‘Tell Me a Story’

Story maven Hillary Rea headlines Spertus Networking Night

hillaryrea image

A recurring line in the musical  Hamilton  is, "Who tells your story?" Hillary Rea, founder of Tell Me a Story, says it should be you. 

Rea will headline the Jewish Community Networking Night for the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership on Sept. 14. 

Spertus' annual Networking Night is designed to connect Jewish communal professionals. This year, the free event moves online.   

Spertus' Center for Jewish Leadership will present The Innovation Award to KOVAL Distilleries for pivoting to serve the community during the pandemic. The Innovation Award recognizes Jewish communal professionals and their organizations, encouraging collaboration across the Jewish communal landscape.

While the word "storytelling" may conjure up bedtimes and campfires, Rea has learned that telling stories can be applied beneficially in the workplace. 

After performing as a stand-up comic and winning a Moth StorySLAM, Rea founded Tell Me A Story. Her communication consulting business shows her clients how the art of storytelling can become an everyday communication tool, using narrative to communicate and connect.  

Rea, based in Philadelphia, works one-on-one with leaders, entrepreneurs, and those undergoing career change. Through her workshops, coaching, and public speaking, she invites others to engage in genuine conversation and develop their ability to spark authentic human connection. 

On Networking Night, Rea will lead an interactive workshop through her company's signature Five Word Life Story exercise. By the end of the exercise, participants will "land on the story they want to work on." They will learn new ways to connect with others and build professional relationships--through discovering the stories they want to share. 

"Five words can say so much," Rea said, "and can connect the dots between the experiences that shape who you are--personally and professionally. The key question is: 'How can I express my life experiences in the best way?'" 

The story's audience and context are critical, Rea continued. "Everyone has a story they want to tell, but you need to find the one that serves you in the moment. Offer yourself to listening ears, but be aware of how your story is being received. Be intentional about what stories you share with whom." 

One storytelling challenge professionals face now, during the pandemic, she says, is "how to communicate with impact through a screen." 

Whether you're on screen or in person, Rea advises professionals to be their authentic selves.  "You want the stories told about you to match the ones we tell about ourselves. You have been told not to show up as yourself; you should. Storytelling can seem intimidating, but know that you know how to do this." 


Dos and Don'ts from Hillary Rea, founder of Tell Me a Story  

In using storytelling as a professional communications tool: 


Be the focus of your own story 

Focus on specific events 

Note your space and time constraints 

Rehearse, but improvise in the moment 

Risk taking up space 

Give permission for others to talk 

Leave an impression 





Avoid stories about failures 

Simply list skills and awards 

Networking Night is a program of Spertus Institute's Center for Jewish Leadership, supported by a generous grant from the Crown Family. Participation is free, thanks to generous support from donors and sponsors. Registration is required by Sept. 10 at spertus.edu/networking. 


Spertus Institute is a partner with the  Jewish United Fund  in serving our community.  


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