Sitting on the third-story catwalk in the courtyard of a colonial-style Airbnb, beneath the warm gaze of the ever-vigilant Panecillo that keeps watch over Quito’s Old Town, my phone pings with a new WhatsApp message:
“I just raised $8 million for the impact fund.”
Grinning like an idiot, I start texting back, swiftly forgetting my hot coffee on the cold metal railing.
The friend and former client behind this message came to me several years ago with a vision:
To convince a bunch of rich white dudes to systematically invest in companies that have the potential to solve problems that matter — like poverty and financial illiteracy and the oppression of women — in emerging global markets.
As we worked together, the connection between WHAT she wanted to do and WHY she was the right person to do it became crystal clear, and her true story began to emerge.
Thing is, this story had little to do with the laundry list of professional accomplishments that she was so much MORE confident sharing about herself.
And the prospect of going off that script made her... uncomfortable.
She feared the same thing we all do — that revealing a more vulnerable, human side to herself would be perceived as “inappropriate” in a professional setting.
And potentially even damage her credibility as a strong, investable female business leader.
I urged her to try it out with someone she trusted, and she trialed the storied pitch with an investor friend with extremely encouraging results. He said he was extremely impressed, and that when she was ready, the funding was hers.
Then — life got in the way of that little thing called “readiness.”
Her company got acquired, family needs arose, tempting new job offers appeared, and soon she’d moved from SF to New York City, where she continued growing her career in other ways.
Behind the scenes, though, she continued to flesh out her vision and talk about it with anyone who would listen.
Fast forward to 3 weeks ago, when she was given 2 weeks’ notice to prepare a 30-min pitch of her vision for the partners — the head honchos — of her parent company.
By now, she’d done the research. She'd built the game plan. She “knew her shit.”
And during her pitch, she went out on a limb — and shared her personal story as well.
The next day, she got an email saying the company had decided to allocate 1% of its entire budget to her initiative for the first year.
Now, she has $8 million in seed capital and a team of 23 people to help her find, fund and foster the companies that are bent on solving the world’s most pressing problems, starting (swoon!) with climate change.
Of course, it’s impossible to untangle how much her personal story influenced their bottom line decision.
After all, she spent years putting in the hours, doing the research, honing her skillsets, and finding her voice as a leader.
And let's be clear: story is not (and will never be) a substitute for “knowing your shit.”
But when we got on the phone, she said it was her personal story — the same one she’d initially wanted to hide behind the veneer of “professionalism” — that the partners said helped them to see and understand “both sides of her.”
Not just the expert and innovator and executor side, who COULD get the job done…
But also the human being side — whose unique experiences had instilled in her the desire and drive and inner FIRE that (the partners knew!) success would require.
Instead of hiding behind a professional mask...
She brought MORE of herself to the table -- and it got her the kind of results most people only dream of.
This is what your story is uniquely able to help you do:
Seamlessly connect what you know, and what you do — with who you are, and what you dream of.