2018 is a turn-around in my personal story.
I put my foot down and invested some time and money in a reputable STORY course, the famed STORY Seminar by Robert McKee. Those who can’t do, teach they say and Robert McKee doesn’t deny that line of thinking. He recognised a while ago he’s not this awesome fountain of creativity that stories gush and bubble out of. No, he’s an analytical genius that dissects and pinpoints why great stories push all the right emotional buttons to move us outside of ourselves to get in touch with something greater within.
The burning desire leading me and dragging family, my partner, 15 month old daughter, brother and his fiance to the US with me was simply this:
I wanted my family together for once and besides dad hadn’t met Lucy yet. The little girl in me wanted the support, warmth and security of a tight-knit family around her as she went out and conquered the big scary world with her keyboard.
After years of living apart, dad in Northern VA, mum in Istanbul, brother in Brisbane, myself in Sydney, it was time to reconnect and we’d all be under one roof – for the first time in 15 years. High expectations are the perfect position for a let-down.
An anticlimactic reunion and dad not showing more than a glimmer of interest in STORY (he dreamt of being a film director once upon a time) and many unsaid thoughts and emotions filled the whole journey but nonetheless the seeds of conversation were planted and am happy to say we now talk once a fortnight.
This is PROGRESS from my perspective as I hadn’t spoken to them sometimes as long as a year, thinking there was nothing left to exchange now that I was a self-sufficient adult.
And how has STORY served me?
Whilst it’s true I’ll probably never write the great American, Turkish or Australian novel, I now see my life as a STORY. It better be interesting because well, there are clients I’m wanting to write for. To quote Robert McKee, “The writer like an alchemist, labours to transmute the base metal of life into the gold of story.”
And my alchemy lab? It’s called WritePublishGrow.
In the last few weeks, my life was mirroring a Hollywood classic. I can see it today as I’m typing out these words.
Starting a business is literally finding yourself on the yellow brick road. Initially it’s just you and the friggin empty road. Your days are a blank canvas, you don’t know where the Emerald City is, which for you may be $$$ (what business needs to survive), or professional fulfillment, or trust, respect, which all inevitably bring $$$ and furthermore on this journey, you have no clue who or what you’ll encounter, and feeling lost is part of the horror, thrill, suspense and excitement.
Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, you’re no longer in Kansas and you will attract detractors, like the Wicked Witch, find allies to support you, like the Lion, Tinman, and the Scarecrow and your mentor, very much like the Wizard of Oz, is likely to be someone who reminds you that you had the power all along, that is once you reach this high profile figure, whoever he or she may be in your industry.
I can just go ahead and spoil the story and tell you that no one can help you but YOU, but you have to scale mountains, defeat monsters, witches, help others overcome their insecurities and in return shed your own limiting beliefs to receive the message in such a way that it becomes ingrained in you.
So what did all this translate to in my world for my business?
These past few weeks have been littered by attempts to find strategic partners. These are people I approached because I believe they hold the keys to business rainfall as they command tribes of people who are looking at the world differently, seeing themselves as heroes of their own lives, taking control and yes, these people are eager to work with a storyteller to sharpen, dramatise and significantly improve the stories they tell themselves and those around them to be the change they’re seeking in the world.
Here’s how my encounter with these three tribe leaders went.
First one, let’s call her the Well-meaning Witch of Brisbane, is an operator in the money and finance education space. She made an appearance in an earlier blog post about the importance of seeing the world through another’s eyes if we are to make a dent in their universe and get them to open up to us.
After sharing my article and opening up about wanting to find out more about her business and how I can get involved, she put up the TIME commitment and PAY WALL. I’d have to attend her 3.5 day workshop, fork out something like $5.5K and then she’d consider talking to me.
I told her in no uncertain terms, “look lady, 3.5 days is a long time and I’d have to leave my beloved North Shore Kingdom to make the trip to this far away Kingdom called Brisbane, so please convince me, why I should do this…”
She opened up alright and all the nastiness, insecurities, cracks beneath the exterior showed themselves clearly to me. She could not get over my rudeness she said. Admittedly, writing in the e-mail format tends to be a form of communication where the tone of voice cannot be heard, despite how many smiley faces I use as punctuation. To me, my intention was to determine the ROI for myself and whether I could place that stress on self and family and what I’d be looking to gain for my commitment of time and money.
She only heard criticism. She heard selfishness. She heard everything that was a reflection of her own mind.
I was merely trying to ascertain what I’d get out of the course as it was unclear from the online materials and without any tangible outcomes listed for this 3.5 day activity I was reluctant to reshuffle my life to make the trip, find a babysitter, or get my partner to lose a day of work to look after Lucy, etc. etc…
Admittedly, I was hurt and took me a few days to get over the pain. I was heartbroken for being so misunderstood.
The next Tribe Leader standing in front of the golden door of opportunity was The One Armed Man in Sydney. His arm was robbed from him in a car accident after falling asleep behind the wheel and literally this was his wake up call. He woke up to life and did not return to his government job. Instead he developed his gift for public speaking and got on a path to motivate all who crossed his path to become speakers, to speak their truth, to wake themselves and others up with their passion.
He had the gift of gab, I had the written word. A match made in heaven?
Again, there was a price to pay to play.
He tried to sell me in on a 3 day commitment, a Bootcamp for people wanting to improve their speaking ability.
I don’t know why people don’t hear me out when I tell them I don’t have that kind of time.
Maybe they should qualify me first by asking me whether I can invest 3 days in something that doesn’t have clear outcomes.
I have 3 days for Robert McKee, sure. He’s a 77 year old living legend who’s taught STORY to likes of Bowie. My one-armed friend, for you, I have give or take 30 minutes.
Besides, so what if I become a better speaker? I just want to be good enough to sell my writing ability and oh yeah, if my writing’s not selling itself in writing maybe I’m a lousy writer.
My dealings with the one-armed man hurled me into the dark pit of doubt and my writing talent disappeared into fugitive status for a few days.
One thing was clear though. I didn’t need a speaking coach to figure out whether my writing was any good.
I needed more clients because the more clients I write for, who pay me, I get the experience of being a PROFESSIONAL WRITER.
Hallelujah! That was my GOAL. My DESTINATION. It’s all I wanted. To be a PROFESSIONAL WRITER. Emerald City was finally within view.
So this brings me to ISRTraining (SWISH Sales Method training which stands for Selling With Integrity Selling Honestly). Admittedly, when I saw them on Shark Tank, my first impression was, “Oh here’s the flying monkeys”. They were wearing over the top suits, pocket triangles and all. It just is not what I’m used to seeing around me in the Kingdom of Lower North Shore renowned for the latest in athleisure wear, boat shoes galore, khaki business casuals and the occasional shirt and suit.
Fortunately, it’s not true that “you don’t get a second shot at making a first impression”.
As the sharks put more and more pressure on the hapless youth, the beads of sweat and gold nuggets started to emerge. He was doing it for his mum, who had the difficult task of bringing him up in the largest housing development project in the UK. He was driven by a desire to make a change in the outcome of life for youth like him, to show them the way out through training them in sales to help them sell themselves into sales jobs.
I had to get involved.
I gave these guys a call last week and was greeted by Senior Account Manager Rob. He selflessly taught me all he knew about getting through to people and getting past doorkeepers.
In our conversations I found out Rob’s a family man, with a young daughter and he too tries to help his mum be in a better position to go out and get what she deserves out of life.
One of the things I picked up in the conversations, and again Rob, this is only my interpretation, is that with the Sharks’ interest and investment in the company, the heart and core, in short what makes them great, might be on shaky ground. Maybe something better will emerge out of the turmoil but maybe not. There are no guarantees.
What is your gut telling you?
I did make the purchase of the ISR Action book, which though filled with useful information for those starting out in sales, got me going back to my school girl days. It’s pretty much a text book complete with questions at the end of each chapter to ensure that all the facts are memorised – YAWN!
Sales is such a colourful subject rife with metaphors like low hanging fruit, sowing seeds, farming, hunting that we can all relate to as they’re such an innate part of the human experience.
To sell is human and it is as natural as sex. Let me explain.
Selling is all about building desire and getting people to take action which is seminal (root word is “semen” from Latin word “seed”) to the survival of the business generation after generation.
Sales is also what “grown-ups” within the company do. They sell their ideas to lead their teams, sell to clients, prospects, partners, etc and all of this activity earns them a seat at the adult-table, the boardroom table.
So Rob, I value the phone conversations highly and you’ve given my business structure because now I pick up the phone and set up three appointment each week and go talk to business owners just to learn more about them.
I don’t try to close on the first discussion as that’s as awkward and tacky as trying to kiss or sleep with someone on the first date. I want to genuinely get to know these business owners better and if I can serve them then the relationship will move forward at our pace.
And don’t forget, your life is your story and you are crafting it with every action you take. My worldview is that talented individuals don’t need organisations in today’s world and yes organisations are desperate for talented individuals.
As Robert McKee says it’s a seller’s market. If you have original ideas, a good story, and are showing up to do the work day in and day out, the world is at your feet. Oh and what Robert McKee says about being a seller not only true for writers but for artists, entrepreneurs, business people, mums (trying to get children to eat veggies or do homework), any human being who recognises the spark of genius in their soul.
Rob, I value our relationship very much and feel I’ve got what I need out of it. I realise I had the POWER all along to go out there and find new clients to build up my business and portfolio and hopefully have inspired you to start writing your own story, this may be the business you want to start or a new career path you’d like to put your hand up for where you feel in complete creative control.
Thank you for your time and I hope I was able to give back in some way. Please by all means stay in touch.
And for me, I will keep moving forward changing what I can, accepting what I can’t and keep praying for the wisdom to know the difference. I will never ever give up showing up and writing even when it hurts and I don’t want to. I have no choice. I am a WRITER and my contract with the creative spirit, the Universe, Allah, Yahweh, God, the Force, the source, whatever you call it – is to live, and write the truth (thank you, Robert McKee).
And for me, a reminder: once the writing’s out, structure will come. Have faith in this. Get the writing (and sales calls, face to face meetings, proposals, quotes, relationship building), with imperfections, dirt, mud, crap all out. The gold nuggets will inevitably emerge from the chaos.