I spend a fair amount of time talking to startups, from bakeries, to apps and everything in between.  These conversations almost always start the same way, with a story.  Sometimes it is my story, a daring tale of strange adventures, wrong turns, slain dragons and comic mishaps. Other times it is the founder regaling me with her own story of inspiration and execution in a land of opportunity.   Either way our first impressions are often influenced by the power of the stories we tell.

I’ll Tumble For You

I have long been a believer in the power of stories.  When I started this blog several years ago I wrote a quick piece on some of the books I had read. One of them “What’s Your Story” by my friend Craig Wortmann.  You can read the post here.  His book is one I return to a couple of times every year.  The reason is that storytelling is an increasingly important skill in business.

I think of storytelling as the equivalent of a forward somersault in gymnastics.  It is a core ability upon which others are built.  Know a good sales person? I bet they are a good storyteller.  Know a good product manager?  Ask them to tell you the use case stories they use to define and optimize their product.  Know a great leader?  You get the point.

The Three Stories You Tell in Startups

Fred Wilson wrote a blog post that shared some timeless advice he had been given years ago about the job of a CEO.  In it he identifies the 3 jobs of a CEO.

  1. Sets the overall vision and strategy of the company and communicates it to all stakeholders.
  2. Recruits, hires, and retains the very best talent for the company.
  3. Makes sure there is always enough cash in the bank.

These are, in fact, three stories you, as a startup, must be able to tell.  Your ability to do so in a smart and compelling way is the foundation to your company’s success.  Stories drive and reinforce behavior.  Remember the monsters in the closet that kept us in our beds, or the one about the cherry tree, the future president and lies? So tell me why I should care about your company, join your team or fund you with investment or purchase.  If you tell it well enough your startup will live happily ever after.


One response to “Storytime

  1. Great post. When I started working on Kurbi I came across Felds post. I literally had no idea what a startup CEO should be concerned with other than product execution. I like the spin on the three jobs of a CEO … thinking of them as a story could be really helpful.

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