• Francisco Mahfuz

E19. Becoming a F*****g Majestic Brand with Jo Watson

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. When someone is really talented. People sometimes say they sold their soul to the devil. That might be the case with Joe Watson, and he explained the distinctive demonic noises you hear throughout this episode. Or perhaps the issue that Joe lives in Bolton, which is the English version of north of the wall, and maybe the strange sounds are Blizzard winds announcing that winter is coming? When you hear the noises you can make up your own mind. But less than perfect sound quality is no reason to skip this one. I love my conversation with Joe. And I'm sure you will too.

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 first. My guest today is Joe Watson. Since no one knows what a copywriter is. Joe describes herself as a writer of stuff. He's also an editor, trainer, speaker and a lover of swearing sarcasm puns. Now I have a completely inflated and unwarranted opinion of how good my writing is. But after reading some of her stuff I reached out to Joe and my exact words were bloody hell, you can actually write I'm sure the world. This is Joe in the background. All right, I'm sure the world will soon lavish, more elegant and relevant praise on you. Before whatever that's worth. You heard it here first, my first and last year one of the 1000s of people who already follow her online, but you know, there you have it. And for the rest of you, I know that 63% of my audience listens to this podcast on an iPhone. So that means you can actually open the app and do this magical thing of scrolling down a little bit and clicking on the stars. Ideally, five. But Beggars can't be choosers. I know you can do it. I have faith in you. Alright, let's get to it. Ladies and gentlemen, the glorious Joe Watson. Joe, I'm gonna show

Jo Watson 2:46

you so much. I feel like everything's gonna be downhill from here Francisco. Aria sprays really was I really don't think I've got to live up to it. Whatever following.

Francisco Mahfuz 3:01

Listen, I said you can write well, I didn't say anything about the type of human being you are. So

Jo Watson 3:08

I'm a horrible human being wonderful with a pen or a keyboard. But you know in person, I'm just horrible. As everyone

Francisco Mahfuz 3:20

I like to do a little research on my guest. So let me see if I if I got this right. You know, everything there is to know about copyright law. You think discussions about pricing should come first. In your love flying? Being on camera in Seaford? How am I doing so far?

Jo Watson 3:39

Oh, I'd say about 9%. Correct. Which is better than get for me?

Francisco Mahfuz 3:46

Well, listen, if I know you, as well as your husband, that's probably as much as it can be expected.

Jo Watson 3:53

I'm at this dangerous stage have a moment where I got exactly what I wished for because my husband and I both run our own businesses. And so the pressure was always that we never saw each other enough. And now of course, we've all been locked down, haven't we for three months. And I got exactly what I wish for now I have to see him every day, every turn and we are hating each other increasingly by the moment we really are. So this Yeah, it's my fault for wishing to see him or, but oh my god that that man knows me inside out and hates me for all those reasons.

Francisco Mahfuz 4:33

I completely agree with with your approach to what makes for a successful relationship and what doesn't. And one of the reasons I think I've managed to stay with Patricia for as long as I have now we've been together now for 14 years this time around. Because we used to date when we were you know, we were first boyfriend and girlfriend and then we she got tired of me after two years and dumped me and we got back together after five years. Five years was over long enough time to forget most of the other bad stuff and or, you know, unlearn it. And then when we got back together, she was in Barcelona, and I was in London. So we only saw each other once every month, maybe once every two months. And if you spend three days with someone every two months, it's all wonderful. And we did that for four years.

Jo Watson 5:20

That's the secret, isn't it? Yeah. What is it that absence makes the heart grow fonder? And true, it's exciting. But no, when you are trapped in your house with them? I? Well, I believe that divorce rates are going through the roof. And I'd read somewhere the other day that people are googling divorce and divorce lawyers and divorce rates is up by 47% or something because religious hating who they are living with at the moment and who, who they've chosen to spend their lives with. So I like the approach of being in different countries. I think that that's wonderful. Sounds like the perfect relationship.

Francisco Mahfuz 6:00

I mean, that is the best relationship advice. However you want to love someone.

Jo Watson 6:04

That's a slogan for a teacher, I feel that.

Francisco Mahfuz 6:08

Now that you talked about divorce, I feel the need to make a public service announcement for everyone in the UK. If you have to get divorced. You don't need a lawyer, or you need this Tesco. Tesco sells Tesco divorce kits for seven pounds and 45, I believe. And they are legally binding. And I am proof to that. Because that's how I got divorced all the way back in 2004, or five Tasco. Divorce. It's amazing. I don't know if it's new comes in a CD. But all you do is you put the thing in your computer, probably now we just print the PDF of the internet completed send it in. It's all legally by the way.

Jo Watson 6:50

And you seem so happy about that as well. The joy in your eyes is you're saying that it's legal?

Francisco Mahfuz 6:55

Well, it's because it's because marriage might not be forever. But divorce. Yes,

Jo Watson 7:01

that's true. That's true. Well, I might have to look into this, although I haven't. No local Glasgow for what since they saw all happen now because I have so little patience. So the last time I went to Tesco, there was a massive queue outside and I lasted about like three minutes. And I was like, I'll forget it, we'll just stop, I'll go home. So I'd have to really want that divorce, I think to be able to

Francisco Mahfuz 7:27

in my time, they used to keep the divorce case by the cashier. So you could just grab it as your means or something means any fresher breath. This voice thing sounds interesting. Already seven bucks.

Jo Watson 7:42

natural impulse buy. I feel the I'll get I'll get the men's might get all of water just to hydrate myself on the way back to the car. And yeah, let's go do Ross. No, Stranger things have happened. So often, I haven't googled it myself. But you know that I think that's because I would probably much rather go round a more more permanent route with it. I would probably just kill him. I feel I just go that route. I think I feel bad. It's less drawn out. It's yeah, I think I probably go that way. By this point. If anything happens to my husband in the next few days, I'm going to be in a lot of trouble.

Francisco Mahfuz 8:23

But as he has, but as you I believe you talked about online already. One of the great advantages of that happening is that you will also find out who your real friends are. You can some people will stop commenting on your posts, and some would say, getting the shovel.

Jo Watson 8:38

Now I am loving the whole thing with the shovel at the moment. As I'm actually I'm going through a bit of a rebrand. I don't know maybe it's a bit of a midlife crisis. But I looked at my website the other day. And I thought I don't want my logo. I don't like how my websites laid out. I don't think it was enough to showcase me. And we chatted about it online, hadn't we? We'd set you said oh no, you can't you can't change it. My company is called a good write up. And yet people don't really know that. And what they do know is these ridiculous situations that I find myself in, such as when I had to go or that guy online who said that all women should be at home, greeting the men with a freshly cooked meal and be ready to welcome him into the bed. And I said if my husband expected me to greet him in any way, the only thing I do is greet that fucker with a shovel. Although my company is called a good writeup. People don't really see that or hear that but they also care with the shovel. So I'm thinking that's got to be blended into the branding, perhaps at some points. I'm entering it anyway.

Francisco Mahfuz 9:47

Now that your knowledge you talked about branding, I think is probably a good way to ask a question related to something that I wanted to talk to you about other than sheer nonsense, which is how do you differentiate copyrights? thing from branding?

Jo Watson 10:01

Um, oh god, oh, God, that's a tough question that you said, you know what will come on this podcast? We'll keep it on when we do when we chat on our posts and everything like that. And now I mean, I see these like proper questions about about stuff. There was one,

Francisco Mahfuz 10:20

one blob or question one too many.

Jo Watson 10:23

I don't know what I'm talking about with any of this, Francis, I really don't. And I think that's the beauty of my branding, the branding is getting out there, what you want people to know and think about you, or any of its true or not, doesn't really matter. But no, I think, Well, anyone can have a personal brand, you don't necessarily have to be a good writer to do it. But I think in this online world, where we're all pitching to get our content out there and show that we're the best at what we do, and that were the best person to work with. It's not enough just to have the content. It's got to have an element of personality in there. So I just put out things and say, look at this last piece that I wrote for someone, it's exquisite itself, it sizzles. It's wonderful. That's not enough, because there are so many copywriters out there. So when I put in anything online, I want people to see me. So I'm definitely building my personal brand. I want people to recognise me by things other than my writing, I want them to say, oh, yeah, you're that girl who said she was gonna kill a fellow with a shovel. You know, you're, you're the one who, you know, who did these terrible things that I share online? Like, I swear in front of my kids, some people love me for that, because they can relate to it. And some people hate me for it. But either way, it is it is building a brand, isn't it. So I think the writing is just a very small part of it. It's just being afraid to show who you are, and put yourself out there. But with with the branding of Well, I hope it's I'm going to say Oh, an interesting story here. I hope it is interesting, it might not be. And I put something on LinkedIn a while ago. And it was very much my story. I think I'd been into a charity shop because I was going to someone's party. And it was an 80s themed party. And so it was at a fancy dress. So I went to my local charity shop. And I thought I'll buy some, you know, brightly coloured hideous outfit that can make it look a tease, and I'll look really cool. And when I went in to the charity shop, there was a sign on the cashier's desk saying, please be vigilant, we've had a number of thefts in this store. And that really upset me because I thought who would steal from a charity shop. That's, that's horrible. That's terrible. And I thought, you know, I can be serious with my content at times. So I'm going to put this out there. So I took a picture of it, and posted it on LinkedIn. And I said, you know, I saw this in a local charity shop. And it was telling the story, because I think that's important to get people involved in the story why I was there just exactly like I'm telling you now. And and I put it out there. And I think it's awful, you know, people would steal from a charity shop, how low do you have to go? And it started a conversation. You know, there were people say more, some people have got nothing, and the forced into having to do that. And we were looking at things from all angles, and it was amazing. And then someone put a comment on that just said, huh. And I hate that that is such a bugbear of mine, someone who doesn't go straight in with a comment. They just put a really petty, huh, and you know, because of course, I'm going to bite at that then. So I did I was like, Yes, can I help you? And she said, Oh, straying away from the original content, are we and I sent a message back saying I'm sorry. And she said, Oh, it's just that I've already seen this story elsewhere before I'm quite disappointed that as a copywriter, you've chosen to steal someone else's content so that you can build your audience. And I thought, Well, I would never do that, because I would get found out. But secondly, as a copywriter, that would be suicide to use someone else's written content. Wow, that is that is gonna kill my Korea dead. So I would never do that. But I was really annoyed that had been suggested, and I was really annoyed that had been done in a public forum. She could have sent me a private message. But no, she wanted to out me. Anyway. So I did a bit of research. And I did contact her privately. And I said, I'd love to know, because this is my story. Where the hell do you think I've copied it from? So she sent me a screenshot from where she'd seen it on Facebook. And it was my bloody page on Facebook. And the reason she thought I did all in it is because on LinkedIn, I'm Joe Watson. On Facebook, I've got my company page, which is a good write up and she didn't have the link. So I laugh about it now, but I just think of Christ as if I've been accused of plagiarising my own work. But it was a lesson to me Francisco because I thought I've got this brand a good writer, yet nobody really knows that they know Joe Watson, and whether they love her or at least they know her. So, so yes. So in terms of branding, I think it is. Yeah, it's more about the person and the personality. I think so. Yeah. So might be getting rid of that logo and that name.

Francisco Mahfuz 15:22

I agree. I mean, obviously, the branding is, I heard someone describe it as the feeling you want people to have when they see that there's a new post from you, or or whatever it is that you're doing. Now they see something from Joe Watson from Francisco, what is the feeling that they get? What what are the what am I in for? What am I expecting with this, and that that is really what the brand is, is, I'm going to be amused, maybe I'll be entertained, maybe I'll be offended, maybe or whatever, right. But I find it very interesting that your job is often to, to write for other people, now you're editing their books and your copywriting for their website. So it's not the Joe Watson personality that is meant to come through, if you're doing some of the things you do as a copywriter. So is that this whole thing of being able to write or already in someone else's voice that I find very interesting, because I don't think I'm capable of doing that at all. I mean, I don't I can't turn off my own voice to, to write

Jo Watson 16:23

the tough thing to do boards, where I kind of enjoy my job is the fact that I'm at a stage now where I've built my brand, or the level that I have that people can't ask me, so I don't pitch for work. Yes, I'll tell people if I've got, you know, a product I'm selling. Or if I'm running a training course I will, I will tell people, but I don't call the email anyone, I don't pitch I don't say yeah, if you need a copywriter, come and hire me, I don't do it, I just put my own stuff out. So now I'm at a point where people come to me, and they say, I love your style, I love the voice that you write in. That's what I want for my business. So yeah, they don't want it to be exactly me, it's not going to be my opinions, it's going to be the wishes and their actual content, but they're happy that it's gonna get put across in a style that they love, because it's the style they've seen me writing. So really, it's very rare, I have to write in someone else's voice, which is wonderful. It does take a while to get there. But I like where I am. Because obviously, it's a lot easier, I don't have to think, Oh, I've got to put, you know, my corporate head on now to do anything, because I wouldn't enjoy that anyway. To be honest, it is a skill, it is a skill. But ultimately, the client in order to help you do your job properly, the client needs to know what they want. Because sometimes the client comes to you, and they don't have a clue. And you'll say do you want it to be formal or informal? Or I don't know. And so the real skill you need to have isn't about switching to the voice. It's about being a fucking mind reader. They just they're not articulating it at all what they want. And that's really, really tough. But no, I'm very, very lucky that I've got to where I am, where I can just write in my own voice. Really, it's quite nice. But in terms of what people are in for, yeah, that's a great way of describing brand. And I think people know that if they if they click on one of my posts, they know that either a they're going to be amused or be I will have done my best to try and amuse them. It doesn't always work. But they know the intention will always be there. And that's the main thing.

Francisco Mahfuz 18:36

Yeah, I heard you say on an interview, I think when you were talking about the ability to to write or at least edit in someone else's voice and how you you learn how to do it. And I think you might have even said something like, you know, it's not that hard. I don't need to listen to it for that long before I can. I can I can do it. And I immediately thought, could she do my voice? And then I thought, yes, she could. She just needs to get some wife jokes in there and talk about how little sexual prowess she has. I mean, it would be pretty easy.

Jo Watson 19:10

I'll make them here. But no, it is. It's all about the right client. It really is. And as I said, people come to me now and say I really love what you do. You know, I want to come across in that style I want to come across in that tone and in that voice. So I find that easy. They can give me their notes or I can just talk to them for a while and I think yeah, if how would I say it how would I take the message that they want to get across? How would I say it so it is it is quite easy. If I ever find it hard, that's my kind of note to myself that I'm not with the right client. And and that's where one of my blogs ages ago was about not knowing who my ideal client is. And that's fine by me because they Marketing. Now everyone is harping on about knowing your ideal client. And it's not just ideal client, its ideal client avatar. Now, which just sounds pretentious. And I think, you know, just adding a little word onto something doesn't make it a different concept. It's just you adding a little bit of pretension, trying to show people you've come up with this wonderful idea that no one's ever had before. But they talk about the avatar because you should know who your ideal client is, what they look like, how old they are, where they live, where they go on holiday in the summer, while their shoe sizes and how they're going to choose to parent their children. What time they have their dinner at night and all the vegetarian other vegan and and I just think there's otter bollocks, you can never know that about people, I would I don't know my own husband that way. So I'm not gonna know so much. I've never even worked with yet until that detail. But I think if you put yourself out there in a certain way, your ideal clients will gravitate to you. And you know what, on paper, you may think, Oh, that's not going to work with them. But then you get on the phone to them, or you get on a zoom. And you think, Oh, actually, yeah, we're gelling here. So I think it's all about ideal clients finding. And then that's when you've got absolute gold, because the relationship just means you can you can write their work with ease. So So yeah, it's working quite well. I appreciate it could all go wrong at any moment. But for now, it's the system that's working well, for me, Francisco,

Francisco Mahfuz 21:31

in that's probably a good thing, since you throw away a perfectly good career in teaching, right?

Jo Watson 21:39

You've been speaking to my mother. Well, she is and I know I do on my LinkedIn profile. And on my website, I do mention it. Yeah, I talk about my mom. Because you know what, lots of us have issues with our mothers. That's a good way of getting people to kind of be drawn to me, really the people? Oh, god. Yeah, I had a career in banking. And I threw it away. And my mom has never forgiven me either. And it draws people to you. Yeah, I was I was a teacher, I was not cut out for it. I don't know why I went into it. I've got no idea. I could not explain that to you. The kids were great. Put the politics in education. Certainly in Britain. It's horrendous. So I didn't last long at all. But of course, my mum hit the roof. When she found out I was leaving. I think what made it worse as well is that I quit having no other job in place. So she would have preferred it if I would have at least had another career lined up. But I didn't, I just left I got to the point where I thought I can't do this. This is killing me. So I did get another job working in education, but but not in formal teaching. But the plan was, I'm going to build my business on the sideline, until I can get to a point where I can just do it full time. And it'll be wonderful. And then I'll be a millionaire. And it'll be fantastic. And I'll be this world renowned writer, and everyone will know my work and think I'm wonderful. And then about a month after going full time. With my my business venture, I found out I was pregnant, and spent nine months been horrendously sick. So the whole empire building kind of went out the window a little bit, but I'm still here. The business live and the baby is alive. So yeah.

Francisco Mahfuz 23:33

I mean, some days, some days, that's all you can ask for

Jo Watson 23:35

most days. That's all looking as well as the dream Fransisco

Francisco Mahfuz 23:39

there's a bit of a problem with your plan there because you say everyone will know my work in sync. I'm wonderful. I'm not sure those two follow each other.

Jo Watson 23:50

Right? You're absolutely right. They don't go together. I think everyone will know my work. I don't think I think everyone will know my work and think wow. With that exact intonation as well, and I'll take it as a compliment. I'll take it as a Wow, you're a wonderful writer. when really they're thinking, wow, how the hell few of you made a career based on this, but you know what? I'm taking what was good.

Francisco Mahfuz 24:17

You've got an English degree, right?

Jo Watson 24:19

I have it's totally useless.

Francisco Mahfuz 24:21

Same Same here. I was just curious about what your actual thesis was. Or your final paper because I wanted to check if it was more pretentious than mine.

Jo Watson 24:32

Oh, c'mon was in no way pretentious. I need to know yours. Go on.

Francisco Mahfuz 24:35

Right so my my final paper was called. I wanted to breathe smoke, violence, self destruction and the search for meaning from American Psycho to fight club.

Jo Watson 24:48

Oh my god. What did your tutors say about that? Did they just go? Yeah, go on.

Francisco Mahfuz 24:58

Yeah, I mean, I I explained, I mean, the the vision of it was just ridiculous. I said, I know, there was a lot of problems in, you know, the 80s generation in the 90s generation, I would like to tackle both things through the seminal works, and get in some existentialist stuff in there, get some psychology. So and then he's like, Yeah, go for it. Yeah, sounds sounds like a brilliant plan. But this is also a guy whose favourite book in all of literature was blood meridian. So for McCarthy, which is not an easy or light book, so he probably just said, yeah, like a bloodbath. I would like to see this

Jo Watson 25:40

isn't it? Let's let's see where this starts spiralling out of control, really. But I have to ask with the American Psycho. Were you basing it on the film or the book? Which were you going for them?

Francisco Mahfuz 25:54

So I did the books, and I did the books. But this was a this was a rude awakening. Because I think when I decided to do it, I can't remember if I had already read the book or not. I thought, I mean, how different from the movie be. And then when you read it, you find out the Fight Club is exactly the movie. slightly worse, arguably, because you know, no, no bare chested. Brad Pitt. But then American Psycho. Yeah, I didn't know. I didn't know. Yeah, yeah, check, check. Palaniuk it's a very good book. Exactly. The movie. And an American Psycho American Psycho is horrendous. Because the all this sort of goofy comic comic aspect to the to the movie. None of that is in the book. And in the book, all the horrible stuff he does, like, he tortures people before he murders them. And the book describes page after page after page. Oh, is I had to put it down sometimes. And you know, I'm not squeamish. But sometimes it's like, Oh, do you really have to do that with a rat?

Jo Watson 26:55

Yeah. Because one I didn't know Fight Club was a book that is absolute used to me, so I'm gonna read it now. But yeah, I've obviously seen that the film for American Psycho and read the book. The film is almost a farce in a way, isn't it really like when he's running with a chainsaw with his bony slippers on and all of that, and in the book that never would have featured it's all very hideous, and dark and prolonged? Because it is it's page after page after page. It's not just oh, here's a paragraph about him torturing someone is so drawn out, which I guess is good writing in a way, because that's how it would have been for that character to do it, you know, that they would have drawn it out. But my God, your your thesis?

Francisco Mahfuz 27:48

I don't think it was actually because what all I wanted to focus on was mostly the sort of the super passion for capitalism that existed in the 80s. And how that translate, translated into the culture and how then some of that was fading in the 90s. And there was a bit more angst and whatever. And I really liked the supporting stuff or read for it. But the books were perhaps the only two books I read in my life where the books are not better than the movies, or at least there was you don't gain by reading the books. You're just, you know, an American Psycho. I think I'd definitely lost. Never get it. That's part of my soul. Yeah,

Jo Watson 28:24

we all did. I mean, you know what we should have known though, because when you pick up the book physically, it's like a house brick, isn't it? And you just think, well, you know, this isn't going to be something I can dip in and out of this. This is, you know, I'm gonna have to commit to this. But oh, my god, though, that that takes that takes me aback because I think, I think when I read that book, I was, I think I was at university. But I didn't choose anything that dark. But I did choose to look at a darkness. And in a way, I looked at the humour in a programme called the League of gentlemen. And I don't know if you've ever seen it, it's a little bit cold status, really, but, and I struggled because I found it very funny. But I was realising that not everyone was including my lecturer or my tutors. And that made it very difficult to discuss the humour within it. But I honestly couldn't tell you what I wrote about at all. I think I just, I think by that point, I thought, I don't actually care about this degree anymore. I love studying. I am a geek, I believe in education, but I just felt that by the time I got to the end of my degree, or I was getting to the end of it, I thought, I don't think this is going to get me anywhere. And I think I think I'm right with the idea. Because a lot of people mentioned it when they say oh, is it helped you be a copywriter? I honestly don't think it has. I mean, it hasn't helped with my own writing for me either. It hasn't. It hasn't shaped me It will help a lot of people, I'm sure, but I just feel that when you're becoming a writer, it's your own experiences and your own tone, and what you hone the skills that you hone. So I could look at something I wrote three years ago, and be mortified by it and think, Oh, my God, as if I wrote that that's awful. And I think I could rewrite it now. And it'd be wonderful. But that I think that's the beauty of writing, you just develop it as you go along. And I don't think it's something you have a formal basis in. But I don't know, if you agree, what are your thoughts on that?

Francisco Mahfuz 30:31

It's worth understanding the context in which I took my English degree, because I did, I didn't disappoint my mum, that to the extent you did, because I did it in steps. I originally tried to get into medical school, that didn't work. I was watching too much er, at the time, that didn't work. And then I went into advertising, quit that after, you know, half the course I quit. And I went into literature. And then I quit that to come to Europe and you know, be a bartender. So then when I eventually went back to school, I think just the fact that it was a degree, made them happy. But the reason I did it was because my brain was was shrinking. I was bartending I was doing also I was working in a call centre at a time. So I had no intellectual stimulation whatsoever in my friends didn't help at all with that. So I started because I wanted to make my brain, you know, sort of nimble again, and I like to books that I was read obsessively. So when I took the courses I took most of them just sounded interesting to me. And I did it on that basis. I wasn't really expecting anything out of it. And I never tried to use it for anything. I mean, the only thing I can say that I categorically got out of my education was, I have hands down the best education section on LinkedIn. No one else is talking about Dracula's sexual preferences on the education section. So I should actually post on that one day, because 100%

Jo Watson 32:01

You're just gonna see your profile views just absolutely. Iraq. thing? Well, how it is this guy? Well, yeah, you've got to keep it in question. But with you saying that? Was your your degree pure literature then? Was it English literature? Yes, yes. English mine. And I loved both I loved language and literature. So when I applied to university, I did the combined honours of language and literature. After my first year of literature, it actually got to a point where I thought, if I carry on studying lists, I'm going to hate reading. And that's, it has nothing to do with the study. And it was how it was taught, and the texts that we were studying. So like all of the texts for that entire first year, nothing was later than the 14th century. And that was a real problem, you need it, you need a real mix. So any contemporary as well as traditional and, and it was awful. I found it so hard going, where I got to a point where I thought I am actually going to hate something that I have is quite a big hobby here. So I quit literature and just did full time language. But like I said, I still don't I still don't think it helped me. But mine was the more traditional context that I was in. I didn't, I didn't get to hop around the world prior to doing my degree. Cisco.

Francisco Mahfuz 33:22

Yeah, there's nothing particularly sexy or glamorous when you're hopping around the world, you know, from Brazil to London to do server service. I mean, I can make anything sound glamorous. Now I can say that I worked at one of the biggest nightclubs in the world, which is fabric in London. But the work itself involves picking up bottles from the floor. I mean, good music, but still picking up bottles from the floor. It's nothing glamorous about that.

Jo Watson 33:52

Like you said, it's how we make it sound though, isn't it? We can put a lovely spin on it. We're good with words, glamorising?

Francisco Mahfuz 33:59

Yes, yes. So you said something before we I digress does with this whole education stuff that you're talking about what makes your doesn't make you a better writer. Now, I know that one of the things you do is you also give trainings, how again, with the risk of sounding pretentious, in regular basis, I can actually write it doesn't strike me as something that I'm not that you couldn't teach. I'm sure you can make someone a lot better. But, but is, to me is a beta like humour. I mean, you can improve someone that has a bit of a basis, but I don't think you can make someone funny or or a good writer, you know, from whole cloth. I mean, what's your experience with that? And what works, what doesn't work?

Jo Watson 34:43

Fully agree with you that you can't make someone you know, be the finished article. If they're not naturally like that in some way. There's not a lot you can do with them. So yeah, if they're not naturally funny, you're never going to make them a stand up comedian. If they're not At least willing to put the work in to be a writer and have a little bit of talent to work with. There's nothing anyone can teach them on on any course, but certainly not for, you know, a day when they typically come to me. So I found that it's really, really key in in marketing them very carefully so that everyone's expectations are managed. So if someone said to me, oh, I want to come on your course, or I really can't string the sentence together, I'd be saying, I'm not the person for you, I think what I tried to do is I try to attract people who are good at writing, or they certainly have the basic building blocks there. But they need to sharpen their skills a bit, get some ideas, get some new techniques, find different sources of inspiration, so that they can make sure they're creating good content. And it's usually for businesses, so people aren't really coming to me just for because they want to, you know, get better at writing. And it's just a bit of fun. It's usually because they'll need it for their business. So I will show them tips and techniques that will really upskill them so that they'll be able to sell a little bit more easily, or they'll be able to promote with a little bit more efficiency. So yeah, they definitely need that starting point when they're coming in i Yeah, it is difficult, though. And it's why a lot of people will say to me, Oh, can I? Can I come to you? And can you train me on how to write social media posts and LinkedIn posts? And I'll say, yeah, we can do it as a little session, or I can do it as a small part of a wider copyrighting day. But I'm never going to give you a full day on it. Because, to be honest, a lot of it is to do with you as a person. It's not necessarily what I write that people gravitate to is because they've become, they've come to know me, if someone else wrote exactly the same stuff, it might not land as well, because it's not for me. And I think that ties in with the branding issue. It's what you become and what people expect and what people want to see from you. So I don't think people could care less how I write anymore, you can't teach it and Christ, I wouldn't want to teach anyone to be like me anyway, that they

Francisco Mahfuz 37:12

do. So is there any are there was in the beginning, when you started writing on social media, or writing in general, is there any type of structure model that you kind of follow are some elements, you're always trying to get in there, because I can't necessarily see that. Now. When I when I read your stuff. Now, it just seems like you have a bit of a captive audience, and then you're just being you. But I can't necessarily notice something. And again, think you're a significantly better writer than I am. But mine, you can see if you look not very hard, you see through the seams of how I write. So mine is always, you know, some questions or some sort of more interesting statement to open in then leading into something or is just a story or just tell a story. And then I try to bring out a broader point out of it. Do you have any type of structure you follow or teach?

Jo Watson 38:06

I don't actually. So that's, I'm glad really that you've said you can't find one in my work. Because I was thinking if you say, oh, yeah, I can see the structure you're following. I'd be the thinking, then I'm doing it, subconsciously, I'm clearly doing it without thinking about it. And I don't really like structure when it comes to storytelling. And I believe that's what it is, when you're sharing content, whether it's on your website, social media, or in a pitch, for example, I think it's all about storytelling. And yes, or no, traditionally, story should have a beginning, middle and an end. But anyone who's seen any of the films made for Netflix, will will be able to stand by the fact that actually your story doesn't need a middle or an end, it just needs to be on screen. And people will by the amount of things I've seen where I've gone, where's the end? And how does that tie? You know, it's a slight digression, really. But when I think storytelling, it should be natural, it should be how you would talk to someone down the pub with your friends. So when you say how do I teach it? People get too bogged down in structure? They say, Oh, well, I know what I want to say. But I don't know how to start it. And I don't know where to go when in what order. And I say to them, how would you tell your mates down the poor? If you were going to share that story? If you were going to share that case study or that scenario or that anecdote? How would you tell them and that's what you need to write down. Now you might not go straight into typing it and publishing it, but you can at least get it down in the way that you would say it. And then you can edit it later on. And you can tweak it and think of that that doesn't need to go in there. Or maybe I'll move that to the end. You can always edit that starting point that you've got, but it really is about bringing it as close to speech as possible for me. So when I write something, I think is this How I would say, I want people to go, oh, I can imagine you saying that. So no, I don't. I don't I've very rarely put questions. And a lot of people will tell you that you should. And there might be something in that there really might be. If I start putting questions in my posts, I might see engagement saw further, I might see sales go up. I don't know, I don't know if that would work for me. All I know is that it wouldn't be comfortable for me, because it's not my natural style. So a lot of people will put something on and they'll say, oh, you know, I was stuck on the train for three hours. And I was stuck next to this guy who was on a phone call for two and a half hours of it. And it was, it was killing me. And, and it was awful. And I tried to hide laughing. You people share these stories. And I think people will relate just to the story. So you'll get people saying, Oh, one last time I was on the train, it was delayed by four hours and blah, blah, blah. And people talk. I don't see the point in ending those posts with when was the last time you were on a train?

Francisco Mahfuz 41:01

Yeah, I didn't even mean, you know, because though those are the sort of call to action questions that people say you should have in primitive posts. I didn't even mean in that sense. I mean, for example, when I help people improve their public speaking, right, so the way I tend to describe the introduction, as you know, then you have to capture people's attention. And I found that, I think you appreciate this, I described that Your introduction should be WTF. But now WTF for me doesn't mean what it normally means, to me means Your introduction should be weird, thought provoking, or funny. So if you can do any of those things, then you have a good chance of capturing people's attention. And perhaps, you know, although you are significantly more cynical than I am with your online persona, you seem to have a much higher opinion, of people's ability to speak or write. Because I find that if I say to people, how would you tell your friends that, but most of my friends are so boring, like they cannot tell a story? They start talking like you've been talking for 10 minutes, I still don't know where we're going with this. Right? Are you out of the setup? Are we in? Are we in the meaty bit now? I don't know. What's the problem here? What is the conflict?

Jo Watson 42:17

A revelation for me, this really is fantasy scope. First of all, because I love the WTF I love I'm going to steal that. I will I will be giving you credit wherever I see all that that's going to go in my next training session. For sure. That is wonderful. I love it weird, thought provoking or funny. I love it. You're absolutely right. Because as soon as you said some of your friends just couldn't tell a story. I wouldn't know where they're going. Yeah, I'm not gonna name any names. But as soon as you said it, there was one of my friends who really sprung to mind and I thought, Oh, God, Jerry, I was transported back to the pain of the last time they told me a story. And I still don't know what the end was. And I think they might still be tell. I don't know, I just walked off. You're absolutely right. But I think in general, I wouldn't teach that I a lot of copywriters want to share good value? When they put posts out online? I don't, right. So a lot of times, they'll say no, I'm going to give it I'm going to show you what I can do for free. So I'm going to do some writing tips, I'm going to do this, I'm going to do that I'm going to do the other and that is wonderful. That's what they do. That's not really my style. And it's not because I don't want to give things out for free. It's because if I'm going to put a post out, I want it to be WTF. I just want it to be that pure and simple. I bothered about if they think Wow, I feel like such a better writer. Now having read one of your posts, and boards, I would teach the you know, keep it as close to speech as you can in one of my training sessions. But that goes back to targeting the right people, and marketing towards the right people. And when people contact me, and they, like I said, you know, if they can't string a sentence together, it'd be a no for me. When people contact me and say I want to book on your course, I have to have a conversation first. So there's no option where they can just click book and pay. I insist on a conversation with each person so I can get a feel for whether they are going to be someone who will really benefit from the course. So that way I know I've got a load of people well, I say a load and are limited to eight people so that everyone can get some focus time. But I know exactly what kind of people I've got in front of me. And I know if I've got the person who can't tell a story for shit. So yeah, so I think that's a really interesting point. And that probably highlights why I don't just share throwaway tips. I don't think they work for anyone. I'm stealing all your ideas today, Francisco. I'm loving this.

Francisco Mahfuz 44:43

Do you hear this noise or is just me? There's some strange noise on the line, but I'm not sure if it sounds like it sounds like the devil was breathing down my neck. But maybe this is just in my head.

Jo Watson 44:54

I don't know. Maybe Maybe he's waiting.

Francisco Mahfuz 44:57

Yeah, maybe So I think yeah, I think it is a bit different because it's a bit different for you than it is for some people because you're selling your ability to write normally, I don't think you're selling your ability to teach people writing. Primarily, I think I've seen you maybe mentioned a blogging resource once or twice. In the fact that you can write proves that you can do the job, I do training, and I do coaching and stuff. But the primary thing for me is keynote speaking. So when people see me telling a story, that's fine and say, Okay, well, we can tell a story. But a keynote speech is not just me telling stories, I'm not being hired as a storyteller, I'm being hired as a speaker, which is meant to teach people that, so if I don't ever do any teaching, there is impossible for someone to see my stuff and go, Well, he can definitely do what we're gonna pay him to do. They go, well, the stories might be amusing, I have no idea if you're useful content to share. So I think it's I think for some people, they have to have that more tips for this or tips for that approach, which arguably is lends itself less well to just being you and being being entertaining. I mean, you can still do it, I tried to do it. But obviously, if I can just tell stories nonstop, that it's a lot easier to come out, come up with content,

Jo Watson 46:15

it's easier. It's much more fun. And you know, I do sit there sometimes Francisco and think, you know, should I put something out there is a bit more useful. But I don't I don't think people would expect that from me. You know, I don't I don't think that they're not, they're not following me. Because they're thinking, oh, you know, every time I see one of her posts, I'm going to get better at writing. I don't want them to either I want them to see what I write and think, Wow, she's good. I want to hire her to do the right inform me.

Francisco Mahfuz 46:46

It's a fair point. And I wanted to pick up on something you said about structure and not having it on something that I know is not the primary part of your business. But but it's something I know you do as well, which is speaking for the first question I have is Do you think that it is your fault that we're in this situation now all locked down? Because you spoke I think last year at copy con and you said they will have me back unless something happens?

Jo Watson 47:10

I was Yeah, I was quite shocked. Actually I did. I spoke at Coffee con. That was one of my first large scale professional speaking gigs, really. So I've done some smaller ones prior to that. And you know, everything had worked really well. But the copy con the professional copywriters conference, that was a big deal for me, it was in London, it was at the Barbican. Everything went wrong on that day, my it failed, people have been sent to the wrong room for one of my breakout sessions, and therefore came in like 20 minutes into it, which really threw me because they walked right across it. For instance, I found it a massive learning curve, because I thought I was gonna be brilliant at it. And when I got there, and I saw all the other people who were speaking, I just thought, oh my god, I thought I'm gone. I'm not ESA, you know, I'm not good enough for anything. I'm good. But bloody owl are nowhere near where these guys are. So it was a massive learning thing. And then they did invite me back. So I'm due to be going back this year. But at the moment, yeah, it is a whole kind of if we're allowed to do it. And yeah, maybe maybe this is the universe's way of saying no, don't go back. Don't go back. Because, you know, copy kind of probably thinking she'll come back, she'll do a better job this year, it will go much smoother. And the world is actually saying no, you're going to fuck it up, Joe. So we're going to throw everything out into the world or pandemic just to stop you going back there and making a fool of yourself. So if the

Francisco Mahfuz 48:40

universe perhaps gave you any signs that you would go back and do a good job, like maybe if you've met someone who does this professionally and helped people get better. I mean, maybe that would be a sign that you'd have to go back.

Jo Watson 48:54

Now anyone who does it?

Francisco Mahfuz 48:59

Yeah, I think I think I need to work on my branding. Right? It's not just this you know, this good looks, Joe, there's more to this

Jo Watson 49:08

cottage for you, actually, that you weren't recording when the first thing I said to you when we came on was as if you just put that out?

Francisco Mahfuz 49:24

Well, we have it. We have it on the record now. Can we okay, I had the conversation with someone the other day. And I was talking about one of the things I really like about speaking in public, which is that people actually speak in public and to some extent social media, this my experience social media, which is people will like what you say, they'll tell you that they like what you say, and sometimes they will commend you for you know, your wisdom or your sense of humour. Now perhaps I've been with the same person for too long, but no one is applauding you. No one is commending you on my wisdom. So, you know, the fact that you go into a room to talk in front of me, sometimes hundreds of people, and they're applauding here. I mean, that's not what we usually experienced life is.

Jo Watson 50:12

And that's the thing we like that will go home to our other halves. And they'll just sit and raptured by everything we say. And they'll they're thinking, Oh, my God, I could listen to you for hours. And let me make some notes. So as you're talking to me, and they don't listen to us at all, probably forgot to think when we go out and we speak on stage, these people have only got us for an hour. So we probably dial it up a bit and think, yeah, let's give them all the good stuff. But it's, I don't know. I mean, I always thought I was I was good at it. But then when you see other people who are excellent at it, you just think I really need to up my game. And I, I love that. I love that. Yeah, I want to be able, I came away from copy con, disappointed, not in the event. And it was fantastic. It was an amazing experience. I was disappointed in myself. And I think that's a good thing. Because it means I will strive to get better. And, and yeah, I got great feedback. I really did. It was it was amazing. I love the feedback. But you know yourself. It's about how you feel when you've done it. And you'll know with someone such as yourself, who does this, you know, you go out you deliver these keynotes and this is who you are, you'll even you'll know if you've had an off day now nobody else might pick up on it at all. But you'll sometimes come away and saying that that wasn't quite right. Well, I hope you do. I hope you're normal. And you do feel that? Or do you just come away and go, Oh, my God, I killed it. And I was immense.

Francisco Mahfuz 51:45

Well, again, high opinion of myself. But what happens with with speaking, I find is that most people and I wouldn't think this is ever a problem to you, I wouldn't have thought up until we started talking about not necessarily having a specific structure for things. Because the problem I think most people have when they speak in public is they just don't grasp one how important good content is. And two, they don't grasp the level of dedication, you need to have to rehearsing your content. So this is an example of given before not sure if on the podcast, but my company invited me last for the last Christmas party to just do 15 minutes on stage, right? Because they know I have that I did this thing. And my date, my boring day job is what I call my company in this case. And I said, What do you want me to talk about? And they said, well, we'll just talk about whatever you want. It says that means you're giving me 15 minutes to make fun of the directors in the company. And they said yeah, sure. And this was 15 minutes, right? This was 15 minutes, nobody was expecting anything I could have bombed being would be almost impossible given that everyone else that was going to speak it at that party was terrible. And I spent two hours writing the thing. And then I probably practised it, maternal 20 times. So that's a good five hours of practice for a 15 minute thing that doesn't count for anything, really. And I very much like my opening, which is I have a boss was a very sharp dresser. And his name is Paul, hypo. And then I said, I opened and I said listen, I can see that most of you look a bit confused on whether how am I what am I doing here? You know, normally Paul was the one that does all this stuff. And when the director started organising it, they asked Paul, if you wanted to do this speech, and he was very excited about the idea. So he immediately started deciding which suit he was going to wear. But then that just took too long, and they couldn't wait for him to come out of the closet.

Jo Watson 53:45

That's my level of humour. It really is.

Francisco Mahfuz 53:48

So what I'm trying to say with all this stuff is so one, I think that having very good content that is sought out to do a whole bunch of things that that perhaps you have less time to do when you're speaking then in your writing. So in order to grabbing people's attention, are you telling them what you're there for? are you connecting with them, so they relate to whatever set the session is about? And then you know, then just building stuff in a logical manner that it's entertaining and all of that. But I think if you have as I seem to describe shit hot content, that is just one step of it. Now it needs to be, you know, not memorised, but you need to know it code in then you have to factor all the other stuff, how you got to what the room is like, what are the interruptions? How do you handle icons and movement technology? And I think some people don't have great content, haven't rehearsed it, and then put on top of put on top of that. All the difficulties of speaking to an audience. And then it's no surprise that most people are less than impressive, even though they know their stuff. And they might be impressive in other videos.

Jo Watson 54:50

Exactly. Yeah. And I think it's it is about playing to your strengths really. And I think well I don't know if that's the right phrase actually, I kind of knowing your limitations and know When where you need support with things? Because yeah, you're absolutely right. You could you could know your stuff inside out and be an expert in your field. But yeah, if you don't have great content, you haven't got the dedication to perfect it and get out there and deal with whatever happens on the day. It just all goes to shit completely. And, you know, so I think that was my downfall with it. I think because I had to have those elements. I knew my content was great. I knew I knew it inside out, I thought I'd be fine public speaking because I've done it so many times, and I can handle things. But on that day, because it was so different. And it was like a big deal. It was it was at the Barbican, which is this impressive by ease. And it was a big conference. And I was getting paid a lot of money for it. It's suddenly I was just a bit kind of overwrought. And I didn't, I wasn't nervous, or anything like that. But I just don't think I did enough to really make sure I was just spot on, on the day dealing dealing with everything. But that's what will make me be better in the future. And from the back of that I've been invited to, you know, speak or other events. So clearly, I couldn't have been awful. But my favourite feedback on the day was I was getting these emails from people who attended and I thank you so much. And it was lovely. I got one I got a DM from a guy who'd been in my session and and he said, Oh, Hi, Joe, I was at your session. And I just wanted to say thank you for letting me charge my phone at the front of the room. I remember remember this guy came in early and said, Do you mind if I charge it on the on the way? And I was like, yeah, yeah, sure. And that was the that was the only positive that guy talk from my entire talk.

Francisco Mahfuz 56:50

I was hoping someone was gonna tell you, I watched you speak. And I would like to tell you, you I think you're a great writer. Movie amazing.

Jo Watson 56:59

I love I feel fantastic. But I smell those kinds of comments, and I use them to my advantage. I really do. And so I would I love that that would be the kind of thing in my style, which I do think it is. It is very self deprecating, or at least I hope it is i i think because I'm quite bold, and I'm loud. And I'm vocal. Sometimes people think that's arrogance. And it's really not a lot of the time I'm saying oh my god, I'm absolutely shit at this. And you know, I've got this wrong or this is just, you know, horrendous. But yeah, I like taking people's comments and trying to spin them around to my, to my advantage. So I had had I got trolled once on LinkedIn, so so badly by another copywriter, who we think was drunk, because they were sent she sent me about 23 messages. And they were all between 3am and 4am on a Friday night, Saturday morning, so I'm going to say she'd had a couple of glasses of wine. And she was getting more and more vitriolic as the messages went through. She was ripping all my content apart from months and months earlier. And then ultimately, she caught me this fucking majestic bitch. And I was so upset. I remember she in when I read it that someone hated me that much. And thought I was all these horrible things. It was horrible. And then people started saying to me, you want to take that as a compliment really. And you know, before you know it, I'm introducing myself events as a fucking majestic vich. I add one of my friends recently made a t shirt with a R for me. And it's got a little crown on it. And I've got a mug with King majestic bits written on it as well. So yeah, it's about taking these things and spinning it around around to, to your needs, like the time a very well known, and I can't name him sort of like a he's an entrepreneur. Everyone is and he'd approached me about editing his book. And I gave him the same details that I gave everyone else because of course every now and then I do I edit books rather than just people's pictures or web content or anything like that. I'll do that books, if it's the right client for me. So if someone comes to me and I don't get a good feel for them, I don't think the books any good and I won't enjoy it, I won't do it. But he come to me and he was quite a big name. So I would have liked to have worked with him just for that reason. But I gave him the payment details the same payment details or give everyone else and he came back and he said no, you're okay for that price. I could get a professional to do it. But and again, that was hurtful over time, but now I just use it to my advantage. So now I will happily put that in a post I will happily introduce myself in that way you know with that reference on a training event. Yeah, I've I've had it on with theory's I've had it on slides and stuff. And I think yeah, you've just got to take these things and run with them. But yet the champion one, copy calm thank you so much for letting me charge my phone. during your session that's, that's one of the best runs are praying windy.

Francisco Mahfuz 1:00:16

You got to own this things that there is a fantasy writer that I quite like called job Crombie. And he he's very funny on his Twitter feed. And he makes a point of posting negative reviews on a regular basis, like today's one star rating. Like he has a book called his latest books on a little hatred. And the review was like, there was actually quite a lot of hatred in this one. And he says, Well, if I get a lot, he gets a lot of five star reviews. If I post the five stars, I just come across like a pretentious caulk. If I post a one stars, then they've been funny, right? If he's just like, Oh, I didn't like this book, but I'm not gonna post that. But it's somewhere like, the package arrived in my house completely sodden. I was like, okay. So I had to send it back. Like once that, okay,

Jo Watson 1:01:05

I think he's, um, you know what, I would want to read that. Yeah, if I read all these five star reviews, I'd be there thinking, Oh, great. Yeah, I'm sure you're wonderful. Wow, this is amazing. If they start sharing things like that, I think, Wow, that's a sense of humour I can get on board with. And I really like, because you want to know, these people are normal, don't you know, are willing to have a laugh at themselves and at their own expense? It is important. So yeah, I've got I've got lots of stories. Yeah.

Francisco Mahfuz 1:01:35

Joe, I realise we've we've we've well run over and trampled and stepped back and spat on the time we had set for this. So let me let me just ask, you know, where can where can people find you other than other than LinkedIn,

Jo Watson 1:01:48

LinkedIn is the main one. It's what I use for all of my content, really. But of course, my website is always a great place to go. So it's a good write But actually, as you know, and as we talked about, I'm going through a little bit of a rebrand. So that will be changing. I think I will keep I will keep the name I think I'm just going to play it down a little bit and I'm going to change a lot of the content on my my website so we'll see what I'm I'm in the middle of a midlife crisis Francisco. I don't know what content is going to come off. I don't know what's going to go on. It will be a surprise to me as much to anyone else. But yeah, get get yourself on there now and get yourself on in a couple of months and, and see if either of Watson's you're presented with someone you'd like to work with or read more about

Francisco Mahfuz 1:02:36

whoever's is not in the middle of some type of crisis. I mean, I'm yet I'm yet to meet the person who says, I know exactly what I'm doing. I've known for the last five years. I know what the next 10 years look like. And I have no questions. I said, Sure. I don't want to have a beer with you.

Jo Watson 1:02:52

I don't trust those people. They offer nothing to the conversation. Well, no fun. No, nobody wants those people in my life. No one needs like negative

Francisco Mahfuz 1:03:00

who wants well resolved. They know mentally healthy people are emotionally healthy vivo in their lives. We have nothing.

Jo Watson 1:03:11

I want to know that if I'm having to be on a conversation with someone I like the idea that we will laugh uncontrollably, and at some point one of us will cry. I like that idea. And you don't get that with emotionally healthy people

Francisco Mahfuz 1:03:28

laughing uncontrollably and eventually crying is how describe intimate relationships with me. So, so there you have it. Everybody before before, I guess goes even further than that. Thanks for tuning in. Take care of yourselves and I'll see you next time.

Recent Posts

See All

After 100 episodes, what storytelling lessons have I learned? Well, a few, so here are 23 for you, and they cover: why stories matter, what do you use stories for, where do you find them, how do you t