#53 The Most Powerful Tool Your Business Can Leverage Every Day

And a special announcement at the end

Really it’s a tool you can leverage in any of your storytelling. Maybe even in life. It’s simple, but essential for business success and story clarity. It’s also my favourite thing to create for my clients and myself.

It’s a plan.

I know. Simple, right? Not sexy, but important. And also nuanced. Every story, every project, every endeavour benefits from a plan. Not rigid adherence to a plan, but a general sense of where you want to go and how you intend to get there.

When I was 16, I was told by my writer’s craft teacher that the only way to make a living as a writer was to become a journalist. (This was a few years before the beginning of the implosion of the media industry set off by the internet that we still contend with today). So I put together a plan. I was going to university to study politics for my undergrad, taking a year off to teach English in Japan, then going to Columbia University to get a master’s in journalism. That was the plan; that outcome was what I worked toward from the age of 16 up until I was rejected by Columbia at 21.

The thing is plans aren’t perfect. And they’re not always right—if I had gone to Columbia, I’d currently be hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and probably no closer to living that life of a writer I had planned for.

But what makes plans essential is that they provide a sense of direction. A destination. While the journey may veer and where you end up may be entirely different, a plan allows you to move forward with a sense of purpose.

When I’m starting a new writing project, the first thing I do is create an outline—an intended path for the article, novel, or newsletter post. I identify my general objectives (what I want to leave people with at the end), key moments along the journey (plot points in a novel), and my destination. I’ve never finished a project that exactly mirrors my plan, but it helps keep me focused and on track toward creating something valuable. That’s the thing, you’ve got to aim for something worthwhile and a plan helps you do that.

So, in business, in my writing, in my client work I always start with a plan. Usually, it’s just defining objectives. But I remain open to that plan evolving—everything that’s interesting does—and I celebrate wherever the plan takes me. I’m Type A, so getting to a destination I planned for feels especially good, but I have to say not getting into Columbia was one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. I didn’t think that at the time, but my life now is better for it.

So for your stories, you projects, your work, your life put together a plan. It’ll help guide you. But leave room for the magic and possibility that comes when plans change. I don’t think you’ll regret it. Share some of the moments in your life when plans didn’t work out and if lead to something even better or more interesting in the comments below.

A Story Well Told (your own?)

Those of you who follow me on Instagram know that I just finished wrapping up the video shoot for the first in a series of storytelling courses I’m developing. I’m kicking off with the pilot of a four-week Brand Storytelling Course. With it, I’ll be launching my Storytelling University. It’ll include paid courses that focus in on different types of storytelling, from professional to business and personal. Brand Storytelling begins September 5, 2021. I created it to help business owners who aren’t at a place where they can hire a marketing consultant, but still need support developing and sharing their unique business stories. It’s also a great primer for marketers looking to evolve their storytelling skills. Spots in the pilot are limited (and include a discounted price) so if you know anyone who this may be helpful for, please share the enrolment link with them. If that person is you, sign up today.

Don’t worry if this isn’t the course for you, there will be others. But, as a subscriber to the newsletter, I wanted to offer you access to the course bonus offer: a Brand Storytelling 101 webinar. Students who sign up get it free and I wanted to share it with you for your ongoing support. Just reply to this email and say, I’d like to join the webinar, and I’ll add you to the list. It’ll be on August 22, 2021 at 3pmEST.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this upcoming launch. If you have any questions or suggestions, send me a note (just reply to this email or add them to the comments below).

Subscribing and sharing are the two best ways to help me continue to share my own adventure in storytelling. If you know someone who has a story to tell and may need some help crafting it, please share this newsletter with them and encourage them to subscribe.

Have a question? Something you’d like me to cover in a future letter—an element of your storytelling you may be struggling with? Just ask. Leave a comment below. I’m here to help.

You can follow me on Twitter here, and Instagram here. And you can always reach me through my website.

Thanks for reading and I’ll “see” you next week. Whatever the world may bring, there will always be important stories that need you to tell them. I’ll be here to help.