• Elisse Gabriel

The Secret Ingredient

Updated: Jun 19, 2019

Data wrapped in stories have the power to move people, to inspire people to take action.

—Brené Brown

Brené Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability is one of the most popular YouTube videos of all time. Her recent Netflix special, The Call to Courage, is just as affecting. An academic, researcher and now bestselling author, this charismatic Texan now fields more than 2000 speaking requests a week. What is it about Brown’s offerings that make her such a standout? She presents her findings through stories that resonate.

If you observe the audience during The Call to Courage, you’ll see plenty of folks nodding in agreement, crying, laughing, and cheering. As viewer, I, too, was spellbound.

In addition to being a natural on stage (despite being a self-proclaimed introvert), Brown communicates in a way that comes across as open, honest, truthful, and authentic. She weaves entertaining anecdotes around serious research, and infuses data with poignant, relatable vignettes. Sure, she’s a superstar these days, but she comes across as thoughtful and relatable, self-deprecating and unabashedly real (aside from the 35 million views of her TED talk, four #1 NYT bestselling books, global speaking engagements, etc.). I might not be able ring her up for a quick coffee (or even score a ticket at a speaking event, come to think of it), but she nevertheless comes across as a person who we might run into at the grocery store and greet like an old friend.

When are able to create stories that speak to universal truths, as Brown so masterfully does, we are that much closer to striking a chord with our audience. As Dr. Brown says, “Connection is why we’re here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.” The ability to connect through story is what gives this art form its extraordinary power.

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