The Power Of Story
I spend a lot of my time thinking about stories. I have been crafting them for as long as I can remember. I only realized this recently, when my mom began purging the contents of the attic in my childhood home and uncovered my childhood treasure trove: boxes and boxes full of notebooks. Words are how I've always made sense of the world. I have always seen myself as first and foremost as a storyteller.
As a storyteller, I have a profound and unshakable belief that we each carry within us stories that need to be heard. We constrain stories of triumph, stories of sadness, and stories that can spark ideas that can change the world. Call it bold, but I believe that many of the world's problems could be halted in their tracks if we took the time to share and truly understand each other's stories.
I know some of you reading this may be shaking your head saying: "Nope. I don't have a story worth sharing." And to you, I would smile and say, “Maybe not... yet.”
If you're someone that has started a business and are still claiming you don't have a story to share, this my friend is the moment I call bullshit. No one starts a business just because. It's too much work to do on a whim. People start businesses for a reason, and I'm willing to bet that if you dug a little deeper, you’d find a story behind it.
Like the story of my grandfather who watched the rise of the internet and inferred that the future of communication would unfold online. His ideas and passion for powering the future of communication and connecting people from all around the globe set him off in pursuit of creating, building, and eventually selling multiple communications companies throughout his career.
Or take the story of Gail Perry, who spent years forgoing her creative passion in favor of a “more sensible" career in accounting. But over time Gail found that her passion for writing and journalism simply could not be denied. She has gone on to become one of the most influential journalists in accounting and has written over thirty books to date.
If you're struggling to see your story, I strongly suggest you look into your life and identify the parts of it that bring you a sense of passion and purpose. Ask questions like:
What lights me up inside?
What called me to start my own company?
How is my work an extension of who I am as a person?
These are powerful questions to ask, and the answers might just surprise you. But you should document them to find the pieces of your story that make sense and explain why you do what you do. From there you can figure out and fine-tune how that passion and purpose tell the story that ultimately connects you to your clients or customers.
In my case, the connection is extremely personal. I create and curate content meant to uplift and empower women because there were years when I so desperately needed encouragement and guidance in my own life. A single mother by the age of 22, I know how much it can mean to have someone understand your struggle, and encourage you to aim for more.
I don't share that story to exploit my audience. I share it to relate to my audience. Because knowing my story shows others why I am so passionate about empowering women and creates a connection to people that share my same passions or experiences. True stories make for some of the most authentic marketing and messaging in the world because they reveal the real reasons why we do what we do in business. So I encourage you to take time to tap into your "why" and start uncovering and sharing your story with the world.
As we move into this new Era of Authenticity, honest storytelling is something that will truly differentiate true brands from people hawking commodities at ever-cheaper costs. It has been said that people place stock in the stories of others, and studies how shown that we are motivated and moved by the stories we hear. But why is that? Well, in short, it is because we believe that simply being associated with these sorts of tales tells a whole lot about who we are as people.
Stories have the power to shape our lives. And they most certainly shape how others see us. Take the time to reflect on your brand to see if the story you're sharing today is the whole truth or if it's barely tapping the surface. If you uncover you've got more to uncover, always start with asking "why" and allow that answers to help you write the story that you are truly meant to share. Honest storytelling allows us to live out our values in our businesses, and build an authentic brand that allows us to embody them in our actions in the world.