Gritty vs Nutty

by Gigi Barnett

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Gritty vs Nutty: Three ways to recount a bold not batty brand story

(And, how to spot the difference)

Over the course of 20 years working at several newspaper and television agencies, I almost always knew when not to pick up the phone.

“Don’t pick it up, Gigi,” a receptionist would shout. “It’s for you, but don’t pick it up.”

Most times I got the warning.

Sometimes, I missed it. (blame it on an automatic response of picking up a ringing telephone)

“Hello, is this Gigi Barnett?” a voice would say on the other end.

“Yes it is,” I’d quickly respond.

“I want you to come and do a story on me,” the voice would go on. “Here’s what’s happening…”

They would chatter at length about a terrible weather system moving into the area overnight. Or leap into a rant about some cruel injustice at hand.

And sometimes, I received calls for a personal recap of last night’s lottery numbers. (I’d graciously scramble to look them up online)

On some of those calls, I would chat for a little bit. But on the vast majority of them, I tried every excuse I could muster to hang up lickety-split.

While there were some laughs…there were no tips, story ideas or leads. An absolute nutty time waster.

But, your authentic brand story is different.


Because it’s gritty NOT nutty.

And, gritty is OK.

Your path to where you are today as a coach, consultant, speaker or author didn’t flow in a straight path. I’m sure of that. If it did, you couldn’t draw on your wealth of knowledge and wisdom you use to serve your clients. There were peaks and pitfalls.

So, tell as much of it as you feel comfortable; especially the hardy, heart-breaking and heart-stopping parts. People remember those.

Here’s the difference between gritty and nutty:

When you’re deciding which tales to include in your brand story, think about the ones that have a clear beginning and end (an outcome). Include the ones that tug on the reader’s emotions (not make them motionless with boredom). And, select the ones that can be told quickly (you have no time to waste).

Let’s unpack this:

  • Full-circle stories: In the nutty phone calls I received as a reporter, all of the callers wanted to tell me something. They had a message. But, I couldn’t follow it; because there was no beginning, middle or end. The end of a story tells you the outcome, what the client really desires. Bring your stories full circle.
  • Tap into the emotion: Back to those phone calls. Most, in fact, all of the people on the other lines were excited and engaged in what they were saying. Here’s the problem: I wasn’t. Their remarks, views and request didn’t move me. They didn’t know how to appeal to my emotions; and, get me to do what they wanted. Use the stories that reflect the emotions your clients are feeling now (frustrated, upset, confused) and make sure they end the way you want clients to feel after working with you (elated, overjoyed, confident).
  • Nutty wastes time: What I like about television stories is that they are quick. As a reporter, I had just 90 seconds – that’s less than two minutes – to tell a strong story. My callers sauntered around their stories, swiftly losing me after the first 20 seconds. Don’t ramble. Get to the point fast.

As I was thinking about this article, a picture of a Nutty Buddy by Little Debbie popped into my head. Remember those? Finding the classic treat in your lunch box as a kid meant you had hit the chocolate, peanut butter jackpot.

Well, when you’re deciding which stories to use, I want you to think of Nutty Buddies, too. If your stories take listeners on a long, unnecessary mental hike and leave them lifeless instead of lifted…toss them.

Because you want to eat nutty buddies, not be one.

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