Entrepreneur 2 Entrepreneur: Rashaun Sourles on storytelling

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Rashaun SourlesTech entrepreneur Rashaun Sourles originally brought Qualtrx to life in Minnesota a year ago in response to an unexpected career change. He’s since navigated the perils of recruiting a co founder, attracting a development partner, and has been doing a national roadshow to bring attention to his vision for a disruptive healthcare platform. His plan has been receiving validation from the local community and Qualtrx has taken the first big step towards market acceptance with recent pilot introduction through Minneapolis’ own HCMC.

TECHdotMN: Initially, you intended to reflect on the concept of ‘listening’. Then, you changed your mind to ‘storytelling’, which is essentially the exact opposite, isn’t it?

In my mind’s eye, I guess listening and storytelling are two sides of the same coin. I don’t think any of us knows ‘intuitively’ what story we should be telling and when, since storytelling should be focused on one’s audience, and not ourselves. Listening–full and active listening–is the art of paying respect to your audience and telling the story that resonates with their mindset. I mean, you tell your grandmother a very different story than you tell an angel investor. But only by listening to the reactions you get do you even begin to recognize how to segment your audience.

TECHdotMN: So, what is your story?

I’m a casualty of  this “Great Recession”. My background is that for 7 years I was a President’s Circle representative with J&J (ie, top 10% sales performance worldwide).  In 2010, I was “displaced” from my role within the firm, and not wanting to be a victim,  my response was to go all-in as an entrepreneur.

I decided that one by one, I was going to take my (former) customers with me! I enveloped myself in my vision for a new paradigm, the Qualtrx platform, and to build a team (and customers) around that vision of the future of healthcare sales.

TECHdotMN: What has recently altered your awareness of the the importance of storytelling to you?

I’ve been bootstrapping Qualtrx for a year now and I took a road-trip to feedback from a group of folks –in rapid succession– from Silicon Valley. Collectively, that was all aligned with one theme: “Be authentic and sincere”. By listening to the outside world sometimes you get to know yourself in a new way. When that happens, do you let the feedback go in one ear and out the other? Or do you have it within yourself to take every piece of feedback you receive and hold it against all your own deeply held assumptions–so that you can peel back more layers and be more authentically ‘you.’ This is what I mean about listening and storytelling being two sides of the same coin.

TECHdotMN:  What advice would you have for other entrepreneurs as it relates to storytelling?

Storytelling is not just prose, it’s prose on a mission. And as an entrepreneur all you’re really doing is telling your story in different contexts–to your family, your teammates, prospective customers, and of course, prospective investors. Storytelling is tough because it requires tremendous self-awareness. But it does have a simple and iterative formula: OLD Status Quo + CHANGE EVENT + Reflection = Action + NEW Status Quo + Reflection.

My experience as an entrepreneur is showing me that mastering this storyline is what defines you as a leader, what enables you to attract a superstar team, and what can unleash the power in each of us to change the world.

Comments

  • Kay

    I love your statament “Storytelling is not just prose, it’s prose on a mission.”

  • Lepora

    I liked this whole article, especially the storytelling part. I loved the opening of your heart; from the honesty of self awareness to being able to take criticism to turning situations inside out and not giving up.I love the idea of listening to real people, examining what they have suggested and making it out to be good.  God gives us two ears and one mouth for a reason; perhaps we should listen twice as much as we speak.

  • Steve

    Honesty goes a long way in this world.  Keep up the good work!

  • Bob Smith

    Great article, great close!
    Thanks for sharing.

  • briandear

    Rashaun, you’re awesome. If I could hire ten people like you, I’d be a billionaire tomorrow.

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