One of the common denominators of being a woman is storytelling. Whether we're telling a story to our kids at night to get them to bed, telling our friends what happened the other day over coffee, or striving to tell our story to sell ourselves and our brand in our business, we all have a story to tell.
The question becomes how do we do it when it is for our business and we are trying to get a point across and we only have three seconds to make an impact?
Who better to answer this question for us than a professional storyteller who is willing to spill all the secrets of the craft so you can grow your reach and captivate your audience?!
Enter Alex street. Alex believes when you tell your story you change the world. As an actor, youth pastor, and public speaker for more than 20 years, he knows firsthand how powerful storytelling is when it comes to personal development, business strategy, and cultivating empathy in our world. Alex has been telling stories since his first time acting on stage with his mom in 2nd grade. It wasn't until 10 years ago that he really understood the power of storytelling, when his mom said, ‘We show up to change the audience’s story when they leave here.' Now, Alex helps people uncover their signature stories and share them to make a massive impact in their lives and businesses.
Alex has coached TEDx Speakers, bestselling authors, and 7-figure coaches to find the WHY rooted in their signature story. With his Transformation Story Arc, Alex helps entrepreneurs create a clear message that connects with their audience and changes their stories. He has a Master's in Theological Studies, is a husband of 16 years, and dad to three Gen Z kids in Toronto.
There is no doubt in my mind that this is absolutely going to bless your business.
First I asked Alex to tell me a little bit more about himself and how he got to this place in his life.
“To get to this point has really been an uncovering of my own unique story, and realizing that this is the thing that comes easy to me. This is the thing that I'm most passionate about and the thing that I can do that other people cannot do. The journey of uncovering that is what allows me to step forward with such confidence and clarity to know that as I do this it will make a difference. So that all comes from a life of being in a storytelling family, my mom was an actress who told stories on stage, my dad was a journalist and photographer so he told his stories through his writing and with his camera. So my brother and I just absorbed that. I took that to the stage to follow my mom's footsteps and then as a speaker and a youth pastor and finding all kinds of ways to tell my own story or tell stories that obviously have been told for hundreds of years in fresh ways and then over a number of different circumstances getting the point where realizing now that these gifts are completely transferable and need to be shared and storytelling will change the world... so here I am stepping into this thing that I've always kind of believed but now truly see the power of. I think that's really the journey that we all have and that's why I'm here.
I then asked Alex if there was a defining moment where he realized that storytelling was a part of his purpose and mission in life?
“Yes, for sure. My mom was such a massive influence, she actually moved out when my parents got divorced when I was about nine years old, but still, I was a mama's boy and saw myself following in her footsteps. She was an actress her whole life, worked in west end London (which is like Broadway over there) then moved to Toronto and tried to make her life here my parents met, she had kids and stopped acting for a while and then after the divorce, I remember she got back into acting. Over my teenage years, I lived in the theater. Whenever I was with her we would be in the theater. I would see the same show three times, sit backstage and see the magic happen behind the scenes and sit quiet as a mouse and just watch. So I knew I wanted to be a part of that but then here's the key moment... nine years ago my mom got really sick, very fast. Stage four stomach cancer showed up, she went to the hospital and within four weeks we were saying goodbye. If anybody's been through this they know how it feels to not know what to say. There's all this sort of conversation like “oh it’ll be okay”, but then when you realize that it's not... when you know it's not going to turn out the way that you wanted to, it's just going to turn out the way that it's going to, what do you start talking about then? That's when I started to ask a question. I just remember looking at her big brown eyes, coke bottle glasses, just so beautiful, and I asked “Did you like it? Do you like doing what you do as an actress?” and she replied with “You know, it wasn't it wasn't what I expected but I loved every minute of it, because the gift of being able to entertain people was just that a gift for me.” She went on to say “We had the opportunity to tell a story that connected with the audience in the theatre that would shape their story when they leave theater”... and that to me was everything. Recognizing that all the effort that we put into this moment into creating a great podcast or whatever it is that we're trying to create right here at this moment, once you release that and realize what this could do is actually create a new story in somebody's life listening to this. that's what I'm leaning into, that's where the story matters and that's where my story could connect with somebody else's story and help them in their life beyond this, and so something shifted that I didn't really do anything about until eight years later but here we are. Sometimes those moments take a while to cook, just knowing your story isn't enough anymore, you have to be able to speak it you have to share it because the story is gonna change the world.
And there's so much to it, I mean part of it is she had that in her all along but I didn't find out until the last moments. So there's something to be said with about having those conversations before it's too late or before it's the end... and then there's also something to be said with again just her wisdom and seeing that, and hearing that as somebody who looks so much for audience approval, which I do. I care so much if people are listening and how they're responding, she helped flip that on its head to say it's actually not so much about this moment it is about what's gonna happen here that's going to change them out there. The stuff that you're never gonna see, that's the impact."
(Prefer to listen along? Tune in now to The Beyond Leadership Podcast)
How do we pull those defining moments out of this huge array of life in order to tell our story better?
“There are no boring stories only boring storytellers. I help people become captivating storytellers to tell a good story. You don’t even have to be a great storyteller, you just have to tell a good story to be remembered because our brains are so wired for story. How do I relate to women with my work? Yet I do, most of my one-on-one clients and group programs have been women, thirty-five to forty-five years old starting a new thing and they're asking the same questions- “my story is too big, too complicated, or boring. How do I find the moments that matter? Where are they all because the last twenty years feel like a blur, it feels like it's all the same Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, same day every day so where's the big moment?”
No matter what you do with your days, it does all matter. The fact that you see it as something that doesn't matter means that it became so mundane for you, it became so normal for you but at some point, it wasn't. At one point even a task that is mundane for you now once was not, It was a new thing.. and you shifted into that. So the mindset that you're in right now... that feeling that you get when you're stuck or motivated is the bottom. That's the place that you don't want to be and I get that. I may not be a mom, I do have kids, but I haven't been a
mompreneur, I've been a privileged white male that just leans into this and have had all of my experience that I've had but I cannot specifically relate to yours. What I can relate to is the feeling. The feeling of knowing that you're meant for more, of knowing that you've got a message, an idea, something that needs to be shared because that's what I was going through in high school. That's what I was leaning into and then becoming a youth pastor and wondering if a certain message was going to land or could it offend somebody. I was constantly confused about what I was saying and who I was saying it to and knew still that I was meant for more and confused over why that thing wasn't happening, and how do I build this thing, how do I create a business? Constantly living in a state of confusion until a moment like that with my mom… which was just one of the moments that brought clarity to see oh I really care about this I really care about storytelling but how long did it take me to lean into and create a business? Eight years. So the moments that we're looking for those big hyper expansive, exciting, superhero-defining moments are really so very rare, and if you're looking for those it's gonna be it's gonna feel like it's boring. It's the moment when you're sitting in your car outside your office building realizing I do not want to go in that building right now. That's a change moment something shifting there where you realized who I was is not who I am and I need to explain this and I need to go out and do something about this.
What you do after that moment matters. Although who you were before that moment matters just as much. “This is who I was then” sets the stage for that moment when my mom open that up and things changed and I just said oh yeah it's actually it's not about me at all it's not about if they like me it's about how I can change them so now I'm stepping in with clarity like I never had before so for you there's a moment when you're in that parking lot but what happened who were you before that how did you feel before that and how did you feel how do you feel now that's what your audience is going to want to but how you felt before is that's where they are going to find themselves.”
Do you believe that more often than not, as coaches, we're speaking to who we were before we had that moment?
“For sure. We spent a lot of time trying to define that and discover “who is my ideal client? Oh, it's me at twenty-four years old, little innocent naive me.” I'm not sure that I'm speaking to that version of me but I'm definitely speaking about those feelings with clarity, that’s what's surprising for me in my business… that I didn't pick the kind of I didn't pick forty-year-old women as my target client my niece but that's predominantly who I work with and see the transformation with and it's phenomenal and I love it. Helping people find the power in their story at this stage is incredible but it happens because I talk about confusion, I talk about being in a state of knowing you've got something like I just did it right and so who comes to me the ideal audience.”
Once we discover what that defining moment is for us, what's next?
Alex explains that a good story mimics an arc. He says- “and this is nothing new, this is the oldest storytelling trick in the book even Pixar, the greatest storytellers out there right now they'll start with an arc, they'll start with the three-act story. It's just structuring it as we have been. It's-
Who I was
Who I am now
So who I was, and what happened to make me who I am. Another example of mine was another moment while I was in an entrepreneurship mastermind two years ago. I stepped into the room with fifty perfect brilliant and beautiful entrepreneurs in LA, and I'm like a child coming in with my baby business idea with no income thinking “I wonder who can help me”. I felt like a fool, but within the first hour, they did introductions and handed people the mic, going alphabetically ‘Alex’ was first and so I got the mic and where do I feel most comfortable? On stage with a microphone. So I got up there and I was confident AF and then I sat down and somebody leaned over to me and said “you're really good at that, you need to teach us how to speak like you do” and immediately my gifts were affirmed in this new setting and environment. So it's just another one of those ‘what happened’ moments. So when you find those moments then you go back and say ‘okay, who was I before that’ and set the stage ‘well before that I was confused right I was actually ashamed of my story I felt like a little child’ all those things ‘of course yeah I was confused all my life up until that moment when somebody brought clarity to that. Since then I'm quicker to recognize my fears and quicker to recognize those doubts and here I am showing up again with abundant clarity’, so once you find that moment it's just about going before and to who you are now and trying to define those with moments in themselves.”
How many stories are we supposed to have?
“The key of what I was just talking out there is finding that big arc, that big story is really just about finding that main transformation ‘who were you, who are you’ ‘from this to this’ ‘from confused to clear, and I can help you do the same’. That's what that story really helps you find, right? Take Peter Parker, from high school kid to high strung superhero. This is who he is and that transformation is a journey that we're gonna follow through. But when you look at that there's all kinds of moments in between that. I love to use TV series to help clarify this.
Friends, for example, are going from friends to family over ten seasons. But here's the thing when you ask about our personal lives, we look at this big journey we're like ‘who was I and who am’ and you've got all these moments in between that are all the episodes of the show and if at any time, you want to tell any one of those episodes in a more captivating way, you make sure that it's got an arc to it. I could tell you about a time when I went on the subway for the first time in New York and I had no idea where I was going. The maps were so confusing. There are six levels underground of subways, how did I feel? I felt pretty confused. I got on the subway and went the wrong way, I finally asked someone who turns out was homeless but knew the subway system well how to get to Yankee Stadium and he said just get on I want to go that way he gave me clarity and I felt more confident than ever. Story has nothing to do with storytelling my business or anything BUT it follows the same journey of going from confused to clear. So now I'm a more captivating storyteller overall because I'm actually telling the same kind of journey every time but when you're looking at your big story and how to tell your story of your business and your brand and who you are, pick one, two, or three key moments as being those like key turning point episodes that you tell and then lean into those and recognize that. ‘yeah when Dave gave me the first chance to speak when I was seventeen years old, that was a key episode’. When my mom passed away that was probably a season of my show. that mastermind experience was a key episode. I can lean into those and say this is one episode that tells the big story.
What is a simple step my readers can take right now to start telling their story?
“First off I would go to my Instagram @streetsays and click the link in my bio that's got a thirty-second story worksheet, and you can do what I just did with that story arc and you can walk through your own story to clarify that. The whole effort is to tell your story in thirty seconds, so the key is to simplify. We're trying to tell a really big story with eighteen paragraphs and one Instagram post and expect that to land when what we want more than anything is what's the simple story. Give me three paragraphs, ‘who I was, what happened, who I am. Tell that story in thirty seconds, see if you can do that. Again, on my Instagram, I just dropped a video of my ‘why’ in twenty-seven seconds. Did it take practice and clarity? Absolutely, a lot of it, but it just took some work of going ‘okay this is my big story, how do I simplify that to the really key three points three acts that make that as clear as possible. So when you're thinking about going out there and sharing your unique story of why you do what you do... as a coach, nutritionist, fitness trainer, or whatever that is, I want you to think ‘who am I, what happened to me here and who was I before that. If you can do that you can tell your story and captivate your audience.
There are really two levels of this to leave people not feeling overwhelmed, diving in and I'm covering your story first is about you it is about you embracing your story and how you got to where you are again you talked about all these moms who feel overwhelmed and like they don't know where their story is, when you uncover that story you will see yourself in a whole new light and recognize the journey that you've been on and be so damn proud of it that you can't help but share that. So first it's about gaining empathy for yourself, then you start to share that and show how you have empathy for your audience that's in that same situation... that's when it turns into sharing it with power and confidence and actually growing a business out of that. But first, this is about YOU, and you need to make sure that you have time for that.”
Go follow Alex on Instagram @streetsays, he will add immense value on how to tell your story.
NEED MORE LEADERSHIP TIPS AND TRICKS?