Judy Rosemarin Q&A
I’ve completed two series of Q&As with story practitioners, the most recent in August, followed by the free e-book compilation of Q&As, Storied Careers: 40+ Story Practitioners Talk About Applied Storytelling. Plenty of fascinating practitioners are still out there uninterviewed, so I will continue to bring you these Q&As from time to time. I learned of Judy Rosemarin while researching my most recent book, Top Notch Executive Interviews. Judy joins me, Terrence Gargiulo, Rob Sullivan, and a handful of others as strong advocates for storytelling in the job search.
Bio: For more than 25 years, Judy has coached senior leaders in effective communication so that they can influence and impact others in the most productive ways. With her unique one on one coaching style, combining her experience in writing, acting and teaching, Judy has helped thousands of executives become more confident and competent in their roles. As a storytelling coach, she teaches executives in transition how to highlight their value in quick and memorable ways; by telling their own value-based stories. In today’s tough and turbulent times, Judy has a methodology that helps executives move quickly into the memories of interviewers, to distinguish themselves from the competition. Read more at Judy’s Web site, Sense-Able Strategies.
Q&A with Judy Rosemarin:
Q: How did you first discover the value of storytelling in the job search, and how did you come up with Humaway© StoryTelling?
A: I have been hosting senior executive networking meetings sponsored by ExecuNet for over 16 years. Each first Wednesday of the month, 20+ executives come to meet new people so as to broaden their viability and visibility. Each person gets a chance to present himself or herself to the rest of the group and inevitably, until one year ago, this November (now) everyone would give their “elevator pitches.”
They were the typical claims that were to illustrate each person’s brand but instead, they would be claims filled with things that began to sound like everyone else’s pitches. “Effective communicator,” or “team builder” or “my background includes” but no stories! Eyes would glaze over, until one’s turn came around the room for the next person to speak. I tried, for years to make it more compelling, encouraging people to focus on results but the claims still claimed the room.
Then, I took a one-day storytelling class in New York City, at Narativ, and the light bulb went off! My execs were not telling stories; they were making claims. It was no wonder that it wasn’t as compelling as it could be. So, I started immediately to let my groups know that everyone who comes to my meetings must tell a story that reflects some part of them for the purpose of networking.
After that, I began to teach it for interviewing. And now, I am about to take it into a major airline to help their senior execs share the company’s value through real life stories.
I came up with the Humaway© idea based on reflecting back on an interview I had at JP Morgan, for a coaching assignment.
The Senior HR manager asked me, “When you leave this office, what do you want me to be thinking about?” I was surprised by the question, but gave her an answer that she must have found suitable because I was hired for a coaching assignment.
I remember that later that evening, I went to see the Broadway musical “Rent” and upon leaving the theater, I found myself humming a tune from the show. “Oh, I get it now,” I thought to myself. That woman wanted to know what my “humaway” was!Q: How did you initially become involved with story/storytelling/narrative? What attracted you to this field? What do you love about it?
A: I loved Miss Leigh, my fourth-grade teacher, who after recess, would sit her huge self down in her chair behind her desk and say, “Now children……… Once upon a time….” and we were hers! No matter how wound up we might have been in the playground, playing dodge ball, marbles, chasing one another, as soon as we got back into Miss Leigh’s room, and began to put our lunch boxes back and perhaps put our outer clothes in the “cloak room,” as she called it, we would see her slowly move to that chair at her desk, take out a book and be captured by that haunting, “Once upon a time.”
For over 26 years, I have been working with executives in transition and in position. They seem to know how to make statements and claims but sorely need to learn how to become more memorable by learning how to intentionally select, craft and tell a story that helps others understand the storyteller and themselves.
What I love about stories is that they are real, human and touch us all. With the high tech world we are living in, I think more than ever, stories are what help us connect, remember our humanity and as I have also come to see, stories beget stories, so there is no end to possibilities.Q: The storytelling movement seems to be growing explosively. Why now? What is it about this moment in human history and culture that makes storytelling so resonant with so many people right now?
A: How could we not have stories now? How many facts can you jam into your head? How many data points can you stomach? How many claims bombard us every day? How can we escape or even understand the magnitude of our world’s challenges and possibilities? But one story of one little girl, during the second world war, who hid from the Nazis in an attic, and whose book has been translated into countless languages, whose little life and major story makes us see something new, different, touches our hearts, and we remember the story: Anne Frank’sThe Diary of A Young Girl.
My belief is that storytelling had to emerge now, for we long for the connection, the humanity, the longing for learning from one another, to hear conquests so we can believe in ourselves, to hear sorry so we can develop empathy and to be in the moment, so we can be present to ourselves and to one another.Q: What’s your favorite story about a transformation that came about through a story or storytelling act?
A: While teaching one of my classes, some people were working on their interviewing stories, based on a value to the potential employer. One woman, on the opposite side of the room, was getting increasingly more red in the face. Others were talking about how the storytelling was new to them and yet a bit easier than they thought it would be.
I kept my eye on her, as I anticipated some emotionality. I noticed that her eyes were filling up but the tears did not flow over her bottom eyelids.
“Judy, you have changed my life from here on.”
“What do you mean?”
“I have always felt like an imposter with that darned elevator pitch.” Her skin got redder. “And now, I realize that all I have to do is tell my story and I feel released. Thank you, thank you,” she replied and as she said those words, her skin returned to its normal coloring, and I thanked her back for sharing.Q: Are there any current uses of storytelling that repel you or that you feel are inappropriate?
A: Gossip or false advertising.
Q: Your Web site states: “In today’s tough and turbulent times, Judy has a methodology that helps executives move quickly into the memories of interviewers, to distinguish themselves from the competition.” Without giving away too many trade secrets, can you provide a taste of this methodology for readers?
A: My years as a journalist, executive coach and now, for the past five years in community theater as an actor and director, my methodology is based on intentionality, audience-centricity and authenticity. People can be more of themselves when they share a true story, (albeit well considered and crafted) than when they have to put together some artificial elevator pitch and sound like everyone else. There are no two perfectly similar CFOs, and if there were 20 in a room, each would have his or her own brand and stories. My methodology is to play to a person’s strengths while using proven approaches to unearth and rebirth their stories.