Hey, Lana here. This will be a long post because it is a very important, intimate, and powerful one. Also, Eleonora and I will both share our point of view. Keep reading, it will rock your world.

Yesterday we kicked off the Kickstarter lessons series and talked about our top 3 reasons why we decided to crowdfund in the first place. So here it is our #KICKSTARTERLESSONS Part 2: The Power of Stories.

Today I will be sharing with you a very powerful shift we had while doing the campaign and this story has all the elements you will find interesting – a heroine, an adversity she had to face, and the life lessons that went along with it.

I’ve known my business partner, Eleonora for more than 4 years now.

We met through a mutual friend and have collaborated on a project prior to deciding to put together Co.LAB.

I knew of her struggles as she was very open with them. I also knew how much she actively keeps herself in check in what she does and how she processes information and experiences.

In our Kickstarter page we shared our stories. We gave a picture of how Planning and Goal-Setting became a big part of our lives. Eleonora finally put to pen what people close to her knows. That was a big step. A step she took because she realized that sharing her story on mental illness is in alignment with her life purpose. She realized how important it is to put the light back to mental illness and how entrepreneurs with differently wired brains can be helped to thrive in their business.

Her story is a story I would never get tire of listening. As her business partner I am so proud of her sharing this very personal side of her.

With our Kickstarter happening in full force, I got connected to the organizers of the European Entrepreneurs Conference in Luxembourg. After an exchange of emails, I got us in a spot for us to talk about our stories during the opening event that is sponsored by Hub Dot. Hub Dot has a special manner of connecting and we were allowed to share our stories for 1 minute on the stage. What Eleonora didn’t know was I pitched her story of entrepreneurship and mental illness which Carlotta Benedetti, Team leader Hub Dot Luxembourg, and she loved it.

The day we got news that Eleonora’s story is the one to share during the event, I felt Eleonora’s concern. This is the first time she will be sharing it so openly in front of an audience- an audience of most likely 70-100 people. We had a long talk that night on our way home. That train ride she shared deeply and I listened in awe and with so much admiration for this resilient and empowered woman. We decided for her to try. If when we are there she decided she can’t then that won’t be a worry. Yet she took on that stage and rocked it. Both figuratively and literally. I knew there were people in that room that got touched so deeply by what she shared and the vulnerability that she showed.

Below is my recording of her speech – her coming out and her embracing the power of her story.

You might be wondering what this has to do with the Kickstarter campaign. Giving the talk and having people come to us and ask more about who we are and what we do showed us the power of stories.

Yves Even, partner for Ernst and Young Luxembourg even gave us his top tip: “share your stories! Share who you are and why you are doing this”. And that is exactly what we did. We revised our pitch deck about Co.LAB to include our stories. We started sharing our stories more with the other talks we were invited to. And we also emphasized these stories in our updates to our backers. Stories have a way to connect us to an idea, an action, a movement. Do not underestimate how sharing YOUR story can help in establishing relationships with your intended audience. Sharing your story can also be a great validation tool. It helps you see how much people can connect with your values, your ideals and your vision.

Lana and Eleonora with Yves Even at the event 

Challenge: Your challenge for today is to write down your story. Create a blog post of how you started and why it matters for you. Remember to emphasize on your 3Ps in sharing your life purpose: Your Potential, Your Passion and Your Perseverance. You can download a copy of the 3Ps activity here. You can also do a deep dive interview with close family, friends and clients. Ask them, what do they see as your potentials? What do they see as your passions? And what activities do you do that show them how persevering you are? Craft all these as part of your story and share your life purpose to the world.

Hi, Eleonora here. I wanted to share the video of the event in Luxembourg today, and I thought it was something I had to do myself… and then Lana sent me this draft and I was again reminded of why we love working together.

Seeing myself and my story through her words made me realize, again, why I need to share who I am and how I got where I am today.

That night in Luxembourg, I was scared. A bit. A lot. We drove from Amsterdam for 5 hours to get there – well, I drove because I am the only one driving – and we didn’t even had time to stop by the hotel to change. I changed clothes in the bathroom at the event, made sure my face didn’t look too exhausted from the trip, and I found myself on the stage quite immediately because I discovered I was already in the first group of storytellers for the night.

And then I was there, with a microphone in my hand (I am not the only one who hates them, right?) telling my story to almost 100 strangers. People I never met. Who I didn’t know nothing about. And they cheered for me, applauded and laughed with me. I did it, and I survived.

A very special thank you to Hub Dot founder Simona Barbieri, and to Carlotta Benedetti, team leader Hub Dot Luxembourg, who gave me the opportunity to share my story on the Hub Dot stage.

I battled mental illness all my life. I don’t really remember being a normal kid. My issues are complicated, but for now I can share with you that I suffer from depression, maybe bipolar disorder, I battled a personality disorder, anxiety, insomnia, OCD and on top of that I have ADD. Yes, it is annoying as it seems.

The most terrible part of dealing with all this was that for years I thought I was the only one. I felt a terrible loneliness that nothing could heal. And when I finally got help and got a proper diagnosis, I still remember the happiness I felt. I wanted to dance in the street! I have a mental illness and it has a name! It means I am not the only one having it. It means someone is studying it. It means I can be helped.

My coming out was slow and cautious. I was scared. Mental illness is scary, people don’t know what it is, don’t know what to think of it. But slowly, I started talking about it with some people on the internet. With my family. With some friends.

Then I confessed “I have a mental illness” to a guy, a guy I was dating and who I liked very much. I thought: I am tired to hide and fake it. If he will reject me, at least he will reject the real me, not a mask. I told him, and he didn’t run. We have been together 10 years and counting from that day.

I would do anything to spare that loneliness to anyone. Because I believe we need to be more open about mental illness, I have to talk about it. Share my journey. I don’t want people to see me, on that stage, and think that I am a cool person who has all together,

This is so far from the truth! I keep struggling in keeping my pieces together, everyday. It is difficult. I am so much better now than when I was a kid who believed she was an alien lost on the Earth by mistake (and here comes my love for anything sci-fi, I guess). But still, it is hard.

We are all in it together, and we are all struggling in some way or the other, so please let’s stop pretending and just start help each other. What do you think?

(Confession: I wrote all this at once and just hit “publish”. Otherwise I could not do that. Forgive any extra craziness.)

From the left: Lana, Eleonora, Christine Hansen, Maggie Giele, Carolien Mertens, Emmy Coffey McCarthy. Thanks for being here!

Stay tuned for more Tuesday Stories and to know more about our method!

Written by CoLAB