May 24, 2016

Great Story, Dude.

Great Story, Dude.

As marketers, we brand our businesses and brand ourselves through stories. We tell the world how we got to where we are today…


What private hells we endured in the honing of our crafts,


What it took for us to finally create the solutions to the nagging problems we now can solve for the rest of the world,


Or of the pivotal days that pushed us – unceremoniously — off the ledge, and qualified us to talk other potential jumpers down from that very same ledge.


These brand stories represent our ascent into the world of entrepreneurship. And they create bonds with our customers that lead to sales… that foster success.


But what about the stories we don’t tell everyone else?

What about the stories that we tell ourselves, instead?

The ones that hold us back? Hold us down? Hold us hostage to our own self-sabotage and destructive habits?


At some point in your life, you began to believe things about yourself, and you wove those things into stories (by now they might possibly be proper legends) that you repeat to yourself over and over again.


Maybe it was when you were a kid and everyone made fun of your wiry hair, and you developed the “I’m a weirdo” story.


Maybe it happened during your divorce, or when you walked away from a job, and you wrote the “quitter” story.


Or when your dad moved to California and left you behind, so you wrote the “I’m not worthy” story.


Or when you were ten and you competed in track and field, and it was hot and you were sweaty, and you couldn’t find it in yourself to really give it your all because you liked the shoes more than you liked the sport… so you just settled for fourth place in every single race. And you wrote the, “I’ll never be a winner” story.


(Oh, wait… those are my stories.)


Come on. I know you have them, too. We all do.


Are you the one who feels held down in a relationship?

Or disorganized and always late?

A lousy salesperson?

Horrible at math?

A binge drinker?

Crappy at follow-through?

Always broke?


Almost any time you find yourself stuck in a rut, it’s about one of your stories.


When you’re kicking your feet to move forward, and it turns out you’re just treading water? It’s a story.


When the whole world is wrong and you’re right? Big fat story.


I’ll be the first to admit, I haven’t always been fully conscious of the stories I tell myself. I wasn’t hip to the fact that I’d built a prison of mediocrity and was holding myself captive inside it.


But lately, because I’ve been working toward some monumental shifts in my business and my future, I’ve had my eyes and ears open to the bullshit I tell myself. And it’s some gnarly shit.


And here’s the real clincher (for my stories, and for yours, as well): more often than not, none of them are actually true any more. As it turns out, they’re just convenient.


I’ve been spending my story time with Tina Kulias. She’s expertly guiding me through the old heave-ho… the out-with-the-old, in with the new. (She’s amazing, by the way.)


And she asked me an interesting question the other day about one of my lame stories:

“What are you getting from it? What is the story allowing you to do? You wouldn’t be telling yourself this old story if it didn’t give you something.”


Well, there I was.

Called out on the carpet.

Forced to say, right out loud, that I was not actually a quitter. I was just telling myself I was, again and again and again, because it allowed me to choose not-finishing over potentially failing. Allowed me to walk away from the game before the score could be published in the newspaper. That quitter story? It let me lay back. Lay around. Lay the groundwork for one more thing I could take to a level just below the one I wanted to reach.


Day by day, I’m seeing my stories more clearly. I’m watching them unfold. And as a brand strategist, I’m fascinated by the way I’ve manipulated my own perception of me. By the way I’ve persuaded myself I’m something I’m not, in service of something I don’t even want.


What about you?

What old stories are you telling?

And what are they giving you? What are they allowing you to not be? How are they saving you from the terrifying glory of who you really could be?


Anyway…. I’m re-writing mine. New character developments, plot twists, alternative endings, some epic journeys.

Join me? Together, we could write a hell of a series. Who knows? We might even get called to write a screenplay – about a life more amazing than anyone could ever imagine.


Got a story idea?

Share with me in the comments below.

(And if it’s your brand story you’re working on — the one you tell the world?  Then join me at my webinar this Thursday. We’ll talk about how to make real connections with your “readers.” How to tell a story for your business that knocks their socks off.)

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9 thoughts on “Great Story, Dude.

  1. Ann says:

    You just spoke my life and at just the divine right moment. Thank you!!!

    I am the founder of Paradigm Rising, many years in the creating. My company is about transforming my legal practice into a community connector that sheds light and gives forum for opportunity to contribute to strengthen our families, our communities. i have a plan supported by the Catholic Church to help usher empowerment to our kiddos big and small and help their parents too with an accompanying workshop for them as well. It’s grassroots and helps the elderly in our communities and cherishes and gives real time opportunity for our wounded veterans to serve and fight the fight against child sexual abuse and the gapping blackhole we’ve thrown wide-open for online child predators, with mac books and ipads downloading apps faster than we can figure them out. I would love to talk with you! Thank you for your angel gift.

    1. Julia Hook says:

      Hi, Ann. What a beautiful mission you have! I’m glad the piece spoke to you. You can reach me via email at Here’s to your wonderful community outreach.

  2. Wil says:

    This is great. As is Tina. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Julia Hook says:

      Thanks, Wil. I think Tina’s pretty great, too. Nice to have you here!!

  3. Candice says:

    You are both awesome! Honored to know you two! Xoxo

    1. Julia Hook says:

      Aww… thanks, my friend.

  4. erin alvino says:

    perfect timing for me to find you. my story is changing in every area of my life, separation, children entering teen years and re-inventing a career. thanks for helping me try to find my path

    1. Julia Hook says:

      Hi, Erin. I’m so glad you did find me! And so happy to have you here. I love being part of your search for a path. And I can related to your present situation 100%. Here’s to your story. -Juju

  5. Rhovonda says:

    Hi Julia. What a story! This hit me in the gut. I’m joining your Webinar on Thursday. I’m exciting about what you have to share. I’m the founder of Martha & Mary Ministries, Walking in Freedom! and my story is to encourage others (through my writings) to ignite and embrace. Ignite the passion inside of them that has been buried under life’s hardship and sorrow. To begin to embrace who they are and why they were created: to be uniquely, beautiful creatures doing EXTRA-ORDINARY things for Christ.

    Thanks for the reminder, Julia, to embrace the good, the bad and the ugly so that we can be all we were designed to be!

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