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3 Ways to Avoid the WORST MISTAKE in Digital Marketing: Formulaic vs Relationship-Based Marketing

Forget “shiny objects” and “silver bullet” formulas. Please. There’s a better way. A much better way. And, in the age of coronavirus, it’s time to boil things down to the essentials, don’t you think?

Relationship-based marketing makes your business sustainable for the long haul, allows you to be of service in a way that’s meaningful to you, and creates a process that you can enjoy every step of the way.

In the episode of Video Mojo above, I do my best to will help you avoid the worst mistake in digital marketing (spoiler alert: it’s making your marketing all about the money) while illuminating the path to more satisfying forms of success.

About Video Mojo
Video Mojo is a video blog and podcast hosted by award-winning media innovator, Jon Leland of http://combridges.com. It combines timeless marketing principles with a playful exploration of the “bleeding edge” of digital video & social media.

Resource Links from this episode:
– Robin Sharma “5am Club”: https://www.robinsharma.com/book/the-5am-club

I’d love to hear what works for you and if you find this program useful. If you’ve got questions, feedback, or suggestions, please comment below, or let’s connect (and leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever):
* YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/jonleland​/
* Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/joncombridges/
* Twitter: https://twitter.com/joncombridges​/
* Podcast Home: https://anchor.fm/video-mojo​/

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

3 Ways to Avoid the WORST MISTAKE in Digital Marketing: Formulaic vs Relationship-Based Marketing

Hi there and welcome to another edition of Video Mojo. My name is Jon Leland from ComBridges.com. Video Mojo is a podcast and a vlog that connects timeless marketing principles with a playful exploration of video marketing and social media marketing.

Today we’re going to explore 3 principles to help you avoid the worst mistake in digital Marketing. In other words, why formulaic marketing hurts your brand and how relationship based marketing builds success.

This is a subject that is very near and dear to my heart. It is something that bugs me in the marketplace where, I think, we all, in this day and age, have much more sensitive “bullshit meters” than ever before. We recognize hype, we recognize when people are trying to manipulate us, and now with coronavirus and kind of a reinvention of our entire society (at least I hope in some ways), more and more people are trying to focus on what is essential and important in life. This contrast between what I call relationship-based marketing and manipulative or formulaic marketing is really at the heart of the matter.

I think that the worst mistake that you can make in digital marketing is to make it all about the money. Formulaic marketing taps into this kind of myth that I think a lot of people have, that there can be a silver bullet. That if you just follow this formula A-B-C-, it’s a guaranteed six to seven figures. We all know it’s a myth. It’s just a false promise and people are playing on the entrepreneurial spirit that’s out there, genuine authentic longing to be of service. And they are capitalizing and going – well these are the tips and tricks -. I think we all have a propensity to look for shiny objects, quick fixes, and that kind of thing. But you know, stay away. I think that is the worst mistake not only to buy into that but also to think that that’s a recipe for success.

To be clear, I’m not saying that techniques and strategies such as sales funnels or email sequences are bad per se. There are a lot of very solid techniques but there’s a fuel that powers them. And that’s the things that I’m most passionate about and why I’m involved in online marketing. So I want to offer you 3 key principles that I think really make marketing work in the face of all this bull.

1- Make Authentic Human Connections

So #1 is the fact that we need to make authentic human connections. That’s why this is Video Mojo and why I’m such a big proponent of online video. We need to make human connections. Those human connections need to be fueled by value.

2 – Human Connections are Fueled By Value

I am reading a book right now by Robin Sharma called The 5 am Club. And he talks throughout the book about this goal which is to serve as many people as possible. And I think that’s something that, if not all of us, most of us want to do is have our work, serve as many people as possible.

That is the second principle is if it’s heart oriented, if you’re really coming from service people get that and that builds on the human connection and allows you to really make a difference.

3 – Marketing is a Long-Term Process

The third principle is that you really have to look at marketing as a long-term process. I heard the famous quote recently that you shouldn’t confuse the map with the territory. The map, or the design, or the strategy is really one thing but the territory is the landscape and in marketing, it’s the environment that we’re working within. If you’re going to build authentic long-term relationships, which I do think is a very real definition of success, authentic long-term relationships, it’s a process. No relationship is built in one day or in one event. Basic marketing principle being multiple touches and basics of relationship-building is contribute, contribute, contribute, and always be adding value.

I love the expression “Lead With Value”. You offer your service, you offer value. The people that I know and admire that have been really successful in online marketing have generated tons of free content. And this is my modest effort, Video Mojo. No charge, no sales pitch. I’m out here trying to make a difference, trying to help people do better heart-based, relationship-based marketing, rather than the kind of formulaic stuff that is so prevalent and so hyped.

I think the bottom line is, how do you define success? There are many definitions of success but I can tell you that if you make it all about the money that is very short-sighted and not sustainable. People can smell when what you’re doing is really “I just want sales, I’m just after your money”. On the other hand, if you’re coming from being of service, people can taste that and they can get a real sense that you’re here not for the money necessarily. Although, I believe the money follows and this is what fuels a long-term business that’s sustainable. They get the sense that that’s why you’re here, you’re around and you’re consistent. That’s one of the big things I’ve talked about here over and over again, consistent content and consistent presence. That’s the kind of thing that builds what I think is a definition of success which is sustainable long-term relationships.

Business is about relationships. When you’re present and leading with value then I think that you have kind of marketing that can work and that will feed you all along the way so that you can become part of a learning process and evolve and develop relationships over time. It’s a long game but that’s a game worth playing and a game that you can enjoy every step of the way.

That’s this episode of VIdeo Mojo. If you’re looking for more episodes, there’s a youtube channel or also on my website ComBridges.com/blog. On the blog is where you can find all the episodes including transcripts. I look forward to your feedback as always I’m very grateful for your time and attention and we’ll see you next time.

VIDEO AID IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS – How Software Providers Are Helping Us Connect & Communicate

Coronavirus has truly changed everything. ​
​We are all in this together.

As online video software provider, Loom said, “Inaction Felt Wrong.” Or, as Chris Cuomo said recently on CNN, “sitting on the sidelines is not an option.”

​In this episode of Video Mojo, I shine a spotlight on three online software companies who are examples of companies who are doing what they can (based on their company’s culture and values), especially in support of educators who are teaching online, using video, for the first time.

About Video Mojo

​Video Mojo is a weekly video blog and podcast hosted by award-winning media innovator, Jon Leland. It combines timeless marketing principles with a playful exploration on the “bleeding edge” of digital video & social media.

Resource Links from this episode:

If you want to check out ConvertKit as an email marketing platform:
https://app.convertkit.com/referrals/l/cb9d89ab-194a-4937-b1c4-7027fd850bf2
(affiliate link) Please let me know if you have questions.

I’d love to hear what works for you and if you find this program useful. If you’ve got questions, feedback or suggestions, please comment below, or let’s connect (and leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever):

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

VIDEO AID IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS – How Software Providers Are Helping Us Connect & Communicate

Hi there and welcome to Video Mojo!

My name is Jon Leland and this is a video blog and podcast where we combine timeless marketing principles with the bleeding edge of video communications, social media, and digital marketing.
So we’re living in strange and interesting times. But it is an area where video can make a difference and help to connect us all, as I’ve been talking about week after week; human connections through video. This is an episode about how video software providers and an email software provider are really providing support for people to be able to take advantage of the fact that we’re staying at home and working at home. Many people are really cutting down on all kinds of travel and person-to-person interactions, so we want to make more of these human interactions. And when we make human interactions, it really becomes a matter of empathy, caring and wanting to make a difference. That’s why there’s this beautiful theme here between video connection and people making a difference in making offers.

Today, I want to shine the spotlight on three different software providers that are doing offers to help support people in this time of need.

Loom

The first one is Loom. I have actually become a fan of theirs even more since the video that I did in February where I talked about 4 video tools to help improve video fluency and connection. The folks at Loom have dramatically illustrated how this changed, because of the coronavirus and people working from home, is impacting the amount of video that we’re all using. They posted these charts both from China and from Italy showing how increased use there is where people are being most negatively impacted by the coronavirus.

The first thing that I want to say about Loom is I really love their culture and the fact that they felt in the presentation video on the page where they announced their response to the coronavirus they said “inaction felt wrong.” I really salute that spirit, and I feel the same way. I really think we need to be there more than ever for each other even though we can’t be there in person.

The other thing I want to say about Loom is that when I did a video in February about four tools I talked about Loom and I found that I have become even more of a fan of their platform since then. One key advantage is that when I record Loom videos they’re instantly available on the web. Some of the other platforms require you to upload the video within the application. For example, on Snagit, I have to wait for it to upload. It’s great the way it gets shared quickly, but with Loom it’s instantaneous.

In terms of the coronavirus, they’ve extended the terms of the already free version of Loom. It used to be that there was a limit of 25 videos when you had the free platform, it’s now unlimited through July 1st. And for everyone they’ve made the platform half cost. It was $10 a month for their pro platform, it’s now $5 a month. I recommend checking out Loom in any case because the free platform is quite powerful. And the most important part of their offer is for educators. Anyone in an educational institution a teacher, an administrator, or whatever they can get the Loom platform at the pro level for free forever. Not just the July 1st temporary offer.

Bomb Bomb

The second platform that I want to talk about in terms of a response to doing more video with the coronavirus is Bomb Bomb. They talked about rehumanizing your communications. I think if you’re a teacher and now need to teach online, part of that process is going to be the interactions that you might have done in office. Things that you will do now by email. Bomb Bomb is a very sophisticated application for doing video in email, particularly with Gmail. Normally it’s relatively expensive, starting around $30 a month per user. But for educators, it’s now free and they did not put a time limit on it. So if you think that you would benefit as a teacher delivering your communications as close to face-to-face that you can get. Really making eye contact with your students and doing that by email, this offer from Bomb Bomb is worth checking out.

Now I will put one caveat. I experimented with Bomb Bomb and in addition to the cost, there is a learning curve. It is an application. You could manage an entire class’s email list within the Bomb Bomb application and follow up with each student and have all of that readily available. So that’s something that I think educators might want to check out.

Convertkit

The third thing that I wanted to talk about is Convertkit. Convertkit is an email platform like MailChimp. Though, there are a lot of things that I like about it better. One of the things is their culture and that they specifically designed their platform and market to creators. What Nathan Barry, the CEO, has done is to create a “Creator Fund” and has funded it with $50,000. They’ve already gotten close to $150,000 as of a couple days ago and I’m sure it’s going to go beyond that. They are getting tons of applications but as we all know a lot of people are taking some very serious financial hits because of what’s going on with the coronavirus. So they’re creating a fund for creators who need help with their rent, health expenses, groceries, and those kinds of things.

People do really care. I really applaud these software companies that are doing something about the situation that we’re in. More and more I think we’re going to be learning to be video savvy and connecting via these kinds of video communications.

I look forward to your feedback. Thanks for any input that you can provide, for sharing, for subscribing, and all that good kind of support. I look forward
to seeing you next week!

Digital Marketing Guidance: Better Choices Make a Better Business – This Changes Everything!

Is there such a thing as a “North Star” guidance system for your digital marketing? You bet there is.

And, it’s not a tip, trick or “recipe for success.” It’s WAY more valuable than that.

For me, connecting with what I call “the real Internet” is “the one in front of all the zeros.” It’s that important because it gives everything else meaning.

Click above to watch this week’s Video Mojo video blog & podcast episode.

Please watch and let me know if you agree. OK?

About Video Mojo

Video Mojo is a weekly video blog and podcast hosted by award-winning media innovator, Jon Leland. It combines timeless marketing principles with a playful exploration on the “bleeding edge” of digital video & social media.

Resource Links from this episode:

I’d love to hear what works for you and if you find this program useful. If you’ve got questions, feedback or suggestions, please comment below, or let’s connect (and leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever):

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

Digital Marketing Guidance: Better Choices Make a Better Business – This Changes Everything!

Hi and welcome to Video Mojo!

My name is Jon Leland and this is a video blog and podcast that combines timeless marketing principles with the bleeding edge of marketing and video communications.

Today I am talking about something that can change everything! It’s the choices that we make in our business and really some of the fundamental choices that are like the north star that guides everything. You know, there are these “whys” and these passions, and when you have the discipline to take the time to listen for those they do make better business choices. It’s not just about money but about quality of life, quality of relationships and doing marketing and communications that are meaningful.

I started listening on Audible to the new James Taylor fragment of autobiography. It’s his first 21 years he calls it “Break Shot”. He opens that audio program with this quote.

“Perhaps art happens when the usual channels
are not available and you have to find a new path forward.
Sometimes in describing that new pathway,
we open a door that is useful to other people too.”

That’s kind of why I’m here. Because I’m opening doors for myself and exploring:

  • What do I want to say in this video blog?
  • How can I contribute?
  • Who are my tribe?
  • Where’s my community?

What I’ve remembered is that the internet is this multi-faceted thing. We all know that there are spammers and trolls out there and there are get rich quick marketing people. I do highly recommend that you avoid these, in particular, get rich quick ideas. “Here’s the formula, here’s the recipe, if you just follow this three-step process you’re guaranteed to make six figures.” I don’t think that’s how it works and I also don’t think that’s a north star.

I’ve really learned over the years that it’s not about the money, I like earning a living there’s nothing wrong with money, but I’ve found that there is a better internet and the better internet is based on real people who are doing authentic things.

I’m reminded of this story when I was on a video shoot in India. We were in an airport in a small city in India and it was kind of this relatively modern concrete impersonal dry cold kind of building, like airports tend to be. We were waiting for a delayed plane and one of the locals invited me to go for chai tea at a local chai walla – a local chai stand. We walked out of the airport around a corner and before we knew it we were with the local people in a local chai shop. It was warm and friendly and colorful like most of India, very much not like the airport. I said to myself, “Oh, this is the real India. Now we’re in the real India”.

I had a similar experience recently. I had a conversation with a marketer, the head of Marketing Showrunners, Jay Acunzo. And this conversation lit up my heart. He’s an authentic guy who I really think is about making a difference. Someone who is saying some very direct things about how we build real community. In this conversation, I went “Oh, this is the real internet! I remember there are people out here like that.”.

So that’s my invitation to you this week. Find your north star. Find real people, make real connections, build authentic relationships. There is a real internet out here and if you do that, it changes everything. You’ll make better choices that will give you a better life, better communities, and a more satisfying business.

So let me know what you think I really appreciate your kind attention and I do look forward to your feedback comments and suggestions.

Thanks again for watching. See you next week!

Improve Your Video Connections with These 4 Recommended Video Software Tools

Are you looking to up your video communication skills?

Whether you are using video for marketing, to share software tips with those you work with, or to share valuable information via social media, you have choices to make in order to find “the right (video) tool for the job.”

​I’ve got recommendations! The episode of Video Mojo (video below) will help you by offering a quick overview of four video software tools that I have used to create casual, but informative videos, especially for clients and colleagues.

Click above to watch this week’s Video Mojo video blog & podcast episode.

The first three apps are particularly useful if you need or want to share your screen, including if that screen is sharing a presentation. The fourth video software tool is particularly useful when you want to make a more powerful video connection via email. Links to all four video apps are below (FYI, none are affiliate links.)

​About Video Mojo

Video Mojo is a weekly video blog and podcast hosted by award-winning media innovator, Jon Leland. It combines timeless marketing principles with a playful exploration on the “bleeding edge” of digital video & marketing.

Resource Link from this episode:

I’d love to hear what works for you and if you find this program useful. If you’ve got questions, feedback or suggestions, please comment below, or let’s connect (and leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever):

* Video Launch Pad: https://go.combridges.com/video-launch-pad​
* YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/jonleland​
* Video Blog Home: https://www.combridges.com/blog​/
* Podcast Home: https://anchor.fm/video-mojo​/
* On Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/video-mojo-jon-leland-tips-strategies-for-better-world/id1489867374?uo=4​
* On Spotify Podcasts: https://open.spotify.com/show/1ORM2qja8iMWM9ykwvhaXk​
* Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/joncombridges/
* Twitter: https://twitter.com/joncombridges​/
* Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/combridges.fb​/
* LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonleland/

Thanks!

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

Improve Your Video Connections with These 4 Recommended Video Software Tools

Hi and welcome! 

My name is Jon Leland and I’m a digital marketing strategist and the host of Video Mojo, a weekly video blog, and podcast that connects timeless marketing principles with the bleeding edge of video communications, technology, and marketing. 

So today we are going to talk about four applications that can really help you get more fluent in the language of video and increase the power of the connections that you make via video. As you may have heard from other episodes of this video blog and podcast I’m a big advocate of the practice of video. I am passionate about learning by doing and experimenting, but most of all getting yourself out there so you develop the video muscle. These are four applications that can help you do just that in order to make better connections with the people that you are working with or that you want to influence. 

I will include all of the links for the applications that I’m talking about and some other resources throughout the description.

Loom

The first application is called Loom. Loom is very popular because of its simplicity and also because of its free level robust application. It operates both as a Chrome plug-in and as a desktop application. I’ve only used it as the Chrome plug-in because I find it really convenient. When you use Loom the limitation is that you do not have many customization options. Your talking head video will be a small circle in the lower-left corner. You then will be able to share your screen and show people what it is that you want to communicate about. We use it frequently and I’ve seen it used to explain things that are going on within software or websites. It’s very powerful and relatively easy to use. 

Snagit

A step up from that is Snagit, which is a kind of a Swiss Army knife of video tools. It has both the ability to do still frame captures as well as various forms of video interaction. It introduces the sophistication of being able to switch back and forth between a screen share and the full live-action video talking head. I got turned on to Snagit by Steve Dotto of Dottotech. He is a resource that I recommend and I’ll also include a link to his video review of Snagit for a lot more detail. Snagit is a paid application. It is a one-time fee of about $50 unless you get some kind of discount. It will give you a more sophisticated ability to produce videos where you’re switching back and forth while recording but NOT in post-production. 

Wistia’s Soapbox

I really like the third tool, Wistia’s Soapbox. Wistia is a video hosting application that I do recommend to get away from the YouTube noise that happens when you host videos on YouTube. For example, on my landing pages for the video launchpad, I have embedded videos that will not recommend other YouTube videos by using the Wistia platform. Soapbox is an application that Wistia has developed and is also accessible by a Chrome plug-in. It has a really clever post-production editing interface. You record once and then in this editing interface you have the ability to switch between the live talking head and the screen share as well as a  third view which is one-third talking head in two-thirds screen share. So if you’re doing “mini-tutorials” soapbox is a pretty cool application that will enable you to produce a kind of presentation that looks like you’ve used much more fancy editing software that has a nice combination of the live talking head human presence and the screen sharing. 

BombBomb

Then if you want to move up to the next level BombBomb is a really cool application, particularly if you’re doing a lot of email outreach and you want to move to a more sophisticated level. For example, if you are a real estate marketer that wants to stand out above the crowd in how they communicate with their prospective customers, BombBomb integrates with email like nothing else that I’ve seen. The way that they do that is when you record a BombBomb video for somebody the first two seconds is an animated GIF that can be embedded into an email. In fact, they have a whole email integration for outbound marketing. That means the learning curve is higher and the cost is definitely higher as it’s a professional application. But it will give you the ability to communicate via email and really make personal messages that can attract and engage in a very powerful way. 

So there’s a quick overview of four tools that you can use to increase your video muscle. You know, it’s a practice. It takes determination and perseverance to stay with it. Each one has a learning curve starting with something like Loom (it’s simpler), and walking up the ladder to something like BombBomb (it’s much more complex). Whatever you do I really encourage you to get out there, make yourself more visible, and do the kind of engagement that these kinds of video tools enable. 

Thanks again for your kind attention. I really do appreciate you being here and I’ll see you next week!

The Beyond Storytelling Interview: How to Find the Story that WANTS to Be Told

Sadly, the meaning of storytelling has become clouded by the fact that it has become a “marketing buzzword du jour.” AND, as my expert guest Michael Kass says, “Story is real!

Story is so real in fact that, if you listen to yourself carefully, you might find that there’s a story in you that WANTS to be told.

​This episode of Video Mojo is different. It’s longer than usual because it’s an interview/conversation with healer, facilitator, and coach, Michael Kass, who encourages us all to plumb the depths of storytelling. As you will see and hear, this approach is something quite different from the more mercenary and manipulative, “storytelling-as-a-marketing-strategy.”

This week’s Video Mojo video blog & podcast episode.

Most importantly, Michael aligns with this program’s core values of being more human and our commitment to cultivating what it takes to build more authentic relationships and community. Sound good?

About Video Mojo

Video Mojo is an (almost) weekly video blog (vlog) and podcast hosted by award-winning media innovator, Jon Leland ( that’s me! ). Video Mojo combines timeless marketing principles with a playful exploration of the “bleeding edge” of video & marketing communications tips, tools and techniques.

For more Michael Kass, please visit: https://www.storyandspirit.org/

Your Feedback, Questions, and Reviews… Please!

I’d love to hear what works for you and if you find this program useful. If you’ve got questions, feedback or suggestions, please comment below, or let’s connect (and leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever).

I’d love to hear what works for you and if you find this program useful. If you’ve got questions, feedback or suggestions, please comment below, or let’s connect (and leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever):

* Podcast Home: https://anchor.fm/video-mojo​

* On Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/video-mojo-jon-leland-tips-strategies-for-better-world/id1489867374?uo=4​

* On Spotify Podcasts: https://open.spotify.com/show/1ORM2qja8iMWM9ykwvhaXk​

* ComBridges Website: https://www.combridges.com​

* Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/joncombridges/

* Twitter: https://twitter.com/joncombridges​

* Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/combridges.fb​

* LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonleland

Video Transcript:

The Beyond Storytelling Interview: How to Find the Story that WANTS to Be Told

Welcome everybody to a very special episode of Video Mojo where we bring together both traditional marketing concepts, really timeless marketing concepts, and the next latest generation of tools, techniques, and strategies. 

Today, in some ways we’re talking about an UN-strategy. We’re are talking about going beyond storytelling and my good friend and the storytelling expert, Michael Kass is with us. 

Jon: Michael, Thank you for being here. 

Michael: I am happy to be here.  This is fun! 

Jon: Yeah and unlike most of my editions of Video Mojo, 1 – This is going to be more than 4-5 minutes long, and 2 – It’s going to be a conversation.  Michael and I are going to talk for 10 minutes maybe about storytelling and then we’re going to open up and have Q&A with the people that are joining us online. And thank you to those who are with us live or those that are listening to the recording. Anyway, this will go out via podcast as well as via the video blog. So Michael, storytelling. I was thinking that “Beyond Storytelling” as a title would be in quotes and then within that “Storytelling” could be in quotes because the word “Storytelling” has all these meanings. Historically it reminds me of way back in the day when multimedia was the hot thing and I would be talking about multimedia and I would hear What do you mean by that?. And then digital video came along and now there’s not only YouTube but high-end commercials, television, tick-tock and Facebook live. I mean all of that is technically digital video. My point being the term becomes so broad you don’t know. I think that storytelling has become a buzzword and it means a lot of things to a lot of people. I saw a blog post the other day that I didn’t send to you because I think it would have made you nauseous because it was about how with storytelling you have to tell your brand’s story and it’s become this marketing hook. 

Michael: My heart! My heart! 

Jon: I know, exactly! So I don’t want to make you sick but I also think it’s very exciting to go to another level of storytelling. So how do you distinguish that? I liked the way you did in one of the social media posts about this conversation you said “It’s NOT about marketing and It’s NOT about persuasion” So, what the heck is it? 

Michael: That’s a great question! So there was a moment a couple of years ago where I had a pretty profound realization about story. I’ve been hired to teach storytelling in a prison up in the Central Valley and I was very bad. It was 12 sessions and I was terrible. I didn’t know how to run the room and  I was just doing a bad job. As I was on my way out one day a guy stopped me. He was the Native American spiritual leader in the Chapel of the prison. They had all the different religions represented and he asked what I was doing. I tell him “Oh, storytelling”. We then got into a conversation about the role of story in indigenous cultures. I had known this but the way he said it really struck hard for me. He looked at me at a certain point and said “Story is real. It’s not a form of communication and it’s not a tool to allow us to connect. Story, quite literally, creates the world around us.”  So at that level, story is an act of profound creation. And if you do it in a really deep way it becomes a profound act of co-creation because you’re inviting others to create with you. So when I think of story I think of it as a profoundly creative act, that’s also the basic building block of community. If we start to think about our businesses, really if you’re doing it in a centered way with integrity you’re engaged in the act of community building. What wants to happen and what story can enable, and isn’t really being fully realized much, is a deep act of code creation with the people who joined that community, right? So that’s how I think of story. When it gets flattened to – Well, if you just tell your origin story then it’s going to tug at the heartstrings and people are going to want to X – whether X is buying your product or contribute to your nonprofit or whatever it is, I think a pretty profound misunderstanding of how deep story is woven into the way that we make sense of the world. 

Jon: So clearly you’re talking about going deeper. Is it a philosophical concept that our language basically creates our reality? So are you going to that kind of fundamental level? 

Michael: Yeah, I wouldn’t even say that that’s philosophical. I would say that there’s, you know, there’s the clickbait articles. According to science language creates our reality. My favorite example of this, and it’s the language substitution I give to everybody I work with is Hey, what if you substituted the word and for the word but every time you use the word but. The use of a word as simple as but automatically cancels out everything that came before it. Like, “I really wanted to do this conversation with John but it was a busy day.” Well, now it doesn’t matter how much I want to do the conversation with John as opposed to, “I really want to do this conversation with John and it’s a busy day and I’ll make it work” or “and we can reschedule it” So even something as small as that starts to create a different reality. So I push back on the idea of philosophy but yeah. 

Jon: Okay good. So, the other angle that I hear there is, which is one that I love and that I would say I still aspire to reach as I have something of a following, is this community building and co-creation. And the language that then “positions me“, right? You talked about, I’m trying to remember the example you said something earlier that the word flash to me is, well that’s manipulation. If you’re telling your story designed, you talked about moving people, so we’re going to design our story to have an emotional hook. And that’s storytelling that will make a difference. You’re really talking about something different from that so how do you distinguish between something that makes an emotional connection and something that truly is a co-creation and builds community? Meaningful storytelling is really what I want to do with Video Mojo and it is actually kind of part of the mission. 

Michael: Yeah, that’s a great question and it’s tough. I think that for me it’s sort of a felt sense thing. So, unfortunately, there’s no chart where you can say Oh okay, this story is co-creation versus this story which is manipulation. I would say that when folks are engaging in storytelling that is not fully aligned and doesn’t have integrity, at a certain level they feel it. It just doesn’t feel quite right, there’s a little hitch in it, it doesn’t work. Then the question becomes, how do you train yourself to recognize that feeling of misalignment? Breathe into it and go okay, what wants to happen in order for this to feel more fully aligned

Jon: And the converse – right? That converse is when you’re in alignment and you are connecting your heart to your soul’s story, if you will, you know when that’s happening to.  I think that’s part of the reason I became good friends with you is because I think you and I have these conversations and it happens enough that I want to spend more time with Michael even though most of it we do like this in zoom. There’s a resonance that happens and that’s also the converse indicating that you’re in alignment. 

Michael: I would say I love that word “resonance”. You know, what’s coming to me is when I feel that my story is in alignment and I’m deeply connecting I can tell because I literally feel my body temperature rising. I’ll feel my eyes tearing up and my body feels different in very very tangible, measurable ways. And there is the science behind that, there’s oxytocin flooding through my body because I’m connecting with another human being or several hundred human beings if I’m doing a large workshop. And if I stay aligned with that in attuned to that feeling then it’s easier for me to hit those places of integrity and alignment. 

Jon: So you ask the question as you were talking, “How do you train yourself to notice when you’re out of alignment?” and I would also say how do you train this in alignment and that is in fact what you do.  The context is, if I’m wanting to connect with more people, if I’m wanting to build community or wanted to build an audience or wanting, god forbid, to sell something online – which there’s nothing wrong with doing that – How do you bring this kind of storytelling into play? How do you teach yourself to do it in a way that works? 

Michael: A part of it is ignoring everything that they teach you about storytelling. So a lot of the more conventional storytelling will train people to follow a template that fused pretty closely to the hero’s journey. The standard entrepreneur story would go something like, “I wasn’t doing well I was in a real I was in a real pickle and I was sleeping on my grandmother’s couch and I went I wonder how many other people have couches that they would like to rent out to people and then I formed Airbnb and now I’m a bajillionaire.” That’s kind of the fairly standard way of doing a story. Once you get trained to only tell stories that way, you’re stripping narrative of a lot of its humanity and you’re stripping it of the details. In terms of how to share a really authentic story, I would say go to those moments that feel really resonant to you, and don’t worry about structuring, just write down what made the moment so resonant. Really go through an exercise of deep exploration knowing that the deeper we go in that exploration then the more universal chords will hit. Because it’s not just what happened, which is where a lot of particular entrepreneurial storytelling tends to stay at the plot level. “I wasn’t doing well I made a bunch of money now I’m gonna sell you this thing so you can make money too.” There’s nothing human in that. That’s a functional story. And it’s based on somebody’s perceived lack. Meaning, if that story resonates with you, you feel like you don’t have enough money. That makes sense? As opposed to, if I share a very simple story. You know my favorite one, this guy I was working with had a small business and we just asked him to share story just about a time he wanted something really deeply. It ended up that the thing that came up for him, and he apologized for this, he was like this is a stupid story. I’m gonna tell it because it just came up. He was eight and he wanted this pair of shoes and he would have done anything to get them. He ended up spanging, asking for spare change, in a small town to get these shoes. Now that is a pretty dumb story but what did those shoes mean to you? What did they represent? And it ended up that the rich kids in the neighborhood wore them, and so it represented growth and social mobility and he felt that if he had those shoes he would finally belong. The business that he ran was all about helping small businesses scale and reach a different level of achievement. So in that small human moment what he actually uncovered was the same DNA that made him so passionate about his business. And he started sharing that is almost an origin story and people resonated with it because it showed not just that he was effective at what he did but that at a deep level he knows what it is to do what it takes to move into what he thinks will bring him more satisfaction. So it’s finding those small moments and really lifting them up, I think, it’s where you find some really powerful stories that almost never get told. 

Jon: Yeah and I will dovetail on that in terms of what’s been working for me which is, I think it’s a practice. That’s the other big fallacy about storytelling – Oh, we’re just gonna switch we’re gonna pivot right and try a new strategy which is storytelling – That’s just more of the same really.  But what I found with the video blogging, particularly because I’m doing it really without an agenda, is that I’m now getting practice and exploring my voice and what do I really feel called to talk about and do. This of course conversation is part of that. So good! We’ve probably done, Oh we’ve done 15 minutes. And we could go on about this. But, you know, the thing that I wanted to say is that I think training is like a practice. The more you do it the more you can feel  – am I in alignment? am I not in alignment? – and kind of tune your listening machine, your human-machine, if you will. 

Michael: Yeah, I love what you said bringing more humanity into it is really a measure. To build on that real quick before we see if folks have questions, you know one of the things that happen, especially when I do workshops for organizations, that I caution people is you know in the room in a safe space all of this stuff is very intuitive, right. It makes perfect sense, cool we can share stories. And then they’ll go out in the world and they’ll try to do storytelling this new way once and maybe it’ll work. Then I’ll do it again and it won’t work. Then they feel stupid and never do it again. So it’s not just practice, it’s creating spaces or groups that are dedicated to practicing storytelling in this more deeply human way so that you’re building the muscle. We’ve gotten so far away from it, many of us, especially in our work lives that it takes some time to build that capacity back up. 

Jon: I want to thank you and I want to ask you one more question which is when you were talking before and we talked about the inner work and connecting to our authentic self. I love the book called The Legend of Bagger Vance. He talks about the authentic swing because it’s a golf story. We’re getting a little woo-woo, right? And a lot of people are listening from the context of business, so where’s the overlap between wanting to be successful in the business and wanted to have thriving successful businesses and this community inner work taking time for alignment. I mean I will answer my own question in part because and I mentioned in my last Video Mojo episode the book Content Inc. And he has a model which I think I’m going to be talking more about as I work it through myself. But when you look at the sweet spot of you know who you are, what your capabilities are, and what you’re really passionate about and then how you do the content tilt about your unique message. It’s not something that happens in a day it happens from expressing yourself continually, blogging, video blogging, podcasting, what have you, so that you can find it. But is that a business model or are we outside the business realm hoping business catches up somehow and if you tell your authentic story the money will follow. 

Michael: No that’s not a thing. But I will say, there’s a question that came up as you were saying that which is how do we define success and thriving in our business, right. So if success is purely financial then tell manipulative stories. Make people feel that. If your goal is just to make money then let nothing stop you in the pursuit of that goal, right. I think that’s a crappy business model. I think it’s an unethical ideal, it’s terrible. 

Jon: That’s a crappy life model. 

Michael: So I would define success and thriving as finding that place where, yes you are able to generate income and be comfortable at whatever level feels right to you and do that in a way that is uniquely yours and has deep integrity with your deeper sense of purpose. You could say souls purpose or reason for being here. That’s not a woo-woo thing, that’s just real that every single person at some point feels, unless they’re very lucky, that the work they’re doing or their life that they’ve built around them doesn’t fit. And that’s because there’s a misalignment between the story they’re out there telling and the story that wants to live through them. 

Jon: Say that again slowly. I think this is the point. 

Michael: Yeah, everybody, certainly myself among them, at some point feels like the story they’re building out in the world, what they’re part of, their work the life that’s built around them is out of alignment or intention with the story that wants to live through them and who they really are. And resolving that tension happens when we do that deeper inner work and bring those stories into alignment. It’s rarely a comfortable process, right. People do it in all sorts of ways through therapy, through soul seeking, through dumping their life out and putting the pieces back together like a jigsaw puzzle. But at some point, that’s what wants to happen.  Then when we share that story the results of that process that becomes a really really powerful thing that community can build around. 

Jon: I love that! But I do think that it’s in some sense a radical concept to presume that there’s a story that wants to live through me. I think that most people are thinking, this is kind of where we started, is when they think about storytelling they well I can just make up the most clever manipulative story that fits the model of selling. Whatever it is I want to sell as opposed to being willing to listen and wait and then actually hear the answer and then actually respond to that. I mean that’s a fairly, I would say, sophisticated spiritual process. 

Michael: Sneakily, I use story and story coaching as kind of a Trojan horse to talk about these deeper, you know, spiritual or personal growth concepts. Because if people really want to tell a story that sticks than it wants to be told from that deeper level of connection. 

Jon: Yeah, I think what you said was that you wouldn’t disagree with me. That it’s a fairly sophisticated spiritual concept to assume there is a story that wants to be told through you.
Yeah Alright, so we have some people online. Who has a challenge or an issue or a question around the stuff that we’re talking about here today? You can raise your hand. Judith has a question.  Thanks so much for joining us. 

Judith: Hello. Hi Michael. How are you? 

Michael: Santa Fe looks good on you! 

Judith: Yes thank you! I’m enjoying it, it’s great.  You know, there are a few things. You said so many things they were really great. I came in when you said story is real and that just like Whoa I just got my money’s worth! That really resonated deeply with me. I think it’s interesting that you’re having this conversation about story versus business versus woo-woo and I think that is – I don’t know if this is a question or a comment and it might be both – I think that that’s an indicator of how far we have moved away from what it means to be human. Because the truth is there is no, in my view, real distinction between story, what we do our business our work, and this idea. You know, I once looked up the definition of woo-woo and woo-woo is something that can’t be scientifically validated and everything we’ve talked about is scientifically validated. We know that story has existed that this was how we passed information on for millennia until we learned how to write and then even after that because not everybody knew how to write. And then now that everybody knows how to write we’ve let go of these very fundamental human qualities. I think that we’re I struggle – and perhaps this is my question – and we’re many of us struggle who grew up in this modern era is that we don’t understand what real story is. It’s just become a foreign concept. So even though it’s innate to who we are to being human and that there really cannot be, and is no conflict with what it means to run a business. It’s still something that I, and I imagine others, struggle with. So if that’s a question? 

Michael: I think there a question in there. 

Jon: What’s the, How would you describe the struggle? What’s your struggle with it because you seem clear that story is real? 

Judith: Yeah I think the struggle is that when we get into business mode we put up the barriers and we stick to the facts, as Michael was saying earlier, that we just focus on the factual and we don’t get into the deeper stuff which is where people connect. And as Michael knows, I actually teach this I teach about human emotion and connection and that if we want to be successful it’s the emotional connection. And yet I even still find myself in the way I might be approaching potential business clients who are businesses with just the facts. 

Michael: I was gonna add you don’t just teach this stuff to anyone though, you teach it to Lawyers. So you go into the places that are most disconnected. I just wanted to add that because you glossed over it.

Jon: Yeah, Michael do you want to answer? 

Michael: Yeah, I have a thought. I think you’re absolutely right. Because, you know, there’s inertia and all of the structures, particularly in conventional businesses, all the structures are in place to support a fairly shallow level of connection and being. 

Judith: Yes Yes 

Michael: So, what’s necessary, and I’ve had some beautiful experiences of this recently, is to create experiences where people get to have the embodied experience of sharing story deeply and allowing the stories that are shared to reveal, for example core values for a team or to reveal strategic opportunities. Instead of coming at it from a very left-brained rational way. Because if we try to tell people that the way they’re doing things is deeply extractive and responsible for everything terrible in the world that doesn’t work. I had this beautiful experience on Friday where I created a story experience for people where in the space of 30 minutes they shared really deeply with each other. These are people who have worked together for years and they came out of that experience just with tears in their eyes profoundly grateful because in those 30 minutes so much stress and so much disconnection fell away. And that created enough curiosity in them to get them to ask well what do we do, right? We’ve had this experience how do we do it? Because it’s so short and so simple, they are leaders in their organization, they can bring that back to their teams. But if we just go in and start doing things a different way it won’t land. How do we invite people to participate in this different way of being? I think that’s what you give people in your classes as well. You give them tools that allow them to move differently, I think. 

Judith: I do yes I do. And yet I find in my own experience when I’m thinking about myself I actually have a tendency to go more toward the less emotional and the more factual. I find that to be a curious conundrum. What you said just now I think is an opportunity for me to notice when I’m going in that direction and bring myself back. So thank you. 

Jon: Yeah and I think that that’s exactly the process, I mean Buddhism, for example, you know talks about the human condition and how we get stuck in our patterns. I know a little bit about recovery and it’s like you don’t undo what you’ve been doing for an entire lifetime in a short period of time. And as a culture this moving away from, as you said at the beginning, being more human. I think my Michael’s approach to storytelling and what we’re talking about in terms of this story that wants to be told is very deeply human and we all have these patterns and tendencies to go off into “Show me the money! I’ve got to make a buck!” or whatever the other story is a cultural one. I’m also a fan of a group called the Pachamama Alliance which taps into the wisdom from the indigenous people of the rainforest. They call it the dream. You know they say It isn’t just enough to stop the drilling we have to change the dream. I think that’s very similarly the same thing. We have to be more human recognized that we’re part of nature, what our true nature is and so forth. Anyway hopefully that helps reinforce what you’re asking about. It is like we’re talking about earlier I mean it is a practice and it’s a skill just like meditation and other forms of alignment doesn’t happen in a day it’s a practice and a skill that you develop. This being more human and what I’ve learned from Michael in terms of working my own finding the story that wants to be told you know it’s a process that goes on literally over years. Some people might say that’s the bad news other people say we get to enjoy the journey. 

Michael: Yes and the other thing I’d add to that is people are hungry for this. I know Judith you’ve seen this with your students and I’ve seen it you know when I walk into a room of like conservative business people in suits there’s always part of me that’s like this is the time it’s not going to work. And every time they have a pretty profound experience and they’re very curious about what they can do with it. So I think there is a deep hunger that people maybe aren’t aware of until they have an experience of something different that’s simple and doesn’t come across as you know super-spiritual or crystal slinging. It’s one of the reasons I love working with story. Its story everybody can work with story. There’s no you know sure I always wear my white robes and I’m my little golden crown but other than that I’m just like them! 

Jon: That’s a very funny image Michael! 

Judith: Yeah, I’d love to see you in your white robe and gold! 

Michael: That’s never gonna happen 

Judith: You know it’s really true, I’m no longer distracted by the suits and ties because nothing enough times the human shows up the experience they’re really there to get something. When there are the cynics in the room it’s always really surprising and enjoyable to see them look up and go “huh, what something’s happening here” and you know there’s not as much resistance as we might imagine. But the continuity I think is what’s important to both of your points and to Jon’s point a moment ago and creating that continuity I think is where people run into a challenge. It’s really easy to just fall back and this has been working it’s not comfortable but it’s been working so far so I’m just gonna keep doing it. 

Jon: Thank you so much! I really appreciate you coming on being willing to show your face and be present in the video 

Judith: Thank you! I’ve been enjoying it. 

Michael: Something that Judith said feels very very powerful because I know especially when I talk about story it can get a little bit esoteric and it goes you know kind of like conceptual and big up here. So I think it’s really useful to bring it back to something really concrete which is my favorite thing. This comes from the social transformation project and it’s the wheel of change. I think we’ve talked about it Jon. 

Jon: I’m not sure what’s a social transformation project is. 

Michael: The social transformation project comes out of either Berkeley or Oakland. But they have a whole bunch of amazing tools that are all about you know social transformation and one of them is called the wheel of change. And the wheel of change is very very simple. It’s basically, you have a change you want to create, so I want people to tell stories in a more human way and bring humanity back into the workplace and their businesses. Cool, that’s the first part it’s hearts and minds, right. There has to be a shared desire to create that change. Which doesn’t do anything. A shared desire is lovely but it just sits there. Then you need behaviors, what are the behaviors we want to shift, right. So in my case, I would love the behavior is deeper listening, right. I want people to see each other’s deep humanity and relate to each other in the world around them in a profoundly different more co-creative way. Those pretty big behaviors but those won’t happen on their own because there are so many structures in place to either inhibit those behaviors or promote the opposite behaviors, right. So then the third part is structured. This is what Judith’s point triggered. If we don’t put structures in place to reinforce the desired behavior then nothing will change and that’s where a lot of organizations and individuals stumble because they don’t put the structures in place. Those structures can be something, I just worked with the group I was like hey you’re not allowed to have any meetings that are longer than 45 minutes and here’s how every meeting needs to start with three deep breaths. Great. That’s a very concrete structure. Another one would be, you need to do quarterly story circles where you get together and you go through this process. That’s a structure to reinforce the behavior. That’s how we create change in a systematic and strategic way. It’s not just about information and about desire. It’s also how do we put really powerful structures in place to support this new way of being. 

Jon: Fabulous! I love that you brought it back to the concrete that way. Alright well, I think we made an awesome new episode of Video Mojo, which my podcast and video blog. Find it everywhere or if you’re interested in more information my website is combridges.com Where do they find if they want more Michael Kass where do they go? 

Michael: They could find me at Storyandspirit.org 

Jon: Okay awesome, Michael has all kinds of awesome services and things that he uses stuff and things yeah! 

Michael: So check it out and feel free to get in touch. 

Jon: Yeah, so Welcome and thank you all for being here live thank you for listening to the recording. Thank You, Michael, so much for your time and presence and the teachings and the mission that you’re carrying forward I really admire and respect it. 

Michael: Back tell you Mr. Leland.  Thank you for having me. 

Jon: You’re welcome, Thanks again. And as I say at the end of every episode, See you next week!

NEW “Wonderful Web” ENews: “New is New Again”

The new edition of our “It’s a Wonderful Web” enewsletter is out. It includes the follow short stories:

  • It’s All About YOU (including Paul Simon quote)
  • New Marketing in Another New Era
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  • Make Your Marketing More Effective
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  • Is Your WordPress Website Safe? (new services)
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If you’re not already a subscriber, you can read it online by clicking this link.

Podcast Channel Broadens with More Corporate Podcasters (IBM)

This podcast thing is getting interesting enuf 4 me to be planning something coming “real soon”… stay tuned; and meanwhile I guess there’s momentum to consider Apple’s “next generation radio” as an interesting channel for corporate marketing communications. The latest entrant: IBM. And nobody ever got fired for copying IBM, or was that for hiring Microsoft 😉 Read more about the corporate podcast offerings of IBM and others.

Apple’s Approach to Podcasting Appropriately Promoted by Pogue (NYTimes)

The New York Times’ excellent Mac-friendly technology columnist, David Pogue has further illuminated the podscape by agreeing with my comment below… awright he says a whole lot more and says it better… illuminating how the elegant integration of podcasts in Apple’s iTunes 4.9 has moved this new form of audio communication (Next Gen Radio) a whole lot closer to the mainstream. I was particularly tickled to read about how Microsoft folk are using the term “blogcasting” so that they don’t have to reinforce the iPod’s stranglehold on all things Pod. The title, In One Stroke, Podcasting Hits Mainstream, may be a bit overstated; but, IMHO, his article is a mighty fine read. Well done as usual, Mr. Pogue.

NBC & A Podcasting Reality Check

I don’t think I’ve posted yet how impressed I am with Apple’s easy-to-use integration of the ability to subscribe to podcasts right within iTunes 4.9, but just the same I’ve been skeptical about podcasting’s ability to become (as Apple says) “The next generation of radio.” My thinking being somewhat along the lines of the comments by Mark Cuban referenced in an earlier post (below).

However, I have to admit that I was surprised to happen to catch the end of tonight’s rerun of today’s Meet the Press and find Tim Russert (with some embarrassment) promoting that program’s new podcast. (Of course, this is also a reflection of increased web competition between broadcast networks… see post below re CBS.)

Bottom line, this media moment reminded me of the old days (5 or so years ago) when I’d see a commercial web site’s URL on TV and took it as confirmation that the Web really was becoming an important medium. Maybe podcasting will become important too? Maybe it really is the happy media marriage of Tivo’s “any time you want it” with the iPod’s (and any other portable digital media player’s) “any place you want it.”

Whadda you think?