Can a good business story be fictional?

(What follows is the outline I wrote in advance of recording the video. They’re my talking points. Not a regular post or article. Just an outline.)

This question is from Julia, who took my course on Selling With Stories.

She asks, “You say a business story has to be true. But can’t a good fictional story be used to teach a valuable business lesson?”

Ouch… Julia, you’re right. You got me.

As you say, I have said that a business story should be true. And I say that to discourage people from making up stories that are obviously false and manipulative.

You know the kind of thing… “When I was 23 I was living in a dumpster, and now I own three Lamborghini sports cars.”

Nope… I don’t believe you.

Also, I think for the most part that people relate better to true stories that have actually taken place in the workplace.

But… when challenged by Julia’s question, I did remember a story I have used myself. And yes, it’s pure fiction. I made it up.

It’s a story I use when teaching success principles to freelancers. I use it to describe the difference between a freelancer’s personal persona and business persona.

Here’s the story…

Imagine the CEO of a large Wall Street bank. He’s a tough and grumpy boss who is harsh with his employees. Everyone is scared of him. That’s his business persona. Tough and successful.

At the end of the day his limo driver takes him home. (The driver is scared of him too.)

As he walks into the house, he sees his teenage son’s backpack, jacket and dirty boots strewn across the hall floor. He calls out for his son to come and tidy his mess.

His teenage son calls back, “Whatever!”. And, like most dads, the CEO shakes his head and sighs.

At work he is harsh and feared. At home he has the persona of a regular dad, and a lot of the time his kids walk all over him.

The story is total fiction. I made it up simply to illustrate the fact that while most freelancers live their lives through their personal persona, it makes sense to develop a professional persona when dealing with prospects and clients. (No, that persona shouldn’t be harsh and grumpy. But it should be professional and ready to negotiate.)

To Julia’s point… yes, I think using a fictional story like this is OK. Because it does a decent job of illustrating and teaching a valuable lesson.

Thanks again for the question… and the challenge!

NOTE: If you’d like to use the power of storytelling to increase your skills as a web content writer, online copywriter or social media writer, learn more about my course… Selling With Stories…

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