Over the years, I’ve given many talks to large audiences, explaining what my company does, or certain projects I’ve worked on – and typical butterflies aside – as long as I’m prepared, I find it relatively enjoyable. But I also recall a time when I was riding in an elevator and someone asked me what I did for a living, causing me to stumble over what seemed like such a simple question. It should be the opposite, right? Explaining what you do day-in and day-out in a low stakes environment should roll off the tongue with ease. But often times it doesn’t.
When you are a leader in a company, not being able to tell your “I Story” with conviction is bad for business. Depending on your role, your brand would not exist without you. It was birthed from your desires, passions, fortitude, and hard work. Your company is much more than an entity; it’s an extension and embodiment of an individual(s).
You may think as the owner of a Public Relations agency, that when you’re asked what you do, the correct response would be: “I own a PR agency that represents companies to the public.” Or perhaps: “I manage reputation for big brands.” Those answers would be fine if you are OK with being deposited in the collective bank of the thousands of other PR agencies that do just that. And if you are, good luck paying the bills.
If you are not OK with mediocrity and you wish to rise above the dizzying fray of competition, then maybe your response would be similar to what I tell people I do: “I help brands and individuals tell stories that resonate and drive results.” Yes, I do PR, media relations, content marketing, social media, etc. But those are job functions and responsibilities. I’m not a robot driven to perform tasks until I shut down for the day. I am an individual with unique skills that is driven by purpose and passion, and the desire to help others.
Here are some keys to crafting a compelling “I Story”:
1. Dig Deep
Whether you are a company building widgets, or a person helping small businesses market themselves – why are you doing it? What drives you? Your skills should be secondary to why do you what you do. Show empathy, passion and emotion. What drives me is my passion for storytelling and the fulfilling feeling I get from helping people.
2. Prepare a Script
Write it down. The example I gave above is a personal statement, an abridged story of what I do. Make sure you are able to expound on your personal statement with as much conviction and meaning as the one-liner. Depending on what you do, your personal story will take a while to create. Run it by people you trust until it’s in good shape and then practice, practice, practice!
3. Own It!
You’ll know you’ve nailed it when it doesn’t feel forced. When you say it out loud and it feels good to say it. It’s possible you’ve been toiling for years, caught in the day-to-day of your business and forgotten why you’ve invested so much time and energy into what you do. But when you deliver that meaningful “I Story” it will all come rushing back to you, reinvigorating you and making you feel proud.
People want to do business with passionate people, not emotionless entities. Do not get lost in the mix; your brand is only as strong as the individual(s) behind it!
So, what’s your “I Story” ?