Calgary impact-driven business spotlight: True Story Consulting
Aryn Kalson-Sperandio is the founder of True Story Consulting, that delivers strategic writing and communications support to professionals.
I was super interested to chat with Aryn about her methods and results that her clients see because of my own focus on business branding and translating the values of a business into relatable and engaging content. Although we focus on 2 different areas (Aryn on words and me on images), the outcome for clients is the same: create greater visibility, transparency, trust, engagement, and ultimately impact the businesses bottom line.
If you run your own solo business (hello my friends!) you’ll likely wear every hat there is to wear to keep things rolling. Creating thought leadership pieces and content is a super key piece in branding, and is also something that takes a decent chunk of time. And if you’re part of a team, very likely there is at least one person who has the task of creating content and communications. So no surprise that bringing in a professional will both save you time and create branding pieces that align with your brand and position you and your business infront of the right audience. Enter Aryn and her services...
Hi Aryn! Could you share a bit about yourself, what True Story Consulting is and why you started the business?
I provide writing and communication support for entrepreneurs and executives. Whilst running my previous communications business, I was connected to executives here and there who needed written content such as blog posts, stakeholders letters and biographies. I really enjoyed doing this, and thought, why didn’t I make that my business? During the Summer of 2018, I started working with some branding and marketing strategists to position my business, create the services and establish best practices and processes.
My website (magically!) came together, and I launched it in September 2018. It was very well received and I’ve recently signed two new clients who are exactly the type of clients I want to be working with.
What do you love about what you do?
I love the personal connection and high energy created between the executive or entrepreneur I’m working with.
What kind of clients do you love to work with?
I work really well with clients who understand the commitment on their end that it will require for us to work collaboratively and for me to do good work. Not that it’s going to be a lot of work for them - the whole point is that I make their life easier! But the willingness of a client to get on board is important, and that they understand that any communication I do send to them matters, is of value and ultimately contributes to the communications that they hired me to create for them.
I work with clients across all different industries and work hard to get smart in their industry to be able to serve them as best I can.
One industry I didn’t know about before that I do now is the elite sports training world. I do not come from that world and don’t think about all the people behind an athlete that it takes to build him/her. It’s been really fun getting introduced to a world that’s so familiar (sports) and yet I’m still so removed from it.
What are a few key pieces for executives, entrepreneurs, thought leaders and influencers to consider when they’re thinking about their own personal branding?
You think you know yourself... but you change how you talk about yourself according to your mood. I encourage people who are trying to go it alone to sit down, write down their positioning statement and values etc. Don’t treat it as an exercise to do in an hour, but rather take a few weeks of sessions to write, sit down, set it aside, and look at it again.
It’s a great exercise to get really clear on who you are in the business and means you always have consistent messaging to go back to. It’s very easy to change, but having an anchor to come back to is really helpful, especially if you’re looking at building a consistent brand. It is tricky, and that’s where I come in to help people bring honesty about the pieces that are important in your story and the pieces that can be left out.
I have one client who is really proud that she’s been in her industry since the early 2000’s. Instead of going through her background year by year, we cut it down by focussing on the fact that she has been in business for 15 years. That’s all that’s needed to give clout, relevancy and relatability, and is a great example of an exercise in intentionality.
Could you share an example of what a client could expect when they work with you with their personal branding?
It varies from client to client, but very generally speaking it would look something like the following process:
The first month or so of our engagement is the discovery period. Aka intense communication so we get to know each other. I’ll get to know you and start to sound like you. That takes time. To build trust, and for me to know your business. The first month is us taking that time to build the rapport and figure out how we’re going to work together.
The next three months we hit the deliverables that have been laid out!
As before, the first month or so is important - for clients to engage in this service and get the results they’re after, there needs to be a level of commitment in the discovery stage. You’re the thought leader and the one with all the knowledge. I’m just trying to communicate that with your audience, so I need you to tell me what you know.
Do you have any dream clients?
I have a keen interest in the food and beverage industry from way back when I used to work at a PR agency on a few wine accounts. I also attended pastry school. Experience from two different angles!
My other love is ballet and I actually interned at the New York City Ballet. To go back and work with them and their creative director or managing director would be a dream.
What are your goals for this year?
I’m striving to work on the business instead of in the business. That looks like making sure I have the right contractors working with me so I can go out and work on the strategy and bring in new business.
I’m all about intentionality too, and looking to sign on more of the quality clients I love to work with.
Can you share any sweet resources you’d recommend around brand strategy/ thought leadership?
I think that using the “StoryBrand” template for inspiration around how to craft your personal brand story is great. Just like anything else, StoryBrand is a great tool among many, and when combined with other resources, creates great results.
I’m a self-proclaimed grammar nerd and often consult with Grammar Girl to resolve more obscure grammar questions. The writing is entertaining and does a great job of clearly explaining what can be complicated (and boring) punctuation conundrums.
Thanks Aryn! Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Sure! As well as everything I mentioned above, I also help people write books and have a process called ‘Blogs to Books.’ After the discovery phase (above), I ghostwrite 6-8 blog posts that are posted in agreed upon platforms. The goal is that you have a substantial library of work that you can turn into something more substantial. You’ve done all the heavy lifting but it doesn’t feel so terrible because we’ve done it over a length of time.