• Sally Maeng

Using storytelling to connect with others

Joel's story

Joel told me that his passion is storytelling. In fact, disclosed this hilarious story about how he met the original CEO of Hootsuite. (This story was also shared at one of his TEDx talks, Using storytelling to connect with others2:15-7:26).

Joel was interning in Ottawa when he heard that Ryan Holmes, founder and CEO of a Vancouver tech giant, was in town. Joel really wanted to meet this guy and have coffee with him.


Hootsuite is a social media management platform. So Joel, being witty, used all the different social media channels -- Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more -- to contact the CEO. Unfortunately, Joel didn't receive a response from Ryan.


Then Joel conjured a ridiculously creative idea! After creeping around social media, Joel found which hotel Ryan was staying at. Then Joel called the hotel posing as Ryan's nephew. He asked the receptionist for Uncle Ryan's room number so Joel could come by tomorrow and deliver a birthday present. The hotel staff was thrilled by this heartwarming gesture, and they eagerly shared the information.


Joel spent the rest of the day shopping. He created a little gift basket for the CEO and topped it with a note. The next day, he and his friend went to the hotel, got access to the elevators, and left the gift at "Uncle" Ryan's hotel room door. Later that day, Ryan messaged Joel, and they met the following day!


I always love a good story because good storytelling goes beyond entertainment. Ultimately, it's an opportunity to be authentic, connect with others, and build a community. Who doesn't want that?


This story shares Joel's resilience, creativity, and comical personality. Yes, this is a funny success story. But as Joel puts it, storytelling is also an opportunity for us to share our scrappy authentic selves.


Joel is a Marketing Advisor who helps leading brands share their stories online. Perhaps you're like me, and you prefer sharing stories that highlight your finished projects and accomplishments. However, Joel said people are attracted to work-in-progress stories for multiple reasons.

  • You come across as more human and relatable.

  • It helps you and others become more accountable for your goals.

  • People enjoy behind-the-scene insights.

In other words, if you only share the ending, you miss out on meeting people who want to join you at the beginning and middle of your journey.


Ultimately, Joel is passionate about storytelling for its ability to build authentic connections and genuine communities. This is why we love storytelling here at The Passion Collective. We're sick of connecting with people through shallow small-talk. Instead, we want people to share about themselves through stories, particularly stories about their passions.

I understand we're not all talented storytellers, but we all have a story to tell. Your story doesn't have to be perfect. Some of our interviewees have their passion all figured out into an income-producing career. Others are still in school, and some have no idea what to do with their passions except enjoy them.


It's okay to be vulnerable and crack a hole in the walls you built. Give people a glimpse of your work-in-progress. Sure, you risk getting hit by more sticks and stones. But what if it also invited people inside and decreased the loneliness felt inside your fortress? Imagine the architectural feat you can accomplish together with those extra sticks and stones.


It starts by sharing your story. So let us help. What are you passionate about?

Click here to view Joel's story presented at his 1st TEDx and 2nd TEDx events. Additionally, for more stories from Joel, join 15,000+ people subscribing to his weekly newsletter.


To contact Joel and learn more about his story, follow @joel_hansen_ on Instagram and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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