Creating the Blueprint for an Evolved Enterprise Part Three: Storytelling

This article is a summary of Mike Budny’s webinar with special guest Patrick Combs, where Patrick explains his Five Surprisingly Simple Story Telling Secrets in detail. This is part three of a three-part series where we explore the tools and techniques that can help you:

*The full Storytelling workshop is available for free when you buy one of our Village Visionary book bundles.

Part Three: Five Surprisingly Simple Story Telling Secrets

For entrepreneurs, telling your story the right way, as Mike says, will “maximize your influence, attract more customers, and spread your impactful message.”

Introducing: Patrick Combs

Patrick is a Hall of Fame inspirational speaker, a best-selling author, and a highly acclaimed comedic entertainer. He’s been the invited guest speaker of more than 1,500 organizations and the star comedic entertainer on more than 400 stages around the world. His books have sold more than 150,000 copies, and his stories and blogs have been read online by millions.

Are you an entrepreneur? What’s your story?

“Story matters in today’s business world. Story is marketing. Story is sales. Story is branding. Story is bonding.”

Early in his career, Patrick had a hit story on his hands, one that has created work for him time after time. A great story opens up opportunities, creates bonds, and expresses your values.

In this summary of Patrick’s presentation, we look at five of the greatest lessons in storytelling.

Before you even start crafting your story, Patrick emphasizes that you need to “fall in love” with the whole concept of storytelling. The enjoyment of telling your story will bring out your best instincts.

You’re Probably Undervaluing Your Story

A properly told story will generate a lot of income. But a great story isn’t just worth dollars and cents – it’s worth doors that open for you, new friendships, and new places to retail your product. When you “mine” your history for stories and polish them like diamonds, you’ll quickly realize how much that story can do for you and how much that story is worth.

TOMS Shoes – A Compelling Story

At retailer TOMS Shoes, when you buy their product, a pair of shoes is given to a kid in need. It’s no exaggeration to say story is at the heart of the success of TOMS Shoes.

Here is the TOMS Shoes origin story:

“I saw children in Argentina who needed shoes and couldn’t go to school without them. I got this idea for a one-for-one business model. Somebody buys a shoe, we give a shoe to one of those kids. I made three duffel bags of shoes before I left Argentina. I took them back to Los Angeles. I started selling them out of my apartment and telling everybody the story.”

As Patrick says, it’s “the secret sauce in why TOMS Shoes was successful. That story was so good that it energized almost everybody that heard it to wanna buy those shoes, to wanna help those kids, to create a win-win.”

Secret # 1

Secret number one is to choose the richest story to tell. For Patrick, the richest story is one that has humanity, emotion, drama, and heart.

Many entrepreneurs make the false assumption that their best story is the one about their success. Sure, it helps establish your credibility, but that information can be provided in your bio or at the end of your story.

It’s more important to develop an interesting story, a human story. You achieve this through emotion, drama, and vulnerability. Look for those key moments in your life where the listener/reader can lean in and go, “Oh my gosh! That really happened to you? Wow!” Tell the story of a life-changing moment.

“At 17 years old, I’m sitting in a stolen car surrounded by police officers, and I’ve got a backpack in the passenger seat. And I’m reaching into the backpack because I know there’s a gun in there. I’m thinking about killing myself because there is no way I’m going back to juvenile detention.”

This story is a “put down your fork” moment. It’s a “Whoa! What did he just say?” story. This is how the story begins for a successful entrepreneur who went on to found, start, and sell three successful software companies. It’s a lot more compelling than “I succeeded at this software company, and I succeeded at this software company. Then I succeeded at this software company.”

Secret # 2

Stop telling the story, and start sharing the experience. Instead of telling your audience about your experience, put them in it. Paint a vivid picture of the environment, and they will project themselves into your story. If your story works well, you won’t need to explain how you felt at the time—your audience will instinctively feel it.

Secret # 3

Tell your story in the present tense. For Patrick, this is not a hard and fast rule, but generally it works to tell your story as if it’s happening right now. Present tense creates an immediacy that gets people’s attention and encourages a “What happens next?” sense of anticipation.

Secret # 4

Start with a dramatic moment. If your story was a Hollywood movie, where would the action kick in?

Typically, there are two dramatic moments in your story. The first is the “Houston, we have a problem” moment. Almost every great story has an element of jeopardy—an issue that needs solving. As Patrick says, “Human beings love to hear when something is amiss. If something wasn’t amiss, there’s no story.” The second dramatic moment is the resolution—how you solved that problem.

Secret # 5

Give your story the time it deserves, but stay on point. Most people rush through their story, leaving out important details and keeping it brief to avoid wasting people’s time. But a well-told story doesn’t short itself on the details, as long as they’re beneficial and not superfluous. In Patrick’s opinion, regardless of how long or short it is, you are wasting people’s time by telling them a bad story.

As a bonus tip, Patrick encourages entrepreneurs to build a vault of personal stories because the answer to “What’s my story?” doesn’t have to be a single great story. There are opportunities to build stories into all elements of your business: your website, your advertising copy, and even your product label.

Unlike professional storytellers, most business owners tend to “explain” their business rather than creating a story structure. So stop thinking about the features and the benefits of your business—we hear that message all the time. Instead, Patrick believes you need to think, “How can I elevate this conversation so that it is more compelling, more memorable?”

Patrick’s full Storytelling workshop is available for free when you buy one of our Village Visionary book bundles, enjoy!

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