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  • Francisco Mahfuz

E100. 23 Storytelling Lessons from 100 Episodes


After 100 episodes, what storytelling lessons have I learned? Well, a few, so here are 23 for you, and they cover: why stories matter, what do you use stories for, where do you find them, how do you tell them, what mistakes should you look out for and some unexpected ways telling stories helps you, the teller. Enjoy!!


Below is an AI-generated transcript and therefore it may contain errors.


Francisco Mahfuz 0:05

Welcome to the story powers podcast, the show about the power of stories, the people who tell them and why you should be doing it too. I'm your hosts, keynote speaker and storytelling coach Francisco mahfuz. And in this episode, I have no guest, because this is episode 100 of the story powers podcast, which is crazy. I mean, I've only started this show around May 2020. And I've already racked up 100 episodes, come to think of it, I'm not sure that's a good thing. But anyway, that's perhaps a story for for a different episode. But today I wanted to do something different at what I wanted to do is to listen back to every single episode I ever recorded, pick the most insightful lessons from all of my guests, and have one highlight from every single one of those 99 episodes that have come before, which is clearly completely demented, would have taken me maybe six months to do, and no one would ever listen to it. So have done something a little different. What I have done is that over the last 18 months, 20 months, I've been taking specific clips from the podcast and putting it out on social media. So I went through those clips, I chose them some of my favourites, some that were unique that didn't repeat something that previous guests had already said. And I chose out of all of the ones I could have chosen 23. Now, if you were a guest on this show before and one of yours didn't make the cut, please don't feel too upset with me. Sometimes, the clips were just shorter or funnier, and made the exact same point in a way that was a bit different than the other options I had. So it's nothing personal. Unless your name is Simon, in which case, you gave me too much of a hard time. So it might be personal after all. And as you might have noticed, today, of all days, I'm suffering from an awful cold. And that's why my voice might not be the usual smooth baritone that it normally is. And I might have to hold back from sniffling like a cokehead throughout this episode. And that is why I probably should stop donkey. Now in getting into the into the lessons. There are 23 As I said, and I split them up into why stories matter what to use stories for where to find them, how to tell them some common mistakes to avoid, in some unexpected ways in which telling stories can actually help you the storyteller. Alright, nobody should have to listen to this awful nasal drawl for any longer. So 23 lessons from 100 episodes. Here we go. Let's start with why stories matter why you should be telling them. The first lesson comes from my episode with Kendall Haven. And it's that the brain understands information as stories. So if you want to make your information easier to understand, you should tell it in the shape of a story.


Kendall Haven 3:22

The reason to use stories consciously, the reason to think about how to present your material in story terms isn't about that you want to tell a story. Or even if you think you'd like telling stories, or even if you think you're going to tell the stories, it's that your audience is going to automatically hear it cognitively interpret and understand it in story terms. If you think in story terms, you have a much better chance of controlling how your audience make sense of your material, and then create meaning from it, which is what you're really wanting to control.


Francisco Mahfuz 3:54

The end result is that in their brain, there will be a story. The question is, is it going to be your story or their story? Lesson number two comes from my episode with James Ralston's. And is that people believe stories more than they believe facts.


James Rostance 4:11

When you deliver anything as a story, it's anything you say within that as accepted without challenge by the audience. And this is in stark contrast to if you're making marketing claims, because


Francisco Mahfuz 4:25

unless you've you've arrived at three in the morning and his Malbec boos, then so sorry.


James Rostance 4:33

A caveat to when Yeah, yes. I looked into this a bit more. And what I discovered is that unsubstantiated claims, particularly marketing claims or anything we deliver as fact are prime triggers for what's known as push back and push back is the happens when we encounter something which is at odds which we currently know or believe to be true. So if I hit you with a fact, then if that's not what you currently believe, then what happens, you actually stop from being installed listening listening mode, and then you, you set about in your own mind, working out why that fact doesn't compute is not is not true and how and why it's at odds with what you're saying. So in a marketing context, if your audience then flips into analytical mode, you've lost them, the sale is completely on hold, until they've got this out of the way. Whereas when you deliver a story that bypasses that pushback filter, and you're good to go,


Francisco Mahfuz 5:38

I guess it's because when you are giving, when you are talking to someone, and you're giving them information, you are trying to give them a piece of the puzzle of the world. When you're telling a story, you're giving them a piece of the puzzle of your world. So if I say, Oh, this is what marketing is, and you have a different opinion about marketing, I'm now arguably contradicting your views of marketing. If I say, oh, in my experience, you know, I lived it. I was in this agency and this type of so we were trying to stuff and it never really worked in you, you have had success with that you probably think Oh, strange, because for me that worked. You're not questioning what I'm saying? Oh, interesting. Because it my experience with that was different than yours, you know, whereas if I say that doesn't work, you go, no, actually, that does work. I know for a fact that that works. That's the number three comes from one of my favourite people, one of the only two guests that I ever had on the show twice, Brian Miller. And the lesson is that your stories should be told because they are meaningful, not only to you, but to others as well.


Brian Miller 6:45

It's not just giving TEDx talks about doing magic tricks for blind people, like the stuff matters, like it really, really matters. So my storytelling is very deliberate. But anybody can do this. There's a lot of people that think nothing really interesting has happened to me, I haven't had an exciting life. I don't have stories that I could tell nonsense. You've just never sat down and had the courage to put your stories on paper. A lot of people are afraid to confront their own stories, to confront their own lives, and to mine it for all the things every person is important, but started the conversation with that. And if you really sit down and look at your life and write down all the things that happened to you that were meaningful to you, I guarantee you, most of those things will be meaningful to a lot of other people who've been through similar situations. So storytelling is important.


Francisco Mahfuz 7:37

The next five lessons are about what do we use stories for lesson number four comes from Indian Rica's and it's that stories will give you the confidence to sell more.


Andy Henriquez 7:51

If you are the best salesman or saleswoman on the planet, and you are having one on one sales conversations, and you convert two out of every three sales conversations, even a mediocre salesperson can outperform you, if instead of speaking to one person at a time, they are doing a sales presentation to 2050 100 people at a time. And so that is one of the best ways for us to be able to leverage our time is to get out of the hole of just having one to one conversations, but rather having one to many conversations. But then the question becomes, we get that conceptually. But why is it that most of us do not seize those opportunities to do one too many conversations? Why don't more of us do start our own podcast? Why don't more of us do Facebook Lives, LinkedIn lives and iG lives? Why don't more of us open up a room and go live and clubhouse? Why don't more of us find opportunities to get in front of live audiences? And when when I ask people that question, the number one thing that comes up is fear. Right? It's the fear of judgement, the fear of criticism, the fear, and also the fear of what if I say the wrong thing? What if I don't know what to say? And so one of the things that's really important is I believe that one of the things that boosts your confidence level is when you've taken the time to develop these stories. And you've tested these stories, you know, they connect, you know, they resonate, and and now you have these stories and think about how much more confidence you have because you have these stories ready and accessible to you. And I always ask people, What would you begin to do more of if you did have a powerful, compelling story, if you did have a powerful, compelling message, and you knew that it resonated with people because you had been sharing it over and over again? What would you do more of an Francisco like clockwork, man, they start listing off, oh, I would start my own podcasts. I would write my book. I would, you know, get in front of more people. You know, I would do presentations. I would do my own webinars and so forth. And the question is, well, why don't you do that, and it boils down to, they haven't taken the time to really be able to develop this skill set, and develop their ability to communicate and work on these stories. Because if they did, they would get more confidence, they would have more clarity. And with more confidence and more clarity, we take more aggressive action, right, we're willing to do some of the things that we would hesitate from. And so I believe that for everybody, regardless of what your profession is, not only can you benefit from becoming a better communicator, but you will have so much more impact and more stickiness to your ideas and the things that you have to share. If you can get better at being able to craft and share powerful, compelling stories.


Francisco Mahfuz 10:46

Lesson number five comes from Robert tie. And it's that sharing your stories will serve as a filter for the types of clients you attract, or don't.


Robert Tighe 10:58

And I'm sure you've experienced this yourself, like if you go to a networking event, you'll you'll have people come up to you who feel like they know you already, because they've read some of your posts on LinkedIn, you know that they'll cut through all the formalities and they'll start talking about maybe a story that they that you posted, or that you wrote about on LinkedIn, which is, you know, as a networking event, it's cool. But if that's a potential client, again, I get on the phone with potential clients, and it feels like we know each other already, because they have that sense of kind of having a fairly good understanding of, you know, what makes me tick and, and what I'm all about. And so it was that whole notion of, you know, building trust and building relationships, you know, telling stories is what we do with our friends, to make them like us to make, you know, to make us relatable. So why wouldn't you do it in business as well? Why wouldn't you share some stories that make you more relatable, make you more accessible? Make you I suppose, make the other person think, yeah, I get you, you're my kind of person, right? You know, because it's, it's that whole notion as well of acting as a filter, a filter, filtering people out, as well as filtering people in, you know, and stories are a great way of doing that as well.


Francisco Mahfuz 12:05

I think you might have better friends than them, or at least less simple friends, because what I do to make them like me is I buy them drinks. There's a number of six comes from her snacks. And it's that if you want to have impact, you have to tell the same stories over and over again.


Hasani X 12:25

One of the things about building a strong brand is becoming comfortable with saying the same thing over and over and over and over again. And I am just as guilty of feeling this pressure to like, I want to say something different. I want to I want to explore different things. But if you're trying to build anything, and you become known for something you're trying to build an audience, it's important for you to be super clear about who you are, what you stand for, and the stories that emotionally connect you to your audience. And if you if you veer off from that out of this need to want to do things different, which I do, I'm guilty of, it dilutes the brand. So my coaches and the people I'm around, they have to remind me shut up and say the thing that you are here to say there will be a time to open up and explore different aspects of what you're doing. But if you're trying to build something, it's hard enough as it is in this noisy market to get attention. So stay there, own that space, carve out a piece of people's psyche as it relates to the space that you want to dominate. And it's going to come from saying the same thing over and over again, that resonates and connects until people know your story.


Francisco Mahfuz 13:39

Lesson number seven comes from my episode with Darren Gibb. And it's about countering this this idea that some people have have, you know, I don't have time for stories, I don't care for stories just give me the facts. And what he and I discuss is how stories are sometimes the most objective way of show that you actually know what you're talking about. I have


Darren Gibb 14:05

somebody in my post just last night on LinkedIn saying I've got I've seen no point in storytelling I just want to get to the fact I you know, I get tired about it. I'm kind of like having a little bit of dialogue and singing but you know, can I you know, the cortisol the oxytocin the dopamine all this sort of thing. There's a reaction going on it becomes sticky. Yeah, but you know what I get I don't get the I don't get those chemicals. I get adrenaline and it makes my skin burn. Wow. Just thinking to the point and get the point. I think


Francisco Mahfuz 14:35

I think I think the answer to this guy's dude, I think you need to have that checked out. Your skin is the last time my skin was burning. Yeah, it wasn't storytelling was something else.


Darren Gibb 14:50

Strange and if you're taking adrenaline let's just let's just go with it. So yeah, adrenaline cause you just go into burn. Well, that's a reaction at least you're gonna remember that right?


Francisco Mahfuz 15:00

Yeah, there's, there's, there's a cream for that.


Darren Gibb 15:05

You want to find out who litoris can burn and make sure everyone else knows you're there.


Francisco Mahfuz 15:10

But this is what. So I haven't thought about this before. But I think perhaps an answer to these people or just a different way of thinking about this is when people say, No, I don't I don't get the story thing. I don't want stories out, you know, I just care about the facts. I think my natural reaction to that is, do you care about the facts? Or do you care about the theory of the facts? Because what a story should be is is a visit my definition is a real life example that makes a point. So what are you talking about? I'm talking about content marketing. Okay. Your contention is that story elements are very effective. Okay, have you got a real life example? I've got a client that benefited from that. Right? Can you just tell me what happened to that client. And now you're telling me a story to prove the theory you have about content marketing and storytelling, because otherwise, you can just give me what you what a lot of people call a fact to say storytelling is very effective in content marketing. But you could also say that that's a theory with no backing up, fine. You could back that up maybe with data, right? You could say, you know, there are this many people that use storytelling in their posts, and these are the results they're getting. Yeah, that's fine. But most people don't do that. Most people are not giving you a statement of fact, and then backing that up with statistics, they're just giving you the statement. So I would argue that a story that actually happened and not making it up is a significantly can be a significantly more factual way of sharing information, then a whole bunch of theories that have nothing behind them, or at least nothing behind them that you're sharing with us. Lesson number eight is the last one in the sanction. And it comes from pose myth to another favourite stories I heard throughout all the episodes in this show. And the last one is that stories are one of the best ways to show people what values you have, and why you have them.


Paul Smith 17:05

I was probably 716 17 years old, my dad got me a job at the company. He works out as a file clerk on the it was called secretary's day back then that's probably Administrative Professionals day now. I was so excited, because turns out my boss had to take me out to lunch on that day, my boss and I, and then all the other managers and their secretaries like me were at lunch. And it turns out, my dad was sitting at the same table as me and his secretary, the when the waitress came around, they only had two options on the menu, a Quiche Lorraine, and a club sandwich. And this is back right after that book, Real men don't eat quiche came out in 1982. Right? And so everybody knew that if you if you ate quiche, you were less than masculine. Right? So none of the men were ordering the quiche. And most of the women ordering the keys and the guys were in the club sandwich and which is exactly what I did. Right? I'll take the club sandwich, you know, and it got to my dad. And he, he said, You know, I've never had a quiche before. So how about you bring me a half a quiche, and half a club sandwich. That way, if I don't like the quiche, I got half a club sandwich. Well, the man just started abusing him immediately and calling him all kinds of names. And you know, criticising his masculinity. And course, I was just terribly embarrassed by this and sinking down into my chair. And so after a few minutes of abuse, my dad calls the waitress back over. And of course, the guys are high fiving each other because we broke his spirit, you know, and the waitress comes back over and he says, I'm sorry, I gotta change my order, I need you to take back that half a club sandwich. And you did need to bring me the whole quiche, he ate that whole quiche right there. And I don't even think he liked it. But he ate the whole thing. And it just, it taught me such a lesson about what it means to be a real man, which is to not care so much, whatever the people think of you and to, you know, do what you want to do and not be so motivated by that social acceptance. And I don't think he intended to teach me that lesson. But it did. It stuck


Francisco Mahfuz 18:49

in also what generates a lovely tagline, which is e to the quiche,


Paul Smith 18:54

which I tell my kids now when they end up when I can tell they're doing something just because the other kids want them to or that they're feeling peer pressure. Yeah, now I just say hey, then eat the quiche. And then he goes, Oh, yeah, okay. Okay, so I'll do it.


Francisco Mahfuz 19:09

All right. This next section is all about finding stories. And I've covered this fairly extensively in the show before, but I keep coming back to these two approaches. So I thought it was definitely worth having them here again. Lesson number nine is from John Zimmer. And it's that if you want to find stories, look for your five EFS.


John Zimmer 19:33

audiences love to hear about your five F Fs, the letter F, your first your fears, your frustrations, your failures and your fiascos which are big failures. We could also use another F word if you'd like but we'll keep it clean for the kids. And it doesn't mean that you're talking about all of those things. And it certainly doesn't mean that that you talked about them for the whole time but to talk about a time When you've failed at something and what you learned and how people can benefit from your experience to avoid the same thing in the future, audiences love that.


Francisco Mahfuz 20:10

Lesson number 10 comes from Mark Brown. And he covers lots of different approaches in this video clip. So let's just say that lesson number 10 is you can find stories everywhere.


Mark Brown 20:24

I mean, there's so many stories that come out of one photograph. So I urge you look in your camera roll or your photo gallery and ask yourself, why is that photograph there? Why they capture it? And how did it capture me? You capture what captures you? It's a seed for stories. Every single day, we have experiences. And if it goes through our data, we stop at the end of the day and think to ourselves, okay, over the last 24 hours, what amazed me, what amused me, and what moved me? If you can answer any of those three questions, you had the seed for a story. People say, Oh, my life is boring. I got nothing fancy happened to me. You don't need fancy you need relatable. Okay? And just to go back over your life go through seasons of your life. For example, he goes to your high school to college years. Okay.


Francisco Mahfuz 21:10

I don't I don't want to go.


Mark Brown 21:13

One reason is, you know, some of the stories you don't want to tell. All right.


Francisco Mahfuz 21:18

I'm not sure that that's emotional.


Mark Brown 21:21

But now you said you mentioned earlier. The other one was best in first, last and worst. Okay, best best, best, it was less than first. I won't jump into all of them. You get the idea you talked about earlier, your relationships and all your failed relationships. And the one good one you have. If you just for fun Francisco were to think about your best girlfriend, or your worst girlfriend, your last girlfriend or your first girlfriend and take any noun you want. Best Car, worst car, last car, first car, best date, worst date, your last date, even with your wife, your first date. You could pick any noun, any experience and just take the best worst last first. And before you know it, you have a catalogue of stories.


Francisco Mahfuz 22:10

Okay, now we are at this section about how you actually tell stories, what what things you do to make stories powerful. And I've got seven different lessons in here. The first one is from my good friend Florian Mook. So lesson number 11 Is that you need to use specific examples.


Florian Mueck 22:32

The guy stands up in my speech structuring exercise. And I always ask, Okay, give me one benefit of working for your company. He was a sales head of crude, you know, cook high value champion. And then he said, Okay, passion. And then I asked, okay, give me an example of your passion for that company. And then he struggled, and you struggled and give me some passionate, give me some example. How do you make it tangible in your passion? And of course, he didn't know. And then at one point, I got crazy. And he got crazy. He's standing there in front expose in front of everyone. And then he said, Well, maybe the birth of my son is that Oh, that's interesting. What happened to your son? Yeah, you know that he was born apparently. And what? Yeah, and I wanted to celebrate and what? Yeah, I opened a bottle of crook I put my little finger in the class, and I put it in his mouth.


Francisco Mahfuz 23:27

I mean, that is gold. The next one comes from Matthew Dix. By far my favourite episode of all the ones that recorded in this show. In the one that has been most influential in me, I had to resist from taking about three of his clips and putting it here, but I thought there was more than enough of other insights from other guests to go around. So the one I'm sticking with here is is one about how to end and how to begin stories and how they those are interconnected. So lesson number 12, from Matthew Dix is once you know the end of a story, you also know the beginning, should we ruin movies for everyone else, and talk about your, because you've now ruined it for me, I just want to spread that and ruin it for everyone else. And talk about your idea of you know, once you have the end, then you also have you don't necessarily have the beginning, but you have the makings of the beginning. And if the end is about I am now someone who realises how, you know, the time with my children is precious, or hopefully something slightly less trite than that. Then the beginning is you are someone who definitely doesn't appreciate that the time with your children is precious.


Matthew Dicks 24:47

Yeah, exactly. I mean, that's fundamentally how stories work is the end and the beginning of a story are going to be somewhat in opposition to each other. And so once I find the end, and I say here's what I'm trying to say I realised You know, I realised that my son is a jerk, for example, right? The beginning of my story is going to have to be, I think my son is not a jerk. Ideally, my son is a lovely kind human being. And somehow I'm misguided because he's my child. And I have to come to terms with the fact that he's not a nice person. This is not true, but I'm trying to find a less trite example. But because of that, when you're watching movies, you know, the way to ruin your movie, the way the reason why my wife doesn't allow me to speak during movies is that once you understand this concept, you can watch the first 15 minutes of most movies, and many television shows too, and essentially know how they're going to end. We were just watching a Disney film, a couple of weeks ago, a movie called bolt. It's this animated movie from 2009. And it was just my kids and I, so I was allowed to talk. And nine seconds into the movie, I paused it. And I said, this is a movie about a dog who needs to find a home and he needs to find some friends along the way. And my kids looked at me and they're like, Dad, the movie started like nine seconds ago. How do you know that? And I said, Well, that's clearly bolt. It's the dog that stars in the movie, and he's in a window. And it's a window of a pet store, and all the other animals are being taken home, but he is not. And therefore that is what the story is about. And at the end of the movie, my daughter turned to me and she said, I don't know how you enjoy anything, because in the end, it was a story about a dog who needed to find a home and needed to find friends along the way. And that's essentially what happened. I told her, I said, I enjoyed the movie. I just knew where it was going to land like there was no question where it was going to land in the same way. My favourite example is the movie When Harry Met Sally, the beginning of that movie, Harry and Sally actually say, I hate you. They actually say those words, if you don't think they're not going to be kissing at the end of the movie. You're crazy.


Francisco Mahfuz 26:48

That's the number 13 comes from Marcia Dora, and about the two questions you need to constantly answer. When you putting a story together. What did it look like? And how did you feel?


Marsha Shandur 26:59

I've never said to someone, I'm sorry, you're not a storyteller. Everybody can do this if they want to, all you need is the will. And it's a set of rules. And essentially, if you're telling a story, you just keep asking yourself those two questions over and over again. You can't go wrong, what did it look like? Or anything else sensory sound like failed? Like, you know, physically fit, like smell like? And how did you feel? What did it look like? How did you feel? Just keep asking what happened? And then what happened? And then what happened? And how did you feel what happened? And then what happened? And then what happened? How


Francisco Mahfuz 27:24

did you feel? I think what did it look like is a much better term to lead with? Because if you go with what did it smell like? What brings me to this, but if those those super boring books describing what mediaeval Europe used to look like, and they describe how it smelled, and just like three pages, like I, there's only so much rotting stuff that I want to hit and read about


Marsha Shandur 27:48

when you say that, but my show is called true stories told Live. And me and my volunteer team have been talking for years about how we need to have a themed show called stories told life because everybody has one. Everybody has one.


Francisco Mahfuz 28:01

I'm really glad I'm not the one who brought this up. I completely agree. I just didn't want to be the one that brought it up.


Marsha Shandur 28:11

But I love that anyone who's listening now is being like what's my


Francisco Mahfuz 28:17

lesson 14 comes from my episode with Brian Harmon. And it's about how stories are way more powerful when you show and don't tell.


Brian Harman 28:28

There's this quote Brene Brown says something like everyone has a story that can bring you to your knees. But that's only if you actually tell the story and actually develop your story. So you've got to get to this place where you're not a blank, faceless in the shadows presence, telling your story can change someone's life. Telling your story can give you confidence telling your story can get you a promotion telling your story can get you give you more trust in the workplace. There's so many benefits. So it's, it's a disservice not to share your story. And that's some of the convincing that I have to do with people is like, Okay, walk me through this. Well, no, not just like where you grew up. But how did it feel when you were a child? What did you do? What were you good at? What did you like, what friends did you have? How many siblings did you have? How did you interact with your siblings? So you have to push deep and hard to get that stuff out of them sometimes, but then they tell their story. Like ah, yeah, I did.


Francisco Mahfuz 29:19

It's that challenge of trying to convince people that they need to show you stuff and not tell you right and says okay, fine. So you had a terrible experience with with your boss or with your father or whatever. Now, don't tell me how he was four years. Tell me how he was once at Thanksgiving. So what what what did the Thanksgiving look like in this horrible family environment you grew up and just dealt with that one thing with as much detail as you can. And now I can picture everything else. Like I don't need you to tell me how it went on for 10 years. Just say no, it was always like that. Lesson 15 comes from my episode with Norman bell. And the lesson is that you need to show all your characters struggling in the story, whatever you're doing, even if you're sharing a story of a lot of achievement, you still need to spend more time. I think you said this in the book, right? It doesn't matter if it's a success story, you still need to spend more time where you were struggling to make that a success. Because if you want someone to help you with a problem, the person who says, I've never really had that problem, but it doesn't sound too difficult, I'm sure I can help you out is a lot less interesting to you as a guide than the person who goes like, oh, man, that is a nightmare. I went through that last year, and I hated it. But you know, I figured that out, so I can help you for sure. Yeah,


Norman Bell 30:42

absolutely, absolutely. I don't think my wife would would mind me sharing this, but she went through breast cancer treatment in 2018. And now she is launching a group coaching programme for for people who have been through breast cancer and are ready to kind of move on to the next stage of their lives. And let me tell you, I you know, as she's getting that out there, like people, she's getting a lot of great feedback for, like, you know, hey, thank you for sharing your story. And for doing this important work, right. And, and, you know, it wouldn't be quite as effective if she had not gone through something like that herself and, and was vulnerable enough to put that out there.


Francisco Mahfuz 31:25

Yeah, do


you you can't. I don't think you know, Gandalf might have my work as a guide, or Yoda might work as a guide without us knowing anything about their own fallibilities. But when it comes to, when it comes to, to human beings communicating in the real world through stories, that guide needs to be someone who's gone through, if not the same struggle, but struggles that are somewhat related to the types of struggles that your audience is going through. Because otherwise, you just come across as as as a know it all, or just someone who's not terribly relatable to the people that you're trying to help. And that defeats the whole purpose. Lesson 16 is from my episode with Rob era journey. And we are talking here about how understanding the why of characters is essentially important to any story. One of the most impactful things you can do to change the audience's perception of a story is change the motive of the main character, it says you can have two people trying to do the exact same thing. And I'm trying to, I don't know, teach my child, my child to swim. But you can be doing it because you're loving parents, maybe because you lost someone from drowning, or because you're controlling asshole that refuses to have a child that doesn't swim very well, because you're a swimming champion. And all of a sudden, you've gone from a compassionate person that I want to stand behind to a complete douche that I don't want to have anything to do is and that is the why really?


Ravi Rajani 33:03

Exactly. It's exactly that way. I love what you said about the controlling parent, because we've all been there where you're playing sport as a kid, and you've got that parent going Jimmy run fast. And it's because they didn't make it as a sprinter when they were 12. And they're trying to channel their dreams into somebody who just wants to play chess. Right? So it's fascinating man. Exactly. It's the it's the motive is the anchor is the why and people really buy into that. What is the controlling idea behind what you're doing? It's super important.


Francisco Mahfuz 33:34

That's on 17 final one in the section is from my conversation with sage turtle in the lesson is that the problem matters. There needs to be a problem that the characters care about. That's it, if they don't care about it, then you are not going to either. If you don't have that, then then you know you've got nothing. And I've had people tell me like, Oh, this is like I'm trying to run a marathon and whatever. And I'm like, okay, I can see you struggling to run a marathon. But I don't understand why that matters. Like what happens if you don't run the marathon? But maybe maybe there was you're trying to help a charity and that is super important to you may be just because you've your whole self identity is based on that you were an athlete, or whatever it might be, but why do you care about it other than while it sucks if I don't finish? Because I don't finish? That's not there's not a story you need to be telling anybody?


Sage Tyrtle 34:29

Really? Yeah, I'm with you. I you know, the the thing was, I've lost my keys. Okay. If there is a baby who is about to drink bleach in the house and you're outside and you've lost your keys, now I care if there's a fire, and you have to go in and put it out, you know, there has to be as you say a problem that you care about in a in a


Francisco Mahfuz 34:54

if you're if you're if your relationship is in the rocks, and you're arriving at three o'clock like in the morning drunk, hoping to sneak back in bed and pretend you've been there for a lot longer, and you've lost your keys. Now all of a sudden, that story has stakes. And I have clearly just come up with this scenario. This is not something that's ever happened,


or would have a dummy, just to be completely clear here.


The next three lessons are about mistakes to avoid when you're telling stories. The first one, so lesson 18, from Sean Callahan is don't ask people for their stories. When you ask people about stories, they tend to think of things they stories, they always tell, oh, I have that story about my sister. So something you always tell not this thing that just happened. But if you ask, did anything interesting happening last week, they will have stuff to tell you. But if you say have you got any stories from last week, they just wouldn't.


Shawn Callahan 35:52

That's right. And people freak out a little bit when you ask them to tell a story. Because they think it's much bigger than what they imagined. Right? They sort of go, Oh, my God, I need to craft this beautiful thing for you and entertain you in some way. But in fact, what you're really asking is, you know, have you had an interesting experience that would, you know, sort of bring some light on to this topic that we're talking about? Yeah, now I run into it all the time. I tell people to avoid the S word, run a mile from it. There's so many other ways you can ask you can sort of say, oh, you know, so what happened? Or you know, can you give me an example? Or what was the turning point? Or how did you feel when take me through what actually occurred? You know, there's a bazillion things you can say, get someone to tell you a story.


Francisco Mahfuz 36:34

That's a 19 from Antonio Nunez is if you want to be universal, you have to be personal First,


Antonio Nunez 36:43

I would say the biggest five that I have when when I'm training or I'm working with projects like that is to convince people that they need to be more personal and that the more personal they are, the more universal and the better they will reach to their audiences. Yeah.


Francisco Mahfuz 37:05

Yeah, this is something that it seems counterintuitive to most people, which is that when you are talking about lots of people, particularly if it's hundreds of people, or 1000s of people, I think our brain just really struggles to find one person and care about that one person. Whereas if it's one person you're talking about that somehow represents everyone else, then it's easier, you know, we can cope with that?


Antonio Nunez 37:32

Well, we tend to think it's especially executives, right? That it happens is same thing, a universal versus personal with another one that is global versus local. And it happens is saying the more local your story is, the more universal it becomes. And this is really counterintuitive, because you have the big filter of culture. And people say, Oh, I don't know, telling the story about my little village in the south of Spain, where we produce wine, etc, will not be universal. And and you know, the more specific and local you are, the more universal it becomes. Yeah,


Francisco Mahfuz 38:08

I think that might be because of how difficult it is to add details when you're trying to be global, or you're trying to zoom a little out of what actually happened. Because I think in your case, you heard from Harris, and in your talk about how your family had a business and they worked with wine, and there's perhaps some expectation that you're going to follow into that business. Now, other places have families who have businesses who have people that aren't might be expected to follow into those businesses. And I think that's what people get confused. The part that is, you know, holidays and wine and whatever peculiarities of your region. Those are just there to make it sound like a real place. Because if you say, in this village where there was a family, it was like, Okay, fine. This sounds like a fairy tale. This is not real. So maybe I shouldn't think of it as real and maybe respect whatever truth is coming out of that story is real, because it doesn't sound real. Sounds like a fairy tale. Yeah. Lesson 20. From my conversation with David pullin, is that you don't want to be a story weird though.


David Pullan 39:13

I've heard terrible people, bits of coaching in the past where people have sort of rammed a story full of you know, and I could smell the bacon on the sandwiches and the coffee as it percolated as I walked in, and you think, Who is this helping? This isn't relevant. This is just fat on the story. I mean, get rid of all that get me to the point. And if there's a real point that needs driving home, then dive down into the moment as you say, and I think often that will be we're fascinated by human interaction human beings talking to each other. Brilliant.


Francisco Mahfuz 39:43

I think there's there's a lot of nuance to that point you just made because on the one hand we do one sensory descriptions because descriptions are what trigger the other five areas of the brain and not just the to responsible for language processing and acquisition and that Why stories are literally more engaging to the brain because there's more areas of the brain being triggered. At the same time. I think part of the problem is that when people use sensory descriptions, it's very easy to become artificial when you do it. Right. You know, you can say, you know, I woke up and I, you know, that smell of coffee when it's just brewed? That's fine, right? Like, I know, you will know what I'm talking about. But if you say, the smell of coffee percolating, so it's a voice problem, I'm making a voice. I'm using protocol 80, which is not a word you'd normally use in everyday life. So I think it's, you know, if you're using your normal voice, if you're using your normal words, you can say a lot of stuff that is sensory without ever sounding artificial. But if you've if you fall prey to those to the voice to the to the language that is not normal, then you become the story weirdo, as I call it.


David Pullan 40:54

That's fantastic story. We're gonna steal that because that's absolutely yes,


Francisco Mahfuz 40:57

by all means.


One more thing about the story, we're the story, we're that not only is the person that does the voice and uses words, nobody uses, but he overact the story, and he announces it every time. So he will either say, I have a story for you, or I have a great story for you, or you're going to love this story. Every time. The story is always analysis. Yeah. All right, we're into the last three. And these are about how telling stories, helps you the storyteller in ways that perhaps are a little unexpected. Lesson 21 comes from David JP Phillips and his that communication and being good at it is absolutely essential in every aspect of your life.


David JP Phillips 41:45

Communication is the greatest segregation of mankind, because we're all born equal. But we're not giving the equal opportunity of being able to communicate with others. So if you're not good at communicating, it means that you will have a lesser chance of a job, lesser chance of a good wage, you won't be successful in your marriages and your relationships, they will crack and dissolve as you go through life. You tried to teach your kids you tried to be a good parent, but you'd never learned how to communicate with them in a good way. So you fail at that as well. There is a chance that you consistently fail in life, with friendships and everything around you, compared to the person who's learned how to communicate, they might not even have a good idea. They might not even be smart, but they know how to talk. And they're able to get into jobs to get awesome salaries, get fantastic relationships. And at the end of the day, it all comes down to your mental health as well. People who have learned how to communicate with themselves in here can have a beautiful psychology and those who haven't, are depressed or can become depressed.


Francisco Mahfuz 42:57

Okay, that might have sounded a little dramatic. So this one is a little more upbeat. This is lesson 22 from Javon J. T McCormick. And the lesson is that telling your story has therapeutic value has telling your story allows you to make peace with your story.


Jevon "JT" McCormick 43:16

Oh very much it doing the book was incredibly therapeutic. There was there stories in that book that I swore, man Francisco, I swear those those stories, were going to stay in the safe with chains around it with 18 Different padlocks on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Because I never wanted anyone to know those stories. And I had spent so the great majority of my life not wanting you to know who I was, I didn't want you to know my dad was a pimp, I didn't want you to know that he fathered 23 children or to this day, I still don't know where my last name comes from. I spent so much time not wanting you to know my background. But now here it was going to be completely public for everyone. So yeah, it was completely free and therapeutic. Matter of fact, there's a page in the book my favourite page, it says my name is Javon Thomas McCormick. I'm half white, half black. My father was a pimp and drug dealer, father 23 children. My mother was an orphan. I don't know where my last name comes from. And I barely graduated high school, I've got a GED, and I never went to college,


Francisco Mahfuz 44:22

less than 23. And the final one is from Michelle Ray. And it's definitely something I live by day in and day out. And it's that you can find the funny in any story as long as you tell it. So I said


Michel Neray 44:39

Ruth, I called her Ruth, what's the funniest thing that ever happened to you? And she gets up in her bed, and she said, Well, we were at the camps, and she saw the look on my face. Like, I asked you for a funny story. You're gonna tell me something about Auschwitz? And she says yes, yes. So we were at the camps. And she proceeds to tell me this story of how, you know, she got beaten, big, literally beaten, and she looks up and she sees the Capitol with a with a bandage over one eye, and pointing her tone shone her truncheon at her and threatening her. And as she says,


I don't know if I'm dreaming or having a nightmare, but it's the funniest thing ever. If my


mother could tell a funny story about Auschwitz, everybody can find the funny in their story. If my mother could tell a story about Asha, it's not only does it signal to me that she's past her own experience, but it gives the audience hope that something is bad as that could happen to you. But you will get out of it. And ultimately, we are all merchants of hope.


Francisco Mahfuz 45:58

So that the original question was, you know, if you can't find the funny news stories, is that because you're not past it yet. But then the follow up to me is, if you haven't found the funny in your story yet, is that because you haven't told it? Ha, ha.


Michel Neray 46:13

Oh, that is so smart. I think you need to tell your story over and over and over again, until you're sick of it. And then you find the funny.


Francisco Mahfuz 46:23

That was it. 23 lessons from 100 episodes. I hope you enjoyed that. I really enjoyed putting this episode together and going through all of these conversations. Again, there's so many things I wish I could have included. But as I said, this thing would have been three or four hours long. And let's be fair, I'm not Joe Rogan. I'm not sure anyone would have listened to that, if I had done that. So this gives you an idea of a lot of episodes that perhaps you haven't listened to in the past. And, again, I am biassed, but I think there are some great conversations in the archives of this show, which seems like a weird thing to say, archives when I've only been doing during this for less than two years. So I hope you took a lot out of it. I definitely remembered a lot of important things that I've heard from my guests that maybe have fallen by the wayside over the years. And who knows, give it another two or three years, I might have gotten to Episode 200. And I'll get to do this again. And until the next episode. Thanks for tuning in. Take care of yourselves, and until next time.


I hope you enjoy the show. And if you did, I'd love for you to subscribe and leave us a review or rating on the Apple podcasts app. It's very easy. You open the app and find this show. Then scroll down a little and when you see the stars tap. I'd really appreciate it and it does help other people find this. And if you'd like to get in touch or find out more about what I do, reach out to me on LinkedIn or visit my website story powers.com



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