Storytelling is a superpower. Influencer and speaker Bobby Umar shares how storytelling can elevate your personal brand and your identity as a thought leader. For marketers, storytelling is a powerful tool to facilitate consumers’ resonance with brands.
Printable shownotes: https://talkabouttalk.com/podcasts/#shownotes
- ANDREA’s INTRODUCTION
- ANDREA’s CONCLUSION
Summary: THE POWER OF STORYTELLING
STORYTELLING IS A SUPERPOWER
- Stories are impactful. They impart emotions and make things more memorable.
- To become a thought leader, leverage storytelling with these 3 things:
- your relationship building and networking (the WHO)
- your ideas and content generation (the WHAT)
- your communication, speaking and writing skills (the HOW)
HOW TO TELL A POWERFUL STORY
- Take the audience on an emotional journey:
- for example the hero’s journey is a powerful cycle or story arc
- allow yourself to be vulnerable
- choose your words carefully
- ask questions
- And as Bobby says, “describe something that’s jaw dropping.”
YOUR PERSONAL BRAND STORY
- “Simply put, your story is your brand, your brand is your story.”
- 2 steps to establishing your personal story:
- Identify your personal brand. This requires self-awareness and hard work. Consider 3 sources: (1) self-awareness & self-analysis; (2) input from others; and (3) online assessments. Then look for the themes.
- Link your personal brand to your target market and your objective. g. the target market could be your employer and your objective could be to get promoted. Combine the target market and objective with the personal brand to craft your ideal story.
- Bobby’s advice to more experienced folks: don’t be overwhelmed by your long and rich history. Instead, identify the themes. (e.g. for Hillary Clinton it could be that she is an ALLY or an ADVOCATE.) These themes can be powerful stories.
- Brand managers need to understand their target market’s stories. The brand could be the hero in one of these stories (but not necessarily).
- The brand could also share a story that demonstrates the brand values and beliefs (e.g. Nike with Colin Kaepernick and #BLM).
- Facebook Business:https://www.facebook.com/raehanbobby/
- LinkedIn Company: https://www.linkedin.com/company/bobbyumar/
- Speaker Profile:https://www.nsb.com/speakers/bobby-umar/
Talk About Talk & Dr. Andrea Wojnicki
- Relevant podcast episodes:
- Email – Andrea@TalkAboutTalk.com
- Newsletter – https://talkabouttalk.com/blog/#newsletter-signup
- Website – https://talkabouttalk.com
Dr. ANDREA’s INTRODUCTION
Hey there – I’m your communication coach, Dr. Andrea Wojnicki (please call me Andrea!) Welcome to Talk About Talk.
If you’re a life-long learner, or if you’re trying to get noticed and advance your career, or perhaps both, then you’re in the right place. Sure, some people make communication skills look easy. But it’s not easy. It takes practice and it takes know-how.
I highly recommend that you listen to both of these episodes back-to-back. In that previous episode, Professor Jerry Zaltman and I talk about things like the power of archetypes and metaphors in storytelling, and how great story telling involves letting the reader (or the audience) fill in the gaps. I’ll leave a link to that episode, #11, in the shownotes.
OK – let’s get into this. I’m going to introduce you to Bobby Umar right now and get into the interview. Based on your feedback, I’m going to do what I usually do – after the interview, I’ll summarize our conversation for you briefly at the end. That way you don’t have to take notes. Just listen and enjoy. And as always, you can check out the printable summary and transcript in the shownotes on the talkabouttalk.com website under the podcast tab.
I’m really excited to introduce you to our guest expert, Mr. Bobby Umar. As I said, Bobby Umar has over ½ million twitter followers and he’s a 5 time TEDx speaker.
- Bobby’s diverse background includes brand marketing (at Kraft & Unilever), engineering (Bombardier) and the performing arts (Second City). Some of you may know that I also worked at Kraft in brand marketing. I’m sad to say Bobby & I missed each other there by a few years, but I’m really excited to talk to him now.
- Bobby’s the CEO of DYPB – Discover Your Personal Brand and he’s the President of Raeallan – Transformational Training and Speaking. Bobby’s one of the most prolific heart-based leaders in North America.
- Bobby’s an international author of two books, including a #1 best-seller, and he’s a Huffington Post contributor.
- He hosted a weekly tweetchat called “The Power of Connection” that reached over 65 million impressions weekly.
- To date, his social media influence has garnered over a billion impressions.
- Magazine named him one of the Top 100 Leadership Speakers, and he’s been named:
- the 2ndbest business coach to follow on Twitter
- the 4thbest leadership influencer according to Kred.
- a “2015 Speaker to Watch” and
- one of the Top 7 Networking gurus to follow.
- Bobby’s also a fiercely proud and committed father of two kids and he’s passionate about diversity, gender equality, entrepreneurship and youth.
Dr. Andrea Wojnicki: Thank you so much, Bobby, for joining us to talk about storytelling.
Bobby Umar: I’m happy to be here Andrea. Thank you so much.
AW: My first question is really general, what makes for a great story?
Bobby Umar: Well, I think probably one of the best things you can do as a storyteller is to create an image in people’s mind to get them to feel and experience what is the you’re expressing, whether you express it in words, like on a page where they express it on words on a stage or on a video… But if you can get them as you envision it, and join you in that emotional journey, that to me is probably the most powerful way to know that your story is working. Because what you’re doing is you’re creating credibility and resonance, and you involve them. So I think that’s probably the best way to describe a really powerful story.
AW: So how do you involve them in a story though? I mean, it’s one thing to say it but is there a how to?
Bobby Umar: Well, there’s lots of things you can do. I mean, for example, you can take people on the hero’s journey, your journey of revolution, transformation and bringing them back that whole kind of cycle or that story arc . That works really well. There is immersing the people in what’s going on in terms of drama and intrigue and suspense. There’s using certain words that heighten the tension of the story. There’s asking a question that probes you know, their insight and interest and piques their mind so they want to be part of what’s going on, or you just describe something that’s really kind of like jaw dropping. Like, you know, I was flying over the hills, and we were all about to die. Whoa, okay, now what? And things like that. So there are different ways to get them to be involved. So there’s the immersing the audience and their experience. There’s the drama, the intrigue, word choice, there’s vulnerability. There’s lots of things you can do to immerse your audience into your story.
AW: You talked about the hero’s journey. And as I was preparing for this interview, I was thinking, is it possible that storytelling as a topic itself, might be possibly wearing itself out? It’s a really, really popular topic. I know that it’s one of the most searched terms that I have on my website. You know, everywhere we look, there’s master classes on storytelling by famous authors, fiction and nonfiction right? And when I was doing some research for archetypes, I came across the hero’s journey over and over again. And they talked about how it’s become almost formulaic with Disney. And do you have any comments on that?
Bobby Umar: Well, I mean, I would say that to the first point, are stories getting old or tired? No, I don’t think so. I think that we’re evolving how we tell stories all the time. I mean, now you look at that 3D visualization, and V.R. There are so many different ways to tell stories. I think that that changes all the time. Some of the best movie-makers like you know, Steven Spielberg, for example, the first movie he did was different than what he’s doing now. I mean, you look at Jaws was like something, like Ready Player One is completely different. I think the issue really is when people focus on more of a formulaic approach as opposed to creating focus on the originality and on the content, on the characters. And when you end up with themes that only focus on those things. Yeah, then you’re gonna get a better job than just get a formulaic boy meets girl boy, girl dumps boy, boy gets girl again, that type of thing. So you know, formulaic? I like to call it a framework. Formulas are boring. But a framework is a structure that helps you create a compelling story as long as you can focus on the elements and do them in a very, very impactful way. And then the other thing I’ll say is that now people want to learn how to tell better stories with virtual meetings, because they’re working with remote teams, and they want to build tell better stories online because they’re trying to find a way to break through the clutter, break through the virtual stuff, break through the diminishing trust that we have, that’s out there. And so storytelling is a great way to do that. So I’m seeing that stories are constantly evolving across all different mediums in all different industries. And that’s why I think it never gets old. Like it’s the same thing, why there’s always gonna be someone to help you with networking. So there’ll be someone to help you with finding a date or, some of these things that people really care about storytelling, love, really connecting with people. These are things that are going to last forever, right? The thing about storytelling is it’s a framework and a foundation for connecting and relationship building and pitching in presentations. And all this kind of stuff. If you want to connect to people on the human level, no matter what the objective is – personal and professional, storytellers, right? So if I’m on a date, and I tell a story, like let’s say, when I met my wife, I told a story about how I ran a musical theater company. And he said, Oh, musical theater. I love musical theater. Okay. And next thing you know, there’s interest. Right? So storytelling is powerful in all different ways.
AW: So you started to answer my next question then. And the truth remains that it’s not authors. It’s not writers that are inquiring about how to be better storytellers. Right? It’s managers, it’s leaders. It’s its students. It’s people that are going on dates. It’s, it’s all everybody wants to become a better storyteller. Why is it that stories are so engaging versus you know, I don’t know, a PowerPoint presentation with facts and figures and charts, which should appeal to us from a rational perspective, right?
Bobby Umar: Well, a couple of things. Storytelling makes things more memorable, more impactful and longer lasting. At the same time, I think that stories are just a way to humanize people stories. They say more than what you’re actually saying versus just a number on the page. And so I think that’s another way the reason why stories are far more compelling to people. And that’s why people are using them all the time.
AW: Yeah, I’ve heard over and over again that people remember emotions more than they remember facts.
Bobby Umar: Absolutely.
AW: Stories impart emotions, right?
Bobby Umar: Yeah. Stories make people feel a certain way. So they feel what you’re feeling, they feel the message more, and then they feel compelled to change. So you know, stories are a way to compel people to change their beliefs to change their actions, and to change their attitudes. And that’s why storytelling is very powerful.
AW: And maybe change your opinion about someone right? Like you said, your wife was suddenly intrigued.
Bobby Umar: Yeah, well, I mean, you take let’s say you have a stiff supervisor you know, that you don’t like but then three people know him or her tell the story about them being vulnerable or being silly or fun. All the sudden, it’s may start to shift the attitude around that person because you start to see it. That’s why vulnerability is so important when I work with clients So, being vulnerable is so helpful. So if we want to do that, it actually humanizes you and makes you more relatable. And I think, vulnerability, the data from Brené Browns research shows that vulnerability is a powerful connector to people. And so when you’re vulnerable people are more willing to be vulnerable with you. And so when you do that, for anybody, no matter how stiff they might seem, they started to become more human.
AW: I agree, as you were saying that I was imagining we’re connecting with each other on so many dimensions, right? Like we kind of have an affect, we like each other, or we don’t like each other. It’s either positive or negative. But then there’s if the person has allowed themselves to be vulnerable, we feel like they’ve opened the door, it may be into their soul or into their true being, which relates to personal branding, which I know is one of your other areas of expertise. Can you talk a little bit about the connection between storytelling and personal branding?
Bobby Umar: Well, simply put, your story is your brand, your brand is your story. So the way my personal brand has become the way Bobby is now, is from the very day I was born. So if you look back – Back in the day, he was a young child when I was six or 10 or 12 years old, I was a connector, I was a social butterfly, I would like to make people laugh. I like to make people smile. That thing has been part of my personal brand journey since I’ve been a little kid. And so that’s part of who I am. It’s a big part of why… Other people may have started with their analytical science experiments. And they did a lot of data analytics. And now they’re, you know, a scientist or something. It starts with that. The other thing that I’ve learned too, and more recently, is that you know, when it comes to telling stories, the people who struggle it’s because they don’t really know their personal brand. They don’t, they do the work, or know that the person brand is broken out several areas. One is self-awareness and self-analysis of who you are and what you’re about and what your strengths are. The second piece is knowing how people perceive you and how they relate to you connect to you. And when you know those things, then you can design a brand that’s targeted for that audience to know how they feel and create a story that’s far more aligned with your brand and it’s far more compelling. So when I tell stories, I think about the person that is part of my target audience and I create a far more compelling story. And so having a framework for a brand, and what that personal brand is, and having a framework for your story, both of them together is what you could use to craft the right story for that right person.
AW: Okay, I have so many questions to ask based on that…So your personal brand is certainly not a blank slate. Right? You have your history.
Bobby Umar: It already exists. That’s correct.
AW: So two questions from that. One is, imagine your slate is as blank as it could be. So maybe you are a 23 year old recent graduate who’s starting a new job. You’re self-aware enough to know what your strengths and weaknesses are, and you know what your employer is looking for. What are some things that you can do strategically to manage your personal brand?
Bobby Umar: Well, the first step to managing a person brand is to understand what it is. So doing the work. And here’s the thing, most people don’t want to do the work. Oftentimes because they’re afraid of it. But you know, it requires you to get feedback from your peer group and from people around you. Just basically ask them, tell me what you think of me. Tell me how I make you feel. Tell me what kind of experience I give you, because that’s what it is your brand is your reputation, how you’re perceived, the emotional experience that people feel from you. So do you want? Do you want to know that you’re kind of a jerk? Do you want to know that you’re always late? Do you want to know that? You know, you’re not reliable? I mean, you have to do the work to find that out because you got to be willing to take the strengths and the weaknesses. So that deep dive analysis is what you do. A lot of people don’t want to do that. But that’s the first step is actually dive into that support.
AW: I understand why people might not want to do that, right. Because you as you said, you’re potentially learning something very negative about yourself. But imagine that you are compelled to truly understand or become more self-aware so that they can manage their personal brand optimally. What are the questions that you would ask people to get to that, you know, what is the maybe uniquely negative thing about me? Or what is the thing that that bugs people about me when we ask them to get to that?
Bobby Umar: Well, that’s a good question. So normally when I do personal branding, I take people through kind of a signature methodology that I’ve created, where we go through personality traits, skills, interests, values, and things like that. So you can ask people about those things. What do you think are my top skills, my top values, things like that. But you can also ask things like, you know, what are my top three strengths? What are my top two weakness areas? Do I remind you of a character in a book or in a movie? And if so, why? And those types of questions are ones you can you can actually really extract a lot of information about how people perceive you, and what are some of the themes that come out. So when you do a lot of this work and do a really good deep dive across the board… Because there’s three ways to do the deep dive: one is do your own self-assessment, the other is to get the assessment of others, and the third is do online assessments. And when you do that broad range of assessments, you get like this voluminous amount of, you know, 10 pages of information. What are the threads and themes that stick out? What are the ones that are consistently shown across the board? When I did my own personal journey., the thing that came up, that screamed at me was: Bobby loves people, right? And so it told me that when I worked as an engineer in front of a computer for 10 hours a day and never talk to anybody, that’s why I was miserable. So I was no matter what I do moving forward, and better darn well have to do with people. And it’s very empowering, very validating. So you know, that that that to me was really powerful, too.
AW: Yeah. And then I guess it allows you to focus in that area, so that you’re telling the story, right? in the way that is not only compelling to you, but compelling to everybody else. And it just makes sense. ‘Cause you’re going to be providing evidence of it all the time!
Bobby Umar: Yeah, although the second, the second piece is, you know, once you’ve discovered your brand, and you focus on design, so this is where you look at your target audience what your objective is. So when it comes to a story, who was my target audience? What’s my objective? What do I want them to do? What I want them to feel? Where do I want them to believe? Then I tell those stories. So for example, you know, my main story, my website is about how I felt lost in my career, and how I want to help people not feel lost anymore and feel more fulfilled. That’s my journey of having four different careers. And so I tell that story because I want people to know I’ve been there, but I always want to help them get to where I am now. And so you can create a store that’s perfectly aligned for your target audience as long as you do the work.
AW: Sounds like what – as you said – back to Steven Spielberg, it sounds like going back to what a movie director would do, right? You’re not you’re not creating a movie in a vacuum; you’re also thinking about what the audience is looking for. So that makes sense. The second question that I was gonna ask you related to your personal history is, is there a difference – And maybe it’s just semantics, that’s perfectly okay. But what’s the difference between your personal brand and your reputation?
Bobby Umar: They’re very similar. I mean, your reputation is basically how people perceive you. Personal branding, it takes that to a higher level like it’s more about the emotional experience. It’s, it’s cumulative, it continues. It evolves, it goes on and on. Your reputation is more like a snapshot. Okay, well, right now in this moment in time, what’s my reputation? Okay, it’s this personal brand is far more complex because you can also manage your, your personal brand and you manage the reputation too, but your reputation is based on actions. So there are a lot of similarities but ultimately the personal brand is far more complex because based on your values, your beliefs, your actions, your history, the people around you, and how they perceive you. Reputation is more like taking a sample and then you know, 80% of people think you’re a jerk. Okay? 80% think you’re amazing. Okay, that’s, that’s reputation. Well, your brand’s more complex and more nuanced.
AW: so one name keeps coming, popping into my mind as you’re describing all of this, and that’s Hillary Clinton.
Bobby Umar: Okay, well, okay.
AW: Yeah, I don’t know if you’ve done any thinking about that. But I’ve done some thinking and reading about her and her personal brand. And I’ve actually heard her say that she really struggled to come up with a story. She has a reputation and she knows that she’s smart, and she’s done the work. But her story like she lived a life of privilege, right. She didn’t live the hero’s journey. And it wouldn’t be authentic to pretend that she had any sort of hero’s journey because there really wasn’t any strife that she had to work through. Have you thought about that at all?
Bobby Umar: Yeah. I mean, I think the challenge with People who particularly are older and have a very rich and complicated history is that they don’t know what story to focus on. Right. So I think that’s a challenge. I mean, if you watch the documentary about her life, you know, one of the things that, you know, maybe her story has been like, I really care about being an ally. Right? All my life, I’ve been an ally, and you show example, after example, after example. And maybe that could have been the story. Even when she was in college and university, she didn’t follow the norm. And she spoke up against things that most people wouldn’t. That could have been a brand that could have been the main story, but you know, I’ve always spoken up and rubbed people the wrong way. And that also strikes at the misogyny that happens in our system. Right. So I think there’s a lot there that could have been shared. But I think the other problem, of course, is that most people (and it’s happening now to like in, you know, whether with Joe Biden or other politicians) is that, you know, when you’re, when you’re 60 years old, you have an entire life and some people that people do people to find you when you’re 30 of the things you did when you were 30? or when you’re when you’re 40 I opened up because I said that I’ve done things in my 20s. And you know, if I go into politics and that came up, I’ll say, well, that that’s like, you know, one small dumb thing I did. But you know, the nuance of my entire story is that Bobby’s been a connector. He’s always been a connector. He always is friendly to people. He always listens. He has empathy. And that is, absolutely that’s been there since I was six. And you can’t doubt that. So then, you know, and all those small things, they start to fall by the wayside because they’re not as important.
AW: Brilliantly put Bobby, I have to say, maybe Hillary should come and talk to Bobby. I’m serious, because I think that that was a big part… I think, when I think about it in the context of this interview, she has checkmarks in terms of her reputation, but she didn’t engage with people emotionally, because she really didn’t have a story, or she has a story to tell. But she wasn’t telling it. She wasn’t being proactive.
Bobby Umar: Although I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t say that’s the only thing I mean, … a common systemic thing that happens that women have to check – women often feel they have to put their emotions in check because of misogyny in the world. Because that’s how they have to be in the boardroom or in the corporate space. Things are changing for the better. But we’re not there yet. So I think those there are a lot of things there too, that are kind of complicated. And that, you know, shouldn’t be ignored.
AW: But you mentioned advocacy is one of the roles that she’s had. And she could say, she’s been advocating for women this entire time. And yeah, I just personally endured it all. Yeah, it works.
Bobby Umar: Yeah. Part of the challenge is You say, Well, I’m, I’m here for everybody. The problem is sometimes people feel like, it gets lost. It’s like when you do what we need, when you target a story or for a brand you say, who’s your brand? Like for example, I run I run a personal branding course. Who’s the course for? Well, technically, it’s for everybody, but I can’t say that because then no one’s gonna want to take it. Right. I say I say focus on these two key demographics, then, you know, then we can just focus on stories just around those two things and really build a brand around that. Those two things.
AW: Yeah, it makes sense. Okay, so this also all relates to marketing and brands. And as we were talking just before we pressed record, you and I both had some experience working in marketing at Kraft Foods. Could you tell the listeners a little bit about the significance of storytelling for brands?
Bobby Umar: Well, I mean, it’s kind of like when you create a customer avatar, and you want to market to those people, you have to understand their stories, and who they are and what they’re all about. The stories tell you about your values, your belief or culture, you know, your demographic, or psychographic.
AW: Can I just interject? Do you remember what the avatar was at? Kraft? It was young busy moms.
Bobby Umar: Oh, was it? Okay,
AW: I remember young busy moms.
Bobby Umar: Sure.
AW: And they had an acronym them: YBM.
Bobby Umar: Okay, yeah. So like, you know, thy need really quick, short, easy recipes to put together for dinner. Yeah. So you know, you think – so one is to focus on the stories of that customer avatar, that’s one thing. And the second thing is that when you create a commercial or an ad, you have to tell a story. Here’s a story of this young busy mom was struggling to take the kids to soccer practice and make dinner. But then she worked on her job and she coming home and oh my god, I only have you know, 20 minutes to make some dinner and what do I have in the fridge? Oh, there’s Kraft cheese and all that, you know, then next thing you know…,but that’s the story. And that story sells, because it’s relatable. it humanizes you.
AW: So, is it that the brand is a prop in the story of the consumer?
Bobby Umar: Hmm. That’s a good question. It depends on the brand. I mean, that’s kind of hard to say. I mean, some brands have a story behind them. Like, again, I used to work at Kraft on cheese. And so we looked at the JLKraft premium cheese that they had, there was a whole story around the craftsmanship, and the time it took to make that cheese and they had a whole history, the heritage around that. So they had that. Whereas, you know, KD might be a little different, where it’s like, okay, you know, like, it’s just cool and hip and young people do this, and you know. But there’s a story about the young people as well. So maybe that one seems more like a commodity in terms of telling the story about being a young hip cool person. But I think every – I think every brand has a story behind it.
AW: Can you think of any brands that are in our marketplace right now that are doing a great job of using storytelling?
Bobby Umar: There’s so many, but I think the person who comes to my mind is Nike.
AW: always. It’s always Nike.
Bobby Umar: Yeah, I mean, look, we are now at a time of an elevated, heightened awareness of racial injustice. Five years ago, people – so many people mocked Colin Kaepernick. But now we have entire football teams not even showing up for the anthem, because they’re protesting and it’s becoming more and more acceptable for everyone to do that. And so that awareness has been huge. And Nike, you know, put some ads out where they base their message – it had nothing to do with selling sneakers, just saying, this is something we believe in, we support, here’s why it’s important. That’s it. And they’re all they’re doing is they’re selling their values. They’re selling their beliefs. That’s powerful. And, you know, the brands that are able to do that and stay ahead of the curve are the ones who think they’re going to come out ahead.
AW: Mm hmm. Yeah. And back to my question about using the product as a prop in the story. I’ve heard that the Nike strategy is really focused on the idea of heroes. So celebrating heroes, heroes wearing Nike, again, as a prop. Right. So Colin Kaepernick has become a huge hero, and it’s just become even more reinforced recently. Right? Yeah.
Bobby Umar: Yeah. And I think the whole point of storytelling is that people invest in people. People invest in stories; they invest in values and beliefs and cultures. And if a brand is associated with those things, then they’re more likely to buy those things. But ultimately, it’s about the people and the stories and the beliefs and the culture.
AW: Okay, so I have one more question for you before we move on to the five rapid fire questions that is related to all of this. If there’s a brand manager out there, say it’s for a start-up and back to the blank slate, imagine your brand is a blank slate, because there’s no brand equity associated with it whatsoever. How would you I guess, in general terms, go about coming up with a story for the brand?
Bobby Umar: Well, again, for the brand thing, I mean, the main thing keep in mind is that, you know, where do you want that brand to be? Right? So that’s an important piece. How is a brand currently perceived? Where do you want that brand to be? You know, people need to see a brand message over seven times before they started actually believing it and started to shift their mindset around it. That to me is important. But you have to talk to your customers, you have to talk to customers see how they perceive it? What would be ideal for you, what would you like to see this product, or this brand be in six months or two years, and see what they say? And then carve out a strategy that allows you to try to move things along that direction.
AW: Right, right. And putting the lens on it to not, as we learned, not do everything that the consumer tells us right?
Bobby Umar: Yeah, I mean, you also have to like, take that in consideration, right? I mean, part of our job as brand experts or brand managers is to also evolve the audience to where we think they should go. And Apple does a good job of, you know, looking to the future and saying, No, this is where we want to be. And eventually moving people that way. I’m the same way too when it comes to personal branding. Like I spend a lot of my time educating the audience, educating companies and employers about the importance of brand new thought leadership, about the importance of storytelling, because a lot of people just aren’t on board yet. They don’t get it. So we spend a lot of time educating and taking them to where they want to go.
AW: Seems like a no brainer to me.
Bobby Umar: Yeah, but you know, like that this because you you’re…
AW: I drank the Kool-Aid!
Bobby Umar: Yah you drink the Kool Aid. Yeah, but a lot of people haven’t. That’s fine. It’s amazing that people have not. So there’s always powers and variables that play that, you know, hold people back: fear, doubt, you know, the pressure to be profitable and things like that. So it’s challenging for people.
AW: Okay, so if you don’t mind we’re gonna move on to the five rapid fire questions now. Let’s dig into Bobby’s brain and learn about his story. Are you ready? First question: what are your pet peeves?
Bobby Umar: My pet peeves are hypocrisy and ignorance. I find those things to be …. people just aren’t aware of those things. They don’t see how hypocritical or ignorant they are when they say or do things I find that really to be a huge, huge problem.
AW: Hmm. Have you ever heard someone or read someone who was trying to use storytelling and they ended up sounding hypocritical?
Bobby Umar: Well, I mean, I think it happens a lot. I mean, a perfect example is the racial, racial injustice – with people who are, you know, deemed to be, you know, racially insensitive, and they tell a story about how: Yeah, well, I had a friend who was, you know, a personal color. Well, that story just comes across as you know, meaningless or hypocritical because they don’t really get it. They’re not listening.
AW: That’s a great example. It’s very timely, and also very common.
Bobby Umar: Yeah. It happens all the time.
AW: Okay, second, second. Rapid Fire. Question What type of learner are you?
Bobby Umar: I’m a learn-by-doing or visual learner. Visually I learn. But I’m more – I like to get my hands in and to do it and learn-by-doing. I just do. Some people ask me, do you read a lot of books? and I actually don’t even read books and I don’t learn by reading at all. I’m not an academic learner. I learn by doing. Visual is also something that’s really powerful for me. But I’m also I’m also learned by listening. So I think I’ve learned a lot by thousands of conversations that I’ve had over the years with people to learn about stuff, so for me, that’s kind of how I learned.
AW: Next question, you have answered implicitly probably 20 times in the last several minutes: Introvert or extrovert?
Bobby Umar: oh, I’m an extrovert.
AW: I’m shocked!
Bobby Umar: yeah, my you know, I remember doing Myers Briggs and my extrovert was 100%. Like 100% completely. And you know, it’s funny nowadays in my old age, per se, I’m down to like, sometimes 95%. Yeah, so I’m getting on in my years, but still, it’s still 95 %.
AW: Okay, next question. Communication preference. for personal communication?
Bobby Umar: Hmm, usually I text them. Texts are fast. And the other thing too, like, I’ve turned off all my notifications from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Messages and Tweets. If I go in, I’ll see them but otherwise I won’t see them. So the only way to really message me is text a phone call or WhatsApp. That’s it. So for me, text and WhatsApp are probably the quickest way to get my attention.
AW: Got it. So I’m interested in your notifications, comment on how many times a day do you go in and check your social media?
Bobby Umar: Oh, probably far too much. But, you know, sometimes on a good day, I’ll go in the morning, do my thing, and then I’ll leave and then I’ll check at lunchtime and I’ll check. Maybe on a good day, it’ll be maybe four to five times per day. On a bad day, it might be like 20, every half an hour every hour or whatever, like that type of thing. But, you know, I, I admit my challenges there. But turning off my notification has been a game changer. In terms of me getting my work done. I think that’s been really tremendous.
AW: What I did, I did, you may have done this as well, but I turned off all my notifications and I put them all in one file. And I put the file on the second page on my phone. So when I turn my phone on, I don’t even see them.
Bobby Umar: Oh, interesting, okay,
AW: it’s consistent with the nudge theory, right? Like I’m nudging myself along in the direction that I want to go.
Bobby Umar: Yeah. And again, the studies show that the notifications are designed scientifically to get your attention. And so by turning them off, that was a game changer. I did. I started that beginning of 2019, two years ago.
AW: Okay, last question. Is there a podcast, a blog or an email newsletter that you find yourself recommending the most lately?
Bobby Umar: Well, I mean, I love listening to Gary Vaynerchuk. Every time he shares something on Instagram or I’m on his email newsletter, that’s a really good one. And then in terms of podcasts, my favorite one is Pod Save America. And I’m very political. So like, I love to say, I find this stuff to be extremely fascinating.
AW: Great. I’ll put links to those in the show notes. Is there anything else you want to share with the audience about storytelling or?
Bobby Umar: Well, I think ultimately they comes down to building up a thought-leadership brand for yourself. If you want to become a thought leader in your field, no matter what it is, you have to work on your relationship building and networking, you have to work on your ideas and content generation, you have to work on your communication and speaking and writing skills. And so storytelling helps all those areas and they all help in relation building. Because if you want to become a thought leader, work on storytelling, work on relationship building, work on branding, and you’re gonna actually be able to take your thought leadership brand and take that to that next level. And so I think everyone should invest in those things to do so. And if people need help, I have programs and coaching stuff that I do.
AW: I feel like your message there is that storytelling is the tactic that you can use, as you said, in your networking in the development of your personal brand in everything in your reputation management and everything that you’re doing. And so it’s actually not a tactic. It’s a strategy.
Bobby Umar: and I’m seeing it now because before, my tactic was always power of connection. That’s my hashtag. I say power of connection is a way that you do everything better. But now I’m seeing the storytelling is one of the best tactics that actually helps with the power of connection to build all those things. I talked about entrepreneurship. So I’m using storytelling as my flagship tactic to help people do those things.
AW: A tactic almost sounds like it’s trivial. It’s, it sounds like it’s worthy of being called a strategy but
Bobby Umar: well, skill. I mean, you know, whatever it is, like, you know, if you want to build a superpower, storytelling is the one. And before used to be speaking, communication, empathy, those sorts of things, but storytelling can actually accomplish all those things.
If storytelling is your superpower, then you are a superhero. Yeah
Bobby Umar: Yeah.
AW: Brilliant. Thank you.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Dr. ANDREA’s CONCLUSION
Well, if you weren’t already convinced, now you know for sure, storytelling is a superpower.
STORYTELLING IS A SUPERPOWER
According to Bobby, if you want to become a thought leader in your field, you have to work on 3 things:
- your relationship building and networking,
- your ideas and content generation, and
- your communication and speaking and writing skills.
I love this. It got me thinking. Bobby’ said that Storytelling helps in all these areas. Storytelling can take your relationships, your content, and your communication skills to the next level. That’s why storytelling is a superpower.
If you think about these 3 things: the relationships are the WHO, the content is the WHAT and the communication skills are the HOW. This is such an elegant recipe for success. Relationships, content and communication skills. WHO, WHAT and HOW. And storytelling can elevate all 3 of these things.
Whether you’re onstage giving a presentation, interviewing for a new job, pitching a client, or going on a first date, storytelling is powerful:
- Stories impart emotions.
- Storytelling makes things more memorable and more impactful.
HOW TO TELL A POWERFUL STORY
Well, you can take people on the hero’s journey, your journey of revolution, transformation and bringing them back. It’s a powerful cycle or story arc. Regardless, you want to create credibility with your story. Involving and resonating with the audience.
Take them on an emotional journey, immersing them on in terms of drama and intrigue and suspense.
- Allow yourself to be vulnerable.
- Choose your words carefully
- Ask Qs
- And as Bobby says, describe something that’s jaw dropping.
STORYTELLING & YOUR PERSONAL BRAND
“Simply put, your story is your brand, your brand is your story.”
Step one: know your personal brand. This takes hard work. You might learn some things that you don’t want to hear. In identifying your personal brand, you should consider 3 sources: (1) self-awareness & self-analysis, (2) input from your colleagues and others, and (3) online assessments. If you do this right, you’ll end up with pages and pages of descriptors. In those pages and pages look for the themes. The theme is your personal brand. Bobby talked about how his personal brand, his story, is all about how he loves people, how that shapes what he does, and how that makes him a connector.
Step Two, linking storytelling to your personal brand: is to think about your target market and your objectives. Maybe the target market is your employer and your objective is to get promoted. Or maybe the target market is an audience for a presentation you’re giving, and your objective is to establish credibility and teach them something. Combining this market and objective with the personal brand you identified in step one, you can now craft your ideal story.
I loved Bobby’s advice to older, more experienced folks who are seeking to identify their personal brand. There’s so much richness and history. It can be overwhelming, right? But you don’t need to re-write your own hero’s journey. Look at your history and identify the themes – like for Hillary Clinton it could be that she is an ALLY or an ADVOCATE. These themes can be powerful stories.
BRANDS & STORYTELLING
For example, after defining your target market, specifically that one consumer avatar, make sure you understand and tell their stories. The brand could be a prop in the story. So the brand is the hero. But not necessarily.
The brand could also share a story that demonstrates the brand values and beliefs, like Nike’s done with Colin Kaepernick. By the way, if you listen to the other Talk About Talk episode on Story telling with Professor Jerry Zaltman, you’ll hear Jerry also talk about how Nike has done an exemplary job of storytelling.
Alright. That’s it for this episode on the Power of Storytelling. Thanks again to Bobby Umar.
One last thing: I’m on a mission to grow the talk about talk newsletter distribution list. Have you subscribed yet? If not, I really hope you will. This is a weekly newsletter – Never more than once a week and no spam ever – I promise. What will you get? I summarize the bi-weekly podcasts, share links to other resources, share quotes about communication skills, and other behind-the scenes insights from Talk About Talk. Basically it’s free communication skills coaching. Just go to talk about talk.com to signup, or email me and I’ll sign you up directly.
I always love hearing from you. You can email me at email@example.com.
THANKS for listening – and READING!
Good luck with your storytelling. And talk soon!
***When referencing resources and products, TalkAboutTalk sometimes uses affiliate links. These links don’t impose any extra cost on you, and they help support the free content provided by Talk About Talk.