What is your Story?

The story of Starbucks is well known. And that of Southwest Airlines, and Apple, and Zappos. Costco and Lego too.

Countless books have been written about these companies. And countless more will be.

Starbucks is not only about coffee and profit. If it was, it will not be interesting.

Howard Shultz, in his own words, “wanted to build a great company, one that stood for something, one that valued the authenticity of its product and the passion of its people.”

Here’s one way Schultz describes it in Pour Your Heart Into It: “Starbucks was attempting to accomplish something more ambitious than just grow a profitable enterprise. We had a mission, to educate consumers everywhere about fine coffee. We had a vision, to create an atmosphere in our stores that drew people in and gave them a sense of wonder and romance in the midst of their harried lives. We had an idealistic dream, that our com­pany could be far more than the paradigm defined by corporate America in the past.”

Southwest Airlines the greatest story in the history of commercial aviation. They did it with a disruptive business model and a hard-to-replicate culture that business schools tout in case studies and businesses all over the globe try to emulate.

Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines built a company that is as human as the human beings in it. A culture that inspires passionate people to come to work fully awake, fully engaged, firing on all cylinders because they know they are doing epic work.  What if you could create a culture that inspires passionate people to come to work fully engaged, firing on all cylinders.

There are many lessons to learn from these companies, the most important is that these companies have stories to tell and people tell stories of these companies. And keep telling them.

We create heroes and villains by telling stories. Many thousand years ago, our ancestors gathered around camp fires and told stories to teach and to entertain. We do the same today, just a bit differently.

Building legendary companies might not rock your boat. You may want to build a great team, it is the same. Have a story.

What is the narration you want to have? There are many. Choose the narration and work to fulfill it.