The secret to better storytelling? Share the F&%K ups.

Sibling photo 2014

The secret to better storytelling? Share the F&%K ups.

What’s that one story you love to share with friends, again and again? 

I bet it’s not about the family holiday that went perfectly well. More likely, it’s about the one that went completely off course. Missed flights. Lost luggage. Kids throwing up on the plane. The whole horror show. 

I was recently reminded of one of my family’s most infamous stories – and discovered the unexpected upside it has brought us, years on.  

It all began when I sat down over the holidays to sort through my kids’ school photos and finally put them into albums.

With loose photos strewn across the living room floor for several days, we all enjoyed the incidental trip down memory lane… 

But it was one memory in particular that stood out:

The dreaded ‘sibling’ photo.

As far as I was concerned, it was non-negotiable. A must-have record of my kids’ primary school journey.

But for my kids? It was insufferable. Having to sit side by side – pretending to like each other – was not their idea of fun. 

So each year, I would bribe them. Threaten them. Do whatever it takes to get them to cooperate. 

Admittedly, they never came home from school on photo day with glowing references of each other’s photo-posing performance. Yet one year, in particular, was ESPECIALLY disastrous. 


It was lunchtime on a stinking 41-degree February day. And when their names were called over the loudspeaker to make their way to the school hall for their photo, only my daughter showed. Then, after several futile repeat announcements, the teachers sent her on a reluctant mission to hunt down her little brother.

A good half hour later, she finally found him: happily playing soccer on the oval. Without a care in the world. Dripping. With. Sweat. 

It was now my then-9-year-old daughter’s job to rip him away from his nail-biting Grade 2 soccer match and drag him to the hall for the photo. 

She eventually succeeded. But from what I was told, it was far from a peaceful interaction. (I even got to sample it, since their arguing ensued at the dinner table that evening.)

Fast forward eight years, back to today… photos strewn across my living room floor.

And guess which photo my kids wanted me to find most of all?

The one where my son was sweating profusely, of course!

It was the only photo they clearly remembered posing for.
It was the only photo they really wanted to see.
It was the only photo that had them rolling around in tears – from laughter!

You see, stories don’t have to be good stories to be remembered.  

In fact, when it comes to brand storytelling, sharing the curveballs, twists and turns along the way, can be far more powerful than sharing only your successes. 

It makes your brand more human. Likeable. And above all, relatable

So, what f$%k ups authentic stories can you share that will be impossible for your customers to forget?

Here’s how I went about sharing mine last year when we launched our new brand and website. And here’s another about my very first webinar in 2020, which was a BIG FAT FAIL. 

I hope they will inspire you. 

(Photo above included with my children’s full permission. No bribes. No threats.)