What’s Your Story?

So tell me how you got into this business?”

I’ve heard a version of this question a million times. It’s typically posed after exchanging pleasantries and recapping the context for our meeting.

I’m usually the one leading the recap. I spent over two decades as a connector in the investment management industry—linking those with investment capital to portfolio managers wishing to invest it.

The colleague next to me is a portfolio manager. I’m a true believer in his investment strategy. I helped his team create their “pitchbook.” I personally invest in his fund. Through years of shared airport mishaps and dinners in business development travel, we know each other well. I know his kids’ names, favorite college story, and what he’ll order to drink at the end of the day.

I’m genuinely excited for him and this prospective investor team to meet. The team is charged with allocating portfolio assets, deciding on strategies, and choosing the underlying managers. My colleague’s strategy could fit perfectly. It always feels like setting up two friends on a date. In that case, I have to wait until the next day to hear if there was a spark and a planned second date. In this case, I’m in the room (or on Zoom). 

My portfolio manager glances at me and motions to the bag on the floor as if to say “should we bring out the pitchbook now?” He’s learned that investor teams like to focus on the “4 P’s”—People, Philosophy, Process and Performance—in evaluating investment strategies. Most in the industry believe a meeting doesn’t start without a pitchbook.

I motion back to him—“not now.” The vibe in the room feels good. I don’t want to break it. And I know a version of the “how did you get into the business” question is coming. Wait for it…

So John, whats your story?”

Yes! The most open-ended version of the question.

John starts by sharing a bit about his lessons growing up. His first job. The people and ideas from his studies, travels and investment work that shape how he thinks. The investor jumps in with the story of her own first job. They banter, they toss questions back and forth—“did you ever work with…?” or “did you ever read…?” They jot down notes to themselves while offering “I think you’d enjoy seeing the research study—I’ll send it to you.”

Thirty minutes into the meeting, there’s still no pitchbook. 

At some point, I decide to bring out the book. John is making a point about a market trend, and there’s a chart that perfectly supports his insight. With the book now shared, we use certain pages to support a few other “4 P” points—the deep bench of John’s broader investment team, a stock story that brings the investment process to life.

The meeting wraps and we joke as the prospective client walks us to the elevator. The door closes. John turns to me. “That was fun. I like them.” 

In my mind, the hour meeting reinforces how well we’d work together. It feels like our prospective investor will agree to a second date. Assuming they do, we’ll be asked for a slew of qualitative and quantitative information. They’ll analyze it and assess overall fit. The numbers are what they are—there’s no point wasting valuable meeting time talking about them.

What our meeting squarely focused on was the5th P”—PERSPECTIVE. 

An individual’s perspective can only be understood through their story, which answers questions like:

  • Why did you choose this role and this industry?
  • What are the experiences and people that have most impacted you?
  • Why did you choose to join this particular company/team?
  • What obstacles have you overcome? What are you most proud of?
  • What are you passionate about outside of work? 
  • How do you think differently?

A pitchbook doesn’t answer these questions.

The limited-pitchbook meeting I described isn’t the exception, but the rule. The goal for every initial meeting is for the prospective investor to get to know the portfolio manager as a PERSON and understand their PERSPECTIVE.

Because people invest with people.

Every dating process (personal or professional) begins with a human connection.

I like them. I trust them. I get how they think.

Experience, credentials, fees, past performance, analytics, needs-fit—are all essential and necessary. But there’s never a second date without the connection.

I use this example from the investment management industry because it’s what I know. But think of any “brainy” professional you hire in your personal or professional life—financial advisor, lawyer, consultant, executive coach.  

You hire for perspective. For trust. For how that person thinks.

So when WE ARE these people, why do we lead with our personal stats—years of experience, title, company, education—instead of our story?

Because it’s what we’ve been taught. It’s safe. Measurable. Comparable.

We do this as individuals. Consider your LinkedIn Profile Summary. Most people don’t even bother with one. If they do, it’s resume highlights. My guess is that 1% of LinkedIn profiles include a Summary that gets to a person’s story—the WHY to what they believe and do. (What Most People Miss On LinkedIn)

We do this as companies. Go to any investment manager or law firm website and click on the “About Us” page. It will likely list when the firm was founded, office locations, years of experience. Perhaps it’ll identify their focus, types of clients served, and history and achievements. 

But WHY does the firm focus on this particular area? What are its core values? Why are those important to the people that work there? 

Click on the employee bios. Likely each follows the same template—titles, companies, education, credentials—all packed into paragraph form.

Or, just Google the words “Portfolio Manager Bio.”

Same. Boring. Script.

Not to mention that I could find the resume info with the click of a button on LinkedIn.

A bio is a missed opportunity to share your storythe experiences, people and ideas that have formed your perspective. The WHY behind what you do.

WHAT IF WE DID THINGS DIFFERENTLY?

WHAT IF WE WROTE EMPLOYEE BIOS AS SHORT STORIES?

I was recently introduced to the CEO of a new investment firm—City Different Investments. When Connor and I jumped on a Zoom call, he exuded a warm smile, genuine enthusiasm, and asked my favorite question—“So, should we start by sharing our stories?”

Minutes in, Connor felt like an old friend.

He’s a portfolio manager passionate about building a firm culture around transparency, freedom and responsibility. They think, invest and work differently.

I couldn’t resist. I pitched him on the idea of writing team member bios as short stories. I drafted one for him based on what he had shared within an hour of our call.

“Yes—let’s do it!” 

Today, there’s a story for every City Different Investments employee and board member. In 30 seconds, you’ll grasp each person’s perspective. Want their experience? It’s listed. Or, you can click on their LinkedIn profile.

I’m proud of the entire team. Sharing in this way isn’t what we were taught. It feels uncomfortable.

In reading others’ stories, they better understand their colleagues. In sharing their own story, they wanted to hear others’. It changed the dynamic of introductory meetings.

There’s a lot of corporate buzz about “vulnerability” and “showing up as our authentic selves.” These aren’t natural tenets for most company cultures. Especially in the investment industry. 

I know, rewriting a bio doesn’t sound revolutionary. But when you publicly share your unique story, it changes how you see yourself.

How you show up. What you want to know of others. And how others see you.

Make it easy for them to like you. 

And trust you. To see how you think.

Are you ready to show up differently?


As a Success Coach, I partner with individuals seeking to better align their professional life with their values and personal strengths. I work with people directly or am engaged by companies to work with selected teams. My goal is to help individuals and teams better define and own their WHY so they maximize their impact. Because to be champions of our ideas and organizations, we have to master our stories. Learn more and connect.


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Jodi Morris Written by:

Venture Guide to High-Achieving Seekers. Success Coach. Venture Travel Curator. Impact Investor. Traveler. Writer. Global Connector. When we connect to others' stories it changes our own. Let's Venture!