Letters to the Company: Sales, Storytelling and The Iron Yard

When I have the opportunity, I write letters to our company. They are generally attempts to either encapsulate our collective philosophy on a certain subject or remind our team why we do what we do (and why we are who we are).

Recently everyone on the team sprinted (successfully) through an intense marketing push as we approached launch in two cities simultaneously. On some level, everyone felt like they were part of a gigantic sales force, which was both fun and challenging.

When the dust settled, I wrote a letter to our team about sales as storytelling.

Hey team,

The last few weeks have been a blitz of “sales”… to landlords, Advisory Board members, hiring partners, investors, startups, mentors, newspapers, magazines, bloggers and students. When you’re young, all of the old jaded business people tell you that “no matter what you do, you do sales.” Rings a little too true sometimes.

But it isn’t for us at The Iron Yard.

We aren’t sales people. If we were, each one of us would be in a much different place.

I believe what those business people really meant was that no matter what you do, you’re going to have to tell people a story that they believe, whether it be about you, your work, the company you work for, or the people themselves who are listening to you.
The degree to which “sales” feels hollow (and gets its bad name) is the equal to the extent that you actually believe the story you are telling. I think that’s why so many of us at The Iron Yard are where we are today—we have a deep need to believe in what we’re doing and what that actually does for the people our work affects.

So, in the settling dust of the last few weeks, I wanted to give us all a quick reminder not of what we sell, but of the story we are telling.

We tell the story of life change through technology. 

  • NOT launching a product, but really accomplishing something.
  • NOT raising money, but getting proof that you’ve created something of value.
  • NOT getting a well-paying programming job, but providing for your family, pursuing a passion, building something great and loving what you do everyday.

Let’s never forget that the features—or even results—of what happens for our startups and students aren’t the main point. It’s what’s happening inside of the people who we have the privilege of serving on part of their journey. 

When we talk with people who might want to join the family, let’s tell the story of what has happened for others and what could happen for them.

—Eric

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