Make your story bigger than your job title

Cristina Martinez Chef's table story

I went to the dentist to watch some Netflix in peace, but enough about motherhood. The hygienist asked what to put on the TV, I said, “Anything,” and she clicked the BEST THING EVER. It was the story of Cristina Martinez, living proof that your story is bigger than your job title.

Interesting stories, and people, have layers

You like stories of beating the odds? Adventures in new lands? Bringing an age-old craft to a new world? Falling in love? Saving the next generation? You like suspense? Romance? Nostalgia? Character studies? How about watching chefs make magic over firey pits? Smuggling? Cliffhangers? Or maybe you just need a goodhearted, humble person to root for in this crazy world. Well, drop what you’re doing and…

Watch the story of Cristina Martinez, chef, activist, and owner of South Philly Barbacoa.

The story was so good I didn’t want to leave the dentist, are you hearing me?! Netflix > Chef’s Table > Season 5 > Episode 1. Do it. Moms at the dentist don’t care about being a season behind and neither should you.

You are more than your job

Yes, Ms. Martinez is a chef yet her story is about how she nourishes, advocates, and never gives up. And you? Are you a fundraiser whose story is about giving donors an outlet to bring meaning to their wealth? Are you an analyst whose story is about encouraging your leaders to finally take the right risk for the company? You are more than your job title…so how do you tell your story about that?

Tell your story to a child first

To show how you are more, start with less. If you were going to explain what you do to a kid, how would you do it? For example, you might be a finance professional who [insert elaborate definition of your job here], yet you can say, “I give everyone allowance to get the things they need most now and save up for bigger stuff later.” I am a communications consultant, but really I teach people how to tell stories about their work so they feel brave and other people believe in them. Whatever phrasing you use reveals your essence and what your work means beyond your job title.

Think about what the world would lose if you were abducted by aliens

Here’s another tactic that’s hokey but works. What would cease to function on earth if you were vaporized? This line of thinking can help you tell how your colleagues/industry/neighbors/users would suffer if you stopped doing that thing you do so well.

Focus on what you do for others

At the end of it, we are humans in a relationship-based world. Instead of focusing on what you do, talk about what others are able to do because you do it. That’s Cristina’s real magic, so the same can be true for you when you advocate for yourself. The other reason Cristina’s story is so powerful is that no one likes a pitiful protagonist. Even when victimized, she finds a path to be a hero for others.

I remembered Cristina’s story because it’s almost Independence Day and that’s when I like to watch naturalization ceremonies. It’s a way to be an empathetic patriot, not because of my own naturalization, but because brand new citizens are taking the oath to start a new, bigger chapter full of potential.

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