It’s All About Being Story Driven – What Type of Business Are you?

It’s All About Being Story Driven – What Type of Business Are you?

August 7, 2020 2 By Shannon McCaffery

Been reading Story Driven: You Don’t Need to Compete When You Know Who You Are by Bernadette Jiwa, whom I had never heard of before.  I was listening to Seth Godin’s book last week – This is Marketing, and he mentioned her storytelling and writing.  (I would totally recommend his book and will do a post on this soon.) So I checked her out and bought a couple of her books.

I’d say I’m on a listening and reading frenzy at the moment. Since I’ve dedicated most mornings to long walks with the dogs, I’ve gotten through books so much faster.

Well, in Bernadette’s book (this is a book review after all), she talks about how there are two types of businesses in the world – 

1 – Competition Driven Businesses – Who are reactive to the marketplace, focused on beating competitors, racking up profits, and winning at all costs. They want to dominate the market and maximize shareholder value. Think Volkswagon, airlines, wireless phone companies, etc.

 2- Story-Driven Businesses – Who are responsive, focused on customers, and what matters. “They don’t try to matter by winning. They win by mattering. The people that build them know what they stand for and act on those beliefs.”  These businesses thrive because they have a connection between their purpose and their prosperity. Their ultimate goal is simply to make a difference. Think Tesla, Apple, Fiasco Gelato, IKEA, and Wikipedia.

She specifically talks about Tesla’s success. One of the many reasons Tesla has succeeded is that when Elon Musk (who was an original first-round investor) invested in the business, he backed a vision that he believed long before he had met the Tesla founders. He was about to start in a Ph.D. program at Stanford to study sustainable batters, and he dropped out to start an internet company.

His purpose and the reason the company exists is “To accelerate the advent of sustainable energy, so that we can imagine far into the future and life is still good. “ 

And  his vision and aspirations for the future are so “Expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric company.”

I love businesses that have a purpose and a vision, and they live it, breathe it. Plus, I think this is a beneficial exercise to take a step back and look at your own business and remember why you started it.

What type of business do you have, competitive or story-driven? 

What’s your business’s purpose, the reason it exists, and your vision, your aspiration for the future? 

When you nail these down and live them, the magic starts to happen in your business.

As an aside, something really cool Tesla did when they first started, which I think you definitely need to do before you create anything else for your business, is to ask their prospects to come, THEN build it!

When Tesla started, they said they were building a roadster and asked for preorders with a deposit of $1,000. So they gathered a ton of orders and knew they were onto something. They created demand. THEN they built the car. How innovative is that for the car industry? This had never been done before in that industry.

So what does all this mean for you in your business?

Don’t create ANYTHING until you create and know there’s a demand for it.

There’s also the more significant valuable lesson in investing time to reflect and remember why you are in business.  And how things that happened in your past actually shaped your business, your work. 

If you want to continue to do work that matters, dig deeper, connect to your own personal stories, and share them with your clients, customers, and in your communications. This is soulful, authentic, and real marketing.

Some Specifics and Quick Book review to Entice You to Read it!

Quick Summary:  When reading this book, it will show you how to stop competing and start succeeding by being who you are in your business. When you do that, you will be able to do work you’re proud of and create the vision for the future you want to see.

WHO Ought to Read this Book: If you want to be a company that exists and is profitable BECAUSE it helps people thrive, then you gotta read this book! It’s appropriate for any business, entrepreneur, big and small. I love it because she walks you through the questions and framework on how to create your mission, vision, and values. It’s not about competition. It’s about you and your business and being your unique self. And that starts with your story.

Why Read this Book?  It will help you create your own unique story that your business will have as it’s the foundation. In today’s world, it’s about differentiating and standing out from the crowd. If you’ve read Story Brand by Donald Miller, this book takes it to a whole other level. One where it gets to your core of WHY you’re in business, what are your values, and what’s your vision for the future. A good example is when you create a business like Starbucks. Where it’s former CEO Howard Shultz decided to give ALL his employees insurance because of the tragedies his family suffered as a child because his dad didn’t have insurance, that’s a pretty powerful story.

Couple of Things You Will Discover: Bernadette teaches us how to know who we are, what we stand for, where we are headed, and what has made us personally, our brand, and our organization. More importantly, she teaches us why this story is important to be told. Forget about the competition and focus on what makes you and your business unique and valuable. 

Framework for Your Story:

  1. Strategy – Align opportunities, plans & behavior
  2. Vision – Aspiration(s) for the future
  3. Purpose – Reason to Exist as a business in the world
  4. Values – These are your own personal and maybe even company values that are YOUR GUIDING BELIEFS
  5. Backstory – Journey to now – how in the world did you get here, do tell

Some questions to answer about your story to get at the heart of it:
1. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
2. What did doing the hard thing teach you about yourself?
3. Who are the two people who have had the biggest impact on your life?
4. What did you learn from them?
5. What was your first job, and what valuable lessons did you learn there?
6. What’s your proudest memory? Why?

These are only the first section of questions. I’d encourage you to definitely get the book and check out Part Three – Developing Your Story-Driven Strategy. (Page 133)

Quotes (from the book) that Will Inspire You:
A Great Company is…:
“a great company doesn’t just thrive because it’s profitable; it’s profitable because it helps people to thrive.”

Vision, Strategy & Products:
“If a vision is a distant goal in the future, the strategy is the route to getting there, the plan for realizing your vision. Often, we start with an idea for a product or service, unsure of the contribution the product or business will make over time.”

Bernadette’s Goal for You:
“My goal is to give you an alternative- a way to discover (or rediscover) and stay true to who you are and to remain conscious of how your contribution can impact the world.”

The Difference Between Mission & Vision:
“Your mission is your purpose-which is the term I prefer and have chosen to use for the sake of clarity… it’s the reason your company exists. Your purpose is why you do what you do today and every day. Your vision is your aspiration for the future, the contribution you or your work will make. “

Great Companies:
“Great companies have something in common: they don’t try to matter by winning. They win by mattering. The people who build them know what they stand for and act on those beliefs.”

Courage and Conviction:
“Consistently being true to yourself and true to your word is one of the secrets to living a good life. It’s also the secret to crafting, telling, and living an authentic story that resonates.”

About the Author: Bernadette Jiwa is a recognized global authority on business philosophy and the value of story in business, innovation, and marketing and the author of several best-selling books on marketing and brand storytelling. Her popular blog was voted Best Australian Business Blog in 2012 and has featured three times on Smart Company’s Best Australian Business Blog list, topping it in 2016.

Where I Would Recommend You Get Your Copy:

If you want to discover more, I’d highly recommend Bernadette Jiwa’s book. It was a short and terrific read. Plus, she has more interesting books on Audible.

Other Books Totally Worth Checking Out by Bernadette Jiwa:
– Hunch: Turn Your Everday Insights Into the Next Big Thing I just finished reading this one! If you’re looking for the next big idea to create and want some inspiration – this is it!

– Marketing: A Love Story: How to Matter to Your Customers

– Difference: The One-Page Method for Reimagining Your Business and Reinventing Your Marketing

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