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  • Writer's pictureFrancisco Mahfuz

E15. How to Become a Brand Storytelling Superhero with Dr. A.J Minai

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

Francisco Mahfuz 0:00

Hi everyone, Francisco here. Just before we get started, I wanted to share something I'm really excited about. I recently launched the story powers bootcamp, a course that teaches you everything you need to know about how to find craft and tell stories that work. But it's not just an online course, because you get personalised feedback from me for all the practical activities in three hours of life coaching to work through any challenges, or focus on specific projects. So it's like if you bought a cookbook, but the chef came along with it. So go to story and click on Course, all the information you need will be there. So please check it out. And if you love the show, and would like to support us, you can go to buy me a forward slash story powers. I drink about five coffees a day, so any support would be much appreciated. All right on with the show.

Welcome to the song 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 host Francisco foods. My guest today is Dr. AJ meehanite. AJ is a two times TEDx speaker, brand storyteller and award winning entrepreneur who's spoken at over 200 events globally. He's also the chief memorability officer for vision 77, which is ages and his partner Brian's ah. He's also he's also the chief accountability officer for vision 77, which is how AJ and his partner Ryan will conquer the world and make it a better place. If you like the show, please subscribe and leave us an iTunes review. I need some hard evidence to show my wife this podcast isn't just an excuse to avoid changing the baby's diapers and taking out the trash. Ladies and gentlemen, Dr. HIV Nice.

AJ Minai 1:55

AJ, thank you, Francisco. I am super excited. I have I have a lot of admiration for anybody who's found a suitable excuse to avoid diapers and taking out the trash.

Francisco Mahfuz 2:11

It's one of the better ones because the moment you lock the door, there is no opening it even even the three year old knows that she cannot open the door and when that is recorded, so

AJ Minai 2:23

yeah, well, well, you're a lucky man. That's all I'm gonna say. You're lucky lucky man.

Francisco Mahfuz 2:27

I experiment with the Joe Rogan long form approach to podcasts. We all have a say two and a half hours long.

AJ Minai 2:35

Okay, three and a half hours long. I gotta make a few calls. But

Francisco Mahfuz 2:40

my wife would probably say But hold on, you record them for three hours. But the Posca podcasts are still 40 minutes long. Yeah, the editing I get a lot of stuff gets kicked out.

AJ Minai 2:49

You know, you know how it is, honey.

Francisco Mahfuz 2:52

So, AJ, I have a question to ask you that. I don't think I ever thought I would ask anyone. I understand that Batman ruined your childhood. And you became a businessman because of Wolverine.

AJ Minai 3:07

Wow. Yeah, that's, uh, you know, man, you gotta you know, Francisco. You are I love. I don't I don't even I this is the first time I'm spending time with you. And we're alive right now. And I have words escaped me in terms of how much I love you for asking a question like that. Words escaping? Because I have to tell you, no one. And I repeat, no one has asked me that question before. And I'm so happy that I'm on the show here with you. And I'm so thankful that you invited me here, bro. Because that is just from that first question. I can tell that UI you and I are going to have a lot of fun on this show. Trust me, right?

Francisco Mahfuz 3:51

We're we're nerds. We're nerds. If you if you if you check out the podcast, I mean, it's called The Story powers podcast. And if you check out the art, it's me with like a superhero scene behind me.

AJ Minai 4:05

It's dope, dope, man. I mean, and I mean, you know, thank God, thank God, we're, you know, we're married. And we have kids. Thank God because when we were single, and we did this podcast, trust me, nobody, you know, that would definitely drop our game if you know what I'm talking about.

Francisco Mahfuz 4:23

I don't have much game to drop. So you know, I wait for the marriage to be settled for the children to be expensive. Before I could actually get all this all this nerds in so

AJ Minai 4:35

bad. I mean, you know what, it's amazing prices go. How much have you and I have in common? Even though it's the first time we're live together? I can't wait to get into this. But to answer your question to answer your question, how Batman. I wouldn't say Batman ruined, ruined my childhood but he definitely he definitely played a very pivotal role in waking me up. Right he he definitely woke me up as a as a, as a symbol and as our character. And I don't want to get, I don't want to get too dorky for for our audience sake. Right? I want to stay more on the on the brand storytelling side of things so that we don't lose half the crowd just in our ramblings on comic book characters.

Francisco Mahfuz 5:16

But a super heroes are very popular nowadays. I mean, we lose less of a crowd than we would have 10 years ago.

AJ Minai 5:23

I know, I know, completely. I couldn't agree with you. But the short answer is the fact that I grew up savagely. And that's that's not an exaggeration Francisco, I grew up savagely bullied. And I mean, savagely. And there are a variety of reasons why I was bullied. And I'm not going to go into those reasons for the sake of time. But it was just it was just down to the fact that most of it was my fault. Right? Most of it. And I'm not saying it from a point of regret. I regret nothing in my life, except for one thing, which is what I said to my dad, a long time ago. And I spoke about that in my six second TEDx talk. I, I said something to my dad, when I was a kid, in my 20s when I said when I said when I was a kid, I mean, when I was in my 20s, I considered myself pretty immature. In my in my early 20s. Still, you know, I said something to him that I regret. But let's answer your first question, which is the fact that Batman was someone that appealed to me as a child, because I felt all the other heroes were were too far fetched. Even as a child, I, I had that mindset as a child, that I admired the fact that if you looked at the Justice League, you had Superman, who was an alien, and, you know, Superman was invincible for all, for all intents and purposes, except for a green rock, Superman can't be beaten, like literally, nothing touches him, right. Then you had, you know, other characters, each character in the Justice League had something over the top about them, the flash, you know, moving at supersonic speeds, or possibly even faster, Wonder Woman, a woman that's stronger than any man, etc, etc. You know what I mean? Right? They're all characters that if you were a kid, like me growing up, and I'm sure Francisco you identify with this, you know, I used to ask myself, could I ever, could I ever be any of these characters? And the answer would be no, you can't be you can't be any of these characters. But as a child, you know, you still have a child's childish imagination. As you get older, one would hope that you retain your childlike behaviour, because that's very good. There's a huge difference between childlike and childish. I always encourage my participants in my audiences and my clients to remain childlike, because it unlocks a level of creativity in you. But being childish is something that you grow out of. But of course, you're talking about when I was a kid, right? So being childish is what we do. And at that point in my own, in my own naive state, I felt that you could be Batman, I felt that, you know, someone could be Batman. And if you think about it, I mean, even afterwards, as I grew older, I started reading books, there was a book out of out of a, a scientist in Harvard, if I'm not mistaken, that wrote a book called How to become Batman, which I read years later,

Francisco Mahfuz 8:06

I tried reading that book, and he was so boring. So And isn't it for a book to be boring to me, but But halfway through his discussing basic biology, I was like, I don't need you to talk about mitochondria, right? Just get to the ninja stuff.

AJ Minai 8:21

But you know, that's, that's the reality though, Francisco. I mean, that's the reality of hero, a hero has to go through a lot of I think a hero has to do a lot of things that you know, when you pick when you picturised it when you glamorise it, you don't you don't cover those parts of becoming a hero, the ingredients. And that's why I enjoyed the book later in my in my mid 20s, my late 20s When I read that book, finally, I enjoyed the book because yes, it was boring. But it gave a very pragmatic, realistic approach of the sheer willpower. She'll share training of mind, body and soul and spirit for someone to actually even embrace the idea of being able to fight crime the way Batman does, right. But as a child, I saw Batman as the only realistic example of a hero out of out of all these other heroes, even if I went to Marvel, and I looked at Iron Man, I looked at all these other characters in Marvel, I would still feel like I don't associate with them. But for some reason it clicked with Batman. And then unfortunately, you know, in my childish pursuits of Batman, I became fairly obsessed with the character. And I, you know, I used to dress up as him every Halloween. I'm not joking, Francisco. Every Halloween, I had a new Batman suit. And I was trying to put it on. And because I grew up savagely bullied for a variety of reasons that I won't go into. But long story short, it was very difficult to connect myself to that character because I felt like I was a loser for the longest time. But I'm proud to say that nobody's a no one. I'm proud to say that now. I'm proud to say that I spent a long portion of my life including my formative yours is a child making this huge mistake, which is I thought I needed to fit in, in order to be better. But I fail to understand that the whole point of life is standing out. It's not about fitting in. It's about embracing your differences and how different and diverse you are from the next person. And that the biggest truth that I uncovered at the end of that journey towards even up to my late 20s, actually, to be transparent prints even up to my late 20s The journey that I uncovered is that no one is you. And that is your biggest power. No one is you and that is your that's your definition of your own power. So that men, I would say, challenged me, challenged me to face demons that I was running away from for a very long time. And the reasons why I was bullied wasn't because they were wrong. Yeah, what they did to me was wrong. I you know, I'm talking just to give you an idea, I'm talking about things like getting urinated on on a football field. That's what I mean by Savage. So I'm just giving you an idea of how bad it was. That's where I came from. And years later, I look back now. And I realised something that just like Batman, just like any other hero, who is vulnerable, you know, heroism, or heroics don't come from invulnerability. That's why I could never identify with Superman, because he is invulnerable. But that man always appealed to me because it was a, it was a basis for me to understand. Eventually, I didn't understand it. When I was a kid, I went through a lot of hard times. But eventually I understood that true warriors aren't invincible. They're actually very fallible. They're very, they're very, very delicate. They're very fragile. And that's okay. It's, it's in the fragility of our lives, that we actually, we move that inch by inch growth every day, and we become heroes. And the only hero that you need to look for in your life is in the mirror. You know, follow you know, you learn from everyone, but you follow no one. And that's, that's, that's the combination of what Batman meant to be. I'm sorry, if it was long winded, Francisco. But that was Batman.

Francisco Mahfuz 12:10

Listen, it's Batman, I'll forgive or forget Batman, many things well, apart from maybe having become Ben Affleck. But I think that one is out of his hands. So it's just said, you know, one of the things one of the things we wanted to talk about and when I reached out to you specifically, because I wanted to talk about, about brand storytelling, but but the one thing I wanted to ask you before, because storytelling has become a buzzword. And one thing I do come across a lot, not only on social media, but everywhere is everybody loves tagging on the term storyteller or storytelling to stuff they do. So I wanted to ask you was, what exactly is brand storytelling and what isn't?

AJ Minai 12:52

Right? That's it? That's a brilliant question. And I'm gonna I'm gonna answer part of the last question in this question as well, with when you mentioned Wolverine, I'm going to bring that into the answer here. But from a from a technical, let's go into the technicalities. Sure, brand storytelling is the ability for people to understand one statement, from a more scientific point of view, people have become brands and brands have become people, right. So brand storytelling today, in this age of digital in this age of disruption, in this age of having to stand out in an ocean of, of saturated industries, saturated campaigns, saturated ideas, because we live in an age where we all understand that there's no such thing as an original idea. In reality, there's no there's no such thing as an original idea. Everything is kind of a build up from another idea now. And that's thanks to social media thanks to the world that we live in, that we'd like to call globalise. But thanks to COVID-19 is now becoming very quickly hyper localised, we realise that now more than ever, storytelling, whether it's for a personal brand, or it's for corporate brand, storytelling will be the key to unlocking a variety of different levels for your business. When I when I say business, I mean, I've always kept that mentality in my life, at least till from my mid 20s onwards, right as an entrepreneur, and somebody working in corporate for companies large and small around the world. And then finally, becoming an entrepreneur that I am today. I've always believed that the word brand doesn't apply to just businesses. I believe Francisco mahfuz is a brand I believe that doctor a Gemini is a brand and it's not about when I say brand, I don't mean it from a gland point of view. I don't mean it from a from a dibbs vanity point of view. I mean, from a from a discipline of building your level of excellence in life point of view that if you were to carry yourself at all times, with this self awareness that I am a brand then you will do everything with an extra For a mile in it, because just like you want to interact with any other brand, whether it's whether it's a food delivery service that serves you, well, whether it's going to the cinema, and seeing someone who attended to really well, whether it's, you know, getting on the phone and booking a flight, or going somewhere or booking a hotel reservation and you realise that, wow, that was an experience that really stood out in my mind. Again, there are so many hotels that we're going to stay at in our lifetime. There's so many vacations we'll take, there's so many people that will meet, how does one stand out? How can you leave people and brands and things in your life better than how you found them. And I think that is through brand storytelling. That's what I call brand storytelling. brand storytelling is the ability to create impact and your words and your actions. And that is why I positioned myself as a chief memorability officer, because in my mind, storytelling, is the key to unlocking how a brand or a personal brand even becomes memorable. And that is the equivalent of standing out out of 1000s of different you know, people standing next to you or companies who are your competitors. So what brand storytelling is, is an expression of the essence of your your core, but simplified, simplified in a way that people remember it. So it has to be a story. And of course, we're not we're not gonna we're not going to make this into a saintly movement. brand storytelling is also a revenue technique. I mean, we shouldn't we shouldn't downplay that aspect. One thing that I find very interesting about a lot of the storytellers that I've come across is that there are two very clear segments of storytellers in the world. There are the storytellers that have played storytelling to the point where it's become very salesy. They're using it purely from a marketing funnel point of view. And they've become overwhelmingly obsessed with how I can use stories. Unfortunately, I don't mean to be crude, but how I can use stories to to falsify or do people into believing that my product and service is the way to go. Right. And I say that I say that that's one, one school of thought that they believe that you can use storytelling as a new spin. Instead of using sales as you used to in yesteryear. You no longer sell, but you make them buy. That's one camp. And then there's another camp that goes exactly the exact opposite, which is very altruistic, that believes that story coding is something of a sacred movement. It's a sacred thing that it has, it comes from wisdom, it comes from spirituality, it comes with mysticism, that stories of old were told, and that's how generations carry that torch, which, which don't get me wrong, they also hold their own, they hold their own rights, they have their own perceptions that are correct, in their own ways. I'm not negating either side. But I am saying that there are two very clear demarcations the two different camps. And I feel like at times, there are very few people in the middle, I identify myself as being in the middle. Because I think you need to strike a balance, you need to strike a balance where you're authentic. As a storyteller, you are authentic as a storyteller, which means that you are not creating narrative for a company that will illicitly misrepresent the company at the same time. I also recognise that brand storytelling has to be a means for you to be able to draw people towards your revenue funnels. It has to recognise that there needs to be a CTA in the story, or a call to action that we call it. And that's that's, that's what I feel it is I feel, I feel that the embodiment of a of a brand storyteller, or a business storyteller, in today's time, isn't just a buzzword that you put up on a post hashtag storyteller. I believe that you need to go through an actual process and which is why we have tools like the SMC, the storytelling model canvas, it's not just it's not just like I wake up one morning, and I decide to be a storyteller. It's not like that there are there's years of hard work that goes into understanding what are the different dynamics of storytelling that can help Company A, and what are the different dynamics that will help Company B. And if friends Francisco came, came comes to AJ and says AJ, I want to build a personal brand. What is Francisco's essence that that that we can then take storytelling techniques into his essence and we can build a brand that truly is legacy and not just currency? And you need to merge them, you need to merge them because you want to build a legacy. But you can't deny the fact that you do need currency as well. So you need to know how to choose it. That's that's I

Francisco Mahfuz 19:49

have I have a feeling I have a feeling it's not the first time you ever use the legacy and not currency line. No, I had that that has a very good smell to it.

AJ Minai 20:00

I often tell Francisco, I often tell people not to chase currency. But to chase legacy, I feel I feel like that's my calling in life I, I've always been very focused on building that impact into whatever I do, as opposed to looking at the dollar signs behind it. But at the same time, I think the storyteller has to understand, if you if you call yourself a storyteller, a professional storyteller, if you say that you're out there servicing your clients, then you need to understand that a storyteller cannot be an opinionated personality, a storyteller, much like a counsellor, much like a psychiatrist, much like a psychologist, much like a coach has to detach themselves away with away from their own life opinions, with with immersing themselves into that, that person's story. So when I, if I come to Francisco's let's say territory, or I come into his turf might take away and my impact won't come from sharing stories about AJ to Francisco know, my impact and might take away will be enhanced and be will be felt by Francisco, when I give him the space to tell me his stories. That's the role of a true storyteller, not just telling your own stories, but being able to, to celebrate and add value to other people's stories. And that's the difference between fake and real storytelling.

Francisco Mahfuz 21:21

There is this is not a story so much is more of a little anecdote that a lot of people love talking about that some famous sculptor was asked, you know, you got this block of concrete, how do you know what to sculpt, and he says, Well, I just chip away everything that is not the sculpture. And then to some extent, I find that the process of trying to both when I'm telling my own stories, and on helping someone else to find their story is, you know, you have this experience or this quality you're trying to express and then you just have to chip away at everything they give you. That is not the story. So you know, what is what is the experience? Where you've learned this? Where is the experience where this has become important for you? What is the experience that exemplifies or maybe that doesn't exemplify whereas the experience where you did the complete opposite, that you're that you're trying to do or show that you value now, get everything else that is not that out of it in typically, you end up with, if not the story, where at least with the with the essence of what a story can be?

AJ Minai 22:27

Absolutely, absolutely. I mean, what you described is what I call diamond in the rough from, you know, when I was a kid, I loved Aladdin. And there was this terminology in Aladdin was called diamond in the rough, which means basically, that in inside inside a very unpolished looking rock, you can always find something that's immeasurably valuable, like a diamond, right? And that you need to you need to chip away, you need to really chip away on on those aspects in your own life, where not only uncover your own milestones for you to empower yourself, but also develop the science that you just mentioned, or what maybe perhaps not the science, but the technique that you just mentioned, that the ability to chip away. When people tell you their whole tapestry, you can look at their tapestry and go, Okay, this is sand, sand, sand. There's the diamond, let's dig a bit deeper. Let's dig deeper. That's a diamond, that's a diamond, that's a diamond. And you piece that together, and then you have truly a beautiful combination of sand and diamond sparkling together. You know what I mean? So I completely do and

Francisco Mahfuz 23:36

I am I am aware that without wanting to go into another comic book digression, but you haven't talked about Wolverine, you said you would, and you would tie it to the brand storytelling but you have not talked about Wolverine.

AJ Minai 23:47

I will I will. I was gonna I was gonna bring it up. I was gonna bring it up. But then I got so carried away by by what we just spoke. You know, I've read Wolverine Wolverine basically was my first I'd say, you know, I'm a huge fan of money heist. I'm sure people listening have watched money heist on Netflix, right? I'm a huge fan. So Wolverine was my hire just

Francisco Mahfuz 24:10

fine, right? Hey, would your favourite page in Spain?

AJ Minai 24:14

Massive, right? It's a I mean, I mean, I mean, I can't blame people. I mean, money heist is dope. I mean, seriously, dope. I loved it. Right? And, you know, I think a Wolverine was my first was my first money heist. I think he was my first highest, you know, because I, I used to as a for some reason as a kid. I used to love selling stuff. I used to love like, I guess, I guess because I had I mean, everybody around me told me dude, you can sell ice to an Eskimo AJ right? That's, that's that's what that's the narrative that I heard around me that you know, you've got a mouth on you. So and then and then I decided to use that mouth to, to to to drop a bit of gain for myself. And I'm ashamed of Saying this I'm ashamed to say this because this is something that I don't like to add. I don't like to admit because Francisco you're you're you're somebody who's fairly well known as with story powers and everything that's happening, bro. So I'm scared that if I admit this, it's gonna be it's gonna be a crime admitted in the past.

Francisco Mahfuz 25:16

This is not this isn't the story you've told no TEDx talk. I haven't gotten a detective on you. I've went online and found it. You know, hiding away, Jay.

AJ Minai 25:26

I know. Very well, I I actually kind of I actually kind of forgot that. I talked about it on TEDx. Did I really talk about that? Yep. Oh, man. I really shouldn't have talked about that. Shit. Okay. Anyways, long story short, I used to love collecting Marvel trading cards. If you know what I'm talking about Francisco, I'm sure like, you come from that generation. Yes, I know. And, you know, what I did was I used to flip them from a from an entrepreneurial perspective, I flipped them. So this was this was my first foray into entrepreneurship as a kid, you know, I can't remember how old I was nine or 10, or seven or eight. Somewhere around there. I was a young kid, I was like, 10 or 11, something like that. And I remember, I was going to I used to go and play at a field near my house. And you know, we used to play around soccer most of the time, Malaysia, crazy about soccer, you know, big thing, blah, blah, blah. And turns out there was a kid who went to my school, but he was much older than me much bigger than I was. He was from Argentina. I'm sure if he listens to this is probably gonna kill me. Thing was Matthias. You know, he was huge. He was I mean, for a kid who was about 10 or 11. When I see when I say huge, he was my he was my size now, but he was huge to me. And, you know, he, he wanted he saw this Wolverine hologram that I had Francisco and we got talking. And basically long story short for the sake of time on the podcast. I sold him the card for at least about 60 to 70% profit. So I remember I bought the card for about 4040 Ringgit. 40 Malaysian ringgit, and I think I sold it to him for something like 200 ringgit, I can't remember the exact pricing. But it was like it was like it was it was it was a jump right at 60 70%. Jump on it. Yeah, it was, it was a huge jump, I sold it to him. And next thing I know, he comes banging on my gates, saying, you know, dude, you fleeced me. You know, I'm obviously being very diplomatic. I'm not telling. I'm not telling you exactly what he said. But it was much worse than that. Right? I was a kid, I was like, nine or 10 or something. So when he was at my gate, like, threatening me what I did, I did what any? Any kid my age would do. I called mom, right? And she saw my problems. And, you know, when when Matthias was explaining, and he was like telling, you know, you saying, you know, auntie, your son, he he did this, he did this, he sold me this he misrepresented. He did that blah, blah, blah, all that stuff that he was talking about? This guy was 17 years old. You know, so he could he could explain himself. I remember standing at the gate hiding behind my door. While my mom was talking to him, I can still remember that. And, you know, then my mom turns around. And she she says to me, like, do you did you do this? And I was like, Did you did you take this money? You know? And I was like, No, I snapped guidelines. No. I swear, I swear presence for the money was in my pocket. When I said no. Money was in my pocket. I did. And that was like I was I was using that money. I was flipping the money. And that's what I did. I was using. I did this I used the money that I was flipping for my cards. And I used to be the kid in school, even though I was being bullied. And I was being ravaged in several ways. So I was smaller, scrawny, or stammering I used to stammer a lot, and all that stuff that was going on in my life. When I was a kid, even then I had the most money in the class. I mean, everybody else was getting pocket money for like, you know, 10 bucks. 20 bucks. 30 bucks. I used to walk around with like, 200 bucks a month.

Francisco Mahfuz 28:57

You're saying like, what you're saying is that your empire started with a crime? Well, if you put it that way, I mean, you know, I listen, I'll give you I'll give you a short and worst story that will make you feel better. When when I was a kid, my brother and my cousins were all like comic books. So everybody used to say that they were a particular superhero. But only one of us could be one superhero. So my brother I think was always Thor. And then I don't know who I was Spider Man or something and one of my cousin's got Wolverine and it's like, Oh, I really want the lovin but he called it first right so what what can you do? And then there's a future past came out. And at the end of Days of Future Past Wolverine gets killed by a Sentinel. So I showed him the comic book and said, Ah, is dead. You have to pick someone else. And then he picked someone else and I said, Ah, he's not that I'm ovary now seconds.

AJ Minai 29:49

Okay, so So that's the true crime you do to cousin. That's the truth. Everybody, everybody listening to this. Remember, shift your focus away with one AJ did when he was young with the flipping of money and bring it to what Francisco just talked about, of how he betrayed his own family. That's, that's what you need to remember. So that so that none of you remember the rest.

Francisco Mahfuz 30:16

Right? So back back to back to storytelling and branding and all this stuff. And this is something I have very little experience with, which is the because traditional storytelling or storytelling more in a sales context and leadership context, maybe even in an advertising context, if you generally doing ads. Sure, I understand all that. But digital storytelling, particularly in situations where you're not actually using that many words. So what would you say? Are, you know, what the main techniques that still apply? And if a company is doing something, and they're not going to tell a story in the specific sense of the word? How is that then? Well,

AJ Minai 30:57

okay, that's a great question, man. That's a great question. So, you know, digital storytelling actually is, is simply using different elements beyond text, to communicate the story. That's what I mean, I'm simplifying it for you. It's a lot more than that. But I'm simplifying it in terms of digital storytelling is essentially being able to use modern digital techniques and expressions, for example, gifts, you know, Jeff's means you know, what limited content copy when you're posting on Twitter, or limited content copy, when you're posting on Instagram, there's a character count copy. So you need to know how to use limited textual representation, to to express a story. And that too, it's never just as easy as expressing the story. any Tom, Dick, and Harry, with all due respect, anytime you can, Harry can do that. But the key is, can you do it digitally in a manner that touches people? Right? I mean, because at the end of the day, the reason why digital storytelling is something so important for businesses is because it is the it is the precursor, or it is the gateway for businesses to become something that people feel and not just something that people think about. Right, let me repeat that for the audience. And for the for the listeners, you know, the whole point of brands today, and businesses and again, when I say brands, I don't mean just companies but but even people with their own personal brand. I mean, the whole point of this whole aspect of storytelling is around the aspect that you you need to create an emotive Vnus for lack of better words and emotive pneus and emotional aspects of connection that stories often do almost always, that leads to memorability. But why do you do it? Why? Why do you want to be memorable? If you really think about it, you want to be memorable, because you made something someone or something felt, you know, you've you made something feel about your brand. And that's really important. And I can give, I can give a very simple example, The Avengers recently with the end game, let's just say, imagine, imagine Francisco where we're 20 years in the future, right? Where some somewhere in like, you know, maybe 2040, right? Imagine you and I have this conversation, and I talk about a movie that came out 2025 years, you know, earlier, Avengers endgame. Now you and I, it's been 20 years plus, you know, we don't know if I say so. Tell me the name of the actor who played you know, famous. You're going to be like, I don't really remember. Dude. I don't I don't remember. You know, I remember the Jewish Josh Brolin. Dude, it's 2020. Still, I would I would remember that. Really? Oh, that dude. I'm sorry about but you're a bigger dork that I have.

Francisco Mahfuz 33:40

The moment to say that movie, all I would do is this.

AJ Minai 33:45

But But you see, okay, that that actually? Oh my god, that was, that was a beautiful point. You just reinforced the point that I was just about to make. You see, people will forget the actors. They won't remember all the actors names. They'll even forget the name of the movie after 2010 1015 years, right? I mean, when I look about Jurassic Park two, I don't remember the name of the Jurassic Park two movie. You know, I don't remember the name. They put the tagline. I don't remember it. You see what I mean? So my point is, you know, even matrix matrix one and then matrix two. It'll take me some time to remember Oh, yeah. Matrix two was reloaded. It was a revolution. I can't remember. You see what I mean. Now, at that time, when matrix came out, it was all the bomb, it was all the buzz people would know it like the back of their hands. The Matrix back in the day was the equivalent of the Avengers in this day and age in terms of the hype in terms of the cult movement at that point, right. And now what I'm what I'm getting at is, people will forget all of that. But if you zoom in, within that conversation very quickly past what's the name of the movie was this and people say, no, no, no, no, no. And then you just go, you know, remember that part? When Captain America was on the ground, and when he got up, and he was tightening his brace, remember how the circles opened up behind him? And then you don't even need to fit The rest of the story, you know what people do? They're like, yeah, and then all the Avengers come back to life and they all come back and they all fight Thanos. And you know, all of it comes out, you see? Now, there's something really interesting about that. Why is it that people can forget the actor's years after the names of the characters, the storyline, even in totality, they can't remember everything. But they'll remember one moment or two, three moments in that movie, why? Cuz it made them feel something. That's the that's the science behind storytelling. If they felt something in that moment, in that moment, you as an as a viewer of the movie in the cinema, you you connected with the characters in a way, you connected with Chris Evans, character, Captain America at that point, you were like, wow, that's now that's, that's amazing. That's, that's that feeling that euphoria that you get, that's what brands and personal brands, even corporate brands, and personal brands are now trying to replicate through storytelling through digital storytelling. And you can do that in a variety of different ways you can do that through gifts, right? It's a simple, a simple flash and flash out of three, four images that are just looping that can drive home a certain point, for example, unfortunately, I you know, I hate to use this example, because it's a very, it's a very, very, it's a very sad situation that's taking place with the whole George Floyd situation around the world, around Black Lives Matter. And something that's very close to my heart, because it has been going on for too long now in the world, racism should have gone extinct. It's, it's, it's what happened to George Floyd should happen to no one ever anywhere in the world, irrespective of the colour of their skin. And right now, unfortunately, the battle that African Americans are fighting is a battle that should have been won decades ago, it shouldn't have have existed for this long, you know what I mean? But to just give you an example, there have been several gifts and, and, you know, memes and all sorts of different sort of things that have been popping up on our WhatsApps. Right, and our telegrams and all this stuff. And if you see some of these gifts, they actually showcase a story just in three, four, just in three, four loops. I mean, the GIF is only for four seconds long, five seconds long. But it tells a little story, right. Another example is limited text copy, I was once approached by a memorial house, a funeral service, and their owner had passed away the father had passed away, and the son was taking over in the business. And the son asked me in the middle of our conversation, you know, what's something that I should put on my, on my father, as a as a, as something that actually brings people to understand that this man had saved and helped 1000s of people, even when they couldn't afford coffins when they couldn't afford a burial ground, he was there to help them. I want to embody that I want to put something nice on his, on his on his stand there. And I said, What if you just put the soul that tried the soul that tried four words, now when when when you hear that Francisco, it makes you feel something? Imagine you walk past someone's grave, and you you looked at their name, and you looked at the you know, the years that they lived, and then you just see these four words, the soul that tried and the story builds up in your mind on its own, even if it's not the real story, but it it definitely, it creates a landscape in your mind. And you start to imagine what type of man or woman would have this person been for them to have such a beautiful eulogy, but it's just a short forward eulogy. And it leaves so much of the imagination, but it takes you to a positive place, it takes you to a good place. So digital storytelling is the ability to understand modern digital techniques and disruptive funnels, disruptive technologies disruptive little Nixon. Next that we have, how to use platforms, disruptively, from tick tock to Snapchat to LinkedIn, how do you use these mediums and their limitations and turn those limitations into something that become impactful in the story itself that you're delivering? So for me, that's what digital storytelling is. It's It's the ability to be able to have a digital backbone, but to understand the emotive storytelling techniques on top of that backbone, and playing and celebrating with their weaknesses and their strengths on each platform accordingly,

Francisco Mahfuz 39:23

you gave a very beautiful example of what someone could put on on their grave. And I remember that I used to work with a guy and the joke in the office is that when he passed his grave would say he did everything wrong.

AJ Minai 39:40

Okay, all right. You guys just mean now.

Francisco Mahfuz 39:46

I like I say this, this is this is a theme now it's becoming a theme in my in my show, I tell guests often you bring the wisdom. I'll bring the nonsense. But it's something I want to pick up on. something you said about the very minimal elements you need for a story. And this is something I heard, I believe from Park Harwell, who has a podcast called the business of story. And he talks about the cavemen story. I don't know if you heard this one. Yeah, the caveman stories for the audience. It's It's just three parts. There's no stories are and it's, oh, oh, ah.

AJ Minai 40:25

That's genius. It's genius. It is genius. I mean, again, I love storytelling. It isn't it isn't a profession for me. And it's not a profession for you. It's who you are. A storyteller isn't. I mean, don't get me wrong, Francisco. I'm not saying I'm not saying that. It's what I'm what I'm saying at this moment isn't an excuse for everybody to get off their bed and go, I'm a storyteller? No, that's not what I'm saying. I'm not saying it's an excuse. for that. I'm saying that there are some people that innately love stories they innately love it, they they enjoy it, whether it's in the middle of a zoom call for a very important business meeting, or whether it's just in a grocery store in the waiting line on the cashier, but you know, where they're just some people who truly love to listen to stories, because that's how they learn. There are different types of learners in the world. There are auditory learners, their kinesthetic learners, but also to different learners. And I believe a type of learner is the learner that that, you know, really enjoys listening to other people's experiences and their adventures, their stories, per se. And then that becomes a part of them. That's part of their wisdom, right. And that's really beautiful. Because even Steve Jobs said that that's why, if you noticed on my LinkedIn profile Francisco, my the very first, the very first excerpt is from Steve Jobs, about how the storyteller will dictate and decree the entire generation to come. And Steve Jobs lived that life. He created a story of Apple, he created that and then he lived it. He created that story of Apple in his mind, I'm sure of it. People think that people probably think that Steve just kind of just went with the flow. I don't think so. I think I think he sat down and he visualised it, in his younger days before he passed, of course, I I'm sure he he visualised in his mind that you know, I would, I would carve something into history that would become a legend. And Apple is definitely a business I'm irrespective of how they're doing now, irrespective of their stock market price, irrespective of all that stuff that's going on, and everything that has happened and everything that will happen, but it's undeniable that Steve Jobs is synonymous with Apple, just like Richard Branson. It says Artemis virgin. And just like Tony Fernandez is synonymous with AirAsia. You know, this is something that people need to learn. People have become brands and brands have become people. So it's really important that you humanise your business, because if you humanise it, people will trust your business as well behind you, you win half the battle, you no longer need to sell, you actually make them buy. So that element of the camp I you know, the the two camps I told you about earlier, Francisco, you need to take from both of them. There's nothing wrong with both of them, you just need to learn how to balance them so that the skill is balanced. You can't become capitalistic, but you can't become super altruistic. You know, you've got to be a saint. But you've got to be a singer. And storytelling is in the middle of that. And so you can balance your scales. It's a very, it's a very human process. Francisco, it's very human. It's meant to be human. And that's why I think storytelling is so powerful. Because it's human. It's so much more human than a corporate memo. It's so much more human than a set of slides. It's so much more human than anything else that will touch you. It's just a story where you sit down and talk and just like the story you just told me you did every he did everything wrong. I mean, that's that's the story. The story itself. I mean, in my mind, you have no idea the story that's running in my mind now because of that. I'm thinking what did he do wrong? What do you do wrong? Everything.

Francisco Mahfuz 44:01

He did everything wrong, AJ this is something I'm glad you're obviously so passionate about about branding and storytelling and personal branding, because I realise once this episode is out and it's only thin you might have some your work cut out for you. Because this episode might have complicated your personal brand. Because your LinkedIn profile is like super serious is Dr. AJ Menai. You've got like a good Blue Steel face going on. And you're wearing a suit and I've seen some of your videos. You kind of always more on the serious side. And and I thought that there was something wrong there when I found out that your company with one of your companies subtour referred to you as the Super surfing goofball. I was like, hold on, hold on the silver surfing. I mean, this is a pretty obscure reference here. So someone who listened to this and go Wow, this is not the doctor AJ, that I imagined. No, sorry, dude. And

AJ Minai 45:05

you know what? You're the first year that you're not the first one who said this. So this is this is this is the first, not first on this show. So you you're not the first, you're not the first person who's actually had a conversation with me and raise this up like, Dude, I don't get it, that the guy I see on LinkedIn is this super suited, suited booted sort of dude. And then I see this dude. And you're like, Dude, you're the opposite of what I see on LinkedIn. And, and I only have one thing to say to that Francisco. You know, the best movies are the ones that have the best plot twists. I always say that, you know, the best stories are the ones that have the most twist. And you and I are the biggest fans of anything that's on Netflix, including money heist, because of the twists, right? So I'm just going to say that if you are truly a storyteller, you will build your own stories twists. And that's what I'm doing. You know, I love a bit of mystery. And I think it's a good mystery to have when people see one side of you, and then they see all of a sudden, another side of you, and then they see another side of you. Because they keep on seeing different sides of you and they don't know what to expect next. I think that's magical. I think that's how a brand should be so anyways, that's my that's my opinion, opinion, bro. I mean, that's just me.

Francisco Mahfuz 46:25

And I fully agree with you having been on my my second marriage. Now, I would tell you just now, the twists and turns don't work so well in your marriage. Your wife wants to know what to expect when you come out. Something completely unexpected. That doesn't tend to make the story more exciting.

AJ Minai 46:45

You know, you know, I gotta tell you, Francisco this this episode may not just be so dangerous for me. I think this episode might be dangerous for you. If you're if your wife or your ex wife

Francisco Mahfuz 46:59

she's been she's the current the current Mrs. Franciscana first has been with me for long enough that she I don't think she even listens to me anymore. She just sees my mouth moving and go off. Yeah. But, you know,

AJ Minai 47:14

what are you gonna? Do? They never shut up? That's us.

Francisco Mahfuz 47:17

Yeah. AJ, where can where can people find you.

AJ Minai 47:20

So I'm in the process of launching a And if everything goes really well, then probably by next week, sometime, you'll be you'll be and everybody else on LinkedIn will be seeing the launch of ageing. And I'd like to say that, you know, you should check that out when it happens. But in the meantime, like I've always been saying on all my other different interviews and podcasts that I've been doing in the past, and even in my own posts, I mentioned that LinkedIn is my, my heart and soul. I mean, I mean it in a in a both in an emotional and a non emotional way. LinkedIn has been a great opportunity for me to build revenue as well. I'm not gonna lie. I don't want to lie because I believe part of being a storyteller is being authentic about what you say what you do

Francisco Mahfuz 48:06

you left align back in your Wolverine days. I wish I was your content, the video of this?

AJ Minai 48:15

I have no comments on this. But but but but yeah. So every day except for the everyday for except for the Wolverine times in my life, where I was, I was strongly an advocate of authentic storytelling. Right. And, and that being said, jokes aside, that being said, also from an emotional point of view, I believe that LinkedIn is one of the very last remaining organically geared platforms. I mean, if you think about Instagram, you think about Facebook, you think about other platforms. Again, no offence to those platforms, they obviously have a huge, huge advantage when it comes to the volume of users compared to LinkedIn. But I still believe that when it comes to organic brand building, or storytelling, you know, it pays off the most on LinkedIn. It really does right now I feel like that maybe I'm biassed, but that's my opinion, it's one of the most organic platforms out there still, that allows you to grow without having to dip your hands deep into your own pockets for your own companies and for your own personal brand. So LinkedIn is the answer. Look out for me on LinkedIn, find me on LinkedIn. I'm most active there. In fact, that's where I met Francisco, just legend of a man here. So yeah,

Francisco Mahfuz 49:30

I think by the time by the time the episode comes out, your website will most likely be live. So I'll link it in the show notes and say give very much for your time. So this has been this has been a great pleasure.

AJ Minai 49:43

Thank you. Thank you for exposing me.

Francisco Mahfuz 49:48

I think I think you might be one of the last people that I interviewed. They won't know what Tatum I went off getting a good reputation for this. But you know, I told me, You should have told me that and you put it out there it turns out that x you know, hiding it though. Alright everybody, thank you. Thanks. Thank you for thanks for tuning in. Take care of yourselves and until next time bye guys

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