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  • Writer's pictureFrancisco Mahfuz

E99. The Problem with Storytelling (and How to Fix It) with Richard Mulholland

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

Francisco Mahfuz 0:00

Welcome to The Storypowers Podcast, the show about the power of stories, the 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 Richard Mulholland.

Rich is the founder of presentation powerhouse Missing Link, as well as a global public speaker who in 2019 alone spoke in 26 countries on 6 continents.

He has written three books, and his latest is Here Be Dragons: How to win deals and influence ideas by mastering the eloquent art of storyselling.

Rich is an expert on helping his clients survive the fourth industrial revolution, he’s a master of happy endings and rad to the power of sick.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Boredom Slayer himself, Rich Mulholland.

Rich, welcome to the show!

Richard Mulholland 0:47

Thanks so much, Francisco. I appreciate it. There's two things there. One, it's master the eloquent ART OF STORY selling. I go to war with the idea of story selling. And then the second is, I have a talk on the fourth industrial revolution. I don't believe it's the fourth I don't believe it's industrial. And I don't think it's a revolution. But that's it. That could be a fun topic here.

Francisco Mahfuz 1:08

Well, I know, I know. I was hoping to see you get really angry and then master try to master your face back. Because? Because no, because I you know, I've read the book. And there's a very clear point about how you hate the idea of the Fourth Industrial version. I don't think ever heard that, to be honest. What is the fourth industrial revolution? What is it supposed to be?

Richard Mulholland 1:30

So that was a while ago, I was actually asked it was a speaker who was booked for an event to speak about the fourth industrial revolution, and they cancelled and a friend of mine actually contacted me. He was said, listen, dude, like I had the speaker in the fourth industrial revolution, and he cancelled Can you fill in, and I was like, bro, I've never heard of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. And he said, but how not like, that's all everyone's talking about. And it's basically you had these different industrial revolutions it started off was when people got into cities. And then it was we went to automation. And then we got into computerization. And now we're in this fourth industrial revolution. And it was started by a guy called called Charles Schwab, who was the he's basically the head of the IMF for the world monetary fund or something like this. And it's become the buzzword, like every corporate is like how do we survive the Fourth Industrial Revolution? And the problem is that again, I was at school. I was at school after the third one was supposed to have happened. And nobody told me about two and three, I everybody I know had only heard about the industrial revolution, not the second one, a third one, the original one. Yes, yeah, the original one, the OG. The second thing was that it isn't really a revolution in that the changes that nobody's working on the shedule. Now, when there was a war, you know, I can understand when that that was a revolutionary state, so things change. But actually, people were working in an evolutionary state, this would happen, and that would happen. And this would happen. Ironically, to some degree, we could we could make a case for COVID-19 Being in a revolutionary state change. But then the other thing was the fact that it was industrial. I think the least interesting part of what are the changes we're going through in the world right now, the least interesting part is industrial. I actually think it's if it's a revolution is a hormonal revolution. I think the first hominids as humans revolution happened, when we learned how to communicate and gain learned speech. I think the second one is we're now getting beyond communication beyond low resolution, vocal communication as we know it. And I think the world can potentially change into something very, very different that I'm excited to think about. That could be revolutionary.

Francisco Mahfuz 3:31

Now, I need to be very careful here not to fall into the trap that I think police a couple of other podcast hosts have fallen when interviewing you, which is your if anything too interesting. And then people get into these random conversations with you and in you know, taken from a guy who listened to, I think, three different podcasts that had storytelling or storytelling in the title of the podcast. But the amount that you actually spoke about those things was very minor in the podcast, because, you know, people started talking to you about business and about entrepreneurship and about all of these other things. There was one that I heard I think throughout took 40 minutes to go to the introduction. It was an incredible thing, because you were discussing bits of

Richard Mulholland 4:17

it was so fun. That was an EO podcast, remember entrepreneurs organisation, and he basically read out my intro and we went back I by the time the podcast finished, we'd only just face the the bits of the intro. It was very amusing. Dave's a phenomenal interviewer as well. It was a lot of fun.

Francisco Mahfuz 4:34

He kept coming back to it and going this is the worst podcast ever. No, you're good. You're a good guest, but this is what this is terrible. I don't know what I'm doing.

Richard Mulholland 4:42

I was yeah, it was enjoyable for me which I think I always say when I train public speakers, your audience can never enjoy receiving a presentation more than you enjoy delivering it. The first person you have to entertain is yourself. And so if you and I can have a good time today if we can enjoy conversation, you know, then our audience has a chance. So I always feel like that's a good place to go. And that's all that happened in that particular podcast is two of us were having the best time ever. It may have been early as, but at least there's a chance that other people, but if we're bored, and going through the motions, then it's going to be a terrible conversation.

Francisco Mahfuz 5:18

Yeah, I think the the concern is that in this is something I'm always very aware of when I'm when I'm doing podcasts, even though this podcast is about storytelling, and the vast majority of what I talk to people is, is storytelling. I am aware when I start having conversations that veer off that, yes, they are fun, and people enjoy listening to them. But at the same time, one of one bit of advice that I've heard from a lot of podcasters that are more experienced is saying, you know, your podcast is there to answer a question. You know, if you if you know, Joe Rogan, just having fun conversations that go on for hours might not be the best way to run a podcast, you want your audio saying, Okay, I'm coming in for one thing, I want to get this thing out of the way. Like, if there's more in there, that's great. But as long as you have that inner focus to get that one thing covered, then then fine. Sometimes there's a temptation to just go off and in five different directions. I think sometimes the conversation suffers. Now one person who I I kind of did that, but I think I actually got a very good conversation out of someone I believe, you know, Connor Neil?

Richard Mulholland 6:26

Yeah, no, kind of very well, we good friends is awesome.

Francisco Mahfuz 6:29

Connor like me lives here in Barcelona. I know him personally, we have common friends, but professional as well. We he works in the same NBA. I do. And I had I had him on the show a while back. And it was at the time the longest episode they had done. And it's still one of my favourite and audience's favourite, it's well worth listening to.

Richard Mulholland 6:49

In fact, he just posted a very interesting article as yesterday as of well, we're recording this on how to get paid as a speaker. You know, Connor actually took me so I'm an ice hockey fan. I fundamentally hate soccer. But Connor took me to Barcelona soccer game when I was there. And I don't think I like soccer anymore. But I love the experience of being at the game.

Francisco Mahfuz 7:08

And this is I mean, he might not have done us a great favour when it comes to loving soccer or football as we would call it here. Because Barcelona as football stadiums go has one of the worst atmospheres, at least that I've ever experienced. I'm from Brazil. So pretty much any boring run of the mill game in the middle of the week is about 10 times more active than a Persona game. So yeah, so there's always that but then, you know, if you like ice hockey, people are throwing their gloves down and punching each other. So that's excitement that is thought to be the first thing I wanted to get out of the way. Because I think that at least in the beginning, that is the core of your book, and something you've already touched on by correcting my four part at the introduction, which is, what is your problem with storytelling or storytelling, as you understand it, or as you see it all the time? Okay,

Richard Mulholland 8:02

so I'm going to be absolutely blunt here. And we can just we can we can debate it, I respect you, you know, we can have a conversation. I think storytelling as a concept is quite useless. telling somebody tell a story is it's like saying, you know, asking Stephen King advice, how do I write a great book, as I say, you know, in my book, and he says, to tell a story, or thanks. What am I supposed to do with that? Actually, there's so much more to it. The other problem is that when people hear storytelling, they think I tell a story. And they extract they extend that and extrapolate that to be tell my story, or tell a story about me. Nobody cares about your story. I don't think we're trying to tell people a story that is taking a prepackaged idea and telling it to them. I think we're what we're trying to do is sell people a news story about their life, in which we play a part. So right now you're you've there's a movie of your life. And if you were to die a year from now, 50 years from now, at the end of that movie, all it's going to say my plot in your film is just going to be podcast guest. My job is to move from podcast guests hire, it's never going to be my story. I just want to have make you have a different story because now I exist in it. So Connor, Neil has now got a better part. He's like, top podcast guest. So now he's up there. So I think the there's so the word storytelling is so useless as a concept. It's so vague, that it actually becomes unhelpful, and people just grab on what they think it means. And then it actually makes for worse presentations or wait for presentations, or communication where people show up and throw up and they just talk about themselves. If I can sell you have a story in which you believe that there is a problem that you now think that I can help you fix them. Then all of a sudden we got a movie to make.

Francisco Mahfuz 9:56

There's a couple of things there that I would like to unpack. First of all, I I really love that analogy. I think this analogy, a metaphor of seeing everyone's life as as a movie that when which they are the stars, and we are just supporting actors, I think there's a lot to, there's a lot that you can do with that idea. But when it comes to to storytelling being useless as a concept, I've had this discussion before with some people, they didn't necessarily call it story selling, they just had, I think the person I'm thinking of said something like, you know, don't tell stories, you use stories. So I've seen that phrase that way. My pushback to that is that I don't actually disagree with that at all. Because I think that when people talk about storytelling, that way, they're talking about bad storytelling. Because sharing an anecdote is one thing. To me storytelling stories are real life examples that make a point, if you're going to share something, it needs to be making a point that point opposite, it needs to be relevant to the audience that you're sharing it with. So if it's a sales meeting, if it's a keynote, like, why are you sharing that story, that story instead of trying to do something very specific? If you don't know that, then you write then, you know, you're just telling a story. And that's one of the most useless things you can possibly do. People are going, why are you sharing? Like, good story, bro. But you know, what? What was the point of that? So I don't disagree with you at all, to me is just a sometimes you can come across to me that that sort of attack on storytelling is just attack on an attack on bad storytelling,

Richard Mulholland 11:27

please visit that both of us are professionals in this space, I think words matter. And I think people reach what's called a degree of semantic stretch. Like, there's certain words like for example, the word love, or the word brand, it means so many nuanced things in so many different ways that some people refer to brand, but the mean corporate identity, some but you know, there's all these different things that actually the word stops becoming useful. Now, for sure, I do believe there's good story telling. But actually, I think that good storytelling is selling a story to people. You can tell stories in service of that. But I think the job of making presentations interesting is to first your to use stories, to sell stories to other people. And in absence of that important thing. That's why it's not just because to me using stories and telling stories, there's not an interesting enough differentiation, there's not enough for another human to go, Hmm, I Okay, I understand what you're saying here. But when you move from storytelling to story selling, you're now I understand what you're trying to do is I'm trying to sell them a new version of their world, that how do I do that? But I do think stories have an important part to play. The next part, though, that I think where people make a problem, and I guess this goes to your bad versus good is I think that we overvalue the story. So the job if I said to you, that tomorrow night, I'm going to an ice hockey game. And if I said to you, how do I have a nice night tomorrow? And you said to me, get in your car? Well, yes, getting in my car is very, very important for getting to the ice rink, where I'm going to go watch South Africa play Thailand, nice hockey, but the objective is to watch the hockey game. And if the hockey game, if my car breaks down, then I'll take my Vesper Okay, so So the job is not to drive the car, the job is to get to the game. Now in the metaphor for me of presenting I refer to this as when I want to give my dog medicine. My dog hates a pill, you can't give him a pill. But if I could give him peanut butter neat of peanut butter, so what do we do, we put the pill inside the peanut butter. Now for me, and the dog will take it no problem. The pill is the payload, that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to deliver the pill, if I just give it the information, the raw information is too bitter for my audience to process. But if you say just tell a story, you may as well just say give them some peanut butter. If you just give them peanut butter, they will enjoy it, but they will not get better, they will not change. So we need to understand that the story is simply the delivery message, not the purpose. Right? It is the peanut butter to the pill. And understanding the ratio of those two things and understanding that the one is in service of the other. It is the vehicle it is the path to victory, not the victory condition itself. And that's why I say storytelling by itself is not is too broad or frame to be useful or helpful. And it commands too much real estate and people's brains already for them not to know to understand the subtlety that you see.

Francisco Mahfuz 14:23

I don't disagree with any of that. I think we use the word semantics. I think sometimes in these discussions of business storytelling, we can fall into a bit of semantics. But I don't think I've ever spoken to any one who in my opinion understands storytelling, who would ever advocate for anyone to you know, in the recursos as speaker on storytelling, he uses the analogy of the you know, you don't sell people you're going to sell someone a trip. You sell the destination you don't sell the aeroplane the aeroplane is irrelevant. The aeroplane is just to get you there. I think that if you understand storytelling you understand that storytelling in this business storytelling is the storyteller is the aeroplane. It's it's not we're what we're trying to do is get people somewhere in might be that story is the best way to do that. It will always be, there were plenty of other ways to get them there. And if you if you think stories, the only way to get them there, you have a problem as well,

Richard Mulholland 15:20

for sure. And I guess that's what I'm going to war with. You see, you say most professional people understand what storytelling is. But then what we do is we give that advice on five ways to be a better public speaker, tell stories, you know, did you know your audience, all of these rubbish things that actually really, they're all rubbish, but they're rubbish if people don't understand the context. So we as professionals, yeah, I've learned a presentation company for 25 years since I was 22. I've been a professional speaker for 19 years. Sometimes I forget that, oh, this is obvious to me. But what's big in my world isn't big in the world. So when I go out, and I say to somebody tell a story, I realised that they're not hearing storytelling from the perspective of me or you, they're hearing storytelling from the perspective of them. And for most people, storytelling is sitting around a campfire sharing a great story about last year's holiday and this hilarious thing that happened. And even when I work with professional speakers, a lot of them think the first thing they want to do is they want to tell their story. But actually, most speakers, most great speakers unless you are and, you know, we refer to them as the Olympiad. Unless you're at the very, very top of your game in some field, people aren't or if you're famous, unless you're famous people aren't there to hear your story. They're here to write a better version of their own. So it's better to take on the mindset of a researcher or a journalist, then and, you know, use stories in terms of that, rather than to get on stage and tell you a personal story about your entrepreneurial woods. Yeah,

Francisco Mahfuz 16:48

so this is the second point from from what we initially started talking about that I want. I mean, I think you've just answered the question, which is that I do believe that there is value in sharing personal stories. I do believe that at times, depending on what you're doing, not necessarily on a keynote, but in lots of circumstances, there is a value in having a origin story and sharing that podcast being a pretty good example, when people get you know, asked the same question over and over again, if you can tell your own story in, you know, two, three minutes and get a lot out, every single interview has 1015 minutes wasted while you're trying to go through a biography. But again, to me that is there to serve a purpose. It's why I mean, how do you tell your own story? Well, you need to be trying to do something to the audience, you want them to relate to you, you want them to see themselves in you, you want them to see you as an expert, there is a clear point that that story is there to deliver. And if you don't have that, then you know, it's just think you're in love with with yourself. And you want to talk about how amazing you are. So I'm still trying to get over. I'm still trying to get over the fact that you mentioned you're going to watch ice hockey with South Africa, in Thailand, South African Thailand, play ice hockey. It's been to the back of my mind is something there's some cognitive dissonance.

Richard Mulholland 18:06

There really, really is we had a good laugh, because I was actually when the last game two days ago, we said Africa and so I'm a big Toronto Maple Leafs fan. And our skating up coach in our business is actually based in Montreal. And when I was having a coaching call, we were doing some strategy work the other day that he actually I said, like, oh, South Africa's basically in Thailand. And you could see his brain was going through this. I don't understand. There's a live stream, I'll send it to you for fun, you can see that it's a very small movie, like the only people in the room will be friends and family. But yeah, it was it was a lot of fun. I went to that I saw that African Bosnia play on Sunday, as well. Yeah.

Francisco Mahfuz 18:42

Fair enough. One of the other things that you talk about, and as I just started reading the book, I thought, Okay, well, I've heard this before, when you were talking about how you shouldn't be the hero of your own story, you know, that you're not the hero, the hero sitting on the chair. And, you know, that's I think we made popular by Donald Miller with building a story brand quite a while back. But the thing I thought was the main, I think the more the concept in your book, that is not something you see many people talking about is the dragon. So I think I think that is the part of your book that I don't think anything is 100% original, but that have you read a million different storytelling books. That's the one I've seen. You gave more attention and flashed out more than than anyone I've seen. Talk about this. He was more vivid because you know, dragons are cool.

Richard Mulholland 19:31

We can be friends.

Francisco Mahfuz 19:34

Well, you know, I've got I've got little Logan's here in the corner. I'm trying to buff up my nerd credentials. Can you just talk a little bit about the two jobs of the storyteller as you describe them in the book, the firt the first two jobs?

Richard Mulholland 19:48

First of all, let me say I'm so glad you picked up on that because that's exactly what it was. I actually find when when we started doing the training in this we spoke a lot about the hero's journey. And of course, I mean, this is something In a presentation over 25 years, the hero's journey comes into it. But actually, the more I think about it is that we overvalue the hero. The hero is simply the person that has to take the action, but the hero is fundamentally uninteresting. Like, you know, if it wasn't for Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker would still be a moisture farmer in tattooing, right, like did nothing, that nothing would have changed most people's life, even though like, you know, I'm selling to somebody tomorrow, who's the head of HR of a bank? Yes, I can think of them as the hero and it's their story and blah, blah, blah. But the truth is, most people's stories don't feel pretty heroic. They don't feel like they got a big challenge. Now, I guess where I deviate from Donald Miller. And I would say I deviate quite quite, I'd say it's a bit of a big split, is I don't like the terminology of the villain. I think the villain makes the the role quite specific. So sell a problem, and then you know, then there's a solution. My line for that, that we always say is, you don't sell the features and benefits of the ambulance, you sell the accident and the ambulance will sell itself. You know, nobody negotiates with the ambulance driver, right. If there's an accident, there's an ambulance. But I think that we need to be more nuanced than that. And I think the dragon is a great thing because it represents three different areas. I'm going to explain these three things very, very quickly, and then I'll tell you what the two questions I think we have to do with people this. The first thing is the term the term of the book, Kuby dragons, Hickson brokenness was the sign it used to be written on the old maps, we all knew that dragons existed because every culture had them, but we didn't know where to find them. So what they would put as they would put the map, on the dragon, they put little sea serpent to the dragon, and they would write the term at the bottom Here Be Dragons. And the idea was glory and discovery and adventure. You know, an exploration exists when we go out to find the dragons. So the dragon represents curiosity. It's the unknown. It's the thing. It's like something that's out there. Like, I don't know what it is yet. But it's exciting because I don't know what it is. So that is one fundamental appeal for humans, like if they if they care about the unknown, and they know it's out there. That's something we can do. The Metaverse at the moment to some degree for a lot of people is a curiosity Dragon, like we're not sure what it is, but we kind of want to know more. Okay, then what you've got is you've got the dragon as the twit. And that's a pretty obvious one, hey, there's a dragon coming to attack the village. Ah, okay, I've got a call to action to defeat the dragon. But then we've got the drag is the obstacle on the dragon is the obstacle is that over there, there is a cave. And inside that cave is treasure, the problem is between you and the treasure is a dragon, that it could be sleeping, right just not attacking you. But you got to get around the dragon in order to get to the opportunity. And actually, I find that for most people in most day to day business, the problem from a sales point of view, you're not selling against a big attacking dragon. Because most people like you know why to K software when it came out. Everybody wanted to get it when COVID-19 happened, you don't have to do a sales pitch when the dragons on their door. Okay, what you've got to do, though, most of us are there as an obstacle, and there's an opportunity behind it. So I believe that when you the job of the storyteller, have anybody selling anything an idea to their staff a strategy to their team, a and you know, investor updates to their investor community. Or of course, just straight day to day sales pitch, you've got two jobs. Job number two is to help your audience slay their Dragon by whatever it is, or get past their dragon or find the dragon, you've got to help make that happen. Job Number one is to make sure they see it. The biggest single problem that faces most people is they don't know the dragon exists. And the big problem that most people make on a sales point of view is they sell the broader dragon of the category. So they do as much of a job of selling for their competitors. As for themselves. The most important thing is that you have to sell we call it ups the unique problem only you can solve or UDs, the unique dragon that only you can slay. If I can convince them that there is a dragon out there that everybody else can help slay generally, and I can too, but there's one problem that I can uniquely help you solve. If you can believe that that dragon exists, or you really, really want that treasure or to have that discovery, then we're the only people that can help you get there. Long answer small question. Sorry. No,

Francisco Mahfuz 24:13

no, it's great. Because my brain is going around with the last thing because what I Okay, so So let's let's take you for example. Right? So you have you have a presentation company, you help people circle acid presentations, I think is the line of synthomer from you. So for example, in your case, the general Dragon is that presentation suck, that people are not good presenters that they don't achieve the results they want when they present. So I guess that's sort of the general drag and then people might come to you knowing that, you know, either they're asked for better slides, which is kind of a silly dragon, but they might want okay, the better presentation in your particular case. How have you turned that generic dragon into you know your UDS Are UPS

Richard Mulholland 25:01

okay? So you hit the nail on the head there most people who come to us first of all, most people don't think you're bad at presenting they are unconsciously incompetent. Okay and I'll explain to you why I think this is going to imagine there's a big cross in fact between us and the screen okay a big X with like a one of those things. And at the bottom of one is skilled at the top is unskilled. Okay, so the north south is skilled and unskilled. The the East West is chaotic, and standardised. Most people exist in a in a space of like the average person, the easy customers, for other people who are chaotic, unskilled, they are consciously incompetent. They know they don't know what they need, they come to is actually relatively easy, because we explain to them what they want. And away they go. Unfortunately, the majority of people think that doing lots of presentations makes them good. So they come in, they say, Hey, I'm a great speaker. I just need nice slides. I don't want to bore my audience, can you make my bad PowerPoint pretty? Now, when you give people when you have somebody who's a good speaker with no structure, they're just hotair. They're like that, that relative that speaks into wedding that loves the sound of their own voice, it goes on and on, but never makes a point. Okay, so there, this is the problem that we have. So the dragon we have to sell them is that their skill is not enough. And the way that we do this is we say to them, we actually don't sell the fear dragon that you're not good enough, we sell the opportunity dragon say, I think that the difference between you and a paid public speaker is you have all the talent, but you've never not yet been taught the structure. I don't believe that you have a skills from I don't even think you have a slides problem, we can make slides for you. But this is going to amplify and make prettier, but it's not going to make you the star of the show. I actually believe we have star quality. And I think that what we have to do is to get you to the other side in which you have high skill and great standards, because actually good presentation and narrative has structure. So now what I've done is I've made a play, and I say I think we're uniquely placed to do this. We're not a presentation design company, we're a presentation strategy company, I think that we can actually give you a message the strategy deserves so that your message is operating at the level of you as the speaker. Now you tell me how you would feel if somebody said that to you. Now, you'll feel that I've been held back that I've got this raw talent that, that I'm the next Simon Sinek. And all I need is to get a little bit more structure. And these guys can unlock that in me, every other article has been talking to me about making pretty slides. I've got three other quotes for slides. And I've got one other quote for give me a structure that will make me famous. And so that's it. So we go we figure out what they are selling. And we these are different

Francisco Mahfuz 27:28

to try and summarise that the terrible company will just sell them the better the prettier slides, the the average company might go, Well, you need to be a better speaker. And what you're saying it's a skill issue. You don't have the skill we need to give it the scale. And what you say you guys do is to say no, you've got you don't there's lies no the issue, you've got the skill, but you've been pointed in the wrong direction, or you've haven't had the enough structure to get all that skill to its potential or something along those lines.

Richard Mulholland 27:57

We lead with structure because we think structure is our unfair advantage. So the UDS unique dragon that we can really help them slay is that we have we have a really, really tight, formulaic narrative. And I do believe that that literally no presentation cannot be improved by formula. Once you understand the formula once you understand the recipe, add your own ingredients, make your own lasagna, okay? There's no debating that. But don't try and make a lasagna, we don't first understand the fundamental recipe and most people don't they just throw like mints and cheese and ingredients in and they don't they wonder why you know it is. So I don't know if I'm like thoughtful or hangry. Like I'm craving lasagna. So so we we lead with that. But of course, we make money off these slides in the video in the coaching. And in fact, I think our coaching is a big part of what we do. We just have a fundamental belief that good presentation is written before it is designed before it is delivered. And you have to tackle in that order.

Francisco Mahfuz 28:49

So it's interesting, you're talking about structure, because one of the things that that is the case with with your book. So this is this is an ongoing conversation or debate I've had with people in the almost 100 episodes have done this, which is some people absolutely swear by structure. Some people don't like it at all. And there's some people that are in the middle, in in your book. And again, this might just be a commercial, a very small commercial move in your part. But in your book there is there is structure when it comes to presentation, because you talk about your care believe no do structure, but the reason structure when it comes to the story itself. So you're telling people about selling a different story you're telling about finding customer stories, but I don't believe that at any point of the book. I finished it. It's not there. You actually saying okay, so this is how you tell a good story. Like this is what this is or the part of a good story or the structure. This is the order. I don't think that's the I don't know if that's in your programmes that people go and hire you for after they like the book, or is this you think that the story itself doesn't need a structure but the presentation does.

Richard Mulholland 29:57

I know for me, that was the The action framework, the care believe no do is absolutely the story, the structure we follow for storytelling. If I want to tell you a story, I'm going to start making you care about why this matters, then I'm going to give you a trust statement, you got to trust what I'm doing, then I've got to tell you the information that you need to know about it. And finally, I've got to explain to you why I told you this and what you're supposed to do with it. And that is the call to action component of it. So we are trying to do that. I am a little bit freer on because I'm saying that is the overarching overarching story that you're setting that has structure. But inside there are little anecdotes and cool stories which i By the way, thrive off telling, like I love telling personal stories, to to get that link to people and to actually humanise myself. For those things. We worry more about the three elements and Connor would have would have spoke about this, you were talking spoken about logos, pathos, and ethos. I think that the terms like it's, I think it's true. We don't need to learn new terms. For me, it's head, heart and gut. Have they said something that appeals to my head that feels smarts? Have they had something that said something that I care about? Is this story, something that I that I'm invested in and guts is Do I have a gut feel about either the validity of the story or the character of the person telling it to me? And so is my gut feel? And for me stories, I'll have to measure up against those three things. Do they appeal to the head, the heart and the gut, and the ratio is can change slightly depending on the purpose of the story. By the way, I do have as a paid professional speaker, certain content that is literally designed to be purely entertaining. I tie it back so tenuously that it's laughable. But I also understand that a big part of why people hire me is I'm supposed to be the, you know, like the Barney. Hey, buddy, I'm supposed to be there giving people a good time as well. And so I work in those things. So that at the end of it, they remember that guy was clever, but also Wow, that was fun. And I really enjoyed it. They forget, those were two separate conversations. And they just think of them as one thing.

Francisco Mahfuz 31:54

Yeah, so I find that you know, what you said about some stuff being purely entertaining, I find that the the challenge, and it doesn't need to be done that way. But for people who have done this for a bit longer the challenge can be what is the most entertaining, memorable story you can find that actually connects to the to the point you're trying to make in a way that doesn't feel super forced. Because they I think I don't find this necessarily difficult to find stories, either personal or business stories that that make a point, you can find them every day. But sometimes if you can find one that that deliver the point you're trying to deliver, and it's also very memorable and entertaining, then you know it it's that's never gonna hurt if you can do both things with with that same story completely. And

Richard Mulholland 32:45

probably my best selling story I talked about an experience I had at the Four Seasons. And it's, it's very funny, and it has mermaids, orgasming and things like this. And everybody's a crowd pleaser every time it gets really, really over the top. And people always request in fact, when I've told I was speaking in Seattle, I did a shortened version of it using a different experience to illustrate that point. And when the guy stood up, who booked me said no, no, I know, we actually just make sure to repeat tell the whole story he told us about the four seasons. That story is designed to illustrate a very specific point that good service is defined by how well you do your job. Great service is defined by how well you do not my job, I can get there in different ways. And that story is entertainment woven in. But I've got other content that is just really, really fun. And I can tie it back into the story. And obviously, it feels like it's there. But it's it's the actual job there is to trigger a peak in theory to make them remember the high point. So what was the high point of this talk? Oh, the high part oh my god, that was so funny. That was hilarious. Jeez, I was crying. And they remember the ninja drip story. But then they remember the end story where I present my legacy list, the three things I want them to take away or five things I want them to take away. And when Pekin theory kicks in, they remember the legacy list these three things that I have to do tomorrow in my business, and the fact that they really enjoyed it. And that's a beautiful combination of things. Because when we construct memories later, so somebody tried to book me for a talk now and asked if they could describe me as a stand up comedian with business tips. And I said, No, no, no, please don't do that stand up. Comedians are supposed to be funny every 30 seconds. I don't have to be funny ever. So if I'm funny, three times in 30 minutes, people will think I was hilarious. But if you're expecting you know, when when you remember me later, you remember me being hilarious. But I may be made for jokes.

Francisco Mahfuz 34:31

Talk about PKM theory. And I think it's probably worth explaining this to people who have no idea what we're talking about. But I also find it interesting that I when I wrote a book about public speaking a few years back, I also talked about beacon theory. And I think it's interesting that the example you use the experiment you use to illustrate it in your book is the one about putting a hand on a bucket of ice. The one I used is the colonoscopy one if you burn yourself out talking about happy endings, and when you're going to choose the experiment that he said I'm gonna go with a bucket of ice on this one to go to the colonoscopy experiment.

Richard Mulholland 35:05

I felt like I went to the source so I feel your example was Daniel realities example. I think it was he brought up and predictably irrational your river.

Francisco Mahfuz 35:13

My example is from Thinking Fast and Slow from Daniel Kahneman II stories also Academy. Okay, I think both of work, then you're kind of on, people have no idea what you're talking about. So the peak end rule was, was this idea where if that we remember the peak of any experience and the end of the experience, so the colonoscopy experiment is they were they had people go through colonoscopy, which used to be a painful procedure, I don't believe that is the case anymore. And they found that if the exam went on for 10 minutes, and it was just horrible throughout, and then there are the same level of awfulness, compared to being 15 minutes. But the last five minutes were a lot lower in intensity. People who had the second version of the experiment tended to be less reluctant to repeat the procedure, which was something they had to do. So it was, even though it was 15 minutes, and you have the same time in 10 minutes of horrible pain, because the last five, were less painful. You remember that as less bad of an experience. So yeah, so that's the the pick and roll. So

Richard Mulholland 36:17

now all I want to say is that you definitely chose the better example, there's no doubt, like actually, when I think about is, I'm kicking myself, you're spot on, because it's more vivid, because people have a relationship and they can like as you were telling him now, and I think the reason I mentioned this is I think actually the choice of stories really matters. So your story has more likely narrative transportation, because like I can, I can kind of imagine where that is, whereas mine was much more was less real. And it was more a sociological experiment done with students in a controlled environment to illustrate a point. And I now wish I'd gone back and told it your way, well,

Francisco Mahfuz 36:58

I would love to claim merit for this, but I just didn't find it. The most awkward stuff sometimes just makes for the better stories. I had. I had someone talk to me about this the other day, I think someone said something about like an awkward or uncomfortable medical examination. And I said, Oh, I've had something happened to me, I just need to find a business point in that story. And I'll tell it, and he's like, please, please, that I was like, I'm not sure I can share that.

Richard Mulholland 37:27

So I believe very, very firmly. In my first book leg aside, I wrote about it and the difference between best and favourite. And all my stories that correct for favourite not best, is this the best story I could have told. And on Best, the colonoscopy versus the ice cube story, the icewater story, the they essentially both can illustrate the point but in the favourite and which one gives you a better chance of the onstage having a big fun with it and telling a bit of a joke, getting the audience laughing, really, really pushing and things like that. There's no doubt that the colonoscopy story has much more version of fun in it. But of course, I could tell that story and somebody in the audience might hate it and say that was inappropriate and too personal and things like this. And I'm totally okay. In fact, if I haven't pissed off at least one person, because I believe that you can't be somebody's favourites unless you're willing to be somebody else's worst. And I think his professional speakers and presenters, we have to we have to live on the fringes of Where's best is just to be do you check all the boxes to be good.

Francisco Mahfuz 38:28

I was trying to think of business points for this one. It's kind of a simple basic story for my life, usually, which is just I went to the doctor to do this exam that most men have to do at a certain age and you're dreading the day, and you go in and just before he was going to examine me, he said, Oh, by the way, I've got some students with me. Do you mind if they watch? And I thought to myself, Well, I think the worst is about to happen anyway, what difference does it make having an audience there? So it was, I think, a lot worse than I expected it was going to be. And then as I you know, I was composing myself. I looked to the students, and they looked worse than me. Like, I don't know if they were just embarrassed for me, or they were just horrified of what professional they had just chosen. But I I felt a little better. I looked at them as like, maybe it was worse for them.

Richard Mulholland 39:27

Yeah, this is a once a year, maybe once a decade at a certain age test for me. This is your life. Right? You're the printer. So my my funny I guess story about that thing was when the guy was doing it. He told me it's I went to one of these executive clinics. And this is something that tested all gentlemen have to do over the age of 40. So I go to this clinic and this guy, basically it's an executive Wellness Centre. And he said that when he drives home every night at work, and he listens to Bruce Whitfield who does the business show and only see and executives are coming on for interviews, you know, talk about their business and their share price. And all he thinks when he's very obvious. Yeah, I did that guy. Yeah, I did that guy. Like that's his point is Has he examined this person. But then the other, I guess my other story is purity. This is the slight deviation we promised we wouldn't do earlier, when I went to get the other thing that guys sometimes get when they don't, they don't need to have more children. Before the operation, I had to go for a test. And the guy was kind of doing a little bit of a feeler on to make sure that everything was okay. And at that point, it very famously said that the news on the radio is in the background. And this couldn't have been worse timing. So quite a famous African actor who shares my surname had just died. And the news reader came on and said and and other news, Gordon Mulholland has just been announced dead by his family. And there's this man there and he's got my bits in his hand. And he realises my name, and he knows what he's just heard. And you know, he's got this Oh, my God, am I supposed to like give sympathy now? What am I supposed to do? And I was like, no, no, no, no relation, no relation. Anyway, this may well go in the cutting room floor. Oh, no, no,

Francisco Mahfuz 41:13

hear yours. I'll raise mine. I so I had that procedure. I had that procedure last year. Right. So the first so I have, I have two children. One is Two girls, one is five. And the other one is two. The first one was planned, the second one wasn't. And when we we thought there was gonna be a third. So my wife and I completely panicked. And as soon as we found out that we were wrong, I immediately called up the doctor, you know, this was a Wednesday, I booked an appointment for Thursday. So I go in there, and the doctor is talking to me, and he says, Okay, let me explain to you the procedure. And then he's like, drawing things. I was like, that's not the scale. But fair enough. Go on. And it says, you know, how, what you've been doing for what you've been doing for void more children. And I said, I have a young daughter, I mean, it's, that's my, that's, that's what I did avoided. It is explaining like, okay, so this is what we're gonna do, we're gonna cut here, we're gonna do this. And then once you've had 25, relations with your wife, then you come back here to check that everything has been done properly. And I said to him, Okay, so 25 relations, okay, can we just book this appointment now for three years down the line? Like, do I book it

Richard Mulholland 42:24


Francisco Mahfuz 42:26

Is your agenda open for three years down the line? So it says, Okay, so when would you like to do this? I was like, Can we do it? Now? There's like, no, no, I mean, you can go home you can think about it's like, I've thought about it as quickly as I possibly can. So we did it three days later. And then And then I remember that I've tried to explain to my youngest what was gonna happen, and it's like, how are they going to do this? And to that extent, she wants to know everything. It's just like, but why do you feel makes what if the doctor makes a mistake? What if you know, the break something? And I said, well, then Mommy and I won't play anymore. You know, that's

Richard Mulholland 43:02

Oh, my goodness. Okay. By the way, at the beginning, you said that you were giving yourself a challenge to talk about stuff that I've never spoken about before in a podcast. Well done, my friend.

Francisco Mahfuz 43:12

We're gonna do colonoscopies, vasectomy is in all this. In the exam no man wants to do. All right. Now,

Richard Mulholland 43:21

incidentally, these stories are all peanut butter and no pill. For what for what it's worth for the for the purpose of this particular podcast, although, you know, hopefully, it will pay to our peak and theory. Yes, yes. Yeah. And although I do

Francisco Mahfuz 43:35

find, I do find that it is it is a good exercise to take these stories, which are essentially just anecdotes that you would and I have shared with my friends, and turn them around and turn them around and go, is there any lesson here? Is that anything I've learned that a single doctor did well or did wrong? Is that anywhere in the how the communication happen? Or my again, if you're, I think as if you're a business coach, and not like a presentation or a story, coach, it's easier because you can find business points on almost anything if you try hard enough, as as my focus being storytelling, I find it sometimes like there's no storytelling point I can make here. But if I like the exercise,

Richard Mulholland 44:15

that could be the story. The story could be I've just told you this thing. Now you're worried about the point. Oh, but no, I just told you a story. That's the advice. That's what people keep on telling me tell the story. But now yes, we we've shared it. The one slight caveat would be that I do find that once I've built rapport with my audience. I mean, that kind of middle phase, and now they're just here for a good time. I can get away with going a little bit and having some fun with them and taking them to a cool place telling the story because we built up some rapport they already trust us and they think we'll get back on track. And then I make a joke did not I deviated there, but I had to tell you I come back and I tied back the Why did I tell you this? I told you this because this is what most people do when they're doing storytelling. They tell them stories are really really fun and interesting for them. They may even be fun and interesting for the audience. By the end of them, they're largely forgettable because there isn't a big point. Or even worse, they are so memorable that they take up one of the single most important memory slots in your audience's mind. I can't tell you how many times I tell a story about when you when you wind up. And you there's always that one less little ninja drip, that's waiting. And if you're wearing beige pants, it will come out dry and you got to be careful. And people will come to me years later and say I loved your presentation. It was brilliant. You're the ninja drip guy. And I thought well, actually, I was doing a talk on legacy thinking.

Francisco Mahfuz 45:36

The Ninja drift guy, I think Boredoms layer or Dragon's Lair is slightly better moniker than the ninja drip guy. But you know it has its feel.

Richard Mulholland 45:50

But that's the problem, right? Because what I used to do in that it was such a crowd pleaser. And this was before I fully understand why I stood peak and end, I would use that as my big finisher. So the peak and the end coincide with a really funny easy to remember vivid story, that when they see me and they remember me, that's what they take away. So now what I do is I bring that in a little bit in the middle to really lift my talk at the kind of when I'm in just getting into my legacy list my building of my core points. But that's my main tell them what they need to know stuff. As I'm getting to the end, then I tie back to it, remind them of the fun stuff, but then summarise my big points and call them to action. So they remember me now as a legacy thinking guy that told the ninja drip story, for example. But I but I do see the importance of theatre because you want people to remember you six months later, when they are trying to book another speaker for their company conference.

Francisco Mahfuz 46:44

Yeah, you know, something, I think anyone that talks about presentations or messaging or stories past to talk about, and you talk about this in the book, you know, it's not what you say that it's important. It's what they remember. So if they, if they don't remember anything from your talk, doesn't matter how genius it was, it's just gone. Whereas if they remember something that's better. And if they remember, the right thing, that's even better

Richard Mulholland 47:07

is less important than remembered is less important than repeat is it you know, is less important and acted on. So be ultimately you want to be you want them to create an action that usually happens when your message is repeated. That will only happen if it's remembered. And you know, it will I guess then it's the reciting.

Francisco Mahfuz 47:25

And there's just one last thing I wanted to ask you a bit more about, which I should have asked right at the beginning. And I seem to have skipped my notes. I think we were perhaps talking about colonoscopies, which is this concept, which is I think it's less of a storytelling concept and perhaps a business concept. But I don't think I've seen someone put it this way before and I really liked it, which was that it's less important to build your own brand than it is to build the brand of the problem yourself. So building the brand of the Dragon usually is way more important than building your own brand as a Dragon's Lair, right.

Richard Mulholland 48:03

And this goes back to a line one of my good friends also speaker Nick Caron, Ambus, a great guest for the future talk to a curiosity, but it'd be a great. This is a line that him and I talk about a lot. And I've already mentioned in the show once and that is what's big in your world isn't big in their world. So if I build my brand, and I'm the person who talks about those, so I one of the big things for us is stage marketing. So it's not public speaking. And it's not entrepreneurship, it's the intersection of public speaking and entrepreneurship. And what happens that intersection stage marketing, as a as a thought leader of my business, I go out and I speak about the problem we solve in the world. When people start caring about the problem, they invariably come to our business. Now, one thing would be trying to build the brand of missing link my company, but but people don't care about it. And actually, the problem we're trying to make people care about presentations, is they actually think they're already really good. So the in fact, this is what I'm speaking about a presenter succeeds, the MVP Minimum Viable presentation isn't that it blows my mind, the world is not good enough at this. And that is a core problem. So I don't have to build the brand of my business solves a problem that they don't think they have. And even if it's worth public speaking, all I've got to do is build the brand of the dragon. And I think for most people, if you can build the brand of a dragon, you can make people care go to bed at night and think, Hmm, sure. And then they're stressing, they don't even have to remember you in the short term, but then they're stressing about something and then the next time they see and it's you sharing information again, and you're not even solving the problem, because again, most people I've seen 1000 talks on how to deliver a better presentation, but that we're not solving the right problem because people aren't better. Therefore, what we need is more talks on why to do a better presentation and why we're not good enough at it. And that's about building the brand of the dragon. Most people don't think that the problem you think they have is a big enough problem and urge Java to convince them that it is if they believe that they need the weapon to defeat the dragon, and that's what you can help them with. And again, the most important thing about that is that it must be unique. If all of your competitors solve the same problem, then you've you've done a good job for everyone but nothing special for you.

Francisco Mahfuz 50:17

Perfect. Your book Here Be Dragons is out everywhere. If people want more of you in the work you do, what's the best place for them to find you?

Richard Mulholland 50:26

If you go to get rich dot F, you'll find all the details. They'll take you to my personal website. You don't have to worry about spelling my surname if you go to get rich dot F.

Francisco Mahfuz 50:38

Get Rich Dante Yeah. This this one somehow in my Yeah. So

Richard Mulholland 50:44

I like the idea that I thought it was like a fun URL. Like get rich AF. Yeah. And like people can remember it and things. But it was funny. I was doing a talk in Saudi Arabia. And at the end, I had my domain get rich, the F on the screen. And the guy looked at me like, Hey, why Afghanistan? Well, I don't understand. I was like, oh, yeah, I never thought about it here. There's a context. Most people don't think as Afghanistan, they think of it, you know, as we think of it, so yeah, get And by the way, this is this is maybe a small little tip. But for example, in my business, I've got a terrible URL for my companies like MSN G ln K. Nobody ever remembers it. But so I created I need missing So if people ask me for a link, how do we get a find your company, even if your home URL is one thing, everyone should make it easier for because people are lazy or busy. So make it easier for people to find you. So get rich dot F there's a very, very few numbers in there. I've not mentioned it three times, which in the book I talked about the importance of dropping your price and that magic amount of times. It's in there and you can go there slash dragon to get the book and slash link farm to find all the links to me in my newsletter and to connect with me on LinkedIn where I'm probably the most active.

Francisco Mahfuz 51:59

Perfect. Thank you very much rich, this has been great fun.

Richard Mulholland 52:02

Thank you for this has been really really good fun for me too.

Francisco Mahfuz 52:04

Alright everyone. Thanks for tuning in. Take care of yourselves and until next time

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