One of the things I like about the ‘connected’ world we live in today, is that dialogue is no longer limited to a conversation between neighbours, and communities can span continents. Our potential for understanding people, places and events is broadened because of it, but only if we are prepared for an honesty and authenticity that goes a little deeper then your average ‘coffee shop chat’. A few months ago, whilst looking through Facebook, I was happily intrigued by my cousin Nikki Groom’s latest venture, 100 Stories Worth Telling. Nikki lives in Rhode Island and I in Singapore. I’ve always admired her successes, drive and enthusiasm from afar, but this particular mission of Nikki’s had me wanting to reach out and understand more about the woman and inspiration behind it…
Nikki, you’re a storyteller and copywriter for entrepreneurs. You, yourself, are a successful entrepreneur with an interesting story to tell. When did you decide to start telling women’s stories, and why?
To me, there’s nothing more inspiring than a woman who defies the “shoulds” and the “should nots” to create a life she loves. The women whose stories I tell refuse to be defined by other people’s opinions or expectations. And no matter what they have to go through – depression, poverty, abuse, even jail – they always, always figure out a way to turn adversity to their advantage and resurrect themselves from the ashes of disappointment.
When I first started my copywriting business, I wrote exclusively for women and people would ask me, “Why women?” My answer would always inevitably be, “Why not?”
Why NOT us? So often, as women, we allow old, outdated stories to hold us back. Stories like, “I’m not good enough.” But here’s a question: What if you were good enough? What would you, or could you, accomplish then?
I think what’s exciting to me is that we’re entering this new era in which there are more women than ever entering entrepreneurship. But the problem is, so many of us are still plagued by this sense that we don’t know what we’re doing – or that we’re not qualified as business owners. At the same time, we refuse to be defined by conventional roles or stereotypes. As a result, we get stuck. We can’t move forward.
In the work that I do, I reflect back to my client what makes her extraordinary and remarkable and worthy of her biggest and most audacious dreams. Together, we uncover her message so that she can clearly and confidently communicate what she does and why she does it. I give her the words she needs to help her move forward and help her find her voice.
Tell us a little about 100 Stories Worth Telling…
As a copywriter, my job means asking my clients how they got to where they are today – and figuring out how to share their story in a way that makes sense to the people they most want to serve. Ever since the early days of running my business, I was struck by how comfortable people felt opening up to me. And they would tell me incredible stories – stories of being locked up abroad, beaten to within an inch of their life, or having to deal with the ramifications of spending the rest of their life in a wheelchair. But what struck me the most was that all of them – without exception – didn’t reveal the slightest trace of bitterness or resentment. They told their stories matter of factly, and in a way that seemed to say, “Yes, I went through this, but I made it through – and that’s what really defines me. My strength, and my courage under fire.”
Finally, I decided that I had to do something with these stories, because it was important that other people heard them, too. And so I created The 100 Stories Worth Telling Project. My hope is that these stories will send the message that, “If it’s possible for these women, then it’s possible for you, too.”
I took inspiration from Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York project, which tells the stories of ordinary New Yorkers. I love that, because 100 Stories doesn’t discriminate, either. Your story is your story, and we need it hear it – even if you don’t think it’s worth telling. Your story is a gift. It’s hope. And I think that’s Stanton’s message, too.
I’m personally a big fan of your mission, I feel it’s along a similar path to Ordinary People’s purpose. Why do you feel providing a community and a support network is so important for the aspiring and inspiring women?
We’re all so connected to our phones these days that we’ve become disconnected from each other. We take Facebook posts and Instagram photos at face value and assume that everyone is happier, more loved, less isolated, more fulfilled. We’re looking for hope in all the wrong places.
By sharing other people’s stories – stories that tell the good AND the bad, the rough AND the smooth – and creating a community of people around that who are not afraid to share what’s really going on with them, I hope that we send a message: “You are not alone. There are other people just like you who are trying to figure it all out. You WILL be okay. And we’re here for you.”
What advice would you give to someone who is starting out on their own purpose-driven mission?
Focus on the meaning behind your mission, and hold tight to your message. Lead with empathy and compassion, and never lose sight of why you’re doing this – or who you’re doing it for. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. That’s important.
Any new plans or projects in the pipeline for the rest of 2016?
Right now, I’m in the middle of a rebrand. We should be done by the middle of September.
Recently, I created a Facebook community called The Movement Makers Collective for women business owners. I also have a podcast in the works, and am starting to think about the book I want to publish in 2017. It will be a beautiful, glossy coffee table book containing stories curated from The 100 Stories Worth Telling Project.
NIKKI GROOM is a keynote speaker, copywriter and content marketing expert for business owners who want to experience financial freedom while making the world a better place. She is also the founder of The 100 Stories Worth Telling Project, which seeks to amplify the voices of women entrepreneurs all over the world. Nikki is passionate about the power of storytelling as a way for thought leaders to humanize their businesses, build relationships with the people they most want to serve, and inspire readers into action.