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Christie Bilbrey is a marketing and story strategist. After focusing exclusively on marketing strategy for much of her career, she realized more was needed to stand apart from the competition, engage an audience, and influence buying decisions. Christie spent a year studying story techniques from screenwriters, authors, and business writers to develop a method that approaches storytelling specifically aimed at helping business owners quickly draw in and convert audiences to buyers. She now works with business owners to view their stories differently, developing their confidence while sharing their heart, expertise, and journey in well-packaged stories sprinkled throughout their marketing.

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Story Strategy: Standing Apart From The Competition with Christie Bilbrey

Our guest is Christie Bilbrey. She is a marketing and story strategist. After focusing exclusively on marketing and strategy for much of her career, she realized more was needed to stand apart from the competition, engage an audience, and influence buying decisions. She spent a year studying story techniques from screenwriters, authors, and business writers to develop a method that approaches storytelling specifically aimed at helping business owners quickly draw in and convert their audience to buyers. She teaches and works with business owners to view their stories differently, developing their confidence while sharing their heart, expertise, and journey in well‑packaged stories sprinkled throughout their marketing. In essence, Christie teaches how to turn personal stories into potent effective sales tools. Welcome to the show, Christie. I’m so excited to have you here.

Thank you so much for having me, Tonya. I’m excited to be here with you and your audience.

We chatted a couple of months ago and I was instantly connected to your energy and your mission. You struck me as so different. You do things so differently than so many other marketing or story strategist that I have spoken with in the past, and I knew I had to have you on the show. The audience is going to find out why very shortly. Before we get in to the fun surprise that we have in store, can you share a little bit about your back story? How did you go from where you were to where you are?

Everyone has their own business evolution. For me, I spent about a decade doing marketing and marketing strategy for corporate and then, like many of us, decided to take that and start my own business with that. It was not long at all after I started that I realized, “This is super awkward to go out and promote myself even though this is what I have background for a decade in.” I felt extra embarrassed because the part that was so difficult was going out and knowing what the heck was I supposed to say about myself? When I was at networking events or discovery calls, I felt it was always trial and error, like a crap shoot, and I didn’t know what was going to work and what wasn’t. I thought, “This is so exhausting. Is the only way there is?” I look at people who are online and they don’t come across salesy at all. I never feel like I’m being sold to. I enjoy being around them. What is that?

Finally, it dawned on me. It’s not their personality, it’s not their background. These people are amazing storytellers and so they’re able to captivate me into what’s going on, who they are, what they’re about, and help me feel like they completely understand what it is to be me in a way that they can help me. That stood out the most to me when I decided, “This is somebody I want to follow. This is somebody I want to work with.” It’s storytelling. Then I realized I’m not a good storyteller at all, so what does that mean for me exactly? Am I going to be able to make it in having a business? Do I need to go back to corporate? I realized this has to be a learnable skill and that’s when I scaled way back on clients.

I spent pretty much a year outside my business studying story, like what Tonya was mentioning, to see who are master storytellers and, what makes them great. Then boil it down into this method that I could apply and that business owners could apply. I ended up creating a course about that. As Tonya mentioned, I do that also one on one with clients and help them craft their stories so that they can feel comfortable having conversations with people about interesting parts of their life that just happened to lead up to what they do and why they’re so amazing at it in a way that no one can compete because nobody else has their story.

That is amazing. I love that you say you recognize that that was not your inherent skill.

The easy part for me was realizing I don’t feel at all equipped or competent to come out. What do I say and how do I say it in a way that connects? That was something I felt I needed to study. I’m like, “Am I the only one who feels this way? When you go out and you’re talking to people online or in person, do you feel that’s easy and no big deal?” They are like “No, not at all. I feel super awkward. I always feel salesy and I hate it. I love what I do, but I hate the selling part.” I’m like, “I’m working on something,” so that was more motivation.

When we think storytelling, I go way back to when I was a little girl and my dad would sit me on his lap or tuck me in bed at night and tell me stories about how he found out a secret hole into the other universe and hung out with aliens. You imagine this crazy different world. At least to me, that was my mindset. A storyteller is imaginative and has a good ability to visualize details and communicate those details. When I think of storytelling, that’s where my mind goes. We’re referring to almost the same qualities, the ability to tell your own story.

When you can share a story that is rich and igniting different senses, it uses different parts of the brain. Click To Tweet

I feel like all of that creativity, less the imagination, but definitely the creativity is involved in crafting a great story. While you’re not crafting fiction, you’re talking about something that worked for you. It’s that same type of language that you would see in great stories, your favorite stories, reading growing up, your favorite stories that maybe you read now or watch on TV. There is descriptive language that evokes the senses. I studied some of the psychology behind that. When you can share a story that is rich and igniting different senses, it uses different parts of the brain. The more different parts of the brain you’re able to use, the stronger the memory you’re able to imprint, and so your story has more stickiness, for lack of a better word. It’s going to stick around. It’s not necessarily going to be in one ear and out the other because it’s going to draw people in, especially when you use certain language that’s going to prompt somebody to remember something in their past where. “I remember the way cinnamon smelled in my grandmother’s kitchen.” it’s going to draw in more pieces to make it more memorable and more connecting.

Are you suggesting that simply by using cooler words, we can make our own stories more interesting, the stories that we might find are otherwise mundane or boring or not so exciting?

That’s one part of it. Simple language choice and choosing to describe something because when you paint a picture of something in someone’s mental movie theater, the more vivid your story is, the more they’re going to focus on that. When you paint a clear picture, their mind is automatically going to focus on it. We’re so bombarded by different messaging all the time that we get easily distracted, so the clearer picture, the more focus that you’re automatically going to capture. It’s going to help them start weeding out those distractions to give you more focus, which is obviously good for you.

What would you say then to the person who says, “My story’s not interesting?”

The bulk of my clients tend to fall into one of two camps. It’s either “My story is so boring, nobody’s going to care, so what’s the point? I don’t think that’s going to draw anybody in to want to work with me” or they fall into the camp of “I’ve had a lot of cool experiences in my life, but I feel they are such a jumbled mess that I don’t see how I could put them together cohesively in a way that would make sense to somebody else.” People care a lot more about relatability when it comes to a buying decision.

Step outside, take off the business owner’s hat and try to look at it from a consumer’s perspective. When you are buying something else, think about what is appealing to you and what stands out to you. We typically look up three to five people. We want choices. We don’t want to look up one. When we’re looking up a few different people and we see that they all are saying similar messaging, they’re studying similar experts, and they’re talking about similar trends. As a consumer, that’s all going to blur together. Nobody’s going to stand out and you’re going to say, “Was it this person who mentioned that or this person?” It all blurs together. For me, I feel the only thing that makes you stand out is your story.

Yes, your message is important and you should be sharing those things with your audience, but if you want them to remember you and stand out, they’re going to remember if you are a little bit vulnerable and you can share your story in a way that relates to them. The people who I was most excited about following and working with were the people who I felt could identify with who I was. If someone is an expert but I feel they’re out of touch, then I’m not ever going to know if they would be right for me. Even though your story might seem boring and uninteresting to you, think about your audience. Do they feel like their stories are boring and uninteresting? They never are. You have a lot of interesting things. The biggest thing that’s going to help you sell is going to be relating to your audience in some core emotional way that you share and that stands out a lot more than you probably realize.

I’m immediately taken after listening to all of that. We just finished the Profit Party retreat, so there is a ton of this going on where somebody is talking about, “I love lemon cupcakes, “Me too.” It’s the simplest things. It’s the little things. It’s human connection, the human relatability that’s not necessarily “I’m better than you. I’m more superior and more of an expert.” Good stories break down the walls and make people equal, and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to get into good stories. I’m beyond excited. I’ve never done anything like this before. Not only have I never worked with a story coach, I have never been a guinea pig before.

Profit peeps, we are going to do both. Christie has given me a little bit of homework. She has sent me through an exercise that she puts all of her clients through to prep for this session. We’ve done some brainstorming and she is going to lead me through one of her sessions so that you can experience it along with me on how to go from not being such a great storyteller to being able to tell a very fun and conversational brand story.

PPP 115 | Story Strategy

Story Strategy: You’re doing a million things a day so you’re not sitting around reflecting on life all the time. That’s normal.

The best place to start is a memory prompt brainstorm. If you feel like, “I don’t know, I don’t remember a lot of interesting or exciting things that happened to me,” nobody does. You’re doing a million things a day so you’re not sitting around reflecting on life all the time. That’s normal. The best place to start is to do brainstorm that’s going to start pulling up a treasure trove of memories. We walked through her life and I asked her a lot of different questions. I always have people do it in advance of this main session, so she’s had a chance to do that.

What we’re going to do is do a little digging into what she found. We’re going to start to see what stands out and what emerges that has led her to where she is. We’re going to craft that into a story. By the end of this session, we’ll have the outline portion of that where we’ll say, “We’re going to craft a story this way.” What happens after would be building out the story, but the part that you’re going to see here is creating that outline and figuring out from my life what the heck should be my brand story. What should I tell people?

Tonya, let’s dive into what this prompted for you, either in your notes or after the fact. What stood out to you, which memories?

What I noticed was a theme. It was interesting because the dots all connected and made sense. It was like this a-ha of what I am doing in my business and in my mission which has been my mission since before I could talk. I did not know this. I’ve just started to come into this these past couple years, so when we were doing some memory mining, immediately people that stood out were my grandmother, who you either loved or hated. She had no filter on her mouth whatsoever. She told it like it was. It was never meant in a bad way. It was just telling like you see it. This is my truth and I speak it and I don’t know any other way.

One of my role models growing up was Madonna. I loved her for her unapologetic approach to standing up for what she believed in and not caring what other people thought about her. I thought that that was amazing. Even as a little girl in the ‘80s, I’m tiny, and I’m like “That’s so cool that she’s so brave and courageous like that.” As I went through the prompts and did this brainstorming, I noticed that that is where I’ve always been meant to be. I’ve always been the person who has made people feel safe. People naturally come and energetically connect with me. They open up to me and it’s okay for me to stand in my truth and help them to stay in theirs. There was a lot of dot connecting going through it and that was amazing.

One question I have, what about bravery and courage at a very young age? Why did those stand out to something you felt you needed at that time?

I didn’t feel I was seen as a little girl. My parents weren’t very attentive. They were very young. Both worked two or more jobs each at a time, so we were shuffled, grandma’s house, aunt’s house, and a lot of babysitters. There were times where my dad was insanely angry and had a fly-off-the-handle temper, and I had to hide my sister in a closet and lay top of her. She was the one that I always protected. She was four years younger and she was too young to have that, so I automatically stepped up to the plate like that was my job. It was my job to be a protector. It was my job to be brave.

From a very young age, you knew that was something you needed, that was something important. You sought people who had that to role model that to you. I like to bring out pivotal moments in life. You mentioned that you lost your mom when you were young. That’s a pivotal moment in your life. When that happened, what happened to you at that time? What did your life look like going through and immediately after that if you’re comfortable?

I’m an open book. I’m comfortable talking about anything. I want to say there was so much leading up to that that the few years before she passed. I was in six schools in five years, different districts. Girls were mean. It was hard to make friends when you’re constantly moving and you’re in the middle of the school year and coming in. I would be the new girl at the school and nobody would sit with me at lunch. The boys liked me because I’m the new girl, so the girls hated me because that’s their boyfriend. I’m like “I don’t want your boyfriend. I don’t. I just want to be your friend.” They were like, “We have enough friends. We don’t need you.” That was tough for me and the pivotal moments were the moments that maybe one girl sat next to me and she’s like, “I get you.”

I knew because I received that unconditional love from a total stranger on those different instances. I knew what it felt like to have that one person get you, accept you, and care about you when it felt like nobody else did. There were many moments like that which had it not been for maybe that one girl in biology class or the one girl who sat with me at lunch, I may not have been able to keep it together. There were many of those that helped me to see that there is still good in the world even when it’s dark. There is a light in the middle of what felt like so much darkness at that time. My mom was a complete wreck. My dad was gone. We were living wherever they would take us and shelter us, and here I am, flip-flopping from school to school to school, no friends, no clique, no crowd. It was hard to say that this is great and life is great right now because it wasn’t.

One person has the ability to make all the difference and that happened prior to my mom passing, which was what got me through her death. It was all that buildup of courage and knowing that there’s always a silver lining and it’s going to be okay. This is a bad situation. This is a terrible circumstance, but it’s temporary and this too will pass. You hang on to that shred of light, that shred of hope, that shred of positivity, and it’s going to be okay.

What do you remember from that time? What did you do after she passed? How old were you? Where did you go? What was your life like for that next six months or year?

I was pregnant.

You were pregnant when she died?

Yes. When she died, I was three months pregnant. It was before my sixteenth birthday and it was like there was no tomorrow. There was just today, there was just now. It was just get through whatever, figure this out, graduate from high school, figure out what the next steps are, get a job, and pay for this baby.

It was like there was no tomorrow. There was just today, there was just now. Click To Tweet

You kept going to high school while raising your son. That definitely took courage. Did you have somebody? Did you have a grandma or somebody who watched your son?

Every day of the week was somebody different. There were times where I drove an hour in the opposite direction to drop him off, to drive an hour and a half the other direction to go to school. It was tricky to say the least, but it worked. We worked it out. I graduated. I stayed in school and then I worked at night.

You immediately turned into an adult. Let’s talk about something a little bit different. When you were in school, you had mentioned that you had one or two teachers who were influential to you or were helpful to you. Were they some of those shining lights that you needed? What did that look like? How did they play a part?

They were the first people in my life that ever looked at me and genuinely meant it when they said, “I believe in you.” At home, I came from this perfectionist family where you’re always expected to excel. I was expected to get straight As. Anything less was beneath me. I was expected to take care of my sister, to do the cooking, to babysit, do all these things. In fifth and sixth grade, I was cooking dinner. It wasn’t, “Good job. That’s amazing. You’re eleven.” It was, “This is what we expect of you.” There wasn’t a, “Thank you,” or, “I appreciate you.” There was some, “I’m proud of you. Good job,” but there was a certain level of expectation so I never felt seen. I never felt appreciated. I never felt like somebody looked at me and saw what was inside or what the potential was. I had a couple of young teachers and mentors growing up that did. It wasn’t like they ever made a big deal. They didn’t give me balloons or throw me a party. It was just that they held space for me and they allowed me to speak and they listened. The comments that they made were supportive and encouraging like, “Anything you want to do you can do, I believe in you. You’ve got this,” and that meant a lot.

You also mentioned when I asked you about what you were like as a child. Talkative, bossy, you loved performing. It sounds like you’ve always enjoyed performing for others. Why is that?

Honestly, I have no idea. I was the oldest in my family, both sides, so all my cousins were younger than me. I don’t know if I naturally took on the role of boss or leader. I loved teaching. I loved leading. I loved the opportunity to nurture. I loved playing store and I would set up pretend stores constantly. It was a store and my cousins and my sister were my employees. We were playing teacher and they were my students. We were putting on some dance show competition and I got to teach them horrible moves.

That’s awesome. As your growing-up years from adulthood, what stands out to you as a couple of pivotal moments where either you had an a-ha moment or something dramatically changed and you decided, “I’m going to change my life and I’m going to do something different. I’m not just going to be continuing on in the place where I’m at now?” What were a couple of those turning points as an adult? You’ve brought us up to eighteen. From there to where you are now, what were a couple of those times?

There was this empty space and I say this with love. In my twenties, I met my husband who I love dearly and had two more children. I was a mother of three by the time I was 23, married with a house and a dog and two cars, the American dream, which meant hustle. My twenties were about hustling and juggling all of this that was going on. My focus was my family and I didn’t put the focus on myself. It wasn’t until around the time I was 30 that I was, “It’s me time.” The pivotal moment was when I finally realized that I was miserable and I was taking it out on everybody else and turned into evil Tonya. I couldn’t figure out why I was miserable and so unhappy because I have everything that I’ve ever wanted technically. I didn’t know what I wanted.

Tying in what we talked about where as a child you felt unseen and unheard, how did that play into when you said that in your twenties, you realized that you were miserable but unsure why?

I was lacking the assertiveness. I pushed everything aside because I was brought up with the mindset of, “You take care of everybody else first. You’re not important. Your family is your priority, your kids are your priority, kids come first.” I was buying into this philosophy that this is what it’s supposed to look like, that you’re supposed to get the house, the car, the kids, all the things, and that’s success. If you have it all, you’re successful. Nobody had ever taught me that success comes from within. I didn’t quite realize that as an adult. I didn’t know how to make myself happy. There was nobody in my family who is an excellent role model in that area. My mom had severe self-worth issues. That’s ultimately what led her to doing drugs. She fought depression and eating disorders her whole life, so she was not my self-worth role model. My dad certainly was not. He had his own set of issues. That’s what I saw growing up. I saw people sacrifice. I saw people give up their own dreams. With the crazy, up-and-down rollercoaster childhood I had, I didn’t learn how to do it on my own.

What did that look when you said you realized you were miserable and then you realized that you were lacking the assertiveness? What did you do with that realization?

I started doing inner work. That’s what started me on my mindset journey, personal growth and development. What can I do to find happiness? What can I do to find my own joy, my own strength? I was blaming it on lack of money, which a lot of us do because money is like air. If you don’t have it, it’s hard to not focus on it. I started pursuing this world of mindset and money management. How do I fix this? Maybe if we had more money we’d be happy. Maybe if I had the mansion I’ve always wanted, life would be great. Maybe if we could take that vacation, we could rekindle our relationship again. It was on this journey that I found out that I was doing it backward, that I had to say what lights me up, what brings me joy, what is it that makes me happy, and make that a priority in my life. When I did, then the rest would come.

You were in your twenties. You were hustling where? What were you doing? What was your job at the time when you had three kids?

I sold sex toys. I started an in-home babysitting service. I waitressed at a bar. I did a lot of things that I could do at night so that I can put my kids to bed and go to work.

How did you go from all these night jobs to corporate interior design?

While going to all these jobs, I went back to school. In my late twenties, I decided I was going to go back to school, get a degree, and upon graduation is when I was hired into corporate.

You’re in interior design. You have this new outlook on life because you’re doing mindset work. What did that look like for you?

PPP 115 | Story Strategy

Story Strategy: I started to see that maybe I didn’t need to be limited, that maybe there was more.

It opened up my perspective where I always thought that there was only one way to do things. I started to see that maybe I didn’t need to be limited, that maybe there was more. Even while I was working in corporate, I always had this entrepreneurial bug. I knew I didn’t want to be there forever, so secretly my mind was going, “One day, I’m going to quit and I’m going to start my own business.” I didn’t have the cajones to do it, but the mindset was helping me to open up and challenge my previous stories and my previous beliefs. I always thought, “No, you work hard and you climb the corporate ladder, and then you retire and you get to have fun because then you have enough time off to do whenever you want.”

I had a very flexible job, which was great. I loved my job, but still I had to ask somebody. If I want to go on vacation, I have to ask permission, and there’s something inherently about me that hates that. I don’t want anybody to be the boss of me. I don’t want anybody telling me what to do, not my husband, not my kids, not a boss, nobody. I was always like that. That irks me and I’m like “There’s got to be a way to do this.” It was scary. Eleven months into that job, I was laid off. There wasn’t very much time to prepare this whole secret plan that I had, but the universe threw it at me. I feel like I manifested it because deep down I was like “I want to be on my own. I want to be on my own.” It’s just in my headspace, I wasn’t ready for that. It was do or die, lemons to lemonade, let’s do this.

That job went away and you immediately went into “let’s do this.” How did you feel when you first started?

Excited, terrified, nervous, but expectant. For the most part, had I not been doing the mindset work that I was up until that point, which even at this point was not a lot, but it was powerful enough for me to embrace that situation as an opportunity and not a setback.

When was the turning point to doing what you do now with this business? What made you decide, “I want to do this other thing. I don’t just want to do interior design?”

I hired a business coach to help me figure out what am I missing. Even in all the while doing the design and building an insanely successful business, I was never that happy. It was never my calling and I didn’t know that. I thought I was missing an HGTV show like maybe if I was the next Candice Olson, I’d be happy, then I would love my business. We were working together for about six months, and all the while I was working with a ton of women, most of which were entrepreneurs or high-level executives in Ford and Chrysler and GM. As we were working on their home design, we would talk business and I loved the business conversations. I didn’t so much love to pick out their sofa fabric, but I loved talking to them about business and self-worth and mindset. We were sharing a little bit back and forth and I’m sharing my journey of exploring my own mindset and digging in and getting over the financial pitfalls of entrepreneurship. They would say, “What’s working for you?” I would share and they were like, “I’m going to totally try that. I’m having that problem, too.” They would try it and it would work. I’m like, “Yes. I can’t wait to see you again to talk about this.”

Our conversations naturally progressed into this self-worth mindset, business type of stuff, and I discovered that what I loved about my job was those conversations. It wasn’t the design. Six months into coaching with my coach, I showed up to our meeting and I said, “I think I want to coach women entrepreneurs,” and he goes “Really?” He flipped back to a note that he had made in his notebook five months ago and it said, “Coach?” and circled. He goes, “It took you long enough,” and I’m like, “Seriously? You could’ve told me that five months ago.” He was like, “It wasn’t my lesson to discover, it was yours.” It was through the journey of doing the design work that I got to where I am. I’m grateful for that opportunity and I’m grateful for that business because, without it, I wouldn’t be here.

I love it. I’m going to look back through my notes and see some of the things that have stood out to me from what you’ve said here and start pulling this together. We know that being unseen and unheard was a reality from a very young age. Essentially, the word that keeps coming to mind is caregiver. That’s something that a role you were thrust into immediately, so it was more caregiver. Caregivers often neglect themselves. To me, I’m wondering with your audience and the people who need to work with you, do you feel they are also caregivers or in need of care or both? When you look at who your ideal client is, where are they coming from in that sense?

Most of my clients are like me in the fact that they’re very empathetic or energy-sensitive, where they can sense that somebody else has a need and they jump into the rescue and try to fill it. They are putting other people’s needs before their own. There’s probably some seeking of validation externally, so part of that caregiving is to receive love or validation in return.

You mentioned pretty early on about the teachers and talking about the girls who would have lunch with you or the girl in biology as one person can make the difference. They showed you unconditional love and how that stood out as something that you wanted to do. Speaking to people who don’t have that one person or they don’t have that unconditional love and all they do is give, those strike me as the deepest imprints in you.

You’re making me cry again.

Being the one person for someone who doesn’t have that person and maybe is unseen, maybe is unheard, because of their role as a caregiver where they’re not allowed to have time to focus on themselves. The bravery almost feels secondary to receiving love. It almost seems like first, that person needs to receive love before they can even focus on being brave. They need to be able to take a breath and know they’re accepted to even know that they can. I see those two as intertwined for you. I almost see you as helping them realize you can love them and help provide for them so that they can even be strong enough. When you think of caregivers, if someone is ill, if something is wrong, you can’t go back out into the fight.

The first thing is rest and receive, and then get the nurture and then get equipped to be brave. Click To Tweet

You mentioned the word nurture, and so to get strong enough to be brave, there’s a nurture and a love that has to be received externally, brought into you, and then you can be brave. It’s almost they need to receive love. You want to be the one to share that unconditional love and nurture them so that they can be brave, fight, assert, and recognize that they need to take care of themselves. If you’re thinking about drawing in new people as they’re starting to get to know you, it’s come to a place where you can receive. These people don’t receive anywhere. It would seem like the next piece would be the nurture, and nurture to the point where they probably can’t even think about themselves and what they need. They are so busy. The first thing is rest and receive, and then get the nurture and then get equipped to be brave.

What’s the outline of the story? When we think about a starting point for this, we know that you are wanting to attract people who are givers who don’t feel they need some love. They need some rest, and they initially need this TLC. What is the best way to kick off a story in a way that would invite those people in? Start with, “Do you feel like?” or, “Are you coming from a place of XYZ?” When I say these things and maybe we pick out a few, we will create the story after this, but inviting in people so that they know, “She’s speaking to me.” One thing we talked about at the beginning was relatability and knowing that you know exactly who these people are, that you’ve been there, so starting with something like, “Do any of these sound true for you?” Maybe it’s things that you were experiencing even from that very young age. For me, one thing that stuck out was in fifth grade you were expected to cook dinner and take care of your sister and go to school thanklessly.

I might have been in fifth grade, but that continued throughout my life. How many of us are moms? That’s our job. It’s our job to do the laundry, cook the dinner, clean up everybody’s socks, get everybody to sports, go to the doctor. We take all this stuff on like it’s our duty. It’s expected. That bugs me, by the way. At least say, “Thank you.” I don’t mind doing nice things, but I want to feel appreciated for it.

That’s something that will stand out to them. When you think of a story, there’s always a conflict. That immediately brings in what this central conflict is that you’ve gone through and that the people who you want to work with are going through, is no appreciation. The next thing a lot of great stories do is amplify that pain. What started at this young age then morphed. When you were telling me about sixteen through eighteen that you were raising your son, you’re in high school and working at night and driving him to all these different places every day, it’s agitating the issue; that conflict that was already there. A few years later, you were introduced to mindset work, so we might get into how that transformation started. It’s almost ending with if having a life that you love and making what you think you’re worth, if that’s what you want, then I want to invite you in to first get loved on and get nurtured to even be ready for that or something almost unexpected. They might expect you to go for the kill but that you’re almost like “If that’s what you want, we’re going to back up a step and take care of this first because I know firsthand that has to be received first.”

To back up and recap, this is what we have as the main outline and arc of your story. You start by asking people, “Do any of these sound familiar? Do any of these ring true for you?” You might give a few. It could be internal dialogue, it could be something somebody said or it could be, for instance, an activity, something that you would do continually. Those are one-liner real quick. Then if they’re like “Yep, that’s me,” then we go into painting a picture of you in fifth-grade cooking dinner, taking care of your sister, going to school, with no appreciation. Stories need a hook, and that is a hook and painting a picture where they’re like, “That definitely happened to her. Then we agitate that conflict. That is when you were sixteen to eighteen and now you’re in high school, going to school, finishing school, raising a son, working at night and driving to sitters. What started as, “That’s not the way a kid should have to live,” to, “That’s really not the way a kid should have to live,” to then that massive turning point in your life was grieving your mother’s death and continuing to do that in your twenties. You had this book that was your gateway into the metaphysical, which is how you learned to cope and what you’ve started to see life through.

Then the rest of the story is the process of that evolution, so what started there then grew while you had young kids. You were hustling, we might reel off specific places. You mentioned five places you worked. To give you an example, here’s what some of that looked like. When I say, “I was hustling,” fast forward to, “I got this other degree and then I got laid off.” What might have blindsided me earlier, I was able to roll with and say ‘I’m going to do this,’” and then how that basically led to the conversations and mindset that you love and how much that resonated with you and with the people that you were working with. If the audience thinks that maybe their life doesn’t look like those CEOs and people that you were talking to, that they might be surprised that it doesn’t have to, to be able to change. Then you want to invite them in if that’s what they want, that they have this first piece that they need to take care of first, and that’s to receive love and to receive nurture. Then like “I know what you’re saying. I know what you’re thinking. You don’t think you have time for that, but I’m going to show you how.” That is my spin on your story.

PPP 115 | Story Strategy

Story Strategy: The first piece that they need to take care of first is to receive love and to receive nurture.

I absolutely love it. What you witnessed was Christie taking me through the mindset voodoo. This is the stuff I do to my clients. It’s so cool to have somebody take me through my mindset and do the inner work. I don’t do story crafting, this is Christie’s jam, but your gifts and your truth is somewhere deep in your subconscious. It lives within you. Sometimes you need somebody else to help you pull it out and connect the dots. What you witnessed was Christie helping me to do that with a whole lot of hot mess tidbits that are my life.

You said so many things, Christie. I needed you to help me see this, just like I nurture first. We know what the end game is, we know we all want to have a successful business and make more money, but if you don’t feel nurtured and truly loved unconditionally on that journey, it’s going to be hard and you’re going to continue to sabotage yourself. I do see this show up all the time, but I’ve never ever had anybody put it so eloquently the way you just did but I needed to come out and say. I’m going to help you make money, but first I’m going to love you. That’s how we roll because it’s so important to me. I can’t wait to take this conversation further. You are a freaking genius.

It’s a lot of fun for me. I never felt comfortable as a storyteller so the last thing that I ever thought that I would be doing would be helping other people craft their stories. It’s been scary and exciting. I definitely feel led that whenever I work with people, that always seems like I’m given a little glimmer of what I feel is the way God sees that person. For you, you’re this caregiver, but you were made to give people that love. You are made to share unconditional love and nurture, not just the way you see yourself with, “You’re going to go out there and be a kick butt.” There’s more there that you’re giving, and you should see that and people should see that in you and know that upfront.

I’m excited. You made me cry, which is always good. I always get excited when people make me cry. We know this was healthy and therapeutic and insanely powerful and effective when you can shed a tear and go deep and get in touch with your inner self, your truth, and your vulnerabilities. This has been magical. Christie, now that everybody has heard my deepest, darkest stories and saw how you can take them and pull them out into the light and help to put the pieces of the puzzle together, I’m sure they are going to want to do the same so that they can start communicating their truth with their audience. How do they come and stalk you and find you and where to go?

My website is ChristieBilbrey.com and @ChristieBilbrey is my handle on all my social media. If this has resonated with any of you and you’re thinking, “How do I start doing this for myself?” I do have a little cheat sheet that helps you start your own brainstorm. I’m sure you can tell in talking with Tonya everything that we did started with that brainstorming. It’s called Become Your Audience’s Bestie, and it teaches you how to brainstorm your life and then how to start relating that to your audience. I would recommend that you grab that, and then I’ll send you some more tips after that and how you can help develop this for your own business.

Check Christie out, follow her everywhere and download her freebie. It is going to rock your world. Christie, thank you so much for being with us. It has been an absolute blast.

Thanks for having me, Tonya.

About Christie Bilbrey

PPP 115 | Story StrategyChristie Bilbrey is a marketing & story strategist. After focusing exclusively on marketing strategy for much of her career, she realized more was needed to stand apart from the competition, engage an audience, and influence buying decisions.

Christie spent a year studying story techniques from screenwriters, authors, and business writers to develop a method that approaches storytelling specifically aimed at helping business owners quickly draw in and convert their audience to buyers.

She now teaches and works with business owners to view their stories differently, developing their confidence while sharing their heart, expertise, and journey in well-packaged stories sprinkled throughout their marketing.

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