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Four Ways to Tell Your Story (and Make It Awesome)

by Guest Blogger  |  
April 13, 2012

A guest post by Michael Margolis of

Before every critical conference call, meeting, or video Skype, you've been googled by the other participants. Each time you're considered for a position or contract, your digital presence has been scrutinized. What online searchers find will form their picture of the personal brand known as you.

Today, hardly anyone asks for a resumé, and, frankly, that's because (to paraphrase Rhett Butler) nobody gives a damn. The truth is that you don't need a resumé anymore.

But you do need a story. A personal brand requires it.

The story you tell about your life, your passion, and your abilities is what makes other people want to connect their network with yours. It's what drives the creative-genius hiring machine around the planet. (But it's not about bragging or looking like a self-focused egomaniac.)

Your story should address the following questions.

  • Who am I?

  • How can I help you?

  • How did I get here?

  • Why can you trust me?

  • What do we have in common?

Trust comes from personal disclosure. And that kind of sharing is hard to convey in a resumé. You need to be able to communicate a bigger story.

If you can tell your story in a way that people instantly identify with and make them nod and say, “I totally get that. I've completely been there (or I wish I had)... ” then any need to persuade, convince, or otherwise “sell” yourself is unnecessary.

Here are four key tips for telling your story (and making it awesome), whether for your personal brand or your company's brand.

1. Be authentic

You don't have to go all open kimono, but you also don't want to present a perfectly polished and spin-doctored account of your life story. You may think some things that you've done (especially colossal mistakes you've made) should be hidden at all cost, but, in truth, people identify with the real you.

2. Share your superhero origins

Provide a back story for your streak of genius. Did you study violin at age 4 with Itzhak Perlman? Was your great-grandmother a pilot? Did you fall in love with cooking while watching Julia Child on television? Pedigree can be established in many ways. Look for the unusual junctures with special people or powerful events that you can connect to your story, and people will remember you---and even find you remarkable---no matter how ordinary you have always considered yourself.

3. Fly your freak flag

What makes you uniquely you? What are your guilty pleasures? What's the “strange and wonderful” inside you? For example, I’m left-handed, color-blind, and eat more chocolate than the average human. And my TV guilty pleasures are Millionaire Matchmaker and Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. Are you thinking, “Hey, were we separated at birth?” That's the feeling you want to convey.

4. Share your trophies

You want to balance your story with external validation, so your authority in your arena doesn’t just feel like fairy tales from the land of make-believe. (If your arena is fairy tales from the land of make-believe, get some testimonials from Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and the rest of the gang.) Mention media outlets, recognition, credentials, or other markers that reinforce your “in-demand” success, although be careful not to lead with bragging and boasting. (Bragging can be a total turnoff.) Lead with your story.

Once you begin to craft and share your story in a fresh, powerful way, you'll not only start to invite interest and engagement but you'll also begin to find solid footing in your industry. The more you build on the brand that is you, the bigger your chances of attracting exactly the kind of work that you most desire.

(Photo courtesy of Bigstock: Two Women Having Coffee)

Michael Margolis is the founder of and host of the Reinvention Summit 2, the world’s largest online conference on storytelling, being held online April 16-20, 2012. As the dean of Story University, Michael has taught thousands of marketers, change-makers, and entrepreneurs how to tell a bigger story.

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  • by amhare Fri Apr 13, 2012 via blog

    Je ne comprends rien dans le marketing,mais je juis trés interessé par tout ce qui développe mon intellectuel. Merci Rubin

  • by Sally Erickson Fri Apr 13, 2012 via blog

    Hi Michael,
    I've been trying to get my story right for a very long time. Maybe it's just that I change, so I change my story, but I'm really glad I found your article here today. Time for another look at what I'm telling the public and if it serves the audience I'm trying to reach. Thank you for your insightful tips.

  • by Gary Bembridge Fri Apr 13, 2012 via blog

    People like stories and they also like - and remember - people that stand out. So these are great tips. I have been wrestling a lot with this topic as I have made a step out of a company that I had been at for 20 years and so had built up "a story" - and been thinking about how to tell a new story that stands out and is clear.

    I think one thing that your suggestion implies is that it is also about creating a story that creates an emotional reaction in people. There are a lot of skilled technical people on whatever topic or area one is working in or on - and you need to trigger some connection.

    Thanks for this thought provoking article. It applies to brands and companies too of course!

  • by Michael Margolis Fri Apr 13, 2012 via blog

    Thanks Sally! Reinvention is all about moving from an old story to a new story. The key is pattern recognition and helping others to locate themselves in your new story.

  • by Michael Margolis Fri Apr 13, 2012 via blog

    That's right Gary! In a job interview, you don't get hired cause of the resume, you get hired cause of your story. Who you are, how you see the world, does your personality fit the culture, are they excited by the idea of you joining them. All of that is conveyed in the story you tell. You might enjoy this free webinar that expands on the topic -

  • by steve woon Sat Apr 14, 2012 via blog

    Thanks for great article. Originality and sharing with sincerity are great tools for connecting with people. Will use it frequently.

  • by LeAnn Barker Mon Apr 16, 2012 via blog

    I doubt you eat more chocolate than I do... Thanks for the article though, I really needed the insight :)

  • by christine Sun Apr 22, 2012 via blog

    I have been blogging for about 2 minutes, i know i did one thing right...I incoporated my superhero origins by including superman! Glad i nailed that one!

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