Nick’s Origin Story: Markup Version

This is a teaching resource for Day 4 of Your Origin Story.

Note: if this version of the story isn’t exactly the same as the one on my About page, it’s because I take my own advice, and keep refining. The lessons stand 😉

Humans have auto-complete, and they’re smart. When we tell our story there’s no need to spoon-feed our message. We don’t need to spoon-feed anyone. Take my MVS as an example.

Primary threads 

  1. That I’m someone like them (a human).
  2. That storytelling is a powerful way to build a brand.
  3. That I have the skills to help them leverage that power.

Secondary threads

  • Hard worker.
  • Entrepreneurial.
  • Decent guy.

I’ve marked up bits of copy that speak (indirectly) to the story I want my audience to tell … although some overlap for obvious reasons.

The Origin Story – Marked Up Version

In 1997, I had a temper tantrum and founded a web agency.

I knew nothing about business, but by 2015 – without really knowing howwe’d won clients around the world.

But that’s not the story I’m telling here.

Because even with that success, I wasn’t happy. I was lying awake at night, staring at the ceiling.

Is this all there is?

My work had started to feel false, formulaic and manipulative, but that wasn’t all. My dad had been ill. My daughter had been ill. Then my life insurance broker dropped dead at her desk, aged 50.

I was 46, and could feel my life narrowing before me.

It felt like time was running out to do something brave.

But it wasn’t an easy call to make. I had a family. My team had families. If I screwed it up, the fallout would be brutal.

In the end – I promoted one of the team to take my place  – and took a big leap.

I knew what I wanted to do, but it wasn’t just a long shot … it was a moon shot.

I wanted to write a thriller.

It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done – weeks and months of pain and doubt.

I almost quit daily.

But, in 2016, I published and got 100s of 5–star reviews.

And that wasn’t all.

The more I studied the science of storytelling, the clearer something became.

This was how I’d built my agency.

We’d never placed an ad or made a cold call … we’d just told a tonne of stories.

Not just with words, with actions.

And our clients had told stories about those stories!

At that moment, I had this thought that changed me.

People who tell better stories get better lives.

Tell your story, build your brand.


Why are so few founders using this?

I sold my agency and started Stories Mean Business.

Five years on, I’ve written three 5-star thrillers, hosted hundreds of podcasts, and consulted with clients around the world.

Life no longer feels narrow. It’s more like the story’s just starting…

Note: Refer to Email 4 for background.