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Once Upon a Time … Robert Bell Spins a Tale About How to Tell Your Story

The first of a four-part series on storytelling to strengthen your brand.




Once Upon a Time … Robert Bell Spins a Tale About How to Tell Your Story

ONCE UPON A time…” When you hear that phrase, doesn’t it remind you of your childhood, snuggling into your Mom or Dad, as they read your favorite tale? Is there anything more comforting or nostalgic? The world was safe as you anticipated the story that would captivate your attention until the very end.

How do you begin your story in order to captivate the attention of your customers and patients? You might not know how to start, so let’s take a moment to think about the beginning by asking why you’re telling the story in the first place.

When I tell a story, I want to share some life experience with someone hoping, beyond hope, to connect with that person. Once a connection is made, I have their attention.

So, I want the first words out of my mouth to captivate the attention of my audience. I begin my EyeCoach workshops by saying, “Every story I tell you today is true… except one.” The connection is made because I’ve engaged my audience. They’re going to listen to every story I tell trying to determine which one is fictional.

Let me give you a few examples of first lines of stories or books that immediately captured my attention over my lifetime.

“All this happened, more or less.” Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut


“Whether I should be the hero of my own life, or whether that station would be held by anybody else, these pages must show.” David Copperfield, Charles Dickens

“It was a bright, cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” 1984, George Orwell,

Now, it’s your turn. Imagine we’ve been introduced at a party and I ask you, “What do you do for a living?” What’s your first line? Yes, I know, your immediate thought is to say “Oh, I’m an eye doctor” or “I’m an optician.” Well, thanks for putting me to sleep. That was better than Ambien!

What you want to do is to throw a curveball. Say something they’ve never heard before to intrigue them. What if you responded by saying something like:

“Well, I had an idea, once… to give people their best vision so they could see the beautiful, miraculous world around them.” Or “I’m a vision superhero.”

Or “I help bring one of your five senses to new heights!”


Those examples are a lot more intriguing than saying “I’m an eyecare professional.” Know what else those examples do? They make you meaningfully different!

So when you start your story, don’t start with what you do because there are thousands upon thousands of ECPs doing what you do. Begin your story with why you do what you do. That will capture their attention and put you on the path of being meaningfully different, which is critical to your story and your brand.

Everyone else examines eyes and sells eyewear. But you? You give people their best vision to see the miraculous world around them.

So, how do you find your meaningful difference? Change your mindset by responding to the following questions:

  • What is your professional cause?
  • What is your professional purpose?
  • Your professional beliefs?
  • Why do you go to work every day and why should your patients and customers care?

When you answer these questions, I beg of you not to play it safe. Empty the tank! Don’t hold back. Tell me something that will turn my head. Tell me something you feel strongly about. Give me something to believe in!

This has to do with believing in yourself and your abilities… which we’ll address in March’s issue with This Ain’t No Fairytale!


Amongst the other things Robert Bell does in the eye care industry, he helps to oversee the Vision Services Program for California CareForce and inspires others to volunteer in their own communities throughout the United States. You may contact him at or send him a message on The Vision Volunteers page on Facebook.


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