Creating Your Story:
Raising Awareness and Attracting Support
with Story Guide Lynn Sanders
About Lynn Sanders in her words:
For over thirty years, I’ve been in the business of making a difference for clients.
My new company name, “Difference Makers Media” reinforces that intention. I’ve trained with amazing professionals in marketing, coaching, and writing. Now, I’m gratified to empower people and organizations with a full range of services: Story Coaching, Strategic Writing, Marketing, and Media Promotion. I also collaborate with a team of seasoned professionals who are committed to your success.
I’m the author of two children’s books: “Social Justice: How You Can Make A Difference,” and the best-seller, “Dancing With Tex: The Remarkable Friendship To Save The Whooping Cranes.” It was a thrill to be honored by The Illinois Conservation Foundation as their “2017 Conservation Author of the Year” for raising environmental awareness through my book.
When a video editor encountered a life-threatening error in the hospital, my colleagues and I created the nationally award-winning patient safety video, “Things You Should Know Before Entering The Hospital.”
It’s a privilege to interview difference makers through my live streaming program, “The Difference Makers.” I welcome new guests and encourage you to connect with me.
Let’s make your stories great ones!
More about Lynn Sanders at https://differencemakersmedia.com
Read the Interview
Hugh Ballou: Greetings everyone, this is Hugh Ballou back for another episode of The Nonprofit Exchange. We have guests each week. Some are working with nonprofits. Some are experts in different fields. Some are in the trenches leading nonprofit initiatives and have stories to tell about their work.
Today, we have a long-time friend and colleague, Lynn Sanders, who is an expert with language. The theme of what she is going to share with you today is creating your story because your story is the important part of connecting with others who really want to help you. We need to help them know how to help you. There are lots of reasons to have a good story. We know you are creating lots of value already. Let’s talk to Lynn about how we can let people know about that value.
Lynn is a multiple award-winning author and book creator, and she helps nonprofit leaders and business leaders create their story. What we’re talking about today is creating your story: raising awareness and attracting support. Before we talk about that, I want people to know who is Lynn Sanders? Give us some background on you, and tell us why you’re doing this work. What is your passion?
Lynn Sanders: Thank you, Hugh. As Hugh mentioned, I call myself the Story Guide because I have learned how to help people create their story from start to finish so they can get results, whether that be more support financially or volunteers or raising awareness or getting more followers online. My story actually begins with learning to value myself and helping others value themselves. I can go into a little bit more of that or get into my credentials.
Hugh: Talk about you. We will dig into some of that stuff.
Lynn: As far as my credentials, my storytelling career begins at a commercial music company where I was asked to write live trade shows for Fortune 500 companies, coming up with a positioning statement, a marketing focus for every show that would entice and capture people’s interest when they walk by it at a trade show. I wrote for Johnson & Johnson, Keebler, Reynolds Aluminum, and Hanes. I came up with a positioning statement that marketed their products and services and kept people watching a live entertaining, interactive show and got them interested in the company’s products.
From there, I wrote commercials for radio and TV. My claim to fame was the WGNTV lyrics for Chicago’s very own Channel 9 that ran for a long time with the famous star Lou Rawls singing.
From there, I became a freelance writer with my own company Park Avenue Productions, which morphed into Park Avenue Marketing, and eventually Difference Makers Media. I helped clients—corporate, nonprofits, and business entrepreneurs—tell their stories for brochures, articles, videos, speeches, newsletters, all types of writing. I won awards along the way. I also help nonprofits and corporate business owners recognize their value because many times I’ve found that people didn’t realize how important their story was in engaging with audiences and getting people to recognize how unique and special their company was so that they want to do business with them.
One of my favorite accomplishments was for a nonprofit on the west side of Chicago. They were having a fundraiser on Mother’s Day. I was asked to create a video for them in three days because they only had a little bit of time. I did it with one day of writing, one day of shooting, and one day of editing. It became successful in helping them raise lots of money. They ultimately got a $100,000 award from our mayor from a story that I got published in the Sunday Chicago Tribune.
Hugh: Wow. Lynn is a colleague. We have worked with some of the nonprofits. They brag about how you have helped them get a grip on what was in their head and be able to put it on paper. Sometimes we are so close to it, it’s really hard to define what we’re doing. It helps to have an external advisor or sounding board expert like yourself. I thank Lynn for coming in at the last minute. We had talked about you being on the show but hadn’t put it on the calendar. I called you yesterday with a cancellation, and she was able to do it graciously. I know a lot about your work; I don’t know everything about your work. But I do know you won a 2017 Conservation Author of the Year for raising environmental awareness with your book Dancing with Tex.
Lynn: Yes, that was the book. Dancing with Tex: The Remarkable Friendship to Save the Whooping Cranes.
Hugh: That’s a children’s book. You think adults can learn from a children’s book?
Lynn: Definitely. We all can. That book was a hidden story that was told to me off-camera. I was the video co-producer and scriptwriter on a video Amico was producing at the International Crane Foundation. It’s the world’s only sanctuary for all 15 species of cranes. They’re endangered species. Amico wanted to share with their international marketing managers how they were doing good in the world by donating to this organization. I was interviewing Amico executives and the co-founder George Archibald about his organization.
Off-camera, George told me this story that I at first couldn’t believe. He said, “Years ago, I was friends with this bird, a rare whooping crane, and we danced together.” I said, “Sure, right.” But he sounded so earnest I realized he must be telling me the truth. He said, “This bird’s brain was imprinted on a zookeeper. That means she thought she was a person because she was raised by a zookeeper. As a result, she didn’t want to hang around other birds, just people.” George realized that if she identified with people, perhaps she would allow him to be her dance partner because all cranes do a mating dance before they lay eggs. He brought this bird named Tex over to a sanctuary and danced with her off and on for six years until Tex laid a fertile egg, with the help of scientists giving her special shots, and that chick had more chicks and more chicks. That one friendship ended up helping save the whooping cranes from extinction.
I thought it was such an amazing story. Most people didn’t know about it. That deserves to be in a children’s book because more children need to be inspired and empowered to know that they can make a difference, too.
Hugh: You have another one, too. Storytelling, we’ve had people talk about writing and writing a story and being able to communicate effectively. In 32 years of working with nonprofits, one topic always comes up as a problem: communications. Mostly internal, but external. They don’t know we exist in the world, probably because we don’t tell them, and we are so busy doing that we don’t spend time writing about it. When we do, we don’t do it well. Why is storytelling so important in defining the impact that your organization has and building impact with your network?
Lynn: That’s such a good question. You’re right. Most people are doing the work and not going out and sharing what they do. When you tell a story, you connect with people from the heart, not the head. People are not going to remember your credentials. You might not remember that I wrote the lyrics for WGNTV, but you would remember perhaps the story about George and Tex. Because storytelling connects us from the heart, it also makes you more memorable. It builds trust and credibility. There is no one like you. Because there is no one like you, your story will make you stand out in the marketplace. There are lots of nonprofits out there. What do you do that is unique? That is what people want to find out about, and that is what they will remember.
Hugh: Absolutely. Well stated. Your website is DifferenceMakersMedia.com. I love the title. We are in the business of making a difference. You are in the business of helping leaders make a difference by telling people what they are actually doing. We keep it a secret not by intent. It’s hard to think. We can all write, but it’s hard to think that we need somebody to help us with, but we do. We need to get outside of our brain and have someone help us think through the issues. Do you have an example of a story that you helped someone create and what impact it has helped provide for that organization?
Lynn: I have many. I will share one or two with you. I happen to love making a story come alive be it through a book, video, or article because I feel it gives an impression that lives on. I want to add one more thing before I share this story. Most of us are not aware that we are living beyond the physical realm. I am a spiritual person. I want you to realize we all have a vibration. That’s what makes our soul alive. Every thought we have, every action we do, every word we say carries that vibration. When you put words together that are powerful and inspirational and empowering, you are touching people at the soul level. Therefore, you are getting them more interested in you and bringing them to take action. I am very aware of the words I use. Even online, there is a site you can go to that will measure your SEO of your titles because certain words will draw more people to you.
I will share with you a bit of a story I wrote in a children’s book called Social Justice: How You Can Make a Difference. This was published by Capstone Press. I don’t own the book. I gave away the rights. I just wrote the book. It’s a great book because it not only helps children learn how to create their own nonprofit, but it also shares stories of different youth who have created nonprofits to make a difference. I don’t think there is any other book quite like this.
I am going to read one of the opening parts of a story about a 12-year-old boy who is now an adult and going on to continue making a big difference in the world.
“As 12-year-old Craig Kielburger reached for the newspaper comics, he had no idea his life was about to change. Instead of the comics, Craig’s eyes fell on the picture of 12-year-old Iqbal Masih. At the age of four, Iqbal had been sold into slavery in Pakistan. He was forced to work 12 hours a day tying small knots in carpets at a factory. Iqbal could not go out to play or go to school. If the child workers even spoke to each other, the guards would hit them. The children would be beaten or hung upside down if they became sick or talked back.
“When Iqbal was 10, he escaped and began telling people about child slavery. Leaders in the carpet industry didn’t like him telling people about this secret. As it became well known, Iqbal started to receive death threats. But he refused to stop spreading his message. At the age of 12, Iqbal was killed. No one is sure who shot Iqbal. Many people believe the leaders in the carpet industry had him killed because he spoke out.
“Craig realized Iqbal’s life was very different from his own, but they were the same age. Craig wondered how many other kids were forced to live like Iqbal, and he wondered if a boy from Canada could do anything to help other kids halfway around the world.”
I’ll stop there. There is one more page. Basically, Craig as a 12-year-old went to his school and got his teachers, the principal, and other students interested to make a difference. He created a nonprofit called Free the Children that is still going strong. It shows you age has nothing to do with it. It comes down to your dream. What do you want to do to make a difference? How dedicated and persevering are you to make it happen?
Hugh: We have audience members who work with youth initiatives. Legacy International and Philanthropy Kids. I am sure they are pleased to hear your passion for equipping and empowering our younger generations because people like to say it’s the future of our country. It’s the current leadership of our country, if we give them a chance. One time, I taught middle schoolers how to do a version of a musical called Godspell. People asked me how I got them to do that because it was hard. I said, “I never told them it was hard.” They just rose to the musical level.
I want to point out before I forget here if you go to DifferenceMakersMedia.com, under your lovely picture, there is a big red stripe that says, “Get your strategic story guide. Tips, special offers, and more.” That is generous of you. Anybody can go there. I know Lynn is a person who delivers lots of value.
What are two of the important elements that a story needs? Vulnerability, credibility, etc. What are those components?
Lynn: First, you mentioned the two elements. Every good story needs vulnerability. That means you have to be willing to be open and honest about who you are. People will sense that. When you are vulnerable, people are more willing to be vulnerable with you. They want to connect with you because they see you’re so open.
Credibility is the breakthrough part of your story. Your credibility is the success you have achieved for other people. They can believe you will be successful for them. We are selling an intangible, if you think about it. Selling making a difference means someone has to believe you have made a difference for others and you will make a difference for them. When people donate to nonprofits, they have to feel like their money is going toward a good cause and you are making a difference.
In fact, I changed my company name from Park Avenue Productions, where I used to be on Park Avenue and felt like it was a glamorous sounding name. It was. But it felt like it wasn’t the right fit for me because of my story, which I’ll be happy to share with you. That is when I decided to change my title to Difference Makers Media because I want to help difference makers, visionary leaders, especially of nonprofits, or business entrepreneurs make a bigger difference through their story. Most people never realize how powerful your story can be in changing lives.
Hugh: Wow. You’re a story guide. You help people craft their stories. Is that right?
Lynn: That is correct. I’d love to share a bit about my story. What I have found challenging is how to condense your story to make it impactful in a short way. Many of you, if you are asked to tell your story, nine times out of ten, people will start with their credentials, and you don’t remember the facts. You remember the story: the beginning, middle, and ending. I want to give you four points to remember in crafting your story. This is in my free story strategy guide. I recommend getting it. I will give you the four components first, and I will fill in with my story so you can identify how it all fits together like a puzzle.
The first part of your story, the journey of who you became, begins with a call to action. That is the trigger. From the first component, you will go into the pit. The pit is the worst thing that happened that became the turning point, the pivot that set you into a search. The search is your search for meaning after you have gone through a negative experience, which ultimately leads to the breakthrough. Those are the fourth parts.
When you tell your story, you want to speak in the present tense. Hugh always says the people. You do that with your story. The story is who you are. It’s everything. It’s not how many bones you have in the closet, not how many numbers you have made in this month.
My story starts at age 11 when my mother tells me that it’s not important for girls to have a bat mitzvah. It’s more important for boys. She didn’t mean anything by it, but that meant a lot to me. I didn’t realize it at the time, as I was only 11. But a bat mitzvah represents a passage of time from being a child to an adult in taking on the responsibilities of healing the world and doing good in the world. Those words created a different story in my mind, that I wasn’t good enough because it wasn’t important enough for girls to have a bat mitzvah.
I set on a path that I had to prove myself. I had to become an over-achiever to show I was good enough and excelled both at school and work. Ultimately, as you heard, I went from being in a commercial music company to having my own business.
Suddenly, I got a call that no one would ever want to get. At 11:30 at night, my brother called and said, “Mother got a heart attack, and it doesn’t look good.” 30 minutes later, a second call came, and he said, “She’s gone.” I have to tell you, I get the goosebumps now. I felt like my own heart was being pulled out. I felt like I was literally falling into a bottomless pit where I could not find my way out. My mother had always been my best friend, my foundation, the dearest love of my life. Even though I am married and have two wonderful boys, my mother was always a very important part of my life. I went from being happy at what I did and writing all kinds of work to feeling like I couldn’t go on.
I also learned that your emotional and mental state affects the physical state. Because I was so grief-stricken, my back gave out. I had three slipped discs. I could barely walk. I didn’t really know if I wanted to keep on living. It was that bad. I researched all different healers and found an energy healer. That man said, “I think I can help you heal.” Over a period of a few months, I did. My discs went back into alignment. He asked me an important question: Do you want to live? At the time, I said, “I think so.” I wasn’t sure. He said, “How would your mother want you to live?” I realized it would be important for me to live fully, not just go through life being down all the time.
I decided I was going to make a difference. I started doing all kinds of work with nonprofits, helping them get six-figure donations, doubling their memberships through videos and writing and publicity, and feeling really good about myself. Part of the time, I was feeling like there was a lack. I had an adult bat mitzvah to claim my value, to feel like I was doing good to have this service.
Ultimately, I felt like I was given a test. I had just finished creating a patient safety video called “Things You Should Know Before Entering the Hospital,” which won a national award. The essence of that video was if you are feeling ill, you need to have an advocate by your side in the hospital because you don’t think clearly when you are sick. Shortly after I created that video, I myself got ill. I was misdiagnosed. I was at an airport the next day planning to fly from Denver to Chicago in extreme pain. All I could remember was, “Take the little white pills.” That’s what they told me in the emergency room. I didn’t remember they said, “If you don’t feel better, come back.” I was planning to board a plane from Denver to Chicago in extreme pain. I felt like I got help from the other side because the flight was cancelled three times at the gate. By that time, I knew I couldn’t board. I called out to my husband, “I can’t make it.” I was rushed by ambulance to the hospital and found out I had a ruptured appendix.
Hugh: Oh my.
Lynn: If I had gone on the plane, I was told I wouldn’t have made it. My mother came to me in a dream in the hospital. This to me represents the breakthrough. She sang a beautiful song, but the opening words I found out later were from the Bible, “This is the day that God hath made.” Actually, in the morning, the nurse who came in and said, “Rise and shine. It’s a beautiful day.” My mother always used to say that to me in Chicago. The fact that she told me this was a day was a major turning point for me because I realized we only have so much time on Earth. We need to spend our time wisely. We need to focus on what’s most important to us. That is when I decided I had to change my company name to Difference Makers Media. I have been passionate about helping difference makers shine a light on building an impact. We only have so much time. Let’s make the most of it.
Hugh: Yes. The part you said earlier about vulnerability. That is a good leadership trait. Brene Brown writes about vulnerability. One of the teachers of conductors wrote a book and talks about how you have to be vulnerable on the podium to produce good music, to be an effective conductor. There is this vulnerability thing. I do find some leaders who say, “I don’t want to talk about that. It sounds like bragging.” Or “I don’t feel comfortable tooting my own horn.” What do you say to people who shy away? This is an essential communication we must have with people because we are the leader, and with our tribe, our foundation, our nonprofit, our religious organization, we have had impact on human lives. That is a story worth telling. They might hide behind the veil of being shy, but how do you overcome that reluctance of wanting to share the goodness that has happened in their work?
Lynn: That is a very good thought there. I think if people are focused on the benefits they provide others, they won’t be as shy. If I tell you facts, how I helped a nonprofit achieve a six-figure donation from a mayor, the benefit was they were able to continue their program to help ex-offenders transition positively back into the environment and get jobs that made a difference in people’s lives. If you think from the perspective of benefits, you’re not bragging. You’re telling the good you’re doing. You’re giving your credentials out so more people believe in what you’re doing. That’s important. They have to believe in you in order to contribute to you.
Hugh: Hmm. I’m looking at my list of things I wanted to be sure we talked about today. You’re working with entrepreneurs. We entrepreneurs, whether we are running a social benefit organization like a church or synagogue or a local charity or a membership organization, are actually entrepreneurs. We are not working in a corporate setting. There are certain challenges in working with people like us. We have shiny object syndrome. We are not linear. What is the biggest challenge you have had with nonprofits to get their story together? Why was it a challenge?
Lynn: I think both entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders don’t recognize that the problems they solve are really a story. We are deep in the trenches doing the work, just like George Archibald didn’t think much of the idea of dancing with this bird to help her lay an egg. He didn’t realize he was solving a problem that became an interesting story. One of the challenges is people don’t recognize that from the problem comes a solution that becomes a story. The story provides benefits to your audience they can use to make a bigger difference.
Hugh: *Sponsored by EZCard* Lynn, part of the journey you and I are on together is in the community. Actually, the exercises we are going through, if you don’t mind my sharing, SynerVision has this private community for leaders. It’s not just nonprofit leaders, but it’s for people who work with nonprofit leaders or thought leaders like yourself. We are going through the steps of what is the problem you solve? Why do you exist? What is the impact? We are going through those steps. Are those important components to be able to think about in creating a story about your organization to share with funders?
Lynn: Everything you do matters. I love what you’re doing in the group because you are pulling all the pieces together that people need to know to make an impact. You asked me a question a moment ago that I was still thinking about. Why don’t people get more of their stories out? Beyond not realizing that all their stories are good stories, many times people don’t want to delegate. They feel like they have to do everything themselves. The good thing about being in your group is everyone is coming from different perspectives, and we all help each other.
An important part of being successful is collaboration. I am building my team, learning through your group. All the people listening or reading, we have to work together. There is the old saying that “TEAM means Together, Everyone Achieves More.” It’s really true because everyone has a different knowledge base and perspective. When you gather people together, and that also means outsourcing where you don’t know everything, you can build your impact. I love what you’re doing right now.
Hugh: I am going to invite our audience to ask questions. Anit Banerjee is a leader who started out young and is now teaching other young leaders under the tutelage of Bob Hopkins, who is here. Bob, do you have a comment or question?
Bob Hopkins: I love what you do. I’d love to see this book. You’re so spot-on. You’re singing to my heart. This book Philanthropy Misunderstood is all about stories. People talk about how they got involved in nonprofit work, what they do, the passion it involves. People read this book and go, “These are such great stories. Everyone needs to hear these stories.” That’s what you’re saying, Lynn. Everyone needs to hear stories in order to get a sense of who they’re talking to.
Lynn: Exactly. The other reason that it’s important to put out positive stories is we are affected by the negative media that is out there. Anything that we read or hear does affect us at the soul level. That is why I mentioned my story of getting physically upset and having three slipped discs from being mentally troubled. By you sending out positive stories through your books, you are sending out positive vibrations that will help people in a powerful way. I compare it to making a soup. You don’t want to put so much salt in the soup that you can’t eat it. You want to have something dilute it to make it taste good. I commend you. I also recommend you make some of those stories into videos because more people are watching videos now than they are reading. Those could go hand in hand.
Hugh: You just hit a home run there.
Bob: And we are. Thank you for saying that. Let me tell you one quick story. I teach college, and I teach my students how to tell stories. When you introduce yourself, you start with a story. One student said, “Mr. Hopkins, I don’t know if you remember me or not, but I had you three years ago. I wanted to tell you a story. I interviewed for a job yesterday, and I got it. Do you know why? Because I told a story about my interest in this company, and they were so involved in my story they said at the end of it, ‘You’re hired.’”
Lynn: Wonderful. That’s great.
Bob: I know. It was great for me to hear that.
Hugh: Bob always has such great things to add. Thank you, Bob. Bob is in Dallas, Texas. You mentioned Tex, the bird.
Lynn: She was from Texas by the way, from the San Antonio Zoo. That is why she was named Tex.
Hugh: Love it. Out in San Diego, somebody you know already, AJ Goodwin is on. AJ, did you have a question or comment?
AJ Goodwin: Yes. Thank you, Lynn. You really bring things into perspective as I have gone and told a story to hundreds of thousands of people with our legacy of music, literary, and art at Paul Lloyd Warner. One thing that it brings me back to is I even remember Mark Victor Hansen, who I’ve seen online and in person, shook his hands, his Chicken Soup for the Soul series, which has become a mega award-winner through the world of all the great stories and the areas that touch the hearts of people. That is the level I like to play at, where it wins my heart to share with others. I really like that you help craft that and pull that out of us as difference makers. I look forward to collaborating and seeing how we can create these stories together that have been-
Lynn: Thank you, AJ. I look forward to collaborating, too. As an aside, one of the people who wrote Chicken Soup for the Soul is Helice Bridges, who I am going to be introducing to Hugh. Helice started an organization that I think would be of relevance to everyone. It was originally called Difference Makers International, and now it’s called Blue Ribbons Worldwide at BlueRibbons.org. She is focused on the power of honoring one billion people through a blue ribbon ceremony. Her story is in those Chicken Soup books. I will be interviewing her on Friday so more people can learn how to take what they are doing and honor those people who they care about and love so they can spread that positive message of caring and loving and honoring each other to make a better world.
Hugh: Love it. You already introduced me, and we have corresponded. You may not know this, Lynn, but my fourth book is called Transforming Power. It’s not a how-to book; it’s a book of stories of transformations by transformational leaders. AJ, there is an endorsement by Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield on the back. They were some people I caught on CEO Space and asked them. They were stories of transformation. There was a common theme with the book. Even that far back, it’s not as fancy as Bob’s book. It was #2 on an Amazon list with a modest promotion. I was pleased by that. Like you, I gave it away. The Methodist Publishing House has it.
Let’s go to Sky Houston, a world traveler who is in California traveling the country. He is mobile today. Sky, where are you coming in from?
Sky Houston: Hello, everyone. I am proud to say that I am coming in from Los Angeles, California right now.
Hugh: Sky is a professional funding person for nonprofits. Sky, do you have a question or comment?
Sky: I have one quote. “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou. This goes hand in hand with alignment. This is my screensaver. This is on my background of every device I have. This correlates with everything Lynn is facilitating in our discussion today.
It’s not just facts; it’s not just your credentials. It’s not what you did or how you did it. In the end, what are you going to be remembered for? We talk about fundraising and aligning all the metrics. Those metrics are just a means to an end. That end is your story, whether it be an individual or organization. Paul Lloyd Warner, my brother from another mother, AJ, I was able to spend two weeks with them in person day by day, reorganizing it so AJ can be empowered to transition into a CEO that he is internally that we all know. He just has to flesh out and get into a system. That system is going to lead step by step, day by day. He has a vision board I helped him set up.
These are things you keep in front of you. Why? Because all of us forget what happened yesterday. If we don’t have the vision of who we really are, how we make them feel. AJ is a great example. I have seen it with many nonprofit organizations. All the steps and everything they do is exposing, bringing out, and fleshing out the details and capturing the audience in how you make them feel.
Hugh: Love it.
Lynn: Thank you, Sky.
Hugh: Thank you, all. Do you want to comment on what Sky said?
Lynn: It’s so true. We remember how people make us feel, which is why we want to be around them. When you can project stories that make people feel good, they will want to be around you. It’s as simple as that. I love the Margaret Mead quote, “Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world” because that’s what happens. You don’t need to have 100 or 1,000 people behind you. Of course, that’s great if you do. But if you are committed to your vision, your dream, you can make it happen. You can pull the team together, make a change, and transform lives. I’m glad that you are there for AJ, Sky, because I can tell you’re a great team together.
Hugh: We saw that vision board on our call earlier and the story board for planning. Sky left an impact. That’s what leaders do. We have impact on people’s lives. Thank you all for your comments and sharing.
Do you want to share another story, a story that is crafted well?
Lynn: Which one should I pick for you? I think I will share it from my heart. I have books here. I have Dancing with Tex. Whatever you think.
Hugh: Show the book.
Lynn: This is a good story to tell: Dancing with Tex: The Remarkable Friendship to Save the Whooping Cranes. This book represents a 20-year journey. I did not work on it constantly for 20 years, but I call it my journey of having faith, belief, and perseverance in my dreams. We all have a dream. Maybe some of you have a book in your heart that you think, “Well, someday I’ll get it out there.” There is no day of the week called Someday. There is Sunday, but not Someday.
This book started out as an idea when I was interviewing George Archibald. I wanted to write a children’s book, but I hadn’t written a children’s book before. It was still my dream to do so. I started working on this project. Meanwhile, I got invited to write another book, the social justice book, which was published by another publisher. The book’s story got accepted by a traditional publisher, and they ran out of funding. They had me sign an agreement. I was feeling badly about it, but I thought, Okay, I will keep trying. I did send this story out to publishers, and it didn’t get published. So I put it away in a file.
I got nudged forward because my younger son told me, “Why don’t you forget that story and move on?” I realized that each of us have a dream. We have to decide if we are willing to go after that dream. My older son was doing a crowdfunding project for a kayaking trip he was taking with his best friend at the time. I thought that if my son was doing crowdfunding, why couldn’t I do that? I needed money to pay for the illustrator and layout. I went ahead on my dream. It took me a while to get it all done. I went through a journey. I picked an illustrator who wasn’t the right fit. I had to stop that journey and find someone else.
In the middle of this journey, you won’t believe this, but an even bigger obstacle happened. It was unexpected. My wonderful son who had told me to put this book aside, he was 25 at the time. He got a stroke. I had to stop and go to the hospital. When we got home, I knew I could still keep working on this book. I didn’t have to drop my dream. He recovered and got much better. He lives with us and is doing well. In the meantime, I got the book published. It was a bestseller. I did a crowdfunding video. If you want a copy, let me know. The Illinois Conservation foundation found out about it, read the book, and honored me with the 2017 Conservation Author of the Year for this story.
But the big picture is that we all need to have faith, belief, and perseverance. For George, it took him six years of dancing with Tex for her to lay an egg. For me, it was a 20-year journey that finally got done. I am ready to get out more stories now.
Hugh: That is an inspiration. We have Mr. Rash from Bedford, Virginia down the road who had some Internet problems earlier but has a question. We don’t deal with politics or religion, but it’s fascinating that we have Christians, Muslims, and Jews talking about elements of faith and how we have a common guide. I rejoice in that. Mr. Rash, do you have a question?
J.E. Rash: First of all, you got two Jews here. My grandmother and grandfather on both sides were heavily Jewish. Thank you for being here today. I really appreciate it. I had a strange day. I will tell my story quickly. I had to spend my birthday at the dentist, then with the Internet guys, then on another call, and now this. It’s a full day.
My question is this. I signed up for your site. We can discuss this another time. My organization works around the world, Legacy International. We do many things. We do entrepreneurial training. We do tech women. We do women’s empowerment. We do public health work. We have many stories. The question is: How do you tell many stories around a single mission? Our mission is universal values and empowerment of people through their own cultural values and social values. We do very specific types of training in many fields. If you look at our website, you will see. We have many stories from each rubric. If you tell your mission story, it doesn’t convey. The other thing is I have always believed that the best story about you is told by other people, the people we have served for 40 years.
Lynn: Right. In answering your question, you have good questions. I see two different ways around that. One is you can create a series of short videos. People don’t have long attention spans. You may want to consider breaking down your categories of ways you empower people. Just like Chicken Soup for the Soul has different editions, you may want to have different videos that focus on the different aspects of the good that you do in the world.
Another way of making it short and sweet is doing a montage. You won’t be going into depth, but you can do a little bit of all the different good things you are doing into one video. Almost like a preview of a movie. I did a series of videos for Alexian Brothers Health Care System. They started out with an idea of two videos, which grew into five after our meeting because they had different audiences we wanted to address. I hope that helps you.
J.E.: Of course. We do videos. You’re right. People’s attention spans are small. We try to tweak them to the interest of the person we are working on. One previous person on this podcast was a philanthropist who talked about if people don’t take the time to know what I’m interested in, I’m not interested in them. We like to tweak things. It’s helpful. Perhaps we can talk further on this another time. Thank you very much.
Hugh: There is a birthday happening? Is it yours?
J.E.: It’s mine. Don’t ask any questions. Don’t do any math.
Hugh: I’m sure I’m older.
J.E.: You’re not older than I am. No, you’re not. You’re younger than I am.
Hugh: Okay. Thank you. Legacy International Is down the road in Virginia. He has been doing amazing work for 40 years. We share a common love of good coffee.
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Lynn, thank you for your kind words earlier about the community you’re in. We have been tasked with a small group of people who are doing amazing work. The connections like you just shared with AJ. We had one of my Christian sisters here who attended your synagogue service at your invitation. There is this great congeniality that happens when we are working together for the common good. Thank you for your inspiration and sharing some of your wisdom today because you have a lot more. What do you want to leave people with after sharing so many great tidbits? What is your parting thought for people?
Lynn: I want everyone to remember that you have greatness within you, and that you do make a difference. Whether it’s a smile or a kind word or sharing your story with someone, we all make a difference. The big part of this is we get to choose what kind of difference we want to make. You can choose the outcome of your story no matter what happens to you in your life. You can choose to make something positive from it if you share your positivity with others. You make a difference. I believe in you. Go forward with your dreams because you never know whose life you are going to touch.
Hugh: Lynn Sanders, Story Guide, thank you for sharing your wisdom.
Lynn: Thank you. It was great being here.