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The Seven Stories Every Purposeful CEO Should Tell

Shakespeare said “All the world is a stage.” And it used to be, as CEO, your speaking would take place on the big stage, in front of many team members, at big moments. But now the stage is everywhere, all the time: on Instagram, on Zoom, small media, big media, small pitches, big pitches, culture conversations…the list goes on and on.

And in such a world, a collection of purposeful, meaningful, relevant retellable stories can be a CEO’s best friend.

So what are the seven stories that every CEO should tell?

Number one: your own origin…where you come from. This could be when you were seven years old and you had a dream. This could be when you hit a gully and you didn’t know what you were going to do. Some story that shows your origin, where you come from, that connects us to your own beginnings.

Number two: company origin. You might not be the founder. It might not have been your invention, or your beginnings, but you need to be able to tell that story in a way that is alive and is connected to what you care about.

Number three: impact stories. There are two of these. The first impact story is your organizational impact story. It is your product. It’s your service. It’s telling the story of one customer that’s out there in the world that is experiencing what you’ve created, what your team is creating and the transformation that’s resulted.

Number four: the social impact story, the impact that you’re having out in the world or in your organization that is revealing a transformational impact in culture. That is, you are helping in some way to move the dial about how we all see the world, and how those around us in our extended communities are healthier and more vibrant.

Number five: vision story, something that brings your story alive that shows your team, your audience and your followers what the future looks like. And you can’t just say what the future looks like, because nobody’s going to care. If you want them to actually care, you need to tell a story that people are going to remember that they’re going to see themselves in. Number six: your company story. Not just your origin story, the story that tells where you come from, what you’re doing and where you’re going in a way that’s relevant to the moment in a way that’s relevant to the audience.

Not a message, not just a thing that you say, not a tagline, a story that reveals a transformation that you are bringing. Every single day.

Number seven: here is the wild card. That is a story that happened last week, last month, or last year. The wild card story is the slot that is constantly changing. The one you told last month can be very different than the one that you’re going to tell today, because your audience is different, and your purpose in speaking is refined, and because life is teaching you something new every day that informs your greater purpose as a conduit of change in this world.

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