This past Wednesday I interviewed Mike Pacchione, who is an amazing speaker and coach. Mike once worked with Nancy Duarte, whose organization helped people like Steve Jobs create presentations. And we all know how wonderful Steve Jobs's presentations were. Mike is super high caliber when it comes to helping people with their speaking. He even helped me with some of my first presentations back in 2012 and 2013, and he's completely influenced my entire speaking career.
Mike and I had a great chat earlier this week about storytelling, so make sure to check out that episode if you haven't already. Storytelling is absolutely key. It's one of the most valuable skills you can learn as a content creator. Because great content, that relates to people, that people resonate with, that people share, always has some sort of story at its core.
That's why I want to tell you a story today. A few stories, in fact. Stories about the power of storytelling.
- The moment Pat realized how much his stories were resonating with his audience
- What an elephant riding a skateboard has to do with the power of the voice
- How to practice your storytelling in front of an audience in a low-stakes way
SPI 520: Let Me Tell You a Story
Welcome to the Smart Passive Income podcast, where it's all about working hard now so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host, the Pat of all trades, master of fun: Pat Flynn.
This past Wednesday we interviewed Mike Pacchione, who is an amazing speaker, he once worked with Nancy Duarte, whose organization helped people like Steve Jobs create presentations. And we all know how wonderful Steve Jobs's presentations are, or were. And so Mike has high caliber when it comes to helping people with their speaking. And he had helped me with some of my first presentations back in 2013, and he's completely influenced my entire speaking career. We had a great chat about storytelling. Storytelling is absolutely key. So make sure to check out that episode if you get a chance, perhaps right after this one, if you haven't already heard that one, it's a great episode. And storytelling is one of the most valuable skills that you can learn as a content creator, right? Because great content, one that relates to people, one that people resonate with, one that people share, always has some sort of story.
And I remember when I went to a conference, and this was actually a couple years after I started my podcast; actually, it was even sooner than that. It was about a year after I started my podcast. I was very reluctant in fact, to start my podcast. There's a little trend with me, behavioral trend. And that is whenever I have to put myself out there on somewhere new, it takes me a while, right? It takes me some time to get comfortable there. And every time I always look back and go, wow, what was I so worried about? I should have done it sooner. I should have leaned into it more earlier. And the same thing happened with my speaking, as you heard in the last episode, and of course the same thing happened with my podcast. I'd announced that I wanted to start a podcast in December of 2008.
It was a podcast that influenced me. I really wanted to do a podcast because I wanted to help influence and positively impact others. And yet it took me an entire year and a half to finally get behind the microphone and record something that I was okay publishing, I still wasn't comfortable publishing, but I was just like, okay, fine. Let's do this. And I haven't looked back since. It's been 11 years and running. And so number one, I'm just very grateful for you. But number two, about a year after I started my show, mind you, I was only podcasting once every other week. Again, it took me a while to ramp up. Now I have thousands of episodes and podcasts multiple times a week, but I was only podcasting every other week. That's when an episode was coming out. And I didn't do a good job of planning, right?
It was... an episode came out, I hit publish on it, and then I had to scramble to think about, okay, who am I going to interview in the next two weeks? What was I going to talk about next? And that's never the way to go about content creation. You want to plan ahead a little bit so you can batch process and not ever get into that spiral or that hamster wheel similar to what happens when you're trying to write a story, looking at a blank screen. You want to have something in front of you to kind of work off of.
Anyway, I'm on a little bit of a tangent here. Let me go back to the story. I attended an event in Las Vegas. It was called Blog World Expo. It later changed to New Media Expo. Anyway, I had just started my podcast about a year prior, and I was blogging three times a week, podcasting once every other week.
And I remember walking across the hallway, this was right or around the time when people started to really know who I was, this was the second time I was at this conference, and some people had recognized me and saw me from the year before. And the conversation changed from the prior year. The prior year, people were getting to know me and my blog a little bit. I didn't have a podcast yet. And we just kind of were getting to know each other. This time people would come up to me and they would just start by saying, "Pat, I loved that episode you did about... whatever." Or "Wow, that story you told about the time that you and your wife had a kid and you didn't have insurance," which was a true story. "That was crazy." They remember that. They remember the story of me getting my first sale and the time when I mentioned that on the podcast.
It was all about podcast. Podcast, podcast, podcast. And within those podcasts, it was either a story that they remembered, or a fun fact that just resonated with them for some reason. As you know, at the beginning of each of my episodes on Wednesday and Friday, there is a fun fact that's read by my voiceover guy, John Melley, and there's over 500 of them now. And when I meet people in person, they either recall a story that I told on the show or one of those fun facts. So anyway, all those people were giving me clues that I had to lean into podcasting. I was even saying, "Well, what about the blog? Didn't you like my blog post that I put several hours into in research and all the top tips that I found, and gathered, and collated into this one spot for you?"
They're like, "Yeah, yeah, that's fine. But man, that story you told was incredible." Or "It really hit home for me." Or "I could relate to that." Right? Those were the responses people were saying. So that was my clue to double down on the podcast, right? That's when I went from biweekly, to then weekly, and then a couple years later I launched another podcast called AskPat, which if you haven't checked out yet, you should definitely check it out. Now they're coaching calls with people, and I could coach you too. You can go to AskPat.com and fill out an application and I might be able to help you out. So that was a clue that I needed the podcast more. And I did, I'm so grateful I did that, especially back then because podcasting of course has continued to grow and rise. And it's still in the early days, in my opinion.
If you have yet to start a podcast and you know that storytelling is a great thing to do, and maybe you're a little bit afraid of getting behind the camera. I mean, you don't know if I'm wearing pants right now. Or makeup. Or no pants and no makeup. Or makeup and no pants. Wait, no. It doesn't get weird like that. I promise you. Now you have weird visuals, right? That's the power of the voice. I can say, “Hey, check out that elephant, riding on a skateboard.” You can't not imagine it now, right? You're imagining it. So this is the power of the voice. And I leaned into that. I didn't even realize that everybody was pinpointing the power of the story, though. So that's why in the beginning days of my podcast, it was very much about interviewing and finding out the facts about what people did to grow their blog, what people did to market their product, how they grew and scale on a particular platform.
And it wasn't until I think episode 150, 160, where I started to realize that, wow, it's all these episodes where the person I was interviewing was a really good storyteller that are actually blowing everybody's mind, that are getting responses and people are sending emails about, personal emails, about how those episodes, like episode 122, with Shane and Jocelyn Sams, you might remember him from episode 500. He interviewed me. We did like a flipped episode. Big shoutout to Shane; love you, brother. He just told great stories. And I think he's a natural born storyteller. He's got that kind of personality. And it definitely works in his favor for podcasting, for helping others and being a speaker. And so whether you are a speaker, or you are a podcaster, or you're a YouTuber, or even a blogger, you're, you're using the written word, or an author, you need to include the stories.
And one tip that was mentioned from Ramit Sethi that I believe we discussed in the previous episode with Mike, was this idea of building a story bank. I think banks are great, right? Banks keep your money safe, but they also keep your stories safe. And they become a place where you could kind of grab those stories from times past and resurface them for maybe an event that you're speaking at. Or a podcast episode that you're doing, a solo show. You want to go into the files, pull out that one story that relates to that topic that your audience is interested in: boom, there it is. And it's pretty cool because every time you tell the same story again and again, it gets better. Especially when there's feedback. Feedback from a podcast is kind of difficult. And I was very lucky to be there in person at this event in 2012, I think it was to hear that feedback in real time.
I think nowadays we could potentially practice storytelling while not necessarily on a stage or even a live event, but on a livestream. We have YouTube Live. We have Facebook Live. We have Instagram Live; Instagram Live is probably the one that's the “safest,” if you will. And by safe, I mean, it's just, there's going to be already no expectation of having super high-end production. It's on the phone. It's very simple. Doesn't have to be perfect. I think on YouTube saying... I mean, honestly all the livestreaming platforms welcome raw. It welcomes just realness. And I think that's what's so great about it, but also what's so great is you can practice telling these stories and some of the best people who I know who really, really lean into livestreaming and gather big audiences and earn so much trust in short periods of time are people like Nicole Walters who had... She made a huge name for herself by going live on Facebook.
And she told some amazing stories. Her personality came out. Chalene Johnson, same thing. She's a wizard right now if you follow her on Instagram with her Instagram stories. And she's talking a lot about these really important topics that have you get to know her much, much deeper. I trust her even more than I trusted her before because of the stories and the things that she's telling about her life and her ADHD and stuff with her father-in-law that I just didn't even know about. And so you can practice on social media, you can practice with stories and be raw with it and be real with your audience. And I love that. So tomorrow at the time of this recording, I'm recording this on September 14th. Tuesday, September 14th. Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 15th, I'm actually at an event, the one and only event that I'm speaking at in 2021, it's the Traffic and Conversion Summit.
It's in downtown San Diego. Today. I went to Puesto which is an amazing taco place. You got to go to Puesto. If you go to downtown San Diego, go to Puesto and get the filet taco. And they have really good vegan and vegetarian tacos too. So really good options for everybody. But the filet, the filet is legit. Anyway, I met up with Brian Harris and Grant Baldwin, and there are teammates who were in town to attend the event and to learn and to discuss and to plan. And I had lunch with those guys. I haven't seen, like, just people in the business space in person. And so, it was just so great. Then they went to get ice cream and they almost got me to do it, but I said, no ice cream. I'm not on sugar right now. It was really great, but I'm speaking tomorrow.
And it just makes me realize that... Man, I've come such a long way. And I wouldn't have come a long way if it wasn't for guidance from people like Mike and the books that I read; Stand and Deliver is a great one. Dale Carnegie. Dale Carnegie wrote Stand and Deliver, one of the most helpful books I've read about speaking. Very simple read. If your child or kid is getting into public speaking and presenting, I highly recommend that book. It's very, very fantastic. This is probably the 25th time that I've given this presentation, but I love it because number one, I was requested to do this presentation, which means, okay, well, I guess it must be good, which is very reassuring. But number two, like I said, every time you do it again and again, you could make it better and better. And that includes when you rehearse.
So even though I've done this 25 times before, I am rehearsing it because I am trying to always make improvements, going back to James Clear, and one percent improvements every single time, this time I'm going to try and be even more relaxed. This year at T&C, or Traffic and Conversion, I'm actually going to be on a stage with real people in the audience. I don't know how it's going to look. I don't know if they're going to be spread out, which I don't really like as a speaker when people are spread out, I like the energy of the room to be closer together so that when people laugh, they help, it's kind of infectious, right? So they make... Maybe I shouldn't use that word. It makes other people around them laugh and that makes other people around them laugh. When it's spaced out, the laughter kind of dies down and I'm not trying to put on a comedy show, but I do insert some humor here and there.
And that does add a level of flavor to the presentations. And I'm going to try some different things that I haven't tried before, but I'm also going to make sure I utilize the stage. I want to move around a lot. I'm going to have a lot of high energy, so I'm going to be going to bed pretty soon, but I'm going to tell the same stories that I know are stick. Because those stories, there's people in the audience who have never heard them before, number one. And number two, even if people have heard them before, I can remind people about those things because, more often than not, and this is the big lesson here at the end is the stories that you know work, keep telling them over and over again. Because the people who have heard them before, they don't mind hearing it again. As long as you inspire, you educate, and you entertain.
Those are the three things: inspire, educate, entertain. And again, people have heard those stories before. I mean, how many times do we watch our favorite movies over and over again? We've heard those stories before. We kind of know what's going to happen. And sometimes it’s formulaic. However, we absolutely love it because it's entertaining, it might be informative, and it's inspiring. I want to wish you the best of luck because I want to push you. I want to challenge you to in your next piece of content, whatever content you create, I want you to go a little bit deeper in the story. Use a lot of the tips that Mike and I were talking about in the last episode, episode 519. Go and listen to that next if you have some time, you're still in the car. These Friday episodes are a little bit shorter, just kind of stream of consciousness from me to you.
And so you can download my brain and use it for good. And I hope you do, because story really, really works. It absolutely works. And to consider real reflection on how far I've come as a speaker, people always comment about the stories that I tell. It's not the tips that I share, even though the tips are hopefully great and they are tactical and people can use them and get results, even though I have stage presence and I work on my humor and I work on my... sort of work, what do my hands do? And all that kind of stuff, those things just enhance the story even more. So lean into that story, and if you don't have any good stories to share yet, well go do something that creates a story worth sharing, or find a story. Perhaps you have a customer, or a student, or client of yours who has a story that you could share. Which in fact actually better sells your stuff that and you telling your own story. And the hero's journey is at play here.
So, thank you. You are a hero to me, and I appreciate you for listening in. I look forward to serving you in the next episode, episode 521. That is insane. That's a lot of episodes. I need to do a calculation to see how many listening hours that actually is. But anyway, we've had nearly 70 million views of this podcast. So many people listening to these stories and like me, you might have thought when you first started out that, hey, these stories don't really matter. Why would people listen to me? It's kind of selfish to tell these stories. It's kind of big headed sometimes, especially if there's a big win at the end of it. No.
If you truly care about your audience and you're here to serve them, tell these stories, because those stories will inspire, educate, and entertain. Cheers. Thank you so much. Take care. Let me know that you listened to this by giving me a shoutout on Twitter or Instagram @patflynn, I'll say hi back. And thank you. I appreciate you, see you the next episode. Peace out.
Thanks for listening to the Smart Passive Income podcast at SmartPassiveIncome.com. I'm your host, Pat Flynn. Our senior producer is Sara Jane Hess. Our series producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media. We'll catch you in the next session.