Loren Niemi

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Essential Storytelling Services

I have years of experience researching, creating, performing and teaching the deeper meanings of stories -- both old and new. Whether you want to shape your personal or organization story, collect oral histories, build powerful communications messages, I can help you identify, shape and tell your story.

I will custom build services, workshops and coaching programs to meet the individual or organization's specific needs.

Here are some examples.

4 Paths to Storytelling in the Organization

Stories live in every community-- including the workplace. When they are acknowledged and given a structured role they can inspire leadership, build brand identity, improve culture or heal wounds. Unacknowledged they appear as rumor and fear, dividing the community. Four kinds of stories -- personal narratives, oral histories, metaphoric stories and community rituals -- help define the culture of the workplace. This hands-on workshop identifies the essential storytelling forms in your organization and the techniques best suited to build your brand, improve communications or innovation by consciously telling stories.

For the University of St. Thomas Graduate Program in Organizational Learning I led participants through a two-day exploration that framed both the uses of story in their graduate studies program and their day-to-day work settings. It underlined the power of storytelling in needs or problem assessment and the ways stories can improve communication and build teams.

Stories Inc, an Indianapolis arts presenter used the Storytelling in the Organization workshop as a way to involve the business community in a new understanding of storytelling. Twenty-seven mid level managers from ten different corporations (from USA Group, the country's largest student loan financial services company to social services provider, Christian Church Homes of Kentucky) participated in telling their organizational stories.

Essential Story Framing

This is the very heart of organizational brand, mythos and values. The brand is both the internal and external story of an organization. This is also the basis for policy and advocacy. How do we shape those stories? Make them compelling, inviting, and consistent with out mission and values? The elements:

  • Theme analysis or development -- what is the story you want to tell?
  • Campaign & Brand -- speaking the emotional truth and inviting participation.
  • Creating core images -- the personal is the universal.

For DDB Advertising my partners, Megan Wells, Nancy Donoval, and I took Account Planners and Managers through a process of moving from personal story to folk tale to the mythic to develop core images of wealth, safety and what is a good neighbor to find the "truth of the brand" for State Farm Insurance's new financial services campaign.

When Walt Disney World wanted to improve their approaches to Innovation Wells Donoval Niemi was subcontracted by IdeaLabs to take Senior Managers through a metaphoric experience of story. Using the model of the Navaho kiva, we had them imaginatively develop their world and roles, then retold their story and repeated the experience for a new clan of innovation, resulting in their development of essential implementation strategies.

Coaching for Individuals and Teams

One on one or small group coaching sessions to:

  • Clarify the message -- what do you want to say? Who is your audience?
  • Framing -- compelling images and themes.
  • The arc of story -- inviting emotional connection and understanding.
  • Voice and body language -- the way you look and sound.

When the MN ChildCare Resources & Referral Network wanted to find new ways to tell their story to funders and politicians, I helped them identify the themes that best expressed their organization's mission and then trained staff and volunteers how to tell the stories of how their organization has made a difference in people's lives.

I trained volunteers of the Community Shares Fund of the Twin Cities, a United Way alternative, for the Annual Payroll Deduction Giving Campaign on how to effectively present the human stories behind the missions of the 44 small and mid-sized grass roots social change member organizations resulting in a 13% increase in campaign giving.

Storytelling Circles

Storytelling circles bring organizations together to consciously tell and listen to our shared experience. This storytelling technique is useful for:

  • Leadership and team building
  • Managing change
  • Healing wounds (diversity training or conflict resolution issues)

For the Minneapolis Community Development Agency, storytelling circles were used to identify communications blockages in the workplace. In responding to the question: "When have you felt your work was valued and appreciated?" participants identified seven common problems or opportunities for improved communication which was then combined with open space technology to facilitate their development of corrective strategies.

Working with David Hunt's Community Building Storytelling Project, storytelling circles and a time capsule ritual were used in Chicago's North Kenwood-Oakland community to heal the wounds associated with the demolition of public housing units. Over 160 neighborhood and public housing residents came together with HUD, Chicago Housing Authority staff and Board members to answer the question: "When did you come to the neighborhood and why did you stay?" In the process they came to understand and celebrate the fact that the community was not the buildings but the people who lived in them.


3708 24th Ave. S
Minneapolis, MN 55406

This site is a member benefit of Illinois Storytelling, Inc.
revised 3-2-10