CEO Blog 3: ‘Those who tell the stories, rule the world’

10 Oct 2016

Social Entrepreneurs create enterprises for social impact they want to make based on their experience or exposure to a particular social problem. They live their experience/exposure through their social enterprise — creating a brand. Often, they are THE brand.

You will agree when I say that most brands are a story and have a compelling story that makes us trust the brand, moves us emotionally and compels us to be associated with it.

Personal branding is an art that requires skill and personal investment in getting it right. It is about creating yourself based on your own finding ‘who are you?’

At the School for Social Entrepreneurs India, we endeavor to develop this art in each of our fellowship participant.

We recently had two sessions around this– one on the ‘Art of Storytelling’ by Sunil Ganesh, Partner, PwC India and the other by Dr. Amit Nagpal on ‘Personal Branding’. Both sessions were curated to help build a story for each one in the fellowship programme, since all of them have a compelling story.

My personal experience leads me to believe that social entrepreneurs need to be aware of the ‘Power of Personal Branding’. Branding involves embedding certain virtues like integrity, discipline, commitment, perseverance, transparency, and accountability.

Recently, I was reading an article in Forbes magazine and was fascinated by what Nova Spivack, Peter Drucker’s grandson, had to say about branding. “Brands are culture. I think the purpose of a brand is to create a culture, not just a customer. If you think about it there’s a culture around Nike, Coca-Cola, Apple—that culture has stories. It has different stakeholders, it has rituals. What a brand is doing is trying to communicate and transmit that culture to the different stakeholders that participate in that culture. A brand is a cultural artifact. People use brands as an extension of their personality. When we were hunter gatherers and you killed a bear, you might wear some of its pelt or claws. Now we wear t-shirts with brands on them to express who we are—our role as a society, and where we fit. Brands transmit culture. It’s not so much about creating a customer, but creating a culture—be a cultural artifact that people want to associate themselves with even if they’re not your customer. It’s not only about selling something.”

Taking a cue from this, if products are instruments of branding a business philosophy, then social entrepreneurs are the champions of the social change they bring by creating  enterprises that solve a certain social issue. And, they have to learn to tell their story… because their story & the brand is the gateway to their passionate work.

A good story connects emotionally with the audience, energizes them, engages their senses, is a source of edutainment, and is delivered in simple language. Most of these stories are about people, hence, authenticity is the core of such narrations. This includes honest expression, touches upon personal failures & vulnerabilities, shares one’s struggle & self doubt and celebrates both success & setbacks with the audience.

Dr. Amit Nagpal in his session said ‘Content is King, Engagement is Queen, Technology is Prince, Passion is Princess’. What it effectively means that passion is the beauty of the story delivered (Princess) with wisdom of experience (King) using different methods (Prince) for leaving memories with the audience (Queen).

I would like to conclude by saying that social entrepreneurs must acquire the skill of story-telling. It is not hard – it just needs practice. It usually comes naturally to them because their life purpose is the purpose of their enterprise. But, it needs PRACTICE.