Beyond Storytelling

The ability to tell an interesting or amusing story is highly lauded. But smart leaders recognize that the real power of story results from its ability to engage. That is because sharing a story usually prompts your audience to recall similar memories or aspirations. Story pulls your listeners toward insight and understanding, and ultimately, to action and becoming advocates for your brand.

And this is why Thaler Pekar & Partners prefers the term storysharing to storytelling. Telling is transactional, implying a giver and a taker, and assumes a spectator. In our current and cacophonous communication environment, telling is old school. Sharing is modern, inviting collaboration and engagement. And listening to and analyzing shared stories will result in great insight.

We believe that to most effectively lead, smart people must fully develop their narrative intelligence: an ability to see the world through a narrative lens, able to recognize, elicit, learn from, and share stories in support of organizational goals and identity. To facilitate the use of stories in catalyzing change. And we believe that organizations significantly benefit when they use story throughout their activities – becoming what we call narrative organizations.

So, our work goes way beyond storytelling.

Here are some ways in which we can assist you in applying the powerful tool of story to growing your business, developing strategy, implementing programs, and communicating value:

While determining strategy and planning programs, it is useful to identify:

  • Problems that are being addressed and the opportunities that are motivating action: stories can be tremendous sources of inspiration and innovation
  • Critical points at which stories may be gathered that will aid in assessing progress and evaluating outcomes and impact
  • Questions that will be most useful in eliciting illuminating stories
  • Various ways in which to gather and retain these narratives
  • Planning for and responding to crises
  • Participants who will be accountable for gathering, managing, and ensuring the accessibility of the stories.

While implementing strategy or in the midst of a project, the collection, analysis, and sharing of stories will be useful in:

  • Facilitating change
  • Encouraging reflection and yielding insight on progress-to-date
  • Sharing critical information with stakeholders
  • Building trust among key participants
  • Designing, creating, and transforming culture
  • Making sense of complexities
  • Offering solutions to problems that may have arisen
  • Providing qualitative results and illustrating quantitative data
  • Ensuring organizational alignment.

While evaluating strategy and program implementation, narrative will:

  • Yield insight on what was learned, and how it might have changed the ways in which you work, or will operate in the future
  • Clearly articulate lessons learned and the project’s outcomes and impact
  • Connect past, present, and future stories
  • Be a useful form for sharing information so as to strengthen understanding among staff, board, volunteers, donors, policymakers, and other stakeholders.

Stories gathered throughout are useful for branding, marketing, sales, and advocacy:

  • Stories are a potent tool for helping audiences to comprehend, remember, and act on your key messages
  • Stories should inform the construction of key marketing, advocacy, sales, and fundraising messages
  • Collected stories will point to actions that need to be taken, and activities that will be beneficial (or harmful) to advocacy goals.

Throughout, sharing good, simple stories is vital to leaders and organizations being heard and understood.

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Upcoming Events & Appearances

May 14-16, 2021
Association of Junior Leagues International, keynote Participatory Narrative Inquiry program

August 20, 2020
Defense Information School, Advanced Story Work

June 30, 2020
Penn State, oral history interviewing and story elicitation

June 30, 2020
Knowledge Network Group, European Union

April 14, 2020
Columbia University School of Professional Studies

March 25, 2020
"Equitable Communication", private client program

March 17-19, 2020
WBENC Summit & Salute, Nashville

February 4-7, 2020
"Beyond Understanding: Listening for Emergence", Frank Conference, Gainesville, FL

December 5, 2019
Dual Office Philanthropic Client, DC & NYC

December 4, 2019
Social Sector client, Mississauga, Ontario

November 18-22, 2019
Funders' Collaborative Strategy & Narrative, Copenhagen

November 14, 2019
Corporate Retail Client, NYC

November 7, 2019
Nationswell Summit, NYC

October 13-18, 2019
"Build Trust & Inspire Action ~ A 3-Part Method for Motivating Others", Opportunity Collaboration, Cancun, Mexico

October 4 & 5, 2019
"Beyond Understanding: Listening for Emergence", Communications Network, Austin

October 3, 2019
"Breakthrough & Story Your Future!", pre-conference workshop, Montana Nonprofit Association

September 24, 2019
"Why Story Matters to Your Leadership", Guide Dogs for the Blind

September 23, 2019
The Ethics of Working with Story, Northern California Grantmakers

September 17-19, 2019
"Building Big Narratives by Sharing Small Stories", Waggl Harvest: Voices at Work Leader Retreat, St. Helena, CA

Early September, 2019Documentary filming, Utah

August 19, 2019
Private Client, Princeton, NJ

June 25-27, 2019
WBENC National Conference, Houston

May 7, 2019
CTAM Communications Strategies Course

April 11, 2019
Storytelling and Social Change, Institute for Research on Women, Rutgers the State University of NJ

April 9, 2019
Presence & Engagement program, Anomaly, NYC

March 20, 2019
Starion Bank, North Dakota

March 19, 2019
North Dakota Council on the Arts


  • "WOW is the first thing that comes to mind. WOW, what a session that was. It was thought-provoking, it was imminently applicable and it was fun, great job." – James Heffernan, The Jedi Group Consultoria, Brazil

  • "Thanks for helping me become a vivid story sharer. Before I worked with you, I'm afraid I was a rambling geek with a Powerpoint presentation. Now, each time I deliver a keynote, I generate two or three more engagements from audience members. Big, big change thanks to you." – Dave Maney, Founder & Publisher, Economaney

  • “When I was calling around to check Thaler's references, one of her clients told me that she was thinking about asking Thaler to be her child's Godmother. After working with Thaler I realized that the client wasn't joking. It is rare to find a consultant like Thaler, with the right mix of expertise, intuition, centeredness, ethics and passion. As a client, I found Thaler innovative and delivering above and beyond expectations. As a participant, I discovered my storysharing abilities exceeding what I thought was evolutionarily possible.” – Damon Azali-Rojas, Director of Field Programs, Jemmott Rollins Group

  • "As a result of the group training and individual coaching that we receive from Thaler and Jay, Wellspring staff are presenting their work in ways that show more confidence and organization, while letting the passion for our work shine through." – John and Myles Taylor, Wellspring Philanthropic Fund

  • "I've seen another well-known presenter on story, and he made me curious. But what I walked away from your program with was immediately implementable ways to capture and use story in my work, and to benefit my organization." – Dawn Harbatkin, MD, Executive Director, Lyon-Martin Health Services

  • "Thaler directed us in focusing on which specific stories to share with our corporate partners. As a result, there was a lot more confidence going into our next presentation. It was well received and effective. We will follow this process for future presentations.” — Brendan Ennis, Director of Development, Food Banks Canada

  • "Thanks a million for stretching my thoughts and how I approach today and tomorrow." – Gary Cassard, former Vice President & General Manager, Bright House Networks

  • "I'm a storyteller by trade, in a company that lives by story, with a truly amazing story to tell. So, in some ways, we're already there. That said, I was inspired by Thaler's deconstruction of narrative, and pointers for listening and engaging." – Steve Cooper, Director of Product Marketing, Lytro

  • "Jay is the coolest. I love the way he presents. Thaler is smart as a whip. I can't wait to hear what comes out of her mouth next. Together, they are able to break down the components of engagement in a way that we were previously unable to diagnose, let alone approach.” – Vice President, Global Education & Customer Experience, major cosmetics brand

  • "I found several things from your workshop directly applicable to my recent presentation to my board, and all grants were approved, so it was a big success. Our board chair even applauded after my presentation – a first! Thank you so much for your wisdom and guidance." – Denise Joines, Program Officer, Wilburforce Foundation

  • “We couldn’t be more pleased with the results. Thaler Pekar & Partners really 'get it' when it comes to helping move organizations forward in creative and positive directions. They possess a rare combination of flexibility and professionalism." -- John Seager, President, Population Connection

  • "Thaler is a communications genius with an insanely great ability to see 'through' a problem or challenge and create a story-based communications strategy to tackle the issue. She is fun to work with and obviously bright but not ego driven. It has been a privilege to work with her each time we have hired her. What I love most about her is that much of what she does is value-driven." – George Heindrichs, Former President and CEO, Intrado