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The Legendary Leaders Podcast

Mar 15, 2022


Have you embraced the art of storytelling as part of your leadership strategy? Storytelling is a skill that is impactful in influencing people’s character and developing them in their careers. Both personal and work stories can be impactful in making people realize their mistakes and learn to be better in how they pursue their goals.  

In this episode of the Legendary Leaders Podcast, we have Paul Smith, one of the world’s leading experts in business storytelling, one of Inc. Magazine’s Top 100 Leadership Speakers of 2018, a storytelling coach, and bestselling author. He helps leaders and salespeople excel at their jobs by telling better stories. 

Paul spent 20 years of his career at the Proctor and Gamble company and had a very typical corporate path, before getting fascinated with storytelling. He later left the corporate world after discovering his passion for teaching, training, and speaking.  

Listen in to learn the importance of telling failure stories as a leader to connect and develop your team members. You will also learn about the stories to tell to help people value diversity and inclusion better and empathize with what it’s like to not look like you in the workplace.  



This podcast is sponsored by InnerProfessional online training programs. With courses geared specifically for Legendary Leaders, InnerProfessional provides an extraordinary catalog of leadership and professional development programs unlike any online training you’ve experienced before.  

Key Takeaways: 

  • How to create a framework to help you move towards your most important goal.  
  • Why you shouldn’t rush to quit your day job without a logical test-marketing strategy in place.  
  • Tell a failure story to help people you work with to avoid making the same mistakes you made.  
  • How to teach people character through storytelling.  
  • Stories to help people learn how their behaviours impact others at the workplace.  

Episode timeline: 

  • [1:13] Intro 
  • [5:32] Paul’s decades’ long corporate career and his journey to discovering storytelling leadership. 
  • [7:30] How wanting a career change inspired him to write his first book.  
  • [10:42] The 5 criteria that got Paul to leave his PNG job and go do what he’s passionate about.  
  • [20:05] How his dad’s encouraging letter drove him to pursue his dreams. 
  • [25:27] The power of telling failure stories as a leader to connect and develop your team.  
  • [31:15] Why leaders need to learn the skill of storytelling, plus the techniques of creating powerful stories.  
  • [34:39] Paul, on why life stories are more impactful than leadership ones.  
  • [45:02] How Paul uses the art of storytelling to teach his children and how that has impacted them.  
  • [50:51] Stories to share to help people value diversity and inclusion better.  
  • [55:28] Treat storytelling like a learnable skill like any other leadership skill you want to have.  


  • “Stories are impactful and if told well, then they’ll stay with you forever.”- Cathleen Merkel [20:19] 
  • “When you’re satisfied and happy, you often don’t even recognize it, but when you get to the point where you’re consciously aware that you don’t love what you’re doing, then you start to search for something else.”- Paul Smith [10:50] 
  • “If you won’t pursue your own dreams for your sake, do it for someone else, because there’s probably somebody else in your life who wants to see you achieve your dreams almost as badly as you do.”- Paul Smith [24:37] 
  • “People want to work for the kind of boss who’s more interested in developing his/her people than they’re about protecting their own fragile ego.”- Paul Smith [26:07] 
  • “Stories are about people and things that happen to people, and anything that happens to you at work or to somebody else at work is both a work story and a personal story.”- Paul Smith [51:19] 


Find | Cathleen Merkel 


On Instagram: @CathleenMerkel 

On Facebook: @CathleenMerkelCoaching 

On LinkedIn: @CathleenMerkel 


Find | Paul Smith 

Business (Lead with a Story):   

On LinkedIn:  

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About Cathleen Merkel:   

As a Thought Leader in the Mindset & (Self-) Leadership space, Cathleen supports high achieving, but worn-out women to create a more content & balanced life without sacrificing their hard-earned success. Following a simple 6 step framework, she helps you not only reconnect with your inner feminine side; Cathleen also supports you to rediscover your REAL YOU!  

Cathleen focuses on women who have lost their sense of purpose, who feel they are running in a hamster wheel, trying to please everyone but themselves. She helps you to turn your careers, your social connections and personal life around, so that you start feeling fulfilled and excited again about the days to come.  At the end of the process, Cathleen's clients will feel healthier, happier, energised, and clear about their future.   

With over 15 years of leadership experience in Retail, Media & Broadcasting, Engineering and Property Investment, Cathleen has not only experienced the challenges and opportunities of a female leader herself; she has also been leading and supporting various leadership development initiatives within large, complex, multinational matrix organisations.  

Only by deeply experiencing her very personal life challenges – ‘hitting a wall experiences’ –Cathleen was able to redefine her own purpose, deciding to bring ease and content to as many women as possible on the planet! 

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