DISRUPTER ALERT! The Truth About Testimonials


I am going to rock the boat again a bit here. I am NOT a big fan of the Customer or Client Testimonial as an effective marketing or promotional tool. Yes, I am referring to those few sentences where one writes heartfelt comments of appreciation about you and your business.

Why?  For the following reasons;

  1. You usually have to approach your client or customer to ask for a testimonial and that can be awkward.
  2. While often happy to help, it puts the individual on the spot with just another thing they have to get done. You made them work. They remember that.
  3. They usually struggle with what to say. 
  4. People reading a testimonial know all of the above, and don’t take it seriously.
  5. The testimonial is all about YOU! And it can come across as self-serving like a sales pitch.
  6. Consumers, these days, do NOT like a sales pitch!

SO — unless the testimonial is from a famous person or big name in your industry or area of expertise that would really impress, I don’t think a testimonial is as effective as, say, a Success Story.

 What is a Success Story?

A Success Story is like a case study, except it isn’t about you or what you did for your client.  Instead, it is a way to showcase the success of one of your best or ideal clients.

And this is how you can create a Success Story in Three EASY Steps — 


a) Take a Great Picture of your client appropriate to what they do.  If they make sailboats, go down to the dock.  Own a factory? Go to the factory floor.  Financial adviser?  Take a photo in front of the stock exchange. You get the idea. And chances are they might have a great photo of themselves like that already!

b) Write a Couple of Paragraphs about their business or occupation. Where does their passion come from? What success have they had? What are their goals for the future? Keep it short!

c) Create a One-Page Template and insert the picture, the copy, add your logo, and presto, you have an impactful Success Story that you can;

Post On Your Website, and on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram or any other social media tool you use.

Send To Your Client who, by the way, also gets a free marketing tool that hey can use to promote themselves or their business.  They love this!

Send or Give To A New Prospect to initiate a conversation of how you help your clients.

Frame and Display in your office! (I have a client who blew up their client success stories into posters and put them on the walls of their boardroom!)

Your Client’s Success is Your Success!

 The Success Story is a powerful way to promote your business. By promoting your clients’ success, you are in essence also promoting the success of your business or services.

Need Some Examples? 

Here are a couple of Success Stories that I recently wrote about my clients and sent out as a Newsletter.



The Truth About Your LinkedIn Summary

This may come as a shock. On my list of well over 1000 connections on LinkedIn, many have not written anything about themselves in the Summary Section at the top. NOTHING. This is a mistake. Because…

Did You Know? If you are in business of any kind, people are more likely to find you on LinkedIn than anywhere else including your website.  AND … your LinkedIn SUMMARY is  the first thing that people look at after your picture and headline.*

The Summary Section is the most important feature on your LinkedIn Profile. It is one of the best personal marketing platforms out there because it is not a resume or a place to list your skills, it is your story, a place to really engage your audience.

I understand why it is challenging to craft a solid Summary. In a few short sentences you are expected to say what you do, how you are unique and why anyone should care. And do all that while writing clearly, concisely and in a manner that will attract your target market!

Here are some other things about the LinkedIn Summary;

Did You Know? If people read the first line of your Summary, they are likely to read the next two paragraphs.   

So make those first sentences count. Make the reader beg to know more.

Do NOT  back into your story with phrases such as “For the last 20 years, I have …”  Get to the point. What do you do now? How do you help people?

Show your passion.


Marketing Consultant: “I build brands, people brands, and I work with people who on a mission and want to gain profile, influence, and reach a wider audience!”


Real estate agent: “I help families find the house that their kids will grow up in!”


Financial Advisor: “I work with high net worth investors who are excited about finding the opportunities in a shifting and volatile global economy!”

Did You Know? People prefer the 1st person to the 3rd person in the LinkedIn Summary? Makes sense doesn’t it?  They can check out your skills and experience in the CV portion lower down on your profile, but the Summary is where people want to get a sense of you.

Did You Know? People are turned off by someone being too sale-sy on LinkedIn. Here is an approach that I took right off one LinkedIn Summary that if worded differently could be more effective.  What do you think?

“Fast-action strategic thinking to achieve measurable business results.
Outstanding branding that leads to powerful client engagement.
Professional Speaker: “Find Your Next “BEST” Client” and “Refresh Your Brand Persona Perspective.”

Remember. your LinkedIn Summary is not a brochure; it is a story. So make yours one that will really grab your audience and ensure they keep reading!

Note *You can access the Summary Section on your LinkedIn Profile by clicking on the little pen icon to the right of your picture and title. You have to scroll down all the way past your Name and Headline information in order to find the box to write your Summary, which is why some people overlook it.”

 Here are some other resource articles that you might find interesting:

The Worst LinkedIn Summary Ever


Recruiters Explain What The Worst Linked Profiles Have In Common


10 Reasons Your Brand Needs To Be On LinkedIn


How Do You Choose the Right Tools to Tell Your Story?

I recently spent a day doing a seminar with a talented group of Sales and Marketing MBA students from the University of Salzburg, Austria, entitled

Communicating A Successful Business Story In the 21st Century.” 

Yes, a large topic and one which prompted a lively discussion. The students all worked for global businesses and the most prominent question they had was the following;

“With all the different and new ways to communicate to our clients or customers, how do we choose the right tools or platforms to market and promote our business story?”

My clients ask me the same thing. With the vast options available to attract one’s audience from print materials, email, websites, blogs, newsletters, videos, PR, advertising, presentations, seminars, workshops, direct mail telemarketing, to internet marketing and social media (which of course is driving this communications revolution) it’s easy to overwhelmed.  And ask  “Is this all getting too far ahead of me?”

Breathe. The good news is this. No matter what new avenues they come up with to communicate, it is still about the STORY you tell. Communications is STILL primarily about CONTENT, and content that your client, customer or audience really wants to hear!\
So for most of us, there are really just three things that we need to research first and foremost–

  1. Who is the audience you want to attract?
  2. How do they like to communicate?
  3. What communication tools do they use?

If you’re a financial advisor and your market is retired people over 50, research the tools that age group uses. Same for selling tea, cars, real estate, marketing services to entrepreneurs, or even looking for a job or communicating more effectively to your employees.

There is certainly great value in reading about and researching how communications, and particularly social media is evolving, because it really is the Wild West out there, and the latter is a living breathing organism that is transforming how we connect with each other. No turning that back. But–know that without a good story, nobody cares. CONTENT is still KING — so research the tools that your audience uses, and then work on your story. It may be a brave new world but the best story still wins!

What’s Your Story? And do you have a Story that your audience really wants to hear?

Diana Bishop has been telling the great stories of World Events, Statesmen,  Leaders and Businesses as a professional journalist with some of the most respected broadcast networks on the planet. Now, Diana can do the same for you or your business through The Success Story  Program™.  Contact dbishop@successstoryprogram.com for more information, and to send you our  Success Story Scorecard to help you assess your situation and clarify your goals. 

The Hero In All of Us!

After many many years of telling and helping people tell their stories, I have finally written my own. It is called Living Up To A Legend, My Adventures With Billy Bishop’s Ghost, published by Dundurn Press this past spring.

it is about growing up with a legend, Canada’s and the Commonwealth’s most decorated First World War Flying Ace Billy Bishop who shot down 72 German planes and was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery 100 years ago this year. Yes, Billy Bishop who was my grandfather, was for me, like a built-in superhero

My grandpa Billy died when I was only three, so I never knew him. But he lived on for me with mythical status because of all the books, movies, the popular musical Billy Bishop Goes To War, as well as the stamps, streets, cafés, bars, buildings, a mountain in the Rockies and two airports named after him.

Billy embodied the qualities I thought a hero should have. He set his sights really high and accomplished great things. And he showed remarkable courage in the face of adversity. My grandpa Billy inspired many people and I, too, have looked up to him as a role model to motivate, guide and help me define who I am and what I want to be.

Billy Bishop was not the only person in my family history where I found a hero. My great-great grandfather was Timothy Eaton, founder of the Eaton’s Department store, which was once Canada’s largest retailer. Timothy became a hero to me, not only for the successful business he built, but for being a great leader who cared about his customers and his staff. He instituted the ground-breaking policy, ‘Goods satisfactory or money refunded.’ Timothy nurtured his staff by reducing the 12-hour workday, and in 1898 he held a New Year’s Eve party for 2,000 of his employees. He seated them at tables around the store with fine white linens, silverware and more than 100 turkeys.

It may be a stretch to suggest that the demise of the family business in 1999 was due to a lack of a hero at the helm. But it certainly didn’t help.

Look at many of the businesses and corporations we most admire and respect today; they are usually launched, led or managed by passionate, innovative leaders who have become heroes to many. In fashion, think Coco Chanel, Ralph Lauren and Tom Ford. Elsewhere, think Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Sheryl Sandberg and Oprah Winfrey. These legends embody the characteristics of a hero with their originality, daring, determination and commitment. People want to work for companies that are led by heroes. People also want to buy stuff from companies that have a hero at the helm.

Companies spend a lot of time and money in developing their brands and today’s entrepreneurs and business leaders can be an integral part of that branding. Personally, I think those of us in business could benefit by highlighting the heroic events and qualities that got us to where we are today – for instance, by making a list of where in our careers and lives we believe we have shown: a) courage, b) passion, c) selflessness, and d) caring. and then bring these qualities to the forefront of our stories. After all, it is these events and situations that have made us who we are.

In our increasingly cynical world, we have never been hungrier for responsible, focused, authentic visionaries whom we can look up to and who prompt us to be the best we can be. Yes, we still need our heroes and I believe there is an opportunity to release our inner hero to take us to a much higher level in our life and work.

(This article was first published in the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business in 2017 and has been adjusted for this blog.)

Link to Living Up To A Legend on Amazon.ca — (https://www.amazon.ca/Living-Up-Legend-Adventures-Bishops/dp/1459737709/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1494536591&sr=1-1&keywords=Living+Up+To+A+Legend)

2017 — The Year To Just Go For It!

I have been building personal brands for some of Canada’s most interesting and successful people for 16 years now and so I tend to look at everything as a brand – even this new year unfolding before us. But let’s first talk about the past year. 2016 was The Year Of Disruption, and just looking at global politics, that was putting it mildly.

However, even on an individual scale, almost everyone I know, met and worked with in 2016 experienced transformational change that was either already in the works, or came as a complete surprise. Some people changed their geographical location, as I did,  choosing to go and live somewhere new. For others, it was their jobs and careers that took unexpected turns. Relationships shifted. Some fell apart entirely, and for others, health matters became paramount. These changes brought with them a feeling of imbalance, because these are indeed unsettling times, but for the most part, they have definitely prompted the sense of a new start.

So 2017 feels like an important year, a turning point year for all of us — a year to take a risk, do something different, build something new and create a new version of ourselves, one that has always been there but never fully expressed.

We have all been building towards this for a while but this is the year to stand up and get noticed. It is time to share our ideas, tell our stories and engage in a whole new conversation with others. Yes, it is the year to set aside any or all of our self-doubts, our fears of not being good enough, and simply going for it!

So here are my Three Tips to Empower Yourself and Your Personal Brand in 2017!

1. Re-Write Your Success Story
Become the author of your story.  Tell people who you are and what you stand for. Review your CV and explore the theme running through your accomplishments. For instance, everything I have done in my life has been as a Storyteller helping people create and communicate the stories of their success. But you might be someone who has always been a cheerleader for others, tried to empower others, or has been on a crusade to help people become more innovative. Notice that the theme you are looking for is always about how you help people. Use this larger context about yourself to re-write and re-position your success story. Use the Summary at the top of your LinkedIn profile to promote it.

2. Package Your Expertise
All of us have untapped value hiding in our lifetime of acquired knowledge and experience. These are your ideas, methods, strategies and philosophies, in other words your intellectual property. Consider discovering what that is and packaging it to create a new product, service or even a whole new business or cause.

3. Take A Risk
We all have something that we have always wanted to do to express ourselves but have put off. For instance, many of my clients dream of getting up in front of a large audience and giving a speech worthy of a TED Talk. Taking a risk on something that feels exciting but also a little bit scary is always an enriching and expanding experience and so worth it. So I say just go for it.  Make 2017 the year you just go for it!

The Success Story Program™ has lots of fun ways to explore these ideas. Contact us at dbishop@successstoryprogram.com and we will send you our Scorecard Exercise to help you assess your situation and clarify your goals!

Will You Be A Trailblazer?

Will You Be A Trailblazer?

I’ve had the great fortune to work with some TRAILBLAZERS who were incredibly successful . They won Entrepreneur of the Year awards, were featured in magazines, got media spots on TV news and lifestyle programs, make pitches on Dragon’s Den and created TED and TEDx talks.

It has been such an honour to work these extraordinary individuals and to play a role in helping them to think Ten Times Bigger!

So what’s a Trailblazer anyway? I describe a Trailblazer this way — someone on a conscious journey from success to significance! They have big ideas and want to package something unique. They feel they have something to say and are ready to tell their story, whether that is the story of their business, their philosophy, and/or their personal story. They really are on a mission to make a difference and they are excited and committed to investing in themselves to reach your goals.

Does this sound like anyone you know? Maybe you? Then you could spend this year going through what I call The Trailblazer Program–a comprehensive process to help you Design, Develop, Tell Your Story and Promote Your Brand. And here are the first few steps of that program to get you started

1. Define Your Personal Brand*: Everyone has a Personal Brand, that One Thing you are really, really, really good at. But most people don’t know what it is or how to use it to reach their full potential.  I always give one’s brand a name so imagine the difference between these two descriptions;

 “I am a communications and branding specialist”.


“I am a Success Storyteller”.

This is me of course, and what a difference it has made to my life and business being able to describe myself this way. It really makes me stand out from the pack.

Defining your personal brand will give you laser focus, steer you on your path and you will be surprised at the new and exciting opportunities that will start coming your way.

*If you have not defined your brand yet. View my previous blog posts, OR you can now email me at dbishop@successstoryprogram.com to get a complete Primer called “DARE TO BE EXPOSED, Ten Steps To Awaken The Power Of Your Personal Brand.”

And yes it is FREE!  

2. Create a New Elevator Pitch for 2016: Be creative. People want to hear about what you love to do and how you help people.

Here’s a trick that works every time. Imagine you have to tell a 12-year old what you do? I am not being pejorative. Twelve year olds are the most savvy people around and their eyes will glaze over unless you “wow” them.

Example: “Hi my name is Paul Rodney and I am a forensic accountant which is a specialty area of accounting that deals with actual or anticipated disputes or litigation.”  (Eyes are glazing over for sure!)


“Most people think my job is boring until they hear about the time that I tracked down a CEO who embezzled millions from his company. I found him shacked up and hiding out with a young blond (not his wife) in a cabin in the Rocky Mountains, and successfully intercepted a large amount of the cash he’s stolen on a jet about to take off for the Cayman Islands.  Hi my name is Paul Rodney and I am forensic accountant but I like to think of myself as an “Accountability Crusader” because I am like the Sherlock Holmes of Accounting!

3.Update your Social Media Profile: Did you know that most business people first go to LinkedIn to look you up even if you have a website or blog? So make that profile interesting to read! Fill out that Summary Section at the top with what you love to do and what you are really good it.

Here’s a fine example of a clear and interesting LinkedIn Summary;

Anne Bergman: “The Kitchen Director”, Masters in Public Health, Food Operations

“I call myself “The Kitchen Director” because I help people take the leading role in managing their kitchen to gain control and confidence over their food and meals. Whether you’re a parent who has to plan and prepare meals for your family, a business person who barely has time to eat, a senior looking for ways to remain independent, or someone who is managing a dietary change,you can benefit from learning  kitchen skills to make choices that resonate with your specific needs and values.

The way you package your brand story could make all the difference in 2016. It will change your story, your brand, the pictures you use to illustrate your brand, and most importantly how you feel about yourself and how others perceive you, not to mention help you reach goals that are Ten Times Bigger!







“The Personal Brand Breakthrough Exercise”

Over a lifetime, everyone develops many abilities but eventually one seems to standout
more than the others. And this is no ordinary talent!

It is the “One Thing” that you are so good at that it seems effortless in its execution. Time flies when you are doing it, and most importantly, using or doing this “One Thing” is the most empowering thing you can do for yourself.

Now—if you have been following along with my story, you have started to connect the dots in your own and the following is an exercise that can close the loop to find that “One Thing” that really makes you tick.

Here is what you need to do — Think of Three Times In Your Life where you completely lost yourself in a task and the world around you disappeared. Some people call this being “in the flow.”

They could be things you did in your work, with your family, in your leisure time, for your community or a charity. It could be something you did as a kid or an adult, took you 3 months to complete or happened in a ten minute period. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that when you were doing it, you felt FANTASTIC! It was fun and stimulating. It made you feel good.

It’s also something that you could do all day long because when you do it, you have no sense of time. In fact, it’s almost too easy – effortless, like child’s play.  “No sweat. I can do this in my sleep’, you might even be saying to yourself.”

And do you know why?  Because it is what you are really, really, really good at, and you have been doing and honing this ability all your life that you take it for granted. Stop. Pay attention now.  This “One Thing”  is exactly what you were always meant and supposed to do a lot of more of!

(Next Time: Yes, I will have some examples for you!)




“Is Personal Branding Like Finding Your Purpose?”

It’s a question I get a lot. Is Personal Branding the same thing as discovering your purpose?

Let me explain it this way.

I discovered that my personal brand is that I am The Success Storyteller!  Obviously, because of my career in journalism, I WAS a storyteller.  That was clear.  But it was the ‘success’ part that surprised me.

It made sense however.  Ever since I was a little girl, and perhaps, influenced by my fascination with my famous grandfather, World War One flying ace Billy Bishop, an enduring Canadian brand,  I couldn’t wait to hear someone’s story and especially about how they had achieved their own measure of success.

Finally absorbing this understanding about myself had enormous repercussions for my life – the most dramatic of which was that I did indeed leave my job as a journalist after a 20-year career — at mid life when it seemed like a really stupid thing to do.

But the reason was quite simple. I had spent 20 years doing stories about what was going wrong in the world. Admittedly there is a place for that. People need to to be informed about the injustices in order to fix things. But I knew that I now wanted to focus on what was going right – the successes and not the failures.

I can tell you figuring that out was one of the most liberating experiences I have ever had and I never looked back.

So, kind of like finding your purpose, you might ask? Well yes it is, when you put it work in a most meaningful and focused way. However, you can only do that if you really understand what your personal brand is in the first place.  It is my experience working with hundreds of clients from executives to hairdressers, from football players to surgeons that most people don’t know they even have a brand and are just stabbing away at things hoping to hit pay dirt.

Take it from me, you are wasting time when you could be the best you can be and doing what you love every day, all day.

 (Next time — Let’s Get Going With Your Personal Brand Breakthrough Exercise)

“What You Are Really Really Really Good At!”

We are a society that measures people by what they do. I believe its time for us to measure each other by who we are.

After 20 years of being a journalist, a vocation that I highly respect,

I came to the conclusion that it was time for me to change careers. This realization did not come easily but rather, it crept up on me over a period of about 6 years after my return to North America from China, and after the voice in my head that kept saying that I was supposed to do something else got louder and louder.

By the time I was almost fifty, it was screaming at me! But of course, I was worried. Was I nuts to look for something else to do? It occurred to me that I might be.

However, I had by that time become aware that my identity was entirely wrapped in my job. I worked 10 to sixteen hours a day, 2 out of 4 weekends on average. I had no real social life to speak of and I hardly ever saw my friends.

That’s when I started thinking about who I was and not what I did.

I was a journalist yes, and I liked to tell stories but what did that really mean? Then something happened to put my dilemma into perspective. CTV News, where I worked at the time, added a new feature to their

newscast entitled “Success Stories”.

I think the idea came from veteran CTV anchorman Lloyd Robertson, now retired, yet still an enduring Canadian brand. It was Lloyd who perhaps tired of the daily staple of bad news wanted to add an inspiring and uplifting story to finish the evening newscast.

I knew from my early days as a reporter in Montreal that you don’t make your reputation doing “nice” stories, so it was no surprise that many of the news hungry CTV reporters were not clamoring to get this weekly assignment.

So I volunteered, and discovered that I was in my element.

I had no trouble finding stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things– In fact, it was my eureka moment when I

realized that if you scratch the surface of almost anyone’s life, you will find a compelling success story!

My “success story” reports always got rave reviews and had people talking about them the next day, sometimes even more than they were about the lead story!

Success Stories —It was something that I was really, really, really good at.

It was my One Thing.

Now I understood why it was time for me to get out of the news business!

Next time: Start Connecting the Dots of YOUR Personal Brand!

Corralling My One Thing!

It took me a while to lasso that “One Thing” in my life – the one thing that, frankly, really got me out of bed every morning.

In the interim, my career as a TV News Correspondent had taken me into politics in Ottawa on Parliament Hill, and then after that to China as Beijing Bureau Chief for CTV and then NBC News.

In China, for the first time, I was in a position where the news didn’t come to me, I had to go and look for it. While most journalists really salivated over the next big story, I seemed to thrive in an environment where I had to go and find which story I wanted to tell.

As a result, I became a story machine, pumping out behind the scene features of China’s economic boom, and its social repercussions. Some of these reports pushed the limits of patience with China’s foreign ministry whose goal was to try to contain the foreign media.

On more than one occasion, my cameraman and I were taken in for some rather nasty interrogations. Still, I was able to forge into seemingly taboo subjects, such as, domestic violence, homosexuality, Aids and political dissidence, and I proudly sent my stories home, some of them international exclusives, every week to a North American audience.

While I eventually returned to Canada and spent another six years reporting nationally, and internationally, it occurred to me that I was a very different journalist then the one who left for Asia four years earlier. And what I discovered was that  I was becoming very clear about my “One Thing.”

In fact, like for most of us, our “One Thing” is the predominant theme running through our lives. Maybe you can already guess what mine is?


(NEXT TIME: How Former TV News Anchorman Lloyd Robertson finally helped me connect the dots?)