What stories are you telling?

Three types of stories that could take your business to the next level

Over the last few years, I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on video games & devices to play them after spending most of my life saying I wasn’t that interested in video games.


Good storytelling.

When I started my graduate program in business school, I was psyched to learn the inner workings of a business, the frameworks of how to improve things, and “the playbook” to instant profitability (slight exaggeration).

So I was somewhat surprised when we spent the entire first week of my, top 25 MBA program in America, learning how to - tell our own story compellingly…? Indiana University starts its MBA program with something called “Me Inc”. It’s basically a crash course on how to pull out the most crucial parts of your personal & professional story and package them in a coherent & interesting way to talk to recruiters starting week 2 of a two-year program.

This imparted 3 major lessons for me.

  1. The story is everything. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, created, or have to sell if you can’t share it with people in an interesting way.

  2. In business & life, you’re (almost) always selling something. You want a job, you’re selling that you are the best person for the job. You want a connection, you’re selling someone on why they should open their Rolodex of contacts. You want a new friend, you’re selling the merits of someone choosing to spend more time with you. Not in a grimy way, people make little decisions based on every interaction. What outcome are you working towards?

  3. It’s never too early to start anything. Was I going to receive a job offer from a conversation with a recruiter in week 2 of grad school? Probably not, but networking is a skill like anything else. Putting in the reps early gives me opportunities to improve and possibly meet connections that would be invaluable later in life.

Okay but how does this connect to hundreds of dollars spent on video games?

Video games are much like what you and I do in a business. At its core, some very talented game designers spend years pouring their heart and soul into making a game. Then a business team packages and distributes it to sell. And a marketing team drums up interest. And if all the stars (and stories) align they get a blockbuster game that sells millions of copies.

Sure, growing up I played games, but only casually. I put dozens of hours into playing Rock Band with friends & family (such fond memories of those cheap plastic guitars), but when it came to sitting down to play through a game, I could never get more than a couple of hours in. There was always something better, more interesting, or a better story to consume.

Then a couple of years ago I saw a trailer for a game Horizon Zero Dawn, and it planted a seed. It combined machines, adventure, and an unfolding storyline (right up my niche interest). And in the back of my head, I started paying more attention.

Story number 1: Marketing.

Generally, marketing is the first place that a person will learn about you or your products. How do you provide enough of a story arc (specific to your niche) in 5-20 seconds that people are interested and want to know more? Easy ways of doing this are asking questions, using things relatable to your niche (eg I’m in my ___ era), or making people feel seen/validated (eg the hardest part of ___ is ___).

After I saw that first trailer, did I immediately go out to buy a PS4 and the new game?


To this day I still don’t own a PS4. But when I was at a friend’s house and I saw that they had it I was curious enough to try it out.

Story number 2: The Trial.

I played for maybe 15 mins - the equivalent of a demo or trial - it was enough of a teaser for me to see that the storyline of the game would be engaging for me.

How do you give people a chance to “test drive” your product or service in a way that they can fully experience the story/feeling of the transformation they would get through a purchase?

This is where a freebie, masterclass, or recording of a previous group call go a long way. Things that are easy to you, but people get to tap into what makes you special and experience it for themselves. The added part is when doing this it’s important to tie into the rest of what you’re offering. For me in the game it was a mission in which we were looking for answers about where the machines came from, it piqued my curiosity, and I would have to play the whole game to find the answer.

For you this could be including testimonials from what clients have achieved with your products or offers, it could be examples of what photos from your sessions look like, or relatable transformations that you walk them through if they purchase the whole offer.

Cool Cool, I was now interested - but I didn’t have a game console…

Business Decision (intermission): Meet the Customer Where They’re At

Horizon Zero Dawn came out as a Playstation (game console) Exclusive in 2017, and then a couple of years later came out on PC. To date it’s sold a little over 24 million copies and almost 10% of those were PC sales.

They realized there was a portion of their customer based that didn’t want to play on a console (me), and made it available in more places. How can you look at what’s already successful for you and make it available in a new way to people?

Story number 3: Keep People Coming Back

A couple of years ago I ended up buying the game on PC thinking I’d maybe put a couple hours into it, not expecting a lot since I’d never been interested enough to fully play through games on my own before. By the time I finished the game, I had over 27 hours of playtime invested in it. And last weekend I bought the sequel (our fixer-upper work may be going slow right now…).

That’s the goal right - have your customers really engaged in your offers, and excited enough to buy the next thing you come out with?

This once again came down to the story. Purchasing the game I didn’t “get” everything all at once, you had to invest time playing through the game to unlock new skills, learn more of the story, and explore more of the map.

How can you set up your offers to “unfold” over time, bringing people back again and again through maintaining curiosity, getting little results each time they come back, or new parts that you send out over time?

Lyndon, I don’t care about games…

How this applies to an online courses and the mistakes we’ve made before

Story 1 Marketing: stating a relatable problem, and how it’ll make a difference

  • The mistake we’ve made here before is launching something, but not telling enough of a story to hook people to want to know more. They love that we launched something, but few people were interested enough to dig deeper to learn more

Story 2 The Product Trial: offering a video or masterclass as a lead magnet

  • The mistake we’ve made here before is offering a really great masterclass, but it was a complete thought so people didn’t feel the need to go on and purchase the rest of the course since they didn’t see the benefit of the rest of the course

Story 3 Keep People Coming Back: providing wins along the way throughout a course

  • The mistake we’ve seen here is that people have to complete a course to see results. With short attention spans it’s much more likely that people will come back to a course and keep going through it if they can apply things immediately after starting and see results, so they come back to learn more and get more results.

Speaking of stories - did you want to hear the behind-the-scenes story about how we’re changing a bunch of things in our business to be much more aligned this month? We just launched our private paid podcast with a ~50-minute episode where we break down how burnout, this email, and a new therapist led us to lower our photography prices, add new coaching offers, and decide to identify as influencers now. Check out Life & Biz Unfiltered here to subscribe.

What story has resonated with you recently? Hit reply, I’d love to hear it!



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