Arrowsight CEO Adam Aronson is a handsome, intelligent, athletic, self-motivated and ingenious entrepreneur profiled last Sunday in the New York Times. He wrote a short autobiographical sketch of his life and career for “The Boss” column. I read this column every Sunday, because it’s an opportunity to “meet” successful CEOs from smaller or privately held companies whom I wouldn’t generally hear about.

Adam Aronson is typical of the people who tell their stories to the Times.  The linchpin of his story is that he co-founded two money management firms that trade currency – and after being wildly successful but concerned about how the financial industry was changing, he walked away to a business he invented.

He launched a new company supplying cameras, sensors and remote video software to business, inspired by a TV expose’ on a day care center he had viewed. A child care worker had been abusing drugs. This led to the Aronson’s light bulb moment. If there had been cameras installed, he thought, there would be more scrutiny and safety.

He’s gone on to expand the concept to healthcare environments, and even slaughterhouses, where he is working with an expert in humane treatment of animals. This is really heroic as well as profitable, and it’s a lesson on paying attention to popular media, because that’s where highly profitable ideas can be found.

Aronson’s personal brand seems to be heroic, as well as intelligent and determined. After all, he got funding for his start-up, even though he knew nothing about the business prior to watching the program. He has grown his business despite obstacles in selling technology where the buyers have no budget allocated for it. He clearly has the ability to learn and master new industries quickly.

But all of that impressive, valuable information about him nearly didn’t make it to me. All the admiration I feel for him, I almost never felt. Even his great advice about how to find investors and the right colleagues was nearly lost. Why?

Because he told such a sad sack story to introduce himself. He started out with: “My parents divorced when I was five.” He then goes on to some other biographical facts about moving to a rural area with his mother and a stepfather, and working a job juicing oranges in the basement of a grocery store. Then he goes on about sixth grade when he moves in with his father. This uncomfortable and confusing saga takes the first full quarter of space allotted to the column.

Do you do this? Do you start your story way too early? Way too depressing? Way too disconnected to what people should know about your personal brand?

You capture or lose our attention in the first 7 seconds of our meeting you. Make your story compelling and memorable, and get us wanting more.

In his book Happiness From the Inside Out, the author Robert Mack has a nugget. He says: tell a better story. When you get the chance to be featured or interviewed: use your time really wisely. And, no matter what happened: make sure it’s the first impression you want to embed in our brains about you.

I have a worksheet for you if you’d like a head start. Send me an email at Subject line: Heroic Achievement.


Nance Rosen is the author of Speak Up! & Succeed. She speaks to business audiences around the world and is a resource for press, including print, broadcast and online journalists and bloggers covering social media and careers. Read more at NanceRosenBlog. Twitter name: nancerosen