Storytelling, the art of Mayra González in leadership and business

Mayra González, who teaches the Empathy and Leadership masterclass at Dalia, encourages her collaborators to also use storytelling.

9 de mayo de 2022
Mayra González / Foto: Dalia Empower
Foto: Dalia Empower

MEXICO CITY. "All businesses are about telling a story that resonates with you," says Mayra González, the Mexican woman who has been director of Global Sales at Nissan for three years, and whose successful career rose to fame when she became the first female CEO and president of the automotive firm in Mexico in 2016.

The global executive says that in Mexico she might have developed and executed the skill of storytelling or telling stories to do business, but since she arrived at the company's headquarters in Yokohama, Japan, she has perfected it by using it every day.

“They [the Japanese] do things [directly], but I always stop for a second: What do we mean? What is the history? At first, they didn't really know what I meant. Now they are the ones who tell me: ‘Well, this is the story…’ First, we sit down and talk about the story and, once we have it, they develop the material. They have adopted it a little bit more,” she said in an interview with Dalia Empower.

Together with Dalia, she launched the Empathy and Leadership masterclass last March, now available online and on-demand. In this masterclass, people will be able to learn about empathy, a very valuable skill in the current context of unstoppable change, which, combined with leadership, gives strength and potential not only to people but also to businesses and companies.

In that same order, the senior executive explained that in the Asian country she has learned to spend more time explaining to people the reason behind an action, since the Japanese culture seeks the common good, and every project should have that purpose. "I've spent a lot of time explaining, and once they understand it and absorb it, they're perfect machines," she adds.

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But Mayra González doesn’t want to be the only expert storyteller among her collaborators. On the contrary, she urges them to cultivate it. "I also make them tell their own story and not only follow the instructions but to generate value through the value chain.”

During her stay in the Asian country, Mayra has faced several challenges, not only because of the distance that separates her from her country, but also because she found herself in a different culture. However, she soon realized that she had to try three essential practices for those challenges: “I have devoted myself to being very observant, to respect, and then to act; in that particular order.”

Also read: Impacting and transforming: Mexican architect Tatiana Bilbao’s life engine

But she clarifies that more than challenges, she prefers to call them “experiences,” and they have happened one after another since 2019, even when it comes to language. In this regard, Mayra jokingly points out that she has the basic survival kit to understand and be understood by others in Japan, but highlights that the great advantage of the culture and customs of that country is that "if you don't know, you are always helped.”

“If you tell a Japanese person that you are lost, they’ll ask you where you have to go and take you. If you tell them you don't speak Japanese, they will use their translators on the phone. In other words, they will never abandon you [...] They always make an effort, and that’s what makes all the difference,” says the executive.

But the greatest lesson she has learned in that country is that "without distance, there is no perspective," because when you move abroad, you learn many things and get a very different perspective on everything. And here she talks about moving in both a physical and metaphorical sense because she emphasizes that every day she meditates for 20 minutes to get away from the noise of life and to be able to return with greater clarity and energy.

When she is told that during her professional career she has faced several challenges, or “experiences,” as she prefers to call them, and that perhaps many of them were very difficult, she is also asked if she has ever thought: "I can't take it anymore." Her answer is immediate and firm: "I never throw in the towel, the towel throws itself at me." "I have never said: ‘I can't take it anymore,’ but I do say… ‘for now,’” she says with a laugh.

Then she adds: "Sure, I've had difficult times and moments where I don’t know if I’m coming or going, if it's up or down, if it's day or night; but as they say: ‘If you're walking in hell, keep going, what are you staying there for. If you don’t walk, you’ll never leave,” she says.

I have devoted myself to being very observant, to respect, and then to act; in that particular order

Mayra González on the three essential practices she has adopted to face the challenges of her Nissan Global leadership

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