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  • Francisco Mahfuz

E17. How to Lead Your Story with Hasani X



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 powers.com 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 coffee.com 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 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 host, Francisco mahfuz. My guest today is Hasani X. He is the CEO of leader story, a company that uses the power of story to build strong brands and company culture. I could say a whole lot more about him. But he's done so many impressive things that looking at his CV is making me feel lazy and incompetent. So I'll spare you the same thing. We'll get into some of the craziest stuff, and you see what I'm talking about? If you like the show, please subscribe and leave us an iTunes review. If this podcast ever hits the big time, I promise I'll remember who supported me from the start. And also who hasn't? Mum? Where's that review? You promised me? Ladies and gentlemen has said Yaks. Sadie, welcome to the show. Hey, thanks, Francisco, I appreciate the intro, you know, you you're very prepared for for podcast interviews, and you make it very easy on your hosts. But then, you know, I do my own research. And then I did a bit and then I got some of the stuff you sent me before. And I just couldn't cope with it. Taking everything that was there, we will never get out of the introduction,


Hasani X 2:15

I try to make things as easy as possible. And I'm going to be transparent from the jump. My clients tell me, this is what people tell me, I help them feel at the same time, super, super excited in one moment and then defeated in the next. And that's because like, if you asked me to do something, or to engage in something, I'm going to be like, boom, I'm gonna do it, and I'm gonna throw it at you and love on you, like you were expecting the bare minimum. And it feels overwhelming a little bit sometimes to get that level of engagement. So it's a training process for if you're in my circle, I'm going to give it to you. And I'm going to give you everything necessary for you to say, here's the ball. Now it's your turn to shoot. And I think a lot of us don't want the ball. Sometimes we don't really want to shoot, we say we do, but we really don't.


Francisco Mahfuz 3:05

But I must say that when I came across your content for the first time, I was first very impressed. But then I was a little worried. And I was worried because I showed some of your videos to my wife. And she actually asked to see more of them. But she never has any time from my stuff. So either she likes your storytelling better than mine. Or maybe it shouldn't leave the two two of you alone in the same room as your


Hasani X 3:30

the the idea. What is the quote, you can't be a prophet in your own kingdom or that so it's just just sometimes refreshing to hear something different. My wife says


Francisco Mahfuz 3:42

yes, that's that's one way of looking at it.


Hasani X 3:44

Oh does not know anything about what I say what I do it to her what I do online or my meet my videos are like she is completely out of the loop. So your your wife is at least listening to your story. So that's that's that's a that's a thumbs up right there.


Francisco Mahfuz 4:02

Well, I think I think she was watching some of your videos on mute. So I'm not sure what that means.


Hasani X 4:08

I got it capitalism.


Francisco Mahfuz 4:10

Oh, yes. Captions, yes. Captions. That must have been it. Yeah. But the one thing I find interesting about how, you know, you haven't given me some information beforehand is I just had this conversation last week with a guy called Brian Miller. Right, who is he's got a very big TEDx is a magician. And one of the things he talks about in his book, and we talked about on the on the podcast was that he finds himself somewhat frustrated sometimes, because he has the same conversations over and over. So he goes into a podcast and people say, Oh, that story, you told your TEDx, can you tell that again? And he says, Well, sure, but it's out there. So don't you find that with providing some information to your hosts beforehand, that they just asked you to talk about the things you've talked about a million times before? They have


Hasani X 4:57

there? It does, and that's perfect. 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'm, I am just as guilty of filling 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 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, right? 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 that's going to come from saying the same thing over and over again, that resonates and connects until people know your story. Oh, I know what friends I remember Francisco story, they're gonna remember. But if you're not saying it, and you're changing it every other day or across different shows, you're you're not doing your job as relates to building that brand.


Francisco Mahfuz 6:32

Well, let me see if I can challenge that too, a little bit and get you to say the same things, but from a slightly different angle. And which leads me to one of the things I wanted to cover right at the beginning, which is the way I came across you is is a way I know other people have come across you, which is your five second 32nd and one minute stories. Yeah. And and I thought that was incredibly powerful. But what I haven't seen you do, and this is what I would like you to do, is do that with your story. So examples for other other people in life and with a host in a podcast. I haven't seen you do that for you. Yeah, right.


Hasani X 7:09

Good question. So let me give the backdrop, what is the five second 32nd and five minute story? Whenever I work a lot of entrepreneurs and people in corporate America, and they're trying to find a way to connect with people. And one of the questions we hear all the time is what do you do? The first thing we do is we come back with a title or the name of a business. And if you're a if you're tuned in, you can see people rolling their eyes and being out of the conversation immediately. So the psychology of making an impression is to understand that people care about two things, and two things in general, the problems that they're having, and how to escape them. And what is the promise on the other side of escaping them. So when you talk about trying to introduce yourself to someone, the five second story is positioning what you do as a way that you can help someone is basically answering the question, what can you do for me? Not what do you do? So if you could like put that hack into your your mind, what do you do for me? So it depends if I'm if I'm in a room full of startups. My five second story might be, I'll help you say what you need to say. So that you can get your first set of clients in the door. Now, if I'm in front of a startup, an entrepreneur that's going to invoke a what?


Francisco Mahfuz 8:28

Yeah, that's what they need to do.


Hasani X 8:31

How do you do that? When you enter, do when you say the right thing is going to invoke an engagement, they're going to say something to the effect? Well, how do you do that? That sounds interesting. If I said, I do marketing. Ah, all right. Yeah. All right. On to the next. So it depends on the room I'm in and the context in which I went. So that would be something I might say, if I'm in a room full of startups with London room full of say, I have businesses who are publicly traded. And for them, we're doing high level brand and strategy development, like what is the core of your message? What, what is the essence of who you are and what you stand for? What are your values? And what is the feeling you want associated with your brand? So I might say they already have marketing in place, I might say, well, I help people feel the way they want to about your brand. Right? I help them feel a certain way about your brand. How do you want people to feel about your brand? I said that in five seconds. And 90% of the people I'm talking to about their brand can answer that question. And that is what invoke a conversation. So that's the five second story. We have a formula if you go to matter of fact, at the end of this, I make sure to remind you I'll send a link to the five second 32nd and five minute story for people to get access to it. But it's a five minute video which walks you through how to do all three of those different stories.


Francisco Mahfuz 9:55

That's how I came across here originally, and if I recall correctly, the the five second is I had The second the 32nd is you know, and then you just broaden a bit what the issue that people are facing is, and then the one minute, then it's just a condensed version of a much bigger, right?


Hasani X 10:13

So 32nd Instead of leaping entirely how you help you just, you set the stage. So again, going back to the startup situation, I may like, you know, we know a lot of startups, they have a really good product, but they find it difficult to get those first movers in the door, and to really explain what they do. They get someone to nod their head, like, Yeah, I do know that. And I say, Well, I help them overcome that I help them to say what they need to say. So those first movers get it and want to buy that one, maybe 17 seconds. So the you know, is just the bridge to set the person up to listen at a deeper level, you might say that story, when you have a group, and you're huddled around five, six people, and everyone's taking their turn explaining what they do, you'll pull the air out of the room when you say that, because everyone is want to turn around and say I want to talk to him, or I want to talk to her. So that's the 32nd. The one minute is when you have the captive audience and you really want to dig into the story, you tell why you do what you do. And then that transitions into 30 seconds and ends with a five second.


Francisco Mahfuz 11:18

And I know you I know you're familiar with with Donald Miller. Have you by any chance read his book a million miles in 1000 years?


Hasani X 11:27

No, no. Okay. Sorry, Merritt story brand, but enough from over there is that he has a new book, is that the newer one?


Francisco Mahfuz 11:34

No. So this was before this is this is this is very interesting, because this was before he got into story. Right? So this is this is something he says on the book, I'm not, I'm paraphrasing, but he says something like, no one would watch a movie about someone wanting a Volvo. But most people actually leave those stories. So you want to hear what he's saying there is, if what we choose to do with our lives won't make for a meaningful story. It also won't make for a meaningful life. And that's that so that whole book is about how he writing the script for a movie about one of his books, realise his life story wasn't a good story. Yeah. And how he decided to, to do something about that. And I can imagine you have thoughts about that.


Hasani X 12:22

I have, but I have a different, I have a different perspective on that. I think that notion and idea paralyses, the great majority of fulfilling like, we have a story to share, we look we look at our lives and say there's nothing special about it. There's there's nothing like like there's nothing so who am I to go out into the world and say, Here's my story. Here's what I believe. Here's what I've been through. We judge ourselves through that lens against these extraordinary examples of stories out there. And we say there's no way no how I'm not Elon Musk. So I'm going to shut my mouth. I'm not dynamic like this guy, or that I'm going to shut my mouth, I didn't lose an arm or come back from the dead. I didn't scale a mountain, I didn't do I don't have $100 million company. So my voice my story doesn't matter. And I think that is what paralyses the great majority of us from finding the essence of our core brand, and being able to powerfully deliver it and communicate. So my thing is, there is an extraordinary version of you. But because you live with you, and you see it every day, you judge it as not. And part of the work when I'm working with business owners, whether they're big or small, is getting them out of that mindset, the path that you travel, seems ordinary to you, because you've travelled it. But if you turn around and look back from whence you came, I almost promise you, you will see a distance that has been covered. And there are millions of people out there who haven't covered that distance yet. So your story, your example, your vision, your values, what you believe what you've been through who you are, it can provide the stepping stones to empower other people to take similar steps. But if you sit there and judge your story from the lens of extraordinary, you're always going to be paralysed and stuff.


Francisco Mahfuz 14:18

Yeah, I think in his case, particularly, it did sound like a somewhat boring story. Because this was before, before he got into business before he got into all the charity stuff he was doing. So all he did was watch TV in occasionally write a book about himself. And then a lot of the super interesting stuff he did came out of that realisation that he had no real meaning in his life. So it was a bit of a bit that was the angle more than the the extraordinary stuff. But it's also very interesting if you've liked any of his work to see him before he knew any of that and how he started realising and learning and obviously he's learned well enough because he's a big big guy on the space back to business. So I know you with all sorts of different businesses, so what would you say is the easiest areas for business to use story? In? What are some of the hardest?


Hasani X 15:10

Okay, so So let's break story down into three key areas, right? So I say that for every business, whether you are a product, or you are a personal brand coach or consultant, there are three stories that you want to evaluate and think about. One is your founder story, right? Why? Why do you exist? Why did you create this? What what happened beforehand, to put you in this position, that's basically the story that takes us back in the past. It's your founding, it's your coming out of the primordial pit, if you will. And you need to be able to articulate that and communicate that. The second story is your product story. This is the story of the transformations that you're doing with your product or with your services. So how does your service or what do you do in the world? How does it transform lives today? So that's your present story, your product story, your your customer story, the founder stories, how you transformed? Or what was the transformation from the past? And then there's this very important story that is particularly important in this day and age is your mission story. What do you stand for? What are you aiming at in the world? How would the world be different because you exist, this is the future story. This is what your your, the mission of your company of your of your brand, the thing that you are fighting for in the world, this is the the basically, this is the equity that you will be able to get in society where you say this brand stands for something. And that's even more important than it has been in the past, given just how socially tuned in people are in general, younger, more so but in general, to companies who stand for something, not just profitability. So you think about those three stories, your founder story, your product story, your mission story, you want to be able to articulate and communicate all three of those. But in my experience, there are going to be one of those stories that are more powerfully connected than the other. And that's the part of marketing and figuring out, does, do people come to you, because of you have this extraordinary founder story? There, I have consultant coaches I work with is there why they do what they do is enough to hook people to want to, you know, build with them work with them. I have others who their founders story, you know, I'm an advisor to an AI company, no one cares about the advisors. So I mean, about the the AI knowing a founders, but their product is freaking amazing. It is revolutionary, right. And no one really cares about their mission. And well, because the companies they work with, it can you know, they're so it's a product driven story. And then some have a mission driven story. There's there's such a connective piece to what they stand for in the world that people want to support, it is not because the product is great, is because of what they stand for. And that gives people a feeling. So all three of those stories go beyond features and functions of your product. They are more about the feelings that these stories create in the minds and hearts of those that you tell them to. And that is what brand is. And that's the difference between a commodity commodity is a replaceable, replaceable features and functions. While a brand is a irreplaceable feeling, the stories we tell help to create that.


Francisco Mahfuz 18:32

I have a question about about what you call the mission story. Because you just You said earlier that the power in a lot of people's stories comes from from the distance travelled. So how do you do that? When you you know, you're not necessarily talking about experiences, you've had your which gives you a lot of credibility? How do you do that with something that hasn't happened?


Hasani X 18:57

And as that is a great question. And I think a lot of companies right now, going forward are going to go, oh, we missed the boat. Everyone's coming on right now. And talking about racial injustice, Black Lives Matter and the support of this. And they're doing all of these, on the surface very powerful acts of like $100 million donated here or doing that, right. They're trying to build out this story that they stand for something beyond the status quo. I commend you on that. But I think where they will fall flat oftentimes is that that isn't part of a collective mission to go somewhere. A great story is about distance travel. If it's a future based story, it's about the fact that you seek to travel this huge unfathomable distance to where you need to go. And I'll give you an example. Elon Musk, I mentioned him earlier. He's a unicorn. He has a powerful story founder story. He has a powerful product story, and he has a powerful mission story. He's trying to save the frickin planet. He's trying to figure out a way to colonise Mars like, like Like that is so far futuristic, that is so far in the future in terms of what we're aiming at in terms of the social good. And, and this idea of what he stands for. That story is yet to been written. But we want to see if you can do it. We want to be a part of that we want to listen, because of the distance that story seeks to travel.


Francisco Mahfuz 20:19

And what would you say? I mean, other distance travelled is one of the concepts but other than distance travel? What are the elements that to you make a good story?


Hasani X 20:30

Great. Well, we have a we have a story framework when we're working through it. It's called the leader story framework. And there are many aspects of story, but I've broken it down into four key elements to where you can tell a powerful story pretty quickly, every great story is going to have problems and pain, the hero is going to experience problems, and those problems are going to cause pain. And the greatest stories go from problem to pain to pit, the cheese in a dark place, all is lost, don't know what to do, and trying to figure it out about to quit that breaking point. And we've all experienced that. So everybody's story has that. So we need to be able to speak to that on some level problem paying pit. The next is the paradigm. The paradigm is what keeps the hero or she rose stuck the way they thought about a thing. And ultimately, the the shift in the story from the hero going from this pit to escaping is that they get a new paradigm, a new way of thinking, something enlightens them, something gives them this New Hope, or this key to the jail cell. Right. So it could be Yoda in Luke Skywalker, or it could be Nyla in The Lion King and reminding symbol of the fact that he is supposed to be this king, there is something that shifts the paradigm. All of the great brands that we associate whether it's apple, Nike, even Amazon, they shifted the paradigm of how we think about a thing and created a whole new filling, sensation, Apple think different Nike just do it. We those brands cause us to shift how we think about ourselves, think about the world. And that paradigm shift is the gold lining inside of a brand. So you need to think about what keeps the hero stuck or kept you stuck. And then what what knowledge or insight helps you to overcome that thinking. That's the paradigm. The third, the third is power. It's this the active steps that you take to escape prison. So think of it like this. You're in the jail. In The Pit. The paradigm unlocks your jail cell, but you're still behind enemy walls, you still have to escape the prison, you got this case, you just you just gotta escape the prison, right? So you need to tell the story of how you escaped prison, step by step. What did you do? Power at this step one, step two, step three, step four, how did you escape the prison? Because the story doesn't show the hero escaping and it just ends in this this happy ending, we feel cheated. Like I want to see what you did, or hear what you did. And then the last is, of course, pleasure, is the four Ps pleasure, like pleasure in terms of what did you get, if you didn't get anything is a horrible story, we want to know that there's a winning something on the end, something. Extrinsic material is something intrinsic, you know, something that's deeper, inhumanly connects us to, you know, something at a much deeper level. So I know I said that, but there are four P's basically problems, paradigm, power, pleasure, and then doing it in that order allows you to tell a really great story.


Francisco Mahfuz 23:45

It's interesting because if you studied Joseph Campbell, and all of the classics, it's interesting how talking to a lot of people that that deal with storytelling and teach storytelling, you get individual versions of the hero's journey, some people like Donald Miller love the, you know, beginning to end with seven different steps on it. Some people have a version like yours, which in some steps you can clearly recognise some are just a tweak on it. I just find interesting how, how it's difficult to go completely off that, you know, there are certain things you can do that give a distinct flavour to it. But but it is very difficult to have a good story when you're not touching on some of those of those points.


Hasani X 24:33

I think it's a very very interesting thing you say there because the power in his story isn't because we decided to make it up. Like hey, I think stories are powerful. Let's tell them no, it's because they're, it actually has a neural physiological impact on our body. Our brains are hard wired to connect to stories. They've been recent stories, mean studies to show like the you know, oxytocin and dog fins, all types of things are released when we are immersed in a story. And I hazard to guess that it's due to our evolutionary, you know, we connected to stories because even before we could communicate in, you know, with language may go back, you know, a few 100,000 years, whatever the case may be, we had to listen to the stories of other individuals to understand our world, and to sidestep the dangers. So our brain when he hears problems in pain, he goes, Well, I better listen Francisco, because I don't want any parts of that. So I need to know what happened that puts you there? How did you get out of it? And then what did you get? And I think, unlike any other creature on this planet, our capacity to understand stories, and then to build upon them, and to share a collective narrative, which has allowed us to be the most dominant creature on the planet, it is our capacity to tell stories, believe in them, and to organise our behaviour and our actions, according to that narrative that has allowed us to build in progress. No other creature on the planet does that it can't build upon the previous generation, because it doesn't have the story or the narrative the way to transmit information to progress.


Francisco Mahfuz 26:17

I completely agree. And I think that as much as this can be proved and pretty sure it is, has been proved that it's an evolutionary adaptation. And it's, it's interesting when you pay attention to your own thoughts, as I know, you do, how this process of okay, this happened, why, in what does it mean now? It's almost impossible for us to understand anything without context, in what was before, what does it mean now, so that that very no seconds process seconds long process is our brain making a story out of everything. And it's something I found very interesting, the more I got into something like meditation, which I know you are, a practitioner of, is how the incredible thing that happens in your brain, when you drop the story, in, there's as much as story is powerful, having no story has has a big impact as well. Yeah,


Hasani X 27:16

I agree. I agree. We are driven by context. In contrast, we can't tell what left is until we really understand what Riot is. So that the story gives us the ability to create variables that we can understand. And now we can judge our reality against and to your point, when you throw away the story, like as an exercise, you know, meditating. For a whole couple of years, I went through this process where my meditative journey was always to ask the question, why, why does that matter? Why does that matter? Why does that matter? And when I got down to the root of it, it always became because I decided to make it matter. That's the story, there was a story that connected this to something of importance. And when I dissolve that, it was like, Holy crap, like, like, none of this matters is all dependent upon what we believe buy into, and decide to accept as the narrative that you know, defines our reality. And we're, we're freed when we can let go of those stories and understand they're not important or have value. And by themselves, it's only because we buy into them. So yeah, that's a very


Francisco Mahfuz 28:26

powerful point, is something that I was just thinking about this just before we started, how I thought that this year's big story was the pandemic, right. So this, this shaped up to be the year of, of COVID. That was the story that we were going to remember, and this is the story we're going to talk about. What happened in the US a few weeks ago, seems to have changed that. And and what I was talking I was thinking of is how to sometimes the difficulty of squaring these narratives. Because on the one hand, and this is I'm now thinking to your background, right? So so the US is a country that has this narrative of if you want it you can get as long as you work hard enough, you can get it. But part of the reason why your story is so powerful is because you you got where you got to coming out of Oakland, if you have been born in Silicon Valley, there was no story, right? But at the same time you're trying to one is this you can achieve if you put your mind to it. But on the other hand, we know that that's not the full truth. There is another narrative there and how do people balance those things? Yeah, yeah.


Hasani X 29:37

I think that's the challenge. As much as we are hard wired for story. I think we're hardwired for the cognitive bias that comes in to that story, meaning that we are more apt to connect to a story that is cleanly one thing, right? The the promise of bootstrap pull yourself up anyway. I can do it. I'm an example of that. I come from a place, you know, like 500 freshmen in my high school class, only 33 of us graduated, my brother was murdered, like, like, like, I, I know what it looks like to come from nothing and then to be the first person to go to school, get an Ivy League degree start by own business, like my kids are experiencing things that I would have never dreamed of coming up in Oakland, during the height of the like crack pandemic. I am an example of pulling myself up by my bootstraps. But the fact that that story exists does not make the other side of the coin less valid. But I believe that powerful stories pull us to the extremes, and we tend to buy into one. And and through that polarisation, we forget that there are other possibilities that this is just a story, not as not the story. This is just a story. And one more point on this. I think technology and where we are has exacerbated that idea. The promise of technology was to bring us together, it was going to connect us in profound and meaningful ways. But I would have and it has done that to a degree. But I would say that the dangers of technology is that is allowed us to self segregate segue into the ideas that confirm what we already believe. You go back 30 years ago, we had to exchange stories and ideas we had to we had to accept different things because there wasn't an echo chamber that says Francisco is right, or x is always right. Now we can join the cubbyhole that says what we think in his very narrow bandwidth is the truth, not a truth with the truth. And that has empowered us to believe in that narrative, and allow us to become more siloed polarised and disconnected in ways that technology has actually exacerbated. So yeah, yeah, that's stories are powerful. And that's exactly why technology is allowed, in many ways as has used the power of that that inclination towards story to pull us apart. Yeah, and


Francisco Mahfuz 32:06

I completely agree with your point about what we we thought technology was going to do, we are we had this idealistic view that we want to find out something's true, you just want to look it up in the information is going to be there. What we neglected, and this is, again, as many things, it's a double edged sword is that it's beautiful, that doesn't matter how unique or weird you are. And as a weirdo, I appreciate this, you can find your tribe, your tribe is out there, and now you can find it. But if you're also the guy who believes that the earth is flat, and you're the only one and you couldn't talk to anyone, because they thought you were a lunatic. Now, there are 1000s and 1000s of people that feel the same way. And now, points of view that, you know, everybody's entitled to their points of view, but but they weren't perhaps necessarily very helpful to our community to a conversation that pushes us forward, they have all gotten a lot more validity in it's become very difficult to cut through the noise.


Hasani X 33:07

And in many ways, I think the danger of that as we continue to go forward is that as more of these tribes are able to disseminate the information easily to the world, we I think we're becoming more cynical, because we we don't know how to extrapolate what's real from what's fake. And that line, every day is being encroached upon. And that's that will be my biggest fear, like my kids. I always tell them ask yourself the question, is that true? And how do you know it's true? The Internet, don't tell me the internet's that how do you know that's true? And and I'm old enough to have this like, gut sense of when something just seems a little bit off? And what sources to believe and what stories to you know, to buy into and connect to, but my kids that part of them because they were born into this internet world. They don't have that. And and we're not teaching them how to hone that level of scrutiny. So they're becoming more pessimistic disbelieving and when you have that you want to find truth. So what do you do you go to the easiest, most susceptible, narrow truth that confirms what you already believe? It's like a it's like a vicious cycle, to your point and that that will be one of my fears as we go forward. How do we as leaders, find a way to bring people together? Not not saying what you believe isn't important. But let's put the facts on the table. And let's find a way to build a bridge towards a collective common good. I think until we do that, we'll we'll continue to see more dysfunction and


Francisco Mahfuz 34:45

chaos. But one thing that we should do is all the politicians that are let's let's call them the better ones should hire. She thought storytellers and put them under staff because as we've seen Recently, Whoever tells the better story wins, yeah, doesn't need to be true. It just needs to be a more compelling story. So if your story is, you know, I'm going to drain the swamp. It's a compelling enough story as it was, people will believe you, and people will be motivated by the end, they will support you, even though everything else, everything else you do doesn't necessarily support that story. I've been talking to other people about this. But we storytelling is become this buzzword. And it's something that is, it's great for marketing, it's great for sales is great for all these things. Now, it's one of the most powerful tools that exists. And we don't think of it that way. But when when our leaders are telling a story, and a whole country is believing that story that has the greatest possible impact. And if we don't get people, you know, maybe the people that are pulling in the right direction to be good at that they might lose with better ideas just because they can tell a better story.


Hasani X 36:01

Yeah, here's a silver lining, everything you just said is 100% true, I believe is true. The person who tells the best story wins. But the person who lives that story is a better long term bit. So the disconnect between the story told and the story lived, will create the dissonance and disconnection as we start to see if that truth is given. I think the the major, you know, energetic movement that is happening here in the United States, with, you know, George flow and all the stuff that that that's not a new story. What it was, is a horrific, visual, deeply emotionally heart wrenching story being told of the disconnect between the reality of what is actually happening, and the promise what the story says it's supposed to be that lived reality, we could see it, feel it taste how how it's not making good on that promise. And that brought people to arms to action. So I think if one thing technology does allow us to do, it allows us to see the disconnect between what is actually lived and done versus what story is portrayed. So the best story wins in the short term. But I do believe that the story that is lived congruently, and there is a contract and a covenant, to make sure that the reality matches up with what we're saying. I think those are the long term winners. Because I think the younger generation has an expectation. There's a there's an expectation of what the promises to is that that needs to be a reality. And we call them lazy. We call them disconnected. We call them idealist. We have all these words for we call them millennials, like I'm just outside of millennial range meaning annexure. But I believe what they're saying is Do you've got all these things that you've promised, and you haven't been delivering? I'm gonna I want to hold you accountable to that. And I think all generations just told the line, because we weren't as connected to the to the idea that this promise was disconnected from what reality we bought into if we just work hard enough, put our heads down, ignore everything else, we'll figure it out. I think iteration is like No, dude, show me right now that this reality or promise, there's a real path toward it. I think that transparency around what's actually happening. Long story long. Marketers grey stories when short term but I think long term those who live them congruently are the ones who will be around the longest.


Francisco Mahfuz 38:45

I agree with with everything you said. And I would interpret that one of the reasons why perhaps what happened just now with with George Floyd might be having such a big impact is something that has become clearer and clearer to me, the more I learned about storytelling, and the more I study it and talk to other people about it, which is that stories live on specific moments. If a story is broad, and not close enough to what is happening. It's harder for us to connect with it emotionally. And the story, the history of the civil rights movement hinges on this thing. So we go back to Rosa Parks, and that moment made a massive difference in way before that. There were other moments. And I think this as you said, technology has allowed us to literally see what happened. Nobody told us this because we've heard the stories before. Unfortunately, we heard the stories hundreds of times, but there was no way to avoid seeing that. And I think if you saw that you can't unsee it right, knowing exactly what happened and hearing him and all of that horrible scene. You can't get that off your mind. So whenever you hear anything else you hear of what the story is about, or having that see is what everything else revolves around. And the power of it. As much as someone might say, well, it's an accident. And these statistics don't care. Because that's not how we understand reality. We understand reality through stories. And we understand stories through their specific and most powerful moments. And that as unfortunately, was as powerful as a moment can get.


Hasani X 40:24

And I'll echo that that the power is story is emotional. First, is the emotion that we feel at a gut level. We back it up intellectually, with rationality after the fact. And great brands do that we, if Mercedes says the best you can get, or, alright, I need to feel a certain way about that. And then once I get my Mercedes, I'm going to rationalise it by saying that it goes from zero to 60 this way, and it goes, but it was the feeling first, it was a story. It was the idea that captivated us, and then we use rationality to back it up. I know, that's the way our brains work. But that scares me too, in the sense that if I think society in the greater grander ways in which we run and govern ourselves, succumb to that human, very human thing, I think, the scientific process leaning on fact, leaning on process and truly understanding, arming ourselves with that notion and allowing us to rule and govern our lives by that I think we'd be in a more just place. But that's me speaking. In some Western reality, that's not that's not that's not how we function. That's not what we do. So you better tell good stories.


Francisco Mahfuz 41:41

Listen, I I understand that concern and understand a concern. But just today, I was talking to a friend who works in marketing, who, who studied sociology. And he was talking to me about how the older he gets in, the more he studies, the more he realises that there is no such thing as Homo economical, you know, the rational man that makes rational decisions. And I think that there's a lot of, there's a lot of power and a lot of good to get out of us realising that we are somewhat overdeveloped apes, because a lot of the things that make us happy, make for a good world, you know, we, we spend time with the people we love. And we share stories and, and that's what really makes us happy. You know, the Mercedes is nice. And there's a lot of other things that are very nice. But there's this basic human interaction and human connection. That is how we evolved to understand the world and be happy. And we seem to have forgotten a lot of that. But you find that, you know, I'm from Brazil, and some of the communities that struggle the hardest or the most need together. And there are some of the happiest people, right? They're not happy because it's warm. Yeah, it's lovely that it's warm, but, but if it goes until they leave, they're next to their friends and family all the time. Right. There's music, there's football, there's, there's good food, there's, you know, attractive people, that helps, but they are just spending time with the people that they love, which is how we evolved to be. And that part we need to remember of being animals and being biological. And the rational stuff sometimes I think takes us a bit out of that. That's not necessarily a good thing.


Hasani X 43:14

Yeah, I agree. I agree in the sense that that happiness comes from some very simple human things and positioning our life in crafting a life creating a life that aligns with that I think doesn't happen on accident. It there's a there's a especially here in the West, there's you have to create a very purposeful track to finding that essence of your why and what really moves you because you can get lost in all the noise. I think the the the polling across industrialised countries, in terms of happiness, United States is always at the bottom. So you know, our God is productivity, and the guise of productivity and profit. Don't make for a happy people. And it's not necessarily a bad thing is this whatever story and narrative you believe in? There's pros to it, and there's cons to it, there's no all good, there's no all bad. So, So collectively, just thinking what is it that you actually want? And how do you build a culture and belief and a system around so that the people are happy, productive, fulfilled, and can self actualize all happiness with, you know, without productivity puts you in a position where you're not developing or you're not, you know, growing. So there's, there's, that's why I think the human existence isn't about the polarities of a thing. It is about finding the happy equilibrium between things, everything in nature, every system, the planets, even everything in the atom, every part of existence is about the equilibrium between parts, not about the extremes and running to one side or the other. But again, that is a very complex story. is not indeed, is not black and white. And it isn't very compelling emotionally. So we tend to just choose one, I can be happy, or I can be rich. Is that true? Yeah, I don't know. You know, I can be rich, I, in my mind, I want to be rich and righteous and happy to fulfil all of it, I want all of it. Well, I got to create a whole new story and narrative to be able to approach that. And I don't think the status quo story fits the things that I say I want. So I choose to believe and create an author and narrate a different story for my life,


Francisco Mahfuz 45:36

I realised that we are recording up to the to the time we were supposed to be recording this, and I had mentioned some of the crazy stuff you've gotten up to. So I would be, I would be wronging my listeners if I didn't touch on some of that. So so let me just ask you, I'll get let you peek because there's no shortage of stuff there. But either I would like to know how you stopped a J riot. Okay, or what the hell are you doing becoming an MMA fighter?


Hasani X 46:06

Okay, let's start with the let's start with the jail. Right? So I'm doing a programme inside of a prison. It's called 60 days to live and I'm there to uplift and empower prisoners. And at the time, I have been studying NLP since I was 12. Like, you know, I don't know if you know, NLP is like neuro linguistic programming and language patterns, things of that nature. And there's this thing called a this pattern where you can, you can run on someone to figure it haven't gone to a movie theatre, look at their life on the screen, etc. So I have 20 prisoners in a circle in this three tier block. And all the prisoners don't have to participate this voluntary. So I'll pull some guy out and I go through the process, you know, and atoma close his eyes walk into a movie theatre see his life on the screen, right? I've done this 1000 times in my own head, and I don't even think it's all that powerful process. But I'm like, let's let's do it. Francisco five seconds into closing his eyes. He freaks out. This too freaks out and loses his start screaming and hollering and, and going crazy. Five seconds in, I tell him come walk in, sit in a movie theatre, the screen opens. Now it's your life, that thing that causes you pain, I want you to see it. He loses it. When he loses it, the other guys around them, start losing it. Then everybody else in their cells start coming out and leaning over the thing and then they start throwing shit and then it's about it's a riot about to start. I'm freaking out inside


Francisco Mahfuz 47:33

cuz you started a riot. Yeah.


Hasani X 47:37

Right. But here's, here's what I tell people. When you throw yourself into situations that require a fierce urgency of now you will find out who you are. Without thinking I grabbed the back of his neck pulled his head towards mine. I don't know what I said. I don't know how I got him through it. But he calmed down the prison, the jet, the guard stopped calling and locking down everything. The inmates above stop throwing shit. And the people around in a circle. Right? He came out of it. I don't know if it was 30 seconds or three minutes. I just held them by the back of his neck and whatever I said, I'm sure I ran every pattern I could think of he came out of it. And then he said to me with tears in his eyes. He said I can't feel the pain anymore. And then everybody in the in the in the circle said oh my guys, Professor X they semester. That's what I got the name professor. All right. So then the next day when I showed up instead of 20 guys down there we had almost 150. So yeah, it was crazy. Is that Is that where the x comes from? No, my last name is x. But they but they someone started someone said He's Professor X because I you know, we went deep or whatever. And so yeah,


Francisco Mahfuz 48:53

you're talking you're talking to a to a comic book nerd. Right. So I keep finding this weird superhero connections to people's lives. But you know, I think you'd make a pretty good Professor X.


Hasani X 49:08

Yeah, so now that was a very powerful moment for me. But the takeaway is, you don't know what you are capable of, until you throw yourself into the moment. And that moment of fierce urgency will require me to pull something out that I didn't know I had. And I would have never found it if I had the opportunity to didn't present itself. So sometimes we stop ourselves because we say we can't, we haven't. But put yourself in that position. I promise you you'll find something that you never know. No, you had that story want. The MMA fighting stuff is mainstream now. But I started a company called 40 Consulting when I when I graduated from school, and we're very successful. I was a consultant on building businesses. And I received the phone call one night from my mom. She was screaming and hollering and she was like they killed them they killed And I'm like, What are you talking about? She's crying Hollinger, your brother he to be shot. And you know, he lived that life back in Oakland, California. And somehow that I was able to escape. And going back to Oakland to his funeral. I was mulling over our last conversation I had with him where he told me I wasn't a good big brother. He said, I wasn't the brother that he needed. And at the time, I told him bullshit. I say, Look, you had every opportunity I had, you grew up in the same neighbourhood, you could have followed my example and did what I did. But you chose not to, that's on you don't put it on me. Right before I was doing his eulogy, something in me snapped and I finally got it. I started to I ever, like evaluate your life from top to bottom and you start seeing a pattern. And I saw the pattern of how I was truly scared to lead. I was frightened of it. When I was ever voted captain of the football of the team. I'd like now I don't want him wanting me to be school president now I don't want it. You want me to do something that I wanted wanted me to take? My brother may not want to just follow me do what I do. But I'm not about to take responsibility for you. You just you know you do you. And I said where did that come from? And I was like, I was truly scared to leave. So when I gave his eulogy, I said, you know, I'll never turn down an opportunity to lead again in my life. When I feel fear, I'm going to attack it. Shortly after I get home. And I'm walking out of my, my, my middle class neighbourhood onto the stoop. And I do one of these like, I look left, I look right, look left look right before I get into my car, and I'm like, what was that? And I realised that was fear. Remember, I said every time I feel fear, I'm going to attack it. And I feel fearful. Because growing up in Oakland, you always had to keep your head on the swivel. You didn't know who was coming from where. So I ran in house and said to my wife, I said, Hey, I'm scared of physical confrontation to get into fights. I'm scared. She's like, What are you talking about? I said, I you know, she asked that look like and I saw on the TV. This was like 2001 2002 I saw a UFC ad or something or fight being promoted. So I'm going to go get in the cage and fight. And wife was like, No, you guys like yes, I am. So a year later, I was a professional mixed martial arts fighter. I was fighting professionally to overcome the fear of physical confrontation. So I had a few fights.


Francisco Mahfuz 52:25

How many fights did it take for you to feel okay, I've overcome this fear. Now, I


Hasani X 52:30

know, I had three fights, professional fights, and this was way before it was mainstream. When I was fighting, it was still illegal in 48 states. And we fought on Indian reservations, or Native American reservations. Some of the places that it was, you know, and the weight classes were off, it was this. It was like the Wild Wild West, it was still called no holds barred fighting. My last fight was in 2004. So that's 16 years ago, 17 years ago. So yeah, yeah, so that was crazy. And people are surprised to hear that I used to be a mixed martial arts fighter I still trained to this day, but I'm not I'm not jumping into a ring. You know, fighting these days.


Francisco Mahfuz 53:13

And I think that around that time this was now the dates for me, but but this would have been not too far or not before the rice Gracie heyday. We obviously know as a Brazilian we follow that very closely. But looking back on it now. It was just sheer madness. There were no weight classes. There were no I don't know if there was a time limit. They just fought until someone gave up or or L down.


Hasani X 53:36

That was my first introduction. I used to watch the tapes. I remember the the famous Gracie fighting like a foreign Gracie fight like a foreign Japan guy. This is like UFC one like it was back in the day like in my college dorm room watching it on VHS. VHS tape tapes. So yeah, it was it was a wild west. It was it was just starting to get a foothold in the US. And yeah, I partook for a little bit. And then I said, Okay, I'm over. It


Francisco Mahfuz 54:03

is enough. It's enough. I have one last question for you, which is, Are your kids already at the age that you need to pay paid for pay forward what your father did for you and take them to a Toastmasters meeting?


Hasani X 54:18

Ah, they are my oldest is in college. So I have three she was 18 and I have a 16 year old and I have an eight year old. And all of them publicly speak from time to time but none of them have say gone through Toastmasters. I love Toastmasters. And I'm an advocate for it. I tell people if you want to learn how to powerfully communicate, Toastmasters isn't the place to go to do it. Toastmasters is the place to go to learn how to get over your fear of public speaking is basically the ring is like getting into a ring. But if you say hey, I want to become a very powerful storyteller and communicator. You're going to have to go outside of the confines of Toastmasters. provide a very safe, structured environment for you to practice. But again, you got to throw yourself into those fierce urgency of now moments to really learn what works with a real audience who doesn't, who isn't there to applaud you, you know, it sounds messy, and you're going to get, you're going to get a good job or attaboy every time you step up, when you go into the real world, it could be like, you know, hitting, you're gonna bomb sometimes, like I, you know, I've spoken 1000s of times you, there will be audiences where you're, they're just, they're just not going to feel you don't have to learn and grow through that. And that's when you start to learn how to powerfully communicate. Yeah, it's


Francisco Mahfuz 55:39

a it's a place to get reps. Yeah. And, and it's also, it's also a place to have this experience that most of us don't have in our personal lives, which is, doesn't matter what you say, people will applaud you. Now, you know, I love my wife, she's not applauding me. Now, my mates are definitely not applauding. So, you know, it's a great place to as you said, I mean, it's one of the very few structure places where if you are in America, particularly America, but pretty much anywhere I'm in Barcelona, in there's 15 clubs in Barcelona, if you want to find a place where you can speak every single week, that's it, there's no other place to practice. So it's, it's it's a place to go spar right back into the fight realm. It's


Hasani X 56:20

a place that ghosts are getting the ring, you know, exchanged some jabs, figure out what it means to punch into throw into learn your combos, in all the aspects, but you don't really really learn to you step out of the sparring, the headgear comes off, and now you're, you're in a in an actual match, and you have to see what you got. So I tell people go, but if you're, if your goal is to over not just overcome fear, after the first, you know, booklet you go through, jump into what's next, you know, yeah,


Francisco Mahfuz 56:55

I fully agree with that. Where can where can people find you, ah,


Hasani X 57:01

you know, you can go to my website, lead your story, comm or find me on LinkedIn, Hassani, X HSA and I letter X, but um, if you're, if you're in state side, you can text me to this number 855-999-8880. And put in the keyword story. And that will just put you on my list and I text my audience and we communicate that way. So 855-999-8880, and then putting the word story. And then you'll be asked, Do you want to learn more about brand we want to learn about relaunching? You know, it'll ask a few questions, and then we'll communicate that way.


Francisco Mahfuz 57:40

I'll stick that in the show notes. So some people are not don't have to get a pen and paper out and start writing things down. So it took me there. Listen, it's been it's been a pleasure. I hope I managed to go slightly outside. Some of the things you always say. But you know, we covered a lot of very useful ground of storytelling, but I think we talked about other stuff. That is, that is also very interesting and very, very important. So thank you very much for your time.


Hasani X 58:08

Yeah. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.


Francisco Mahfuz 58:10

All right, everybody. Thanks for tuning in. Take care of yourselves. And until next time,



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