storytelling, reinvention and giving with Justin Kingsley


“Society and business want to put a label on you. Every time I do a media interview: What’s your title? I don’t have a title. My title is JK, Justin Kingsley. I work in storytelling. That’s what I figured out. And sometimes a speech for a prime minister has to be a story, if you want it to be good. A photo has to tell story, it’s supposed to replace 1000 words, that’s pressure. A book, a TV show, a headline, a brand, they are stories and that’s the only thing I’m good at; is stories.
- Justin Kingsley

Justin and I first met in May 2017 and we’ve been in touch since. He truly inspired me with his professional reinventions and his brilliant insights. This meeting impacted my perception of reinvention, after which I took certain actions.

In this conversation, he walks us through his story, his wisdom with authenticity, intensity and humor. We had a blast. Thank you, Justin.


Justin Kingsley finds the best way of telling the right stories – as an author, strategist, director and photographer. He founded creative storytelling workshop Makumaku. He has written two No.1 National Bestselling books – The Way of the Fight (New York Times Bestseller) a look at Georges St-Pierre’s life philosophy, and Weology: How Everybody Wins When We Comes Before Me, a book of ideas on leadership. With his third book, Justin joined an elite group of authors to publish original works in multiple languages with Le livre du don.

His first feature documentary film – which he produced, wrote and directed – is currently in post-production for release in 2018. It’s the story of a man under house arrest who is never home. In television, he wrote and co-produced four seasons of the nationally-televised 24CH (CTV, TSN, RDS) a weekly documentary about the Montreal Canadiens.

He has wide-ranging experience as a storyteller and strategist, most recently as Partner and Chief Socialist at Sid Lee, one of the world’s five best creative agencies (Forbes 2012). The strategy and campaign idea he developed for Adidas at the 2012 London Olympics, titled Take the Stage, won international acclaim and was named best global campaign of the Games. Adidas was voted 2012 UK Brand of the Year. 

Justin has turned Star Wars and Indiana Jones into global museum exhibitions, and branded the 2010 Vancouver Olympics with the very first bilingual Games slogan – With Glowing Hearts/Des plus brillants exploits. He also developed the award-winning branding and communications strategies for UFC World Champion Georges St-Pierre. 

A former Press Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, he was spokesman for the Right Honourable Paul Martin and was responsible for economic portfolios in the communications directorate of the PMO in 2003-4. Prior he was Chief, Media Relations and Spokesman at Communication Canada. Justin is an internationally reputed public speaker, offering workshops on creativity, storytelling, and strategy. An award-winning photographer, he has hosted four gallery exhibitions of his work. Marketing Magazine has named Justin one of Canada’s most creative people.


  • Listening to your body versus listening to your gut (2:09)

  • About being intense (3:33)

  • His writing process and morning routine (5:41)

  • How Japanese philosophy inspires him + the Kaizen Principle (10:10)

  • Professional reinvention : About our very first meeting (12:02)

  • His career trajectory and reinvention (13:45)

  • How and why he reinvented himself? (17:35)

  • What is your greatest lesson from having to reinvent yourself? (22:55)

  • Reinvention into marketing and working with brands (28:29)

  • On being an outsider in marketing + his formula at work (29:20)

  • “The best way to tell the "right stories”
    How his background in journalism impacts all of his work (30:33)

  • A quick meditation break! (31:56)

  • How do you go about reinventing a slogan: what are the steps?
    - My Kinder Surprise exercise x chocolate (33:05)

  • Why do we do branding? (44:42)

  • How do we know when it's time to develop or strengthen our brand strategy?

    Why do we need brand strategy? (46:38)

  • Draw a Brand Exercise (48:08)

  • About his book “Le Livre du Don” - His motivation, realizations and how it changed him on a personal level (51:31)
    What is the smartest thing he’s ever done? (55:08)

  • Is there such a thing as a selfless act? Can giving be done without the expectation of return? (56:25)

  • Message to all of us

Behind the scenes at Justin’s office

Behind the scenes at Justin’s office

Justin’s Motto

“Matters of great concern should be treated lightly
Matters of small concern should be treated with great consideration.”

Quotes mentioned

Choose a job you love and work every single day
“Dear boy, don’t let say our theatre is breathtaking, let the people say it”

“Who dares, wins”



Would love to have your feedback. Let me know if you have questions or comments.

Please leave a comment below or send me a message. 



Vanessa is a brand consultant, art director, and public speaker. Often referred to as a "brand whisperer" or "brand psychologist", the guiding principle behind all of her work is to make a difference by having a positive impact on people’s lives. 

She accompanies entrepreneurs, founders and executive leaders towards their business growth and success by focusing on clarifying, strategizing and building their brand from the inside out. Vanessa teaches about brands and psychology and inspires her audience through public speaking engagements and workshops. She promised to make you think deeper about yourself and your business, to see things a little bit differently, to learn and to experience a breakthrough or two. In addition, she hosts conversations with bestselling authors, experts and thought leaders for her blog.

With 11+ years of work and business experience across various fields that she is passionate about, Vanessa also holds a Bachelors degree in Psychology, a Masters degree in marketing, and a certificate in studio photography completed in Paris. These unexpected elements of her background and of her story create a unique mix enabling her strategic, analytical, creative. and personal approach to business.

Polyglot, Vanessa is appreciated for her enthusiasm, passion, authenticity, sense of adventure, and for her sincere care for people (Testimonials). The best part of her work? Authentically connecting with people and developing deep and caring relationships with them and contributing to their growth.


Vanessa Elle