E89. Why You Need An Origin Story with Robert Tighe
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Francisco Mahfuz 0:00
Hi everyone, Francisco here. Just before we get started, I wanted to share something I'm really excited about. I recently launched the story powers bootcamp, a course that teaches you everything you need to know about how to find craft and tell stories that work. But it's not just an online course, because you get personalised feedback from me for all the practical activities in three hours of life coaching to work through any challenges, or focus on specific projects. So it's like if you bought a cookbook, but the chef came along with it. So go to story powers.com and click on Course, all the information you need will be there. So please check it out. And if you love the show, and would like to support us, you can go to buy me a coffee.com forward slash story powers. I drink about five coffees a day, so any support would be much appreciated. All right on with the show.
Welcome to the story powers podcast, a show about the power of stories, the people who tell them and why you should be doing you too. I'm your host, keynote speaker and storytelling coach Francisco. My first guest today is Robert J. Robert writes origin stories for business leaders and aspiring leaders want to stand out from the crowd by defining who they are, where they come from, and why they do what they do. Before he started helping business leaders tell better stories. He was the country editor of the red bulletin and adventure lifestyle magazine published by Red Bull and he was also the ghostwriter behind zero to 60. A book that was a number one bestseller in New Zealand. Robert is also the only person I know who has been banned by LinkedIn twice. He swears he is mostly innocence, but I'm not sure. I actually believe that story. Ladies and gentlemen, Robert, I. Robert, welcome to the show.
Robert Tighe 1:52
Good morning, Francesco. Good evening, and nice to meet you. And hey, thanks for that wonderful introduction.
Francisco Mahfuz 2:02
So just in case someone is, is terribly curious about that part. We don't need to spend a great deal of time at it. But my understanding is that at one time in the past, you believe that was perhaps not the worst idea in the world to have some sort of automated to on LinkedIn, they you know, that got you into trouble. And the second time you weren't doing anything, or it wasn't you weren't using anything like it, and they fought you war. That was pretty much it. Right?
Robert Tighe 2:31
Yeah, I hope the LinkedIn powers that be are not listening to this podcast. But yes, I did use the software to for about four or five weeks last year, and I got a warning, a couple of warnings, and then my account was suspended. So I got rid of the two, then yeah, a couple of months ago, I got suspended again. And I was like what, you know, what am I doing wrong? For some reason they don't specify in the email, they just say that you're contravening their terms and conditions, I can only suspect that it was the fact that I opened quite a few of my kind of connections, posts feed, you know, every day just to check in and see what they're posting. And they maybe assume that my activity was done by a bot, they mistook me for what I was doing for a bot or an automated piece of software. And they suspended me again, and they initially said it was it was a permanent restriction of my account, which would have been really, really damaging to my business. And then as you know, you've built a, you know, a very, very good following on LinkedIn. And I'm not quite in the same league as you but I really value LinkedIn as a as a as a platform for connecting with like minded people and connecting with clients and, and thinking and thinking out loud, essentially, that's what I do on LinkedIn as I think a lot about you know, what I do and why I do it and post about it. So yeah, it's been an interesting journey with LinkedIn. So fingers crossed, it's the last of my my problems with LinkedIn Francisco.
Francisco Mahfuz 3:48
Yeah, the idea of getting banned is kind of terrifying for me as it would be for you. Although, I must say that for someone who is concerned about that type of thing, I I can always rein myself in. So although no, I don't I don't have a swear I don't think I put out posts that are in any way controversial or anything like that. I don't think I ever had more than one or two people trolling me or putting comments in that would be sort of hostile. But having said that, I have I have posted videos where I am pretty much naked by the end of them. So
Robert Tighe 4:29
okay, okay. Be careful be careful. Great. Yeah,
Francisco Mahfuz 4:34
when I when I did that, I actually what I used to cover my naked bits was a banner that said, link then please don't bend me.
Robert Tighe 4:44
Hey, I didn't know I didn't know was gonna be this kind of show.
Francisco Mahfuz 4:49
Well, you know, this is this is how I wrote you you're originally from you're Irish. But are you from Dublin? Or do you have just met your wife in Dublin
Robert Tighe 4:59
met my wife and Dublin grew up on the other side of the country in Galway in the west of Ireland. And a familiar with the West of Ireland, but beautiful part of the world rains a lot. And apparently apparently when I was eight years old, I told my mother I said, Mom, I'm never living in Ireland when I grow up. And she said, she said, why? And I said, it rains too much. And she laughed at the time, she thought I was joking. But yeah, 40 years later, here I am on the other side of the world. And in sunny New Zealand, I met a kiwi woman in Dublin, roundabout 2000. And I moved over here in 2004. So I've been here for almost 20 years now,
Francisco Mahfuz 5:32
the only part of Ireland that I know is is Dublin, which I think is probably by most Irish people would be considered a shame. And I say this because I think the first Irish person I ever met was, was an Irish guy who moved to the south of Brazil, and opened a very creatively named pub, which he called the Shamrock. And he was it was the first Irish Pub in Porto Alegre to sit in the south of Brazil that I come from. And he had a really fake Irish accent. And I am, I'm terrible at accents. But I did his for some reason I can kind of do. And I always remember that one. One of the times I went there with a friend, I was telling him that I was, this was only just three months before I went to London. And he said, I want to learn the software, like the beers are fucking amazing. And pretty good. And I thought, you know, yeah, I mean, I'm really looking forward to it. And I hope I get to visit Dublin visit Ireland at some point, I don't really want to go to Dublin. It's just who come visit and go to Belfast.
Robert Tighe 6:40
But definitely Dublin is I suppose, like any other European city in a lot of ways, right? You know, it's got all the, you know, the usual chain stores and all of that. So I definitely recommend you getting out of Dublin and exploring a bit more of Ireland, if you do get a chance.
Francisco Mahfuz 6:53
Where is that accent from? Is that bow first?
Robert Tighe 6:56
The Irish accents are hard, I mean that they're so varied. So it's difficult for me to pick that. I mean, I'm from Galway, and there's a strong Galway, west of Ireland accent but yeah, my mind maybe isn't quite as strong, but like accents around Ireland just vary so much.
Francisco Mahfuz 7:11
Yours is very soft. And I remember that. We had that that same night, my friend, my friend who wasn't who spoke very good English, but wasn't very used to accents at least non American or North North American accents when she was paying the bill, which was like, oh, so how much is it? I think she's just a pint or something. It's like 520. So sorry, how much is 524 hours before an accident? And she just looked at me baffled, like what? What is it and I said 520.
Robert Tighe 7:40
This the speed the speed we talk a lot in Ireland, obviously, it doesn't help as well. I slow down a lot since I've moved to New Zealand for sure. I've
Francisco Mahfuz 7:48
only been to I've only been to Dublin who is only part of Ireland that I visited. But at least I got out a pretty amazing story. Because when I was in Dublin with my wife was the first time we had ever been there. And we just did the obvious touristy stuff. And after after a few hours walking when we were getting a bit tired of you know, listening to buskers playing with or without you, we looked for a place to have a meal, we found this, this super nice pub in the in the centre. And they pointed us to the to the mezzanine rest and said, Well, you know, it's a bit late, I'm not sure if you're going to get a table. But we went up there. And I think they still had a couple of tables available. And as we made our way to the table, we realise that sitting just next to us was heavier about them. And a person that looked like his brother. And so it's just a bigger group of us. But then my wife and all the other women, they wanted a picture with him. And I hate the idea of someone asking me for a picture when I'm out. And I imagine he hates it more. So we just said to them, Listen, I just just take a selfie like here, he's just behind us like he's gonna be in the picture. There's no doubt that he was going to be in the future. But now they didn't want to do it. So they they they waited until he finished eating. My wife speaks pretty good Spanish. So she waiters, when they're in very politely said, Hi, I'm a big fan, would you would it be okay if you took a picture with us? And he just finished drinking his wine, put his glass down, looked at her and said, Nope. Can't you see that I'm in the middle of a conversation and just turned his back to her. And that was it. She was filming and the other girls are really upset and disappointed. And I'm like I can never never watched a movie with him again. She gets angry. She gets angry just by hearing his name.
Robert Tighe 9:31
She's holding a grudge. She's not letting it go. Oh, yeah,
Francisco Mahfuz 9:35
very much so. Alright, so I think the main thing we're going to talk about today is his origin stories. So for anyone who who doesn't quite know what the hell that is, how, how do you define an origin story?
Robert Tighe 9:49
Yeah, to me, origin stories are all about minding your past and what I mean by that is reflecting on your journey reflecting on your experiences. your expertise, your wins and your losses, you know, in your career in your life, and I suppose the high points and low points, the kind of sliding doors moments if you'd like and, and the, you know, the forks in the road that, you know, ended up kind of having a massive influence on where you are now that essentially, for me, as far as is involved in an origin story, it's reflecting on those and distilling them down into, I suppose a story or a, you know, a group of stories that you can tell, really distils kind of who you are your business philosophy, your values and your purpose into a message that you can use, as I said, to wrap stories around. And also just to get a sense of, you know, what's my purpose, you know, what is what is my kind of my life and my career up to now, you know, what has it been about, essentially? So that's in a nutshell, I suppose, what the origin story process is all about, it's unpacking who you are, where you've come from, and that, obviously, and Simon Sinek inspired why you do what you do.
Francisco Mahfuz 10:56
So why would anyone possibly want to do that? Because, you know, obviously, I know, I have an answer for that. But a lot of people don't necessarily see the what, you know, what is the point of it, because even the people that understand storytelling as a powerful two, they can think, Okay, well, storytelling stories is, is a very compelling and engaging and persuasive form of communication. If I want to explain an idea, I can do it through stories in a much more interesting way than I would through just, you know, opinions or facts or data. But why? Why would you want to go through that much trouble to get to your story, or the story of what got you here? Why would you want to have that story? And how would you use it?
Robert Tighe 11:41
Right? And good question. I mean, there's that old cliche people buy from people. And now it's been overused and done to that, but it's, it's, it's true in most cases, right? I mean, obviously, there are some exceptions. But if you're a business leader, if you're running a company, people make up their minds about you, your product, your service, or your organisation, based on the stories that you tell, and the stories that other people tell about you. Right. And that's essentially how we, you know, make our minds up about about things. You have no control over what other people say about you. And the only thing you can control, I suppose, is the stories that you tell so so why wouldn't you? I mean, why wouldn't you kind of put your your your best side out there? Why wouldn't you share some stories about you and your journey as an entrepreneur or as a business leader, that reflects who you are, that I suppose give people a sense that you know, why you may be uniquely qualified to do what you do, why you're why you're the real deal, why you're why you're passionate about your industry, or your sector, or this product, or your service. And stories do that think that help reassure potential clients that builds trust, obviously, there's a content marketing angle to it. And when I started doing origin stories, that originally it started out very much as a content marketing play, you know, an opportunity for, for business leaders and business people to build up better, as I said, a library have stories that they could use in different situations, it's actually evolved into into much more than that, because by going through that process, and by understanding who you are, you get a you just get a much better, a much better understanding of you know, what your values are. And that makes you much more authentic as a leader makes you much more authentic as as, as a business person, and people are much more likely to connect with you. If they get that sense that, you know, they're seeing the real you the authentic you and not just not just a jargon heavy or in marketing lead kind of pitch. That's one of the keys to the arts and stories that it's about understanding yourself as it as it is a marketing plan.
Francisco Mahfuz 13:38
I guess the challenge to a lot of people in my job here is going to be to play devil's advocate for a great extent, because otherwise, we will just agree throughout most of this episode, is that I think once you've gotten used to telling stories, it makes sense say, Well, okay, we can be telling stories, but you also need to tell stories about yourself. And that is a very small shift for a lot of people. But I think the experience most people have had that work with their bosses with companies is that there is no such thing as an origin story. I was just talking to some I posted the other day about how I recently bought a new computer, and I bought about another Mac, you know, it didn't even cross my mind to not buy something. And I mentioned something about Apple and all the storytelling they've done, and then someone else on the comments said, Do they tell stories because I like I know a lot of stuff about Apple, but it's not like, you know, I'm hearing Steve Jobs or Tim Cook or any one of them that you know, I know what the brand is, but I don't necessarily, I haven't necessarily heard the Apple story or anything like that. So I think a lot of people there is this idea of you, we are talking about this thing, this origin story. And it's not a different version of something they've heard before. It's completely alien to the experience. They have typically had in the office, and I would expect you get that pushback often don't show that, who is doing this? Who's telling the stories? Isn't this a really awkward thing to be doing?
Robert Tighe 15:11
Yeah, no, listen, I totally get that. But I suppose you may be you may not be hearing Steve Jobs, his story now, but he told that story right back at the beginning, right. It's a story that's informed the values and the look and the feel and the intention and the purpose of Apple, you know, for the last kind of 20 odd years or 30 years, I would imagine, because he had that powerful story about what he stood for, you know, and he was very, very kind of clear on, you know, what we're doing here, we're not, we're not just making computers, we're not just making technology products, we're enabling people who create things, you know, so that that informed I think a lot of you know, what Apple have done. So while you may not hear origin stories overtly, as I said, that's, that's kind of, I suppose the point that it's not just a content marketing kind of play that here's my origin story, bang in your face, it's something that you share at appropriate times, with, with your team with stakeholders, in in pitches, for example, and in meetings or presentation, or presentations. It's not just a It's not just like vomit on the page. Here's my origin story, you know, and, you know, what do you think of my origins, it's much more than that. And so but I do get you do get your point. And and I think there will be some companies and some, some sceptics out there who say, Listen, I sell, I sell widgets, or I sell a technology product, nobody cares about my origin story. It's not about me, right. And I totally get that. It's not like like everything in business or in marketing, you've got to pick what's what's appropriate for you in your situation. But I think, especially if you're in b2b, or any kind of any kind of service based industry, where you're selling your expertise, where you're selling yourself, there's so much power in going, Hey, this is me, this is what I stand for, you know, and even in terms of say, recruitment, if you're looking to recruit people to your team, it gives people a sense of whether they want to be a part of your tribe or not, right? You know, if they know your origin story, they have a sense of the know who you are already, before they even pick up the phone or send in a job application. And there's real power in that. I mean, if you, if you manage to hire somebody whose values are aligned with yours, then you know, more than likely you're going to have a good relationship, it's going to be a good hire. If on the other hand, you don't, then you might have dodged a bullet. If you if you actually don't hire that person, because they've read your story and go, nah, I don't think that person is for me. So yeah, it's more complex than saying, Oh, nobody reads my origin story, why should I bother doing one? It's just thinking beyond what you can use, you know, thinking about the the different possibilities for using it, as I said, with stakeholders, with your team, with potential customers and pictures on your LinkedIn profile, which is where I started out, kind of writing my own origin story and thinking about my own origin story, which kind of attracted people who said, Oh, I can get behind that. Tell me more. So that's, that's how I would answer that question. Yeah,
Francisco Mahfuz 18:02
there are plenty of opportunities now that perhaps weren't so available, or obvious. 1015 20 years ago, so one of the one of the times I find myself telling my origin story, or parts of marriage and story more often is whenever I do any type of interview, so if I do if I'm, if I'm the guest at a podcast, or a live for or anything like that, it's very uncommon that I don't get a question like, so how did you get into this? You know, how did you get into the storytelling? How, how come you doing what you're doing now? So either they asked me that question, which, in the beginning, before I had gone through the trouble of figuring out what the origin story was, they ended up getting a convoluted answer that could go on for, you know, 5678 minutes, and didn't necessarily touch on the main points that I wanted to touch. And then once I did the work, which is very, very difficult to do for yourself, because again, you just know too much. And you're just trying to spot the things that make sense. But then, I eventually remembered the story that I've told many times about how, you know, my, my seventh grade teacher asked me to tell a story in front of the class, and I was terrified. I wasn't a popular kid. But then as I'm going up there, I'm kind of thinking, what if they really liked my story, and then I tell a story, they really like it. And at that moment, I feel like the most popular kids in the whole school. And there was, I think, my first brush with with the power of storytelling. And that's not the whole story, but that that's one part of it. And then there's a whole bunch more depending on how much time I have. Now from trial and error. I know that one always goes down well, and if I tell it properly, people go on I can definitely see myself like because I describe how I was I wasn't popular and you know, there was all sorts of reasons I wasn't popular. And people say no I was like that in school, or I can't imagine being I can imagine that scene perfectly. So in this is something I tell my clients, I say, if you ever have to give interviews, where people are likely to ask you about your background, you're either going to ramble on for 1015 minutes, or you're gonna have a story or stories that you have rehearsed. And typically, they would be part of your origin story, by definition, those are the things that will be part of your origin story, right?
Robert Tighe 20:31
Absolutely. I mean, I think we all need people telling me that they have no stories to tell, I'm sure you've heard that before. For as well, people have this notion that there's no stories to tell. But we all we all have an origin story, like we've all come from somewhere, we've all been on a journey to get to where we are now, you know, but very, very few people take the time to reflect on their journey. And as you've said, it's really difficult to do on your own at times, you know, there's that kind of notion that you can't read the label from inside the jar, you know, because you're too close to your stories, right? You know, that there, there may be stories that you've lived with, for, you know, all of your life that maybe you've told before in different situations, and quite often, you maybe don't even recognise the power or the impact of those stories, right. That's, that's another thing. I was working with a professional speaker, personal development kind of coach, one of the things she does is she works with prisoners to help them kind of prepare for life on the outside. So you know, pretty, pretty heavy job. And as part of unpacking her origin story, she told me about growing up in East Germany. And she talked about how living in East Germany was like growing up in an army boot camp, that schools started at seven o'clock every morning, at 10 o'clock, the bell would go for a long break, and all the kids would have to go outside rain, hail or snow. And there was a big white circle painted in the middle of the schoolyard. And all the kids had to walk around this white circle for 20 minutes. That was that was their exercise. And if anyone stepped off the line, one of the teachers would be there to shout at them and bark at them, you know, walk the line, step back on the line. And as she told me the story, I kind of stalked her. And I said, Have you ever told that story before? Have any of you ever? Have you ever used that story before? And she said, No, it's just a story from my childhood. It's just a silly story about what we did in school. And I said, No, if you think about it, that's a really powerful image for what you do, you know, with your with your career and with your clients, you help them think outside that circle, you help them kind of step off that treadmill of life of the of the bad role that might be going down, you help them see new possibilities, new opportunities. And and she was blown away. And ever since she's kind of refined that story. And she uses it as the introduction to our keynote speeches now. And again, it's a perfect example of somebody being too close to their own story to recognise that the value in it,
Francisco Mahfuz 22:46
I find that one of the things people don't necessarily realise until they've done it, and even even if they have done it, or they've seen other people do it, they still don't necessarily realise is most people speak in general terms. They speak in abstractions. So say this person, right? Maybe the way she would normally describe what she did is, I help people think outside the box. cliche, right. So everybody's has that I help you level up your career. And all of this stuff is like a million people have said the same thing. You're never gonna remember our AI, I spoke to this coach, and they really stuck with me that she said, she will help me think outside the box. Like, that's never gonna happen. Whereas if you say, I spoke to the coach, and she told me this crazy story about growing up in East Germany, and how she had to walk around the circle, like a painted circle on the floor, and the teacher would shout at them if they stepped off the line. And she says, you know, in a lot of people today in their careers are doing that they're walking on that line, and they're afraid of stepping off. Now that you remember, it's not even because it's such a crazy story. Because I think we can find like, if you and I tried now for five minutes, we could probably find a different metaphor that works for that same thing. But you've now given people a little movie in their minds. And that would naturally be way more memorable than the abstraction. So just that alone, you know, it makes the makes telling a story instead of just trying to explain whatever you're saying in broad statements, more more compelling.
Robert Tighe 24:28
Yeah. And I mean, again, it doesn't have to be as cinematic as that or as dramatic as that, uh, you know, it's quite often. It's unbelievable how obvious some of these stories are when you start working with somebody. And I'll give you another example. I was working with a guy over here in New Zealand who specialises in sponsorship and partnerships between companies. And he's from the UK originally and while he was in the UK, he worked as a worked with a football agent. And so his job was to look after the players who this agent was Before it I mean, you're talking players like David Beckham, Michael own Alan Shearer big names. So this guy was almost like a personal chaperone to David Beckham. And like I was going wow, that's that's a great story. Have you ever told that story and said no. And he had all these great stories to share as he told me he stopped telling stories to his mates back in the UK because they wouldn't believe it. You know, he did stuff like, you know, jump on a Learjet with Beckham to go to a photoshoot, I think it was in Barcelona, actually, it was a photoshoot for Pepsi or somebody. And I think Beckham was sponsored by Adidas at the time. And he went to pick up that come from his house. And David came at the car and said, I have to wait for an hour for Victoria, for Posh Spice. And she was getting ready, of course, the guy was looking at his watch, and we're gonna miss the flow, we've got to get on the Learjet, we've got to get to Barcelona. Eventually, Victoria arrives down dressed head to toe in Nike gear. And he responsibly added us and it was just just to prove a point that, hey, you may have paid for my man, but you don't get me for free. Right. And it's a wonderful kind of story about, you know, what his kind of background was in sponsorship and dealing with players and dealing with these kinds of challenges of sponsorship sometimes throws up. And again, I helped him kind of craft that story into a post for LinkedIn. And whereas previously, his LinkedIn posts might have got one or two likes or comments, this one, you know, went ballistic, you know, got, you know, over, I think over 100 comments and likes, and he made so many new connections just based on sharing a story that he always had, but just never realised the value. And so again, it's it's kind of really, and then there's, I suppose there's a lot of misconceptions about what a story actually is. And there's so many definitions. And I know you've unpacked that you know, quite a few times with different guests, I don't go down that road of unpacking kind of the, you know, what, Brett, what stories do to our brains or don't have a really kind of solid structure around kind of what I do with clients, what I do kind of tell clients is from for me, the best definition is any story can be a business story, as long as it has a business point. I'm a big believer in that and try and trying, even if it's tangential, even if you have to kind of you know, sometimes shoehorn a business point in there, find a story and then find a business point or find something to tie back to what you do now. And that's where your goal is. That's, that's my kind of theory on storytelling.
Francisco Mahfuz 27:15
I agree with that. I would just tweak slightly the definition. To say any story can be a business story, as long as it has a point, that would make sense in business. Because Because because that is what I think a lot of people, they really struggle with a bridge. So if if I'm telling a story about a story, I have told in the podcast before about how you know, the first time I went skiing with my wife, I found out she was cheating on me. And you know, she wasn't, but the whole story is about jumping to conclusions. Now do you need to tell people something in business in a business scenario about jumping to conclusions, then you could tell that story. Now, maybe you wouldn't tell it to your board of directors, because that particular story has, has a lot of you know, that a sacrum is like ridiculous overtones that perhaps wouldn't be appropriate to that in a super formal environment. But if I was talking to a team if I was talking to anyone, and I just want to highlight the risks of, of jumping to conclusions, this is a story about derivative occlusions. Like it doesn't need to be a story that took place in the office or in business or anything like that. So back to back to the origin story. And I think we'll have slightly different opinions on this one but I want to understand what when you're working with clients with this, what in your head does that story needs to cover? So what needs to be in the story because there's everyone you and I believe will have endless amounts of stories even though they will remember them but they have endless amounts of stories. So what are you looking for, for the origin story?
Robert Tighe 28:52
Yeah, just before I get get onto that, I should clarify that that quote, any story can be business story, as long as it has a business point. It comes from a guy called Sean Callahan. I don't know if you come across on Kalin commonly called anecdotes. Yeah,
Francisco Mahfuz 29:04
I have had I have had Shawn on the podcast. Yes, I'm, I'm a big fan of, of anecdotes work. Yeah,
Robert Tighe 29:10
putting stories to work is one of the best for anybody looking to get deeper into this putting stories to work as is a great, great book. So you just want to clarify that and acknowledge Shawn, in terms of what I look for in the origin story, I, I unpack it this way. Francesco, I look for I look to explore three different stages in the in the lives of the clients that I work for the stories that shaped you, the stories that changed you, and the stories that define you. And roughly, I go back to the stories that shaped you i there the formative years of your life from the age of when you were born up to about the age of 18 Because so much happens in that period of our lives, you know, whether it's generally where our passions kind of, you know, we discover our passions for the first time. So you might think about, you know, where you grew up, or what your parents did for a living or your first job. Are your school days are your teenage obsessions, there's so much to unpack in that period of your life. So I really encourage people to go back to that period of their life and kind of just reflect on that.
Francisco Mahfuz 30:11
Maybe the teenager teenager obsessions might be one. Let's not go too deep into
Robert Tighe 30:17
the maybe not know you. Maybe not. But I mean, I'll give you another example. One of the first kind of stories that I told was it I Championship Manager. Are you familiar with the football game Championship Manager?
Francisco Mahfuz 30:28
Are you familiar with Championship Manager? Yes.
Robert Tighe 30:31
Okay. Right. So one of the when I was on LinkedIn, I was posting all these posts about storytelling. And when I was learning about storytelling, and I figured god, you're writing all this about storytelling. And I came from a journalism background. So I was kind of just figuring out how my journalism skills could be applied to business storytelling. But eventually, I said, I'm writing all these posts about storytelling, I need to share a story about myself. And so one of the first stories I shared with Championship Manager, because I came quite late to writing and journalism I ran away from it for most of my 20s I went through a series of aimless jobs and sales and recruitment and insurance, and hated them. I always knew I had this gut feeling that I should be writing because that's what I was into when I was a teenager,
Francisco Mahfuz 31:10
you do realise that only a writer would think that recruitment and insurance or aimless jobs in journalism is not. I know.
Robert Tighe 31:18
Exactly right. There's it there's a contradiction there is it comes in here, but hey, we all have we all have our Yeah, that's a really good point. But it's funny I'll talk about a little bit later about reframing and how you can reframe your experiences to kind of look at them from a different viewpoint. I thought at the time in my 20s, there were endless jobs, but they did prepare me quite well for journalism, you know, how to pick up the phone and make cold calls, how to interview somebody, there was a lot of valuable skills I learned. But at the same time, during my 20s, when I was doing those jobs, I beat myself up about my bad career choices, because I knew deep down that I was, there was an itch to scratch that I should be writing. And finally I got the guts and quit my job as a recruitment consultant in my late 20s begged the editor of my local newspaper to give me a shot as a rookie sports reporter, and started from the ground from ground zero and build my way out, work my way up. But before I went to the editor of the local paper, I said, I'm going to try and make it as a freelancer, I'm going to buy a laptop, I'm going to pitch some kind of clients and see how I go. I was buying the laptop, I picked up a copy of Championship Manager at the checkout and went home with my shiny new laptop and all these great intentions of kind of, you know, becoming a journalist. Of course, I installed Championship Manager and three months later, I hadn't written a word, you know, Championship Manager has been described as the most addictive video game ever. I think it's been I think it's been cited in 35 divorce cases in the UK. I mean, some some ridiculous like, it's a marriage breaker.
Francisco Mahfuz 32:46
For anyone who's too young or or has a life and doesn't know what we were talking about. Championship Manager was this bizarre football game where you were a manager so you, you hire you, you you signed players, you got rid of players, you chose the you chose who was going to play and you had to deal with all sorts of nonsensical admin things in the game. But the football part of it was almost non existent. I think in most games, you just saw the score is like, Okay, the first half is over, you're losing by one goal. And they didn't decide um, yeah, you get text text updates. Yeah, text, they just say okay, this player doesn't seem to be playing well, I replaced them. But you didn't, there was no game to watch or play at your your, your involvement basically stopped when the football started, which was the strangest thing for a football game.
Robert Tighe 33:37
It was incredible. It's worth doing. And I'm sure some people have done a study on how that was so sticky, and how it was so addictive, but it was, but three months into my Championship Manager career, I realised that I should have been writing and I uninstalled the game, I threw out the CD ROM and CD ROM, again, shows you how long ago it is. And I actually just committed to write Okay, I'm going to start writing now. Because, you know, I didn't have a career as a freelance writer because I hadn't published anything. And if I was playing Championship Manager all day, I wasn't even going to Pitch Anything. So it was a real kind of wake up moment. And I posted that story. And I was terrified. Putting that story up on LinkedIn, it was one of the first kind of personal stories that I shared. But again, as with most personal stories, it went gangbusters because everybody out there could empathise with something similar. It was around the time of Candy Crush and games like that. And people kind of you know, all had their own kind of experience of kind of wasting their time or procrastinating on video games. So again, by sharing that story, it helped me kind of just build out my connections. It helped me become more confident about sharing my stories. So yeah, teenage obsessions or strange obsessions may not be the best thing to dig into. But as I said, in the in the most unlikely places, I think you'll find stories that have have a business point. And that's, that's I guess why I start there. And I'm really just to get a sense of like, how long have you been passionate about what you do, you know, again, that's it, that's again, a really great reflection on somebody, if they're, if their expertise or their passion for what they do dates back to when they're, you know, teenager or child and you get a real a much better sense of what I can trust this person, this person is the real deal. So that's where I start the stories that shaped you that I move on to the stories that changed you, which is I give a rough time frame of your 20s or 30s, when this happens can be different for everybody, obviously. But it's that period when you're, I suppose out in the wilderness out in Iran, trying to find your way in the world trying to figure out well, where do I fit in? You know, what am I going to do? What how am I going to make my mark on the world. And again, during that period of your life, I think we all make decisions, we make good decisions and bad decisions. And again, there's so many stories kind of hiding away in those decisions that we made at different stages, you know, whether it's working for a bad boss that made us realise, no, I'm not going to put up with this anymore, I'm going to go out in my own, whether it's kind of really getting a sense of yeah, this is where my skillset lies, this is where my strengths are, I'm gonna, I'm going to run with this. So those stories that changed you, I think, are really, really important. And I mentioned earlier, that kind of notion of reframing, which is, you know, about reinterpreting stories to your advantage. And again, I think that's the misconception that a lot of people have, they think that as long as they're telling a story, they're doing storytelling, well, you've got to reinterpret it, you got to reframe it and put it in a context that makes sense to your audience, right? Because you're not just telling a story for your own ego, you're telling a story, to connect with your audience. So that's the power of reframing right. The final kind of area, then that I kind of unpack or focus on during my conversations with clients is on the stories that define you. So again, that's very much like what you do now how you do it, and why you do it. Again, the stories for that may may well be in your past as well, one of the things that I encourage kind of clients to do is to reflect on when they very, very first became aware of just the concept of what they do know, for example, I worked with a customer experience consultant recently. And they were speaking to me for about 20 minutes about customer experience. And I was none the wiser. It was a typical generalised statements about CX. And I was like, What are you talking about? Well, you know, take me back to your very first understanding of that word customer. What what when did you first understand what a customer was, it may have been when you spent your own money, you know, that you earned or maybe, you know, when you your, for your first experience as a customer. And he stopped anyone Oh, okay. And he reflected on his first job, as you know, he had a paper round. And he realised that if he didn't get out of bed on time, the papers didn't get delivered on time, the customers weren't happy, they rang his boss, and he didn't get paid. And so there was just like, A ha moment, it was like, oh, okay, so that was my first understanding of the word customer. And it kind of informed his kind of different careers, you know, up to the point where he got involved in CX, like, he talked about working as a dive instructor and how, as a dive instructor, his whole focus was to deliver a great customer experience to make sure that the, the customers were relaxed in the water, and that they didn't have a panic attack, or whatever it might be. So you know, he had all these jobs leading up to being a CX consultant that were all about the customer. But he had never realised it until he actually started reflecting on it, you know, what is the customer? And what does it mean to me? So yeah, they're the three areas that I unpack, as I said, the stories that shaped you the stories that changed you, and the stories that define you. And I think if you go through those three different phases of your life, you'll end up with, you know, so many different stories that you can use in so many different contexts.
Francisco Mahfuz 38:30
So your objective, when you do that, is to end up with what a few pages of stories that cover all of that ground, what I'm trying to figure out here is how I get that approach, right? So you end up with a tonne of material. And someone could, you know, you mentioned in the beginning that this idea of using this as for content marketing, and you could get a tonne of different things out of that. And you could either point, okay, well, this is what you share here. This is what you can share in this type of situation. But are you ever trying to get them to have a five to seven minutes story that has a particular focus on it? That would be the one that they wind up repeating more often than not? Or not necessarily?
Robert Tighe 39:17
Yeah, absolutely. As part of the process that I do with clients, and I'm very much guided by them, you know, they may have a big presentation coming up that they want to speech for, they may be very focused on nailing their LinkedIn profile. So yeah, I'm I'm very much guided by the clients and what they need at a particular time. But as part of every kind of origin story process that I go through with clients, I give them a distilled version that they can use for their LinkedIn profile. That includes, you know, you have a very personal story, I think in your LinkedIn, LinkedIn bio, and I believe that you know, getting a mix of the personal, the professional and the purpose in your LinkedIn bio is crucial, you know, you want to kind of try and hit those hit those marks. So yeah, as part of as part of what I do, it's just It's a very journalist in you know, based experience like essentially writing a mini profile for somebody, they end up with 2000 or 3000. Words, and, and a collection, a library of stories that they can use. And then depending on what they need, I also give them like a one liner, I try and distil all of that, like, what are the common themes in your life? Let's try and nail this purpose statement. You know, what, what are you all about? So again, by reflecting on this, I think you come up with a much more authentic one. It's not just words on a page, if you go through this process, and reflect on these stories, you will see these common themes or threads in your life. And so I think it makes it much more powerful when you sit down and write your purpose statement after you've gone through the origin story process. And the other thing is, you don't have to deliver this chapter and verse, right, it's not, in fact, it's probably something I don't encourage people to do too, as I say, vomited on the page and go, here's my origin story. Make up your own mind about this. It's very much like it's a library. It's a living document that you can pick and choose from as you as you need to whether it's for a speech or a presentation, or a pitch, or an important employee meeting, you know, there's so many different ways you can use the stories that you impact in those three different stages,
Francisco Mahfuz 41:10
I find that the challenge with with a lot of people is that is having that sensibility for when when to use things, right, because there's someone Someone I know fairly well has been on the podcast before Ravera journey, you might know him from LinkedIn. So Rive his approach is very similar to in the Henriques approach, who also has the the master storyteller Academy. And both of them have a very similar super focused approach with clients, which is, you're going to end up with one signature story, one signature story is probably about five minutes long, it's going to have elements of an origin story in it, but it won't necessarily be an origin story. And that's the one that's going to be become a part of every single presentation or speech or anything you do. And to the best of my understanding, they are not usually trying to give you 10 different stories, or, or a better understanding of how to tell stories, it's like you learn this one in this one is the asset you walk away with. And when I go back, we're back and forth, on the best way to go about that. Maybe there isn't one. But my on the one hand, I think that approach is brilliant, because you're just telling people this is it, this is the one like learn this one. And if you're doing this, right, you're doing way much way more than most people do. On the other hand, I think people have, it seems wasteful not to, to end up with a few extra stories for slightly different opportunities in in your, in your business dealings in your life, that you can that you can also tell and also the this skill of finding other stories throughout throughout your career. But the concern on that side is if you give people options, they often don't know what to do with them. So, you know, if you give people a library of stories, as I believe you said, how confident are you that they will actually know which store you know, when should they be telling any of these other stories, and which one of these should I be picking, because I I am concerned at times that if you if we as the quote unquote, experts don't say to them, This is it, this is the one and this is how you tell it, then people do the work, it has plenty of value. From a self understanding point of view, they might understand, you know, they might figure out who they are more, they might have a lot more clarity about what their business is about. And that might influence their branding and their confidence and all of those things. But when it comes to actually telling the story and getting all the benefits that telling the story gives them they might not walk away that confidently to do so because we might you know, we've given them too much. Yeah,
Robert Tighe 44:14
that sense of overwhelm. I get that. That's something that has crossed my mind. And it's something I'll reflect on after this conversation. And you making that point, there's a real I think there is a real danger of that. I suppose. It definitely for me over the past kind of few months, this has evolved more into almost a personal development type tool as much as a storytelling tool. And I'm really, personally I'm loving it. I'm loving that element too. You know, people talk to me about all sorts of things. They tell me that going through the process is you know, it feels cathartic. I think it opens up their eyes to the importance of storytelling as well whether or not they actually use that full library of stories or not. I think by going through the process, you're just raising your awareness you're developing your storytelling recognition muscle if you like you know your your your understanding of what is Good story, I think you're more likely to maybe tell kind of stories, you know, off the cuff as well as a result of going through that process and knowing that you have these stories in your locker as well. And so I think there's definitely an element of that to it for sure. The other thing I think it does is I love the notion of how storytelling isn't all about you. This is something I got from a New Zealand leadership consultant called Digby Scott, I'm not sure if he got it from somewhere else. But he talks about, you know, the three stories of business leaders need to think about one is your story for why you're here, which is, you know, that's something that I cover off for clients in their origin story. The second is their story, as as a leader, you have a responsibility to listen to your, you know, your team, and what stories that they're telling themselves, you know, what stories they have, in their kind of understanding of, you know, what am I doing with this company? What is my purpose? And I think by sharing some of your stories and listening to there's, it makes you a much better leader, it creates a much better culture. And finally, that there's that notion of our story, you know, and what is our story as a company? So I think, even if they don't end up using, you know, the specific stories that we go through in the process, the feedback that I get from clients, is that the value in kind of actually just opening their eyes to Okay, yeah, I have all these stories. And if I have these stories, then my team has, you know, stories as well. And so there's, I think there's value in that in just just becoming more aware and Francesco?
Francisco Mahfuz 46:26
Yeah, perhaps part of this question is, I'm influenced by something I read on LinkedIn a few days ago from Richard Moore, who has generally very good content when it comes to, to coaching and to developing your businesses, both both online and in the corporate world. And in his this concept, he has of, you know, bd, bd axpert, not the butler. So you're speaking to someone, they they have a problem, or at least they they are struggling with things. And there is a natural inclination to to be what he calls the butler, which is, you know, let's talk about it. And let's figure out what some of the approaches might be in a work alongside with you to sort this out, rather than being very, you know, but this is a collaborative process. We're not, you know, not telling you what to do, we're going to figure this out together. And he says, Yeah, that's fine. But what most people want is they want an expert, they want someone say, Well, no, your real problem here is this, you know that you think you need more engagement, but you don't need more engagement. But that's not the issue you're having here. The issue here is that it no one has a clue what to do. So it's not a question of getting 100 likes and a post is a question of someone figuring out what is it that your business is about because if they never do that you can have 1000 likes in a post, no one is going to want to work with you because they don't know what to do. And this is how we're going to fix that we're going to work out on this origin story, we're going to focus on you know, this is going to be a particular one that you're going to use in this scenario. And that's it right? This is what you're going to get out of this. Oh, but, you know, maybe, maybe what I want to do is be able No, no, no, that's, that's not what you need. This is this is the one. So. So I think there is there is value in in in saying, Listen, there is all these things we could do. And if we work together for a year, you can acquire all the skills, and I can give you this toolbox. But right now, this one thing is what we're going to do, because this is the one thing you actually lead, right? Yeah,
Robert Tighe 48:33
I definitely see the value in that, as I say, as part of the it's part of the process. I do give them a LinkedIn profile that zeroes in on the one moment, you know, that people can really kind of identify with so definitely, it's, it's part of what I do. I like to think that having that that little library of stories in your locker as well is really valuable. And listen, obviously, your origin story isn't the only story you're going to tell when it comes to your content marketing, it's part of the toolkit, right? You know, oh, conventional marketing wisdom at the moment, you know, forever, I suppose, you know, suggests and insists that the customer should be the hero of your story, right? We've all heard that and the Donald Miller quote, and I'm just going to look at it, it's customers don't generally care about your story, they care about their own, and your customer should be the hero of the story, not the brand. That is the secret that every you know, successful business knows. I love that and I get that too. But I like this image of the spotlight in the mirror. I think if we're all holding up a mirror to you know, our our customers, if we're all saying oh yeah, I see you, you know, I get your problem. I know what you're going through. And therefore messaging is just reflecting a mirror back to the to the client and every other company is doing the same thing with 100 mirrors. You know that the customer is going to get dazzled who's going to get blinded by the light. It's like you know, they're all kind of funfair hall of mirrors. The fact is, I love where do I look? Where do I go? And for me, that's why a spotlight where you shine the light on who you are, you know what you stand for? so helpful as well, because again, it just helps you stand out from the crowd. Okay? If you're, if you're if the spotlight is on you even for even if it's just to give people a sense of okay, yeah, this person, you know, has worked in this industry for 20 odd years. That's why they've come up with this with this product. That's why they've been able to come up with this service. That's why they're better than option X, Y Zed. So I love that notion of finding the origin story, being one kind of piece in your toolkit, whether it's your marketing toolkit, or your leadership toolkit, there's, there's real power in having that and, and just just knowing that you have it there to call on when you need to,
Francisco Mahfuz 50:33
just before we recorded this, I was having lunch with a friend. And she was talking about how she just got, she's getting headhunted by another company. And they're offering her almost twice as much money as she's making now, which would be absolutely fantastic for her. But at the same time, she really loves the place where where she works, she said, You know, I never had a boss like this, you know, I never had someone who was that understanding who helped so much, who cared so much about my development, and you know, I would be like, I'm really happy. But at the same time, you know, it's someone throws money at me in a way that they are not going to ever, they're not going to double my salary anytime in the next five years. Whereas, you know, I need to consider this, I was thinking about her as we were talking, because the reality is that, you don't want to know how it is working at a company, or with someone, until you've been there for a while, you you, you have an idea, they sell you the company in some way, but then you're in there, and then the Reality Asserts Itself, and then after you've been there for three months, or six months, you can probably tell stories of what it's like working in that company. So I think there's just this idea that if you as as, as an employer, if you as a consultant of any kind, if you can share some stories that allow people to see what it's like to work in the company or work with you or, or have their business be a certain way, then you are allowing people to maybe a peek into the future, or the past depending, that is something they wouldn't necessarily get unless they've had the experience, which is in a sense, taking us back to what stories are for right they are in a learning to their teaching to their the the way human beings learn things without having to take to go through the the the experience and the risk of doing everything themselves. And and I guess a lot of people miss out on that opportunity.
Robert Tighe 52:42
Totally, totally. And I'm sure you've experienced this yourself. Like if you go to a networking event, you'll you'll have people come up to you feel like they know you already because I've read some of your posts on LinkedIn, you know that they'll cut through all the formalities and they'll start talking about maybe a story that they that you posted, or that that you wrote about on LinkedIn, which is, you know, as a networking event, it's cool. But if that's a potential client, again, I get on the phone with potential clients, and it feels like we know each other already, because they have that sense of kind of having a fairly good understanding of, you know, what makes me tick and, and what I'm all about. And I suppose it's that whole notion of, you know, building trust and building relationships, you know, telling stories is what we do with our friends, to make them like us to Nick, you know, to make us relatable. So why wouldn't you do it in business as well? Why wouldn't you share some stories that make you more relatable, make you more accessible? Make you I suppose, make the other person think, yeah, I get you, you're my kind of person, right? You know, because it is that whole notion as well of acting as a filter, a filter, filtering people out, as well as filtering people in, you know, and stories are a great way of doing that as well.
Francisco Mahfuz 53:49
I think you might have better friends than than me or at least less simple friends, because what I do to make them like me is I buy them drinks.
Robert Tighe 53:58
Right? Okay. Well, the old, the old Irish, that thing if you know, your friends or somebody if they abuse you. Yeah, yeah, the level of abuse is an indicator of your friendship.
Francisco Mahfuz 54:10
I think that, that, that idea of friendship, probably made a lot more sense than 20 years ago. Nowadays, people go now they're just assholes. Yeah, right. Right. That's not That's not deep affection. They're just insecure assholes. who think that the only way to have fun is to constantly bully you about every single thing that you might be insecure about.
Robert Tighe 54:37
Yeah, that's a really, really good point as well. But you talked earlier about that friend of yours who is considering a job I mean, one of the things I love about story as well and it's a it's another throwback to Steve Jobs, probably the most quoted man in business writer. He is a great quote, and I'm sure you've heard this, it's probably overused at this stage. You can connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. For me is that it's a process for people to go through this. That's one of the powerful things about the origin story. For me, that quote, you know, implies that, you know, you can make all the plans that you like, you know, you can have a blueprint for your life, you can have a three year plan and a five year plan and a 25 year plan. But you can connect the dots looking forward because you have no idea what's coming down the track, right? Nobody, nobody would have picked COVID, right. But by reflecting by looking backwards, you can clearly join the dots and figure out well how I got from A to B to C to D. And there's so much power in that. I mean, for me, myself, when I started unpacking my own origin story, it really helped me realise that I was much more passionate about writing about people than writing about products. So when I get out of journalism and got into writing for businesses, I started off doing case studies and blog posts and, and things like that. And I still do some of that work. But when I stumbled upon the origin story process, and started reflecting on my own origin story, I realised that for most of my working life as a journalist, that's what I've been doing. I've been writing origin stories, I worked for red bow, you know, in order to kind of suppose uncover what made an athlete tick. I was trying to find out their origin story, you know, how, how, and why did you start doing, you know, triple backflips on a BMX bike? What was the most the thing that prompted you to do that? So the way to do that, and you could see their eyes light up as they went through this process?
Francisco Mahfuz 56:20
Isn't? isn't the answer always? isn't the answer. Always a woman? Yeah,
Robert Tighe 56:24
it's funny, the red, the red bull thing was really fascinating. I mean, I think a lot of people, a lot of people would think that they have a screw loose, right, in their conception of extreme athletes would be you know, they're not well, they're not gonna do that well on the head. But it was actually the opposite working with those kinds of athletes. They were so driven. And and because they're kind of solopreneurs. Essentially, they're running a business kind of marketing themselves, and their ability to do crazy stuff. They're just so thoughtful, and so considerate about everything that they did. But in terms of unpacking their story, you could see their eyes light up, as they recalled, you know, what was the genesis? What was the evolution of this kind of journey to the, you know, the crazy job that they do now? And so, as I said, when I was getting into writing for businesses, you know, I've realised, yeah, that's what I do I help people unpack their origin stories, and if it works for sports, people and musicians and artists and entrepreneurs, and why shouldn't it work for business people as well?
Francisco Mahfuz 57:18
And on that note, if anyone wants to send you I'm inclined to where can people find you? In case you disappear from LinkedIn again?
Robert Tighe 57:30
I was gonna say you can find me on LinkedIn. That's where I That's right. That's right live,
Francisco Mahfuz 57:36
or whatnot, their place to find?
Robert Tighe 57:38
That's a good idea. Francesco, thanks for that. No, you can check out my website as well. And that's Robert thai.com. That's our OB E or T and T IG H e.com.
Francisco Mahfuz 57:49
No one No one can spell anymore. I will I'll put a link in the show notes that we
Robert Tighe 57:55
that might be an idea. That might be a good idea. The old the old G H,
Francisco Mahfuz 57:59
we can't spell we can't remember phone numbers. You know, the we're too old for that in Lanius never learned. So I think show notes. That's the that's the answer to that.
Robert Tighe 58:11
Maybe you can put a link to Championship Manager as well. So people can get a sense of what Championship Manager was like and how ridiculous it was that I wasted three months of my life on it.
Francisco Mahfuz 58:20
I hold my my audience very close to my heart. And I think if I started sending them to a Championship Manager, I have I have no idea this left.
Robert Tighe 58:29
True. Stay away from Championship Manager. That's a good way to finish.
Francisco Mahfuz 58:33
Robert, thanks very much for your time. And thanks for waking up at five in the morning in New Zealand to do this. It's been it's been fun.
Robert Tighe 58:40
You're most welcome. Really great to chat with you, Francesco. All the best.
Francisco Mahfuz 58:43
Alright, everyone. Thanks for tuning in. Take care of yourselves. And until next time.
I hope enjoyed the show. And if you did, I'd love for you to subscribe and leave us a review or a rating on the Apple podcasts app. It's very easy. You open the app and find the show and scroll down a little and when you see the stars tab. I'd really appreciate it and it does help other people find us. And if you'd like to get in touch or find out more about what I do, reach out to me on LinkedIn or visit my website story powers.com