Jenny is a professional storyteller and motivational speaker who delivers one-of-a-kind presentations. She understands the power of story and great ideas to engage and inspire audiences toward actionable outcomes in business and in life.
As the founder of Jenny Riddle: Bringing Books to Life and Tiny Tips for a Big Life, Jenny has successfully built her own niche businesses from the ground up. She is a highly sought after speaker with her unique brand of sharing compelling stories and vital ideas.
In addition, Jenny is co-owner of Prairie Path Books, an independent bookstore in Wheaton.
Honed my storytelling chops right at our kitchen table growing up. Saturday mornings in our house meant hot coffee, crisp bacon, fried eggs, and LOTS of stories from my Dad, quite the raconteur, especially about his God-Awful childhood. But there was a “lesson” in every one of those grisly tales. Most memorable takeaway? “Never be afraid to put your hands in shit!”
My dad’s answer to every form of spoken or written communication was “Begin with a story.” Writing a paper? Start with a story. Have to give a presentation? Start with a story. Reading the Sunday morning scripture at church? Start with a story. Best advice I ever got.
I started acting and telling stories as young as second grade. Unfortunately, in the second-grade class production of Cinderella, in which I was cast as one of the evil step-sisters, I also knew everyone else’s lines and proceeded to mouth every word they spoke for the entire show. What can I say? I’ve got a good memory.
My first paid acting gig (and I’ve only had a few—that paid, that is) was summer stock between my junior and senior years of college. I knew the competition was stiff, but at the bottom of my audition sheet it asked if there was anything else they should know about me. I wrote, “I throw great parties,” and then proceeded to tell the story of my cutie-pie friend Brad who spun records, the flowing kegs of beer, and other stuff I can’t talk about here. I got the part!
Got my masters in English and taught English for a while at the college and high school levels because basically studying and teaching English is all about the power of great stories to change the world!
Favorite job: speech and drama class I taught to15 of the LEAST Thespian-type students in the entire school. Every student developed and shared their own personal story. It was magical. I will never forget them or their courage to break out of their shyness and self-consciousness. I learned first-hand the potential inherent in every human being to find and tell their story. It was the most amazing and gratifying experience I’ve ever had, next to marrying my husband and having my own kids, of course. Seriously, I’m married to the greatest man on the planet and my kids are f*&%ing fantastic!
Favorite Netflix binger—Breaking Bad—great storytelling! Awesomest Broadway play: Hamilton—more great storytelling!! (Come on, we had house seats in the seventh row!) Book that made me weep—Team of Rivals, the amazing story of Abraham Lincoln, the one person from history I would want to have at those “if-you-could-invite-one-dead-person-to-dinner” parties.
Never lost my penchant for coffee. It’s why I get out of bed in the morning. Driving around if I even see a Starbucks, I am drawn like Odysseus to the mermaid. Then from 5 PM on it’s all about wine. Do not even try to serve me a glass of wine in a plastic cup (unless that’s all you have and then I will for sure down it).
Started my own business 18 years ago and have spent those wonderful years as a keynote speaker, professional storyteller, and communications consultant. Five years ago I tossed co-owning an independent bookstore into the mix—Yay! I help people and businesses STORYTELL their way to success by crafting and telling stories that are memorable, build trust, land the sale, improve company culture, and get people to do really awesome things. I have a lifetime of expertise in the best communication strategies and why storytelling is your secret weapon in business AND in life—if you count the “I throw awesome parties!” approach.