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Tell Your Story with Donna Griffit

George Grombacher February 16, 2023

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Tell Your Story with Donna Griffit

LifeBlood: We talked about how to tell your story, the power of narrative, how to authentically and effectively connect with people to get your message across, and how to get better at doing it, with Donna Griffit, Corporate Storyteller and pitch alchemist for startups.   

Listen to learn the four act structure for telling a great story!

You can learn more about Donna at, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Get your copy of Sticking to My Story HERE

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Donna Griffit

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:02
Bob Leffler This is George G. And the time is right welcome today’s guest strong, powerful data Griffith data. Are you ready to do this?

Donna Griffit 0:08
I am so ready to urge.

george grombacher 0:09
All right, let’s go. Don is a corporate storyteller at pitch Alchemist for startups. Her newest book is sticking to my story, the alchemy of storytelling for startups. And it is available very, very, very, very, very soon, Donna, so excited to have you on tell us more about your work, and why you do what you do.

Donna Griffit 0:31
My passion is people and stories. So I’ve managed to kind of make up in a way I thought it was making it up at the beginning when I was calling myself a storyteller, but then it became a thing. So to make up the perfect profession for me, which is listening to people inspiring them, and making sure that their stories shine, and come across fast, clear and drive to the results they want, whether it’s raising funding, making sales, attracting new clients, and storytelling has the power to do that, if you utilize it in the right way.

george grombacher 1:05
I love it. So you utilize it in the right way.

Donna Griffit 1:10
I get to do that every day, you know, with with companies ranging from web three to cyber to enterprise apps, and things that should be boring, but I have a blast because there are no boring stories. This just like we kind of get conditioned to throw up excels and, and spreadsheets and, and architectures and things that nobody really cares about. But if we bring out the meaning and make it meaningful to our specific audience, they’ll be captivated.

george grombacher 1:41
And so talking about telling the story the right way, you would need to be able to do that, instead of just presenting data presenting facts, we need to be able to, well just kind of walk me through that because

Donna Griffit 1:55
there’s this like, misnomer that people think, Oh, well, I only have 10 minutes, half an hour, whatever your meeting with an important person or stakeholder has been allotted. Well, I better just talk about my product or my solution or my services as much as I possibly can. But what happens then, is you miss, I call it the mind heart gut connection. Because yes, people have to process their thoughts in their questions here. But then it leads down to their gut, they’re going through their heart, and you want to pull on the strings of all there’s like this invisible string connecting the three of them together. And by and the real trick to do that is all about empathy. And it’s finding the right story that resonates with them. If we’re talking about strings, you want to pluck on those strings and make them go oh my gosh, either you get me or Oh, that reminds me of the time that or oh my gosh, you’re working on this, this is amazing. I’ve wanted this for my whole life, I didn’t even realize it like whatever it is. And when you find the right story to either tell the story of a customer like them, or have your origin story, why you started off on your entrepreneurial journey, or anything that can make them resonate, then you’re gonna have their attention, and then you can start to sell them your product solution service technology.

george grombacher 3:16
So mind heart, gut, certainly, I can assume but just break one break, break break each of those down for me.

Donna Griffit 3:26
So we start off people will have when they’re about to meet with you top of mind questions? Who, what, when, where why, how are you different? What’s in it for me? How is that you know, how will this benefit my organization? And that those questions need to be answered in order to get them to proceed. So in my book, which is coming out very, very soon, we we talk about like I have a four act structure for creating these messages. So the framework of it is your audience’s questions you are building your entire pitch or presentation around their questions. But then we also have to add an element such as I love this with all my heart I believe it and the gut feeling of Wow, you really get me I feel seen I feel heard I feel needed. And do I trust this person. And by being transparent and by being authentic and by telling these stories and structuring them according to this structure, which I bring which is 1000s and 1000s of years old, I did not invent it, I just repurposed it. You are actually building the love the trust and the answers to the questions. So you’re thinking, refer three,

george grombacher 4:40
hitting all the points that are necessary for somebody to be moving through the process with you to believe what you’re saying. And, and to be resonating.

Donna Griffit 4:52
Yeah. So can you trusting that you are the team or the person that can actually execute on this

george grombacher 5:01
is one of those most commonly overlooked? Is it the trust?

Donna Griffit 5:05
I don’t, I think that people feel like again, they need to talk and talk and talk and, and you know, show how great they are and how smart they are, and lots of jargon. And that achieves the absolute opposite. Because if we can listen and Intuit their needs as we build the message, and really think even on the spot, hear what they’re saying and what their needs are, and then show how you meet those needs. But again, it’s different than me just shoving all this content at you and me listening to you, George, and saying, okay, so what I hear you saying is this, and this, the way I can help is this and this, and then you’re showing you care, you’re showing you understand it. I mean, when I have sales calls, I know when someone’s going to schedule a session with me on the spot, you kind of get it right there. And then you know, the others that are going to be put off and have questions and pricing and this and that. But you kind of know when you have that magic moment, and those are the magic moments that you really want to be able to recreate with anyone.

george grombacher 6:10
And how do I know?

Donna Griffit 6:12
You see this secret smile that comes across their face where it’s the smile of understanding of like, Oh, she gets it? Oh, I feeling that? Oh, I’ve been there. And it also comes with them hearing that people are listening especially investors for three things credibility, likability and momentum. And quite honestly, so are our clients. If I think about my sales calls, no, I just had a good one this morning. credibility so they know that I have decades of experience I’ve helped raise $1.5 billion likability, you know, I try to come across as a fun and energetic person that will be great to work with. And you know, if you’re on that other side, you want to make sure that if it’s investors that you’re coming across coachable that they have something to teach you, you’re not set in your ways. And the momentum is okay, so maybe that part is the you know, how many of these done I’ve written 1000 decks, I’ve worked with companies all across the industry. So you want to make sure you are continuously highlighting those things about yourself? In whatever message you’re giving? What’s funny, I just learned something notes, not just for investors, what they’re listening to people in general are listening for that.

george grombacher 7:23
Yeah, I think that that makes a lot of sense, credibility, likability and coachability. Is this person actually going to? Am I going to be able to benefit them with the with with with with my investment in them? And am I going to be able to benefit them with my expertise and my knowledge and my resources?

Donna Griffit 7:42
Got it? Exactly. And then the momentum, how far have you gotten? Can you prove that social proof, sales, downloads, daily active users, design partners, or letters of intent, anything that proves that you are out there doing this? I mean, sometimes people come to me when they just have an idea. It’s very hard to raise from a napkin, unless you are a serial entrepreneur that has done this many times before. And then you know, I have people that come back to me after they’ve exited, it’s a much easier thing, because a lot of investors will look at their track record, be like, Okay, here’s my money, build something. But that doesn’t happen. Usually, you have to prove a mentum.

george grombacher 8:25
So there’s not very, very challenging to be able to tell such a wonderful story without just based on an idea, you know, the best idea in the world does require.

Donna Griffit 8:40
It’s got to be something that really blows things out of the world. I mean, look, let’s look at SPF and the FTX. The whole the whole disaster that the crypto market was just hit with, he knew how to tell a good story. He came across very believable the fact that they didn’t do enough checking to see that is, you know, unfortunate. But people fell in love with the entrepreneur, and with the story he was telling, and the simplicity that he wanted to bring to the crypto market. The thing is, you need to have a great product as well. And you need to be an honest person as well. And Elizabeth Holmes again, she was a fabulous storyteller. Unfortunately, some of those stories were fiction. You do not want to use storytelling to lie. Okay, everyone, this is super important, they will find it out at some point. So let’s define I never would tell people lie, I will say take your story and make it as sexy and as attractive and as resonating as possible. You can cut out a lot of the unnecessary facts. Okay, if you say I came up with the idea when we were on a trip to Tokyo, and I noticed that I couldn’t read the signs and nobody’s gonna look and see if you came up the idea before you registered your company, or after they will hit on other things that could kill your credibility. So let’s be careful of that fine line. Yeah, I

george grombacher 9:57
think that that’s a really important thing. I’m because narrative is so powerful and has been so powerful for such a long time. And hopefully God willing, the the truth does went out in the end with FTX. And with Theranos, it took a little bit longer and the Bernie made offs the world and I mean, unfortunately, there are tons of people who utilize narrative for for evil and instead of good. But that’s that’s, those are rare people, right? I mean, good for them that they were able to get as far as they did, but they’re clearly sociopaths or psychopaths, or whatever path they are.

Donna Griffit 10:36
No, I truly, truly believe that as Elizabeth Holmes when she started off, she really thought she could do this. But somewhere along the way, the path went astray. And I truly believe that every single entrepreneur that sets off with a passion, and a drive really believes they can change it. You just got to be careful not to succumb to the temptations of wanting to oversell, and under deliver, you want the opposite to be true.

george grombacher 11:06
How do I how do I know? I guess the person or I guess the question is, how do I match my approach with with with my personality? Or is that even important?

Donna Griffit 11:19
That’s a really good question. Let me think about that for a second. Look, a lot of people will say to me, Well, you’re an actress, you have this dramatic flair. So it’s easy for you. I don’t want anybody to try to be someone that they’re not. But I do want you to kind of up your energy level about 25%. Because you do need to come across with passion and with excitement. You can’t just be like this boring, monotonous wallflower. I mean, look, sometimes they’ll come in, invest in a company and bring an external CEO in, which is not unheard of not all founders are cut out to be CEOs. But you can practice this enough, and get confident enough in your pitch, if you have a good story, to be able to be a much more charismatic presenter, Steve Jobs, when he started out early in his career, wasn’t you know, the world’s greatest speaker. By the end, he was captivating. Each word on the slide was perfect and pixel perfect. And the way and the drama. So it’s achievable. It’s doable. Not everybody’s born in Obama or Clinton or you know, so. So it’s about the mileage and it’s about learning your weak spots, and having a great story for you to tell if it rings true within you.

george grombacher 12:36
I think that reps is an important thing. I know that the more I do something, the better I get, the more comfortable I get. So do you encourage people to actually practice?

Donna Griffit 12:44
Oh, my goodness, oh, we were just talking about the Super Bowl. So athletes, singers, Rihanna, dancers, everyone, they rehearse, they have camps, they practice they work day and night to perfect what they’re doing. And sometimes presenters, underestimate the power of that. So they’ll be working on a presentation till midnight, and then get up for a 9am presentation and not understand why it didn’t go very well. You can’t wing it. You have to practice and not just reading it, you need to recite it through a few times, to your team, your family, your Uber drivers, whatever it takes to yourself, I will like when I read a new speech or workshop, I’ll go take a walk, have my phone with me. And I’ll start talking it through and then glance at my slides on my phone every now and then just to kind of give me a reminder of what it was. And it has to become part of your DNA. It’s like a cell cellular learning. It’s not just a memorization, it’s part of you.

george grombacher 13:48
Yeah, I think that that’s a great way to think about it. I heard Seth Godin talk about giving presentations on stage. And he said, you know, if you’re doing an hour presentation, just come up with, you know, five or six different stories and these life experiences that you’ve had. So you’re not having to worry and memorize each slide. You’re able to move from story to story.

Donna Griffit 14:06
Yeah, you just you need to make sure those stories are representative of what you’re talking about. Because sometimes people think storytelling is just like breaking the ice telling jokes, telling random stories. If you tie it in to your business and the need, then people will remember that because it serves as like a hook, an anchor and it ties it together. So they’re remembering your story and they’re remembering. Okay, what did that have to do with your business?

george grombacher 14:31
Yeah, love it. You mentioned briefly this four act structure. Walk me through those.

Donna Griffit 14:36
Okay, so So again, this is based we’re looking at Greek tragedy, Shakespeare, Chekhov Millia. All the greats wrote this way four act plays. I’m a Broadway junkie. When I lived in New York when I was getting my master’s I saw plays all the time. It was just the best and now I take my little girls to them. So there’s a way of chunking our stories into acts that the brain mean is used to taking in and training on. And this again, is an ancient method. So the first act Surprise, surprise is the villain the problem, the challenge the need? And our reasoning. Oh, yeah. And then comes the solution. Yeah, then comes the solution, the hero the. But, again, there’s a reason that this works every movie we see that’s like some kind of suspense is the same thing the first two minutes you’ll see some kind of crash kidnapping bombing outbreak of a zombie apocalypse, something that gets you kind of engaged. And then the hero emerges and they’re much more attractive and much more needed. So then so what’s the problem, your solution, then the business the numbers that will back it up the plan of action, how this is going to work, how this is going to change the industry. And finally, and this is probably the most important part, and probably one of the most missed parts is your vision for the future? How will you take this and make it even better than and bigger than what you’re doing today? Investors want to see that you’re drawing them a future that goes beyond what you’re doing. Now, when you scale this and it takes on a life of its own? Where will it go? And I know a lot of founders would be like, Yeah, but I’m not there yet. Again, you’re a visionary, they want to see that vision. And that journey that you imagine.

george grombacher 16:23
Love it. And I appreciate very much that I love and value frameworks. So once I know, okay, I totally get that. And yet that’s super relatable. I could think about the movie, the zombie apocalypse that happened. And then, you know, Brad Pitt or whoever. This is me trying to think of the actress from

Donna Griffit 16:48
Jennifer Lawrence. Like Keanu Reeves wouldn’t be nothing without the villains. He’s a sweet guy. He’s a good looking guy. But acting is not a strong suit. But he knows how to play the hero against these crazy villains really well. So

george grombacher 17:03
and then your opportunity then comes in with this is the plan. That’s the transformation. And this is where we’re actually going. This is how, how we’re going to change the world and become profitable and make everybody money and fix lives and everything.

Donna Griffit 17:18
And 10 Q violin and welding music Exactly. That’s exactly it. And there’s there’s a lot of details that goes into each one of these acts, which I go into in the book I like literally lay out the entire structure, take people step by step on how to do this themselves. So in a way I see this as what Lean Startup did for MVPs. And getting out there and getting your your you’re talking to people and completely transformed and turned startups into more agile, this is what it’s going to do for pitch decks. Again, that’s my vision. This should be and Tim Draper who wrote the foreword said that it’s the new Bible for for startup founders. And it’s exciting to hear that so I really hope that more people can use it and improve their pitches. That’s really my hope.

george grombacher 18:03
I love it. Well, Donna, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? And where can they pick up their copy of sticking to my story, the alchemy of storytelling for startups? Well,

Donna Griffit 18:14
the book is launching on February 23. And for the first 24 hours, don’t tell anyone just for your listeners. It’s going to be half price. So you can grab it on Amazon. You can look me up you can look it up. Also my website sticking to my or Donna T at the end, no h no s no n as we’re talking about. So you probably have those in the show notes and y’all can check me out there. And please do mention George G’s podcast if you are in need of any of my services, automatic discount to anyone who came to this podcast.

george grombacher 18:51
Awesome. Well, if you enjoyed as much as I did, show down at your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas pick up your copy of sticking to my story, the alchemy of storytelling for startups, half price beginning on the 23rd of February. So tomorrow and go to sticking to my or Donna Griffith GRI F and immerse yourself in the world of all things Donna Griffith and learn how to better get your point across and get your story across to have the impact that you desire. Thanks, good data.

Donna Griffit 19:31
Thanks, George.

george grombacher 19:32
And until next time, remember, do your part doing your best

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