Syl & Kate

Novellist Kate Mosse in conversation with Syl Saller: Bravery and storytelling

Bravery and storytelling

It’s very easy to see how Syl Saller ‘learns something from every conversation’ with Kate Mosse. These two impressive women are close friends, and when asked what qualities in each other they most valued, it was Mosse’s wisdom that Syl chose to talk about – over and above the very obvious love, respect and admiration that she has for her novelist friend.

The theme of the conversation was ‘bravery and storytelling’ and it was part of the Marketing Society’s ongoing ‘brave’ agenda, to inspire stronger and braver marketing leadership among its members. For those who like a motivational quote or two to stick above their desk, there were rich pickings across many topics – Kate had inspirational advice to share about bravery in writing, in setting up the Women’s Prize for Fiction, and in shaping and telling our own narratives.

But, for me, one of the strongest emerging themes was the idea that we can practise, and get better, at being brave. It was a theme that emerged gradually over the course of the conversation. First, in Mosse’s observation that there are many ways in which we can be brave – the ‘big’ brave acts, which are the stand out acts that others notice  – but also the small stuff that we can do every day - whether it’s finding the courage to be true to one's self, to express an unpopular opinion or to defend a point of view when challenged. Kate’s contention was that it’s being brave in these little ways that builds the courage to be brave in a big way.

There were other, more subtle examples that demonstrated Mosse’s art of ‘practising’ bravery.  One that stuck with me were her habit of ‘finishing each day as if it were your last’, by which she meant focusing on the opportunities that are presented to you every day; and remembering the good stuff that makes us feel positive.

But what was most refreshing, from a woman who as achieved so much, was her attitude to achievement and progress. Yes, you can ‘do it all’ Mosse believes, but probably not at the same time. In a relentlessly fast-paced world, you need patience and to ‘be kind to yourself about what’s achievable’. To a budding novelist, her writing tip was to practise writing for 5 minutes a day, not set an unattainable goal of writing for an eight-hour stretch.  So, yes, we can all be brave leaders if bravery means ‘being a little bit more than we thought we could be’. It just takes a little practice.

This review was by Kate Waters, chief strategy officer at Now. Follow her @fullerette3

Want to hear more from Kate? Watch our interview with her, below, on strong female leads and the 'f-word'.