top of page
  • Writer's pictureFrancisco Mahfuz

E74. Clarify Your Brand through Story with Caroline Mays

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, the 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 Caroline Mays. Carolyn is a writer and the creator of switchblade lemonade, a defiantly unorthodox image crafting and bio writing salon. That's changed the meaning of the word bio by elevating its purpose from obligatory drivel to Epic credential designed to open doors and claim an audience for professionals spearheading a movement, she believes your bio should be so good. You could make a movie out of it. Caroline is also an amazing storyteller, and she thinks stories are all around us. Buildings tell stories. Quilts tell stories. Everything is a story and she also thinks people don't use the word story anywhere near enough. Now looking at her face I think if I keep going like this, you'll get an actual switchblade out. So ladies and gentlemen, Caroline Mays Carolina Welcome to the show.

Caroline Mays 2:01

Thank you so much for having me Francisco you started to get me there at the end I was like wait

Francisco Mahfuz 2:12

interviews and through through your newsletter, I'm very well aware that you you don't you think the void story is very overused and quilt and build these do not tell stories.

Caroline Mays 2:25

They probably due to architects and quilters, but I made me but it's like, I think you might need to. I don't know embellish that a little bit more and let us know what you mean. Because I'm lost, you know?

Francisco Mahfuz 2:39

Yes. And just to clarify something that I was slightly confused about when I was looking you up online. You're also not the same Caroline maze that goes by Carrie yoga bunny on Instagram, right?

Caroline Mays 2:54

I'm not I don't even know about Carrie yoga bunny. She's really in the yoga I get.

Francisco Mahfuz 2:59

I thought this doesn't sound seem to me like the same person. It's just a very different outlook on life and everything else. I realise I have been going down the wrong research path.

Caroline Mays 3:11

Right. Wow, I wonder I hope that's not happening too much to people out there. They're like, this girl, but all she talks about is yoga. That's funny.

Francisco Mahfuz 3:22

Well, I mean, beautiful, beautiful Instagram photos, but

Caroline Mays 3:29

I'm always like, I guess I can post a picture of my dog, you know?

Francisco Mahfuz 3:35

Right. So I, I don't usually like to ask the same questions that everybody else asks. But if we don't ask if I ask this question, then everything, almost nothing else will talk about to make any sense for people that are not familiar with your work yet. So what is the problem with with bios and about sections as you normally know them that you felt needed to be they needed to be completely obliterated?

Caroline Mays 4:00

Or? That's a big question, because it's a lot of stuff. I mean, first of all, they're written, I mean, you know, how they're written in these very kind of stale cracker way. And so it's, I think we're so used to resumes and cover letters and kind of jumping through these really formal hoops that when we are asked to say something about ourselves, we don't know we kind of approach it in this, you know, what, what do I say about myself kind of question, instead of like, what do I what do I need people to know, as it pertains to them? And so yeah, they're just absolutely, they cannot even come close to like scratching the surface of who a person is. And they're almost insulting with how boring they are. I mean, people are out there, living lives, having experiences going through shit, and this is what we had to say about ourselves, you know, just like this really, as I say, you know, in that intro there, you know, as you said, like it's just kind of obligatory going through the motions kind of writing.

Francisco Mahfuz 5:12

Yeah, I've seen a lot of people have a go not necessarily at BIOS or about sections, but about job titles. And I think you said, I think I know you said something, which I thought was dutifully said, which was that job titles can support the weight of what people actually do. And I think that's an interesting look at it, because because the fact that they're boring, I think most people weaselly agreed, they're boring, they don't start a conversation, they're the easiest way to end the conversation, particularly depending on what is it that you do. But I think you were particularly talking about things like coach or advisor or consultant that, you know, have dropped out and have become rife these days. So when you say they don't support the weight of what the person actually does, what do you mean by that can give you an example?

Caroline Mays 6:03

Yeah, I mean, every I work with a lot of coaches and consultants, and, you know, they're different in a lot of ways. They're similar in a lot of ways as well, I mean, but there's a, again, there's a whole person that has their own particular approach and their own particular energy personality, if you will, that they're bringing to the table, their own, you know, ideas and wisdoms, etc, etc. And so people get really hung up on it, because I hate those words, right? I hate the word copywriter. It doesn't do me any justice. But also, I think, spending a lot of time coming up with these really creative, confusing ways to talk about what we do is a little bit of a waste of time, just coming up with the perfect title, you know, because there's, you can, you can flush it out a little bit better in other ways, just by you can you can, you can give people a whole sentence, if you want to, you know, you're not going to give them if you're not a teacher, if you're not a police officer, if you're not a fireman. If you do kind of live in this, what you know, an esoteric world, you know, like, compared to most people, then they're gonna have a hard time knowing. And in a lot of cases they don't, they don't really need to know what you do written, it depends on where you are to what you're going to give people. So yeah, like, if you're at a party, you're not going to give people this like, elaborate thing that you do. And because they're just, they're not interested. They're just asking those obligatory questions. And so anyway, I just feel like it's a, there's lots of creative exercises that I'm sure you've seen on LinkedIn. Right? Where they'll say, they'll say something like, start with, they just like give people some kind of, what's the word I'm looking for? Like, just some sort of

Francisco Mahfuz 8:01

template? Yeah, exactly. The framework. Yeah.

Caroline Mays 8:04

And like, those work, and they're all a little bit different. I mean, pick one and go for it. I just don't think it's where you need to spend your time.

Francisco Mahfuz 8:13

Yeah, there's the one that most people talk about, which is, you know, I help x dou y sort of Zed. I've, yeah, it was fine. It's a bit boring. I it's, it's easy for things to sound samey. And I had a conversation a while back with, with a copywriter who, who has an engineering background and almost only works with technology stuff. And his approach was tell me what to do without telling you what to do. So his his headline on LinkedIn is, I can explain back to my mom, ah, he had this he had this idea that, you know, no idea but the first 55 characters of LinkedIn headline are the only thing you can always see wherever you go on LinkedIn. So if you're commenting on a post, they can read about 55 characters, they cannot read anything past that. So if you're going to have something cute, that's probably the place to have it because then it will encourage people to do something else. I toyed around with a few and when I was on the podcast with this guy, James Lorraine, I said Yeah, I know mine or something like you know, I help people attract their ideal clients whatever through the power of story and then I said, but I could just say become more interesting than Netflix. And he liked that and I thought well let's let's give that one a go and see if I'm not sued. And I have given it a go and and it's a conversation starter. So a lot of people go oh, that's that's that's quite nice. I like that. There was some people like what what do you mean by that? But I wouldn't tell us that with anyone. I'm not trying to have a conversation with my mom says What are you doing these days? It's not transcend. Mom. I help people become more interesting than Netflix.

Yeah, I think it has to be Saturday that particulars merch. Otherwise you come across. Yeah, you come across like a right douche. And that that wasn't the intention.

Caroline Mays 10:16

You I wouldn't go down that hole with my own mom either. So

Francisco Mahfuz 10:20

I don't know if I ever want to talk professional stuff with my mom. That that is that is just the truth of it isn't one to know she wants to know if I'm making any money. It says what are you doing? It's okay, when it's going well, it's alright.

Caroline Mays 10:32

Right? Making money. Are you happy? Are you healthy? Are you alive? That's all that matters. Yes.

Francisco Mahfuz 10:38

Yes. It's I'm okay. And I'm not doing anything illegal. That's just about everything. She she really needs to know. Yeah, so So when it comes to the to the about section, which is where a lot of people get to get to develop a little bit more, what is it that they do and who they are? Yeah, there's the obvious super boring CV style one that I think a lot of people have now realised you probably shouldn't do just our list of accomplishments. I mean, plenty of people still do that. But I think most people in the, in the entrepreneurs and self employed people probably most realised that they need to be slightly more interesting than that. But then I've seen you talk about how a lot of people then think the way forward is to be cute, and make jokes and because can try and say something funny, but that's not really what you advocate for at all, though, is

Caroline Mays 11:35

it? Yeah, it's either cute. Or it depends on what the trend is. Right? Like, right now. It's very, it's, it's been this way for a while, like, you want to be really sassy and bold, and drop some F bombs in there. Because that's the way you talk. And, you know, so that's been that's been hot for a while. Um, and then yeah, being cute. And then, I think, I mean, I hate to like gender eyes it but I feel like women tend to be cute. And and then men maybe try and be a little more machismo, you know? And so, again, that's just, that's a pretty broad stroke that I'm taking there. But it, you know, sometimes it seems like it does kind of fall in those categories a bit. And yeah, I think it's, I mean, I think a lot of business talk, or just any, anyone who's kind of operating in this realm, it seems like they do. It's a very, we kind of show up in these very condescending ways, and talk down to each other in in a very cute, friendly, superficial way. Everyone's real nice.

Francisco Mahfuz 12:54

So that's, that's a lot of what's what's wrong with with the way people write this, this these things. But one of the other issues and one that I think you highlight a lot in a lot of people might not have ever thought of it this way is that if you have a super boring by your about section, that is a wasted opportunity. Most people don't ever think of their bio as, as not as sales opportunities not going to be going for, they don't think of that as their marketing. They don't think of that as one of the best places to have a much broader explanation or illustration of who they are as a person or what their brand is about. But that is essentially what you are advocating for REITs that that bio, is sort of the gateway into it. I know you don't like the word brand, but that's how most people would understand it.

Caroline Mays 13:50

Yeah, no, it's absolutely true. And it's, I mean, it is kind of this, it's this real estate place, right. But I don't think people realise that you can build on top of it, like it will inform so many other things that you say about yourself that you say about your work, if you really kind of come to terms with, with what you can say about yourself, and I'm like, what are what is your perspective? What are some of your ideas? What are those little hidden bits of wisdom that you carry with, you don't even know that those can be and I hate to use this word but sort of capitalised on, just by recognising that they exist and using them in your work. You know, either when you're talking about yourself or talking about what you do, you know, or just kind of the flavour in which you want to show up. Right. So, yeah, it's it's not just like to have something cool to say in a particular space. On your website, it's also this like, it should be a wellspring of where ideas and where the essence of you, if you will kind of comes from

Francisco Mahfuz 15:11

you really resisting the word brand or ensure. Yeah, well, I don't see around it.

Caroline Mays 15:22

But I got, I have so many words that I that I step around.

Francisco Mahfuz 15:26

I know it's a minefield, it's a minefield. And I think, but I think it's important, it's important to reach out to realise that, that how many people don't get that the internet, the guest, the brand, the word brand, and the word story and storytelling, they've all been done to death. But the problem is that they've been done wrong. A lot of people don't get, like, I hate this. This always happens on LinkedIn, it drives me insane. Storytime, like hashtag storytime, like one don't ever announce it to people don't know what they know, they're not telling a story. They are just like, Oh, when I was a kid, I hated this. And that has been always the case, I still hate it. It's not a story. There's like a statement of opinion, it's something that don't put storyteller on your profile. And then, you know, because I check, I bet every time I see that I got let me check, just check. And then I go to the activity and look at like, 10 posts. Now one, sorry, no one story. So like, if you're gonna do it, at least do it. But the same goes to brand, I think I think a lot of people don't, they don't realise that. If you know, where you're coming from, if you know what you stand for each, if you know, the way you help people and our experiences informed your ability to do so that should show that should come across throughout your business presence, wherever that manifests. And in that's what most people would think of as a brand. The brand is not the logo. It's not like whatever the catchphrase, or they're just the company name. And and I think a lot of people just don't even think of that it could be more than those things.

Caroline Mays 17:12

Yeah, that's kind of a rookie mistake that people are thinking of their logos and their colours as their, their brand. I mean, it's part of your visual brand, for sure. So, yeah, it's kind of this big, you know, kind of malleable thing, what you mean by brand, but in terms of their, you know, their words, right? The things that they're saying, I think that I don't know, people don't I had someone I had a client or someone that I'm that's in one of my courses tell me recently, she was like, I just realised that, like, when I would write something, I would think that I just I got my point across. And that's all that mattered, you know, but in terms of really thinking about the reader, and how they were experiencing anything that she was saying, like hadn't crossed her mind. And so I think that's part of the glitch, too, is you're like, Well, I've said it, you know, I've said what I need to say about myself, and you're not thinking about the performance of your, your language, and what the experience is on the other side and how it isn't getting through, or meaning anything to anybody.

Francisco Mahfuz 18:28

Yeah. So there's, there's, I think we might as well jump into what is it exactly that you do? Because again, I sometimes forget that because I have spent hours and hours in your online company, so to speak, other people haven't so they know exactly. What is it that you do? So what is the shortest possible way you can describe what your buyers look like? So when you when you work with someone the bio that you produce for them? I could try to describe it, but I rather do it.

Caroline Mays 19:00

Well, so I think it helps to use the long form of the word which is biography, which is the, you know, the story of your life, so to speak. Of course, we know that we're not meaning like we can't write a book here. We have to have something that's very modern that's usable for the Internet medium. That could be used for video, it could be used for, like illustrations. You know, it has multiple uses. And so anyway, it is a quote unquote story. And as you probably know, I've referred to those as an epic credential, which is something that I'm had trademarked for whatever reason, but it's like, it's that invisible bullet point. Again, that thing that you don't get to say about your Self, which is where are you coming from? Where do you hail from? And so yeah, we could start from the beginning, we could start somewhere in the middle, we could start with something recently. And so anyway, that's another reason why I hesitate with the word story. But I think Biography at least gets a little bit closer with the understanding that it might be, it's going to be a specific portion of your biography that we is

Francisco Mahfuz 20:32

the closest definition that I can come to that is the one I use, although what I'm doing is not exactly what you're doing when I do that. But it's a term other people use as well, which is origin story in the sense of when the okay so this is, I have a feeling you might hate this. But so the way I talk to people about this is I say, okay, perhaps because I've read too many superhero comic books, I say, let's, we need to figure out what your power is. So what is it that you do? What is it that you're really good at that we need to get across here? How do you help people, once we know what your power is, then we probably can find somewhere in your past, some pain that is connected to that power may be the thing that motivated you to get good at it, or what what you suffered from not being good at it, or that you saw other people struggle with. And once you have the pain and the power, we probably find the purpose somewhere in there. And that that's the way I guide that conversation is because we could you know, we're going to tell a story of your life, we could go in any direction we want. And we could end up with many different things. But usually, you're writing that to show people that you either very good at something or very passionate about something. So So that's I think the closest thing I've seen, done or describe to the process you do, and because I believe that when you do that with people, you are obviously trying to that has been used to show them as one specific version of themselves, the one that has usually to do with their what they're doing professionally. Right.

Caroline Mays 22:06

Yeah, I mean, it's definitely going it's, it's written for that audience, right, that ideal person that they have in mind. Yeah, and I, that's cool. What you're saying, I think, for me, it doesn't even have to be like, power purpose, like all those those words that we use. But even just like perspective, again, I use the word wisdom, which isn't trendy at all. But it's like, how do you see the world? And how does that? How does that insight? How is that used to help other people? And so yeah, I guess you could refer to that as a superpower. But I think, I guess the word superpower or that phrase, it's like, um, it sounds like a big deal. You know what I mean? Like, oh, I have this power. But it can really be something as simple as your outlook on life, you know, and people's outlook on life can be something that needs to that when it's rephrased, or when it's written in a way that really punches people in the gut, just giving something new momentum with the with the language behind it is powerful in and of itself. Does that make sense? Yes,

Francisco Mahfuz 23:25

keep in mind that it the completed keep in mind that you are talking to a guy who has named his business story powers and has a little Wolverine figurine on the corner. So it's less that I genuinely am one of those people's like, what is your superpower and more than I'm a complete nerd. In anything, I can make a comic book tie in. I will actually when I on my on my like course boot camp thing that I that I have the whole origin story thing is like, Okay, this is now when I get a chance to talk about Spider Man. And that's, that's part of, you know, the great power comes great responsibility. So in and also I'm a sucker for alliteration. So yeah, that explains the sort of somewhat lofty highfalutin power pain, but it was it's like, it's the superheroes that explain.

Caroline Mays 24:17

That's cool. Yeah, that's, that's, that's part of how you think which is cool. Yes.

Francisco Mahfuz 24:22

Yes. Right. So yeah, so Okay, so because I, I read, I read a few of your talk. I've read yours. I've read I think maybe two or three of the stories you've done for other clients. And the impression I've got is that at least the ones I've seen, it was typically this Okay, let's, let's tell, usually a story but not always a story, as most people, at least as I understand it, from something in the past, there is some inciting incident in some cases that led them to start doing what they're doing. Now. I can think particularly the person who Who I think it was a burnout. He was going through burnout and then had almost driving the car off the road didn't, and then started later started a business about helping people avoid burnout. So that particular case is that, to me sounds is like a slightly more straightforward, what I would call an origin story. But yours is not so much that you're you're not relating anything specific in your past is more a mood than a moment.

Caroline Mays 25:31

Yeah, sure. Well, so that first example that you cited, was about someone who was bullied at work. And that kind of initiated this suicide attempt. Some people have those stories, right. I mean, a lot of people have, I guess, what is, you know, kind of, like these pivotal moment stories, right. But for whatever reason, they don't want to use it. So that guy that client came to me was like, here's my story, right? And we the challenge there. And this is always the challenge with anyone who has like this thing happened, I call it the ion was die, but didn't story. Like I almost died. But I didn't die. And I got the call diagnosis.

Francisco Mahfuz 26:19

I call that kung fu moment. Because I like that. Because the moment that Neo comes out, it goes I know kung fu

Caroline Mays 26:30

is downloaded. Yes, exactly. And so I think if it's okay to tell those stories, but you have to be really careful with how you tell them because they're so over done. And because they, they're so trite, they can easily be so trite. Like, this thing happened to me. And then I realised that life was worth living. And I'm here to tell you guys that this is how you live it, you know, in my seven easy steps, buy my book. Right? And so we're smarter than that. Now, we don't I think people with taste don't like it. And so and I like to think that most people, you know, are at least aware of it, you know, that that's dumb. And so yeah, and I think it keeps people I think those I almost died, but didn't stores as kung fu stories. They keep people from telling stories, because they're like, I don't have that, or I don't want to talk about this. I don't want to talk about my cancer diagnosis. My friends, who's also a coach has a cancer diagnosis story. You know, sadly, that's like, you know, that happens a lot. So, so yeah, so what do you want to say about yourself, and that's something that I always stress, like, it doesn't have to be that moment, you know, it can really just be about, like, what you've been doing with yourself. Like, that's kind of the flavour of mine, you know, it's like, starts off a little bit origin story ish. And then it I just used it as a parallel to talk about my writing life, like, I use my running life and my writing life and kind of parallel those two. And so, anyway, yeah, so it can be kind of aggregate of little bitty stories, it can be like this one specific story, it can be like, I have, you know, I have Asperger's does, you know, and like, here's how I run my business with that thing. Without making this person, the Asperger's guy, right? There's always like this little shimmy that you're trying to do to keep it from being that cheesy story that we're expecting. Does that make sense?

Francisco Mahfuz 28:43

Does it does and I, I've had many brands against the, you know, the one the idea of the one story that defines you, or the one story that anyone else would actually be interested in, in hearing and I, I have so much disappointed people with with mine. Because what what I have on my About section is, is this, something that only came to me not that long ago, remember, it was, you know, I was 12 years old, and you know, the horrible dream are standing in front of the classroom, and everybody's waiting for you to speak and you're terrified. And that actually happened and that the teacher had said something like, you know, please come up here and tell your story to the whole story to the whole class. And then my, my classmates, half of them were horrified. And the other half were really looking forward to see me crash and burn. And as I went up, as I went up there, I realised that that I was terrified, but I was also kind of excited. And it was because I didn't I didn't fit in into that school because it was like a fancy private school. And my family didn't have much money, but we had some sort of scholarship or something for me to go there. But then, you know, I couldn't I couldn't dress the same way the kids did when they went on school trips. I could never go with them, they invited me to their house, I got super embarrassed to invite them back to mine. And then as I'm walking up there, I'm thinking, maybe what if they read like the stupid things kids think, right? What if they really liked my story? Maybe this could be what changes everything for me. And they did. Like they really liked the story. They laughed, and they cheer. They asked me for more. And I don't think I go in. Anyway, at that moment, I did feel super, super popular. And I felt like it definitely fit in. And a lot of people were like, in that is when you look, that's what started everything. I was like, no, because I'm because I was stupid. Like, I didn't like take that as an insult. Like, it was great. And it was definitely a moment of highlight the power of stories to me. But like, the bell went off, and I went into recess. And I was like, I'm just the same nerd. Again. Like, I didn't go like I'm now a new person, right? I mean, I can use them. I do use that as this many different things I do when I tell you properly. But, you know, stories have been with me for a long time. There's a whole bunch of other near misses where I should have paid the patient and actually gone into the writing, writing or storytelling path. And I didn't and I did that for years and years and years. And that's the whole story. Is that is that I haven't I never really paid attention to, to that until I eventually did. But but a lot of people are looking for the super tidy thing, where it's like, Oh, yes. And then at 12 years old, I learned that it was all about storytelling. I was like, no. All right, unfortunately, unfortunately, it wasn't when you said Oh, geez, so So the near misses word that so I was a nerdy kid, I used to read a lot. I liked writing I you know, teacher liked my writing, which is why she asked me to tell the stories. And this is about I never actually mentioned, but the story was about detective tapeworm, who was down at heel detective that was always hungry and never, never solve any cause of the cases because he was too focused on food. And he had some hygiene problems as well. And he didn't realise he was kind of like, so inspired that was near plagiarised to some detective that existed but I was 12. Like, I didn't know any better. And I was like, I could do something with this idea that I did my version of the idea. And I remember going up in front of a class and telling that story two or three stories from that, because I kept writing them two or three times. But I didn't ever do anything with it. And when I got to university, I was thinking that at that point is like, I'm going to do journalism, because I love stories. I love writing. And that's the way to do it. But my father never gave me any advice. He said, Oh, but it's very difficult to make a living as a journalist, you should do advertising, which has lots more opportunities. And because I had gone to school where I didn't fit in, in my mind because of money. The money thing was always part of the story in my head. I was like, oh, maybe that's that's that's a good idea, maybe. And then I ended up eventually getting into like financial services, and I made money and it was always fine. And I was just bored out of my mind. And then at some point, a whole bunch of stuff happened. And eventually I was like, Okay, fine. I need to do something that I actually care about. And I get to do something that you know, I feel like getting getting out of bed for.

Caroline Mays 33:19

Yeah, this is the right story.

Francisco Mahfuz 33:22

The right story. Yeah.

Caroline Mays 33:23

So here's the killer.

Francisco Mahfuz 33:27

Yeah, yeah. So I, I used to have that as part of the story. And then it was one of the things that eventually led me to do something else. But I, I have anyone who hasn't listened to this, it's just this I had this, what he called my almost near death experience. When I thought someone had broken into my house and I was gonna fight this burglar, it turned out to just be a very big rat. But I thought I was gonna face a life and death experience and reevaluated by life. And that was definitely part of it. But as I started sort of telling it, I found that there was just one thing too many. And then I dropped that part. And then the true turning point. For me doing what I do now, was that when I found out I was going to have a second kid, because in spite of already having one and being a grown up, I still don't know how that process works, apparently. So it caught me completely by surprise. And I was like, I'm a grown like, I have a real job. I'm married, and I have two kids. This is it. This is the rest of my life now. And I'm like, No, No, this cannot be it I need to do something else. And that's what I, I, I started doing this, but we've we've gone completely off pace from what I was trying to say. Which was that so so when when I was trying to figure out what went into my story, again, there's so many different ways you can go with that. Right so i i Only when I wanted to have something in there that show that story was part of my life and had been part of my life from from an early age even though that's not what I'd done for most of my life. But I also wanted to have the true facts of how I eventually felt unfulfilled, and I needed something else in my life, that feeling of you know, there's got to be more than this. But when you when you help someone craft that, how important is something like showing their competence? Or their their experience at the particular thing that they're positioning themselves? Of? Is that a must? Or not necessarily?

Caroline Mays 35:28

It's a good question. Um, I would say it is not a must, because you have so many opportunities to talk about the actual deliverable, or the actual service that you're providing. That would be in a sales page, right? However, that said, there are things that you want to, I mean, there are things that you're going to you again, you're, you have a specific person that you're talking to. So you're telling them things about yourself that are relevant to them, which doesn't have to be about well, it's never really about the service or the offering. But it is about, again, that perspective piece on how maybe how you approach your work, or what's at the very fulcrum of your beliefs that informs your work. Yeah, or What's that little, that little thing of insight that needs to be, you know, highlighted so that everything else makes sense that you say about yourself? Right? So yeah, I think that there's it's doing a lot of, there's a lot of nuance there, like, what it's actually doing and what it's communicating. But yeah, it doesn't, you don't have to hit people over the head with it. That's first sales page. And that's what I'm always reminding, you know, again, like my quote, unquote, students is like, because they want to shove it all in, you know, and they, and then they'd have a five page piece. And it's like, you don't need that, save it, you know, it doesn't have to do everything. That's a lot of pressure on the story. And yourself.

Francisco Mahfuz 37:10

Yeah, also, because you you really going to struggle to then find the shareable version of that, you know, when I when I in my course I have, I have something which, which is I called it a there's a 15 second story, which is not really a story is more like a a line to get people to have a conversation, a 32nd story, and a one minute story. Now I can tell my school story in under one minute. I mean, that's easy enough, I struggled to do much more than that. Like if I wanted to get the ID the job and I was unfulfilled. That like, I would really have to hurry it, it would be really awkward that I would be trying to cram that much information in in one go. But if you have a five page thing, where are people going to read that? Because they read three paragraphs are four paragraphs and on about section, if it's super interesting, or a one minute, two minute video, they're not gonna watch a 10 minute video where you share your whole life's journey. Unless you're super interesting already. In which case, you know, they might not have needed your services to begin with.

Caroline Mays 38:17

Right? Yeah, where and who would actually read this five page piece? That's one thing. Yeah. Also, what's I mean, people ask me about links all the time. And I have a link that mine tend to be, which is about a page, page and a half, and there's a lot of breaks in their line breaks. But also, I think, again, it's important to know, even if someone doesn't read the whole thing, you now have this information that you are pulling from, and you have this information that turns into Keynote speakers, you know, keynotes or I've had people make presentations. And again, of course, there's like, the movies and you know, the videos and stuff that people have made. But it's also Yeah, it's something that you keep referring back to, and that that steadies you in the course, which is part of the function of the thing, right? It isn't always just to be read, because you're right, not everybody is going to sit down and read it. They'll have a better chance of reading. It's not five weeks long. But yeah.

Francisco Mahfuz 39:34

And that leads me to something that you might feel more comfortable than I do, talking about. But this is something I started as I did more than more of this origin story type of work with people. I started finding something that I'm still trying to figure out how to handle which is it kind of becomes or can feel like therapy to certain people. So I had this experience not that long ago. And you know, she actually I asked her for a timeline, there's one of the exercises in the course of timeline. So just to give, you know, the the timeline exercise, and then send that to me, and then we'll, we'll talk about it and see what comes out. And she actually had a go at writing the story. And it was like, you know, two or three pages long or whatever. So I'm asking her a whole bunch of questions about it. And at some point, I said, is it just me, or sort of your whole life story, you move in between these two extremes, because this was sort of how you were raised to think you should behave. And then you will rebel when you're going to the opposite stream. And this has happened at least like five times in all the stuff you told me. And as soon as I said that, she just went like this. Hmm. Now that you say that, that makes a whole lot of sense. And I'm like, Oh, crap. What have I done now? But I find it I clearly don't qualify to be having this conversation. I'm just looking at it from a narrative point of view. I'm trying to make sense of it. But like, do you get that all the time as well?

Caroline Mays 41:13

Yeah, I do. And I love those moments, though. Because like, that alone is like, worth people's time and money, you know, like to, to know these things about themselves. And then they can own that. I mean, I wouldn't know how to say, like, go forward with that information. You know, here's how you like, your Minja relationships that you've destroyed because of this or that thing. Right. But yeah, I think that's part of the beauty of the process is people glean so much about themselves, and their lives make a little bit more sense to them. And then of course, you can own it. And like, you know, that so you are you're like, you're this person that's vacillating between these two extremes, like always has to be on an adventure or whatever, you know, and that it's it's solid ground for people, you know, to kind of hang out there. Yeah.

Francisco Mahfuz 42:09

So if you ever wanted to stop doing what you're doing, and make a slight pivot into into, basically the same career, but with a vomit inducing job title and description, you could call yourself a life coach that helps people own their story. That's right. Yeah. Yeah. I'm joking here, but

Caroline Mays 42:32

I know. Yeah. I'm like, my brain is like exploding. I'm like, that would be a nightmare. I could never, I could never tell. Yeah.

Francisco Mahfuz 42:43

I'm joking. But I'm joking. But I'm not in the sense that I am 100% certain that what happens with a lot of people that work with you, in happens, I'm sure with some that work with me is that you've given them a story about themselves. That is incredibly cool. That makes sense. That shows them as a person with direction with a goal with capabilities with a journey that is not just a hot, random hodgepodge of stuff happening to them. In the sense, you've given them agency. And even if they never use that, for any commercial purposes, I think there's a lot of a lot of like life coaches and therapists that, that aim to do that very thing. So if they, if they got nothing else out of the exercise, but they felt a lot more confident and about themselves and thought that their life journey or whatever you want to call it is actually pretty cool. That in itself has a lot of value for I think people's mental and emotional well being. I keep I keep telling people that at the end of the day, you have to decide what things mean, right? You know, you get something happened, you figured out what it means. And then you can tell that as a story, if you don't know what it means is very difficult to tell it as a story. And if you're doing that exercise, to just give meaning to the stuff that happened in your life and then know that you're choosing that meaning, you know, there's only so much you can do it can completely change it if it was something else. But you can try. And and I think that to a lot of people that that alone is going to give them the super feelgood factor after having done the job, regardless of any commercial benefits of which I'm sure there will be plenty of benefits and uses for that story. I'm not sure you I don't think I'll ever advertise it as such.

Caroline Mays 44:46

Yeah, you might not use it, but you'll carry it with you in your heart. Yeah. Yes, it's like I've actually had this work in reverse Verse were people and this was like, really early on when I was way too cheap. And like just churning these things out. It was a really dark time. People

Francisco Mahfuz 45:14

Oh, I I've just as you said that I, I, I'm still at a very cheap stage. And, and I said, as I launched the course I had like a better price. I had some people wanted like some obscenely low prices. And then I was just working with this person. And she was like, Oh, my mind still blown from recession, blah, blah. And I said, Yeah, it's no surprise that some people charge. And I quoted how much I know you charge. And it just like, yeah, no, no, I I'm very aware that I've gotten these very cheap.

Caroline Mays 45:47

Yeah, I know, those people are super lucky. Yeah, you gotta find that sweet spot. Like before, they're, you know, taking off or whatever. But, but I've have had it happen where people have said, like, they said, like, this is too cool for me. Like this doesn't? Like, yes, it's, it's everything that I said, I can see it, but they do have a hard time, you know, living into it. And that's, that's where I would say, well, you need to go get some therapy, because because you, you know, you absolutely could you know, but it is different. You are showing up in a way that is, you know, I wouldn't be i Yeah, just the word vulnerable. I mean, I suppose it's vulnerable. But if you're comfortable, you know what I mean? Like, with your story. And if you quote unquote, own it, you know what I mean? Like, you're not going, it wouldn't be a big deal. You know what I mean, at all. And so, and you want to show up this way, like you You came to me for this reason to tell the story. But I think sometimes people are still feeling a little bit victimised sometimes by some, but you know, by what happened. And so there can be kind of this holding period where people are sitting on this thing for a long time and need a couple more years before they are ready to go out there with it.

Francisco Mahfuz 47:14

Something that I mean, I think that what might happen to some people, is is the last thing I wanted to talk to you about which is which has to do with language. Because you use say things like fulcrum and be hooked behove and circuitous. And you can actually, you know, link something on your, on your website and the button says watch mislay. Now, not many people can get away with with language like that without coming across stuffy, or pretentious or whatever. And you obviously are an incredibly talented writer in sometimes what I think, having looked at some particularly yours, yours is the one that that jumps out to me. Although obviously you want to show off that you can write. But it is cinematic, it is not like I will never tell a story that way. Just because the types of stories I tell I'm not going for that field. I'm going for conversational. Everyday I'm sitting at a dinner table. This is how I talk, I'm telling it the same way I would tell at a dinner table. I don't think that a bio like yours, for example. You wouldn't describe yourself to someone with those words. They are too cool for regular conversation. I think so. So that that was the question I have for you, which is you you seem to land on the language is there to be used in and it doesn't need to be simplified. It doesn't need to be dumbed down. But I don't think a lot of people feel that way. A lot of people that they think now you should write like you speak. But you don't seem to fall in that camp at all.

Caroline Mays 48:57

No, I have the fourth right like you speak. I mean, I get right. Like you speak in the sense that I mean, I don't have beef with people who do it. I'm saying I have beef with the with the idiom there. But like you don't, it's what it means that you don't have to sound like a pretentious dick. You know what I mean? Like you don't need to show up and you know, with your tie, you know, on straight, like buttoned up to your neck and like speak like a professor. But I also think that right, like you speak has gotten out of hand. Like I can't even read the Internet. I'm so bored. And so I think that I personally I would be very bored writing like I speak like I like the act of writing would be boring to me if I did that. And so I think that I mean, so you're walking that line where you're not getting so full of yourself, right that you're just like making something that's just for you. But at the same time, it's your writing, which is not the same as Speaking my brain and I think a lot of people's brains have a different expectation when you're reading versus when you're hearing somebody speak to you. Like, I mean, there's so much on the internet where I'm just like, it's like you were like earlier, when you brought up the person on LinkedIn who like says, storytime and launches into the story, and there's no story there. Whatever they needed to say probably could was one sentence long, right? But she's like, I'm just gonna tell this conversational, you know, laid back story, and she's wasted everybody's time. And so, anyway, yeah, I think some people do what you're talking about very well. And I actually, so when I email people, when I do my quote, unquote, email marketing, it is kind of hard for me because it needs to be

Francisco Mahfuz 50:50

marketing. Quote, unquote, you use the exact term that is to define what you're doing. I love it. She's being quote unquote, vulnerable, though she is the

Caroline Mays 51:08

words that get used all the time, right. And we think we know what they mean. But they don't. Well, I wouldn't some people say vulnerable, they mean, like, I'm gonna show up in like, air my dirty laundry here, right. And when I say vulnerable,

Francisco Mahfuz 51:21

though, hate the word. Just because people don't know how to use it. It's a word.

Caroline Mays 51:28

I cringe. I cringe at so many words. But anyway, email marketing is like, yeah, it is more conversational. I do kind of have to loosen up, you know, which is hard for me to do.

Francisco Mahfuz 51:40

I don't know, I haven't. I've read you. I've read you more than I've heard you. And and I think there is a very particular personality that comes through your writing. And I have friends that get just, they have no clue what I'm talking about. And I say no, I love I love the voice of this, right? They just don't even know what it means. But it's difficult to talk, the way you speak the way you write. Like, I mean, I'm sure there are some people that can pull that off. But the vast majority of people don't. And again, it's just different mediums. And I think where the confusion sometimes lies is people like I write the way I speak. Because most of the things I write are just oral stories that I would have told the exact same way to a person, I change stuff around, I change, I use different words, I move the hook of the story up, which I wouldn't do in person. But I am basically just recording an oral story. I'm not writing as I was writing a short story or a book. But I think what a lot of people don't get is like if this is meant to be read, and not ever going to be spoken. Then there's a whole bunch of other things that the written word can do, that you cannot do when you speak because you just sound like a weirdo. And yeah, I think perhaps sometimes it's just the, if there's power here that you're not tapping, then then maybe you want to consider tapping into that power, just because you never describe yourself that particular way. When you speak. That doesn't mean you cannot use that in writing. And it's that's the that's the feeling I get about that.

Caroline Mays 53:22

Yes, yeah, we? Um, yeah, exactly, as you say. I mean, it's, um, yeah, I had this discussion with people sometimes where they're like, Yeah, I would never, but I would never say it that way. Like, that's exactly right. But I would never say it that way. And I'm like, we'll start saying it that way. You know, because you like this. I mean, not, I'm not asking people to not be themselves. But if you love the language, and it resonates with you, if the concept fits exactly, but you've never used this word before, like, so what use it now, you know, you know, like, start using it. And so anyway, I think there is some stretching that we need to do. And maybe it's because of the whole like authenticity thing. There's another air quotes for you, you know, like, oh, well, I'm not being authentic. And it's like, yeah, you are, you're being like creatively authentic. You know, um, you are stretching yourself creatively. And, you know, doing something that is that feels new, you know, and different and hopefully exciting.

Francisco Mahfuz 54:31

On that note, if people want more Carolina in their lives, is switchblade The best place to find you.

Caroline Mays 54:39

Yes. Also come find me on LinkedIn because apparently I don't have enough followers. I need more of LinkedIn. But

Francisco Mahfuz 54:46

yeah, I was. I was going to I have this as like, I'm gonna talk to her about this when we just finished recording but like, I don't know what's going on. Maybe you haven't realised that maybe occasionally. You have to invite some people to connect with you and follow you, but you have the following on fake accounts. Like if someone puts up a fake account to try and scam people, they will have more followers than you. But that's how bad that has gotten. So I know there's some scenes that I

Caroline Mays 55:16

yeah, I'm late to the LinkedIn game I thought of it as like the old pep Hall of like, you know, social media networks. And so, um, so yeah, I got to work on it. But and I hate I saw your posts the other day or you were like, I wouldn't be on social media if I didn't have to be and I definitely fall into that camp. And so I don't know what I'm gonna do about it. Like, I just need to, I think I need to do more like speaking in groups or whatever, but like, social media, like that's just not going to be my jam. I need to accept it. So

Francisco Mahfuz 55:50

I have some things you did some tips for you that I think I think don't kill it off prematurely. I think I think even how are you right? You will be it will be criminal to be sending those posts out for two people to like them. And it's not it doesn't take much but but yeah. Okay, so switch by the people can find you on LinkedIn. And if they want to see the similar things but with pictures of your dog then they should find you on Instagram, I believe.

Caroline Mays 56:19

Yes. And I'm switchblade limiting on Instagram. Not carry yoga bunny.

Francisco Mahfuz 56:26

Yes, but if you want if you want some tips on yoga and beautiful imagery, then carry yoga Bernie is is who you should

Caroline Mays 56:35

find Carrie yoga. Bonnie

Francisco Mahfuz 56:39

Gatlin. Thanks, Facebook for giving the show. I'm glad we finally did this.

Caroline Mays 56:43

Yes. Thank you so much, Francisco is lovely. Alright, everyone.

Francisco Mahfuz 56:47

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 tap. 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

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page