Improve Your Storytelling by Finding Your Firestory

 
 
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Victor Ahipene: Speaker nation. Welcome to another episode of Public Speaking Secrets. I’m your host Victor Ahipene. Super excited to have you here. We’ve got someone who’s going to fire you up. We got Jason Jordan who is the founder of firestory.com.

 

He has a plethora, I really liked that word of life of sales marketing, business development experience that he has combined with an MBA and combined with finding a niche between generational that has allowed him to launch his dream career as a professional speaker. I know a lot of you out there on that road as well. I’m super excited to have him here and welcome to the show.

 

Jason Jordan: Thank you, Victor. Thank you for having me.

 

Victor Ahipene: It’s fire story. Where did the name come from? What does it symbolize? How did you get to that point?

 

Jason Jordan: Well, fantastic question right out of the gate. As you mentioned before, I had been doing a lot of work with generations and one of the things that I found that really tied all of them together, I don’t know if you guys have the same sort of generational [inaudible 00:01:48] in Australia that we do.

 

We’ve got baby boomers are kind of the older people and then generation x is my generation and then the youngsters are the millennials. Really what connects all of them effectively is story. I started doing some research more into story. I came across this book that was talking about the Kalahari Bushmen and some of the earliest examples of human culture on the planet. The way the archeologists think it happened was that long time ago, before we fire all communication was very tactical in nature.

 

We would merely describe where the food was, where the action was, where the enemy was, whatever that was. Then as soon as the sun went down, we had to seek shelter for warmth. We had to get away from predators way to protect ourselves or whatnot. When we learned to control fire, the day got extended, people could stay out later. The fire provided warmth that provided a common meeting place for people to gather. They could cook their food.

 

hey could be protected from the nighttime predators. It was around these fires that people began to discuss more than just tactical things. They started to talk about ideas and visions and new things that they wanted to try and accomplish. They say that it was around these fires that the first human culture started to develop.

 

Fire stories is a bit of a nod to these ancient round the fire talks where we as humans really kind of learned to connect and share for the first time that I believe that continues even today. I don’t know if he ever go out camping or something like that, but there’s nothing more fun than gathering around a fire with some good friends and you just relax and all of a sudden great ideas start coming out. It connects us in pretty profound ways. With that, what do you do within fire story? What does your business [inaudible 00:04:26].

 

Jason Jordan: Okay. As far as fire story goes, fire stories, a name I give for something that is more than just a normal story. It’s more than just one of those funny stories that we share. A fire story is really a story about change. Most businesses were founded around a fire story. If you’ve ever started your own business, you know how hard it is, you know what a struggle it is, you know what a risk it is.

 

A lot of great people and giving up a regular paycheck and some of the stability there to go off on their own and take a big risk. They do it because of something they believe. It’s almost always a story that gave birth to that belief. It’s a story that there was core few gathered around and they shared regularly and things got going in a business around this story. Then all of a sudden, the business takes off and it starts to grow and you start acquiring new people and you start acquiring different divisions.

 

This is the business development guy. This is the marketing guy. This is the finance person. As it grows, these people become more and more distant from that story. Next thing you know, you’ve got a whole company full of people who are just there exchanging their hours for dollars. There’s no real connection to the cause. We started getting together these ideas of like mission statements and statements of value and core values and things like that.

 

None of those was really, in my opinion, capture the essence of what drove the story fundamentally, what drove the business at the core, what kept people there all night and sacrificing at a base level to fight for a cause. I really believe that sharing that story among even some others as the business develops is key to keeping that close knit feel and that cause and bringing the right people on board that are willing to fight for you, that aren’t willing to leave just because somebody offers them a couple of extra dollars per hour more or this or that benefit. They’re willing to stick it out long term.

 

Victor Ahipene: I love that because I you look at say a Zappos for example. They create the environment of, “Hey look, we’ll pay you to leave the company if you don’t think it’s working out.” They have the driving factors and it might not be about money. It might be about learning more within your job, where it might be progressing in certain ways or developing yourself as a person.

 

I know those aren’t necessarily a story that drives it, but as that overall culture that it can be, I’m a trained physiotherapist and there’s not a lot of difference between one jobs as another because a lot of your earning is kept on how many patients you can see. You go to another place, you’re going to see the same amount. But I’ve worked at places that have had that, a lot more than mission statement, which gets forgotten. It’s thing that I see you’ve done your MBA. It’s like, “Okay, we need to do a mission statement and we need to do a swat analysis.” It’s almost a buzzword at times.

 

Jason Jordan: A punchline at times.

 

Victor Ahipene: You see these companies in one place I worked. We weren’t the most highly paid, but they ticked off core things that a lot of physiotherapists looked for. We had a lot of training. There’s a lot of alpha personalities that want to know more within the industry rather than necessarily earn more. We weren’t getting underpaid by any stretch, but you’re going to enjoy work more if you’re continually challenging yourself every week rather than chasing extra hundred bucks a week for going somewhere else.

 

It was kind of the thing that the more we knew, the better we could make our patients, and the more of those patients would come back to us. The more would have a bit of clientele and it all really fit in? I love what your company’s all about. When it comes to developing that message because storytelling is behind everything. You watched the best talk’s online, storytelling.

 

You watched the best political races and it’s who can tell the best stories, sometimes true or not true, but it’s the ones who can develop the best story and lead people into a future paced ideal or something that’s going to be for benefit of everybody. Have you got frameworks around how you look to develop these stories that I guess get people cross-generational and things all on board together?

 

Jason Jordan: It’s often a challenge because surprisingly we tend to hide some of these more compelling stories. It’s no surprise. All social media seems to have caught on to this idea that storytelling is so key. Facebook, if you look at the top there, it says, oh, such and such has added to their story. That turns stories thrown around so often. If you’ve spent any time on Facebook, you scroll through hundreds of people and all of their stories seem to be pretty much the same.

 

It’s everything is Hunky Dory and here’s my 2.5 children and my beautiful husband and fantastic wife. Here we are in Fiji and everything’s just magical. As we know, that’s not the truth, that’s not the real story. Stories have conflict. Stories have challenges that people have to overcome. Otherwise, it’d be a really boring story if it was just perfect all the time.

 

Oftentimes what I find is that I literally have to pull it out of people. I have to sit down as part of sometimes one on one coaching, sometimes corporate coaching. There are some companies I work with and I won’t work with a company usually on an individual basis and system working with the entire company because I want everybody experiencing the story as it starts to come out. It takes some polling. You’ve got to break down barriers and these silos and these walls that we build up over time.

 

As people feel safe and they start talking about their experiences, what they’ve done for customers, what they’ve done in their divisions and the challenges that they face. People start feeling more and more connected, more open. Great things happen when you can break down those barriers and reach those people. You got to tear down the wall if you follow my meaning, you got to break through.

 

Victor Ahipene: I think that’s a really good point that a lot of people misunderstand with stories is, like you said, they’ll tell the perfect story in regards of everything’s perfect. This is great. This is what our company strives to do. They’re not differentiating themselves. We started out doing what everybody else did and getting the results everybody else got. It wasn’t until we made the shift, which took a lot of heartache and turmoil.

 

Now we’re at this place where we can do this. The hero’s story where they have success and then have failure and then have success. People can buy into that and relate and join that roller coaster of emotions. They want to fight for your team. They want to— whether it be a customer or a staff member. They want to be behind something that’s more than just fluffy words put together nicely that says, “We’re great. We can do everything you want.”

 

Jason Jordan: Yeah. When you look at the history of take a pretty common company that everybody knows, like apple. What do people connect with? They look back to the Steve Jobs days. They talk almost with fun-ness about the time when Steve was fired from his own company. Overcoming those early boundaries of reaching out and he reached out to the CEO or CEO of Pepsi and told him that you want to make sugar water or do you want to come change the world?

 

Then you came on and they ended up getting rid of Steve, the guy who founded the company crashed and burned. I remember you could got Apple stock for eight bucks and then this magic little white box came along that would hold your music. They started building from there and fighting against all of this.

 

I think we’ve reached a point now where apple is reached such a level of success that people can’t connect anymore with the struggle. I think competitors are starting to capitalize on that. They don’t have that compelling visionary leader anymore. The story has gotten watered down.

 

I remember when people used to tune in to see Steve Jobs pitch the next product that my God you were going to buy whether you had the money or not. Now it’s just, oof. Bunch of talking heads out there and talking about Pixel, Density and the amount of memory and it’s one 10th of a millimeter thinner, but it’s going to cost you 1,200 bucks. Oh, thanks a lot guys.

 

Victor Ahipene: You got like 500 songs in your pocket or whatever. He sold a solution to people who were [inaudible 00:15:30] rather than everyone else was selling MP3 players. He was selling 500 songs in your pocket. I’m not an Apple or I don’t own anything Apple, but I love Steve, his auto biography. I love following the stuff that he did and watching his presentations and things like that because you can see the masters in it.

 

I spoke with one of another guest the other day we we’re talking about composition. We got to the point that I don’t think that there’s many companies out there that truly have competition. Apple’s probably one of them. They’ve got Samsung and it’s not necessarily a 50/50 split, but that competing directly on the same product. The majority of us aren’t. We never going to be able to service the world as a whole? There’s an abundance of clients or customers or whatever you want to call it for us. Let me dive into the speakers out there.

 

You said you go into companies and corporations and you work with the teams. What are the steps? I mean it might, it might be at a point now where they come to you, but when you were first starting out, how were you getting that foot in the door with some of these companies? How were you proving that the problem you solve, the solution you offered was a problem that they had? Stories, it’s not arbitrary, but it’s not we’re going to decrease your costs by 20%. There’s a lot of intrinsic value in it, but it’s not necessarily something, I guess easy for a lot of companies to see particularly even five, 10 years ago.

 

Jason Jordan: Yeah, man, you’re absolutely right about that. I came from a sales world where everything was ROI driven. Let me sit down with you, mister customer and show you ROI in hard dollars. You buy our product, we’re going to save you x amount of dollars. Now I’m in this very sort of nebulous world where I’m selling something that has value but you can’t put a number on it. You can’t put an exact value on it. That is a challenging scenario. It really is. All of the evidence is there.

 

When you look at the levels of satisfaction that people have with their work, with their career, with their companies. The amount of turnover there is these days, the amount of time that millennials, that youngest generation will actually spend with a company. All the evidence is there pointing to a big problem that people are not connecting with you, whether it’s internal or extra mile. There’s a ton of competition out there. It’s easy to compete on price. Just go on Amazon and be the cheaper guy. The evidence is all out there that people want to connect, but like anything else, I have to put myself out there. I have to talk whether it’s paid or not. I have to make my case and make my argument.

 

Some CEOs will get it and some won’t. Some will say, you know, where’s the hard dollar evidence? I said, “Some people will try to make stuff up for you. I’m not going to do that. If you don’t get it, that’s all right. I’ll move on to the next one.” You start off with that first one who gets it and we’ll give you a shot and you go ahead and blow them away. They’re people super happy.

Make there people ecstatic to be a part of it and get some I mean, I’ve had people at companies who have handed me their letters of resignation. They were on their way out the door and they tore them up in front of me saying, “You know what? I think I see now what’s happening with this?” You start collecting those bits of data like a little snowball rolling down a hill. It starts to pick up momentum and pick up speed as people just start to see what it can do. I wish I had a hard ROI that I could show people, but in the end it’s a kind of take a leap of faith.

 

Victor Ahipene:  I think that’s a very good lesson for a lot of people was getting, not over delivering, just delivering to somebody who’s willing to give you a shot. Whether you believe in over delivering or not. Whatever you say you’re going to do, do it really well and show them, “Hey, there is a benefit. This is going to shift your company.”

 

Then leverage off them and I’ve heard of people say, “I’m going to come and speak to your company at a discount or free. What I’m going to do though is I’m going to deliver everything I say at the end of it. What you’re going to do is you’re going to recommend me to three other companies and you’re going to give me a glowing testimonial on the proviso that I do deliver.” If you can get that, then it helps in space. Obviously, if you can prove that direct ROI and drop their cost by 20% net then certainly helps as well.

 

I think for a lot of speakers out there, if you’re an inspirational, motivational mindset, a lot of those things do create change within a company. It’s like going to the gym for a day. You don’t necessarily see it. We don’t see it after the first day.

 

Jason Jordan: Not after one day. No. You’re right. It does get to be a challenge in some respects and that those early customers who believe in you and give you a shot and you enter into an arrangement with them at a lower price. The challenge that you have is as you start to pick up momentum and pick up more customers and you start to command higher rates and higher dollars for what it is you do, those early guys still have a tendency to value you at the discounted level that you engaged with them at.

 

You have some tough decisions to make. Do you owe them? In which case you keep going at the price that they’re willing to pay? Do you say, “Hey, I’m sorry, but this what I’m commanding now. This is what it’s going to have to be.” That’s a tough decision to make.

 

Victor Ahipene: You go into an organization, a company, you help them craft some certain things initially out front. What do you have for a decision models or continuation of working with those companies after say the first period that you’ve worked with them?

 

Jason Jordan: Yeah, so it’s great that you bring that up because for a long time I was a keynote or I would get up in front of conferences or companies. I get people really jazzed up for the length of that conference. The tail was really short. It would last for a couple of days. That enthusiasm that momentum when only lasts for a couple of days and a then people would be right back doing the exact same thing that they’ve always done. I kind of made a decision at that point that what I was looking for was less of an upfront, less of a $10,000, $20,000 keynote. I am more of, “Okay, let’s spread that out over a year or something like that because I want to work with your people consistently, like every week.

 

Give me a chunk of your company and cycle these people through because I want to chip away at their paradigm, their ideas that they have over time and break through those shells and break through those barriers and open them up basically.”

 

It takes time. That was a decision that I made for my business. What I do takes time and so mostly what I do now, I used to do some private coaching, but you can’t $200 an hour for private coaching or whatever that is. People can’t get a lot of your hours. They’re looking to cut back very short. I made the decision that I wanted to work with larger groups of people for longer periods of time and just chip away at it gradually. I think it depends on what you’re offering. If you have a solution that is, “Hey, make this change and you’ll get this result, go for the keynote.” Mine just happens to take longer.

 

Victor Ahipene: From a lot of speakers that I’ve talked to, I think that’s a big shift that a lot of them have had as the keynote— a lot of people aim for the keynote to be the end of the journey. Trying to get a keynote presentation where a lot of highly experienced speakers have spoken to have said, “It’s the first step. Hey, cool, we’ve delivered to this corporation, now we can start offering training, offering different solutions in the long-term.” It’s really good to be able to get how you’ve managed and developed to do that. Because I think one of the problems that we all have is we have a lot of expertise. We jump up on a keynote presentation. We want to regurgitate as much of a doubt as we potentially can.

 

Victor Ahipene: Like you say, people get their stuff and they get too much of the, how they become overwhelmed and we tightened the tall cup. You can’t put 12 months of time where you have to do work in between it and to a day or, and to two days. Being able to offer those things on an ongoing process and having potentially multiple product offerings so that once they transition through one level, once I’ve done sales, they can move towards leadership.

 

Once they’ve done leadership, they can, we’ll do towards marketing, whatever it may be. You can come through those different layers. I think it’s something that a lot of speakers potentially lack as they say, “Oh, I can go and do 30 keynotes throughout the year.” I don’t know about you. I don’t love sitting on a plane go—

 

Jason Jordan: Not anymore. I’ve got a 10 year old and a 12 year old and they like having dad around. I enjoy being around them right now. I’m sure one day here in the not too distant future there’ll be teenagers and they’ll be looking for dad to not be around as much. I love being around them. The keynote road warrior thing is not what I’m after anymore.

 

Victor Ahipene: I think that’s cool. On that note, we’ll round it up now and we’ll let you go and spend some time with their family of yours. It’s been an absolute pleasure having you on. I just want to welcome you to our speaker nation family. If people want to find out more about you and check out what you’re doing, where can they go and what can they do?

 

Jason Jordan: Oh, I’m sorry. They can hit me on Twitter it’s an easy one, which is @yourfirestory. That’s an easy one. Also, firestory.com is my website. I’m on most of the other usual suspects. Facebook and LinkedIn and all those, but Twitter and just going to the website and connecting with me directly are probably the easiest. Victor, I’ve got a challenge for you sir. I would like to know and at some point I think you should share this with your listening audience if you haven’t already is how—you told me what kind of therapist you are, but I’ve—

 

Victor Ahipene: Physio, it’s like a physical therapist.

 

Jason Jordan: A physical therapist, get into running a podcast on speaking. There’s a story there. There’s a story there that I can sense. I think that would be a fascinating thing for everybody to hear.

 

Victor Ahipene: Take it out next episode. My back story, we’ll go into it and if not, it’s all written in awesome book called publicspeakingsecrets.com that you can pick out, what a segue, what an exit into a segue. You can pick it up for free. You cover the shipping. I’ll cover the book. We’ll also have all the show notes that we’ve talked about, all the links to fire story.

 

If you’re on the road and can’t pick them up, and that’s at publicspeakingblueprint.com. Thank you so much, Jason. It’s been an absolute pleasure. I look forward to either you coming back to Australia or touching base on the other side of the world with you.

 

Jason Jordan: My pleasure, Victor. One of these points, I’m going to drag the entire family out there and it’s going to be awesome to visit your country again.

 

Victor Ahipene: Awesome. Thanks mate.

 

Jason Jordan: Thank you.