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Discussing ‘The Storyteller’s Mind Movie’ with Executive, Entrepreneur and Bestselling Author Melissa Reaves



Melissa Reaves is an award-winning storyteller and storytelling coach to many high-level executives in the professional business world. It was her drive for storytelling that led her to found Story Fruition, which helps others find and tell their stories with impact. Her countless years of experience in marketing, sales, and professional acting and improvising have shaped her to be a leader of her craft.

You’ve dedicated many years to being a top professional in the sales and marketing industry. What originally brought you into this field of work?

When I was six years old, I was trying to convince my dad to buy me a Baby Tender Love doll, which was all the rage back in the 70’s. After a few minutes, he said, “Missy, you ought to go into sales. You never hear ‘no!’”

I got the doll. 

When I was 13, we had to sell magazine subscriptions for our school fundraiser. That meant knocking door to door to peddle these. It’s 5pm and this one man opens the door. His tie is loosened, his jacket is off, and he just looks tired. I’m the LAST thing he wants to deal with now, and kindly shuts me down and closes the door.

As I’m walking down the driveway I’m thinking “Well, that didn’t go well. He was too tired to listen to my amazing pitch.” Then the idea came through and I quickly walked back up his driveway and knocked on the door again. He opens. Shocked, I’m back. I begin, “Sir, I know you probably just got home from work and would love to just relax with a beverage and watch tv right about now.”

“Yes, that’s right,” he said. And tried to shut the door.

“You know what you need, sir? TV GUIDE! Look here, you can just look up the time at 6pm and you can watch the news on channel 3, or Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. Says here that Jim is going to wrestle a bear in tonight’s episode! Wouldn’t this weekly magazine be something you’ll use daily?”

The man bought my subscription. My dad was right. I don’t hear no.

At what point in your career did you acknowledge to yourself that you had achieved success?

My sales skills proved themselves in my 20’s when I was selling advertising space for media. I loved it and always was a top producer—and eventually climbed as high as enterprise tech sales for Oracle by the time I was fifty. And now as I look back on how I did that, I was a storyteller. I would keep abreast to my customer’s success with their ads and let other prospects know their story. Today, at Story Fruition, we call “case studies” (the root of all good selling tools) and refer to them as “case stories” because humans love to hear about other humans.

You have a new book out, The Storyteller’s Mind Movie. Was it a different process to put your teachings in writing versus being in front of your audience teaching a workshop or coaching individually?

Of course, a keyboard and a live audience are completely different experiences. However, writing this book, it got me hyper focused on the brain and storytelling—and how it is affected by your word choices, tonalities, visuals, —all of the elements that either keep the communication train on the tracks, or derails it. Writing the book made me a better story listener as the audience is everything—so when our client says something vague–the listeners must work harder to create their own Mind Movie—and many will just get bored and jump off the listening train tracks. But when the presenter becomes vivid and creative with their storytelling, then the audience can effortlessly stay engaged. My own book taught me to be hyper vigilant about what outcomes will occur based on what the storyteller/presenter (same thing) says.

Can you talk to us about your cover design and the inspiration behind it?

I love my cover—and it was my eldest child, Quincy Emerson, who designed that original character. I simply explained what a Mind Movie is and how the audience is seeing the pictures on their own pace. So the Camera Character is PROJECTING their words out to the audience and some are seeing helicopters, some are seeing drones, or wind blowing a basket into trees. The audience creates their images based on the words they are hearing and how they are deciphering it. Quincy is highly trained in animation from Laguna College of Art and Design. Top of their class—and to have their work as my cover—is pure joy!

If you had words of advice for a young business professional, what would you tell them?

Business is fun if you look for the joy in it. You’ll get up every day to do something. To change it to its next iteration for humans to enjoy in new ways. There will be so many stories you’re gathering so keep tabs on them. Keep a journal and let your thoughts about events get recorded. Those are your stories in the making filled with Characters (clients, customers, and colleagues) all on this journey with you. Sharing your stories of triumph, defeat, back to triumph is what makes life so rich. Tell your stories and tell them well because they will help others not only see your leadership, but may also learn and grow from it too. That’s the best part about being a storyteller—you can change the world.


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