Lessons from a Leader: Story Fruition CEO and Founder Melissa Reaves

Apr 16, 2024

Ask Melissa Reaves, founder and CEO of Sammamish-based Story Fruition, for her business’ origin story, and she can relay it back in just under 100 seconds.

The story — which is chockful of vivid details, like a swanky hotel, a room full of Seattle angel investors, a Kodiak bear in a silver suit, a photograph of a rat covered in tumors, and the emotional story of a woman named Sarah who just found out she has ovarian cancer and is afraid she won’t live to see Christmas — is one she has told countless times and is well-crafted, thanks to Reaves’ 25-year background in marketing, advertising, acting, and improv training.


In her role as an executive storytelling coach, Reaves endeavors to assist C-suite executives, founders, and entrepreneurs in crafting pitches, presentations, or origin stories to further their businesses. This, of course, is a mission Reaves first homed in on during the aforementioned angel investor event.

“Typically, what I would see is investors would have a slide that says ‘problem’ and then a whole bunch of graphs and a whole bunch of words. Then they say ‘solution’ with a whole bunch of graphs and a whole bunch of words,” Reaves said. “What I do is actually show the problem by helping them find a narrative.”

Most presentations, Reaves said, are too full of data. If the audience has to read and interpret the data, they are no longer listening to the speaker. Instead, a well-crafted story can often provoke an emotional response in a listener and cause the release of feel-good hormones. “How you tell that story is just as important, if not more, than the words that are coming out of your mouth,” Reaves said.

425 Business recently caught up with Reaves for a few tips that can evoke such a response in your audience.