September 25, 2023

Episode 39:
Writing Your Path to Authority:

How Your Personal Story Can Transform Your Business

Learn how to leverage your memoir as a transformative tool for building authority, establishing thought leadership, and attracting clients to your business

Episode 39: Writing Your Path to Authority: How Your Personal Story Can Transform Your Business

by Carma Spence | The Author Switch Podcast


In this episode of The Author Switch Podcast, I share tips and advice about how to harness the power of your personal story to grow your business. I touch on how to use your unique experiences, challenges, and triumphs to not only connect with your audience on a deeper level but also to position yourself as an industry thought leader, and provide tips on how to avoid the pitfalls common to business memoirs.

  • Why it’s crucial to start planning as early as September.
  • The top trends driving this year’s holiday book marketing landscape.
  • Innovative strategies that go beyond the traditional playbook.

Whether you’re a seasoned author or just starting out, this episode will equip you with actionable insights to make your books shine during the most wonderful time of the year.

Recap & Takeaways

  • 01:56 The Power of Personal Stories in Business
  • 02:51 How to Craft Your Personal Business Narrative
  • 10:35 Entrepreneurs Who Used Personal Stories to Establish their Thought Leadership
  • 13:41 Tips for Attracting Clients Through Storytelling
  • 17:10 Overcoming the Challenges and Pitfalls of Business Memoir Writing
Author Branding Bootcamp

Transcript for Episode 39: Writing Your Path to Authority: How Your Personal Story Can Transform Your Business

Hello and welcome to episode 39 of The Author Switch Podcast. Tonight, I’m going to be talking about  how to write a memoir that markets your business. Because a memoir has a unique way of building your thought leadership and your authority. So there are five things I want to cover today.


That’s the power of personal story, how to actually go through the steps and give you some tips on how to go about writing a business memoir, how a business memoir can bolster your thought leadership and how it can attract clients. And then finally, I’m going to close it up with some pitfalls that you could fall into and give you some tips so that you avoid them.


Now, before I go into the information I want to share with you tonight, I’m going to share with you a little bit by myself, just in case you are new to my world. My name is Carma Spence and I am an award winning and best selling author. I’ve authored five books on my own and contributed to numerous anthologies.


Two of my books made it to bestseller and one won three awards. I’ve been an author for 16 years. I’ve been in PR and marketing for 30 years. And I’m also certified in author marketing.


So, why are personal stories so powerful in marketing one’s business? Well, for one, they provide some authenticity. People get to know the person behind the business through your memoir. It also helps build up your business persona, as well as making you relatable and human. So in that respect, it humanizes your brand.


And finally, a personal narrative sets you apart from your competitors. Why? Because only you have lived your life. Your story is unique to you. No one else has lived it. And therefore, your business is colored by who you are and your personal experiences. You bring something unique to the table simply because you lived your life.


So how do you go about crafting a business memoir? I have broken it down into six basic steps that basically help set you up for writing the book.


The first step is to spend some time in self reflection and goal clarifying. So basically you want to reflect on what your personal story is. What, what’s been your journey and your experience and your values, especially as it relates to your business.


And sometimes those stories can be sort of tangential, but they made you who you were so that you saw the things you saw and therefore built the business you built. And then you also want to clarify what your goals are and your objectives are for your business and how that memoir is going to fit into those goals.


Because your personal story, if it’s going to market your business, needs to serve that cause. So understanding those goals is really critical.


Second thing is you need to identify key themes and messages in all this research that you just pulled together. So when you look at your life, what are the key themes that most or some of these stories fall into that support you building the business that you build. So for example, one story I tell in my business is how I always wanted to be a writer since I was like a toddler and that I developed a certain amount of natural ability because in the fourth grade, my fourth grade teacher literally took me aside after school one day and said, Carma, You should really consider pursuing a career in writing.


Now, I don’t know about you, but I actually have kept almost everything I’ve written since kindergarten. And I’ve seen what I wrote in the fourth grade. I’ve re read it a few times to try and figure out what she was seeing. All I can figure is that the other fourth graders wrote something worse. Which is hard to imagine, but there you go.


So that’s a little story in my life that lends into the theme of me being someone who loves books, loves writing, and eventually is building a business around helping others achieve what I have achieved in writing books.


Oh, I miscounted. It’s actually five steps. I went from two to four when I was writing down the numbers. Oops. So step three is to analyze your audience. And now this is regardless of what kind of book you’re going to write. You need to understand who is this book for? Who do you want to be reading this book?


Because you need to tailor the imagery, both verbal imagery as well as cover imagery. To that audience to some degree. So who are these people who are going to be reading your business memoir? What are they going to be seeking to learn from reading it? What’s going to draw them to it? And what do you want them to take away?


What are their challenges? What are their aspirations that your story can speak to?


Step number four, Craft a story arc. This is sort of part of where your outline comes into play. Play because you’ve got you’ve just collected all these stories throughout your life. How are you going to organize them so they have a coherent framework, they have a coherent pathway through your business memoir? You need to structure your narrative so that it has a clear beginning, middle and end. And you can also take a look at these stories and see how, how do they add conflict, resolution, and character development to your overall story arc.


And then finally, after you’ve kind of put all this together, go through and highlight the pieces that that will be relevant to your business and weave in additional elements to your personal story that directly relate to your business or your industry.


So for example, I tend to like to think of things as timelines. So like when I meet someone and they said, I was doing such and such in 1971, my brain immediately goes to, what was I doing in 1971? So if you’re writing a story. And the story that you’re sharing in this part of your book happens in 1971.


Take a look at what else was going on in 1971. in your industry specifically, but even in the world, what would people who are reading your book, what would they be thinking about as soon as they found out that this story took place in 1971? So weaving that sort of how there’s your story and then there’s the greater story that everyone participated in and how do those weave together and how do they support your business message that you’re trying to convey.


So those are the setup processes, steps in that you need to go through in order to craft a business memoir. And I do have some additional tips I’d like to share with you.


As you’re writing this book, emphasize authenticity, because this is a memoir. This is you. This is you sharing a slice of your, it’s not a biography.


A biography literally says you did this, then you did this, then you did this, then you did this. A memoir reads more like a novel. And so it has a thematic arc to it. And because it’s the story of your life, it needs to ring authentic and there are techniques that you can use to help do that because sometimes you can tell a story and people go, that didn’t happen, even though it did.


So you need to always take a look at what you’re telling and make it believable. And that may mean that you need to add in a few extra details, or you may need to change the details, not lie, but change the details enough that. It makes it more believable and you’re not hurting people because the last thing you want to do is write a business memoir that pisses your entire family off.


That’s not good. Don’t want to do that. So there’s a level of authenticity you want to put in there.


Second tip is use vivid details and emotions. So often when you’re writing that first draft and you’re put, you’re just throwing in the facts, telling the stories. On your second take through it, weave in the emotions that you were feeling during those vignettes that you’re sharing. Help the people who are reading your book feel what you felt.


And that means you’re going to use vivid, colorful, sight, hearing, taste, sound is hearing, sight, sound, taste, texture, all those things. Weave those in so that So people feel like they are re-experiencing your life while you’re telling it.


Those are my two top tips. Now I’d like to talk a little bit about how a business memoir establishes thought leadership. And the way I thought was best to do this is to share some examples of real world individuals who have used a business memoir or their personal stories in their business to help establish thought leadership.


And the first person you’ve probably heard of, Simon Sinek. He’s a renowned author, speaker, and leadership expert, and he has gained widespread recognition through his TED Talk, in which he shares  how great leaders inspire action, and he introduces the concept of the golden circle, which is the idea of starting with why, and he uses his personal story to explain that concept.


So his personal story of self discovery, of discovering these things that he shares in developing leadership, helps his listeners understand what purpose driven leadership is, and have made him a sought out thought leader in the leadership space.


Another person who has leveraged their personal story to great effect is Brene Brown.


I don’t know if you’ve heard her, I’ve actually heard her TED talk and she not only shares her research but her personal experiences by doing that research. and it’s all about vulnerability. So she actually is vulnerable. She is exemplifying what she’s talking about. So she shares her own personal stories woven in with her research to prove that vulnerability can actually be a strength. And this has led to her having a huge following of people who want to learn and embrace the power of vulnerability.


And the third person who I definitely look up to is Sir Richard Branson. He’s the founder of the Virgin Group, which of course includes a wide range of businesses. There was Virgin Records, there was Virgin Airlines, there was Virgin Galactic, and of course he’s got a number of memoirs that he’s written where he shares how he’s grown his business.


And shares his story. I mean, who he is as a human being is almost I’d say integrated as well as intertwined into who he is as a business person. And this has helped him be as successful as he is. I mean, very few people have not heard of Richard Branson. And he even has an island somewhere where other entrepreneurs like to go and visit him on this island and it becomes this retreat. And I mean, he’s, he’s just someone I look up to. What can I say? All right. So that’s the thought leadership.


So how does a business memoir attract in your ideal clients?


And I was able to find six things that I think a business memoir can do that other books can do, but don’t do as well. And the first one is authenticity and transparency. When you’re writing a memoir. In some ways, you’re baring your soul. When someone reads your memoir, they feel like they know a part of you that may not show up in other areas of your business.


So you, you become more authentic. And by sharing both your joys, your triumphs, and those moments in your life that aren’t so great, you are sharing a transparency by by automatically.


The second thing is you are sharing your values in your memoir. So your readers, your potential clients can identify with them and say, yes, that’s my value too. Because there’s something about shared values that improves business. I, I don’t know about you, but I find that I’m attracted to businesses that share my values. If I feel, for example, that a business owner has a strong sense of faith, which is important to me, I have a tendency to want to do business with them.


And that, for me, that doesn’t even matter what faith they’re a member of, just the fact that they love God. Because that’s important to me. It may or may not be important to you, it, we all have our own values, but we tend to want to do business with those business people who share at least one or more of our values.


Memoirs also share your pain points with your audience, and so they can identify with those as well. So you read a memoir and you think, Oh, I felt that too. I’ve had that down moment as well. This person understands my pain, because they went through it, too. And that is powerfully magnetic to clients.


Your business memoir can be used to inspire and motivate people to take action. And that’s whether they take action with you or not. But the fact that you are supporting them and telling them, If I did it, You can too. And that is more powerful when they have seen your shared values and your shared pain points.


Your business memoir can position you as an expert because it showcases how you got to know what you know.


It shows the pathway. It shows that you’ve paid your dues. You’ve gone through the school of hard knocks to become the expert that you are. And your memoir lays that out for them plainly to see. And finally, your memoir can show empathy and understanding. Because you’ve shared your experiences, they can see that you’ve experienced things like they have, and therefore, you get them. You understand them. You understand what they’re going through and that is very powerful.


So now there are often, there are some challenges and pitfalls to writing a memoir. And so I’m going to cover a handful of them and share some tips on how you can avoid them.


The first one  is oversharing personal details. Your memoir really only needs to share the information that’s relevant to the theme you are addressing.


So when you’re writing your memoir, set boundaries on how much information you’re going to share. Um, I alluded to that a little bit earlier on when I said, you want to protect the, protect those who need to be protected. There are probably people in your life who’ve caused you some hardship and have caused you some problems and have made your life more difficult.


Do you really want to throw them under the bus? You can share those down, you can even share there was someone involved, but you don’t need to throw that individual person under the bus. For one, it protects them, but it also protects you because if you’re going to say, well, so and so did such and such to me, blah, blah, blah, blah, it starts coming off as gossip and that’s You don’t want to do that in a business memoir because it’s not good for business.


Another pitfall is neglecting professionalism. When you’re writing a memoir, it can be really easy to get down into the weeds of your emotions and the experiences and the stories that you’re telling and therefore veer off from the intent of a business memoir. So that’s why I say those, those first few steps is get it all out, get it all out in paper so that you have it, but then reel it in by understanding the story arc, understanding your goal for this book, and then throwing out those things that don’t fit that memoir goal. So the Basically, there’s a balance between personal narratives and professional tone.


Another pitfall is losing focus on your business goals, which is why it’s one of the first things you do is you say, okay, this is the goal that I’m trying to achieve with this memoir. And then you always revisit that goal as you go through your writing process, as you go, as you go through the outline process, as you go through the writing process, as you go through the editing process, always bump what you’re working on up against that goal and make sure that it supports that goal.


Another one is ignoring legal and privacy concerns, and I have addressed that a little bit, but if you’re ever unsure, if there’s something that you’re revealing in your memoir that you aren’t sure might be a problem, have, have a, have a legal person take a look at it.


And finally, there’s inconsistent branding. You want your personal storytelling and your business memoir to always fit into your brand. And so, before you embark on your memoir journey, get clear on your brand first. I say that for every book you write. Before you write any book that’s going to support your business, get clear on your brand. In fact, fiction, fiction writers should do that too, but this is especially important for business writers and business authors.


So that is what I have for you tonight. I hope that you have found it enjoyable and useful and that you will consider writing your own business memoir.


This is the end of episode 39 of The Author Switch Podcast. This is Carma Spence host saying ciao for now.

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The Author Switch is a podcast dedicated to helping experts, entrepreneurs, and small business owners turn on The Author Switch — and keep it on — so that they can leverage the power of books to take their businesses to a whole new dimension. Learn more about the show and where it is available on its page.