When a company or artist begin the process of branding themselves or otherwise engaging as a business with the public, inevitably, people ask about the entrepreneur’s experience, history and decisions. “Why did you decide to do this?”, they will likely ask. People are into stories. Stories enable people a human-connect, a way in. Through stories, people can come to empathize, to identify and to want to support. People like to support things they are into and that they can personally identify with.
But sometimes we are so close to our own stories and lives that it can be difficult to understand them as others may, from an outward perspective. Some bizarre experience you went through ten years ago may feel like old hat to you, but is riveting to someone else. You have the ability to frame your professional/artistic/public image and that should start with your story.
This summer, I was co-teaching with Katherine (Kate) Canales about “Artistic Thinking” at a leadership symposium created by Charlie Feld. During that class, we asked everyone to tell us something interesting about themselves. I started. “I’m Jim Hart and I earned my black belt at 14. OK. You next”, I then pointed at the student next to me. She began…
We learned that one woman used to fly F-16 fighter jets. Two separate people, having nothing to do with each others’ circumstances, had sung at The Vatican. In fact, though this group was primarily comprised of Engineering students, there was a remarkable range of singers in the room. Who knows what chemistry might interact now that those individuals have a common connect, a way into relating?
What life experiences and defining moments, what transitional moments in your own history have helped shape who you are today and the perspective you maintain? Facebook entries are individuals’ desired public image being projected by the individual. What story do you have to tell? What story do you want to tell? As people are into stories and you are unique, chances are you have some good ones. Play with your storyline and life experiences. Put this through your mental funnel, spin it around in your imagination and come up with a public image you wish to project, based on true stories that are owned by you and which you wish to help define your public image, your brand.
By Jim Hart