1836 – Power of Strategic Storytelling with Cesar Castro

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks to the Founder & Speaker of Strategic Storytelling LLC, Cesar Castro.

Castro Wide

Cesar Castro is a dedicated mentor on a mission to elevate the narrative prowess of business professionals and leaders. During our discussion, Cesar illuminated storytelling's profound influence in effectively conveying messages, ideas, products, and services. He passionately shared how a well-crafted story can resonate deeply with an audience, creating lasting connections and engagement.

The crux of Cesar's message lies in the undeniable need for leaders to hone their storytelling skills. It's not just about relaying information; it's about forging a bond with your audience. Cesar underscored the power of storytelling to build relationships and captivate listeners, allowing for a more profound and meaningful exchange.

One of the highlights of the conversation was Cesar's introduction of the “COSA” method—a storytelling framework that stands for Context, Obstacle, Solution, and Action. He talked about the importance of setting the scene, presenting challenges, and showcasing vulnerability.

Cesar's commitment to empowering leaders is evident in the array of services he provides. From workshops and leadership team training to one-on-one coaching, he's dedicated to refining his clients' communication and storytelling skills. He also offers an online academy, courses, and a podcast for those eager to dive deeper into the art of storytelling.

Key Points from the Episode:

  • Importance of storytelling in business
  • Connecting with the audience through storytelling
  • Introduction of the “COSA” method for storytelling
  • Emphasis on vulnerability in storytelling
  • Services offered by Cesar Castro, including workshops, training, and online resources
  • Communication and storytelling as essential skills in everyday life

About Cesar Castro:

Cesar A. Castro is a seasoned communication expert renowned for his impactful teaching of the four-step Strategic Storytelling method, known as COSA. With a rich background in human behavior, holding degrees in Psychology and Organizational Psychology, he has dedicated over a decade to honing the science and art of communication.

Cesar's expertise extends to collaborating with top-tier companies such as PepsiCo, MasterCard, MetLife, Santander, Abbott, and Kia, where he has successfully implemented his COSA methodology.

Passionate about the transformative power of storytelling, Cesar has devoted his career to empowering thousands of speakers, entrepreneurs, and business leaders globally. His commitment to understanding human behavior and communication dynamics underscores his mission to amplify the positive impact of compelling narratives worldwide.

About Strategic Storytelling LLC:

Strategic Storytelling is a transformative communication approach tailored for business leaders and professionals to elevate their communication skills to professional mastery. This specialized service offers educational keynotes, practical workshops, and intensive one-on-one coaching to empower individuals to craft compelling narratives.

The core belief driving Strategic Storytelling is that effective leaders are adept communicators and storytellers. By honing these skills, professionals can enhance their ability to convey ideas, inspire teams, and connect with audiences.

Strategic Storytelling equips individuals with the tools and techniques necessary to navigate the complex business communication landscape, fostering leadership excellence through compelling storytelling.

Tweetable Moments:

03:52 – “We're all storytelling creatures. We connect and engage through our communication, through stories.”

07:54 – “Human beings make decisions based on what they feel, not only based on what you're communicating to them rationally.”

21:25 – “My mission, the thing that I love the most, is just to get people to become better storytellers because I think that the world is a better place when we have better storytellers.”

Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out Strategic Storytelling LLC website at

Check out Strategic Storytelling LLC on LinkedIn at

Check out Cesar Castro on LinkedIn at

Check out Cesar Castro on Instagram at

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Josh (00:00:05) - Hey, thoughtful listener, before we get going. Did you know that my company up my influence? Com has launched more than 200 business podcasts. The host of our shows are amazing leaders and collaborators. Folks, I want to connect you with. Maybe you deserve your moment in the spotlight as a guest of one of these amazing shows. Just go to up my influence. Com where you can see more than 50 shows that are actively seeking business leader guests like you to celebrate right now in front of their high caliber audiences. Just click on the podcast tab and up my influence. Com where you'll see shows like Experience Focused Leaders Podcast. If you're seeking insights on transforming customer experiences, you can't miss the Experience Focused Leaders podcast with your host, Alex Senko. Alex, the CEO and founder of relay two, brings his rich background from Stanford MBA, Wharton BSc and the University of Pennsylvania B.A. he's a smart dude, along with his real world experiences of building organizations across global hubs to the forefront of this engaging podcast.

Josh (00:01:19) - Now, each episode is a deep dive into the world of customer centric strategies where Alex and his guests, seasoned business owners and industry veterans, share their invaluable insights. They discuss the latest trends, offer practical advice, and reveal the secrets behind exceptional customer experiences and business growth. Are you a business owner who values customer experience above all? Then this podcast is your go to resource. Better yet, if you've got unique insights and strategies that have helped you stand out in your industry, we'd love to have you as a guest on the show. Share your story with a community that's as passionate about customer experience excellence as you are. Tune in to the Experience Focused Leaders podcast for your weekly dose of inspiration and practical tips. Let's push the boundaries of customer experience together. With us right now. The one the only says our Castro says are you are a professional speaker and you are the founder of strategic storytelling. You are found on the web at Cesar Castro. Com Cesar, thank you so much for joining us.

Cesar (00:02:31) - Thank you, Josh, for the for the wonderful invitation. Super excited to have this conversation with you.

Josh (00:02:35) - You know, it's kind of funny. I'll just a little behind the scenes here for our friend that's listening to us., this is our second attempt at recording this. And the reason why we had to reschedule this is because César is such a good storyteller. And then I started sharing my stories, and we used up all our time. We're like, we're going to need to reschedule a podcast interview., but,, Cesar, it's so great to have you., can I just maybe have you start by giving us just a quick overview of the impact you have, like what you do, who you work with.

Cesar (00:03:05) - Yeah. In in very simple terms. I dedicate my life to helping other business professionals and business leaders to become great strategic storytellers. I believe in the power of storytelling. I've lived it through my own professional life and professional journey, and I just love helping other people know how to tell their stories.

Cesar (00:03:27) - So that way, their messages, their ideas, their products, their services, whatever they're trying to communicate out to the market, they can do it with much more effectiveness and it can really resonate with the audience.

Josh (00:03:37) - What is the business justification for really paying attention to this topic and making sure that we're not phoning it in to our messaging and crafting and telling our story as business leaders?

Cesar (00:03:52) - Well, we have to understand first that we're all storytelling creatures, right? Human beings we are. We are storytellers, and we connect and we actually engage through our communication, through stories. That's why you were telling before, you know, this is our second attempt because our first one, we started telling stories and connected and found that we had so many things in common to the point where we actually feel like we're friends, right? And we've just met each other. This is our second time connecting. That is the power that stories have. And when leaders, when business professionals, when entrepreneurs know how to communicate that story effectively now, they're not only they're not only reaching people who could potentially be their clients, but they're actually reaching people who could potentially become fans and connect with the values and connect with things that are much deeper than just the benefits or the characteristics of your product.

Josh (00:04:39) - Yeah. And so when we think about okay, so let's say a leader says okay well I've got a great story., it's not take me through maybe the journey right about well, let's talk first. Well, let's before I get to there, let's just talk about like, how does one come up with, like, what they should what story they should tell.

Cesar (00:05:03) - Yeah. Yeah. So so usually in the storytelling journey I have a method. Right. Strategic storytelling method. And it has three main pillars. Right. The first pillar is learning how to find good stories. And to be able to find good stories, you first have to ask yourself a few questions. Like, for example, who is the audience that I'm trying to impact, right? Because depending on who your audience is, will also determine what is what is the the objective or what is the change that you want to generate in that audience. And then finally, what is the idea that you want to communicate in order to generate that change in the audience? So even when people come to me and they usually are asking me to be better storytellers, and how do I tell a good story, I always tell them before becoming a good storyteller, you have to become a good story finder, and in order to be a good story finder, you also have to have clarity in who your audience is, what is the objective you have, and what is the idea that you want to communicate? Once you have clarity on that now, it becomes much easier to start looking for or searching for stories that you think could connect to resonate with that audience you're trying to impact.

Josh (00:06:07) - Yeah., so these are like, let's say someone sitting down with you and you're like, okay, listen,, I've been through your website, been through all your content, and it is devoid of soul. You're not telling a story. You're just talking about facts and figures and features and benefits. And I don't know who the real you is. That's a problem. We need to fix that. Right. And maybe, maybe our friend that's listening to our conversation right now, maybe they they suspect that that might be the case. Right?, as I'm asking this question, I'm now thinking of who maybe I could go through everything that we're communicating in that lens. Yeah, right. And say, you know, because we just did a whole big redesign in our website, and now I'm like, I don't know, I need to go back and look at my own website, look at, you know, did did we lose any of Josh's story in here or the story of my influence or the story of our customers and clients? I don't know.

Josh (00:07:05) - Now I'm nervous. I'm gonna go back anyway, to our friend right now. You're welcome to look at my website right now, because it's been about four weeks since we recorded this, I think. And so hopefully I fixed these things by now., but these are how do you help someone become aware that maybe that's missing?

Cesar (00:07:20) - Well, first, I think just just becoming aware by talking about the power of stories, kind of like what's happening now, right? We're just talking about stories. And at the same time, you're starting to analyze and think, am I using stories? Am I really being effective in how I do this? A lot of the the clients that I work with are all in the corporate world. Most of them are business leaders that have to give a lot of presentations, have to give a lot of, you know, instances where they got a public speak and what starts happening is they start realizing that, yes, I have important data and information that I got to communicate to my team, but it's just not reaching their minds and their hearts.

Cesar (00:07:54) - So nothing's happening with the communication that I'm that I'm giving. Right. So that's that's a lot of the time why they come to me because they're like, I got to do something different. I got to be able to generate not only good information, but also emotion in my audience, because we all know that human beings make decisions based on what they feel, not only based on what you know, you're communicating to them rationally. And when that happens, when those clients come to me and say, hey, help me out,, right away, I know that we're at a good starting point because at least they're aware that they're having a problem or an issue, right? Once you're aware of that now, the whole the rest of the process becomes on how to develop and how to how to how to develop that muscle, to be able to craft and create good stories and then obviously be able to tell them as well. Right. So I have a very simple four step process on how to craft a good story.

Cesar (00:08:47) - , can you give.

Josh (00:08:48) - Us can you give us the elements of that? Yeah, of.

Cesar (00:08:50) - Course, of course, of course. That's that's actually one of the things that I love teaching the most, because I believe that most people, when they when they hear about stories, like, there's not a lot of people that push back on the importance of stories. Yes, a lot of people push back on, but how do I tell a good story? I have no idea how to do that. Right. And I've I've I've heard good stories. I've seen good stories. But how do I do that myself? And and how do I do it in a simple and effective manner? Because if you were to tell me, like, look, I'll, I'll teach you 21 steps to tell a good story, you'd be like,, 21 steps, probably after 2 or 3. I'm, you know, I'm done. And since I work a lot with business leaders that are, you know, time is, is is is the thing that they have the least of, right? You can't go into one of those meetings and be like, look, I'm going to teach you 20 steps to tell a good story, that they'd probably be kicking me out the door by the time I'm at the fifth or six steps.

Cesar (00:09:37) - So what I've done is simplify the process. After studying thousands and thousands of storytellers, being one myself, and simplified it into four very, very simple steps. Right? And what I'm what I'm about to teach the audience here, this is what I call the Cosa method. Cosa. Okay, now cosa in Spanish. My origin is from Chile. I'm I'm. I speak Spanish as well. Spanish Cosa means thing. Okay. Thanks. So you're also getting a Spanish lesson here as well? You're learning how to say thing in Spanish. But the reason why I use this word Cosa, which is an acronym, is because whenever people ask me, hey, how do I craft a good story? I tell them, look, I'm going to teach you la cosa most important or the most important thing so you can craft a strategic story. Okay? And if you remember this word cosa, you will also remember these four steps. So are you ready?. Number one. Step number one. All good stories.

Cesar (00:10:34) - Start with what's called the context. Right a context the see now a context. Even though that word is kind of hard to grasp. The context is really three questions that you have to learn to answer really quickly at the beginning of your story, which is when when did it occur, where did it occur and who did it occur to? Okay, and think about it. Most stories when you're telling a good story, that's how they usually start, right? You're like, hey, you know what? Two weeks ago I was in my office talking to my team and look what I just did. I just created the context, right? And in the context of a story, which is where the story begins, what you're trying to do is you're trying to pull your audience in so they can start imagining that initial, the initial part of the story. Okay. Now the objective and this is really important, each one of these steps has an objective, has a goal. And if you're accomplish this goal then then by the time you get to the fourth you're going to you're going to have a really, really good story.

Cesar (00:11:31) - So the objective or the goal in the context is just to generate connection. What you want is for the audience who's listening to that story at some point, whether it be with the where the win or the who, you want them to connect with your story. You want them to hopefully start listening to their own story while they're listening to yours. So this is why it's important to know who your audience is, because let's say I'm talking to business leaders, right? If I start my story saying, you know what, ten years ago, I was I was in a similar situation, just like you. I was just starting out my business. I was living in Santiago, Chile, and I had no connections. I didn't know anybody. Now, at that moment, right when I'm starting my story, if you're a business leader who's also starting your business, who maybe doesn't have all the connections yet, you're paying attention. You're connecting to the story. Because in a way, even though I'm telling my story, I'm also starting to tell your story.

Cesar (00:12:26) - Does that make sense?

Josh (00:12:27) - Yeah. Yes.

Cesar (00:12:29) - So once you're able to create that connection in the context, now you move on to the second step, which is the obstacle. The obstacle. And this is the main. This is the main plate of any good story, right? A good story will always have some kind of an obstacle. When I say obstacle, I mean has to have a conflict or has to have some kind of difficulty or challenge or failure. There has to be something difficult that occurs in your story and and specifically with the main character of the story. Right? A lot of a lot of what I see with business leaders when they're telling their stories, if they do use stories, they try to jump this step really quick because they don't want to talk about. They think that the obstacle is is the negative part, and they don't want to talk about negative things, right? They don't want to. They don't want to talk about the time that they failed, or they don't want to talk about the challenge or the difficulty, mainly because they don't want to feel vulnerable.

Cesar (00:13:24) - But vulnerability, which is the ability to express and show your emotions honestly. Vulnerability is the way that we connect and the way that we become more credible when we're communicating. And you're going to realize this now when you start hearing stories or even watching people communicate, those who can show vulnerability in their speech or vulnerability in their story, those are the ones that we usually believe the most. Yeah. And and this is crucial because what you want to accomplish in this, in this step in the obstacle, you want people to feel emotions. You want them to feel strong emotions. And this is where we can play with the emotions. When in storytelling, it's in the obstacle where you can play with the emotions a lot more, because you can be vulnerable, and by being vulnerable and expressing and showing emotion, you're getting your audience to also feel the same emotions.

Speaker 3 (00:14:22) - .

Cesar (00:14:23) - And, and this is to me one of the main secrets, like any good storyteller, any good speaker, when they tell their story, if they're able to show vulnerability and the obstacle, that is where people really connect.

Josh (00:14:36) - Yes, absolutely. You know, it's because I think a lot of us and you were kind of talking about this is like we when we hear a story, we imagine ourselves in that situation a bit like one of the most amazing stories I think I've ever heard on my podcast., Mia and I, I'm trying to remember, if I can remember his last name and the episode number, I'll have it linked in the show notes for this, but he told an amazing story. Mia Levski he his or I got to connect you guys. So this guy was in he was I think he was either in Russia or Eastern Europe kind of situation owed the Mafia,, a lot of money. And, and they were about I don't want to spoil it, but basically it was he was looking at the end of his life,, and so but he was able to, you know, I mean, oh, my God, what an amazing story. But he was he was about ready to end it, too.

Josh (00:15:34) - And,, but he, you know, he just reached outside, you know, just really kind of came, you know, just laid his cards, cards out on the table with his creditors and, you know, was able to negotiate his life. Right. And as a result, you know, kind of working with them and coming up with a win win solution, right, you know, able to save his life. And then he ended up succeeding with it. It was amazing story. But anyway, it's like, you know, when he told that story, it's like, you know, I'm what would I do in that situation? I think we all do that. Right. And so if we know that in advance, if we are the storyteller and we're like, listen, I'm going to tell a story, but I know in advance the audience is going to be thinking about themselves in this situation. Like, that's a really helpful tool. Yeah.

Cesar (00:16:16) - Yeah. Totally. And and and again.

Cesar (00:16:19) - We as human beings, we're social beings, right? So we connect with people emotionally. And unless you you've got like you're psychotic or you got some other issues going on, if you if you're hearing someone tell a story and it's a personal story like the one you were just telling me, and you're feeling the struggle that he's going through, your you're feeling the suffering or the anxiety, you're going to feel that too. And you're going to remember all the situations or experiences in your life where you also felt that way. And at the end, what this stage in the storytelling process creates not only emotion, but it creates a stronger bond with the messenger. And we all know in communication that if you're able to connect with the messenger, then it's much easier to later connect with the message.

Josh (00:17:05) - Now,, let's talk about how you serve your clients. Like, what does that look like? Well, everyone wants to hire you. How do you engage?

Cesar (00:17:13) - Yeah. So. So usually clients. I mean, I've got a lot of corporate clients already, businesses that have called me and that have worked with me in the past.

Cesar (00:17:21) - , they'll usually call me in to train their leadership team. We'll do workshops, you know, full day workshops with their leadership team., additionally to that, sometimes they'll call me in to work specifically with certain leaders that are in in constant exposition. Right? They're constantly presenting or communicating, and they want those leaders to be really, really good at what they do. They want them to every time they get up and speak, almost be giving a Ted talk. They'll call me in to work with them through there., and then just in general, for entrepreneurs or people that are more B2C direct customer, I have, you know, my online academy and courses and my podcasts and things that people can consume very easily and usually through technology. So that way they can start their their their journey of transformation and becoming great storytellers.

Josh (00:18:06) - Yeah. Yeah., and and so what? At what stage would someone be ready for you to engage? Like what? Like what? What size company or, like, what's, you know, professionally? Where are they?

Cesar (00:18:18) - I think a lot of times the companies that do obviously invest in bringing in an external expert are companies that are, you know, pretty big and that already have a budget to be able to invest in that, or entrepreneurs who, you know, have their business, they're up and running and they know that they're going to have to be much more also out there and presenting and communicating.

Cesar (00:18:38) - And and they want to expand their brand much quicker. They want to have more impact every time they get up and speak, because they know that if they become more impactful, their company will also become more impactful. So a lot of times, entrepreneurs, sometimes even solopreneurs who just want to, you know, just skyrocket their their growth. And they know that communication and their communication skills are necessary for that. Because at the end, what's the way that we influence what's the way that we get our message out to our audience is through communication. So the better you are at communicating, the better you will be to get your message out. And obviously if you get it out correctly, then you'll probably have much more customers and clients.

Josh (00:19:17) - Yeah., and do you care industry wise, or does that matter? No, no.

Cesar (00:19:23) - Because at the end, communication is such a it's such an everyday thing for for anyone. Right. Like it doesn't matter what industry you're in, you're going to have to communicate.

Cesar (00:19:32) - And if you're presenting, if you're if you're kind of the face of your brand or your company, you're going to be getting up on stages or being in meetings. So the truth is, this is the wonderful thing about what I do is communication is is an everyday thing. Some people even hire me just because they want to be better communicators for their everyday personal life. And and we'll work on that as well.

Josh (00:19:54) - Now your website says our is Cesar Castro. Com we have the spelling to our friend that's listening to our show. You just click around your app. You'll find the direct link CSR Castro when somebody goes there what would you recommend they do.

Cesar (00:20:12) - Well, there's a newsletter they can sign up to so they can at least start receiving weekly emails with tips and suggestions on how to become better storytellers. Also, through there, they can have access to the podcast the Strategic Storytelling Podcast, which is a new project that I'm starting now in English because I have a podcast in Spanish that has more than 60 episodes and thousands of listeners, but we're starting the project in English, so that way the English speaking audience can also have access to to the wonderful content of storytelling.

Cesar (00:20:39) - And then on my page there's all my services. If you are a company, if you're a business, if you're looking more for coaching one on one,, you have different options depending obviously on what you're looking for.

Josh (00:20:50) - Yeah., it stays there. And of course your podcast. So congratulations. It's called the Strategic Storytelling Podcast with Cesar Castro. Congratulations on the launch., so to our friend that's listening, go ahead and do a search for that right now. Strategic storytelling. It's going to come up., you'll see. It's got Cesar smiling face on the cover., Cesar, it's been great. Listen,, I loved your conversation. I love what you do in the world., and and I hope that we've inspired some, some, some untold stories,, among those who are listening to us right now.

Cesar (00:21:25) - Now, a wonderful, wonderful thank you for the invitation and and for the opportunity to come and share this with your audience. And again, my, my mission, the thing that I love the most is just to get people to become better storytellers, because I think that the world is a better place when we have better storytellers.

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