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.