Don't be Afraid to Tell Your Story
Some owners will bristle at the idea of sharing their stories for fear of appearing arrogant or boastful. However, according to veteran Fortune writer Pattie Sellers, who now at SellersEaston Media helps prominent families and companies capture their leadership stories: “Storytelling is the most generous thing you can do. It’s not an act of egotism. It’s a sharing of invaluable wisdom.”
Millennials' quest for meaning and impact at work already drives them to favor the connection encouraged through stories that unveil a business’ purpose over the robotic and jargon-filled mission statements of some big-box conglomerates.
Companies that are doing well with storytelling right now are the ones where the younger generation gets the family story and wants to hear it told and retold for their sake and for the good of the company. They are often the ones requesting documentation of the stories to honor the legacy of their parents.
As humans in business, the desire to compete and constantly raise the performance bar is natural. Formats for storytelling have evolved to encompass the latest multimedia offerings. As Sellers indicates, gone are the days when a personalized book retelling the family and business’ story would suffice.
Instead, in addition to elegantly bound books, Sellers reveals that she has seen a strong push for video and an increase in documentary-style storytelling which benefit both the business and family. She in increasingly being sought by businesses and people of a certain level of prominence, to capture their stories in the same way that she has captured the stories of leadership and impact of presidents and other popular figures.
Stories have the potential to preserve a business for generations . Business owners shouldn’t wait for their successors to initiate the storytelling process. Instead, they should take the lead in telling their stories and telling them often. The younger generation often wants it, and the business needs it to survive.
Storytelling could be as formal as engaging the services of a professional to develop a video, presentation, or book conveying your company’s story. It can also be as informal as taking 5 minutes at every corporate gathering to tell a tale or two from the old days of the company’s founding.
However you do it, storytelling just might be the thing that lasts long after the celebratory cake and ice-cream are forgotten. They reinvigorate a business, reconnect it with its core values, and prepare it to sail through a transition from one generation to the next without missing a beat.
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