A week on Cortes Island with 150 social entrepreneurs out to change the world can only lead to one thing…deep, deep gratitude.
I returned to Hollyhock’s Social Venture Institute last week and was greeted with a flood of friendly faces. This ‘business conference’ is often referred to as summer camp for entrepreneurs, and this year did little to disprove that reputation. For me, it offers sanctuary from the daily buzz of running my own business, a retreat to reset and recharge, and a place to connect and set new intentions. Last year’s post The Prism Effect gives you a sense of what to expect.
This year, I had the honour of co-facilitating a workshop with Amy Hartzler, a story maven who runs Do Good Better in Washington, D.C. Amy and I spent hours chatting about the rituals we bring into our work and how we celebrate the changing nature of our story. We then convened 50 entrepreneurs in the beautiful Kiakum room for our workshop How Passion, Ceremony and Narrative Create Brands We Remember. We were inspired to share the rituals that inspire our work, and invite everyone in the room to share how they mark and celebrate the stories that surround them.
One of the hardest things to do as a business owner is create a brand that people feel on an ongoing basis. In branding, it’s essential to have an inspiring narrative, a strong logo and powerful imagery. Yet it shouldn’t stop there. We need to move beyond storytelling and focus on story creation. How can we inspire our team, our clients, even ourselves to share the stories that matter to us daily? I believe it is by recognizing the patterns and rituals we have that make us feel safe and free to explore our story sphere – that place where our emotions reside – so that we can feel things without having to explain them.
It is up to every business owner to lead with the heart.
In order to create a story-making culture, here are some things that you can do:
- Invite your team to gather around the same spot each day, or once a week, for a story sharing circle.
- Host a retreat and invite your team to create the content depending on their interests.
- Develop brand rituals, things that you do every single time you meet with a client or do an employee review.
- Simple things, like lighting a candle, can be a great reminder to ponder your own story throughout the day.
- Find fun ways to engage your clients so they feel comfortable sharing their story with you.
- Listen. Ask an open-ended question and then listen. Don’t wait for your turn, just listen.
- And once a year, travel to Hollyhock if you can. It’s a place where stories are born.
Stories are meant to be honoured. If you are trying to create a story making culture, be sure to create the safest space possible and thank those who share. Find ways to celebrate and bring ceremony back into the workplace, and above all – have fun! Our stories are our lifeblood, they keep us rooted and inspired all at the same time. They connect us to each other and help us form beautiful communities like this one, my beautiful, empowering Loaded Bow girls at SVI: