Why Entrepreneurs Need To Be More Like Mark Twain

Telling your story is an important part of the company building process

Robbie Allen Robbie Allen
Jun 22 · 2 min read

Episode #4: Developing Your Inner Mark Twain

One of the more underrated tasks involved with starting and running a company is crafting a compelling story about your company's founding as well as creating messaging that will attract potential customers. If you can't tell a good story about your company, why would anyone buy your product or service? But how do you do that?

In this episode, we talk to James Kotecki who is the VP of Brand at machine learning company, Infinia ML, about what goes into crafting a good origin story. Then we hear from Fred Stutzman who runs a company called Freedom. Fred created an evocative brand that's all about helping you limit something you spend a lot of time doing. How do you message that? Then I bring in Scot Wingo to share some tips for how he develops a company pitch. As always, I end with a few tidbits of my own.

For Starters: Episode 4

Episode Summary

A consistent theme we heard is that it's never too early to think about your company's story. In fact, your origin story is a critical piece to your overall messaging--often it will provide the seed for your company culture. James said that one way to get started is to have a friend or family member interview you and ask how the company got started and why. The transcript can be a good way to avoid the "blank page" problem if you don't know how to get started.

Fred told us how his company, Freedom, got started and how his story developed without needing to manufacture the message. Most good origin stories happen that way. You don't have to artificially create a story, just be mindful of the story that's unfolding around your company and write it down.

Scot Wingo said he actively seeks out negative feedback. Positive and non-critical feedback you get isn't generally actionable. It's only when your message doesn't quite click with the audience that you get the chance to improve it. Scot is a student of good storytelling, everything from reading S-1's to watching skilled politicians. Watch the greats and then practice, practice, practice.

I can't emphasize enough how important storytelling is to the act of running a company. This isn't something that you'll read in any entrepreneurship textbook or find in many entrepreneurship classes, but the entrepreneurs that are the best at telling their story tend to have the most success. Even if your story doesn't have the most sizzle, I've found that just telling it passionately will get others excited. Others will reflect your emotions so don't forget to be enthusiastic!!
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* starter | stär-tər | n.
  1. Someone who acts on the opportunity to create profits using knowledge, skills, and tools.
  2. Like "entrepreneur", but less pretentious—and easier to spell.

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