Success Podcast Post

Tell Your Story with Mark Carpenter

George Grombacher February 16, 2023

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Tell Your Story with Mark Carpenter

LifeBlood: We talked about how to tell your story, the power of being intentional with storytelling, how to use narrative to teach, lead, and inspire, and the three part framework for a great story, with Mark Carpenter, serial storyteller, speaker, consultant, and author. 

Listen to learn how our mistakes can become some of our best stories!

You can learn more about Mark at, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Get your copy of Master Storytelling HERE

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Mark Carpenter

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:00

what’s up? This is George G and A time is right. Well, today’s guest strong and powerful Mark Carpenter, Mark, are you ready to do this? I am so ready. Thanks for the opportunity to be with you and your listeners. George, I’m excited to have you on. Mark is a serial storyteller. He is the Best Selling Author of master storytelling. He’s a facilitator, consultant and a speaker teaching others to do the same. Mark, tell us a bit about your personal life more about your work, why you do what you do?

Mark Carpenter 0:30
Yeah, I am on a mission to create a world of intentional storytellers that people will tell stories, as the subtitle of our book says to teach lead and inspire, I would include in there if I was to do it all over again, sell as well, because this is really a way to connect people. My background is spent 20 years in corporate marketing and public relations first and banking and then in high tech, and then transitioned into a world of consulting, consulting and facilitating teaching. And this is where the the storytelling all started coming together for me, and about four years ago, co authored this book with a good friend of mine, Darrell Harmon. And now we’re on the mission, like I said, to have people think more about how do I turn my life’s experiences into stories that can teach lead selling, inspire?

george grombacher 1:25
Storytelling is, it’s been a really, really important part of humanity for centrally ever.

Mark Carpenter 1:32
Absolutely, this is how we connect. That’s how we connect with people, how we establish who’s in our tribe, it really is, by the stories they tell, if you think of it this way, even more currently, when you meet someone, and you asked the question, you know, where are you from? Or what do you do? And they start telling their experience? What do you hear, you hear those things that you can connect to, that’s what builds a relationship between you and that person, almost immediately. Within seconds, you can find the common ground. And it’s based on that story that they’re telling about who they are, and how that connects to who you are. And so in any way, expand that out to business life, any kind of relationships, we want to develop story is a great way to build those relationships and strengthen those bonds, and have people really listen to the message that you want to share.

george grombacher 2:32
So a good story, it, it helps make us relatable, it it it it articulates who we are, and it creates the the opportunity for us to, to to connect and form a relationship. What am I missing? What needs to be added?

Mark Carpenter 2:53
No, you’re right on there. And it connects us. It connects us on a on a chemical level. That may sound kind of weird. But there’s a change in your brain. There’s a lot of research around this, when you hear an effectively told story. When I tell you a story about an experience that I’ve had that you can relate to. They very often tell a story about driving to the airport and looking in my rearview mirror, and there’s a police car behind me. Well, if you drive a car, you experienced that before. So all of a sudden, in fact, I saw you smile, as I said that, George, you’re thinking of the experience you had, when you’ve done the same thing, when you looked in the rearview mirror, and you saw that police car. And in that moment, when you can relate to my experience, there’s an increase in oxytocin in your brain where you can relate to my story. Well, that actually leads you to trust me more. So if you want to build trust with people, storytelling is a great way to do that if you do it effectively. And so it connects us in a lot of different ways that we don’t maybe see on the outside, but we’ve experienced and we feel it we we love stories because we live stories. What is your life other than just a collection of experiences that are stories? And as we relate those to other people, it binds us together.

george grombacher 4:15
I love it that that makes a ton of sense. So you said it has the ability to to the oxytocin creates trust, if you do it effectively.

Mark Carpenter 4:24
What is that? Well, a lot of times people take just sharing an experience is telling a story. And that’s what when I was doing my introduction, I talked about being more intentional, build a world of intentional storytellers. And it’s really crafting those experiences into an effective story. There’s a lot of people that will teach different ways of crafting a story and they’ll get complicated 12 step processes or eight step processes. I really see it as just three chunks. There’s three chunks of a story. There’s the introduction Since the beginning, this is setting the stage. This is where you’re going to build that oxytocin by relating to the person, how we’re similar, or the experiences that we’ve had that are relatable. And then you need a conflict has to be something that gets in the way. So I’m driving to the airport, I look in my rearview mirror, I see that police car behind me immediately in my head, I’m thinking, Oh, no, if they pull me over, I’m going to be late. And this is going to cause my trip to all go bad. What if I miss this client engagement, and all these negative things start to build. And you can relate to that kind of conflict, because you had those experiences before where you’ve been interrupted and trying to get some to something important, and actually built another chemical within us that builds some cortisol, which heightens our attention, we want to know what’s going to happen we, we get a little anxiety, even though we’re not in the in the story, we’re drawn into it, because we felt that same kind of anxiety. And then that leads to the third part of the story, which is the change, or that’s the conclusion, it brings a resolution there as to what happened. And I could tell a longer version of that story. But the shorter version of the story about the police car behind me is I turned off to the airport, the police car turned a completely different direction, where he wasn’t following me at all. And I had worked myself up in my mind that this was a problem, when there wasn’t really a problem, how often do we do that in life. And so there’s the resolution or the result, the change that comes of remembering that we often build up problems when there don’t need to be problems built up. We anticipate a negative outcome when there isn’t a negative outcome in our path. And we create our own problems by doing that. So there’s the lesson learned the teaching that comes to the end of that, because stories are nice to just relate an experience. But the stories that we talk about our stories with that intent with that purpose, to teach, lead, sell and inspire.

george grombacher 7:08
Love it. We all know, good storytellers. Is that are there? I guess there’s a couple of questions there. Do you think that people are just some people are just inherently good storytellers? Can anybody be a good storyteller? And ought we should we work towards getting better at it?

Mark Carpenter 7:27
I think there’s some people that have a more natural tendency towards storytelling. But largely that’s based on what their experience has been in the past, that they’ve actually had the opportunity to do that. Think about people who are natural in whatever skill area you want to talk about sports or music or public speaking? Well, they’ve probably had some exposure to it earlier in their life where they got some opportunity to practice it. I believe storytelling is a skill, like any other skill that can be developed. I mean, think about any of the skills that you have, in fact, like, I’m going to I’m going to pull you into this conversation. George, what’s one of your hobbies? What was one of the things that you love to do? Just, you know, off on your own time?

george grombacher 8:12
I play tennis. Okay, actually, I’m

Mark Carpenter 8:15
an old tennis player, too. And when you first picked up a racket, how good were you?

george grombacher 8:21
Not very, yeah.

Mark Carpenter 8:23
And it developed over time. How? How did you develop that skill?

george grombacher 8:30
Well, I wanted it to be good. And then I spent a lot of time practicing and studying and putting it putting it to work.

Mark Carpenter 8:37
There you go. Storytelling the exact same way. And I love that you put in there some desire that you wanted to, you wanted to develop that skill. So if you want to develop the skill of storytelling, then you’ll invest the time in learning how to do that. Learn from experts, practice it, look for opportunities to use it, just like you’d schedule court time to go play tennis, you’re going to schedule some time where you’re going to practice storytelling, or you’re going to be intentional about it, you’re going to get feedback from coaches to help you get better at that skill. And the more you do that, the more natural it comes. Today, you probably don’t have to think about okay, here comes the ball to my left side, I’m assuming you’re right handed, come to my left side. So I gotta hit a backhand. And so I got to turn my body this way, I got to set my feet this way. I’ve got to change my balance. I got to gotta get my backswing. You don’t have to think about that anymore because you’ve done it so much. And storytelling is going to be the same way. The more you develop that skill, the more natural it’s going to become for those situations when storytelling is going to be appropriate for you to use. I like it. So

george grombacher 9:50
should it always be my story? Can I use somebody else’s?

Mark Carpenter 9:55
Yeah, I think you can borrow stories from other people back there’s there’s several stories that I tell you asked that question, I grinned, because I kept I started thinking of some stories that I borrowed from other people, because they’re just really, really effective stories in making a point. The advice that I always give when you’re borrowing stories, is be authentic about that. Don’t try to say it was your story. If it was somebody else’s story, you’ll get yourself into trouble with that. Sometimes people try to say, Ooh, well, I could, I could pretend this is my story, I could put myself into that situation. And almost inevitably, there’s a gap there, there’s a hole, somebody may ask you a question. And then you’re like, Oh, now now, I have to make up an answer to this because I wasn’t actually in that experience. So I think the more authentic you can be, the better off you are. If you’re telling somebody else’s story, just acknowledge it. This is my friend Georgia story, that he had this experience, but it teaches this great lesson. And then we can we can jump into Georgia story. Now, I think you don’t always want to tell other people’s stories, because the most impactful stories and the stories that are going to connect you to other people better are going to be your stories are going to be your experiences. And we all have those because we all live a human life. And we all live these day to day stories. Sometimes people say well, nothing interesting ever happens to me. But there’s, there’s the extraordinary that lives inside the ordinary. Our ordinary, everyday experiences are those that really can teach the extraordinary lessons. I just shared with you a very everyday experience about driving to the airport and seeing a police car behind me. That’s nothing spectacular. That’s nothing huge. I’m putting together a story right now, about an experience that I had with my son, I was there over the holidays, and they’ve gotten a basketball standard. And we were building this basketball standard. And trying to follow the directions and the directions weren’t always clear to us. I’m sure they were clear to somebody else, they were clear to the engineers who put that instruction manual together. And my son made the comment, man, I would love to talk to the engineer who built this instruction manual and see what they were thinking with this picture or with this instruction. And so there’s a lesson embedded in that very ordinary experience of we know what we know. So if you’re trying to convey that to somebody else, be really clear about what they know. And conveyed in a way that they will understand it not in the way that you’ll understand it. Because those two things may be very, very different. And that’s just an everyday experience. But it’s a great lesson for us to remember in our day to day lives.

george grombacher 12:42
Yeah, yeah, there’s no doubt about that. So funny. We’ve all had that experience of trying to put something together and wondering, you know, these must work for some human being these instructions, but they certainly don’t seem to be working for me. So I think that that is that’s really interesting. I’m sure that you get that all the time. Well, I don’t have any. I’ve never had any extraordinary circumstances. I’m sure you probably hear that every single workshop that you take people through. And if you were just to say, well just think about a time that you tried to do something. Well, I think that people just have a hard time in it until we kind of give them props, right? What are some things? So how do you how do you help people to sort of find those stories that that we all have?

Mark Carpenter 13:27
Yeah, so two of the best prompts that I can give is, number one, look for them. So think about times that you you need to teach lead seller inspire, and think about the topics that you need to to teach on, and then start looking for experiences that lead to those lessons. So it’s just being aware. You just mentioned George, we’ve all had that experience where we’ve been trying to put something together in the manual didn’t seem as clear as we’re sure the people who put the manual together thought it was. But do we stop and think about what’s the lesson within that experience. And so it’s being intentional about looking for those opportunities. The other tip that I give to people is look for any time that you have an emotional reaction in an experience. And the emotion could be frustration, like trying to put together a basketball standard. It could be humor, it could be anger, it could be joy. It could be sadness. But in that emotional reaction, there’s some kind of lesson that’s embedded in that story. You may not always know what that lesson is in the moment. But capture the moment. I have a place that I capture these moments that I call stories for someday, that their experiences, I have a reaction to Ooh, I’m not sure what the lesson is in that, but I’m going to capture that moment. And there will be a time that the lesson will come clear to me or it’ll come clear that that story can teach something that I’m trying to convey to people. And so just capturing those moments where you have an emotional reaction will lead you to stories that can teach lead and inspire.

george grombacher 15:05
I love it, those are super helpful. seems really obvious to me. So I’m reticent to sort of bring it up. But narrative has been, it’s been part of the human condition for so long. And it’s so effective. And I’m immensely irritated. Every time I see it happen when when when people use the power for evil, and instead of good. So I just wonder what your thoughts are on that. We talked about how we need to be honest, and, you know, not try to steal somebody’s story, we can borrow it, but attribute it. What are your thoughts on that? Yeah,

Mark Carpenter 15:45
it’s almost like any skill, or any tool that’s out there, it can be used for good, it can be used for evil. I was watching a TV show where somebody used a hammer as a murder weapon. Okay, well, that’s not the intent of the hammer. Right. But it can be used for for evil. And so you notice they emphasize these points about Teach, lead and inspire, I do not include manipulate in there. But people could use it for manipulation. Be careful that you’re not that person, because it will come back on you. That will come back. If your intent is to manipulate manipulate with story, the manipulation will come clear, somewhere along the way, maybe not immediately. But somewhere that will become clear. So go into using storytelling as a tool to help people to lift people to strengthen bonds, but to strengthen them in a positive way. That’s why we emphasize I keep bringing up those words, teach lead and inspire that we want people to use these for those positive use storytelling for those positive outcomes, to help other people to benefit them, not just to benefit yourself. And so yes, this is a skill, this is a tool, use it for good and not for evil. And that’s where you’re going to get the most benefit in your lives, is it it’ll come back to haunt you if you use it for negative intent or negative motive. But if you use it for the positive reasons that we’ve been talking about to teach, lead and inspire, storytelling will lift others as well as lifting you. So just think about what your intent is, as you go into tell that story as well.

george grombacher 17:26
I think that that’s really well said, Thank you. The things that I found for me when I’m when I’m speaking in front of people are talking to a person is to be vulnerable. And to talk about the the myriad mistakes that I’ve made. How do you think about that? And do you caution people to, to not overshare, for lack of a better term?

Mark Carpenter 17:52
Yeah. And part of the oversharing comes when people get into too many details in their story. And that’s where that structure that I talked about earlier, is helpful to kind of get you focused on okay, what’s the point that I’m trying to make here? But I tell mistake stories about myself all the time, because that’s where we learn. And wouldn’t it be great George, if you listen to my mistakes, stories, learn from that mistake story. So you didn’t make that same mistake. And that and that’s my motive is that I want to help you learn from the mistakes that I’ve made. A lot of times people struggle with that, particularly in leadership positions. They say I don’t, I don’t want to tell these stories where I made a mistake, because I’m the leader, I need people to respect me, I need people to see me as the leader, I can’t be that vulnerable. The interesting thing is the opposite is actually true. The more that you can show that you’re human, the more that you can show that you can be vulnerable, the more connected your people will be with you. And the stronger leader that you will be perceived as they will see you as a stronger leader when they see that you can be vulnerable. Now, I’m not saying stand up there and abase yourself all the time. Because that can have the opposite effect, too. If it’s Boy, this guy has never done anything right in his life. He’s always telling us about these mistakes to be made. So you mix it with the positive ones. But don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. It because that’s what’s really going to connect us and you will be seen as a stronger leader by being able to be vulnerable about the experiences you’ve had in the mistakes that you’ve made.

george grombacher 19:30
Yeah, I love it like that. That’s, that’s such good advice. And it’s definitely so true like that we’ve either done that, or we’ve experienced somebody else doing it. And it does make us does all the things you just described. So thank you. Well, Mark, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? How can they engage with you who should be reaching out and where can they get a copy of master storytelling?

Mark Carpenter 19:54
Well, I’ll start with the website and it’s master dash So make sure you get that well. Hi under the dash in there between NASTRAN storytelling, but you can you can find us there. Master storytelling book is available in all formats on Amazon. And I’d love to connect with people on LinkedIn you can look up master storytelling on LinkedIn or look up Mark carpenter and you see the master storytelling book in the background on the on the profile that’s me. So those are probably the best ways to connect with me and to learn more. We love to take people through the workshop they love to do coaching with people around storytelling, in leadership and in public speaking, so happy to help in any way I can again to build a world of intentional storytellers. Love it.

george grombacher 20:40
Well, if you just as much as I did show, mark your appreciation and share to the show the friend who also appreciates good ideas, go to master dash check out other great resources pick up your copy of Master Master storytelling in whatever format you enjoy most on Amazon and then find Mark Carpenter on LinkedIn and connect for a workshop. Figure out how you can become a more intentional storyteller. Thanks good Mark.

Mark Carpenter 21:08
Thank you George. enjoyed your time together.

george grombacher 21:10
And until next time, remember, do your part by doing your best

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