On Building Your Origin Story

Bob Ewing
November 20, 2020


People crave origin stories.

They are foundational and should be among the first additions to your storytelling catalog.

We will work together to build yours out, and run reps until you feel comfortable delivering it at a moment’s notice, adapted to fit any audience and context.

There are many variations. I recommend three: The Epiphany, The Padawan, and The Dragon Slayer.


The Epiphany describes a pivotal moment. A conversation with a mentor. A book. An unforgettable experience. A single, powerful event that forever changes the path forward.

For example, Brent Skorup is one of the nation’s leading experts on transportation technology. His research has a big impact.

But in college Brent was studying to be a scientist. One day at a wrestling tournament, as he sat in the stands, a book his teammate left out happened to catch his eye. Brent picked it up and started reading. He was captivated. He felt a calling. He changed his major to economics, and never looked back.


A Padawan is an apprentice. One who learns lessons from many adventures that build upon each other.

Consider a little girl who goes fishing with her grandfather each summer. She grows a love for rivers and eventually moves to Oregon to study conservation. In class she hears a talk that inspires her to intern in New York City. During her internship, she discovers the Ruby River Restoration and later finds herself in Montana leading a team on the project.

Even a simple story about a random moment from a typical day can be quite powerful, provided you let us relive the moment with you, and share in the lesson learned.


The Dragon Slayer overcomes a serious obstacle to find success. In slaying the dragon, the path is cleared.

Francis Ngannou started working in a mine when he was ten years old. Shoveling sand all day under dangerous and grueling conditions. He saved up his money for 16 years and secured a one-way trip from Africa to Europe, where he was promptly imprisoned for being an illegal immigrant. After release he lived homeless on the streets in France. Head held high, he kept fighting. He found a job and a new life.

Today Francis is the UFC heavyweight champion. He has the most powerful punch ever recorded. For his last fight, he was paid $750,000.

Our dragons don’t have to be fantastical from faraway lands. I have a client that holds his audience rapt by sharing his experiences being bullied in school. He explains how it instilled a passion in him to help people. Now he works as a public interest attorney for a national law firm. Helping people is his full-time job.


Craft a three-minute speech that shares your origin story.

Choose one of the templates above. Or mix together all three. Or do your own thing. Be as creative as you’d like.

Just be sure to focus on authenticity. Pull back the curtain and let us see who you really are.

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