Your Story Matters

What is your story? Seriously.

Although this might seem like a simple question, the answer certainly is complex. Hence, I would like to invite you to think about it for a moment. Having a clear idea about what your story is and being able to convey it in a compelling way can help you connect with others. And similarly, understanding what drives your business and framing it in engaging, creative, and innovative ways to the specific audiences you aim to target has a large impact on how it grows, and possibly at what speed.

Why? Well, the answer brings us back to our roots. We humans have been telling each other stories for generations. At core, this is what makes us, us. It’s literally an evolutionary process that is engrained in our collective memories. 

I have been fascinated by storytelling since a very young age. My parents tell me that the one question I always asked was ‘Why?’ I am very grateful that my family always encouraged me to continue to ask it. Over the years, it has allowed me to discover plenty of beautiful moments around the globe and share them with others. I do not even know where to begin to describe the positive impact it has had on me in so many ways. 

Why?’ is a very important question when it comes to storytelling because you actually have to listen carefully first – be it to yourself when you craft your own story or to others when you would like to present theirs in a genuine way. 

Unsurprisingly, organizations that understand this and invest in their storytelling really shine. But even if this might not be feasible for you at the moment, there are plenty of meaningful resources and inspiring examples out there that can help you do so. The only truly important requirements to get started are commitment and the willingness to be vulnerable. Because what makes a good story is not for it to be perfect in the superficial sense but for it to be authentic. It’s showing the hurdles and sharing how you have overcome them that inspires others. And we all know that when you are building a business there are a number of roadblocks to overcome. So, how did you manage to move them out of your way? Such questions and answers connect us emotionally and the beauty of it is that this works across cultures. Here is a workbook from our knowledge partners at Siemens Foundation that I find very practical and helpful when getting started.

And then, I invite you to go one step further and think about ways to weave in creativity and innovation in how you tell your story. The stories we at iBAN developed in partnership with MIT D-Lab for the Instagram channel Global Scale Up X are very good examples. They highlight the challenges female founders face when seeking to scale their businesses, and how they managed to maneuver them successfully. This recent blog post about the channel provides even more examples.

picture of a train on a laptop
Susann editing and writing while preparing the photo project 'Transitions' in Sri Lanka for the exhibition IDENT•I•GRATION – Home and Identity in a Globalized World in Berlin, Germany

And, most importantly, have a look at this amazing edition of CLUED-iN! It brings together very hands-on examples of founders and organizational leads on why storytelling matters for their work and shows how storytelling has had an impact on their organizations and communities. 

Remember, that change is often triggered by inspiration!

So, think about your story and tell it because it matters.


Featured image: Susann working on a photo project 'The Brave Women of Mount Merapi', @Barney Lestarii

Susann Tischendorf
Susann leads the Communication and Digital Innovation agenda of iBAN. She is an experienced International Development Professional and visual storyteller. Susann led and supported private sector reform projects in Europe, Africa, South America, South East Asia, and South Asia for multilateral organizations, including GIZ GmbH, the United Nations, and the World Bank Group. She is particularly passionate about using visual storytelling to help shed a light on the inspiring work of local communities and global changemakers. Her work has been awarded and exhibited internationally. She recently received the Silver Trophy at the Deauville Green Awards.