A Story for Shane Snow (can be nicely paired with a hot beverage, enjoy)
Dear Mr. Snow,
On June 23, 2015, I crafted this story just for you.
Before I begin, I want you to know that contrary to popular belief, I have always believed in the Latin phrase, “Audentes Fortuna Juvat,” or “Fortune Favors the Bold.” So naturally, I will be a bit bold in my delivery. For those of you who are reading this and are unfamiliar to who Mr. Snow is, here are a few facts:
• Shane Snow describes himself via Twitter as, “Tech journalist and cofounder of @Contently. Author of sha.ne/Smartcuts. Lover of pizza, science, and stories. Latest work at shanesnow.contently.com
• His LinkedIn profile summary reads as follows: “New York City-based technology journalist and web entrepreneur. Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Contently. I got my master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University and write for some cool places like Fast Company, WIRED, and Advertising Age. In the past, I’ve designed infographics for MTV, Gizmodo, and The United Nations, among others. And I’m a member of the Sandbox Network, Young Entrepreneurs Council, and the Royal Society of The Arts.”
• When you go to www.contently .com TELL GREAT STORIES reads in bold type. They are described as a company that, “helps leading brands build loyal audiences through premium, original content.”
• To get my facts straight, I do believe that Mr. Snow is an epic writer, entrepreneur, and brand strategist. Also, I do adhere to the belief system that Contently is an epic brand. They truly do go beyond the traditional closing by demonstrating superior follow-through. I have no doubt that they set their clients up for achievable success. Bravo.
Recently I read an article by Damian Farnworth entitled, “Here’s How Shane Snow (Founder of Contently) Writes. He asked Shane to share one of his best-loved quotes and Shane replied with the wise words of Richard Ayoade.
Prepare to put mustard on those words. For you will soon be consuming them along with this slice of humble pie, that comes direct from the oven of shame, set at the gas mark ‘egg on your face.’
After reading this I felt empowered. I knew I wanted to apply to Contently to contribute to their epic mission. I read the job description for Sales Strategist. The top of the jobs section reads “Write Your Own Story.” Before applying, my motivation mantra was: Bring on the egg-y face, let me tell you a great story, be bold.
Mr. Snow I want you to know that my story begins in my backyard, just a few weeks ago. I had a great time. You weren’t there which is to be expected, since after all, we’ve never met.
Ah, yes. I had a great time. In order for you to understand what I mean about “a great time,” you should know that I am one of those quirky-nerds who loves to write and read. One of those happy but productive individuals who likes to celebrate victories via awkward dance. An edtech educator who adores random sticky-notes and just wrote this story while listening to eighties dance music, Yup. That’s me. I have been telling and writing stories for many moons.
My niece Amelia came over, she just turned five. I don’t mean to brag or anything, but she always tells me that I am her favorite person. Amelia quotes, “Aunt Erica, you tell the best stories.” I like to respond, “We write them together.”
I told Amelia that I wanted to write a story for someone I would like to work with and she told me to just be myself and that I didn’t have anything to worry about. She’s right. BUT Amelia doesn’t realize that applying for a job requires a professional cover-letter.
To a five year old, that’s just a boring story. Amelia decided that you might enjoy a story about a jungle instead of a story about work.
For entertainment sake. I’d imagine you might like to read something like this:
To set the scene, we had flashlights, my patio-furniture played various wild animal roles and my yoga-ball was our resident elephant. Though out the evening I made some rather convincing sound effects and we ended the night by piling various leaves, twigs, and pine cones in lieu of building a camp fire. It became an adventure because we flexed our imaginations and journeyed through my yard as “explorers.” Armed with lanterns and walking sticks, we collected rare stones, spotted a rhinoceros, and chased an elephant.
I applied for the sales strategist (New York Location) and I feel that your application process does not allow your applicant to tell a great story. It disappointed me to say the least. I know that, “a jungle tale” does not demonstrate how I could add value from day one. But I also know that simply asking for my first and last name, my email address, and my resume makes me feel devalued as a potential applicant.
Don’t you want to hear a great story? I am prepared to put mustard on my words. So much in fact, that I write you a non-traditional cover letter and boldly post it for all to see.
What I first want you to know about me is that on one hand, I know the sales process, how to increase conversations exponentially, and when to be professional. On the other hand, I am an innovative collaborator who will jump into the untested waters of unconventional stories and pitches. Most people would describe me as a clever person who is both kind and considerate.
Here are three things I wish Contently gave me the opportunity to say-
1. My name is Erica Yvonnet. I would like the opportunity to work with your team as a sales strategist. Can we talk? Two days ago @Contently tweeted that #Storytelling will be the top business skill in the next 5 years.
If you really believe that, allow your potential applicants to tell you a story.
Here is mine.
I used to be an edtech educator; my primary roles included the support of evaluation activities, the development of a high quality, researched-based, effective learning curriculum, and the objective-driven training of others. Contently is an advocate of empowering brands and journalists to connect and create original and compelling content; the commitment to a world that “builds something real” through innovative resources is synonymous to my own. I have practiced this skill as a professional development participant, a presenter to adult learners, and as a “Inducted Masters Level Sigma Tau Delta Honors member on the basis of English excellence, secondary education k-12 standard is with advanced standing,” educator.
2. On your website (for the sales strategist position) you seek to build a team of non-traditional sellers. Someone whom, as you quote, “Is a teacher. They don’t just pitch of instruct, they make their clients comfortable. They help them learn. They create better storytellers.”
Why not then, hire someone who was a teacher? But more importantly, ask your applicants to tell you why they believe they are a non-traditional seller.
A resume does not argue transferrable skills. It does not reveal professional demeanor, attitude, work ethic, appearance, etc. of a potential candidate. I can make thirty urban high school students write in absolute silence. I can make a student believe in themselves when no one else does. I know that the solutions for better learning are in a forward-thinking companies that place emphasis on hyper-relevant content and digital innovation. My real references should be my students whom I have helped feel comfortable, learn, and become better storytellers. I am capable of educating your future consumers BUT my resume resonates nothing of the sort.
3. If you want to identify, “a unique subset of sales people who are truly invested in the growth of the Contently brand.” Why not inquire what a potential applicant might suggest about Contently.
Don’t get me wrong, I am passionate about what you do. I just think your application process can be a better representation of your brand.
Here’s a suggestion
Your company claims that “We don’t hire based on Rolodexes.” But your application process suggests that you do. A video or portfolio submission might give you a better understanding of how real your candidates might be. If your mission is, “to build a better media world- for creatives who live to tell stories and tell stories to live, for businesses that want better ways to connect with consumers, and for everyday people who rely on stories to understand the world better.”
Let’s make storytelling the top business skill today. Won’t you, Mr. Snow, give your applicants a chance to tell a great story?
We can eat some humble pie together. Mustard anyone?