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  • Francisco Mahfuz

E20. Reinventing Your Story with Travis Lachner



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, a show about the power of stories that people who tell them and why you should be doing it too. I'm your host, Francisco mahfuz. My guest today is Travis Lackner. Travis is a former college athlete turned entrepreneur with one successful exit and one failed company. Now he's an elite creative director and multimedia producer, helping others unleash their creative energy. Travis is also a much braver man than I am, because he rocks one of the most solid moustaches I've seen all year round, and he actually likes improv comedy, as you hear is not your average Joe, or your average. Travis mean English is a confusing language to me sometimes. If you like the show, please subscribe and leave us an iTunes review. We both know you always wanted to do a little more charity, so why not start with me? Ladies and gentlemen, Travis Lachman. Travis, welcome to the show.


Travis Lachner 1:53

Thank you so much. Glad to be here, Francisco,


Francisco Mahfuz 1:57

as the seven people who listen to this podcast No. I like to do some research on my guests, which is why I was absolutely delighted that you decided to remove almost all of your background info from social media about a week before we recorded this, and I had to go searching through the web about you. And we all know that that's not a good place to be.


Travis Lachner 2:23

Oh, no. What you find out there? Well.


Francisco Mahfuz 2:29

So one of the questions I had was, you know, you have not only the moustache, but you have a completely shaved head, which you know, it's a it's a brave style choice. But then I found some pictures of you with long hair online. In the, in the shaved head made complete sense to me.


Travis Lachner 2:50

The the MySpace days were an interesting era. I'll just, I'll just leave it at that.


Francisco Mahfuz 2:59

The first thing I wanted to, to understand is because your story's kind of a strange one, right? So you know, your as some people call it, a puzzle wrapped in an enigma. So what we met through social media, because you started talking about storytelling. And as I said to you, in the talk of storytelling, social media is like blood on the water to a shark for me. But then, you know, I started trying to find out more about you. And there's all these pieces that don't seem to match together. So there is, you know, college hockey star journalism and canabis, consultant and marketing stuff. So just to talk me through how did one thing leads into the other?


Travis Lachner 3:39

Yeah, absolutely. Um, I definitely have a very non traditional journey or story. And I think that's a big helpful piece for a lot of people out there that feel like you have to have this lane carved out for you. Like, since you're a child through high school, and through college, you know, what you're going to do, and then your career path is building into that. I've had pretty much four, four different experiences completely different industries that have all combined in to a single story and a single mission. So a lot of what's really happened over the years is just taking, being really mindful of the moment of the situation. And just being very adaptable. All of this started, as you mentioned earlier in the hockey world, that was all I knew growing up was hockey, started, put my first pair of skates at age four, and finally took them off at age 24. So that was my life. My dreams. That was everything, all through middle school through high school. It was practice during the weekdays, games on the weekend. Any place I travelled was for hockey. So for a long time That was everything that was all I knew that was what I thought I was gonna do with my life. And around college, the my senior year, it was got cut short with a shoulder injury and wasn't able to pursue that anymore. And really, that started this pivot point of understanding there isn't one route or one path. So after I started kind of realising the hockey dream was really not going to be happening anymore. It's okay, I had a backup plan. It was I was going to be a EDM DJ and producer, I started making music back in the MySpace days, as we alluded to earlier, just on the side as kind of a hobby and a hustle. And I was really passionate about that too. But again, started to realise it was a very unrealistic goal. I put in all the hours put in the effort, did all the schmooze in, I lived in downtown Denver, but realised it was just not a feasible solution either. And I had reached this point in my life, culmination of just every shitty moment that you could imagine hitting all at once. So hockey was no longer a piece of my life. And that was my primary identity. So I had a little bit of this internal crisis of okay, who am I, then I thought it was going to be music and realise that wasn't really going to happen unless you are willing to sell your soul and not you're, it's really not in it for you, and really enough to give up the passion and the heart that was there for it. So extracted from that, and a personal relationship that I was in for a long time. I was convinced I was getting married, having a kid starting a family, and I was like, Alright, there it is. This is what I'm doing. Like, it wasn't hockey wasn't music, it was this, I'm I'm going to be a family man. And less than three months later, none of that was happening. So I was at this point of, I guess, middle class white boys version of rock bottom. I realised there are much people with much more difficult situations. But as far as internal struggle and kind of finding myself what am I here for? What am I doing? I was just lost. And I had discovered the School of Greatness podcast from Lewis house. And it really shifted the my mindset and the trajectory of my life. That was where I discovered business and branding and entrepreneurship. And just went all in and discovered my very first company that I built was actually like a community and a brand and a personality that you could attract people to. So that was a big piece of the puzzle was discovering entrepreneurship and branding as a mission and as a vision. So crafted my first company, which was in the cannabis space, so was in here in Colorado. So right during that wave of the first legalisation that green rush he had,


Francisco Mahfuz 8:04

he had a pretty cool name, didn't it?


Travis Lachner 8:07

Yes. The first company I started was B. Hi. And that was with B, with two E's. The whole concept of it was a portion of every purchase was donated to support honeybees. That was a big


Francisco Mahfuz 8:24

it was just a play on that no beehive


Travis Lachner 8:27

is a little bit of both. But what I really discovered was the power of branding. What really was I saw in the cannabis space was every brand or every smoke shop any dispensary like it was all on this. Like very stereotypical, like Rasta, Stoner man Cheech and Chong, Bob Marley, like poster type of vibe. And there was a lot of people that I knew in my life doctors and lawyers and my parents friends like this consumed cannabis. And we're not like in that vibe or like that didn't fit that at all. So I went the polar opposite direction with this brand, and made a brand for Responsible respectable cannabis consumers. So people that were a lot more, I guess, low key about it. Higher, higher functioning, more productive people. And that was where I discovered like, you can build a brand with a personality or a story. And it attracts people of that similar personality. So that was a big piece of the puzzle that really shift things in my head for brand building and business. And I I'm super grateful I grew that community and eventually sold that company. That was that first acquisition I ever had was still fairly young, but it was exciting. It was fun. It was the fuel I needed to like get things going again and get things back on track. So that was the the what kicked me off into the business world and entrepreneurial world. After the exit, became an advisor and a consultant for the company, so that cracked open, zooming out and helping somebody from more of like an advisor or consultant level, which led to the agency world, starting doing started doing that for other clients, and been doing that the last three or four years in the agency context, just expanding, building the army, and really diversifying that whole what what I can bring to the table is, has been such a wide range, this context helps me kind of zero in on what I can actually do for other people and do for other brands rather than for myself. That was a lot of where my focus was. So that's been my primary focus for a while. And now in the early stages of kind of firing up my next media adventure. So keeping busy, but continuously pivoting,


Francisco Mahfuz 10:58

let me understand something because yeah, you explained that you you developed a personality or a story for the for the cannabis company. Now, a lot of people that are into branding will know exactly what you mean by that. And for people that are not into that world, I think the obvious question is, what does that mean? Exactly? So okay, so you want this, you want this? You know, I'm not saying hipster, but you want the you want the you know, the the middle high middle class professional, that is serious, that is not, you know, a stoner, and okay, fine, you get that personality that I think avatar, some people call this, that customer idea. What do you do with that? How does that translate into into real life.


Travis Lachner 11:42

So what I've discovered in the context of storytelling is the most, the most critical piece is when someone can envision themselves in that story. So I think the big mistake I had a lot of the time in storytelling was just making about me where I came from, what I want to do my mission, etc. And that's like, the amateur version of storytelling. But True, true, deep storytelling, is when a consumer or anybody in that realm that's wants to approach that understands, they can basically replace themselves in that story. And I think that was the biggest piece I started to discover with email marketing and email messaging was I was just doing very light storytelling, I guess, without even realising it, of sharing previous experiences of my friend's parents kicking me out of their house, because I thought I was some Stoner and a bad influence. And coincidentally, I hadn't even smoked in my entire life at that point, and their son actually had and did. So it was like, having those moments where it was where people resonated, they were like, Oh, I had a moment like that, too. Because I had long hair in high school, everybody thought I was a stoner and other people resonate with it. So to me, it was about creating micro moments that people could insert themselves into or see little pieces of themselves. And that was what I discovered was the most useful piece of that whole storytelling element. And this was before I was even intentionally developing marketing and storytelling, but I realised that was what resonated with people is when they respond and be like, Yeah, me too. And it was the exact same over and over. So that would always be the positive signal of somebody kind of coming into the community, they were they would resonate with one of the stories, one of the emails, one of the articles, and then they were on board for the for the journey. So that was the biggest piece I've kind of saw was setting up that structure to let somebody insert themselves into your story.


Francisco Mahfuz 13:58

It's interesting that you say, because you said two things that are to some extent, contradictory. So when you said that we are not the heroes of the story, and this I think the way people in the storytelling, community and Africa community, but in the storytelling world, people refer to this as in the hero's journey, you are not the hero, the customer is the hero, the company is the guide. So we know we are Yoda we're not Luke Skywalker. And that's very clear. I think any any good marketing nowadays will have the customer has a problem and then the company or the product or you comes in and help them out of that predicament. So you're the hero, you're the guide. But at the same time, as you described with your email campaigns, you can be the hero if we want to call it that you're the main character, but you just need to be relatable enough that people will see themselves in that story. Because if you if you no and again if you've seen some of my stuff, um, most of my stories are mean them. But I'm trying to it's always a story about Tom Sawyer is a story of failure or something very thing, but I always need to make it relatable enough. So other people can see themselves in it. If I want to talk about public speaking, it can't be a story about how I'm in front of this hundreds of people, and it's amazing, and I'm really enjoying it. People won't probably relate to that at all. But if I say, I was feeling nervous, my hands were sweating. And you know, Wodify bone, people relate to that. So you can be the character, but you can't be you have to be the underdog. You can't be an overachiever because you know, only only only Wayne Curtis relate to those.


Travis Lachner 15:36

Well, no, I mean, it's, it's true. And it took me a while to realise that, especially with the personal branding and professional branding, you kind of have this misperception that it needs to be perfect. And you need to be this dude in a suit and tie and have your course like, ready right out the gate like these weird perception. But what I realised leading back to the story that changed my life Lewis house, why did that resonate with me it was because I saw myself in his story, he explains it with his one liner of, I was playing pro football. And then I broke my arm, and I was living on my sister's couch, he's got like, he's got his story down, Pat. But every single time, he goes through it, I just envisioned myself like, oh, my god, that was like the same moment of when I was going through that, and I couldn't play hockey anymore. Oh, and that was the moment like this, and you just start building that visual adventure kind of in your mind. And that's where the power of storytelling is, is when you are just beyond activating. Like the text and the words like in somebody's mind, you're creating that entire world and emotions and context and backstories. And all of those pieces coming together is what makes a powerful story. So that relatability is a huge piece that I think is often neglected, because people want to kind of sensationalise the story. And it often has the opposite effect in the long run.


Francisco Mahfuz 17:10

And I take it that your understanding of those concepts came and we backtrack, I know because you I've heard you say this, I don't remember if it was on the show on the bisnode. Or if I read something that you put out online, but I know that for a while you you hit the fact that you had a failed company. Right. So did you want to talk about when that shift happened?


Travis Lachner 17:33

Yeah, that was actually fairly recently this year. So after my cannabis company, I had a successful exit. I was in kind of a transitionary role was in an okay financial spot. So I kind of went went to the opposite side of the spectrum. I thought I was balling. Thought I was gonna just fire up another company. Let's do this, again. Didn't realise like how grateful and I guess not maybe not rare but realising that having a successful company your first run isn't quite typically how it goes. It's typically like a one out of 10 type of thing. So I was


Francisco Mahfuz 18:13

marriages is the same thing.


Travis Lachner 18:18

So yeah, that was the kind of the approach I was in starting my second company and just had the completely wrong focus. So what I was trying to build was a blockchain and cryptocurrency education platform. I was very passionate again, how I was passionate about the social side of cannabis kind of breaking that stigma. I had a similar mission in cannabis. There was kind of this misperception like bitcoins just for drug dealers and like, Hitman weird


Francisco Mahfuz 18:52

we should use for drug dealers. Get off my bloody LinkedIn direct messages. So I log in from my feed and my connections is accurate. So


Travis Lachner 19:05

it's been this was I guess, yeah, a few years ago before all those guys started coming out of the woodworks. But I essentially I just was way too overconfident, spent a tonne on video gear and video production and software bought the the whole year's worth of software instead of like just the monthly amounts like thinking, just a lot of rookie mistakes due to overconfidence, and assuming that this was going to be as successful as the previous venture. But what I missed the mark was on the messaging and the market fit. So what I wanted to do was share how blockchain and the underlying technology reshapes our culture and economics and our political structure and like the deeper deeper like philosophical like this is going to change the world. And what I realised is people don't give a shit about that at all. So what what should have been done was giving a more clear value based messaging, a value based product, we had already put together the course everything 100% Before we even put it to market, so didn't have that feedback loop going, and really just yet missed the mark. And I was super embarrassed about it for a while, like a lot of people, I announced it to everybody had like the formal launch plan and promo did everything right on paper, but didn't have wasn't in tune with that market in that audience. So he had the option to kind of go the other route of like, be a Bitcoin billionaire, if you invest, like that whole annoying thing, but as you know, and everybody else knows, like, that's really just, it just rubs you the wrong way that messaging is so very, like Tai Lopez style internet marketing, like I don't know, it's just not my vibe. So ultimately realise it was not going to be a profitable venture, had to shut down the doors still left all the videos and all the education up, put it up for free so that it's out there, I guess for the world to have a but as far as a successful company, it most certainly was not. And once we saw that, and kind of shut down the gates, I was super embarrassed, I took took it down off my LinkedIn didn't have didn't, I stopped making references to it on public posts. And it was just like, Yes, super weird moment. But these last couple of months in LinkedIn, and this whole community that I've been tapping into, I'm discovering, the more authentic I've been, I mean, I've heard it 100 times from other podcasts and everybody else in the space about this the reinforcement of authenticity, but it was just so damn true. And it took me far longer than it should have to realise and kind of lean into that authenticity. But that's a big piece of my story. So I put it back up. And I addressed the lessons I learned from it have shifted, I still use all the skills I learned from their video production video software, all the gear. So it wasn't all for naught. But it really did take me a while to reshape that perspective of understanding, it's you don't have to have this perfect Lee polished resume out there online and looking. If you do have those blemishes or those imperfections, that's what people resonate with. And again, we're right back to relatability. So being authentic with your story is always going to be more valuable than trying to create that fake it till you make it perception of everything's perfect and shiny from the outside. Because it's never like that.


Francisco Mahfuz 23:01

Something you said, I was just thinking about something you said right at the beginning. That connects a bit to the reason perhaps that your second company didn't work. Because you're saying that you know, for your identity was tied to being a hockey player. And then your identity was tied to being on what MySpace and for what I understand you were a very good hockey player, I think your brother is still trying to chase your records or wasn't there not that long ago. And I think I've heard you say before that you were MySpace famous for whatever that's worth. And then you had the relationship. And what strikes me from those cases is that your identity in those in those situations was always tied to an external thing. It's it's not Travis who is, you know, a good person who's who cares about their friends, or it was always hockey, or MySpace or DJing, or whatever that was or the relationship. So it was always an external thing. They needed the cannabis thing. In you, you're clearly addressing something internal or intrinsic, it's a feeling it's a type of person. But then when you enter the other thing, you were focused on all the societal benefits. But you know, most people relate to a brand or a company because it's, it's like me, it makes me feel something and again, I'm, I'm passionate about some of those things. But you know, I don't necessarily think I'm gonna buy into this for everything, because this is going to make society. I mean, if it feels to me, like the type of company run by the type of person I am, or would like to be sure, but if the Their goal is something in the world they're trying to fix, but it's not, you know, touchy feely, then then I'm not sure how much I would I would relate to that. I just find that interesting that how sometimes we can very easily lose track of the difference between the external motivation and external triggers and the internal ones in with stories, the internal ones are the ones that matter. I mean, what are your stories about non cares? Exactly? What are the feelings? Well, after the experience, so you said, you know, your white boys version of rock bottom, in it is true that feels particularly you know, in the moment in time we're living in, it feels kind of crazy to suggest that we had struggles in life. But how you felt when that was going on, is what people relate to, you know, maybe our whiteboy struggles are not serious by any stretch of the imagination, but feeling defeated, and feeling lost. I've seen, I think most people can relate to, if the reason we're feeling lost is because no one is engaging with my posts on LinkedIn. Maybe we should not emphasise that part of the message. But it's still a story about feeling lost. So


Travis Lachner 25:55

no, that's I mean, that's 100% it that seeing yourself in that story is such a critical piece. And when you zoom out too far, like like I did with the with the the power of blockchain, and it's going to change the world, and it's going to change our economic system. And all of that is much, much, much more difficult to resonate with people on a personal level, you start to get more of like an academic crowd that kind of has that higher level thinking but for a brand and a company and a story that people want to connect with. Yeah, definitely missed the mark. Way too much technical jargon, Phillip, philosophy economics. When in reality, yeah, it should be a story about a an immigrant from Guatemala who used to have to send send remissions back to his his family, but 60% of it was cut from bank fees, and then from Western Union, and then from money gramme, then sharing that story, how you could send the same Money With Bitcoin and 100% of it goes to the family. Like that would have been a better route to go. Pretty much. In hindsight, learn plenty during all of that. But yeah, you're absolutely right. If you lose touch of that relatability and the character of the story, it doesn't matter how important your mission is, if people can't connect and see where their space in that mission is, it's all for naught. It's not gonna go anywhere.


Francisco Mahfuz 27:33

Let's go from the Saving Society and the Guatemalan immigrant to something that some people will think it's perhaps a little less aspirational, email marketing. You. You mentioned it before, I know it's something you understand. And I've been doing not that long ago, I had this, which I believe is a misguided, understanding that, you know, email marketing doesn't really work. I mean, no one really responds to these things as annoying spam, whatever, right? But I'm wrong. I know, I know that I'm wrong. So just tell me what we know, what doesn't work is the emails that we ignore all day long. But what does work with email marketing, and how branding and storytelling fit into that?


Travis Lachner 28:15

Um, so yeah, I guess there's two, two pieces of the puzzle here. As far as in, in the email world, there's reaching out just cold email, with the sole goal of just getting a response and whatever, there's a whole strategy for that. But for what you're referencing, is an internal audience, somebody that's been welcomed into your circle, subscribed or joined, in whatever capacity they want to go on a journey. That's what I kind of think of it as, as an ad, think of your mailing automation sequence or workflow as an adventure, a digital experience of some sorts. You're obviously again, a piece of that puzzle, but you're not the main character, you're the the guy yada yada example, I guess it's too perfect to it's gonna be a saturated example. And it's gonna like go Oh,


Francisco Mahfuz 29:12

that's great. But some people you're borderline I think, from getting the Mr Miyagi exam.


Travis Lachner 29:18

Getting there. But that's a that was the piece I've discovered is what marketing and branding really is becoming is developing experiences, whether that's via events, via websites via your apps or an email. Email chain can be a storytelling adventure, when executed properly. So the critical pieces that I see would be invoking curiosity. That's one of the easiest ways to at least get people going kind of on that adventure, and then some type of expectation For each email, whether it's gonna be a visual expectation, an image from your story, a call to action based expectation, each email is going to give you move you one step forward, to build your personal brand, or whatever the their journey or workflow is, but have a clear goal or mission or lane for each of those sequences. That's where it's going to be much more powerful, versus again, going too broad, or zooming out too far, a lot of people do that, and it loses touch, you lose that human element, that personality that people want. So don't be afraid to inject your personality into emails. But remember to make sure that the consumer is on a clear journey and don't lose focus of where that finish line is, and create different lanes for each of those consumers. That's a huge piece in when you start getting into a system called multi asset marketing is basically identifying these archetypes or personas and understanding which lane of emails are going to fit best for them. So lots of room for personalization. And yeah, inject your personality in whatever creative ways you can, whether it's through photos, through stories through video snippets, people just love having those tiny micro moments of relatability that just start adding up until eventually they feel like they know you, there's so many people in podcasters, and anchors and whatever like that people feel like they just know them. And I've never met them in their entire life. But they know it's like details about their kids and little personality pieces and stuff like that. So that's where the power of it really comes in is when those details start to add up.


Francisco Mahfuz 31:47

Yeah, this is a problem I don't think I'm ever gonna have, you know, an inability to inject my own personality or share personal details has never been something I've been accused of.


Travis Lachner 31:58

Yeah, on the opposite end of the spectrum, so we'll, we'll meet in the middle.


Francisco Mahfuz 32:04

But this is something I'm also again, I don't really have an understanding of it, other than my feeling for it. But for example, there are two, I get emails from from a few people that are in the storytelling world. So one of them is Kyndra. Hall, who is probably the top keynote speaker and storytelling for the last few years. And the other one is Donald Miller, who's very well known for having written a book called Building a story brands. And he's the one that gets the home codified hero's journey as a marketing approach. He obviously he invented it, but he definitely made it popular in the last few years. And Kyndra is, you know, she sends an email every week, I think, and usually, it's one of the videos that maybe she shared on social media, maybe she didn't. But up until I think the third or fourth email, there was no mention that by the way, I have a book. And I think only you know, maybe at males entertaining Melzi. Now she has some sort, of course, and she's mentioned it and whatever, don't be there, on the other hand, I think will not send he'll send you three emails with tips on how to make your website better in the fourth email is a sale or as a sales pitch. And every other email is a sales pitch, I think and after a point is just like, Okay, fine. And I don't know if there is any type of wisdom around when using email marketing is there, you know, formula for this type of thing, or is just, you know, try whatever you want, and some stuff will work and some stuff won't.


Travis Lachner 33:30

Um, I mean, there's no direct formula. Of course, there's obviously best practices, general trends. But again, this is going to start get revert just reverse engineering from that consumer, if you're laser specific on who you're helping who you're serving, that storytelling becomes so much easier. those pain points you want to hit, are always going to be top of mind because it's not something is something they're struggling with. And it's on a more relatable level. So that's typically the, I guess the formula I put together, which is kind of always shifting and has room for flexibility is everything starts with focusing on who you serve. That's the biggest piece of the puzzle. Once you focus on who you serve, you need to clarify the pain point or the problem that you solve. And once it's clear, the what you can do for them. You explain how with a story, or why one or the other, or both? That's really the the formula I kind of try and piece together is recognise the audience recognise the clear pain point and then offer the solution in the context of a story. So that's what's worked best for me as far as email marketing blogs. anything kind of text base, because you don't have a whole lot of like bonus multi like with all the other multimedia, you can have audio and video to your advantage, you just really have to clarify the story. So they see themselves in it. And then they're like, oh, okay, so all I need is to buy X and then I'll be at y. And that's really the formula I'm trying to create in email or any text based story is an a very obvious clear pain point that disappears. And that's, that's typically what resonates best. And depending on the audience that is going to change, obviously, what that pain point is and how it's resolved. But that's probably the fourth best, closest thing to a formula I have on my end.


Francisco Mahfuz 35:50

Yeah, that that's the problem with with formulas is that some people don't get that formula is, is more, it's a guiding structure or framework. It's not something set in stone, because they you need flexibility. And some stories will give themselves to being told in a certain way. And some not in a way. I've gone on LinkedIn, and said, Oh, you know, this is an AI story made simple. And I gave three basic sections of a story. So you know, you need a setup, then something changes, and then you need consequences of that change. And then someone attacked me on a now you need plot twists, you need those, like, if you write I'm writing a crime novel, and it needs plot twists, and you need to develop the characters, it's like, sure, but I can also talk about how, you know, my daughter was going crazy in the shower, because she had no toys. And then I pointed that she could use the shampoo bottles, as you know, pretended they were people or cars or whatever. She thought it was an amazing thing. And and then from that, I wish I took the moral that you know, we forget that it's our imagination, that is the most irrelevant thing. And we just need permission to play whatever, that there is a story, right? Not a great story, but a decent enough story to get my point across. But then people go oh, yes, but then these are the story doesn't fit that method. But it's no, of course not. It's just, you know, you're trying to just give something people give people something easy. So they can get started. And then they'll go well, actually, beginning middle and end. What if I put the end right at the beginning, and then work my way around? As plenty of TV shows? Do you know the what they call immediate RAS? Like Breaking Bad? Like, this is not the end but starts with Walter half naked in the desert holding? The place is coming. Right? You know, that's, that's the middle. That's not the beginning. But do you need to understand the form to you know, muck around with with the form and talking about mucking around. I wanted to touch on something before before we done, which is a completely different form of storytelling, if we want to call it that, that I have very little understanding of which is improv.


Travis Lachner 38:01

Oh man,


Francisco Mahfuz 38:02

which is one of my I must say it's a fear. I'm not afraid of it. I just hate it. I hate it of that a bit. And I just I Yeah.


Travis Lachner 38:14

Oh, man. Um, yeah, this was I was 100 100% on your team. Several years ago. I am the absolute most intense introvert you could imagine like I do not desire social situations, bars. The only time I like going out to like things like that as if like a sick artist is playing and I'm there for the music. I'm not there to socialise or drink or anything like that. So this improv world was 100% new to me. So I'll set the context there of this isn't like one of the things that I was like, oh, I want to be a hockey player. Oh, I want to produce music like this was definitely a forced kind of pushed in the pool type of situation. Thank thanks to podcasts again. When I was in downtown Denver, living I guess living my the downtown hustle struggle trying to afford the increasing rent. Every year, big piece of personal development that I kept hearing over and over in podcast was finding a way to embrace public speaking or whether it's on stage or at events or on podcast more like this, that it was one of the most valuable skills people learned. And in Lewis Howes context he had done like Toastmasters. And I had heard from other people like go that's like a similar situation. Similar goal but very, like much more formal like they teach you to like how to toast pretty much how to write speeches, how to speak at conferences, etc. And it was like A bit too much like too formal. But I had a moment listening to a podcast where I was just crippled with social anxiety wasn't going out wasn't really developing any personal or professional relationships and was listening to a podcast where a guy was telling a story, very relatable story in the exact same thing. He was like I was living downtown New York, for so long, I didn't have any friends wasn't interacting. And he mentioned and then I signed up for improv. And as he was like, mentioning that I was walking home from work, and I was walking under the Voodoo improv theatre. And it was just one of those moments in life where it was just too, too much of a coincidence to pass it up. And it was like, I think the second or third time I had heard about improv, so I signed up for those classes, the moment I went home, and I assumed I was just gonna bail on it. I mean, I thought I was gonna be like, maybe I'll go the first couple sessions, and like you, I was gonna be like, just super turned off by it. And I certainly was the first couple times like, it's forced social interaction. And at the beginning, I hated it. I am 100%. With you, I hated it. It was everything I did not desire, in social situations, forced. And after a while, what really flipped the switch for me was having a good teacher. So the teachers kind of changed each course. So assumed I was just going to go and quit, but actually made it through the first eight weeks, Graduated, went to the next level, did it again, Next Level did it again next level. And what really finally connected the dots for me was the concept of forced mindfulness. When you are on stage and improv stage, you have no choice. But to be truly, truly, in that moment, you can't be thinking about stuff that happened earlier in the day, you can't be thinking about planning a witty one liner or some shit like that, it's always gonna fail. You just have to bring yourself to the moment. And it's you have no option but to get in the zone. A lot of people call it flow state. There's lots of like psychology behind it. But I hadn't been to that space in a while since I played hockey or was producing music. Those are the only instances I had discovered that. But improv was a push into the pool that really showed me the power of mindfulness. So there's this kind of meta philosophical thing going on with improv that really attracted tracted me to it, have, in a way, improv is our life, we have one scene that we can live our life from start to finish. And at the end of the day, nobody really gives a shit, what happens or happens. So it's on you to enjoy the hell out of that moment. So that was the biggest piece I discovered from improv. And then I guess the the actual storytelling element within it is a whole nother journey. Because, like you mentioned, there's so many people that want to write the story and add plot twists and add one liners. But the best absolute best improv stories and scenes are ones that just, you couldn't write them, you couldn't hire the best writers in the world to write a scene like this. So just being in the moment and creating that structure for a story to unfold, was really a lot more powerful than the first couple of weeks or months I was in there. You just, you think of like stand up comedy, you kind of compare it to that, like, Oh, I'm gonna write a think of something hilarious and jump in and say it and then that's like, totally, totally not how improv works at all. It's about being present, listening, and just bringing yourself into that moment and continuously evolving. And eventually it develops a story. And sometimes it's awful. That's the kind of the brilliance of improv, I think is it creates a moment that couldn't be written otherwise. And sometimes it's brilliant. Sometimes it's awful. Sometimes it's middle of the road, but that's kind of the beauty of it is regardless of if it tanks or if it was super successful. It's the exact same structure the exact same moment, over and over and then it disappears. That's the beauty of it is once an improv scene is gone. That story disappears. It lives in a few people's minds forever, but it's not written. It's not recorded. It's not filmed. It's just a moment in life that 10 2050 people in a room shared and then disappears. And there's to me, there's just something brilliant about that experience. And that unexpectedness that you just couldn't write, even if you hired the best writers in the world. So it's, I think it's all about structure. But similar to how we were trying to get into email formulas. Improv is about setting up the lanes for a story to unfold. And a lot of the time, it's more about listening than talking. So that might be the lesson for extrapolating into the business world is focus and invest more time on listening than on writing or developing the story and see how see how that works out.


Francisco Mahfuz 45:37

I think it's very, I think beautiful is the word that comes to mind is this idea of, of the shared experience that that is not captured, which is something that is very rare nowadays, in our world. And this is a big kind of fight. But there is a continuous argument I have with with my friends or my wife, whereas this, this constant urge to have to record everything. You know, as soon as something looks like it might be interesting, then a phone is out and someone is trying to record it. And I think I'm going to continue with something that is becoming a bit of a tradition, which is guests of mine, give me something wonderful. And that should be the moment to end and then I feel the need to add some of my some of my usual nonsense. It's that I don't like improv, even though I have competed on the Toastmasters version of improv, which is improvised speeches when they just give you a topic and you have to run with it, have competed have won the Nationals and stuff. But there's this game I played the other day, which I guess takes a tiny bit of improv. Any was it's a sort of after dinner game. And it was sex with me is like, and then people from the group who just shout stuff at you chew things in you incorporate those things and reply. So I played this for the first time in a Christmas party, and then someone's had sex with me, it's like and someone shouted, chicken and the other one said, burrito. And then I thought about that for about 10 seconds and said, sex is me. Sex With me is like a chicken burrito. It looks good from the outside. As you're going through it, you think, hmm, I thought I would enjoy this more. The next day, you definitely regret it.


Travis Lachner 47:25

Nailed it. Nailed it. But see, you couldn't write that without those those anchor points and those that sit in your room for weeks. I mean, maybe you, but it's just no, that's brilliant. Well played,


Francisco Mahfuz 47:39

I think, I think but I think it also might be and this is this is very true with me. I don't need a psychiatrist to tell me that. One of the reasons I have a problem with improv and I think a lot of people would have a problem with improv is because I don't feel I'm that good at it. And it's one of the reasons why I much prefer the chance to, to rehearse and practice any public speaking than to just do it off the cuff. I know, I'm not as good off the cuff as I am when I had time to think about structure and what I'm going to say and which story I'm going to tell. But I guess that's true for everything in life. If you're good at it, you just have to enjoy it more. If a lot of the fear, I guess comes from embarrassing herself from not being good at all.


Travis Lachner 48:21

That's yeah, I think a big piece of it is group dynamics as well. That whole concept of I guess being good at at improv is largely due, I think, to the group group dynamics, even the world's I guess, objectively most skilled, best improper with the wrong group of people can really go a different direction. So there might be a piece of the puzzle in there. I mean, not that I'm an advocate for you jumping back in there, I haven't hopped back in in a while but of trying it with a different group of people that energy might be way different. I noticed that throughout my experience of at the beginning, it was just absolutely awful, regardless of who I was with, and by the end, became more of like a selective thing, like similar to in how I think you just


Francisco Mahfuz 49:17

described my romantic life. Yeah. It was also at the beginning.


Travis Lachner 49:26

Well, it's it's learning Yeah, learning your own, your own vibes, who you work well with, you don't work well with. But that's kind of what I equate it to. Because just everything in my life has had some type of collaborative piece whether you're a hockey player, you vibe with somebody that's on your line, like that's a really good moment to zero in on as a producer when you have a pop star or a vocalist that is just like on the same frequency as you. It just everything starts to click it works better. So that's kind of the equation I start to see with improv teams is a certain amount of it is just creating dynamic energy of two or three people that are just electric together regardless of what they're doing. But yeah, that social social element is definitely a huge piece of it that I did not I was not enjoying jumping on stage in front of a bunch of people, like I worked in Denver, and like, new decent amount of people. So that was always in the back of my head, like, Oh, God, like are people you know, here. So it definitely takes a while to get past that whole peer anxiety. But a lot of it's desensitising yourself to it. So it created a new, I mean, not a different person, but it created, it allowed me to step into a more confident version of myself. So I'm grateful for it. But I've certainly done your time. May I've done I paid my dues. I could probably survive on stage if I had to. But yeah, I'm not like going out of my way for it. So that was one of those kind of double dip. It was personal and professional development. But it ended up being I gained a lot of friends, lots of that higher level thinking that social philosophy has been really helpful to carry with me through life. So super grateful for it, but completely understand your side of it. Don't worry.


Francisco Mahfuz 51:30

On that note, this is a question that's not really easy to answer. I'm not sure how easy it is to answer for you. Now, where can people find you?


Travis Lachner 51:37

I am currently only on LinkedIn. I've kind of gone all in on LinkedIn this year, typically not the social media content poster, Gary Vee style type of dude, but I realise and recognise the value of it. The mission I'm on right now is definitely heavily focused on the LinkedIn community. So that's what I am currently focusing on right now is LinkedIn world and more than happy to connect with anybody and everybody there. And yeah,


Francisco Mahfuz 52:10

I guess that by the time this comes out, which will be in a few weeks, maybe there'll be some action on bisnode.com as well,


Travis Lachner 52:17

there definitely will be. I've had my COVID clarity, as I call it. Over the last couple months. Once Once the clients client side of things had the chance to pause, I really kind of came into what exactly I'm going to be doing these next few years. I've been putting it off for a long time. But I've really found my calling in serving artists and athletes and executives that really have a blockage of creative energy. So I'm on the mission to unleash the world's creative energy, check out V beast node.com We have a lot of meaningful media coming into production. So podcast, web shows, video shows all designed for personal and professional development for content creators, any aspiring influencers. So that's been a really fun project I'm bringing to life as we speak literally as we speak, as you've kind of seen same things on LinkedIn over the weeks. So staying adaptable, staying flexible, but more than happy to have anybody and everybody along for the journey.


Francisco Mahfuz 53:28

Perfect. Travis, thank you very much for your time. Best of luck getting the getting the new project off the ground. And while I'm sure we'll be seeing you around LinkedIn as as we do,


Travis Lachner 53:39

most definitely. Thank you, Francisco.


Francisco Mahfuz 53:43

Alright everybody. Thanks for tuning in. Take care of yourselves. And until next time



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