Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kelly Swanson, a Motivational Speaker, based in High Point, NC, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am an NSA (National Speakers Association) Hall of Fame motivational speaker, award-winning storyteller, comedian, stage performer, author of The Story Formula, Who Hijacked My Fairy Tale and coming in 2023, The Persuasion Principle, founder of Story Impact Academy, The Persuasion Principle (Talk Less. Sell More.) Course, a private coach, and creator of Prides Hollow, the small town with a big heart, where the people stay, but the gossip travels. My work (I use my art) is wrapped in humor and heart and is centered around the power of story to influence ourselves and others. In addition to showing my audiences the power of story and why it matters, I also teach people in business how to influence at a higher level through strategic storytelling, so they can master those moments (in sales, leadership, marketing, or whatever their platform) that matter. I help people find, craft, tell, and share the stories that serve them in their industry.
Tell us about yourself
I believe the secret to living a life that lights us up and having more influence on our world is a reflection of the story we write and the story we tell. I was a shy picked-on kid who found a way to protect myself from the hurt by changing the narrative in my head. I learned to change the story to change my life. It turned out to be a gift, and my ability as a storyteller showed me how to charm hearts, tickle funny bones, and persuade people in an amazing way. Over time I began to see how others could do this too. I began to see how we can all tap into the power of story, not just in our own heads, but in the moments we have (in customer service, as leaders, etc.) through a very simple formula I call my Persuasion Principle. What motivates me each day is making people laugh, reminding them how valued they are in the work that they do, giving them the tools to believe in themselves again, and helping them get their message out to the world in a bigger way so they can take advantage of those moments that matter. And I absolutely love teaching stories and, even more, taking your words and making them even more powerful. This isn't about communicating effectively; this is about connecting and engaging in a way people remember. It's all about the story. I'm here to help you live a story-driven life and master those moments that matter - laughing the whole way.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Being inducted into the NSA Speakers Hall of Fame in July of 2022. This honor reflected a 20-year body of work and was a reflection of how many lives I have touched through the story as well as building a reputation for being one of the country's best storytellers and best teachers of business storytelling.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Staying focused and not reinventing the wheel, clarifying my brand and its value to the market. Understanding my differentiating factor - what I am and what I'm not. As a creative person running many aspects of my business myself, it requires that I know how to prioritize my time, understand my objectives, handle distractions, and stay focused on working smarter instead of harder. And know how to turn it off and have a little life balance. Oh yeah, and imposter syndrome sneaks in there too.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Don't just have a clear idea of what your business does. Have a clear idea of why it matters to the ones you serve. Go deep into their story, needs, desires, and emotions attached. The more you understand your market/buyer/customers/employees, the more you will attract and serve them at the highest level.
- Have a good idea of what differentiates you from others - how you are fresh and relevant - how you solve their problems in a way they've never seen - and the experience you create when they work with you.
- Surround yourself with people who are miles ahead of you. Learn from them. Get advice and feedback. Don't try to do this in a silo. You will become like the people you surround yourself with. Find people who will push you, speak the truth, ask the tough questions, and encourage you when you need it.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
No matter what business you are starting, you are in the business of persuasion. We are ALL trying to get people to do what we want them to do. Motivate employees. Attract buyers. Wow customers. Your ability to persuade will not be about the data you share but the story you tell. STORY is your greatest tool to connect emotionally with anybody - which is where true buy-in takes place. Make business storytelling something you incorporate into your culture, and teach every person to be a story-driven ambassador of the brand. Being a good storyteller makes you a strong influencer.
Where can people find you and your business?