Venture Development: A Life of Purpose, Lindsey Walenga

Every leader has a unique story. The key is activating that story to help deepen customer relationships. Sponsored by Startup Nation.
Jeff Sloan
Jeff Sloan

From a young age, Lindsey Walenga had an innate sense that her life’s work would involve connecting people. She was attracted to the idea that she could build a career on bringing people together, and her interest in learning about others by way of storytelling led Walenga to transform her passion into a career.

Walenga launched Siren PR, which she describes as a strategic communication firm, in 2012 with Adela Piper. The business, based in downtown Royal Oak, has averaged 28 percent revenue growth in each of the last six years.

As CEO, Walenga drives the company’s mission of elevating businesses that are helping to fuel Detroit’s turnaround by giving them a voice through the power of storytelling. She and her team take the typical notion of public relations a step further in order to help brands and leaders articulate the core of their values and purpose, and put those words into action.

“This is definitely more than PR,” says Walenga, who earned a bachelor of arts degree in organizational communication from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. “My purpose and journey on this planet are to help people really become everything they were meant to be.”

What’s Your Story?
Walenga has always found a natural joy in learning about people’s stories. She’s spent years honing her unique ability to cut to the core of a person’s story by using clear communication and interpersonal skills.

Over the course of her career, she’s learned that many people don’t know how to tell their story — or don’t recognize they have one that’s worth telling. “Everyone has a story; (many people) just aren’t comfortable sharing it,” Walenga says.

More than anything, Walenga recognizes the power of storytelling and helps her clients dig deep by drawing out the potential that, many times, they don’t even realize is there. She asks the tough questions, discovering everything from a leader’s current challenges to the evolution of his or her organization. From there, she packages and helps distribute these stories in an artful and clever way.

“We spend more time than most (PR firms) getting underneath the motivations, priorities, and needs of the leaders we work with — and, therefore, their brands and also their audiences,” Walenga says. “We want to really deeply understand all the people who are involved, and what they need in order to bring them together in meaningful ways.”

Power Of Storytelling
Walenga says every business has a leader behind it, and every leader has a unique story. The key is activating that story to help deepen customer relationships.

Business today is relationship-oriented, and she believes authentic storytelling is an incredibly powerful tool that every owner, CEO, or manager should have in his or her arsenal. Leaders who share their stories in an authentic manner can foster better business connections, build meaningful relationships, and establish trust among their audiences.

“It’s not just about promoting what’s great about your business; it’s about finding that story underneath that people can connect to on a human level,” Walenga says. “It’s really important to know your stories and be able to articulate them really well, so people can connect.”

Purposeful Communication
Walenga’s expertise lies in developing these personal narratives so her clients can achieve understanding and build meaningful connections with their audiences.

Brave and clear communication is one of her core principles, and Walenga encourages her clients to open themselves up to the process in order to speak bravely and truthfully when sharing their own stories.

“I think when we all tap into who we really are and what we’re here to do, we can speak that clearly,” Walenga says. “Meaningful change happens and we’re able to live our most authentic lives, which I think everybody benefits from.”

Walenga lives a life of purpose in which her ambition is to find and communicate the passion of others. “I drive meaningful change using brave communication as the catalyst,” she says. “I’m a truth-teller, and living a life of purpose means I’m able to bravely communicate in order to effect positive change and to help others do the same.”

Jeff Sloan is founder and CEO of StartupNation and Aria Ventures, both in Birmingham.