James McCabe Speaker

James McCabe

The Story Doctor

Classical storyteller for corporate narratives from starting up and growing to evolution and reinvention.

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James McCabe's videos

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  • English
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James McCabe's 2022 biography

About James McCabe

Irishman Dr. James McCabe inherits his country’s singular tradition of storytelling in all forms and has honed his skill set at Oxford where he gained an award-winning doctorate in literature. James was one of the very first people in Europe to deploy classic story design at enterprise level and has over the last two decades deployed his knowledge across hundreds of corporate events and projects. Equally adept at customizing story design in any industry, function or geography, James brings the trade craft of narrative performance together with contemporary business smarts to help his audience seize the reins themselves.

Since the late nineties, James has consulted European, American and Asian entities of all kinds to deploy narrative across leadership, reputation, strategy, brand and culture arenas – from strategic visions and public relations to business development, marketing communications, human relations and personal development. The five biographical phases of organizational life – from starting up and growing to taking over, turning around and evolving – are each brought to life utilizing the timeless story code of empathy, suspense and surprise.

James has been involved in large-scale corporate deals, new product and service development, mergers and acquisitions, digital transformations, sustainability drives, start-up scenarios and numerous other corporate engagements. In each case, he combines unique knowledge of story arts with commercial savvy to produce memorable narrative metaphors and kernels. His Fable workshop series is instrumental in bringing original story culture to whole organizations, while his event appearances and keynotes are often the highlight of corporate gigs.

James McCabe's 2022 talks & topics

The Grand Narrative Design

The great mythographer Joseph Campbell (a man responsible for inspiring much of the STAR WARS universe) once defined the three grand phases of narrative as Descent, Initiation and Return. In this classic keynote, Dr. McCabe exemplifies the best practices of storytellers from all ages and cultures. Demonstrating how dramatic narrative differs from business rhetoric and is better designed to drive corporate tribes, James reveals how this grand narrative design can be leveraged right here and now with your immediate challenges.

  • The timeless sequence behind all great narrative, drama and story
  • How to think like a great storyteller before you tell your story
  • Classic examples of story engagement across media and sectors
  • The best recipe to consider when developing your next strategy

M&A – The Ultimate Narrative Challenge

Just as the nation brand is the largest narrative challenge in public life, the merger or acquisition is the largest story problem in the corporate space. While M&A communication is largely left up to those practising rhetoric – investment bankers, accountants and public relations professionals – the persuasive approach is not always guaranteed, as witness the enormous loss and frustration ratios within M&A. Estimates of failure in this most important business activity range from 50% to 90%. Mergers and acquisitions fail because their narratives do not work – or more commonly they do not have a human narrative in the first place. In this big-theme keynote, Dr. McCabe tackles the greatest story gambit.

  • Why rhetorical persuasion is necessary but insufficient
  • How to deploy narrative design in a complex M&A scenario
  • Examples good and bad of how this is achieved in the real
  • What is your best narrative strategy going forward with M&A?

Realizing innovation as a Culture

After M&A, organic innovation is the prime corporate launching pad for growth. Whereas single product or service innovations are relatively easy to design and deliver, instituting a culture of continuous innovation is famously difficult. Corporations are essentially composed of two cultures – one of existing process and routine – and one where new ideas are born and nursed. As we all know, the inert culture of corporate processes almost always stifles the new culture of brainwaves – which is why many corporations ‘buy in’ new thinking by purchasing start-ups. But how can you genuinely create a Day One atmosphere and culture throughout your organization? storytelling helps a lot.

  • How to narrate change and navigate the future using story techniques
  • Sharing innovations as experiences – not just as sales arguments
  • How classic companies like Apple led with narrative innovation first
  • Transforming your culture into a continuous learning zone

Sustaining Your Organization into the future

Sustainability, after years of digital transformation, has become the dominant narrative in today’s marketplace. And although planetary recovery is top of the agenda, huge issues such as inclusion, customer-centricity and digital ethics are also involved. Sustainability is too big a theme to simply cut and paste – it must be contextualized in every and each organizational instance. The ability to sustain people, planet and profit must also be dramatized as a narrative that involves everyone beyond ESG professionals. Dr. McCabe reveals how you can leverage long-term narrative thinking here and deploy giant story models such as The Hero’s Journey (from James Joyce via Joseph Campbell) to plot out your sustainable future. Sustainability is the longevity formula of narrative thinking.

  • Why climate change ‘narratives’ have largely failed to date
  • Learning by enquiry as a story approach to include all audiences
  • Using grand designs like the Monomyth to instrumentalize sustainability
  • Finding the word hoard and specific natural metaphors to catalyze change

Your Emerging AI Storyline

No doubt you are already deeply embedded in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and other business buzzwords. But what exactly is AI and why is it so fuzzy and clichéd already? When we think of AI and its component ML we imagine humongous number crunching, mad machines assimilating far more data far quicker than any human mind. But intelligence, the actual word, does not mean knowledge, it does not mean Big Data. Intelligence is, literally, the ability to read between – to tell what is missing in a complex pattern of information. How are you leveraging the emerging AI paradigm to authentic effect? This keynote explores a bleeding-edge space within storytelling where most folk are making it up as they go along with tired clichés that have been around since computerization in the Eighties. It’s time to discover your real narrative here.

  • Reading between the lines of given data objects using storytelling
  • Exploring and discovering original and fresh AI-themed narratives
  • Using AI stories not to predict the future but to discover and invent it
  • Going beyond buzzwords and jargon to find a human language of AI
  • Building new human cultures of creativity and invention around AI

The Fable Workshop Series

Evolved over decades, the Fable workshop series delivers an intensive crash course in narrative thinking and design over three to five hours and brings corporate teams of all kinds up to speed in their own story realizations. Each workshop can be conducted on site or virtually to better serve dispersed teams. The Fable format shares the art, craft and trade of narrative performance in a continuous sequence from first principles and design modelling to market exemplars. Project X – your immediate challenge – is then tackled using these learnt insights directly by attendees themselves, guided along by Dr. McCabe.

James McCabe's 2022 speaking fees

James travels from:
  • Ireland

Specific fees fall within the ranges shown. These are presented as a guide only and are subject to change without notice.

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CHECK AVAILABILITY

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Check James McCabe's availability for your event

Complete the form below to check James McCabe's availability. If you prefer, you can also send an email directly to our head office.

How would James McCabe deliver their presentation at your event?
Please provide details of your budget for James McCabe's speaking fee, including currency.