Doug Lipman, Storytelling Coach
I do many things (performing, writing, organizing, recording, teaching), but I think of coaching as my principal strength.
When people are interested in being coached, they often ask me questions like these:
1) What do you coach people on?
2) How do you coach people?
3) Who have you helped?
4) What is your expertise?
- Your origin
- Your publications
- Your other qualifications
Below are some answers.
For case studies of large-project coaching:
Want to know about the prices and logistics of coaching with me? Check out these pages:
1) What Do I coach people on?
Short answer: Whatever you would like help with!
Longer answer: I have helped people with all kinds of things, such as:
- Perfecting a particular story or stories, such as:
- I have a story that I need to perform soon, and it must show me at my best.
- How can I shape my personal or family memories into effective stories?
- There’s a story that’s been nagging at me to tell it, but I don’t know how (or don’t know if anyone will want to hear it)
- Preparing for a particular presentation or performance
- A TEDx talk or other speech
- An audition or job interview
- A festival appearance
- Whenever you must do your best work.
- Overcoming bad habits or persistent problems
- In performing
- In developing stories
- In telling stories that I’ve told many times
- (and more)
- Solving a general problem with storytelling, such as:
- When I tell certain types of stories, my listeners aren’t with me. Why is that?
- Once I get an audience with me, I do great. But I struggle at the beginning of a program.
- How can I manage participation with young children?
- I often put off working on my stories until the last minute. How can I stop this?
- How do I manage my emotions while I tell?
- How do I know when I’ve practiced a story enough?
- (and many more)
- How do use stories to spread the word about my non-storytelling work?
- How do I spread the word about my storytelling?
- My work is technical and complicated. Can storytelling help people understand what I do? How?
- I already use marketing stories. Are there additional kinds of marketing stories I should develop?
- Who are my (ideal) customers?
- How do I build an email list?
- How do I build relationships with potential customers?
- How much should I charge?
- (and many more)
- Beginning, advancing and finishing a large project
- A full storytelling program
- A series of stories (e.g., family history, or tales of women workers in early industrial Massachusetts, etc.)
- A storytelling recording or series of recordings.
- A book (In Doug's office is a shelf of books that he has helped people create or perfect)
- (and many more)
2) How DO I coach people?
Short answer: I help each person in a unique way, based on the person's goals, strengths, struggles, and style
Longer answer: My goal is to help you achieve your goals!
That can mean helping you:
- Discover, refine, or articulate what you actually want to achieve
- Discover what strengths you already have relative to your goals
- Overcome any obstacles you face on your path
I try to discover and help you with the big picture, as appropriate to your goals:
- Become more aware of your unique set of needs to unleash your creativity
- Help you more fully discover and understand your own creative process
- Notice how you think, so that I can help you in your “native language”
Typically, a session may begin like this:
- I ask you what you want my help with
- I listen intently, asking questions along the way to help clarify
- I offer you appreciations of what I’ve heard.
At that point, each session takes its own shape. Commonly, some or all of these things might happen:
- I offer extended appreciations, perhaps in the form of stories of how important your strengths are or how difficult your particular strengths might be to notice "from the inside.”
- With your permission, I offer suggestions for helping you achieve your goals
- I respond to your responses to what has happened up until now!
- I suggest a next step for you to take or a “homework assignment”
- I ask you what else you might need from me at this point
- If appropriate, we schedule a next session
3) Who Have I Helped?
I have coached hundreds of people since the 1970s, around the world and in many walks of life.
I have done hundreds of workshops in the U.S and Canada, as well as in Europe, Asia, and Oceana (New Zealand and Singapore)
In addition, I have coached many people on their own recording projects, such as:
- Jay O’Callahan: Numerous recordings over decades. Most recently: Falling for Emily Dickinson. http://ocallahan.com/falling-for-emily-dickinson
- Jim Gregory: The Hanging of Tom Brown (powerful story of the Civil Rights Movement in the US - and its aftermath) http:HangingTomBrown.com
- Derek Burrows (Bahamian storyteller, master musician, and filmmaker who has appeared at the White House): Afro-Caribbean Animal Folktales and Folktales of African Animals.
- Jane Cunningham: Miss Jane — Stories of a Southern Upbringing (Storytelling World Award) and Little Girls, Mind Your Mamas! More Stories of a Southern Upbringing with Miss Jane
I have coached several people on their book projects, often over a period of years, including:
- Marion Besmehn (Welsh-American storyteller), Molly and Me (mollyandme.org). Family and personal stories.
- Mary Roberts The Mystical Pizza (using Feng Shui to create a successful space); now at SuccessfulSpaces.com Non-fiction.
- Jen Munro, Aunty Lily: and other delightfully perverse stories. Parkhurst Brothers. (I helped with revisions after the manuscript was prepared.) Family and personal stories.
- Sharon Livingston, Get Lost, Girl Friend http://getlostgirlfriend.com/ (Be sure to read the rave review by Jack Canfield, of Chicken Soup for the Soul.) A novel.
Others have created their books using techniques they learned from me, such as:
- Lorraine Hartin-Gelardi, Wisdom in the Telling: Finding Inspiration and Grace in Traditional Folktales and Myths Retold WisdomInTheTelling.com Folk-tale collection.
- Steffani Raff, The Ravenous Gown: And 14 More Tales about Real Beauty. http://ravenousgown.com Collection of “folktales” of strong women whose beauty more than skin deep: some tales are highly adapted from folk sources; most are original.
I also coached Dr Sharon Livingston on her popular TEDx talk (which has over 396,000 views—and the number climbs every day):
- "8 Signs of a Toxic Friendship" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-94Ql0UphdA Psychology.
4) What is my expertise?
Short answer: I am the world’s most experienced storytelling coach, having begun this work in the 1970s.
A. My origin
I am the offspring of a “mixed marriage”: a Jewish father and a Protestant mother. So I learned very early to translate from one “symbol system” to another. Ever since, I have loved discovering the different ways that people think and express themselves.
My father told stories to teach, to resolve conflict, and to create connection. As a result, I love helping people connect with others—however dissimilar in background—through storytelling.
B. My publications
I literally wrote the book on storytelling coaching:
I have had three other books published, most notably:
Three of my books have received one or more awards. I have also contributed chapters to many books on storytelling and related topics.
I have pioneered the use of recordings and online courses to teach storytelling, interviewing, and marketing, such as:
- The Storytelling Workshop in a Box (37 audio recordings, each with exercises and accompanying resources)
- The Beginning Storytelling Toolkit (8 audio recordings)
- The Image Riding Toolkit (22 audio recordings about how to liberate your internal “image maker” - the part of your mind that allowed you as a child to create endless images and stories)
- How to Grow a Story: the Three Essential Processes (an online video-based course on the natural processes that allow us to grow stories efficiently and effectively)
I have also recorded nearly 20 CDs and mp3’s of storytelling and songs, such as:
- Tell It With Me (Participation stories and songs for young children—received the Parents Choice Award)
- The Soul of Hope (a 2-CD Jewish mystical epic)
- Folktales of Strong Women
- Milk From the Bull’s Horn: Tales of Nurturing Men
C. My other qualifications
I have been a leader in the storytelling revival in the United States since the late 1970s. I have helped start:
- The Storytellers in Concert Series (pioneering adult storytelling series; ran for over 12 years; founded with Jay O’Callahan, Judith Black, and others)
- The Sharing the Fire Conference (with Lee Ellen Marvin and others). Since 1982.
- Northeast Storytelling (formerly LANES). Since the early 1990s (If I remember the year correctly)
- NSN (The National Storytelling Network). I was on the founding board of directors. I had been on the board of the National Storytelling Association (formerly NAPPS) when it split into the International Storytelling Center and NSN; I served on the board of NSN for its first several years.
As a performing storyteller:
- I have twice been a featured storyteller at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN.
- I have performed at Pete Seeger’s Hudson River Revival.
- Besides performing at many festivals in the U.S. and Canada, I have performed as far away as New Zealand, Singapore, Austria and Belgium.
Last, but not least:
- In July, 2017, I traveled to Kansas City to receive the highest honor in the U.S. storytelling community, the Lifetime Achievement Award, for “sustained and exemplary contributions to storytelling in North America.”