The Storytelling Entrepreneur

If you strive to be a successful entrepreneur it’s incumbent upon you to be able to persuade others to buy from you whether it’s a product, a service, and idea or whatever. The same goes for you even if you aren’t an entrepreneur. Somewhere along the line you must convince someone else to say “yes” to you. With that as the backdrop, consider the following pitches for the same product.

Scenario #1: The Jimmy Styks Apex Hybrid 114 Stand-Up Paddle Board is one of the best paddle boards on the market today. This paddle board is 11’4” in length, 32” in width and amazingly light at 33 pounds with a thickness of only 4.8”. The 5” nose rocker and the 3” tail rocker offer tremendous stability for this sleek wave runner. And its rugged design will accommodate an NFL-sized bruiser of up to 260-pounds. Real bamboo inlays provide superior strength, and utility tie-downs keep your gear in place while you paddle. The board is camera mount ready, and a carry handle is included for easy transport to and from the water. This is a top-of-the-line model and will give you years of pleasure on the water.

Scenario #2: I went on a journey the other day. But it wasn’t the kind of journey with which you might be familiar. The ocean was like glass and I could see to the bottom 40 feet below. Fish were swimming everywhere and I saw a baby octopus poke out from between two rocks. My Jimmy Styks Stand-Up Paddle Board was my constant companion as I glided effortlessly across the surface. After about 20 minutes something glistening caught my eye. The sun was bright overhead and I stopped to look. There it was again! Something was definitely on the bottom and was shining in such a way as though it was beckoning to me. I dove to the bottom and gently brushed back the sand. Yes! It was a Spanish gold doubloon. I brought it to the surface for closer inspection and found it to be in perfect condition with a mint stamp of 1798. Wow! I dove back to the same spot and there, waiting for me, were five more doubloons – a truly amazing find. Thankfully my Jimmy Styks comes equipped with a carrying case into which I stashed my treasure and utilized the built-in gear tie-downs.

Since that first journey I’ve taken many others to the same spot. Fortunately, my Jimmy Styks can hold a lot of weight, up to 260-pounds. I only weigh 180 so I was able to haul a lot more treasure from that spot with each visit. I mounted a GoPro camera on the board to record my recovery effort and was gratified that my bamboo-constructed Jimmy Styks was so stable, even with the weight of shifting gold, diamonds, and emeralds. Yes – I also found exquisite baubles on the ocean floor as well – a real pirate’s treasure. In all, there was 100 pounds of the stuff. And I was able to quit my job and now live the life of leisure thanks to my Jimmy Styks Apex Hybrid 114 Stand-Up Paddle Board.

Far too often we try to persuade others with facts and figures. While important, facts and figures don’t tell the whole story. And that’s just the point. Storytelling is a much more powerful method to help someone buy something. I don’t know about you, but I would be much more inclined to have an interest in purchasing a Jimmy Styks Stand Up Paddle Board after listening to the story in Scenario #2. The recitation of facts in Scenario #1 was fine, but I wasn’t particularly inspired. Customers are more likely persuaded to buy from us when we inspire them in some fashion.

Storytelling is an effective way for us to help others buy from us. Painting a picture that someone can envision is more inspiring than simply pointing out facts and features.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

I Still Hate Eggplant and Rhubarb

Question: I attended an event recently and talked for quite a while with another individual. He was completely boring and didn’t have much to say beyond work stuff. It made me wonder if I too might be one-dimensional. How do I make sure I’m not?

Answer: Your self-awareness is an encouraging sign that you are on the right track. We entrepreneurs can have a tendency to be so focused on our work that we assume everyone else must be interested in this aspect of our lives. The first step in making certain we aren’t one-dimensional is to take a personal inventory. During the past 30-days, make note of all of the activities in which we have participated that are not work-related. If we’ve attended sporting events, the symphony, met friends for dinner, read a book or two, watched a documentary and volunteered at the local food bank, we are probably in pretty good shape.

If you find that you need a bit more variety in your life make a “bucket list.” This isn’t necessarily a bucket list of things you want to do before you die (though it can be), but is simply a list of things that you think might be interesting if you would ever stop eating, breathing and sleeping your work so much.

The hardest part about this is moving out of the work-focus mindset. To move forward and try new things we need to give ourselves permission to do so. That new product idea will still be ready for us to flesh out tomorrow if we take a cooking class tonight. We’ll still have time to complete the spreadsheet that needs to be created for next week’s presentation if we take a piano lesson or spend some time at the gym. Try new things. Meet new people. Twenty years ago there is no way that I would have envisioned doing the things I am now outside of my profession. And in so doing, it’s opened a whole new world for me that has made me a much better entrepreneur. Why? Because adding more dimension to my life has stimulated my creativity and kept me fresh. I’m more receptive to new concepts and I find it fascinating to talk to other people about many things other than business.

If you choose to walk down this path don’t despair if at first it’s a slow go. You’ve become accustomed to doing things a certain way and you can’t broaden your horizons overnight. But your enthusiasm will grow and I guarantee you’ll be a better entrepreneur and a better person overall.

The best antidote to being one-dimensional is an open mind. The world is full of opportunity beyond our own little backyard. There are so many new and wonderful things to experience. That said, I still hate eggplant and rhubarb.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.