Sharing Stories of The Greatest Generation with Earl Morse (#60)

Storytelling with Honor Flight network Co-Founder Earl Morse

Today’s guest is inspirational to many, even if he’s not technically a motivational speaker. But, he has motivated thousands of people to mobilize and serve on an amazing mission.

Earl Morse co-founded an organization that serves veterans in their later years – starting first with World War II vets, moving on to Korean War and Vietnam vets. It’s called Honor Flight Network, and it’s made up of more than a hundred local hubs… all because Earl saw a need and convinced a few other pilots to begin flying veterans to Washington, D.C. to see the memorial built in their honor.

Since May 21, 2005, thousands of veterans have taken their Honor Flight from all over the country. Earl Morse tells a great story, and has heard many, many more.

“The world is free because of [these veterans]. They’re in our community still to this day.” - Earl Morse

No Arms, No Feet, No Problem: David Powell (#59)


David Powell’s inspirational journey began at birth being born without hands and malformed legs.  However, challenges have never slowed him down.

David was born in New Orleans. As a child he got around in an electric wheelchair using his feet as his hands. After the separation of his parents, David relocated to Dallas, TX. He then became a patient at Scottish Rite Hospital for children and started walking with the help of prosthetics.

With his feet no longer available, he once again adapted and learned to do everything he did with his feet, with his arms. As a freshman in high school, David lost his mother to a drug overdose, leaving him devastated. A few years later he fell into a dark hole of drug addiction and alcoholism until the age of 29.

Over time, and after a move to Salina, KS, David once again beat the odds and overcame those struggles. He is now fulfilling one of his lifetime dreams of becoming a motivational speaker to help people though helpful messages on life and its perspectives.

Veteran Stories Through Photographs with Jim Swoboda (#58)

Inspiring stories through pictures with photographer Jim Swoboda

Photographer Jim Swoboda puts his skill and expertise to work for non-profits like Honor Flight, crafting inspirational stories from photos. Jim also explores nature and man-made structures with his camera, capturing the world around us with his unique perspective.

Sometimes the best stories are the ones captured as people do ordinary things, but with extraordinary meaning.

“Our most moving ones, as we’ve been moving more into the Vietnam [veterans]. Those are pretty poignant when we get to the Wall with some Vietnam vets. They all know somebody on the Wall, if not many people on the Wall.” - Jim Swoboda on telling veteran stories with Honor Flight

Poet, Motivational Speaker, Convicted Murderer Will Latif Little (#57)

From Convicted Murderer to Motivational Speaker, a Conversation with Poet Will Latif Little

Today’s guest is a mentor, activist, poet, author, inspirational Speaker who has appeared on the TEDx stage … and a man convicted of murder.

Will Latif Little grew up in a single-parent home with his four sisters in Philadelphia. Without his father, or any father figure, Will began to venture out, picking up bad habits and negative ideas on the street. Becoming a product of his environment, Will dropped out of high school in the 10th grade and got involved in the Philadelphia drug trade and other illegal activities. This ultimately landed Will in prison for 10-20 years on a murder conviction at the age of 19.

While in prison, Will decided to turn his life around, by first getting his diploma by way of a GED. He became a voracious reader. What began as a way to pass the time actually helped him become a man, a storyteller, and an inspiration to others.

“He stalked me before. He had guns out, and saw me at restaurants and places with my lady and my daughter. He said everywhere he went, ‘everyone loves you but I didn’t care, you killed my brother.’” - Will Little on meeting the brother of his shooting victim

S4E13: The Last Stories Part 2 (#56)

If you could only tell one last story, what story would that be?

Each episode, I ask my guest this question. The premise is that we’re all storytellers at our core, and that “last story” would probably be a big deal. Over 54 interviews, I’ve heard a different answer each and every time.

Each answer is not only different, but feels different in its nature. It’s been a lot of fun hearing from each storyteller what their “last story” might be, or might look like.

In part 2, we hear from seasons 3 and 4 of The Storytellers Network. Enjoy.

S4E12: The Last Stories Part 1 (#55)

If you could only tell one last story, what story would that be?

Each episode, I ask my guest this question. The premise is that we’re all storytellers at our core, and that “last story” would probably be a big deal. Over 54 interviews, I’ve heard a different answer each and every time.

Each answer is not only different, but feels different in its nature. It’s been a lot of fun hearing from each storyteller what their “last story” might be, or might look like.

In part 1, we hear from seasons 1 and 2 of The Storytellers Network. Enjoy.

S4E11: Shawn Callahan, @shawncallahan @anecdote (#54)

Putting Stories to Work: Mastering Business Storytelling

Shawn Callahan, a sought-after keynote speaker, international business consultant and executive coach, works with global organizations such as Mars, Danone, Allianz, SAP, Tesco and Shell. He is the founder of Anecdote, the world's largest business storytelling company, where they help leaders and sellers around the world to find and tell oral stories with impact.

He's also the award-winning author of Putting Stories to Work: Mastering Business Storytelling.

Interesting trivia: this guy holds a bachelor's degree in geography and archaeology from the Australian National University. 

And Shawn loves giving away “the secret” to storytelling so much, that he even gets pulled aside at presentations to be scolded!

“He came up to me, grabbed me by the arm, pulled me in close and says ‘I resent what you’re doing here.’ Then he pulled me in closer and said, ‘Because you’re giving away my secrets.’” - Shawn Callahan on the power of story

S4E10: Park Howell, The Business of Story @ParkHowell (#53)

Storytelling with Business Storyteller Park Howell

Get any Point Across With the Applied Science and Bewitchery of Story

Podcaster, brand story strategist, keynote speaker… and STORYTELLER Park Howell joins the show on Season 4, Episode 10.

Park is the president of Park & Co, a Phoenix-based brand consultancy that has ignited the growth of purpose-driven clients for 20 years. Park & Co uses its proprietary Story Cycle process to create abundance for the greater good. Park created and teaches his Story Cycle curriculum in the Executive Masters for Sustainability Leadership program at Arizona State University. His podcast, Business of Story, connects business leaders and communicators with top story artists, authors, screenwriters, and others ranks among the top business podcasts on iTunes.​

From great businesses to classic music, Park sees story inspiration everywhere.

“You find, especially when you’re pulling apart great pieces like Beethoven and Mozart wrote… you couldn’t help, even like a math ditz like me, seeing how math plays into… the rhythm of the piece… that really helped me as a writer.” - Park Howell on the rhythm of writing

S4E9: Mike Adams, Sales Storyteller @MikeAdamsSales (#52)

Engineer turned salesperson, Mike Adams taught himself storytelling 'on the job' while selling and managing sales teams in the United Kingdom, Russia, India, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia for international corporations Schlumberger, Siemens, Nokia and Halliburton. Since 2014, Mike has been helping companies find and develop their own stories through his storytelling consulting practice. 

His book Seven Stories Every Salesperson Must Tell helps those who sell, tell. The book takes readers on a high-stakes sales journey, using stories to establish rapport and trust, deliver insight, inspire action and close the deal, and in doing so win new friends and collaborators. Sharing more than 50 stories from around the world, Mike draws on his diverse international sales career to teach and demonstrate the power of storytelling -- from first hello to signed contract.

Mike is married with three sons and lives in Melbourne, Australia… and today Mike Adams shares with The Storytellers Network his storytelling craft, successes and stumbles… in other words, his story.

“[Sales people] are in a category, that if you make up a story, you blow your credibility. You don’t have the credibility to tell a mythical story or fable.” - Mike Adams on honesty in sales storytelling

S4E8: Stephanie Baiocchi, @stephbaiocchi (#51)

She’s a natural storyteller who’s changing the world of marketing.

“To say I'm passionate about inbound would be an understatement. Whether it's creating inbound marketing content, enabling my inbound sales team, delighting customers or merging account based everything with the inbound methodology, I use HubSpot and bleed orange.“

Stephanie Baiocchi is the Director of Audience Engagement & Community at IMPACT and absolutely loves connecting with people and building relationships. She has been using HubSpot for 6 years across a variety of industries on the client and agency side.

Stephanie is also a co-leader of the Chicago HubSpot User Group. She is a Carthage College graduate with a B.A. in Public Relations and German. She also owns a highly coveted HubSpot bicycle! You can catch Stephanie co-hosting IMPACT's weekly Facebook live show or engaging with the community in Elite.

”I think you have to tell a story in order to connect with people. And so much of my job is connecting with people.” Stephanie Baiocchi on community/audience engagement

S4E7: Alicia Smith, News Anchor @WXYZAlicia (#50)

Get ready to hear from a major metropolitan news desk. Alicia Smith is the weekday co-anchor of “7 Action News This Morning” on Detroit’s ABC affiliate WXYZ from 4:30 until 7:00 every morning. She joined WXYZ in January 2007 as an anchor/reporter/multi-media journalist and is a cheerleader of Channel 7's #earlyrisers on Twitter and Facebook.

I’ve admired Alicia’s social media usage over the years. Her authenticity and willingness to share the behind the scenes stories helps make news real. She’s also an award-winning storyteller. Alicia is a three-time Emmy winner who has been recognized for both her anchoring and her reporting. Today, you get to hear Alicia’s story, and her passion for a free (and local) press.

“When people look at us like we are the enemy, it breaks my heart. We are one of you. We live in your community. There’s this vitriol in our country where everything becomes politicized. I would just like to remind people that the [local] media - not the national media who’s paid to have an opinion - you need those people on the front lines fighting for you, holding people accountable.” Alicia Smith on the idea of a free press

S4E6: Scott Monty, @ScottMonty (#49)

He’s a keynote speaker, advisor and strategy consultant; husband, dad, voice over artist, golfer and man about town. He’s a natural storyteller, as well as one professionally. Scott Monty is a corporate executive steeped in digital.

Scott was ranked by The Economist as number one atop the list 25 Social Business Leaders and by Forbes as one of the top 10 influencers in social media. Alan Mulally, the CEO of Ford Motor Company, called him "a visionary."

Scott ran Ford’s social media and digital communications from 2008 until 2014. During his leadership, Ford was the first company to reveal a vehicle on Facebook, and the first brand to join the now defunct Google+.

He also has another decade and a half of experience in communications and marketing agencies. Scott's clients have included Walmart, IBM, McDonalds, Coca-Cola, and Google.

“We’ve taken this promise of a two-way communications network, and we’ve turned it into yet another advertising platform. So now you’re going to interrupt people and pay to have your crappy stories in front of them, instead of just telling better stories.” - Scott Monty on what we get wrong in social media

S4E5: Jeshua Lauka, a Social Attorney, @JeshuaTLauka (#48)

When I think of lawyers doing any kind of marketing or advertising, I think of the big, ugly billboards along the highway that scream at you to call am 800-number the next time you’re in a crash. Or I think of terrible jingles on the radio reminding you that the next time you’re caught driving drunk, you don’t have to pay the price.

Now, I have friends who are attorneys and I don’t think they’re all bad. I was still impressed with Jeshua Lauka, who uses social media to share stories and inspiration in order to develop relationships, which just might lead to new business. Imagine, using social media… to be social!

Jeshua Lauka from Grand Rapids, Michigan is incredibly talented at using social well, and not just spamming his connections with junk. According to his LinkedIn profile, Jeshua is “an attorney at a boutique business law firm located in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan” where he “practices Business, Real Estate, Estate and Trust work, and related litigation.”

He loves what he does and has a special passion for non-profit, board governance, and social enterprise. He also writes about legal issues on his own blog, and isn’t afraid to be authentic and even vulnerable.

“We all want to show the best of ourselves. Nobody likes to share our weaknesses… I think those are things that make us human and things that allow us to connect. Do those things you might be uncomfortable with [sharing]. Be your authentic self.” - Jeshua Lauka on vulnerability and authenticity in storytelling

S4E4: James Breakwell, @XplodingUnicorn (#47)

In this episode, we hear from: a comedy writer, social media powerhouse (100k on Instagram, 1Million on Twitter, nearly 300k on Facebook), podcaster, author, webcomic creator, amateur father of four daughters all under 10 years old… so you KNOW he’s a storyteller. James Breakwell is the man behind “Exploding Unicorn.”

He’s also writer of two books, Only Dead on the Inside: A Parent’s Guide for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse and the upcoming (November 2018 release) Bare Minimum Parenting: The Ultimate Guide to Not Quite Ruining Your Child.

Since becoming internet famous, James has been profiled by USA TodayUS WeeklyThe Daily MailMetroThe TelegraphCosmopolitanBetter Homes and GardensBuzzfeedHuffington PostUpworthyThe ChiveBored Panda9gagCollege Humor, various ABC and Fox TV news affiliates, and countless other TV, radio, and internet outlets. Pictures of his smiling girls have been displayed in newspapers as far away as India. His articles have appeared in Reader’s DigestThe Federalist, and AskMen. He writes a bi-monthly newspaper column for the IndyStar and has been a guest multiple times on HLN’s The Daily Share.

Social media is the platform James has used to build an audience for his writing. His insight is inspirational.

“I’m really lucky that my hobby and my passion actually help people. I’m not necessarily a good person, it just happens that my hobby does help people. It’s just a fortunate side effect. I’m lucky the side effect isn’t smog or pollution.” - James Breakwell

S4E3: Michael Stelzner, Social Media Examiner, @Mike_Stelzner (#46)

As we explore storytelling in social media, we get to hear from the founder of Social Media Examiner, author of the books Launch and Writing White Papers, and the man behind Social Media Marketing World–the industry’s largest conference. He’s also host of the Social Media Marketing podcast, founder of the Social Media Marketing Society, and the central character in The Journey, an episodic documentary. 

Michael Stelzner lives and breathes storytelling and social media. While we explore his story, we dig some interesting nuggets about social media and how it affects storytellers today.

“If you think about this industry of social media and how young it is, it’s just 10 years old… so what you have is a lot of people who, around 2008 when it really started blowing up, were out of work. They started realizing they could make a career out of interacting with people on the internet. That was shocking to them!” - Michael Stelzner on the career jumpstarts in social media

S4E2: Sam Mallikarjunan, @mallikarjunan (#45)

In this episode, we hear from the CMO of BirdEye, former marketing genius at HubSpot and cigar & scotch aficionado… this guy has quite a story. Lucky for me, I’ve been a part of his story for about 7 years now. Today, Sam Mallikarjunan shares with The Storytellers Network his storytelling craft, his passion for story and more… in other words, HIS story.

Sam’s story include world travel as a professional speaker, traveling the United States in a van with his bride, and experimental marketing at sales giant HubSpot. The power of Sam’s story is the impact of the stories he’s had the privilege of hearing. Sometimes the pwoer of story is all in the perspective.

“I was in Pakistan at a conference, talking to an entrepreneur. He told me ‘I used to leave the house everyday not knowing if I would make it home to my wife. I think I can handle the stress of pitching to investors.’ That’s a short story… but wow.” - Sam Mallikarjunan on the power of perspective

S4E1: Geraldine DeRuiter, @everywhereist (#44)

Geraldine DeRuiter, acclaimed author, world-renowned public speaker, and the voice behind the award-winning Everywhereist blog, joins The Storytellers Network to launch Season 4, Social Media Storytellers.

Besides travel, Geraldine also writes about dessert, feminism, and Jeff Goldblum’s entire filmography. TIME Magazine described her work as “consistently clever” and The New York Times said her writing was “dark and hilarious”. Her blog has received accolades from The Independent, Forbes Magazine, and The Huffington Post, because as she says, sometimes features editors get drunk.

When not on the road with her long-suffering and infinitely patient husband, Rand Fishkin (my guest from season 3), Geraldine can be found in Seattle, usually fighting with people on the internet.

Besides her blog, Geraldine uses social media for some amazing storytelling. I love her passion on anything from equal rights to food replacement soylent… which we talk about in our conversation. For Gerladine, social media has proven to be a great, diverse story platform to expand our knowledge and networks.

“When my knee-jerk reaction is ‘I don’t want to read that,’ [Rand] tells me I need to evaluate why. Once that wall comes down, it becomes very, very easy.” - Geraldine DeRuiter on the power of contrarian stories/perspectives

S3E14: Ed Kengerski, Video Storyteller for the University of Michigan (#43 BONUS EPISODE)

He tells the stories of some of the country’s greatest college athletes. But it’s so much more than scores and stats. The stories behind these athletes can inspire and change lives. We’re diving into the life and craft of a storyteller for the University of Michigan, who made the jump from TV news in Kalamazoo.

Ed Kengerski was the Sports Director at WWMT, a CBS affiliate, where I got to know him as a guy who was passionate about telling great sports stories. Now Ed has taken his talents to the national stage in Ann Arbor. The best part of his storytelling career, according to Ed, has been telling the stories that affect a community.

“You start off in a career in broadcasting thinking that you’re going to be doing the big, big stuff. When you start working, you start realizing everybody has a story. When you’re working at a local TV station, doing a story on something or somebody local, now you’re actually touching someone’s life.“ - Ed Kengerski on telling the impactful stories

S3E13: Mike Compton, Three Chairs Productions (#42 BONUS EPISODE)

Mike Compton, co-founder of the video production company Three Chairs Productions, tells stories professionally and personally. His journey starts in the Mitten State.

Before co-founding Three Chairs Productions with his partner George, Mike was a communications/media production graduate from Michigan State University – a fellow Michigander! As a senior at MSU Mike was able to get his first producing experience with Red Bull Energy Drink, producing their “Lawn Shorts” student film festival. He produced the festival and along with 5 other students, winning the chance to produce a film within the festival. For Mike, that was “all she wrote.” He knew what his calling was.

Mike left his Michigan home base in 2001 to start a multimedia career in Tampa, Florida. Now he and George help Tampa-based businesses, marketing agencies and others, transform their business communications through creative video storytelling.

S3E12: Luke Rafferty, Visual Storyteller (#41)

Storytelling with Video/Film Creator Luke Rafferty

Visual Storyteller and Branded-Content Documentarian Luke Rafferty loves to tell a story. On his website, Luke Rafferty says “If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine the impact of a short film. Your organization has a story to tell. Through stunning visuals coupled with emotional narratives, we can spark a fire in the hearts of many. Together, let's tell those stories.” Sounds inspiring – and like he’s a partner in helping clients tell their stories. We talk about that, what it took to work with Make a Wish AND JetBLue – even as a small, one-person video company (there’s hope for all of us in that story) – and more.

To Luke, great stories often come from amazing experiences. Sometimes, you need to get out, see the world and experience life to its fullest.

“I was 18 at the time. The first thing that struck me was the gratitude and the love of the people. They were generous. We gave them solar panels. There was a lot of selflessness and a lot of giving... It wasn’t until the flight home that I lost it. I remember going to the bathroom on the plane and crying.” - Luke Rafferty on the power of an experience