Business Storytelling: How to Overcome Your Writing Demons

This Old New Business Podcast with Jeff Korhan

This is Episode 15 of This Old New Business weekly business podcast with Jeff Korhan.

In this 15th episode of This Old New Business we are taking a departure from our traditional interview format. This gives you the opportunity to learn from my journey as I share business storytelling tips and better practices for improving your content marketing messaging.

If you aren’t telling stories then your content isn’t going to get consumed. It’s that simple. If you are a human being you are a storyteller, the challenge is getting better

Our Featured Guest: Jeff Korhan

Business Storytelling: How to Overcome Your Writing DemonsJeff Korhan, MBA is the author of Built-In Social and host of This Old New Business podcast.

He helps businesses adapt their traditional sales and marketing practices to a digital, social, and global world. Jeff is a trainer and coach for small businesses, and a keynote speaker for the associations and member organizations that support them.

9 Tips for Better Business Storytelling

My journey with business storytelling started several decades ago as young salesperson. I quickly learned that buyers are hungry for information, especially stories that make the information relatable, and therefore, memorable.

After a decade in that corporate environment I founded a landscape business that we grew into an award-winning enterprise before selling it 20 years later. It turns about that from the beginning storytelling was the foundation of our sales and marketing efforts.

This was before digital, so we shared our stories with white papers and in face-to-face selling situations. Now every business is a publisher, and consequently should be teaching its sales and marketing teams how to tell better stories.

Here are 9 business storytelling tips that have worked for me and many others. Naturally, you’ll get the full details by listening to the audio.

#1 – Write to Remember

Small business in particular have abundant experience working directly with customers. This is your greatest source of stories. If you simply commit to a regular practice of writing to remember them you will discover unlimited stories that when shared will help buyers to know, like, and trust your business.

#2 – Write Without a View

Many successful authors insist on writing in a small space without that confines their energies and focuses attention. Writing comes from within, so eliminate every distraction that interrupts its free flow.

#3 – Write to a Theme or Purpose

The reason people experience writers block because they are unclear about what they are writing about. When you know where you are going with your writing, you only have to take your reader with you along that journey.

#4 – Develop a Repeatable Writing Process

Writers are creatures of habit. Once they find what works for them they stick with it. For me personally, I write for the opportunity to rewrite. So, my process is writing quickly to capture ideas and then vigorously rewriting and editing until its just write. This is how I managed to write Built-In Social in just a few weeks.

#5 – Find Your Inspiration

To inspire others with your writing, it helps to find your own inspirations. In short, reading the works of great writers in your space will help you find your way. Sometimes just a memorable quote is enough to inspire your writing, so I keep a notebook handy at all times to capture it all. You can also write inspiring thoughts on index cards and tape them to the walls of your writing space.

#6 – Ask for Feedback Last

Stephen King is well-known for the axiom: Write with the door closed; rewrite with the door open. To solicit feedback on your writing before it is complete is to compromise the creative process. Only when you have given it your best is are you ready for the contribution of an editor or confidant.

#7 – Tell Your Own Stories

Actually, rather than telling your stories, relive them so they come alive for your readers.

Your audience gathers around your content because they value your authentic perspective that comes from direct experience. Real stories are honest, often personal, and therefore, a powerful means for engaging with your business audience.

#8 – Trust Yourself to Make Breakthroughs

In the audio I share the true story of my epic meltsdown during the process of writing my first book. I was evidently close to some sort of breakdown, and that’s when you either quit or break through.

The only way for breakthroughs to happen is to persevere. We all have our writing demons – fears and doubts that holding us back from our best work. The only way to slay them is simply to keep writing.

#9 – Write to CompletionBuilt-In Social

The most valuable tip of all is to write to completion, whatever that means for the project you are working on. I’m often asked how long a blog post should be. The answer is as long as it needs to be to get the job done.

I’ve learned it’s much easier to rewrite or edit a completed draft than to pick up an article or chapter midstream. Once inspired you have to go the distance.

As a runner I learned at a young age that every time you quit it’s that much easier to do it again. Whether you are drafting an article or a chapter, once you start, commit to writing to completion.

This much I know. When I worked through the night to finish the final draft of my book before the 7:00 a.m. deadline, I experienced an amazing sense of peace and accomplishment.

At least for that moment, those writing demons were slayed! I hope the same for you.

Lighting Round Tips and Advice

Jeff’s Top Sales or Marketing Advice – Lead with content. Stories sell because they are relatable and memorable. Inventory, categorize, and practice your stories to enhance sales, marketing, and customer service.

His Favorite Productivity Tip – Write! Write to remember, plan, and organize your thoughts. Make checklists. Write out talking points in advance of meetings and events. In our media saturated world, the future belongs to writers.

A Quote that has Inspired Jeff’s Success – “If you advance confidently in the direction of your own dreams and endeavor to live the life you have imagined, you will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” – Henry David Thoreau

Key Take-Aways

How is your business using story to make its sales and markeating more effective?

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About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, is the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business and host of This Old New Business podcast.

He helps mainstream businesses adapt their traditional growth practices to a digital world. Connect with Jeff on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Google+

Why Writers Should Practice Meditation – And How to Get Started

2013.4.10 Writing

Meditation is usually associated with relaxation and stress release, but those outcomes are more accurately by-products of the practice.

The true purpose of meditation is to quiet the mind.

When that happens, all kinds of personal benefits ensue, including improved health and resiliency, greater awareness, and the spiritual awakening that comes from tapping into one’s true nature.

A quiet mind allows you to move beyond thought to the place where we all create, which is the space between our thoughts, and that’s a good place to be if you are a writer.

Releasing Stress and Mental Blocks

The reason we experience stress, writer’s block, and other counter-productive behaviors and conditioned responses, is that we are stuck in our thoughts. The first challenge is recognizing this, and then ceasing to fight it, because any resistance only serves to immobilize you further.

The more you struggle with your thoughts the more you reinforce your physical condition. You are literally squeezing your thought patterns down to a few, thereby dramatically increasing their intensity. This leads to even greater levels of stress, including uncontrollable anger.

Find the Space Between Thoughts

Discovering the space between thoughts is something that healthy individuals do on a regular basis. It can happen by taking a walk through nature, or when actively engaged with activities you enjoy, such as writing.

The process of writing is different for everyone. However, for most of us it brings our attention inward, where we reconnect with our true selves, thereby making new discoveries.

To find the space between thoughts you have to first give yourself permission to do so. You have to trust your capabilities for getting there, just as a meditator will trust that the mantra will effectively lead to states of greater awareness.

How to Meditate

Traditional meditation involves the repetition of a mantra – which is a sound. The word mantra roughly translates as “instrument of the mind,” and its use helps to create the desired quieting of the mind.

A breath awareness meditation is a simple and universal approach – one in which the breath serves as the mantra.

Steps for practicing a mindfulness meditation

  1. While it helps to have a quiet environment, you can meditate on an airplane just well as in the privacy of your home. If possible, it also helps to dim the lights.

  2. Begin by sitting down. Get get comfortable and assume good posture, either sitting cross-legged on the floor or in a chair with your feet on the ground. 

  3. Close your eyes and allow your awareness to go to your breathing. Innocently observe your breath as you breathe in and out. 

  4. As you observe your breath you may notice it changes – in speed, rhythm, and depth. It may even stop for a moment. Whatever happens, just continue observing it without expectation. 

  5. From time to time your attention may drift to a thought in your mind, a sensation in your body, or a noise in the environment. Whenever you notice you are not observing your breath, simply bring your awareness back to your breathing. 

  6. Continue this practice for at least 5 minutes, and for as long as it is comfortable. Over time you will be able to sustain the practice for the optimum period of 30 minutes.

  7. Keep your eyes closed when you decide to stop, and just remain silent for 30 seconds or so before getting up to allow your mind and body to stabilize.

  8. Slowly open your eyes, bring the lights up, and return to your writing.

Writing is a Process

I recently finished writing my first book: Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business. I can say with certainty that I experienced my share of writer’s block, frustration, and even a bit of anger because I was holding on too tight at times.

Having never written a complete book, I had some fears about its accomplishment. What I discovered was writing well is largely a process of remembering, and then extending those ideas further. That was possible by practicing ways to maintain a quiet mind.

Writing is a process, and once you find yours, everything becomes much easier. Then it’s just a matter of doing the work.

The same holds true for just about any endeavor, including social marketing.

In fact, the promise of Built-In Social is a reliable process that takes the stress and anxiety out of using social marketing well – including, and especially, writing valuable content that attracts business leads.

Are you and your business ready to write?

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, helps mainstream small businesses create exceptional customer experiences that accelerate business growth. Get more from Jeff on LinkedInTwitter and Google+.

Jeff is also the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – Released April 15, 2013 (Wiley)

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