If I were a recently defrosted caveman, the first thing I’d ask for is a restroom. My second request would be for a cardio-quaking plateful of meat. Steaks, chops, ribs, loins … and if I happened to be chiseled out of the face of Italy’s Apennine Mountains, I might start with a bit of carpaccio.
Even though evolution has been kinder to born-in-New-Jersey me, my carnivorous cravings run so primal that silverware is more about politeness than utility.
No disrespect to vegetarians. I even tried to date one until my mother told me I was living a lie. And she was right. Because meat is delicious. And when “eat” is right there in the word, who am I to question the program?
Now that you know I play fast and loose with my life expectancy, it shouldn’t surprise you that I subscribe to the Kansas City Cattle Company.
It’s all Jillian’s fault.
She got me hooked on the morning of my 52nd birthday when I received a box marked “perishable” on the outside.
Inside was a sampling of KC Cattle’s signature Wagyu beef cuts. There was also a hand-written note from Army Ranger Patrick Montgomery thanking us for supporting his small, veteran-owned and -operated business.
The beef was delicious. It had a taste and texture so sublime it made “meatless Mondays” almost as laughable as the “sober October” ads that rudely interrupt my social feed.
But it was Patrick’s follow-up email that cemented my loyalty to his business. Here it is, unedited.
Subject: How it all began
When I was 18 years old, I became an Army Ranger.
My brother-in-law, Staff Sgt. Jeremy Andrew Katzenberger, was in the service too. He was rock steady, hilarious, and the closest thing I had to a real brother.
Over the next four years, I was deployed to Afghanistan. While overseas, I met a version of myself I never knew existed. I learned discipline, comradery, and how to suffer with a smile.
Then, on June 14th, 2011, Jeremy was killed in action. He was 26.
I was deployed at the time and had the highest honor of bringing him home to his wife and son.
Being an Army Ranger was a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. I worked hard, partied hard, and didn’t think I’d live to see my 30th birthday. After getting arrested a few times, I knew I had to make some dramatic changes.
Honestly, it was my wife who saved my life.
Thank you, Kaleigh.
When I left the military, I lost my community, and I didn’t find it again until I started KC Cattle Co. We are a veteran-owned & operated Wagyu beef company that sends delicious cuts to your door. Our cattle are humanely raised on a pasture with non-GMO feed, and our prized bull is named Rambo. He loves getting his nose rubbed and served fresh hay bales in the winter.
Hiring veterans forges a remarkable culture on the ranch. The skills we gain in the military make veterans terrific employees to build the businesses of tomorrow. Some say that veterans are broken. Well, no disrespect to Rambo, but that’s bull! When our grandfathers returned home from World War II, they rebuilt this great Nation. And we’re proud to carry on this legacy out on the ranch.
Our cooking varieties are damn near endless, from world-famous hot dogs to juicy slabs of Wagyu. But one thing always remains the same: KC Cattle Co. tastes best when shared with friends and family. So if you have someone special in your life, cook ‘em dinner. And if you need cooking tips or have questions, reach out anytime. A real human will respond.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and for supporting this mission.
Founder & CEO
I’m not a veteran or a cattle rancher. But after reading Patrick’s story, I felt like I was now a part of his world. My business became more about giving than receiving.
And c’mon … how often is the hero’s journey an actual hero’s journey?
A good origin story doesn’t just help to humanize your brand. It can also behave as another point for your reader to feel connected to you. It’s an opportunity to see that “what’s in it for us” can extend beyond the product to the purpose that fuels its existence.
Your origin story is arguably the most ownable aspect of your brand. It’s a singular experience spoken from a singular voice. The only logo it will accept is your own.
If you haven’t explored the tale of how you came to be, here are some tips to help you get your first draft down …
Bench your copywriter
Unless they were there, this is no place for a professional writer. Heck, I’d ditch the keyboard altogether and record your story first. Start by writing and you may end up focusing on making it pretty. Then you’d miss all those little kinks and quirks that make stories feel authentic and alive.
You can always clean it up later. For now, you should sound like someone sitting next to me at the bar—not at a shareholders’ meeting.
Embrace your mess
“Candy on top of candy.” That’s how Ryan O’Rourke, Global Creative Director for NIKE at Wieden + Kennedy describes stories that have no tension. How bored would you have been if Patrick told us he always dreamed of being a cattle rancher, then one day the bank loan came through, and now he’s proud to bring his tasty beef to our dinner tables? Zackley.
So, don’t hold back any obstacles, enemies, or self-doubt you ran into along the way. That’s what makes your story interesting. Then, we become more invested in your journey, rooting for you all the way.
Involve your reader
Your origin story might be the only place I’d say it’s OK to talk more about yourself than your audience. But don’t leave us out entirely. There must be a reason why you’ve asked us here.
Patrick was able to connect us not just to his ranch, but to a community of men and women searching for purpose after their time in the service. And he did it in a way that didn’t feel forced. That didn’t feel like … marketing.
Remember those early days? Before you talked about your business like it was such a business?
Tell us about it.
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I told myself I was gonna lay off the story talk after the last nugget. But when it’s your newsletter, there are no rules. Until your boss tells you to curb the profanity. Then, there’s one rule.
See you next time. — Matt