up. But for me, the most important thing here is that we can't, you know, change your story, change your life. The reality is, and, and you mentioned it earlier, we can't make up stories. We can't change or erase the stories that have happened to us. The experiences that we've had, the, the hardships, the challenges, whatever those are, this isn't about. Well, forget about those. This is about acknowledging that it there and our ability, our, our great benefit that we can choose to focus and retell ourselves better stories. The stories in our lives that serve us, that motivate us to, to move forward that pull us off the cat out, or encourage us to take the risk that we really should take. So choose was a very important word, a nod to the agency and ownership we have,
John Jantsch (04:51): How different is this? When people say, oh, you know, this head trash is stopping you from doing stuff, or mm-hmm,
Kindra Hall (05:04): Well, I would say, I mean, this, this sentiment, I suppose, at its most basic level is true. I am saying that, and it is true. There there's a lot of conversations happening in our own minds that, that are completely automated. A SUBC is that we're almost entirely unaware of. So, so in that way, it's the same, how it's different is it's important to take a look at the neuroscience and humans as inner storytellers.
John Jantsch (05:35): So you mentioned the idea of it being unconscious. Um, so how do you find these? I mean, it's, it's kinda like that white noise it's going until somebody turns it off. You didn't even know it was going on. So, so like
Kindra Hall (05:46): How do you find them? Well, and that's, that is absolutely the first step. So if these are subconscious and the other thing that we should know is that we are, we have a natural built in negativity bias. So not only are these stories, not only is our brain drawing on experiences where maybe something went wrong, or someone made fun of us, or we, you know, we didn't, we didn't win get, we didn't take the, or we took the game winning shot and didn't make it in the net or whatever. See, you could see it struggled with that because it's a sports analogy and that I'm, I'm like net, well, there are multiple sports that use net. So that was, but you can see. So, so we, we have these, our, our brain has this desire to keep us safe. And so it's saying, Ooh, don't, don't go too far.
Kindra Hall (06:36): Remember this, this, oh, go to don't step out over here, remember this, this, this. And so the key really is to find opportunities a, to be aware that that's what's happening and B find opportunities to pause this automation. So you can even be, have an opportunity or have the possibility of changing it or choosing a better story. So, so I would recommend anytime, you know, anytime you are procrastinating there's and, and I give there's, there's several examples in there, but one that I think is a true sign. Anytime you are procrastinating to do something that, you know, you should do. For example, I have got this email, John, I'm embarrassed to say it. I've got this email that I'm to send and, you know, launching a book it's important to, to rally all the people, to get all the support that you can. And there's this one email from this one person who said, blatantly email me and tell me when you want me to post about your book on my blog, but I just cannot bring myself to send this email.
Kindra Hall (07:39): And, and I, and I, I know it's there because that procrastination is telling me that there's a story there, that there, there are stories there that are holding me back. And as I think about it, it's stories about me making sure that I get the email perfect and all the stories in my life where perfection was rewarded. And I'm nervous that I won't the email perfect, there's this, you know, there are the stories of being rejected of other times. I was maybe going above, you know, like reaching a little bit higher than I should. And, and so all these stories are keeping me stuck in this place and not sending this email. So anytime. And, and I just realized that that that's what was happening earlier today, cuz I was procrastinating their stories there. So now I've gotta start choosing a better story to tell myself so that I write the email and hit send, and I'm gonna do it by the end of the day. Okay.
John Jantsch (08:32): So, so let me, let me go back to what you just said. I mean that that's really the art, right? So you witnessed the story mm-hmm
Kindra Hall (08:43): What you're saying is mm-hmm
John Jantsch (09:32): Let's just do it live. I'll pause the recording and you just on that email.
Kindra Hall (09:36): I know I really should. No, I really don't. Please hold me to it that I do it at the end of this. Right. Okay. But that's, that's the difference? That's the difference? Right. There is three stories about emails that went really great, that weren't perfect, that were sent on a wimp and I'm ready to take that action
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John Jantsch (10:27): So there is a term I not necessarily heard this. I think it's very clever. And I think again, it's a, it's a piece of, of choose your story and this, this idea, I think we've kind of been talking about self storytelling mm-hmm
Kindra Hall (10:39):
John Jantsch (11:19): So I'm imagining you get like your arms around this, like, oh my goodness, here's why I'm doing this, you know, kind of thing. So do, do you actually, is there sort of a muscle that you create now that you're like, oh, I could recognize that and laugh at it. You know, now, I mean, do you, is that sort of the eventual
Kindra Hall (11:35): Goal? That's and it is the eventual goal and that is eventually what happens now. We are still human, right? Like I wrote, I wish I could say I wrote this book and now have no problems whatsoever with myself stories, but I just gave you a couple of examples of where even I struggle. However, I think it's that reduction in time wasted, stuck in old stories. Yeah. And yeah, as soon as you can, you can now say to yourself, and that's my hope is people read this and I've seen it happen, uh, with people who I've taken through this process is it's much easier now for them to say, hold on, there's a story there. And not many people have expressed it in this way, but I love that you did, and kind of laugh at it and say, Ugh, look how ridiculous this is. Look at how ridiculous these stories are that I tell myself that are keeping me from doing the thing I really wanna do.
John Jantsch (12:30): So the book is in several parts. And so maybe like any good framework, kind of give the, the framework, you know, come the story, the storytelling process hacking your essential stories or the mm-hmm
Kindra Hall (12:50): Together. Yep. So the first part is, is abolishing a baseline for understanding why this even matters. And it goes into the neuroscience of storytelling and you know, maybe outward storytelling is a skill you wanna work on. It's good for pitches. It's good for interviews, but the reality is you are an excellent storyteller inside your own head. No, again, we're not always telling ourselves the best stories, but that first part really sets the scene for what self storytelling is and why it matters so much and gives a little background on how we really can fulfill the promise of changing your life by choosing better stories. The second part of the book is a really important part to me and the at is the method, the path forward, how do we actually do this? Because as you said, there's, there's a lot of different ways to say it.
Kindra Hall (13:43): My daughter came home one day from school and said, mama, listen to this quote, whether you think you can, or you think you can't you're right. She just thought, I mean, I'm sure she thought her teacher came up with that quote, but it's, you know, we, we hear different versions of this and we have our entire lives, but I wanted to lay out a plan for, okay. So you're suspicious that stories are holding you back. What do you do about it? Four steps, really simple, really effective. And then the third part of the book is touches on the five, five key areas of life and explores how self storytelling can show up in each one of those areas. So business and career, lots of stories with business and career money and finances. I don't think there is anything more storied than money. There is health and wellbeing, love and relationships and family, and so five chapters. So, you know, and you can pick whatever, whatever area of your life you're thinking is you're most affected by your stories that you could start there.
John Jantsch (14:48): You know, one of my favorite examples I love to use and, and I see this all the time is, you know, you can take somebody, an entrepreneur totally successful by everybody's measure finances, you know, all the things they seem like they really got it going on. And yet they go back to a family reunion and they're like that little dopey kid that has not achieved anything. Exactly. And it's like, I think that's such a, such an of, you know, how you know that self storytelling, you know, doesn't allow us to break free sometimes.
Kindra Hall (15:17): Yeah. I had a conversation just over the holidays with some relatives. We, we ended up having our holiday plans, got a little upended, but so is the case. It'll make a good story to tell someday, or it already does now, but even in a, a conversation over FaceTime with relatives, I realized, oh my goodness, they're, they've handed down stories to me that I've willingly accepted and have never fully evaluated. And actually I think they're starting to reek some havoc on my life. Now, again, it is not my relatives fault. They're, they're getting stories handed down to them and stories handed down to them. I bet I could trace it. I bet I could trace them back six, seven generations, but I get to choose again. I get to choose what the stories I want to tell myself are, and now being aware of, wow, that's where that's coming from. I feel like I have a, a good baseline for where to move forward.
John Jantsch (16:16): So in some ways is the, is the ultimate goal. I hate, I hate to use the word affirmations, but I'm feeling affirmations come out of this a little bit. I mean, is the, is the ultimate goal in some ways to have built up a series of, I mean, you're calling them stories, but you know, they might be a informations that you tell yourself in this situation, you know, this is what I need to believe, or this is what I need to convince myself.
Kindra Hall (16:39): You and I have the same struggle with the word affirmations. And I, and I, I mean, I've used affirmations before and to, to great success. However, um, if this is more or the person who has used affirmations and is still stuck, right? Like an, an example I gave in the book, it would be like if the Titanic pulled up alongside the iceberg and lit a match and was like, well, now our problems are solved. And affirmation is like lighting a match. And it's only the beginning of the big iceberg of stories that were up against. And so our, and this again goes into the storytelling aspect of us as humans. But, but we remember things in story form, which also means then we can recall those stories and use those stories. So like, if you're, if there's an action you want to take, you're having a hard time getting there, just saying, I am strong.
Kindra Hall (17:38): I am capable. I mean, who knows if that's gonna get the job done, but again, if you tell yourself the stories of maybe it's an exercise situation and you're like, you really need to, I really need to work out today. How many times do we say that a day? I mean, it's early January and it's still
John Jantsch (18:40): So one of the stories, I think a lot of us tell ourselves is that other people's stories are crap.
Kindra Hall (18:52): I think this could be everything. I think that when you start to open the door into you as a human made up of so many stories, and some of them are there because you put them there, some of them, somebody else put there, some of them are there, your will, some of the, you know, like they, once you get an awareness of the power, your stories have, it is really difficult to look at another person and not think to yourself. I wonder what stories they're carrying and the compassion that you feel for yourself when start to realize all these different stories and what you're up against transfers to another person with the additional insight that if you can barely get ahold of what stories you are dealing with, how can you ever expect to understand and fully process the stories of someone else? So I think that there is such, and it's one of the things I'm most excited about is that for no, for nothing else to, to start to see other people and their stories with a more compassionate eye.
John Jantsch (20:07): All right. So now I've got my library built up. Is there a, a ritual, a routine? I mean, how do I install and like activate 'em like, you know, do I, when I start to tell myself bad story, I like wiggle my left ear. I mean, what's yeah. You know, how do, how do you, you know, cause it's so easy to just slip back into your I your, your reaction, right? Mm-hmm
Kindra Hall (20:29): Activate? I would say that it's, it's, it's like, anytime you're trying to, to start a new habit at first, it takes brute force, right? Like it takes, maybe you write the stories down and you read them to yourself every morning. I've had people who they know that they're triggered by certain situations. So maybe it's a meeting when a meeting comes in with their boss or on the calendar, they tell themselves the stories before they go into the meeting. But it does take, I mean, essentially what you're trying to do is rewire the way that your brain talks to itself. And, and that does take practice that takes practice and effort at first. However, the good news is, is after you do that for a while, eventually the brain acquiesces and that becomes, that becomes the default. It just takes some work. Yeah.
John Jantsch (21:22): Success is a great teacher too. Right? Exactly. You have success a few times. You're like, oh, that
Kindra Hall (21:27): Work. And then you start to become, yeah, exactly. And when you can start to see, oh, this is happening. And then you start to become more aware of the good stories that are happening around you. So something happens that supports your belief in yourself or your, the belief that you, your positive belief, not your limiting belief. You say, ah, I'm collecting this story and I'm gonna use this. And so you start doing it in real time. Um, and that adds just another layer of imagine if you're walking around in your life, looking for the great stories, what the difference, just that alone. Right. Makes
John Jantsch (22:03): Yeah. It changes your awareness completely. Mm-hmm
Kindra Hall (22:10): Get a copy of the book. Yeah. So my work is you can find [email protected]. I'm on social media, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and the book is wherever books are sold. So Barnes and noble, Amazon, you can go to bookshop.org and, um, buy it from a local book story. If you'd like to do that, there that's a great way to support a local bookshop. But yeah. Awesome.
John Jantsch (22:34): Well, appreciate you stopping by the duct tape marketing podcast and, uh, hopefully we'll run into each other one of these days out there
Kindra Hall (22:40): On the road. I love that. Great to be here, John. Thanks for having me.
John Jantsch (22:46): All right. So that wraps up another episode. I wanna thank you so much, much for tuning in and you know, we love those reviews and comments. And just generally tell me what you think also did you know that you could offer the duct tape marketing system, our system to your clients and build a complete marketing consulting coaching business, or maybe level up an agency with some additional services that's right. That check out the duct tape marketing consultant network. You can find it at ducttapemarketing.com and just scroll down a little and find that offer our system to your client's tab.
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