I always thought one of the very best questions to get to know anyone was “what’s your story?” Even for someone you know, asking them on any given day “what’s your story?” will fill you in on what’s going on for them, what’s real for them in the moment.
As a “singing server“ back in the ‘90’s, I was often amused by how much more my customers respected me when I opened my mouth to sing. Even more interesting to me was their reaction when they found out more of my backstory – who I was and how I came to serve them their dinner and sing them a song. Watching their faces shift, transforming people’s perception of me, was an interesting experiment in psychology.
Turns out, telling your story is really the best way to sell yourself, your product, your service. Telling your story personalizes your brand and identifies how you, in your unique way, can serve someone else.
Consider these storytelling axioms as redefined by Michael Margolis, a business guru who has explored the “frontiers of transformational story telling” and author of “Believe Me: a storytelling manifesto for change makers and innovators”. (Download a free copy here.)
1. People don’t really buy a product, service, or idea, they buy the story that’s attached to it.
2. Your brand is far more than just a name, a logo, or a tagline; it’s the stories that people tell about you.
3. Every story exists in relationship to everything else around it.
4. We all want to look back at the story of our lives, and know that it made sense.
5. The stories we tell literally make our world.
6. The power of your story grows exponentially as more and more people accept your story as their truth.
7. If you want to learn about a culture, listen to the stories. If you want to change a culture, change the stories.
8. Leaders lead by telling stories that give others permission to lead, not follow.
Can you write a compelling synopsis of your story, or your business’ story? There is great challenge in this exercise – to simply tell the story…briefly. Michael Margolis offers in-depth, thought provoking questions and ideas to more than find our own answers.
My own story could indeed fill a book, as much as anyone else. However, here is one attempt at a concise version of my story…
I grew up in Ottawa, Canada, with my mom and younger sister. Born in Toronto, I’ve lived all over Ontario, as well as, coast to coast from Vancouver to New York to California to Nova Scotia. I’m a mom of two and married the man I’ve been with since 1993. With our young children, we spent four memorable years living in Grand Cayman in the Caribbean.
I went to Ryerson University for Radio and Television Arts, studied dance for 11 years as a child, and also studied singing, both in college and in Manhattan. I’ve performed as a singer countless times in bars and restaurants in New York City and took up songwriting when living in California.
As a child, I thought I would grow up to be a dancer and a psychologist. However, in 2006, I built my own business recording voiceovers for commercials and business presentations. I’ve also recently completed a 250 hour Yoga Teacher Training program.
I am a dreamer with ongoing aspirations in many directions and am passionate about food and the joy of eating! I love connecting deeply with others and am fascinated by nutrition, marketing, and the Philosophy of Yoga.
This four paragraph story doesn’t say it all and is, well, not be slick and compelling. I have work to do in focusing, tightening it up, and making it “pop” for marketing purposes. And yet, I’ve managed to convey so much of who I am to you, the reader, personalizing my story and therefore, creating an opportunity for others to know me better.
Whether to sell oneself in business or to make new friends, sharing our backstories helps to build a personal bond…among other things! So… what’s your story?