Your life doesn’t suck. You do. Well, let me rephrase that. Your version of your life sucks. That convoluted scrap heap of 5 dollar words you call your biography might have gotten you a gold star and a pat on the head in your Business 101 class but not in the real world and certainly not online.
It’s time for you to throw out everything you have ever been taught about writing your bio and start writing your story. There’s a big difference. Think about it. When was the last time you had a friend call you up because he heard a great bio? Never. If he did he wouldn’t be your friend. But a good story? Everyone has time to listen to or read a good story.
In fact, what separates the good from the great are not the things they have done so much as how they tell the world about the things they have done. A good story adds credibility to everything else you touch. A good story can turn a prospect into a client or a visitor into a subscriber. A good story can turn a failure into a success or a weakness into a strength. A good story can change the way the world sees you.
You need to become a good storyteller. It’s a worthwhile goal.
Lucky you because whether you know it or not, you have a head start…you already are a storyteller. We all are. It’s just that some are better than others. For example, if you ever get a call from Steven Spielberg that starts off with “you are not going to believe what happened at the supermarket today” I suggest you take the call. If it’s your Aunt Claire, it can probably wait. The challenge is that most of us are closer to Aunt Claire’s version than we are to Steve’s (he said I can call him Steve).
But we can change that. With a few minor tweaks we can turn that sleeper of a bio into a good story.
Lose the Corporate Speak and Jibber Jabber
I’m sorry, but when it comes to your bio you are no longer a strategist. You don’t leverage things. You are not responsible for any new paradigms. We don’t have synergy. And you do not have me engaged. Take a red pen to all of that corporate speak and let’s talk about the language you should be using.
People don’t want to read a dissertation on your life’s history. They want to feel connected to you. In order to do that, it only makes sense that you should write your story as if you were telling it to them. Write in a conversational language. Read it out loud several times. Does it sound like something you would actually say to another human being? If not, get back to the drawing board until you can read it several times without rolling your eyes.
Get Excited About Your Life
Look, this is your story, not mine. That means you are going to have to work twice as hard if you want my attention because quite frankly I am just being polite by listening to it or reading it. Sorry, but this is the attitude that you are up against…and don’t think for a second that you don’t feel the same way when it comes to other people. Have you read my story? If it weren’t for this post drumming up a little curiosity over whether I take my own medicine or not, would it have ever occurred to you to read it?
Your story needs to be exciting. That doesn’t mean that you need to reinact Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but you do need to write an exciting story. Throw some love into it. Sound enthusiastic. Make it a good read. If you make it exciting enough people might actually make it to the end!
Me, Myself and I
Unless your story is on a page with a series of other bios like an “About the Team” page, please write it in the first person. You would never tell your story to someone by speaking in the third person so you shouldn’t write it that way either. We all know you wrote it, so stop pretending as if it were written by Tom Brokaw.
The Difference Between an Embellishment and a Lie
It’s a pretty fine line between an embellishment and a lie, so tread carefully. A good story is a true story told well. Never lie. There is no integrity in it and it will hurt your credibility when you get caught…if you are lying about that, what else are you lying about? An embellishment on the other hand just makes a true story sound a little bigger.
Just so we are clear, let’s look at an example showing the difference between an embellishment and a lie:
Truth: I caught a fish
Embellishment: I caught a fish this big
Lie: I caught a fish this big
OK…so it loses a little something without the visual, but you get what I’m saying, right?
Instead, embrace who you are. Just make sure it is the more interesting version of who you are. You do it all of the time for negative stuff, don’t you? Someone innocently cuts you off on the highway by accident and the way you tell the story, you would think you were starring in an episode of CHiPs. I’m not suggesting that you throw a verbal party over the time you ate that 5 pound hamburger in under a half hour and got it for free (although impressive) but if you were interviewed on a radio show play it up! Even if it was just for a few minutes, it doesn’t matter. It’s an experience worth sharing and worth sharing well.
Bring the Funny
This is a tough one because some people just aren’t funny. Worse yet, some people think they are funny when they clearly are not. This is where other people come in. If you write what you think is hilarious only to watch someone else read it without cracking a smile, you are not funny. You should skip this part. If you are funny, you don’t need my help. Moving on…
Batman has the Joker. Harry Potter has Valdemort. Aunt Jemima has Mrs. Butterworth. So, you need a villain too. Something you have had to overcome in your life. Something that could have taken you out of the game but because of your persistance, you were able to pull through it.
Your antagonist doesn’t have to be a person. It could be a brick wall that you ran into. A personal challenge that you faced. An “against all odds” Rocky style story. Whatever it is, tell us about it. We want to know…it makes you seem more human. It tells us that you don’t give up. That you are a go-getter. It gives your story legs. It keeps us secretly rooting for you.
Once last thing. Your story shouldn’t just be about the past. Tell us a little bit about where you are going. Show us your big vision! Readers love to hear about your dreams. The things that give you the warm fuzzies when you think about where you are going. Besides, you never know who might be reading it.
…and They Lived Happily Ever After
Your story is a living, breathing thing. It never ends and so you should never stop writing it. Keep revisiting it at least once a month and continue to shape it. Constantly add to it. When you accomplish something great, work it into your story. When you think of something funny, work it into your story. When you overcome another challenge, work it into your story. You’ll never finish it, but the more you work on it the closer you will get.
Now it’s your turn. What’s your story?