By Carrie Rich, co-founder and CEO of The Global Good Fund.
At the 2015 EY Strategic Growth Forum, I had the good fortune of sitting next to Larry Janesky, a prominent business leader, inventor and author, among many other impressive attributes. After listening to Larry's thoughtful perspective, I signed up for his daily email subscription, which sends me a short, thought-provoking message each morning. One of them read, "Be your own chief storyteller."
This statement resonated with me. While establishing my business and growing myself professionally, I have found it to be challenging, yet critically important, to tell my own story through my actions and across multiple platforms.
The more successful entrepreneurs I have come to know, the more I realize that an entrepreneur's story is integral to his or her public perception: Your personal story gives context, emphasizes personality traits and strengths, and makes you human.
With that said, I believe that there are key tenets of any well-told story. If you're an entrepreneur who wants to make a strong connection with others -- including your market, peers, and investors -- here are some tips to keep in mind as you establish yourself as your own chief storyteller.
1. Be intentional about the story you write.
If you allow your story to write itself over time, i.e. if you don't dedicate effort to enrich and reflect on your personal story, you lose the opportunity to gain agency in developing your public image. Make sure that the story you tell captures your spirit and reflects your most cherished values and lessons.
2. Take advantage of the opportunity before someone else does.
If you don't tell your own story, someone else will. Not sharing information about your life might invoke other people to write a narrative -- potentially different than the one you're living -- that "fills in the blanks" where you haven't included complete information about your life.
By not sharing your story, your run the risk of having other people make assumptions about you, which could negatively affect your image and the ability for others to identify with your efforts.
3. Take an open approach.
Sharing information about my personal life in business circles and on social media goes against my natural inclinations. I am, after all, an introvert, and I value privacy.
However, I have found that people deeply appreciate a more open approach.
When you are transparent about why and how you make business and life decisions, people relate to your thought process, goals and values, and they feel a camaraderie after learning your story.
4. Humanize yourself.
Your story is an important opportunity to humanize yourself as an entrepreneur: to become more than just a face for your brand and to build a perception of authenticity. Because a successful entrepreneur's story is often spotted with failures and tribulations, telling your story is a humbling exercise.
Transparency garners empathy and respect from others. It's integral to tell your story both in trying times and in good times. Sharing your successes selectively with your network can make you seem disingenuous. Start publishing content about your failures.
I found this method to be a transparent, humbling way of sharing my lessons learned while growing The Global Good Fund. When I want to share positive elements of my story, I try to have other successful people highlight them. This ownership of your shortcomings, while enlisting the help of others to call attention to your successes, is one method of demonstrating humility when telling your story.
Lastly, it's important to be intentional. No great success story has simply fallen into place. Of the entrepreneurs who have compelling and inspirational stories, I've found that most have published introspective and retrospective articles, quotations or interviews about the highs and lows of their journeys.
Be self-reflective as you embark on the journey to be your own chief storyteller.
Carrie Rich is the co-founder and CEO of The Global Good Fund.