How To Make Your Story Sell: Another Demonstration…

I still remember being at an old friends’ place and we were talking about the TV sitcom ‘How I Met Your Mother‘. While discussing the characters, my friend mentioned that Barney Stinson (played by Neil Patrick Harris) thought Johnny Lawrence was the real hero of the original ‘Karate Kid’ movie. I cracked up at this: of COURSE Barney would think the bully in that movie was actually the good guy. You can check the clip out for yourself:

Skip forward a few years and I discover there’s a new series coming out on YouTube Red, ‘Cobra Kai‘- and it’s a follow on from the original ‘Karate Kid’ trilogy. As a Goju-Kai student myself (and someone who enjoyed the original trilogy) I was curious to check it out. Would they do the movies justice, or would they (like other franchises) tarnish the canon with poor casting, cringe-worthy characters or shoehorned moral lecturing to reflect Current Year sensibilities? So with a little trepidation, I signed up for the free trial of YouTube Red, sat back and played Season 1, episode 1 of ‘Cobra Kai‘…

What can I say? I loved it. They did the original movies perfect justice, and every featured character from the original movie/s were played by the same actors. And (instead of inserting sugary platitudes to reflect todays’ uptight sensitivities) in many cases they directly laugh at our contemporary moral puritanism.

Sure, there were a couple of character tie-ins that felt a little too convenient to the storyline, and some of the fight scenes are hard to believe- but aside from that, ‘Cobra Kai‘ was (is) a fantastic story that does perfect justice to the original franchise. And here was the other thing:

I no longer saw Johnny Lawrence as the bad guy. In fact, I might go so far as to say I was rooting for him and there was one notable reason for this change: For the first time, we got to discover Johnny’s story, find out more about his life not just back in the ‘Karate Kid‘ universe circa 1984, but also in the present day. All these gaps we’d given little previous thought to existing were filled in, and rather than presenting the picture of a spoiled rich kid using his physical (and social) prowess to bully poor Daniel Larusso, instead we saw a story that felt all too real. It was the story of a young boy with a sour, verbally-abusive step-father who bullied him and provided nothing Johnny needed apart from money. Here was the story of a young man who instead found that father-figure in the form of the talented, disciplined (but deeply flawed) Sensei John Kreese. Yet he would also let Johnny down, evidently leading to the downward spiral of Johnny’s life had taken in the years since:

From laughing about Barney Stinson thinking Johnny was the hero, to wanting to see Johnny succeed and identifying with him on some level- how did this happen? It happened because for the first time, as an audience we discovered Johnny’s story. He was no longer just that cocky blond teenager we wanted to see crane-kicked into defeat. He became somebody very real to us, somebody we cared about. We had Johnny’s story shared with us little by little over each episode and (to date) 3 seasons, and that resonated with us.

All it could take for some people to go from scoffing at you to becoming your biggest fan, is just sharing your story with them.

Just last week I spent nearly an hour on the phone chatting with a colleague of mine, she’s bubbly and energetic and has several business ideas on the go as I’m writing this. As we spoke, she told me about all of the different experiences she’s had and the things she’s put her hand to and I said “You need to start a blog or write a book!” I know that doing so will make people- even those who know her to some degree already- gain a new level of appreciation for her: what she’s really about, her story, her passion- and in turn it will draw them closer to her.

By sharing her story with new leads or colleagues she’s known for some time, she strengthens the connection they already have, which (in turn) makes it more likely that those people are going to mention her or recommend her to others. It won’t merely be that she has the personality, but she also has a story to share, and that is what’s going to make the difference between being a face in the crowd and THAT face in the crowd.

You might be involved in business networking online or offline, and there’s people you’ve come to know for some time in a professional sense. You know each others’ names, know what they do, the name of their company and maybe if you meet somebody new you can connect with them, reach out and arrange the meeting. But they still only know you at a middle distance. Safe. Neutral. They don’t know your story. In this day and age, people love to hear stories-

You go back through my articles over the months and years up until now and I’d like to think through that time I’ve shared my story. This is how you develop a real connection with people and get them to care about your goals, get them to remember you.

So ask yourself: What stories could you start sharing with your audience that would turn them from mildly interested to invested in you and what you have to say?

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