Tell Me a Story with Gabrielle Dolan · ShiftWorkPlace

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E54 Tell Me a Story with Gabrielle Dolan


Do work you love with people you love: An Australian expert in business storytelling shows us how to make business personal through effective storytelling.

Bio for Gabrielle Dolan

Gabrielle Dolan is considered a global expert in business storytelling and real communication. She is a highly sought-after international keynote speaker and best-selling author of seven books. Her latest, Magnetic Stories, debuted at number two in Australia Business Books.

Her client list is extensive including the likes of Visa, Amazon, EY, Uber, Accenture, Telstra, Australia Post and the Obama Foundation. Gabrielle is the founder of Jargon Free Fridays and was awarded Communicator of the Year for 2020 by the International Association of Business Communicators.

Gabrielle teaches people how to “communicate more effectively through storytelling”, bringing their workplace culture to life by sharing stories around their value and purpose, and becoming better business leaders.

Episode highlight

After several years in change and project management in a large Australian bank, Gabrielle Dolan learnt that stories got the message across more effectively. Listen in on how she has been training business leaders to tell their stories well for the last 17 years.



  • “As humans, we’re all storytellers. So, we all tell stories, but there are certainly some cultures that.. embrace storytelling a lot more.”
  • “Don’t keep doing the same things and expect a different result, but don’t give up, just try something different.”
  • “It’ll be okay in the end, and if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”
  • “A life lived in fear is a life half lived.”
  • “The biggest asset my practice has is me and I need to keep developing myself.”
  • “I think the greatest leadership and perhaps professional development I’ve done is having children because I think they often hold me up… to say, ‘The way I act is the way you act often’.”
  • “I think it’s something more Australians should be proud of and we should work more closely to understand that [indigenous] culture.”
  • “I think we need to educate ourselves and listen and work more closely with them [indigenous populations] and not have it just be a token and tick in the box approach.”
  • “Every time you share a personal story, you build trust and you strengthen a relationship.”
  • “We’re humans, we’re emotional people, we like to connect with people.”


Childhood Incidents

Gabrielle’s father was a storyteller, and she credits him for passing on this trait. As one of eight children, she “had to tell a good story to get anyone’s attention”. Her childhood friends remember her as the storyteller, finding a way to retell normal events in interesting ways.

Being the 6th child and much younger than her older sibling, she would get into fights with her siblings but learnt quickly that complaining wouldn’t get her too far with her parents. This taught her to rely on herself to find her way out and make things work.

Her parents encouraged her to never give up. At 18, when she found the job she interviewed for advertised in the paper, her mother told her to apply again. She wrote a stronger letter and got a second interview, and then the job.

Influential groups

Gabrielle is a 5th generation white Australian born in Melbourne. She grew up on a middle-class suburban street and could be found playing sports or biking with her siblings, cousins and friends. She also remembers going on caravan trips with her extended family and felt close to all of them.

Gabrielle went to a Catholic school where she had a religious studies class, and her parents set expectations for good and bad behaviour based on the Catholic view. At 17, she graduated high school “thinking that everyone was Catholic”.

Gabrielle believes that being a part of the corporate world has shaped who she is today. Many of her clients are her buddies today, or “cluddies”, as she calls them. She is also a part of Thought Leaders Australia, a group of solo entrepreneurs like her, who inspire, mentor and support her like a tribe.

Temperament and Personality Influences

Gabrielle is an extrovert and likes to be a part of groups. She also claims to be very laid back from growing up in a big family. She is also “pretty willing to give anything a go” because she doesn’t want fear to hold her back from living and looks at failures as stories she can share.

Her daughter called her out on her resistance to admit when she’s wrong. She also claims to love a challenge when a problem presents itself, which stops her from listening to someone else’s feelings. She works to be a better listener instead of offering actions as solutions.

Cultural Epiphanies

When Gabrielle travelled to the Northern Territory in Australia, she learned about the stories of the indigenous populations and was fascinated with how they have kept their culture alive for ages through storytelling.

Advice to an Employer

In her corporate days. Gabrielle needed to have a trusting manager to do her best. As an entrepreneur, she helps her employees and clients be their best through challenging each other. She also finds that she grows closer to them due to the personal nature of storytelling.

More Great Insights!

Gabrielle urges business leaders to consider incorporating storytelling in business to better connect with employees and customers and better communicate business strategy with authenticity. Visit her website to get started and to read her books!


Gabrielle Dolan grew up in a family of eight kids where she had to learn to tell a good story to be heard and developed team player skills early on. Her past experience in corporate banking culture contrasts with her current business of writing and teaching storytelling, yet she carries her characteristic warmth, humour, curiosity and sense of community with her into each new context.


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