We’ve all heard stories growing up as children, whether it be a fairy-tale or even a Charles Dickens novel…we’ve all heard them. We tend to retell these stories from time to time because we connect with them on some level. The ones we find most compelling are the ones that we closely relate to, or the ones that drive us emotionally, whether it be happy or sad. Authors and film makers alike understand the power of storytelling, and so do the most successful brands.
Your personal story is part of who you are, and thus an integral part of your personal brand. Retelling your story, believe it or not, helps to not only build trust, but in many cases, even qualifies you as an expert. I don’t mean listing your university degrees and your numerous certifications. I mean what real world experience and challenges have you personally faced and overcame. In personal branding we can use the principle of storytelling to our advantage, to engage our audience, in order to help make our message stronger.
We all love a good story, so let’s take a look at how you can craft your story by following these 4 simple steps.
4 Steps in crafting your story
1: History: A little background on who you are and where you’re from will help to build familiarity with those of similar background, as well as it will allow those that don’t to get some idea of what your life/lifestyle was like. Generally, this brief historical journey will help to relax your audience and prepare them for more.
2: Challenges: This is where you share your “in the trenches” experiences. Your struggles and hardships; the late nights, and early mornings. People tend to be very drawn to individuals who’ve been through great challenges and came out victorious. The challenge will show your audience that you’ve been there and done it.
David Sharpe, and über millionaire and co-founder of the Empower Network was homeless and living out of a van before success came. Robert T. Kiyosaki, author of the best selling book Rich Dad Poor Dad, went broke and was homeless as well with his wife for two weeks.
What are some of your challenges that you can bring our in your story?
3: Overcoming: Hero time. You’ve been on the battle field, and have faced fierce opposition. Share with your audience how you were able to overcome the challenges you faced in life. This will help to inspire them.
4: The charge: Now motivate them. At the end of your story, what do you want your audience to do? The goal is to motivate your audience to act. At the very least they should leave at least thinking about what you’ve said.
The long and short of it
I suggest creating 2 editions of your story. One is a long version of your story, and the second is a short 30 seconds to a minute version. You can use either one as you see fit depending on the occasion.
Your story has power
Do not underestimate the power of your story. You may not have been homeless, or ate out of a garbage can, you may not have been abused, or grew up fleeing war, but your story is still extremely powerful. As you share it with others, it not only will allow you to connect with people on a very real and personal level, but in many cases, your story may be the very thing that causes a person to change their life of peril around to a life of prosperity.
Of course you won’t be able to inspire everyone who hears or reads your story, but those that do hear it and are are inspired, you’ve just become a person of interest, a role-model, a life changer to them. You will become memorable.
So here’s the truth, and it comes by way of a quote I heard from a business leader: “Facts tell, stories sell”.
Get out a pen and paper or pop open your laptop or desktop computer and write out a quick recap of your life. Pick out areas of your life that you want to include in your history, find the areas of your life that were challenging, explain how you overcame those challenges. This may take some time so no need to rush. Once this rough outline is complete, organize it all in order. Do note that your story will continue to evolve over time, so make note of the important milestones in your life, and include it in your story as you see fit.
Beyond your personal story, your brand story, which is a little different or the same, depending, is just as important. I’ll explain the difference and how the two are related in a later post.