Everybody's Got a Story w/ Theresa Francomacaro

Updated: Aug 7, 2021

What story are you telling yourself about where you’re going? We’ve all had a big reminder that life is precious and fleeting - are you putting your energy into work you really care about? Today, accomplished storyteller Theresa Francomacro (Why Story Works) is here to ask the question, ‘What are you waiting for?’

Highlight Reel

1:60 Why Story Works

4:10 Humility & Trust in 2020

8:30 What are you waiting for?

12:40 It’s hard to invest in yourself (or There are no guarantees)

16:30 Being a continuous, lifelong learner

24:10 A Pocket-Day

27:40 5 Neurological Mind-Shifts (of F-L-L-E-A)

32:40 Serenity, wonder, play

38:30 Alliances and bridges

Adrienne MacIain 0:01

Hey everyone, welcome to the That's Aloud podcast. I'm your hostess, Dr. Adrienne MacIain. And today we have a one of my fabulous friends, Theresa Francomacaro. Had to say it like that.

Theresa Francomacaro 0:14

I love it! That's how the Italians say it! Years ago I was in Italy and people would say, they'd come up to me and start speaking Italian. I don't know Italian. But Franco-mekero, Franco-makkaro, or whatever you want. It's all good.

Adrienne MacIain 0:28

I, years ago, it was actually in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, with one of my cousins, and she, of course, speaks beautiful Spanish, French, Italian, blah, blah, blah, 'cause she lives in Europe, and that's just what they do, right? And I asked her before we were going to go to this club, and I was like, 'What do I say, if a guy's like, hitting on me, giving me a hard time?' And she's like, 'You look at him straight in the eye. And you say, che bello ragazzo.' And I was like, 'Okay,' so I practice this over and over again. And this guy comes up to me, and he's like, you know, getting all in my space. And so I was like, okay, 'Che bello ragazzo.' And he's like, 'Oh!' He puts his arm around me and, and my cousin is dying, laughing. And I'm like, 'What did I just say to him? What did you tell me to say?' And she's like, 'You just called him a cute boy, you said "What a cute guy!"' And I was like, 'Why would you do that to me?' She's like, 'Because it's really funny.' So then I was like, 'So what do I say to him now?' She's like, 'Just tell him you don't speak Italian.' And I was like, 'No parle Italiano.' He's like, 'Come no parle Italian??' Like, I just heard you speaking Italian, don't lie to me now. So I was just, it was so funny and bad. I was really mad at my cousin. But it all ended fine. I was like, 'I'm American.' And he's like, 'Me, too. I am Americano. We are all American here, yes?'

Theresa Francomacaro 0:29

Yeah. Right. Right. He's American. Sure. And I got a bridge to sell you in Manhattan. Right.

Adrienne MacIain 1:52

Absolutely. Okay. Teresa, you still haven't introduced yourself to these wonderful people. Tell them who you are?

Theresa Francomacaro 1:59

Yes, yes, yes. Well, my name is Theresa Francomacaro. However you want to say it, it's all one word. I am the chief storyteller for Why Story Works, where we help people tell the right story, at the right time, to the right audience, to get the right results. I am so excited to be here with you, Adrienne. I found you on LinkedIn, and that's really part of the story of this last year, is just really working that LinkedIn space. And, just really grateful to be here. So thanks for having me.

Adrienne MacIain 2:32

Absolutely. So, what story is the world not getting? You know all about story. So tell us, what story is the world not getting?

Theresa Francomacaro 2:41

Well, I think, you know, the world needs stories. And they forget, right? I think the world decides that storytelling or communication is a 'soft' skill. And you and I both know that there's nothing soft about it. You know, a really good storyteller is going to make it look really easy. And a great communicator inspires action. And people who understand how to inspire action, knowing how to tap into emotion. And we all know that our brains really light up with story. And so if we can figure out what the audience needs or what the person I'm speaking to needs to hear, and activate that piece of emotion in them, we can all you know, get along a little better. And so I think, I feel like we should be singing that song 'What the world needs now is love, sweet love...

Adrienne MacIain 3:36

'...stories, sweet stories.'

Theresa Francomacaro 3:37

Right, right! And my kids would say, 'Oh, mom, mom, don't, don't sing please.' But I think the world is missing this kindness and empathy, and that comes through story. And that's how we evolved as humans. And so that's what I think we're missing.

Adrienne MacIain 3:53

Absolutely. And by the way, my daughter would tell me not to sing too, but that's a whole other story. You can you can hear all about that on How To Be a Muse. But I want to hear about the greatest gift that 2020 gave you.

Theresa Francomacaro 4:10

Oh, well. There are so many, right? I think one of them is humility. And that might sound really like, well, what are you talking about? And it's like, you know, we don't know everything. It can all be taken away in an instant. I remember on March 11, 60% of my receivables vanished. And then on March 28, another 30% vanished. So I was left with 10% of my my sole-practitioner, sole-storytelling consulting business. And I thought, well, you know, you better get to work, you better pivot, and figure out how to be resilient, and how to network in a virtual space, and how to, you know, support those folks around you. And not not get sucked in to this idea that it's so fast, and how much you know, and who you know, and how much money you make. And, you know, let's get to it! I have sometimes a tendency, and I think I've shared this with you before, to really fetishize productivity and connection and getting work done. And this past year, it's been so, I don't know, just up and down. It's like three days on, two days off, two days on, five days off. My sense of equilibrium on on getting out there in the world is really, has really changed. So yeah, that that gift of just being humble, and working around, and listening to those around, and holding space for maybe things that I didn't hold space for before.

Adrienne MacIain 5:58

What did your work life look like before the pandemic?

Theresa Francomacaro 6:03

Oh, gosh, well, let's see, I try to run.. I try... my inner monologue would say 'Try, try? You're doing it!' Okay. So I work to run two businesses, not one, but two. So my husband has a general contracting business, so I manage his business for him. And I also run my own consulting business, Why Story Works. And so a typical day for me, or week, might include three days out in the field training, doing instructor-led training, either my own content or vendor-partner contents. I'm also a certified Dale Carnegie instructor. And then I would spend another couple of days working on my husband's business, and trying to network and get gigs and, you know, doing free speaking, and you know, whatever it could be. Just go go go. And also keeping my two adult daughters rolling. And it just, it, pandemic hit us, and it was, there was no, there were no rules. Everything just went away. I mean, it just went away fast. It just, it was an immediate shuttering. We also had to shutter my husband's business for a full 30 days. And you know, as a general contractor, you don't know if people are gonna hire you again. Who's going to want to update their bathroom and their kitchen when they don't have money to pay their mortgage? So just really learning to have to trust. And the internal cop in the head who writes me a ticket every single day, telling me, 'Oh, you're not good enough, you're not smart enough.' Or, 'Who are you to be running these two businesses?' would just be like, 'Well, now what? So now what are you going to do?' And so I got to work, I got to work creating videos, and doing virtual webinars, obviously, and just changing the business model. And I'm not saying it's all sunshine and rainbows, because it's not. It's not. It's hard. Yesterday was the very first day I was back doing an instructor-led seminar for one of my vendor partners, and it had been a year and a month to the day. And I got news for you, I felt a little rusty, I felt a little like, 'Oh, my.' You know? But it's like riding a bike, it kind of comes back to you. And then I realized how much I really missed it. So yeah, it's a typical work week would have been out-out-out, and now it's in-in-in, and sometimes having that internal focus is hard. Yeah.

Adrienne MacIain 8:31

Yeah. So how did you create How Story Works in the first place? Tell me a little bit about the backstory there.

Theresa Francomacaro 8:38

Yeah, well, Why Story Works came about because I was working, I spent about a dozen years working in Fortune 500 companies doing adult learning, and training, and sales training, and education, and brand ambassadorship, and managing teams, and managing, you know, inside sales teams, customer service teams, training and development initiatives. And one of the Fortune 500 companies I was working with after shifting jobs with them about six times in a four-and-a-half year span, they outsourced our entire department and...

Adrienne MacIain 9:15


Theresa Francomacaro 9:16

Yeah. And today that company is no longer in existence, which, you know, that said a lot about them. But... So I took my severance package, and my health benefits, and I said 'Well, now, if not now, then when?' And so I took all of that energy that I was putting into making my Fortune 500 companies a lot of money and put it into uplifting my husband's business. So within about a year, his business was pulling in what I was making within those corporate arenas, and then it took me, you know, a lot of time, and I'm still working on it, to kind of get my business up and running. And so it's a process. But that really just got me thinking, you know, if I don't, if I don't do this now, then what am I gonna do it? We're not getting any younger. And something really significant happened, it'll be five years ago, May 3. My sister, I'm one of seven kids, and I was youngest for many, many, many years. And then my younger sister came along when I was nine. But there are three of us, my sister Kate, my sister Maria and myself that are all within three years apart of one another. And she passed away of stage four colon cancer. And she was the exact same age that I was when I was thinking about starting Why Story Works. And I remember her saying to me, 'What a wasted life I led, failing at things just to piss off mom and dad.' And I'm like, 'Whoa.' And I thought, you know, and I love my sister dearly, I mean, she was, she was a great person. We used to call her Kate the Great, you know. She used to, she used to have so much moxie, and so much, you know, just spirit. And, you know, she passed away at a very tender age. And I thought, 'I don't want, I don't want to live with regrets. I don't want to be on my deathbed thinking, Oh, if only I shoulda-woulda-coulda. Why didn't I?' And, you know, like I said, my sister Kate, she used to, she was the type of person, she would, as we were kids, my mom used to dress us all alike, and we used to all wear these little dresses, my mom would make our clothes, and we'd wear these little pinafore dresses with saddle shoes and, you know, Mary Janes. And she'd wear her shoes with no socks, and she put these Chiquita Banana stickers on the soles of his shoes. And sometimes she'd put them right in her forehead, you know, like she had this third eye. And she'd climb trees, and you know, she, she was cool in my eyes. And you know, and she was gone in an instant. And, and I just, I'm like, 'It's not gonna be me.' And she was a second sibling of mine to pass too soon. And so again, I'm like, you know, 'What are you waiting for?'

Adrienne MacIain 12:08


Theresa Francomacaro 12:09

Everybody's got a story. It just needs coaxing to the surface. And I got my own story. And is my story going to be that I didn't live the life I wanted to? So rip the band aid off sister, go for it, just do it, right, as they say. And it's a journey. And you know, I fail. And I'm not exactly where I thought I would be at this point, and I'm further along, you know. So it's like this paradox. Yeah.

Adrienne MacIain 12:39

Yeah. I feel like it is so hard for women to invest in themselves. Do you feel that?

Theresa Francomacaro 12:48

Yes and no, you know. I always thought possibly It was a female thing. And I don't know if it is so gendered, I do know that I didn't feel confident truly stepping out on my own until I had that financial support, either with the severance package or, you know, making my husband's business boost. And I got news for you, I spent a long time searching for the next gig, right, the next Fortune 500 company. And, you know, some days I still look at things, and I think, 'Well, maybe I'll put my hat in the ring for that.' And then when I don't get it, I'm like, 'Ah, that's the universe telling me, it's not where you need to be,' which is really hard to hear sometimes. And so I think sometimes it's more of an internal mind shift, and that can happen whether you're a male or a female. And sometimes it's about that financial security, or what we believe to be a financial security. And sometimes, the way of the world is that the men have more financial security sometimes. So in a way, yes. And I don't know. I don't know.

Adrienne MacIain 14:00

I don't know. Yeah, what I mean by that is just I've often noticed that women, I think because of that, because, you know, historically, women just haven't controlled the money, you know? And they just haven't had as many kind-of financial resources that, as soon as you get a little bit of money, there's this sense of, 'Oh, I need to invest this in somebody who can make more money with it, like my husband, or like my children.' Rather than, 'Oh, I should invest this in myself. I should invest this in my own business.'

Theresa Francomacaro 14:32

I think you've got it. And like I said, I was listening to some of your podcasts, you know, where people were talking about their story and what stops them, and I do that a lot with my one on one coaching, like, what stops you from doing this? And you know, you and I have had these conversations before about manifesting. And it seems to me that the fear factor can come at any time. I don't know if it's about investing in myself, as opposed to not investing in that story of, you're not going to make it or it's not going to work. So that's, that's the key. And I'm really feeling like it's going to be okay. And that's really hard, because I'm like, 'What am I, crazy? We're going to run not one but two businesses in the middle of a pandemic?' I mean, that's, that's insane. That's insanity. There's no guaranteed income, there's no guaranteed health benefits, there's no sick time, there's no 401k, there's nobody, there's no time off. It's if you don't make money right now, it's all on you. And we're fine.

Adrienne MacIain 15:41

I have to tell you, though, I mean, and I've had that same conversation, you know, with myself. But looking back, I feel like there was never any guarantee anywhere.

Theresa Francomacaro 15:50

Exactly, exactly.

Adrienne MacIain 15:51

And that thing with the pandemic is that so many people who thought they had this guarantee, who thought that they had this iron clad career choice that was always going to support them and always going to be there, and they put all their eggs in that one basket, and all their eggs are broken. And so I think it's, it's really important, especially as I get older, I'm seeing more and more the need to diversify, the need to put my eggs into different baskets, the need to share my gifts in different areas, and in different ways, so that if things shift, and something happens, I can be a little more modular, a little more flexible.

Theresa Francomacaro 16:35

Right. Right. Well, it's funny, because I was reading an article just the other day, because I'm always reading, I'm sure all of us are, you know, about. And my and I can attest to this. My dad, you know, speaking of stories, he worked, he was in the in the Navy for some years, but then he worked for a company for 40 years. And then he retired. I mean, he was a senior vice president, and he was a civil engineer, and he's got his pension. We don't do that now. People shift jobs every two years. The future of work is not learning one skill, because that skill is going to be outdated. It's about resiliency, and being able to communicate, and sell your ideas, and being a continuous lifelong learner. And, you know, I think people are swinging back around to that, right? For years, it was stem, stem stem, and now it's like, 'Oh, we need to learn how to talk to one another!' Like, yeah, 'Hello.' That doesn't go away.

Adrienne MacIain 16:54

I want to go back, though, to something you said earlier about, you know, well, I didn't want to invest in a story of 'I'm not going to make it.' Of course. And I think that's a really important mindset to be aware of. What story are you telling yourself about where you're going? And if you keep telling yourself like, 'Well, I'm going to try but it's probably not going to work.' Or, 'Yeah, I'll probably only make this much at this.' Of course you're not going to invest in that story. You're not gonna invest your energy into it, you're not gonna invest your money into it, you're not gonna invest yourself into that story. You need to have a story that you can really get behind and that you want to invest in.

Theresa Francomacaro 18:09

Yes, and I think some of it is your personality, right? About, like I said, when I started Why Story Works about four years ago, when I got that news from the company, and I just decided, 'Alright, I'll go for it,' you know what I had? I had a business card. And I had a free gig that I was teaching, a 20 minute gig that I got invited to teach, you know, and that was it. And I didn't have a website and, you know, but I had material, I had a passion. And so I did this conference, Learnapalooza, and lo and behold, out of 50 presenters, my piece went to the top. Like, they they liked it more than the hour long presentations. And then the person who was one of the conference was like, 'Where have you been?' I'm like, 'Well, I've been off selling, you know, widgets for XYZ PDQ company.' She's like, 'Well, you need to get over here, my friend.' And I'm like, 'Okay.' And, you know, it's just kind of been going slowly ever since, on some levels slowly, but rapidly in another way, because it's been a mind shift. And my goal initially was, just try to make more money this year than you made last year. Just try to, with Why Story Works, just try to make as much money with your Why Story Works as you make with some of your vendor partners that you teach their content. Let's see if you can do that. So I think those little mini-goals and if you stay stasis for a little while, if I'm hovering, like this year with the pandemic, we've been hovering. We didn't double our income this year. We hovered around the same as what we did last year. And you know, I'll be incredibly transparent, maybe I shouldn't be, but could I support myself 100% on just my Why Story Works income? Probably not. And why is that? Well, because I also support my husband's business, and I try to run our family with our, you know, I have a daughter that's going to graduate high school this year and having her do online learning, and have an entire senior year online, and ensuring that she's going to get launched to college. I have another daughter who's at UW. She's a junior, and she's a dance major, and my other daughter theater tech, and I have a background in performance, big surprise there, storyteller. But it's really fun to see them kind of come into their own. But I realized I'm like, 'What's important to me now.' I mean, that was the big thing with investing in the story. I'm gonna invest in what really, really matters to me. And my family matters to me, my kids, my husband, my friends. I mean, there's some friends that I'm not friends with anymore. I just didn't have the bandwidth to keep up that facade. And I think that again, the pandemic, this story of what's important, what do you value, where am I going to go, where am I going to put my energies, and leaping a little bit, that faith. Because if I hadn't lost all that income in March, I don't know that I would have leapt with creating videos, and being more present on LinkedIn, and having conversations like this with you. I never would have met you, I wouldn't have met you. There are people that I've met through the virtual space that I never, ever would have met, because I wouldn't have had time. I would have been running off to some, you know, networking event, downtown Seattle, or what have you. And not really just sitting in that moment of being, 'Well, who do I want to support? Who really resonates? What company, what area, really, is where I want to spend my time?' So anyway, I, my mother always used to say, 'Do what you love, and the money will follow.' Or, you know, everyone says, 'If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life.' Well, I work really, really, really hard, and I love what I do, and, you know, the money is coming, but it's a slow drip. And I feel as if I put too much pressure on myself that I do this just for the money, then I wouldn't do moments like this, right?

Adrienne MacIain 22:25


Theresa Francomacaro 22:26

I wouldn't, I wouldn't go and do a free seminar at Lean Startup Seattle, because I really believe in the founder story and getting your origin story straight. I wouldn't do those things because I'd think, 'Well, that doesn't pay so I'm not going there.'

Adrienne MacIain 22:41

I think it's such a gift, just to be aligned to your gifts and giving your gifts. You know?

Theresa Francomacaro 22:49

Well, yes. And what choice do you have? Right? I mean,

Adrienne MacIain 22:54

You definitely have a choice. I mean, I know I spent a lot of my life not focusing on that. And feeling like my gifts were not very valuable, because people weren't, you know, throwing money at them.

Theresa Francomacaro 23:07

Well, come on, we're both theatre practitioners, right? I have a master's degree in performance, you have a doctorate degree in it. I mean, my goodness, it's, we don't value in this country, or maybe in the world, the artists, the artist's muse, the internal stories that connect us to one another. And so that's a shame. You know, you asked earlier what stories are we missing as a world and, you know, the pendulum is shifting. People, people are, you know, the Earth is coming alive and saying, 'I don't think so.' You know, the iceberg is melting, and things are seeping out that maybe were frozen. And, you know, bravo. And so we don't really know. We're kind of all... I was saying to somebody, you know, my sister said this to me, one of my sisters, she's like, 'We're all in the same boat, but some people's boats are better than others.'

Adrienne MacIain 24:02

I always say, you know, we're not actually in the same boat. We're in the same flood. Not all boats are created equal.

Theresa Francomacaro 24:10

Yeah, especially with this pandemic. I mean, I think we really got a big dose of reality. And the reality is, some of us are, you know, the inequities that are there. And again, I don't want to make this a soapbox and all of that, but I do have, I have paid more attention to my own sense of privilege. I mean, I'm very, very, very fortunate in that it's not lost on me. And we don't have a lot. I mean, we live in a tiny little house, you know, here in the Pacific Northwest. It's not like we have huge, extraordinary income. And we're doing okay, we're fine. The universe provides. And I just, and I love really being aligned with what makes you happy. And you know, yesterday was, like, one of the days that I call Pocket Moment Day, I want to keep that day in my pocket. And they're not always like that.

Adrienne MacIain 25:11

Tell us about yesterday. What happened?

Theresa Francomacaro 25:13

Well, let's see. Well, the night before, I couldn't sleep, which was horrible. I only slept two hours. But I finally, I, you know, I got myself to sleep because I was doing an instructor-led workshop after about a year of being off, and I was teaching modules I'd never taught before. So I was up at, you know, 5:30, after two hours asleep. I got to the office at 7:00, I trained until 11, 11:30. And then I had a conference call in my car on the way home. And then I had a quick lunch, and then I was interviewed for a podcast, and then I had our creativity cohort, you and I, and then I did my walk with my dog and I ate a really nutritious dinner. So that was an awesome day. Now if every single day could look like that, that would be great. And I did get paid. Right? I had some financial renumeration there, not everything was a freebie. So yeah, it was it was a really good day. So I'll remember that one. And I was really tired today when I woke up, I was exhausted. But...

Adrienne MacIain 26:14

Well, I believe, and I think you do too, in the law of attraction. So I think the more focus and gratitude you can put on days like that, the more days like that you get. You know? If you really can just revel in that and go, 'Yes, more like this, please.' I think more do come.

Theresa Francomacaro 26:34

Yes, yes, for sure. And, you know, if, because I can get really hard on myself, and I know a lot of us can, we can just really, I say, get down the rabbit hole and and just get stuck there. And that's where I've got to have those those resources in place. Sometimes I'll just drop things on my calendar just to get me going with something really strategic or a tactic that I know will help me move along. Because as an extrovert, in the pandemic, it's been really hard. I love people. I love hanging around people. I love connecting with people. I love presenting with people, it's it's very different. It's just been very different tissue.

Adrienne MacIain 27:15

Yeah, yeah. And, I mean, as much as I'm really enjoying these zoom calls, and getting to know people virtually, like, I cannot wait until you and I can have a picnic, go for a walk. You know? I mean, oh, boy.

Theresa Francomacaro 27:35

Well, and that's the interesting thing, right? It's as I'm really kind of getting going with this idea of story, and really going all in 100%, and, and giving people just as many resources as possible, and as much material as possible, and saying there's enough for everybody, and I'll share it with you. And if you find resonance in it, great. If that helps you, you know... one of the things I say, you know, 'There are five neurological responses inherent in any good story.' And people are like, 'What? What is that?' I'm like, 'Well, let me tell you.' You know, and I, years ago when I was living in the East Coast, and I was running, training, but also writing, and writing my first play, and different things, I remember working with a production company and feeling like they were hoarding everything. And they didn't even want to give posters. I'm like, 'I wrote the play, which ran for five years, and they don't want to give posters.' I'm like, 'This is good for everybody.' Right? There is enough for everybody. We don't need to hoard our brilliance, we can share it. But again, that comes from that scarcity mindset, like, there's not going to be enough, and I'm not going to be enough, and it's all going to fall away so I better make sure I get every ounce and drip and drop from what I can give, and make renumeration out of it. And maybe that's, that's what I mean by the shift with the pandemic. It really calls a mind shift. Yeah, absolutely.

Adrienne MacIain 29:05

Absolutely. So what are the five neurological responses?

Theresa Francomacaro 29:09

Oh, it's interesting that you ask me that. You could check them all out. I got them all sitting on my website.

Adrienne MacIain 29:18

I was a PR person, I know a cue when I hear one.

Theresa Francomacaro 29:21

She pitches: that was a softball for ya. So, I use the mnemonic FLLEA - F, L, L EA. So if you want your audience not to flee, you need to trigger their emotional responses inside of their amygdala so that they pay attention and they listen. So for example, if you know, the F stands for fear, so the FLLEA is fear, love, longing, empathy, and action. So those are the five key drivers inside of a really good story. So if you've got, or you know your audience is feeling fearful, they are having a hard time focusing. So all of this stuff with the pandemic, where they're like 'productivity hacks' and you know 'how to manage your remote team,' it's just like, maybe your people need you to just help them focus. Maybe you need to slow down. Maybe you need to just give them some space, right, so that they can release some cortisol. Because cortisol courses through our veins when we're in that fear response, and fear isn't always bad. It helps us focus. So that's the, if you know your audience's in fear mode, release stories that activate cortisol. The X, the L, love. So many people, you know, especially now in the pandemic, we've been feeling lonely, we've lost that love. You know, I've lost that loving feeling, right? So if you know that's where your audience is, tell them some stories that will release dopamine. And dopamine is that neurochemical in the brain that gets triggered when we're like, 'Oh, she likes me, she really likes me!' You get all those likes on your podcast, right? Or the reshares. And the thing about dopamine is it only stays in the system for about 90 seconds, so that's why we get addicted to our phones, and that's so... we got to keep priming that pump. The next L is longing, so if you know your audience's feeling really depleted, like a lot of a lot of healthcare workers, a lot of people on the front lines, they need to feel that sense of peace and serenity. So maybe tell a story that's goona activate serotonin. It's kind of how I feel when I eat a big bowl of pasta. And so you got fear, love longing. And then you have empathy. So empathy is a lot of times released with oxytocin, the murine chemical, it's that neurochemical that gets released in the brain when women nurse their babies, you know? It's like, 'Ah, you see me, you really see me, you get me.' And who here couldn't benefit from having somebody really understand their point of view? And then the last one for the A is adrenaline. So if you know somebody's stuck, you want to release adrenaline. So those action stories, those defining moment call-to-action stories that get people out of their comfort zone and moving. That's why you might see a lot of CEOs at the end of a sales meeting do these 'go forth and conquer' stories. So that's what I try to tell people is if you want your audience not to flee, tell them what they need to hear. So activate inside of your audience those neurochemical responses that are going to get the amygdala to pay attention and to wake up.

Adrienne MacIain 32:36

Absolutely. Well, I think it's about time to transition into a little exercise here. You ready to, ready to rock and roll?

Theresa Francomacaro 32:45


Adrienne MacIain 32:45

Okay. So you know how this goes. Close your eyes. take a nice deep breath and as you breathe in, I want you to see colored light come into your body. Tell me what color it was.

Theresa Francomacaro 33:00

Oh, it's my favorite color, seafoam blue. I'm actually wearing it today.

Adrienne MacIain 33:06

Mine too, my favorite, as you see. So another another deep breath in. Gorgeous. And now I'm going to wave my magic wand, and everything that you deeply desire has now come to pass. Here, in this moment, it is real, it is true. And I want you, you can keep your eyes closed if that helps you visualize I know it does me, I want you to look around your ideal life, and just tell me what you see.

Theresa Francomacaro 33:43

I see abundance. I see love. I see connection. I see serenity. I see wonder, wonder, play, fun. Yeah.

Adrienne MacIain 34:08

I want you to go to a place in your mind where it's like, your happy place. It's a beautiful setting that just makes you feel like, 'Yes, I'm home, I am calm, this is exactly where I need to be,' and just tell me what it looks like there.

Theresa Francomacaro 34:27

Yes, I go here a lot, especially when I have a hard time sleeping. It's a field that has long wheat grass, and there is a clearing where there's a big willow tree, and there is a Pendleton-type you know red and blue the yellow and green blanket with a picnic basket and some delicious fruit and cheese and maybe a bottle of wine and sparkling water. And there's a swing, and a light breeze, and it's usually my favorite time of day, which is just before twilight, you know, around four or five o'clock in the afternoon. And it's quiet.

Adrienne MacIain 35:16

Yeah. What do you hear?

Theresa Francomacaro 35:19

Birds. The wind.

Adrienne MacIain 35:24

Take a breath in, and I want you to see what you can smell.

Theresa Francomacaro 35:31

The grass, the wheat, the air.

Adrienne MacIain 35:36

Can you feel the grass under your feet?

Theresa Francomacaro 35:39

I feel the softness of the blanket. I'm lying on the blanket. Yes, yes. I love soft things. And it's a soft place to land. And it's open. It's forgiving. It's uncomplicated.

Adrienne MacIain 35:59

As you're lying there something unexpectedly delightful happens. What is it?

Theresa Francomacaro 36:07

My husband shows up. I'm like, 'Oh, look at you! So nice of you to join us.' Yeah, and we and we kiss and yeah, and we share some food. And we we toast and... yeah.

Adrienne MacIain 36:27

He tells you some wonderful news that you just weren't expecting to hear.

Theresa Francomacaro 36:31

Oh, God, he tells me how much he loves me, and how much he supports my business, and how proud he is. I'm gonna cry. Um, yeah, it's, you know, and how grateful he is that we're, we're in it together. You know, we've been together 25 years. I met him on a sailboat when I came out to Seattle on vacation, and I never left. I quit my job over the phone. And, you know, we're still together 25 years later with two kids ages 18 and 21. But it hasn't been easy. It has not been easy. This past year, especially, has been has been tough. It's hard to work with your spouse and live with them and run the businesses and stay in in the present moment and not be consumed by fear. Look at you, getting me all vulnerable. Does this happen all the time?

Adrienne MacIain 37:25

Yeah. Yeah, pretty much, pretty much all the time.

Theresa Francomacaro 37:30

That's the power of story, my friend.

Adrienne MacIain 37:32

It is the power of story. And it's the power of recognizing your true desires, kind of really looking them in the face and saying, 'That's what I want.'

Theresa Francomacaro 37:42

The human connection, that human connection. It's, you know, I could have said, Oh, yeah, I wake up and I'm there by myself. And I've got, you know, lots of clients.' No, it's, it's who's in the foxhole with you? Who was there with you? Who was saying, 'I got you?' You know, that's what we need. And that's the power of story, because that's how we connect, right? Yeah.

Adrienne MacIain 38:07

Yeah. And what I heard in there, too, was support, that he's supporting what you're doing, and it's...

Theresa Francomacaro 38:15

Well, sometimes not really.

Adrienne MacIain 38:18

That's what I'm saying, I think that's a desire that I heard there.

Theresa Francomacaro 38:22

Yes, yes.

Adrienne MacIain 38:22

Is for him to support your business as much as you support his.

Theresa Francomacaro 38:27

Correct, correct, correct. Yes. And to see the value there.

Adrienne MacIain 38:31


Theresa Francomacaro 38:31

And that's why, you know, there are people that you put in your life, people like yourself, people like my business partner Erna, people, like Aaron, who's in the creativity cohort with us. You know, that's, I had a meeting just this morning with somebody who is a storyteller in Montana. I mean, you can't expect one person to be everything for you. You've got to create alliances for yourself and bridges for yourself. Because everybody, people have their own stuff. I tell people all the time, people don't really care about you, they really care about themselves. Everybody's listening to the same radio station. WWI FIM - what's in it for me, right? So, and that's normal, that's normal. That's how we've survived as a species. You know, our point of view is what we see the world through. And when we can, when we can let that point of view be open to others through hearing their stories, or listening, or having this type of a podcast where you say that's allowed, you can do that, that's okay, we give ourselves permission. That's where the magic happens. So...

Adrienne MacIain 39:41

Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for sharing this magic with us.

Theresa Francomacaro 39:45

Thank you!

Adrienne MacIain 39:46

And for letting all the listeners filter your story through their eyes.

Theresa Francomacaro 39:50

Oh my gosh, thank you so much, Adrienne. I'm so grateful to have met you this past year.

Adrienne MacIain 39:56

Yeah. And I am so grateful that I'm part of the creativity cohort...

Theresa Francomacaro 40:00

Yes, yes.

Adrienne MacIain 40:02

...that we are creating. By the way, anyone who's listening, I think this is going to go up in July, actually. So I'm not sure how this will, will work out. But we are currently working on, plotting an idea to have a retreat, a creativity retreat. I know this is something that I've been wanting to do for a long time. And so we're gonna make it happen. We're gonna make it happen.

Theresa Francomacaro 40:28

We are. The seeds, the seeds have been planted, and now we've put it out there in the world, we're gonna have to live up to it. Right?


And, and that's the beautiful thing about stories and expertise. I mean, everyone's got their own point of view. There's enough for everybody. And that magic that happens when when we live in those moments that bring us intense joy. You never know. You know, one of my favorite authors, Dr. Seuss, 'Oh, the places we'll go,' right? You know, we'll go so many places. So yes, the creativity cohort.

Adrienne MacIain 40:58

Sometimes investing in yourself doesn't need to have money. Sometimes it's just about taking that time and that energy and going to a retreat where you spend some time and focus on creating. Creating what is inside of you, bringing it outside of you for other people to enjoy.

Theresa Francomacaro 41:19

Yes, yes, absolutely. Absolutely.

Adrienne MacIain 41:23

All right, my dear, thank you so much for being here. Where can the lovely folks at home find you?

Theresa Francomacaro 41:29

Oh, for sure. You can find me on LinkedIn. I spent a lot of time there, Theresa Francomacaro. And the easier thing to do is www.whystoryworks.com. Or Theresa@whystoryworks.com. I've got a website, I got a YouTube channel, LinkedIn, all of it. You know, come share your story. I'd love to hear. We need our stories now more than ever, especially as we begin to emerge from our cocoons and our caves. We've got to remind ourselves that connection, human connection is is so valuable and we're social, social creatures. We live and breathe stories every day. And that's what I've committed my life to doing. And I love it. Love hearing stories, love sharing stories. And find me, let's chat. Love to hear your story.

Adrienne MacIain 42:27

Absolutely. Thank you so much.

Transcribed by Rebecca MacIain

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