Our story.

It all began with six hats, a cup of coffee, and a terrible economy. Elicia and Michael were introduced to each other by a mutual friend and colleague in 2008. Over the course of several hours at an Italian cafe, they discussed a wide range of topics: family, business, dreams, disappointments, and unexpected lessons learned.

A shared belief in people — and in listening.

Through this conversation, they uncovered their shared philosophies. Elicia talked about the “six magic hats” she’d use in workshops to help participants let down their guard to discuss core issues and come to profound agreements. Michael talked about what he learned from being a creative director at Nike and the power of the waffle iron story and how it rooted the culture of the company.

Steering clear of the “expert” trap.

Elicia and Michael realized that together they could help teams harness the brainpower and expertise that already existed within the company’s four walls. By not trying to be “the expert” and telling companies what to do, they recognized it would be much more powerful to frame up “breakthrough conversations.” These orchestrated conversations would help teams tap into their own knowledge and passion, igniting new possibilities.

Since then, True Story has been called in to help executive teams navigate their toughest challenges: mergers and acquisitions, leadership transitions, new product rollouts, and now, the COVID crisis. Blending design thinking with co-creation, Elicia and Michael help stakeholders coalesce on critical decisions with the all important, and often elusive alignment or “buy-in.” Through this close collaboration, True Story engenders innovation and excitement, teeing up companies to reach their full potential.

“True Story brings a fresh, yet strategic approach to everything they do. They offer tremendous expertise coupled with an infectious energy. But most importantly, they create a fun and immersive experience that inspires leadership teams to think in an entirely new way.”

Sydney Joyner, Principal, The Joyner Group

Elicia Putnam, Partner

Elicia Putnam is a brand and culture expert who’s driven to understand the “why” of organizations. She’s created success stories for a wide range of companies – from technology to retail to medical. Elicia is known for her unique and highly effective workshop methodology. Her leadership allows stakeholders to quickly unite on key business decisions, including brand frameworks, mission and values, go-to-market strategies, and management team development. Elicia also has experience as an angel investor and has served on several corporate boards.

LinkedIn | Email

“Elicia has a way of cutting quickly to the core. She immediately gets at the heart of strategic, business, and branding issues.”

Angela Jackson, Managing Director, Portland Seed Fund

Michael Verdine, Partner

Michael Verdine offers elite design expertise with a focus on business results. His work has won awards at top international design contests, including the One Show. Michael started his career at Cahan & Associates, Tolleson Design, and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. He was then recruited by Nike to be a Creative Director of their outdoor sports department. Since then he has served as creative director for a range of global brands, including adidas, ESPN, and Intel. As creative director at True Story, he enjoys helping companies of all sizes achieve greatness.

LinkedIn | Email

“Michael is an exceptional designer who bases his work on a solid understanding of brand, business, and consumer. He’s an indispensable asset for any marketer.”

Becky Chambers, Former Marketing Manager, KEEN