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Views & Interviews

In conversation with StoryWorks Founder Indranil Chakraborty

September 2019

Indranil Chakraborty has combined three qualities to pioneer business storytelling in India: a love for stories; the entrepreneurial bug; and two decades of experience in leading teams and driving change at top firms like Unilever, Tata Group and Mahindra & Mahindra.

His firm, StoryWorks, has helped organizations and leaders harness the power of stories to create and deliver impactful messages.

Since 2013, using the same approach outlined in Stories at Work, he has trained more than 2000 senior leaders in over thirty organizations, teaching them to be more effective in their communication. The firms he has worked with include Airtel, Accenture, Asian Paints, Barclays, Cognizant, GSK Pharma, HCL, ICICI Lombard, Infosys, PepsiCo, Philips, Roche, WNS and Unilever.

In this story we feature an extract from Indranil Chakraborty’s book - Stories at Work - where he talks about the new vision he had created along with his team for Mahindra Holidays. The vision was ‘to make every moment magical’ for members.

The expected behaviours were:
1. No room for ordinary (ordinary is not magical).
2. Experience is everything.
3. Make smiles.
4. Proud of our club.

Indranil also ran workshops designed to share Mahindra Holidays’s new vision and values with the company’s top 500 managers.




The art of story listening

At a mind-opening workshop conducted by Shawn Callahan and Mark Schenk, the founders of Anecdote, Indranil says he learnt about ‘story listening’ - an art of drawing out stories from people. He also says he learnt that broadcasting stories collected from employees was a great way to embed values (when they correctly reflected the desired behaviour.)

When Indranil returned from the workshop, he launched into story-listening work. He taught people in the resorts to spot and report stories of the new values being lived. Indranil recalls that as the stories started pouring in, his excitement started rising.

One story from the book, like the one mentioned below, changed his belief in them. Stories were not just an influential communication medium but the most powerful tool in a leader’s arsenal for connecting, aligning and inspiring his/her team.

A receptionist at the Mahindra Holidays resort in Coorg, Karnataka, received a call from a member who was stuck in traffic on the way to the resort. The member was worried that he would not be able to check-in before the resort’s restaurant ended its lunch service. He did not want his children to go hungry. So he requested that some food be kept aside for his family.As the receptionist relayed this message to the restaurant, a colleague asked, ‘Hey! Did you check with them about the route they were taking?’

When the receptionist told him which route it was, his colleague jokingly said, ‘Pack some tea and cake with the lunch, they will take a long time to reach. That road has been blocked anticipating the arrival of the chief minister to inaugurate the local flower show.’

The worried receptionist muttered, ‘There are kids in the car.’ Half an hour later, when his shift was over, without telling anyone, the receptionist loaded four lunch boxes on to his motorcycle.

Revving his bike through small lanes for about 1.2 km, he kept calling the member’s mobile phone until he finally reached the car. He handed over the packets and said, ‘Your children must be hungry.’

Within days of this story being shared, other similar inspiring stories started coming in. These stories showed that employees at Mahindra Holidays were living these values.

The story of the receptionist had breathed life into the formerly abstract ‘no room for ordinary’. Indranil adds here that he was sure that no amount of presentations, speeches, oaths, leaflets, banners, posters or screen savers could have got this message across as powerfully.

“This experience of embedding values through stories converted me from being a seller of holidays to an evangelizer of the power of stories in business. Stories work.”



Indranil Chakraborty

Author of the book, “STORIES AT WORK” – an imprint of Penguin Random House. (Indranil is now working on the audio version of the book.)

This extract from the book “STORIES AT WORK” has been featured here with permission from the office of Indranil Chakaborty. This book is available on Amazon at this link.


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