How To Find Your Startup Story

Just keep getting the damn words on the page! You're still very early in the process. Even though it may seem like you're been doing a lot of writing you're still in the process of peeling back the layers to understand the larger story you want to tell. The only way to peel is by writing--so keep at it, girlfriend!


This quote is from the instructor of my memoir writing course. I've been writing for about a year and a half but when you're reliving your life, trying to hash out the most important moments to find the real story, it can feel like well---a lifetime. During the class we have opportunities to get feedback on our writing. Although it can be cringe-inducing at times, the feedback is the most valuable part of the experience. People skip over stories you labored over and linger in unexpected places. For a writer, a reader's feedback is critical as it offers the most telling sign of what resonates with your audience, whether you're on the right track or if you need to rip up the floor boards and start again to build the right foundation.

Finding Your Story
Finding the story while writing a memoir is not unlike a startup or small business trying to find the most compelling story they can tell about their value proposition to customers and potential investors. In the beginning it's a bit like a game of hide and seek. First you'll look in one place for the story and then another. It can go on this way for quite a while until you find the story that your audience grabs onto and your business really takes off.

Don't Quit
Don't worry. This is game of hide and seek is just a part of the process to refining your message. Don't give up! Don't wait for the perfect marketing message to appear before approaching your audience. Just keep crafting your story. Find out which parts of the story resonate with your audience. Actively look for the feedback of potential customers and investors. When someone takes an action on your site ask for their feedback. Recently, TechStars Boulder 2012 company 27 Perry, who has just launched their site publicly, contacted me to get my opinion. CEO Kelly James asked thoughtful questions about what appealed to me the most and was open to my thoughts. If she keeps doing this she'll find her story--probably sooner than later.

Just keep crafting and getting feedback. A story that resonates with your audience will emerge. Whatever you do--don't give up. Just keep peeling!

3 Things I Don't Understand

In the midst of writing marketing copy, blogging for startups and taking a writing class, to say that I've been burrowing into writing like an underground mole looking for a home wouldn't be an exaggeration. Many times I seek the refuge of personal writing when I need to make sense of something. When I'm in this space I'm generally pondering things that somehow have slipped through the synapses of my brain without sticking.

Things I don't understand:

A. Why they sell Halloween candy in August. 

B.  Why I love to memoirs about chefs even though I'm such a reluctant cook that my specialty is toast.

C.  Why I have such a love of startups.

After a long day of client work, mountain driving and car problems I went to bed last night thoroughly exhausted. You know, the kind where you just know that you're going to sleep deep, fast and hard. Those are the nights that usually give the body and the mind just the kind of rest it needs for deep regeneration.  Suddenly in the middle of the night, apparently 3am according to my Sleep Cycle app, I sat straight up in bed with a flash of insight. At some point it seems I took the red pill and The Matrix suddenly appeared before me and the once elusive answer appeared.

I love to see things transform.

  • Raw ingredients into delectable treats.
  • Clueless non-cooks morphing into full-fledged chefs.

  • An idea into a business that has solid impact or disrupts a market.

It's a transformation story. Taking a raw collection of materials and molding it into something useful for others is completely satisfying. I love creating a marketing department from the mere notion that it's critical way to support the business. There's something about writing a post for a business that helps them solidify their intellectual dominance that completes me.

This. This is why I love what I do so much.

It was one of those moments you dream of (lucidly and in your awakened state) where the answer you've been seeking finally bursts free from the burrows of your mind and into your consciousness. Having connected all the dots like one of those drawings in a child's workbook I am reminded that I'm on the right track. Sometimes you just gotta take a break to receive the answers you seek. Now my mind can move on to other pressing matters like why retailers think I should stock up on Halloween candy in the summer.

 

I hope you know what drives you at your core. And? That your work is completely wrapped up in it.
 

 

How to Kick Ass at Customer Service

As you get older even if you've had perfect vision, glasses become a necessity. Think about the market for glasses. Just about everyone will need them at some point. But while we need them we still want to look good right? As for me...I'm finally at that point where after a long day (14 hours some days) on the computer means my eyesight is a bit blurry without reading glasses. So, I went to startup Warby Parker

Why I Selected Warby Parker
- Buzz.
They were the talk of the town at SXSW so I figured it would be good to learn more.
- Charity. When you buy a pair they donate a pair of glasses to a needy person.
- Great pricing model. Each pair costs only $95!

What I learned as I ordered my pair was that they're fantastic marketers. The best part of their marketing is that it feels so natural and organic to who they are as a brand. They strike just the right balance between being cool and being too earnest. Of course they have a product that is just ripe for kick ass customer service and yet...they still knock it out of the park.

The Evidence

Video. When I mentioned how excited I was that my very first Warby Parker glasses were coming soon I got this message in reply.

High Touch. They have high-levels of engagement on their facebook page. People consistently post their Home Try-ons with multiple people giving feedback. Warby Parker weighs in on every. single. post.


 

 

Sense of Humor. Their April Fool's Day joke was just brilliant, well done and super fun. Take a look yourself.

Yes, this post has far more dogs than it really should. I know, I'm shameless like that. But c'mon. A dog--wearing a monocle? How could I resist?