The rich know that value is also perceived in relation to narrative

In the same way as visual cues teach the world how to treat you, your own narrative – the story you tell the world – does so too. The wrong narrative can be a wealth disqualifier.

If we spend our lives on social media announcing how tired we are, how depressed we are about our finances, how poor business has been, and how we’re drowning our troubles in wine, we are training the world to see us in a certain light. If I were spending big money on your industry, and you had trained me to see you in that way, I would simply pass you by.

By no means am I encouraging you to lie. But constantly displaying your frailties and insecurities will make you seem frail and insecure.

We must manage the story we tell. In telling it, we teach others how to treat us. This positions us either for success, or for dismissal as a serious contender.

We can make the mistake unintentionally, too. I once consulted with an up-and-coming business, run by a husband-and-wife team. Their business was thriving, and we discussed some ideas for taking them to the next level. One mistake they were making in their marketing materials was talking about their humble beginnings. They were justly proud of what they had done, but there is almost no upside to a ‘humble beginnings’ story.

Their branding essentially said, ‘A husband-and-wife team founded this company in a small house in Townville.’ The business was corporate in nature, and did not benefit from a folksy narrative. Rather than show how impressive the business looked now (and it did), their website had photos of them in their kitchen, packing items themselves by hand. The net result of this story and its accompanying visual cues was simply to convey the impression: that they were a small, local, mom-and-pop store.

Have you ever noticed how truly enormous, high-end brands like BMW, Allan Gray and Apple do not talk about their humble beginnings? They want to convey entirely different ideas, such as power and dominance and premium positioning. They don’t show smiling folk packing boxes. They show aspirational visuals, evoking life lived at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy.

I recall working with an agent who, at the time, was breaking into the speaking market. In her early days, she put a lot of thought into her branding, which is good – but she was also tempted by the ‘humble’ narrative. ‘My differentiator as an agency will be excellent personalised service,’ she said. ‘I will always answer your calls personally.’

While that is an admirable sentiment (you certainly should provide excellent, personalised service), it was also a poor narrative that lowered the tone of her business and made it look cheap.

The people who book speakers for events are often CEOs and divisional directors. These are individuals who expect good service, but that’s not what causes them to buy. They care that the speakers they source will be leading thinkers in their arena. They care that their teams will get the latest, most innovative ideas that will help them to perform at higher levels and dominate an industry. They care about how a speaker might be able to solve an expensive problem for their division.

These are the things that truly matter to that buyer, and they entail a high-level narrative. They entail saying, ‘Our speakers are thought leaders in their industry, who will steer you away from the coming threats and guide you towards the coming opportunities.’

A low-level narrative – ‘We’re very sweet on the telephone’ – does not position you as a premium player, and could disqualify you from high-level deals and the wealth that such deals imply.

Look and sound premium, and you will be entrusted with higher-level deals. Look and sound cottage industry, and the high-level deals will pass you by. Narrative matters greatly to your wealth.


Poverty mindset: We’re up-and-coming and very, very enthusiastic!

Wealth mindset: We move worlds. 


Douglas Kruger is a business author and professional speaker. See him in action, or read his articles, at Douglas’s books, including ‘Is Your Thinking Keeping You Poor? 50 Ways the Rich Think Differently,’ are available at Exclusive Books, Estoril, CNA, and as ebooks from


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