As a storyteller-for-hire, brands and organisations ask me to capture and craft their story, whether it’s an external marketing piece, or internally helping employees and new hires understand what the organisation is and where it’s headed.
I sometimes think about this process as ‘turning it inside out’. It’s my job to look under the bonnet, to be curious, to ask questions and to turn the spotlight on those hidden corners that haven’t been exposed before.
Sometimes in those hidden corners lie difficult parts of the story: perhaps the first iteration of the product fell flat on its face or the co-founders fell out. I have learned that capturing and sharing these imperfections is an essential part of the process. These imperfections are what gives a brand its purpose but also its personality.
The same applies to individuals. Over the last few weeks I’ve guest lectured at universities, my advice to students is to put themselves at the heart of their career and business plans. “Don’t let anyone knock the You out of You,” I told them. Part of that is being honest about your real story. And just like those brand stories, it is the imperfections that might make their offering more distinctive and allow them to stand out from the crowd.
Whether you’re a student, an executive, an entrepreneur, a startup or a big business, telling your real story is rarely easy. Sharing everything - including the ups and downs - means you can emotionally engage with your audience.
I’ve just been through this process myself. Last year I was asked to speak at The Do Lectures. The brief was to tell a story I hadn’t previously told, to tell the truth and to be vulnerable. The talk went online this week (you can watch it below. If you'd rather listen to the audio podcast, here's the version on SoundCloud).
It’s a very personal - and sometimes raw - story, but it’s a reflection of who I am and what makes me tick. Like the best stories, it’s a reflection of the truth: I turned myself inside out.