Shernaz Daver / November, 2017
How do you build a compelling story about your company?
Shernaz Daver, CMO, Udacity and Executive Advisor at Google Ventures explain how to build a compelling story about your startup.
How do you build a compelling story about the company?
Founders are the most critical people in developing the story for your company. Because they are the ones that came up with the idea, it is their company, it is their product, it is their passion, it’s their baby. Whenever founders tell me “I’ve hired so-and-so strategist to come in and help me tell my story” and I’m paying them, god knows, hundreds of thousands of dollars, that’s a bad idea. There are no strategies on the outside, who’s going to know your story better than you are. They might tell it better, that’s fine, but they can’t create it for you.
A lot of founders fall into this kind of a hole that says I need somebody from the outside. Nobody knows your story better, nobody knows the amazon.com story better than Jeff Bezos, and nobody knows the Netflix story better than Reed Hastings, it’s just a fact of life. So one of the things you want to do earlier on, is to kind of come in and see what kind of story do I want to tell? Do I want to tell a story about humans, do I want to tell a story about data and numbers, do I want to tell a story about what the product does.
It depends on where your company is and you should go ahead and do that. For me at Udacity today, my story is all about student successes and getting people into jobs. That’s my story arch overall, and my entire mission is to make sure that people are in demand, wherever they go for jobs. But my mission at another company might be very different, and as long as you understand that, that’s important. Once you create that core foundation, every person in the company should know that and they should carry it into their work.
You should see it everywhere, such that if you’re looking at a website or you’re looking at even just a piece of paper that comes with a company like a letterhead, you suddenly go, “oh my God, I know this company”, this is so and so and that’s important. Then as the company grows, you can add to the story but as long as the core stays the same, you’re going to be successful.