What’s Your Story? Two Secrets To Uncover Your Killer Business Story
“So, tell me your story.”
That’s how I begin many of my coaching sessions for people who want to craft and tell their story better. But more importantly, it’s basically the internal question customers are asking you when they encounter your business nowadays.
“So, what’s your story?”
Trust me, you’re not alone if the prompt to “tell your story” makes you ill. I’ve worked with CEO’s of 8 figure companies, high profile business coaches and keynote speakers who all felt like that to start with too.
That question can make grown people cry… many NY Time’s Bestselling authors, TEDx speakers, YouTube stars, even President’s of major Universities all collapse into babbling when asked to tell their story.
But today, your story matters more than ever before because story now takes center stage when you do business via conferences, pitch meetings to investors, YouTube, TED talks, stage time, company videos and your website.
Story is no longer about campfires, dinner tables, folk events, and bedtime.
Story is now at the heart of your marketing, your sales, your networking, your brand, your corporate culture – even your public relations.
Story is new the black.
Today, your business growth revolves around sharing and telling your story.
Think about it… A killer story sells in a pitch meeting, wows on the conference stage, gets shared on social media, bonds people to your vision, attracts new clients, lands you in magazines, and boosts sales.
NY Time’s best-selling author Gary Vaynerchuk has a killer story. The story about how fresh out of college he took his family wine business and grew it from $3M to $60M in five years. And he leveraged his story constantly to build his platform, get on stages, land clients, get a book deal, and build a huge personal brand. He made more than millions by leveraging his story. He used his story to turn himself into a public speaker, an internet personality, and an author.
You have a killer story inside you. Everyone does.
The problem is most people suck at telling their story.
Even entrepreneurs capable of building large, robust, successful businesses fail hard when it comes to telling their story. They tell the story poorly. Or they tell the wrong story. Or they undersell the story. Or they over tell the story. Or as I often say to my clients after they tell me their story, “Wow, that was amazing. That was alchemy. You just took story gold and turned it into copper. Let’s fix that.” I’m not joking. Most people take great stories and turn them into dull, crappy ones. And as a result, they miss the huge business opportunities a killer story would bring them.
Of course, most entrepreneurs suck at telling their story. Telling stories well is a learned skill, a craft, and dare I say, even a high art. If you don’t believe that story is a craft and a high art, I challenge you to take that conversation up with Steven Spielberg or John Leguizamo (don’t know who John is? Study him). John tells stories so well he packs theatres on Broadway.
I love story. Story is my passion. Story is my obsession. You know that kid in the movie 6th Sense that says, “I see dead people”?
Well, I see bad storytellers.
And I coach bad storytellers to become master storytellers.
I want you to be able to rock your story. There’s no feeling like it in the world. Being able to walk out on a stage at your next business conference and crush your talk with your killer story is perhaps the most exciting thing an entrepreneur will ever do.
How to do that is a transferable skill.
What shocks my coaching clients the most is how much structure there is to story mastery. How many teachable techniques there are to the craft.
In this article, I am going to teach you two secrets that will help you get to your killer business story.
Secret Number 1 – Find the Fork Drop Moment
To craft your business story: You’ve got to know which story to tell.
The first mistake most entrepreneurs make when crafting their story is they chose the wrong story to tell, and they overlook their killer story.
There are 4 major stories every business owner needs to be able to tell well: The Origin Story. The Product Story. The Customer Story. The Pitch Story.
But even within these four story categories, you still have to choose the right story to share.
I’ll give you an example from the Origin Story category.
One of my clients was an extremely successful software entrepreneur. He’d cashed out multiple times. When asked to tell his story, he presumed his killer story was about his business successes…
He’d try to tell a story that basically said, I created a lot of success in the software business. He certainly had tremendous business success to speak of, but it wasn’t a killer story because there are a lot of people in his space who can tell a similar story or even one of greater success.
The problem with his Origin Story was that it failed to be what I call a “fork drop.” When you choose the right story, it makes your audience drop their fork if they’re eating to listen to what you say. Your killer Origin Story creates an extraordinary connection with the listener and makes you completely unique, memorable and admirable.
To help this client find his killer origin story, I directed him to tell me a story about a dramatic moment in his life that changed everything for him.
The story that came out he now uses to great effect in front of audiences. It’s the story everyone bonds to him by. It begins, “I am 19 years old, and I’m sitting in a stolen car surrounded by police officers. I’ve got my hand on a gun in my backpack and am thinking about killing myself because I don’t want to go back to juvenile detention.”
The story goes on and in only a minute and a half it rivets the audience, makes the entrepreneur deeply relatable, admirable and totally unforgettable – and one killer story, you learn he started off in trouble, overcame tremendous odds, succeeded greatly in business, and lives to help others thrive.
Notice that the first origin story he was telling was basically, “I created a lot of success in the software business.” Secret number one is to choose a story that has heart, humanity, drama and triumph. Let your success be a tack-on to the end of a great story.
Secret Number 2 – Share the Experience, Don’t Just Tell It
To craft your story, you’ve got to share the experience, not tell the story.
The second mistake most entrepreneurs make on their origin story is they just tell it. There’s a huge difference between telling a story and sharing an experience.
This is a big realization for almost all my coaching clients. I learned it when I went into the relentless demanding profession of doing a one-man-show. In my show, I entertain audiences with a story – for two hours, just me with a story to tell. I struck a breakthrough when I learned to stop telling the story and start sharing the experience.
I’ll give you an example from one of my coaching clients… a speaker and workshop leader. She had a story she used to start her talks with and set the theme of her work.
She told it essentially like this. “I was in high school walking down the hallway when I found a crumpled up note on the floor. I probably shouldn’t have looked at it, but I did. I guess I was nosy that way. I couldn’t resist. But it turned out to be a note about me. It said I looked fat in my clothes today. I was completely devastated. It sent me into an awful self-hating spiral for years.”
This is a classic example of telling the story. She told exactly what happened to her that day and told how it made her feel. She said it worked well with her audiences and I believed her because I know that audiences would feel for her being told such a hurtful thing. But I also knew the story was being robbed of its tremendous value because she was telling it, not sharing it. So I coached her on this point. Sharing the experience sounded like this.
“I’m walking down the halls of my high school. And on this particular day, I feel beautiful. I’m having a great hair day, I’m wearing my favorite blue blouse and I’m rocking a black shirt with knee-high black boots. I feel sexy. Then I spot a crumpled up note on the floor ahead. Oh joy! I hope it’s a love note, perhaps between Becky and Chuck, everyone’s favorite on and off couple. It could be a love letter. Or a tell all. Maybe I shouldn’t read it. But I can’t resist! The secrets it could tell! So I bend down and pick it up. It’s like a discovered treasure in my hand. [Here I coached her to actually pick up a crumpled piece of paper off of the stage, uncrumple it and read it outloud]. We’ll read it together! ‘Did you see what Ally is wearing today? She looks so fat in that oh-so-last year skirt. I bet she thinks she looks good.”
[And then I coached her to just look up at the audience and let them feel what just happened. For a long silent pause. And then to walk silently to a small table on stage and carefully place the letter on the table. And then to speak a line such as, “I want to talk to you today about loving yourself.”]
Can you now see the difference between telling your story and relating the experience?
Sharing the experience means you recreate the moment for them, externally and internally.
And when you do this, not only does it make the story much more compelling, but as I said to my coaching client, “When you tell the story, you have to also tell your audience how you felt when you read the note. But when you relate the experience to them, you don’t have to tell them how you felt, because they’ll feel it deeply within themselves stronger and more deeply than any words you could say.”
Secret Number 2 to telling your Origin story is if you want a mic drop moment, share the experience, don’t just tell it. Telling stories robs them of their greatness.
So there’s two secrets to sharing your story in a way that will grow your business. There are many more techniques in the craft of telling your story, your products story, or your customer story… techniques that are invisible and lost on most entrepreneurs, but even implementing these two I’ve illustrated here will make a huge impact when you tell your own.
I’m going to dive deeper into these secrets on my forthcoming webinar [REPLAY from Nov 28th] to help you nail your story, because when you nail your story, it will grow your business. In today’s crowded, cluttered, saturated, inundated, competitive, stories-everywhere marketplace, the best story wins.