Personal Stories

Who we are today has been shaped by our experiences both personal and professional.   Those experiences inform who we are and the way we operate enabling us to better serve our clients.

As many of you know, I am a huge advocate for collecting stories. People remember them far more than facts.  Quite often, project interview presenters are asked to communicate process and procedures, which can be very similar from one company to another. However, we can differentiate ourselves from competitors when we use a story to show a personal approach that goes beyond what others do.

While professional stories demonstrating project success are often the best to use for interviews, occasionally, it makes sense so share a personal story to give clients a better sense of who you are and the added value you bring.

Recently, I had the pleasure of working with a construction superintendent and helped him discover a wonderful way to incorporate a story about his father into his presentation. This superintendent was asked to talk about how he ensures quality on a project.  He instinctively went into a discussion of processes and procedures.  So I said to him, “Ok, that is what is required to be a competent superintendent.  Everybody does that. What you have just shared is an equalizer.  What do you bring to those processes and procedures that is above and beyond that might differentiate you and your approach?”

He thought about it for a bit, then shared this story.  “When I was 16, I started as a carpenter, working for my dad, building houses.  On my first day on the job, I was tasked with working on the frame. My dad saw my sloppy workmanship and demanded I redo it.  I said to him, “but it will hold up just fine. Once the dry wall goes up, no one will see it.”  He said, “The next craftsman will see it.  Your work sets the standard for the next guy to uphold.”  So from that day on I have been a stickler for quality.  I take pride in my work, every detail.  My crews know what I expect. They have the same standards or they do not work for me.  My clients do not ever see what is behind the dry wall but I do.  And I make certain it is done right.  Work my dad would be proud of and work I can be proud of.”

This is an example of an appropriate way to use a personal story for project interviews because it provides insight into this superintendent’s approach and value system that he brings to his job. It has just enough detail to be effective but not so much detail that it departs from the four part formula I recommend: Situation, Solution, Outcome, Moral of the Story.

Keep collecting and documenting the stories that will help your clients understand the added value you bring to them.