The Magic of Storytelling: Elevate Your Career and Product

I haven’t posted on Product In Heels for a while but the timing feels right for this career Barbie to make a comeback with her stories!

This story begins 6 months ago when a sponsor gave me an opportunity to speak at our customer strategy branch all hands (~250 people) on any topic I wanted.

That same week, I met my mentor for a coffee and told her I was a bit nervous about the speaking opportunity.

She said “Amy, you have the skills and knowledge in payments. Have the confidence to put yourself out there and show people what you know and can do!”

You can find me under the lights

I took a creative approach and decided to present “Contactless payments: myth busters”.

I played a true or false game with 3 statements about contactless payments:

  • Contactless is more expensive than Opal (false)
  • You must register your bank card (false)
  • You can pay with a digital wallet (true)

These statements were based on common misconceptions (or myths) about the product.

I then connected these 3 myths to the work I was doing in these spaces and ‘busted’ them at the end.

It definitely surprised people and generated buzz.

I strategically sit right near my executive leader in the office (always take the closest seat!). The next day he thanked me for the quality of the content and delivery.

I stay on the beat you can count on me I ain’t missing no steps

A couple of months later I completed the Presenting With Confidence course at NIDA. It changed my life.

That same week, my product director asked me to present some new work at a team meeting so I decided to push the boundaries of my new skills and dressed up in a Steve Jobs turtleneck and glasses.

I kept my camera off and when I was called upon I said “Sorry, Amy Ryan couldn’t make it to the meeting today so she sent me, Amy Jobs.” Camera on and bam! I was complimented in the chat for my strong look, haha!

I told the story of a made up customer ‘Steve’ and how he always has a stressful morning on the way to work because he has to unlock his phone at the readers. I then highlighted the key number and explained that was how many customers would be have a better experience with Express Mode for Apple Pay. At the end, I looped back to my customer ‘Steve’ and highlighted how much better the daily commute would be for him and many others.

My leaders were impressed with the uplift in my capability (there were business justifications for sending us to training). It then lead to this…

My heart could be burning but you won’t see it on my face

10 days after becoming a NIDA course graduate, they handed me the mic to present a KEYNOTE at the 8th Annual FST Government conference in Sydney. What?!?!

This was an incredibly intense experience and I really had to dig deep to find the courage to achieve it.

I’m browsing a local thrift shop on a quiet Sunday afternoon when I get a call from my product director. I immediately knew something was wrong because I’ve never had a call on the weekend.

Unfortunately something happened and they needed someone to co-present with the acting Chief Technology & Innovation Officer at an in person conference in the city…in two days time!

I pull off a miracle, getting my content AND full speaking notes approved by media and governments affairs on Monday. I practise so much I lose my voice. I practise on people in the office, in the mirror at home, in front of my koala teddy bear.

On the day I arrive early at the Fullerton Hotel and the organiser tells me I’m brave for stepping in so last minute. But I don’t feel it.

I’m a confident public speaker but this was another level for me. I extinguish those thoughts before they take hold and I remind myself that today: I’m a keynote speaker.

NIDA taught me an important life lesson. If you’re going to go all in, you have to commit and transform into character. There’s no turning back. I opt for the lapel microphone that forces me into the middle of the stage. No notes. No lectern to hide behind.

TedX Amy is born.

I absolutely smash it! New confidence level unlocked.

I sent a LinkedIn thank you message and the keynote photos to my NIDA tutor – he was amazed and thrilled! I bet that makes a good story for his classes!

Watch me dance, dance the night away

At this point my team are stirring me for being on the Transport speaker circuit. I now have a line up of speaking opportunities!

The next one rolls in. One of my technology directors asks me to present any topic I like to the road maintenance and motorway partnerships team at their in person all hands… immediately I say yes! But I’m wondering what I have to say that would be interesting to them?

Since our work is largely unrelated, I decide it’s an opportunity to showcase Opal ticketing and give them something different to think about.

I tell the story of the evolution of our digital ticketing products and our customer messaging. I also gave them brand new content about Apple Express Mode and test & learn marketing I’ve been doing at the airport.

My director tells me the next day “Great feedback Amy…you smashed it out of the park!” And I have another happy executive.

Sometimes it can be so easy to turn down opportunities like this. You think it’s not your job, you feel scared or you don’t have the time.

Don’t turn it down! I’m telling you, say yes!

And always follow through with preparation.

It will lead you to new confidence, connections and experiences you could only dream of. The right people will notice and reward you.

I can take the heat best believe that’s the moment I shine

My reputation as someone who can consistently deliver quality content and work has rapidly evolved through all these opportunities.

During this same time I was trying to break through to senior service. I suffered a long series of rejections. I actually gave up in work and life a bit which I’m not proud of.

The turning points were definitely my conversation with my mentor and the NIDA course (that I didn’t really want to do ha!) that both injected new life into me.

So, finally, the ultimate opportunity was unveiled. I’ve been snavelled up by a team who saw my keynote, my business presentations and the projects I’ve delivered.

Stay tuned for that story!

Watch me dance, dance the night away!

If you understand the headers you have Barbie fever like me!

(Disclaimer: these stories are based on my perspective and experience and do not represent the views of my employer)

I'd love to hear what you think!