Who wants to know about your personal story, anyway?

If you think no one cares, you’re not alone. However, when sharing the right part of your personal story, in the right way, to the right audience and in the right context, your personal story holds a lot more power than you ever imagined.

When I clarified my own story and started sharing it with my prospects (and with my students), I saw instant results – people responded to me in a much deeper and meaningful way. A student once commented, “you’re so human, and I’m so inspired… thank you!”

People will welcome your help MORE after they know that you are, or were, just like them, suffering the same struggle and found a solution to it. They can relate in a more meaningful and tangible way.

But telling a good story isn’t necessarily easy.

That’s why I teach my marketing class students to understand the power that their personal story holds, and how to use it to differentiate themselves by creating greater rapport and a deeper bond with prospective customers.

What can your life story do for you?

  • The real power of a compelling, connected, well-crafted, and well-delivered story is that it short-circuits a lot of the things normally required to find and attract your ideal customers. Even with all the advances in technology, the fastest way to deliver your message to your market is still through the power of story.
  • Your personal story will help you attract more of your ideal customers and repel anyone who is not. A lot of people struggle with the idea of repelling some people from doing business with you, but in reality, life serving your best customers is a whole lot more fulfilling and gratifying than working with difficult people who don’t respect you, don’t appreciate what you offer, or don’t apply what you teach them.
  • Your story creates an immediate connection and desire in your target market to want to be part of the bigger picture of what you’re about.
  • It gives them hope that they can get past whatever their challenges are, and achieve their desired outcome.

Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to celebrate my students graduation from the “48-hour AFH Administrator Certification” class.

I loved hearing each of their unique personal stories. A mentor of mine, Bo Eason, creator of the famous one-man Broadway show called “Runt Of The Litter” once told me,”We see ourselves in other peoples stories, something which evokes deep feelings within us.”

And this is precisely what makes your own personal story so powerful in helping you differentiate from everyone else.

But discovering which specific elements of your personal story applies and relates to helping you more deeply connect with your ideal customers can be challenging, sometimes it’s just hard to connect the dots.

Rosemarie’s Story

One of my student’s story exemplifies the power it holds relative to the clients she serves. When she told me her story, she couldn’t see the relevance to her business – until I pointed it out.

I’m going to share her story with you so you’ll get a sense of what I’m looking for when helping others find the relevance in their own story.

Rosemarie was born and raised in the Philippines. She immigrated to the states as a teenager and was terribly homesick; she felt alone, out of place, and in culture-shock.  The adjustment was so tough that she kept calling home telling her mother she wanted to come back. She would cry and beg  to the tune of a $700 a month phone bill!

Her mother understood Rosemarie’s pain, but out of deep love, and understanding that America held a chance for a better future, she’d tell Rosemarie, “you can’t come back, this is your new home now.” She’d simply provide loving support instead of rescue.

This was obviously incredibly difficult for them both but eventually Rosemarie settled, then started to thrive. She’s now starting her own adult family home business.

Are you on to it?

If you’ve ever worked in dementia care, you know that one of the most challenging behavior seniors experience is the feeling they do not belong here, of being out of place, and they often feel a compelling drive and desire to “go home.”

Those feelings lead to all kinds of stress, aggravation, and worry, often driving those residents to elope.  This is obviously a major concern for family members and caretakers because they know managing these difficult behaviors is no easy task.

Finding the relevance of your story

As family members consider various care options and providers, they are bombarded with long lists of features and amenities that are supposedly better then the provider next door…

The reality is that no care provider really stands out above of the rest, and obviously that doesn’t help family members in their decision-making process.

Let’s imagine for a minute that YOU are the prospect looking at care homes for your demented mom. You visit several options, similarly priced,  middle to upper middle-class properties, all offering the usual amenities and services most commonly available in adult family homes.

But something about Rosemarie feels different. Rosemarie shares her personal story with you, it might go something like this;

“When I first came to America I wanted to go home so badly that I cried all the time. I called home constantly… Having dementia is a little bit like that; one feels out of place, that they don’t belong here, they don’t understand WHY they are here, and they just want to go home. I felt that way myself so I understand her feelings. Based on this personal experience and years of caregiving, I’ve gained very effective skills and strategies for dealing with dementia residents who “want to go home.” I know exactly what works and what doesn’t when it comes to appeasing those feelings, comforting them, and redirecting their attention.”

In one fell-swoop she educated you, made you feel understood, gave you a sense of belonging, and gave you confidence that she knows exactly what to do for your mom in a loving, caring, understanding and competent manner.

Can you see the power that story can have, even in this simple, basic example?

Sharing your story in this way will give you a significant competitive advantage over other providers offering similar services.

What NOT to do… 

If you read this far, congratulations! It says a lot about your willingness to learn new skills and improve your marketing results, so here are 7 common mistakes people make when sharing their personal story:

  1. They go on and on with irrelevant details
  2. They carry on for much too long, and end up boring people
  3. They fail to emphasize the relevant portion of their story
  4. They fail to connect the dots between their story and how it relates to solving your customer’s problem
  5. There is no point in their story
  6. They tell a “picture-perfect” story because they want to look good
  7. They talk about how smart and educated they are

So go out there, develop and craft your own powerful personal story, and use it to connect more deeply and meaningfully with your audience.

PS – Feel free to leave a comment – I read them 🙂 !


Joseph Spada
Joseph Spada

Adult Family Home Consultant, geriatric nurse, owner of Spada Care Homes, Ohana Hale Senior Living, and Savanna Healthcare; DSHS instructor of the AFH Administrator Training; speaker; author.

    2 replies to "The Power of Your Personal Story"

    • Dan Puravet

      Thanks Joseph! Good input. I need to find the relevant parts of my story to better relate. I also need to watch out to make sure my story isn’t too long and bore people too much 🙂 Keep up the good work! The Adult Family Home Administrator Training class you taught was one of the best classes I’ve ever taken. And I think most of the students, if not all agree with me. You have real helpful advice and knowledge that will help us succeed in this business. And you following up with your students even after the class is over shows how dedicated you are to your students succeeding. You are an amazing teacher and I hope soon to be your colleague and follow in your footsteps succeeding in the Adult Family Home Business. Sharing your story with us will increase our chances of succeeding tenfold. The lessons you learned the hard way over the last 25+ years were given to us on a silver platter for us to feast on. We will do what worked and avoid what didn’t work. Thank You Joseph. You have a great story.

      • Joseph Spada

        Thank you, Dan! I’m glad you got so much out of the class, you were obviously ready for it.

        You have a great story too – we all do. But it’s very common to hear someone else’s story and say to yourself, “wow, what an inspiring story THEY have… MY story seems ‘oh so normal’ compared to theirs.”

        I cannot tell how many times I have felt this way when hearing my ultra-successful millionaire mentors’ stories. Mine seemed so flat and boring to me, even though they didn’t agree.

        I can only offer so much guidance in this reply, maybe this will help…

        It’s not so much the story itself. Yes, you do have to get the relevance right, and connect the dots in a clear way, but most importantly it’s how you tell it. The more YOU love it, the more THEY love it. So don’t be afraid to own your story, and to infuse it with passion and your personality – that’s how you get more impact.

        You [and Adina] have an amazing story. How many second-generation providers do you know?

        You grew up in an AFH, your wife’s parent have an AFH. Some of your siblings have AFHs. You were immersed in this business pretty much from birth. You observed seasoned providers, caregivers, residents and their families for your entire life… the knowledge you absorbed during all those years is immeasurable – maybe not all “expressed and applied” yet, but it’s all there within you…

        Now, you are building your very own, top-of-the-line luxury AFH. You are applying everything you’ve learned, liked and you know works, and discarding everything else. You’re blending two generations of wisdom gained, trial and errors — it’s the expression and application of a lifetime of AFH learning.

        WOW!

        Remember the main objective: to DIFFERENTIATE from others, to build authentic connections and trust. I think this part of your life story does it beautifully! When everyone else is busy rattling mile-long lists of “features” and getting prospects to think, you’ll be creating deep rapport and trust, getting people into their heart, getting them to feel.

        You have just three things to do now (then I’ll stop – promise):
        1) Modify this story as needed
        2) Answer: WHY am I doing it? Keep asking until you get an answer. A simple answer is enough, go with it without analyzing it too much.
        3) Include your WHY in the story, then tell it over and over, as often as possible. Keep doing it until it clicks for you. You need to grow into it so be patient.

        If your WHY doesn’t get clear right away, keep telling the story regardless – it’ll clarify 🙂

        Oh my, this is pretty much a full post – hope it helps!

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