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Podcast Guesting Pro founder Graham Brown joins podcast host Paul Furlong on "Rule the World: The Art & Power of Storytelling" podcast to discuss data storytelling. The following is a transcript of their conversation. For more tips on podcast guesting success, go to our podcast guesting resources.

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Narrator: 00:00
Welcome to
Rule the World: The Art & Power of Storytelling. Storytelling is what connects us as humans and for brands, it is no different. A well told story can effectively position your brand in the minds and hearts of your audience and can convert thoughts and feelings into results and revenue. On this show, we dive into the unique and recurring principles of world class storytellers from every walk of life to help you level up your storytelling skills and knowledge to drive real, measurable results for you and your organization. Here's your host, Paul Furlong. 

Paul Furlong: 00:37
Hello, and welcome to
Rule the World: The Art & Power of Storytelling. I'm your host, Paul Furlong. Just a quick reminder that my book β€œRule the World: Master the Power of Storytelling to Inspire, Influence and Succeed" is now available. Can get hold of your copy in all good bookshops, including Amazon and Kindle Waterstones and W H Smith in the UK Barnes and Noble in the US and all good bookshops throughout the rest of the world. Anyway, without further ado, I'm delighted to introduce today's guest Graham Brown. Graham is founder of Pikkal and co and award-winning podcast agency, an AI powered data driven B2B podcast agency in Singapore. He's a published author on the subject of the digital transformation of communication works, including the human communication playbook. The mobile youth, voices of the connected generation documenting the rise of mobile culture in the early two thousands in Japan, China, Africa, and India, and brand glove - How to build a brand worth talking about. Graham, welcome to the show. 

Graham Brown: 01:41

Thank you, Paul. Wonderful to be here, looking forward to this. And by the way, I told my wife that I was gonna talk to Paul from Liverpool and she's a big Beatles fan. So she got really excited. So I wanna just keep that mystery going a little bit longer.

Paul Furlong: 01:57

Amazing. I've given you a little bit of an introduction there. Why don't you tell us a little bit more about who you are, what you do, how you spend your time. A little bit more into the world of Graham. 

Graham Brown: 02:10

Yeah, thanks Paul. Well, I'm a storyteller. That's my gig. That's my way of getting paid. And I think, you know, a lot of us, and I guess your audience will resonate with this as well, is that we've grown up with this idea of storytelling being once upon a time. And there is that element of storytelling, but increasingly in business, people are realizing, storytelling, isn't this fuzzy skill that you need to have, or it is probably one of the most important skills that we have, whether you are, for example, raising money for your startup, or you are, you know, raising money for a film that you are aiming to produce, or you are getting hired. It's all storytelling. It's really about how do you package data and how do you make people care about that data? So that could be for example, An actor or a character in your movie, you know, how do you get somebody to compare, to empathize with a violent gangster, like Copella did with godfather, right. So how do you do that? That's, that's getting data and making people care about it, or do, how do you get millions, hundreds of millions, maybe billions of people to care about public health and a chart like flattening the curve. That was a story, you know, flattening the flattening, the curve was a story that billions potentially of people understood, you know, like most stories, it has heroes and villains. It has a past to present and the future, and it has an expectation of what we need to do in terms of fixing the problem. So that's all storytelling. And the way that that I manifest is in the business world is really two ways. One is I help brands, particularly large corporates tell us better stories, and that is through creating their podcasts. And a lot of it is really just making the focus on the individuals, the people of the, the brands, you know, cuz people follow people, not brands today. You, you want to give a, a voice to the people of the brand, not this sort of brand. Nobody, nobody connects with that. So it's creating podcasts for the brands. And then the second part is helping leaders or corporate storytellers. Get onto and find podcasts, because for them, it's a great way. You know, you are speaking at a conference, but you know, you look at the conference industry now it's, it's, it's difficult, you've gotta travel, but you've got all these fantastic communities that hosts like you have curated, you know, you may not only have hundreds or a few thousand listeners, but somebody's done that with love. They they've sort of curated a community and, and what a great way for. Anybody in business to connect with that community. So that's storytelling in a nutshell for me, and the way businesses are really resonating with it. Now, it really seems to be a, a shift from where we were, you know, even three or four years ago, pre pandemic. There's a real shift towards the more human element of business and how you can tell stories around that. 

Paul Furlong: 05:10

Amazing and yeah, as, as we know, and as anyone who listens to this podcast, no storytelling is is the key and storytelling is, is what we talk about, the whole time, on this podcast in, in various different disguises. Now, AI is something that you, you look at and, and focus on and, and data, whether as you say, it's the data behind flatten and the curve or data in, in, in the godfather to try and sell that movie to pitch that movie. Tell me a little bit more about kind of what data storytelling is and the importance of, of data storytelling, particularly from that kind of AI perspective.

Graham Brown: 05:50

Yeah. Well, my background was in AI. I graduated with an AI degree in 1995, which it's a very long time ago, gives away my age a little bit. Like they didn't know at the time what AI was, but nobody could conceive what it was. So. You know, there's a time when it's good to be ahead of the curve, but sometimes the curve doesn't even exist yet. And when I graduated, they told me that I didn't have many job opportunities. I could either go back and teach AI or teach English in Japan. That was the only, you know, the only qualification you needed was to speak English. So I took that opportunity in 95 and that really got me on my start with my journey into communications, because obviously I was in the business of communication. I saw the growth of the communications industry in Japan, in the late nineties, you know, Japanese high school girls taking phones, text messaging long before anyone else in the world. And then seeing, like that now percolate into teenagers in different countries in the world, you know, started with the Scandinavian countries and then into Europe and so on. And when I came back to London in the 2000s late 90s, actually, I saw an opportunity to sell data to telcos. So I got into the business of data, like many people in research packaging. Consumer research and then selling it to corporates. And what I found Paul, was that they bought it readily, but around about something interesting happened around about 2006 we just commissioned this global study and collected data from thousands of teenagers around the world. You know, what mobile phones are you buying now? Because we saw them as the harbinger of what came next. You know, they were the sort of the the first, they, they were the first text messaging, the first to use to share content and so on. And bear in mind, if you go way back 2006, it was all Nokia. Right? You remember the NOIA three series, the seventy one ten, the flip out phone. This is before the iPhone, before even Facebook, 2006. And so we did this research and presented it to the corporates and Nokia. And I remember it, the beginning of the research, they had this 13 year old American kid and we asked him, what do you think of Nokia? And he just went, oh, it sucks. And then he just went off about, you know, how his, all his friends use blackberries and so on. And we presented this to Nokia and thought, this is gonna really drop a bomb inside NOKIA. They're gonna change. They're gonna realize they've lost it. They've lost that core market. And after the presentation, it was all very quiet and nothing changed. They didn't do anything. One of the reasons was later that year Forbes ran an article, actually a front page of Forbes magazine. I remember it had a picture of the CEO of Nokia and it said if I remember rightly a billion customers, can anyone catch the cell phone king? And that's all you need to know because you know, we're in Nokia now. Like they completely lost it. And I realized at that point that it wasn't about data, it was about the power of the story because they had internally a bigger story to believe in. And I was just trying to pitch the data to them. At that point, there was a pivot and a realization in my career that you need to package this data in a story if people are going to do anything with it and create change. And that was the beginning of data storytelling for me, how I went from AI into communications, into data storytelling. And even now I see people, we see people during the presentations, you know, out it comes the PowerPoints. Can you imagine? And I always think Martin Luther King, if he stood up before the Lincoln. Monument in front of the, the crowds and said, I have a PowerPoint presentation, can you dim the lights, please? That is what people do today. When they try and get data across, when they try and get a message across. And I feel that we can do so much better, we can learn a lot from your world, the world of movies and film for example, there are storytellers everywhere in business, you know, writers, we can learn from them and say like, how do they. Data and package it in a way that people care and that is fundamentally data storytelling. 

Paul Furlong: 10:30

Amazing. I love the Martin Luther King analogy. The whole history would be completely different. Wouldn't it? An awful lot of people. And, and probably not in a very good way. When you start digging down into that a little bit, so that really does make a difference. Isn't it? The storytelling. So how do we, how do we. Kind of turn that data into a story, then what, what are those, what are the steps that we need to take, to take it from pure data and package it into that story?. 

Graham Brown: 11:04

Yeah. If you consider, if you think about one of the most effective ways of visualizing data is a map. If you think about it, like, I think the first step Paul, is to realize that we don't see the world as it is. We see the world as we are. And I know you've had psychologists on here and, many of them will, will point to the data itself the research that shows that, you know, the world is very much interpreted by us. And the map is a great example of that. If you think of the map that you and I would've been used to at school, the MEA projection, you know, it's sort of, you've got the US on the left and Europe on the right and then if you're in New Zealand, you're you're right and the footnote at the bottom. Right. But the interesting thing about. Representation is that, you know, if you've got Africa and then you've got Greenland at the top is huge, but actually Africa is 15 times bigger than Greenland, but on this MEA projection, it's all wared. But we accept that as reality and the interesting thing is if it, Paul, if you were to say to somebody, like, why is it like this? And they say, well, you know, the north on the top and the south on the bottom, it's not like in space, there is no up and down, right. It doesn't exist. And they say, well, you know, the compass points north, it doesn't point north, the compass points north and south. It's just that some people at some point in time painted the end with a red bit. Interestingly in China, it point south, the red pointed, you know, there you go. Just shows different world views. But the point is, is that really, if you think about data storytelling, it's about the map you choose for people to interpret the world. So you have to choose a map. And that is a framework for people to understand. Once you get past that point, then you can go into the, the technical, how tools of, you know, how do you take data and package it? You know, how do you take a story and break it down? And this is where we get into your territory, I guess, is how do you create a narrative around a story? You know, as a movie director, you know, you never start at the beginning. Do you like Graham was born in 1972? Nobody cares it. It's sort of, you start in the middle, don't you with like, there's a dead body on the floor and a woman's dropped a gun and then she's running away in a distance and it's like, how did we ever get here. That's the engaging part for the audience, isn't it. And it it's always sort of told in that format often present to pass to future. So there are narrative structures to telling stories, which. I, I, I don't know how true it is, but you know, there's like six or seven in movies, you know, with a few variations. Right. But that's the point, isn't it? That we don't need anything new. We just need new actors, new content. So to answer your question, Paul, very long answer, but the short answer is there are structures out there that exist in movies and books and popular culture that help us tell stories. That work because they've been around for thousands of years and all you have to do is take one of those structures and populate it with your data. And there you have it. There's the answer. It sounds like your plagiarizing work, but look at every song, every story it's built on something else that came before it, right. I mean, look at every single movie, I'm sure the movies you've been involved in are, they have archetypes, which are very familiar.

Paul Furlong: 14:43

Yeah. A hundred percent. There's nothing new under the sun. Good artists steel and you're right. There's traditionally there's seven stories. Is it seven, seven? Yeah. Seven stories. which is great. And I love that map analogy as well. I was on a call with one of our American clients yesterday. And he was stood in front of a, a map of the world and whereas, I'm quite used to being based in the UK, seeing kind of, Europe and Africa in the center of the map. And then, Kind of Asia Pacific, as I look at it to the right in the US and South America on, on the left, the map, his map had the US and South America and the center of the map with everything else spread out to the sides. Cause the he's based in the US. So that to, to, to them quite rightly is kind of the center of the earth and, and everything else spreads out from there. So yeah, we all see things differently don’t we? it looks weird though, doesn't it? When you see that it looks very different and I noticed it looks very. Oh, yeah. Yeah. And, well it is, isn't it comparative.

Graham Brown: 15:46

not on the original maps where it's all painted red yeah. 

Paul Furlong: 15:50

Yeah. When, when England was quite happy to go around and just, plant a flag wherever it answered. 

Graham Brown: 15:56

Well, that was the story. Wasn't it? That, that was reinforced by the map if you, if you think you know, so that was the key. It reinforces behavior, doesn't it. And what views of the world. 

Paul Furlong: 16:06

Yeah. And, and it's the same when we, when we think about ourselves as well, isn't it? The stories that we tell ourselves reinforce our behavior and what we believe about ourselves. 

Graham Brown: 16:15

Absolutely. Yeah. There's so much we can learn.

Paul Furlong: 16:19

So a, another phrase that I've heard you use as well. And I don't know how this ties in. I dunno if it's the same thing. I don't know if it's slightly different or complete the complete opposite. Can you tell me a little bit about what user storytelling is? 

Graham Brown: 16:31

Oh, right. Yeah. This is, where you would, tell a story about a user let's sort call 'em a person. Now let's stop calling them users, consumers, you know, the people that consume our stuff, buy our stuff. These are, how do you create empathy with that person, how do you connect with them and understand their problems? Because one of the problems being is that we tend to sort of isolate ourselves in the, the ivory tower of work. And yet if you were to go out there and see how people are using your product or consuming, whatever it is, then you would see that change. You know, a great example is like going out onto the street and seeing people. Use technology or use a brand or whatever it may be or the way that they behave and that's user storytelling. It's taking that information back in and sharing it with the team. Probably a really good example of that is Lego. Now, like Lego is a great brand. If you think about it, it's just plastic bricks, easily replicable by a Chinese manufacturer, but they haven't, like grandparents don't buy their grandkids, Chinese Lego, they buy Lego, right. Cause of the brand. And. Interestingly about around about 2000, Lego almost went bankrupt. You know, it was a family owned business and you know, it grew from 2000. So like 2020 to one of the most profitable private companies in the world selling plastic bricks and around about 2000, 2001, when they had a change, then incoming CEO, the first thing he did was say to his engineers, like get out, like start messing around. He said that, you know, There were engineers in Lego who were spending days, if not weeks, arguing over whether the, the Lego chef, you know, this is a very stereotypical French chef should have a, a sort of a, you know, one of those twirly mustaches or not. And he said, look, just get out, get outta the office. I don't want to see you back in the office. What I want you to do is get out there and I want you to go and see people using Lego. And at first they thought, oh, we're gonna gonna have to hangout with kids. Like, you know, I don't wanna do that. But then they found actually there was all these adult Lego fans and they spent time with them and they realized there's this huge community of adult Lego users. And they were, you know, obviously they were not, not just making these kind of like kid stuff. They were making like amazing reconstructions, like Hogwarts, you know, half scale or something crazy. You spending hours, years building these things. And then they, they would spend time with them and really empathize with them and bring that information back into Lego and tell the story of these users and they were blown away. They never knew these people existed. And because of that, they launched those Lego technical sets. So I don't know if you've seen them. There's like these sort of thousand pound thousand dollar, millennium Falcons or replica, you know, some car with actually probably if it was just a little bit bigger, you could probably drive it. It was that technical, these sort of extremely expensive sets aimed at exactly, they knew who the market was. These were grownups, probably parents who had money and that was the market they were targeting. That's user storytelling. And you can think about how that takes place in everything that we do is that so much of the time we lose contact, we, we have this sort of compassion fade. We see them as users. We see them as numbers, and yet if we really kind of empathize with them and what their drivers are, we can not only provide a better service, but we can create some great products for them. 

Paul Furlong: 20:26

Suppose that takes client data to a new level as well. Doesn't it? Cause in the past, we'd maybe send out a client survey and get MPS score and ask them score out of five. How, how did we perform? But by actually going out and getting that kind of user storytelling, that takes it to a whole new level, 

Graham Brown: 20:45

the whole like level of insight isn't there that you got this kind of confidence. I had a, I got a friend who worked in radio, BBC radio for many years. And he, he told me that he worked with sort of aged wisdom, DJ, who was sort of, you know, a sunset DJ himself. Who'd been there since probably the 1920s when it was a post office thing. And he said that, one, one of the things he learned from this DJ was he got this photograph from a listener and he cut this photograph out and he stuck it on this microphone and he thought it was really cute and weird why he did it. But when he asked him, he said, well, every time I go on out, I speak to. I'm looking at her and I'm talking to her and I know exactly who she is and what her problems are. And that's who I'm trying to reach. Not you guys, not the listeners, not the audience. He knows exactly who his audience is. And if you think like with radio, radio's been around for a hundred years and it's always been on its way out, but it's still going strong. The core of that is those DJs know exactly who their users, if you'd like are, and they speak to them as it, with that powerful word, you, and that's the point about the data part is that you can have all the data, but unless you can humanize that data as an individual, you really can't connect with them at that human level.

Paul Furlong: 22:15

So what's the, what's the right balance then between data and storytelling. I imagine a world without data, probably isn't super helpful, but are we, are we heading to a world where too much data, obviously too much data and not enough storytelling is not, is not great. So where, where does that, where does that balance come in? What, what we aiming for? What's the, what's the ideal. 

Graham Brown: 22:41

You want a number? Is that what you're asking for?

Paul Furlong: 22:42

I'm not, I'm not asking for a number, cause I don't want data. I'm I'm a storyteller. what, what's the, what, what we're aiming for, is it, is it about getting really good data, lots of data, in order to better tell the stories or, or is, or is data not the, not the aim.

Graham Brown: 23:00

Yeah. Right. You need the data to inform the story in the same way if you are a director, you would need good actors to act out the. Right, but without the story, it's awful, you know, the actors can't carry a movie with a rubbish plot or the screenwriter was terrible or the director is an amateur. You, you, you wouldn't make it work. So I think you look at it in that way. You need good actors, but you have to also have all this other stuff as well to carry it. I suppose you could carry a good movie with rubbish actors. I don't know. Probably not. It would be hard work. You could correct me on that, but I imagine you need both in the same way. If you think about it, like climate change, for example, you know, as a concept, as an idea, it's not new, like this, we've known about climate change for 120 years that we've had data on it, but it's only recently when Greta to book stood up and told a better story with that data that we started listening you know, when she stood up in front of the UN and said, you know, you've stole my dreams, shame on you. That was a powerful story. And so you have to have both, she couldn't have stood up there and just done it. Off the bat with no data you need, she had to have that, but the data was the missing part. Sorry. The story was the missing part of that delivery that we didn't have before. You know, I think even on Google, there's like 1.1 billion search results for climate change. There's there's no, no hiding. We've got enough data on climate change, but the point is, is that you've gotta have this combination of both. So to answer your question, I guess 50 50 would work. You'd need both that keeps everybody happy maybe. 

Paul Furlong: 24:50

And it's, it's that story that creates that emotional connection. Isn't it? That that causes that kind of action to take place based around the data. Whereas the data kind of just does the intellectual elements, but doesn't move people to action.

Graham Brown: 25:03

You remember those old ads on TV where they would say are soap powder or washes whiter than white. And they would bring out a guy with a clipboard and a like a lab coat on a white lab coat and it, that sort of sums up really. You need the story part, which is the whiter than white washing powder, but then you need the guy with the lab coat and the clipboard to make people believe that the story is valid and it's very much how human beings. Absorb information, isn't it. We, we buy on emotion and justify with logic. We need that both of those, you know, we like to think of ourselves as logical and rational, but the reality is, is we're very much driven by emotion and story, but we need both because if you just gave somebody story, it would sound, you know, VA, it would sound like it had no substance.

Paul Furlong: 25:57

So tell me, what do you think about kind of the, the feedback loop then that can be created by, the story that comes from the original data then looping back into the data. Do you think that that will allow for challenging some of the data or honing in on some more of the data so that we're not then kind of drowning in just tons and, and tons of data. How does, how does that feedback loop work? Is there a feedback loop or does it tend to just be kind of a, a lateral process from data to story? 

Graham Brown: 26:36

Yeah, I mean, that could lead into some interesting areas, couldn't it? You know, where. I think there's this, there's an old story about the Texas sharp shooter, who was a guy who took a gun and he, he shot at the wall and then paid a target around it and he said he was the, the best shooter in town. We gotta be wary of that, that, you know, the data is skewed to fit the story. And we see that everywhere, don't we with fake news or people only listening to, you know, the narratives that they want to hear I, to, to your point, if you're asking, how do we better focus on, or maybe hone in on data to get the data to match our story. Is that sort of what you're asking? 

Paul Furlong: 27:23

Yeah. I'm not suggesting we write the story before the data's there, but in a world where we can get data on everything and, and kind of drown in data, is there a way that we can more, focus on the, the correct data based on, obviously we'd need some data to begin with once we've got the story. Does that not help kind of hone in on the, on the correct data that we need. 

Graham Brown: 27:48

Yeah. I, we have to look at it all as a discovery process. Don't we, we we're testing a hypothesis if we're doing it scientifically, we are doing it with the scientific method, which is we're testing an idea or a hypothesis, which is a story. If you like. And in theory, if we do it the right way, we are disproving or proving exists. So in the, in, in theory, not in practice, we should be agile enough to be able to change our approach, to look at things a different way. But I, I think that's why, I mean, there's a lot of focus today on diversity and, you know, inclusion in the workplace because those bring in different world views and narratives to challenge data, to look at things in a different way. If you just have one homogenous group looking at data, they'll just accept whatever you are given, but if you have people say, well, actually, I'm not sure if that is actually correct, or I'm gonna challenge your assumption about that, then you have a healthy debate. I think a short answer to your question is that we need healthy debate and it needs to be open. And this is the problem we have today in media is that it's too polarized to have these open scientific conversations about, okay, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe you, you and me are both right. You know, we can have two opposing views and both be correct. It's very hard. You know, it's very hard to have these kind of open conversations today. 

Paul Furlong: 29:23

Yeah, it's interesting. Isn't it? The fact that you can, the story might be able to create that feedback or loop back into the, into the data and vice versa. You've got this kind of constant loop of, data to story, to data, to story.

Graham Brown: 29:38

Well, you, you, the problem with it is obviously reinforcement bias. Isn't it? That, you, you develop a pattern. We see this in AI with bias. Obviously there's a lot of focus now on bias in AI and, a lot of focus as well for example, about accents, you know, I'm sure you've picked up Siri or one of those voice activated bots and tried to speak to it and it didn't get your accent. And you maybe even tried to be a little bit more American, so it could understand you. And it's embarrassing talking to these things, but that's bias at a very sort of innocuous level, more sinister level. It affects everything, because the data that we are working from informs our experience or expectations. So, of course, maybe I can't understand an accent, but that could also affect hiring decisions for example. And it's not just your accent, it's like where you're from. And you know this in either this slip, you look at advertising in the UK for example, if you have a, a liver puddling or a SCO accent, you'll be typecast in a certain type of advert. You might sell financial services, or that might be a Scottish accent or, or Yorkshire accent. But this is a bias that in a very innocent way, shapes our experience but there is this much wider bicep play, which shapes society and how we interact with each other. So at that level, data is shaping, sorry, bias. Our expectations of data is shaping our realities if you like. And that's the challenge that we have with AI, because once it's in the machine, we kind of lose control over this thing as well. So you know, you, and I know that it might be funny if somebody has an accent and that's typecast, but now put that into a machine and make decisions about whether or not you get a loan or whether or not you get the job that's a different ball game entirely. 

Paul Furlong: 31:46

Obviously that's quite scary and, and that does give us, some elements of where we're gonna have to potentially interact with the AI learning, but on a slightly lighter note, I've noticed, recently with I think Netflix did it where they fed loads and loads of standup comedy into AI and got the AI to create a, a standup show, which was appalling and someone else has done it with surprise surprising. And someone else did, did it with, with all the superhero movies that have ever been created. And that was absolutely terrible as well. 

Graham Brown: 32:29

Didn't put you out of it all worry. 

Paul Furlong: 32:31

No, actually how long, if at all, do you think it'll be until AI learns the abilities of, of storytelling so that they can take the data and create the stories themselves?

Graham Brown: 32:44

This is a really interesting question. Because it raises the question and the issue of what it means to be human and going slightly esoteric here that I love the story of the standup comedy, cuz I can just imagine that how that would sound. And I'd actually really like to see some of that content and it, it, in, in many ways you think about like music, which is a very human. Human pastime content. If you like so much of music is, is quite personal to us as well. We all have our favorite music. We have that song. You may have a song that makes you cry, but to me I'm like no, and vice versa, like you just don't get it. Cuz it's so personal to us. And the interesting thing about music is that AI can easily write music. It's done we're way. Well, beyond that can write classical music, it can write techno you program. and it can knock out as good as anything that's in the charts today. But the interesting thing, and like going back to the standup is that it's not about the content, it's about the context of that. And what I mean is that you think about like take art, for example, there are lots of example, you see the videos of like a monkey painting, like a Jackson Pollock, or, you know, they give a, a paintbrush to an elephant and it just knocks out something, it looks like a Rothko or something. But the, the difference is, is that it's not about the technical aspect of the music or the art or the comedy, it's about who's telling it and the difference between a monkey and Rothko and Jackson poll. And the difference between AI and name your musician is that with AI - It can't. Tell a story. It can't sing a song from a position of pain. You know, a machine learning algorithm has never been 14, 15, 16 years old and been rejected by a woman, a girl, you know, and the ground opened up and swallowed him whole. Right. It's never had that. It's never experienced pain or loss. Like we as human beings, it's never had that experience to shape it. So it's never able to share that story with authenticity. And we know this because when we listen to music or even when we see a painting, the first thing we'll want to know is who is it? And when we know who it is and their story, it changes our expectation and how we interact with that music because you you've heard music and you, you can hear it in the shot when you're walking around and then you get into the, the musician and everything changes. Now you start listening to all their stuff and oh yeah, this is the song I kept hearing a while back, but now I'm really into it because I'm into that band or that singer and that's the difference, because we will never have that connection with AI. So to answer your point, you asked how long would it be before AI can tell stories? It can create stories, but it can never tell them in an authentic way you can feed it content and text and pros and grammar rules, and it can spit them out and it can do all that with, you know, the, the physics of music or even it can probably create a movie but what is missing is the heart of that, which is, is not something spiritual. I don't believe it's a soul. I believe that it's simply the fact that we've all had experiences and journeys, which we, you and I, and all the listeners share, you know? So when the Beatles sing, she loves you or love me do or whatever. It's not about Love so much is about loss. Isn't it? It's about, oh, I love this girl and I've done something really stupid and she's leaving me and I want her back and we connect with that. We said, oh, actually, that was me. That I, you get me. I get you. And you'll never do that with AI. Unless of course it's faking it, but we would never know.

Paul Furlong: 36:58

So in the past, the, the Turing test was all about machine's ability to exhibit intelligent behavior. And I don't know if I've not really kept up with it, but I'm sure there's AI that can beat the, the Turing test now. So in the future, do you think the curing test would evolve into, into an AI telling a story and being able to, to tell the difference between, the AI by the ability to recognize that it's, it's soulless in its storytelling.

Graham Brown: 37:29

Yeah, we, there's a, an interesting, series on, I think it's on TikTok or YouTube called, Deep Tom. I think it's something it's a Tom cruise fakes. It's actually very convincing. It's an actor and they've. You know, they've obviously transplanted AI algorithm onto his face, so it's deep fake, and he acts like Tom Cruise and they've changed the voice and so you wouldn't know, so that's already out there at play, but then what's gonna happen is human beings will simply move the goal posts. We will say, Okay, well that's fakable, I'll accept that. You know, all these people on Instagram probably don't look like that in real life, you know, maybe their eyes aren't that big and they chin that pointy. When I meet them, I might be disappointed. So what's gonna happen is we'll just adapt. We'll move the goal post and we'll say, well, okay, fine but I'm now gonna place a premium on what's not fakable. So what cannot be faked? This cannot be faked now. Graham and Paul talking cannot be faked because, you know, we're two human beings and we know we're talking to each other and it's, it's extremely hard for this conversation to be faked. So it's been validated if you like, there's a bit of social proof because you know, we've had a chat offline, et cetera, et cetera. So more emphasis will go onto the mediums, which are, unfakable like podcasts, for example, and shift away from those that can be faked and I think that's the natural evolution of effectively, what is our, you know, mark of authenticity, our me of authenticity. It will just evolve with that. Right? It's our emotional handshake. If you like between people and interesting, actually, Paul there's something called the reverse turing test, which is that, that in rather than, computer trying to pretend that it's a human being. It's a human being that can't be distinguished from a computer. So that's more of a problem long term is that actually, we won't be able distinguish between the two. We won't know. I don't know, like this guy is sitting here and you don't know if I'm real, so we will simply seek out better ways of finding out who's authentic and who's not.

Paul Furlong: 39:53

So it's gonna put a lot of value. Isn't it? Authentic companies, companies that have the ability to tell stories, separate the data from the story, and be able to put that into an emotionally engaging way, and be able to communicate well with, prospects with their clients, and, and maintain that authenticity and that storytelling throughout their kind of client's life cycle.

Graham Brown: 40:20

It's happening now. This is, I think one of the key drivers of podcasting now is AI that they're not happening as a coincidence or in parallel they're happening because of each other, you know, because there's so much push into machine learning and AI, and so much can be done now by machine and faked. People are looking for that connectivity, that connection, sorry, not connectivity. That, that human connection, the trust that we don't get in other places. So it's starting this, this, you know, this parallel growth in AI and podcasting, and we'll see that in other ways as well. You know, I, I feel that in, in time, the value of a face to face meeting would be extremely high because it won't be done. So ad hoc or randomly like it used to be, you would meet people really, because it was important. Like when people say to me now, can we meet for a coffee? My default response is why , Let's get on zoom. But so the people you do meet is gonna be special. Isn't it? So I, I feel that it's already happening and that will affect companies as well for sure. You know, a lot of people working remotely now, so that's gonna change. It's gonna change our dynamics. 

Paul Furlong: 41:38

Amazing. I love everything that you've talked about here. I've, I've certainly learned a lot. And thank you very much for sharing everything, that you've talked about, your wisdom and, and your knowledge. I've got three quick fire questions that I like to ask all of our guests. If, if you don't mind. Yeah. Let's do it. So who do you think of when you hear the word story and why do you think of that person? 

Graham Brown: 42:03

So many good ones. I like, Steve jobs, obviously. The world of business, because he was a master storyteller and then he leads into a second person. So I'm gonna give you not one answer for a storyteller. So what do you expect? It's like an Arabian night answer. Isn't it sort of like stories within stories, written stories. So you've got Steve jobs and he borrowed a lot from Joseph Campbell who wrote the hero over a thousand faces, which I recommend I'm sure as anybody in film would know it's it's those seven genres, the seven structures, if you like. I think one of the best storytellers of the last century was John F. Kennedy and he, he took mankind to the moon effectively with his words, you know, it was we'll land a man on the moon and bring him home safely by the end of the decade in a world, everybody of black and white TV, how about that. Before the internet and the fascinating thing for was that NASA, the Apollo 11 program had a mainframe computer of four megabytes, which I think is just beautiful. They got think about it, guys. They got to the moon. Not because of data, but because of stories, how about that? It's phenomenal achievement, if you think about it. And so that really, to me is just Testament to the power of story and what it can do for people. So those three people I think are good, starting points. If people want to learn about how to tell better stories. 

Paul Furlong: 43:28

Yeah. Couldn't agree more. And can you recommend any good books or websites or blogs or podcasts in particular, about storytelling.

Graham Brown: 43:37

The hero of a thousand faces the hero's journey, obviously by Joseph Campbell's a great one, which really is about, effectively how, you know, throughout time for thousands of years, we've been telling the same stories. And a great example is, Marvels endgame, which was, I think the, I'm not as sure until Spiderman's just come out, but it's like, Biggest grossing movie of all time, $3 billion in south, but you know, is it the best story of all time? No, it's the same story as Lord of the rings, Harry Potter, Star wars, the Bible, it's all the same. It's got the same plot line. They've just borrowed from each other, even right back to Gil mesh, you know, the Babylonian times. What Joseph Campbell does and it's a great, it's a great read is really just break that down and say these stories contain these similar elements and once you start seeing them, it's actually quite a revelation. You'll sit in a movie and you'll see, wow, that's the departure scene. You know, that's when the hero crosses the river and has to go on the Rocky road. And I've seen that before, or this is the atonement scene when the hero has to make peace with his father figure who maybe an evil dark Lord or whatever it may be, but they have these sort of similarities and when you look at it, you wonder, well, why is that? Why is it that, that we have been telling these same stories for thousands of years is because actually they are frameworks we understand. And to everybody out there telling stories, the point is you don't need a fantastic story to get great results. You need a story we already know, and that's where people get it wrong. And so if you wanna know more about that, read Joseph Campbell's book.

Paul Furlong: 45:31

Yeah. Couldn't agree more. I, I was talking about hero with a thousand faces with, with my business partner, Andy, and, I I've ruined every movie for him. Never , you know, fixing in the cinema, watch the movie and he goes, I know, I know the character's gonna die. He has the knowledge. Yeah. He has the knowledge. And he, he constantly, sarcastically thanks me for for ruining movies for him. So 

Graham Brown: 45:58

My mom did that, Paul. She was, she was. She read a lot. And I think that's where she got it from and she sat and I thought, as a kid, she had this magical ability to, I thought she had privy to all these scripts and these movies, how do you know what's gonna happen next? But you know, the point was, and I'm sure it's the same for your friend, is that it doesn't change our enjoyment of the movie at all. Like she still enjoyed the movie, even though it's like a song, isn't it. You don't listen to a song and we'll say, wait a minute, I've heard this type of song before, boy meets girl. no, I'm not gonna listen to it. That's the point. It's all about the familiarity. Use what's already there.

Paul Furlong: 46:35

and I love it. Then when you get a, a writer, director, someone like the Coan brothers who take you on that journey and then suddenly completely mess with you something like the country for old men and I won't, I won't give any spoilers away for those. Who've not seen it even though it's been out for, for 15 odd years. But they just completely go off book. But they know the structure so well that they can do that. But you shouldn't do that until, you know, the structure that well . But, yeah, and it's great that

Graham Brown: 47:07

learn the rules before you break them folks.

Paul Furlong: 47:10

Hundred percent, hundred percent. 

Graham Brown: 47:11

Didn't they do that one of the, the, that Western one, that was a really bizarre. That was them. Wasn't it? 

Paul Furlong: 47:16

Yeah. Yeah. They've done a few like that. 

Graham Brown: 47:19

You just went completely out of there. There's a good example. It just completely went, it started off as a normal movie and just went off 90 degrees .Yeah. So, 

Paul Furlong: 47:25

Completely. And then they did the inside Lou and Davis, which is cyclical. The story's just cyclical and it just keep competing itself. So they, they know stories so well that they know how to how to change it. Know your story structure first before you start doing stuff like that. Yeah. That's why I love the Coen brothers. Anyway, last question for you. Let's do it. Where can we find out more about you? Where can we find you online? Where can we listen to your podcasts? Etc Etc.. 

Graham Brown: 47:54

Well, thanks for the invite first and thank you for allowing me to share my passion for storytellers with the audience, Paul. If people wanna find out more about me, go to my website, which is Graham D Brown. And if you don't put the D in it, you'll get the wallpaper company. So it's Graham D Brown, everybody, dot com and you'll find my writings about storytellings what I do on the podcast side, as well as my podcast as well. That's a great place to start. And then if you're interested in podcasting as well, if you're interested in getting on podcast, I've got a, a course there, which is free. You can go on there, which is a 12 step guide to how you can tell better stories for podcasts. 

Paul Furlong: 48:36

That was brilliant. Well, Graham, really appreciate you, you spending time with us today and, and sharing your knowledge. Thanks for, thanks for coming along. 

Graham Brown: 48:44

This is great fun. Paul, let's do a part two, a chapter two in the story.

Paul Furlong: 48:48

Yes. Love that idea. Brilliant. Well, thanks again and enjoy the rest of your day. Thank you. Just a quick reminder that my book - 'Rule the World: Master the Power of Storytelling to inspire, influence and succeed' is now available and get hold of your in all good bookshops, including Amazon and Kindle, Waterstones and WH Smith in the UK, Barnes and Noble in the US and all good bookshops throughout the rest of the world. 

Narrator: 49:15

Thank you for joining us for this episode of Rule the World. Be sure to rate, review and subscribe to the show and visit. We are for more resources based on today's topic, as well as access to more episodes that will help you develop your storytelling abilities. That's we are Thank you and see you next time.


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About The Author Graham Brown

Graham Brown is the founder of Podcast Guesting Pro. Graham is a published author on the subject of Digital Communication and Personal Branding (Amazon titles include "Brand Love: How to Build a Brand Worth Talking About" and "Mobile Youth: Voices of the Connected Generation). He has produced, project managed and guested on over 2,000 podcast episodes.