When you own your story, you easily stand out in a noisy and crowded world by being your REAL self. The benefits are huge.
I was asked recently if and how my work had ever changed a client’s life. I have a few such stories, but this is the one I told.
Years ago, I was hired to help prepare a job-interview presentation (10 mins) for a leadership position in a semi-state company. Like 90% of the applicants, my client had extensive experience and relevant skills.
Your Story defines your USP
So, the personal aspect was key here. He needed to identify and clearly define his USP in relation to the job description. Owning your personal story is, as I’ve pointed out here, one of your brand stories and the more real it is, the more we need it now as we navigate our way in a post-pandemic world.
His personal story was ‘unconventional’ – left school and home at 17 and “bummed around” for 8 years, which included becoming an alcoholic (like his father), being homeless for a stretch, after three attempts finishing addiction therapy, completing a training-education programme with the help of one particular boss, who “gave me some slack, a lot of encouragement & kicked my ass when needed.”
It’s one thing to own your story and easily stand out. It’s another to get the value & relevance of that story across in a short presentation. Here’s what we did.
Your Story should build Audience Expectation
We decided to weave episodes of encounters between him & his boss into his presentation, incl. support, expectations & confrontations, etc., not revealing the identity of either party until the end (we’re building curiosity and tension here).
According to my client, the panel was clearly pulled into his story and anxiously waiting for the finale!
It wasn’t what they expected!
He was NOT the model boss. He was the difficult, sometimes disruptive and often challenging employee whose life had been turned around by a great leader!
A Story with an unexpected Outcome
Life, we know is NOT a Hollywood film. He didn’t get that job. He described afterwards the look of “horror” in some faces when he dropped the bomb at the end.
But that interview marked, he told me, a major turning point for him. He finally owned a hidden part of him that he’d kept well hidden in his career. It was the part that made him a REAL human.
And I helped him own that story!
That’s why I do what I do.
He was offered a very suitable job three job interviews later. We kept tweaking his presentation for each interview and he kept me posted on the different reactions to his ‘plot twist.’ When he was offered the job an hour after the interview, he got the external confirmation for what he himself knew and believed: “They saw the value of my experience for the role they had to fill. And they got me as a person”.