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Podcast Guesting Pro founder Graham Brown joins podcast host Matteo Grosso on "Breaking Through" podcast to discuss the power and psychology of 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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Matteo Grosso 00:26 

Welcome to another episode of The SmarTalks Show. I'm host, Matteo Grosso. Hit the follow button, so you never miss another episode. Also, if you want more personal development content in your feed, you can follow me right now on social media @matteogrossocoach. For this special edition of the podcast, I'm delighted to introduce you to Graham Brown - Human Storyteller, Author of The Human Connection Playbook and Entrepreneur. Graham is also the Founder of an Award-winning Podcast Agency, Pikkal & Co, which is an AI powered data driven B2B podcast agency in Singapore. Graham, welcome to the show.

Graham Brown

Matteo, thank you so much. And thank you for doing a great pronunciation of my name. We had a few takes of that.

Matteo Grosso

We took a little bit of time to rehearse it ahead of the podcast.

Graham Brown

It's great to be here. I'm looking forward to this.

Matteo Grosso 01:21

Thank you so much. And today is my birthday. So thank you so much for this birthday gift of being here today.

Graham Brown

Yeah. I love that. It's a big day for you of crossing the river into the world of entrepreneurship.

Grosso 01:35


Graham Brown

That's exciting.

Grosso 01:37

Exactly. One year, one year ago, I launched the business. So one year has passed by, one year of podcasting, one year of giving value to the world. So, very exciting. And, yeah, then we met over the course of…

Graham Brown

Yeah, you’re still smiling as well. So, there you go.

Grosso 01:55 

Yes. It's still the situation now. I'm very happy about it. So, let's see how it goes.

Graham Brown

Good, more power to you.

Grosso 02:05

Thank you. Thank you so much, Graham. And thank you for being here. Really thank you for being here. Today for our listeners, we will talk about the power and psychology of storytelling. As you know, for the guys who are listening, we had a few podcast episodes on, 10 tips to rock on the stage as a public speaker,  and five techniques to become a master storyteller. What I was trying to teach you was more about the skills, but with Graham, we will analyze more the mindset side, the psychology of storytelling and we will touch base on other topics, the psychology of data, the storytelling techniques, everything that relates to psychology, storytelling and the power of influence. So, again, thank you so much for being here today with us and, if you would like to introduce yourself, briefly, for our listeners so that they know a little bit more about your journey, that will be fantastic.

Graham Brown

Great. Thank you so much. I'm a storyteller, Matteo. So that's what I do. And I'm just lucky enough that I found a way to get paid for that, telling stories. You know, when you were a kid, your mom used to say, “Don't tell stories!” It was always a bad thing, wasn't it? It was always like you were making stuff up. But actually, when we go into the world of business, we realize how powerful storytelling is. The way I apply storytelling is help business leaders, startup founders, coaches, authors tell their story on bigger stages, which is podcasts. So I help them get interviewed on people's podcasts. That's my business. And I also help corporates. I have a corporate podcast agency, help them tell their human story, which is what we want now. We want to know who are the people inside these companies. So I am a storyteller and people ask me what is storytelling? And I'm really pleased to be speaking to you, Matteo, because I've got an Italian analogy for you, which is, I believe storytelling is like, you can take one brick. and you can lay, so you can put down one brick, you can build a wall or you can build the Sistine chapel, you know, Michelangelo. So it's the same brick, it's the same action, but it's a different result. And that is storytelling in a nutshell that it doesn't mean you're doing more, it doesn't mean you are using more resources, but you are completely changing the outcomes and when you understand that mindset, you can understand, well, that could influence, for example, your sales message, your pricing strategy, hiring fundraising as a startup, for example, everything you do in business and all the results that you have really are downstream of an upstream story that you're telling. So that's what I do. And I help people tell better stories. And hopefully one of the things we talk about today is imposter syndrome. This belief that we don't have a good story inside us, you know. I'm not Elon Musk, I'm not Steve Jobs. So who am I to tell a story? That's a big thing, getting over that resistance.

Grosso 05:26 

Absolutely. And quick question, has it always been that way? Have you always been passionate about storytelling or is it something that you found along the way when you understood its importance.

Graham Brown 

I mean, we all love stories. We've all loved stories since we were kids. So we're always passionate. I think for me, I didn't realize that storytelling could be a powerful tool in business. I always thought it was a fairytale - ‘once upon a time.’ But my background was, I graduated with an AI degree in 1995, many, many years ago and when AI wasn't cool. So when I went to the careers library, because universities had careers libraries there. When I went there for advice and I told her I've graduated with an AI degree, find me a job, she didn't have anything. She basically just said, “This is the only job I've got going at the moment and it's teaching English in Japan.” So in 1995, I took a plane out to Japan. But for me, that was the beginning of storytelling because, from school, we all, your listeners will know, I bet if I ask you, think of that one teacher at school that really inspired you, it doesn't matter what subject, it could have been geography, math, for me it was physics. I don't know about you Matteo. Remember that one teacher that you can remember really? What subject was it?

Grosso 07:04

Philosophy. Yeah, for me, it was storytelling philosophy.

Graham Brown

Philosophy? Oh wow

Matteo Grosso 07:08 

The human side and the philosophical side.

Graham Brown 

Nice. Yeah. I bet that teacher was a good storyteller that made you… pulled you into the stories. So, great teaching is storytelling. So that's kind of how I learned, I could teach bullet points or I could use a story and communicate with people across barriers as well. And I brought that back, that knowledge back. And in the late 90s, I was involved in a telecoms company, which was really about researching and helping people understand young people and mobile phones. Because I saw that happen in Japan. And for me, that was - ‘Now, okay, I can actually see there's this thing called storytelling in business, which is helping people tell their stories and understand people better.’ So I saw the application there and since then, it's really just been, it's like everybody's story. It's constantly refining, constantly improving it. I never had a book before I could tell my story. You always have to get out there on stage and practice first, then you can become better at the craft if you like. So I'd put it to all your listeners, now, if you want to tell better stories, you don't find your ‘Why’, just get started. Get started, get on stage, get on podcasts, speak to people, start a podcast even, and that makes you a better storyteller.

Grosso 08:36

Love it. Yeah. So the ‘Ready, fire, aim’ instead of ‘Ready, aim, fire.’ So you fire first, right? You tell your story, you see how it goes, you see how people perceive your story and then you improve along the way instead of waiting to have the perfect story.

Graham Brown

Absolutely. Yeah, that stops people, right? Because they wait for the perfect story like so if you are listening now to this, you may be thinking ‘Why me?’ You know, sold a billion dollar company. Yeah. So they're thinking, why would anybody listen to my story? And I would say to you, it's like comedy, you know, stand up comedy. No comedian was born funny. What you see, if you see like Kevin Hart or Jerry Seinfeld, that's years and years and years of practice. They look effortless, they look calm, but what you don't see is all the times they got on stage and they told a joke and it didn't work. You don't see that, you don't see the un-funny parts. Because that's what I call agile storytelling. It's the aim later, like fire first, aim later, like you say, right? So that's really important, getting on stage, face the moment of truth, get feedback and improve, constantly refine your narrative and improve on it. And that is so important because people don't even take the first step. Your story Matteo, an example, like you said, “It's my birthday.” It's been a year since you left your corporate job. So I would say to everybody listening today that every single one of you has this scene in your life. And it's called, if you watch a really good movie, you'll see the scene, the same scene and it's the scene in your life, my life and the listener’s as well and this is called the departure scene. Yeah, the departure. It's like when you left the corporate world, and then, against the advice of your friends or your family, “Matteo, you have a good job, you have a really good career, why are you leaving? You’ll sacrifice everything.” Because this thing in my heart is telling me, I must go, but isn't that the same as every great movie. You've got like, Harry Potter, he leaves on the train. He goes across this bridge on the train. That's the departure, it's the crossing in Lord of the Rings. They cross the river and, even in all the religious texts as well, like the Buddha leaves the palace. Luke Skywalker from Star Wars leaves his planet in search of the mentor. Greek myths are all the same. So, this departure scene defines us all. Like, when somebody asks you, tell me about yourself, I would say a great way to tell a story is to start where you ended. It's like, if you were directing a movie. The first shot is gonna be a dead body on the floor, a woman drops a gun and then runs away. And then we're like, why? And then you have to go back. Don't you go back to the beginning, like when they met at college and you know the story, but like the way people tell stories is they start at the beginning, which is not interesting.

Grosso 12:25

Very true.

Graham Brown

I wanna know, if you tell me, okay, so Matteo, he left this corporate job, so already I know, firstly, what did you give up? So I know what's important to you. Where are you now and where are you going? Like, because you are going somewhere on this journey and so that departure scene in every movie and in your story, my story, I told you the story of AI, going to Japan, it defines us. So how to give away, I think you’re like a director of a movie, when you tell your story. Everybody here has got a great story. Everybody has left a corporate job or moved to another country. Or, you know, they've gone against the advice of somebody, they've smart people around them to do something that was not considered wise. And that makes your story interesting and worth telling. Everybody's got it inside us.

Grosso 13:28

Love it. Yeah, it's very true, start from the end. And grasp the attention of the people so that they want to find out what is happening at the beginning. Like, why did this happen?

Graham Brown

Why did Matteo leave?

Matteo Grosso 13:44

Exactly right.

Graham Brown

It must be important.

Grosso 13:49

Exactly. Right. There must be. Because, I mean, as humans, we assume there was always some rational thinking behind. There must be a good reason for something we do. So what happened? This is actually what people ask me like, what happened in the corporate world? Why did you leave? Did you find your purpose? Did you find your higher self? And, this gives me the opportunity to actually share my story.

Graham Brown

And by sharing your story, you invite us to become part of the journey, right?

Grosso 14:24

Yeah. People can see themselves. That's what people think of storytelling. It's like, oh, I've been there too. And there are commonalities, like big brands do this. I see myself in the values of the company, in the story of the company, in the journey. And here we go, we are friends.

Graham Brown

Absolutely. What a great way to connect with people through story. It is very powerful. It's almost beyond the world of logic. We connect at an emotional level very much.

Grosso 14:55

Yeah, I was reading the reason and maybe you know more than this Graham, but the reason why people love stories so much is that our brains are wired for stories because of survival reasons. So our ancestors, they didn't have pen and paper or laptop, so they had to share the stories in an interesting way so that they would stay and they would remain in the minds of the people in the tribe. So that's probably why storytelling is so powerful because it stays with people, the story or something.

Graham Brown

Yeah. There's a lot of research done on this. Like the evolutionary psychology of storytelling. They call us the storytelling ape, that we are different from the other apes, the great apes, because we tell stories. And even if you look at it, I mean, it's interesting when you look at it from the scientific angle that we are 98.8% similar DNA to a chimpanzee. So DNA wise we were very, very similar to a chimpanzee. And actually, there is more similarity between us and the chimpanzee than there is between a horse and a zebra. They are more distinct DNA wise. So we should be the same as a chimpanzee. So why is it that we've evolved exponentially when the chimpanzees and the apes haven't and you've gotta go all the way back. You go back to the cave paintings, like you go to the south of France, these beautiful cave paintings, 20,000 years old, and you see paintings of the Buffalo stampede. And these are stories, like you say, they don't have pen, they don't have an iPad. So they're painting all the information there, but what's really interesting is like why did human beings develop storytelling and other animals didn't? It has a lot to do with agility. The agile nature of human beings is that, if a zebra is born or a giraffe is born. It's functional in hours. It has to get up and move around because the lions are gonna eat that thing. But a baby is useless. A human baby. Like you remember, babies don't do anything apart from cry, need their diapers changing. They're useless for months and months, if not years. But that's the advantage because the human brain's very agile and that means that it can absorb more information. Like if you think about it in computer terms, the hardware isn't so good, but the software is very powerful. And if you look at evolution, what's happened is that we've had to evolve and get better, but our biological hardware is limited, right? We still have the same digestive system as we did 30,000 years ago. We still digest food in the same way, we haven't evolved that way so fast. So if we want to evolve and have iPads and iPhones and rocket ships going to the moon, we need some way to get beyond our physical frame. So what's happened at some point in evolution is we've learned effectively to decouple from the hardware, we've learned to upload culture or information into the cloud, that is our culture. Storytelling is the cloud. If you think about it, I can upload information and say, okay, don't eat those berries. Those are poisonous. And if it was done, biologically, it would have to rely on trial and error. It's not good, but I can pass that information to generations. I can influence people. And then the last part of that story is the reverse. What's happened is this thing called phenotypic evolution, which is basically meaning that the storytelling nature in our brain actually drives evolution. So if, for example, a tribe is more responsive for storytelling, then that tribe will outperform another tribe. And therefore the children of that tribe who are more responsive to storytelling will survive and do better. That's where we are 20,000 years later today. You and I, we have brains that are very responsive to storytelling because that has helped us grow, survive, thrive, influence people, and lead groups, small tribes, which is where we are today. Like in the world of social media and business.

Grosso 19:58

This is incredibly interesting. Thank you so much Graham for sharing. It makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? And we do it, I was thinking that, in the same way, an ancestor would tell a story about someone who would die because of eating some berries. We tend to tell the same stories nowadays, when we want to, let's say prepare someone for a potential danger. So we might say, I've heard, that Jonathan went in this neighborhood and it was robbed, and it stays in our brains. We remember it. And when we are in the neighborhood, we're like, oh my God, this is so scary, but because our brain is so wired for survival that, we are very sensitive to stories which makes storytelling like in a good way for people and brands, et cetera, so powerful because it stays with people instead of just forgetting about… For instance, if I say, I create a laptop you can use to type that's something you might forget. But if I say I use a machine that inspires you and there's a bit of a story around it, it's simple, you can bring it with you and I bring you on a journey. And you think about yourself traveling, et cetera. Then you're like, oh, I actually remember that there was this thing that makes me feel something.

Graham Brown

Well, great, great pitch, man, great business leaders, marketers know that, that they use that. And they tell the stories in those ways. Steve Jobs is a good example. When he sold the iPod, when he stood up in front of people and said… you know, launched the iPod, not the iPhone yet. He stood up, he didn't say this is the world's best MP3 player, which was like, your keyboard, you can type, features. He stood up and said, this is a tool for the heart. That was it. So, I'd put it to the listeners as well. Storytelling can be one sentence. It can be a word. It doesn't have to be three books, like a trilogy. It can be a word, a sentence, it can be a chart. It's a story as well. And so Steve Jobs was a great example. What he effectively did is like you're saying, Matteo is that he managed to get to our conscious level, a subconscious level of understanding and what storytelling does and why it's powerful and especially in business is that, when I hear about your product, when I hear about you or your service, I'm scared. I'm scared that you are going to make me look stupid. It's gonna lose my money. I might get fired if I make this decision. All those… It's fear. We're fearful that we're wired for fear. That's why we're still around today. We're scared of things. So, but what storytelling does because the brain, our brain cannot distinguish between past and present and future. It doesn't know, the brain just experiences. So if you remember a bad thought, it's like, you're having it now. It's like you're experiencing now. So what a storyteller like Steve Jobs could do is he could take an unknown future, this product, this idea, and connect it to a known past, a known experience. Like the heart, music, love, relationships, our song, all that stuff. And so that's what really good storytellers can do. They're just connecting the unknown with the known. That's as simple as that. So what he used, what Steve Jobs used here was a storytelling technique called, what I call the ‘short form’ story. It is just a very, very simple analogy. You know, it's used in all kinds of religious texts, right? Connecting something with something else and it's the X of Y. You are the Uber of whatever. Or the Airbnb of whatever, that's a short form story. So it helps people understand where you fit in the world and connects it very quickly. And that's what you see. You see really good startup founders pitch. They'll use this technique, maybe unconsciously picking up from people like Steve Jobs, but it's very, very powerful.

Matteo Grosso 24:38

Beautiful. Yeah. Incredibly interesting thing. Thank you so much. And I was wondering as you were talking. So there is no doubt that storytelling is powerful and effective. And, I wanted to ask you, why do you think so many of us are afraid to tell a story? Why do we suffer from it, because at the, let's say, conscious level, at the rational level, we know, storytelling is powerful. And for instance, I published a podcast on the skills. How to implement storytelling, but this doesn't mean that people will actually implement it because there is something that prevents them from actually using it, actually storytelling. So since you are an expert in this, on the psychology of storytelling, what prevents people from telling a story. What’s blocking us?

Graham Brown

That's a great question. One part we already just discussed, which is the imposter syndrome. I don't have a story worth telling. The other part is what psychologists call naive realism. It's a bias, it's like a cognitive bias. And so one of the things I do is help startup founders tell stories. And I was working with a group of startup founders and after the session, one of these startup founders came to me and said, I don't want to tell a story. I want to tell the truth. And I said, yeah, look, if you don't tell a story, I won't know what your truth is. And that's the problem I feel is that we believe that we make decisions on logic and fact and data. We are very much in a world looks very rational and we feel that that's how we make decisions. And yet the reality is that's not how we make decisions. There's been some really powerful, neuropsychological research about how we make decisions. And one example is a neuropsychologist, his name was Damasio, Italian chap, and he studied what happens to our decision making, if we have damage to the emotional cortex of the brain and he found that most people would think if you don't have emotion, if you were just a logical being, then you would probably be like a robot. You'd probably be quite boring, maybe really good at chess but make really good investment decisions. That's what we think. That's the bias we have, that's the world. But the reality is, he studied people who had damage, who didn't have any real functioning emotions and one like a patient, he recalls in his work. He said, really intelligent guy, but he couldn't make very very basic decisions about day to day life, he couldn't choose tea or coffee. He couldn't choose, how do I go home? Like, do I get the bus after this session? Or do I go by train? And he couldn't decide what to buy his wife for her birthday. And the reality is, that we make so many of our decisions based on emotion and to answer your point, why are we scared of telling stories? Because we are scared of going there. We're scared of opening up. We're scared of being vulnerable. We're scared of - I screwed up, I don't know. Or, maybe I didn't get it right and scared of saying ‘I'm scared.’ That's the reality. Like if you're a leader, you have to say, oh, I don't know and I'm scared. And I don't know what the future's gonna look like. And therefore, we tend to kind of resort to the… we edit our world down. If somebody asks you to tell your story, I love the fact that you left the corporate world and you started a business and it's not always gonna be perfect. But that's the fascinating part of the story. But to tell that story, you have to open up, you have to be vulnerable. You're opening yourself to criticism and that if you do that, then people love it. Like you're not perfect. You're like me, you're a human, you bleed red blood. You're scared, you have fears, but that makes it more interesting. You think about it, like every single hero movie, Superman or whoever. They always have a weakness. You think about it even in the Greek myths.

Grosso 29:43

That's true. Yeah. The main difference between heroes and gods, we're not gods, we're heroes. Because heroes have their weakness.

Graham Brown

And that is a very small thing, but it's a big thing. And that makes us, we identify not with the gods, but with the heroes. Because they have that weakness. Maybe they have some vulnerability or otherwise they become plastic. We can't connect with them. And so that's the challenge. I mean, it's a long answer to your question, but I think it's fear. We're scared of opening up and being vulnerable, but those who dare to be vulnerable, really, I think the modern media landscape is very beneficial for them. That's leadership being vulnerable.

Grosso 30:27

Connecting with people at an emotional level. This is very interesting. We also see this in behavioral science. And this is one thing which is common to every personality style. The willingness to connect at an emotional level, which is very peculiar because some personality types are totally radically different. There is the person who wants to work more independently, work more in a group, more data driven, more empathic, but one thing they all have in common to persuade them, is a sense of persuasion is emotions. Which is incredibly interesting. And as you said, it's probably because as humans, we like emotional decisions, but then we justify them like rational logic.

Graham Brown

Logic, logic.

Grosso 31:21

Yeah. Right. So we basically decided.

Graham Brown

But you see that in every, like, think about, you look at the world of marketing, for example, and look at soda. Soda's just fizzy water with caramel and caffeine. Coke versus Pepsi. It's the same product, but we buy more Coke than we buy more Pepsi. Why is that? You know, they've even researched, neuropsychologists researched this, that if Pepsi tastes better, but people buy more Coke because Coke tells a better story. And they've even shown for example, that when they do blind taste tests, they give you Cola A, Cola B, you drink it, Cola A tastes better. It was Pepsi, but when they give you the Cola, but this is Pepsi, this is Coke. You know, it's branded, Coke tastes better. So tell me what's going on. It's actually shaping the experience at the brain level, the emotion is actually shaping that experience. So it's so important that we in business, whether you are working with data or whether you are a programmer or you're a startup founder or whatever it may be is that,we have to understand context, the content is what we make for people. But the context is the package around that and so what does it mean to them? What problems does it solve for them? How does it make them feel better? How does it connect with 'em at the emotional level? And it's really important that we understand what we do from that level. It's probably, we're not selling stuff. It's beyond that. It's maybe you are making people less fearful about themselves or more confident or whatever it may be. That's the emotional level we've gotta get to and everybody's got it. But, even if you look at data, for example, Matteo, that you think about the last couple of years where we've been with COVID. You remember at the beginning of COVID when they had that chart flattening the curve, that chart that came out and that became, hundreds of millions of people saw that that's a story that appealed to us at an emotional level. It was a story, like every story, even in this chart had heroes and villains. It had like a past, present and a future, like any good Shakespeare and it had an action that we wanted to get out of it. So even that, even if we talk about data, it's very emotional for people to understand it. And I think that if we reduce it just to the level of logic, that's only the tip of the iceberg. It's the 90% below water that we really have to understand and work with.

Grosso 34:17

And may I ask you what's a tip. What's an advice for people who would like to become better storytellers? Is it to become a little bit more vulnerable, like to embrace a little bit more of their emotions, their animal side, we could say their gut, their feelings, their heart, instead of being in their head all the time, what's something that you think could be helpful?

Graham Brown

It is practice really.

Grosso 34:44

Oh, practice.

Graham Brown

Yeah, absolutely. And importantly, practicing on stage. Now I talk about, when I help work with people in podcast guesting, I break it down. Stage, story, system. Stage being, the podcast is a great stage, a story being your narrative and the system being like the workflows, you can build around that. But if you want to get better, you have to practice and practicing is not posting on social media. Practicing is facing rejection because the more you face rejection and the more you learn that getting on stage and facing rejection isn't fatal. You don't die, then you become so much better. If you're just posting on social media, you will not get better in storytelling. It will not improve. I know it's a form of storytelling, but you are not facing the rejection necessary to become better, like this, and it's a very agile manner, but you have to get on stage. You have to do it. You have to face the moment of truth to improve. And every time you do it, this is what happens. This is the beauty of practice, is you join the dots. And if you are an entrepreneur, the biggest problem you're gonna have Matteo, and the biggest problem that I have, we all have, is that our life doesn't sometimes make sense that you did this, and then you did that, and then you moved here and then you did that. And it's like, you've got lots and lots of scenes in your life. It's not like, I was five years old and I had a vision from God about what I was gonna do for the rest of my life. It wasn't that easy. It was very, very messy. This line went around and back and down for many, many years, and that's probably 99% of people's lives. And it's very hard to look at that and say, wow, where's my story in this. But I tell you, this is that when you get on stage, like you talk to Matteo and you jam ideas, you get feedback and inside your brain, all these connections are happening, right? And then you come away and then things start to make sense, things start to come together and you join the dots. So, I graduated with an AI degree. What the hell has that gotta do with storytelling? Well, after lots and lots of practice, I found the answer. I found that actually AI and storytelling are two sides of the same human experience. The more we move into the world of AI, the more people demand human stories. That connects us. That's why we're here doing this podcast. But that's taken time and I put it. I know you asked for a quick tip, it's a long tip.

Grosso 37:44

I love it. Yeah. Keep going.

Graham Brown

But the point really is get on stage practice, refine, get feedback. Think of it as like a standup comic. Go out there, practice new material, doesn't work? Change it. Or how did they react to that? Oh, they really liked that. Refine it, build up small sketches. Every part of your life is a small sketch. So there's this sketch when you left the corporate world. Refine that, practice it. That's a sketch. A small vignette of your life and treat these like little tiny bricks. You're building this wall of this story, and then you can kind of put all of these together and that's how you get a comprehensive narrative. It flows, it takes a lot of practice, but a lot of bravery getting out there and putting yourself out there, vulnerable. 

Matteo Grosso 38:40

Vulnerability. Yeah. And connecting the dots, looking backward. That's a very important tip. We can never know what we were, what we are going to do next, but we know, we can understand why we did what, what we did do and what makes a lot of sense.

Graham Brown

Nobody knows.

Grosso 38:56

Yeah, trying to.

Graham Brown

Find your ‘Why’. It's like most people find their ‘Why’ afterwards, right? 

Matteo Grosso 39:03

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Wow. Okay. And one question connected to storytelling. Let's ask a final question. Because we talk a lot about leadership in this podcast and very important leadership qualities, the ability to influence people and you were letting me know before at the beginning of the podcast, before we started. that the psychology of influencing storytelling has a lot to do with influencing people. Could you let us know a little bit more about this?

Graham Brown

In the context of leadership. Absolutely. Yeah. Oh yeah. Like leadership and storytelling are intertwined. You can't be a good leader if you can't tell stories, without a doubt. All good leaders tell stories. I mean, take your pick. Whoever,  doesn't have to be political leaders, but business leaders. I mean, we've mentioned Steve Jobs as an example, what a great storyteller he was. When he launched the iPhone, not the iPod this time he used there is a storytelling structure called the ‘hero's journey’ by Joseph Campbell, which I recommend listeners to checkout, which really is that sort of heroic monomyth that, it's the Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter type thing. But you'll see some familiarities and structures in that that Steve Jobs used unconsciously. Great, great directors use it, but in the context of leaders, I mean, think about, for example, this is the mind blowing aspect of how powerful storytelling is. You've gotta go back to before your time and my time Matteo, like go back to the 60s. And, it was 1963, I think. Wow. You know, 60 years ago, a different world, John F. Kennedy. Now he stood up before his people and he said, we shall land a man on the moon and bring him home safely by the end of the decade. This is 1963 in his address to the American people. And you've gotta bear in mind that this is a world of black and white television. The internet hadn't really been invented then, it certainly didn't have blockchain. Very, very different world. And, but the iPhone in your pocket has 200,000 times more computational power in that iPhone than in the whole mainframe of the NASA computer for the Apollo 11 program. The Apollo 11 program computer had four megabytes, four, not four gigabytes, four megabytes. And you see these pictures of like, there's a great photograph of some of the coders standing behind, standing next to these stacks of stacks of printouts, these paper, millions and millions of lines of code they've written, handwritten and with all of that, they got mankind to the moon and back, it's just phenomenal achievement. And that is the power of story. When people say, oh, we need more technology. We need more resources. They're saying we don't need better data. We just need better stories. And stories got us to the moon. You think about how powerful that was given the constraints of the technology that they had at the time and they connected people. You know, they give people purpose. For leaders, you think about how important, important that was. There's an anecdote of John F. Kennedy walking around, the NASA command and he bumps into a janitor in the hallway. And there were hundreds of thousands of people working at NASA, like I think 400,000 engineers, 400,000 engineers working on the program, like across the country. And he bumps into this janitor and he says, “what are you doing here?” And the janitor says, “I'm helping put a man on the moon.” And you think about that. That was the power of the story told, and that's what leaders can do. They can give people the promised land. That's what it is, we are going to the promised land. It's not gonna be easy folks. We're gonna have to leave the comfortable world and cross the river. And there may be troubles ahead, but this is where we're going. And that's what leadership is. It's not a popularity contest by any means. It's about taking people where they need to. That is how it happens. And I think if you want to get deep into the world of story and understand how leaders do it, just learn from the best, learn how these guys do it. Guys and girls, not just men who are great storytellers, but lots of great people out there who have given us templates of what works.

Matteo Grosso 44:06

And I'm grateful I could learn from you today. And we could all learn from you Graham. This is incredible. And there are so many topics that we discussed today about, how to influence people, the mindset that holds us back, the psychology, the storytelling, and I mean, these all make so much sense, when we look at it all together, right? The importance of storytelling, why are humans wired for storytelling, how leaders can use storytelling to inspire and to influence and to explain their vision. Thank you so much for being here with us. This is morning and evening in Singapore. This was incredible.

Graham Brown

Well, thank you. I really enjoyed this Matteo. You're a good host and I enjoyed the jam today.

Grosso 45:07

Thank you. Thank you very, very much. And I will make sure to let you know, the questions and these sites from our listeners. What I'm sure they will have  lots of questions and feedback on storytelling and I hope we inspired some people today to start storytelling more, to put themselves out there and just try it and see how it goes. And improve along the way. But you are a fantastic example of how storytelling works. You know, when you talk, when you speak, you speak with stories. I find myself really inspired. So thank you.

Graham Brown

Well, thank you. Well, hopefully somebody out there is listening and maybe in the corporate world, like Mateo was some years ago. And your story will inspire them to change. That's how it works, isn’t it? When you were younger, somebody tells you a story about their life and it plants a seed in your head and that seed doesn't grow, but some days maybe you water the seed and it starts growing and something beautiful starts blooming. And you can't stop it. So that's the power of a story and we're all influencing each other in some form or way. So I think it's very, we have a role to get these stories out there because, we don't know who's listening. And who needs them as well.

Grosso 46:40

Thank you. Thank you so much for your storytelling, and for your inspiration. Thank you for your time.

Graham Brown

Thank you

Grosso 46:53

Guys, for all our listeners, that's what we have got for this special episode. If you liked this episode, please share it with someone who could benefit from knowing more about storytelling. And if you could share it in your Instagram stories and tag me, @matteogrossocoach, and Graham Brown, it would be amazing. The only way we grow and impact more people is if you guys share it, so we greatly, greatly appreciate all of you, who would do it. Make your life a masterpiece. See you next week. We appreciate you. Hope you have an amazing day!                                                


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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.