A fair exchange of value

The principle of fair exchange and value

A fair exchange of value


I once heard Sue Barratt speak on fair exchange and value. She is an expert in sales as the publisher of 21 books and 500 articles on the world of 21stcentury selling. Her organization is accredited for putting the profession of selling on the university agenda.

‘Selling is everybody’s business & everybody lives by selling something’,she says.

At the time, even after being in business for decades, hearing this made me anxious, But Sue persuaded me my anxiety was ill founded. What many of us spend our time doing, creating relationships, building trust, earning a dialogue, listening, and giving a service was she said, just a fair exchange of value.

We stand at the centre of a dialogue

‘Once selling was a monologue with your customer. Now we stand at the centre of a dialogue where you exchange something of value — your capability, your experience and your ability to facilitate a service for others’, she explained. Because what a client wants from you is ‘to deal with a professional, to expect to be helped, to have business acumen, and to display conceptual thinking.’

In light of this, she asked, ‘how are you managing your message?’

Reflecting back on these insights years later through the lens of storytelling as a communication tool, I can see it has powerful role to play in the art of a fair exchange.

You can only tell contextualized purposeful stories of your value, if you have engaged in self-appraisal, are self aware, and are open to being reflective. These attributes are each critical to finding and developing self-directed purpose and to unearthing the stories that matter and can serve.

Listening to other’s stories is as relevant to being a good storyteller as telling them. Both form connections and serve to align customers and suppliers.

Good storytelling facilitates a fair exchange, persuading your listener of your capability, your value and your willingness to co-operate — all hallmarks of trust building. They sell for you without selling because first they serve.

This is an example of a curated story.

If you want to improve your ability to communicate your value as a fair exchange, or find out more about curated storytelling, click here for details of PowerPacked Pitch and Presentation communication training.  


what you believe in

Do you fail to sell what you believe in?

what you believe in

In 2011, I wrote a guide – Build Your Own WordPress Site and Blog Brilliantly.

It was exactly the product I’d needed when I built Knit-a-square.com in 2008, which kick-started a worldwide community. They have since sent over 2 million knitted squares for blankets to warm orphaned children in South Africa.

Isn’t this how many of us create products? Replicating exactly what we needed before we put in years of sweat equity to work it out for ourselves?

I’ve asked others, ‘Do you believe in what you know and that it can change people’s lives for the better?’   A coach once asked me, ‘Aren’t you doing a disservice then by not selling your knowledge?’

I sat on this guide, unable to convince myself that it could be of service.  I asked the question too often, ‘who am I to write about this? — even though at the time, people were clamouring to know how to do both.

By the time, I came to think differently about my value and how I could tell the stories about it that would make a difference, you could build a site with a click of a button, long form posting (as in blogging) had been surpassed by updates and videos, and no amount of organic Search Engine Optimisation would bring hoards of interested folk to your site.  It felt like the product was redundant.

It may be, but the principles remain —clarity of purpose and principles, deep curiosity about those you aim to serve, clear intentions and knowing how to pass on your value.  These are the essential ingredients for purpose-driven contextualized storytelling.

Today, I’m delighted to promote this message.

If you’d like to get clarity of purpose and principles, and explore your people, product, platform and positioning so you can tell the right stories about your value, contact me: http://sandymcdonald.com/clarity-works/
How to tell stories professionally

Should I tell stories professionally?

How to tell stories professionally


Lizards are usually meek creatures. They use bluff and deception to persuade adversaries they’re bigger and fiercer than they really are to scare them off.  Our Lizard brain reacts just the same way, when it’s uncertain or nervous and especially when you want to tell stories professionally.

I can instantly spot the Lizard at work.  It’s there the moment someone says: ‘I couldn’t tell this as a story’, having just described something they’ve done that has changed someone else’s world.

The second they claim, ‘I really don’t have any stories to tell.’ And I point out they’ve been active in their field for decades and are sitting on a mountain of value.

The instant they wonder: ‘I’m not sure people would take me seriously if I were to share something personal.

And I ask: ‘Why is it okay for so called successful people to tell their stories and have their listeners lean in wanting to hear more, but it’s not okay for you?’

This is the work of the Lizard protecting your safety and putting up just as formidable a response as it would to a predator!

It’s the process of an exploration of purpose, principles and your value that persuades it you know what you’re talking about, and that it is not only safe, but productive to tell your stories.

To put your Lizard in its box and tell stories professionally contact me to find out the details of the next intimate Why Your Stories Matter workshop at sandy@sandymcdonald.com

Finding a good teacher is all about clarity

Go the good teacher

Finding a good teacher is all about clarity

Finding a good teacher is not always easy.

Back in the early wave of ‘internet marketers’, there were the ‘hype type’ who made a lot of money quickly. Apparently, they had a communal epiphany, which resulted in them speaking in the same tongue.

‘I was poor, I slept in my car. Look here I am in front of my mansion/Disney Land with my kids/the Eiffel Tower. Here’s my bank statement showing my monthly six digit earnings . . . buy me, and my teaching and you too can make millions.

After a few rather heartbreaking and expensive encounters, I started a quest to find the ‘real deal’ — a real teacher.  The first person I found was David Jenyns.  He taught me enough in one short three-hour video about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to leverage that knowledge into what I was doing back then.

If you’ve been blessed to have a good teacher you’ll have told stories about them because they changed your life.

They have deep but clear knowledge and the desire to share it. They listen and over-deliver in their answers.  They’re happy to hold your hand over the tricky bits.  They’re excited by their field of expertise and articulate their insights clearly.  They want your success and will work toward it.

They have a purpose, and they tell great stories that illustrate, illuminate and excite.

Go the good teachers.

Finding clarity is often about finding a good teacher.  What do you need clarity in?  visit sandymcdonald.com/clarity-works and contact me for a ‘Let’s Talk’ session.
Become a better communicator is a good new year's resolution

Become a better communicator – milk that resolution for all it’s worth

Become a better communicator is a good new year's resolution

Anyone else fascinated by this dichotomy? — although it maybe relative only to those whose long summer break falls over the holiday season.

It determines by a few short weeks that just before Christmas day we’re exhausted, fresh out of ideas, and in need of a rest.

While not long after New Year’s Day, recovered from the indulgencies of the festivities, we’re bounding with energy and stack full of glittery-bauble resolutions about all quarters of our lives.

By about now, most have been already withered at the same rate as the tinder-dry Christmas tree.  Which is no bad thing—we’ve enough on our plates as it is.

Become a better communicator

There is one resolution that merits milking for all it’s worth. Becoming a better communicator.

Poor communication is at the heart of all conflict, relationship breakdown and heartache. Good communication builds trust, sound relationships and persuades people to listen, recall and act.

Especially when it includes purposeful, contextualized story.

If you’re interested in becoming a better communicator and finding out how story can improve professional pitch and presentation communication please contact me at sandy@sandymcdonald.com to book a ‘Let’s Talk’ session.
clarity at work

Clarity at work saving time

clarity at workThere is nothing better than seeing clarity at work, because it’s the little things you get clear on changing that can make a significant impact.

Waiting for a meeting in a small coffee shop – you know the sort, small, crowded, and noisy with people in animated discussion, it’s clear I’ve been stood up.

I’d let people down inadvertently. Too busy to write the details in my phone calendar or in a diary, mistakenly believing I’d remember. So I’m not in anyway irritable with my would-be meeting partner. In any case, she has phoned with sincere apologies.

Instead I pen this update to see if it will cement another of life’s small but irreducible lessons.

I’m wedded to my paper diary, which has made using a digital calendar problematic. That doesn’t preclude sending a 30 second message the day before to confirm, or as often happens I’m contacted in advance anyway. Either way it’s a win!

Small changes in life like these are clarity at work, in this case, that nobody should have to waste time waiting, or rescheduling.

This was in 2010. I’ve only been left at the table alone once since then so this small evidence of clarity at work has saved hundreds of hours. I wonder what price one could put on that.

Clarity at work is all about the big stuff you most need to get clear on to move forward — purpose, principles, people, product, positioning, and philanthropy.  And sometimes the small stuff.  Like saving time.

If you’d like a healthy dose of clarity at work, book a Let’s Talk session by emailing me at sandy@sandymcdonald.com

Contextualized storytelling builds trust

Have you met someone previously unknown to you that you instinctively understand is in touch with themselves and their story?  Within a short time talking with them, have you felt as if you’re already friends? It is remarkable how quickly you can feel a sense of connection and trust. The connection comes from their depth […]

We’re all waiting to be told a story

‘As a business or an organisation, if you take a hard look at your online presence you might note that you’re neither found by those you want to find you, or particularly interesting to those that do.’

Extracted from a blog I wrote in 2010, this was when my business was called Why You Must Blog, which taught people how to blog effectively to find and engage their best clients.

Much since then has changed about how we deliver content, not so much has changed about how well we do it.

It seems to me that folk either shout louder, longer and more often than others (like the Internet Marketers of last decade) or they’re scrabbling about trying to find a way to stand out, which is likely to be transient.

Is there another way to be online, delivering quality content, being read, heard and engaged with?

I believe our content can be more like a warm breeze on a balmy evening, then a torrent, or parade.

It can be persuasive while being gentle, courteous and mindful. It can still be power-packed without being abrasive, divisive or grandstanding.

And it should include story.   Why?  Because story works and always has.  It’s why reading to a child is such a time-honored delight.  At heart, we’re all waiting to be told a story.  That much has not changed.

Don’t wait to be told a story any longer.  Learn to tell them yourself as one of the most powerful components of your communication toolkit.  Join me in a Why Your Stories Matter Workshop.  To find out more details email me at sandy@sandymcdonald.com


Inside a big talk when the pressure is on

A conversation with two TEDx speakers and an international speaker

What does it take to do a big talk?

We’re talking about a TEDx talk, a career changing keynote, or a launch into a speaking career – perhaps the most nerve-wracking of all.

Recently, I spent an afternoon in a spirited conversation with the effervescent Lisa Leong who did a fabulous Melbourne TEDx talk in 2017, ‘Can Robots make us more human’, and the vivacious Yamini Naidu, international speaker, storyteller and comedian.

The result is a dense, insight-filled three way conversation we’ve called, ‘Inside a Big Talk – Mastering the Challenge when the Pressure is on’

A forensic approach

Lisa, Yamini and I dissected every aspect of what’s needed to meet the challenge of not just a big talk, but one that is powerful, compelling and engaging especially when you’re under pressure.

During our 40 minute discussion, Lisa told the background story, we covered the importance of the meta story, and we spoke a lot about the importance of story itself to hold attention and create empathy.

We introduced micro story as a way in which you can paint an emotive image in just a few sentences.

We examined the structure of a great talk, and why you must get to clarity of message. Then we dug into some nitty gritty technicalities, discussing language, cadence and performance. All of this working toward presenting the audience with an idea worth sharing.

Watch the whole rich 40 minutes. It’s full of insight for anyone doing a big talk or wanting to speak.

Please let us know in the comments what you learned and would like to hear more about.  We’d love to hear from you.

Playing to powerpitch

Playing to pitch

Playing to powerpitch

A talented artist borrowed some money from us. He couldn’t repay it, so he offered us some of his work instead. One of his paintings, Rainbow Grass, hangs in our hallway.

It defines my view of the right and left brain at work – our right-brain immersed in creativity while our left-brain frowns in critical judgement.

I’m sad that some neuro-science research has dismissed this as a myth. I’ve now learned that creativity recruits all components of the brain. Still, the painting shows what works in creativity and what doesn’t in critical judgment.

The painter told me he’d completed the work in a few hours. Time had stood still, his brush scurrying over the canvas as if guided by intuition, the shapes, dimensions, and colours choosing themselves — an ethereal experience. Finished, he stood back to survey his work.

He’d painted a little pot next to the larger flower pot of rainbow grass. What a clever idea, he told me, to mirror the rainbow grass in this smaller pot. It sits dead centre in the painting. It’s awful. The brush strokes are stick-like and contrived, the colours are muddy and it’s in complete contrast to the masterful brushwork and lilting hues of the rest of the painting.

Painterly sabotage

This act of painterly sabotage perfectly illustrates creativity and criticism at work — and at war —in one brain. A bit like a PowerPoint presentation.

In a creative state of play, the imagination knows no fetters, submits to curiosity, explores, goes where the path leads it next. There is no right or wrong. But when you start to critique your work, and introduce right and wrong, creativity sputters to a halt.

We guide and activate brainstorms. We inject participants with a revolutionary notion: think permissively; all ideas are good ideas; in this 20-minute free-fall there’s no space for negativity or criticism.

It’s fascinating. In the first five minutes, the ideas trickle. Then, with some encouragement ,a consensual energy and the ideas start flowing. As people start to enthusiastically contribute, the greater the energy, the greater the creativity and innovation. Until . . . someone says, ‘well, that won’t work because . . .’

It is as if a giant extractor fan is switched on sucking the energy and the creativity out of the room in seconds.

Energy of creativity

In the work we do to help people pitch or present based on their purpose-driven stories, we need to harness and sustain the energy of creativity.

It starts haltingly as we explore the context for a communication — the purpose for the work, who they’ll communicate with, and for what intention.

Once folk get into it, like a brainstorm, the energy and creative ideas around how to better communicate why they do what they do for whom start to flow, and this unearths the stories that support the purpose for their work.

We see it all the time. It’s part science and part magic. Because creativity is colourful, entertaining, provocative, energising, and delightful, and stories hold people’s attention.

Play at work

John Cleese says creativity is play at work. You have permission within a defined time and a particular place to engage in something indirectly related to your raison d’etre. Think of a game of tennis, of singing in a choir, or doing yoga.

For this state of play to translate into good communication, we need to put our critical thinking on hold for just a short time. It won’t undermine your insights (facts in context), rather help create an evocative communication around them that excites a response.

If you want to learn how this state of play can benefit your pitch, join us at a PowerPitch training day.