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Recent Podcast Episodes

Connect With Your Audience Through Brand Storytelling! with Michael Neelsen



Episode Summary

This week’s episode of Win The Hour, Win The Day Podcast is sponsored by Win The Hour, Win The Day’s Signature Coaching Program the Winners Circle. Kris Ward who helps entrepreneurs to stop working so hard interviews, Michael Neelsen.


Michael Neelsen gives us the basics of storytelling in businesses that most overlook. There are lots of insights and takeaways here!

-How storytelling for a brand or business is different from personal stories.
-Why effective storytelling can be such a powerful tool for your business.
-Which perspective the story should be told from.
And MUCH more!!!


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Michael Neelsen Podcast Transcription

[00:00:00] Kris Ward: Hey everyone. Welcome to another episode of Win The Hour, win The Day podcast. I am your host, Kris Ward, and today in the house we have Michael Neelsen.

[00:00:07] He is a filmmaker and a brand storyteller, and once we dive into a conversation, you are going to see why he is here. Welcome to the show, Michael.

[00:00:17] Michael Neelsen: Thank you so much for having me, Kris. I’m excited to be here.

[00:00:20] Kris Ward: Okay. First of all, the brand storytelling, listen, you stopped the scroll. I found you on TikTok, and you do it in a way without the buttons and the whistles and all the video sort of distractions.

[00:00:32] You just really own the space and in a very gentle pacing. You just grab the audience’s attention and you talk about storytelling in a way that I think gives it so much more depth and scope than I’ve heard before. And I’m not a hundred percent sure if it’s your booming radio voice that helps with that.

[00:00:52] I don’t know. But I think we hear all the time about storytelling. I swear I learn this every week and I forget it by Friday. Oh, it’s so important. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And I think we skim over it and really don’t understand what that means. So I am so glad that you’re here to enlighten us because boy, you do a great job of storytelling, so you must know what you’re doing. So tell us about the stories.

[00:01:14] Michael Neelsen: Thank you. And I’ll say off the top that getting the compliment that I have achieved depth in some way on TikTok I’ll pick that as my award on its own. That’s great because as a platform it’s something that’s hard sometimes hard to feel like you, or is there’s any way to get deeper than just like the really pithy thing.

[00:01:30] Yeah, no storytelling. As you were saying it there it’s something that we hear so much now that in many ways it’s lost its meaning, like the word is used to describe so many disparate things that when someone is just saying, Hey, I’m telling a story, or, oh our brand needs to tell our story better, or, oh, I need to tell my story better as a service.

[00:01:48] We’re all kind of meaning different things with that word. And so part the biggest task on my end initially with a lot of people is just trying to agree on a definition. What are we actually talking about when we say storytelling for business? Because it is different than storytelling for entertainment or storytelling just as a way of thinking, to cut to the chase for this audience in particular, storytelling for a brand or as a service or as a business.

[00:02:12] Is all about doing character analysis on your audience as though they are a character and a drama. So it’s about under, it’s not so much telling your story at an audience because that’s not always gonna be relevant. It’s about matching your story to the story that your audience is listen, is living themselves and what they’re listening for.

[00:02:30] Kris Ward: Okay, so let me jump in there for a second. Because I think it’s important. I think when we hear storytelling, my back goes up a little bit because I think I associate it with oversharing. Sure. And I associate it with you see that, okay, look, I’m a success now, and this is people in general talking. This is not me talking.

[00:02:49] Yeah. And then let me tell you the horrors of either my childhood or how I slept on the floor and ate cat food for the six first six months. And you too can run a business. Which for me I have a problem with that. First of all, I still think it’s, sometimes it’s inappropriate and oversharing, and other times I think it’s, to me, it’s pushing into the hustle and grind, which I’m very much about.

[00:03:08] I’m about your business should support your life, not consume it. So I think there’s a glory in the more dramatic, painstaking story there. And so then I think some of us pull away cuz we go, okay, I’m not doing that. And I don’t think it’s appropriate. And I don’t think it’s for my audience in particular is wanna get stuff done, move to the next thing. Yeah. So then I give a pushback on story because that’s what I think a lot of us associate with it.

[00:03:30] Michael Neelsen: Yeah. Yeah. And I think, in practice again it’s, yeah, you don’t want to jump right to telling your story, whatever it is. I know the stories you’re talking about somebody will be telling, their story about how they became a success or whatever, and that works for a particular audience, but it’s not even necessarily their audience because it becomes an audience they’re talking to, but it’s just other people who see that as the path they’re on.

[00:03:51] They, so like they, they can imagine themselves, oh, whatever hard thing I’ve got going on. I can overcome it because that person overcame it and that works. That’s fine. That’s not necessarily, that’s not strategic. You know what I mean? That’s not, that didn’t, that started with the person wanting to tell a story about how they achieved it didn’t start from a place of understanding their audience and hey, how can I help them overcome whatever obstacles standing in their way and their story.

[00:04:15] Kris Ward: Okay. So let me break this down. So I think what you’re saying, which is a really powerful point is I might be scrolling wherever I’m scrolling. One of the socials. And then I could hear, I don’t know, I could hear a fitness instructor talking about how they didn’t have any clients for a long time. The fitness industry is oversaturated until they went online and they’re telling this inspirational story, and I might go, oh yeah, that’s great.

[00:04:36] They went from one to one, one to many, and I might find some connection in their journey story. Yeah. But I’m not their audience. Cause I’m not signing up for that. I have a gym in my basement. I already have my workout routine down pat. So what you’re saying is sometimes we’re just hooking on to stories because that’s the thing we see and it’s great for people going by. They might be interested in the story, but it doesn’t mean that our client, the ideal client.

[00:05:00] Michael Neelsen: Yeah. The only way to really judge the quality of a brand story is not just what it makes you feel, but how well does it actually connect with a given audience and then translate into business results? Like it’s not, it’s if we’re just gonna be judging it based on how it makes us feel.

[00:05:17] Now we’re in the realm of story for entertainment. That’s a different thing. Like we are telling stories in order to get business results. We’re telling stories in order to get influence behavior and make people buy something, or make people sign up for something or make people follow more so that they can become a deeper member of our audience.

[00:05:32] Whatever those things are, we have action oriented goals in this as the filmmaking side of me. Yeah. Then I can just go fully into making people feel something. But that’s art, that’s not business,

[00:05:43] Kris Ward: That’s a really powerful point. For a second, I’m like sitting here nodding. I’m like, Kris, interview the man. I was like, oh, ok.

[00:05:48] Michael Neelsen: No. This is good.

[00:05:49] Kris Ward: No, because I don’t think anybody else has made that has distinguished it in that way or I shouldn’t say anybody else. I have roamed the earthly people. I’ve spoken to them all, whatever, certainly, but I don’t, I have not seen that, separation of the two.

[00:06:02] Yeah. So creating motion can be art. Okay. So and I’ll make this really super short, but so I have a client she was an interior designer. Of course I would make this story a little bit better. She’s an interior designer. Her whole argument cuz we really compress time so that you get 25 hours back a week within the first month of working with us is what most of our clients say, right?

[00:06:22] And that your business should support your life, not consume it. So she’s running around working crazy hours interior designer and we’re saying, “Hey, there’s some ways we can help you.” And she’s you don’t understand Chris. I go in. I look at the client’s home, it’s just a gift. It’s my talent. Cuz you can go to design school and still not be great at this, but this is what I do.

[00:06:38] So our argument was well, there’s always pre and post work and we can decrease that. So her hour her average appointment went from two hours down to an hour and maybe five minutes, . And cut to. Then she has all her morning appointments now, and now she’s in the afternoon speaking on big stages with HGTV type celebrities and she’s gonna write a book and all these amazing things are happening cuz she could condense consistently and could do things that she thought she could never do.

[00:07:04] Michael Neelsen: Right.

[00:07:04] Kris Ward: Now that me telling a story to connect with my audience, obviously there would be some crafting that has to be done better there. Is that the kind of thing you’re talking about?

[00:07:16] Michael Neelsen: I think you have all the ingredients right there for that that, I wouldn’t say that needs any further crafting unless it wasn’t achieving you results.

[00:07:22] Okay. Like a story like that is great because it’s a validator for here’s how you came along in your audience and customer’s journey and helped them overcome an obstacle in their life, which was too much time devoted to things that aren’t actually driving their business. So okay, you’re cutting down time on things.

[00:07:38] If that’s the pain point for your customers. Yeah. You’ve helped them, you’ve helped others do that. And now you can tell that story and those people out there will see themselves in that story and that’s the match that you need to achieve. Too many people, like what you’re talking about earlier on, where people just talk about the success for themselves.

[00:07:54] It’s not so much the ingredients of the story. I don’t object to someone telling a success story about themselves on that merit alone. It just is a failure if it doesn’t actually connect with the audience you need to connect with. It’s about understanding them so well, that you can tell them a story that they see themselves in and they see that the action that they need to take to overcome what stands in their way is working with you.

[00:08:16] That’s what you want to happen. If that doesn’t happen, the story, no matter what’s in the story, it’s a failure. So…

[00:08:20] Kris Ward: My good cook, you can cook a great meal for the wrong audience.

[00:08:23] Michael Neelsen: Exactly. Exactly.

[00:08:23] Kris Ward: I could be a French chef, but now a four year old does not care about french cuisine. Okay. Exactly. Okay. So what are some of the biggest mistakes because I think you see a clarification that most of us are missing. . So what are the biggest mistakes, do you think? Oh, people think they’re on track, but they’re not.

[00:08:38] Michael Neelsen: T he biggest one is one that we’ve obviously lingered on a little bit here, but just say it again in a short way, is people thinking whether it’s a brand or a solopreneur or an entrepreneur thinking that telling their story actually means telling their story.

[00:08:52] It doesn’t actually mean that, it means telling your audience’s story. So it’s a fundamental reframe from the beginning. It’s not that you won’t use all those elements from your story. From like what you live, the things that you’ve gone through, whatever else those may come into, use as fodder, but you’re gonna start with your audience.

[00:09:09] Understand who they are and their story, what’s stopping them from getting what they want, and how can your service come along and help them overcome that. By going through that process, what you will realize is sometimes you’re not actually offering something you could offer. Because once you understand their story enough and you understand what they’re facing, you will realize the, oh, the service we’re currently offering is only 80% fitting what they need, but we have another 20% here that we could give and you won’t even know without going through that process.

[00:09:36] So that’s number one is just reframing it where it’s not your story, it’s your customer’s story. Another one would understanding that stories are about removal of information. It’s not about giving all the information you have to be brief. You have to, that the metaphor I always use with this is sculpting an elephant.

[00:09:52] If, unless when you’re looking at a solid block of granite as a sculptor, they’re not actually sculpting an elephant. They’re removing all the pieces that aren’t the elephant. And most businesses, most entrepreneurs, I understand this myself too, it’s totally. You think everything’s equally important.

[00:10:06] You’re like, oh, I can’t remove that cuz that’s super important. I can’t remove this cuz that’s super important. I’m not saying it’s not important. They’re all really important. I agree. When I first started editing videos for ourselves, for Story First media, I couldn’t get it shorter than seven minutes.

[00:10:19] And that’s ridiculous like that. So I understand. I empathize with that struggle of oh, what do I cut? But the problem is your audience won’t see the elephant unless you remove everything that isn’t that. So you need to, once you’ve boiled down that story that you know is going to show them how you can help them on their journey, overcome what’s standing in their way.

[00:10:37] They, they have to see it. And if you put it on the, on a table with eight other things, they won’t see it. So it’s about breath.

[00:10:43] Kris Ward: Let me jump in here cuz that was really powerful. I remember seeing that video online, I think it was TikTok, and I was like, oh, that is really good whether you’re clay or granite and you’re pulling away, the pulling away is what makes the elephant not adding to

[00:10:58] Michael Neelsen: Think about you. I think you mentioned was it an interior designer you said, or interior decorator.

[00:11:01] Kris Ward: Yeah. Yep.

[00:11:01] Michael Neelsen: Hey, think about an interior decorator. If you’re walking into a living room and every piece of furniture in the room is really unique, like eye-catching stuff they’re not gonna notice any of it. Like you, it has to be, there’s a centerpiece piece and then there’s the things that complemented around it so that you see the centerpiece. Like you, you can’t have everything be the star because you won’t see it.

[00:11:21] Kris Ward: I think too, also what helped me a little bit, which I thought I would never do because I think your strength is your weakness and I was comfortable chatting on camera. It wasn’t a big deal for me. But what I did have to learn is the word scripting I think has also been misused.

[00:11:35] Cuz to me it was like, oh, you’re now, you’re memorizing it and it comes out inauthentic and it’s horrible. But what I have learned is if I write the sentence down. Then it stops me from telling you the story behind the story because I might have then said that exact example I gave you, Sue. I’m like, oh, Sue a client of mine. She’s worked with us a couple years and you start chatting and I don’t need all that. I need to get to the point.

[00:11:57] Michael Neelsen: Yeah. Yeah. And it’s just when you’re telling the story, so and telling the story can be in any environment, I’m not telling people to overly think this out but you have to at least practice it enough so that you can then reflexively pull it out when you need to.

[00:12:08] You’ll notice, and this is another misconception people have, storytelling doesn’t mean you’re telling a full, beginning, middle and end turning point based thing in every piece of your content. Most of my TikToks are not stories in themselves, but they are moments in time in my customer’s stories that I’m coming in and trying to help them overcome a minor obstacle on their journey.

[00:12:29] So it’s not that I’m telling some stories, some, I’m not spinning a yarn. Every time I’m sitting down. It is hopefully my customer is scrolling. They stop. That’s the turning point in their story when they’re like, oh, what is this? And I’m able to help them overcome something in their story. That’s the idea,

[00:12:44] Kris Ward: Is there a big difference or does it maybe not matter? Like when I hear this story, if I’m telling you about a client’s journey, let’s say an interior designer, does it matter? Is there a distinction between a story and that being me telling it really a testimonial?

[00:12:57] Michael Neelsen: Testimonials are a kind of story. So I would say that the most they’re the most powerful stories you can probably tell as a service.

[00:13:03] Because it’s all about hearing it from the horse’s mouth, right? You’re hearing it from someone like you who has gone down this path with you as a service and here’s how they’re better off now. And it’s extremely seamless in allowing your potential customers to see themselves in that story. So yeah, testimonials are vital, especially for service providers.

[00:13:22] Kris Ward: So I think too, when we were talking about before we started you made some powerful points that I think are worth discussing and that the misconception and the fact that storytelling has really become this blanket term that people are confusing it with communication. They’re confusing it with a lot of things.

[00:13:38] So let’s clarify that and narrow it down because I just, like I said, I think there’s so much more here than I understood. And I also think that growing up, whether you have a business or not you hear your parents tell the same old stories or whatever.

[00:13:52] We talk about storytelling, you have to tell story time in kindergarten, right? Yeah. So I think all along we’ve been given this information about storytelling and either we don’t know how to convert it to business or no one really truly broke down all the variables or the variations of the story. So I think we go into this with too much confidence.

[00:14:11] Michael Neelsen: So here’s a quick way I can maybe address some of that. I wish that for storytelling, for business that I could snap my fingers tomorrow and have everyone start thinking of it as story listening. It’s not storytelling, it’s story listening. Okay. Because that’s really more what you’re doing.

[00:14:26] That the actual root etymology of the word story is learning through inquiry. Then that goes all the back to the ancient Greeks. So the idea is to be open-minded and curious. And listening to your audience, understand what they’re feeling, what they’re after, what stands in their way, and how they can overcome what’s standing in their way.

[00:14:43] And then you are able to start talking about what you are at that moment. You’ll know what’s relevant. You’ll know that you’re not just talking to a brick wall. You’re actually able to contribute. It’s it, and people think of storytelling and they think they have to immediately start talking about themselves, and you really don’t.

[00:14:58] And I want people to understand that because it takes the pressure off of you. Like you don’t actually have to come up with some story about yourself right away. It, that that’s actually non not productive. And it’s not really what people should be doing when they think storytelling.

[00:15:10] Kris Ward: So story listening which is hurting my brain right now because I think, I can see how I would think I get it. And then I can see how, I would think I’d get that confused because yeah. We’re all so passionate about what we do. Yeah. And I still struggle with this to this day, but I used to be like everybody, when you first started your business, the first year or two, if somebody said hello, you breathed in and then you exhaled and threw up all over them, all this information cuz you’re so passionate, you wanna help people and it’s wow.

[00:15:40] It’s some sort of wild animal in the kingdom, blah, blah, blah. Yeah. Did you get that? Do you wanna work with me? And so I think what’s happening is you’re saying if we spent more time story listening than when we spoke, it would be so much more effective and powerful that we would be collecting that data.

[00:15:59] This is a silly example, but this is what I think of there’s many people in my life that think I’m a good cook. That’s nice, thank you very much. But then I’ve got, I live in the country, so I’ve got the family that come that want the hardy meat and potatoes, they’re in this lane. And then I got the people that come that really like my healthy food and oh my gosh, this is really good for you.

[00:16:15] It tastes so good. And it’s not heavy, but I have to listen to know which lane they’re in. Cuz I am a very different cook for depending who’s showing up. Yep. So that’s me story listening and then providing the story slash food to the right audience.

[00:16:29] Michael Neelsen: And some people will hear that and think we’re talking. Talking on both sides of our mouth or telling different stories to different people in a manipulative way. It’s not that at all. It isn’t when you’re doing that for those different dinner guests that is being respectful of them and their time and their expectations. That’s why I often refer to story storytelling for brands.

[00:16:47] Storytelling for business is actually the most empathetic form of marketing out there because it’s, if you’re doing it right, you’re not like lying, you’re not being dishonest. You’re not making people feel things they don’t genuinely feel. You are starting with as your home base. The audience first, and then you work backwards from the audience to what can I bring to help?

[00:17:07] I agree with you. This is not really how a lot of people, how a lot of businesses think about themselves. It’s not how we thought about ourselves when we started either. And so I’m not saying this is necessarily a conversation you have to have with yourself before you start the business, but once you’re having to tell that story in communicative form to anybody, that’s when you have to start thinking about, okay, how do I how do I make this talking useful because no wasted words, like how do I actually make this something that drives business results?

[00:17:33] Because again, if it’s not just about talking, right? It’s like actually trying to help somebody in business overcome something. Otherwise, there’s no purpose for what I’m offering. So I need to have some reason for the service that I’m offering and that, that is borne out of a problem. My customers are having.

[00:17:49] Kris Ward: Okay, so with the example I gave with interior designer. Working backwards a little bit, it’s okay. That’s the story. Now obviously, there’s so much that you could be teaching as we’re not gonna get in the next few minutes, but of course, what makes this then go from a good story of just to a self-serving testimonial?

[00:18:06] Oh, I did this with a client. Is it again, pulling out the information so we see the elephant? Is it the hook? When does it and is it just tightening up and making it short and efficient? Because I think that it’s a slippery slope from, I think I have a story to, I’m just trying to tell you that I’m good at what I do and pay attention.

[00:18:23] Michael Neelsen: Cuz I wanna sell you something. It’s a great question and I’m actually in the middle of developing like a quick assessment tool, like looking at a brand story and go here’s how you can quickly assess whether it’s quality or not. And I’ll be coming out with that shortly, so you’re getting me right in the middle when I’m thinking about this

[00:18:35] Yes. The at the elephant metaphor is good in the sense of removing anything that isn’t the story. If you know what the story is, do not fall prey to that temptation of, oh, I’m also gonna talk about this. Like that. It just buddies the water. So keeping it simple to what it is, the KISS rule of keep it simple, stupid, and screenwriting is a real thing.

[00:18:52] Yeah. And then you’ve already got the way to keep it from being self-serving is by not tying around a real customer problem, so bad testimonial. That are self-serving are customers just saying a whole bunch of nice things about the brand about the service, oh, it was great. They were so wonderful to have it, they were like an extension of our team. It was wonderful. It was great. We loved working with them. It’s like that, none of that actually ties to a real problem that the potential new customers would have. So you want it, you want them to tell the story of their experience as you did the the interior designer was having this problem beforehand.

[00:19:23] Here’s how their life was difficult. Then they came to us and we were able to get their time down from two hours to one hour. And now that they’ve done that, here’s where they are today. That’s a good testimonial because now I can invest myself down.

[00:19:34] Kris Ward: Ok. Lemme jump in there for a sec. Okay, so then somebody listening to that could be a video editor or could be something else saying, oh, yeah, that’s my problem.

[00:19:40] I’m the only one that has to do the work. But she was the only one who had to do work. So there’s pre and post work. So maybe there’s pre and post work for my, so as long as I keep it clean, keep it tight, keep it moving, then it can translate to other people because they’ll start to see the commonalities.

[00:19:53] Michael Neelsen: Correct. And it keeps all the just nice words from being empty. Like we don’t, the nice words don’t mean anything without a problem.

[00:20:00] Kris Ward: It’s like in university, when I was in university and you’d get this paper like, oh my gosh, like 40,000 words, right? And you’d think if I knew that 40,000 words on this topic, you’d be reading my book.

[00:20:10] But anyhow, at the time I was dating a guy that was working for the, like a big newspaper, the University of Toronto newspaper. So like anybody, you would switch papers or Hey, can you proofread this? I gotta hand this in tomorrow. And he would take his red bed, rip through it and he would take all my howevers and therefores out.

[00:20:32] And I, cuz he was used to working for the paper, which he was right. But at the time I lost oxygen cuz I’m like, dude, listen to me. I need all these words. I need to feel 40,000 words. You’re taking my words. And he’s this is flop. It’s not moving the story along. And I’m like, okay, the story is I need to freaking get 40,000 words.

[00:20:49] Yeah. He was right though it wasn’t moving the story. My goal was different now, my goal was the word count, not the essence of the story. We’re doing that with video now is really what’s what I’m learning.

[00:21:01] Michael Neelsen: Yeah and anything and really, you could, you’re right that you could go down a rabbit hole with this, but I’ll try and keep this very high level.

[00:21:07] The reason this all matters, this isn’t just arbitrary. People decided that shorter is better. For some reason. The reason this all matters is because the human mind tunes out things that they can’t connect to the larger narrative. So if we just drone on or get off topic or anything like that, it actually the brains of our audience can’t hold on and we scroll past.

[00:21:28] So it’s literally science. That’s the reason we’re doing this. It’s not because somebody has decided that 60 seconds is the right number.

[00:21:34] Kris Ward: Okay. This makes so much sense because when I’m watching your video, it’s like there’s a lock in and it’s like you don’t have a lot of the buttons and whistles and the whatever visual cues that other ones have.

[00:21:48] Sure. And I almost am listening, thinking, why am I still here? Like, how? How come I’m stuck here, right? Yeah. And I cannot scroll past it. So what happens is, because the words are so tight and powerful, there is no pause for me to step out of it and go, oh, you know what? I’m hungry. Oh, I gotta go do something else. Because each word matters.

[00:22:09] Michael Neelsen: Yep. If I digress, but..

[00:22:11] Kris Ward: Kinda like when you watch a really maybe a draw a movie or something that’s very well done and very script driven and you have to pause it even to go to the bathroom or somebody asks a question, you have to stop it cuz every word Aaron Sorkin is very, yep powerful that, so you, every frigging word counts, right?

[00:22:25] Michael Neelsen: Yeah.

[00:22:25] Kris Ward: And so that’s what you’re doing with a powerful story on video is you’re making it tight. So if you start saying, oh, and then she was really nice and we worked with her a bit, then the human brain can go, oh, did I put that in the laundry? And then we wander off.

[00:22:39] Michael Neelsen: You’re you. Yeah. If you digress you’re creating opportunities for the audience. Just tune out. It’s not even their fault. It’s not if we talk about it so much as being like the audience’s fault, that everyone’s attention span is short. It’s like this is not their fault.

[00:22:51] This is how the brain works. . So you’re you have to stay relevant if you’re not being relevant. It’s understandable. They scroll. So…

[00:22:58] Kris Ward: And see, I know that, yeah, I know. My brain wanders off like you’re sitting there. Yeah. And I have a lot of focus. I’m pretty driven. Yeah. And I’m pretty good with my attention.

[00:23:05] I think I’m better than most. Yeah. And yet suddenly you’re thinking, should I have chicken tonight? And but yet you think. I think, oh, that’s my weakness. And then I think somebody else somehow is gonna pay attention to all this foolishness, because what I’m saying is, I think so important built on years of experience.

[00:23:20] Yeah. So really a self-diagnosis of how your, how easily your mind wanders, right? I think this in itself is hugely powerful. Like that in itself is amazing to me. Like I’m seeing everything in a new light.

[00:23:32] Michael Neelsen: Yeah, that’s the other thing is as you, as the more time you spend in this realm of thinking about how storytelling works on our audience’s brain and our own brains and how it’s how we just make sense of the world around us.

[00:23:42] You do get to a place where you’re actually less judgmental about yourself. You look at, you start turning those story listening tools on your own behavior and you say, why am I behaving this way? I say that I believe this, but then I see myself behaving in a way that’s actually counter to what I say I believe.

[00:23:56] That’s interesting cuz my behavior actually is closer to my true character and what I really believe. That’s speaking more to me. So what is that all about? And it allows you to understand yourself better as well.

[00:24:06] Kris Ward: Okay, so then the example I often gave when Martin Luther King said, I had a dream, I thought I would’ve messed that up like nobody’s business.

[00:24:14] Cuz I would’ve been like, I had a dream. Like I would’ve spoke too quickly. I had a dream. Listen in I gotta tell you about this dream, right? Whatever. So in that case, it is making me see everything that is was, it was more of an emotional storytelling because he could have, I don’t, I mean I obviously don’t have it, the speech memorized, but it’s tight, but it leaned more emotion.

[00:24:38] So even though there’s big dramatic pauses and stuff, because he was dealing with emotion and vision and all this imagining that held the attention longer. .

[00:24:47] Michael Neelsen: Yeah, I suppose that specific case it’s, he’s using metaphor, right? But in the end, it’s only motivating to an audience of any kind because they’re feeling something similar to what he’s feeling.

[00:24:56] Okay. Okay. Very good. If they, if their heads were somewhere else, it’d be white noise. So if something resonates, that’s evidence that there’s a there that, oh, that’s, there’s actually something real there and there’s something that people are feeling and it’s. That’s why I say storytelling for influence and for business and for nonprofits and for causes and all this stuff. The only real metric for whether it works or not is does it resonate? Does it actually drive business results? If it doesn’t you’re engaged in art.

[00:25:22] Kris Ward: That is a really good, powerful point because you know why? Because then it’s so easy to get distracted and say, oh, I need to speak like this person.

[00:25:30] They have more dramatic pauses. I need to do this. I need that. One of the most famous speeches all the time, I give you an example and you’re like, yeah, great, Kris. It was a powerful speech if you are in that, if that’s what you need or want if you’re in that place. Otherwise, it has no bearing.

[00:25:45] So it’s really not about all these things that we look at about intangible intangibles, and then you start, it’s almost I don’t know saying this person’s really powerful speaker cuz he always wears a blue tie.

[00:25:55] Michael Neelsen: I guess what I’m saying, yeah. If that speech didn’t resonate, if it didn’t work, we would’ve never heard of it. I guess it’s my point, right? Yeah. Like it, it would have been white noise lost to the ether. It the only ones that we know about are extremely success.

[00:26:08] Kris Ward: Yeah. No, and I got that To me, the point I, what I was looking at the other way, I totally heard what you said and I was looking at the other way, which then protects us from trying to emulate things because they it spoke to the right people and they did it in the right way.

[00:26:22] Yes. Where we would’ve broke it down, perhaps, and I would’ve chopped it up in pieces that, oh, they do this and they did that. And they were intangibles, which had nothing to do with if they’re speaking the right message to the right person.

[00:26:34] Michael Neelsen: Yes, correct. Yeah. You’re authenticity is the whole thing here. If you’re playing too much of a second guessing game, like there’s a way of doing what I’m of, there’s a way of taking what I’m saying here way too literally. Yeah. And making it math as opposed to art. And you’re going my, my customer really wants this, so I’m gonna be, I’m gonna change myself into that thing so that they can have that.

[00:26:53] So that that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about authentically understanding the audience well enough, to know then how you can authentically match what they need and actually be there and match the stories together in the, we’ve done this process a million times with different companies of different sizes, and you discover along the way, where maybe the instinct would be to have an inauthentic answer to whatever the problem would be.

[00:27:13] And you start dancing a dance, you’re playing a role now. That, that, that’s unsustainable. It’s absolutely about knowing yourself, not copying what some other person is doing just because they’re seemingly having success with it. You have to really understand how can you authentically be a part of your customer’s story.

[00:27:29] Kris Ward: Which makes sense cuz then there’s the story listening and the relationship between Martin Luther King, the journey and the people he is speaking to. What I did was broke it down, then just put a spotlight at him and said what did he do? And you’re saying it’s really about so much more than just that, right?

[00:27:43] Michael Neelsen: Yeah. And if, and it’ll, it frees you from the shackles of a hundred percent of being married to any sort of math too. know, We were talking earlier about it. These arbitrary rules of 60 seconds or less hypothetically or something. . Yeah. You can break those rules if you hear the real stor the real message behind this if you can actually manage to be resonating past a 62nd video into three minutes, if you can actually accomplish that, which some people can, don’t hold yourself to 60 seconds, then, but it, you have to learn what you’re really listening for in a story in order to get good at that.

[00:28:14] Kris Ward: That is a really good point to end on because then you’re right, we get caught up in the, oh he told a three-man story, so I can tell three men story and then you’re not, these are two different stories. One is crafted, it’s not, and one is just, let me tell you another thing. My gosh.

[00:28:25] Okay. Michael, you have been such a delight and so many powerful insights. Where can we find more of your brilliance?

[00:28:33] Michael Neelsen: Gosh. I thank you so much for that compliment. Obviously TikTok @StoryFirstMedia that’s spelled out first. So Story First Media is great. And is our website where we you could reach out to us if you have any needs of this sort for either consulting or content production, which is what we specialize in.

[00:28:48] Kris Ward: Fabulous. All right, everyone else, we will see you in the next episode. Thank you so much. .