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  • Francisco Mahfuz

E36. Why You Should Be A Dick with Marc Ensign



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 show about the power of stories that people who tell them and why you should be doing it too. I'm your host, keynote speaker and storytelling coach Francisco mahfuz. My guest today is Mark Ensign. Mark is a keynote speaker, Best Selling Author and Broadway musician. He's also the founder and Big Cheese at loud mouse, a personal branding agency empowering speakers, authors, coaches and entrepreneurs want to impact the world. And as you find out today, Mark is a complete and total dick. And that is definitely not what you think. Ladies and gentlemen, Mark Anson. Mark Welcome to the show.


Marc Ensign 1:38

Thank you. Thank you for having me. I like I like that puzzled look on your face would you say Broadway musician? Well, I


Francisco Mahfuz 1:45

mean, there's this there's many job titles that sound a bit confusing. But broadly musician is probably not one that you expect to see next to anything else. Right? Of course. If you're a musician, you're a musician you know this is the peak of of your professional and personal lives you know what what are you doing doing other things?


Marc Ensign 2:07

It does it is it is a strange path to connect the dots admit to that.


Francisco Mahfuz 2:13

And there's something I'm not I wasn't 100% sure of you know, looking at looking at your blog and and a website and everything else. Are you still abroad the musician


Marc Ensign 2:23

now well, actually, unfortunately, nobody's a Broadway musician right now just because Broadway swallows Yeah. So so. But I still I still sub so I don't do it full time. I do it more now. It's become like like, which is even funnier. A side hustle like Broadway. Broadway become my side hustle. So I I fill in for a couple of shows on tour. Every you know, a couple times a year. We chose the main show is rent. That's that's the that's the main show. But I've also done Smokey Joe's Cafe and Jesus Christ Superstar. A couple others.


Francisco Mahfuz 3:02

Very nice. Yeah. And you know, one thing I wanted to thank you is that I've, I've had people all my life telling me I'm a dick. And I understand that. That was always a compliment. I was getting that wrong.


Marc Ensign 3:15

That's right. I can't say because we don't know each other well enough yet. It could be it could be a lowercase d. Or it could be an uppercase D It makes all the difference. The capitalization changes everything.


Francisco Mahfuz 3:28

Right? Should we should we explain to anyone who has absolutely no clue why we seem to be so fixated on this word. And you know, we're not teenagers anymore. So that's not okay to do in public.


Marc Ensign 3:40

I, you know, I think there's an opportunity here to make people listen to the very end, and we'll tell them before we go.


Francisco Mahfuz 3:46

Okay. Cooper some of my conversational plans for this afternoon, but that's right.


Marc Ensign 3:53

Yeah. So So I recently wrote a book called via deck it came out about a week or two ago. And it is not what it seems. It is actually a it starts off as it's it's a story based book. parable almost. But it is a true story about about a moment in my life where I was kind of in that bit nervous breakdown, that we all go through it like, you know, in our early 40s, midlife crisis, whatever you want to call it, where I had this vision,


Francisco Mahfuz 4:26

and I call that I call that right now.


Marc Ensign 4:28

Yes, exactly, like right steeped in the middle of it right now. But it was, it was that, you know, I grew up with this idea that I was going to make this big difference and I was going to change the world. And here I am at 40 years old, and I have a job and I'm working and I have a family and and the white picket fence and the 2.5 kids and all the stuff that you're supposed to have the mortgage payment and and it really just kind of hit me that like wow, like what have I done to really make a difference in the world now? At the time, like you know, I had a healthy house Happy Family. And I mean, I still do it because I get digital. And I had a good career and I was playing music and I had started a company I was successful by all, by all means, but I was unfulfilled. And so, you know, I did what any normal person would do in that moment, and I sold everything I owned, and, and I dragged my family away from their friends and everything that they do, and we moved sight unseen down to Tampa, Florida, from New Jersey, which is about 1200 miles or, you know, however many kilometres that it comes out to nowhere, you know. So I always loved the Gulf Coast, and I had a client that was in Destin, Florida, which is right on the Gulf Coast, but it's very touristy. And like, every corner, there was a t shirt store. And I was like, Well, I don't want to live there like that. See, you know, like, that doesn't look like a very fun place to live. Because it's just, you know, after a while the tours get in the way. So we followed the, the Gulf Coast around, and then there's like Tampa, like, I've been to Tampa, like when I was on tour with the show, I remember Tampa being kind of cool. So I was like, we should just move there. And we also were thinking about Colorado, but I didn't like the idea being landlocked because I do like the do like the beach. And, and so we moved and we sold everything, gotten a van and, and started driving south and we got here and you know, when you make a mistake, or you do something and instantly go easily kind of correct yourself. It was like one of those kind of moments, but like I sold everything, including my house, like like, there was no correcting this like I was in. And so I started having a little bit of a you know, like, oh my god, what have I done, you know, when when you start really second guessing yourself and really beating yourself up, and then it starts piling up and piling up and the stress level goes up. And and you didn't you know, you've convinced yourself, you're just in the middle of this bad nightmare. And that's where I was at. And my wife threw me out of the house, she's like, not permanently just like go for a walk, you know, get rid of whatever this is. And and then you know, and then come back and hopefully you'll have walked it off. And so so that's what I did, maybe take the kids with me. So I didn't you know, run away or just start running north. You know, I walked about, you know, about seven or eight houses down. That's when I bumped into my neighbour dick, who is this? You know, guide is probably at the time was in mid 60s. And one of the kindest people I've ever met, just just an extraordinary human being. And so this book is about, you know, me at my worst meeting, this guy that becomes my mentor, and teaches me all have these incredible lessons about what I eventually turned in, you know, coined what it takes to be a dick.


Francisco Mahfuz 7:49

You said something before, when you describe the book. And I think it's it's an interesting way to describe a book you said it was. It's a story based book. My first reaction to that is, first is every book historic. Yeah, and then I thought, but it should be if it's not, but but that's, but that's very much what it is. It is it is a story. And it's a very easy to read story. We met just a week ago or so. And you you were kind enough to send me the book, which I read in I think a couple of hours, and then immediately felt guilty that you sent to me, and then I went and bought it and review. But the main thing about it is is how it is very much a story and it's very a story that pulls you along. So we know when you read actually read the subtitle of the book, it's easy to think that it's gonna be a lot more preachy than it actually turns out to be. And I think I've read or heard you say somewhere, that there were versions of it, that were that they weren't anywhere like that final version, right.


Marc Ensign 9:02

So I had written this is not a joke. I mean, I had written the book, I think it was like 17 or 18 times I, you know, I just this is this is over the course of a couple of years, where I had this story, I was pregnant with this story, and I just couldn't quite figure out how to put it into words. And so you know, what we often do sometimes is we overthink things and and and so I created a very nonfiction version of the story where it was basically the story as you know, it breaks down my interactions, my relationship with my neighbour dig into these 12 principles. You know, be kind, be helpful, be humble, be compassionate, all these different all these different principles. And so what I would do is I would do the first you know, half of the part about when I learned about being kind from Dick, and then I went 20 pages into like, here's a step by step tutorial on how to be kind And it was brutal. Like it was like really hard to read. It was like 250 pages. By the time I was I was like, well, this isn't gonna work like this is really, it just was really awful to try to read. And I was like, well, that's not going to work, you know that I was like, I got to get this story out of my head for a little while, I'll come back to another day. And so a year goes by then I'd start writing again. And, and when I started writing it this time, because we were all trapped in our house, and I, you know, I needed something to do. And, and also, it really kind of occurred to me like, wow, like, like, you know, Dick is getting older. And what if he never knows that you know how much all this really meant to me, and I never, he never gets to read this book, it was a pretty devastating thought. So during this quarantine, I decided to start writing again. And I figured I was gonna break out the old versions of the book, and then figure out which one I wanted to use and then just edit it, just send it out to the world. And hated every single version of it. One was very dark one was very preachy one was very tutorial based. One was just like, completely, incredibly immature with nothing but dick jokes. And, and, and it wasn't, you know, and I was like, none of these are right, I have to start over. So I started over again. And that was this version. And I don't think I could have written this story. Five years ago, when, when all this stuff kind of really started to come into pass. So I


Francisco Mahfuz 11:17

read that, and I read you describing the gruelling, gruelling process of actually getting this book to the to its final format. And, and I was a bit confused, because I, so we spoke and then I went and looked you up. And then I found the speech, you gave it inbound, which is the core of the of the deck story. And that seems, is very close to what the book turned out to be. Because it's just you telling the story. And all the sort of what would be the preachy parts are, you know, a slide that you don't even mention, it's just there. And in that, that to me worked perfectly. And then I eventually read the original blog post, because it started as a blog post right there, in the blog post sounds a lot more like what you're describing, it's kind of it breaks it down a lot. There's a lot of opinion in the middle of it. And what that got me thinking was, was something I was I had a guy called Sean Callahan on the show a few episodes back, and he runs a big story consultancy company called anecdote. And what he finds that works very well for business storytelling is, is inverting the order that a lot of people do story. So he says, Just give a line that essentially tells them what the point is going to be. So maybe the point is Be kind, in then you just tell the story, right? And then you don't have to go over why this because it's a bit kind now I'm listening with that in my head. And as the it's obvious that you're talking about someone being unkind, then I go, Ah, I get what you're saying now. So it's sort of a pool approach, where you're just bringing them along with a story and not a push when you're just sending all this sort of morale out. And I was surprised you had that much trouble because everything I've read from you from the blog, and from that, that speech, and this book was just sounded so natural, that I thought that this is how you normally tell stories.


Marc Ensign 13:18

It is and I think that that when I say that I had trouble with it, I think it's it was because it's a story like like, these are facts. And it was just a matter of just telling the facts and all that I mean, it's not like I'm like these, I wonder how how Harry Potter is going to get out of this one. Like, it wasn't that I didn't have that kind of trouble. It was really a matter of overthinking it, and having this needing this to be bigger than it needed to be. So for example, like like having to, you know, well how am I going to I did research on how to be kind and how to be compassionate, how to be vulnerable, I was reading books on all this stuff, because like this had to be the Bible on all these 12 principles when really, when you look at it to the principles, there's so that that's really so innate to us as human beings like like we are kind by nature and we are compassionate. And we are you know, thoughtful and helpful and all these things you know, the majority of people you know, we just need to be reminded every now and then and and so it doesn't need like this step by step and you know, like like this the level which I had over you know, would overthink it, I need this thing to be 300 or 500 pages and I need it to be this you know this this huge ordeal of a you know of a story as opposed to I just tell people what happened and and I think and this is totally by accident because I didn't obviously didn't hear your podcast for for we wrote the book, but I started I decided to name or had all these weird titles for chapters and then you had to do you know, like, like kind of it was encrypted as to what the lesson was and then I decided to change the titles to each of these different principles. So the title is behind. And then here's the story very much like what you were saying earlier, totally by accident that wasn't like done on purpose by any means. But, but it is that you know, and I found that that really set the tone for what you're about to read, I think there's a lot of truth to that.


Francisco Mahfuz 15:19

I blame Superman. Okay, and the reason I've named Superman is, and again, I hadn't read anything of you talking about, you know, your fascination with superheroes, when you're a kid, you said something like, you wanted to change how the world spins. And I thought, hold on, this is a very, this is a very peculiar way of describing the world is to change how the world speeds all the time. And again, if it if it is a Superman reference, but it's, it's clearly sounded like a superhero reference. And then you know, the more I read your stuff, then it's pretty obvious that, you know, this is the type of stuff used to like when, when you're a kid as as the die. And and perhaps this is, this is something that is a problem with stories is superheroes are great. But they're terrible for people trying to figure out how to tell stories, because it's all about this big things, right? Everything needs to be cosmic everything needs to be, you know, the world is now in danger, and you need to save it is not, you know, this tiny obstacle that I need to overcome, because that doesn't make for great adventures, or great Hollywood movies, it always has to be big, or is actually I think, would argue, and I think your book supports that. There's most stories that you can relate to, are way more likely to be meaningful, because you can relate to them. Whereas if, if you, you're talking about if Dick was this guy, who had climbed Everest or you know, whatever, he went to Africa and lived there for 30 years doing charity, nothing but charity, it's hard to say, you know, I want to be like that guy. You know, we, we don't really want to be like that.


Marc Ensign 17:09

We don't really, really want


Francisco Mahfuz 17:11

to be like that guy. And by the way, I don't think we actually like said it went into any specifics about like, the type of stuff that that they did. So you know, of all the many things that he did that influence you and that create, you know, made him a sort of a mentor for you. Can you just share one of them?


Marc Ensign 17:30

Sure. So so and just to take a quick step back, but, you know, as far as changing the way the world spins, or the Earth spins, or you know, knock it off its axis, like I use very extreme language, I do that on purpose, because, because that's where I think my head was at. And I think that's where what a lot of people think, I think people in general, come up with something that's so incredibly impossible. Like, there is absolutely nothing I could possibly do in any way, shape or form that will change the way the Earth spins. And so I set that up as a goal for myself. So just to just to ensure that I failed miserably at it. And, and I think a lot of us do that, and then we go like, geez, I guess I just don't matter, you know, my life doesn't matter what have I done, you know, I can't believe what you're putting yourself up against you're you've created this impossible goal that you don't stand a chance with. And so, so that's, that's where I was at as a kid. And as I grew up, it just became a more adult version of that, you know, I have a friend of mine who built a he built an orphanage in the Dominican Republic I mean, you know, in my mind is like wow, that is a guy that is changing the world how do I even I don't even know where to begin with that like I you know, another friend who raised money by walking from Tampa to California, and he raised a bunch of money for good cause he got a lot of news and press over and stuff, you know, and again, like I'm just making us look bad. Maybe like like I got a wife and kids like like I'm winded when I walk up around the block you know, with the dog like it's walking 3000 miles to eat you know, like I just don't have time like it I don't have the energy of I don't know You know, I don't even know where to begin with that either. And so I have all these stories of friends that are doing these incredible things and I'm not one of them and so I must not matter and and what I really learned from Dick is that it really is the small things that make the big difference. And and one of those and the one that really set me off like okay, this is more than he's just a nice guy was after I had been living in Tampa for about a month. It was my birthday. And he and he had stopped by which was always kind of odd because it was more of me stalking him than him stalking pizza like,


Francisco Mahfuz 19:51

like, neighbours, neighbours that stop by are a very strange it's, you


Marc Ensign 19:56

know, it is like like I was okay it's like the neighbourhood on fire or you here to steal something.


Francisco Mahfuz 20:01

I live. I live here in Barcelona, right? And my apartment, there's a there's a big terrorist in my apartment. And there's the neighbours on the other side, they have a big terrorist. They are about our age, they have a kid who is about the same age as my oldest daughter. And now the youngest kid goes to the same daycare as my daughter. We've never exchanged three words. Dog that's what neighbours are. Really?


Marc Ensign 20:25

Right. Right. You know, and if they did, if they did actually stop by and just we just want to stop by and say, hi, you close the door and say, All right, so we were living your psychopaths we need to move on people, we can't live here anymore.


Francisco Mahfuz 20:39

We should we should only communicate through you know, passive aggressive messages slipped under the door.


Marc Ensign 20:45

That's right smile and nod. That's your job, just smile, do the cool guy nod and keep walking. But so he's so he had stopped by and, and, you know, like, something was obviously up. And he's like, um, you know, I just noticed on Facebook that your birthday is coming up. And, and I know that you, you know, you left your entire family, you're here, you don't really know anybody. And so I wanted to do a little something for you. Now. Just a little bit of background, Dick spent 50 years as a producer for some of the biggest, you know, sports games. And you know, I like it just right. Yeah, like, like, I mean, just basketball like World Series, you know, the Olympics, like you name it, like all the biggest in the world. And, and so one of the things that, you know, he had since half retired, and one of the things he was still doing was the Little League World Series. And he was gone for about a week producing a Little League World Series. And, and so he came back, you know, he had said that, that, I have a little something for you, for your birthday, make it a little specials being that you're going to be alone. And that and by alone, I was with my family and stuff. But still, like every all my friends were gone, I didn't have any friends in the neighbourhood yet. And he had a baseball that he had signed by all the retire, you know, not all but like a handful of retired Red Sox players. But it's it, that's my team. And so he had got this baseball, at the Little League World Series. And then in the booth, and in the audience, he found out any retired Red Sox player you could find and they signed it. And, and it was a gift for me. And it didn't cost him anything, took a little bit of time to do it. But that's about it. And yet, it just was the most awful thing that anybody's ever done for me. Like, you know, I didn't really know the guy that well, we had hung out a couple times. So just walking our dogs, he had gone through all this trouble to do this. For me, I was at the top of his mind when he was, you know, know, 1000 miles away working. And that, to me was really special that would that showed me that like, Okay, this isn't just like a be nice when you see somebody walking down the street kind of thing. Like, this guy was always looking for ways of making the world a little better for the people in his corner of the globe. I can that's really what this came down to like, okay, and it was just those little things like like this, he did not build an orphanage in the Dominican Republic, and he did not walk 3000 miles, you know, to raise money for a cause. He just had a baseball sign. And in my world, it was equally as impactful. It was it was it was it just changed things for me. And so so that was probably the most you know, like, like, that's the chapter called Be thoughtful.


Francisco Mahfuz 23:27

I, I you know, I'm not a big believer in, you know, destiny or fate or any nonsense like that. But then some coincidence that can freak you out a little bit. So I read your book between Saturday and Sunday just now. Right? A couple of days ago, I finished a book. And then I went back to the book I had been reading, which was a book called The Girl With seven names, which is about a girl who left who defected from North Korea. And, you know, in the, in the last part of the book, and she's trying to get her family out, and they are in Laos, and they she's ran out of money to bribe people. It's all going horribly wrong. And then there was this tourists that have gotten into Laos with her. And then she sees him around and then at some point, he comes in ask so you know, you know, what are you doing here? You've been here for a long time, and he says she's explained the situation to him. And he goes to the ATM, takes out a whole bunch of money and gives it to her. I give you one chance to guess what this guy's name was. Was a dick. Yep, would stop really? Uh huh. Yeah, I could the surname doesn't sound like someone who actually you know, run against enemies. I checked. But yeah, yeah. I read it was like, no, no, this is this is too much. So I don't know. Maybe there's a whole army of geeks out there. You know, doing things and being nice to people and not taking any fame for it. I mean, because, again, this guy was, like, essential to To what happened to her. And then I went and listen to her, she has got a TED talk with like 14 million views or something. And she doesn't actually know she mentions him, but not by name, like the guy had made no effort to claim credit actually said, you know, I'm not helping you. I'm just just that these people need help. I'm just, I came. So as I'm helping I read that I was like, this is a bit weird. That is really weird. I could not have set that up if I had tried. Wow. So


Marc Ensign 25:29

it's funny because I, when I first got the box of books in the mail, and like, you know, that's, like this very eventful thing. And I almost I was like, wow, like, you know, like, box of books, like, this is really cool. Like, it really solidified it for me, but what was more important was like, Okay, now I got to go to Dick's house and drop them off. And, and I did, and I dry, I brought a couple books for him and his wife. And it was just, it was just a very meaningful moment to me to, to be able to, you know, kind of thank him. And, you know, he's just, you know, he's very humble in his cool, so how's everything else going? Like, I was like, Oh, my God, he didn't, you know, didn't really didn't really register with him right away. And then, and then a couple days later, I get a text from him. And I'm very, very deep, meaningful text about, you know, after he had read the book, and you know, what it meant, and just, I guess, seeing how, how impactful our relationship was, to my life. And then he followed that up with, I'm curious where your life would be right now, if my name was Dick. So, so I was, I was laughing about it. Because I, you know, I started thinking about it. And I was, I was like, Well, you know, let me think about that for a second. And I think my life would be the same. Like, I would follow that same path. extraordinary guy, like, it wasn't about his name, like, Oh, that guy's name is Dick, this should be fun. Like, it wasn't that it was just


Francisco Mahfuz 26:51

made for a cracking, a cracking, book title and speech opener, of


Marc Ensign 26:56

course. So you know, what I what I came to realise was that if his name was a dick, it would have changed me, but it wouldn't have changed anybody else, because it would have stopped with me because nobody wants to read a book called, you know, be a good neighbour. You know, like, because, you know, it just so happens that, like you say, you know, I, I'm not that big of a believer in, you know, having it all thrown onto your lap. But I mean, I'm in the middle of a midlife crisis, I'm a marketing guy, I moved, you know, down the street from guy named Dick, who was an extraordinary person inside now. Like, it just, you know, like it is, there's a lot of things that had to come into, you know, come into play in order for this to work.


Francisco Mahfuz 27:36

And that's true. And I think, you know, anyone who tells stories, is also gifted with the ability of making it sound like the story you're currently living through was, in a way logical and meant to be in this thing led to this thing, and obviously led to this current thing. But the other thing I was thinking, as I read both the book and some other stuff you put out on the internet is, there was something I was trying to, to understand. And then just the other day, it came to me and I actually posted about it, I said, I called it Zai. And I think 100%, you have, and what I described as the eye is, is this ability to just see normal life, but in a way that is entertaining, that is that can be inspiring. So for example, there's a there's a line, you're talking about how the first time you met, take, it's very hot, all the children are with you. And you said something like, you know, my shoes were melting, and the children were picking up leaves to make a shelter from the sun. That's a great line. But you know, most people wouldn't see that. And, and as, as I read the book, and your examples of the things that Dick has done is you have to be sensitive to what you're seeing. And this is one of the reasons why I find some people struggle when when they start trying to tell more stories as they don't see the message or the meaning behind the experiences they've had. Whereas, you know, if you if you're any good at storytelling, or branding or marketing, you're, you're looking at that from all sorts of directions and trying to go well, this this can This is definitely I'm less than in being kind. This is about being humble, whereas other people, that wouldn't necessarily be obvious. And there was this. There is the situation you described in the book about the guy who, who read your stuff, and then dropped everything and became a photographer somewhere in the message he sent you describes what I was trying to describe with the I think what he said not I think I have it written in front of me. So what he said was, I appreciate that you can draw truth out of all the nonsense and ordinances around and articulate it in a way that I can be able to hold on to at least one clear thought and continue trudging on and then I think that's the next line was, you are changing the world, even if it's only one little little seed of wisdom. At a time in lots of people's life, that is, that adds up, you know? And that I think is also a gift. It's Yes, Nick sounds like a remarkable person. But I think you need to be able to see what's going on in your life even even, even if it's in retrospect, in hindsight, and in all the different ways that he's that what he was doing was remarkable, because otherwise it doesn't go anywhere. It's just this cool neighbour you have.


Marc Ensign 30:26

Yeah. So it's, it's, it's interesting that you say that, I love that third, I like that idea behind like that, that there are that I that to be able to see that because I do. I don't know how I don't know what it looks like. And I don't know, you know, where it comes from. But I see life as a story. And like, you know, in a weird way, like, like, things happen to me. And I am able to tell it to people in a way that we're just cracking up. And it's just really funny, it'd be while it's just this stupid little thing that anybody else that would be, you know, easily forgotten. You know, the fact is that we had somewhere around 60 or 80 houses on our block. They had a lot of neighbours, nobody wrote a book about them. Nobody saw like, and he was a great neighbour to everybody. Like, it wasn't just me. And when I when I wrote the first blog post, a couple of people in the neighbourhood read it. They're like, yeah, he is a really nice guy, huh? You know, like, you know, and they agreed with it, but they didn't see it. Even my wife is just like, like, like, how do you meet the guy down the street and, and the turning it into a, into a story or a book or whatever. So I think that there is a level of observation that storytellers have, where it's almost like they're looking at something, you know, as it's happening, almost like painting, you know, creating a painting, you know, it's a different level of detail, you know, it's a way to be able to, like capture this moment, and like, Okay, now how do I regurgitate this, in a way that if somebody's not physically here, they can feel how hot it is, or how nice he is, or what he did this, or how this happened, or how I was feeling at the time. And I think that is like, like a weird, you know, thing that like, just comes very naturally to me. And to, you know, to most storytellers, it makes it definitely makes life a little more fun. For sure.


Francisco Mahfuz 32:21

I would completely agree with that. I don't know what it is, I don't know if it's being being a storyteller than if it's just being in a different frame of mind where it's very easy to see things as very negative. You know, I just told you just before we started recording how I, I made the terrible mistake of updating my, my computer, because, you know, I had this important things coming up this weekend, I wanted the computer to be at its best. So I thought, okay, great. I'm gonna update this operating system that I haven't done for two years. And then obviously, it's been 24 hours, and I can't get this thing to, to work at all. And, you know, you could choose to be miserable about it, and just complain over and over. Or you can try and see, what's the funny side of it? What's the message behind it? And if you do that, I think life becomes becomes a lot easier.


Marc Ensign 33:09

Yeah, I think so. And I think that that it forces you to have to look deeper than what's on the surface, which is where I think it gets where I think life gets really interesting,


Francisco Mahfuz 33:20

which I think is a good point to drop pick. And move toward some of the other stuff, which you do, which I wanted to talk about. So one of the things you think is one of the keynotes you give is about I think you call it growing your brand from the inside out, which is essentially about teaching companies how to tell their origin story, isn't it? Yeah. Okay. Can you just tell me a bit about that.


Marc Ensign 33:46

So, you know, I own a branding agency. And and what we kind of do is, is it's not just a typical branding agency, like, hey, let's pick which colour blue you like, and what font works best for you. It's it really is about creating a movement, you know, building a brand that that has an impact that does something special. And, and with that in mind, people don't you know, we don't do business with logos, and we don't do business with colours, and we don't do you know, we do business with people and with, we do business with companies that make us feel a certain way. And one way to do that is to humanise, your, you know, humanise the brand by being able to tell the story by being able to, you know, be a little vulnerable to talk about that origin story, not so much from the perspective of, you know, boy, I woke up this morning and here, you know, here's a picture of me standing next to Ferrari, because none of us care about that stuff. What we really connect with is, you know, I want to hear about the walls you had to climb and the and some of the difficulties that you had to, that you were up against and so on. So that idea of origin story and of being able to really tell a company or a person story in a way that connects with people is what really makes people want to do business with you more so than anything else that that you create in terms of your brand.


Francisco Mahfuz 35:17

Telling the origin story I find is, is an exercise that is easier when you're dealing with is very easy when you're talking to entrepreneurial startups and things of that nature, because it's very fresh, it's very connected to the person that's going to be telling it, but I find that that gets harder and harder, you know, the company has been going on for a long time. And it's a very large company, identifying that the type a lot of the types of stories that I tell, they just don't give themselves so well to that. So how do you find when you're dealing with a much larger organisation? How does that change your approach to that, to that origin story, or to how you grow that brand from the inside out?


Marc Ensign 35:58

So with a larger company, I mean, obviously, nobody, you know, people care less and less with as the company gets bigger and bigger in terms of of that, you know, that founder or whatever, like, nobody cares, who you know, the origin story of the guy who developed Coke, you know, like, unless they told


Francisco Mahfuz 36:17

us how he genuinely figured it out to get cocaine in it.


Marc Ensign 36:21

With everybody being totally cool about it, yes, yeah, yeah,


Francisco Mahfuz 36:25

we're gonna put that phone in order that no one is telling Coca Cola next time it talks about,


Marc Ensign 36:31

but but once you get to a certain size, like then the shift kind of, you know, becomes less about that kind of founder story and that and the people within the company story, and becomes more and more about, you know, your story within that product. So, you know, people, people don't drink Coke, because it tastes good, or because they like the idea that it's gonna rot their teeth and cause diabetes. Like, they drink Coke. Because of that time, they you know, that that they went on the first date with their now wife or husband and they, you know, they drank coke at a movie theatre, or how they used to have an ice cold coke with dad after they mowed the lawn when they were a kid. Like, like, it'd be like that becomes the story becomes like their origin story within the product. You know, Apple notoriously had a, you know, like this, this great story with Steve Jobs. And like, you know, how he left the company, he came back and like, the Apple story was such a great story with Steve Jobs at the helm. And once he had passed, and Tim Cook came out, like I was like, like, nobody cares about that part of it. Not that they don't care about Apple like, so like it like that was like that shift in real time, where it became less about the origin story of Apple. And it became more about our story relationship with Apple, kind of like Coke. And so now, you know, we just have all these people running around that that are just, you know, hell bent on using Apple products for everything. And yet, you know, this still, like they've started to create their own origin story within that within that product, because Apple origin story kind of died with Steve Jobs.


Francisco Mahfuz 38:05

Yeah, that's true. And I think that it's difficult for companies to judge, I think there's two very different approaches. So one approach is the sort of more perhaps more traditional advertising approach or branding approach, we're going to call it that, where the company is trying to create an identity, then that the brand represents and sometimes that has nothing to do whatsoever with the people inside the organisation, the people who founded the organisation, or even sometimes with the, with the customers, it's an aspirational brand. So it hasn't really got anything to do with the people that are under buying a Mercedes Benz, but that's still very popular. And the other approach that seems to be becoming more and more popular, which I think is part of what you might call inspirational marketing is, is finding those very human stories within the company, and in interactions with the customers that that actually resonate today. Because the bigger story, the bigger aspirational stories. And I just think impression I get is that they're a bit. They're a bit tired now. I mean, it's not I mean, do you really want to see like a fancy car and go, Oh, this is what I want to be in my life.


Marc Ensign 39:11

It feels very much out of touch. It feels like it's a bunch of marketing people in a boardroom going, alright, what can we do to get them to, like, you know, as opposed to really kind of understanding who people are. And, you know, and especially I think things have taken a pretty dramatic shift over the past year. Because of everything that's going on, like like, you know, we see things differently. I made the incredibly intelligent move of buying a car like three weeks before all this stuff happened and we locked down and all this


Francisco Mahfuz 39:42

other I will see I'll see your stupid move and a razor. I I made the decision to after you know about 10 years of you know, speaking public and telling stories to take this thing professionally this year. You know You I think I would have taken the car


Marc Ensign 40:06

Oh, that's funny. Not funny, haha funny, but you


Francisco Mahfuz 40:11

choose to laugh at this base,


Marc Ensign 40:13

right? And, and so we see things differently because now you know I have a brand new car sitting in my garage that has 4000 or 6000 miles on it because we don't go anywhere, you know, and, and so now it's just like, wow, I don't really care like that car means nothing to be like now all of a sudden people are starting to go like, you know, experiences are more meaningful, I want to experience life again. And I think that that, you know, when that starts showing up in your marketing, create an experience for me, don't show me like, you know, an expensive car and expect me to go who and how over it. Because, you know, I think we all kind of realise that Wow, that really is I take I take a you know, a beat up old, you know, 1988 Chevy Cavalier, if you know if I can actually go somewhere with it, you know, and experience life a little more.


Francisco Mahfuz 41:03

I had a chat with someone on the show a month or two ago, when we were thinking that this was all going to blow over a lot faster than it's looking like it will. And we said that the travel advertising agency is going to have the easiest time of their lives for the next sort of year or two. And they would just show you this nation and say, because you can. It's right. Or because it's not home, right?


Marc Ensign 41:27

Anywhere, but here. Yes.


Francisco Mahfuz 41:30

So what would you consider to be good examples of of inspirational marketing? And first how you define that? And what would be a good example, whether from your work or stuff you've seen around?


Marc Ensign 41:41

You know, like one, one story comes to mind that I just thought was so well done. And I forget the guy's name. I think his name was William. I'm not really sure. But I saw this when we used to go to movies, I saw this, like the opening commercials. And it was a Hershey ad. And there was an older gentleman who was in his 90s. And for the past 30 years, you know, he'd wake up in the morning, and he'd go to the store and buy a box of chocolate bars, and just start giving them out to people you know, like walking around town you know else to do, you just start giving them out. There's old guy giving, giving candy bars to people, which they tell you not to take candy from a stranger yet. We clearly didn't learn our lesson. But and, and he wasn't like on the payroll. It wasn't it was just a thing that he did for many years. And her she caught wind of it and decided to do like a commercial. So so to speak. It was like, you know, two minutes spot telling his story. They weren't selling Hershey bars, they weren't, you know, it wasn't an ad for Hershey, they were just telling the story of this guy that was doing this great thing, who was a dick, you know, if you want to, if you want to call that he was doing this great thing. And using Hershey bars as the vehicle of in order to spread a little joy or whatever. And what was so great about it was it didn't end with like, you know, so go to your local store and buy a Hershey bar. It was just it was about that guy. And you left going like, you know, feeling really good about here's, you know, seeing all these kids smile. And everybody was like, yeah, they do. When they saw him, they come run up and give him a hug. And they get their Hershey bar and all that this the joy and all these people's faces. And it was, you know, tied to Hershey bars indirectly. And it wasn't pushy. It wasn't preachy, it just felt really good. It was a little bit of something that we all needed. It like it just the way they positioned her she within the story is where it was almost like it almost felt like an ad placement. Where it was it was so indirect that you got the point. And you want that a Hershey bar when it was done.


Francisco Mahfuz 43:46

Yeah, there's this idea that advertising for a long time was showing, showing the customer who they would be if they bought that product. I heard I heard Donald Miller talk about how he used to see this ad about this great knife and the guy's just sort of MacGyvering around and you know, the car is locked and it falls into the water. And then he gets the knife out. And he's like, I like I'll never He says I would never have been used for that knife. But I want to do that guy. That's it. I just went over a guy. friend gave him the knife. And he just said, I just feel I'm more proud of myself for being the kind of life that I'll never ever use. Maybe cutting an avocado. But I think that that approach, it's so obvious nowadays, that if all you're doing is is you know this is an actor and this is a situation we were putting on just for you in a TV ad. The impression I get is that it doesn't have the same impact anymore. What if it's just this amazing old guy who just happens to be handling our purchase but could be any other product? Luckily for her shirts. He was Hershey's. Yeah,


Marc Ensign 44:54

exactly. And I'm sure there's there's a guy that's doing it with coke also. And there's a guy that's doing They just haven't found them yet, or they're, they're not looking, you know, it's, you got to remember that like, now we're in that day and age where, like, when's the last time you actually watched a commercial, you know, we have Hulu and Netflix or, you know, DVR, whatever, like nobody watches commercials anymore. So 99% of these companies that are putting together Mercedes ads or whatever, are wasting their money, because nobody's watching them. But it's the ones that are, that are like that, that are meaningful, that have some kind of that a story base that are funny, that are you know, shareable that make us you know, like, Oh, my God, I gotta believe this commercial. And then we posted on Facebook, and now we're purposely watching commercials, like we're seeking out and watching commercials on purpose, because otherwise they wouldn't be in front of us. So you have to make something that that touches people or makes them laugh or entertains them, or is some tell some kind of story that people want to spread and share with somebody else. Because if you don't, you've just wasted a lot of money, you know, hiring Matthew McConaughey to drive around and you know, and try to sell cars, in my corner, hey, around, yeah, it's got to be something that really grabs you, otherwise, we're not going to share it. And we're not going to you know, we don't share it, it's not going to get in front of people, because there are no commercials anymore.


Francisco Mahfuz 46:21

The other aspect of that, that I think is very important, and maybe can start changing the opinion, a lot of people like you have, where marketing has perhaps done less good to the world, then then we would want it to do is that some of the best stories that you can ever possibly tell, are the real ones that come out of view, behaving properly towards the people that that come in contact with you. So you know, I was telling you about how I then upgraded my Mac software, the whole thing went to hell. But you know, I I sent I logged on to the to the Apple website at like four in the morning in Spain. And they called me back with a code like a customer call, even though I'm three years past my warranty at eight in the morning. And I've now had three or four calls to trying to solve it every time I talk to them. I said, Listen, we got this, don't worry, we still have some stuff we can try. We'll be fine. You want us to call you back? Or would you rather call so had an amazing interaction with them? And I will tell people about it. I'll say, yeah, they screwed up their stuff, they could be doing better. But they you know, they they're owning it. And they're dealing with it. And those are stories that companies like Apple actually know about, which is why they have this practice. I don't know if you've heard about where at the Apple store every single day, the man or the team leader asks all the staff, you know, who gave you who got like, 100 score, or whatever, however, measure they have for that, or five stars, whatever. And I gotta go, I got I got I got one this afternoon. Okay, what happened? Well, the customer came in with this. And I did that for him. And there's, so they're collecting those stories, and I don't think they ever used them outside or just internally. But those are happening every day. And they're very powerful. And they're human. And those I think will resonate with with other people. And they will be inspirational.


Marc Ensign 48:16

Yeah. And so I, in preparation for the book launch, I had gotten shirts printed for the for the book. And it was from the the cover of the it was the cover where it said, you know, don't be a dick that don't was crossed out and which is got to be like when you're on the receiving end of like an order Go Go got New Order in and then you look at it, like it's got its, you know, kind of make you think. But I went through CustomInk, and I was only ordering three or four dozen shirts, you know, so maybe 50 shirts total at the most. And I totally got the date screwed up. I thought it said that I would be delivered on Tuesday, the fourth or something like that. But what it was it was going into production on that Tuesday. And it was gonna be another week and a half or something before it have them and I needed them Oh, the week after the Monday after. And so I reached out to him, I said, Hey, look, I know that it's going into production. Is there any way we can speed it up? Like what would it cost to have this these things overnighted or high production, you know, sped up so I can get them quicker. And so she wrote back and she said I've already upgraded your production time. So now they're going to be printed tomorrow morning. They're going to be sent tomorrow afternoon overnight, and you'll get them on Wednesday morning. And we've waived all the fees. And I was like wow. So So I mean shaved a week and a half of the turnaround time. So I wrote back to her and I said I was like look I get it. I really have to thank you like that. You know you have no idea that that helps me out a lot of stress off my plate. I appreciate it and I just need you to know that be a dick is actually a good thing. And I explained the story in a couple senses. And I said so. So by you doing this, this was very much like a dick move. And as a thank you, I would like to I'd like to send you a copy of the book. So if you could send me your address, and her response was too late, I already bought it yesterday. And so like that, to me was just extraordinary, like, over the, over the top customer service, you know, and and so what do you think happened next, I told everybody that story, and I tagged them on it. And I told the story 100 times anybody you know, if you ever need t shirts, these are the guys to go with. And, and, and as a result, like, I've created my own commercial, you know, for that didn't cost him a custom 20 bucks in expedited shipping or whatever,


Francisco Mahfuz 50:43

nothing. Yeah, it's, it's funny, perhaps a little tragic that it would take a very, very long time in after you know, marketing advertising have been with us. For people to start realising that, all you have to do is Excel with your customers, like provide them with a lot of value, be nice to them go over and above to help them. And then that is your best advertising. You know, James Bond also works for no place, I'd rather be there. But this stuff is, I think that these are the things that will keep people customers for a very long time. I mean, it's, it will take a lot from CustomInk. If you ever need shirts, again, they will have to screw up so badly. To get rid of the karma they accumulated with you that you'd have to think that that cannot be done. So they've got a customer for life. And even if they haven't, you know, getting if they're not getting more business from you, they will get word of mouth for life. And


Marc Ensign 51:45

well, and that not only that, but like like, the next time I need shirts printed, I'm not going to even shop around for price. Like I'm just gonna go right to the source. Why would I even look to see what cost anybody else I know what I'm getting. I know that they're going to deliver because of that experience. And I had a similar experience with with JetBlue I was flying to Boston for for something the the flight was supposed to leave in five minutes and the plane that wasn't even there yet. And so I tweeted something that was just like, Hey, is it a bad sign? If the plane you know, you're supposed to be leaving in five minutes, and the plane isn't here yet. And and so


Francisco Mahfuz 52:24

that's that's a big move.


Marc Ensign 52:26

Lower lower case, but I was I was just I was just kidding. Like, it was a joke. And so they had responded, you know, we're really sorry, what can we do? And so my response was like, I don't worry about it. Like this happens, you know, you guys were actually like on the app, it said that the flight was an hour later, whatever. I was just having fun. And they're like, if there's anything we can do, let me know. So I can I have to find these tweets, who's so funny. And so I said, Oh, well, if you're asking if there's anything that you can do, I'd like to steer the plane. And and so the response was, like, you know, they're like, well, that's not even an option. Like, like, I was like, I was like I'm not looking to take off our land. Like, because let me just hold the wheel a little bit. So that we can't do that. Is there anything else? We can get you? So I was like, Well, what about unlimited snacks? So they're, like, done. And so, so it was this really funny back and forth. And we're just having a good time with it. And then like two months later, you know, I'm flying


Francisco Mahfuz 53:25

and just just a second, you do realise that the things you're asking them to do when they say, you know, what can we do for you? You're not asking for for, you know, a reimbursement of the ticket. You're not asking for an upgrade. You're not asking for things that normal grownups should ask us to violate the plane, or to have unlimited snacks.


Marc Ensign 53:48

Like, I think either one of those options were really great.


Francisco Mahfuz 53:54

Isn't you you at some point of the book. You mentioned the Wonder Twins. I got that joke. I got that joke. So you know, we're on the same side. I'm just pointing it out to the audience that there's something odd about


Marc Ensign 54:10

little, yeah, a little little cockeyed. But, but But the funny thing with with the whole with that whole, you know, interaction was I was flying somewhere else a couple months later, and I was getting on the plane and and I tagged JetBlue that I was like up so you know, board that JetBlue plane or whatever. And their response was, I we just radioed in and had extra snacks brought on the plane for you or something, something along those lines, you know, let me know more unlimited snacks. And I was cracking up because like, and I know how it works. I know I'm in like something they have some kind of software that like pulls up the last week and it just, you know maintains a conversation or whatever. So they can, you know, case case was like back and forth. I know that was a couple different social media people that I probably spoke to over the course of this whole thing. But because of that moment From now on, the first place I go is JetBlue. If I'm flying somewhere just JetBlue fly there, because I want to keep that conversation going. And I want to have like a that was, it was a level of customer service that was above and beyond that, I want to, you know, like, I never got that from American Airlines or delta or anybody that Lea. So the airlines. But, but JetBlue really came through.


Francisco Mahfuz 55:24

And we've, we've had so many hiccups, technically with with this, with this recording that I'm aware that we are well past the time that we said we will record for. So I just wanted to circle back to deck. And I just wanted to ask you because I was looking at your speaker page, and you have a list of three talks that people most asked for, you know,


Unknown Speaker 55:48

I just stick there because he doesn't seem to be well, how does that mean? This is, this is how you change the world.


Francisco Mahfuz 55:56

Change the expressions be a deacon Dick move and whatever else we can come up with to play to refund that


Marc Ensign 56:03

a lot of the community are dickheads go to go there perfect.


Francisco Mahfuz 56:09

How come please tell me that this is in the works. Because it has to be you have to get it in there somewhere.


Marc Ensign 56:16

It's it is it hasn't been up until now because there was no book. And because there was no book it became I got I got a lot of pushback from people that were just like, well, it's a little too vulgar, vulgar for what we want to do. And, and I had a very good friend of mine who's a professional speaker, and he had told me he's like, Look, you can't, you can't tell that story. Because you'll never work at like, you know, Google or Chick fil A or any of these, like big, you know, corporate speaking gigs. So and then one morning, I woke up and I was like, oh, that's big in there now. Like


Francisco Mahfuz 56:51

it's not as if they're hiring you over and over and over exactly. This person made that that dig story, you have to let that go. Like you cannot use that here.


Marc Ensign 57:02

So good. Because the thing is that there's there's just like, and this is done on purpose. It is it's there's a lot of shock value with the title. And with the name of the talk and everything else. And although all these principles are like so valuable within a company, or with you know, within community or, you know, there, it's incredibly important, the delivery is because you know what that title is got a shock value. And if there's no book attached to it, it's not clear, like it takes too much digging to figure out what it really means. So now that the book is out, you know, very similar to your scenario, like, Oh, now we'll do a lot of talks on this because everybody's gonna want to hear this story. Now that nobody's speaking anymore.


Francisco Mahfuz 57:48

Or, you know, or you can Trojan horses, that story 100% would be a crowd favourite, if, of course, all favourite. So, you know, the talk doesn't need to be called, you know why being a dick is great for your business or whatever you have, that's gonna be but you know, if he just needs to be there, you know,


Marc Ensign 58:09

there's, there's something powerful about standing up in front of a room of people and just saying, you know, my name is Mark, and I'm a dick, and then waiting, and just letting them soak that in for a second. I think getting into it. And I do get into like, within the first 30 seconds about that this is about my neighbour deck. And it because otherwise, if you leave too long on that, it's just it's too it's too horrifying. Like they're filling out the comment cards.


Francisco Mahfuz 58:32

Well, you know, you you reached out to me, and you said, Hi, um, my name is Mark, and I'm a dick. And I saw that you had written a whole bunch of stuff. And I just immediately started typing, saying you had to be a dick. I think it's I 100% agree with you. I also think that having seen people like Scott Stratton speak, I mean, he's saying way worse stuff than kind of, you know, pure oil, the teenager dick joke. And it's just couched in a way. And that makes sense. And it's depends on other people who speak to as well when there is 100% The market for companies that would not flinch at the idea of a dog called be a dick. Why blah, blah, blah, blah. But bidding even if you didn't want to do that, just take the story in there. And because it's a it's a great story, it's a great message, as you well know. It just needs to it just needs to be there because that's the one that I've seen lots of other stuff that you that you're doing it all of it's cool, but it's not this, right. And now this


Marc Ensign 59:37

is this is this is one of those things that like, you know, when I put the book out, I knew that I was like, okay, am I ready to be the dick guy? Because that's, that's, that's what this is. It's like, like, this becomes like the, you know, your Opus or, you know, whatever. Like, this is gonna be the thing that you get to be known for, like, are you ready for it? You know, and now my kids Oh,


Francisco Mahfuz 1:00:01

it's so terrible what it says about us but definitely me how it doesn't stop being funny to me and I keep your head it's like no, you have to hold on to this one. Just you know, probably not sad about 15 day jobs throughout this oil. Yes, it's awful.


Marc Ensign 1:00:16

It's it's, it's a you know, it's one of those things that like my 10 year old self is like, show proud. Like, somehow you figured out a way to make a living telling


Francisco Mahfuz 1:00:26

your kid Zach must be cool. You know? My dad has a book called be a dick.


Marc Ensign 1:00:32

He will actually he says he he'll say like he'll you know call me a dick or so somebody addict or whatever. And he says all the time he's like, after he says you can't get mad. You can't get mad at me. Like I know you could do you don't have to say it with such an evil smile on your face. You know what you're doing?


Francisco Mahfuz 1:00:52

Well, you know, you're you're you've made you've made your your bed and I will say no more. Yeah, let's just leave it at that. Mark. Where can where can people find you so so so the book is out now. It's called a deck. It's amazing. People look for it. They'll find my five star review in there. Why did I name it? I think I said you never look at the x the same way again.


Marc Ensign 1:01:23

That's probably my favourite part. Or like all the reviews like what people come up like I want to see Nick's everywhere was like


Francisco Mahfuz 1:01:32

a bookseller still very strongly recommended. What else where else can people find you?


Marc Ensign 1:01:37

So yeah, yeah, the the website for the book is I want to be addict calm. And I my personal site is Mark Ensign calm. It's ma RC ens ign.com. Love mouse's lab mouse.com as well, cool. I'll


Francisco Mahfuz 1:01:51

put all of that in the show notes. It was a bit bumpy, but I'm very glad you reached out. Very glad to did this. This was tremendous fun. Thank you. I appreciate you having me. Alright, everyone. 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 the show and scroll down a little and when you see the stars tab. I'd really appreciate it and he does help other people find us. 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



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