E25. The Stories Entrepreneurs Need to Tell with Jason Reid
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Francisco Mahfuz 0:00
Hi everyone, Francisco here. Just before we get started, I wanted to share something I'm really excited about. I recently launched the story powers bootcamp, a course that teaches you everything you need to know about how to find craft and tell stories that work. But it's not just an online course, because you get personalised feedback from me for all the practical activities in three hours of life coaching to work through any challenges, or focus on specific projects. So it's like if you bought a cookbook, but the chef came along with it. So go to story powers.com and click on Course, all the information you need will be there. So please check it out. And if you love the show, and would like to support us, you can go to buy me a coffee.com forward slash story powers. I drink about five coffees a day, so any support would be much appreciated. All right on with the show.
Welcome to the story powers podcast, the show about the power of stories, the people who tell them and why you should be doing it too. I'm your host, keynote speaker and storytelling coach Francisco first. My guest today is Jason Reed. Jason's a professional speaker and award winning storyteller. With more than 30 years experience creating powerful true life tales for television, movies and the stage. He's also a man who hates the ancient Greeks. Ladies and gentlemen, Jason Reed. Jason, welcome to the show.
Jason Reid 1:31
Thank you very much Francisco, I can see you've done your homework.
Francisco Mahfuz 1:35
I have to go that it's it's coalesced into an actual go after the last few episodes I recorded where the line I tend to get often is I have never been introduced like that. I give tried to find something interesting. That is going to catch my guest a bit a bit off topic. So just so this is not hanging in the air. Do you want to just explain to everyone listening? Why do you hate the ancient Greeks?
Jason Reid 2:01
Yes, well, it's interesting, because, you know, we treat so many things today, as if they were brand new. But if you if you go back and you look at the ancient Greeks who did, you know, obviously, they they almost invented public speaking. I mean, rhetoric was like a huge art form for them. Most of the key rules of persuasion and also storytelling, go back to them. So you know, as, as somebody, you know, several 1000 years afterwards, trying to come up with something new whenever I think I've got Oh, okay, I've got this new concept. I go back like, yeah, the ancient Greeks.
Francisco Mahfuz 2:36
First, there's something I've talked about on the podcast before, but it's a similar pain of, you know, thinking you've stumbled upon something genius, and then being told that that's not quite original. So I wrote and published a public speaking book recently. And the whole, the whole purpose of it, and it was called, bear a guy to brutally honest public speaking can remember the name of my own book. And then I was talking about this whole brutally honest thing. And then I stumbled upon, you know, the importance of being vulnerable on stage. And I and I said, someone listen, I, I think there's something to this, you know, the power of vulnerability thing, and they're like, oh, yeah, the Brene Brown thing. I was like, Whoa, it's like, yes. Brene. Brown. So yeah, so I can relate to being disappointed that something genius that you think you've discovered, and has been, has been discovered, discovered before?
Jason Reid 3:28
Exactly. And, you know, I should have been prepared for that. Because for a while, in my 20s, I was writing movie scripts for Hollywood. And or at least, I was writing them attempting to sell them, I became neither rich nor famous. But one of the challenges is, everybody thinks that their screenplay is totally original. But once you're once you're down there, once you start reading and realising there are just like literally hundreds of 1000s of screenplays out there, almost all of them are based on a lot of the same ideas. So there is actually very little that's original, the best I think, that we can do is to come up with a twist that's inherently our own. I think
Francisco Mahfuz 4:07
there was there's the famous book, save the cat. And there's a few others along the same ideas of what are the basic plots that most movies making. And I find that the surprising thing about that is, even if you know that a lot of movies are based on some variation of the hero's journey, it's incredible how you can still watch a whole and then a Pixar movie and not catch it that it's exactly the same structure every single time. And if it's too obvious, then dangerous thing. I think I've seen a movie like this before, but but if the writers have half a clue of what they're doing, you just don't spot it, or just fuse. Oh, yes, this move is working. I think in the brain doesn't seem to we've internalised the structure, but we don't seem to see it when it's, you know, literally flashing in front of our eyes.
Jason Reid 4:57
Exactly. And this is even more important. When we're communicating to persuade, whether it's in a talk or whether it's even in a documentary or a commercial, is, if we don't do a really good job of the craft of the little things of getting people engaged, people start seeing the structure, they start seeing what's in it for us as the storyteller, as opposed to what's in it for them, the audience. So I think this is really, really key structure is hugely important, but you don't want people to see too much of it.
Francisco Mahfuz 5:27
Hmm. You I'll jump on the I want to talk about the structure. But you talked about your TV work before. So what I wanted to ask is, I believe you were writing comedy, right?
Jason Reid 5:38
Yes. So I've written comedy in terms of writing monologues writing jokes, I wrote some comedic screenplays. And then also in television, I spent a lot of my time actually writing and producing news and information programmes. So reality type programmes when I say reality, I don't necessarily mean like reality shows button, again, sort of news documentary, that sort of thing as well,
Francisco Mahfuz 6:00
what what we used to call reality. Exactly. Because, yeah, because when I knew that some of your background was in TV comedy, and and and I was just curious about that, because what I had no idea is if you were a part of a group of writers, as I believe you were, at least in the beginning of your career, were you in charge in charge of just writing, humour and coming up with jokes and funny one liners, or were you more involved with the plot of those those shows as well,
Jason Reid 6:30
it depends on the show the the actual shows, specific shows that I worked on that were already established, before I got there were very much joke writing. So basically, what you would have is five to 10. People, they would all be writing jokes, a lot of times because it was a live show that the jokes would be based on kind of the the news or what was going on that day. And then there would be a head writer or producer who would go and select which jokes they were going to run and in which order. So that's a very sort of collaborative medium. When I was writing the scripts on my own, they were mostly sample scripts for me to get work elsewhere. And the one thing I found interesting with that was actually I had an opportunity to work possibly on this, this this big Canadian show, and the producer said, Okay, we're gonna need a couple of sample scripts first. So this is back in the 1990s, I think the two most popular comedies were the Simpsons and Seinfeld, and they're extremely well written shows. And here's the interesting thing, they are so well written that they're actually easy to write for. situation comedies are such that once the characters are established, as a writer, you really just have to kind of come up with a situation and have the characters act as the characters would normally act based on their personality. And it's was actually surprisingly easy, at least to do one for each. So that's one of the things that I found interesting. Again, the stronger your characters are, if you have characters, and each character has a different personality, coming up with a situation, in some ways, is really all you need to do and the characters do the rest.
Francisco Mahfuz 8:09
So what you're saying is that writing the characters, and perhaps character development is significantly more difficult than just coming up with situations that would be expected of that character to fall into or to behave in a certain way.
Jason Reid 8:24
Exactly, exactly. If you I mean, and this is particularly important in television and situation comedies, the important thing is laying the groundwork of who are those characters? And how did they react to certain situations? That's the really important part. And that's, that's the part I think the requires the most skill. And then the rest of it becomes more of okay, what's the situation? And then the writers getting into those characters heads?
Francisco Mahfuz 8:51
Hmm. So you did a lot of review work and your experience is broader than I had understood it to be. Now, what I wanted to understand from your point of view, because I don't know that many people that are now doing what we do that have TV background, what would you say are the major differences between trying to write story in the types of formats that you will use to interview and compare that to business storytelling?
Jason Reid 9:14
Yes. So business storytelling, I think the big difference with business storytelling is the fact that you really have to view the stories as tools. One of the things that I see happening a lot, especially here in Canada, and here in Toronto, where we have this huge speaking community. Before COVID, there were several events, literally a month where people would would get up and speak and some of them were like, you know, 250 to 300 seat venues that would be packed every single night. And what I found with those stories is what was really missing was not the inspiration, and not people being vulnerable, but it was sort of what's the point of the story, and particularly in business storytelling. It's really Not about the story, it's about the message that you want to send. The story is really a delivery vehicle for the message. So So here's how I get my clients to look at it. The message is what you're delivering to the audience. So think of it as an ice cream. And the story is the ice cream truck. And at least here in North America, I mean, the the ice cream truck is like legendary, where, you know, it comes down the street, it's really colourful, it plays a song, and suddenly everybody is excited about the ice cream. So that's really what your story is, is a way to get people excited about your your message, it's that vehicle to deliver that ice cream cone, which is, which shouldn't be a message that is clear enough that you can articulate it in a sentence. And that's where I think the biggest thing is for businesses is not just coming up with a good story, but figuring out, okay, what's the message we want to send first, and then what's the best story to send that that message. And once you have sort of an overall brand story, you can then come up with other stories for different situations. So that you know, there's if there's different obstacles to sale that you may have, you can come up with a story for each and every one of them to bring down those obstacles so that people end up buying into your idea, or your product or service.
Francisco Mahfuz 11:10
I love the ice cream analogy. And coincidentally, I think just a couple of days ago, I put out a video where I compared facts to ice cubes. You know, they're the shiny, they're hard, they have a very clear shape, but not for long. And he put a few of them together and give it some time, they just becomes an indistinct white mass. And then the story in this case is the ice tray. As much as the facts themselves might, you know get a little wobbly after a while you can still see their shape. And and remember what they used to look like. Yeah, interesting that the ice related metaphor
Jason Reid 11:45
was, and one of the things I really liked about your metaphor is you know, particularly if you're doing a talk, whether it's a sales presentation, or whatever chances are, you have a few points that you're trying to get across. And by having that ice cube tray, it helps people remember each distinct story, which helps them remember each distinct point. And if it was a factor or a point that we're trying to remember, it would be challenging. But because it's in story form, it becomes much more easy.
Francisco Mahfuz 12:11
Yeah. And it also makes it easy to use as props because you can carry around the nice Ray and you'll get ice and an ice bucket pretty much any anywhere you're going to speak. And that's true. You mentioned stories as a way to bring down objections. Now, I have heard you tell a story about our electric outlet to tell that story. But it's a story that I found method I found very interesting, which is the idea of using a story of failure from you to avoid other people making the same mistake. So I think this was the story when you told essentially, when you had the chance to go into stand up comedy effectively, right?
Jason Reid 12:51
That's right. Yes. So this was actually a very effective story for me. And it wasn't one that I started telling until I realised that I had a need that I needed this tool. So just to give you a bit of context, I had moved from general business coaching to specifically coaching entrepreneurs on how to speak about their business and do presentations. And one of the objections that I hadn't counted on that I probably should have was the fact that there's a lot of people out there that are kind of scared to step into the spotlight. They're actually scared to speak get in front of the room. I figured that generally if they were coming to see me, and I was talking about speaking that they were already sold on the idea and I thought, you know, I realised but the hard way, it's like no, no, there's still these objections here. So I thought, Okay, I need a story. That's true, that I can go into my past and talk about that will help overcome the objection of stepping into the spotlight. So I started telling the story about you know, in the early 1990s, when I worked as a comedy writer on this Canadian show called Friday night with Ralph Ben Burgi. And I absolutely loved working on this show, my first comedy writing gig. And I was able to sit in the audience because it was live here. People laugh at my jokes, I go home. This is like in the 90s. So I had, you know, old VHS machine and I would play it back and forth the monologue and hear people laugh at my jokes. I love this job. And the unfortunate thing was after the first season, because the ratings were low, everybody behind the scenes was fired. And I needed to impress the the new producer to start writing again to get my job back. And the new producer was a guy by the name of Mark Breslin, who in Canada ran this huge chain of comedy clubs, and he was probably the most powerful man in Canadian entertainment at that time. So I knew I had my work cut out for me. Anyways, I had a whole bunch of jokes. I sent him the the jokes to his office and I get this phone call. And I suddenly hear Mark Breslin, you know, saying, Hey, Jason is Mark Breslin here just looking at your material. You're a pretty funny guy. And I'm thinking yes, yes, he likes my stuff I'm in and there was a long pause. And then he said, So how come I don't know you? And I realised what he meant because he knew All the comedians in Canada and I wasn't a comedian, I was just writing. Because that's what I wanted to do the idea at that time in my life of going out in front of a bunch of strangers and trying to get them to, like me, like, was just like horrible, like, who'd want to do that, which is funny, because it's what I'm doing now. But at the at the time, I was just like, you know, Mark, sorry, I don't want to be a comedian, I just want to write. And he said, you know, Jason, you can't create a career in in comedy, particularly in Canada, just writing he said, I'll tell you what, we got new talent night, at the club on Sunday, come down, I'm gonna be there, do a few minutes of your material, if you're any good at all. And I'm sure you will be I will book you immediately and put you in the clubs, which is like an amazing offer from a guy like this. And I said, No, because I did not want to, I did not want to get up on that stage. And there is this long pause. And then I heard him say, said, Jason, if you are not willing to step in the spotlight, you are not taking this business seriously. And you're wasting my time. And he hung up. And I was like, devastated. There went my dream job. But I was also very stubborn. It's like, No, I'm not going on stage. So I ended up working behind the scenes in, in television, doing a lot of interview shows, and actually booking a lot of of speakers and experts. And what I started realising was that the experts that got the attention, the experts that got the great clients, the experts who wrote the books weren't necessarily the best people in their fields. And, you know, do use an example of this, I always say, you know, is Dr. Phil, the best psychologist ever in the history of the world by far? And, you know, we hope no, chances are, chances are probably not nothing against Dr. Phil, but he's probably not the best in the world ever by far. But he has made the most money and has the most fame by far because he chose to step into the spotlight. And when I left TV to become an entrepreneur, I started realising that that the world had changed, and that Mark Breslin was a visionary. Because when he had said, if you're not willing to step in the spotlight, you're not taking this business seriously, when he said that in the 90s, he met the entertainment business. But I can tell you now and in 2020, that this applies to all businesses, particularly if you're any sort of expert or consultant, if you are not willing to step into the spotlight, get up on stage or get in front of that room and speak about what you do. Your Competition will. And those are the people who are going to get the clients, those are the people are going to get the attention. And those are the people who are going to have the influence.
Francisco Mahfuz 17:32
I think this is one of the one of the cases that has been that has been made on a regular basis, or was until a few months ago by by Ted Talks. Because you know, who is the foremost authority in vulnerability in the world? Brene. Brown? Now Is she really she really have no idea. But everybody assumes she is and she was one of the most, the best better, well paid speakers in the world. Now, does anyone? Does anyone understand leadership? Better than Simon Sinek, I'll probably sink so. But he can write the books in speak. And that makes a massive difference. So yeah, we don't know how things are gonna shake out after we were out of this COVID situation. But the person who is willing to stand up and present whatever expertise they have, I think it's almost always going to be more valued, at least financially, and perhaps more recognised than the person who has the expertise, but just can't communicate it or won't communicate it.
Jason Reid 18:32
Absolutely. And I think there's an even larger issue now, particularly in North America, with the scientific community, because, you know, as we've seen a lot of a lot of science and especially now with with with COVID, as well, a lot of people are questioning science. And, you know, the scientific community really has to start doing a better job of communicating in a way that the average person understands. Because if they don't understand it, then they're going to reject it. And that's what's happening. So interestingly enough, Allen all the the, the actor from mash, is actually doing a podcast. And he's basically, you know, in the latter part of his life, his mission now is actually helping scientists and researchers and the people who actually know their stuff, be able to communicate it to the public a lot better, because I think that's becoming really important for everyone, regardless of what we do.
Francisco Mahfuz 19:28
So how did you kiss because that story tells you of when you made the mistake, and then use that story to tell it so other people don't make the same mistake you did. But you are a speaker now. So at some point, you got over that obstacle of I don't want to be on stage. I understand not being not wanting to be a stand up comedian, which I think in some ways is significantly tougher than being a speaker. But did you have any resistance against speaking as well? Or was it just a stand up comedy you didn't fancy doing?
Jason Reid 19:55
I think what happened to me I think the difference in part was a And I also think it was, you know, being in television being around so many people who were stepping into the spotlight, I think, I think some of that wore off. So, you know, there's probably a better a 20 year 20 year difference between, you know, the me that didn't want to go on stage and the meat that I did become a speaker. So I don't know if there was any one particular thing. But I think, again, part of it was seeing that the people who were experts weren't not not saying they're not smart, but they weren't perfect. And that was also part of it, too, this idea that if I got on stage, I would have to be perfect, whether it would be a stand up comedian, or a speaker. And, you know, once I realised that that wasn't the case, then it became, I think, a lot easier for me to decide to do that.
Francisco Mahfuz 20:50
I find that point very interesting, this idea of needing to be perfect, because I come from a Toastmasters background. And and I have a lot of friends who are trying to get into the speaker business. And I've heard this from many of them, which is, you know, I'm not sure I'm good enough as a speaker, to be a speaker. And and the more I looked into it, and the more I studied in, the more I started, you know, speaking in northern arenas that have nothing to do with Toastmaster and watching other speakers, I came to the conclusion that it's the opposite, that the problem with most I'm going to call them public speakers, or both, as opposed to professional speakers, is that public speakers learn a whole bunch of stuff about technique, that one is not that important. And to unless they're absolute masters of that craft makes them come across a bit robotic. So what I find when I see good professional speakers is that they just talk like normal people, and they have very good content, then, you know, there's all the opposite. They're stagecraft. And there's other things to it. But what the reason is this perfection of the never Aminah, you know, their gestures are all functional, every bit of movement on stage has a very specific purpose. And then people go that, you know, they go this way, they go one way when it should have gone, the other is like, no, no, no, stop worrying about technique on stage. And just make sure your content makes sense. And you can remember it and that's it.
Jason Reid 22:18
Oh, yeah, I can, I can spot it Toastmasters train speaker a mile away, as a lot of us can, if we're in that area, and it there's nothing inherently wrong with Toastmasters. And it's nice to have to learn a certain amount of discipline, and also get the opportunity to speak on a regular basis. But the challenges and you just heard me say, um, there is there are a lot of things that Toastmasters teaches that well is somewhat important, kind of misses the mark, the mark is really being able to persuade people with how you speak. And a lot of times that comes from, you know, again, things like being vulnerable, having a good story, having really good content, I am an all the time like I would I would probably, you know, rate very low on the Toastmasters scale. But I'm not trying to rate high on the Toastmasters scale, my my purpose is always very different. And understanding, you know, going back to stories being a tool speaking as a tool to so whenever I get up on stage or in front of a room, what I'm thinking of is not well don't Aminata Jason and make sure you do this that the other thing, it's, you know, what do I want to show of myself? And particularly what does my audience need to hear want to hear? What do I? What do I need them to hear? Because it's really about your audience, and also what you're looking to get from that speaking opportunity. And if you concentrate more on that, as opposed to the other stuff, you'll find you're just a lot more relaxed, and things just work better.
Francisco Mahfuz 23:49
Yeah, I've I've described this to people as the focus is content is not the delivery, as long as you can get the content out there and the content is strong enough, it's going to do the job. I don't think anyone with weak content, but you know, flawless delivery, whatever flawless delivery looks like is ever going to be considered a good professional speaker. Because that's not what you're being judged on. Nobody's going to say, Oh, wow. A master of the of the stage. I don't think I've heard a single useful thing that whole hour. But wow, he speaks well.
Jason Reid 24:23
And, you know, I would also add inspiration to that. And it's funny because one of the things that I spoke on when I first started speaking, because I've had Crohn's disease and arthritis since I was a kid is I've often spoken on, you know, overcoming chronic illness and telling some inspirational stories. But I find there's just so much emphasis on inspiration now and everybody's got a story. But there's what's missing is that content behind it. It's like, okay, if people are inspired by you, what's that step that they have to take? What are those concrete things? And what I'm finding again, particularly here in Toronto, was there's this huge sort of amateur speaking community. And I'm plugged into that. And I'm also plugged into the professional speaking community. And sometimes they collide. And it's funny watching one of these younger speakers who I'm sitting with one of the older professional guys, and they're all going, Well, yeah, this is a good story, but like, what's it's about what am I learning? And one of the other things that I sometimes do in my, in my work is helping speakers market themselves. And with a lot of these speakers who are who become very popular, they win contest, they have viral videos, they come to me wanting to have that professional speaking career. And it's like, okay, well, what do you speak about? What's your content? What are you actually delivering? And there's nothing there. So, you know, or
Francisco Mahfuz 25:43
wars. There's the I can speak about anything? Yeah.
Jason Reid 25:48
Yeah. Speak about everything that you're speaking about? Nothing really.
Francisco Mahfuz 25:51
Yeah. Yeah. I wanted to go back to something you said earlier. So I know you work with, with entrepreneurs and with business owners, and if I understand correctly, one of the things you help them do is to figure it out, I think you've called that story of failure of yours. I've seen you call it somewhere your six figure story. And understand you help business owners entrepreneurs figured out their story. So I wanted to ask about that process. How does that look like?
Jason Reid 26:20
Yeah, that's a great question. So the first question is always, who is your audience? Because the story is always about the audience. It's never really about you. And then the other question is, what's your what's your message, figuring out? What message do you want or need to send to that audience? The third step becomes the structure and the clarity. It's like, okay, once you identify the story, how do we tell that story in five to 10 sentences, like, you know, really, really short. Because once you have that, once you understand the story arc, and you get the right plot points, then the next step is to add the entertainment value. That's when you're adding scenes and dialogue and having characters and that sort of thing. So it's, it's that process of really starting at the beginning, figuring out, okay, what do you want, beginning with the end in mind, having that tight structure, being able to again, communicate that quickly, and then building that out. So you have something that's, again, entertaining, that's engaging, that the audience will see themselves and hopefully has some humour or some drama, all that sort of stuff?
Francisco Mahfuz 27:28
I know you do some of this work, live, because you know, of, I think I'm on your mailing list. I've seen you advertise sort of a masterclass type of thing. So where do you normally sort of what questions do you ask to get that story out of them? Because surely there has to be a way to find that story fast or the master class? problematic. But where do you where do you think, are from experience where most of the stories are found?
Jason Reid 27:56
Yes. So in my experience, at least the the people that come to my masterclasses, I find that they usually already have some ideas of what their story or stories are. Sometimes I throw them a bit because again, it's not always about you. It's really about what do you need the audience to know. So what usually happens is they have an idea of what their story is. And once they hear me explain the idea of storytelling to sell and overcoming objections and things like that, suddenly that story changes. So it may still be the basic arc, but what people learn from that story is different. Because they realise they have to target the message of that story towards the audience and towards lowering audience objections. So, again, I think people are storytelling machines. And I think one of the things that I really do is I give a lot of examples. And I try to really break it down to make it easier on their brains to think of stuff. And once they do once I get them relaxed. And once I give them those examples, it usually comes sometimes people will say, Okay, I've got this story or that story. And usually, once we determine what the purpose of the story is, it becomes very easy to figure out which one of those we're going to do
Francisco Mahfuz 29:14
to get a bit more into the weeds of this. So there's this I mean, some people will argue that there's dozens, if not hundreds of types of stories, but but there's some broader categories. So it's very common to find some type of origin story or founder story. And then there is one that is more you know, about the value you add are the people you help or serve. And then some are more about purpose. Do you tend to find that when you're helping an entrepreneur or a business owner, does it tend to come out more often than not as an origin story? Or is it more about you know, the customers that they help and or the purpose maybe?
Jason Reid 29:48
Yeah, so my view is, and I really liked the fact that you mentioned that we all have lots of stories. So what I find with a lot of story coaches is they're very heavy on the origin. story or the brand story, and that's all that they do. But you're really shortchanging yourself, if that's the only story you focus on. Because, again, you know, people will have objections to sale and having stories that illustrate points and overcome objections to sale in some ways is actually more important than that, then the origin story. So it really depends on the person for some clients, I will help them create four or five or six stories. So we create an origin story. And then we look at different objections to sale or the different, you know, if, particularly if they're a consultant or an expert. It's like, how does your view of this problem differ from your company or competitions, right? So if they say, oh, it's emphasising X, instead of y, it's like, okay, we need a story about X, how did X work for you, or how did X work for your client. So really, for most entrepreneurs, to for it to be most effective, you need sort of that suite of stories, you need the origin story, but you need to also be clear on what your message is, what your key points are, and have stories for those too. One of the biggest problems of the origin story is it tends to be about the entrepreneur rather than the audience. So the more you can get the audience to see you and make it universal, when you're telling that story, the better that origin story is going to be.
Francisco Mahfuz 31:19
Yeah, I think the the typical approach, or objective of that is, you know, if you're pitching investors, and their objection is you, you know, why should we trust you, the origin story is very much comes into its own, because that's the only thing they want to know and why you should be the person that we're going to give money to, because we you know, with entrepreneurs, it's common that whatever project you're starting, it's not the project to end up with. So perhaps it doesn't make a great deal of sense to talk about the the, the specific customers you help. But my experience has been that often, just as smaller stories of something that gave you the insight or something that a client realised, those sometimes you can tell in a minute, a minute and a half, will do a lot more heavy lifting for you than the than the you know, the grand origin story. I totally agree. Easy to tell, they're easier to tell.
Jason Reid 32:11
Yeah, and you know, that's, that's what I found over the years is, again, those smaller stories, those things that people can relate to, are the real gold. And in some ways, they're hidden gold, because those aren't the stories often that people are telling, they want the big grandiose, I overcame this sort of thing, and that they want to distil their entire lives into a story. And that's a very human thing to do. But it's not very effective, where, like you say, the stories that you can tell quickly, the stories that are about maybe smaller, but more universal problems are really where the where that where the gold is. So I would definitely stress that,
Francisco Mahfuz 32:49
because I you know, I tend towards HaileMariam and nonsense and absurd situations. What I really love is if I can find some, some really strange situation that happened with me, but relatable, that I can just get an insight. I know, I know that, you know, whether that's what I learned or whatever, I learned that I shouldn't take myself so seriously or in then turn that into into a more client related point or business point, identifying those a lot easier to tell in a lot more interesting, then, sort of the case study that is told as a story. You know, also because if you're not very skillful, do people see those coming a mile away? And after you heard the first is like, oh, no, I can see what you're doing there.
Jason Reid 33:34
Yeah, I know, one of my more more popular stories, it actually I really, probably can't tell it here because it ends up I use it to explain a lot of the things that I teach in terms of making your story entertaining, so it sort of kind of ballooned sometimes to 15 minutes. But it's this story about the first big paid speaking gig that I actually had, and I end up just before my plane is about to leave, I rushed to use the washroom and I don't realise that I'm actually in the women's washroom. So I'm standing in the stall, it's like, empty, and suddenly, I hear click, click, click of high heels and all these women's voices, and I'm hearing me being paged that my plane is about to leave nothing, oh, my God, I'm gonna miss my speech. I'm going to be arrested because I'm at the airport and the women's washroom. And I tell this story, and it's obviously not a story about Wow, how great I am. It's just about, you know, a silly thing that, you know, can happen to all of us. And it really lowers people's word I'm looking for here, you know, people people come in when you're a speaker, and you know, sometimes even see it, you know, where they have the Crossed arms and everything else and like, well, you're gonna teach me well, it will see what you have. But you're right, if you tell kind of an absurd story, or a story with some humour or a story, that's kind of self effacing that just kind of you know, lowers that internal block to you. If people suddenly become open to you because they realise Oh, Okay, this isn't a guy who's just gonna come in and tell me how amazing he is. I think everybody's like really sick of that these days.
Francisco Mahfuz 35:06
Well, it's, it's, we're back to the to the to the vulnerability point where perhaps without the, you know, the waterworks, it's just, you know, Hi, I'm an idiot, I make mistakes, you know, I'm no, I'm not a special guy, I just happen to be here on stage telling you something. And I think, you know, it's the it's on the mistakes and on the failures that people recognise themselves more, you know, you, you're worried about something, you're afraid of something you've messed up. Because you know, and I've said this many times before, is, I'm sure that if you're up there, head tall, talking about all your achievements, there might be one guy in the audience was a bit of a of a jerk going, I totally relate to that. I'm also an achiever. But most people are just thinking you're a knob, what what are you doing? They will like you.
Jason Reid 35:54
Yeah, and you know, this gets even more important when you're selling, particularly if what you're selling is something that's embarrassing. So I'll give you a quick example of this. I worked with a lady who she was a financial expert, and she helped people through bankruptcy. Now, the challenge with speaking to sell when you're somebody who's an expert in bankruptcy, is people are obviously embarrassed about it. They don't kind of want to be seen as somebody who would need someone like that. And, you know, they're just probably not not in a very good headspace about themselves. And this is one of the things that impedes action keeps people from doing something. So I found out from her that the reason she really got into doing this work was when she was in her 20s, she ended up in this financial mess and was bankrupt. So we actually made that part of her story, so that the audience could relate to her. But the important part of that story was, you know, and when you're telling stories like this is, that was me that, and I've learned something from that. And now that I'm past that, I can also help you.
Francisco Mahfuz 37:01
Right, I've seen I've seen, I think it's from Sean Callaghan's book, putting putting stories to work. And he has seen this is not his descriptive explanation. But it seems someone explained the story this way, Meet Bob, he's just like you, he has a problem that makes him feel bad, he's now found the solution and he feels better, don't you want to feel like Bob, which is a beautiful structure. And I think in that example, it's it's your Bob, in that example. But ya know, I do think it's important, I've got a background in finance, I think it's very important. If you're using yourself, as the example of someone who messed up their finances, that story needs to turn, he can't be doing that.
Jason Reid 37:44
And that's, that's also the same for emotional stories. So obviously, there's a lot of people out there doing work as coaches around, you know, whether it's divorce, or you know, leaving your narcissistic husband or whatever, there's a lot of people are telling these emotional stories. And it's really important to be beyond that, like, if you get up there and are telling your story, and you're still emotionally in it, and you're crying and whatever, it doesn't come across people feel sorry for you. And if people feel sorry for you, they're not gonna buy anything from you. So the kind of weird thing that I sometimes do with my clients is get them to practice their story enough, that it's no longer emotional for them. And then we get them to add very strategically, pieces of emotion. And you need to do this naturally, this is sort of kind of an advanced thing, where, you know, when you're talking about something that is, has been difficult to be able to change your voice in a way that illustrates that rather than you know, because once people are over it, and I've seen this sometimes with speakers, they may be telling this, you know, horrible story about how their child died, and they're smiling, you know, and it's just like, okay, that doesn't work either. It's great that you've gone beyond the point where you're feeling emotional, telling the story now is the point where you need to get in touch with those emotions just a little bit so that your body language and your voice matches in the story when those difficult points come up, you know, matches those emotions so that you're congruent. That can be a challenge to particularly when people get to quote unquote, polished is what's missing is that sense of authenticity.
Francisco Mahfuz 39:26
Yeah, the congruence is a big thing. And again, this is this is one of the things that people talk about in places like Toastmasters. That is very much on point, you know, your face. If you're this is the source of the one of the most misquoted statistics about about communication, the whole you know, the budget, the words you use are only 7% of the importance of your message. Yeah, no, it's only 7% If they clash, your body language. Exactly. Yeah, there you can tell the war story in the world of his mind and people are like, Okay, well, this is a joke. There's a there's a fiscal somewhere. Yeah,
Jason Reid 40:01
exactly. And it's it's it's that that constant balance I mean speaking is is a balance of being being prepared and knowing what you're going to say. But then saying it in a spontaneous fashion, right? It's kind of like acting
Francisco Mahfuz 40:17
in a way. You mentioned that your your story, or at least that story can balloon up to about 15 minutes. So that's something I, I had heard you say before, and I wanted to ask again, you're doing a keynote. And these things tend to run 45, two minutes to an hour. So when how much of what percentage of that hour give or take, you just say, our actual stories? And how much is just, you know, pure content? In how long are the stories normally, because if you're doing a 15 minute story, I mean, best you get that one, right?
Jason Reid 40:47
Yeah, and this is this is sort of a bit of an exception, because this is this is a story that I use when I talk about stories. So what I will do is, I will, I will lead up, I will be talking about the importance of scenes, and I'll be talking about the importance of bringing in sensory details about how things looked and sounded and bringing in humour, and characters and all that sort of stuff. So this this final story, one of the reasons it balloons to 15 minutes, is I really want to give people a flavour of all of these things without being too rushed, showing what you can do when you have the time to do that. So the message in that one is not quite as important as the way I'm telling it. So it's the way on telling it, which is really where a lot of the education value comes in. But to get back to your point about how long story should be, again, if we view them as tools, part of it is, what kind of talk are you doing? What are the expectations? So when I first started talking on storytelling, I had a lot of theory, right? Like, okay, you have to construct it like this, do this, do that. And then I realised, well hold on a sec, I'm telling this talk about storytelling, but I'm not telling a lot of stories. And I realised that what I really needed was this mix of stories, I needed to show how to tell a long story I needed to show how to tell a shorter story, I need to show how to tell stories of different types and have examples of those. So that's why with myself, I usually have a story that's probably about five to seven minutes at the beginning. And then I've got that story at the end that can be anywhere from five to 15 minutes. And then the stories in the middle tend to be very short, they they tend to be illustrations of an example. So they tend to be maybe 123 or four minutes. So that's that's how I set up my people tend to remember beginnings and endings. So I like to have my best stuff again at the beginning and the ending. And since I'm a storyteller, those two things are stories.
Francisco Mahfuz 42:42
I've also heard you use a terrible, terrible, not that it doesn't work but terrible in the content example of inappropriate stories of some guy explaining how a bad day or an hour obviously, explaining the intricacies of using a B day would clearly not be the sort of story you want to be telling on professionally. But where do you think that line is? I mean, what is the point that you're going over? And you know, how much can you make fun of yourself, ideally, without saying, Okay, well, this is not actually appropriate for a professional audience, for example.
Jason Reid 43:15
Yeah, and I think it goes back to that those three words, know your audience, there are stories that I wouldn't use for a audience of bankers that I would use for an audience of speakers. And not because the content is different. It's just because the style is such may not, it's probably not professional enough for the bankers. They're also humorous digressions I use in my stories. And I'm also very careful about doing that too. And sometimes what I'll do is actually gauge the audience. So this is something that that that comedians will do as well. My bathroom story, for instance, one of the reasons I end up getting trapped in the in the bathroom is ironically, I'm going I'm speaking at this arthritis symposium, and my arthritis on this particular day is really bad. So I end up taking these painkillers just before I'm about to get on the plane so I can survive my flight. And I've never taken these pills before. And I described as the pills hit like they're being this wave after wave of pleasure. And depending on my audience, I may say, it was it was like having 12 orgasms in a row, I think, right? I wouldn't say that for professional audience. But, you know, for entrepreneurs, especially, oddly enough, sometimes women entrepreneurs head saying something like that the right way, will help sort of kind of lower those inhibitions down. And if I get a laugh, I go to the next level. And I say, I say I think because I'm a guy, what would I know? To 12 orgasms in a row feels like if I get more laughter then it's like the next digression will not even my best years. So having things in your pocket and just being able to sort of see them and if the audience responds, it's like, Okay, I'll go the next level. Okay, I'll go next level.
Francisco Mahfuz 44:59
I can see how that story could spiral out of control. If you start having the the orgasm like feelings while you're locked into the female bathroom.
Jason Reid 45:08
Yeah, I make sure not to do it that way it it's this is where some things are really challenging to teach, because a lot of this level stuff comes from really understanding people, and being able to read people and also knowing how to take controversial words or controversial material and present them in a way that's not offensive. So I try and be very playful. And I'm also not because I speak a lot to women, whether it's, I'm doing Association speaking or entrepreneurs, I tend to because women are communicators, I tend to have a strong female following a strong female audience, I tend to be very aware of that. And I try to avoid kind of a lot of the hyper masculine stuff that some of the, you know, business speakers, male business speakers do. So because of that, because of the way I ease into things. And because I'm kind of playful, there's a lot of things that I can sometimes get away with saying if I say it the right way that somebody else, you know, saying would be offensive to people. But that's, that's sort of challenging thing to teach, you just really need to know how to read people, and how to understand where different people are coming from, especially if you speak to a diverse audience.
Francisco Mahfuz 46:29
And it's also the times we're living in, you know, I, when I was still competing in public speaking, the speech that that I won, that I wanted stuff at a national level was a personal story about my first ill fated marriage. And sort of the kicker at the end of it is that my wife has was a lesbian, or turned into a lesbian. And, you know, I did it, it was fantastic, was hilarious. And I was trying to tell the story to someone the other day, and I realised, I'm not sure I can tell that story anymore. As much as it's true. And at no point I'm making fun of her. I'm always making fun of me in the story for not sort of not realising it. I don't know I can if I can tell the story anymore, because now a lot of people could see well, what's the you know, this is not an object of fun anymore. Yeah. And in all of a sudden, you just realise, okay, well, this amount that I'm making fun of myself, there is no, but I have to, I have to be careful. And I remember, I told that story once when I was practising for the competition. And I had someone tell me, because the whole story involves a whole bunch of drunken shenanigans. And the person say, Well, you know, you keep saying about all these silly things you did when you were when you were drunk. But I'm not sure that drinking that much is, is funny to everyone. And so, you know, you have to be hyper aware of how can things be misinterpreted, or, or just interpreted in a way that is not yours? That's right.
Jason Reid 47:56
And, again, it gets back to knowing your audience. What I find interesting is so many of the comedians, I guess, of my era that sort of kind of came up in the 80s and 90s. them complaining about doing colleges and college audiences are terrible, and they're so politically correct. But my view is, it's like, well, Schumer changes and times change. It's like, you know, the comedians in the 40s. By the time the 60s and 70s, came around, you know, people didn't think that that stuff is funny. So if you're still doing the same stuff you did in the 80s, and 90s, and expecting an audience in 2020, a new audience to react the same way. It doesn't work that way, you know, you either have to look at changing your material for that audience or decide, you know, what, I'm just going to be speaking to people who are my age.
Francisco Mahfuz 48:45
Hmm. Yeah, it's, this is one of the, this is one of the challenges if you if you're inclined to be humorous. And the other one, which I'm facing now, and I'm sure you're, you're facing as well as this virtual thing. Is, is brutal for anyone trying to be to be funny. I mean, if you if you're doing a master class, and you have six people there, and you can get you can just say everybody leave your mic on. Right, you know, shut the block the door, the dog in another room, but please leave the mic on. Finally get feedback, but but doing it for 100 people, I've got a storytelling Congress coming up, actually, with Sean Callahan in in October, and this is going to be beaming out to just 1000s of people in India.
Unknown Speaker 49:27
I mean, I'm going to humour to Indians
Francisco Mahfuz 49:31
with no feedback. So you know, I'm I'm looking at the human race. I'm not sure unless I think it's an absolute slam dunk. I don't know if I can risk it because I'm going to get nothing in return. Either way, I won't know if it's worked or not until later. So yeah, not not easy being not easy trying to be funny these days.
Jason Reid 49:50
Well, yeah, I mean, that you bring up like a really good point about about having a virtual audience is not being able to get that feedback, which is crucial to us and we're doing the in person And speaking. And the other difference, like you say, it's also cultural to like, for instance, I found out that sort of that self effacing humour that, you know, telling stories that don't necessarily look good on yourself actually doesn't work for certain types of, of cultures. So for, you know, Chinese, Japanese, a lot of a lot of Asian cultures, that sort of stuff isn't seen as funny. I mean, they're, they're very much cultures that are based on saving face. And when you're doing that, you're sort of doing the opposite of what their culture suggests. So you're right. It's, it's really challenging, we, we tend to assume that what is of most importance to our culture is the same with all cultures. And that isn't true. So, you know, sometimes we have to do our research. And when we don't, we have to be okay with sometimes failing spectacularly, because that's not going to translate.
Francisco Mahfuz 50:53
I'm mindful of our time now. So I just wanted to ask a couple of quick questions. The first one, are you missing the stage already?
Jason Reid 50:59
Oh, am I ever? Am I ever I'm enjoying. I mean, the virtual stuff is, is interesting. And it's allowing me to sort of in some ways, get back to some of the skills I learned in television, but I just I so love the energy of a live audience. I really miss it.
Francisco Mahfuz 51:13
Yeah, I, I think that it will be a fantastic tool in the arsenal going forward and things normalise a bit. And for people that don't want to be a professional speaker, but have a young family, as is my case. You know, I don't want to be travelling for half of the months. No, I'll be delighted if I can spend no more than 678 days away during the month. And anything else I do I do virtually. But just virtual is is a bit painful. And finally, where can people find more of you?
Jason Reid 51:43
Yes, well, my website is Power Story. master.com. That's all one word. And if you're interested in getting some free goodies, I actually also have a giveaway page, which you can find at Jason read.org. And read is rei de.org. And if you go there, you'll find my professional speaker storytelling tool, a couple of audios on how to tell better stories. And even if you're interested a link where you can set up a free 20 minute call with me if you want to sort of work on your stories a little bit more. So that's adjacent read.org Send me your email address and you'll get all that stuff for free. Actually, when
Francisco Mahfuz 52:21
I went into your website, the first time I had to horrified seconds and I thought, oh crap, I have just plagiarised him, but then you realise was power story now? Because Because my website is story powers.com. And I was like, oh, no, oh, he's not quite the same as fine. I'll link I'll put all the links to the website in the show notes. Because you know, nowadays no one can remember anything. And you know you did. You didn't give the website in the middle of a story. So people will just forget. Jason, it's been an absolute pleasure, man.
Jason Reid 52:57
Thank you so much for having me on Francisco. This has been a lot of fun. Alright, everybody.
Francisco Mahfuz 53:01
Thanks for tuning in. Take care of yourselves. And until next time.
I hope you enjoy the show. And if you did, I'd love for you to subscribe and leave us a review or a rating on the Apple podcasts app. It's very easy. You open the app and find this show and scroll down a little and when you see the stars tab. I'd really appreciate it and it does help other people find this. And if you'd like to get in touch or find out more about what I do, reach out to me on LinkedIn or visit my website story powers.com