We know how important a brand story is, and our customers often tell us that they like that we are a family run company with a backstory dating back to 1986 when Alan first founded Ruark Audio with his Father. We had Ian Sanders, creative consultant and storyteller, visit Ruark HQ to give us all a talk about ‘The Power of Story’. Ian advised us about how brands leverage their story, why this trend is so important in business today and how we at Ruark can continue to tell our story. We sat down with Ian to find out more about his own backstory…
You inspired us with your Power of Story talk. What else is in the Ian Sanders’ portfolio?
I wear different hats depending on the client, which range from billion dollar corporations through to one person businesses. What unites everything? My work’s all about getting organisations, teams and individuals fired up about doing their best work. I do that by running workshops and away days, giving presentations and advising people on navigating change in their careers. I also get hired by companies to tell their story, lifting a lid on an organisation and shining a light on the human side of a business.
Tell us how you have got to where you are today?
I’ve had a really mixed career. I started out in BBC local radio when I was a teenager, then worked in music and arts TV before joining a production company. There I rose through the ranks to become managing director of a radio studio business. I’ve worked for myself for the last eighteen years and it’s been quite an adventure! I’ve written about what I’ve learned during those years in a series of four books on work and business. I’ve also spoken at events such as South By South West Interactive in Austin, Texas and The Do Lectures in Wales.
Why are stories so important today?
I think a brand needs a story as much as it needs a great product. Humans have always told stories and now they’re being used more and more in business. Stories can improve understanding, make ideas more accessible and they also emotionally engage your audience. They touch us and move us. Our brains are far more switched on by storytelling than by dry information or data. In business, stories can be used to engage employees internally, while externally they get your target audience caring about what you do.
What does a typical working week look like for you?
No week looks the same and I love that variety. One day I might be hosting a workshop for a client in Cardiff, the next I’ll be at the BBC running one of my regular workshops on storytelling. After two days on the road I like to have a day working from home in Leigh-on-Sea. Although I’m quite productive working in my attic-office, I always make sure I get out on my bike for coffee. The rest of the week might see meetings in London or running one of my Fuel Safaris: a three-hour-long walk where I help business leaders and executives navigate change in their careers. There’s always lots to do when you’re running your own business.
What are you listening to on your Ruark?
I still buy CDs and love listening to them on our R4. The album that I can’t turn off and which has been the soundtrack of my summer is Jorja Smith’s ‘Lost & Found’. I love it!
Our R1 is on my bedside table. Late at night I tend to listen to Radio 3 or Jazz FM. Other times I hook it up with my iPhone and listen to podcasts. One of my favourites is EatSleepWorkRepeat. It’s all about work culture and happiness. I recommend it.
You live down the road from Ruark. What do you love about this bit of Essex?
It’s a great place to live: just 45 minutes from London, it’s also wonderful living by the coast. The beach is a two minute walk from my front door. When there’s a high tide - and when the sun is shining - I love having a swim from Chalkwell beach. That moment when I plunge under the water, nothing beats that. I feel totally free. We’ve also got a one year old dog, so we love walking her along the coast.