The Program

Story Lab develops executive-level presence and communication skills through storytelling workshops and events. To be an effective leader — at work, in the community, or in your personal life — you must be able to communicate with impact. Often this means telling stories that are meaningful to you and others, and doing so in the rich language and expressive style of a seasoned storyteller. If you can craft and deliver an effective story, you will be better able to convey your value to recruiters, inspire and motivate classmates and colleagues, and influence any audience you find yourself addressing. At Story Lab, you’ll find a fun and immersive experience and an opportunity to hone your skills in a safe and supportive environment.

Story Lab is co-created with the Ross Design + Business Club.

Get Involved

Full-Time Class of 2022

We’re excited to offer the opportunity for every FTMBA1 to participate in this year’s Story Lab program! We will be offering a Story Lab retreat for each section on the date specified below and a separate Showcase for each section.

All Other Michigan Ross Students

Story Lab runs throughout the academic year, from October through April. The program begins in the fall with a kickoff event that is open to the entire university. This year, we will offer retreats to FTMBA1 students in the fall, and retreat open to any Ross student in the winter semester.

Then, six or seven of the retreat participants will receive additional coaching and become featured storytellers at the Story Lab Showcase, our live “The Moth-style” storytelling event. We conclude the academic year with a final event featuring storytellers from throughout the year at a community-wide, year-end celebration.

“Story Lab was a big step for me because I hadn’t previously considered parts of my life as part of a narrative. When a classmate and I worked together to understand each others’ stories, I started to think about the stories of my friends, my family members, and how our stories intersected. Now, I use those stories to work through hard decisions in a way that aligns with my values, but also what I want for my future.”

Jessie Singh, BBA ’20

Program Type

Action-Based Learning, offered virtually for 2020-2021

Key Dates

Virtual Kickoff
Watch the video

Public Fall Showcase
November 17, 2020, 5-6:30 PM ET on Zoom

2021 Winter Retreats
Open to all, registration open soon
Attend a Part 1 and Part 2 any of the available times. The retreat is broken up into two 2-hour segments due to the virtual format.

Retreat Part 1:
Thursday, February 18, 4-6 PM
or Friday, February 19, 10 AM-12 PM

Retreat Part 2:
Friday, February 18, 1-3 PM
Friday, February 18, 5-7 PM

Time Commitment

Story Lab Showcase events are 1.5 hours; Story Lab retreats are 4.5 hours

Participant Requirements

  • Deep interest in storytelling, personal growth, and lifelong learning
  • The Kickoff, Closing, and Showcase events are open to the public
  • Ross students only for the retreats (by application)

Skills You’ll Learn

Learn how to communicate with impact, enhance your influence, and inspire dialogue and action. The workshop will help you discover your voice and adopt proven storycraft techniques while developing the verbal communication skills effective leaders use to engage and activate people in today’s complex world.

Leading Authentically
Get beneath the surface with your peers and build a more connected Ross community. Through your storytelling, you’ll have the opportunity to go deep, share your authentic self, and connect meaningfully with others. In so doing, you’ll model courageous leadership and learn to foster empathy and trust in others.

Developing Executive Presence
You will build your unique communication style, while practicing a proven combination of verbal skills, vocal tones, and body language that enhance executive presence. Your work at Story Lab will not only increase your confidence, charisma, and credibility; it will help you forge an impactful personal brand.

Learning from Experience & Feedback
You’ll reflect on your life experiences, recall failures, and celebrate moments of resilience and grit. Along the way, you’ll be encouraged to step outside your comfort zone, receive rich feedback from coaches and peers, and gain fresh insights about yourself and the power of your voice.

FAQs: 2020-2021 Academic Year

How does it work? Do I have to apply?
Registration for fall retreats is open to all MBA1s and December graduates. Registration for winter retreats is open to all other student audiences. To be eligible to participate in Community Connection events and showcases, you must have attended a retreat. Public-facing showcases are the only Story Lab components that require an application and select students are chosen to share their stories. 

Do I need to participate in everything?
No. Students can choose to only participate in the retreat if that is their preference. However, the retreat is the gateway to be eligible to participate in all other Story Lab offerings including Community Connections and applying to tell your story on stage at a showcase. 

Do I have to get on stage at a showcase?
No. After the retreat, all other components of the program are optional (though always encouraged).

What format will events take?
Retreats, community connections, and showcases will all be delivered in virtual formats.

MBA1s and December Graduates
I’m an MBA1 and I’m not available at my section’s assigned time. Is there flexibility for when I can attend a retreat?
The retreats are offered by section to give students the chance to connect with their peers. If you have a scheduling conflict with your section’s retreat time, Sanger will do its best to make case-by-case accommodations.

Is this program mandatory for MBA1s?
It is not mandatory for MBA1s, but we strongly recommend that all students participate in a retreat in order to build foundational communication skills. In the future, Sanger hopes to offer Story Lab as one component of a larger required leadership certification. 

All Other Students
I’m not a first-year MBA student, may I participate?
Yes. Winter retreat offerings are open to all other U-M student audiences. Look out for the registration in January 2021.




October 15, 2020 in Sanger News, Story Lab

Here’s how we’re making Story Lab happen this year

As the world continues to face unprecedented challenges and social unrest, it is more important than ever to share stories that inspire, highlight diverse perspectives, and bring people together. Recognizing…
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April 22, 2020 in Sanger Programs, Story Lab

Story Lab featured in Michigan Ross podcast, showcasing importance of leadership and stories

Our popular storytelling initiative, Story Lab, was just featured in the Michigan Ross Full-Time MBA podcast, Business Beyond Usual. Since we did not get a chance to hold our final…
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