It’s the Message, Not the Story

Visit almost any business’ website and you will find a link to their history and mission statement. The nation’s largest employer, Walmart, has one. J.P. Morgan Chase, the largest bank in the United States has one. Even HOBY has one.  These histories and mission statements aren’t just trivial phrases used from time to time. Instead, they are at the foundation of the business. They have been discussed, meticulously analyzed and no major decision is made unless it aligns with the history and mission of the company.

Today, at HOBY, we have been working on our own personal histories (or as we call them, stories) and mission statements (or as we call them, messages).

Our first speaker of the day was Stanley Leone, employee of the world-famous inspirational public speaking organization the Flippen Group. Growing up in Houston, Stanley has been through a lot of trauma in his life. From gang violence to drug abuse to multiple felony charges, Stanley does not sound like the ideal role model to speak to your students about leadership. However, that’s only Stanley’s story, not his message.

As Flip Flippen told Stanley when he was in high school, “Son, everybody has a good story. Not everybody has a good message.”  That sentence inspired Stanley to turn his life around. His story was written for him. His circumstances as a child certainly shaped him, and not in the best way. But he found ways to leave his story behind and focus on creating his empowering and inspirational message moving forward. . Stanley went on to receive a full academic and athletic scholarship to St. Xavier University and now tours the country and world sharing his message of perseverance.

We then delved into a personality assessment that helped each student identify their strengths and weaknesses. Those weaknesses are a part of our story, but with the right focus and hard work, they can strengthen our message.

Every student will leave the seminar this weekend with a story and a message that they wrote for themselves. A history of themselves and how they got to this point, as well as an active plan of who they will choose to be in the future. When you see your ambassadors on Sunday, encourage them to continue to fine tune their message and stick to it, no matter what happens.


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