Telling your story:

Keeping with the theme: it’s one thing to know that you need to tell your story, it’s quite another to be able to tell it successfully.

Joseph Campbell once said “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”

And in that statement lies the secret to the ‘how’ of telling your story.

“No matter what you do, your job is to tell your story.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

The ‘who’ that you are today will have been shaped via a countless number of ways. The struggles you’ve endured, the choices you’ve made and the problems you’ve solved all come together to make your story unique.

This transformation of who you were to who you are will be what makes your story so compelling to be a part of and should symbolise the values you want your brand to hold. Consider the ‘Just Do It’ tagline, the story it tells and what it says about those who wear it.

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make. But about the stories that you tell.” – Seth Godin

The same holds true for the brands you feel drawn to, there’s something in their DNA that speaks to your values whether that value is design (Apple), elegance (Tom Ford), innovation (Tesla), creativity and perseverance (Disney), or any other value you can think of.

The better tell your story and the more visible your values, the easier you can make a connection with your audience, and the deeper a relationship you can begin building.

“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” – Jeff Bezos

To that end then I will leave you with a few thoughts on how to tell your story:

  1. Bring your audience with you – They want to be a part of something bigger than themselves, bring them on your journey.
  2. Delight them – Your struggles are their struggles; your victories are their victories. Share them when they happen and you’ll deepen your connection.
  3. Create community – Being a social animal is a wonderful thing, and the better we are at it the more successful we will be. Lulu lemon and Nike are great examples of how forming a community around your brand can be a magical thing when it’s done well.
  4. Be discoverable – Make your brand easy to find, be active in your story as it plays out on social media in ways native to the platform. And should you spot a new platform early jump on it – being on a platform while it’s still quiet is priceless. Ps. If you don’t know how, it’s never a better time to learn.
  5. Give Value before taking it – Probably the most important point. When you’re trying to build your brand it’s not the time to be asking what your customers can do for you, so figure out how you can give value without expectation on getting a return.

Be authentic and live according to the values of your brand and you should do just fine.

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Your story is your brand

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell” – Seth Godin

People love a story, and by extension they love those who tell a good one.
They want to be taken on a journey, even just for a moment and whatever they’re consuming is no different be it media, clothing, or something as mundane as bottled water (hats off to Fiji for their storytelling).

When a brand has a great story it’s customers are a walking, talking embodiment of that story. For example, when thinking logically no one would argue that $500 for a pair of trainers is ridiculous, but give them a good enough story and the valuation suddenly makes complete sense.

The same goes for anything people consume, the greater a story speaks to an individual the greater an affinity they will feel, make this happen over and over so the story never ends and you have a phenomenon. This is why the most successful businesses in the world have been the result of creatives and not accountants (Disney, Nike, Apple, Tom Ford, Tesla, WholeFoods, take your pick).

“A great brand is a story that never stops unfolding” – Tony Hsieh

The same is also true of an individual, be they an influencer, a writer, a business owner or the head of a company, many of whom don’t believe their story matters and that it’s all about the product when nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth is, once you know your story you have an incredible opportunity to take people with you on your journey, allowing them to deeply identify with your brand and allow it to tell others about the type of person they are. Effectively your brand becomes part of their story and personal identity, Know someone’s favorite brands and it will tell you something about the person.

A lack of compelling storytelling is perhaps the single greatest limitation of many businesses today. If I can’t figure out your story I can’t connect to you and if I can’t connect to you I can’t like you which means it’s unlikely I’ll buy from you, follow you, or remember you.

“People today aren’t just buying a product, they’re investing in a relationship with their brand”

Your story and your skill at telling it is what sets you apart and the deeper you can pull people into your story your ability to connect, contribute and provide value increases exponentially. This is when your successes start to become your followers successes, and the better you do the better everyone will want you to do because you are now a reflection of how they want to be seen.

Your story might just be the greatest marketing tool you’re not using.

Quick thoughts:

“Each baby learns how to walk and how to pick things up in their own way. We do not each follow the same motor patterns. Instead, we experiment with various motor patterns and, over the course of weeks and months, select the ones that work best for us. In this way and in many others, we make our own individual paths through life.” – Oliver Sacks

Something of a natural selection on a micro-scale feel in the above quote on how our choices lead our lives in often strange and interesting directions. Sacks referred to this trait as ‘Neural Darwinism’ and was something he believed was an integral part of individual destiny.

Life is change and more often than not the quality of it is dependent more on how we view events than the events themselves. Nothing is predetermined and the future is largely something we will each create for ourselves if we make the choice to do so, otherwise the future will be determined for us by another who did make the choice.

 

3 quotes that I’ve been pondering this week:

  “Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge,” – Carl Sagan

 If there’s anything more effective at helping my process than going back to ‘first principles’ (more on that at a later date) I’ve yet to find it.

“People are made to need each other. But they haven’t learned how to live with each other” – Rainer Werner Fassbinder

 More of a general thought that has fuelled reflection on the world at large.

“To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time.” – Leonard Bernstein

It’s like taking the painfully obvious Parkinson’s law and multiplied by Newton’s 2nd law.

Happiness

I took a few days this week to indulge my inner child and went to Disneyland only to be struck by how anxious human beings can be, even there.

Now, none of us really believe that happiness comes from a singularity, whether it’s a person, place or thing. But if there’s one place where you should be able to stay in the moment it’s Disneyland.

Curiosity then begs the question of ‘why do so many fool themselves by believing that the next attainment (once obtained) will ever bring anything more than an aching hunger for the next thing?’

Consider that…

We only ever experience real happiness when we can understand the true value of moments for what they are and by not wishing them to be anything more. The phrase ‘you only know what you’ve got once it’s gone comes to mind’.

Our attempts to determine value through comparing one thing with another, or against something in the future only leads to disappointment or anxiety.

Different people, or the same person in different moods will make different conclusions about the value of the same thing.

Having unrealistic expectations for something or someone is only guaranteeing disappointment when reality doesn’t match up.

“The problem with longing for paradises is that it distracts us from our efforts to extract pleasure and meaning from the present.” – Gordon Livingston

Take a moment and hit reset:

The truth is, you’re human, which means you’re not perfect and you have a mind that loves to wander off in unexpected directions.

With this in mind, the next time you’re doing something you’ve been looking forward to, and you find your mind thinking of something in the future you’re excited about, or in the past that you enjoyed. Stop. Reset. And enjoy the thing that’s happening, you’ll be doing the thing in your mind soon enough or have plenty of time later to reminisce.

Remember that our minds are less than spectacular at accurate recollections of the past or predictions for the future One of the greatest mistakes we can make in life is missing a countless number of wonderful experiences because of living in the past or the future.

Now, I’m going back to Disneyland 🙂

That’s the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up. Walt Disney

What gets remembered

To make the symphonies, operas and concertos we recognise today as masterpieces, Mozart had to compose over 600 works, for Beethoven it was over 650, and for Bach it was over 1000.

They went through years of composing countless works that haven’t resonated with the same vibrancy as their most well-known compositions, and many more that were either discarded or left unfinished.

The same holds true for today’s musicians, writers, athletes, and whoever else comes to mind when you consider greatness. They’ve all missed their mark more often than they’ve hit it and they try again, knowing it is part of the process.

Today you can look around and find this in whoever you admire. 

Take Kobe Bryant. In his final game he took more shots than anyone in a single game in the last 33 years, and with good reason. His legacy will be that he ended his career a five-time NBA champion, that he was the 3rd highest scorer in NBA history with 33,643 points, and that in his final (winning) game he scored a legacy-defining 60 points.

He knew that no one will remember how many shots he took and missed to get there (he took 50, missed 38 and scored 22 of the shots in his final game), giving him the NBA record for field goal misses (15,296 shots)*, or that he practised longer and harder than anyone else. They would only remember the points on the board.

On the path to greatness, those who make it understand that you have to show your work and be prepared for most of it to miss its mark. They know it is part of the process of finding something that connects and when they do, everything that came before it will be forgotten.

*The moral is, the more you put out there the greater the chance of hitting your mark, and all the stuff you cast aside is just part of the process.

Being comfortable

After some time spent on a more introspective best, this is the first piece of a few notes on the clarity distance can bring.

There’s an idea that true peace only comes through a fundamental understanding of oneself, which personally has meant practicing the infinitely humbling ritual of honest self-appraisal. Something I strongly suspect only happened once I realized understanding isn’t something you can ‘make’ happen, it’s more something that happens when you’re not looking for it.

Taking the time to reflect on yourself away from the usual distractions (email, social media, phone, etc.) of the world can be one of the most rewarding things you can do, as well as one of the least painful ways of figuring out what will really make you happy.

When you’re in your own company long enough (sans phone, social media, internet, etc.), the uncomfortable feeling of vulnerability will make itself known. Be strong for however long it takes to get past it to understand what it’s trying to tell you about yourself.

Takeaway: Spend some distraction free time with yourself, it’s good for making a happier you.