"There is no way this will live up to the hype," was my first thought as I clicked "purchase" on three tickets to see the Broadway smash hit Hamilton.
However, by the end of the first song I knew this was an incredible investment; not only for the life component of work-life balance, but as an entrepreneur. With underdog anthems like, "My Shot," and entrepreneurial lyrics calling to "rise up," it was as if they were singing my song. And the three million dollar takeaway (three million because that's what it's grossing weekly on Broadway) is in Hamilton's most important refrain "Who tells your story?"
Storytelling is a critical piece of business success; but modern day visionaries aren't the first ones to recognize the power of a good story. Here are two ways you can channel your inner-Founding Father and harness the power of their story and legacy.
1. Identify your story.
In order to harness your story, you have to know what it is. Alexander Hamilton knew his story; he overcame unimaginable obstacles, played a critical role in the revolution and birth of our country, and out worked everyone in an effort to leave an honorable legacy. Fortunately, you have several options to choose from.
One option is the Founder Story. This is the story of how the idea and company came to be. For example, long before Airbnb was a household name, it was a crazy idea to make enough money to cover rent. There are multiple pieces to the story; not just the first strangers to spend money to stay at a stranger's house, but also the politically charged cereal that kept the dream alive.
Another story to identify is your Purpose Story. This is the story of why you do what you do. TOMS shoes was famously built on the story of its founder, Blake Mycoskie about witnessing the suffering of children who didn't have shoes.
The third important story is a Character Story. This story serves to illustrate the kind of person you are. I saw this story in action on an early episode of Shark Tank.
A woman stood in front of the sharks wanting them to invest in her baby moccasin company. Though she was doing well, none of the sharks were jumping out of their fins to invest. Then, perhaps sensing the sharks' luke-warm response, the woman suddenly pivoted her pitch; she started telling the story of the summer she spent pounding glass out of aluminum window frames.
At the end of the summer, sweaty and exhausted, she took the frames down to the scrap yard and with the $200 they paid her, she bought one piece of fabric and started her moccasin company. The camera panned to the sharks who were all smiling toothy grins. Suddenly they weren't just looking at the features of her tiny shoes, now they were looking at a woman who would do anything to make her company work. Once they were invested in her personal story, they invested in her.
2. Tell your story. Often.
After the final bow from the cast of Hamilton, we walked out of the Richard Rogers theater on Broadway and made our way to Times Square. There, I had to stop for a minute to process what had just happened. Though the music and the actors were incredible, what makes Hamilton so profound is the realization that this whole story existed and no one knows it. I've carried ten dollar bills in my wallet on multiple occasions and just assumed the guy's face on it was just another President (which, Hamilton never was, by the way).
Hamilton is a tragic story; but the true tragedy is that we're just now hearing it.
In the age of hyper-connectedness, not telling your story is a big business problem. At best, you'll be forgotten. At worst, someone else might tell your story for you and you probably won't like their version.
Whether on social media or by speaking at events, once you identify your story, tell it. All the time. To anyone who will listen. Don't let centuries pass before the world knows the good work you're doing.
Like most people who paid the high price to see Hamilton, it is nearly impossible to articulate what makes the show worth every penny. Fortunately, I might get another shot. Since my return home and raving about it, I have caught my husband listening to the soundtrack on his own several times. He turns 40 this year. I think I know what I'll get him for his birthday... tickets to the show and a really good story.