I’ll be the first to admit that I have always been jealous of people who are comfortable discussing their life experiences and telling their life stories. Sadly I’m not one of these people. I always struggled to talk about myself. Deeply hidden somewhere inside me, there seems to be an unconscious assumption that no one would be really interested to hear what I have to say about myself. Hence I resorted to telling my stories and experiences through abstractions.
I started to write music to express my feelings in a more abstract way, while I injected some autobiographical elements into my lyrics. As an artist, this gave me the opportunity to avoid talking directly about me and somehow still be able to express how I feel through my art.
But people love stories. Storytelling is central to everything we do; people relate to other people through the sharing of stories and past experiences. That’s how we get to know, like and trust each other.
As a solopreneur, storytelling is an important part of your professional activities, including your marketing. Things used to be different. It wasn’t too long ago, when I started my first social media marketing job for a beauty clinic, that Instagram images had to look neat, professional, glossy and detached. The vibe was all about being an expert and emanating an air of superior skill and knowledge.
Nowadays, things have completely changed. Marketing is now more effective when it involves authenticity and ‘behind the screen’ peeks. Just like in other aspects of life, potential buyers want to get to know, like and trust you before they buy from you. To quote Seth Godin: “People do not buy goods & services. They buy relations, stories & magic”
Who am I then? What is my story? Our memories are subjective, so there are endless permutations involving the stories we tell about ourselves. But today, I want to tell you the following things about myself:
- I was born in the north of Greece
- I lived there until the age of 11 when I moved to Belgium. Moving to a country I was not familiar with and having to learn a new language and culture from scratch, had a big impact on my life. I was quite a shy introvert at the time and that’s when my love for writing music and lyrics started, as it was the only way for me to directly express how I feel, while avoiding the embarrassment of having to approach others and talk about myself
- I studied psychology as I was always interested in human behaviour and wanted to be a therapist. Instead, I went on to do research at the University as I got disillusioned in therapy based on what I had learned about the mainstream therapy approaches
- But the impulse to work directly with people and solve their (mental) problems was strong, so after volunteering for the Samaritans in Brussels, I continued working for a charity helping victims of crime when I moved to England (the reason I moved will be a story for another time, but let’s say that love was involved).
- Working for that charity, I discovered the power of coaching. Put quite simply, I always believed in working smart rather than hard (call me lazy…) and the use of coaching techniques allowed me to get my team to take ownership of their tasks, perform better and as a consequence, I was spending less time micromanaging them and doing their job when they got stuck. Talking about a win win situation!
- This got me thinking that I could probably do coaching as a ‘job’ in itself! I therefore decided to become a professional coach. I was particularly interested in working with small and ethical businesses, as they make the world such a better place with their vibrant individuality. Sadly, I lacked a crucial ingredient: I didn’t have any experience as a business owner myself!
- This soon changed when I moved yet again, this time from England to Wales. I bought a beauty business and managed it (including a number of staff) over a period of time, until the familiar pandemic put a spanner in the works and I decided not to renew the lease. From a financial perspective, this business was a total disaster. It did however teach me a number of valuable lessons about running a small business and gave me what I was lacking: experience as a business owner!
- I am now using my experience to help others build and grow their business while taking care of their mental wellbeing. I ensure that in the meanwhile, they don’t neglect their vision and values. When your vision and values are aligned with your habits and day to day actions, that’s when magic happens and true freedom emerges!
- I am still seeking for a ‘grand unification’ of my musical and coaching activities. So don’t be surprised if one day you hear of some crazy idea, such as me delivering hypnotherapy sessions while at the same time composing individualized soundtracks for the audio recordings of the same sessions!
How about you? What’s your story that helps your clients to know, like and trust you? Getting comfortable at telling (and repeating) that story might be one of your greatest assets as a solopreneur. It will help you better connect with your clients and that’s when relations, stories and magic happen.