Chapter 16

Story Driven Business

There are two types of business. One is competition driven and the other is story driven. The first wants to crush the competition. Become the biggest and the best. Make the most money and be the envy of everyone.

A good example of this type of business is Volkswagen who have been assiduously buying up smaller car companies and growing globally.

Somewhere along the way, their core values took second place to their drive to become the biggest, most successful car company in the world. 

They manipulated data in an attempt to circumvent emission control laws.

Even after they had been caught red handed, senior management tried to pass it off as a few lower level executives acting independently. When in fact this drive to avoid the rules was a company wide culture for which they were fined billions of dollars. 

It was a severe hit to their finances and to consumer’s confidence in what had been seen up to that moment as a reliable and conservative brand noted for its moderately priced cars.

An example of the second is Elon Musk’s car company, Tesla, which understands that people want to buy an environmentally friendly car which their neighbours envy because it is fast, fun to drive and desirable.

Elon understands that his cars tell a story about the people who own and drive them. Forward thinking, liberal, design conscious, environmentally aware people who not only want to do their best for the planet but also look good in the process.

They appeal to celebs (Will Smith, Cameron Diaz and Jay Leno all drive a model S).

This drive to disrupt the staid old auto market by producing something hot has made Tesla a global brand while making its patents available to everyone for free. 

Elon knows that the more he cooperates with others, the more electric vehicles will become an unstoppable force in the auto industry.

As a result all the other vehicle manufacturers are having to produce their own e-vehicles.

Elon doesn’t simply want to make a good car suited to the times we live in. He wants to change the world in a good way. That is his big vision. His why. He leads with his values and makes his vision clear to everyone and as a result he attracts super fans who follow his every move in much the same way as people once idolised Steve Jobs.

The first is driven by its goal of being the biggest and the best, no matter what. No matter how (almost). Judging by their actions, the goal is more important than their core values. 

The second leads with empathy and their core values and is now the most valuable car company on the planet. Not the biggest but the most valuable.  There is a moral to that story which I am sure is not lost on you.

Here are the 4 steps to creating a Story Driven Business

a) Define your purpose: Why your business exists.


This is not about making money. This is about something bigger than you. For Elon, it’s about changing the world for the better. The way he intends to do that is by building better cars and rockets that can be reused. Defining your WHY is super important for your  business. People don’t buy WHAT you do. They buy WHY you do it.

b) Define your vision: Where you’re headed.

By being clear about this, you will encourage your friends and fans to join you on the journey. In doing so, you create a Community of like minded people who will defend you when you slip up as we all do from time-to-time. Creating a Community is the future of marketing as we discovered in Chapter 13.

c) Define your core values: The Beliefs to guide you.

Drawing a line in the sand as Colonel Bill Travis did in the movie the ‘Battle of the Alamo’ and inviting others to join you in standing  for the same values is another powerful way of creating a Community. In doing so, you ask your audience to make a decision… Are they for you or against you?

d) Plan: How you deliver that vision while staying true to your values.

This is about strategy and tactics. One thing is clear. Leading with empathy. Telling stories about your purpose, vision and values  inspires people to join you.

You don’t have to do this on paper or video. 

You can simply hire a brand ambassador like Nike did when they hired Colin Kaepernick or Aston Martin did when they associated themselves with James Bond.

Creating a story driven business builds an emotional bridge to your audience. No one cares about WHAT you do until they understand you are just like them; that you have travelled down the same road; Until they buy into your vision… 

Continue reading…