Lynda’s Opportunity

by Sep 8, 2021Leadership, Narrative, Success Story

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Following yesterday’s quick question, I received about 20 podcast recommendations. Thank you so much if you sent me one. Keep them coming if you can. I am hoping to publish the full list in a few days after I receive a few more.

My friend and mentor Larry Asher, Director of the amazing School of Visual Concepts, suggested How I Built This, hosted by Guy Raz. It’s fascinating that I’ve had this one on my list forever and never listened to it. I even forgot it existed. But it sounded like I should fix this problem right away, so I started listening to the latest episode, the story of how Lynda Weinman and Bruce Heavin started Lynda.com. “A truly amazing story”, said Larry. And I agree with him. You should listen to it as well.

The origin of Lynda.com

Here is an insight from the beginning of the podcast episode:

Before starting Lynda.com, Lynda Weinman was teaching how to do graphic design with an Apple Macintosh. It was the early 90s, and Lynda had the realization before most people that this was going to change graphic design forever and for everyone.

At the time, all the web design books were all about HTML but not about actual web graphic design. As she was in a bookstore trying to find a book that might cover this topic even a little bit, she decided she would write that book herself. Instead of focusing on the “techy” side, Lynda wanted to write something for the visual artists and just everyone else interested in creating an effective website. She eventually bought and used Lynda.com to test her own concepts, communicate with her students, and promote her book.

To her surprise, Lynda.com ended up quickly ranking in the top 100 most visited websites in the world.

Did Lynda focus on ranking high on Google? (Oops, sorry, Google didn’t exist yet…).

No.

Rather, Lynda focused on the opportunity to bring a new possibility for people to create better websites about just anything: their business, their ideas, their community. This was a chance for everyone to transform their existence with a new digital tool.

She did this by changing the narrative about web design from a technical discipline to a visual one. Lynda’s primary intention was to steer people towards an unaddressed opportunity bigger than her and bigger than her business. She shaped a new opportunity, and in doing so, she brought everyone along.

I see this pattern in almost every great entrepreneurial story. I call this piece of a strategic narrative the opportunity story.

How to lead with your opportunity story.

Here are some of the key principles I go over in full length when you work with me.

The ideal scenario for a strategic narrative is when your primary intention is to steer people towards an unaddressed opportunity that is bigger than your business.

An opportunity story is a written or spoken account of facts that tell us why we should follow you in pursuit of a shared desire.

I say “unaddressed” because the opportunity has been either ignored or because new conditions created it or because it wasn’t technically possible to address it before.

The opportunity story also assumes that your entire community of relevant stakeholders will benefit in one way or another from the opportunity you see.

This is a simple yet radical way to turn your company into a source of inspiration that few can resist.

I hope this inspires you to start leading with the opportunity you want to create for everyone, not just for your own company. Think broad and think big, and if you see that the world is missing something important, take action and change the narrative, just like Lynda did.

Thank you, Guy, Lynda, and Larry!

A plus,

Guillaume

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