This distinguishes ‘successful’ companies from legendary companies

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April 6, 2021 11 min read
This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There are many successful companies, but few legendary companies. Success is built by numbers and achievements; goals and returns. The legend is built on a great story. Ultimately, numbers speak to the head, but stories speak to the heart. It is the science of corporate #Storytelling.

Last week we talked about why you should start your speech with a story . Stories not only inform, but inspire, unite, and move action . The science of storytelling is based on the way our brains are built: the way we tell stories is part of what makes us human: it is part of our evolutionary insurance.

Myths, legends and heroes are essential parts in the construction of every human community: stories forge tribes, create empires and sustain nations. Your company is no exception.

Every business has its own story, and yours too. Not only did he come from an idea, in the middle of nowhere, and the next day he achieved success. Your business – like everyone else – has gone through good and bad times, has faced challenges and threats, has had valuable and courageous people in its ranks. Your business has a great story that deserves to be told.

There are many ways to tell stories. One of the best known is ” The Hero’s Journey ” or The Hero’s Journey, a classic and tremendously attractive narrative structure that appears everywhere: books, series or movies. It also appears in the stories of our heroes and their battles. And yes, also, in the legends of great entrepreneurs and their companies.

The Hero’s Journey has eight parts. The great stories of industry and progress include them too. Know them, recognize them and use them.

Image: Francisco García Pimentel

1. Call to adventure

Reed Hastings, president, president and CEO of Netflix / Image: Bloomberg | Getty Images

“Reed Hastings tried to return an Apollo 13 VHS to the Blockbuster and found himself with a $ 40 surcharge. At that moment, the Netflix spark was born in his mind. The rest is history ”.

This is the story a thousand times told of the genesis of a billion dollar company. It is a short story, easy to repeat and that inspires us to seek solutions to common problems. It is not the “complete” story, but it is enough to raise our interest.

What do you tell when you tell your story? We don’t always have an exact moment or exciting story on hand… but make an effort. If you think about it, it is almost certain that there was a moment in your life when something changed within you, something that moved you to undertake.

Perhaps it was a natural talent, perhaps a true passion. Perhaps it was an exceptional idea or the realization that there was an empty space in the world that needed to be filled. People start their businesses for different reasons. Which is yours?

There is something human, deep, transcendent, that calls us to entrepreneurship. If you have undertaken, you know it. It’s not just about the money, right? There is someone, or something, calling you. What called you?

2. Start of the trip

Image: Kentucky Fried Chicken | Busy People | Youtube

“When others thought there was nothing else he could accomplish, Colonel Harland Sanders took everything he had: a recipe for fried chicken with eleven herbs and spices… and went out to sell it to all the restaurants that wanted to hear it. The colonel was 65 years old and that recipe became the most famous chicken restaurant chain on the planet … “

All trips start with a first step. Great companies were not born big, but small: with a small team, inexhaustible energy and an idea in mind.

Things that are born great are monstrous. As much as we like to hear about success stories, we love and inspire knowing about its beginnings and its first steps. We are excited to know how Amazon or Microsoft were born without money, without customers and in a symbolically small space: the garage of a family home.

The notions of the humble beginning and its difficulties take us back to the great stories of heroes, their myths and their legends. Legendary companies know how to connect with their audience by sharing the moments when there was nothing in them but a dream, lots of pizza and long hours of passionate work.

3. The help and the mentor

Image: Steve Pope | Getty Images

“I would be lost in life without the advice of my great mentor, Benjamin Graham. He showed me the investor path and, when he noticed that I was naturally shy, he recommended that I take a Dale Carnegie public speaking course. That course changed my life. “Warren Buffett

Just as Bilbo has Gandalf and Harry has Dumbledore, surely you have someone who encouraged, directed, encouraged and advised you on your journey of entrepreneurship. Legendary companies and entrepreneurs do not rise to the top alone, but with the help of wiser and more experienced people.

The notion of the self made man , the successful man who makes himself, cannot but be an exaggeration or a lie. Make sure to add the real characters who helped you along the way into your story. It is a fact of justice … and an essential part of your own story.

Legendary companies are not only anchored by their own leadership, but also by others to whom they owe advice and growth.

4. Challenges, friends and adversaries

Image: picture alliance | Getty Images

“On May 19, 2016, a Coca-Cola employee offered to sell Pepsi – her archrival – the secret formula she had stolen from headquarters. Pepsi could have done a lot with that formula; but he decided what they least expected: he called the FBI, handed over the spy and returned the formula to its owners … “

Adidas and Puma , Coca-Cola and Pepsi , McDonald’s and Burger King , Microsoft and Apple … the history of business is full of great rivalries. These rivalries are an essential part of their respective stories, and without them, they would not be the same.

A good hero needs a good rival. Sherlock has Moriarty and Superman has Lex Luthor, and truly, what kind of story would anyone be without a good nemesis to face? It is not enough to win, but it is important to face with nobility, with justice and with courage. If not all battles are won … in the end it is possible to win the war. Legendary companies recognize, confront and, above all, respect their adversaries. They know that ultimately this is better for everyone.

The path to legend is forged through challenges and in the company of partners and friends. Ultimately, at the end of the day, companies are the people who make them up.

5. Final challenge

Image: Hulton Archive | Getty Images

“On October 1, 1971, the largest amusement park in the world opened in Florida: Walt Disney World. It was not long ago that Walt, the visionary genius, had passed away, and the whole world was betting that he would be a resounding failure. During the first month since the inauguration, more than 400 thousand people passed through its doors … “

Businesses face challenges every day: projects, problems, clients, threats, and quarterly goals. But every now and then, they face a moment of life and death, a formidable mountain to conquer; these are moments in which the future is at stake and in which they live to the fullest the fundamental principle of a good entrepreneur: risk.

Just as heroes face these moments with a human mixture of fear and fearlessness, companies and entrepreneurs cannot deny that there are moments when the stakes seem to be against, and the decision to move forward is as absurd as it is inevitable.

Legendary companies know how to capture and capitalize on these moments in their own stories, and integrate them as part of their style, spirit and ethos.

6. Fall and rebirth

Image: Shutterstock

“In 1985, Steve Jobs was fired from the same company that he had created. At that time, he was already rich and successful. But it was not until 1997, when he returned to the forefront of the technology firm, that he became a legend … “

Great stories are never a straight line between today’s effort and tomorrow’s victory. You have to fall many times to get up, grow and learn. But it is the great heroes who fall into the abyss – even death – to be reborn from the ashes and try again. From Odysseus to Jobs to Batman, the most powerful fight is the one that follows the fall.

Legendary companies do not hide their battles, even when they appear to be lost, and embrace their defeats with the same sincerity that they presume their victories.

7. Growth and reward

Image: Britta Pedersen-Pool / Getty Images via PC Mag

“Elon Musk knows how to turn ashes into diamonds. Throughout his short space saga, he has destroyed more rockets than he has managed. Through each iteration, a new growth; after each hit, a new fortress. Today is the richest man in the world, but that’s only part of the way to the final horizon deep in the cosmos … “

A static company is a dead company. Like the great dinosaurs of yesteryear; no matter how big, how strong or how fast we are today, we will soon become extinct unless we know how to evolve.

Legendary companies admit their mistakes, apologize, and make real changes to suit needs. When Musk receives complaints from a customer, even on Twitter, he immediately reacts, sometimes with changes at all levels of his organization. A battle that does not transform us… it is a truly lost battle.

8. Back to normal

Image: Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash

After the battles and journeys that every company experiences, there is a constant fight between order and chaos. Every day brings new surprises and new challenges. The return to “normality”, a well-oiled system and a precise management routine are only the prelude to a new call to adventure, a new battle and a new journey, in a cycle that repeats itself permanently.

No real entrepreneur settles for a normal day. At the sight of a clear and simple plain, you will soon be looking for new mountains to climb. Isn’t that the definition of a hero?

Legendary companies are never satisfied with reaching a state of simple stability. No sir. Because he calls them something much more powerful than money: transcendence.

These are the stories that are told, that are remembered, that are repeated and that shape the culture of our age. So I ask you again. Do you want a successful company, or a legendary company? The key is in the story you tell yourself… and the story you tell others.


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