Your founding story is a business story that helps others understand what you do, and how it helps them.
Your founding story helps others to understand why your business, product or service exists. The story may also include what you and your brand stands for (incorporating some of the Values Story), as well articulating the value that you offer to those whom you serve.
Every great leader has the ability to speak with confidence and charisma. One of the most powerful communication tools that a charismatic leader harnesses, is the ability to effortlessly weave stories through their material.
“The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller”.Steve Jobs
In my work as a Business Storytelling Consultant and Public Speaking Coach, I help leaders to craft and share compelling, memorable and engaging business stories. Using a Story Blueprint™ as a guide to create a suite of stories, people are able to transform their communication.
The five core stories that make up the Story Blueprint™ are the; Signature Story, Founding Story, Values Story, Aspiration Story and the Customer Story.
In recent articles, I refer to different types of business stories in the Story Blueprint™.
A good place to start your business storytelling journey is the Signature Story, and in a follow up article, I offered 10 ways to boost engagement by sharing your signature story.
You can make a start with any of the five stories and then build on your repertoire as you gain more confidence as you tell your stories.
A founding story holds your essence
I am often asked if there is an ideal length of a business story. This very much depends on the application and context of the storytelling. The rule of thumb is that less is almost always best. It is preferable to leave people wanting more, and it gives people a reason to continue the conversation, rather than tell a story that goes on for too long and can get boring.
Ideally, once you get comfortable with business storytelling you may have different versions of the story, including a short ‘nutshell story’ of up to 90 seconds, and then perhaps a six minute and a 15 minute version that goes deeper and provides more information.
Every time you are preparing a presentation, you can consider what version of your story is suitable and this will depend on the purpose the story serves.
Becoming The Story Midwife
For over 20 years I was a midwife.
It was my dream job. It gave me incredible joy to help bring new life into the world. Then my life was turned upside down, when a virus destroyed most of my hearing. Sadly, I had no choice, but to reluctantly find another career.
A fresh start, working in the public service led to isolation and desperation. A toxic workplace destroyed my confidence and self esteem. I became withdrawn and afraid to speak up.
A chance meeting with Professor Rajan, led to an incredible opportunity to take part in a research trial. With the gift of a cochlear implant, I began a new chapter in discovering to hear again in a different way. As part of this journey my interest in speaking and storytelling was sparked. I sought out mentors and trainers around the world to help me discover and unlock the voice that I was reluctant to share.
As a former midwife, a transition to coaching was natural. I became certified and as a lifelong learner I continue to work on my craft.
Five years ago I decided to become a full time professional speaker, business storytelling consultant, trainer and coach. A complete career change, but I still get the joy of bringing a new life into the world, instead of babies’ it’s stories. Some years ago, when a client discovered my previous career, he introduced me as The Story Midwife. The name has become part of my founding story and helps set me apart.
Stories have emotional value
The Significant Object Project, was an experiment that set out to discover the economic value of storytelling.
In 2009, Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn, demonstrated how narrative had an effect on the subjective value of an object. Their experiment involved the purchase of ordinary low-value items from second-hand shops, and pairing each item with a creative writer, and then for auction on eBay, to find out if the value in trade increased. And it did, by a massive 2,700%. Their hypothesis was correct, stories have emotional value and can transform an insignificant object into a significant one.
“Stories are such a powerful driver of emotional value that their effect on any given object’s subjective value can actually be measured objectively.”Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker
Knowing which story to tell
A good story features a rollercoaster of emotions. It wouldn’t be a good story if we only shared the good bits, or our most successful moments. We need the highs, twists, turns, and low points too. In your quest to become a master at storytelling, it requires being comfortable with an appropriate level of vulnerability. This is different for everyone and vulnerability does not mean oversharing.
Six questions to help you craft your founding story
- What was the catalyst that led you to start doing what you are doing now? This may be: becoming a business owner / launching a product / or leading a team.
- What challenges have you overcome in business? It’s never smooth sailing, and your story is relatable to others when you are open to sharing faults, flaws, and failures, as well as the wins.
- Why are you the best person to lead the business? This part of the story provides you with the opportunity to subtly weave in some credibility.
- Why should others care about your story? In order for a story to make an impact people have to care about how the story helps them.
- What is your vision for the world, and how can you incorporate this into your story?
- What is the legacy that you wish to leave, and how will the world be a better place through your contribution?
These questions will help you get started in crafting your Founding Story. Let me know how you go, I’m always interested in listening to a good story.
About the author
Lisa Evans helps leaders and entrepreneurs to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers.
She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations.
If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat.
Here’s how I may help you
My services include:
Virtual – Live Online Training – Public Speaking and Presentation Skills, Business Storytelling and executive Speaker Coaching is available online.
Business Storytelling Coaching – together we can get started to create your suite of stories. A minimum of three sessions is recommended 1:1 in person or virtually via Zoom.
Executive Speaker Coaching – if you have an upcoming guest speaking opportunity, funding pitch, conference talk or you want to be an outstanding speaker, we can work together on your technique. You will see the results after one session.
Storytelling for Leaders Interactive Workshops – I can come to you, or we can host a workshop offsite for your team. From half-day to two-days immersive, this customised workshop is an ideal way to kick start your business storytelling strategy and get the whole team telling stories.
Keynote/Guest Speaking at your next conference live of virtual event – I have several topics to choose from ranging from a 30-minute talk up to a 90-minute interactive session.
Lisa Evans, MBA is the CEO of Speaking Savvy. She is one of less than 150 Certified Speaking Professionals in Australia. She is a Certified Public Speaking and Storytelling Coach, Certified Virtual Presenter, Accredited Business Coach (ICF), Author, TEDx Speaker Coach, NLP Coach, Graphic Recorder, Host and Curator of Stories From The Heart, and Improvisation Actor and Marketing Director at Perth Playback Theatre.