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Our journey begins as young professionals stepping into the job market. We craft a “story” tailored to what we believe the “right people” want to hear. This narrative often emphasizes academic accomplishments: test scores, grade point averages, class rankings, and the quantity of college admission offers. Gradually, this narrative morphs into our resume or business biography, encompassing employment dates and job titles. We repeatedly share this story, modifying and enhancing it as necessary to captivate potential schools, employers, partners, and others. However, the crucial realization is this: The conventional business bio does not truly represent your story.

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Examine your LinkedIn profile. It represents a typical business bio, showcasing the essentials: your educational background, past job roles, and possibly some positive recommendations. However, it only lightly touches on what makes you uniquely individual. Consider instances when you’ve browsed through the LinkedIn profile of someone unfamiliar. Did you feel a real connection with them after reading it? While a LinkedIn profile is undoubtedly useful, and a summary of achievements offers a glimpse into the person behind it, there’s a significant distinction: A basic business bio centers on your ‘WHAT’ rather than your ‘WHY’.

Clarify Your WHY

Your ‘WHY’ embodies your purpose, and your values in action, and serves as your guiding North Star. When you find yourself off course, your ‘WHY’ directs you back to the right path and maintains your forward momentum. Gaining clarity on your ‘WHY’ empowers you to actively pursue your purpose, live true to your core values, and honor your calling.

Everyone possesses a ‘WHY’, though it may not always be immediately apparent. Signs pointing to this vital part of your narrative are scattered throughout your life. To clarify your ‘WHY’, embark on a journey of self-exploration. Delve into your upbringing, values, personality traits, strengths, and the people and events that have shaped your current path. If you’re just beginning, start by listing your top 10 values, focusing on those you actively embody rather than aspirational ones. Engage in a ‘Values in Action Tracker‘ activity to refine your list, identifying the values that are most prevalent in your daily life.

Next, explore the links between your core values and specific people or causes you ardently support, whether in your profession, business, or volunteer endeavors. For instance, two of my foremost values are empowerment and education. I apply these in my social enterprise, which aids women business owners. By aligning these values with the demographic my business serves, my ‘WHY’ crystallizes: to empower and educate women entrepreneurs. Engaging in a ‘Tiny WHY Statement‘ activity can be an effective way to succinctly express your ‘WHY’.

 

Tell a New Story

Once you’ve identified your ‘WHY’, articulating it confidently through a ‘Whyography’ can forge connections with others who share your beliefs. This is particularly crucial for entrepreneurs. Today, consumers increasingly spend their money to effect change, supporting businesses that align with their values. The same principle applies to investors and employees.

A ‘Whyography’ is more than just a basic narrative. Instead of presenting a polished list of facts embellished with marketing jargon, a ‘Whyography’ conveys your journey authentically—raw, real, and relatable. It eloquently expresses the problems you are addressing and the impact you aim to make in the world. Combining the art of storytelling with the power of purpose, a ‘Whyography’ acknowledges the journey that has led you to where you are today.

Mastering the art of storytelling requires two key tools: a timeline and a story arc. Before penning your story, utilize the ‘Whyography Journey Map‘ to chart pivotal moments in your journey. Push yourself to delve deeper than the information listed on your LinkedIn profile. Concentrate on significant events that directly relate to your ‘WHY’. A structured story arc, as provided by the ‘Whyography Framework‘, aids in cohesively assembling your narrative, outlining the trajectory of your story with clarity and purpose.

While a key ingredient in a Whyography is your WHY, its secret sauce is the science of storytelling. Research shows you can build a lasting connection with your audience by stimulating multiple areas of their brain—basic bios simply don’t do this. Start your story with a big moment. Aim to engage all the senses as you share the details of your journey. Learn more in this Brain on Stories video.

“Every day in America, women business owners are denied access to resources to achieve success. But a growing community of fierce founders are refusing to settle for the status quo. They know what they stand for and they want everyone else to know too. Rather than focusing on WHAT they do, they’re leading with their WHY. “

Decide to Lead with Your WHY

Are you satisfied using a basic business bio to show the world WHAT you do—or are you ready to connect with others who care about WHY you’re doing it? Are you content serving customers who are driven by consuming commodified goods and services—or are you ready to build a community that respects your approach and rallies around your mission? Are you comfortable with the status quo—or are you ready to get the resources and opportunities you deserve? You get to decide.

About the author: Chris Olsen is a radio veteran turned communications consultant, educator, and author of “Whyography: Building a Brand Fueled by Purpose.” Through her work as a consultant partnering with startups, Chris realized her WHY—to support women-owned businesses in confidently communicating their purpose and impact, setting them up for entrepreneurial success. She created My Founder Story as a platform for doing so.

Whyography: Building a Brand Fueled by Purpose
$23.99

This guidebook to developing your Whyography includes dozens of exercises and examples, plus the inspirational stories of more than 30 fierce founders who are leading with their WHY.

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07/24/2024 01:25 am GMT

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