#7 – The Business of Story with Park Howell
Park Howell is a Brand Storytelling Strategist, Keynote Speaker, and Story Coach. He founded the Business of Story in 2016 to help leaders of purpose-driven organizations clarify their stories to amplify impact in marketing and sales. Named Advertising Person of the Year in 2010, Park decided to close down his ad agency of over 20 years after an epiphany: that advertising wasn’t working anymore. Since launch he has been on a critical mission to help business leaders and communicators achieve epic growth through the truth of story.
Today, Park joins me to discuss the power of storytelling and what it can bring to your business. He shares the moment he realized he was the worlds ‘Most Industrious Storyteller’, breaking down the difference between a case study and a case story, and why the latter is what captures the customers imagination. He explains how you can help your customer by delivering a truthful message, and how this will help your business expand as long as you deliver on the story’s promise. He also discusses the human need for entertainment, and how you can use the Trojan Horse of an entertaining story to get your message inside your prospects mind.
“What was the action that took place? What was the surprise that came out of that action? That aha! moment that led to the solution to their problem, that you then delivered on and moved forward” – Park Howell
“We want a story that puts it all into context and we want that first. We want to feel it. We want to picture it. We want to envision what you’re trying to sell” – Park Howell
“We are all salespeople in and out of the office” – Park Howell
“Your story is not about what you make, but what you make happen in people’s lives” – Park Howell
“Let’s talk about the people in the organizations that you’ve actually had an impact on. Don’t talk about a typical case study, where it’s all about the business and the brand and what you did for it. Talk about a case Story” – Park Howell
“If you can have a platform that is uniquely your own it will separate you from everyone else” – Park Howell
“If you really feel you can be a service and help, then SHOW them how you can help” – Park Howell
“If you deliver on the promises you make in your story, you’ll have more business than you’ll know what to do with” – Park Howell
“What is that truth you are trying to communicate? Because any story you tell, whether it’s a short little anecdote or it’s a long form white paper or whatever, there is a core universal truth in it” – Park Howell
“Stories deliver the truth that creates the trust” – Park Howell
This week on Hypnotic Language Hacks:
- How Park left the traditional world of Advertising to become a Storyteller
- Why feeling the impact you create will help create your business story
- How Park applies his ‘Story System’
- Why we want a story to help put the world into context
- How you can use Case Stories to deliver your message
- Why we are all salespeople at heart
- How you can define what you do differently in the workplace
- Why you should develop your own unique platform
- How the story will always be about the customer and not your brand
- Book: Brand Bewitchery
- Business Of Story Podcast #189 (with Jason Linett!)
- Book: Save The Cat
- Houston, We Have A Narrative
Connect with Park Howell:
Connect with Jason:
- Jason Linett’s Website
- Subscribe on YouTube
- Jason Linett on Instagram
- Jason Linett on Twitter
- Jason Linett on Facebook
- Jason Linett on LinkedIn
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Read the Session Transcript
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#7 - The Business of Story with Park Howell
– [Park] Don’t talk about, you know, a typical case study, where it’s all about the business and the brand, and what you did for it, talk about a case story. And what I mean by that is a moment in time when you helped a singular individual, probably that person that hired you, to come in to help, you know, with the bigger picture and what that looked like. What was the action that took place? What was the surprise that came out of that action, that aha moment that led to the solution to their problem, that you then delivered on and moved forward?
– [Jason] You know your business can change people’s lives, but you don’t yet have the right words to inspire them to take action. Imagine the changes you will create in your business as you tap into the secrets of ethical influence and positive persuasion, to not only better serve your clients, but also to supercharge your financial freedom. I’m your host, Jason Linett, and welcome to the Hypnotic Language Hacks podcast.
I help entrepreneurs and business owners, just like you, to close more premium sales. And no, this isn’t about tricking or manipulating people, not at all, it’s about helping your prospects to appropriately sell themselves into your products or services. Please hit subscribe, and get all the episodes now at jasonlinett.com. Stories sell. Stories draw people in. Stories have influence. In all the years of my business, I’ve gone through many of the classic books in our industries in terms of sales and marketing and advertising, I’ve gone to some of the top marketing conventions to always stay top of game in terms of what’s working right now. And whatever the new message is, I can often break it all down, decipher it down to one core message that always works, shoot videos and tell stories. Because the use of metaphor, the use of storytelling is, of course, massively influential.
And it makes use of one of my favorite business principles that of show rather than tell. Rather than stand there and say, “I’m really good at this. Here’s why you should hire me,” which, of course, is what we should be conveying in our messaging, instead, here’s a story that clearly illustrates that point. I’m Jason Linett and welcome to the Hypnotic Language Hacks podcast. Each week, you can count on me to share with you real-world influential strategies you can use in your own business whether you’re in a startup phase, whether you’re in a scale-up phase to add even more impact inside of what you do. And let’s begin this week with a bit of a story from about maybe a year and a half ago, where I was publishing my book Work Smart Business Lessons Learned from HYPNOTIZING 250,000 People and Building a MILLION-DOLLAR Brand. You can find it on Amazon. We’ll link to it over at jasonlinett.com. In the promotion of that, I had the good fortune to be on another podcast called the Business of Story with Park Howell.
And as it came my time to launch this new program, Park was at the top of my list of people to feature on the program. And by the way, quickly, you can head over to jasonlinett.com/7 make sure that it’s just the number 7 and that’s going to bring you directly over to the show notes associated with this episode to explore his website, his book, as well as his podcast. And here’s a quick bio before we jump in so you can get to know the man before you hear his story. Park Howell is known as the world’s most industrious storyteller, helping leaders and purpose-driven brands grow by as much as 600%. And he tells that exact story on this program here today. His 35 years in brand creation includes 20 years running his own ad agency Park and Company. Now, Park is the founder of the Business of Story, a proven platform based upon his 10-step Story Cycle System, which helps you to clarify your story, amplify your impact, and simplify your life.
His popular weekly business podcast, the Business of Story, is ranked among the top 10% of most downloaded podcasts in the world. And you can check out again the show notes with this page for a link to when I was last on his program. His book Brand Bewitchery: How to Wield the Story Cycle System to Craft Spellbinding Stories for Your Brand that book helps readers to clarify their brand story and teaches how to tell it through three proven narrative frameworks that captivate audiences and convert customers. He’s a consultant, he’s a teacher, he’s a coach, a speaker, and as you might expect, and you’re about to learn, a phenomenal storyteller. You can learn more again by heading over to jasonlinett.com/7 and stand by to meet Park Howell in just a few moments. Before we get started today if you want to easily grab people’s attention naturally, build authority, and organically have your prospects wanting more from you even
before you make an offer, I’ve created a step-by-step strategy to help you to do just that. I call it The Video Influence System. This is your opportunity, now, to discover my highly-effective, entirely free, on-demand workshop at jasonlinett.com. It’s specifically for entrepreneurs who want to deliver premium value to their clients to receive premium value in return. If you want a proven framework to boost your confidence and deliver value every time you go on camera, get The Video Influence System now at jasonlinett.com. Well, hey, Park, I’m so excited to have you here in the inaugural series of the Hypnotic Language Hacks podcast program. And I was back on your program back in early 2019, your program, the Business of Story, where we talked about mapping out your customer’s journey, as well as a very specific story about Katy Perry, which if that’s not enough to have someone go back and track down that episode,
I don’t know what is.
– It’s number 189, by the way.
– Exactly, we’ll put that in the show notes. And now you’re known for the magic of proven storytelling frameworks, in order to help people to hack through the noise of marketing, as well as hook the hearts of your customers. Let me kick this off the best way that I know that, how would someone else tell your story? From that outside perspective, how would they tell the story as to who you are?
– Yeah, they would probably look in if you’re going to ask someone and say, “You know, I’ve known Park for 35 years, he’s been in the branding marketing world, he had an agency and he worked for us for a long time. And I knew he always had this love of storytelling and he did a big pivot. He got out of your traditional ad agency world and he followed his curiosity, his passion.” And that was around why the story work on us Homo sapiens. You know, a little bit like your world, I suppose. And I, you know, started looking into that and I started applying what I was learning
to branding and marketing, and it blew my mind. And I said, “This is what I want to do. I want to get out of the old fashioned traditional way of marketing and teach people how to tell stories and give them these three proven frameworks that I use.” And that’s why I call the whole business of story system, the Applied Science, so these frameworks, to lead to the bewitchery of storytelling, to be able to literally captivate an audience.
– Yeah, now you call yourself the world’s most industrious storyteller. Explain that for us.
– Well, it was funny. Last November, I was working with a local company here, a very large tech-ed company, they deliver technology into the classrooms so that classroom can go online and so forth, and I was working with them feverishly to pull their brand story together. And one of their marketing people said, kind of, stopped my session and he went around the room and said, “Everybody here, two or three words that describe who you are, your own personal brand.”
So he hijacked my session, but it was so cool because they went around and, you know, one of the artists said, “Oh, you know, I’m a designer,” copywriter said, “I am a wordsmith,” the HR person said, “I am a…” What did she say? “I am a Wrangler of cats.” And then he turned the lens on me. I thought I was supposed to be running this thing. And he, kind of, turned it on me and I said, “You know what, I am the world’s most industrious storyteller.” And he turned away and then he came right back, he goes, “That’s exactly how I would define you.” And that was the moment, Jason, when I was put in the hot seat, that I came up with that. And the reason why I say that, it sounds a little bit braggadocious. and it’s meant to be just more fun than anything, but I use the industry of story to help build brands. And it can be a personal brand, a professional brand, an organizational brand, but how do you, as you so aptly put up top, thanks for reading my notes, hack through the noise, and hook the hearts of a customer? And I found you do that through storytelling.
– Yeah. One of the catchphrases that I tend to say is that we should always show rather than tell that, you know, as you referenced in that story, you know, here’s the person who defined themselves as the role just, “Hi, I’m Bob, and I’m the Marketing Manager,” and they just use that label. Why is it that you think most people in business are maybe shying away from story or maybe not quite yet using story the way that they should?
– They’ve never been taught it. And they’ve never been given permission to come in and tell one. So, you know, think about it, the more you level up education-wise, and MBAs are the worst at this, they lead with logic, and they communicate through data, charts, graphs, stats, big data, all of that, when what us Homo sapiens want and you know this in your line of work better than anybody, is we want a story that puts it all into context and we want that first. We want to feel it, we want to picture it, we want to envision what you’re trying
to sell me. And make no mistakes, we’re all salespeople. In and out of the office, we’re constantly selling to get people to buy into our way of thinking, our product, or our service. But we make the crucial, crucial mistake of leading with the product and its features or the service versus a story about the impact we make in the world. So I tell people, your story is not about what you make, but what you make happen in people’s lives. That’s what people buy into. – I love that especially, you brought up a concept, which is critical to stories, which is that we can talk about a concept of representational systems, which is just a fancy way of saying that we take in the world through our various senses, our touch, taste, sight, smell, and hearing and by using those stories to bring in those visual elements, the auditory elements, the kinesthetic qualities, is there a story that, kind of, stands out of whether it was for your
business or a business you’ve consulted for or that was maybe one of those missing elements to really bring people in and poke their heart, so as you say?
– Yeah, every business is missing that element, that I work with, that they call me in and I’m getting more calls now than ever. Just, in fact, there’s a high tech company here in town that works with really big brands and I got a call yesterday from them and they said, “You know what, we are brilliant at what we do, but I just realized we are crap at talking about it and sharing the stories around it.” And so that’s the, kind of, company that I will go in and say, “All right, let’s reframe. Let’s shift away from the brilliance and the products and your service offering and let’s talk about the people in the organizations that you’ve actually had an impact on.” Don’t talk about, you know, a typical case study, where it’s all about the business and the brand, and what you did for it, talk about a case story. And what I mean by that is a moment in time when you helped a singular individual, probably that person that hired you
to come in to help, you know, with the bigger picture and what that looked like. What was the action that took place? What was the surprise that came out of that action, that aha moment that led to the solution to their problem that you then delivered on and moved forward? So gosh, there are a lot of different stories where what would be a good one to share with you? One of them, I think, and it was one of my very first ones when I started doing this, a brilliant CEO here in town by the name of Avein Saaty Tafoya. She was at the time CEO of Clinica Adelante, a Community Health Center here in Arizona. And they were really on their last legs. They had been around for 33 years, primarily working with field workers out on the West Valley and a combination of things, including the global recession of 2008 conspired to basically almost put them out of business. So came in and she just said, “Park, we need to redefine our story and how
we tell it.” And they were a basic Community Health Center so what we did is went in, did our discovery process, understood the real roots and the legacy of the organization, and we reframed their story from Clinica Adelante to Adelante Sustainable Healthcare. The whole idea was the three pillars of healthcare, sustaining the availability of health care for all regardless of your ability to pay, sustaining the individual patient’s health care by doing more preventive medicine and going into the communities and doing farmer gardens and changing the way they eat and, you know, healthier diets and more exercise and then the third leg of this was the sustainability of the organization. Really greening their overall organization. So they ran with that. And they went from three struggling clinics to nine thriving clinics, six of those became LEED-certified, one of them became the only Platinum
LEED-certified clinic in the country. And they have grown by 600%. So she got away from thinking about just being a community health center into having an impact not only in the lives of their patients and their employees but the communities they serve. And that was their story. Their healthcare was simply the vehicle to make a much bigger impact in the world. And by getting their story dialed into that and then getting everybody on board in telling that story, 600% growth.
– Beautiful, what I love about that, I took a couple of notes there as you’re telling that, would be that taking that opportunity and what they were already doing, rewriting that new version of the story, which specifically by putting it into the category of here are our three pillars, where that became sort of as some would do, here’s the brand guide, Here’s this sort of filter that everything has to fit through.
I’m curious to ask Is that one of the frameworks to, kind of, separate it out to be this is a common rule about if you could have a proprietary process that’s like three different parts? And even as I’ve looked at mine and go, “Oh, it’s four, close enough,” happy to have that, are there just some, let’s call them story cheat codes that you tend to find to be easy ways to get that momentum up and running?
– Yeah, I think you’re dead on Jason. If you can have a platform that is uniquely your own, it will separate you from everyone else. So for instance, I’m in the advertising branding marketing world as are millions of people. Now my core specialty is brand creation. All right, well, so that’s now dialed me down into a market of hundreds of thousands of professionals that do the exact same thing I do. So I am just another number. I’m just a commodity out there. And so how do I differentiate and define what I do differently in the marketplace?
Well, I use my 10-step Story Cycle system, I’ve got a new book out on it, but this is the 10-step Story Cycle system that is my platform. It creates, and I’ve learned it through Hollywood, what they’ve known, I’ve done all kinds of study on neurology and how our brains function around it, and, believe me, I have thrown myself in. I’ve given myself my own Ph.D. in story, just learning how to do it. But that’s what makes me different because nobody else has the platform I have and everyone can define their own unique way of doing things just like you have, too. So I always say that is a great place to start because it begins your platform and then you can build your overarching brand narrative on top of that. And in that, then you’re going to start finding pillars, like I did with Adelante Healthcare, that support that overall narrative. And then within those pillars, you start unearthing all kinds of true
stories about the real-world impact you’ve made so that you can use that in all of your content marketing. And it’s not promotion anymore. It’s almost like you’re thinking like a documentarian. Let me just document what I’ve learned and who I’ve helped, and be like National Geographic, and show it to you in these very vivid stories. That’s going to be any sort of creative ad anytime in the world and it starts with finding that platform.
– Well, it’s by doing it that way, the difference now becomes is that we’re not necessarily selling or promoting or even advertising, we’re educating, we’re influencing, and let’s even go there in some way we’re entertaining.
– And by doing that, our prospects are now better selling themselves on the product or service, which is really that in terms of influence, that better place we’d like to be because now, they’re already realizing this is somebody who I need to work with, this is a product, this is a service that I need. And they’re already saying yes, in their mind before I say this,
playfully, but before they’ve even been given the courtesy of being told, “Well, this is what it’s going to cost.”
– Yeah, you’re helping. You know, you’re not selling, you’re helping. And if you can’t help them, don’t bug them. Don’t talk to them. Let them go do their thing. But if you feel you really can be of service and help, then show them how you can help and if, you know, they believe in your story, and then you deliver on the promises you make in your story, you’ll have more business than you’ll know what to do with.
– Well, that’s exactly what you just said there about if it’s not for them, don’t sell it, which that’s one of the stronger benefits of stories is that if the story is not lining up with exactly what they’re looking for, they’re going to respectfully bow out of the process on their own. If the story is lining up with what they’re looking for, again, the benefit now becomes they’re technically selling themselves on those results.
– Let me give you an example of that.
– So five years ago, I was doing a big 90-minute workshop at Social Media Marketing World over in California.
I had about 600 people in the room. It was awesome. I had so much fun. And I was taking them through my Story Cycle System, showing them a couple of the little techniques I use. Afterwards, you know, you talk to a number of people and I go out in the hallway, and this very handsome guy comes up and he’s got this great French accent and he introduced himself. He said, “Hi, Park. My name is Andre Martin Hobbs,” in this great accent and I said, “Oh, where are you from?” He says, Québec, Canada. I said, “Right on.” He goes, “Well, I’ve got a used car dealership up there that I need branding on and I’d like to call you in a couple of three weeks, and maybe you could help me with it.” And I’m like, “Okay, great. I’m not really sure if I’m into, you know, helping a used car dealership,” because immediately in my brain I was telling myself an anti-story, smarmy, predators just trying to take advantage of people And oh, by the way, he has a very focused car buyer which is the risk-averse. I mean, those that have like, not risk-averse isn’t the right word, risk challenged.
Credit challenged. They have bad credit. They can’t buy a car. So these particular types of used car dealerships are really predatory. I mean, that’s what you see. So he gives me his card, I give me him mine, I’m, kind of, hoping he doesn’t call me because I don’t really want to get into this line of work. And I don’t have to invite that awkward conversation. Well, Andre does call me about three weeks later, and we get to chatting and I learned what they were really about. So his whole thing was he wanted to help and still does today, Canadians that had been completely ransacked by…it could have been the global recession, or maybe a divorce, a health, a loss of job, you know, something like that, that they have really bad credit and for the most part, it’s not their fault or maybe they made a couple of bad decisions. His whole thing was, I want to get them in, and I want to get them into a car that they make payments on for two years without missing a payment because then that will repair their credit and that’s my purpose in life.
So going back to your earlier thought, people would show up there and just say, “I want to buy a car, just give me any car,” and what he would hear is, “I just want the freedom. I want the self-respect of having my own car again, I’m sick of riding the bus.” Well, before he would sell them a car, he would make them go through an up to three-hour financial planning session with his people.
– Oh, beautiful.
– And they would have to reveal their finances. And then he would look at it and say, “You know, you can’t afford a car quite yet, save this much money come back in six months, we’ll get you in a car, or he’ll say, “You can’t afford that car you want but let us get you in this one. I want to get you into a car payment that you can afford and make every month and I’m going to teach you how to do that.” So gets them in the car, sells them. These people follow up every couple of months. “How’s it going out there? What’s happening? Are you staying on your plan?” And he’s helping these people fix their credit challenge. Well, Andre, so he could say, you know, “I’m a used car salesman for credit-strapped buyers.”
But no, that’s not what he says. His company is called Prêt, Auto, Partez which is ready-car-go and his, what we arrived at for his brand story, his unique value proposition is Prêt, Auto, Partez, your vehicle to financial freedom.
– Oh, nice.
– So we’re playing freedom because that’s what they want. They didn’t even realize they were going to get a free financial planning course before they buy their car. And then he puts them in the right car. He told me not too long ago that people are jumping on the bus and coming for eight hours into his auto dealership to get their life straightened out and leave with a car they can drive back home. He has become the top-selling used car dealership in Quebec area, up there. He was hoping to double his growth and he’s quadrupled his growth.
– But not that he’s got his brand story together and he reframed it, he sold on what I make happen in people’s lives, not just a used car,
it’s your vehicle to financial freedom. So that’s another really good example of using the power of story to create a whole new context that makes you different, distinctive, and therefore better than any of your competition.
– And what’s really beautiful about that is that the story now brings that sales process to a different level where it’s no longer just, I’m buying a car, instead, they’re buying into the story, which there’s a concept I love of you’re familiar with future pacing, which is to pay somebody into a future result. We can do something called product pacing, which is to pace them into what’s going to be happening when they’re already in the product. And that’s doing an amazing task of that because now, is there any question that person is going to come back two to three years from now? Oh, yeah, the return’s been amazing.
– And the referral. Their word of mouth… – I bet. – …is nuts. He does no advertising. He does a lot of SEO work. He’s brilliant online. But he’s got more business than he knows what to do with. The other thing that’s interesting with Andre and his group is he doesn’t
hire car salesmen. He hires financial planners to come in…
– Oh, beautiful. – …and help them and then put them into the right car and let them go. And he has more success. He says I tried to get the car salesmen in there, and they don’t get it. They’re just trying to put him in a car. These people are trying to actually help them in life. It’s a brilliant brand model.
– That’s amazing. Which was so cool about that is again, someone as you told, you had your own preconceived notion as to what that story would have been and as soon as we can introduce a different story as to well, here’s what this is actually about. When you’ve got a client, when you’re working with a company, and let’s say they’re coming in and there’s already some element of a story there we hinted at this maybe in some way before with the visual, the auditory, the kinesthetic are there filters, are there formulas you’re looking inside of the story about, let’s say, where do we shine that metaphorical spotlight? As in do we focus on the pain of the story, the pleasure? What are some of your principles as to, as they say in writing, how to punch up that story?
Well, a lot of brands come to me and they already have a pretty powerful narrative they just haven’t been telling it. They don’t know how to tell it. It’s like hiding in plain sight right there. So here’s the thing I do… – I’m going to highlight that right there. That is amazing. They already have it…
– They have it. – …they’re just not telling it.
– Yes. Oh, yeah. Unless it’s a total crap business and they’re making no money and you go and look at the business model and you go, “you know, cut it out. You know, just get out. This isn’t going to work.” That’s not my job. But I can sniff that out pretty quickly after 35 years of doing this, kind of, work. But for the most part, Jason, just like the call I got yesterday, fabulous brand, have an unbelievable story, they just don’t know how to tell it. They just don’t know how to unearth it in which are powerful, in which you know, portions are not powerful. So that’s what I do. So an answer to your question, I always want number one, look for the truth. What is the truth that you’re trying to communicate?
Because any story you tell, whether it’s just a short, little anecdote, or it’s a long-form, white paper or whatever, there is a core universal truth in it. And if you do not tell the truth, you will be found out, eventually. You may be really persuasive and you might have hoodwinked some people early on, but you will find out because stories deliver the truth that creates the trust, whether that’s good news or bad news. So always look for the truth. Number two, what problem are you solving in your readers, viewers, audience life? What problem from their perspective? The story is always about them it’s never ever about you and the brand, it’s always about them. Even when you tell a story about you and your brand, you’re always thinking about your audience so that they can connect and live vicariously through that story, always from their point of view. So, find the truth. What is the problem you’re solving for? And then I had a client once upon a time Trevor Hill that I’ve got to give this quote to he looked at me one time, he said, “Park, you know what sales is?
It’s nothing more than find the hurt, amplify the pain, heal the wound,” which by the way, is three-act structure. Find the hurt, let’s set up. Act one. Let’s amplify the pain, let’s dive into the conflict and the challenge that they’re going through. And then let’s heal the wound. Here’s what we can do to help. And here’s what life looks like afterwards. So you were talking about future pacing, which is really an interesting concept to me because in the story world, all you’re talking about is fiction. Future pacing is nothing but fiction because you haven’t lived into it yet. But our jobs are to get people to buy into that fiction. Homo sapiens are the only being that think and work and act in story and can actually imagine a tomorrow and to try to get there. No other being that we know of can do it. That’s why we overthrew the Neanderthals because they felt like they couldn’t do that. So future pacing, fiction, and brand storytelling is all the same thing.
I’m trying to sell you something that is going to make your life better the moment you touch it or tomorrow and into the next year. So I’m going to tell you a fiction, but then it is critical that I make it fact. That I deliver on those promises. And so that’s all you’re trying to do with your storytelling. Promotion, promotion, promotion just bounces off of this. That if I can make you picture and feel what a better tomorrow looks like with me and I can deliver on that, when I do deliver on it, I’ve got a customer for life, and they are happily going to share my story with their world.
– So I’m curious to, kind of, zoom out of the story because let’s take the example of how let’s say most movies begin. If it’s some sort of action movie, we’re, kind of, swept up into the experience where we’re seeing someone being chased, something bit of action is happening, and then maybe the movie, kind of, then zooms out and we see more of what’s going on or perhaps it then picks up, and then we go back to another point
in the story, the ability to open up some loops and then come back to them later. Are there sort of again, I always come back to the term of a cheat code, in terms of where to begin the story, where to draw people in, basically, how do we hook that listener in the first couple of moments? – I’ll give you one of my favorite all-time cheat codes. The and, but, and therefore framework. It’s a story framework that doesn’t actually tell a story but it uses setup, problem, resolution structure that you can use in 20 seconds or less to hook the limbic subconscious mind of that storytelling monkey that’s sitting across from you because essentially, we’re all just storytelling monkeys when it comes down to it. But that is one of the first hacks and it’s one of the Applied Sciences and I learned it from a very brilliant guy, Dr. Randy Olson. Harvard trained Ph.D. evolutionary biologist, goes on to USC film school, graduates, produces three documentaries, and has written four books to help science
communicators do a better job using story. So I know it works because it’s the way our brains are. So the way it looks like is the and, but, and therefore the and is a statement of agreement. You want to come out and so for instance, let me use this most simplest ABT ever, executives communicate and care but bore therefore tell a story. So to unpack that real quick, that first line is just simply a statement of agreement to get people nodding. Now some people might argue “Oh, my boss doesn’t care any communication, he certainly doesn’t care.” The point being is I don’t want to come off as an expert or I don’t want an opinion to come off, I want my audience to nod. So you could also say, executives, communicate and want to connect with their audiences, but they typically are boring, there’s the problem. So now we’ve set up the real world of here’s what’s going on,
but here is the problem they’re trying to overcome, therefore, let the business’s story teach you storytelling principles so you can hack through the noise and hook the audience, you know, hook the hearts of your audience and nudge the world in a direction you choose. The more contrast you have between your and agreement statement and your but statement, the longer your audience is going to give you for your therefore, and here’s how I can help. Now again, I want to underscore it is a story, it’s a narrative framework, a story framework, but it’s not a story in and of itself. And the way I teach this is when you sit down from a prospect 20 seconds or less understand their point of view, share an ABT from their point of view, so you get them nodding and they go, “Oh my god, you’re right. That is my problem. And that’s what I’m having a hard time overcoming. I’m glad you understand it. Oh, and you might have a solution for me.” In their brain, then they’re always going to say, “All right, well give me an example.” Well, most businesses run right into their product offering, or they run into the
data and I say, “Don’t do that.” Run into a story share a story, a quick little anecdote using the five primal elements of story of timestamp, location stamp, central character that your audience can relate to an individual, not a company, but an individual not a company, action, and surprise that comes out of that action and then the aha moment of how you solve their problems. So now, and literally, you can do this in under two minutes. You have set the hook with your ABT and you reel them in with this true story about a real person that they can relate to and they said, “They’re just like me, I want that same outcome.” Then step three is you can share your data. You can share your product features, you can do whatever else you need to do to prop that up. I’ve seen it so successful, as you often don’t even have to go to that third step. You can just get right into it. And if you look at it, here’s the really weird thing and I think you’ll appreciate it from your world, all it is are nested ABTs.
So that first ABT, first 20 seconds you’re hooking them. Now you’re going to tell a bigger ABT a set of problem resolution in a true story, well told, but you’re going to add some more nuance to it. That’s why you got the five primal elements of that story, but still shaped as an ABT, then and only then if you need to, you come up with your data. While you look at that big thing now that’s set up in an ABT too. All you’re doing is setting the stage with your very first ABT, then you’re diving into the middle of your presentation, Act 2, with this great little anecdotal story, which is built at an ABT with more nuance and then you deliver the content, your data, which is then Act 3, here’s the resolution of the sale. And I’m telling you, you can do that all in 10 minutes or less. That’s how powerful it is.
– That’s beautiful. And especially looking at how we can use the same formula in different aspects of the process to bring people into the experience and again, now we’ve got that emotion, now we’ve got that insight and that desire
before we’re ever getting into, here are the figures, you know…
– Yeah. – …here are the numbers. You mentioned, working with someone who was in Hollywood, what are some of the, let’s say, what are some of the more unique resources, the more unique places where some of the inspiration of story? I’d quickly throw out in the early 2000s, I worked in production management in theater.
– Oh, okay.
– And it was George Abbott, the father of the American musical, who once said, Act 1, introduce the hero, Act 2, get them up in a tree, Act 3, get them down.
– That’s beautiful.
– That’s the place…
– That’s beautiful.
– That’s the places where we can start to source inspiration not necessarily to copy or even plagiarize, but to source inspiration as a framework, a different way of delivering something, which by no means is a new concept, go rewatch the Lion King, it’s Hamlet.
– Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
– What are some interesting resources you found for, let’s say, sourcing elements to stories?
– Well, I was fortunate because back in 2006, when I was still running Park and Co., my ad agency, and I was pulling my hair out, I realized branding as we knew it, marketing as we knew it, just wasn’t working anymore. And I was looking for a solution. And story it was just starting to bubble up in my life then. Our son, our middle child, our son, Parker went to film school at Chapman University between 2006 and graduated in 2010 and he has been in Hollywood ever since. And he is now a specialist at directing virtual reality and mixed reality TV shows, movies, and live streams on Twitch. So he’s all in. But while he was going to school there, Jason, I said, “Parker, send me your books when you’re done with them, since I’m paying for them. Because I want to know, what does Hollywood teach you that I could learn to figure out what we’re going to do next in the advertising marketing world?” That’s when I learned about Joseph Campbell, The Hero’s Journey again, his framework to story that led to my Story Cycle System.
When I saw The Hero’s Journey I’m like, “Oh, my God, there’s the answer.” I mean, it hit me from a branding standpoint, right across the top that. Then I read screenwriter books. Blade Snyder is another good one for your viewers. If you want to really understand story structure, Save the Cat by Blake Snyder’s another brilliant book to read. Well, I just started finding all of this. And then I learned about Dr. Randy Olson and his work around the ABT a great book for your people to go to there is called Houston, We Have a Narrative. And it will talk all about how the ABT came into play and how you can use it. He actually even followed up with an E-book since then, called The Narrative, I can’t think of it right now, but it’s on my website, you can go to this is a story then into my library. I have read and watched thousands of different pieces of content, and books, and whatever and I’ve collected those that I have felt to be the most powerful, and I’ve got them in a library for anybody to access there at businessofstory.com.
Go to Resources and click the Library. But those of you don’t look to Hollywood look to the PBS special with Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell is absolutely brilliant. I mean, it really dives deep in the academic side of it, but it’s a really fascinating read. And their book or view, and a book that came out of that is called The Power of Myth, which makes Campbell’s work really, really accessible for anybody that wants to, you know, understand The Hero’s Journey. Campbell’s own writings are just way too dense. I couldn’t get through them. So I had to go to other people that have deciphered them. And The Power of Myth is another really great place to look at it. – I’m curious to ask you, too, that, of course, as we’re meeting here 2020 is a very interesting year. And it’s where there’s a period of time where I’d say a lot of business stopped because there was this holding pattern of what the heck, and still we’re, kind of, in that at this point.
But then different industries began to take off, I would say, that certain businesses that had not caught up with the times, kind of, got the smack of reality and maybe that’s why perhaps they didn’t survive. What would you say in terms of a narrative, in terms of how to tell the story as to where we are and what we can provide with our businesses just simply put, what’s working in the middle of a global pandemic?
– Well, what’s fascinating to me about this, and it’s a great question, Jason, if you look at The Hero’s Journey from Campbell’s standpoint, you get to the point that you get launched into the upside-down world. And that’s the major part of the story. Well, everybody in the world collectively got launched into the upside-down world of COVID. And in that upside-down world, you are tried, you are tested, you may fall down, you may fall in the holes, you got to climb out. Some people won’t survive it because their own ego and their own, you know,
they’ll just get in their way and they won’t get through it and their businesses will fail. So we’re all experiencing this as we go through it. I think the number one thing a business has to do right now is stop, take a deep breath, and look for that truth, as we talked about early on, Saying, you know what we used to deliver like this and now we can’t do that anymore. We still have this great offering, we need to pivot and we need to deliver like this. And you know what, it may mean we have to get rid of some people because we don’t need as many, you know, here anymore. I was talking to an event production company yesterday who lost $8 million in six days in March of booked business because no one’s going to events. So he had to lay off a big part of the staff but they have reinvented themselves and they’re bringing that event technology and expertise on to doing live streaming events. So I think you just got to stop, take a deep breath and ask yourself how relevant is your offering and is it still really relevant, which it probably is how
are you going to have to pivot on how you deliver that, which impacts your story. Your overall brand narrative won’t change appreciably, but how you tell a story, where you tell the story, and how you’re going to future pro- What did you call it future processing future?
– Future pacing.
– Thank you. Future pacing. How are you going to tell a new fiction about what your customers’ lives look with you tomorrow because their lives have appreciably changed, to get them to buy into that because you’ve already built that trust with them? And then by God deliver on all of those promises you are going to make in that story to them. That’s what I’ve seen, that’s what’s working in my world. You know, I used to do speaking all over the place. And, of course, that got shut down. My very last gig was in San Diego Social Media Marketing World. And we were sitting around the table, a lot of these top speakers that are much higher level speakers than I, and you could see the gloom in their faces. They were like, “Oh, my God, I just got off the phone and I’ve
just lost, you know, $500,000 in booking fees because people are shutting down.” So they have all pivoted. Now they’re doing it online like so many people. So I think that’s what it is. If you were already living into a powerful, truthful story about your brand and what you offer, just know how do you pivot that offering and deliver it in a new and unique way?
– Excellent. I love that because again, it goes back to that interaction with that prospect, how can I better serve? What is the story that they’re telling themselves? And then how do we take our story and fit that into that world, which again, here comes the ethical process of all of this, as that aligns, they’re going to go further down that system. If that’s not exactly what they’re looking for, in the back of my mind, the dialogue is I wish you the best, and they’re going to find something that then is. So then looking at this experience of keeping things going, I’m curious to, kind of, zoom out from the story itself once we have that story and
your experience, how does that now begin to define, let’s say, the rest of the brand, whether that’s images, whether that’s videos, whether that’s color schemes, all the stuff that we would then talk about, let’s say at the rest of the business?
– Yeah. One of my favorite parts of the Story Cycle System is Chapter 6. And that is where we really focus on the brand personality. One of the biggest shifts, Jason, I see, paradigm shifts that people have to make and it still surprises me yet 90% of the time, it has to shift for them, is that spoiler alert, as I mentioned earlier, you and your brand are not the center of the story, your customers. So always look at they are the hero on their journey, you play a more important role as mentor or a guide in chapter six. So what we do in chapter six is three exercises. The first one is to, as you’re pulling all of these story elements together through the first five chapters, which really make you focus on your audience in customer and what they want out of life and what’s holding
them back, the first thing is, is what is that one word that creates the emotion of your brand when they’re with you? What is that one word that describes the emotion that they get? You know, you know, and that’s, kind of, like, your promise, you know, what emotion do they get? The second one is what is the intrinsic gift they get? So, like, you know, in Andrea’s case, they get a car, but the intrinsic gift they get is financial freedom. You know, their vehicle to financial freedom. So ask yourself what that is. And then the third thing and this is a really fun exercise is I like to go to Swiss psychologist work, Carl young and I look at the 12 primary personality archetypes that he had identified many, many years ago, many brands use it now, you know, and I ask people to go in and identify your personality. What is your core personality archetype for your brand? And then they often add one or two supporting archetypes because we are
complex peoples and brands can be complex, but I’m wanting to get really clear on what their personality is and then that informs their website, the imagery they look, how they talk, how they sound user experience. So for instance, if one brand is very much, say, the adventurer brand, Virgin Airlines, Sir Richard Branson, very much that adventurer brand type feel that is going to come across in all of their content much differently than if you’re the regular guy or gal brand over here. You know, that you might have a little bit of adventure in you, but you are like, “I’m that person next door. You can trust me, I’m the go-to source for you, you know.” So that impacts how you look, sound, and feel, and how your stories are told. It doesn’t matter if we’re in a pandemic or everything is booming, that does not change appreciably because it is who you are.
It goes down to the core of your being and how it gets expressed through your work as a brand. And so that’s one of the areas that I would have them look at is build that, what is your brand? What is your brand personality? And how well is it consistently reflected in all of your materials? And I need some water.
– Excellent. That’s amazing. I love that aspect of the archetypes. And I’ve done the same in my businesses and with others, too about, you know, kind of, going above and beyond just crafting that custom client avatar. You know, they may have a specific story, there may be a specific dialogue that they’re going through and that’s why that’s maybe the catalyst as to why they’re looking for the service in the first place. That being said, this is one of those side benefits for people who would go, “Yeah, I could do that, but there’s already so many people in my industry with a similar message.” Well, point number one, that proves market viability, you’re in a good space, but point number two is the fact that they
may not be aligning with the archetypes of “the current gurus” in that industry, and to recognize what role you fit into and how, you know, your story as the single mother maybe the story that they need to align with, for any of that stuff to be effective. Your story as the dad who’s shutting the business down at 5:30 to be at home at dinner with the kids, you know, letting that be that narrative as well. So to look at those archetypes and how that fits into it. I’ll give you a challenge here which I’m curious to ask this and the pre-frame is you cannot use the words and, but, or therefore, we’ve already used those.
– Arghh. – I know right? – I can’t use my bewitchery on you, Justin?
– It’s Jason. We’ll go for…
– Jason. I’m Sorry.
– It’s all good. This is where I now want to say, “It’s okay, Pete,” but I won’t do that part.
– Please do. I deserve it. Call me Bart if you would. That happens a lot. – I was thinking of Pork, but let’s not go there. No, no, here’s the question is that if you had to take anyone’s story,
and let’s say add at least three new words to the story that people don’t use enough, and I’ll cheat and give you one of mine first, we can have the one-word version of once upon a time, which would simply be the words either of imagine or discover, because that sweeps people into a different experience, that associates them out of where they are right now and brings them into something else. The word is transportational. What words do you think people need to use more of in their stories?
– Well, that’s a really good example. Imagine, you know, picture this, can you just feel? Often I think that younger executives, millennials, and such are better at using the word feel. I think the older groups don’t. Can you feel that? Can you see it? What you’re trying to do is evoke emotion and feeling and you know this better than anybody in your line of work is what are those kinds of words? The other thing I would have them do is do the pronoun test.
And that is when you are looking at your stories, is it all about me, we, us, I, change that and say, you, you, you, you, you because it makes you think about it. So another very unused word in storytelling is you. Now, sometimes you’re going to be telling a story that is your own story and you can’t interject a you in there, but when you’re setting them up or you’re with the ABT or you’re talking in your About Us page, start with a you. It seems really counterintuitive, you know, because it’s about us, we should be talking about us now from this perspective, you want to tell that story. So that’s another really powerful thing. But I think any words, oh, get rid of adjectives. Get rid of adjectives and adverbs and replace them with verbs. Action words.
– Yeah. – I thought about, I felt, I saw, now I’m I, I, I.
Have you ever felt? You know? Do you remember what it feels like to…? You start using more verbs and replace your adjectives and adverbs with verbs, action words. – I love that. I love that especially the nuance of you that one of the things that I often harp on is the use of the royal we, which there’s no problem being the entrepreneur, solo business owner, if we want to get fancy, the solopreneur yet everything in the language is we can help you with this, and we can help you with that and then it’s that one dude. But to make that conversation, the forgiveness of this is to use the word we when it’s describing the interaction of what you and I are going to do together. And especially, you know, it’s one of those big aspects of breaking out of even the passive voice and going into that active verb about, you know, and that’s when I ran, you know, and bringing that language and bringing people into the experience as it were.
– Yeah. Yeah.
You know, in the writing of my book, I did a lot of studying. I wrote it five years ago then I had to rewrite the whole thing. And one of the things, one of the simplest things I learned that it was so simple to me that I thought I couldn’t really work, but it was one of the most powerful things is to see if you can interject that verb in your second or third word. Get it right up there. And then you look at all the great writers, Stephen King, in particular, is really good at it. He saw, she opened the door, we went inside, we ran. And it just seems like, “Oh, man, that seems like so Dick and Jane, simple.” But I also went back and started looking at my pros and my writing and thought, whenever I didn’t do that, I wasn’t as active. And the only time I can get away with not having that active word right up there is if I’ve used it up top of that sentence and really got them in, now I’m just trying to deliver them the goods.
So it’s going to be more of a content-rich educational line that may not have that action verb in there. But as you had mentioned earlier, Jason, is that you want to entertain, to educate. That’s the best way to get into your brain. And so I think using that active verb right up front is that hook, is that entertainment side of it, you’re taking them somewhere, just so that you can open up that Trojan horse and deliver the goods on them, deliver the knowledge bombs on him on that next line. But just think about adding that active verb, that active voice, that verb in your first two to three words of a sentence and see how it makes a difference in your storytelling.
– Well, it’s about sweeping them into an experience. And, you know, even if this were not a podcast around sales and business, we’re always selling. We’re always influencing even if it’s to watch the next episode on whatever’s streaming on Netflix, Hulu, or whatever series, to sell the next paragraph of the book, to sell the fact that the conversation is
continuing and the use of story being a phenomenal way to do that. Park, this has been awesome having you on here today.
– Well, thank you, Jason, I really appreciate being here with you. It’s a little early on my end, I’m still, kind of, waking up a little bit, but just it’s a real honor to be on your show, especially as you’re kicking it off. And I wish you all the success. I know you’re going to be hugely successful. I can tell you, I’ve got 280 shows out there. It’s been five years every week, and your show, when people have talked to me about your episode, the word fascinating has come up about you and your approach to what you do more than any other guests I’ve had. And I just maybe it’s because the world that you occupy and how you help people through that. So thanks for that.
– Absolutely. And we’re going to put links to your resources over at jasonlinett.com. If you throw up a forward slash 7, as this is Episode 7, that’ll bring you directly there, and what can we share for folks over on that page?
– Oh, come on over to businessofstory.com. I have all my resources there. I’m doing something new now, too because of COVID. People have been coming to me and say, “God, can you help me, I need to really quickly do my brand story and I don’t have any money.” So I’m now doing Jason is kicking off I don’t know this show will have come out since we’ve kicked it off and I’m going to be doing a lot of these given the excitement around it is it’s a 3-Week Build a Better Brand Story sprint. And in those 3 weeks, I do 6 live sessions with just 10 people per group. And we take them through the Story Cycle System, they apply it to their brand story, we do coaching within all that I, you know, deliver it, you know, guide them through it, plus, they get to work with everybody else in that group. At the end of those three weeks, then they’ll have a one-hour session with me just individual to help them put the final bow on it. They’ll be able to share their story on my blog at businessofstory.com when it comes out to give them some promotion.w And some of them will even be able to come on my show and tell their story
for our listeners. But the idea here is, and you’ll be able to find it at businessofstory.com, is to help people go on that sprint, dial it in quickly and it’s inexpensive. It’s really inexpensive compared to what I would normally charge for this. But the hope is that I can just help people get through COVID and get them positioned for 2021 and be on with their brand story.
– That’s outstanding. Any final thoughts for the listeners out there before we wrap it up here?
– You know, all I would say and I’ve learned this the hard way as you are studying story and starting to bring it into your world and by the way, you are already an intuitive storyteller just by the sake of being a Homo sapien the job is to become intentional and use the Applied Science and be witchery of storytelling so that you can hook your audiences from the very start. But as you’re learning this, just remember that the most potent story you’ll ever tell is the story you tell yourself. So make sure it’s a great one. Thanks so much for having me, Jason
– You have been listening to the Hypnotic Language Hacks podcast with Jason Linett. Please stop everything and start exploring jasonlinett.com for even more business influence and persuasion resources. Make it a priority right now to subscribe to this program and listen to every episode because the next one may reveal that one hypnotic influence secret to massively scale your success. Change your words, change your business, change your life. Get even more at jasonlinett.com.