October 5, 2021
On the first day of a new job or when joining a networking group, people get bombarded with introducing themselves. Between awkward silences, uncomfortable eye contact, then a quick swap of job titles and company names, the opportunity to become memorable goes down the drain. When we talk about ourselves, the default is to mimic the examples we get from others. The result is a stale, repetitive story that morphs each introduction into the next.
Businesses struggle with the same exact issue. When pitching themselves to the world, they fall into the format of the same old contrived story. In a world that changes so rapidly, this has become a big-time problem. Narrative strategy is the solution. With narrative strategy, the story is unique, concise, and focuses on a culture and a vision that stand out to the audiences it serves.
Josh Gryniewicz is a storyteller at heart. His company, Odd Duck, preaches the power of strategic narratives to connect with an audience instead of just selling to them. He is also a speaker, filmmaker, comic book creator, and writer.
He has helped organizations and nonprofits develop communication strategies that are human-centered, narrative-driven, authentic, and radically optimistic. And he can teach you the same ideas.
Top three takeaways from my conversation with Josh Gryniewicz
Be committed to developing your authentic message. “You have to know who your audience is and how to communicate with them. If you’re messaging to everyone, you’re messaging to no one at all. That’s why disruptive story mapping is so important. You figure out specifically who you are speaking to, and try to walk in their shoes and get a read of their experience through their own eyes.”
Narrative strategy is storytelling with important specifics that set it apart. “For a long time, the story was about a brand putting forward X amount of money and achieving a result. That is not as effective anymore. A lot of companies can benefit from stepping out of that protagonist role. They should allow the impact of their investment to show itself. By making that impact the center idea, they’re going to have a more authentic story that speaks to the intention of the organization, the brand, and the people who are invested in that brand. And they’re going to have a story that actually is more likely to get traction and to be told.”
Don’t be afraid to use your passions to make you a better storyteller in other areas. “I went back to grad school for creative writing after working in health communications. I was working for a public health organization that was focused on paradigm shifting community-based initiative. This is how I fell in love with storytelling. I’ve always been a writer, but I recognized that I could marry my passion for storytelling with my passion for social change and use story as a change agent. I decided I was going to learn everything I could about storytelling, and then try to fit the pieces together. Odd Duck is the result of that.”
Watch Josh talk more about the specifics of his work with nonprofits, his ideas about how to address social change, and all the shifts in his life that have led him to where he is today.