13. Sparking Connection Through Storytelling with Marsha Shandur

When we are attracted to those who are successful or inspire us. It’s their innate ability to tell a story. That’s the attribute that charms us and creates a spark.

A spark is likely to catalyse a physical or emotional connection. And it’s from this connection that the storyteller can truly showcase their message, their brand and their goal.

This is a conversation on how we best illuminate ourselves in the presence of others. From making new friends or business acquaintances, to delivering a sales pitch, performing at a job interview or speaking at a keynote. We are somehow telling a story in every aspects of our lives. As children, we even learn through stories.

A well-told story illuminates not only the message but the qualities of the storyteller. Tangential stories have this immense ability in drawing connection. Sharing a random thing that happened at the coffee shop in the morning, to the DIY disaster that happened over the weekend. We open ourselves up to being vulnerable. This drives an innately human attraction. From which, relationships and trust are established.

Vulnerability is currency. And is the opening gambit to my conversation with Marsha Shandur. We begin today’s conversation by asking each other to introduce ourselves. As expected, we fumbled. Our anxiety over such a simple question got the best of us. It not only provides a comical opener to what was an immensely fun conversation but also provides a foundation for shaping an entertaining and value-filled dialogue.

Marsha Shandur is a storytelling coach. In her own words, she helps people fall into platonic business love with you. Marsha’s past-life covers a diversity of accolades. From being a DJ on Xfm to producing the music for – the E4 hit show – The Inbetweeners and Made in Chelsea! She also co-authored the book Off The Mic: The World’s Best Stand Up Comedians Get Serious About Comedy.

As a coach, she empowers her clients to tell their stories. But it’s not necessarily about the story. It’s all in the delivery. This is where Marsha shines. 

In 2012 Marsha was scheduled to run the New York City Marathon. Hurricane Sandy was forecast. The NYC marathon was cancelled. But after months of preparation, Marsha wasn’t quite ready to abandon the run. So she embarked on an unplanned solo marathon around London.

Aptly named the Marshathon!

This was an impromptu event. Marsha tied the laces on her running shoes and headed out for her solo marathon. There was no thought around the physical logistics. The media coverage or charity fundraising. It’s amazing what one can achieve once you’ve not only committed but started the race. Planning and executing in real-time.

It was this story that sparked a connection between myself and Marsha. How Marsha and I connected is a prime example of how stories can influence. A well-told story ignites a spark. It catalyses a chain reaction of events that not only connect people but can also leave a lasting impact. 

This conversation covers just as much terrain as Marsha’s run across London. We share anecdotal stories that have us in fits of laughter. The energy in this conversation is all-consuming. Marsha is the embodiment of her message. An immensely fun individual – with not only a wealth of diverse experience – but with a gift to captivate an audience. One which Marsha is keen to share. 

Marsha reminds us of how every aspect of our existence is underpinned by storytelling. An insight into her Russian heritage provides a lens that allow us to explore how stories shape cultural identities. Historically stories have not only provided a means of passing down information – thus preserving an identity – but also shaping the style of a narrative.

We have limited bandwidth from which we can experience the world. We live through stories and we allow others to live through ours.

That’s the real spark of human attraction.

QUOTES

When we tell stories, we show people who we are. Emotion is the most important part in telling a story. – Marsha

We crave belonging more than anything else. Even more than happiness.” – Marsha

Often we don’t apologise, because we feel so much shame around admitting we are wrong.” – Marsha

Everybody has my trust from the outset. You don’t have to earn it. You just have to maintain it.” – Bobby

I’m gonna hate you first. And if you judge me and find me not good enough. It doesn’t matter, because I already hate you.” – Marsha

That’s the thing about vulnerability. Feeling vulnerable; if you can be cynical and judgy about everyone else. It’s like an armour between you and them.” – Marsha

If I ask a really good question, and somebody responds with – Bobby that’s a really good question – my mind goes into self-congratulatory mode and I stop listening to the answer.” – Bobby

RESOURCES

Be sure to check out Marsha’s Secret Web Page for a whole raft of resources referenced in this conversation. Supplementary links to other resources, and how to follow or connect with Marsha are below.

Marsha Shandur: Website | Instagram | LinkedIn | Twitter | YouTube | Email
Secret Web Page: Bobby’s Secret Web Page of Resources
News Article: Woman Completes London Marathon Solo Run
Website: World Domination Summit in Portland
Video Talk: The Anatomy of Trust by Brene Brown
Book: Tricks of the Mind by Derren Brown

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Episode #11: Deconstructing a Difficult Conversation with Nicole Posner

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