Are You and Your Business Ready for Storm Season?

As you know we are already a month and a half into Hurricane Season, as it started June 1st and lasts until November 30, but it is never too late get yourself and your business ready. Last year, some of us on the Suncoast learned lessons the hard way with unpredictable weather patterns from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma that threatened our homes and businesses. Thank you to Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) for creating a plan for the community & businesses to prepare.

Sarasota County FPL skinny

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Tropical weather in the state of Florida is a way of life. The Sunshine State leads the nation in landfalling hurricanes with nearly 120 – almost double that of Texas, which ranks second on the infamous list. Properly preparing for hurricane season now can save you and your employees’ unwanted stress when a storm has its eyes set on the state. The key is having a plan in place for when that time comes. Here are some tips to help get you going.

Plan ahead:

  • Ensure your employees’ contact information is up to date.
  • Have a plan in place to communicate after the storm passes, e.g. set up a telephone number with a recorded message that will be regularly updated to inform employees of the status of company operations.
  • Consider developing a system to authorize re-entry to company facilities after a storm, e.g. I.D. cards and vehicle permits.
  • Establish a safe area away from exterior glass windows and doors if you plan to take shelter in your business.
  • Determine if your business is in a flood and/or evacuation zone and review evacuation routes, designating an emergency temporary site.
  • Identify what you need to secure your building, important equipment and who will help; outline specific tasks and conduct a training session.
  • Photograph or record your building or office – inside and out – for insurance purposes.
  • Have all trees and vegetation near power lines trimmed by specially trained line-clearing professionals to minimize their potential impact on your business and neighboring businesses.
  • Make sure debris is cleared prior to a hurricane warning announcement – trash pickup will be suspended during this time. Tree limbs and branches are the leading cause of outages and can become airborne during a storm.
  • Bookmark FPL.com/outage and save 1-800-4OUTAGE to your cell phone to report and check the status of your restoration.
  • Download the FPL Mobile App in the App Store or Google Play, or text the word “App” MyFPL (69375).
  • Save your FPL account number to the notes section of your cell phone, or keep a copy of your FPL bill – which has your account number on it.
  • Update the phone number and email address on your FPL account.
  • Consider installing a generator in case of power outages.

Generator safety

  • Read and follow all the manufacturer’s guidelines when using a generator to avoid
    dangerous shortcuts and ensure safe operation.
  • DO NOT directly connect your generator to your business’s breaker or fuse box. Power from a generator connected to a business’s wiring will “back feed” into utility lines – which can severely injure or kill a neighbor or utility crew working to restore power.
  • DO NOT run generators inside your business or garage, as they produce potentially
    deadly carbon monoxide fumes.
  • Keep generators away from all open windows to prevent the fumes from entering your business.
  • Buy a battery-operated carbon monoxide alarm, which will alert you if carbon-monoxide levels become dangerous.
  • Turn off all connected appliances before starting your generator.
  • Turn connected appliances on one at a time, never exceeding the generator’s rated wattage.
  • DO NOT touch a generator if you are wet, standing in water or on damp ground.
  • NEVER refuel a hot generator or one that is running – hot engine parts or exhaust can ignite gasoline.
  • Ensure you have plenty of gas safely stored in gas containers to operate your generator.

Before a storm:

  • Pay attention to instructions from public officials and the media.
  • Secure the exterior of your office and protect interior furniture:
  • Identify outdoor equipment, materials, and structures that could become airborne and move them to a safe location.
  • Park vehicles in safe, protected areas such as a covered garage.
  • Secure doors, windows, and other openings.
  • Move items away from the windows.
  • Lock drawers and filing cabinets.
  • Unplug all lamps, radios, computers, and equipment in case of a power surge; cover important equipment with plastic bags.
  • Gather any important supplies and documents.
  • Charge your cell phone and keep it ready by obtaining portable chargers.
  • Make multiple back-ups of computer files and data and store records off premises.
  • Run a special voice message informing employees and customers of the status of company operations.
  • Close your offices with sufficient time to allow employees to secure their own homes, and inform clients that you’re closing early and when you plan to reopen.

After a storm:

  • Make your safety and the safety of your employees a priority.
  • DO NOT travel, or ask employees to travel, until it is safe to do so.
  • Watch for downed power lines. Call 911 or FPL at 1-800-4OUTAGE to report fallen power lines that present a clear and imminent danger. DO NOT attempt to touch any power lines. Always assume that every power line is energized.
  • Read and follow all the manufacturer’s instructions and safety guidelines if you use a portable generator. Remember to NEVER wire your generator to your breaker or fuse box – the power you generate may flow back into power lines causing severe injury or death.
  • Turn off your circuit breakers, disconnect all electrical appliances and turn off all wall switches immediately in case of interior water damage. Remember to never stand in water while operating switches or unplugging any electrical device.
  • Stay away from standing water and debris, which could conceal a live wire.
  • DO NOT venture out in the dark because you might not see a downed power line that could be energized and dangerous.
  • Make emergency repairs only when it is safe to do so. Repairs that prevent looting or further damage should have top priority, but only if the repair can be done safely.
  • Take inventory to determine and record losses – based on the photos and recordings you took for insurance purposes.

Staying in touch with FPL following a storm

When outages occur, we know our customers want and need information on when their power will be restored. FPL will provide updated restoration time estimates and other progress reports via mobile if a storm strikes:

For more storm and safety tips, visit us at FPL.com/storm.

To download a PDF copy of this plan, click here.


FPL has invested more than $3 billion since the historic 2004-2005 hurricane seasons to build a stronger and smarter energy grid you can count on in good weather and bad. The improvements we have made to the grid have improved service reliability for our customers by more than 30 percent over the past seven years. And, we’re not stopping there. Here’s what we’ve done in Sarasota County since 2006 to make the energy grid more resilient in storms and more reliable during day-to-day operations:

  • Strengthened 39 main power lines, including those that serve critical services, such as Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Sarasota Emergency Operations Center, the American Red Cross – Southwest Florida Chapter location, Doctors Hospital of Sarasota and 9-1-1 emergency communications centers, that are necessary for communities to recover faster after a storm;
  • Cleared tree branches and vegetation — a major cause of power outages — from 8,841 miles of power lines, an average of 737 miles every year;
  • Inspected all 85,728 power poles every eight years, strengthening or replacing those that no longer meet FPL’s standards for strength;
  • Installed smart grid technology, including 2,055 automated switches on main and neighborhood power lines to help detect problems and restore service faster when outages occur; and
  • Inspected 252 main power lines and equipment using infrared technology to detect issues before they cause a power interruption.
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Herald-Tribune’s Best Places to Work Annual Ranking

Is your company one of the best places to work in our region?  Now is your chance to find out!

Nominate your company for the Herald-Tribune’s 2018 Best Places to Work. Registration is open through July 13 and can be entered at HTBestPlacesToWork.com.BestPlacestoWork_2018_logos

Best Places to Work is a survey competition to determine which participants are the best employers in Sarasota and Manatee counties. The two-part survey process recognizes companies that demonstrate workplace excellence and are known for retaining and recruiting the best and brightest employees.

Independent firm Best Companies Group evaluates the selection and ranking of entries and winners are published in the Herald-Tribune. The contest is open for for-profit or nonprofit companies as well as those publicly or privately held entities. All must maintain a facility in Sarasota or Manatee and maintain a minimum of 15 permanent, non-contract employees working locally.

Companies that choose to participate are assessed on two factors: A questionnaire about company policies, practices, demographics and benefits; and, a survey of randomly selected employees at each firm. The employees will respond anonymously to 78 statements on a five-point agreement scale, as well as a handful of open-ended questions and demographic inquiries.

Best Companies Group analyzes and ranks participating firms in eight areas: leadership and planning; corporate culture and communications; role satisfaction; work environment; relationships with supervisors; training, development and resources; pay and benefits; and, overall engagement.

The Herald-Tribune will recognize the 2018 Best Places to Work in a special section that publishes in November. A celebration luncheon will be hosted on Nov. 7 at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota to announce the results of the surveys and list the Top 25 local employers.

Apply today!

How to Make Facebook’s 2018 Algorithm Change Work for your Business

As you may already be aware, on January 11, 2018, Facebook announced a major change to its News Feed algorithm that will profoundly impact brands’ ability to reach people on Facebook through organic distribution. The change prioritizes interactions between friends and family over company-generated posts, meaning that content consumed directly from business pages on Facebook will shrink and content that is shared & talked about between friends will grow.

In particular, posts that generate “interactions” such as comments and shares will be weighted more heavily than a post that generates just likes or reactions. In addition, posts with longer comments will be weighted more heavily than those with short ones.

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“Interactions” is the new “Engagement”

Many news organizations and blogs are decrying the move, using terms such as “apocalyptic”, “betrayal” and “nail in the coffin”. We here at Reshift Media are not quite as pessimistic as others about the changes. We believe that the reduction (or even the possible elimination) of the “engagement bait” posts that have been dominating Facebook’s News Feed for far too long is a major opportunity for high-quality organizations with strong customer engagement strategies to finally stand out from the crowd.

Declining organic reach is nothing new. Facebook has been decreasing the amount of organic reach brands are able to achieve for some time – from 50% to 20% to 10% to 5% and most recently down to around 2.5%, on average. Smart brands and agencies that have already been pursuing engagement strategies and building solid content to adjust for this declining reach should see less impact than brands whose Facebook content gets little shares or comments.

The changes to the News Feed are happening quickly, so we recommend brands and agencies adjust their Facebook strategies as soon as possible to minimize the impact to their reach. We have several recommendations that brands can pursue to not only survive, but potentially thrive, on Facebook going forward.

How Facebook’s News Feed is Changing

Facebook announced last week that they are updating the News Feed algorithm to prioritize posts that create conversations and interactions between people. In their definition, these are posts that people share and react to, and that “inspire back-and-forth discussion” in the comments.

“We’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”

– Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook

Mr. Zuckerberg also stated that people browsing Facebook will see more content from friends and family and less from brands and publishers. In addition, posts that generate comments, shares, and messages will be prioritized more than posts that only generate likes. Not only that, but Facebook has also stated that posts with longer comments will be weighted more heavily than those with short ones, as longer comments indicate a greater level of engagement with the content.

“As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media.”

– Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook

Of particular note is that Facebook has explicitly said that pre-recorded videos, no matter how entertaining or informative they are, will be de-prioritized in the feed as watching video tends to be a more “passive” exercise that typically does not inspire much conversation. This is a major reversal for Facebook, as video has gained incredible prominence in the News Feed in recent years and has been an effective way for brands to organically generate reach and engagement.

“There will be less video. Video is an important part of the ecosystem. It’s been consistently growing. But it’s more passive in nature. There’s less conversation on videos, particularly public videos.”

– Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed, Facebook

However, Facebook has specifically called out live video as a continuing opportunity, citing that live videos tend to generate six times as many interactions as regular videos, which is the type of person-to-person interaction they are looking for in the updated News Feed.

A bit of a surprise to some people was that both Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook vice president Adam Mosseri have mentioned Facebook Groups as a growing opportunity for person-to-person interactions. In fact, Mr. Zuckerberg specifically mentioned Groups alongside friends and family as an area of content people can expect to see more of in their News Feed. This is something that has been in the works for some time, as Facebook has been recently increasing their focus on Groups and implementing several improvements. The company held its first ever “Communities Summit” in June 2017 where they announced a number of new features for Group admins to support their communities on Facebook, which looks to have been a precursor to this latest New Feed update. They also announced Groups for Business pages, allowing brands to create their own distinct communities and feeds.

“You can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups.”

– Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook

The timing of the update has not been specifically outlined, but Facebook has indicated that the philosophy of encouraging “social interactions” more than “popularity” will be rolled out across all of their products over several months. The News Feed is the first area that will see these changes, which are expected to be rolled out very quickly.

Why Facebook is Changing the News Feed

Although many people have speculated that these changes are being made in response to the issues Facebook has faced regarding “fake news,” the company is has indicated that the update is not aimed at their ongoing efforts to address this concern.

“It’s not about addressing false news or other forms of problematic content, though that is a continued area of focus and investment for us.”

– Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed, Facebook

Instead, Facebook says that the motivation for the changes is to improve people’s happiness and well-being. Instead of simply spending time on Facebook, the company says that it wants the time to be “well spent”. To support this position, Facebook has cited studies conducted by academics and by the company itself which differentiate “bad” effects of social media when it is being passively consumed versus more “positive” effects when the person is actively engaged.

Here’s a brief summary of the rationale (as provided by Facebook in a December 15, 2017 post):

The bad: In general, when people spend a lot of time passively consuming information — reading but not interacting with people — they report feeling worse afterward. In one experiment, University of Michigan students randomly assigned to read Facebook for 10 minutes were in a worse mood at the end of the day than students assigned to post or talk to friends on Facebook. A study from UC San Diego and Yale found that people who clicked on about four times as many links as the average person, or who liked twice as many posts, reported worse mental health than average in a survey. Though the causes aren’t clear, researchers hypothesize that reading about others online might lead to negative social comparison — and perhaps even more so than offline, since people’s posts are often more curated and flattering. Another theory is that the internet takes people away from social engagement in person.

The good: On the other hand, actively interacting with people — especially sharing messages, posts and comments with close friends and reminiscing about past interactions — is linked to improvements in well-being. This ability to connect with relatives, classmates, and colleagues is what drew many of us to Facebook in the first place, and it’s no surprise that staying in touch with these friends and loved ones brings us joy and strengthens our sense of community.

A study we conducted with Robert Kraut at Carnegie Mellon University found that people who sent or received more messages, comments and Timeline posts reported improvements in social support, depression, and loneliness. The positive effects were even stronger when people talked with their close friends online. Simply broadcasting status updates wasn’t enough; people had to interact one-on-one with others in their network. Other peer-reviewed longitudinal research and experiments have found similar positive benefits between well-being and active engagement on Facebook.

Others have speculated that the update is designed to force brands to buy more advertising to reach their desired audience – essentially ending the “free ride” brands have enjoyed since Facebook’s inception. While we can’t say if this is indeed one of the motivations driving the update, there is little doubt that the change will result in brands spending more ad dollars on Facebook to reach their current and prospective customers.

Facebook has publicly stated that they believe the update may actually decrease the amount of time people spend on their platform, but that ultimately people will be happier with their overall experience. If the amount of time people spend does in fact decrease, this will likely contribute to the inflation of advertising costs, as there will be more brands attempting to buy ads in an environment of shrinking inventory.

“I want to be clear: by making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down. But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable. And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too.”

– Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook

This blog post is the first of a 4-part series. Read what’s next:


Jen McDonnell

VP of Content and Social Media. Jen has worked in online journalism for a decade, most recently as the Managing Editor and Director of Dose.ca

Post first seen on Reshift Media. Click here for the original post.

Small Business Award Nominations are LIVE!

Do you know of a deserving local business member you would like to nominate for a small business award? Follow the link below to nominate a member for this prestigious honor. The six categories include:

Health Care & Wellness Organization of the Year

Sponsored by:

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Hospitality & Tourism Organization of the Year

Sponsored by:

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Non-Profit Organization of the Year

Sponsorship Available. Contact Brittany Lamont for more information.

Products & Services Business of the Year

Sponsored by:

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Professional Services Business of the Year

Sponsored by:

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Retail Business Business of the Year

Sponsored by:

Shumaker Registered

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Presenting Sponsor & Top Honor Small Business of the Year

The winner of this category will be chosen from the category winners above.
Sponsored by:
Nominations for the 28th Frank G. Berlin, Sr. Small Business Awards will close on February 16. Applications for the Small Business Awards are available now and self-nominations are encouraged.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Nominees must be a local business with 75 employees or less and a Sarasota Chamber member in good standing.
  • Must be a member of The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce.
  • Must be a locally-owned and operated “bricks and mortar” business under the same ownership for a minimum of three (3) years.
Please note: Nominees MUST fill out an application to be eligible for an award. We will inform your nominee of their nomination, send them the application, but it is their choice whether or not they apply. Self-nominations are accepted.
Only ONE SUBMISSION per nominee necessary.
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To view our members please visit www.sarasotachamber.com/directory.
For information on this year’s Small Business Awards, please visit our website or contact Brittany Lamont at (941) 556-4040.

Advertising Opportunities in 2018

The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce provides multiple affordable visibility opportunities for our members. Advertising through The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce is a great way to reach out to the business community and showcase your products and services. Two popular publications that many members find value in promoting their business through is the Chamber Buzz E-Newsletter and the Chamber Bridge Digital Magazine. The SarasotaChamber.com website offers banner ad space throughout the website to build your visibility.

The Chamber Buzz E-Newsletter

Published each Monday, reaches over 4,500 business people in the Greater Sarasota area on a weekly basis. The Chamber Buzz highlights Chamber news and events.

Buzz Ad Example

Chamber Buzz Ad Rates

The Chamber Bridge Magazine

Our quarterly digital publication distributed to 5,000 business professionals in the area. The Bridge highlights Chamber member benefits, photos of events and recognizes members accomplishments. View the Bridge Magazine here.

bride ad example

Bridge Magazine Ad Rates

Website Advertising

The Chamber’s website receives 10,000 visits per month making it a highly visible and trafficked area for advertisers. Whether you are looking to connect with other Chamber members or visitors coming to the area this is a great way to expand your reach.

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Website Ad Rates


If you are interested or have questions regarding Chamber Advertising, please contact Brittany Lamont at blamont@sarasotachamber.com or 941-556-4040.

Hurricane Irma Recovery Assistance Information from SBA!

Do You or Your Business Need Assistance to Recover from Hurricane Irma?

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For Small Businesses & Nonprofits:sba logo

Small Businesses and Nonprofits Can Apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration!

WORKING CAPITAL: Up to $2 million (No physical damages necessary to qualify)

Interest rates as low as:

  • 3.305% for Businesses
  • 2.5% for Nonprofit Organizations

Repayment Terms up to 30 years!

For Individuals:

  • HOMEOWNERS: Up to $200,000 for Primary Residence
  • HOMEOWNERS/RENTERS: Up to $40,000 for Personal Property

Interest rates as low as 1.75%

Repayment terms up to 30 years!

FIRST STEP: Register with FEMA at www.DisasterAssistance.gov, on the FEMA mobile App or (800) 621-3362.

For ALL – Businesses, Non-Profits & Individuals:

SBA Offers 3 Ways to Apply for a Disaster Loan:

  • ONLINE: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela
  • IN-PERSON: Visit a temporary recovery center (call for locations)
  • MAIL: Call (800) 659-2955 to have an application mailed to you

For more information: (800) 659-2955 and (800) 877-8339 for the deaf and hard of hearing. Visit www.sba.gov.


Note: Loan applicants should check with agencies/organizations administering any grant or other assistance programs under this declaration to determine how an approval of SBA disaster loan might affect their eligibility.

So, What’s Your Story?

3 Ways Storytelling Can Help Boost Your Business.

Surprisingly, though, during the many feedback sessions I led at Booth, no one asked me exactly how they could demonstrate “fit.” The answer I would have given? Successful applicants weave compelling narratives that demonstrate how their sparkling qualifications, values, and goals align with Booth’s.
That rule applies across the board: Whether you’re applying for an elite MBA program or trying to win investors and woo early adopters for your startup, it’s essential to convey that you and your audience are a perfect match. After all, as entrepreneurs, we’re all in a perpetual “competitive admissions” game. Hardly a day goes by that we aren’t trying to persuade others to join us in some effort. That means that we have to prove our “fit” day after day.
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Stories create that sense of fit. Even if you have a Ph.D. or MBA from a top-tier university, even if you’ve led the most respected company in your field, even if you’ve done the most extensive market research possible, the story you have to tell is always going to be worth more than strong qualifications alone. Time and time again, the people with the most compelling stories stand out.

Stories, in short, enable you to prove your value, paving the way to accomplish your goals. How do you find those stories? Here’s how.

Storytelling connects us with what our audience needs.

Say you have a business (maybe you already do.) You love the products you’ve designed. You’re proud of the services you’ve worked so hard to offer. But, focusing on your products, your services, your company isn’t what your audience needs. If you want to persuade anyone to act on the information you give them, you have to shift perspectives.

Several years ago, I worked with a real estate investment trust hedge fund to revamp its pitch book. At the time, the fund’s leaders were having trouble raising more assets to manage. As I looked through their existing pitch book, I noticed that every slide was answering the same question: “We are SO awesome; why wouldn’t any client want to invest with us?”

Of course, that’s what most investment funds’ pitch books look like. Like most of their competitors, they were preoccupied with themselves.

So, my work with them began. And, in time,, they shifted toward anticipating prospective clients’ questions instead of focusing on themselves. Questions began to emerge for the pitch book — questions that a client would ask: “How did the fund have such stellar performance for so long?” and “Can the team continue its track record?”

The pitch book we completed used these questions to tell the firm’s story. It worked so well that the firm achieved its asset-raising goals within 18 months!

Storytelling differentiates us, giving us a competitive edge.

Unfortunately, your company’s long lists of accomplishments don’t give prospective clients a way to see how you’re different from other equally impressive startups. You need accomplishments plus an emotional incentive. When faced with many similar-sounding options, people make choices based on how they feel about a business and its leaders. So, make sure that business is yours.

A powerful Radio Lab episode, Overcome by Emotion, illustrates this. It tells the story of a hard-working accountant who developed a brain tumor. After having surgery, he lost his ability to make decisions. Why? The surgery cut him off from his “emotional mind,” making him “pathologically indecisive.” Emotions are critical to our decision-making capacity. As author Alan Weiss has noted, “Logic makes people think; emotion makes them act.”

Di Fan Liu, an onshore private banker in Beijing, is someone I know who uses storytelling to speak to his customers’ anxieties. Liu and his firm know that their potential customers struggle to pass their wealth to the next generation. So, when they pitch their services to ultra-rich Chinese entrepreneurs, they tell stories about multi-generational family businesses that have succeeded in handing down wealth.

The catch? All the stories come from countries other than China. The company then asks potential customers to think of a fellow Chinese entrepreneur who has successfully done the same. Most of Liu’s audience can’t name a single one. This is the point at which they’re ready to hear about what his company has to offer them.

Do what he did: Once you anticipate your audience members’ emotions, tell the story they need. As I discuss in my book, Let the Story Do the Work, plot strongly influences the emotions your audience feels. For instance, shaping your business’s story as a “quest” narrative can make your audience feel restless, ready to achieve more than what life currently offers.

Storytelling establishes our personal credibility.

People don’t just want to buy a product or engage a service; they want to know what the people leading the business are like. And, according to psychologist Robert Cialdini‘s research on social influence, we tend to like people we imagine as being like us. We’re more likely to form a stronger connection with them and more likely to find their ideas persuasive!

Leading a business provides countless opportunities to demonstrate that you are like your clients. After all, clients often ask us, “So . . . tell me about yourself.” We can answer this with a story that is universal enough to make clients consider how similar our experiences are to their own.

Entrepreneur Kelly Standing of Standing Media tells a story that, thankfully, has not happened to everyone. When asked to say something about herself, she describes how her father saved her life after a bully left her hanging from a tree. Standing’s “worst nightmare” scenario is one any parent (or anyone with a similar, personal story of resilience) could relate to. And, so, it resonates.

In the perpetual competitive admissions game, stories prove our “fit.” But that doesn’t mean only “born” storytellers can succeed as entrepreneurs. I firmly believe that anyone can learn the methods for telling a brilliant story, and that once you’ve learned these methods, you will reach goals you never thought possible.


Article  from Entrepreneur: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/305062