3 Case-Studies of Good Bios that Create Results

Some people want to tell their story because they have a message they’re passionate about sharing and spreading. Others want to tell a story that makes them stand out and makes them memorable so they can land better job and business opportunities. Whatever your reason is, by now you understand the importance of identifying your story and telling it right.

Below, I’ve included excerpts of bios from three graduates of The New About Me to illustrate some of the concepts from my last 3 posts.

Shout outs to Mark Jones, Erin Donley, and Deb Sturgess for sharing their journey with us.

1. Positioning Yourself

It’s easy to lead in your bio with buzzwords that sound good but don’t really mean anything (come on, you know you do this). We list a bunch of functions and fancy words but they’re devoid of (1) meaning, (2) context, or (3) real relevance. Notice in the two examples below, how a transformation takes place.

In both cases, the shift better answers the question, “who you are, what you do, and who you serve.” Of course, determining your niche positioning is one of the hardest exercises for any entrepreneur to figure it out. Especially without resorting back to so many buzzwords that your message is lost in translation.

MARK JONES

Before
I am a trusted advisor to executives, boards and line managers. During my career I have assisted hundreds of subject matter experts capture, package and share their Thought Leadership.

After
My name is Mark Jones and I am an architect of change. I stand alongside the board and executive of a company and assist as they chart their way forward. It’s scary heading into the unknown, into the often unchartered waters of change. I know how that feels. As an independent advisor, I see clients challenged by complexity as they struggle to develop and execute relevant strategy effectively. My contribution to their enquiry is the union of my experience as a chartered accountant with a deep interest in leadership behaviour and how it impacts results.

ERIN DONLEY

Before
Hi, I’m Erin Donley, writer, speaker, marketing consultant, and the founder of Marketing Your Truth in Portland, Oregon.

After
Hi, I’m Erin Donley, business communications consultant in Portland, Oregon. I help entrepreneurs discover potent and original ways to speak about themselves and their work…so they can stand out, make more money, and gain a following of both quality and quantity.

2. Back Story

You probably take for granted “what you know” and how you learned it. Unless it’s your mom, your audience doesn’t have the same benefit. Your back story provides a narrative rationale for your knowledge, expertise, and personality.

While the excepts below don’t do justice to the context, they’re actually inspiring manner to explain the unique skills and approach of each person. While the idea of a back story is simple, it’s critical to choose the right symbolic examples that offer relevance to your current professional story. And don’t be afraid to show some personality.

DEB STURGESS

Before
Deb’s career traces a path through radio news, magazine reporting, news editing, promotional copywriting, technical writing, public speaking, training, and teaching. Transferable skills mean surviving through change and remaining employable, as Deb has learned from experience. She “jumped off the cliff” in February 2010 and landed exactly where she planned.

After
I’ve been coaching since 1st Grade, when I crafted a one-page story about a fish, then whispered writing advice to a classmate. My teacher, Mrs. Frampton, enjoyed my story, but still took away my recess because I talked in class. Since then, my passion for ideas and expression has propelled me through over 20 years as an educator of students ages 12 to 86, inspired me to write the script and lyrics for a musical, Mary’s Song, brought me small-town fame as a country music DJ, and helped me persuade a Secret Service agent and more than one gangsta’ to see things my way.

ERIN DONLEY

Before
Over the years I’ve become a researcher of the Language of Transformation.

After
As a kid, I was captivated by the hidden life of Joan Crawford in the movie, Mommie Dearest. My favorite TV show was Divorce Court. I refused to go to school if my horoscope wasn’t favorable, spent hours reading tombstones at cemeteries, and I knew every Barry Manilow song by heart. By age 10, a child therapist labeled me, “addicted to drama.”

3. Humanize Yourself

Thanks to our social media culture, it’s expected that you get more personal. It also helps for this revolutionary concept called “human connection”. Sounds like common sense, right? Be more human. Yet, for many of us, especially if you’re a Gen X or Baby Boomer, you were taught it’s not polite to talk about yourself (i.e. leave the personal stuff out of the office).

The world has changed, and now the personal is professional. Even if you’re audience doesn’t “geek-out” on the same topics you do, the fact that you share some of this will make you more approachable and relatable. They key is to choose the right details that are unique to you and you want to be remembered for.

DEB STURGESS

Before
None.

After
I’m determined to figure out how to distribute virtual tambourines to my online classes, so I can direct musical numbers to reinforce learning. I’ve been a Mac devotee since 1984. On my iPhone and iPad 2, my favorite apps are Pulp, Scrabble and I am a Dalek. I’m a compulsive book buyer who appreciates both the feel of hardbacks and the fact I don’t have to dust the books on my Kindle. I support Pluto as a planet, chocolate as a food group, and Househunters International as educational television.

MARK JONES

Before
None.

After
About 5 years ago, we moved to Sydney from Amsterdam after 20 years abroad; the surf here being infinitely better. I remain fit by following the guidance of my personal trainer [Simba my dog] and enjoy cooking the delights of Thai and Dutch cuisine.

Pretty fantastic, right?

And these are just excerpts from their longer bios. There are extensive case-studies (before/after bios) featured in “The New About Me” course for you to learn from if you’re eager to get even better results. The key to the online course are the mind-shifting exercises that help you identify the right elements of your own story, and how to sequence them into a coherent and persuasive manner.

Good luck with the bio revamp!


Want to join us for the next round of StoryU Online? Get on the Priority List and be the first to know when we open up enrollment again!

  • http://www.8womendream.com/33754/life-lessons-from-the-grand-canyon/ Lisa Powell Graham

    Love it, brilliant! I am left-handed, eat more chocolate than you ;) and am very colorful ;) (a redhead, but you wouldn’t know? ;). hahaha. Anyways thanks for doing great work. 

    • http://www.getstoried.com/ Michael Margolis

      Not sure we want to go competing after the Chocolate title. Only bad things can happen… ;-)

  • Lauralee Hogan

    I am the Gen  X who feels completely inappropriate discussing my funny quirks and thoughts publicly, so this was a real learning moment for me.  Thanks!

    • http://www.getstoried.com/ Michael Margolis

      Right on Lauralee. Thanks for your honesty. You’re in good company.

    • Chris Sherman

      I agree, but I have noticed that if I don’t I get quickly forgotten in the crowd. I think quirks set us apart in an otherwise virtual world.

  • Nancy

    Just wondering about the results those bios are creating.  “Specifics are terrific,” as my friend and branding wizard Liz Goodgold likes to say!

  • Nancy

    I gave a free teleseminar about how to monetize your message and broadcast your brilliance earlier in the week that showcased how novice storytellers did exactly that, and I shared their results.  If you would like to listen in to the free and fabulous recorded teleclass or view the recorded webinar, you can.  Just opt in at http://www.authenticvisibility.com/11-21-11-free-teleseminar.   Enjoy!

  • Ruth OBrien

    Great stuff Michael.  Hope you will share examples of points 4-7 sometime.   Ruth

  • http://profiles.google.com/nataliesisson Natalie Sisson

    Great changes, especially the `none’ to rich, entertaining and revealing background stories that immediately illicit a vivid picture of who these people really are.

    • http://www.getstoried.com/ Michael Margolis

      Hey Natalie – thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Glad you dig the examples.

  • http://marclougee.com Marc

    Great post, Micheal!
    Infusing humor, personality and a sense of personality makes such a difference in the bios– (all currently stellar in comparison to my own goat-smelling version I’ve sadly let sit for this long).  Oh Brother.

    Suitably fired up and kicked in the pants following a quick read, I’m doing something about it. Over the holiday weekend, no less! Thanks for sharing with your tribe (and wanna -be tribe members, alike). Me included.
    Cheers, M.

    • http://www.getstoried.com/ Michael Margolis

      Well, nobody likes the smell of goats do they? Glad to offer the gentle nudge to story on my friend.

  • Cpace

    Amazing!!!!

    • http://www.getstoried.com/ Michael Margolis

      thanks!

  • FH

    Dear Michael, we love your products! It has been an inspiration for a campaing for our Real Estate Investment firm, called “there is no place like home” and sales houses under the rent to onw option in Birmingham AL to families that require a transformation in their financial life.

    We are in the business of eradicating poverty and hunger in the world leveraging the power of Real Estate to buil communities, one house at the time.

    I need to share the story to the rest of the world, could you please give me ideas how can I do this?
    Should I write press releases for media? Should I record video testimonials to play in our social media outlets? Should I write an e-book? My question is, how can this support our brand? Our goal is to find private money to do 10 houses in 2012. Thank you!

    • http://www.getstoried.com/ Michael Margolis

      Thanks FH! Sounds like you’re up to all sorts of exciting and important work. Your ideas are all great ideas. Choosing which idea is more of a strategic question, that links back up to what you’re trying to achieve. I prefer to focus on creating ways for the story to travel and help others spread the message for you (e.g. e-book might support that goal).

  • http://www.WritingFromYourSoul.com Dawn

    I love your resources! I was inspired to add my first story about a bear into my bio, bringing some humor and texture to my bio. Thank you for you!

    • http://www.getstoried.com/ Michael Margolis

      Love it! I’m just dying to know what you did with the bear. ;-)

  • Pingback: First week class assignments « Portfolio Development and Self Promotion

  • Adrian Miller

    Awesome. Boy does my bio suck. Now off to the drawing board to create another.
    Thanks.

    • http://www.getstoried.com/ Michael Margolis

      LOL, Adrian. We all suffer from bio inadequacy syndrome, so be easy on yourself. Life is a work in progress, and so is your story. So keep that in mind as you step into the next chapter of the story. Rock on!

  • Sallome

    I produce many events and ask workshop leaders, facilitators, and award recipients for their bios all the time.  My goodness – you’d never imagine the things people send.  I am going to send them to this blog in the future. Thank you.

    • http://www.getstoried.com/ Michael Margolis

      LOL! Sallome – It is amazing the stuff people write about themselves, thinking it’s the right thing to do. Appreciate you sharing this resource with others. Hope to catch up with your amazing self again soon.

  • Kirryn

    this was great. well researched and well written