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  • Writer's pictureFrancisco Mahfuz

E48. The Sommelier of Company Culture (and Stories) with Mike Ganino

Below is an AI-generated transcript and therefore it may contain errors.

Francisco Mahfuz 0:00

Hi everyone, Francisco here. Just before we get started, I wanted to share something I'm really excited about. I recently launched the story powers bootcamp, a course that teaches you everything you need to know about how to find craft and tell stories that work. But it's not just an online course, because you get personalised feedback from me for all the practical activities in three hours of life coaching to work through any challenges, or focus on specific projects. So it's like if you bought a cookbook, but the chef came along with it. So go to story and click on Course, all the information you need will be there. So please check it out. And if you love the show, and would like to support us, you can go to buy me a forward slash story powers. I drink about five coffees a day, so any support would be much appreciated. All right on with the show.

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 Mike and Mike is a storytelling and communication expert who hosts the mic drop moment podcast. He's the author of company culture for Dummies, and has been named by global guru as a top 30 culture speaker. Now he uses his broad business experience and his many years as executive producer of TEDx Cambridge, to teach storytelling presence and public speaking to some of the biggest names and brands out there, like Disney, the American Market Association, and Uber. I just met Mike, and my first instinct was to hate him. He's got amazing hair actually knows how to dress even though we're the same age, the best of looks 10 years younger than me. But since we both love storytelling, good wine, and Ellie mcbeal, I think again, find it to my heart to forgive. Ladies and gentlemen, Mike and Nina. Mike, welcome to the show.

Mike Ganino 2:01

Thank you does, you know it's funny, as people at the top of the show, they always read the bio. And we always pretend to be like, Wow, how nice of you. And everyone knows who's listening like you wrote that yourself. But that last bit was so original that got me. So thanks for being original, that book is winning.

Francisco Mahfuz 2:16

It's a mission that I never set out to have when I started this podcast. But I think I tend to think that, you know, if I can, you can find something amusing right at the start. And we have a bit of a laugh, it just sets us off on the right foot. And the other thing, which again, has happened over the years, and over the years over the over the last year during this This podcast was that so many podcasts are just exactly the same. So if I heard mica Nino in one show, and I hear you in another show, it's the same bio. It's the same questions. It's the same conversation. And I find that boring because I've heard you in other shows, I don't need to hear those interviews again. So I'm always trying to find something a bit different. So we can, you know, go a bit deeper in the conversations and also so you know, you have fun, because otherwise it's just work.

Mike Ganino 3:10

I love it. I love it. So did you actually, did you actually watch Ally McBeal? Is that true?

Francisco Mahfuz 3:15

Oh, yes. Um, I was a massive, massive fan. It was he was on cable TV in in Brazil, when I was growing up. I'm from Mizzou. And I think I watched the whole thing even though you know, I it was difficult to watch it after Robert Downey Jr.

Mike Ganino 3:33

It was Yeah, the last the last few seasons went a little bit. It's like they ran. They were like, I don't know, let's just do some wild things. But I remember I used to watch that show. And I had a teacher in high school. My math teacher Laura Mattson, who I think is now a principal somewhere. I looked her up on LinkedIn one day, and she loved the show as well. So we would both watch it on Monday nights. It was on Monday nights for a long time. And we would watch it on Monday and then Tuesday morning, we'd come in and I'd come into her class early because I had her like the first class of the day. And we would talk about the episode of Ally McBeal the night before so that was so fun. I love that I there should be like you know, they do those podcasts where they go backwards and they rewatch an old show episode by episode we should I will come I'm gonna come find you one day we're gonna do a play show I

Francisco Mahfuz 4:17

think yes. Because my because my reputation in public image doesn't that needs needs that added on to it. Bo kinetic

Mike Ganino 4:27

there's worse things there's work.

Francisco Mahfuz 4:31

That is very much true. That is very much true. Now one of the things that I know you are very much into is wine. And since you're into wine stories, and if I understand correctly, you love or used to love Latin American culture. I wanted to ask if you know about the greatest wine story perhaps of all time, which is the the Carmen air story.

Mike Ganino 4:55

I mean, I know about carbon air pretty pretty heavily. I've drank a lot of it in Chile. I did a I did a Chilean trip one time where I hosted a bunch of small Yes, who came to Chile. And we had a lot of Carmenere. But I don't know maybe the story you're talking about.

Francisco Mahfuz 5:09

Okay, so the story I'm talking about is that carbon air was essentially gone. So people thought he was extinct, because in the late 1800s, there was a uninsured. I don't know how to pronounce this, but it was a phylloxera plague, or whatever the name of the plague is, and it is essentially gone. And it was, they couldn't really, they didn't have to have it anymore in Europe, and most people thought it was completely extinct. And then in 1994, this French researcher guy called John McHale, block seeker, he was visiting the Maipo Val Valley in Chile. And I think he was one in one of the Chile's oldest vineyards. And then they showed their show him there are lows, which are supposedly very different in Chile. And he's looking at this mirlo vines, and he thinks that, you know, the stamens of the vines are just too twisted. That's not what a mirlo vine looks like. So he tries the grape, and he says, but this is not mirlo This is Carmen air. And they're like we're, and then eventually they did DNA tests on it, and found out that this was common air and had survived in Chile and become one of the most popular grapes there. But no one knew it was common air, they just thought they had the sort of different, you know, funky type of mirlo that everybody loved. And that's when it started to come back. So I think officially, it's only sort of 20 year old grape. It we're not waiting now. Now. 30 year old grape in most places, but But yeah, it was completely gone.

Mike Ganino 6:35

Yeah, it's like it's one of those interesting grapes too, that you know, like all of the grapes came from from Europe, essentially. But it thrives and chill a it is so good in Chile, it's like mall back in Argentina, where my back is, you know, from France, but it's, you know, used to blend mostly in France. And so I love these stories of these, these grapes going these vines going to a new country and being like, we're gonna thrive here. But carbon hair is so good. And also like, such a great buy in most places, because people don't know about it, they certainly don't know all that you know about it. And usually get like a really good bought like a, like a $20 bottle of carbon air is going to beat a $20 bottle of cab or mirlo. Any day of the week.

Francisco Mahfuz 7:17

Yeah, it's a very consistent graph. In in Brazil numbers, he has a lot of wine production. But this is fairly recent. And when wine started becoming a bit more popular in Brazil, because people started having a bit more money. Chilean wine urgente didn't, wine came through a lot. And Carmen arrows still is one of the most, you know, safe and reliable buys you can have, you know, it's not going to cost you that much. You know what you're going to get, it's rarely not good. It's pretty much what I drink when I go to Brazil, because you can't really find it in Spain, where I'm based, it's just yeah, I mean, you have to try very hard. And it will be very expensive if you find that whereas there, it's it's everywhere.

Mike Ganino 7:59

But Spain, you also have so many great, so much great wine in Spain, and you're so lucky there too. So

Francisco Mahfuz 8:06

so this is something that leads into more of what I want to talk to you about because you do your wine Wednesdays on your podcasts. But I haven't really heard you talk much about the relationship between wine and stories. And that's when I I think about often since I you know, when I did any wine tasting. And then I found out about you know, the famous the bottle, the story of the bottle shark movie in California where they, you know, the blind tasting California started appearing in the scene. And recently, recently, last year, a year or two ago, I went to one of those restaurants where everything is dark, you don't cool. So they have, you know, blind people as as the waiters. And it's a great experience. But the part that stuck with me was the wine. Because you just say, you know, I want wine, or I want cover or you know, sparkling wine. But you don't say rosy or white or red. And you don't know what it is. And you try it and you're like, Oh, what did I have? And we got it all wrong. We thought we had a mix of different clients, it was all red. And they said that even when they get producers in one producers, if they change the temperature, then people have no idea what it is, you know, so a colder red, they think it's white. And they said they've even given them like box wine, which here is dirt cheap, you know, like less than a year for about for a box, and they put it in the freezer and served it and we were like, Oh, this is a delicious Albarino and whatever. It just is just couldn't tell the story of the wine and how much that affects our enjoyment of it. I think there's a lot of interesting things to be said there.

Mike Ganino 9:44

For in my, in my keynote in one in one of the keynote speeches that I that I give. I talk about how, you know storytelling is so often storytelling. It's like, oh, it's nice, but like I don't have time for that or I don't have that. So I will tell us stories about like how stories changed business. And so I talked about a time when I was in charge of the the wine for a specific group of kind of casual Italian restaurants. And people there were used to buying Kiante because you know, Kiante, like, if you go to Italian restaurants like, okay, Kiante is a safe read choice, because Italy has all those while you know, like 700 grapes. And so it's like, I don't know what, you know, these different grapes are, so I'm gonna just get Kiante because it feels safe. And because of that people have a price point, like, I'm not going to pay $80 for Kiante. Because I know that in the grocery store, it cost me this much. So that's how much I want to pay. And so we had this thing where people were buying bottles of wine, but they were only buying, you know, 35 or $40 bottles of wine, because that's what the Kiante price and we had a $60, Kiante and $80. And they didn't want it, they were like 40 bucks is good, because that's what I you know, I would pay 20 in the grocery store. So I'll pay 40 in the restaurant. So it's like, how do we increase their wine sales in this Italian restaurant, besides just selling more wine? How do we sell different wine here because we had such a great list. So we put together we put together three wines from the same region. So we did the Valpo Chela, the apostle and Amarone A, which are all made from the same grapes, they're all made from the same three grapes. And to get the Amarone A, you dry the grapes out, and then you press them and you get this really rich flavour. To get the Valpo cello, you just make the wine and to get the repast. So you pass that original Valpo cello wine over the top of those squeezed grapes, and you get something richer. So I knew that we wouldn't sell the mRNA to a lot of people because it was 120 bucks. And our Valpo cello was 35, or 40. But I wanted to sell the $60 reparto. So what we did is we told the story of like how they make it and at the table, and we increase the sales of that $60 Which then increased our wine sales significantly because people were trading up from a $40 Kiante to a $60. repast. So nobody at the table wants to be the cheap person who says, No, we'll stick with the $40. One, they want that repossi, they'll look at the Amarone and say, we'll come back to splurge on that one. But let's let's have a little something nice. We deserve a little luxury. So they would get the apostle because it was something new. Because the story we told about where it was from Romeo and Juliet, the whole thing, it storytelling isn't just as you know, I mean, you're the you're the the man who wrote the book, Bear. So we know that it's not just about, you know, nice entertainment, fun things, it's about really driving people to action. And that happened with the movie Sideways, where we saw a huge change in Pinot Noir production, Pinot Noir prices, Pinot Noir purchasing, and, and a significant drop off in mirlo. And those same kinds of things, those same stories are happening everywhere, what we see in the media, what we know what we learn about, if you could get good press for your product, and it is attached to a story people love, then you're probably going to do okay, I mean, Disney is a great example of that they used all of the characters, we love to sell us experiences, products, all of those things that it's not because the backpack with Elsa from Frozen is so great. It's because we love Elsa from Frozen because of the story.

Francisco Mahfuz 13:08

Yes, and with with the wine, the thing I've seen in my own life is that if you have a richer story or a story with more details, it just means something completely different to you. And that's why every time you go into this is more wine tastings that you can do in Spain, and I'm sure you can do in California as well, where you you meeting the owner, and then you know it's less about how they took you around. And they showed you where they make the wine because that always kind of looks the same. But it's when they say I know I started drinking wine when I was eight years old, because my father would give me a little bit and whatever that story is doesn't even need to be a great story. But now, there is so much more detail attached to that thing. You're judging. And I think in the brain just values it higher. Even if the story in this particular exam, it wasn't a great story. It was just more detailed. You just flashed out this guy and this vineyard stop being what a prayer at wine. And he became the period wine, the visit we took and the guy who said this, I think that the brain just values, those those moments full of details. And that goes for wine. And it goes for pretty much everything else.

Mike Ganino 14:18

What's like, we need a reason. And if it doesn't need to be a big reason, we just need some reason to be like, well, this is worth $40 Because, you know, I heard about Julio who did this. And it's like, Why does that make it worth $40? And it's like, I don't know, but it does for some reason. And think of all the times you've gone to one of those wineries I was in I was in in 2019. I did like a six week trip in Europe. I was in Madrid for a week I was in Barcelona for weeks and so on. And I went to bananas for wine and it was so funny because you get there and I was like, Ah, I'm gonna buy this wine. This old man told me about his father and Franco and how they were like, you know, we're fighting against Franco in the caves. This is great. I'm gonna buy this wine. I feel good. back to my hotel. I was like hanging out in my hotel in Barcelona. I opened it. I was like, huh, it doesn't taste that good. Like, when I was there, wrapped up in his story, I was like, Yeah, I will pay 25 euro for this, I will pay 30. Yes, give me this wine. When I got it back to my hotel, and I was comparing it against the wines, I was having it all the great wine bars in Barcelona. It was like, Oh, for 30 bucks. This isn't very good. But I had my little story of the man and I felt good about it. And I think it's so many things in life where it's like, if we just have a little bit of a story attached, it gives us a reason. And I think that's probably why in that blind tasting, which is so classic, as a as a wine buyer. And as a person who was in charge of teaching people about wine. The blind tasting that we see people do on som and on these TV shows is so interesting, because they're getting so many other clues that aren't the actual wine. Because we think like, oh my god, they're smelling the wine, and they just know, well, no, they're looking at the viscosity. That's what people you know, they look at the legs of the wine. They're looking at all these things to deduce it's called deductive tasting. And they're trying to deduce it down and be like, Okay, well, I know it's not white, because it's red. I know it's not this because it's not going to be this kind of grape because of the viscosity. I know that the way it smells is probably from here. And it's all kind of just good guessing. And so when you take that away, people look at things like ah, this is served cooler, it must be a higher value wine because it was in a wine cellar. And so all of these contextual clues that are storytelling clues, really, they start to fill in our brain, and then we have to make sense of it. So we say, Oh, this must be a more expensive wine. Because the story I'm having is, well this wine is slightly chilled, it must be high quality. And even though it's $1 Euro, or one euro box, we think it's better because it's chilled, and it feels good and rich, and my mouth. I think

Francisco Mahfuz 16:49

the the challenge is always something that perhaps you and I don't need any convincing about but most people do is how so many things in life when it comes to human beings. If they're not objective, you know, and we're coming out, hopefully out of a long period of truth, but be very objective. But when it comes to things like wine, and other things you enjoy the things you give value to. It's not as if this wine A is better than wine B. Because even if you you could argue that it's a more sophisticated or more complex wine, and I'm sure that those things are objective. What is not objective is your enjoyment of it. So if someone convinces you that it's going to be a great wine, you're already starting from a different place, you know, the bottle, where it comes from, where you are the story that you get with it. And I think a lot of people would love to think of the world, they do love to think of the world as this this factual objective thing. And as I've heard, you say, you know, knowledge is not power. It's emotion that moves people. And wine, as many other things is about, you know, what emotions are associated with that? What are you expecting out of that, if all I give you is like a completely white room, no, some sort of no sensory input whatsoever, and just say, Here's Waianae, here's wine, be his wine, see, you know, same glass for every one of them. And I tell you nothing. Chances are, whatever you conclusions you come to, are not going to have anything to do if you experience them in the real world, as has been proven many times by, by science of wine tasting, and things of that nature.

Mike Ganino 18:29

And context matters so much to write because let's say that you're in that plain white room with these unlabeled glasses of wine, and it is humid in the room and hot. So it's high humidity and high heat, wine is going to taste different. If you're in that room, and it is cold in the room, not that the wines are cold, but that you're cold, then those wines are going to taste different. If you just drink coffee, if you just brushed your teeth, if you just ate an artichoke, those wines are all going to taste different to you. And so we tend to look at everything we think it's so objective, we think like, oh yeah, this is a good wine or a bad wine, or this is a good experience or a bad one. This was a great movie or a bad movie. But the reality is, all of the context matters so much to what we take away from an experience where like, throughout COVID times, I've transitioned to teaching storytelling on stages to teaching people how to be more effective on video. And one of the things I say all the time is that when we're watching you on video, all we have is that screen, and we are making up a story about you. So everyone went and got really obsessed with books in the background. And it's like books in the background doesn't necessarily make you look smarter or not smarter than the name of the book. It's like I want Shakespeare and I want this and that and I want branded books. And the reality is that whole thing is context. What is the lighting like? What is the colour of the room? What is the shape of the room? What are you wearing? How do you look? Your face is a stage like I've never met you outside of this interaction and online. But if I was in Madrid, and I saw you now, I would know who you are. Why not because of the shape of your body. Now, because of the way you walk, not because of the way you smell, probably not because of the way you sound, but because of your face. And that gives us so much context. And yet we forget that it's not just about the words that we set in our story, or the words that we're saying. It's about what was the face doing of the person? And how did I feel that morning? Was I mad? Was I annoyed? Was I tired? Was I angry? Did I not get any sleep? As we're both, you know, fathers of young ones? Did they not get any sleep, like what was going on with me? And then what was I picking up from that person. And the same thing happens whether we're talking about wine in a white room, the same thing happens if we're talking about like going to a meeting at work, the context of it, the shape of the room, the table, the way we're feeling, all of those things shape the story as well. And what I find is so many people in the storytelling world came from copywriting, like so many of the people teaching storytelling came from copywriting. But copywriting is very different, because you put it on a piece of paper, and people can take it with them. It's very different oral storytelling, because we are here together in a space experiencing something. And everything about that space shapes the message. And we forget that so often. And I think this wine analogy is a perfect way to say that as well, like, no, the sitting in the dark, drinking a cold box of wine, changes what we took away from it, you know, and that's a really good trick that you know, that whole gimmicky thing that they do, where they come over to the table, they opened the bottle of wine for you and give you the cork, and then nobody knows what to do with the cork. So they smell it, which is not, it doesn't you can't smell anything, that whole thing started because French restaurants at one point in the past, were serving people cheap wine, because it didn't open at the table. So you'd order like a you know, 40 year old bottle of wine, but they would bring you some you know, vat of table wine from the back because you don't know the difference, the average person doesn't know the difference. And so they would serve you this cheap stuff. So this whole thing of ceremony of opening in front of you was to prove that they weren't cheat serving you cheap wine.

Francisco Mahfuz 22:02

Yes, I trust the French to come up with that into practice like that. I wanna I want to take a step back from from from study for a second, I'm sure we will fall right back into it, because one of the things I wanted to talk to you about in something that you are significantly more of an expert than I am, is is culture. And culture is one of those words that can be very vague, and sort of corporate speaky. So I wanted to ask you, first of all, what is culture when it comes to to companies and businesses, and what is not culture?

Mike Ganino 22:40

It is one of those words that became I started speaking about culture in 2014. Officially, that was like my first gigs on that. And 2015 It was like the corporate word of the year, because everyone was using it. And I would get all these inquests of people wanting to work with me. And they're like, We need to fit we need to create our culture. And I was like, Well, you have a culture, it exists, like, it already exists. So what is it? Well, no, no, we don't have one because we didn't write down our mission and our vision and our values yet. It was like, Okay, we'll get there. But culture to me in my experience is about the the explicit stories that people tell. And also the under the surface stories that people tell, that drive the actions of the place. So what is the culture around leadership around speaking up, some of those might be explicit, we might say, We specifically do this. And then people see that happen. And then the story becomes, this is who we are. So we all do it. Other times, it may not be spoken at all. But we see that this is how you, if you speak up in a meeting, you're going to get shot down, if you know If so and so's in the room, that becomes an unspoken story that drives the way we act. So for me culture is the explicit things we see. But also the implied things. For example, here in in the United States, there's the explicit culture that we have around art entertainment, but there's there's implied culture that that drives behaviour, as well about, about race, about gender, all of those things that are not spoken, but still drive how we act. That is, that is culture, those things are culture. And so I think the big thing that people think culture is, is nap rooms, and fun parties and happy hours, or they think it's the mission and the vision and the values. And all of those things are important because they can be part of that explicit part of the culture. But they're just one part of it. And so I find often, in all the years that I was working specifically in that area, that people would want someone to come in to fix the culture and not really understand that, like, one of the things that we do all the time is great part of my engagement is going to be me. I want to sit in on some meetings. And it's like, well, why, you know, this doesn't have to do with the topic you're talking about. It's like, no, but the meetings are how culture gets played out. Who talks who speaks who shares that's part of the culture. So I want to see how it is because I can read what you tell me what you send me. But what happens is the culture,

Francisco Mahfuz 25:07

there is one approach to, to working with culture that that I like. And I originally learned it from the guys that anecdote which the big story consultancy, and they, they used to call them story circles. Now they call them anecdote circles, you know, just get a whole bunch of people from that the same level on the organisation together, not necessarily the same department, but the same level, and you invite them in, and then essentially, all you're doing is you're encouraging them to share experiences from the company, you know, so when was the last time that you felt really valued here? What when we talk about leadership, what examples come to mind, and then you get those stories, and then you take them up. So you say, again, I've we've done it, there's at this two levels of the company, there's three levels of the company, and then you meeting with leadership and saying, These are the stories that people tell in your company, in in in that can be very directed, for example, to values, right, so you one of your values is transparency, and then you ask them about what examples can you think of about transparency, and then you get stories that have nothing to do with transparency, or you get stories that are not quite what the company thought they were gonna get. And then it's not this survey approach to culture, it's okay. But this is what people actually say, like these are, this is what's going round in your company. So you know, this, this is what they understand is your culture might not be what you want to be. But that's what I understand. Well, and

Mike Ganino 26:35

one of the one of the things that I did that I used to do with groups is we would go in, and I would give them hypotheticals of like, okay, so say that this was going on, how would that play out here? So like, let's say that there was a disagreement about XY and Z. And then it didn't work out the way that it was thought, what would happen next? Typically, and those are really interesting, because those were actually like, not me trying to think through like, I don't know, what would like what, what do we value? Or what is, what is transparency mean to us, which then kind of sometimes forces us to go find a pretty answer, but to say, hey, here's a situation, what would happen next, and this? And that often would uncover? Well, probably, what would happen is that guy will get fired, okay, so we say the culture is one of accepting failure, but this guy failed. And everyone said he would get fired. And 10 out of 10, people said he would get fired. So clearly, there's fear here about getting fired if you screw up, which is probably why you're not getting a lot of good new ideas. And that was always a really interesting exercise. And we will come up with, you know, 10, or 15. Different. Okay, so let me drop you into the middle of a situation, tell me what would happen next. And it was often very similar answers people would share, because I wasn't asking them, What do you think should happen? Or what do you believe the company says should happen? I would say, What do you think would probably happen here, or what has happened in the past, and they would all go to the same examples. And so it was a very clear idea of like, this is actually who you are, I was I follow there's a there's a black woman who's a country music singer, which is, you don't hear that a lot in country western music of their being, which is so odd, because country music is from the south. And there's plenty of black people from the South, but they've just never been put out in front of the world in this way. They've never been supported. And so she's she's doing great things right now. And I saw her post something, there's a there's another artist who said some really awful things in was caught on camera. And she said, People keep telling me, this is not who we are. But it is who we are. This is who we are, because it keeps happening. And no one does anything about it. So people like him keep saying horrible things. Everyone says this is not who we are. But it clearly is who we are, because it keeps happening. Those are the kinds of stories that actually help us understand what's going on. So if you want to understand what the real culture is, so you could do some work on it, then I think you need to ask those kinds of questions, the anecdote circles or the the situations like I was saying, because that's going to give you a clue of where are we today, probably there's nothing wrong with your vision, your values, your mission, there's probably nothing wrong with it. What's probably wrong is that every single day, you don't do any of the stuff you said you would do in those mission, vision and values. So we got to fix that gap. I would say, you know, like when you're in London, there's that mind the gap between the train and the platform? I would say that's what we're looking for when we fix culture is what do we want it to be? And what is it actually? And then what are we willing to do to bring those two things closer together? Because the gap in the middle is your culture, the like, what do we say? What do we actually do now we need to look and say how do we close that gap? If we want to fix the culture?

Francisco Mahfuz 29:39

This is something that a lot of people who think storytelling is a buzzword or it's a bit fluffy, don't quite get is that a story you know, with with some minor differences, but a story is at the end of the day and example. So if you say to someone Oh, can you tell me some stories about your corporate values? No one will know what to tell you but if you say okay, can you just give me an example of when you saw that happening in the company, or when you didn't. And then you get the examples. And if you can't find any examples of the thing that you believe is the culture of your company, there is there's a very clear problem there. And something else you I think I heard you say that you compared culture to the sort of the operation operating system on your phone. So you might have great apps. But if the operating system is crap, then it's not going to work. In and I, I had a couple of examples come or comparisons come to mind. So one of them was very sort of mobile phone driven, which is, you know, all these chat groups, we have like WhatsApp, and there's the family group. And there's certain things you don't share in the family group, there's certain things you don't say in the family group. And if by accident, your mates, you know that the message that was going to your mates group goes to the family group, you're going to have a problem, because they're very different cultures. And I think, although it might be a bit of a of an abstract word for many people, I think we all know what it feels like, if you're with a group of friends or with your family, and you're, you're gay. And plenty of people who are gay, know that they cannot be openly gay, in some companies, or in some with some groups of friends, some, you know, some things you might say normally is are not going to be considered. Okay. You know, we're talking about the early microbiome earlier. You know, some friends of mine, I can talk about liking Eric magbio. And that's like, oh, okay, I didn't, I can't remember if that was a good TV show. And in some groups, I'll get some sort of crap gay joke about it. Because that's the culture of those groups. And I think we, we all know what that feels like. But when you call it corporate culture, people just don't necessarily connect those dots.

Mike Ganino 31:43

Yeah, it is. I mean, it's exactly the same way that I that I explained with, with public speaking and showing up and because I'll talk about, like how we perform, and people get this, like, oh, I don't know about that performing. I just want to be real. And like, well, what is the real you? What is the real you because there's this obsession with like, be authentic, be authentic, be authentic, just be yourself. And that's the worst advice, by the way, is just be yourself. Because there is not one self like, think about it. We can both observe ourselves right now. So we're both in this conversation. You listening there, you're in this conversation, and all three of us can observe ourselves right now. So which is the real you? Is it the one that's in the conversation? Or is that the one observing you in the conversation and observing your thoughts? Now, observe the person observing the thoughts go three people back is that the real you, which is the real you. And the reality is we're all multi dimensional, there's lots of different layers to us. And we make choices about which parts of us to bring into certain places, based on the norms based on the context, you know, the way that we dress and act in a fine dining restaurant is different than when we go to McDonald's. The way that we act, getting coffee with a friend is different than the way we act getting coffee in a job interview. And it doesn't mean that either one of those is the real us or the fake us it means we are all multi dimensional. And we're constantly making choices about who to be in order to move forward. It's like the character in a film or movie, that character is constantly the actor. It's constantly making choices about how do I show up here to move this forward? And that's what we're all doing in our lives? How do I show up in the chat room with my friends versus my family in order to move my scene forward? And that I think gets forgotten a lot. Because we we think the quest is to be some authentic real version of ourselves. And we forget that there is no that that really doesn't exist, that we're constantly making choices and changes. And I feel that in the world of work, for sure. If we acknowledge that more, I think people would be a lot happier.

Francisco Mahfuz 33:50

No, I agree. And I think that you mentioned characters in movies. And I'm thinking a lot of TV shows and movies. But this is something that I thought about often, particularly after I found out that Seinfeld's writing motto was no hugging, no learning in in Cypher in friends and TV shows like that a different case. But But in general, the TV shows that we tend to consider better are ones where the characters don't end at the same place that they started, you know, character growth is considered one of the most important traits of a good story. If you're always the same, then what was the point of that story? There's plenty of points to entertainment. And and I think a lot of sitcoms do that very well. But when it comes to most stories, particularly the stories we end up telling, in a business context, you need growth, you need learning, because if you're if you're always the same, then then there is no point to what you're doing unless you're in into entertainment, which is not usually the types of that's not what we're talking about here.

Mike Ganino 34:58

It's it's like the same thing with a movie as well. You want to see somebody go through something? And if they don't go through something fast enough, it's kind of boring.

Francisco Mahfuz 35:05

Yeah. 100%. So we talked a lot about stories and culture in the sense of sharing the stories and what are the stories being shared? Where do you find that storytelling comes in? When you're trying to, I know you don't like the idea of creating a culture when you're trying to influence a culture, or change a culture, how the storytelling comes in, then,

Mike Ganino 35:25

you know, it's interesting, we always talk about storytelling. And a lot of times what we're talking about is story writing, and story listening, and all these things. And so when I think as a leader, and this could be like a bit, I call it Big L or little L leader, I learned that at Disney, Big L is like, I'm officially the leader. And little L is I'm not anyone's boss, but I influence change around here and get things done. So if you're showing up as a leader in either of those cases, the kinds of stories we need to tell when we want to change a culture, like when we realised something is going on, is slightly different than the stories we want to tell when we're trying to like, remind everybody and applaud. So like when we're trying to applaud what's going right, we want to tell recognition stories. So a lot of times and I talked about the five stories that leaders need to be able to tell their whose stories, their house stories, they're what stories, they're learning stories and recognition stories, those are the ones we need to be able to tell. So the recognition stories are great for when you want to remind everybody of the great stuff going on. What often happens when someone gets recognised, when something great happens is they get a kudos, they get an employee gift or something. And maybe it gets mentioned in an HR newsletter that nobody reads, but leaders in the organisation don't actively start telling that story of what happened and saying, Let me tell you what Francisco did. He was faced with this big challenge. And you've probably all been there. He wanted to hit a sales goal he was at the end of the month, and it would have been really easy for him to do XYZ Can't we agree? Yeah, totally would have been. But here's what he did. Instead, he did this, he did that. And at the end, it was the right thing because it tied to this value. So that's why we're recognising Francisco today. That's the kind of storytelling that instils Let's do more of that weave that into your orientations to your meetings to your whatever you're doing. The challenge comes when we start to tell the whose stories which is like who we are our origin, the the what stories, what we do, what is the direction? What's the vision, where we headed the house stories, the value stories, when we start to tell those without any acceptance that things are different than what we're saying? Because then what happens is people say they go to the kitchen, and they say, so what's it really like? Because I heard them over in the meeting, talk about that we value, you know, integrity, but then I heard this thing go on. So what's really, what do we really need to know to survive

Francisco Mahfuz 37:41

around? Yeah, I mean, what what you get when there is that disparity is you get advertising? Yes. And advertising is a very different thing. I mean, you can just play into storytelling and advertising, but but it's very different than the types of things we are talking about. And something I think I've heard you say was a Keynote or something like that, that I see I've seen. But you're you had because your podcast is called the mic drop moment, which is a pretty cool name. I think it's substantially superior to the name of my podcast. But I think you were talking about creating mic drop moments. And this this presentation I saw was in a cultural context. What would you define as a mic drop moment when we're talking about internally in the company and not in a presentation type of context?

Mike Ganino 38:28

Yeah, so in a mic drop moment, it would be recognising, let's say that it was somebody who wanted to was working to shift the culture, the mic drop moment comes from, it has to happen both ways. You have to be like in your truthful place, like speaking of truth, speaking from truth, and the audience has to recognise that then you have that mic drop moment, because if you just say a thing that's like, wow, I said a thing, and nobody else feels that way, then it's not a mic drop moment. And if the audience says, Oh, my gosh, you just said the thing we were begging to hear. And you don't feel like you did anything. It's not a mic drop moment. It only is a mic drop moment when you have that together. And so if I was trying to change the culture somewhere, that mic drop moment would probably be subtle. It wouldn't be a huge, like, boom, I did it. But it would be a moment where you talk about, here's what we promised. And here's what we've created. And we realise that there's a there's a gap there. And this is what we think we can do. This is where we are and that truth of imagine a leader doing that. Imagine a leader standing in front of their employees are sitting around a meeting table with their employees and saying, You know what, I know that this is who we've said we were. And I've heard over and over and seen that this is who we actually are and I realise that I have responsibility for that. And this is what I'm committed to doing. And I'd really like you to come along. Imagine how if that leader was saying that from their heart from the truth, and the employees heard that from the truth, that's a mic drop moment. It doesn't need to be a zinger where you like, say like bam, there's the joke everyone needed here. It needs to be a moment where everyone gets those little goosebumps and they say, Wow, we just experienced something together. And that's one way to do it, the recognition story. I think in most cases, if an employee had done something well, and the manager, the leader told the story the way that I just did, which is, let me tell you what this person was up against, because it isn't a recognition story, when we just say like, Hey, Carla did a great job. And here's a cookie for because she does what we always want to do. It's a recognition story, when you say, it would have been really easy for Carla to do the wrong thing, it would have been really easy not to take care of that customer and just move on. But she didn't do that she made a choice. Let's talk about what happened there. Then you if you're Carla, you're like, Oh, my God, they actually see me, they didn't just see the outcome where I made a customer happy and yay, for me. They actually saw what I went through to make it happen. Imagine how that feels. That's a mic drop moment for her and probably everyone else listening because you and I know that storytelling has ripple effects. And that if someone's feeling it, other people around might feel it too. And might say, Ooh, I can't wait for them to tell about me going through something. So those are the mic drop moments, I think that can happen in small ways that don't have to be these big, you know, on stage performances. But it's me being truthful. And you having an experience there and us together feeling something

Francisco Mahfuz 41:14

that relatability, which is in a great way, what you're talking about is, is one of the essential things of any story. Because if the audience is not relating to watch, have gone stopped what you've gone through, necessarily, but to the emotion that you felt when you went through it, then you've missed the mark. Yeah, essentially. And I don't know that this counts as a mic drop moment in death criteria. But I I actually just today put this out on social media, because I read about it last night. And I think this is sort of serendipity because of your background in the restaurant industry. But So Danny Meyer was the owner of Shake Shack, he was in one of his restaurants, I think was Union Square. And he next to him, there was a family, whereas there's this woman that had just moved from the Midwest, to New York. And her parents were there, the parents clearly weren't happy that she had moved. And she wanted to show them, you know, the bath New York headquarters. So she took them to this to this fancy restaurants, and everything is going well until the dessert menu comes out. And then the Father looks at it and says, What is this $42 for a glass of dessert wine. I mean, this, this is what's wrong with New York, and then the the waiter hears it. And we've all been prompted by Daniel anything. He goes into the kitchen comes back with the bottle, which was a chateau UKM, or whatever. It's supposed to be one of super rare and expensive dessert wine in three glasses. And he goes to the table and says, Listen, I overheard what you guys were talking about. First of all, we're really happy to have you here. And the winery we're talking about is one of the rarest best dessert wines in the world. And I would we would love for you to taste it. And they just put the three glasses down gave each one a sipper. And so as you know, on the house, enjoy and walk off. And then Danny was saying, when we talk about great customer service, that's what we're talking about. It cost us almost nothing. The customers loved it. There is no question of, you know, you really listen to that you understand exactly what that means. And it's so much more powerful than some abstraction about we always go above, over and above for the customer, like you know, then I think this is a dynamite line, or a Carmine Gallo line because it's on his book. And he says, you know, the mind is wired for stories is not wired for abstractions. You can tell as many abstractions or value conversations as you want. But you need the story, you need the example. Otherwise, people just don't get it or they don't get it to the level that they would have gotten. It should give them something to sink their teeth into.

Mike Ganino 43:46

Yeah, I say this all the time when I'm working people working with people on a message, whether they're going to give a keynote speech, or they're going to address their team or their you know, whatever the case is, whenever they're going to say something is part of our job is to impress people. And what that feels like I'm saying is like you need to be like razzle dazzle perfect. Think of an impression, though. So impress people. And impression means you left a mark, what our job is when we are communicating is our job is to create a memory. That is our job, because there's so much information we've got, you know, our phones, and we can find all the information in the world that we needed any time. And so if all we're doing is is being a broker of information, then we're not needed anymore. Because Google and YouTube are much better and much faster than we are. What we can do as humans is we can make impressions on people, we can create memories. Well, how do you create memories, there has to be an emotional reaction. We don't remember things that we don't emotionally respond to. So this, this moment at that table, created an impression on those guests. And there's an emotional piece there for them. They're going to remember that I'm sure they talked about it. It's given Danny Meyer fodder to talk about it turned into currency in some way whether it's just story currency, whether it's cold or currency, or whether it actually turned into like real money because people want to have their moment like that at that restaurant, our job is to create memories with people. And we cannot do that, if we're scared of the emotion. And so that server in that moment, heard what they said and didn't back away, there's a lot of people who would have heard that and be like, good, just gonna, whatever not going to address it don't want to get into like that territory with them don't want to feel anything together. But instead said, I'm going to take the step into that emotional, emotional circle that they're in and see if I can't be part of that somehow, and then created a memory or an impression. And that is our job. With all of these things. If you're out there, and you're listening, and you're like, I'm in charge of telling our values, right? So often, the stories of values in an organisation look like a dictionary definition. It's like we value putting customers first, which means blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, we value integrity. I've never went anywhere where they said, we really appreciate liars. I've never run into that company, but integrity, honesty, innovation, we've

Francisco Mahfuz 46:02

never worked in the timeshare industry.

Mike Ganino 46:06

And so we hear of these values, and then we wonder why like, the employees didn't memorise them, or the employees need to memorise them to pass a test. And it's like, that's never going to be as rich as creating a memory on them. And so when I've worked with people on the values piece of it, it's through finding the stories that we can attach to their values. And I always say, if you don't have a story of that value from like, the last month, then I would say it's probably not a value. Most people we say things are values. And it's like, I value not running over babies on the street. And it's like, well, no, that's just kind of like a, that's just kind of normal not to do that

Francisco Mahfuz 46:41

you have you have a bit of a problem with your examples when it comes to this conversation, because you just said not running over babies on the street. Now, I've heard you say somewhere else not punching people in the face is not a value. I'm sure if it isn't a few more episodes of you somewhere else, I can make a collage of all the things you don't think our values, and then we just put that out on social media and you're done. Yeah, does not think these are good values. Right? Right. Nobody over baby's not punching.

Mike Ganino 47:10

They're certainly not differentiating value. For most of us, it's like most of us would agree that's true. And so in a company perspective, saying like, we believe in taking care of customers, and you're a customer service company, we get it. What we need you to say is, what is the challenge? That's why earlier when I was giving that recognition story example, we need to understand did did Francisco just do the thing that was like easy to do? Or was there was he up against the wall and made a difficult choice? And if he did that, then that's really a value. Otherwise, it's like, well, no one questions this and I never have to think about it. So is it really a differentiating value if I'm never challenged on it? Probably not. And I think in most cases, in most organisations, even if you're a solopreneur, and you're putting together your your sales deck, your sales pitch your website, and you want to talk about what's important to you do it through a story where that thing was challenged, and you made the right choice for you anyway. Because to go out and say I'm a good person, because I didn't punch someone in the face or run over a baby or serve people poison that doesn't differentiate you in the same way that saying, You know what, it would be really easy for me to do XY and Z because that's what the industry does. And it just always felt wrong to me. And I was at this place where I had to make a difficult call and I did it. And that's the kind of person you get when you work with me. If you're interviewing for a job. That's the kind of story you should be looking for.

Francisco Mahfuz 48:34

I'm surprised you've managed to go all this time talking about this without using another thing we have in common. You found a cool way to change the acronym WTF? Airventure

Mike Ganino 48:46

Oh, yes. Like you really. I have been on hundreds of podcasts, and you probably the most well researched person and you've got a lot going on. So thank you. I feel really special right now by the way you are impressing on me you're making memory for me here. Yes. WTF? I say to look for the WTF moments in your experiences in your work and what those mean because I you know, I've been on stages that like Disney and banks and things like that, where I can't say what it really means is what the friction point what was the moment where you thought, Ah, this is the way it is and this is the way I think it should be and those things created some heat some friction, look for the heat because those moments are probably the places where we want to hear the stories about why didn't you just do what everyone else did? Or why did you do what everyone else did and you realised it was the wrong thing to do so look for your what the friction moments where two things rubbed up against each other and created Heat. Heat is always good. We're little heat seeking beings. If you if you have a child you realise that they're always seeking out some little hot spot to get comfy or cat even. We seek those out all the time. So find those what the friction moments because that's probably where like, I mean think about your own life, right? Like if you think about like the meaningful things The times you really remember, it's probably times where there was some friction in there, right?

Francisco Mahfuz 50:04

Yeah, it's that. It's that thing that people normally talk about when they talk about stories, and they use different words for it. But that story needs a problem. A story needs conflict, it needs a complication. You need that friction. Otherwise, it's, I mean, it might still be a story, but it's a very boring one. And it's not going to meet the criteria. You know, you can call it whatever you want. But, but every story needs to be relatable, it needs to generate a certain amount of emotion, and I would argue, also needs to be specific when it comes to the moment and the details. But you need the emotion and you need the relatability. And if there is no friction, you know, if the characters don't care, why should we, I think it's a great term. And the reason why it stuck with me is because in my book, when I tried to tell people how you start a speech representation, I always said that your introduction needs to be WTF. But for me, that stands for weird, thought provoking, or funny. So you need to aim for one of those argue that a story meets at least a thought provoking criteria. But but you need a WTF intro. Otherwise, you you're not going to have your audience for very long. Now, there's just one final thing that I wanted to pick your brain on, before we completely overrun our time, and our family invades the room. I mean, my children have been screaming for the last 45 minutes here. But you know, so what I wanted to ask you is when it comes to because you had a lot of experience working with, with Amazon, Amazon rivista, in TBEX, Cambridge, which is the longest running TEDx event, and what I wanted to ask you there is, when it comes to using stories in that type of context, what are the type of mistakes that you've seen people do? And I've got, I've got a feeling for what some of those might be, but But did you see people because people realise that they need to tell stories, but I think there's some things they do that are not really what they're meant to be doing that type of speaking.

Mike Ganino 52:04

The biggest thing I think, and this is because there's in so many of the, you know, everyone has told everyone tell a story, tell a story, tell a story. So people often and specifically TEDx Cambridge, but in a lot of the TEDx world, they're researchers there. So they, they're telling other people's stories. The number one mistake I think everyone can make. And certainly people make it TEDx. And at TEDx Cambridge, people really make it because we're dealing with some of the brightest minds of the world, the researchers and scientists, is they'll tell stories, but they won't have any. If I'm here with you, and you're telling a story about someone else, I want to know how you feel about the story. I want to know what's going on for you, because I came to hear you, I came to see you. This is why we love certain, you know, there's certain artists, certain musicians who are great, they have great voices, right? It's like, okay, that was good, good voice, I was moved, because you know, she really got me. And then the artists who have a perspective when they sing that song, who aren't just perfect at the notes, but they have a perspective that they bring to it. Those people move us they create memories, they impress upon us because we assign like what they might be thinking about that song. Well, I saw Celine Dion in Las Vegas, in the first kind of shows after her husband had died. And it felt like oh my gosh, she's singing that to him. I don't know if she was, you know, she could be she could have hated him. I don't know her real life story. I know what she tells us. But we want to know what you think and so often on stage, and this happens to leaders and companies as well. But certainly at TEDx. People will bring stories because they've been told you need to open with a story or close with a story or have a story or tell a story share a story. And they don't have any connection to it any emotional response. And even if they tell the story really well, they're really animated when they tell it, I came to hear you. And so if you're going to tell me about someone else, I want to know how you felt about them. Were you in awe of them. Were you surprised by them? How did you feel as you went along? Those are the kinds of stories I love. And if you watch any of the people who are really good on late night TV shows, they're talking about very boring things like I went to the grocery store, but why we listen is not because of the content, but it's because of how they felt going to the grocery store. So that's the number one thing I see over and over and over is people have gotten the message tell the story. What I think is missing from so many of those learnings and teachings is the reason we want to hear you tell a story is because we want to hear how you felt about it.

Francisco Mahfuz 54:31

Yeah 100% I agree with that. And people often think that they need to be the heroes of the stories which is usually a mistake. But I also think that they don't get is did you need to be the guide not in the sense of you know, the the Yoda to your Luke Skywalker, but you need to be the guide for us. If you're bringing this experience to me. You You need to be there. You know if you are a tour guide you you are telling me about what I'm seeing, but there isn't needs to be a reason why you are telling you that and not someone else could tell me that. So, so yeah, that I've seen, I see that all the time, I thought that one of the things you could have said is that you kind of alluded to it were the people think that the story needs to be bigger, or it needs to be a story that now justifies all your expertise. So, you know, I heard, I heard you jokingly say that, you know, you started getting interested in storing January 11 1989, when you were playing Nintendo or whatever. And people like love this sort of bullshit origin story. Whereas everything I've ever done to my life has led to this point, when it hasn't, that's not true. And to, it doesn't matter. Like that's not the story you need to tell to connect to the audience or to make a point about or to try and say, you just need to tell a story that works in is relatable, in generates an emotion, and it can be a story about going to the groceries, it means you have some sort of enormous climbing Everest story, sometimes that's going to be the most appropriate one. But often that won't be

Mike Ganino 56:01

well, and and so that I've worked with those people who tell the Mount Everest story, or I've worked with astronauts who've been into space, and one of the challenges they have in their stories is that they, we have to make their stories smaller, because if you're onstage listening to someone talk for an hour about going to space, it's like, I don't even know what that's like, because I can't even fathom that whatever happened to me. So at some point, even that story, that big story of space becomes unrelatable. And then it becomes boring, and it doesn't make a memory. So what we have to do with those people with the big stories, is we have to shrink those stories down into like, what was the human emotion? So when you were sitting on the edge of the Earth, looking down, what did you think or say, because we need to find a way to get the audience to think or feel that as well. We need to get them to say like, what would that have felt like, oh my gosh, I know what that feels like. Because if all you do is say like imagine looking at the world from up there. I have no freaking idea how to do that. And so you said it earlier, and you're so smart to have said that I love it about be specific, find a specific moment, find a small moment. And that is where I think if someone's listening, and they think I don't have any stories to tell, I haven't done anything. You are wrong. You are wrong. I know. We don't like to tell our audiences, they're wrong, but you are wrong if you're wrong. I tell people

Francisco Mahfuz 57:16

all the time. They're wrong. I'm wrong all the time. So only fair that I can take my condition out.

Mike Ganino 57:24

It's good. Yeah. So those little moments are because most of us are living little moments every day. So if you can find the ones that help us understand something, then that's a story we're telling

Francisco Mahfuz 57:34

very much so and as you were talking about the Astro astronaut, I thought how difficult it must be to sleep in space with little or no gravity. And he reminded me of the time when I couldn't sleep because of my children wouldn't let me sleep, which I know from our previous conversation is something you're, you're perhaps going through right now. And the difficulty of doing anything, particularly something different difficult when you are on very little sleep is something everyone can relate to, or at least parents can relate to. And, and that's when you find that's what matters when you're telling the story and is not the fact that you're in space is a problem that you need to overcome when you tell it. But yeah, I agree with you. Everybody has a story. You just have to learn how to look for, for the specific moments when things change when you learn when you realise you made mistakes. And then when you pack that full of details you got you got a story worth telling.

Mike Ganino 58:33

I love that that's so true.

Francisco Mahfuz 58:34

I'll resist my temptation to add more nonsense, which I always do after getting a disinclined to end on. So Mike, if people want more mica Nino in their lives, where should they go?

Mike Ganino 58:45

I'm very easy to find. This is the benefit of having a name like mine. Once you figure out how to spell good Nina, which is GA, and I and oh good Nino. And you type in Mike De Nino. I'm going to be SEO to the top of your list. You'll find me Mike Canino on YouTube, Mike and Ito on Instagram, Mike Nino on LinkedIn and Mike And by the way, the those five stories, I have a little guide if people want it and go to Mike craft and there's like a free like 25 page workbook that guides you through those five stories that that I think all leaders need to be able to tell. Yeah, come find me slide into the DMS. Let's let's share stories about space and not sleeping and new dad stuff or whatever if you're out there.

Francisco Mahfuz 59:24

Amazing. Mike, thank you very much. This was a great pleasure. Thanks for having me. All right, 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 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

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