SEP Episode 36: How To Create Human Connection In Story And Strategy

Hello and welcome to The Story Engine Podcast. My name is Kyle Gray, and today on the show we have Celinne Da Costa. Celinne has a gift for true human connection and storytelling and has a lot of great stories about her passion for finding magic in people. She has a real knack for discovering the best qualities in people and weave them into powerful stories that ignite passion and energy for the work they do and inspires really powerful marketing strategies.

 

Podcast

 

Key Takeaways

[2:00] Celine’s social experiment that changed her career path forever

[6:05] Creating your brand story

[8:15] How to develop your brand framework

[12:00] The three steps to gaining clarity into your strongest brand story

[19:00] How to apply your vision and core values to your business strategy

[26:03] How to differentiate your business for growth and success

 

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Celinne Da Costa

Celinne Da Costa Blog

LinkedIn

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

Celinne’s Books

Brené Brown

 

Transcript

Kyle Gray:

And today, she’s gonna share her process so you can create that same magic in your business. Over to Celinne Da Costa.

Kyle Gray:

So Celinne Da Costa, thank you so much for joining us.

Celinne Da Costa:

Thank you so much for having me.

Kyle Gray:

So I wanna open up this conversation and get to know you a little bit by asking you to tell me a story about a defining moment in your life that really led you to become who you are and do what you’re doing today.

Celinne Da Costa:

Nice. Love that one. Okay, well I have plenty, but I will pick one which is essentially the story of me leaving corporate and actually traveling around the world by sleeping in the homes of strangers. So, does that sound good?

Kyle Gray:

Perfect.

Celinne Da Costa:

Is that exciting enough? So rewinding to three and a half years ago, I was in corporate America working a strategist job in an advertising agency and to long story short is, I was spending like 60 hours a week basically doing work that I didn’t like at all, that I didn’t feel connected with at all. And I think what hurt me the most is the fact that I didn’t have any time to actually spend with people. I’ve always been a very social person, but I found myself scheduling time with my friends, like weeks in advance.

Celinne Da Costa:

I found myself thoughtlessly answering texts. Basically treating human communication as a secondary thought, second priority onto my robot self. I had a series of events happened in the fall of September 2015 that basically I snapped. And I decided that I could not any longer live one more day of a life that felt like a placeholder life. Completely meaningless.

Celinne Da Costa:

And so I decided to go on this, to design a social experiment. I’ve always been quite nerdy with these things and I decided to travel around the world for a year, to circumnavigate the world. So from New York all the way back to New York by couch surfing. Never using the website, and the challenge was I had to couch surf by using the human connection. So what does that mean? That anywhere I wanted to go in the world, I had to find somebody who’d be willing to host me, who was a friend, or a friend of a friend. Somebody I had met on the road. Somebody who I had met on the way.

Celinne Da Costa:

And so I spent a year essentially traveling around the world, sleeping in the homes of strangers. I had over a hundred hosts, traveled to over 20 countries just collecting stories and listening to people’s lives and connecting with them, like truly looking them in the eyes and hearing them and listening to them and I documented my entire experience every day. I would tell a story, and that is what naturally led me into starting my business and my career now, which is brand storytelling and helping entrepreneurs take the magic of their story and pull it into their everyday lives and how they run their business. So that’s it. That’s the story.

Kyle Gray:

That’s very cool. And so, you must have met just so many kinds of people but they all had at least the generosity to host you and share some time and space with you. And I think you got to know and meet a lot of different people along the way. And before we were hopping on the call, you mentioned that kind of one of the things that you’re really good at. And I’m sure this serves you in your business really well, is kind of seeing the magic inside of people and really bringing that forward.

Kyle Gray:

And I was wondering if you could share a little bit about what you mean in that and what your process is with that, and maybe how other people can experience that themselves or discover that themselves.

Celinne Da Costa:

Absolutely. So one of the things from my travels around the world and meeting people and being hosted by people, like all kinds of people. We’re talking like villagers in Myanmar and monks in Nepal and healers in Bali and American executives and just every sort of person from every walk of the planet. And what I realized from meeting these people, everywhere and having these conversations with them is that every single person, no matter where you are in life, no matter what your culture is, no matter what your beliefs are, every single person has a story to tell that can influence somebody else.

Celinne Da Costa:

And I’ve witnessed that with my own eyes. I’ve seen it with my clients, I’ve seen it with myself and the matter, the work is finding that story. That’s where the “hard part” comes in. But once you connect that story, it basically just plays through everything that you do. So what do I mean by magic? I mean that your life experience is unique. It’s unique to you. Nobody has lived the life that you have lived, and even though we, as human beings essentially want the same thing, which is to feel loved, to feel free, to feel cared for. We are very similar creatures, but at the end of the day, only you have had the life experience that you have had.

Celinne Da Costa:

So when you’re building your business and this is something especially with coaches, entrepreneurs, service providers, is that there is a reason why you’re doing this and you’re not doing something else. Like right now, I could be in an office in New York City as a strategy director or something like that and you could be doing, there are a hundred different paths that could have been carved out but you have chosen to do this.

Celinne Da Costa:

And not only that, business owners, it’s hard. This is hard stuff. You’re literally carving out your own path and providing people with service and you’re figuring out all of this stuff on your own when you could be just comfortably sitting somewhere getting your bi-weekly paycheck. But instead, you’re doing this.

Celinne Da Costa:

So there is an underlying reason why you are doing what you’re doing right now and that is what I have strived to find and help other people find, and that is also where what I call magic is. Is essentially what is the primary motivator that is actually driving you to show up every day and do your best? And that motivator is directly correlated with the life that you have lived.

Celinne Da Costa:

So, knowing what your story is, like what your story for your brand is and how you fit into this is going to be extremely important so that every time you are creating content, every time that you’re creating an offer or you’re speaking on stage, you’re essentially able to activate that magic and that feeling that is exclusive to you.

Celinne Da Costa:

So, what do I mean by that? And that is why I’ve created the brand story framework that I have, is because all of this, in theory, sounds very vague, but it is actually something that you can sit down and create. So with your brand framework is, think of it as like a triangle. So at the top, you have your vision. So one of the things that happens with business owners and as they’re creating content and you’re using storytelling, rolling storytelling into their website, their content, if they’re speaking, whatever, is that they just pick these abstract stories and they tell different things all the time and none of it actually gels.

Celinne Da Costa:

It just feels like it’s just scattered. Like one of the things I hear a lot of my clients say is, “Oh my god, I have so many stories. Where do I begin?” But the thing is, there is one master story and that is what you need to identify, so step one is what is your vision? And what I mean by vision is, what are you doing? Who are you doing it for? And what is the transformation? That needs to be really, really clear and when it comes to your vision to understand why that is your vision.

Celinne Da Costa:

So what is driving you to essentially get there? And step two is your core values. So we all have values that basically drive our actions, whether they’re subconscious or conscious, we all have a set of values that are essentially telling us to do this and not that. So what do I mean by values? For example, as a business, my values are the human connection, they are self-discovery and they are life design. And what I mean by that is everything that I do, is driven by how I want to build a business that really connects people. I want to build a business that involves inner work and self-discovery and actually looking inside, within. And life design, a business that you can actually, involves agency and your ability to actually direct this stuff through your life.

Celinne Da Costa:

So if you actually look at every single piece of content that I’ve ever written, if you look at my packages, if you look at any podcasts I’ve done, any speeches I’ve done, they all can be bucketed into one of these values and what that does, it creates coherence. Because step three is to actually prove your values and that is where the storytelling comes in.

Celinne Da Costa:

Every single story that you tell needs to essentially represent one of your values and your values need to represent your vision. So look at it as a permit, essentially everything you ever create as a business needs to coherently lead the consumer, your audience back to one idea, one vision, which is what is it that you’re trying to create and why. Does that make sense? I can use more specific examples, but I wanted to kind of explain the framework first.

Kyle Gray:

It makes a lot of sense. It’s exciting, it does give you a lot of clarity and simplicity, and I can see how once you have these values established, those guiding principles, how it can influence many different areas of your marketing and make things a lot more simple.

Kyle Gray:

And what I’d like to ask you now, I think about a lot of the people I’ve worked with or people who have reached out who have listened to this show, a lot of times they’re very intelligent people and they have a lot of stories or a lot of values or a lot of really good things to teach, and they’re not quite sure what really is the one that makes them stand out. Or, yeah, What values are really the things that are exciting for them.

Kyle Gray:

And so, I’m sure that you’ve experienced this with the people that you work with as well. And I’m wondering if there is a way to help us find the clarity and really know, this is the golden stuff and this is good stuff, but here’s where I’m really at my best.

Celinne Da Costa:

Okay. So when it comes to your brand story and one of the things that are really fascinating to me at least, is that it’s always evolving as we are. So when it comes to your brand story and basically finding that one golden thing, you’ve got to pay attention to a few things.

Celinne Da Costa:

The first thing is the cultural context, okay? And what do I mean by that? For example, three years ago, three and a half years ago, it was really relevant and really cool that I had just quit my job and left everything behind to travel the world. It was something that was more sticky and interesting. But now, three and a half years later, it’s almost becoming normal, right? So culturally, many, many, many, many more people are doing that so it’s not something I can lean on as heavily as I used to. So now I’m leaning on the whole fact that I spent a year sleeping in the homes of strangers, because not a lot of people have that story as much or like that angle, and then in a few years, as I’m building more in my business, I will probably have a different, basically hero story to focus on.

Celinne Da Costa:

So one of the things that I wanna highlight first and foremost, is that the brand story that you pick today, and the direction that you choose today, shouldn’t hopefully be the same thing that you’re doing in five years because between now and five years, you will have accomplished a lot more and you’ll have different angles to focus on.

Celinne Da Costa:

So number one is that it’s very culturally relevant. Number two, it needs to be something that generally, when you talk about it, you’re just so fricking excited that you just start talking faster, and like your eyes light up. It’s so important because we have stories that we can tell and I’m sure you relate. You’re like, “Oh my god, I feel like I’m boring myself with this story even though it’s true, it’s just not something that I’m excited to talk about.”

Celinne Da Costa:

And what you’re excited to talk about is gonna be really related to what it is that you do. So for example, for me with my brand story work and then the storytelling work that I help people do, it’s only natural that my brand story is all around how I spent a year traveling around the world and still do, and all I do with my time, with my free time is meet interesting strangers all over the place and listen to their story because that also contributes to the work that I do and validates the work that I do.

Celinne Da Costa:

Of course, I teach people to tell stories, only natural that I’m listening to people tell stories all day and every day. So instead of me telling you to be picking a different angle of myself that doesn’t really relate to what I do. The third piece is finding actually, what I mean by finding that magic is that there are some people who come to me, and again, as you said, brilliant, intelligent people. And either they have all these stories, or they are amazing and they’re like, “Oh yeah. You see it, I have this whole list of accomplishments that I don’t actually know what makes me interesting. I have nothing that makes me interesting.”

Celinne Da Costa:

And you know, this basically reminds me of a colleague that I had that I was having this discussion and she was like, “Oh, I don’t really have an interesting story. I’m just kind of home. I have two kids and I go to work, I pick them up. I run a business, I help entrepreneurs build their own businesses.” And then I was like, “Okay. Is there anything else? Is there anything else?” She’s like, “No. That’s just what it is,” like, that’s what my life is. Like I’m happy, I’m content. And I put there, I know there is a story.

Celinne Da Costa:

And basically, it came out literally in conversation, because I have sneaky ways to get people to reveal their stories to me, and later on that day, it came out that she used to fly planes. She has a pilot’s license and she used to fly planes and I was like, “What? Are you kidding me?” And she was like, “Yeah. But I don’t do it anymore, it’s been years, I just don’t do it.” And I’m just like, “Dude. That is just so fascinating.” And I started to ask her questions. More questions and more questions about her flying planes, and it comes out that a lot of her programs, a lot of the work she does is actually inspired by what she has learned as a pilot.

Celinne Da Costa:

And I can’t even begin with all of the connections and metaphors about flying high, about getting out of your comfort zone. There are so many ways that we could run with this. And so what I am trying to say is, okay, maybe some people have a story where it’s like, “I created my life when I was 12 and I became an entrepreneur and then I decided to travel every country in the world, then I did really, really epic things and jumped out of planes.” Some people have that story and their challenge is to basically take all the really, really cool things that they did, like the 10,000 cool things that they did and boil it down to one thing that they need to focus on that is relevant to culture and that is relevant to their business and that is relevant to the clients they’re trying to target.

Celinne Da Costa:

Because if you’re sitting all day talking about how you like to jump out of planes, and your client is a stay at home mom, your ideal client’s a stay at home mom who drives her kids to soccer every day, there’s gonna be a huge disconnect between your story and your audience. So pay attention to culture, pay attention to your audience and pay attention to your business and what actually makes you excited to show up every day.

Celinne Da Costa:

And then there are the people who have built a really profitable business, actually generally helping a lot of people around the world, and their day looks like they have their kids and they pick up their kids and then, they have a routine, you know? That is basically to them, may seem “boring” but even in that routine, there is magic. Even in the ways when you go grab your coffee at Starbucks every day, perhaps your bartender may have said something to you that reminded you of something of how you ran your business. Or maybe you’re driving to school and your kids, maybe you have kids who are always saying ridiculous things that are constantly inspiring your business.

Celinne Da Costa:

So, you need to figure out basically your reality and in that reality, what is the one thing that is sparking magic every day? And then you take that and then, that’s when you apply a logical container to it, which is like I said. Like the culture, your audience and your business and be like, “How is this funny story about my kid or about something about how I lead my life, how is this actually applicable to an offer I’m creating or to a piece of content that I’m doing, or a speech that I’m giving later on this week.”

Celinne Da Costa:

So does that make sense? Is that clear?

Kyle Gray:

Yeah, it is really clear. And what I really liked, and you just started to touch on it, is finding ways to apply those things. Especially if that, not only helps us determine not like, how to create good content, it could inform a talk we’re giving or content we’re creating on social media. But perhaps, it could even inform a strategy like, “Oh, well I like human connections so maybe I should do a podcast.” Or, “I really enjoy creativity in a certain way so I should do video editing.” Does it help inform people in that way along with, “Here’s how I’m gonna set up my presentation with this story.”

Celinne Da Costa:

Yes. So what I was talking about before, about the vision, the core values and then the proof. So, with the vision, you basically, it’s like the net hi, what is the one thing that is just leading me on. What is basically the light? The torch, like the light at the end of the tunnel, basically. So for me, for example, my vision is to empower visionary entrepreneurs to master of the art of storytelling so that they can go ahead and up level the brand so that they can create content themselves, connect with their audience so that they can essentially add heart and soul and impact in their business.

Celinne Da Costa:

So that is essentially my light at the end of the tunnel, and so when we’re looking at core values and how they actually apply to the content that you’re creating. So, for example, say that your core values are courage, integrity, and agency. Those are the things that are the most, most important to you, both as a human being as well as in your business. So, that becomes the filter through which you sort through your stories.

Celinne Da Costa:

So if you have, let’s say, especially if you’re sitting here and being like, “I have so many strategies, where I begin?” Right? So you have a thousand stories in front of you that you could be telling right now because again, you’ve had a rich life experience and you have many, many things to talk about and you’re just like, “I don’t even know how to talk about this in a way that feels strategic and smart,” so then, all of a sudden, and I’ll use myself as an example.

Celinne Da Costa:

Like, all of a sudden, I realized that the important things to me, my values, are the human connection, it’s really that connection component. It’s self-discovery which is really this personal fulfillment, this desire to look within. And then life design, which is this agency. Agency, it’s like the ability to actually create your life as you want it.

Celinne Da Costa:

So, all of a sudden, I have all my 1000 life stories that I could tell. And all of a sudden, I apply these filters, which is like human connection. The three filters I mentioned. And all of a sudden, I only have really 300 stories to tell that are relevant. And then you apply the culture filter and who’s my consumer? And what is my business? And all of a sudden I actually end up with 200 stories or 100 stories that I could tell at this moment, so basically what happens is, you start to niche cut down and this is where strategy starts to come in, right?

Celinne Da Costa:

So it’s like for example, last month, I was launching a course. So it was January, I was launching a course. And for me, this course was all about brand story, it was all about taking control of your business, take charge of how you tell stories in your business, so clearly, what is most relevant for me to be telling stories around is the life design value, is the one that I should be focusing on.

Celinne Da Costa:

So all of a sudden, my stories, the nature that my stories take is basically what I’m creating content on. Either on Instagram, on Facebook and I did a talk. I did a few podcasts, it was all about how you’re able to essentially, you are capable of creating the sort of business that you want that meets your life needs, that basically matches the sort of like that you want to create. It’s all about how a brand story can actually help you strategically change your business.

Celinne Da Costa:

So it was very much around that. So I basically, by applying the filters of like, “Okay, here’s my course. Here is what’s going on in my business right now. Here is how that is aligning with the values,” so that I’m not just randomly going off on a tangent, that people are like “What the heck is she talking about?” But it’s still consistent and gels with my vision. So then, then it’s that.

Celinne Da Costa:

So, and then in February, right now, it’s all about I’m restructuring my private client workflow. I’m raising my rates, I’m really focusing on my private clients this month, that is my focus. And so what I’m talking about is the connection. What I’m talking about is how important it is. All my stories of meeting people around the world and meeting other business people and the ways that we connect and the ways that I work their magic. The content takes on a different nature, as do the interviews that I do or any sort of event or anything that I am doing.

Celinne Da Costa:

So essentially, for business owners who are looking to strategically apply storytelling, it’s once you do the exercise, the hardest part here, the hardest of the hardest part that once you do the inner work is literally gonna make the rest of it so incredibly effortless and easy is understanding your why. Identifying your why and understanding, getting crystal clear on your vision.

Celinne Da Costa:

Once you get crystal clear on your vision, it’s all about asking yourself what are my values as a business? And actually how you’re acting on them. Because I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Brené Brown, she did a lot of vulnerability research, and she did a really interesting study where she found that only 10% of companies are actually making their values practical and teachable.

Celinne Da Costa:

They just talk about, “Oh, integrity’s important to me. Integrity’s important to me. A connection is important to me,” but they don’t actually apply it in a way that’s actionable and teachable in their business. And what does that mean? It’s like when you’re looking at your offers. Are your values reflected in your offers? Like for example, if I were to create an offer that was just like, that you accessed me at all, you had zero access to me, it was completely 100% automated, and it was basically like, “Click this,” and then never bother me again, that would totally go against my connection value because that’s not how I run my business. But maybe whose value is efficiency, that is the perfect strategy for them.

Celinne Da Costa:

So your values do shape the way that you run your business and then create that filter for it’s like, what is the relevant story that you need to be telling in your business right now and how does that reflect in what you’re pushing out in that month, in that quarter that basically feels back to your monthly goals, your three month goal, your six month goals, but is also consistent with your heart and soul.

[bctt tweet=”Your values should shape the way that you run your business. -Celline Da Costa” username=”kylethegray”]

Celinne Da Costa:

So there is a way to bridge the gap between your heart, like literally what does your heart want? What is the thing that you’re trying to create in this world? What matters to you? What’s your story? And how do I run an efficient, profitable business that actually makes me happy?

Kyle Gray:

That’s amazing. That’s, I mean, something I think anybody listening would really want is, yeah. Not only having a profitable business but enjoying every moment of it. And a very good example, thank you for sharing a peek into your own world and your own strategy and how you’re using the same things you are teaching to succeed and grow in your own right.

Kyle Gray:

So, thank you so much for sharing all of these actionable insights and great ways to kind of take our stories and turn them into powerful energy for our business.

Celinne Da Costa:

Absolutely.

Kyle Gray:

Is there anything that you would like to close us on? Maybe a closing thought? And then let us know where we can learn a little bit more about you and hear from you again, or connect with you.

Celinne Da Costa:

Absolutely. So a closing thought is that as business owners, so you guys can probably relate to this. But we have been told, many people have been told for a really long time that there was just one way to do things, right? And I think that one of the things that have happened in business and career culture, especially for your listeners who are in the US or one of the Western countries is that we’ve been pushed to believe that for you to run a, it’s like profit first, which is important.

Celinne Da Costa:

But it’s like, profit first and you’ve gotta be efficient. You’ve gotta automate everything. You’ve gotta make everything absolutely running like a well-oiled machine and screw everything else, that is what you need. And so, that is something that I personally have been brainwashed with and although profit is important, automation is important, efficiency is important but what will never end, and what will differentiate us as our world becomes more fast-paced, more automated, is humanity.

Celinne Da Costa:

It’s actually that human touch, humanity is the new premium. And so, as you’re creating your story and you’re continuing to build your business, don’t forget to take a step back from your crazy busy schedule, from all the ways, all the projects that you’re running and the team that you’re running and all the ways that you’re tweaking your market strategy and Facebook Ads and all the things that you’re doing. Take a step back from all of that and consistently ask yourself, “Is this what I truly want? Does this set my soul on fire? Is this actually where my heart is at?”

Celinne Da Costa:

Because there’s a huge difference between running an efficient, profitable business just for the sake of creating more profit, for the sake of just creating an empire. Whatever the reason is, and running the same business but putting your heart into it, your story into it and that people can feel that. There is a massive shift when there is a soul in a business because it feels human. And at the end of the day, people are going to pick the company that has values, that has morals, that has integrity and that they feel has a soul behind it.

Celinne Da Costa:

And the only person that can give it that magic is you. So, just something to always remember is to take a step back and just always ask yourself, “Why am I doing this? Is this right for me? Do I love this?” And if the answer is no, how can I shift, makeshifts, like courageous shifts in my business and the way that I work so I can better align it with my soul. And like what it is that I truly want. And both efficiency, profitability, that world and the heart and soul world, which is more “fluffy,” both of those are not mutually exclusive. They can exist in the same incredible, magnificent, inspiring business.

Celinne Da Costa:

So that is the final thought that I had. And in terms of where you guys can find me. So, if you like stories and if you’d like to learn more about essentially how it is that I do what do, I would recommend that you follow me on social media where I publish a story almost every day, as well as my email newsletter. So, it’s at, all social media, you can basically Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. You can find me at @CelinneDaCosta which is spelled C-E-L-I-N-N-E, D-A-C-O-S-T-A. You can also find me on my website which is the same, www.CelinneDacosta.com. If you’d like to sign up for my newsletter, I’ll be sending you guys stories and basically, everything that we talked about today, I’m constantly sending actionable tips and thoughts on how you can improve and put story into your business, and yeah.

Celinne Da Costa:

So we have my website, my newsletter and social media. I think those are all the ways you can connect with me. And please feel free to send me a note. I like to answer people. I like to connect with incredible, amazing humans so don’t be shy.

Kyle Gray:

Beautiful. Celinne, as you were just speaking that last bit, I was just kind of overwhelmed with gratitude. Gratitude for you joining us, gratitude for this podcast that I get the opportunity to interview brilliant people like you and be educated and inspired often by all of these chats. And for everybody listening, so thank you so much for joining me on the show today. Thank you for sharing all of these wonderful insights and hopefully, we will be talking again soon.

Celinne Da Costa:

Of course, we will. Absolutely, it’s been my pleasure. Your podcast is amazing and you’re amazing, so I’m happy to be here.

Kyle Gray:

Thanks for listening to The Story Engine Podcast. Be sure to check out the show notes and resources mentioned in this episode and every episode at TheStoryEngine.co. If you want to tell better stories and grow your business with content marketing and copywriting, be sure to download the content strategy template at ContentStrategyTemplate.com. This template is an essential part of any business who wants to boost their traffic, leads, and sales with content marketing. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next time.

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