Sandy McDonald Shares on How Changing Stories Can Shape the Future and Encourage Collaboration


Welcome back to the 10 women, 10 stories blog series! If you’ve read the other posts then you’ll know that in this series is all about highlighting the wonderful women in the ‘for purpose’ world. We wanted to see what would happen if we created an all-women lead Ethical Enterprise Conference for 2020! In that, we want to see what happens when women share their thoughts and ideas, come together to take action on things they believe in and support each other’s success.

In an ever changing world, we’ve realised that being a part of how the world is shaped is integral to ensuring that we thrive in it. We all have a hand in sculpting the clay, turning the wheel and enjoying the results – or not – so isn’t it of utmost important that we are active and aware participants in the process? Females make up almost 50% of the world population and play an incredible part of the formation of the world we live in, however our stories and views have, to say the least, not always been aired or acted on – but what if the way that we told stories and shared information could change the way the world is shaped? What if storytelling could inform and transform our communication and thus our world?

Sandy McDonald, founder of Sandy McDonald is one such storyteller, communications expert and coach reshaping the visible importance of storytelling and its effectiveness in being used as a communication tool that “educates, influences and inspires action”, and also one of the inspiring women on our committee who we’d like to introduce you to! So without further ado, it’s time for tea with Sandy Mcdonald.

Q. Define what you do in your own words:

I am a storytelling trainer and clarity communications coach.

Q. What inspired you to begin your own business?

When my husband and I ran our marketing communications company over three decades, we had to dig deep to understand what our clients were trying to communicate in their marketing collateral. Over those years, I came to understand that they needed complete ‘clarity’ and ‘curiosity’ to understand their purpose, people, product and positioning, or we could not help them. It became our job to facilitate this. After we sold our business, I reflected that clarity and curiosity were quintessential to coherent communications.

Then I started a charity called Knit-a-square in 2008 and ignited a worldwide community by telling purpose-driven contextualized stories about the orphaned and vulnerable children in Africa, who were frequently cold and needed blankets. I asked them to knit a square so the squares could be made into blankets to warm these children. 11 years later, over 2 million squares have been sent and more than 95 children wrapped in blankets.

When I unpacked how this had happened, I saw that I had complete clarity of the purpose for this community and had been intensely curious about what they wanted and how we could best serve them which meant my stories were contextualized, purpose-led and coherent.

All of this informed the basis of my storytelling and clarity communications training and coaching.

Q. How does the work you do contribute positively to society and the planet?

I believe anyone who is able to tell their stories from clarity of purpose and principles will fuel the human energy to do good in the world.

Q. What excites you most about the concept of ‘shaping the future’?

Purpose-led stories have the capacity to shift a narrative from negative energy to positive action. In today’s world we all need to take clear and defined actions driven by hope and the knowledge that what we are doing will make a difference. So I am invested in helping people tell their stories to achieve this.

Q. What advice do you commonly give to those you work with, be it young women, Mum’s, corporate employees, entrepreneurs, business owners, etc want to succeed in their industry?

To invest in the hard work of clarity and curiosity, so they can operate from a well defined and believed-in purpose supported by the principles that are the operating framework for why they do what they do for whom.

To get to this, they need to be curious—the willingness to seek the truth— about their people, what they need, and how best they can support that with the value they have to offer. It is from this place that they can tell their purpose-led, contextualized stories.

Otherwise, as creative people they will be attracted to the next new thing and swirl about in Multiple Possibility Disorder which is debilitating and the antithesis of good clear communication and storytelling. They have to be clear to go forward, and it is only when they are moving forward that the right opportunities appear.

Q. How do you achieve a healthy work-life balance?

Mixing work with writing, gardening and being with my family and grandchildren. So I don’t keep set working hours, but do what I must achieve the logical next steps or a deadline within the day, and the rest of the time I devote elsewhere, without feeling GUILTY!

Q. Who/what advice or mentor helped you get to where you are today?

I was fortunate to do a business course in 2012 called the Key Person of Influence. The founders Glen Carlson and Daniel Priestley taught me so much that I was able to overlay on my previous experience to turn into a new business. I am forever grateful for their business wisdom.

Q. What have you learned about leadership, entrepreneurship and mentoring others?

Mentoring over the last six years, I have learned that everyone’s needs are different, but the issues that business owners and entrepreneurs face are remarkable in their similarity.

Being deeply curious about the pain they are experiencing, but also the symptoms of that pain and having experienced many myself in business brings to the work I do empathy and a deep desire to help.

Q. What is your approach in leveling the playing field for people from diverse cultures and abilities?

Being curious and asking questions to evoke their stories. When we tell each other stories it activates neurochemicals in our brains that focuses attention and fosters empathy and a willingness to cooperate. This is a good place from which to level the playing field.

Q. What does the business need more of and why?

Good communicators. Good communication informs the quality of our relationships because it is based on being clear, being curious, listening, empathizing and sharing stories. When we have good relationships we can reach consensus, find our vision, define the right actions and collaborate.

Q. What mantra do you find yourself telling yourself most often and why?

When we tell contextualized stories (for the right purpose, to the right people, with a clear intention and that deliver our value to serve), they have the capacity to transform, enrich, and even save lives.

Q. Are you offering anything currently? (events/coaching/other services)

Changing Stories, a one-day storytelling training program to help people shift a narrative from negative energy to positive action and Inside A Powerful Presentation to help those who are presenting their expertise, shine from the stage to connect and engage their audience, boosting recall of their key messages.

Q. How can people work with you/ contact you? 0408 935 905

With so many expressions and proverbs about the power held in words surely learning how to communicate and tell stories that create ripples that echo out into the world is an art we’d do well to invest some time in to. If you’re interested to find out more about Sandy’s professional offerings, please visit her website. Sandy McDonald will be running the Changing Stories workshop on April 30th in collaboration with Moral Fairground. Visit for event details and tickets.

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