CEO of Proof Illustrates the Power of Storytelling to Leave an Impact

Sarah Steimer
AMA Collegiate
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Key Takeaways

What? Proof Eyewear CEO Tanner Dame suggests a company’s power is in its story.

So what? A great story has to be meaningful and memorable.

Now what? Be able to tell your own memorable story first and foremost, then move to a point where others can begin telling your story for you.

​March 17, 2017

"People don’t remember stats, they remember stories. And memorable stories are personal and impactful."

Tanner Dame, CEO of Proof Eyewear, says he used to come to conferences and hear about big success stories. He countered that it’s actually the raw stories that matter.

Dame’s company, which he shares with his two brothers and began while he was a senior in college, is a sustainable eyewear brand. In pitching it at various marketing competitions and at conferences. He learned early on the impact of a great story behind the brand.

Dame says there are three tenets of his company, which are key parts of its story and marketing plan. For Proof, these include:

Heritage: Dame says this includes the entrepreneurial spirit that was in his family, along with their headquarters of Boise, Idaho, and their young and fresh culture.

Eco-Friendly: The company began with wooden frames for the glasses and from there decided all of their products would be eco-friendly. They moved into a line using cotton-based acetate and a recycled aluminum line. Despite the popularity of plastic or metal frames, the company didn’t move into this until they found an eco-friendly option.

Give back: Two years into the business, the company was profitable enough to open its first eye clinic in India. Dame says the company chooses different areas of the world where they want to offer a service. According to Dame, this gives a purpose and meaning behind working long hours.


 Proof Eyewear - How It's Made


The purose of illustrating his own company’s story was to emphasize the importance of a meaningful story. The key to being meaningful, Dame says, is to be memorable.

Dame provided a few tips for how to tell your story:

  • Use your resources. Utilize where you live or who you know.

  • Have creative guerrilla marketing.

  • Network.

  • Tell everyone your story. You should be proud of it and passionate about it, he says. “It’s time that your mom stops telling your story for you.”

  • Use social smartly. Dame says one of the first things he does when considering a candidate for a job is to “Facebook stalk them.”

  • Self-improve. Now is the time you can be selfish, he told the audience. Look for opportunities to make yourself unique: new languages, new experiences, etc.


 El Salvador Project


He says that when you have a great story, you start to get others to tell your story as well. Coworkers, teachers or a boss will sing your praises.

“That’s when you’re doing things right, when you start hearing others tell your story for you,” he says. “But no one can tell your story better than you.”

Since he arrive in New Orleans for the conference, Dame says he's opened four new accounts by telling his story, and now these are new people who will tell company’s story.

“I sell a commodity product,” he says. “Sure, we have somewhat unique products, but other people sell similar products. We are able to find success in this industry because of our unique story.”

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Sarah Steimer
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