Becoming a Better Storyteller

How does the “chaos” in our lives contribute to our story?


Nathalie Molina Nino, CEO of BRAVA Investments, is an “impact investor” who focuses on making a positive, catalytic impact on women throughout the world. Co-founder of Entrepreneurs@Athena at the Athena Center for Leadership Studies of Barnard College, Nathalie is a storyteller at heart and is passionate about sharing the stories of women change-makers. In fact, she took a sabbatical from her early career in the tech industry to study theater at Columbia University, honing her storytelling skills.

In this video, Nathalie explains that in order to effectively share the stories of our businesses, our causes, our lives –- we must become good storytellers. Where do you start? Nathalie suggests that the first step is to consider your story in its true light –- with all of its confusion, circuitousness, and seemingly unrelated paths.

“We have to step aside and stop framing things in the form of a three-part, nice, neat story with a button at the end, and we have to start thinking about life in its messy, chaotic ways,” Nathalie says.

Learn insights for communicating your own stories and becoming an effective, authentic storyteller in this video and Nathalie’s additional videos coming soon on Leadercast Now.

When I was a young girl, I wanted to be an artist. And my father told me that artists don't make money and he believed, I think, in that whole starving artist cliché. So I spent 15 years in tech, specifically, though, in tech that was not your everyday kind of tech: globalization, computational linguistics, concepts that are pretty difficult to understand for the layman. And so I became, oftentimes, chief storyteller in my companies. And people used to say that I was among the best storytellers in our industry, which I would joke and say it wasn't much of an accomplishment in an industry that doesn't tell stories very well.

And what ended up happening is, after 15 years, I got a little burned out, decided to take a sabbatical, and I decided to apply to Columbia to study theater. And to my good luck, the folks at Columbia have a pretty decent sense of humor because why on earth would somebody in tech come and study playwriting with some of the best storytellers in the world?

I think that in order to tell the stories of our lives, of our businesses, of our causes, we have to be good storytellers. But when it comes to living life, I think we have to step aside and stop framing things necessarily in the form of a three-part, nice, neat story with a button at the end, and we have to start thinking about living life in its messy, chaotic way. And sometimes, that doesn't feel like it's a story. If you look at the dots in my story, they seem very circuitous and unrelated, and there were plenty of people who thought that leaving my tech career and studying playwriting was an irrelevant and confusing part of the story; and it's only now, in hindsight, that it really makes sense.

There's an amazing talk by a woman named Kelly Corrigan, who is a writer and a storyteller, and she refers to this compulsion to try to fix everything into a story structure as "story creep." And I love her advice, that sometimes it's less about telling a story and it's more about just accepting life as it is. But when you're in the thick of it, I think that if you're trying to attach your life to a nice, neat story, it can feel like you're failing and life isn't neat that way. Life can be chaotic and messy.

Nathalie Molina Niño

Nathalie Molina Niño is an impact investor focused on making a catalytic impact on women in the world. A technologist and coder by training, she’s a consummate entrepreneur, and a storyteller at heart, passionate about telling the oft...

Take Action

Complete the following Action Items to put the insights in this video into practice,
and share them with your team to continue your leadership growth.

Perfect your new leadership skills every day with these exclusive Leadercast exercises, available to Subscribers! Click here to become a Subscriber.

Liquid error: No such template 'platform/programs/search-modal'