Once Upon a Time… What’s Your Story?


By Stephanie Heinatz

“Dad, can you tell me the story again of how you and Mom met?”

I’m not sure what sparked young William Heinatz to pipe up from the back seat of our family mobile recently while driving home at the end of a productive work-school-camp summer day.

But I didn’t really care, either.

I love – LOVE, LOVE, LOVE – hearing Rudy Heinatz recount the moment we locked eyes for the first time at the small Wal-Mart in rural coastal Virginia way back in 1998, and how that led to our first date.

“Would you like to go to dinner and a movie this weekend?” he asked so sweetly.

“Not really. But I’d love to go to the pig races.”

He took me. We munched on funnel cakes and watched little piglets race around a track chasing cookies. The rest, as they say, is history.

This happens to be one of my favorite stories.

Why? Because it’s ours. Because it’s the beginning. Because it’s my very own “once upon a time.”

Two days later, I found myself chatting with a fellow business owner, and following some traditional “get to know you” chatter, he asked me to tell the story of Consociate Media.

That, too, is a story I love to tell.

A former newspaper reporter wanted to take the power of narrative non-fiction and help companies, initiatives and people connect more deeply to others.

A businessman joined in, helping connect the power of story to real change that could be measured.

If it counts, count it.

Eventually a graphic and web designer, professional photographer and strategic communicator hopped on the bus and started driving those stories to new heights, helping reach people in words and visuals, across multiple mediums and channels.

While the story is still ongoing, and the happily ever after is happening day by day, this is our professional “once upon a time,” if you will.

That got me thinking.

No matter where we are in life – home, work, relationships – we all have a starting point. I believe those starting points are the keystones of our stories. They become the anchors of who we are, what we build from, what we become.

For Consociate Media, that story is about believing you can, drawing on the power of authentic stories to communicate a broader idea, measuring success (because every dollar someone invests in marketing and communications needs to return to them somehow), and that the strength of a company comes from its people and the culture and values they create and live by together.

What does this all have to do with what we do day by day? How can this story be applied in real action to help you in some way?

Let me answer with a question. When is the last time you thought about your “once upon a time.”

Have you thought about why you started your business to begin with? What was your motivation? What were the obstacles you overcame to get where you are?

Most importantly, have you written that story down? Are you sharing it with the world?

In life, as our son showed us recently when asking to recount the “how did you meet” story, we want to hear about the beginning. It tells us something.

How you started your business, and why, also tells us something. And it says something to your future customers, clients and the community you serve.