Paddy: [00:00:16] Welcome back to the StoryMatters podcast with your hosts, Sam Cook and Paddy Ney. Sam, how are you doing today, sir?
Samuel: [00:00:21] I'm doing well, Paddy, and yourself?
Paddy: [00:00:23] Very good. You're looking very handsome if you don't mind me saying. And it's back because we are in season 2 and we're running this podcast on a season by season basis. Today we're going to talk about what's coming up on season 2 and it's a really exciting list of guests. But Sam, before we start maybe let's look back at season 1...what would it be cover over the course of those episodes?
Samuel: [00:00:43] The way we're doing this podcast is Netflix style. I would say House of Cards style, but as of this recording that's not a popular term but if you want to think about Game of Thrones or your favourite episode of Netflix series or HBO series what we what we want to do in this podcast is instead of just having random episodes you want to create series or episodes. And the first episode was our core material, which is on why story matters or storytelling in the digital age and the 4 lessons there are the foundation.
Life is too short to not pursue that what you're passionate about. And if you have a skill in a certain area how do you take that skill which maybe you're not 100% passionate about and apply it to the thing that you are passionate about?
[00:01:18] So if you're in this podcast, someone referred this to you or this is your first episode definitely go back to the first 4 episodes and listen to those lessons. First one, "Why Story Matters," where we talk about the history and future of storytelling. The second episode is "Who is Your Hero?" We talk about the first part of telling a great story is actually understanding not what you want to say but what the people you're speaking to really want to hear and clearly defining those people first. The third episode is "Writing Your Hero's Journey" and that's where we really go deep into the art of the ancient art of storytelling that was decoded by a man named Joseph Campbell who has basically set the path for all storytellers in Hollywood and a lot of other writers follow his construct which many people now teach.
And then the final episode is "Mapping Your Hero's Digital Journey" and we have to get very specific at the end of that episode-or that season- because all the theory in the world about history of storytelling and your Hero and the Hero's Journey is worthless until you actually figure out how to operationalise that or make it real online.
How do you slice the story up into the component parts? Where do you deliver it? As of 2017 while we're recording this there's a certain way that we've done it. We give an example of that.
But no matter when you're listening to his podcast, if it's now or a year or two from now, things might have changed quite a bit, but the principles of meeting your avatar where they are, writing their Hero's Journey for them when you have their attention, and then finally inspiring them to invest in a better future, or becoming Yoda as we call it, that we go over that whole construct that we use when we build our funnels and the technology will certainly change and the tactics will change rapidly in the digital age everything is changing.
Take two things that are seemingly unrelated and create something new out of it.
[00:03:05] The one law of marketing is that everything is always changing but the principles remain the same. So we really try and stick to the principles but show the way that we apply it, especially through the films that we make which I think is also pretty constant construct that you can look at.
[00:03:21] And obviously our thinking is always evolving. We're always testing. So we'll come up with new and better ideas. If you listen to the rest of the podcast I'm sure we'll come back to one point and update that initial material with some core rerecording on the podcast when it's necessary. When things have changed enough to go back to our original content and re-record it.
Paddy: [00:03:46] So we've had a few listeners reach out so it's already, Sam. Maybe you can share a couple of their stories? I think it's quite inspiring.
Samuel: [00:03:52] If you see episode 0, a brief explanation, the reason we have included episode 0 as our first episode is it was a conscious breaking of our rules around storytelling where we actually started our podcast talking about our own stories and how our background both Paddy and I's, as the hosts, co-hosts, our background, influenced our upbringing, our joint love of story from different perspectives, and how that shapes the way we think about it.
And the reason we put that episode first was there's a lot of people who are listening to the James Cook Media podcast who are already on our e-mail list. In fact, the podcast from a strategic perspective is designed for people who are a member of our community already because we have over 30,000 members as of November 2017 who have signed up for free online masterclass, Storytelling in the Digital Age.
[00:04:46] This podcast is designed to help the existing members of the community go deeper. So instead of just watching the videos which sometimes is harder to consume in long form content, whereas podcasts is quite easy to do a very long two hour show if you want to listen to it. We design these podcasts primarily our avatar or our Hero we are imagining them already a member of our community.
[00:05:10] But if you're a first time listener, because maybe you found this on iTunes or you saw review or something like that, please go subscribe for the free online masterclass, Storytelling in the Digital Age which you can go find at jamescookmedia.com/masterclass which is an optin page for that free online masterclass where you can enter your email and get all the details and the 4 free videos and the cheat sheets and the slides and the transcripts of that master class, 4 part master class.
Map out all the people that are responsible for where you are right now and once you do that, start to look for ways that you can take what you're doing and how do you become unique?
But don't feel the need started episode 0 because episode 0 is designed for people who already know us but you can start there if you want, it's up to you. But I would personally started Episode 1 go to 4 and maybe if you enjoyed those still enjoy listening to Paddy and I you might want to go figure out who we are and why we're doing what we're doing. Because I think that background and context at a certain point is important for people who are considering working with us in this StoryGuild and the James Cook Media team which Paddy is the manager of.
Paddy: [00:06:12] One of the first rules that Sam told me when I came to James Cook Media was you're allowed to break any rules you want as long as it's consciously .
Samuel: [00:06:19] Yeah we have a whole series of rules around copywriting and storytelling which actually we should probably sit down and write those out and get them to the listeners. And the last rule is, break any of these rules whenever you want as long as you consciously do it or you have a reason to do it. So we broke our own rule and we're happy to do it.
Paddy: [00:06:39] So you can break literally any rule in this podcast.
Samuel: [00:06:42] So you asked about feedback Paddy, and we've had some great feedback from listeners. First of all, thank you for being a listener of this show, if you're a regular and if you have enjoyed the show please take a moment to go to our blog post or our page in the shownotes you can click over from the shownotes onto the blog page and you can download the transcript for the show that you're listening to.
You can also review us on iTunes and that's really helpful it will help us get your feedback and help us also reach other members, like-minded members of the community because we're really enjoying seeing this community come together and people who love storytelling.
And the reason I love this community and the way we're able to form it is is our Hero is very clearly focused in Europe. In fact, I think he's a Dutchman because we just happen to attract the most Dutchmen to, people from the Netherlands are our highest concentration of our high and coaching clients, then Germany. And the idea behind this podcast is to bring in like minded people who believe in the power of story.
And if you don't believe in the power story you're never going to make it through our free masterclass, certainly not going to listen this whole podcast and that's fine because we don't actually think we would like to work with anyone in our agency or in our coaching programs who don't 100% believe in the power story and I've had two very interesting pieces of feedback over text message that I'm not sure if they've left on iTunes yet, but Viktoriya Dolomanova who's a regular podcast listener who wrote me and said, "Literally goosebumps and tears at this powerful music moment after Marek's introduction."
[00:08:14] I think that was episode 4 where Marek's explaining how he writes music she said, "And the content is just amazing, Sam" We used StoryMatters method for the upcoming project for a client and we'll try to do the majority of communications, notifications, reminders etc via Facebook Messenger bot instead of email. We'll report on the results sometime around February 2018." And she also said, "Thank you for mentioning me in the podcast." So Viktoriya, again, you get it you get a second mention.
[00:08:41] But it's it's really interesting because Victoria who has purchased our StoryMatters video workshop, it's a video recording of our first workshop for the StoryGuild members and it's StoryMatters strategy workshop and it's really the foundation, it's transformational experience for all those who've attended.
[00:09:01] And for those who can't afford to join the StoryGuild and attend the workshop in person, which is limited so therefore the prices is quite exclusive, we've made video course available online and Victoria wrote back and said, "Hi Sam. Just wanted to say hi and update you on my progress. First of all, I got a new version of the StoryMatters workshop. Been listening to today. Fantastic job." And the reason she got a new version is every time we redo the workshop we send the new footage to the existing group. What's fun about that is every time I deliver it I think we innovate and create something better or say things in a different way or we have some exercises. She said, "Even though it's pretty much the same materials as the one before it makes me understand it even better because of the new case studies. Thanks for that. On my progress, I finally broke up with my previous avatar... Yay. It was an abusive relationship and I'm glad I'm out of it. At the moment I'm building my marketing portfolio, creating and running marketing campaigns for other businesses using content marketing and Facebook ads.
[00:10:01] Just a little bit of context before Victoria when I was doing a coaching call with her as part of her online training that she purchased with us. I asked her to develop that mentor level offer the Hero's Journey mentor level offer her her ideal client. She was running weight loss coaching for her avatar which was based in Russia where she's from. And she said, "Well I really don't want to do that product." And then I asked her, "Well are you really in love with your avatar then? Are you really in the right relationship? Because if you're not willing to do the product that you know they really need, which is high level coaching-group coaching mentorship, and you just wanted to do video courses which is the main offer, then you're not ready.
[00:10:43] Now, if you're not sure what I'm talking about you can go back to episode 3 in season 1 and episode 4 and you'll get detailed examples of this. But that was really interesting. And then she just wrote on to say, "This is quite funny. Honestly, I couldn't be happier.
It's challenging and quite risky jobs since she can never guarantee ROI but I'm totally and completely in love with it." She shut down her business, her product that she was selling, her info product and started to get into marketing.
And actually that's one of things I challenged her to think about was whether she was in the right business in the first place and that's the magic of the strategy workshop. Is you'll get really clear that I am in the right business and really get a...rekindle the romance of your relationship or you realise, hey it's time to get out of this.
And actually we've had 3 members of the StoryGuild now, and I think maybe a fourth transition from doing their existing business of a business owner to becoming a marketer, professional marketer, and that's really exciting and maybe we'll talk a little bit about that at the end of the show because I want explain some of the programs that we have for professional marketers.
[00:11:47] The other piece of feedback we got, or we've had some great feedback from other people but I'm just going to read 2 here because these are quite poignant and really inspired me to keep going on the podcast, "Hey Sam this is from Vaggelis Pantidos from Greece."
And actually I've known Vaggelis for a couple of years. That's a whole other subject, that story of how we met which I'll be writing in an e-mail soon actually you can watch your e-mail and you'll see Vaggelis in one of the e-mails where we talk about how we started James Cook Media because he's really instrumental in bringing me on to find our initial client that we launched off of.
He said, "Hey Sam, I wanted to say I started taking the online course and I learned a lot already. Only finished day 1 but this is powerful. Also read Russell's book and everything starts to make so much sense. Storytelling is opportunity switch I was looking for all this time but I had nobody teach me how to do it in a structured way and make people believe this is the best way to transform people's lives. So I want to say I'm grateful that I met and learned so much from you Sam."
The one law of marketing is that everything is always changing but the principles remain the same.
[00:12:49] So that was Vaggelis says feedback to us after the video of course. Then he wrote the other day after the podcast and he said, "Hey just finished your 4 podcasts already and I wanted to say how grateful I am for all the content inspiration you give out there.
Thank you, really. I've learned a lot from you since the Sage days and you have been the catalyst of my business, personal growth whether you believe it or not. If it wasn't for you and StoryMatters I would still be trapped in the business I feel inauthentic and a shadow of myself doing. Thank you again. Keep up the amazing work that you do.
[00:13:23] These are two people have reached out to us and we've had already a couple of thousand downloads in the first couple of weeks of the podcast so I'm assuming there's probably more.
And if I can just get a few people to get out of a dysfunctional business relationship and find what they really love doing. Because you have a far greater chance of success in a business you really love doing, serving people you really love helping rather than one that you're not that passionate about.
And there's no sure thing. There's no sure path to business success but the one thing sure path to failure is to do business that you aren't passionate about because there are people out there who are competing with you from all over the world, due to the digital age, who do love what they're doing and to love their ideal customer more than you and that's what it's about.
It's a competition, it's a war for attention and understanding. And when people feel understood, they'll go with you and your business versus your competition and vice versa. So if you don't understand, you don't want to take the time to understand, like Victoria didn't want to when I spoke to her and it sounds like you had a similar experience, then you're in the wrong business. And if our podcast is just done that for a few people. I think it makes all the effort. Because this has been a lot of effort, launching and producing this podcast that makes it all worth it. And that's the purpose of this podcast.
Paddy: [00:14:42] So there's nothing do worse than carry on serving an avatar that you don't like. Okay, so Sam called the StoryMatters podcast so it won't be any surprise that this season is all about story. We're going to be talking to some master storytellers. What's coming up? What highlights that you like to let us know about now in true Netflix style to get us excited about the future episodes?
Samuel: [00:15:12] The way this podcast is going to work is every season we're going to map it out and do it in 1 of 2 ways or maybe 1 of 3 ways. The first season was simply Paddy and I talking about what we do in the StoryMatters method at James Cook Media and really going deep into, not just a theory but all the way down to the tactics, and it's an educational series.
But the other thing that we want to do in this podcast and other seasons is create interview series. So this season is called The Mentor Series. The Story Mentors. And what I'm going to do is I'm going to go back and deconstruct my personal journey to where we are today through my mentors and just go interview them and talk to all the people who've influenced my thinking around all the things that we do at James Cook Media. And here's why we're doing it. First of all, these are fantastic people to interview and the content is going to be amazing.
[00:16:15] But I also want to show listener that the quickest way to mastery of anything in your professional life, your personal life, whatever area of life you want to get better, is mentorship.
And that could be a paid mentor, which is called a coach usually or that can be a mentor that you just always reach out to who you have a longstanding professional and personal relationship. And I think we both had those. And as I go through this I'll give examples of both. But I would not be sitting here today if it weren't for all of these people.
[00:16:50] And what I'm going to do today in the introduction to this season is simply talk about the overall journey and each one of these mentors and how they impacted my thinking on storytelling, right up until the point where I gave the talk on StoryMatters and it was very clear to me when that moment happened just a year ago in October 2016 I was asked to speak on stage in front of a business school that I'd help fill of almost a 1000 people both online and in person, an audience of over 1000 people from around the world, many of them in the room in London.
And it was the biggest speech I'd given. The most high stakes, let's say, which is a very interesting story that you also get some of her emails where I talk about that, but it was also very clarifying moment for me because it was the first time that I had to actually explain why we had been successful in not only that campaign but looking back all the marketing campaigns that I had been involved in for the past 10 years of my marketing career.
[00:17:51] And until I was forced to do that and get up and explain it, and that's the beauty of teaching or giving a talk is you have to distill everything and in that mess that's in your head usually, all the experiences, and come up with some clarifying points and when I gave that talk that launched this whole StoryMatters movement, the StoryGuild annual coaching group, followed by the development of our online training which Viktoriya took and the StoryMatters Academy and now very exciting thing we're rolling out which also talk a little bit about at the end of the podcast, the Story Funnels where we connect business owners with our students who are interested in building custom funnels or we, in some cases do it ourselves.
And that was a very interesting moment and if I look back from that moment where we launched the StoryMatters movement and just trace back how did we get here? How did I get here? From a intellectual standpoint, from a practical standpoint, from a strategic standpoint it has to do with all these mentors. And all of them I can honestly say I would not be sitting here today if it weren't for their impact on my life. And it's, as a historian, one of the amazing things about history is you can never go replay it.
You can never do counterfactuals, you can never say, "Well what if this wouldn't have happened? How would my life be?" That's probably a good thing. But the perspective you get looking back and just imagining for a bit, what if this wouldn't have happened? Where would my life go? It's quite profound really. And so I'm going to try and reflect on that briefly as we go through this and just talk about the people that we plan on interviewing for this podcast and why they are on the podcast, the impact they had on my thinking on story and then what would have happened if I wouldn't have run into them my life... how things would've been different.
[00:19:34] Just go through that and engage in a little bit of speculation because you're all sitting here wondering how to get to the next level marketing and in life and all kinds of areas of life, might not be in marketing or whatever. And the best way to get what you want is to find your Yoda, as we've talked about, is to find someone to help you on your path to that thing that you know you want but you have no idea how to get there, but you just know that you need it.
Paddy: [00:20:02] So maybe let's start then with the first person I'm going to talk about. And this is someone who I can definitely say has had a huge impact on your life, Sam, but also on mine and the team we work with, Christopher Kolenda. Who is Chris?
Samuel: [00:20:16] Chris Kolenda is a retired U.S. Army colonel who I remember vividly sitting in his history class at the United States Military Academy at West Point. And if you've never heard of West Point it's a combination of prison and a university. It's a military academy. And you have rules. You have to be up in the morning at 6:25 a.m. standing tall in your uniform and you get inspected before that so I actually had to be out there about 6:10 a.m. You'd march to breakfast, you sit down, eat breakfast, you'd get up you'd come back and you go to class.
First class was a 7:35 a.m. What universities do that aside from the military academy? And even at the beginning of class she'd stand at attention and then you'd sit down and you'd start you learning and then you'd have lunch you get inspected again and that's where they'd really look at your shoes because the sun's up and then you'd go out again. You might have some briefings or other things after lunch and then you'd have more classes and then you'd have mandatory sports or parade drilling in the afternoon and then you have dinner and evening study period.
And it was, that was my life for 4 years in a military academy and then in the summers we had military training. And sometimes during the weekends we had training and parades and just quite a busy university. It wasn't really a university. It was a marriage between a strict military life plus you had to learn while you're there.
[00:21:41] And it wasn't that fun of an experience especially the first year where they treated you like the new people you were and it was a bit of a rite of passage, ancient rite of passage type thing that all militaries do. And that lasted a year. And Chris Kolenda was the counselor that helped me decide to major in history, which was a big decision because believe it or not I was better at mathematics and physics in my first year than I was at history and writing. But I knew I loved history because I'd grown up studying history and decided to get into it.
And Chris was there and was the guy who sold me on the history program and then I ended up liking him and thought, 'This is an officer that I'd like to be.' And he was I think 15 years older than me at the time because he was a major and I was just a cadet. I took his class and it was on ancient history. And if you remember back to episode 1 we talk about the history of storytelling, that comes from Chris's class.
It's funny the more you pay for something the more you value and implement.
[00:22:42] All that perspective on ideas matter and history and intellectual history and the stories that we and civilizations tell each other and this idea that everything in the West, especially in Europe, all comes from Plato and everything that we've studied and been infused in our culture through Christianity in schools and everything else is really just a product of a great story that was written 2500 years ago.
And that was an idea I from Chris and I'll never forget it. And that class was absolutely transformational. Wasn't a traditional history class, we actually read a philosophy book for 10 out of the 40 lessons, Plato's Republic. And then the other 10 lessons we read the Oxford History of the Greek world. And then we switched and we read Cicero who wrote De República for the Romans and basically showed how he took Plato's ideas and mapped them into a more practical form for the Roman world which ended up becoming the exact blueprint for the United States Constitution that's holding the country together right now. And it was just amazing to see that.
[00:23:47] And how much were influenced, especially in America, by Rome but also obviously the European world although ironically there are forms of government aren't nearly as close to Roman and form of government as the American form which is actually a blueprint of De República by Cicero who just took Plato's work and made it more practical for the Romans.
So it's just a fascinating class and then I took Chris's other class which we'll talk about in the podcast which was on diplomatic history of Europe. A class that I went on to teach. And teaching such a complex subject of war and diplomacy was really a tough assignment and I really had to think quite a bit about complexity and simplification of infinitely complex subjects in order to get something useful for the cadets to learn.
[00:24:31] So that was my first big mentor after my early years which is a whole other topic. Maybe we'll do a mentor series on my earlier mentors which would be interesting. But Chris was a transformational figure and someone who really had me fall in love with history and then fast forward now, 15 years later, 14 years later, I run into him in Krakow, Poland of all places because he happened to be there with his fiance to be and now wife, we connected and we had dinner and he asked me what I was doing.
I told him I was doing in marketing and he said are being really interested to work with you on a project that you had in mind, which is a leadership training program. And I thought what better leader than Chris to work with and we've forming a very close relationship with him as a member of the StoryGuild but also as a client that we work on his custom funnel for him on a performance basis because we believe so much in what he's doing and the power of his ideas and the upside of it.
[00:25:31] And Chris is also as part of that deal is coaching us on leadership and management. And I have to say that I didn't think I needed that. But as a former U.S. Army officer who spent 13 years as an officer leading organizations of 30 up to a 120, 200 people at times. And someone who studied leadership and taught at the University level, I didn't think I needed that. And it's it just goes to show that when you have stopped learning or you've stopped thinking you need something naturally when you need it. And he's definitely transformed the organization, our outlook in the organization. I think Paddy you and I as a leader team plus the other managers in the team were bring it up and it's allowed us to grow from 6 people about seven months ago to I think 25 now. It's getting pretty hectic.
When we see a greater story we want to rewrite our story in our mind to give it meaning.
[00:26:25] And so Chris has been an amazing impact on our organization. But he was one of my original mentors and in that episode I want to go deep with Chris on the early days. How he taught me to love history which I already loved at that point because I knew that from childhood which is a whole other topic. But how to think about it in a broader way that has allowed me to form the construct the StoryMatters.
[00:26:56] So Paddy, you've also been working with Chris and I know he's impacted you.
Paddy: [00:27:01] Yeah. When you bring external consultants into business sometimes you feel like they're taking your watch off to tell you that time. And Chris has really helped us transform the business. And I think what's been interesting for me is I've worked in previous companies with more traditional business consultants, a guy who's worked in business because Chris comes from this kind of this military perspective, as a professor, as a teacher he really does have a unique take and we were very fortunate Chris to give a presentation to us in a speech really about leadership just the other day in Warsaw, Poland.
And he talked about his experiences in Afghanistan, I don't want to get so much into that but he told the story of how he had lost an important soldier of his, major Tom Bostik and I sat there and really I had tears streaming down my face, it was one of the most powerful moments of any kind of speech I'd ever heard in my entire life. And the points that Chris underlined in that speech will literally stay with me forever. He's also an author and has written a book on leadership, the war his art which I think has also taught me an awful lot about managing others and helping others to succeed. He really is an inspirational figure and I'm looking forward very much to hearing that episode.
Samuel: [00:28:11] I'm really looking forward to that episode too because I was at that speech also. That was powerful and Chris delivered that in such a way that for everyone in the room I think it was extraordinarily emotional moment. I don't think I've seen a speech that powerful at the beginning in person, live. And to feel that tension in the room the emotion the raw emotion around that was really powerful.
[00:28:35] And I've seen that, I've seen what it's like to be in his shoes. Thankfully, I never experienced that personally when someone under my command in the army was killed. But I was party to see...I was able to observe people who were in that situation which will be our next mentor I'll be talking about. And it's like losing a child when you're commander in the military and you lose one of your soldiers because you feel responsible and you treat them like children.
And I think one of the great things about working with Chris is he's not in it for the money and he never was in the military and he's certainly not doing business consulting for the money. He's doing it for passion for helping people. And that's one of the things I loved about military culture was leadership was second nature. It was about caring for people. And I think that a lot of people in business don't ever get that formal training in that ethos... it's all about the numbers and the money and people are there to help you make money. But it's really not.
[00:29:31] We've been talking a lot about your your Heroes and treating your customers like real people and empathize with them and the same thing really goes for your team. If you look at your team in business in a different way to empathy maps on them and really understand where they're coming from then that can transform your relationship with their team. And I really think that's an overlooked part of business which Chris addresses. And anyone who needs help in that field I just refer him straight to Chris so if you're a business owner and think you need help with leadership or organizational culture or strategy, that's a whole other thing, Chris, what Chris has helped us imagine in terms of strategy it's a master strategy that we're coming up with right now that is something that I've seen operationalised in the military and he's helping us execute in business and I really think it's given us a huge leg up on any other business out there who pays for the traditional consulting because Chris is not coming at this from the traditional high level consulting overcharge industry.
Paddy: [00:30:31] Okay let's move on our next guest then. So I know less about these people. So we're get to Yingling next.
Samuel: [00:30:38] Paul Yingling not to be confused with the famous Pennsylvania beer in the United States. I'm interviewing Paul Yingling because not because Paul's not a great guy, he's actually a great mentor mine too but Paul is a way for me to get to someone who was a personal mentor of mine who's larger than life. Someone who we can't access right now because he happens to be the national security adviser for President Donald J. Trump as of the year 2017.
[00:31:07] He's been in that position for seven months and has been in the news as the American media saying he's very well respected on Capitol Hill and people of both parties respect him. He's a very nonpartisan patriot who is obviously doing his best in a tough situation, let me say. But General H.R. McMaster was my original mentor in the Army as soon as I left West Point with mentors like Chris Kolenda. I went into the army. And I remember writing General McMaster e-mail as a lieutenant.I was going to Germany. I read about this guy who was in a Tom Clancy book Into the Storm, where there was 50 pages on this tank commander. This tank Captain, armored cavalry commander, Captain H.R. McMaster who after being ambushed in a sandstorm in the Gulf War in 1991 ended up destroying a brigade of Iraqi Republican Guard soldiers who'd ambushed them and I think they destroyed several... dozens of armored vehicles and several dozen trucks and they didn't lose a single soldier in the encounter. He was one of the war heroes from the 1991 Gulf War.
And I said, "That's one hell of a story. And I would really love to serve under a guy like that." So I just wrote him an email out of the blue, he didn't know me and I said, "I've read about you. I studied history at West Point." And he was a history professor, by the way. So he was actually a famous author at that point he wrote the book which became a New York Times bestseller called the Dereliction of Duty said, "I'd like to be in your unit."
[00:32:44] He said, "Okay." I guess he liked my e-mail or the story or the introduction I gave him and he directed his friends to redirect me from the processing center in Germany where there are a couple hundred thousand troops down to his unit so I could have gone to any unit, but I got to his. And he became like a father figure to me in the army. We had very similar personalities which was quite manic at times with all of our ideas quite aggressive in terms of the military standpoint of the way we conducted ourselves and maneuvers and a fair bit disorganized.
But we had the sense both of us to rely on other people around us who were much more organized to keep us in place. I modeled myself after him as an officer and became the officer that I was, at least the good parts, based on what I saw from him and obviously I'll own all the bad parts that didn't work out so well but all the good things I managed to do in the army were as a result I think really if watching him as a commander. My first tour in Germany from 2001-3 as a lieutenant I was under him and then after I after he left in 2002 I was depressed because he'd gone and it was harder for anyone to replace such a larger than life figure. Interestingly, that's the same unit which got renamed to one... it was 1,4 Cav at the time I was in it- 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry. It got renamed to the 1st Squadron 91st Cavalry and was assigned to the airborne brigade based out of Vicenza, Italy.
[00:34:15] But it was the exact same unit, the exact same people, the exact same barracks and buildings that was the same unit Chris Kolenda commanded a few years ago, after McMaster left and he took that same unit to Afghanistan. And in fact, some of the soldiers I commanded as a platoon leader also were under Kolenda and know both of us. And McMaster went back to the United States and I followed him back.
I ended up going to some training and after I finished this training I emailed McMaster and said, "Hey I'd like to come to your unit." At this time for Colonel McMaster. At the time he was a commander of the 3rd Squadron-or sorry the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment-which was the most famous cavalry regiment the army and he was the most famous commander in the entire cavalry world and they were about to deploy to Iraq and I knew that they were about to deploy and I, as a young adventuresome, naive young man, wanted to deploy to war and I went with Colonel McMaster and I got an assignment to his unit.
I became a staff officer under him and ended up serving under him in the Battle of Tal Afar in 2005 and 6 where he executed the first successful counterinsurgency campaign of the Iraq war and my job was to follow him around, keep his schedule, make the helicopters run on time, sit in the back of the armored vehicle while he's driving down the streets in combat, get out with him when he's walking through the streets with his personal security detachment and sit and watch him in the command post during the battle while helicopter missiles are raining down on all kinds of other stuff and just watch this guy run a battle with 5000 American soldiers involved, multiple helicopters, aircraft, and tens of thousands Iraqi soldiers pacifying what was at that time the most violent city in Iraq.
[00:36:16] And the thing that I noticed about that, as much of a warriors he was, and I remember him sitting in front of the map right before the battle and saying, "I want to take my Bradley fighting vehicle into the city and park here and just start shooting because that's what I want to do." As much as he wanted to be out there and fighting he actually took the right role for him and he went out there a fair bit.
You have to show your soldiers that you're going to share the danger with him and he certainly did his share of that. But he spent most of his time running around the battlefield and sitting down and talking to people. And there were tribal leaders in the battle who were ambivalent. Some are on our side, some are on the enemy's side, some didn't know who to support he basically just told a great story and he said, "Hey I am here representing the United States Army and things didn't go that well at the beginning." Empathy. "We didn't do everything right." Which was a huge admission for an American commander because the original American commanders naively said, "Well we're here to liberate you." Which the Iraqi people didn't feel like was the case.
I don't blame them. And he admitted that wasn't executed well. They had a right to feel upset with us. But then he said, "...but now you have to make a choice. What's your future going to be? Do you want to have a stable government that's of the Iraqi people that we're supporting? We're not going to leave until you have a stable government. Or do you want to give the country over to the Islamic State?" Or Al Qaeda at the time those called in and now it's Islamic State. And if you've watched any news in the recent 4 years since 2013-2017 you probably know that the Islamic State was not a good ruler of parts of Iraq when they finally did take control.
[00:38:06] The people actually made a choice and they sided with the Americans and local government forces we're supporting and they helped pacify the town. It's the first successful counterinsurgency campaign. And it is actually what President Bush mentioned in his speech when he decided to bring more American troops back to Iraq which I ended up going on another deployment after that as a commander.
And everything I did as a commander in Iraq that worked was a result of simply watching him. I just copied everything you did and tried to do it on my own way and it worked. And it worked really well and I knew exactly what I needed to do when I went back to Iraq. I knew all the training needed to do. I knew exactly how to behave with the tribal leaders. I knew exactly what to do in every situation because I just watched one of the greatest commanders of our generation do it.
You can never go back and replay.
[00:38:52] Probably the greatest commander of our generation, do it the right way. And as painful as that experience was, and it was hugely stressful to be in combat and helping someone of that level who is very stressed and would sometimes take it out on his aid and to take his emotional outlets on me, that was quite stressful and then obviously to see him deal with casualties, we lost 43 soldiers who were killed in that campaign. Iraq's South Baghdad and Tal Afar.
[00:39:23] The regiment was spread out between two places and watching him deal with that and going to the hospital with them to see soldiers who'd been wounded, who'd lost legs and arms and in seeing him at 2:00 in the morning make phone calls to widows and watch a guy go through that was really impactful and I always like to say that my worst day in businesses is usually better than the best day in combat because no one's shooting at you and no one's dying and that's one of the things I learned watching McMaster and Chris Kolenda and I remember saying that to him when we had a moment in business where things weren't going the way he wanted it or we wanted it either.
And we just kind of had that common language that, hey it's not that bad. And McMaster is a great mentor. And Paul Yingling was there with me and he was on staff and he was a senior to me he was a mentor I would call him because he was in charge of the information warfare campaign and he was a storyteller in war, Yingling.
[00:40:18] He was a master at crafting the message and the communication, and McMaster would listen to him and McMaster was a brilliant salesman and a brilliant thinker. And the thing that really struck me about that Iraq campaign was the campaign was not won through bullets but it was won through story. It was won through an argument. And war is an argument that's gone violent. And it's tragic but it's also...it's true that right now you're seeing that in places like the Ukraine. There's a Russian version of the story which is Ukraine's always been Russian because of deep historical reasons.
And then there are Ukrainians who say, "No actually. we're our own culture and we have our own history." It's a battle of stories. And you see some very skilled actors in the world stage like Vladimir Putin causing huge amounts of havoc in late 2017 in American political system, the British political system by helping bad stories untrue, false, fake stories spread that are harmful to the country. And it is actually a continuation of the old Cold War dynamic where it never turned hot between the Soviets and the Americans.
[00:41:23] But it was for 50/60 years through proxy wars and propaganda and other stuff...the battle of stories. Which is the best ideology and governments around which to organise society the industrial information age? And you're seeing the same thing play out between Europe and China and Russia on the world stage.
So at the highest level, where the stakes are the highest, story is the most important. So if you're listening to this podcast one of the things I want you to get from that episode specifically with General McMaster is the subject that Paul Yingling and I discuss in our experience watching him is that the higher the stakes, the more important story becomes.
Paddy: [00:42:09] So we're also going to be talking about someone who has definitely had a global impact on the world. Gentleman called Mr. Anthony Robbins.
Samuel: [00:42:17] The first two mentors I talked about are personal mentors, people that I have met, that I'm very close with and one I can speak to and one I can't. Tony Robbins is a different kind of mentor because I have many mentors actually like him... authors people who you'll never access, people who are dead.
But Tony Robbins happens to actually still be alive at this time in 2017, is hugely impactful and if you watch him you can continue to see his reach and impact grow. Tony Robbins is interesting because he, when I came back from Iraq, my second tour in Iraq I decided to start working on myself because I had some time and I went deep into a little bit of introspection and I call it pop psychology which is personal growth but it was a great entry level into this world of self-examination that I think all men should go through and some actually do. And women are much better at this than men in my experience.
When I went through Tony Robbin's Unleash the Power Within I ended up buying his course on Business... Business Mastery and as a great marketer I'm a sucker for great deals or anyone selling me stuff. I'm usually a willing target. And Tony Robbins sold me on his entire mastery universe. And at the time I had a good income from the army so it was a good investment and I ended up going to Business Mastery with Tony Robbins in Las Vegas and think early 2009 just after I started my business and I'm watching Tony Robbins talk in person in a small room.
[00:43:53] I watching and Chet Holmes who wrote the Ultimate Sales Machine co teach with him... understanding the power of systems and structured sales process. And then the guest speakers there were people that are very famous today who are kind of unknown back then, maybe Tony had something to do with their stature getting elevated. Gary Vaynerchuk was on the stage and boy if you think he's bad now he cursed up a storm back in the early days. He's mellowed quite a bit with his old age.
Vishen Lakianai, the founder of MindValley, who was there, was on stage. And Tony Shea, the CEO of Zappos, was also there. And it was hugely impactful to me to see what was possible. And I didn't end up implementing a lot of the stuff maybe 90 percent of the stuff I didn't end up implementing but it stuck in my head. And it's always stayed with me that these things that they talked about, these big ideas the power of story and for Gary Vaynerchuk and his weird kind of aggressive way empathy and attention on your ideal customer versus yourself. And Tony Shea from Zappos the power of culture. How your employees are way more important the customers.
Because you don't have engaged employees, you never have a chance to take care of your customers. Vishen Lakiani in terms of the power of digital marketing specifically because MindValue at that point was doing it quite well and obviously still doing it quite well. And Chet Holmes on the power of sales and systems at business and then Tony really just about mindset.
[00:45:22] And I went deep into so many so many people that Tony introduced me to, my internet marketing journey started at Tony's conference where I was introduced at a later health mastery in Fiji. We watched a video on internet marketing by a guy named Frank Kern. I bind Frank Kern's $2000 course and then he sold me on 5 other $2000 courses all which seemed to be in San Diego and I end up spending a lot of money as a result of getting on Frank Kern's list because they're really good is selling each other and there's one of the reasons why there's a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths about the American Internet marketers is some of the cross promotion and the way you feel like once you get on someone's list you get prostituted out to everyone else's offers.
But despite all the money I spent on those courses, and actually the fact that I didn't watch most of them.
[00:46:16] Jeff Walker's Product Launch and Formula and Frank Kern's Mass Control and I bought courses from everyone it seems. I can't remember I don't even want to go look at the credit card bills but because I'd bought those courses and even though I didn't watch them, I started to think of myself as an Internet marketer.
My mindset was, hey I'm a digital marketer now. Even though I didn't watch these courses. I've paid for them and that gave me some credibility in my mind. And I kept falling all the e-mails and stuff and one of the reasons I didn't watch the courses was they weren't always very well produced or they'd get out a day very quickly because the technology they showed you would be out of date in 6 months.
Start to look for ways that you can take what you're doing and how do you become unique.
[00:46:54] So if you went back and watched these courses and implemented the tactics they showed you you wouldn't have a clue how to do it because everything's changed. So it's one of the reasons I like to teach a lot of principals in high level stuff because of tactics and technology will change very quickly. But that introduction to the world I would not have become a digital marketer without the influence of Tony Robbins. I would not have even understood that world or maybe even been introduced to it.
I would have... I was running a tour company at the time. I was very interested in the digital side but I had no clue that this world existed and that was a really powerful mentor for me even though I never... I mean, saw him at events, but I never met a shaking his hand taking a photo with him but he doesn't know me, but I still consider him a mentor.
[00:47:34] And one of the interesting things about the StoryGuild is almost everyone in the group is familiar with Tony Robbins and a fan of him or that mindset that he teaches of self introspection and development. And there's a lot of things in a personal growth industry which I think can turn people off especially in Europe but because it's bit American.
But it's a powerful thing and I think that it's overall good despite some of the rough edges and to get to Tony I'm actually going to interview someone who is also personal growth expert, who's a former client of ours Peter Sage who worked as one of Tony Robbins senior trainers and Peter actually has some fantastic stories about watching Tony Robbins on September 11th 2001. He was in the room as one of his trainers.
And actually we did an amazing video of Peter that we will include in the show notes and Peter has some great insights so be really interested to talk to Peter about being a Tony Robbins trainer for 16 years going through his program, teaching his methods.
[00:48:35] And Peter also launched his own personal development movement here in Europe which we were actually part of building quite substantially as a former client. So it'll be fun to talk to Peter about his experience with Tony and also give people a little bit of background on our work with Peter from his perspective too so that will be a quite an interesting episode because there's some...again, read our emails when you get through our free masterclass there's a bunch of emails about the history of James Cook Media and the products and things like that where we explain why we're doing what we're doing and how we got there, some cool moments in there that Peter was a part of. And the podcast will set a lot of light on that spectacular story you couldn't make this stuff up.
And it's amazing for our company our history was a formed with that project and we've moved on since then but also you know for him he's been on quite an interesting journey that has helped a lot of people in their ability to connect with them over it. So that's Tony Robbins.
Paddy: [00:49:27] Next guest somebody who's definitely big ticket in every single sense the words- the godfather of email marketing, email copywriting, email automation- Andre Chaperone.
Samuel: [00:49:36] I had bought all of those courses for a lot of money and none of them had really given me that much aside from the mindset I mean, the strategy was great but from let me take something out of here that could work for me right now to make money, it was hard.
And I remember I was struggling, it was I think 2011 or 2012 Christmas time and I was struggling mightily with figuring out how to write good email copy. I thought it was a good writer because I was a historian and I'd written a lot of papers but one of the things I found was academic writing very quickly disintegrated online and its effectiveness. It was too long and verbose, too many high words and had to figure out how to do it because I couldn't do it. And someone sent me a link to this course and said go here, buy this course, learn how to write emails.
[00:50:24] And I went there and it was one of those game changing moments in my life in terms of... I was a struggling new marketer who knew nothing and I took this course and it was actually the first course I actually took because it was so well put together written content which is very easy for me to consume as much as I'd love to make videos are hard for me to sit down and watch with my attention span and I loved reading his course and it was amazing to understand that he was coming out from such a different perspective which was story. Forget the manipulation the false scarcity the crazy tactics that all these other internet marketers in America do which we hate which makes us hate marketing and just treat your customer like, you know, you treat someone in your family you care about and really take time to understand them. And he taught me the empathy map, he taught me the power of avatar creation. That was the first time I learned that and Andre taught me that and then I've since developed that concept. Continue to watch him do it. Taught me the power of story. I don't think I would be sitting here. I know I wouldn't be sitting here today if I would have run across under a chaperone for sure his product was amazing. And I sought entree out and visited him in Spain. When I finally left the Army after 13 years I went to Spain, I met with Andre. I said, "Hey I'm a customer of yours. I'm in Spain. Would you like to meet?" He said, "Yep."
That's where he lived at that time. We met and we had dinner with him and his wife and I went to Halloween with them and have tried to meet with him every year. We went skiing one year, the other year we went to Greece. And this past year I visited him at his home in Gibraltar and we're trying to figure out the next location but we always try and get together and over some dinner or physical activity like skiing, we like to just talk and bounce big ideas off each other and consider him a good friend but always always a mentor in terms of what he's taught me. And Andre's is really the godfather of email marketing. All the big people in the American marketing industry study him.
[00:52:21] They want to be like him and they can't touch him in terms of his ability to tell a great story and usually resort to trickery and false scarcity and other power words and other false things that make e-mail kind of not fun to read when you know what's going on.
[00:52:35] You know what's happening is manipulation rather than inspiration. But Andre's that guy who just continues to get better and better at writing e-mails and he's like the hedgehog, knows one thing and he does it really really well. I'm a bit more of a fox, I tend to dart around a lot more but Andre just loves e-mail and just digs deep into that and that's his thing and that's what he teaches and no one and in the world does it better than Andre.
And if you've enjoyed any of my e-mails or you want to go sign up for my e-mail series, especially after the masterclass really produced some long copy emails that tell long stories that are hopefully worth reading.
[00:53:13] That comes from Andre and his influence. And just when I read his e-mails I remember the first time I signed up for his email sequence. I just couldn't wait for the next one I knew he'd come in the next day and I was just like sitting at home over Christmas waiting for the next e-mail and devouring it like it was delicious Christmas pudding or something because I was just that hungry for the information and when you find someone like that who really resonates with you and your values and it feels right, then just follow them and forget everyone else and that's kind of what I did with Andrea is. I just shut everyone else off and started to follow him.
Paddy: [00:53:47] Andre's very genuine, down to earth person. No arrogance about him whatsoever. And when he gives value away, he really gives value away he's not holding very much back.
Samuel: [00:53:58] Stuff he really should charge for he just gives out. And that's why the long game for him is really lucrative. He's doing quite well for himself but he doesn't go for quick cash he gives a lot more value and doesn't expect anything in return. And then when it comes back to me treats you really really well when you're a member of his community so he's a great mentor.
Paddy: [00:54:18] So from one pretty genuine person to another James Schramko started life as a as a car salesman. Quite nice cars I remember actually then managed to grow one of the first big sort of Internet marketing businesses. Really nice guy and also friend of yours, Sam.
Samuel: [00:54:37] Well James is the paid mentor, the paid coach. I hired James as a marketing coach and started out listening to his podcast. James is an amazing podcaster. That's his best mode of communication. He's not nearly as good at writing as Andre but you know he's actually writes some good e-mails now especially because he coached Andre. I introduced Andre to James and Andre also hired James as coach and was in the same marketing group with us. James is someone that Andre and I both paid for and went to for business systems advice. James and built a 7 figure online training business with a high end coaching group which is the group that I joined it was an annual program, it was a long term program where we paid, I think I paid 1500 U.S. dollars a month for his coaching and I just get weekly calls with a group with him and a bunch other people. And the way was you'd just show up on the call and you'd wait for other people to finish and you'd say, "Hey, I want to go next."
And James would coach you right there in front of other people and at first to kind of felt like, well I'd like my one on one time. But actually I did get my one on one time it was just in front of other people and some of the people were listening were hugely experienced and came in with different insights.
[00:55:48] And then I started to think, oh wait a minute why don't I start listening to James coach other people. I ended up listening to James coach other people because of the quality of the people that he attracted to his group, that's where I met so many other people who taught me tactics. James was big on the strategy and the structure and the mindset and leadership actually, he's a great coach on building teams and managing teams especially remotely.
[00:56:10] James introduced me to the idea of going to the Philippines to hire my first virtual assistant which is all I could afford with someone in a economy that wasn't expensive like the United States. And that's where I end up finding the two people that have formed like responsible for a lot of our staff at our company right now. Claire and Tyron were original hires of mine.
I hired a husband wife team Claire doing customer service and Tyron doing technical and website stuff and everything basically did videos whenever I told him do he'd figure out and worked incredibly hard...a backbreaking 18 hour days during my early days and I was working like a maniac. I've slowed down a lot of my old age Paddy. We were doing product launches for Bobby McGee. They were my team that did that and I did all of that and James' group and the Bobby McGee launch would not have happened without James because I wouldn't have found the team to help me do it. The thing I loved about James is no B.S. mindset about marketing. An anti, allergic hatred for the American internet marketing industry and this launch tactics and all the stuff that people do to try and force you to buy before you're ready. And of course deadlines and scarcity are important to marketing but they have to be real like an events coming up or we just launched this product so therefore we're going to do a real launch around it. Yes we will have a special introductory price but we're going to raise it.
[00:57:33] We're not raising it just for the end of this launch, we're raising it because that's the new price. So James really really impacted my thinking and my philosophy on marketing and I started to see that a lot of these things I'd been studying were not productive, were not the best way to do it, were not the most honest ways to do things, didn't have the most integrity. James changed really transform my thinking around marketing, just every week he'd just say, "Do this." Or no, actually he'd say, "What do you want to do this week?" And I'd figure it out and he helped me work through it and then he'd say, "OK go do it. Here's how." The next week he'd say, "Did you do it? Did you do it you say you're going to do it? If not, why? OK what help you need and what are you going to do next week?" And just that idea of doing one big thing every week. Move one big rock in your business change something around that that has meaning. What is the one thing...there's this great book James have me read the one thing...what is the one thing that which if I do will make everything else of my business easier or irrelevant, unnecessary?
[00:58:31] And that idea of one thing at a time that should be done in order to make everything else easier or more profitable or lucrative or even unnecessary to do was really the big thing I took from James. And that just accountability. I went to his annual event and at his annual event is where I built my network. My network was massive because I'm a good networker at these events and I built... I made friends with everyone in the group I ended up hiring I think half the people in the group to do different marketing for me. Someone taught me how to use visual website optimizer and become conversion optimization specialist which is a really hard skill that most people don't ever learn.
Most people learn traffic but never do conversion analysis. I learned Facebook ads from Keith Krantz in the group who I actually brought to the group. He's a world famous author on Facebook ads. His first edition of his Facebook ads book had case studies from my ads in there. Mike Rhoades who's a Google AdWords expert who also wrote with Perry Marshall the book on Google ads. And Keith Krantz wrote the book with Perry Marshall on Facebook ads. And the other people I met there were people like Ryan Spanger who will go over in a little while here taught me the power of filmmaking and storytelling with film and definitely would not be here if I weren't for Ryan and I would not have met Ryan ever if it weren't for James Schamko and the two big things I got from him again were accountability, which I paid for which is valuable because you value what you pay for.
[00:59:55] It's funny the more you pay for something, the more you value it, you implement. I've always found that people who try and make low price coaching programs always fail because people value what they pay for. And the StoryGuild, I don't think we overcharge at all but we know it's enough of an investment where people take it seriously.
And the funny thing is every time we raise the price which we just do because we keep adding more value to the program whether it's free filming or student director program or other things and we just get better people as we raise prices. Not that the people who were in before weren't, but higher premium pricing especially in coaching and accountability in education tends to just attract better and better people. As you as you get because really successful good people who value their time and value input, know that it costs money and they'll only value it and execute it when they pay for it.
Paddy: [01:00:42] So in a world of 30 second Instagram videos and selfie sticks there's a lot of people teaching video that needs short, needs to be quick, needs to be done in this in your face style. But there's one person does video very differently. This is somebody who's had a huge impact on you Sam and the way we do our video advertising at James Cook Media... Ryan Spanger.
It's a competition, it's a war for attention and understanding.
Samuel: [01:01:01] I met Ryan Spanger at the SuperFast Business event with James in Australia and I saw him speak and he gave a talk on stage where I just... absolutely it hit me like a ton of bricks. It was like that time I visited Andre's sales page.
It just it was one of those transformational moments that I'd been struggling for a long time on how to sell people who didn't feel comfortable selling themselves on camera. And I didn't know how to do it and Ryan broke the logjam where he sat me down...well after this talk it was clear to me that you don't script people, you don't create some script and have people read it and put in all these power words and neurolinguistic programming tricks and stuff like that.
[01:01:39] That stuff works but even more powerful is just to sit people down and have them tell their story. As a business owner, yes you can tell your story but people are far more inspired by stories of people like them that got what they needed from your services and this was just a very simple powerful concept that Ryan taught me in his talk which I mention the story of Ryan and the free online masterclass if you haven't signed up for it. But Ryan was just a game changing experience for me because without Ryan I would never have done the Bobby McGee launch the way did it where we had a video and we were actually getting people emailing us after watching his videos saying, "I'm in tears after that. Is such a powerful, moving story."
And it was a sales video sold a product at the end of the course, the end of the video. But people were just inspired by the way we did it and the artistic way that he did it and the testimonies of the people there were so powerful that people were inspired by it. Again, if you have not watched this go sign up for the free online masterclass and you can watch this video in there where I talk about the thinking behind the video and I go over this.
But Ryan took me on a one month film school, I think goes to three weeks film school across the country where he just showed up, he had his cameras all in one bag, we set up a camera, we started interviewing.
[01:02:49] And he did it first and then I did it. And he critiqued me in a good way by asking follow up questions that I might have missed. And before I knew it I become a director and I was sitting there even learning from him how to set up the classic shots that you can see in our videos it is a style that Ryan taught me.
This idea that you put the person in focus and you use lighting and camera lenses and up the field and other things to fade out the background most people in filming like to make the background a priority even over the person like put a good background on ours. How do you get a great look that sets this person apart from everything in the background and of course you want the background looked good, but it has to be out of focus and a bit hazy and almost heavenly.
And that idea came from Ryan and it's a classic documentary filmmaking technique which they do on the BBC and History Channel and all these things but if you don't know these things, if you're not experienced filmmaker you would never know to do this and it takes some practice and some skilled cameramen to set that look up the right way. But Ryan taught me that whole idea.
And then he taught me after I did the filming how to do editing. He even taught me the importance of sound which I considered an afterthought and then realised, OK sounds important. So it was really quite powerful to to work with Ryan, a true professional, a film school trained documentary filmmaker who's been doing marketing for the last 10 years and learned from the best.
[01:04:10] The guy who knows both documentary film and loves the art of pure filmmaking but also knows how to serve business owners and create films convert. And actually interestingly enough Ryan does do much longer videos than typical 60 second or less Instagram video.
But actually Ryan and I part ways a little bit on length. Remember he was telling me when I was editing these videos he's like, I'd like to make them shorter. So we ended up making a shorter version and a longer version but Bobby McGees page we actually tested a two minute version versus the 17 minute version and the 17 minute version did two and a half times better than the two minute version on the sales page.
So what we ended up doing was using this short 2, 3, 4 minute version of the video which is the kind of the trailer or the powerful short version story to get people to watch a long video. That was actually an innovation that we made and our funnels for filmmaking and to go even longer in the story, much longer actually than Ryan had even taught me because I just knew that how long a sales video typically needed to be depending on the price point and we of took what we learned from Ryan and applied it to funnels and learn how to map out his filmmaking techniques and storytelling principles into a funnel, a buyers journey through a funnel.
And that's why we go counter intuitively long on our videos and long on our podcast too because we just believe in good, long form content. It's actually something I also learned from Tim Ferris watching him. He's done a very long form podcast.
[01:05:33] And another my favorite podcast is Hardcore History which has massive episodes like 5, 6 hour long episodes. So if anyone tells you you should be doing things a certain way, don't just accept that at blind faith, test it. You're an adult. Your avatar, every avatar is different. And what works for my audience might-or our audience, the StoryMatters audience-might not work for yours. Don't take anything I'm saying is truth, just take it as a starting point.
Paddy: [01:05:57] Which brings me back to that principle at the start of this episode which all these rules we are talking about today are made to be broken... conscious.
[01:06:08] And the next guest is Dr. Yanni Kotsonis.
Samuel: [01:06:10] Dr. Yanni Kotsonis is an interesting mentor because when I left Iraq in 2008 as a U.S. Army commander I went back to Texas on an individual flight. I didn't come back with my unit. I left. I packed up my stuff from Texas, Fort Hood Texas, and drove all the way to New York and went to Manhattan. So from Iraq to Texas to Manhattan and I'm sitting there right before school starts bored out of my mind thinking, what am I going to do with myself? I don't have a lot to do. I'm a fully employed army officer and my only job is to go to class which was like 9 hours a week in my four courses. And that was when I decided to start my tour company while I was in the Army as a hobby or let's say a passion because I had time. I was studying and I had time to start my tour company.
[01:06:57] At the same time I was also studying Russian history. Russian and Ukrainian history was my specialty because that's what I was going to teach at West Point. And New York University was the best place to study that. And the reason for that was a man named Yanni Kotsonis. A Greek who'd studied Russian history, studied in Moscow and became a professor of Russian history who had formed the Slavic studies department in New York University.
And the really interesting thing about Yanni was NYU or New York University. It started with no name in this field but it quickly built up through Yanni's leadership a great department. In fact, the school I originally wanted to go to, Columbia, which was known for 50 plus years, the entire Cold War having the best Russian Department. Richard Wartman who was the guy that I would have studied under at Columbia ended up leaving Columbia and taking a sabbatical before he retired and teaching at NYU.
So I got to study from the only great Russian probably one of the titans of the Russian history world in America at New York University which I wouldn't have got if I would have gone to Columbia. So the original school that I wanted to get into and applied to get into I didn't get into was Columbia and I got into NYU which ended up being far better for this study of history. And why is Yanni so impactful? Well one, if I wouldn't have studied and fallen in love with Russian history there's no reason I'd be in Poland today.
[01:08:11] I'm in Poland because my thesis was on Ukraine and I always thought I'd be interested to visit Ukraine but in 2014 or 13 I did think it was wise to live there during the beginning of the current conflict with Ukraine and Russia. But I did want to live close and just understand this part of the world that I've been teaching history about. And Poland obviously, hate to say it for the Poles listening, but it had been part of the Russian empire for many years and Warsaw where we're living was part of Russian empire and was under Russian control. Obviously clearly polish the whole time in terms of language and culture, but Russian influence.
[01:08:42] And I thought Poland just be a really interesting place to visit while I was visiting here I decided I wanted to stay because I saw the huge development talent and amazing world class designers and raw material for building a great tech media company. Thought it was a good place to live and I wanted to live in Europe. Lived in the States... the United States and since I was 9 years old when I moved from Belfast. I thought it was time to reconnect with my identity here and Yanni for that reason was huge impactful but the other reason is is a bit more profound. I talked about Ryan Spanger's moment, I talked about Andre Chaperone's moment but I think the biggest moment I ever had-the biggest epiphany-was in a class at New York University taught by Yanni Kotsonis where we were reading about the Bolshevik Revolution and the October Revolution, which an American journalist had actually helped publicise is this amazing heroic event. But in fact, it was nothing of the sort. It was kind of a where almost no one was killed in the initial shots.
[01:09:41] Obviously that changed in the Russian Revolution where I think 20 to 30 million people died in the following 3 years of fighting. But the initial October Revolution or the myth around which this heroic Bolshevik takeover was built was simply nothing more than a story.
It was a story that was told after the fact by the people who had taken power. And they ended up making this event this heroic seizure of power by the Bolsheviks at the Winter Palace something that it just wasn't. But in the memory of the people, even people who were there or who weren't there they started to rewrite the story afterwards to match themselves to this historic moment and everyone would say, "Well what were you doing during those 70 days in October?" And they'd all have their story of what they're doing and even if it was inconsequential everyone had their story and everyone in Russia knew their story because the Bolshevik regime needed to know the story about what were you doing during the Bolshevik takeover and how did you feel?
And it's the same thing that happened, and Peter Sage talked about this in the video, Yanni actually drew this analogy says, "Everyone in this room could probably tell me what you were doing on September the 11th. We all can remember that. And you can probably remember what you had for breakfast and there's some extraordinary details from something that happened eight years ago, but you couldn't tell me what you're doing last week for breakfast." And the reason is that we want to marry our story to a greater story. And when we see a greater story we want to rewrite our story in our mind to give it meaning and significance.
[01:11:08] So it called- I think the class or the article was called Imagining October, Reimagining or Reinventing October. And then it really hit me that how much story just rules our lives and people use story to give themselves meaning and purpose in life because life is so random and confusing and infinitely complex when you really look at it that we need we need...the story is like a life raft in a world of chaos. And especially in Russia at this time through the huge upheaval, the Russian Civil War and then the interwar years and the purge and the Holodomor in Ukraine and the famines across Europe and famines across Russia and then World War II, in a country where 60 million people between the Russian Revolution and World War II were killed.
Just staggering mind blowing numbers that we in the West couldn't even comprehend. They crave more than ever a story to grasp onto in that world of chaos and the Bolsheviks were master storytellers they were...Lenin was a master storyteller and the film industry that they created that is the some of the great work that they still study and film school that Ryan Spanger and I will talk about came in the Bolshevik era. They were amazing storytellers and the reason they won against all odds in the Russian Revolution after the fall of the Tsar. It wasn't the Bolsheviks who brought the Tsar down. That was in February 2017. The Tsar was deposed. It wasn't the Bolsheviks. I mean Lenin wasn't even there. Lenin was on a train from Germany.
The quickest way to mastery of anything in your professional life, your personal life, whatever area of life you want to get better, is mentorship.
[01:12:38] He helped in a very small way with the overthrow of the Tsar but against all odds they won because Lenin told the story that people needed to hear to throw their weight behind him. He sold Bolshevism before it was a reality and then afterwards he just sold it even better and he was a masterful storyteller and there's no way, he was a singular figure in history that just had a power of communicating and understanding the deep frustrations and undercurrents of social unrest in Russia and connecting with that and telling the workers and the people the story that they needed to hear to get behind this crazy adventure called Bolshevism which had a huge impact and it's another episode in the history podcast about the impacts of Bolshevism and the Soviet Union regime that followed.
[01:13:29] But no one can deny that it was a hugely transformative and impactful movement in history that started with just someone who told great stories that gave people something to hope for and to grasp onto. An amazingly chaotic turbulent time and anyone.
And the impact of that is up for debate and historians obviously there's pros and cons on many different sides that are here to debate Russian history but that story that I learned from Yanni was just amazing. And he actually brought it down to a lower level. He'd come teach to the cadets at West Point and I'd have him tell this idea that he said that history is fact based fiction. No history is true.
[01:14:13] Now when he said that in class after they told the story of the Bolshevik revolution he said history is fact based fiction you saw jaws drop and people are studying their whole lives to become history being told that the history they're studying is just really a lie. And it's kind of harsh but really we think about it, it's not even close to true.
The stories that we tell ourselves about our own lives and history are not even close to true. The question is are they useful or destructive? Are they helping or hurting us? And this is actually something that ties back into what I learned from Tony Robbins. And there's a huge crossover between what Tony Robbins taught me about the power of story which I'll get into in that episode and what I learned in history class, two completely different fields about this central truth that stories are never true but are they useful? What we our job as historians was always to make stories as honest as they could be given the humility to know that we're never going to have something that's completely true or real.
We're just going to have something that we know is honest to the best of our ability and that we organise the facts and prejudice those facts because the things we leave out are almost as important as things we choose to emphasise in the story. And what we prejudice and what we leave out and what we emphasise are the things that form the arc of our story because two people can watch the exact same movie and have a completely different impact on them from that movie.
[01:15:35] Two people have a completely different summary of what that movie was about. No two people see or experience an event in life the same way based on their perspective, their upbringing, their beliefs, their values. Just where they're sitting in the room compared to the other person. So that's why truth is so hard to ever nail down 100%. Now obviously there's there's times where things are patently wrong and dishonest and unuseful and we have to call those out for what they are.
But if you're honest about truth in a tremendously complex world you have to be honest with yourself that you're never going to have all the right answers. And that's the thing Yanni instilled in me was this deep humility and reverence for the power, the infinite complexity of history which up until then I thought I had a pretty good handle on and he just shattered my world. I didn't know anything. And that's what I liked to impart on my students now is you don't really know much. I don't know much. But it's always fun to keep trying and keep progressing.
[01:16:33] Truth is like infinity. It's like counting to infinity. You're never going to get there. But the farther you can count, the better.
Paddy: [01:16:39] Indeed and it was Lenin who famously said, who whom asking about that choice that truly existential struggle between capitalism and communism which one is going to win? The battle of stories. I was always a provisional government kind of man.
Samuel: [01:16:52] Looking back everyone was... but would they have been any better? I don't, I don't know. I mean you'll never know. That's the beauty of history as you never know what's going to happen because it happened. And what happened happened and you can't change it. You can never go back and replay. You can't split us history unlike marketing.
Paddy: [01:17:14] So we've run through season two now. Sam I heard a little rumor that we may still have some surprise guests and it wouldn't be a surprise if we are sure who they are but can we be a little bit excited? Are we going to see any other guest may be on this season?
Samuel: [01:17:26] I don't think the list I just gave you is is all exhaustive but I think it's an exciting beginning. And I think that you can plan on these episodes and see my progression in terms of storytelling from there. And I think probably at the end I started at university level and maybe I need to go back deeper as Freud and the psychologist would say to the early days in terms of the big influences on me from the very beginning so that maybe through looking at my self reflection on my own journey and my life's work and what I'm doing you can gather some inspiration for your own. Because if you are doing it right now you can look back and chart your own path to where you are and if you're not maybe watching me go through my journey would help you find yours because it took me awhile to get to this point I wasn't a professional marketer until I was 33 and I think when I finally started storytelling like StoryMatters as a marketer that's when I finally realised, OK I'm doing exactly meant to be doing. I'm doing marketing exactly the way that's congruent with my whole life has been leading to this point.
Everything I've done has contributed to this. All these random seemingly unconnected professions like military and history and marketing and my passion for music and all these other things are are all connected at the top of the circus tent of knowledge I call story.
Paddy: [01:18:42] Sam I'm going to ask you a very unfair question now. If you had to pick just one of these guests, one of these storytellers... let's say you want to be stuck on a desert island with and you're going to tell each other stories all the time. Which one would it be and why? Very unfair.
Samuel: [01:18:56] If I had to be stuck on a desert island I'm going to make it easy for myself and not offend anyone on the list. Tony Robbins. Because I've never met the guy never had a conversation with him and he seems really interesting and I could just imagine the mischief he would get up to on a desert island, stranded. It would just be really interesting and I think all of us have these authors or mentors that we love to meet and spend some time with us that we haven't.
[01:19:26] And just because I haven't spent any time with them and everyone else I have felt just picked Tony Rollins. I think he'd be fascinating.
Paddy: [01:19:33] I was very slick answer. So if you have been running a little half marathon during the course of this podcast. If you've been putting out your washing, now time to cycle and start to listen season 2. Sam anything you want to add to it just as we bring this podcast episode to an end?
Samuel: [01:19:51] I'd like to just summarise this with is whatever you doing right now, if you're on your path and you know like me I've finally found something halfway through my life that I'm doing exactly what I was born to do. Take great comfort in that and savor that moment and look back like I'm doing right now and try and map out all the people that are responsible for where you are right now and once you do that, start to look for ways that you can take what you're doing and how do you become unique? How do you stand out?
And the way I did it was marrying very different passions and interests that are seemingly unrelated like documentary filmmaking and history with marketing is just my mashup of all the things that I love into what I'm doing for a profession and it just feels right and it works for me. How can you do the same thing? If you have something, I mean music. I grew up as a musician and I remember thinking, boy this is kind of a waste because I don't know if I want to be a professional musician.
[01:20:48] And now with my ability to hear and see quality music and hire and supervise great composers and musicians it all makes complete sense. Everything feels like it's been leading to this point. If you're there, congratulate yourself. Look back... look at all the people who helped get you there and be thankful for that. And look forward. And who do I need to enlist on my journey forward? Because who can help me go to the next step?
Is it someone and marketing or is it someone in business coaching or is it someone on the personal relationship side. I mean whatever it is, where do you need help? Who's the best person in the world to help you with that? And if you're not there this podcast instead resonates with you because you feel the same way about the journey you're on and you know in your heart of hearts you're not just take a step back and listen to our last podcasts and it's never too late to change course in life.
How did I get here? From an intellectual standpoint, from a practical standpoint, from a strategic standpoint it has to do with all these mentors.
[01:21:38] I mean life is too short. Life is too short to not pursue that what you're passionate about. And if you have a skill in a certain area how do you take that skill which maybe you're not 100% passionate about and apply it to the thing that you are passionate about? And create what I call idea sex where you take two things that are seemingly unrelated and create something new out of it. And that is so important. Don't ever view what you've done if you're not doing exactly what you want to be doing in life. Don't ever view it as a waste.
Understand how can I take what I've been doing and marry that up with that which I'm passionate about. The thing that I do late at night or early in the morning to waste time or at work to waste time and escape the reality that is my life that I am not that passionate about. What are the things I would pay to do? And how do I take the skills that I've acquired in all these different fields and marry that into combine that into mash that up into a brand new unique contribution to the thing that I'm passionate about? If you can do that then I think that's a worthwhile journey to go on. And who do you need to help you on that journey?
[01:22:44] What mentors do you need to help you on that journey? What mentors have you had up until this point that have helped you acquire these skills that you've had and how can you find that one person to help you cross over into that field that you're really passionate about? And find the person. If it's coach, pay them.
If it's someone that happens to be an old longstanding mentor relationship, ask for their help. If it's someone that you've never met, like Tony Robbins and could probably never meet, just devour whatever you can from there's that which you can afford to invest in and do that. And find a combination as I find usually the combination of the 3 is the best people that you pay to hold you accountable to get results. People that are long standing relationships will just be there for you on a deeper level, on the emotional, and even sometimes spiritual support and that person can never access, take their stuff and use that too match it all up and that's the best way to make massive changes in your life.
[01:23:40] And I remember when I did that when I was this wrenching transition from army, which had great mentors in the army, to the civilian world as we called it or that other side. That world that we were scared of because we didn't know what to do there. And it was a huge 3 year transition for me to get out of the army and to decide that I really wanted to do it, that I was not scared to lose all that great pay and benefits and that I had a skill that was going to allow me to start my own business rather than go from one large corporation the US Army to another which I was not leaving the Army just to join another large bureaucracy where I was making PowerPoint slides. And that was my promise to myself when I got out is I'd never do that again.
Paddy: [01:24:20] Well that's a powerful call to action to end this episode on. And we've got a couple more requests for you. If you been listening to this and thinking about how this podcast series is going to change your life story then please do us a favor and leave us a review on iTunes. We'd really appreciate that and you can share this episode as well when your favorite social media channel and send it on to colleagues and friends that you think would really benefit from learning how to tell stories and change people's lives.
And more than anything else, we'd absolutely love to hear from you. It means a huge amount when we get emails from you telling us how it is that you benefited from listening to StoryMatters podcasts as well as taking advantage of our free online masterclass. And Sam that's just one last thing that I think we should probably finish on which is talk about where James Cook Media is and the StoryMatters community is right now in terms of how we're helping.
Samuel: [01:25:10] Well that's a loaded question because we've as of November 2017 we've just revamped our entire training coaching program to include annual coaching for the StoryGuild which is our first product that we launched, our flagship product which is our teaching. It's kind of the product I use to scratch my own itch that I wish I would have had as a business owner and the StoryGuild is a chance for you as a business owner to spend a year with us learning how to master the theory, the story, everything behind your marketing and then you're going to build your funnel as part of that program. You're going to we're going to show you everything you need to do, teach you how to do it, give you the support, we're going to give you a free 2 days of filming with our film crew to get your story filmed, directed by another student, a senior StoryGuild member who is a marketer that I've taught.
And it's a huge upgrade to the program of the StoryGuild and the other people in the group are about half of the group as marketers half of the business owners. If you're a marketer, you can do a student funnel. Practice on another student, get their funnel up and running and if you're successful, if you help them produce a positive return on ad spend for cold audiences new people that've never heard of them then I'll certify you as a certified storyteller online with the videos that you'll create in our program for that person and you'll have a case study and then you'll have to show up at workshops to help mentor other students, help mentor our online community, the StoryMatters Academy and you can become a certified StoryMatters consultant after you become a certified StoryMatters consultant, you can get access to this exciting new program we've just launched which is the story funnels program.
[01:26:41] Where I was ignoring a large part of our audience for a long time that love the power of story but didn't have time to implement it. And I decided after many requests to finally roll out a program where James Cook Media would do some funnels on a very high end case by case basis for certain products and services that I absolutely love because I got involved in our funnels and supervise and I'm very jealous of my time and my team's time so we can't take on every project the people want to throw our way. But for those that don't have the budget or perhaps aren't the right fit for our agency we've certified number of consultants over, 10 in our program right now marketing consultants to run your funnel for you. And the way it works is you sign up for strategy session which I participate in, the strategy review at the end of it.
[01:27:28] It's two day private strategy workshop where we come to you or a consultant goes to you and at the end I review the strategy and present it to you and then you and that consultant can then decide how you want to go forward together. It's a kind of a matchmaking service where you pay for the strategy with us and we supervise it with the consultant executing it and then afterwards you decide if you want to pay that consultant to do it or if you want to take the strategy do it yourself or pay some other agency but getting a funnel map mapped out by someone has been taught by me on how to do it has done a success for someone else I think is something most business owners listen as podcasts could benefit from and a lot of them will work for a good performance based deal. Some small upfront based payment plus a performance based deal. Because these funnels aren't easy to make.
[01:28:13] They take a while. Great art is hard. Great storytelling and cinematography is hard, but it's powerful. I think you can change your business. If you are interested that program, you do that. And finally, for those business owners or marketing consultants who don't have a huge budget to invest in their own education but have the time to study. We've created a video version of the training. The StoryMatters Academy which is all the content you get in this StoryGuild but without the weekly one on one coaching with me you get it delivered by video online. You also get one of my senior members of my team running the course with you delivering you group Q&A sessions with them and you'll also be mentored by StoryGuild members. So people who are trying to become certified marketing consultants have to mentor you successfully in this online program, support you through your journey, it's an eight month program. You also get access to the software that we use for our landing pages which is becoming a software as a service we're developing in closed beta right now.
[01:29:11] And you never have to worry about website design or development again because you're part of this closed beta will handle that for you and build templates that you want, that we think are wise into the system if we don't have it. Or you can just use some of the things in our library and with 100 other people doing the same thing there's going to be plenty of templates in the library for everyone to use. So you can basically replace your web development tech budget and hosting budget that you'd use on a software for these pages. You can replace it with a comprehensive program that teaches you from start to finish our method on storytelling, keeps you accountable with a small group and our mentors and has Q&A for when you get stuck and gives you the technical solution, our own software that we use in our own funnels that produce millions dollars in sales for multiple clients use the same software and have the same look and feel on your site.
Obviously customized with your pictures and videos and branding for your own brand. So that's the way we've just reinvented our entire product line or it's evolved, let's say, but evolve quite rapidly recently because we just kept talking our ideal clients and realised we did not have exactly the best offers that we could have had for them and we've just done that and we're in the midst of a review. This is all art of the Chris Kolenda review process and strategic process and reorganizing our team to serve all these needs so it's been really exciting.
[01:30:30] It's amazing to look back and say only a year ago we just finished our talk at the London Business School where StoryMatters was just to talk an idea and only 10 months ago.
11 months ago we had our first StoryGuild and now we're at this point, it's amazing looking back at that and thinking, wow and a year we've gotten this point because I think the community's got amazing people who supported this movement, a great team Paddy that you've expertly built and led. And I'm just happy to be at the top shouting down some things here and there that's useful.
Paddy: [01:31:01] So yes just a reminds me of what a large todo list we have.
Samuel: [01:31:04] Back to work.
Paddy: [01:31:06] Thank you very much everybody for listening to today's episode. We are super excited about the incredible storytellers that we have in this season. Once again, leave us a review on iTunes. Drop us a message if you want to give us feedback on how this podcast is changing your storytelling and of course do share this episode and the rest of the season.
We have colleagues or friends who you think will benefit from mastering storytelling. Thank you very much. It's been fascinating. See you again next episode.
Samuel: [01:31:32] Thank you Paddy. And thank you for joining us StoryMatters podcast listener.