I’ve written before about Walter Akana’s genius regarding story and career. One thing I didn’t realize about him is that his company’s About page is highly storied.
In Your Brand is Based on a True Story on Peter Sterlacci’s BeYB blog, Walter (pictured) presents more of his sharp insights into story and career:
- Any time we relate a personal experience, we are telling a part of our story. I have long maintained that experience is tantamount to story. I was just today reminded of the term “narb,” invented by Ananda Mitra (who even uses “narbing” as a verb), and meaning “narrative bit.” Mitra contends that the various fragments of our lives we convey through social media are narbs, narrative bits that communicate our experiences and our overall story.
- Stories shape our lives — especially the ones we tell ourselves. Story in this context has the power to change our lives and careers; it’s the “change your story, change your life” concept. If the stories we tell ourselves are not serving us, we have the power to rewrite them and start living new stories.
- A narrative — any narrative — is driven by selecting, interpreting, and arranging events to lead to a specific conclusion. Ideally, that conclusion is uplifting, empowering, and success-dictating. As Walter observes, “the stories that successful people tell themselves drive behaviors that make them successful.”
- We need to go deeper than a conveying a one-sentence personal brand statement arrived at from the examination of the 360 feedback and introspective exercises. I could not agree more and have written about understanding the stories that support our personal brands. Walter asserts that we need to be inclusive as we think about the stories behind our brands: “… it is critical to examine the life events that support our brand. And in doing this, to look not only at accomplishments but also failures and key life turning points that shape the vision, purpose, values, passions, beliefs, and skill sets that we bring to creating value.” In Walter’s mind, “an outstanding example of just such a reflection is Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Speech. (While I agree that Jobs did a superb job of scrutinizing both the good and the bad, I wonder if someone completely ignorant of Steve Jobs could grasp his personal brand just based on the stories in his speech.)
- Your story — including your significant “ups” and “downs” — gives you a kind of credibility that not only rings true for your audience but makes them want to connect with you. Here’s the heart of the matter; if our personal brand and the story behind it comprise shallow boasts and nothing else, it will lack the authenticity, credibility, and emotional pull of of a story that mixes the bad with the good. After all, who among us have had a perfect life? Our foibles and triumphs are all part of what makes us human beings that other humans can connect with and empathize with.