E92. The Darks Arts of Persuasion with Matt Zaun
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Francisco Mahfuz 0:00
Hi everyone, Francisco here. Just before we get started, I wanted to share something I'm really excited about. I recently launched the story powers bootcamp, a course that teaches you everything you need to know about how to find craft and tell stories that work. But it's not just an online course, because you get personalised feedback from me for all the practical activities in three hours of life coaching to work through any challenges, or focus on specific projects. So it's like if you bought a cookbook, but the chef came along with it. So go to story powers.com and click on Course, all the information you need will be there. So please check it out. And if you love the show, and would like to support us, you can go to buy me a coffee.com forward slash story powers. I drink about five coffees a day, so any support would be much appreciated. All right on with the show. Welcome to the story powers podcast, the show about the power of stories 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 MatSan. Matt is an award winning speaker who empowers organisations through the art of strategic storytelling, and he has catalysed radical sales increases for over 150 companies that range from financial institutions to the health and wellness industry. In addition to his work in the private sector, Matt has worked with dozens of politicians in the media and communication strategies, including speeches and campaign messages at the local state and national level. Matt might also be the only person I know who goes through even more books than me 135 Last year alone, I'm not quite sure if I should congratulate him or be a little concerned. Ladies and gentlemen, Matt Zod. Matt, welcome to the show.
Matt Zaun 1:54
Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it.
Francisco Mahfuz 1:57
As we were discussing just before we got started, there's some of the things you do that no one else I've spoken to yet does and in your work with with with politicians is one of them. But before I get into that, I wanted to just get some of the basics of your understanding of storytelling and and the stuff you teach out, because I think it will inform that conversation a little bit better. So I've heard you share a story about the time when you played football. And and when he told that story. You said something like that. Wisdom is about doing the basics. When it comes to storytelling, though, what are those basics? What what are the things that everybody needs to get right before anything else?
Matt Zaun 2:42
Sure. Fantastic question. So to preface that question, I think there's a lot of misunderstandings of storytelling, especially when we're talking about in the business space. So a lot of business leaders that I speak with, they view storytelling as a glorified spectacle, like a Broadway play or a movie production where you need to Razzle and dazzle the audience. That's not exactly what I teach. So right now, I primarily work with business leaders, CEOs and executives on how they could utilise storytelling to really inspire their staff, as well as motivate their clients to purchase more. And that's the storytelling that really connects with people on an emotional level. So to me, storytelling is really utilising an experience that we've gone through and capturing ordinary world new reality, and inserting a hero in the story. And my recommendation to everyone is the hero should not be you, it should be someone else or something else. But it can't be you. It could be a person, it could be a book, a strategy, a concept, but it should not be you you're gonna have a lot more power with your story if the hero is someone else. So I really I challenge people to view storytelling as really capturing an experience and really connecting with someone on an emotional level and inserting a hero so really focusing on the simplistic elements of storytelling.
Francisco Mahfuz 4:02
Okay, so that that makes complete sense to me. I think it will make a lot of sense to to many people who listen to this podcast, but from you know, from doing some of this work myself one thing that I also know that is it has been my experience is that if you share that with someone who's completely new to storytelling, they they hear that and go okay, that makes sense. But I've got no idea what comes next so so they get that okay, fine, ordinary experiences. I don't need to Razzle and dazzle the hero shouldn't be me. But that that is probably not enough for someone to get there and actually do anything with it. At least that's been my experience. People get the concept of it, but the first step is they get stuck. Well firstly, has that been your experience in either way is you know, what is the next step to excellence? Learning this to people?
Matt Zaun 5:01
Sure. I mean, a lot of people get stuck with with storytelling for sure. So first I mean, we do, we do think in pictures. So if I say dog, everyone listening has their own picture of what a dog is, right? So I'm thinking of my dog who is a morkie, someone may be thinking of a German Shepherd, someone may be thinking of a golden retriever. They're all dogs, but they're different pictures. And often when we share a storytelling, there's all these different pictures that come up. And a lot of times, it's not wrong, it's just coming from it from a different perspective. So what I challenge my clients to do is, as they're in an experience, asked me themselves, where's the story in this, and regardless of what that experience is, it could be an exciting experience, it could be in a really frustrating experience where someone's angry about something, it could be a fearful experience. Well, they're in that moment, where's the story in that because that story could actually be used in the future, to boost sales and really inspire a team, especially those angry stories, and especially the stories that have a lot of fear. Because a lot of times people have that as a main gut reaction. I think the worst thing that can happen to a business leaders, they're going through a very frustrating situation. And they're not capturing that story and documenting it. Because seven months after that experience takes place, they may be on the phone with a very, very important prospect that they really want to be a client, and they can share that story to close the sale. But because they haven't captured that experience, there's they don't have that recall with it. So it's very, very important to as you are in an experience to document that and utilise that in the future for a story.
Francisco Mahfuz 6:45
So when you say, you know, the question is, what is the story in that? What would you tell people that you're training or people that you're working with? In first? Is there a story in there? So how do how should they define that? How should what questions they ask themselves to know if there is a story in there? And what are they capturing? Because I think whenever you tell someone to write down a story, some people automatically get a good feel for okay, this is what the story was about. But given you know, we've just gone through the holidays, the one of ones of us who weren't with us, that sounds really weird, or who are lucky enough not to have COVID and be locked down. had to had to listen probably to a lot of stories from our relatives. And most people suck at telling stories, they have no idea what the story is about, they have no idea what really should be in there shouldn't. So when you telling the people you work with, you know, what is the what is that the process of okay, this is what you need to look for, to see if it is a story or not. And to this is what these are the things you need to capture, you obviously can capture every single detail. Otherwise, you know, you have this all you do all day.
Matt Zaun 7:59
Fantastic question. So a lot of times people think of an opening and a closing or a beginning and an end. And I actually think that's the wrong place to start, or it's not the most effective place to start. And here's what I mean. One of the things that I did years ago, I was doing a lot of political speech, writing as I was doing tonnes of research on how to be a better speech writer, communication wise, and I was doing all different elements of research. And one of the things that really fascinated me is on how a lot of musicians write songs, the best songwriters on the planet, do not write a song, like an email, from start to finish, you know, Dear Bob, I trust you're doing well. I'm writing to inform you. That's not how they really write these amazing songs. They start with a foundation. And the foundation is typically they pick up an instrument, and they just start playing. There's no notes, there's no plan for the future. They focus on that melody. If the melody sounds good, they will add words to that melody. And they'll build it out like a puzzle. So I mentioned that in response to your question, because often when people are in an experience, it's tough to capture the beginning and ending of that experience. That's not the foundation of a story. What I teach my clients is the foundation, not a melody, like in a musician perspective, but the foundation of our story should be the emotion, the emotion is the foundation, and it's capturing that emotion. And once you have the emotion, then you start building out the story because all of our team members that we have, so anyone listening that is a CEO or they're an executive of a company, you know, you have leaders that you're trying to persuade and motivate. And everyone that's listening that is trying to expand the amount of clients that they have. Those individuals have emotion those emotions are the driving force behind their decision making. So if you have a story that connects with that emotion, you're going to be able to get through that annoys a lot more to get through to that person. So it always starts with the emotion as you're going through the experience. Ask yourself, where's the story in this? And what emotion connects to the story?
Francisco Mahfuz 10:10
So you would tell someone to write down for example, in your previous example, so anger, so if something happened that made you angry, you writing down okay, anger, and then I expect you to write some of the basics of the of the situation, you know, who was involved? What, what was going on? Would you want them to try and figure out the point of the story there? And then, as they capture it? Or would you have them go back to it later to figure out what the story means? Or how it can be used? strategically?
Matt Zaun 10:41
Great question. I always start with the emotion always start with the emotion, what's the emotion? What's the emotional root of the story? And then once you have that emotional root from a topic perspective, then you can start expanding the story, then you can add characters, then you can figure it out, what's the ordinary world? What's the new reality. So that's a big one, that I get that from the hero's journey coined by Joseph Campbell. There's many, many stages to the hero's journey. And there it is debatable whether it's 12 stages or 14 stages, I guess it depends on who you speak with. But the big element of that is ordinary world new reality. So even if you're sharing a two minute story from a presentation perspective, or if you're sharing a 22nd story on the phone with a prospect, you can utilise ordinary world new reality. So to answer your question, yes, always start with the emotion, then start building an outbuilding building an app like a puzzle. I always recommend never to actually start writing, I think I think it can can really restrict our creativity, I always recommend starting by speaking and then go back and write. So for me personally, it doesn't need to be complex, I do something as simple as I'm whipping out my phone. And I use a an app called otter Ott, er, it's a fantastic app, it's a transcription app. And there's a lot of trans transcription apps on the market. This one tags, the best that I've found. So for instance, if I'm walking to my car, after a meeting, I can just open up my phone, and I could start speaking that story into the otter app, then I could tag it, you know, angry or excited, or whatever the tag is going to be. And then in the future, when I need to pull together different stories that go into those different emotional categories. I bring it up in bom, bom, bom, you're gonna have all those different stories that come up.
Francisco Mahfuz 12:28
So what I'm finding very interesting about this is that emotion is obviously a very, very important part of storytelling. There's a lot of people that will talk about emotion as one of the key components. Kyndra Hall is one who famously has emotion as or authentic emotion or something like that, as one of the the four elements of stories in her book, stories that stick. What I find interesting, as I haven't tried it, doing it that way is I tend to start with figuring out what the point of the story was, you know, what, what is the change that the character has gone through? Because to me, that is going to define how I'm going to use the story. The the emotion will obviously be a part of that. But, you know, what I'm just trying to think is, okay, so if I have, if I have a story of where I was angry, or something that made me angry, is that going to be more important to connect to my audience to an audience that, I guess you would want to speak to an audience that is angry about something as well. So that emotion is relatable, even if the point is not at all to do with the thing that's making them angry? So how do you square that? That circle?
Matt Zaun 13:44
Sure. So you always want your points to match up, you know, and you had mentioned audience audiences extremely important, we have to recognise who we're speaking with. But when I when I'm saying about the the building and out like a puzzle that's in the creative stage, that's in the stage of really allowing your creativity to run wild and really start building out the documentation to capture those stories. So I always refer to it as a story bank building out that story bank. And when you're in the creative stage, no, you don't leave anything off the table. You're you're trying to do everything you can to fill that story bank and those different emotional components. Once those are filled, then you can go back and you could really try to evaluate okay, what's, what's the opening of this? What how can I close this? What's the point where the heroes where were the characters, and to really go back and then fine tune the story? Um, so no, you're absolutely right. The audience is absolutely paramount to what message you're going to convey, especially in the political world. I work with a lot of politicians and there's a lot of angry audiences that they tend to cater to the political environment. And you want to make sure that you are really sharing a point that resonates with that audience for sure. So I really appreciate you mentioning that.
Francisco Mahfuz 14:58
You just talked about the story better. And this is a concept I think most people that work with storytelling Haven't we might not call it a story bank, but but you need to have something that serves as a story bank to anyone who doesn't know, that is essentially your bank of stories, a collection of stories that you're going to use, bring out when you need them. Now, I was looking through the outline, or at least some of the major points you cover in your in your business workshop. And story bank was very prominent there. Now, I don't know if I got the wrong idea from that outline. But the impression I got was your initial focus was in the finding of the stories, and not necessarily on on the fine crafting of them. And is that correct? Is that a fair? A fair summary of at least the initial focus of that workshop?
Matt Zaun 15:52
Yeah. So I think there's a lot of just hesitancy with storytelling, and there's a lot of confusion, and also a lot of anxiety. And when I go and I present to different companies, and I'm speaking to business leaders, you know, my goal is that when they leave those four walls, they can immediately inject the principles that we talk about into their day to day life, some of the best compliments that I've ever received is, hey, like, I started immediately. And that's awesome. Because you can do really high level communication strategy. And a lot of times it's going to go over people's heads, it's not going to be applicable in their day to day life. So my big focus is to stress the importance of storytelling, go through the creative process of storytelling, and then really zone in and focus on that story bank, how do you how do you capture experience that happened in the past that you can utilise in your story bank for future growth? Inspiring teams, inspiring clients? How do you understand how to capture a story in the present moment, and how to create a company culture of storytelling, it's huge, creating a company culture of storytelling, one of the biggest problems we're facing now in the United States is a staff shortage, right. And a lot of CEOs will tell you the number one thought on their mind is how to win the talent war, the best way to win the talent war, is create a company culture of storytelling, identify how powerful that mission of that organisation is, and a lot more people are going to buy into that mission. But that all comes back to really the foundational principles of storytelling. And really, how do you build out the story bank and really focus on it in your day to day life?
Francisco Mahfuz 17:33
The reason I asked that question is because I've found that with a lot of people, the biggest obstacle is this idea that either that they don't have stories, or that they are just incapable of finding the right story for the right moment. And I'm, I'm starting to lean more towards this approach of breaking that bulldozing through that by having people find 10 stories, or 20 stories with some simple exercises, and then say, See, you've got a tonne of stories. Now we can tweak that to find more specific stories, but we have them, let's try and get business points out of them. If you've done that, you hopefully have now seen in action, how you go from I've no idea what this thing is and how it possibly use it to oh, here are 10 stories. This is how I could use them. And then you can chase down the ones that are more specific to the work you're doing. But you've in a sense, if you've done your job while I was a trainer there, you've now got a believer, whereas before people had no real idea what the hell the story thing was, or that they could ever do it. I think that was that. And that is an approach that I've seen, some people take, whereas I've seen a lot of people take a very crafting and telling approach to teaching storytelling. And I find that sometimes you do that. And people go back to the same place of but I don't know which stories I should be telling give you one, I can make it a little better, because now he taught me all these things. But I still don't have the stories. So where do I go from here? So that's why that's why I asked that question. Sure. That's a great point. Something else and then I'll move away from the the basic stuff into the into the politics, stuff that I really want to get into. But I seen one of your, like a testimonial you got and the person said that what you were very good at was condensing large concepts into small powerful stories. To some degree. That is a very good definition of what storytelling is when use that it's best. But do you have any particular approach to teaching people how to do that?
Matt Zaun 19:48
Yeah, I feel like a lot of times our heads get in the way. And I think that's the biggest the biggest danger of storytelling is we're not telling enough stories. We're not We're not cutting through that noise. I like enough stories. And I think people, they overcomplicate storytelling, I'm really on a mission to simplify that process. So what I work with on with people is often we focus on the negative potential outcome of that story, not the task at hand. So one of the most fascinating interviews I heard many, many moons ago, it was a, an interview from actually decades ago, Michael Jordan was giving this interview and someone asked him, How are you able to play under such intense pressure and he was so calm, cool and collected as he would do some of these these shots. And he said, I focus on the task, never the negative potential outcome. I think a lot of times when people are sharing your story, they're focusing on that negative outcome. What will people think of me? Will people be offended? Will my message get through? Will I look stupid, that's focusing on the negative potential outcome. It's when you focus on the task. And in Michael Jordan's case, the task of just throwing a basketball, our task is just speaking. And oftentimes, when I hear people talk, even if they are, have huge name, ID, they have massive audiences, they still get in their head so much when it comes to this story. They're trying to have this riveting story, this Razzle and dazzle story, and they, they're in their head too much. So I really think when we share a message from our heart, and we're really focusing on that task, that's what's going to simplify that process. And it's going to alleviate anxiety, and it's actually going to boost our excitement. So that's a big piece of it. Another piece is I do think that we are best stories are trapped in our subconscious minds. We don't have instant recall, with experiences. And one of the ways to get them out back to your point, Francisco is to just start focusing on different points, and just start rattling off all these different stories. And then you can go back and you can, you can do all the different that you had mentioned crafting a certain story, there is different structures that you can put into place, but it's really focusing on the task and not that negative potential outcome. Alright,
Francisco Mahfuz 22:06
so let's get into the into the meteor stuff. One other testimonial you had. And I'm taking that since you left that as a testimony. We don't mind too much how we described your is said you were master was the word but it says that you were an expert at the dark arts of communication. And, and I've seen people talk about storytelling as as a dangerous thing. I remember talking to AJ Menai. And he and I had this idea that I thought it would be great for children to get a bit more of practice identifying stories telling stories in and he said I'm not so sure because you know, storytelling can be a very dangerous thing, or can be used in a in a problematic way. And I don't think in any field of human communication, this is more true, then then in politics. So in the work you do with with politicians, so let's just start small. So what are some of the most basic ways and I don't, I don't necessarily want to get into campaign messaging as such, because I think that's a that's a much broader field, then then we probably have time to go into detail. But like when you teach someone to become a better communicator, and they're in politics, what types of stories? Are you encouraging them to share in water, the moments that you find that those stories are more effective to be shared? Because I don't, Obama being a very clear exception, but it's not. The first thing that comes to mind when we hear most politicians is like, Oh, they're great storytellers. We don't I don't think we see that as much.
Matt Zaun 23:47
Sure. So first, to to back up a step and just echo your point. storytelling can be dangerous if it falls into the wrong hands. And that just speaks to the power of storytelling. If you have an individual that is extremely, extremely manipulative, storytelling can be very dangerous, because it's so powerful, it's so effective. One of the things that I have my clients promise me is that they will use it for good because once they truly grab ahold of the concepts, they could do major damage, they could manipulate people, they could stiff arm and strong arm people to do different things they may not want to do because they're really playing on people's emotions and their and human psychology. So yeah, I appreciate you mentioned that it just really speaks to the power of it. Also, I call politics the lion's den of communication, because if you don't know what you're doing, you're literally going to get ripped to shreds. You're dealing with audiences that are hostile, they're toxic, they're angry, they're there, their emotions are running high, and you really need to be able to handle that. So one of the things that I do is I'm very rough when I when it comes to my political clients because the the political climate is not going to be easy on them, especially when I do debate prep. And that is my specialty is to they prep. So what I'll do is I will pull every single question under the sun that will come in the days ahead. So I understand what culturally is happening right now, what's on the forefront of people's minds? What are reporters asking politicians? What are people asking of their representation? And then I will document all those different questions. And then it all goes back to the story bank, we pull out different emotions. And we link the motions to the different questions. So this came about when I was when I was first starting out several years ago. And I was tasked with coaching multiple politicians on how to shine for the camera. So thank you, no press conferences, town halls, debate prep, stuff like that. And I pulled every single question that would come up. And I realised that there were 600 potential questions. So they got someone to study and come up with a masterful response for 600 questions in a matter of days, it's not going to happen. So then you start studying patterns in the questions. And one of the things that continued to come up was that emotional piece, and then you identify what are the emotions that are really the root of those questions, and really capturing a story that speaks to that emotion. So when it comes up, and someone's, you know, charged up, and they're asking that emotion? They may be saying words, but our initial response shouldn't be I hear words, what kind of words can I say to these words? The initial response should be I hear what's being asked, what is the emotional root attached to that question? And do I have a story that I could share in my story bank that really connects with that emotion, and that's what I work with politicians on a lot, especially if they're going to go into these very hostile speaking environments, we will spend a great deal of time making sure that they understand their story bank inside now,
Francisco Mahfuz 26:57
the debate is an interesting one, because one of the most common limitations of the bit of debate is that you have you have very little time to answer any questions. I forget what exactly the typical time is, but But it's two minutes, usually some somewhere to three minutes, isn't it? It really is in the presidential debates that I see.
Matt Zaun 27:20
It depends on the pay. Yeah, it really depends on the bait. Sometimes it's 30 seconds, sometimes it's a minute, sometimes it is two minutes. Okay, so
Francisco Mahfuz 27:26
in that type of environment where you can just ramble on, how much would you say that using an actual story not okay, find someone is angry? This is my ain't my answer for someone who's angry, but an actual story with characters at the beginning of Ananda and my point and all of that, how much can you can you do that in a debate because we tend to see that remember, remembering now, Kamala Harris had a story about about being on the on a bus in one of her last debates, and that that story got a lot of airtime. But I think she had initially I think she was trying that a fair a fair bit. I think she tried another two or three during it. But how much can someone really do that? And how small can those stories need to be for them to be able to pull that off in a very limited time?
Matt Zaun 28:19
Great question. And point so the the debate you're referring to was by far her strongest debate, because she's story, which is actually interesting. The the, the the firm that really prepped her for that as a firm that's down the street from my sister, which I just found really, really interesting. So yeah, it's it's absolutely critical. I recommend storytelling all the time. And here's why. If you're in a debate setting, and really any setting, if you're presenting to a team of people, so if you're a CEO, and you're presenting to your staff, if you are in a sales meeting, and you're presenting to a bunch of prospects that are really trying to turn into clients, you can figuratively bring someone up on stage with you through story, and then vicariously speak through them. What that does is it shields you from debate, and I do this all the time. And I recommend that my clients do it as well. And there's a there's a power in that. So they're asked a question, and they say, actually, you know, 13, there's a 13% chance of blah, blah, blah, of whatever the case may be. That's a debatable comment. Someone can can blow who holds the comments. They know it's not really 13% it's actually more like 25%, your numbers are off and then they're going to go back and forth. Or I can, again, figuratively bring someone up on stage with me and say, I just got done talking to John and John and then go into a story that really speaks to the point of that question or that topic. That candidate that that opponent candidate is gonna have a really tough time. Mess with that story, because that's that story, it's very, very difficult to argue and debate stories. That's the power of that two politicians in the United States that I immediately think of that were masterful at this was John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan. They did this all the time, all the time. And they're known as masterful communicators, because they constantly were sharing stories that shielded them from debate. So to answer your question, it's absolutely paramount to the success of a debate to focus on those stories.
Francisco Mahfuz 30:29
So this idea of, you know, someone is trying to give you data, which some people could argue is a more accurate representation of a problem or the world. And we are responding with an anecdote or a story, which is only true as far as that particular person goes. I think that's the type of thing that a lot of people could could take an issue with, because because it can be misleading, right? Which makes me think about the difference in communication between people more identified with the left, or when they asked me, you know, the Democrats, and the left and right get very confusing outside of even in the US, it gets confusing to be honest, that the day, you know, I talk to people about that is like, no one in the US is left. Like there's no left, there's like, centre, right? And like very far, right? There's no like, nobody's remotely laughed at us. But anyway, so when you think about left and right, are Democrats and Republicans in you? First of all, do you work with both sides of the aisle?
Matt Zaun 31:32
Great question. I do because my mission is the focus on actual problem solution, a very solution oriented, so I have worked with both sides.
Francisco Mahfuz 31:41
Okay, so that being the case, do you notice differences between between their natural communication styles? Or how, how willing or not they are to try certain things? Or what's their default mode? Because from the outside and NNF had, I've had people on the on the podcast that we talked about that a lot, particularly Randy Olson, and he was talking about how one could argue that the right or the Republicans are way better communicators, if you don't want to take it, an ethical view of it. But essentially, the saying is they they're they are much more comfortable with doing the things that work, and not necessarily the things that are quote unquote, right when it comes to communication. So has that been your experience? Do you find that some are easier, eager, more eager students than than the others? I have
Matt Zaun 32:35
worked with multiple politicians on both sides that are very eager. So maybe I just have eager clients. But it really goes back to that that story. So we're talking right and left, and you know, is it is it really based in reality, is it embellished, and I bring it back to several years ago, I witnessed a horrific accident, I was driving down the road and a massive SUV crashed into a car. And it was absolutely devastating. I was right behind the car, the car flipped and almost hit my car. And I remember flying off the road. And I waited there until the police came. And what was interesting, was what I shared with that police officer was radically different than the individual the witness on the other side of that road. So there was someone on the other side watching this all unfold. What I saw is the person in front of me, his head was down and she was texting. That's what I saw. That's not what the person on the other side of the road saw. The other person on the other side of the road saw the driver that this individual hit was being reckless. And the end, the car was going back and forth. I didn't see that. But the story that I shared was truthful. It was honest. And it was what happened based on what I saw. And likewise, so often when it comes in the political arena, what being shared on both sides of the spectrum, they both might be right. And they both might be true. They're just sharing different pieces of that angle based on the story to convince and persuade the audience that their story is correct. So oftentimes, when we get into Is it real? Is it not real? It both could be real. And it depends on how it's spun in the story is crafted. But you bring up a really good point. But to answer your question about about who's who's more willing. There's a lot of willing politicians that really want to focus on communication because they recognise the importance of it. Whoa, it it's the whole
Francisco Mahfuz 34:43
game, isn't it? I mean, because let's be honest, it's it's not as if, even if you if you were judging politicians that had elected representatives by their achievements. It's not as if you electors get a, a very clear record of these are all the projects that were proposed by this representative, this is what they voted on, this is what they had promised before. And this is what they managed to achieve. You know, so this is their score as a politician, this is not how it works. I am aware of initiatives where someone did something like that. And unfortunately, it's never been, it's never been picked up by the larger political world, understandably, so the politicians will probably not be overly happy with that. It's all messaging, you know, getting elected is all messaging, getting reelected is probably way more messaging than it is, well, we've achieved this things. So now let's, you know, vote for me again, because I did exactly what I said I would, one of the things we've seen a lot in recent years, and this has started probably, to get stronger around the Brexit time, is that some people perhaps were a bit looser with their use of of truth and how they they mess up massage the narrative that they were trying to sell in, that's proven to be incredibly successful, all of these big surprises we had in politics in the last few years. And that Brexit, it's Trump, it's in mike back home country, Brazil, where we're very far right guy get elected. It all came down to messaging, and communication. So I think that it's difficult to argue that any politician would ever get anywhere or stay there, even if somehow they got there, if their communication wasn't, wasn't that the least very competent, not to say not to say the most the strongest thing in their arsenal, because I mean, lots of them are not the sharpest knife in the two fucks. Or at least they're not when it comes to their political competence of getting things done.
Matt Zaun 36:55
For sure, you bring up a really good point. So I'm not gonna share any names because I don't want to belittle any person. But there was a year that I was working with two politicians regularly in the same week. So I there was there was many years where I had, you know, XYZ politicians I was working with and I would focus on this week, I'm going to work with such and such. And I set reoccurring meetings up where I'm regularly meeting with them. And what was interesting is, in this given year, there were these two individuals that I was working with consistently on this one week of every month. And I did that for about two years, one of the individuals had a doctorate in political science, and was unbelievably savvy from an educational perspective, academic perspective. I mean, he was an absolute whiz when it came to sound public policy. I mean, he could write books on different elements of government, unbelievably intelligent human being, the other individual got his GED. Now, for anyone listening, that's not familiar with the GED, it means that you did not pass high school in the United States. So not only do you not have a college degree, you did not get through high school, and you had to go back and do different courses to basically say, it's an equivalent of a high school education. So you have one individual that has a doctorate, who's unbelievably intelligent, actually probably one of the most intelligent people I've ever worked with. And then you have another individual that is not booksmart does not have any kind of accolades in academia. And the individual that has GTD was a master communicator. I mean, we worked on stuff together, where he could get up there and give an amazing speech, incredibly infused with storytelling. The other individual, it was like pulling teeth, and he really struggled to communicate. And he was doing a lot behind the scenes, but people don't see you behind your desk, they don't see the bills that you're writing behind your desk, they see you out on the campaign, stop giving these talks, sharing these stories. And the same is true in the business world. If you're a CEO, your team doesn't see all the ins and outs of what you do. They don't see you behind your desk and say, Great job. Thank you so much for doing this for us. Thank you so much for all you they don't see that. They see how you connect and communicate with them. So communication is one of the most important things anyone can focus in on on their life. It transcends every element of our lives, whether it's business or family, you know, how we communicate with our spouse, how we communicate with our children is very, very important. So I appreciate you bringing that up.
Francisco Mahfuz 39:31
You said before that you want your clients to promise you that they will use some of the stuff you're teaching them for good. But I struggled to think that. I mean, I don't know how much you follow this people's careers, after you've worked with them if you've not if you're not working with them regularly, but I can only imagine that it must have happened where you worked with someone, you've made them a better communicator, which means in essence you've made made them a better politician or at least a better position that he was able to get a job and stick with that job. It must have happened sometimes that the projects that they are putting their effort towards, are not necessarily the things that you would you would personally vote for, or support. Is there not a part of you that is thinking, like, I'm not sure when this guy to be more persuasive, or this person to be more persuasive. Like I know, some of this politics, I'm not sure I really should give them better weapons than what they've currently got
Matt Zaun 40:36
in the political is very, very complex. I mean, especially in the United States. So that that goes there. It's a it's a pretty long conversation, I'll try to give you the nuts and bolts of it. So for anyone listening that has seen the presidential elections in the United States, due to Super PACs, each candidates raising upwards of a billion dollars, then you have congressional races. So you have 3 billion US dollars going into attack ads and major media markets in the United States. So you have it's a messaging nightmare at times, it's a tightrope, and there's a lot of strategy that goes into that messaging. So to answer your question, it's it's so complex, that you do need different politicians that believe different things for each party, that you can come to a consensus when it comes to votes, I did a lot of work with the the the House of Representatives in Pennsylvania, just to give people an idea on that every single session, which is two years, there was 4500 bills that floated the house 4500 bills, a lot of these bills are very thick, we're talking upwards of 100 pages, and 90% of those bills would die in committee, so they wouldn't actually get on the House floor for a vote. But just to give people and an understanding of just how complex it is 40 100 bills and two years, that's a lot of legislation. So there's a lot that goes into voting for something just to share a story are voting for something just to give a speech here to rally a certain base. So there's a lot of that goes that goes on. So it's really understanding and uh, why are they doing these different moves for that specific reason to get to the ultimate goal, which is effective policy, sound public policy and actually moving the community forward?
Francisco Mahfuz 42:26
That sounds like a remarkably political answer. There you go. You've basically said it's complicated.
Matt Zaun 42:38
It is, it's very complicated,
Francisco Mahfuz 42:40
right? So let me let me just, I'll let you slide on that one. But let me ask you something different, which is, I didn't actually have on my list of questions. But I, the discussion came into my mind by looking at your haircut. Now, for anyone that is not watching this, we have light contrast here. Whereas in AI, I've somehow grown a buffoonish hair over the holidays. And there's a bit of wildness to it, or at least this HD camera that I've just gotten, my computer is showing a lot more reality than I'm used to seeing here. Whereas you have hair that a politician could support, no problem. It's very neat. That doesn't seem to be anything out of place. And I've seen your your public images, often you wearing a suit and tie, which is you know, like you could easily pass for a politician. And I know you have done that work before we did this work. And as you work for politicians. Now one of the things that people often talk about storytelling is how you should show vulnerability, and it should show who you really are and all of that stuff. But politicians have this super tailored image. And and is usually one of the things that tends to make people mistrust them a little less than perhaps they would anyway, which is they don't feel very real. Like people don't normally dress that way every day. They don't you know, they're not as polished in their looks. They're not as polished in the way they speak. So when you have this idea, one you want stories to be vulnerable to certain extent to be authentic to so they relate to people, but you have the least authentic, relatable people in the world telling those stories. Do you have the stories push that a little more to compensate for the rest or because they're politicians and because they're working under certain constraints? You don't think that's necessarily a good idea?
Matt Zaun 44:32
I didn't think we're gonna get two haircuts. I love it. It's awesome. This conversation is fantastic.
Francisco Mahfuz 44:40
I mean, my hand seems to be a constant topic of conversation on social media. There you go. Yeah,
Matt Zaun 44:45
it's great hair.
Francisco Mahfuz 44:47
I get complimented on it. So it didn't know when when I'm on camera. I've always been a patient if I'm living up to my audience's expectation.
Matt Zaun 44:55
That's fantastic. So the reason for the image that I'm constantly sharing It's really based on my audience now. So I do work with politicians to this day. It's not as labour intensive as what it was several years ago. So several years ago, I was doing a lot of speech writing a lot of political messaging strategy, it was very, very intensive. And it took up probably about 90% of my time now is completely flipped, where 90% of my time, I'm working with CEOs and executives and sales teams, and only 10% of my time, I'm working with politicians, one on one, debate prep and stuff like that. So it's really my ideal client avatar, if you will. So my clients are primarily 45 is 65 years of age. And they're CEOs of medium sized companies. So the reason for the image that you're probably referring to what you've seen on LinkedIn, it's my social media platform of choice. LinkedIn was an absolute game changer. For me, I started getting active believe it was September of 2019. And I know that because once I figured the platform out, I mean, business started coming in left and right. And it was it was fantastic. So the image that I'm constantly sharing is, it really speaks to my ideal client. And as you will recognise them, and I'm very vulnerable on that platform vulnerability, it really helps with engagement, it's connecting with people, it's figuring out what kind of challenges do they have and connecting with them. So that's the reason for the for the image. Going back to your point regarding politicians, or even CEOs, vulnerabilities, huge, I mean, vulnerability is going to get you more buy in, it's sharing people that, hey, you know, you messed up here, and then you learn from it, and then you're going to go forward. And the political world, there's not a lot of people saying, I messed up, but there's a way to say it, where you've learned something, you've you have a different way of thinking about something and also using someone that you can pull on stage again, figuratively, learning from that person, they're the hero of your story, the voters the hero of your story, the person supporting us the hero of your story. And the same is true when it comes to the business world. So that's the reason for the the identity management, if you will,
Francisco Mahfuz 47:00
yes, when you say that your your images is tailored for your audience on LinkedIn, it makes me wonder if all this sketch comedy videos that I put out on LinkedIn where I dress as you know, the guy from Delta dancing, or occasionally don't wear anything at all, might be slightly problematic, or, or if I attract others, what is the problem with this attracted stuff? But since you mentioned me, then I will ask that as as my final question, which is, and this is not this is not a gotcha question. I told you there wouldn't be any but but I do want to press you on on your LinkedIn approach and strategy a little bit. Because the one thing i i It's kind of a pet peeve of mine is that a lot of people talk about storytelling on LinkedIn, or they they mentioned the word or they will have storyteller or they'll have something to do with story storytelling in their, in their profile in their headline and all of that. Now, with with a lot of them, I know full well that they do the job. And they've been doing the job for a long time successfully as far as I can tell. But with with some of them and and I think just some small extent you fall into that bracket. What I don't see more is lots of stories being told. I wanted to make sure I wasn't I wasn't unfairly asking that question. So I just went through like some of the last posts from from last two, three weeks. In obviously, there's lots of personal stuff being shared. There's there's a lot of, as you said, vulnerable things being shared. Not a lot of it, I found is in the shape of a story like a very typical story. Now, is there a particular reason why you just chose not to do that on LinkedIn? Did you use to do it and found that on LinkedIn, it didn't work as well for you or it's not something you're not as strategic about it. On LinkedIn as you are with the communication you you're teaching your clients.
Matt Zaun 48:57
Yeah, so I definitely mix up my my LinkedIn strategy. So to give people an idea of just my, I guess, relationship, if you will, with with LinkedIn. So last year, I posted 847 times on LinkedIn. So this year, I'm not even going to come close to that I've revamped my strategy. So I'm calling t. So that okay, probably about three posts a day. I'm posting about one time a day right now. And it's a mix between video between image between story between so I'm all over the place when it comes to that because the last thing you want to do is have your audience think oh, I've seen this before or oh, I've heard this before. So it's really good to mix up the stories that I'm very vulnerable in with what I share get a lot of engagement. So the the power of LinkedIn to me is getting people to your profile and then prompting them what to do once they land on your profile. So for anyone listening that actually invest ad dollars from a business perspective, exposure is huge. I mean getting eyeballs on What you do is people pay a lot for that. That's that's the reason why Superbowl commercials are so stinking expensive, we have a Super Bowl coming up here in the United States, it's extremely expensive, because a lot of people are viewing that. So the reason why I'm posting stories and posting videos and posting images, the whole point of it is one to offer value and build an audience because a bigger audience equates to more business. And I can have, you know, I can show you different elements of that, that, hey, if I post this amount of time, I'm going to get X amount of business, and I figured out that formula. But really, it's getting people back to my profile to start a discovery call with me to bring me in for a workshop to bring me in for consulting and coaching. So I get millions and millions and millions of views on my my LinkedIn content. And I get a lot of people that are my ideal clients to actually go to my profile, and see the stories that I post see the what, why I spent so much time on LinkedIn in the first place. Because I'm sure a lot of people are listening, thinking, wow, that's a lot of posts, that's a tonne of content, and it is, but the amount that it has yielded me in business, it has been unbelievable. So I highly, highly recommend people really figured out the LinkedIn platform for sure.
Francisco Mahfuz 51:15
So you would think that mixing it up, or you found that mixing it up, works so well for you. Because I don't think that that's the approach most people take and I know of a number of people who have been vastly more successful than then I have been on LinkedIn. And I've done, I've done well, in most of them, you can always tell there's like two or three types of posts. And I've not seen that many people that do the high volume approach that I can think of a couple that every time I open LinkedIn, there's a post on top there. But I think most people I speak to tend to do, you know, three, three to five a week seems to be the norm. But then again, I think, you know, it's whatever works, right? I don't think there is a there is a set formula for anyone. And I've I've spoken to people and I've tried that has not tried do a tonne more video before. And it just burns me out. Because the type of video I do is not like selfie video, shoot it in three minutes. And post mine is, you know, stories and characters and some editing and stuff. There's like, there's just no way you can keep that up. Whereas I know people that only do that and found systems to make that work. So I guess there is no one way to do it.
Matt Zaun 52:32
For sure. Good point, you got to figure out what your audience is who they are what they like, I'm revamping my entire social media strategy. I set the plan in place for this year, I'm going to be posting about once a day. So it really depends on your audience. But yeah, I really have found that mixing it up between image and video and text and poll. It's really a good way to build up that audience, in addition to people not thinking, Oh, I've seen this before, oh, I've heard this before. Because if they think that what you're posting again, that they've seen, and it's becoming stale, and it's going to become really robotic, so I really like to keep that fresh.
Francisco Mahfuz 53:11
Yeah, I think my my potential issue is that once I've gotten naked on LinkedIn, I'm not sure how more I can push that like I've taken the crazy to its natural conclusion natural to me perhaps I don't know like that. That's route has been exhausted. Like, I can't keep doing that. Or they will bend me. There you go. You don't want to get banned. So I need to I need to think of yes, my sketch my sketch comedy videos need to take a slightly different direction than the if they can hit a cul de sac. Matt, if people want to find out more about the stuff you do is Matt zone.com. The best place to go.
Matt Zaun 53:49
Yeah, so they could check me out a MatSan calm, that's my website. Also connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on LinkedIn, whatever you prefer. I'm constantly posting content that's valuable to not only politicians, but specifically business leaders. I'm really focused on CEOs and executives, and helping them create a company culture of storytelling. Perfect.
Francisco Mahfuz 54:09
Well, it's it's taken us a bit of time, but I'm glad we finally managed to do this.
Matt Zaun 54:13
Thank you. I appreciate your time today. Thank you so much. Alright, everyone.
Francisco Mahfuz 54:17
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 powers.com