Paul Smith – Lead with a Story

Paul Smith is one of the world’s leading experts in business storytelling. He’s one of Inc. Magazine’s Top 100 Leadership Speakers of 2018, a storytelling coach, and bestselling author of the books Sell with a Story (#1 bestseller in Amazon’s Sales and Selling category), Parenting with a Story, and Lead with a Story (#1 bestseller in Amazon’s Business Communication category) already in its 11th printing and available in 7 languages around the world. Paul is also a former consultant at Accenture and former executive and 20-year veteran of The Procter & Gamble Company.

As part of his research on the effectiveness of storytelling, Paul has personally interviewed over 250 CEOs, executives, leaders, and salespeople in 25 countries, documenting over 2,000 individual stories. Leveraging those stories and interviews, Paul identified the components of effective storytelling, and developed templates and tools to apply them in practice. His work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Time, Forbes, Fast Company, The Washington Post, PR News, Success Magazine, and London’s Financial Times, among others.

Paul delivers professional workshops and keynote addresses on effective storytelling for leaders and salespeople. His clients include international giants like Hewlett Packard, Google, Ford Motor Company, Bayer Medical, Abbott, Novartis, Progressive Insurance, Kaiser Permanente, and Procter & Gamble.

Paul holds a bachelor’s degree in economics, and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He lives with his wife and two sons in the Cincinnati suburb of Mason, Ohio. You can connect with Paul here, or learn more about how to hire him for speaking, training, or coaching services.

Paul’s personal story …

“I spent the first 24 years after college following a safe and traditional corporate career path. Then I did something crazy. And it was the best decision of my life.

After two years as a consultant with Arthur Andersen (now Accenture), and two years in business school (The Wharton School at U. of Penn), I spent 20 years in progressively higher levels of management at The Procter & Gamble Company, ultimately as head of consumer research for a $6 billion global business. (That’s not the crazy part).

I spent many of those years studying the art and science of leadership, communication, selling and character. And I’ve spent the last 7 years specifically studying the practice of storytelling. For that, I personally interviewed hundreds of people from dozens of countries around the world, including CEOs, statisticians, teachers, fighter pilots, engineers, bankers, comedians, nurses, sales people, politicians, consultants and scientists. I was looking for those profound moments of clarity in their careers and personal lives where they learned an absolutely essential lesson — one worthy of passing along to the next generation of management, or the next generation of humanity.

What I found amazed me. In fact, it amazed me so much (and this is the crazy part) that I quit my job to dedicate my full-time efforts to sharing those lessons and coaching leaders in the art and science of business storytelling. (You can read more about how I made that difficult decision here and how I found the courage to actually go through with it here.)

The most compelling 100 stories on business and leadership became the subject matter of my first book, Lead with a Story. They include lessons on 21 of the most common leadership challenges, including setting a vision, leading change, building strong teams, and encouraging creativity and innovation.

The 100 most powerful stories of life lessons became the subject of my second book, Parenting with a Story. These stories contain lessons on 23 of the most sought-after character traits we all aspire to ourselves and wish to see developed in our children and grandchildren — things like ambition, curiosity, integrity, self-reliance, persistence, fairness, humility, and kindness.

In 2015, I turned my attention to storytelling as a sales technique and interviewed sales and procurement professionals from 50+ organizations around the world. I was trying to understand when salespeople were using storytelling in the selling process and what separated good sales stories from great ones. I also uncovered 25 stories that every salesperson needs to have in their repertoire of stories. The result of that research was published in my third book, Sell with a Story.

Now I spend my time speaking to audiences all over the world to share the wisdom in these stories.

But after documenting thousands of stories along the way I learned something else. That is that how to identify and craft an effective and compelling story. So when I’m not speaking or writing, I help companies and their leaders craft their corporate stories, or teaching workshops and seminars on the art and science of storytelling and leadership so you and your team can be more effective leaders.

My days now are a long way from the corporate life I used to lead. But I do work I’m truly passionate about, which I’m confident you’ll find as inspiring as I do.”

Visit Paul Smith’s website at

Peter Rubie – How to Tell a Story: The secrets of writing captivating tales

Peter Rubie specializes in a broad range of high-quality fiction and non-fiction. In non-fiction he specializes in narrative non-fiction, popular science, spirituality, history, biography, pop culture, business and technology, parenting, health, self help, music, and food. He is a “sucker” for outstanding writing. In fiction he represents literate thrillers, crime fiction, science fiction and fantasy, military fiction and literary fiction, middle grade and some boy oriented young adult fiction.

Rubie is a former BBC Radio and Fleet Street journalist and for several years was the director of the publishing section of the New York University Summer Publishing Institute. He was a member of the NYU faculty for 10 years, and taught the only university-level course in the country on how to become a literary agent.

Prior to becoming an agent he was a publishing house editor for nearly six years, whose authors won prizes and critical acclaim. He has also been the editor-in-chief of a Manhattan local newspaper, and a freelance editor and book doctor for major publishers. He was a regular reviewer for the international trade magazine Publishers Weekly, and is a published author of both fiction and non-fiction. He is a member of AAR, and regularly lectures and writes on publishing and the craft of writing. He is the author of two published novels and close to ten non-fiction books ranging in subject matter from publishing and writing to music and Shakespeare. One thing about Peter that is not well known is that he was once a professional jazz musician and from time to time can still be found playing in various jazz venues around New York City and London. 

Visit Peter Rubie’s website:

Marcia Riefer Johnston – Writing.Rocks

Our special guest is Marcia Riefer Johnston the author of Word Up! and You Can Say That Again.

Want to write more powerfully? You’ve come to the right book. Word Up!–an eclectic collection of essays, more inspiration guide than style guide–serves up tips and insights for anyone who wants to write with more umph.

You may write blog posts, e-books, e-mails, executive summaries, e-zine articles, hospital-hallway signs, presentations, proposals, lab reports, letters to the editor, love letters, lunch-bag notes, movie reviews, news stories, novels, online help, plays, poems, proposals, recipes, reference manuals, scholarly critiques, speeches, term papers, tweets, user-interface text, video scripts, web pages, or white papers.

You may write for a million readers or for one. You may use a pen, a typewriter, a wiki, or an XML authoring tool. You may be a grammar snob, or you may think that “grammar snobs are great big meanies.” You may write because something within you says you can’t not write–or because your boss says you can’t not write. No matter what you write, or how or why, you and every other writer have two things in common: you use words, and you want someone to want to read them.

How do you get people to want to read your words? Know your subject. Know your audience. And write powerfully. This book can help you write powerfully.

Marcia’s book You Can Say That Again: 750 Redundant Phrases to Think Twice about is a light look at how we fill our writing, our speech, and our thoughts with needlessly repetitive (okay, just repetitive) words. Includes a list of 750 redundant phrases we hear and use–say it ain’t so!–every day.

Visit Marcia’s website

Margot Leitman – Long Story Short: The only storytelling guide you’ll ever need

Margot Leitman is a storyteller, comedian, writer and teacher originally from Matawan, New Jersey.

She is the best-selling author of “Long Story Short- the Only Storytelling Guide You’ll Ever Need” from Sasquatch Books/Random House and the comedic memoir “Gawky…Tales of an Extra Long Awkward Phase” from Seal Press/ Perseus Books.

She has written for NBC, Dreamworks TV, the Hallmark Channel and the PixL Network and a variety of print and online sources including Cosmo and Backstage Magazine. In 2016 she worked as the west coast story scout for “This American Life.”

Margot is a five-time winner of The Moth StorySLAM, and was the Moth GrandSLAM winner in New York City achieving the series’ first ever score of a perfect 10.  Her stories have been featured on NPR’s  “The Moth Podcast,” “Good Food,” “Unfictional” and “Strangers.” Additionally Margot has been featured on Dan Savage’s podcast, “Hot Mic,” Earwolf’s “With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus” and is a frequent contributor to the popular podcast “RISK!”

Leitman is the founder of the storytelling program at the UCB Theatre, where she has performed in dozens of shows over the years and is a frequent monologist at their glagship show “Asssscat.” As a public speaker, recent appearances include BinderconStoryU LiveCUPRAP 2017, Olin College of Engineering,  SciComm Camp 2017, 4A’s, SPOKEN in Mumbai, and the Teton County Library in Wyoming.

A proud graduate of the Ithaca College Theatre Department, Leitman is an amateur baker, two time game show winner and avid practicer of Kundalini Yoga. Margot currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband, sons, and embarrassingly small dog.