Storytelling Takes Centerstage at MAXX 2019


Eliaichi Kimaro

As credit unions work to raise public awareness, grow membership, and move the policy needle, their messages must become more memorable and powerful. The Northwest Credit Union Association’s MAXX Convention opened in Spokane Oct. 15 with a mission to help credit unions elevate their storytelling.

Three renowned speakers took to the mainstage to demonstrate the power of stories. Each of the experts traveled a different journey to get that stage. Each agreed that everyone has a story, and that stories have transformative power.

Some 15 years ago, Eliaichi Kimaro set out to tell her family’s stories with no experience, camera gear purchased on eBay, and a one-way ticket to Tanzania. She’s poured her heart into storytelling, and the 80-plus videos she’s produced since then have shed light on social and economic justice issues.

Dale Dixon

“I learned our stories have the power to heal, not just for the listener but for the speaker,” Kimaro said. “Our collective stories can lead to the groundswell that can lead to social and political change.”

Dale Dixon started his journey as a newscaster before becoming a communications consultant. He said credit unions must intentionally create the habit of telling stories.

“People seize what they see and there is no better way to get people to seize than through a story,” Dixon said.

He told the stories of several Northwest credit unions that took chances on members with poor credit history, and those members found success because of their credit unions’ belief in them.

Those are the stories, he said, that credit unions should tell.

Lisa Kagan

Lisa Kagan is a storytelling coach for executives, and her point to MAXX attendees was not to rely solely on data.

“You think you’re going to get that bonkers fight-to-the-death reaction from that?” she asked the audience.

She gave a master storyteller’s tip: lead with emotion. Back it up with data.

“Neuroscience has proven humans can’t make a decision devoid of emotion,” Kagan said.

Lessons learned – even failures, origins, and hard-won triumphs are three elements of memorable storytelling according to Kagan.

Through stories, Kagan said, “you have the power to change the perception of your odds.”

Posted in MAXX Annual Convention.