Start-Up Founders and their audiences have a craving for origin stories- to define and claim a Founder identity that is true, current and unapologetic. That tiny two or three sentence story that says “This is who I am and it’s why I’m committed.” This is hard.
There is a temptation and strong pull to craft an origin story like crafting a resume- to list the credentials one has that justifies the position a Founder is in. That says “Look, I’ve earned the right to be this audacious- to disrupt, to be bold. I belong here.” Thing is, the resume version is for reference, it’s not the story of WHY you’re here. It’s the story of what you’ve done. Relevant, but if my Founder client’s came from a place of resume all the time, they’d surely not answer the question “Why this? Why you?”. The resume is one component of “why should I trust you?” and a far less compelling story and certainly not the identity my Founder’s are looking to claim.
So what is the pathway to defining that origin story- that motivator that just can’t NOT push you to doing what you’re doing as a founder?
Talk it (or write it) out. The story gets revealed as you speak it to another. And as the story gets told you can see that you’ve hit something that matters when your audience (the other person over the table) lights up, or, when you, dear Founder, feel that little delight or embarrassment that comes with speaking a truth about yourself. It’s that moment you speak to WHO you are, not what makes you qualified.
Here are two of my favorites from my last two weeks:
“If you ask my three-year-old daughter why she loves dinosaurs, she can’t tell you why. It’s the same for me with robotics. ” (AI Start-Up Founder)
“I’ve always been a social entrepreneur, I just didn’t know it. When my friends spent the summers at the pool, I spent the summers abroad with NGO’s learning about what change they were making.”(Energy and Environmental Start-Up Founder)
These origin stories are about who these Founders are, the rest is important, but not the center. So be bold in telling a story that is about who you are, one that’s full of your being, not limited to your achievements. Because we already know that part. If you weren’t an achiever, you wouldn’t be standing here with the title of Founder. Tell us who you are, we want to know.