Your Story is Your Success!
By Don Rashid
The night before the ON Brand conference 2023, I sent LinkedIn messages to Ross Asdourian and several other presenters, a good way to meet before the buzz began.
Asking to connect, I referred to his “unexpected enthusiasm for otters” as listed in his biography and mentioned that our Henry Doorly Zoo had otters on display. I found it amusing that he mentioned a sea animal in his writeup. It seems that otter stories remain to be told or are better left unsaid.
My message made for a connecting point with Ross. During our conversation, he shared that he almost used the story of my LinkedIn message during his talk.
While taking notes during his keynote address, it occurred to me that I wanted to write a story about him. A simple idea that could have loomed large and been lost in my thoughts, due to a four letter word called fear.
It felt like a risk asking him to write an article about his storytelling keynote. The hardest part was deciding to approach Ross and then not second guessing my decision. At the very least, I was sweating in my thoughts.
After all, Ross is a Senior Global Producer at Ford Motor Company and worked with Red Bull. Truth be told, he puts his pants on one leg at a time. His audience is simply wider while his demeanor is humble and friendly.
At first intending this article to be used in my portfolio, during my current job search, it later hit me. Why not have it published? A teaching story about interacting at conferences laced with a healthy dose of experience about the art of storytelling as told from the stage.
Ross Asdourian was either born out of the womb telling a story or learned quickly in life (say the first week of talking) the subtle and not so subtle ways of capturing an audience’s attention.
At the 2023 ON Brand Conference, held at Creighton University’s Harper Center on July 13, Ross shared examples of professional and personal stories, some funny, as he is an improvisational comedian. On center stage during his keynote presentation, he told an awkward story regarding a romantic encounter that turned painfully sour. For details, purchase his first book Broken Bananah on Amazon. I’m eager to dive into this read.
In sharing about storytelling, Ross asked the group why are you where you are and why you do what you do?
YOUR BATMAN STORY EXPOSED
As I was a fan of the animated series during grade school, our keynote presenter caught my attention when he asked “What is your Batman story?” My observation is that he was asking about a secret or untold story that can be told with boldness and humor.
“What is your story?” Take a few minutes and think about or write out an experience that may fascinate others.
From what is your story, he asked the crowd why you do what you do?
He also asked what do I want to be? All elements of storytelling and living our life combine for a wise answer.
FOUR RADICAL QUESTIONS
In the next section of his presentation, Ross discussed the four biggest questions of your life.
- Who am I?
- How does society view me? My family? How do my friends talk about me? What would colleagues say about my work ethic?
- Who do I want to be?
- How do I become that person (our future forward thinking).
“The money is in the details.” The story develops around the information we are willing to be heard discussing or writing down.
When we understand ourselves, we are able to identify with the brands we build.
Borrowing a quote of insight from Nicholas Demarco, the screen read “To engage in imitation is to begin to understand what originality means. Originality can come when our stories are told.” True words shared by a global producer.
Framing any story, work or personal, has a three-legged platform: What people think? What do you claim? What is true?
In the business world, “an honest story with authenticity allows you to break through the brands that had trust that was broken.” No doubt Ross strives to bring authenticity and strong storytelling in his work, personal life or speaking engagements. Likewise, to his career writing two books and being a comedian.
As a one liner admonition, he said “Inspire truth – tell your story.” His keynote address provided a solid framework to begin the process.
“Your story is an experience. How you tell it should also be an experience.”
In a quick moment of honesty, he said “My body never matches the insides.” That is the very kind of authentic communication that serves as an example, giving others permission to share private thoughts with a dash of freedom.
Podcasts are intimate; as they are talking and not about your look. They are a story in your ears.
When thinking about stories, do they sound good? Does it show the identity of the brand?
Relating the story to success, he cited a statistic that 90% of your business success is your business acumen. Speaking of business, The Business of Who as written by Ross will hit the market in September.
The story dictates that medium, and the medium dictates the story. At which time, Ross shared his personal view that it’s an amazing time to be in the communications industry.
“Understand your stories, what you’ve claimed.”
He also encouraged reflection on this thought – Who are you talking to … friends, acquaintances and strangers?
As he was winding down his keynote, Ross shared an insight when you know how you want to show up – people want to keep you around. For example, being generous.
Authentic stories build people and brands. Stories and your experiences need to be told. Consider the framework Ross provided in his keynote sharing.
For ON Brand 2023, your friends at AAF Nebraska, AMA Lincoln, AMA Omaha and PRSA Nebraska teamed up to present a day for members and the larger branding community.
As a copywriter who has just completed his first book manuscript, Don Rashid looks to become active in the AAF Nebraska as a new member who joined at the ON Brand Conference. He can be reached at email@example.com.