The “Short” Personal Story (Issue 911)

In which we are reminded to craft short versions of our personal stories that prompt conversation.

During my recent trip to Colorado, I stopped for a few hours in Frisco. A former mining town. A former railroad town. Now a tourist town close to great ski resorts – Copper Mountain and Breckenridge. My companion wanted coffee so we found Rocky Mountain Coffee Roasters (“…one of the highest altitude small batch roasters around…”) on Main Street and stepped up to the counter. After my friend ordered his coffee, I felt curious about the town so I asked the barista, “what’s the story of Frisco?“

She paused, smiled, and replied, “Well, it’s more complicated than this and… Somebody discovered gold, the miners came, then the hookers came, then the wives came and the hookers left, the ore ran out, the town nearly went broke, the women (who got the right to vote in Colorado in 1893) took over the town government and fixed it. Then the men took over. And it was pretty quiet until the ski resorts started up. And here we are.”

I smiled…  her short,  memorable story line prompted lots of questions.

Waving at the line of coffee-seeking people behind me, she said, “If you want to learn more or see some of the buildings, go down the street to  the Frisco Historical Park.”

So, I went down the street to the Frisco Historical Park to which 11 Frisco buildings (including Frisco’s old jail house, the school, a rancher’s house, a merchant’s house, and a traditional Ute tribe teepee) have been moved. There are exhibits about mining, ranching, the railroads, and important players and events in the town’s history. The barista was right… the town history is more complicated… and her story line provided a place to start.  

A few days later, after returning home to Massachusetts,  I participated in a small celebration event in honor of another friend’s 19th year in business. One of his clients asked me, “Nick, what do you do?”

 “I help banks sell financial services to businesses.”  

“How’d you get into that?”,  I was asked.

Sticking with the Frisco “place to start” story strategy,  I replied,  “It’s more complicated than this and…I worked for a bank… then  an accounting firm… then a bank training company. I went off on my own and,   after three false starts, I found a niche in small business banking and loved it… that grew… and here I am.”   

The barista would be right again…our  personal and company histories are more complicated than that. But the 10 – 20 second “Frisco” versions provide places to start in case someone wants to learn more.

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