Monthly Archives: April 2018

Bad news for entrepreneurs – you are NOT the hero of your own story.

No matter how much you love biographies of Jobs, Branson, Zuckerberg or any other billionaire founder, the fact is that YOU are NOT the hero of your own story. At least, not if you want people to keep listening.

Yes there are entrepreneurs whose life stories read like something out of Hollywood, with their classic rags-to-riches story arc. And yes, you might be able to tell your own founder’s story as a hopeful journey in the same direction, overcoming obstacle after obstacle. But here’s the problem.

If you’re the hero of your story, you can only tell your story once.

I’ve listened to the same entrepreneur make two separate investment pitches and both times he spent ages on his foundation story, rather than telling us what he was going to do right now. Stories are very powerful but you have to use them wisely. As this guy’s precious minutes ticked by, we might have identified more with him as a character, but we still didn’t know enough about his product.

A better way to use stories is to cast your customer as the hero. They’re the ones going on a journey, overcoming obstacles. And guess what – you’re the one who’s going to help them. Cast your customer as the hero and yourself as their mentor (think: you are not Luke, you’re Yoda).

This has two great advantages: first, you come across more humble and less self-centred. And second, you will never run out of fresh stories. Every new customer means you can have a new hero on a new journey overcoming new obstacles, with your help.

There’s some great work on how big brands use mentor archetypes to sell their story – try for yourself with this technique. Or you can explore simple story arcs using this technique.

Video storytelling – in sixty seconds

Here’s a very short guide to the basics of telling your stories in video:

That video was made in about 40 minutes using Keynote to create a slide deck and then recording a voiceover. You could also use Powerpoint or Google Slides – the principles are the same.

If you are feeling a bit more adventurous and know how to shoot simple video on a mobile phone and how to edit video, you could try something like this:

Anyway, here are the main learning points:

Video works when you make it relevant, personal and visual. 

Video DOESN’T work when you overload it with details. It’s not the place to recite your CV or list your publications. If you want to give people details, give them text. For example, I wouldn’t use video to give you an equipment list. You need it written down like this:


What equipment do I need to bring?

Essential: laptop or computer with built in camera. Access to Powerpoint, Keynote or Google Slides.

Optional: smartphone/video camera; selfie-stick or tripod; external microphone (make sure it’s compatible with your phone/camera), access to video editing software.

I’ve never edited a video before. Can someone else edit my film for me?

Video editing takes a bit of getting used to, but it is an essential skill. If you don’t learn to edit, you’ll never be able to make your own videos. It’s like wanting to be a writer without learning how to hold a pen.

You’ll be shown the basics during the class so you can do a simple slideshow with narration, then export that as a video file you can put on YouTube.

If you are already familiar with video editing, you’ll learn to adjust audio levels and add text if you need it. More advanced students can play around with splitting audio/video on the timeline, so you can cover one bit of sound with a different set of pictures. But simpler is almost always better. No bells & whistles required, especially when you’ve got a strong story.


What kind of software do I need on my Mac/PC/laptop?

Mac users, check if you’ve got iMovie installed and download it if you haven’t.

PC and Linux users, check out these free-to-download alternatives to iMovie. I’m using a free programme called Shotcut which is very straightforward.

Remember, if you’re using a work computer, don’t download anything til you’ve OK’d it with your IT department!


We won’t have time to troubleshoot the technology in this class.

So please check in advance that you’ve got the right equipment to let you shoot video and transfer the files into your editing programme. You’ll need cables, Bluetooth or WiFi to transfer video files. Don’t forget your power cables too!