How to Sell Your Story
Good morning ️
Back in college, I had a friend — let’s call him Andy. He wasn’t a popular guy; in fact, I don’t think he had a lot of friends. He was a loner; and he always avoided situations wherein he would have had to interact with more than one person at a time. We were friends because we spent a lot of time at the library and sometimes we’d find ourselves talking about the same books we had checked out. He was a big Che Guevara fan. I was interested in all kinds of books about wars. That said, we weren’t close, close; we talked every now and again at the library and that was it.
When I left to study in the US, our friendship, if you can call it that, gradually dissolved and I had never heard from him again — nor he from me — until a few years later when I returned home for a visit.
We bumped into each other accidentally at a mall in Jakarta. We said our hello’s and how are you’s and the next thing I knew he was telling me about the major changes in his life in the last couple of years: a shift in careers, being engaged to the love of his life and buying his first house.
He asked me about my time in the US, what I did and whether I enjoyed what I was doing. I told him that I worked at a small publishing company and that the pay was okay, but I was also learning a lot from the people I was working with.
“That's great,” he said. “You’ve always wanted to work with books.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I guess so."
He asked me about my long-term plan, and I told him I didn't have any. He also asked me whether I had discovered happiness, stability, or a sense of permanence in life. I laughed at that. "No," I said. "Have you?"
"You'd be surprised," he said.
We moved the conversation to a nearby coffee shop. He bought me a cup of hot latte and a slice of cheese cake. He was different, I thought. Back in our college days, he was a bit more reserved and he didn't ask a lot of questions. He also didn't seem as confident as he was now. The new Andy was full of smiles, something which seemed out of character back then; and for some reason he was eager to tell me about his life. So, I listened.
He started with the days after college graduation: working at a major telecommunications company as an entry-level staff, learning the ropes and dreaming to climb the corporate ladder. He said he pulled 65 hours a week in the first few years until he was promoted to manager. Then, he pulled 80 hours a week. He was determined, but exhausted. He barely had time to do anything else; yet he was making close to IDR 300 mio a year at a time when his peers were making less than half that amount.
“I was loaded, I kid you not,” he said matter-of-factly. There was not a tinge of irony in his voice. "The company loaned me a fancy car, and I was living a high-end life," he went on.
Andy checked his phone for a split second, then returned to his story: “But the bags under my eyes were getting darker and puffier, because I only slept 2-3 hours a night.”
"It was," he said. At this point, he lowered his gaze and his voice became distant. “Then came the diagnosis.”
My heart skipped a beat.
Andy took a deep breath and placed his palm over his chest. “I was killing myself,” he said slowly, enunciating every word as if for my benefit. “I was pulling too many hours and my body just couldn’t take it, anymore.”
He had asthma. The long hours made it worse, until he developed a severe case of pulmonary embolism. He looked at me and reached over the table for my wrist. He whispered: “I almost died.”
I shook my head. “I’m so sorry,” I said.
Andy leaned back in his seat and crossed his legs at the knee.
“I didn’t know when to stop,” he said. “I mean, what was I going after? Promotion after promotion after promotion until — what?”
“There's nothing wrong with being ambitious."
"Well... maybe," he sighed. "Maybe not."
“So, I quit. A few more months and they would’ve promoted me to GM. But I said to myself, ‘No more.’ And I sent in my notice.”
“I had to,” he said. His voice was loud and confident. “We think we’re immortal because we’re young, but we’re not.”
"It was the hardest, yet most rewarding decision I had ever made," he said.
"Good for you," I said.
"Not long after that, I met Susan," he said. His face was beaming. "The greatest thing that has ever happened to me."
I smiled at the mention of her name, as anyone would in such moments.
“You’ve got to think of the future,” he said.
“You believe that, don’t you? This is the time for us to think of the future,” he said, now leaning forward across the table. He was full of energy and for a moment I noticed he was wearing a shirt that stuck to his body like a second skin. His body was in a much better shape than I remembered it in our college days. “This is the time for us to invest in our future,” he said.
"Now I have a great job," he said, which was more of an announcement than anything else. "I can work from anywhere and I have an amazing network."
"I sleep 6-7 hours every night and I still get to spend a lot of quality time with the people I love."
"I'm happy for you," I said. "Really."
Andy smiled. "Thanks." Then he gave me a good, long look. “It’s great to see you, M. I’m glad life works out for you just fine,” he said.
“You, too,” I said.
He then took out his wallet and handed me a card. “When you are ready to invest in your future, give me a call," he said.
The entire conversation took less than 40 minutes. Walking out of the coffee shop, we parted ways and promised to stay in touch. We did ... for a while. However, that was the last time we ever saw each other. I heard he's built himself a very good life working at a multi-level marketing company. He married Susan not long after we met; and now they are blessed with three beautiful children.
There are many ways to use storytelling in your sales or prospecting process, what you just read was one of them.
Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer
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