I recently spoke at a women’s business conference.
And met dozens of interesting women in attendance.
Most shared similar backgrounds — they’d either always had an entrepreneurial spirit or determined after years of toiling in someone else’s org chart that their full potential lay in working for themselves.
A number worked in the same industry — insurance, real estate, graphic design, fitness…
Nearly all had the same wants and needs — flexibility to have lives outside of work but impact within it.
So, how to distinguish between all of these wonderful women with shared commonalities?
What makes them memorable?
The very thing that makes a great story memorable and meaningful.
And it’s something very small, almost seemingly insignificant.
But it’s what makes a story stand-out from all others.
The beauty is in the details.
I’m not talking about the “too-much-information” details you wish you hadn’t heard. I mean the details that distinguish us from others in interesting ways that spark curiosity.
It’s how I’ll think of the doctor whose holistic approach has her leading wellness retreats in Bermuda.
It’s why I’m excited to hear about the next chapter of the woman who’s had a number of roles over the course of her career including working at… a cemetery. Next month she moves to China.
From a cemetery to China. I can tell you no one else in that room had that story.
It’s how I’ll think of the professional organizer the next time I attack clutter in my home and how she admitted that everybody has their “thing” they have too much of. She sees a lot of extra cans of gravy in people’s pantries.
Extra cans of gravy.
There’s a detail that will stick with me (like a thick gravy).
Loving stories as I do and knowing everyone has one has made me a keen listener. I hear the distinguishing details of our stories. They fascinate me. Equally fascinating is how often we fail to recognize them or consider them unique enough to offer in conversation.
Retreats in Bermuda. A job in a cemetery. Extra cans of gravy.
We’re so focused on telling people what we do (and often what we don’t like about what we do or what wish we could do) that we forget about why we offer this information.
At the end of a networking event, we leave with dozens of business cards and little memory of who’s who.
So here’s a little reminder:
The big power in your story stems from the smallest of details.
Next time you meet a group of people, think about how you tell the story of who you are and what you do. And how the small details in your story can make you memorable and meaningful.
If you’ve lost 80 lbs. and become a Zumba instructor, tell it. (How amazing is that?)
If you’ve started a business sharing your love of lyrics by creating customized poetry for clients, offer it. (That’s unique!)
If you’ve closed up your law firm to launch a not-for-profit serving special education, own it. (Acknowledged with admiration!)
I see you, I hear you, and I will remember you.
The details of your stories are what stand-out and serve as reminders long after the session has concluded.
They’re what make you YOU.
And that alone is unique.
What are the details of your story still to be discovered?
Valerie Gordon is a lifelong storyteller, an award-winning television producer and the founder of career and communications firm The Storytelling Strategist. The author of “Fire Your Narrator! A Storyteller’s Guide to Getting Out of Your Head and Into Your Life,” she speaks at conferences and works with corporations to help clients capitalize on the power of story for greater success and satisfaction at work and in their next chapters.