‘Why’ is the first question I ask every client I consult. “Why did you begin this venture?”. I have never got an answer that says ‘profits’ or ‘to make money’. There is a deeper reason.
I had one of my clients in the healthcare space who shared “Instead of being the Doctor who prescribes ‘correct medicine’, or who does ‘flawless surgery’, he chose to be the doctor who does ‘health transformation’.
I have know him for many years long before he became my client. One thing I always noticed was his positive energy , the room he is in vibrates with this energy. He takes away the worry with a smile and a presence that says ‘“don’t worry I am there.”
He had found his “why”. And there is a story behind that why . He never wanted to be just another doctor, he wanted to be a different doctor. Traditional medicine never enthused him , he wanted to transform lives , do something bigger.
He went beyond medicines and educated himself on the alternative healing modalities, the power of the mind to heal and yoga. He now combines healing of mind , body and soul into his practice as a doctor. He does not see body parts , he sees the person as a whole.
His journey is inspiring and the story of his journey is the story of brand story of the organisation he built to help those with health issues and those who suffer from metabolic disorders re-write their life story from sickness to total health transformation.
Sadly he refused to listen to my advice . Today the market has become crowded and his business is impacted as everyone is offering the same services at different price points . Also many well funded startups have entered the space .
Without a story the business is now a commodity. And you cannot build a brand overnight .
He today pays Google and Facebook top dollar to acquire new customers as the market gets crowded the cost of acquiring new customers will keep increasing.
A Founder is the Chief Storyteller for the business.
Founders stories are Brand Stories
I have worked closely with Ashank Desai the cofounder of Mastek , he personally shared the story of his struggles of early childhood and the journey from a small tribal village near Goa to IIT then IIM where he met the other cofounders and the the building of a global IT company Mastek.
The humbleness of Ashank as a leader is visible to anyone who has ever interacted with him , he lives by values . It is these values that are reflected in the organisation Mastek .
Interestingly you will never find the values of Mastek ever written on walls . He once told me ‘values are not what you aspire , values are what you are’. So True.
The many stories of Ashank Desai are the Brand stories of Mastek .
The failure of Steve Jobs in his first stint at Apple the company he founded and being fired and then coming back to rebuild Apple is a story of legends .
Founders need to tell their stories
All good founder leaders are good storytellers, because they understand the power of story to inspire their tribe of employees and customers.
In the stories you will find their ‘why’ and the ‘why’ of the Brand.
I have seen founders who are shy and do not like the limelight but even they have stories , their not wanting to be in the limelight is a story that is picked up.
Being vulnerable is a story
All good stories are authentic and being authentic means one needs to be vulnerable. You cannot be winning all the time, you can and will fail , what is important is what you learn from your failures.
Steve Jobs being fired was a low point for him but his move to Pixar and what he learnt there and got back to Apple is one of the most told stories. It was his learning from failure snd forming of Pixar as a storytelling company that changed the fate of Apple and it made Steve one of the best storytellers the world has ever seen.
A tribe is built with the stories of the leaders
As a cofounder at a charity organisation I met many social sector leaders , each is a story that inspires, they are people who do not walk away from a challenge when everyone else does , they risk their careers and even their lives to serve the communities .
Once Girish Kulkarni the founder of Snehalaya that works with women who are trafficked and runs a shelter home for their children told me “I just started the journey and others joined me.”
He had nothing, no money , no resources just a conviction to help the trafficked women.
The tribe follows the leader , they buy into the ‘why’ of the story of the leader.
What is needed in a good Founder Brand Story?
1. It needs to be authentic and real
2. It needs to be aligned with the ‘why’ of the brand
3. It must inspire employees , customers and the communities
4. Must include a point of view
5. It must be told
Founder brand stories are timeless . The story of French fashion designer Coco Chanel the founder of Chanel is the lead story on the website of the brand , every aspect of her life story is the story of the brand even today.
Are you telling your founder brand stories ? If not now is the time .