Do you know your one-sentence story?

When I see someone who is frustrated or downtrodden, I think to myself that this is a person who needs to work on their story.

Illustration / Hector Casanova / Newscom / File
Are you a babbler, or can you summarize yourself and what you have to offer in just a few words? Even shorter than the 'elevator pitch,' the one-second story asks you to boil yourself down to your simplest, clearest self-description.

I come from the school of thought that everyone is "in sales", even those who don't know they are. Men and women of the clergy are selling the benefits of their particular religion, teenagers are selling the appeal of themselves to each other for the formation of friendships and the pursuit of courtships.

And the essence of selling is storytelling - sometimes actually telling your story, sometimes just letting the visual tell the story for you. Or for your product. Stories sell.

So when I see someone who is frustrated or downtrodden, I think to myself that this is a person who needs to work on their story. We're living in a sexy world, having a sexy story helps us get by.

I've taken my own story and boiled it down to one sentence. Then I removed all the frilly adjectives and technical details from that sentence so that even a child or one of those Saturday morning anchors on Fox & Friends could understand it:

"I help people invest and manage portfolios for them."

I know, there's almost nothing there! But everything is there. That's my story - the less dressed up, the sexier.

With that in mind, I thought this Richard Averitt piece that appeared at BusinessWeek the other day was good food for thought this weekend...

Something I learned early on as an entrepreneur and small business owner is that starting and maintaining a successful business depends on how well you understand and tell your company’s story. It sounds overly simplistic. Still, identifying and staying true to your new company’s story creates the foundation for a strong and healthy business. Consider the following tips:

1. Determine your MIT (most important thing). Passionate and excited entrepreneurs are often sidetracked by all the things they hope to accomplish with their new company, among a seemingly endless array of possibilities. Clarity of purpose is critical in the first months and years of developing a business. This approach provides the structure for how you make decisions and adopt strategies. You must be able to tell your company story in one sentence or less. This is your MIT. Wal-Mart does this exceedingly well. The company pledges to deliver the lowest-cost products, period. FedEx promises to deliver overnight, guaranteed. Achieving this level of simplicity and clarity is fundamental to success.

Head over for the rest and then ask yourself about whether or not your story is as succinct and as powerful you need it to be.

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