Should You Or Shouldn’t You? The Million-Dollar Truth about Your Story - Christine Kane

A butt-ugly turn-around moment in my life happened when I was trying to fall asleep in a freezing cold room with cinderblock walls in New York City’s East Village after a hellish performance at a premiere listening room.

I thought my career was over.

I laid between the threadbare sheets, questioning my existence, pondering a degree in accounting, a lone tear rolling down the side of my face…

You’d think I was primed and ready for a Spielberg-like spiritual breakthrough involving some angels.  Or, at the very least, a spaceship.

But what happened instead?

A cockroach walked across my face.

(True story. You can read how it turned out here.)

I sometimes tell this story when I speak because it hits my point home:  You can Uplevel your life regardless of the circumstances that surround you. Or crawl on you. (Plus, it’s pretty hysterical to me now.)

One of my colleagues heard me tell that story once and suggested that I stop telling it. “It makes you sound really pathetic,” she laughed.

A valid point, I suppose.

(Though I constantly hear from students of the Uplevel Your Life Mastery Program that the “cockroach” story was what made them hit the “buy” button! And over 2000 people have hit that button!)

This idea of revealing the bare truth about ourselves is something that we – as solopreneurs and business owners – often struggle with.

After all, aren’t we supposed to be experts in the know?

My students ask me:

How vulnerable should I be?

How much should prospects know about my story?

In other words: If I share this stuff, will I still be seen as professional?

When it comes to your story, here’s the million-dollar truth:

You must tell your story.

It doesn’t have to include cockroaches.

But it does need to open your prospect’s heart and give meaning to WHY you do what you do.

Your story builds trust and creates a memorable brand. (Yeah, I don’t love that word either – but just roll with me here.)

There are three reasons for this:

1 – People remember stories.

Your prospect might not remember a thing you said with your facts, features or data…

…but tell her about the time you got laid off the same day as your husband and that’s what propelled both of you to start a business?

THAT is what she will remember.

That’s because stories are visceral.

Stories are universal. They connect with our hearts.

2 – People need connection.

More than ever, we’re all seeking deeper connection beyond just a “thumbs up” button. (Though we still like those too!)

When it comes to your marketing materials, always think in terms of connection. And make sure your story is a part of it.  Your story builds trust. It tells your prospect that you’re real. It tells her that you “get” her.

3 – The C-V Cocktail

“C-V” stands for Credibility-Vulnerability.

Let’s start with Credibility.

Knowing how to position yourself is crucial in your marketing.

I teach what I call the “CREATE Formula” for positioning yourself as the go-to expert in your field.  The very first letter stands for Credibility.

Your credibility speaks to your prospect’s head.  This, of course, means your results, numbers, certifications, publications, sales, speaking dates, etc.  Your credibility is a part of what attracts people to work with you.

But it’s only ONE PART of our little marketing cocktail.  The other part is vulnerability.

Vulnerability speaks to the heart.

Both head and heart matter to your clients.

So, when it comes to your work in the world – whether you’re trying to get customers, clients, readers or patients – your story, your vulnerability has to be a piece of the puzzle.

Now, I’m not asking you to share about the time you drank too much at your cousin’s wedding and fell down the stairs and yacked all over her shoes.

Nor am I telling you to post on Facebook that you’re totally miserable today and you just forked your way through three plates of mac and cheese.  (We all have bad days. But there are some things that do not serve to build your business!)

I am, however, proposing that you get very clear about the turning point in your life that started you on the path to doing what you’re doing right now.

So, here are some questions to get you started creating your story:

What were the circumstances in your “before” scene?

What was your struggle, your low-point?

What was the turning point?

What happened after that?

What made you do the work you’re doing?

If any answers are percolating in your head, here’s your assignment…

In the comments below, give me a brief overview of a story that you think would really resonate with your prospects and clients.


  • Jessica

    Thanks Christine!
    I came back to this article because I wanted to think about adding a biographical paragraph at the end of my newsletter to re-instill the value of my art to my peeps.
    I actually forgot about the moment I knew what my passion was until I came across my old diary a few years ago, and there it was, the moment the 17 year old me realised what she wanted to do “for the rest of my life” 😉 . I described the feelings involved in the making of art and the thrill of getting interaction and response from friends and teachers. For me art was a coping mechanism and allowed me to express feelings and thoughts that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.
    I am not sure if this is really a story that would resonate with my peeps though! I am still going back over and over again to module 2!

  • Janice Saunders

    I have been working in sales for over 20 years and have been inducted into the selling hall of fame with a previous employer. I was getting restless as an employee and started sending a newsletter to friends and then when my company let go of my division one of my friends asked me did I know about coaching because my newsletter had a coaching feel. I knew nothing about coaching but quickly got some credentials at NYU and realized coaching is business, and despite my MBA and business sales experience I sought mentors to help me set up a strategy. Thanks Christine.

  • Julie Madgwick

    Thank you Christine, as always the right inspiration at the right time. Change requires motivation and inspiration and I know there are a lot of women making their way out in the world who appreciate your positive and empowering comments. I know because I’m one of them. Thank you.

  • Dr. Anna Garrett

    As I felt the flames of hormone hell start to creep a littel too close for comfort, I decided to do more digging into what could help (in addition to hormone replacement). What I realized is that there is lot of needless suffering going on and that lifestyle and botanicals can make a huge difference. As a pharmacist, I have the ability to improve a lot of women’s lives without hormones! So, I’m doing it!!

    • Christine Kane

      You sure are, Anna! Great story. (And given your wonderful sense of humor, I would encourage you to hone in on one single moment that is both laser focused and poignant (when you knew this couldn’t possibly be who you really are) and universal (other women have experienced that same thing) — and take it a little deeper than just the generalities of hormones.)

  • Sara Arey

    I had one daughter born at 28 weeks weighing 2 lbs. 5 oz. It was a traumatic experience, but she did beautifully. My second daughter was born at 26 weeks and died the next day. I was also very sick.

    Doing tai chi each morning and then finding SOMETHING to be grateful for – very difficult at first – got me through that time. Then I found an incredible energy releasing technique that has changed my life.

    I use this technique and other things I’ve learned and created to help people release their fears, limiting beliefs and pain from the past, creating a life that wasn’t possible before.

    This article was great, Christine. Thanks so much for the guidance, insights and laughs.

  • Jennifer McClanahan-Flint

    I had always worked my butt off in my career. Working from 8 am to 8 pm was standard operating procedure. When I had my daughter, my husband and I hired a nanny and I scaled my hours back a bit. I was concerned with what my daughter would eat so I would additionally spend time cooking all her meals. The problem was we rarely ate meals together as a family.

    Then my husband got laid off and we let the nanny go. He totally embraced being a dad and enjoyed all the time he spent with her. The more her shared with me the more I knew I was missing out. I had to make a change and I started focusing on my true skills and expertise at work and let all the superfluous busy work go. I started doing my genus work and made more money and created more flexibility. Once I figured it out, I started helping other high-achieving working moms figure out how to build flexible, fulfilling and financially rewarding careers that gives them time to enjoy their families.

    Thanks Christine for all of your help and guidance!

  • Wendy Robinson

    My story starts in 2010 when my job as the Director of Finance for a social services company began to make me feel awful. Butt-Ugly awful! I left on a 30 days leave of absence to get my head straight and 3 days before I was due to return, I received a certified letter that my job of almost 7 years had been eliminated. I was shocked and relieved at the same time!

    After some deep soul searching on my next move, I shifted my focus to the type of job I wanted and six months later, landed the perfect corporate job. Now, while I love what I’m doing, I would rather be teaching displaced and complacent professionals how to do what I did and create the living they want, doing the work they love!

    I left out lots of details in my story but this is the nuts and bolts of it. I need to refine and add to it and I hope your programs will help me do that, Christine!!

    • Christine Kane

      Sounds perfect to me, Wendy! And yeah, I love the story of the letter arriving – and the sense of relief and terror all at once. So many of my clients have gone through that before they began their own businesses!

  • Roxane Lessa

    Going from being a performing artist to a visual artist was a rocky 10 year period, during which I got very depressed. I hated almost everything in my life. Going to a local museum filled with art and light and color turned me around. I saw what really jazzed me, and that was working with color and making things with textiles. Slowly, I retrained myself to be a textile artist.

    • Christine Kane

      Roxanne – I would make the story all about that day at the museum and what exactly happened, what exact piece gripped you, the thoughts you were having – and what you decided on the way home!

  • Jen Uteda

    A college professor told me I had no talent and should find another career. Needless to say, I’m so glad I didn’t listen to him. Yes, it hurt, but It inspired me to work harder because I knew working with video was what I loved… and still do!

    • Christine Kane

      Ah, Jen — don’t you just love those various teachers and professors that tell you what you can and can’t do? I was told I couldn’t sing, write songs, write or hold down a job. (Turns out that last one was true. But I now can see it as the highest form of praise!)

      Let’s hear it for the power of the heart and spirit – and people who believe in us!! woohoo!

  • Fiona Claire

    Thanks Christine, I am starting a newsletter and wondering how revealing I should be. This encourages me to take the plunge and connect and be real about why I do what I do. My before: I did jobs I did not relate to, had no plan for my life past 30 except to be a Mum, was in denial of my desire to be a musician and counsellor and cried a lot whilst blaming others for my lack of opportunity. My low point: walking the pram realising I didn’t know what could ever make me happy again. After seeing a psychologist and unearthing some emotional roadblocks I began to believe I could at least do something – but what? I began to ask everyone I knew – Who am I? What am I good at? Still trying to please and impress. My turning point: I was on the beach singing a song to myself as it came to me, as they always did, and suddenly realised it was there all along – I was a songwriter, always had been always will be – that was at once a relief and frightening. So began the next stage of exploring, struggling, learning – the difference was that this time I was being REAL. Since then I haven’t shied away from my vision of being real to myself and staying to true to the convictions I had as a teenager – my values of creativity, compassion, truth, openness and seeking. It hasn’t been easy and I have had to carve out a niche that was right for me – one that I had never seen done before in this way. Now I am on the brink of combining my love of music, creativity, performing and counselling in a powerful tapestry of business that feels so right. Ever so slowly, learning as I go but not shying away from my inner drive, I can see my vision come to fruition. It still scares me, but nothing could be scarier than not doing it – I tried that before and that was awful! My stage performance is all about vulnerability and exposure, my counselling role is about compassion and strength. I am driven to open the hearts of others and empower them to listen to their inner voice, let themselves be heard and validated, and compassionately take themselves out into the world in honour and truth.

    • Christine Kane

      Claire — Cool! the story that I see most clearly in this is the moment on the pram. I would amplify that – and not worry about all the other therapy stuff, etc etc. There were LOTS of other things and moments of confusion with my cockroach story – but they aren’t important. THAT was the turnaround. THAT is what people will remember. What happened on the pram? Dig deep there. OR, take me to the turnaround on the beach and describe that moment fully. Again, eliminate all the extra stuff that makes the story a bit too long.

  • Shawnee Kilgore

    I’ve been wondering about this for a while….my “why” of becoming a singer-songwriter was kind of a fluke! I was 14 and in love with Daniel Johns of the Australian rock band, silverchair, and I figured that if we were ever going to get married I would need to get famous first so he would know who I was. There happened to be an old acoustic guitar in the house that nobody played, so I figured that was as good a way as any! Of course it turned out to be my calling, but it was a boy that got me going, not an intrinsic desire to make music….. It’s memorable, but doesn’t talk about my passion for the actual music that I make! 😛 Should I find and clarify a second half to the story?

    • Christine Kane

      Shawnee – It’s still a great story. Funny, real and sweet. The thing about following your passion is that none of us have 100% noble reasons for doing it. I like the human and real quality of this.

      Because you’re an artist, I don’t think you need to worry about finding the one signature story for why you do music. (I actually think this makes for a great one though!) Being on stage requires LOTS of stories, so don’t worry about finding just one!