ou know Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”– a seminal work that dissects the fabric of every good story. It is an incredibly powerful tool, not only for storytelling, but also for pitching and selling.

The challenge is this: I often see entrepreneurs confuse who the hero in their story actually is.

In a nutshell, the hero’s journey goes something like this: A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder; In the realm of unknowns the hero encounters fantastical forces, receives guidance, and wins a decisive victory; The hero returns from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.

When you tell a story, pitch your company, or sell a product, make your audience the hero. Tweet This Quote

All too often, entrepreneurs think that they are the hero and thus tell their story accordingly. And yet, the most important wrinkle in the hero’s journey is that our hero encounters a guide, someone who helps him transcend his obstacles and overcome his oppositions. Think Luke Skywalker and Yoda. Luke might be the hero, but without Yoda he never would have learned how to use his powers.

When you tell a story, pitch your company, or sell a product, make your audience the hero. Focus on what they need and want and become their guide. It is your job to empower your hero—not to be the hero.

My dear friends Rustin Coburn and Josh Schmitz taught me this beautiful wisdom.

All too often, entrepreneurs think that they are the hero and thus tell their story accordingly. Tweet This Quote

Take a look at this example: Last week, an entrepreneur asked me to help her work on her pitch. She started off with a story about how she identified the problem and what that problem means to her. You could call it classic TED-style storytelling.

This trajectory was not very effective, however, as she spent the first 90 seconds of her pitch talking solely about herself. To turn her pitch around, we started by having her engage the audience with a question, and then with a statistic that related the problem to pretty much everyone in the audience. Suddenly, the audience had become the hero and our entrepreneur the helpful guide, showing the hero (the audience) how to overcome this problem with her solution.

This week, why don’t you make it a goal to take your pitch or sales presentation and figure out how you can make your audience the hero?


This post originally appeared on Pascal’s blog.

About the author

Pascal Finette

Pascal Finette

Pascal is the Managing Director of Singularity University's Startup Lab. He is also an entrepreneur, coach, and speaker who has worked in Internet powerhouses, such as eBay, Mozilla, and Google, and Venture Capital—starting both a VC firm and accelerator program.