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The importance of storytelling
ā€œMeet my great-grandparents"

authenticity personal branding personal stories storytelling-truthtelling Mar 20, 2023
Karolien Vanhelden - Personal Branding - Storytelling

Meet my great-grandparents. The grandparents of my father. The parents of my grandmother. When my grandmother passed away almost twenty years ago, I found these hidden gems in her house. The portraits of my great-grandparents moved with me wherever I lived...

I am a huge fan of storytelling, in any form that is. Not only in words, but also in beautiful images. That is why photography is one of my passions as well. I have been experimenting with studio photography. And I found that the time was right to share these portraits with the world…

The story of my great-grandparents deserves to be told as well. But I’m sorry to disappoint you. I don’t have any stories to tell in words about them. My grandmother was a very private, introverted person. She was an extremely hard worker, which she did with grace but also in silence. She wasn’t really a talker, she was more the listener. So I don’t know a lot about my great-grandparents, which saddens me. How great would it be if I got to know them, if only through stories told by others like my grandmother or my father?

But I can look for hours at these portraits and imagine and create my own stories based on the details I see (her brooch, his Sunday’s costume,…). I can really look with big eyes at these portraits and be flabbergasted every time that they have ‘the same blood’, that we are related, that we are part of one and the same big story. So I tell now their story just by capturing their portraits. Great-granddaughter pictures and honors her ancestors… (Little did they know back then that their portraits would appear some day on something that is called ‘the Internet'…)

If you know me by now, memories and stories are extremely important to me. During my pregnancy I wrote every day to the unborn Lilly. She will know everything about what happened, how I felt, the good, the bad and also the ugly. And I continued writing to her after her birth. Not every day, but when I felt it was something important for her to know when she gets older. So Lilly and maybe my potential (great-)grandchildren will know my story. They will know OUR story, because every story is part of a bigger one, not something isolated.

I want to invite everyone to share their story. It is for a good reason that ‘Purposeful truthtelling’ is my personality tagline. I want to take storytelling to the next level with truthtelling by guiding people to find their true self, share their truth-infused stories and thrive. For me, personal branding is about true people and true stories. People tend to keep themselves small, but everyone is unique and every story is important enough to share… Am I talking about complete transparency about everything? No, you don’t need to reveal your whole private life. You choose your themes that are at the intersection of who you truly are and what people are longing for to hear.

I believe in the power of people and I believe in the power of stories. We need to take the time to listen to each other’s story and inspire, motivate and stimulate each other. Vulnerable? Definitely, but oh so powerful… Your story should be heard…

Happy to share my personal story with you and proud to present to you my great-grandparents. Really curious to discover your story as well…

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