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Workshops

Available in various formats (standalone, series, virtual, or in-person), and customized for your specific goals. Please refer to the listing of topics and FAQ below.

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Topics

Storytelling is a timeless art, but it can feel daunting when it comes to sharing your own. For starters, you may not be sure which story to tell or how to tell it. If you are a leader, you may worry about how to come across in a genuine and compelling way, while working through vulnerability. No matter what your circumstances are, there is a more authentic way to cultivate confidence in the storytelling process. This workshop uses the evidence-based method called guided autobiography and is led by a certified instructor, Gayathri Shukla, who published the bestselling anthology Landed using this method, and has supported thousands of others in both telling their story and learning to receive stories with empathy and compassion.

Note: This is a 60-90 minute entry-level workshop. For those who are looking to develop storytelling products (such as such as an outline of their story for a speech, publication, etc.), this session can be extended to half-day.

Successful teams understand that in today’s increasingly diverse workplaces, a culture of trust is necessary to attract and retain top talent. Learning how to authentically communicate and listen to perspectives other than our own, is a critical skill. Yet, empathy is still an underrated skill. When it comes to sensitive topics of identity, like race or gender, many further fear what they say could compromise mutual respect. However, there is a way to deepen trust across diversity, and it’s through the timeless medium of stories. If you’re interested in an evidence-based learning process that goes beyond theoretical concepts, and helps you implement inclusive mindsets and behaviors, this is for you.

Note: This is an entry-level session and can be combined into a series with other workshops like Self-Empathy or Trauma-Informed Storytelling.

Times of high-stress can lead to emotional and mental burnout. It can feel elusive to stay true to our convictions while still driving results and maintaining important relationships. This workshop provides a safe space to take an intentional pause, and reflect on your experiences using a method of storytelling called guided autobiography, which encompasses self-reflection, deep listening, and sharing supportive feedback. This is a unique way of acknowledging one own’s strengths, while also being invited into the lives of others to find shared commonalities. Included as part of this workshop are thoughtfully-crafted practice scenarios, conversation prompts, and guided facilitation by Gayathri Shukla, a certified instructor in this method. Please note, prior writing experience is not necessary, and you may share only what you are comfortable within the group discussion. Come as you are to experience connection and community.

Our communities today are becoming increasingly diverse, globally connected, and socially conscious. The need to be seen, heard and valued is universal – and it requires you to learn how to create lasting, trusting relationships with your teams, becoming more self-aware of your strengths as well as triggers and biases. This workshop will help put you put into practices competencies to lead across borders, cultures, and styles of thinking and communication. It includes scenarios and lived experience storytelling to build your skills in effectively understanding and engaging with diverse viewpoints.

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing work environment, it is more important than ever to create a workplace culture where employees feel comfortable taking risks, sharing their ideas, and being vulnerable. This is where psychological safety comes in. In this workshop, we will explore the role of storytelling in cultivating psychological safety, and provide practical strategies for how to use storytelling to create a more inclusive and supportive work environment through hands-on practice scenarios. We will also explore barriers and fears such as oversharing in a trauma-informed context.

This workshop covers the basics of diversity concepts, such as identity, intersectionality, bias, and privilege. It sets the foundation for using storytelling to build empathy, while surfacing and interrupting bias.  This workshop is recommended as a starting point for anyone looking to ground or refresh their understanding in concepts. It includes a workbook for guided reflection activities, and can be taken in combination with the Art of Inclusive Leadership workshop and/or Allyship for Anti-Racism.

Cultural humility goes beyond building awareness of different cultures. It is an active process that is cultivated through practices like self-reflection, deep listening, and continuous learning. This workshop will put these skills into action, drawing upon lived experience examples to foster a more inclusive environment. Alternatively, the session can also be suited as a celebration of cultural diversity in your team using engaging storytelling, while building understanding and appreciation of differences.

This workshop is dedicated to creating a supportive and courageous environment where participants can engage deeply with the principles of anti-racism. Beginning with an exploration of the fundamentals of anti-racism, attendees will be guided through reflective prompts that encourage them to examine their own lived experiences and understand the broader societal impacts of racial injustice. The session will provide practical strategies and guided discussions to cultivate allyship, empowering individuals to actively support anti-racism efforts in their personal and professional lives. 

Trauma-informed storytelling is a powerful approach that recognizes the complexities of sharing and receiving stories affected by trauma. This method ensures a safe, respectful, and empathetic environment, crucial for storytellers who navigate personal and often painful experiences. Whether you’re a leader seeking to connect more deeply with your team, or a member of a marginalized community aiming to share your journey without falling into the traps of tokenization, this workshop offers a path to more authentic and sensitive expression, while  developing an understanding of trauma-informed practices.

An essential component to effective mentoring relationships, whether formal or informal, is trust, and storytelling is a powerful tool to foster trust in diverse settings. Diversity comes in the form of differences of any kind – gender, age, cultural background, as well as our professional or personal lived experiences. These differences, when leveraged positively, can result in a transformational and reciprocal relationship between a mentor and mentee. When trust is lacking, however, it can lead to feelings of not being seen for who we are, misguided advice, and a missed opportunity to cultivate a trusting relationship. This workshop is for participants to learn the essentials of empathy as a key enabler for trust, and practice skills in a safe space through mentoring-related scenarios. Included as part of this workshop are storytelling prompts and guided facilitation.

Mental health and wellness is a priority being tackled by many workplaces, and storytelling is an entry point into having courageous conversations. This workshop is a space to practice self-care and hone your skills in creating the conditions for community. This can also be used for year-end conversations to reflect on team successes and learnings, and acknowledge the person or experience that had a transformative impact.

Many EDI initiatives face implementation challenges, including difficulties in measuring impact, burnout, and the inability to influence leaders or engage majority stakeholders. This 90-minute workshop offers I&D leaders actionable insights on using storytelling strategically to advance their goals, influence cultural change, and capture impacts with a nuanced, qualitative approach. Guided activities will include a deeper understanding of the role of empathy in creating psychological safety, practice applying storytelling techniques to workplace scenarios, and strategies for preventing burnout by cultivating appreciation through shared stories.

This workshop is for teams who have recently formed or are seeking to complement their strategic planning process through a strengths-based approach. Participants are guided to identify lived experiences where they witnessed their values in action and apply their learnings to explore current shared priorities while deepening trusting relationships.

Workshop FAQ

Yes. Check out our story-crafting course, Kindle Your Spark. This is suited for anyone who is in the midst of a transition and wants to take a reflective and imaginative approach to envision their next steps. For example, if you are just starting out in your career, you can use the program to define what success looks like to you, and anchor to an authentic vision to propel you forward in your career. If you are towards the end of your career, this course will allow you to articulate and pass along a legacy of meaningful stories and life lessons.

We also have a course on the Foundations of Empathy – this is for you if you are part of a team and want to explore how storytelling can bring your EDI goals to life, before you practice skills in a live workshop.

Additionally, we have journals you can download and work on your time!

You’ve likely not heard of it yet as Gayathri is the first instructor bringing this innovative method in Calgary! Originally pioneered at the Birren Center of Autobiographical Studies over 4 decades ago, it is recognized as an evidence-based approach that has benefitted thousands of participants. Several studies have shown the effectiveness of guided autobiography in boosting self-acceptance, and the ability to accept others despite individual differences. 

Here are a few participant quotes from one such study:

1. I am learning to trust.

2. I am learning not to judge others.

3. I am learning to have faith in myself.

4. I am learning to forgive myself.

5. I am learning to have better self-esteem.

6. I am learning to love myself.

7. I am learning to love others.

8. I am learning to let the small stuff go.

9. I am healing the past.

10. I am looking forward to the future.

And if you’re curious to learn more, here is another article conducted on how this method enhances well-being.

We work with organizations across various sectors, including academia, for-profit and non-profits. Our engagement usually begins with an assessment, and then dives into areas like leadership development, culture and strategy development to communications. We also offer training-only options such as these workshops, customized to your needs. We are happy to book a complimentary initial call to determine if we’re a good match to work together.

Workshops are standalone or a part of a series, offered virtually or in person for a range of audience sizes. Timing per workshop can range from 60 minutes to half-days. The series workshops can be scheduled over 1-3-days or spread out over several weeks per your convenience.

First and foremost, we provide a disclaimer that our work is not a substitute for professional medical or mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. While many participants have shared how storytelling is a healing and cathartic experience for them, it is important for you to know that some personal experiences could be upsetting to hear, even if someone hasn’t gone through the experience themselves. If you have any concerns about your mental health, it is best to check with your doctor prior to participating.

Secondly, during the workshop, you must know that sharing your story is voluntary; we do not believe in forced sharing. We will provide a multitude of prompts, and guide you through a process that will help you identify your readiness should you choose to share your story. Additionally, we will cover in detail the community guidelines we follow in all our workshops such as confidentiality, consent, and safety. 

After a workshop, we recommend that you set aside time for self-reflection and self-care. We are also happy to provide you with you a list of suggested self-care resources.

As an aside, unfortunately, we have seen practices that put marginalized communities on the spot to share stories of how they have been harmed, while others only listen and then walk away. We believe this carries the risk of tokenization and re-traumatization and carefully design all our workshops to mitigate this risk. 

Not at all! Just write as you would if you are conversing with your friend – in simple, everyday language. We incorporate writing in some of our activities for its proven benefits in evoking memories, mindfulness and creativity. We explain the process in detail in our workshops and provide you time to allow the ideas to flow. We are a supportive community – you are not judged for literary style, grammar, etc!

If you just wish to sit back and mostly listen, we recommend booking Gayathri for a keynote or panel.

If you are ready for active skills practice, book an interactive workshop. As far as sharing your specific story goes, again, our process never mandates anyone to disclose what they are not comfortable. While we may provide story prompts, it is up to you what you wish to share. For example, you may still participate by choosing to share your experience of the process instead of the actual story. 

It’s important to note we are not offering a “quick fix” / cookie-cutter type of learning. Our structured workshop methods involve introspection which can feel uncomfortable. However, as you start to ‘peel back the layers’, you can come to terms with and even feel empowered by the process. That’s what our clients consistently tell us – their biggest benefit is deepened relationships with their peers and alignment on shared values, leading to a renewed commitment to advancing EDIB.

Since our work is primarily with organizations, we are limited in capacity for 1-1 support. However, Gayathri does take on a few 1-1 clients per year, whether it is for supporting you with telling your own stories or writing for a publication (see examples of articles here).

Yes! We have designed and delivered storytelling workshops on a host of other topics not listed here. Contact us with a description of your needs and we will get back to you within 2 business days.

We are happy to provide you a quote after an initial meeting exploring your needs.

A workshop booking typically includes:

  • Review of your any documents / past training (if relevant)
  • Customizing scenarios and storytelling prompts to directly connect with current challenges
  • 1-1 Coaching support post-workshop (From past experience, we find that the workshop is most effective when followed up by the opportunity for personalized coaching for anyone who would like to unpack learnings, test assumptions, and brainstorm the “how” for their specific situation)
  • Up to 3 complimentary licenses to an asynchronous online resource, Foundation of Empathy & Storytelling, covering techniques in more depth, with role-play examples, FAQ and a resource guide.

Please contact us with a description of your needs and indicate if your organization is a non-profit or charity to be eligible for an additional discount.

We deeply value our clients’ time and our own. We don’t believe in cookie-cutters and invest significant time understanding your expectations and working collaboratively to deliver a tailored solution. Once this time has been invested, we cannot recover these costs and hence we’re unable to offer refunds. With that said, we’re open to mutual feedback throughout.

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