The Story of You

Emiel van den Boomen

You’ve told the story of you a million times, or so you think. You’re sure that anyone who stumbles into your web presence will know who you are, and will know the storyline up until that point. You sometimes feel so sick of telling the story of you, because you’ve done it so much.

Except we haven’t heard it. Someone new has come to your site and hasn’t the first clue who you are, what you represent, what matters to you, and what they should expect from spending time with you.

How Others Do It

In sitcoms, there are little moments that let the characters reinforce who they are. Kramer would smash through Jerry’s door with a hare-brained idea every episode. George would prove that he just wasn’t the most giving person in the world. It happened every week, so that we, the dumb audience who might have just tuned in for the first time, would get the picture pretty quickly who we were dealing with.

Your blog is an opportunity to tell the story of you, and the best storytellers are the ones that get you thinking about yourself when you read their story. When they talk about growing up in a town where they felt that people didn’t get them, you remember growing up in a place where people maybe didn’t understand you, either. But you’ll never feel that connection, unless you remember to retell the story of you, often.

Variations on a Theme

The best way to retell the story of you is to vary up how you do it. Sometimes, the story of you can be about that time you were looking for work, and what you did to stand out from the crowd (and this information should hopefully help your audience). Other times, you might want to tell about something that went wrong for you and how you handled it (so that people understand your character). Tell different stories about the world around you, and use your own unique lens to get them back to understanding that you’re helping them understand themselves.

The Story of You Needs Repeating

People who read this blog in 2004 learned alongside me on my quest for better fitness. People in 2006 heard my enthusiasm for new media. In 2007, I wrote a lot about community. Now, I’ve written a lot in the last month about the future, but haven’t really talked about my ideas on how we can best use these tools to build quality content, community, and marketplace solutions. I’m not retelling the story of me very well, and thus, I’m not serving you very well.

We all need refresher courses. You could write your blog anew by retelling the story of you. People want to know about you. You’re important and what you’ve learned will help others learn about themselves.

Could you tell me a bit more about you?

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  • Jack Lynady

    I loved the Seinfeld reference. I was just thinking how much I missed those characters. Did u notice how they tried to do “individual” spin-offs that didn’t work? There is something about “your story” fitting into the “we story” resulting in the “our story” that can’t be manufactured or easily duplicated.

  • http://www.advancedwebads.com/sc/164 Randy Addison

    Actually, I tell something about myself in the most unexpected time in a conversation or a talk. That way people will be able to be surprised and also be able to adapt with your pace.

  • http://www.advancedwebads.com/sc/164 Randy Addison

    Actually, I tell something about myself in the most unexpected time in a conversation or a talk. That way people will be able to be surprised and also be able to adapt with your pace.

  • http://www.advancedwebads.com/sc/164 Randy Addison

    Actually, I tell something about myself in the most unexpected time in a conversation or a talk. That way people will be able to be surprised and also be able to adapt with your pace.

  • http://mattsearles.com matt searles

    I’ve been somewhat obsessed with story for.. the last few months I guess.

    I’ve always had this thing.. that the story you say at AA about your alcoholism is a different story then what you tell in a job interview.. but.. if you really want to get there attention at the job interview the AA story.. just might do it… if for no other reason then a good AA story is a powerful story of tragedy and everything else… and.. in job interviews.. people can be so fixated on painting a wonderful image of them selves.. that it puts there audience in the position of being that much more skeptical and..

    Not that I’m an alcoholic.. but I did play one in college.. err, more of a pot headed LSD taking.. err.. well it was art school…

    There this post modern polymorphic identity issue.. with respect to identity.. which has a lot of implications, I think, in how we tell our stories..

    I think of it.. though this isn’t exactly the polymorphic identity thing.. but in terms of the Jungian notion of persona.. these being masks greek actors would put on.. a persona is both the roll you are playing and the moral implication of that roll.. mother, father, indian chief.. whatever.. and Jung’s idea is that you put on and off masks to suite the situation.. as a pose to the old asian idea of identifying your self with the mask…

    But.. then there’s also that old Zen saying “show me the face you had before you were born” which is a bit like the persona thing.. but it’s a little bit deeper.. it’s saying.. look.. you’re identity? Yeah, it’s just a bunch of stories you tell your self..

    So there’s this level of our own becoming.. self realizing… all that stuff.. where we have to get beyond whatever stories we tell about our selves.

    So that’s just the start of it.. then there are these deep issues of aesthetic and then these deep issues of process.. or maybe “story theory” and how you might relate to that.. and how you might wield that.

    I’d sorta analogize this with music making. Every week I go to this bar.. and usually at some point during the night I’ll get up on stage with the house band and play.. I play a kind of harmonic minor modalism.. so that’s like.. miles davis.. meets.. classical.. actually.. it’s like Megadeth of a certain period..

    Anyway… so as a result of how I relate to theory, basically.. I can nearly play any note.. and it won’t be a wrong note. I can literally be falling down drunk.. and pull it off.. and that really comes down to how I’m conceptualizing music.. and how I’m interacting with that conceptual framework.. and the other musicians.. whom.. accept for the fellow who went to Berklee.. are all a little baffled by me.

    But.. you know.. I think it’s funny if we survey the conversations surround public relations and social media.. with the idea of a story.. and obviously “a brand is a story,” you see so many people so fearful of miss steps.. and in my view.. they’re nuts.. there are no miss steps…

    What there are are two things… #1 There’s what you will.. and the relationship of what happens to what you willed.. if it’s “a bad relationship” you call it a mistake.. you know? #2 There’s the frame work you’re using to think about it.. and the implications of that framework.. which depending on how mature that framework is.. and sorta.. the objectives you followed in building your framework.. is going to effect what is a good or bad note.

    So like.. a few months ago.. I was off at the Boston Media makers.. and a PR friend happened to show up whom I sorta hanged out with… he’s a Sr PR guy.. and.. well anyway.. when I told my story.. I crushed it.. I mean it was freaking epic..

    After the thing.. talking to my friend.. he tells me he’s mad at me.. thinking I scared everyone off from any interest in working with me. It took a long conversation.. of explaining my framework.. and objectives.. “did you notice it was a room full of influencers?” “Often if you want to do ‘viral marketing’ you need to prep the ecosystem?” “Did you not notice how quiet the room was.. how focused I got there attention?”

    The story I told was one of amazing struggle… it was like giving an AA story at a job interview.. but I had worked out how to tell that story in that context to achieve my objectives.. by developing a different kind of framework for thinking about objectives, strategy, outcomes…

    My friend was just thinking I should be trying to get a job and be fearful of doing anything that would cause pause in someone wanting to work with me.. never mind that I came out of that night with 3 job leads… interview requests.. and a request to talk at two events.

    For me the thing is.. I believe that we all need to be fundamentally rethinking business and how business operates.. because implicit in business as usual and the status quo are a whole number of presumptions.. many of which totally unconscious.. about “how things work in the real world” or just on the level of management theory.. or just whatever.. that probably had some kind of “survival value” for business once upon a time.. but as the rate of change increases.. the market ecological context.. and so many other things… change.. many taken for granted presumptions no longer make sense.. and the influence these presumptions place on our concept of what reality is.. or to put it in a military language.. our situational awareness.. or idea of the possible outcomes we might understand as successful.. all of this rest on what is underlying how we understand stuff….

    So much of how 99.999% of folks talk about social media and the digital channels is one where these presumptions go unexamined.. we are simply taking old business models and trying to jam them into a new context.. or see how we can sorta use a little duck tape to make them work.. without really rethinking the whole thing.

    And the thing is.. if you really get serious about rethinking this stuff.. it has a huge influence on how you think about story… and what notes are right and wrong..

    And what you have to understand is.. at any given time.. you are kinda really only capable of hitting certain notes.. and there are only certain notes that really resonate.. and nothing resonates if it’s too in line with the normative stuff of how people are talking.. because fundamentally what we are aware of is how things are different from the norm…

    Jesus.. I need to f’n re put up a blog so I can use these rants for blog posts instead of comments on your blog!!! What is wrong with me???

    Ok.. must get back to work…….

  • http://www.sonakhosla.com Sona Khosla

    I think personal blogs often get a lot of flack as being vanity-driven. I’ve often been touched (to the point of tears) when people have told me how much they needed to hear what I shared. I’ve always found my more personal (and vulnerable) blogs to be shared more often than just the smart or clever ones with social commentary.

  • http://www.newyorksocialdiary.com/partypictures/2004/02_11_04/partypictures02_11_04.php Pepe Fenjul Jr.

    it different stories about the world around you, and use your own unique lens to get them back to understanding that you’re helping them understand themselves

  • David Siteman Garland

    C – Perfect timing as this is EXACTLY what we are talking about when I film our interview tomorrow…you. Just a side note for everyone here, over the past few years I’ve filmed/recorded/done close to 300 interviews. As a task, I went back and looked at nearly every single one to see which ones resonated with others (and myself) the most. Which were the most enjoyable? Which ones sucked (either because I sucked and asked the wrong questions or maybe the guest wasn’t having a great day).

    A big common denominator was personal stories. People willing to candidly talk about themselves. Successes and failures. Their rise to the top (pun!). These dominated topical issues.

    Advice? Learn and share your story. It is the only thing that truly separates you from the pack. Being a commentator is a dime a dozen :)

  • Anonymous

    I totally agree with you.No one knows me better than me, and my experience is what makes me me. I tend to write the novel from first person and wrap around the concepts of this broader perspective, it feels most natural. I feel strange about this topic. Thank you for reinforcing that everything is okay.

    anthony morrison

  • http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/90607599/Premium-Archive Alfonso Fanjul

    It’s like a small country, and because we have internal social media tools that mimic those out on the internet, I can be an ‘entrepreneur’ and build my own brand and ‘business expertise’ within a smaller boundary. Thanks for the wonderful post.

  • http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/90607599/Premium-Archive Alfonso Fanjul

    It’s like a small country, and because we have internal social media tools that mimic those out on the internet, I can be an ‘entrepreneur’ and build my own brand and ‘business expertise’ within a smaller boundary. Thanks for the wonderful post.

  • http://vandenboomen.wordpress.com/ Emiel van den Boomen

    First of all Chris, thanks for putting that picture of me on top of your post! Great Berlin restaurant that was :)

    “Like water slowly cracking rock, stories begin to change what matters to us.”

    The story of me began to shape when I started blogging, seriously. I never knew I could get so inspired from travel stories, mythology and deeper insights into the act of traveling. I am becoming more of who I am. Through engagement.

    Story of me? Travel addict, wanting to share travel stories around this awesome digital fire. As you mentioned, my blog has been my refresher course. And I am still far away from graduating..luckily :)

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