My cell phone rang early. One of my coaching clients was calling during her morning commute.

“Got a minute? I just wanted to tell you what happened yesterday!”

She and her CEO had been part of a panel discussion. They’d hosted a group of social media influencers to discuss their company’s commitment to build women’s careers. The CEO had been very modest about the company’s successes in advancing women to senior leadership roles.

“So, when he finished, I said to the group that what he’d talked about wasn’t how things were when I was coming up in the industry. Then, I remembered the story you and I had worked on about the time early in my career when a bunch of men had tried to placate me during a factory visit when there were product problems, but who had joked among themselves in Spanish about how I wouldn’t know the difference if they showed me the same batch of product the next day. You remember how shocked they were when I confronted them in Spanish! Well, the audience laughed, and it really drove home the point about how we’ve been able to make a difference in how women can have careers here.”

She went on to tell me that after the panel discussion she’d been chatting with some of the influencers who’d been in the audience.

“One of them told me, ‘I love your style of public speaking! You’re so warm, and inspiring. And, you’re a total badass!’”

My client and I chuckled, and then reflected on how her decision to start sharing her stories, to be more authentic in reflecting who she was and what she’d learned from experience, had allowed her to embrace opportunities to speak in front of groups, a prospect she’d once dreaded. Through the coaching, she’d enhanced her presence as an executive by being more herself, and storytelling proved to be a powerful medium to get there. As the poet and wit Oscar Wilde put it, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”

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