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The Story of My Life Inspired By The Storyteller's Secret

I wanted to introduce my story by this picture.

I was eight, and it was my first important match in my life. I lost this match; as every child, when you lose, you cry.

Here my dad is hugging me, trying to comfort me. He is telling me that there are worse things in life than losing a tennis match. He had the experience and I didn’t. He was the adult and I was the child. This picture is just the beginning of my tennis experience, that made me grow and evolve in life and still does every day.

Alexe Viaud

Stories can have a significant influence on all of us. Carmine Gallo, author of The Storyteller’s Secret and also known for writing about success, leadership and communication, made me realize how powerful business tools were in the past, and still are in today’s world. In order to express us this, Gallo used the stories of few legends and icons that changed the course of the history, and evolved people minds through their thoughts. These storytellers, “all mastered the art of storytelling to inspire, motivate and persuade others”, and above all, they are all “dream makers” and “risk-takers”. Anyways, is not only in the business world that you can write and express beautiful stories to an audience. The sport’s world is also able to do so.

The sport world has always been an integral part of my life. The books or movies that inspired me the most, were typically related to athletics. Being passionate about tennis from an early age, I read the books on the life of André Agassi, the Williams sisters and even Rafael Nadal, who has been my favorite player on the circuit. Nadal is an incredible example on the court and always shows his passion to win. The book that impressed me the most is "Correr o Morir" by Kilian Jornet. This man dedicated his life to his passion: running in nature. He shared his story by telling us all his feelings that made him become stronger and improve each day. "Losing is dying, Winning is feeling". He gives us a lesson of life, "the secret is not in the legs" he said, he wasn’t born with this talent, through work and dedication he became that good. To him, individuals cannot die without giving everything, without collapsing to weep because of pain or injury, they just cannot give up. These are all values that this book advocates and have always followed me throughout my life, a path to keep me on track.

But what does Gallo mean by storytelling? “Is the act of framing an idea as narrative to inform, illuminate and inspire.” Referring to this definition, I believe that the theme of the book “The Storyteller’s secret” is introduced very well. I realized that this method of communication was used by a lot of known people who are trying to tell a story. Inspiring stories existed in all eras. I admired all these stories illustrated in the book, such as Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela; known politicians, that inspired us and acted as example to humanity; in their quest for a better world, with more rights. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are leaders who have stood out thanks to their ingenious ideas which revolutionized the world. These men have not become what they are today by accident; they made it happen with passion, motivation, and also by believing in their strengths and ideas. Life is all about self-confidence.

I believe that this book inspired me a little bit more on the reach of my desired career path. No matter what goal we launch for, any story can be a source of inspiration for us. I do not know yet how I will achieve this career in business, but my ideal career would be to be a Marketing Director in a sports company like Adidas, Asics, Nike, Puma or Under Armor. That sounds ambitious, but within my reach. It's not simply because I'm going to be graduated from Stetson University or because of my remarkable grades that I will stand out from any other candidate. “The Storyteller's Secret” proved me that these values were not enough. These are only facts. There are many other factors that will be considered and will enable me to move mountains and reach highs.

A good storyteller knows how to communicate. Nowadays, having a good resume doesn’t guarantee you a job. Barbara Corcoran statement illustrates my point; “Show me an MBA and your sales numbers, that’s fine. But tell me a great story about how you got started and your vision, and we’ll talk”. The resume is just going to be the first step of trying to get the job or position, much more is taken into consideration when it comes to hiring a person. Carmine Gallo helped me to realize that. In fact, when you get an interview, most of the time they ask you about yourself, your qualities, your capacities, your knowledge etc. Why couldn’t I just tell my future employer, a story? Actually, my story is way more interesting that a piece of paper with some pragmatic information about myself. I will use this story as proof of why I would be the best addition to the company. The reason why I want to work for these specific companies related to sports is that I have had a love for athletics since I was a child. In fact, I have a strong family background that explains this. My grandfather was a professional runner, my father was a professional soccer player and now coach, and I’m a tennis player. I didn’t reach the professional level as some of my family members did, but I still live my life through the sport world. Sports made me become a better person and continues to do so. Every day, I go to practice hoping to get better. For over two years now, I have been a member of the Stetson Women’s Tennis Team and, trust me, there has not been a day that has gone by where I haven’t learned something new. I learned about myself a lot, and as Gallo states: “inspiring storytellers don’t avoid the difficult parts of their arc, but rather embrace every step as an opportunity to transform and grow and to make a deeply meaningful emotional connection with their audience”. With tennis, I have gone through all the emotions: crying of joy to crying of sadness. I grew up faster than a lot of people because I saw things that many have not gone through and might never have to go through. Do you know what is to lose, what is to fail, what is to be injured, to wake up every single morning at 6 AM to go practice no matter what the weather is like? Believe me, sometimes you just want to quit everything and never touch a racquet again in your life. But all of these emotions I have felt, made me stronger and ready to handle the difficulties faced in life.

I remember that day like it was yesterday, my team was playing against Georgia State, we were tied at 3/3 and in order for us to win, it was on me and my match. I won the first set 6/1, lost the second one 6/3, and I was 4/1 down on the third one. During the change over my coach told me: Do you believe in yourself? Do you believe that this game is not done, that you can still come back? I answered: Yes, I believe it, and believe that I can do it. I went back on the court and I came back to 4/4, we played all away to the tie-break and I ended up losing on a double fault. I was sad afterwards; I cried for a little without even realizing that, that day, I gained the respect of a lot of people who were there cheering me on. I gave all I had on the court, I played with all my heart, until the last point. I lost, but that wasn’t the most important thing for all these persons watching me, the most important was that I gave my absolute everything, and I kept my head up high. I will always remember that day, as a personal achievement and lesson of life. As Stevie Wonder said “Life has meaning only in the struggle”. All I went through my life make me who I am today. Failure is part of life, “it’s impossible to live without failing at something” we are human beings and not designed to be perfect, but rather to embrace our imperfections. I learned a lot about myself by being tested in the adversity, and “Such a knowledge is true gift”.

My athletic experience, of course, is one of the biggest parts of my life, but the cultural one might be one as well. In fact, I’m French, I lived in Spain and decided to move to the U.S.A for College. Conclusion: I’m multilingual and discovered through traveling different cultures. I’m a student that has experienced three different education systems; I did my elementary school in Spain, my high school in France and now my college in America. I can easily adapt to change, and I believe that will be extremely helpful in my future.

When I was young, I didn’t think, but also didn’t know that being able to speak fluently three languages would be an advantage in life, but more specifically a benefit in my work. All these known companies try to open their borders and gain a positive image abroad. In order to be able to do it, and be successful, their communication skills have to be faultless if they want to collaborate, corporate and exchange. But, to be able to communicate well, the language skills are unavoidable. My international experience and languages skills, will be helpful to be able to attend this job over other persons that only speak their native language. This opportunity to work with an international sports company will continue to wide my horizon, but also allow me to improve and possibly learn more languages than the ones I already know.

The Storyteller’s secret was a guide of telling a story. Gallo assures that storytelling is part of every human being. We are all storytellers, and “storytelling is not something we do but something we are”. Storytelling is on us, part of our DNA. I just think according to Gallo’s book that they are better storytellers than others, because there is a difference between telling a story, telling a “good story” and telling a “transformative story”. Then, exists different types of storytelling, but they are all good ways to influence and win over our colleagues, teammates, family, friends, and businesses.

Gallo strongly believe that there are five different types of storytellers; the ones who ignite our inner fire, the ones who educate, the ones who simplify, the ones who motivate and the ones who launch movements. But all these storytellers follow a common thread; tell a story that inspires people to dream bigger. The common trait of these different storytellers was the fact that they all went through hardship and were eager to share the lesson they learned, and that is what made them accountable. The most important lesson that we can take from this book is that the best stories communicate emotions, feelings, and adversity, in order to create a strong bond with the audience. Mandela is a great example of this, he inspired the world with his words and his capacity to persuade, he didn’t address their brains but address their hearts. Mandela is an iconic symbol of freedom and racial equality. He inspires us to work harder and have higher aspirations, to truly believe that the world can change.

In order to better tell a story, and in this case, tell my personal one, we should also use simple words and analogies to hide complexity. As was saying Winston Churchill “Short words are best”. The art of well-chosen words, be succinct and go to the most essential ideas, the ones that your audience should be able to remember, are the keys of succeeding in telling a story. Politicians, are really good at it. They use anaphora, a storytelling device, to get their message across their audience and influence them. Anaphora are effective because they increase the intensity of an idea, and the most intense this idea is, the most the idea “sear themselves into our brain”. Martin Luther King used, perfectly, this process in his speech “I have a dream”. This book has been a real source of inspiration to me. All these processes and methods described in each chapter, but also at the end of the book, thanks to the “Storyteller’s Toolkit”, helped me to better understand how these people became experts in telling a story. To conclude, I think that Lao Tzu made a great conclusion about how to process in telling a story to our colleagues, friends and businesses, our even more general our audience: “I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience and compassion.” This is an illustration of the rule of three; we structure our story, we simplify it, then our audience can remember the key messages on it, and that is supposed to lead us to the ultimate goal of persuasion: action. However, I believe that all of these ‘tricks’ are ways to tell a good story, but then the hard part of the work is to find the right story to tell, the story that is going to “inspire the rest of us to create our own moonshots”.

Reminiscing specifically on the past nineteen years of my life, there are many things I can list that have completely changed over the time. We are living in an ever-changing world and we have to adapt ourselves to it. The world goes through constant changes due to the globalization. This globalization could be either a benefit in the business world than a handicap. I still picture my mom telling me five years ago, “Alexe your generation might be having jobs that don’t exist yet”. I share her opinion. We are in a constant search of evolution, robots are becoming part of our lives and soon will replace us in some jobs. By the time this happen, new jobs will be created, and we will have to have new skills, qualities and competences to be able to exercise them. But one thing will always remind untouchable is the ability of storytelling. To be successful, be trust and be identify as a leader and a role model it is crucial to acquire the skill of storytelling. Storytelling is something we learn through our life experiences, we should stop saying “I can’t’, I won’t, I might, I will try, maybe later” and start saying “I will”. Leaders don’t find excuses they act with a determined mindset. Their will to change can motivate and inspire others and can also leads to benefits in the business world.

What storytellers actually do? According to Walt Disney they “instill hope again, and again and again”. I will agree with this quote, storytellers give us hope, the desire to succeed as they did. Why couldn’t it be me? Everyone is allowed to have dreams. We all are able to accomplish amazing things in life; we just have to believe that we are able to do it. That is what dissociate us from these icons. They all made their dreams reality. Samuel Johnson states “Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance”. What is perseverance? It’s falling nineteen times and succeeding the twentieth. Steve Jobs is convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs form the non-successful ones is pure perseverance. We are here on Earth for a reason, and that is what we have to stand for, in order to reach our life goals. I strongly believe that we “can achieve the impossible”. In life there will always be obstacles, doubters, mistakes but with hard work, perseverance, effort and faith there are no limits. The Olympic motto proposed by Pierre de Coubertin symbolizes it « Citius (Faster), Altius (Higher), Fortius (Stronger)».

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How My Tennis Experience Correlates to the Professional World

Cette image est l'illustration des valeurs que l'on recroisera dans le monde professionnel.

Aujourd'hui nos futurs employeurs recherchent ces caractéristiques chez chacun de nous:

Oral/Written Communications: J’ai appris à communiquer dans une langue que je ne maitrisais pas, l’Anglais. J’ai pu perfectionner mon Espagnol étant donné que mon université se situe en Floride. J’ai su m’imposer au sein de mon équipe au fil des années. Aujourd’hui je peux dire que j’ai un fort pouvoir de parole au sein du groupe.

Teamwork/Collaboration: Je suis Junior cette année, je fais partie de l’équipe de tennis à Stetson University depuis 3 ans maintenant. J'ai créé des liens avec mes coéquipières. Je me suis adaptée aux cultures de chacune. J’ai réussi à créer une bonne structure et entente au sein de l’équipe. On a su travailler ensemble pour atteindre les objectifs fixés en début d’année. On a su créer une famille.

Digital Technology: Je suis capable d'utiliser les réseaux sociaux pour maintenir cette connexion entre nous et nos suiveurs/supporters. Dans un monde en constant progrès il est primordial de savoir s’adapter en toutes situations. De nos jours, les réseaux font partie intégrante de nos vies.

Leadership: Je suis capitaine de mon équipe cette année, et le serait également l’année prochaine. Je suis responsable et toujours là pour aider les autres. Je donne toujours mon maximum quoi qu’il arrive et agi dans l’intérêt du groupe. Je motive mes coéquipières au quotidien. Je suis exemplaire, j’essaye d’être un modèle pour les plus jeunes. Mon coach me donne également beaucoup de responsabilités car il me fait confiance.

Professionalism/Work Ethic: Je suis des règles au quotidien. De toutes façons c’est très clair, si on ne fait pas ce que l’on nous dit « on prend la porte ». Je dois respecter les règles instaurées par le coach et être à l’heure. Je donne la meilleure image de moi-même pour représenter au mieux les couleurs de mon université.

Career Management: Je sais jouer au tennis mais je m'entraîne pour me perfectionner au quotidien. Il ne faut jamais se reposer sur ses acquis dans la vie, toujours avoir la volonté d’aller plus loin. Le travail c’est la clé. Je profite de chaque instant pour progresser en tant qu’individu. Chaque opportunité est faite pour être saisie.

Global/Intercultural Fluency: le sport c’est l’école de la vie. Le sport t’inculque des valeurs telles que le respect, la rigueur, le goût de l’effort… et l’ouverture d’esprit. Ici, je me suis ouverte aux autres, aux différentes cultures du monde. J’ai appris à apprécier chaque individu et leurs différences. Tout le monde est unique. J’ai partagé des moments avec mes coéquipières venant de tous horizons : Suède, Afrique du Sud, Canada, Russie, Kazakhstan, Australie, Bosnie, Venezuela ou Belgique. C’est magnifique d’avoir eu accès à la richesse du monde à seulement 20 ans.

Merci à tous ceux qui rendent mon expérience de vie incroyable au quotidien.