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meet michelle newell

story and brand activator

Michelle is a professional chameleon who has reinvented herself professionally for over two decades. Originally training and working as a high school English and History teacher, she has since been a recruitment consultant, e-Learning designer, education futurist, urban design brief writer, community engagement manager, and festival curator.

As a former marketing and communications manager she landed multiple rebranding gigs, where she developed an appetite for change and a love of helping businesses redesign their purpose, rewrite their story and realign their goals.

Michelle has presented keynote speeches to large public audiences, moderated guest panels at conferences, hosted philosophy salons in dive bars, run story activations at events and hosted workshops in the UK, Qatar and Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Education, Post Graduate Certificate in Arts Management, and Post Graduate Certificate in Museums and Cultural Heritage.

Through The Storytelling Business, Michelle combines her expertise in teaching, design, rebranding, and storytelling to inspire professionals to step up and lead for a better future – whatever their job title. She runs storytelling workshops, designs brand identities for emerging thought leaders, and writes futures scenarios to help businesses and organisations navigate their strategic planning.

Michelle is on a mission to encourage more of us to be our full selves at work. She’s interested in the future of death and dying, rewilding, and the evolution of identity in an age of AI.

Connect with Michelle on LinkedIn.

once upon a time...

A story framework in action

The Setup

I wrote books as a kid and dreamed of being a writer ‘when I grew up’. I helped my Dad in his work as a youth leader and was full of ideas for changing the world.

I found myself a small fish in a big pond when I moved to the city for a journalism degree. It was the first knock to my confidence. When a sociology subject opened my eyes to how the media used language to disempower, divide and dispossess, I knew I couldn’t stay on this path.

I switched to a teaching degree (after failing to get into scriptwriting), graduated, and taught history and English lit to teens. I spent my days immersed in the writing of other people.

The Rising Tension

I moved to London and was drawn to roles where I worked with people who were leaving their mark on the world: writers, artists, architects, and philosophers.

I ran networking events for children’s book writers and wrote design briefs for visionary new school buildings. I co-curated an Australian-New Zealand literature festival, drafted a novel and scored an agents.

When I returned to Australia after 12 years abroad, I began to find my voice. First a marketing role with a school, then a university and a design college. I was writing at last – even if I was using other brands’ voices.

I began to speak at conferences about brand storytelling. People approached me for advice. I saw a glimpse of another life as a writer, storyteller and mentor.

The Challenge

I was almost there! But my fear made me let it go. Instead of setting out on my own and creating something unique, I took another full time role: writing, again, but this time in finance.

I was a person wanting to shake up the status quo and be experimental and creative. Instead, I was stuck in a place writing about ways to fit into financial systems. I only had myself to blame.

When staff began losing their jobs around me during COVID, I checked in on my finances and thought – maybe it’s time. In 2020 we all had everything and nothing to lose. Sensing my lack of passion, my boss asked if I wanted to wrap the contract early. It didn’t take me long to answer.

Reader, I said ‘yes’!

The Choice

I launched The Storytelling Business and began offering marketing services to female-owned businesses. Gradually, I had the confidence to shed most of my services and focus on my true calling – leadership for everyone through story. Finally, I believed in myself.

Today, I am privileged to work with passionate, visionary thought leaders. People who are offering a platform for diverse or marginalised voices to be heard. People who are challenging the systems that hold so many back. People who are reinventing what it means to connect, love, repair, design, build and be.

It’s time for the quieter, less confident voices to recognise their value, reclaim their voice and change the world for the better!

FUTURE STORIES/FUTURE SELVES NEWSLETTER

Learn the science and art of storytelling, and narrate your way to a better future  /  Practical tips, tricks and templates for story-led leadership

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