“What. Just. Happened.” (How these financial advisors discovered brand stories)

When 20 of the nation’s top advisors walked into the room that morning, they probably thought we were about to debate the merits of logos and taglines.


I told them to take out a pen, and I gave them a prompt:

Write about a time when you realized that what you’d always thought was true, wasn’t.

Then I said: “You have 10 minutes. Start writing.”

(I’m leaving out the part where I lay down a set of rules designed to make it a safe space—no room for criticism or judgment—and how to approach writing to the prompt. But I digress.)

“Ok. Time’s up. Who’s first?”

One by one, they started reading their work. The room went still as stone. They could have written about ANYTHING at all. They could have phoned it in.

But they didn’t.

They wrote about unemployed fathers and unhappy stepmothers. The time they couldn’t afford a baseball glove.

They shared near misses and devastating losses; the moment they realized that despite it all, their father was a good man.

At the end of it, we sat there, stunned.

Attendees approached me afterward—in the ladies room, in the hallway, later, on the plane buckled into seat 12B— “What WAS that?” “That was amazing.” “How did that happen?”

It wasn’t magic.

All they needed was to be given the space (sturdy, safe, shared) and prompted to fill it in a way that mattered to them.

What they walked away with were powerful insights into their work—and ideas for communicating it to the people they want to serve (including their team).

The process I use—informed by a specific set of rules—changes the way people think and talk about what they do.

When you give people the space to share their stories in a positive, nonjudgmental light, it shifts the dynamic of the group and helps everyone feel connected to the story of your brand.

And without story, there is no brand.

These advisors didn’t even know what they were in for! Imagine what it could do for you.

If you haven’t yet, grab a copy of my free guide, “5 Ways to Unlock Your Creative Genius” and discover how to tap your stories, ideas, and work on the page.