If you’ve a) found this post randomly or b) would like context on why I’m writing this post, please hop over to here (or here, for the long link types – http://westoncomms.com/2015/03/a-personal-pledge-from-me-to-you/) – just for a moment and then come back, if you still want to read this… ;)
Right, are we all settled in? I’m here today, to tell you a story. It starts with a girl who was born in 1977 – a Jubilee Baby (My Mum is very proud of this). But she wasn’t just a regular baby. She was a baby whose Mum and Dad had Huge Plans for how she would go forth and conquer the world. She would get a full education, including going to University and excel at whatever she turned her hand to. This would happen because they would cheerlead, push and encourage her to do this – so that she could go on to have opportunities that they had only dreamed of. She would also be a rounded person and do volunteer work as a teenager and find lifelong happiness by meeting the mate of her dreams at some point in her life.
People ask me how I came to be where I am today, and the truth is, that like most things, it wasn’t what I set out to do. I was going to be secondary school Religious Studies teacher OR a HGV driver. I still want to do the latter, and get my licence. I don’t know if I’ll get to do it though as I am now realising that one of my big goals for my life – personally and professionally, is to help people find ways to tell their stories. I appreciate that this sounds a bit woo woo, but it’s true. The further I go in life, the more I realise that success – for brands, entrepreneurs, women, men and children is based upon their ability to tell stories about themselves and relate to the stories other people and brands are sharing with them.
Here’s a quick recap on how I have been albeit unknowingly, in the business of telling stories, for more than 20 years. It started when I was 18 – I joined the university of Manchester’s Annual Fund campaign – calling Alumni, by phone, telling them what was happening at the University, why we wanted to do to keep it being The Place To Be and why the University needed their financial support to achieve it. If you know me, you’ll appreciate my lack of modesty when I tell you that I was pretty darn good at it. I loved it. It wasn’t work. It was fun!
I also had a job working for Galen research – they assess and deliver qualitative research into quality of life standards and the illnesses that affect it. I assessed Galen interview participant transcripts from individuals who had illnesses that affected their quality of life. I had to tease qualified and quantifiable quotes out of their sometimes rambling sharing of their experiences, illness and changing environments – they talked for hours – sharing their stories of how their lives had been changed by their long term, very debilitating illnesses.
Upon graduating I lasted five weeks in my first job – I didn’t like my male, much older manager thinking it was OK to brush his hand past my boobage as I sat in his office for one to one chats. From there, I landed my second job very quickly, working for the Institute of fundraising – on their annual conference – facilitating others telling their stories and sharing their knowledge, expertise and what they’d learned in the careers and lives to date. The next jobs were with The Financial Times Business – working on financial conferences and awards that celebrated and rewarded businesses who could make finances and managing them sound like an exciting adventure by – yes – you’ve guessed it – telling more stories! I did the same at EMAP conferences – where I learnt about conveyor belts and making things happen en masse, on scale and to a tight budget. I wish I’d been able to keep in touch with Ruth Carter – she scared and inspired me in equal measures – a true force of nature.
My final post, in employment in the old fashioned sense of the word was with the University of Hertfordshire. I started out launching their very own Annual Fund – getting students to tell their stories to their own Alumni. I took on the Alumni magazine, travelled internationally securing support and sponsorship for students and single handedly (because we were inbetween Heads of department when the opportunity came along!!!) secured the biggest individual donor gift that the University had received in its history to that point!!! It was exhilarating and challenging. I got lots of things right, but also got lots of things wrong – it was a never ending learning activity. I found so many ways to share the University’s stories, and had so many given to me, that it was one non stop circle of story telling.
The rest is history. With 15 years of marketing and communications behind me, I struck out on my own, with a business that was intended to be a sideline whilst my Husband worked. I was to have my sideline and make jam and chutney and homemade food for our two boys. Luckily for me and our family (who hated my cooking) the business grew so quickly that The Husband stopped his work and became an at home Dad full time, so I could work on and in the ever growing business. Fast forward a few years and that’s where I still am today. I’m just working more flexibly, so that I can do either the drop off or the collections on alternate weeks and at the moment, I’m undertaking a restructuring of our work and our approach, so that we are all client facing, client accountable and able to deliver and turnaround work quickly, but with the personality and enthusiasm that we’re known for.
So, that’s me. My story. If you are interested in working with us and finding out more about how we can serve you and your communities, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01223 501520.