My friend Julie Broad is an entrepreneurial superhero. Okay, that sounds a little bit extravagant, but there is a very specific reason I’m using that language. I’ll explain why later, but first let me tell you a bit about Julie.
She’s a hardcore achiever. I will not attempt to create even a partial list of all of her accomplishments. She’s won entrepreneurial awards, real estate awards, and awards for her writing.
She’s created at least two [that I know of] hugely successful businesses and has recently launched her third, which I have no doubt will match or exceed the other two. She’s a legit bestselling author.
She has an MBA from a prestigious Canadian university… etc. etc. Stop me if you’re getting bored. I don’t mean that in a bad way. What she’s done isn’t boring. It’s very impressive, but without knowing the story behind the accomplishments it all reads like a LinkedIn profile. [We love LinkedIn profiles.]
I’m certain Julie’s current business will be her most successful even though she’s still in the building phase.
What gives me this confidence?
It’s a bold claim considering both of her previous businesses kicked ass and made a nationwide impact in their respective niches.
Yet I know her new one will be her most successful. Why?
It’s the most closely aligned to her core desires as a human being. And I know that because I know Julie’s story — big chunks of it anyways.
It’s cool that Julie was driven to succeed at a deep level. It’s cool that she has a kick-ass, no-holds-barred, no-problem-too-difficult attitude.
But since I know Julie I also know her story. I know that as a kid, Julie played ‘school’ with anyone who would join her. She set up a clunky old chalkboard in her family’s living room and taught classes to her brother, cousins, whomever.
When warm bodies weren’t available she would plunk dolls and stuffed animals down in the chairs and ‘teach’ to them.
When class was over, Julie would sit down and write. She wrote stories, letters, notes, whatever. She just wrote.
There were early signs that she was meant to teach, train, write, and communicate. Julie has a bunch of other skills, too. She taught herself to code, for example.
But a skill is not the same as a gift.
Julie’s true gift is to empower others to write, communicate, sell, brand, and market themselves.
And there’s a very specific, story-related reason for that.
Even though child Julie was clear on what she wanted to do, teenage and early 20s Julie got a little bit sidetracked. Like most of us, she recognized at an early age that she ‘should’ strive after a certain kind of significance.
When a big cousin got an MBA that the family lauded, little Julie started to think she should do the same.
Meanwhile, as a teenager she had an insane high school teacher tell her that she was a bad writer.
These two things and likely a whole pile of others derailed her for a while. The amazing thing about heart-centered entrepreneurs, though, is that they find a way to get in touch with their story and change future trajectory.
Most entrepreneurial superhero stories are stories of getting lost along the road, rediscovering gifts, and finding the road again.
The Entrepreneurial Sweet Spot
Stories are about desire. What does the character in the story really want. I don’t mean on the surface. What do they want at their core?
There are three reasons people become entrepreneurs.
- Ego — Donald Trump. The money and power have become the only objective. You can be like the orange puppet, Trump, if you want. I don’t know many self aware entrepreneurs who think this is the right path.
- “Make This Stop” — People recognize that unless they take earning money into their own hands that they will work like a slave, making someone else rich for the rest of their life. This is an honorable goal for many. I have no qualm with it, but I don’t think it’s the sweet spot.
- “I want to help people and change lives.” — These entrepreneurs get to create something that will make a difference in the world and make money at the same time. This is the sweet spot.
A Notes on the Types
These are fluid, and lots of people shift from one to the other. I’ve seen people start out as a 3 and end up a 1. I’ve seen others get into entrepreneurship as a 2 and eventually become a 3.
It’s not like you have to throw everything you learned as a 2 away to become a 3. Many people shift to a leadership or teaching role, which takes them from a 2 to a 3.
Some never stop being a 2 and there is nothing wrong with that.
Entrepreneurs are powerful people that make shit happen and make real change in the world. What I’m talking about today are the 3s.
There is a path we all must take to become a 3.
Finding the Keys to the Kingdom
I’d love to quote a top notch Harvard study to prove my point, but all I have is my experience on this issue.
Going from a 1 or 2 to a 3 requires understanding and owning your story.
Please note: I’m not saying this is a sufficient condition, but it’s a necessary condition.
You have to mine your own story, and I use the mining analogy carefully. Your story can’t be manufactured. You must dig down into your own depths to uncover it, so that you can give your truest gifts to the world.
This is an accomplishment. Our stories are usually buried under layers of the sediment, fossils, and the detritus of the soul.
I was working as a real estate agent several years ago and didn’t understand my story at all. I was a full on 2. After traveling the world and studying philosophy I had to ‘grow up’ in a hurry when my son was born.
I took that to mean I needed to work in a traditional career in a traditional industry. By beginning to understand my story I went into the career path I’m on now — the writing, books, and story business. Only after I began to understand my story did I start to make the move to becoming a 3. With every passing year I understand and own my story more.
With every passing year my work is closer to my gift and I’m able to help more people.
Julie has moved closer and closer to her gift, too, which is why I’m certain her current venture will be her most successful.
Entrepreneurs Are Mushrooms
Giovanni truly understands entrepreneurial gifts, storytelling, and the Hero’s Journey. Late last fall I was having lunch with him and a bunch of other cool entrepreneurs. That’s where he told me the mushroom story.
Remember the mushroom from the Super Mario Brothers video game? Mario and Luigi collect magic mushrooms that give them super powers. Mushrooms help them on their quest to rescue the princess.
Mario and Luigi are the heroes. The mushroom is the helper.
As entrepreneurs we tend to think of ourselves as the hero of the story. That’s cool and super important for our individual trajectory, but to truly live as a 3 we need to become the mushroom to others’ on their own quest.
You’re a mushroom.
Or a secret weapon. Or a mentor. However you want to look at it. Use whatever metaphor you want.
The question to ask yourself in order to get started is this:
What is it about your gift that makes you someone else’s mushroom?
You’l only understand be able to answer this by understanding and owning your story.
Part of understanding it, after all, is understanding how your special gifts help and empower others.
The First Steps to Mining Your Story
I used to tell people that I was passionate about real estate.
I hadn’t even begun to understand my story. I’m not complaining or even putting myself down. Real estate was a good solid career that worked for me when I needed it to work. It put food on the table and kept my kids in private school.
I wanted to be passionate about it, but I wasn’t. I manufacturing a story about loving the work, but in private I dreaded every time I had to phone a client or show homes to buyers.
It wasn’t until I started mining my own story [another word I’ve used is ‘extracting’] that I began to understand and own my true gifts [I say began because we can always go deeper].
There is no way I can give you a comprehensive plan for mining your whole story here. However, I want to help you move the needle just a little bit.
Here’s my prescription: Set aside some time to answer the questions below. Turn off all distractions. Set aside at least 30 minutes. Quiet your mind. Sit down with a pen and notebook. Read the questions carefully. Now answer the questions with your truest heart. Don’t answer what you think someone else would want to hear. Answer with your truth.
I’ll be providing a lot more guidance on this in the coming months, so don’t worry if this seems like a lot to process. For now just answer these questions from the heart.
- Who do I most want to help?
- What have I overcome and learned that could help this specific person?
- How have I fundamentally changed?
If you want to take the next step to begin extracting your story or discuss your book project please feel free to schedule a 10-Minute Call with me.
Hey! I’m Zander, and I’ve ghostwritten more than 20 books for major publishing houses and self-publishers. I’m also editor-in-chief of the ManTalks blog. When I’m not writing I help others uncover their own stories through a process I call a “story extraction,” and get writing through my coaching programs. I believe the world turns on powerful, raw, and true stories. Book a call with me to uncover your own story and to get writing now.