What’s your story?

What’s your story and are you telling people about it, Mark Topley asks.

As the Native American proverb says: ‘Tell me the facts and I’ll learn, tell me the truth and I’ll believe, but tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.’

Stories are powerful, and for businesses, sharing your story with people is crucial for engagement.

Last week I met with a prospective client at the BDA Conference and Dentistry Show.

I’d heard of the company before, and on the surface they’re like any other – a recognisable name manufacturing and distributing a great range of products.

As we discussed the client’s needs and aims around corporate social responsibility, a very different picture quickly emerged.

The company in question is 50-60 years old, and its home base is in a town where some years ago, the traditional industry suddenly collapsed.

A large number of the workforce lost their jobs.

That (now defunct) industry had a strong value around looking after workers’ families due to the treacherous nature of the work.

As a native of the town, the company’s founder already had these values at the heart of the business, but the assimilation of many of the now redundant workers meant that the family and children value was cemented further, and over time, this led to a range of different working practices around caring for families, and these continue to this day.

In addition, there’s a strong charitable side to the company, which aims to help good causes working with children and families.

For me, as someone who works with businesses to help them engage their staff and customers, this is such a strong narrative, which sets them apart from their competitors.

Your story

Stories are powerful: ‘The most important question anyone can ask is: what story am I living?’ said Carl Jung.

The personal impact on my prospective client was clear as he explained the company’s roots, and the sense of pride, identification and inspiration he drew from it was clear.

One of the first questions I ask my clients is around their story.

What made you start your business?

What’s important to you?

Connecting your team and customers to your story and values has huge benefits:

  • It gives people a strong sense of ‘why we do this’ – which is very powerful when you need to get through a tough period
  • It helps your team understand what they are a part of
  • It helps inspire them to become part of the story, and ‘write their chapter’.

I saw this many times when I was CEO of Bridge2aid, as hundreds of people became part of the story in their own ways.

We worked hard to make sure they knew what they were part of,  why we started, what matters, where we’re going – now play your part.

So, what’s your story, and are you telling it?

Read more from Mark Topley:

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