I made a living as a business coach and consultant for about 20 years despite not really knowing what I did for people.
Oh, I called it a lot of things – marketing consultant, coach, educator, business writer. I’ve worked as a counselor, sometimes a mediator. I taught courses, developed educational programs, built web sites and marketing strategies, and generally helped people succeed in business and life. Along the way I got a master’s degree in counseling psychology, had two children, developed award winning educational programs, spoke to hundreds of groups, and successfully helped hundreds of business owners grow their business and make more money.
But listen for the subtlety here.
I said a made a good living.
I didn’t say a great living.
And I didn’t say I loved it either.
In fact, until I discovered what I’m going to talk about in a minute, I didn’t love my business and always felt like I was swimming upstream, struggling to define what I did and explain it to people so that they would ‘get me’. I wanted regular clients, a thriving business, and people coming to me, instead of me always being on a “I need more clients” marketing treadmill.
Here’s what I know.
When people come to me with a business problem, I could sit down with them and within a short period of time, I could see the big picture, see what they were telling themselves and the world, and help them re-direct, re-frame and re-tell their story in a way that helped them go forward. I could see what they couldn’t, and point them and their business in the direction they needed to go.
To me, every business is like a diamond. People would come to me with their diamond buried 6 feet under a pile of rock, and I’d not only find it, I’d help them dig it out, polish it, and present it to the world. People loved working with me, and I loved helping them.
But again, once I’d finished my work with them, I’d be back on the “where’s my next client?” approach to ad-hoc marketing, and all the work/stress that goes along with it.
The “Where’s My Diamond?” Moment
But one day, in my ‘between clients’ panic phase, I realized that what was my greatest strength in dealing with other people, was my greatest weakness in my own business.
WOOAAA… STOP THE BUS! This is SO counterintuitive, I couldn’t spin my head around it.
But, here’s what I realized, and it changed everything for me.
My greatest strength was I could discover what people needed, put it into clear concepts, and create the solution they most needed at that moment.
So, what I was doing with my marketing is responding to what people needed and adjusting myself and my programs/services to fit. This worked for me to a certain extent, because my greatest strength is as a fluid creative thinker and communicator who can ‘find the diamond’ and dig it up.
But what didn’t work about it was that I was responding to other people’s diamonds, and not finding, digging up, and presenting my own unique, beautiful and shining diamond. Not having my own diamond was keeping me on that treadmill of constantly re-inventing myself, and looking like every other business coach out there. I was being what I thought people wanted instead of who I actually was.
I wasn’t doing what I was so good at helping other people do.
The classic case of the shoemaker’s kids with no shoes.
And there I was barefoot.
What is my Diamond?
So barefoot and bewildered, I knew had to take ‘that thing’ I do with my clients, dig it up, polish it and present it to world. I had to apply my own techniques and processes to myself in a big way and FIND the diamond, and once I did this, I had to bring this amazing diamond out to the world in a way that can be easily understood, taught and transmitted.
Because I know there are many amazing business owners out there who have heart-based, kick-ass cool businesses who struggle with the same ‘where am I going to get my next client?’ stress that I struggled with for years, and sadly, many may not survive or thrive, or get their amazing message and projects out to the world because of it.
So, (not to drag out the suspense too much longer), I discovered that my diamond was that I am a story-maker and storyteller. Story was the one thread that tied everything together. It has defined me all my life, from childhood till now. It weaves its way into all the various hats I wore over the years.
My love of speaking and storytelling was why I won the “poetry reciting” contest at age 6.
It was why my master’s degree and thesis centred around meaning-centred narrative.
It was why I put on wicked Harry Potter parties for my kids, and (ok, before I had kids) averaged a novel a week.
It’s in my blood, and my heritage (I also discovered the Clan Currie were the traditional bards and poets of Scotland). It is who I am and forms part of the legacy I want to leave to the world.
Why this is Wonderful
What’s wonderful about being a story-maker and story-teller is that it is story-based marketing and story-centred speaking is crucial to ‘get’ in the business world. In today’s competitive, rapidly-changing social media world, the business that builds its brand, its operations and its marketing/sales plans around a consistent and compelling story thrives, and I knew that business owners needed help to do that effectively.
Change is coming, and the future belongs to those who tell the most compelling stories.
Companies and people that get this, that build their business growth strategies and marketing activities around an authentic story that advances the story their customers are already telling themselves, are successful and get more clients and customers. The common trait of a company that is ‘being a better story’ is that they are (as Facebook calls it) “social by design”, and their customers are more than willing to send them more business, stay loyal, and even share the story around with their friends and with other businesses.
It’s also wonderful, because I didn’t have to ‘re-invent’ anything. I just had to be who I was, and be it fully, authentically and publicly. As I discovered, crafted and told my stories, I became what I always was, but this time, it was clearly communicated, it was unique, and it was a lot more fun!
If you want to read more about me, please feel free to do so, but the bottom line is that I am a story strategist who can help you find, polish and present the beautiful diamond that is you and your business to the world.
And in doing so, you will get off that stressful ‘I need more clients’ treadmill and build a thriving business that you love.