The importance of a story

Last week myself and Roo went to Salzburg in Austria for 4 days. It’s an amazing place full of history, architecture and green spaces. Even better that it’s within an hour of our favourite ski resort Zell am See!

Roo and I do a lot of travelling. We spent 3 years abroad when we left uni. I use it to recharge, learn something new and to try and see things from a different perspective. Naturally, our most common companion when abroad is a travel book; normally Lonely Planet or Rough Guide.


Whilst flying over to Salzburg my nose was deep into the Lonely Planet guide we’d bought. For some reason I’ve never read about Lonely Planet the company; just the hundreds of places they write about. I’ve always just concentrated on the place we were going and what we going to do once we got there to really appreciate the actual company behind the book.

But on this flight I learned something.

I was skipping through the back pages of the guide looking up German phrases when I stumbled upon a paragraph with the heading “Our Story”.

I’ve used well over 30 Lonely Planet guide books but never read about who and what the company is about. I was beaming from ear to ear when I found out:

A beat-up old car, a few dollars in the pocket, and a sense of adventure.

That’s all Tony and Maureen Wheeler needed for the trip of a lifetime. They met on a park bench in Regent’s Park and married a year later. For their honeymoon, they decided to attempt what few people thought possible – crossing Europe and Asia overland, all the way to Australia. It took them several months and all the money they could earn, beg or borrow, but they made it. And at the end of it all, they were flat broke… and couldn’t have been happier.

It was too amazing an experience to keep to themselves. Urged on by their friends, they stayed up nights at their kitchen table writing, typing and stapling together their very first travel guide, Across Asia on the Cheap.

Within a week they’d sold 1500 copies and Lonely Planet was born. Two years later, their second journey led to South-East Asia on a shoestring, which led to books on Nepal, Australia, Africa, and India, which led to… you get the picture.

I love the honesty of the story. It is personal and transparent and it made me realise that I had always just focused on where I was going and what I was doing to appreciate the smaller beauty of the people behind the book.

As we’re bombarded with more and more information and data, a humbling story – like the Lonely Planet story – is becoming more important than ever. Your story is your differentiator. Nobody else has it to tell and you owe your customers, your clients and your prospects an insight into it. It can really make the difference in winning people over.

From now on I’m going to make more of an effort to find out about the companies I buy from and the people that made them what they are. If I can’t find enough information I’ll ask; I owe them my time to listen.

Looking for more inspiration?

Here’s a few posts on other sites that might help you write a better about us page or story:

Thanks for reading. Good luck.