Archive for September, 2018

Legacy of Geneva Anderson 1: GET YOUR STORY STRAIGHT

September 30, 2018

(Note: Geneva Anderson was a friend who came to being a public speaking coach late in life. I have blogged about her previously–see May 30, 2018 and LEGACY 15 posts. She won the SC statewide Toastmasters’ competitions twice, once in the mid 2000’s and again the mid 2010’s. She died just before Christmas 2017. This is the written version of one of her hallmark speeches. You can see some of her videos and read her story and other speeches on her blog, http://www.GenevaAnderson.org.)

We all have a story. When we meet someone new and are asked to tell something about ourselves, we offer up a version of our lives, usually where we were born and the family we were raised in, and a run-down of our interests, pursuits, education, vocation, and marital status. In a business context, we do pretty much the same thing. We come to a networking event and the conversation goes something like this: “Hello, I’m Joe Blow with Lucky Leaf Lawn Care. And you are?” If you are the one Joe Blow has approached, and if you are like many people at networking events, your “tang gets tonguled over your eye teeth and you cannot see what you are saying”!

How many of you identify with that? I am a member of BNI, a business networking group. There is a builder in our chapter who is an excellent builder. His work and craftsmanship are outstanding. His name is Bob and we call him “Bob the Builder!” Bob played football for Georgia Tech. He has a tall, athletic build and carries himself well. He is the picture of confidence. Yet Bob once confessed that he starts tensing up as he is driving from his home in Anderson and does not relax until he walks out of that meeting every Wednesday!

At BNI every week every member of the group stands up to deliver a 60-second “elevator speech.” I know Bob well, and he is a quality builder; but because his presentations are not well thought out ahead of time, he often gets dinged for exceeding the time limit and has to stop before he finishes his points. From this, you might not be convinced that Bob is truly a good builder.

Many of you here today could easily identify with Bob. You are really good at what you do, but most people would never know it — or they don’t know it as well as they could know it — because you lack the speaking skills to accurately articulate your story.

We all know light travels faster than sound. Many people appear very bright until they open their mouths! If you are a business owner trying to solidify your “brand” in the minds of your customers, clients or potentials, you need to be able to skillfully deliver your story.

According to Bo Eason, NFL football player turned life coach and speaker, “Today’s success is built on relationship, authenticity, & deep personal connection.” He further states that many of us think we have everything we need, but the one thing we’re all lacking is deep personal connection.
The people we fall in love with are the ones whose heart is hanging out there. Their ability to show courage and vulnerability builds immediate intimacy and trust. Imagine how having the ability to build immediate intimacy and trust could affect your business life…

Think back to the lowest moment in your life — when you looked around and there were no answers — the story you feel shame or embarrassment about, the story you do not want to tell. In that moment you either said, “Hey, I am going to fight; I am going to stay in here.” Or you quit. Those are the only two choices. That’s what we are all looking for; those turning points in life that define who you are. When you have the ability to tell that story, people will connect with you. They will trust you.

If you want to be successful in anything, you need to master the narrative of your life. All of your leadership and moneymaking ability rests in that narrative, because that is how people will connect to you. We are all looking for other human beings to connect with, and stories do that.

In Rolf Jensen’s book THE DREAM SOCIETY, he predicts that the highest-paid person in the first half of this century will be the ‘storyteller’ because he will be valued for his or her ability to produce ‘dreams’ for public consumption.

Let’s take a look at some legendary brands that are producing dreams by delivering a compelling story.

Laurence Vincent. in his insightful book LEGENDARY BRANDS: UNLEASHING THE POWER OF STORYTELLING TO CREATE A WINNING MARKET STRATEGY, says that effective advertisers draw consumers in with a story. By design, legendary brands such as Starbucks, Apple and Harley-Davidson develop narratives that forge deep bonds with consumers. You won’t see a Harley-Davidson loyalist on a Honda Gold Wing. His allegiance to Harley-

Davidson is rooted in emotion, identity, and personal philosophy. To a Harley man, his bike is not a product. It’s his road buddy, his best friend. The Harley brand has reached and maintains legendary status by using a library of narratives, creating timeless myths that captivate and hold the loyalty of its consumers. In the marketplace, a loyal consumer trumps a merely satisfied customer. (A loyal consumer is one who would rather fight than switch!)

So, how can you take your life, your achievements and failures and build a story that connects to the hearts of your audience?

It’s hard to do it on your own. You can start with coaching and getting some training to help you overcome your basic fear of public speaking. You can join Toastmasters and have a mutually supportive environment, a laboratory in which you can test the waters, fail forward, and learn to tell your story.

Storytelling is power! You unleash that power when you get your story straight.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

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