Your Underdog Story

We consultants love to tell our war stories: the transformation of clients, the before-to-after that wouldn’t have happened without our, ahem, brilliant intervention.

There’s an important place for those of course—like on your testimonials or services page.

But you also need an underdog story.

Where YOU are the one who was afraid, vulnerable or unequipped to handle what was in front of you. The David to a big scary Goliath.

We all have them, but we rarely tell them publicly.

Because when you’re paid for your savvy advice, the last thing you may feel like sharing is a story where you (or your client) aren’t the hero.

But here’s the thing: most everybody loves a good underdog story. (Having been a Cubs fan since 1988, I can attest there is nothing like the pure joy in your heart when your underdog finally wins an epic battle.)

Clearly, you don’t want to present yourself as someone who waited 108 years to win the prize.

But there’s a lot of territory between being perfect and having one mega win in 108 years.

You can start with your blog post or articles. Case in point: I published this piece entitled “What Do You Suck At?” where I copped to a number of my own foibles. I’ve “replayed” it periodically on social media for the last four years and always get a few engagements, including at least one client that I know of.

Of course lately the digital space is full of people who had one overwhelming win and constantly replay their underdog story. It goes something like this: “I was a poor, starving, debt-ridden _____ until I discovered this amazing secret _____ and now I’m uber-successful and I’ll show you how to do exactly what I did.”

That is not what I’m suggesting here—you are a pro, not a done-it-one-time wonder.

Instead, search the elements of your story—how you got to where you are in this moment, right now.

What devastatingly low life moments are firmly etched in your mind? What happened to make it change? What did you do? Who helped you? What did you learn?

Start by focusing on your career moments, but be sure to think about the totality of your life, even if you’re not sure you’ll ever want to share those experiences more broadly.

Severe loss, tragedy, addiction—these are just a few of the events I’ve had clients choose to weave into some aspect of their story. Never done lightly, it nonetheless helps their audience to connect with them on an exceedingly human level.

The mother with a special needs child, the CPA who lost her father early, the former addict who speaks to high school kids in his spare time. Each made a conscious choice to share a deeply personal experience to show their potential clients, buyers and readers their humanity. To connect beyond just business as usual.

It’s a delicate balance—sharing your humanity while making clear you’ve got proven talent solving client problems—but isn’t it worth a little digging to get to your underdog story?

p.s. The photo up top is the “after” shot of my favorite underdog Jackson who turned a stint running wild on the streets with his Chihuahua sidekick into a cushy spot with my family who adores him.


  • Good points made here. Kudos on getting the Cubs comments in. LOL

  • Rochelle

    You noticed that, eh Ed? I just couldn’t help myself 🙂 And we just found a statistic that said the parade event was the 7th largest world gathering of humans–and the largest ever in the U.S….

  • Mark

    Rochelle, another super smart, authentically human, unforgettable post. I agree there is a balance to be struck. Personally, I have to check my motivations at times to stay grounded in what is best for the client. Not always easy. Go Cubs.

  • Rochelle

    Thanks Mark! 🙂 And for your point about tying it back to what’s best for the client. That must always be our touchstone…

  • Spent midday Sunday with the “other” Jackson while visiting our grandniece Eden Rose. No question you learn more from the ” disappointments” and difficult challenges experienced. I’ve share the political miscalculation a fellow consultant and I made based on the experiences of the 1980 and 1984 elections that applied not in 1988 (and still not sure what data induced the misjudgment.

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