On August 26th, 2011, I (Jason Montoya) gave a seven-minute presentation at the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce for our company, Noodlehead Marketing. The intent was to share about the company, what we did, and pitch our services to over one hundred businesses. It turns out, what I planned was not what happened.
As I was working on the presentation, I was compelled to scrap it. Immediately, visions of a story came to my mind. I quickly wrote down the initial storyline of what would become, "The Island Story". By the time I captured the story and memorized what I needed, it was late and I was tired. There was no time for me to prepare a visual presentation so I made the decision to share the story verbally. Yeah, I felt vulnerable and nervous.
My time to speak came around as I stood in front of this large group of people to tell what seemed like a "children's" story. In what seemed like hours, seven minutes slowly crept by as I shared the Island Story to this intrigued crowd. It was a hit and the feedback was generous. One out of five people had a positive comment they shared about the story when their time to introduce themselves to the group came up. I was excited and proud of this accomplishment.
With a great story on my hands, I didn't realize how powerful this parable truly was. The next day a team member, who had not heard the story, came to the office having read my Facebook snippet of the story and shared how he uniquely connected with it. And then it hit me, this story transcended business and applied to our personal lives. As the team member expanded on how he connected with the story, I saw the power this simple parable had. I began to realize how this story could help others reflect and grow in their personal and professional lives.
There were two ladies in the audience who were inspired by the story I shared at the chamber and they reached out to me five months later. Their company needed marketing help and they immediately thought of us. They asked me to share the Island Story with their company's leadership team and I agreed.
Upon arrival, we were probably both unaware of what was about to ensue. As the leadership team filled up the conference room it was now time for me to take the seven-minute presentation we had done months earlier and share the longer version. Sharing and whiteboarding, they were engaged and connected with the story. They asked if we would take them through the journey as described in the Island Story to help their business get focused and organized. We agreed and were now getting paid to take others through the journey we had gone through ourselves. Now we had to figure out what that extended program was!
The Island Story would take another turn as we began using it to help people personally figure out who they were, where they were going and how they could get there. At the same time, I had started a new accountability team of, primarily business owners. Our intent was to read through and dialog about our leadership struggles and problems using the book Entreleadership by Dave Ramsey as our guide. Early in the book, Dave talks about mission vision and values and I thought this would be a great opportunity to share the Island Story with this rogue group of community leaders.
We were so compelled by the story, we abandoned Entreleadership (Sorry Dave!) in favor of diving deeper into the Island Story. We proceeded to meet every week for the remainder of that year going through different sections of the Story. It was powerful for me and them. I was inspired to take some of my family through the workshop and my team at Noodlehead Marketing. All of the people who participated became co-creators in helping me to develop the story. My fellow Noodleheads Len Wikberg & Beth Coetzee had a significant role in refining the narrative and process.
By the time it was all said and done, we had taken over one hundred and twenty people through the initial story, thirty people through the extended workshop version and over a dozen companies through the process. In some cases, we had people opening up emotionally while in other cases, certain people shut down their business ventures to pursue what they were truly passionate about. In other cases we had people get serious about their business and others changing how they led their family at home. It was helpful, fun, meaningful and it greatly impacted the lives of us and those we shared the story with.
At that time the story did not have the swordfish, the abyss, or the fisherman. It concluded when we built the bridge (now a boat) towards our destination. Ironically, the ending of the story would come with the ending of our company. While I was working on the Island Story during our year of rest, the ending of the story poured into my mind. It was so beautiful and personal to me, I cried for an hour. I wanted to share the new ending with everyone, but everything took a turn for the negative when I realized we'd be shutting Noodlehead Marketing down. I mentally lost it as the emotions of my actual life's journey overtook me. It was as if the story ending was a heads-up of what I was about to go through personally. With my mental and emotional breakdown and the company shutting down, the Island Story went into hibernation.
Years later, after arriving at a consistent level of success in freelancing, I initiated the process to package and share The Island Story. With the help of some friends and family, we built this website to share it in its entirety. We also wanted to share this history and the framework, for others to share their own Island Stories.
We share the story anticipating there may be more to come in the future. Stay connected with us on Facebook for future developments with the Island Story.