Today I completed several branding and storytelling exercises from a book titled The Story Wars by Jonah Sachs. The book is an outstanding resource for marketing and branding and today I would like to share the results of my writing. As a preface, the book refer’s often to Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey and uses the concept to drive these branding exercises. The terms ‘hero’ and ‘mentor’ are terms from The Hero’s Journey and translate to customer and business/brand respectively in this context
The first task: describe our brand hero (customer) in as much detail as possible
A hard-working, industrious individual who believes in being fulfilled in life, feels a higher calling or purpose, and ultimately wants to have a positive impact on other people… but he does not know where to start or what path to follow to find purpose, fulfillment, and impact, so he simply accepts the world as it is and does the best he can to get by.
The second task: write a letter from our brand hero (customer) to a friend, detailing the world as it is, why it no longer makes sense, and the call to adventure he feels deep inside
Here I am wading through life – I’m doing well for myself by conventional standards. I am able to pay the bills, have fun, and not worry about too much. I do my job well for the most part and my boss likes me. I can’t say that I’m one of the star performers in the office, but I also know they would never lay me off. I guess I tell you all this because it just feels so off.
When I was in college and even high school, people – my relatives, teachers, guidance counselors – always encouraged me to choose a major and course of study that was practical and useful for a career. I took their advice and then when it came time to graduate, I felt this tremendous pressue to “do what I was supposed to do.” I still don’t know if I understand what that means… so I made up some criteria that seemed like they would make everyone happy. I needed to get paid well – well enough to pay the bills and live on my own at a minimum. I needed to find a job that carried some prestige with it – people needed to be able to recognize the company I went to work for or they needed to be able to understand the importance of my role. Finally, I felt like I needed to be in close proximity to home. I felt like I would let my family down if I went on some “crazy adventure” to another city, state, or country. So I followed directions and did what I was supposed to do.
Now, here I am at work and I feel like there are other things I’m supposed to do. I’m supposed to drive a nice car, and buy a house. I’m supposed to work long hours and not have much control over my work. I’m supposed to have a fancy wardrobe and work really hard to impress the right people. I’m supposed to keep my head down and not cause trouble. I get two weeks ‘vacation’ but I’m really only supposed to take one week per year and go to the beach or something.
So I guess all in all, I’ve done what I’m supposed to do and I live a pretty good life by society’s standards. I’m thankful for that.
Listen, I’m not complaining here because I’m not a big complainer. But I guess what I’m getting at is that there’s something more for me out there and I’m not exactly sure how to put my finger on what that means… but I need to try.
I’ve got all this schooling, skills, and experience and I’m supposed to just keep my head down and do my work. I’m supposed to show up, clock in, clock out, and leave my work at the office. But I imagine a life where I don’t have to separate my work and personal lives because they’re tied together. I can imagine matching my background with really big problems… personal problems that affect real people… and then having a huge impact on others by relieving their pain that’s created by those problems. I guess I just feel like I have so much talent and I want to put it to use by helping other people and having a positive impact on the world around me. I’m just not that sure how to do that. I don’t even know where to start.
Then I feel like I’m supposed to have all these things — cars, clothes, houses… just stuff. Don’t get me wrong. I like having nice things, but I always feel like I’m supposed to be buying more and more stuff and signing new car leases and buying a bigger house. Something about that seems broken to me. I mean, what if I could put my finger on the things that really matter to me – the stuff that I deem essential to living a good life and then get rid of everything else and just be happy. What if I could cherish the things I already have and build a life around those things – really use everything I have an invest in myself by doing so. For example, I’ve got 50 books on my shelves that I haven’t read and I keep buying new ones. But what if I decided to read all of them before I buy anymore. I can just imagine how fulfilling it would be to have really experienced all of the things I won. And what about my baseball card collection? What id I got rid of a bunch of crap so I can display my cards? That would make me so happy – I love my cards. But how do I even start whittling down to what I want and what I don’t? It’s so much easier to just leave it.
You know what else bothers me? I feel like somewhere along the way I picked up these less than ideal health habits. At work we wine and dine clients and potential new hires. I don’t exercise as much as I’d really like to and I don’t even really eat that well. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m not way unhealthy. I stil take care of myself. But I guess I imagine so much more. I envision having a great body image, increasing my chances for living a long, healthy life, and being confident that I’m taking care of myself. I want to run around and play and eat delicious, healthy good and feel great about myself. I want to truly enjoy being ‘healthy.’ I know its possible and I know I have it in me. I believe in me, but again I don’t know where to start. I could join a gym, but I wouldn’t know what to do when I got there. I could buy pots and pans, but I wouldn’t know how to cook a darn thing.
And then there’s this whole relationship thing. Do I have friends? Yes. Am I intentional about spending quality time with them and letting them know how much they mean to me? No. It’s the same way with my family and love life. I say I care about these people (because I do)… but then I spend hours on Facebook or work too much. I want to be spending awesome time with a significant other, keeping up with family, and enjoying new hobbies with my best friends. I know I could be planning a fun date night every week… I can imagine a weekly update email to my family and asking them all to respond. What if I planned a quarterly weekend trip with my five best friends and we could serve together, learn together, play together, and develop new hobbies — man that would be awesome! These things matter to me, but it seems like all we ever do when we get together is go out for drinks or a pizza. I know I can change that and I want so much more, but I dont even know where to start, what to plan, or where to go.
This is a big problem – I make decent money, but I still live paycheck to paycheck. I’m not dying for money or anything… but I have a ton of bills… and credit card debt. I want to plan for te future, travel, take mini-retirements, grow wealth to pass to my kids someday, and pay it forward to non-profit organizations. I believe I can earn more and have a bigger impact on others at the same time if I just start tackling some of those career issues I told you about earlier. Oooh and you know what – If I simplified my life I could start spending less on things I don’t care about, get rid of my debt, save more, and then start spending more on the things I actually care about. I bet I coud even become a savvy investor if I really tried. Wow – I could paint a vivid picture of financial security. But dang, I’m in a bit of a hol right now. Where do I start? How would I even go about learning these things?
Te last thing I think is kind of screwed up is how uncomfortable I am where I live. I want to to travel and explore and all of those things, but I also want to feel like I’m coming home to where I live. I don’t have a spiritual community, I almost never volunteer time or money near where I live, I dont know what’s going on with local government, and I don’t even know the fun stuff to do around here. But I can picture exploring my hometown like it’s a foreign place. I can imagine having a spiritual home and a small group of spiritual mentors. What if I served in my community regularly? And what if I knew the local restaurant owners and I hot spots so I could host guests and have favorite places to spend time. Wow… so much to do. Ah! These are all great ideas, but I’m so overwhelmed. I guess that’s why I never get started on any of them.
I’m not sure what my goal was when I sat down to write this letter to you. But what I’ve realized is that I have all this untapped potential and I want to do great things in the world. I know I can live better and help others. There is so much opportunity. I’m pumped. I’m ready. It’s time to start living a fulfilling life that I can fall in love with.. So the question is, where do you think I should start?
-The Brand Hero
So that’s the 1500 word letter from our Brand Hero to his friend calling out the things he sees that no longer make sense and identifying a calling to go on an adventure. He wants to explore and doesn’t know where to start. That’s exactly where the Brand Mentor comes in (Living for Monday). We’ll pick up with the rest of the branding exercises in the next post.
PS: Gallup has identified the five core areas of well-being. They are: Career, Financial, Physical, Social, and Community. Read back through the letter again and see if you can identify how the Brand Hero is calling each of these areas out in his own life and desires more.
As you were reading, was there any point in this letter that you felt like you could have been the author? Could you picture someone you know being the author? If so, send me an email… let me know what you identified with. Barrett (at) livingformonday.com