Your Intended Message

Leadership Story Telling: Alan McLaren

August 18, 2022

Why Leaders Need to Tell their Stories

How story telling teaches, builds the brand and humanizes you

Alan McLaren was the global chairman of YPO (Young Presidents' Organization)

Episode 108 (Alan is based in Oakville, Ontario)

In this conversation with Alan McLaren we explore:

  • Why leaders might be obligated to tell their stories
  • How story telling helps the business
  • The effective use of story telling as a teaching tool
  • The relationship between passion and authenticity
  • The writing on your tombstone
  • Overcoming the challenge of impostor syndrome
  • Story telling though videos

About Alan McLaren:

Alan has served as CEO of InfinityComm, a creative marketing agency, for 17 years.

As Global Chair of YPO, he lead a board of 15 global CEOs serving 32,000 members in 150 countries with aggregate company revenues of more than $9 trillion.

STRATA Originals is the program for leaders who want to raise their voice and start a conversation that will engage audiences and build trust.

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Excerpts from this conversation with Alan McLaren


CEOs need to get their voice out there in a big way. Because?



Well think about this for a moment. I think there's one part is a bit of a mandate. Our view is, if you've reached a certain level of success in life, isn't it important to give back the things you've learned?

And only you have learned them. By the way. We could argue that there have been 10,000, maybe more books on the topic of leadership.

There's only one human that's experienced your leadership journey. And that's you. So wouldn't that be awesome to be able to to express your learnings to others?

So that's kind of number one, we think it's imperative on leaders to be able to spread that message. But there are other reasons there's building your personal brand, it can actually help grow your business.

I've got a dozen reasons why. But it leads to credibility. You can develop strategic relationships. George, how did we connect again, you saw me on LinkedIn, because I'm out there with my voice and giving me an opportunity to now to share that with your audience.

That's how the game is played. When you're out there, stuff will hit you. So what a great opportunity to get out there teach and then also get opportunities to grow your business and grow your brand.



Teach? CEOs don't often think of themself as teachers. Should they?



Well, let's think about it in the context of leadership and coaching. We all know that great leaders are also great coaches.

It doesn't mean that everybody with a title is a great leader. Right? We all heard that before.

But a good coach is someone who asks great questions. And by the nature of asking great questions, you need to be very knowledgeable about the topic. So you can have really insightful questions asked, right.

We've all worked for people who were incredible leaders, because what they asked us questions that got us thinking about things. So what we want to do is encourage, and it's part of the learning as well as if you're not a good teacher.

Let us teach you to be a storyteller. So if we teach you to be a storyteller, I mean, George, in your world, as you know, you teach people to be storytellers to be able to get their message out there. It's not just here's the three things on the PowerPoint and go from because it bores the crap out of people.

You want people, engulfed in your story and engulfed in your message. So we want to teach people to do that. And through stories, they will express their experiences and ergo teach people.

So it's not in a traditional way of going to school and learning these three things. No, it's let me share my experience with you. And hopefully, you'll garner something from that. So that's why we we help them do that.



Alan, you mentioned that when you started creating videos, what took off wasn't your expertise, but it was what you were passionate about.

And my guess is that that passion was easy to identify, when watching the videos, like clearly this guy is passionate about this as opposed to lecturing.

And is that a criteria that a CEO needs to examine before they start spreading their thought leadership?



George, thank you for that. It's the number one thing when you discover passion.

There's nothing that can be faked about that. And so when we look at that, and sometimes by the way, that passion doesn't necessarily relate to the business.

We have a client, who is a competition lawyer, but his passion and his stories come around the power of ideas, to spread my message, which is about hope for the world.

And so it's nothing to do with it. His experience, obviously is helpful. But his passion is about helping people.

So that's what we do with him as we discover that and there are many permutations, by the way of all the customers we have, there's not one that's exactly the same.

Their passions relate sometimes directly to their business, but often they don't. So they're either adjacent or supplementary. And, and we can work with either side of that, but it comes down passion first.

Because then authenticity comes up the passion record, you can't fake it. If I decided to, you know, learn about, I don't know, repairing printers, it wouldn't be passionate about me, I could teach you how to do it. But would you feel it, people feel it, people can feel it through these digital screens, if I'm excited about something, and they can see when it's full of crap.

So that's why passion is number one. And everything else flows from that.


Your Intended Message is the podcast about how you can boost your career and business success by improving your communication skills. We’ll examine the aspects of how we communicate one-to-one, one to few and one to many – plus that important conversation, one to self.

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George is a specialist in executive communication skills. That includes conversation and presentation. He’s fascinated by way we communicate and influence behaviors. He delivers training and coaching programs to help leaders and promising professionals deliver the intended message for greater success.


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