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What story are you telling? Why businesses need to take a stand.

June 3, 2020

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It’s been a heavy week and as a business owner, I feel strongly about not remaining silent in light of recent events.

I hold a belief that our individual stories, told authentically and consistently, allow us to connect more deeply with ourselves and others. It’s why I believe so strongly in the work I do, because I think defining and sharing our stories is so much more than a marketing tactic. ⁠

When you work to define your brand story, you have to connect to your deeper purpose, identify the values that will guide your actions, and envision the impact you wish to have on your community and the world at large.

When I do this work with clients, we begin by reaching back and investigating where it all began and then looking forward to imagine how their work could build a better future. ⁠

But I always preface our work together by saying that our brand stories are only as good as the actions that we take to live them. If you’re not willing to live your story through the actions you take, the products you build, the ways you treat your customers, and how you show up for your communities, then you might as well not tell that story. ⁠

But imagine if businesses really started to live their values, stand up for what they believe in, and work together toward a brighter, more equal, more just future. ⁠Imagine if we realized how much our businesses could impact our communities for the better, and we showed up to do that work.⁠ Imagine if we really acted like profits weren’t our sole purpose, because that should never be the whole story.

I founded West River on the values of community and service and a desire to help others share their authentic stories. And now, in the face of today’s reality, I’m being reminded of how important it is for us to use our individual voices and stand up for what we believe in.

So, I can not be silent about the injustices that we see in our country right now, and I needed you, my community, to know that.

As Nelson Mandela said, “It is in your hands to create a better world for all who live in it,” and it’s time to question how we can each be a part of building that better future.

When I think about the future I desire, I imagine a world where all of our stories matter. Where all of our lives matter. Where all of our children and dreams and businesses and futures matter.⁠

So, I’m standing up for that future by educating myself, following the leadership of black activists, and amplifying the voices of those most deeply affected. ⁠

And if you share those values, I encourage you to do the same.⁠ Each of us, in our personal and professional roles, has a place in this conversation, even if it’s just listening and learning.

As business owners, I think it’s also important for us to think about how our actions shape our communities and our future. Our everyday actions have a larger role on our world than we sometimes think, which is why I believe knowing our purpose and values, and choosing to live into them through every action and interaction, is one of the most important things we can do.

If you value community, are you showing up for everyone in your community? If you value justice, are you speaking up about injustice? If you value connection, are you connecting to the stories of those who need to be heard right now?

I’m asking myself these questions and investigating how I can do better. And if we do this together, with the leadership of BIPOC, I believe we can start building that better future for all.

Artwork by @mongequentin.


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