01:55 – The key to storytelling
02:35 – Why tell a story
05:08 – How I met my wife
09:05 – Breaking down the story
14:10 – Clint’s inspirational TED talk
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Clint: Thanks very much. It’s good to be amongst like-minded folks here at the SFB. It’s pretty exciting you know because we have to put up a lot of crap don’t we sometimes when you work from home, when you tell people you work from home. Some people I’d say, I’m on a plane, or something, I say to someone, “I work from home,” and they’re like, “Oh. I know. You just sit around your undies.” And this is what a work from home will tell you, you don’t need undies. They’re just a security measure in case you’re on Skype. So it’s great to see the turnout here. I love the different interpretations of what you wear to the function today.
To some people it means we’re in $100 shirt and to other people it means wearing deodorant. So thanks very much. Good on you Walter. Green shirt man. It’s a pleasure. Pleasure to be here today. We’re going to be talking about storytelling. That’s my job today. Talk about storytelling.
I just want to tell you first of all, I’ve never given this talk before. This is an original for you guys, for James. This is me cutting open everything I do behind the scenes with what I do for my various jobs. I’m setting the time at 2 because I haven’t given the talk before so I just want to keep an eye on the time. I got 30 minutes.
James wanted to give me 45, and I said let’s make it 30 because like Pascal, the great French philosopher once wrote in an email to a friend, he said, yeah email, whatever you want to call it, he said, “Sorry for the long letter because I didn’t have time to write a short one.”
So the thing is, brevity is key when it comes to storytelling. You want to get the message across, no fat, but it also needs to follow through the process that we’re going to look at today. Alright. So I want to give you a framework. I tell stories for a living. That’s my whole job across everything as I’ll explain in a minute. Over the years, 15 years of doing standup comedy, online business, it’s all about my story. So this is my whole thing.
I’m going to give you the exact framework that I use, that Joel and I, another professional comedian who I’ve talked about many times in the past and use in our stand up, and I use it in my online work to do everything, to have a business and have a career.
Why tell a story
Now why story? We know story is critical. We don’t need to spend too long talking about the importance of story. I mean how stupid would your kids be if you never read them a story each night before they go to bed and how they’d learned about the world. Civilizations have evolved and learned by telling stories since the beginning of time. Our religious leaders with their stories, we remember the stories and the lessons that they tell, and we hear about them each day every Sunday at 10 a.m. if you go to church. The same stories. They are memorable. They move you. They’re educational and they include lessons.
In a business, it’s so important because they can take you out of just a competition state with another cold blank name of a business and bring you to life. I think that’s one of the key things is being able to transport your prospects into customers through the storytelling process.
“Transport your prospects into customers through storytelling.”
I remember several years ago, I’m a big health nut. I’m into juices and stuff and the nudie factory burnt down a couple of years ago. I didn’t pay any attention to nudie but their tragedy they turned into a huge marketing campaign. Our factory burnt down. They put it on their labeling, on their juices and everything, and it became a huge selling point. And everyone was like buying all these nudie because they hear their factory broke down. So you can turn these stories into huge marketing platforms.
I want to share with you today that framework, and we’ll get into it in a second because as I said, I use it across all aspects. My business is all based around my health recovery from a crippling autoimmune disease, which I’ll tell you about in a second. My keynote presentations that I give for companies as an inspirational keynote is all about motivating them through watching my journey and overcoming sort of great adversity. My standup comedy is all based around storytelling.
Before I get into showing you the framework and going through it and hopefully even taking someone’s business here at the end if we have five minutes at the end, we could maybe create a piece of content, tell a story around it, you can send it out in an email and put it in my blog post, which is what I do with my short stories. We can do that at the end. If someone in the room wants to just say, “Look, I got a really boring business,” or “I don’t like writing stories,” we can come up with something real quick, and you can see how easy it is and how repeatable this is to crank out, and have an original great piece of content that you can use and just use this formula for the rest of your life.
How Clint met his wife
First of all, let me tell you a story. It’s about meeting my wife. I just want to share about how I met my wife. I’m quite tall. My wife is little. So it’s funny when you see us together because she’s only 4’11”. She’s not quite a midget but she’s easy to throw, especially when she’s running at me! I’m talking like (sound). We got free entry into Taronga Zoo. It was good, and she landed on a camel.
But anyway, this story is about how I met her. I was just sitting home, single, on a Friday night, as you are. You know, you’re sitting at home. It’s quite a miracle how we met because we actually met in Oxford Street. It’s kind of hard to meet a girl in Oxford Street. The girl has always been a girl.
So what happened was I was at home, I wasn’t sure what to do, it was a Friday night. This is a true story. I text messaged one of my friends, sort of a colleague, I didn’t know him well, and I said, “Mate, hey, how’s this party?” Because I knew he was at a party. I’ll never forget, like what he replied, he said, “It’s a sausage fest.” A sausage fest right? I don’t know if you guys know what that is, but like I had no idea what that actually meant, right? So I thought they were having a barbecue.
So I replied, “Can you save me one?”
He didn’t reply.
Ever. So I’m like, well should I go to this party? And I wasn’t sure. So maybe I should go to this party. I’m sitting there, and I’m very comfortable. I’m watching the TV. I don’t want to leave the couch. But then I thought, my dad’s always said to me, I’m from the country, I’m from out near Dubbo, pretty rough end Dubbo. I know people from Dubbo who’ve been to Blacktown on their honeymoon. And my dad used to say to me, “Clint, you never know your luck in the big city.” So I’m like, I’m going to go to this party.
So I had to catch the bus into the party. So I’m catching the bus, and I get in there. I get to the party and I find out, sure enough, there were all these dudes at the party and I’m like, oh now I understand what’s going on, this sucks. So anyway, there were three girls at the party, and one of them was my future wife. I spot her across the dance floor, and she’s over there with these two other girls. I think ‘Wow, they’re super hot. I got to get drunk before I can walk across the dance floor because otherwise I’m going to be too freaked.’
Because I remember one time, I tried to walk across the dance floor and talk to this really hot chick and I walked like, and I used to make up things that were really cool, so I was hiding behind the sort of story, one time I walked up to this girl, she was really hot, and I just said, “I take photographs of waves.” She just looked at me and went, “Well get a picture of this.” (waving) And that crushed me.
So I knocked back. I saw the three girls. And I knocked back like four beers as quick as I could and then they started to leave, and I’m like, “Oh no.” So I thought, I’ve got to go for it. So I just like walked straight across the dance floor, I walked straight to my wife, she had a midriff top on and a little belly button stud, so I had no idea what to say and I just said, first thing I just walked after her, first thing I said, “Hey, I really like the stud you’ve got there in your belly button.” And she goes, “Well, it’s actually a real diamond. And when the light hits it, it glitters like a star.” I’m buzzing on four beers, and I go, “Well I’ve read the Bible. And I know that the star hangs above the location where all wise men should go.”
And now we’re married. It’s our fifth year anniversary coming up next month. So I just wanted to tell you that story, so that now, what we’re going to do now is we’re going to break that story down.
So you’re going to actually look at how I formulated that story and then I’ll take you through a serious story and we’ll go from there. Does that sound good? Let’s look at that.
The Reluctant Hero
This story is based on what’s called The Reluctant Hero. What this is if you look online, you’ll see similar things to this. But this has evolved off years and years of years of me starting with the Hollywood formula, the Pixar formula, whatever you want to call it, of how to write feature films.
So you can buy books on how to write feature films. The structure is very formulated. You think of films like Avatar, biggest selling box office hit before the latest Star Wars film. It’s exactly like Dances With Wolves but with aliens. It’s like the same film. You look at the latest Star Wars film. It’s exactly like the first Star Wars film.
The thing with the films, we can watch them over and over again. If the story is so captivating and moving, we don’t even need to have even different characters. I mean look at the latest Rocky film. They’re even using the same characters but putting them in different roles, right? Sylvester Stallone is just playing a different role. But we got the same sort of formula.
Now if you do the formula well and the joke that I told you before, 100% formulaic. OK. But did it feel like this is clunky and… no, because there’s little finesses that you can do, which I’ve applied to that so that it feels nice and natural.
In the movie game, we watch a trailer before we watch the film. But when you tell the story, you have to give them the trailer at the start because they haven’t gotten excited about what’s to come.
Now you see like Valley Girls, they’re like, “Oh my God. You won’t believe what happened to me.” That’s a trailer for the story that’s coming. They’ve got your attention and you’re hooked in. You need the hook. The most important thing is the storyteller must be excited. “This is how I met my wife. This is how I actually met her.” You’ve got to be excited about talking about this.
“The most important thing is the storyteller must be excited.”
The biggest lesson I learned over the years of stand-up, thinking why is this story not working is because I don’t care enough about it. I’ve got to give 100% of a sh** about this topic. So you hook them.
Ordinary world, I’m sitting at home, on a Friday night. A call to action. Text message comes in. But it’s a difficult decision. It has to be a difficult decision because you’ve got to build tension. If it’s an easy decision then no one cares. No one wants to hear the rest.
You’ve got to refuse the call. You don’t want to go. You’re the reluctant hero. You’ve had this call. It’s like in the latest Star Wars film. I forgot the name, the replacement, Luke Skywalker, what’s the name?
Clint: Rey. OK. She doesn’t want to go and save the world and become the Jedi. She doesn’t realize her powers. But she gets forced into it against her will or because of her nature. You’ve got to refuse it to build the tension.
And then you’ve got to meet the mentor.
So the line in there about my dad, my dad said, “You never know your luck in the big city.” I don’t want to be the hero in this. It needs to be accidental. My father has the experience. This creates humility, and this is a very key point. You don’t naturally want to be the guy that goes out there, slays the dragon, comes home the hero. You have to not necessarily; you have to have the Mr. Miyagi. This is the Mr. Miyagi that’s in all every story.
Then we got a point of no return. I get to there. I start drinking. I want the girl. Boom. It’s on. Hold on for the ride. We’ve got to build the excitement, things are happening.
Test, enemies and ordeals. In this particular story, I’ll just cross the time, I left out some of the details in the full version of that standup routine. I talk about how I’m not good drinking beer and there’s wine dickheads next to me and all sorts of other stuff. In a movie or potentially in some of your work that you might put for your business, this is where you spend a lot of your time. This is the meat of the story.
And then finally, we have a success. And then if you’re giving a presentation, and I’ll give a version of that in just a second, this is where you now teach. This is a good point to teach. But your teaching has to be punchy. Boom, boom, boom, because the story is over.
The best thing I ever learned is put everything into a story if you can. If you are having any kind of conversation, any kind of dialogue, teaching anyone, put everything into a story. You watch the people who you like listening to most of your friends; they put everything in a story. If you can do that, you’re on a winner. And you know the structure of how to do so here.
And then life will never be the same again. Now we’re married, or the dragon’s dead, or we now know how to get to Mars and come home again safely.
I’ll put this slide up again at the end. I can always have this printed out if people want to grab it.
Now, let’s do a 9-minute version of my TED talk.
So I gave this TED talk a couple of years ago, and I use it as the platform for my inspirational keynote talks that I give for businesses and so forth. I’m now going to tell you this in a very short format, and I’m going to emphasize artificially the turning points of the story.
So I woke up in 2006. I was up in Brisbane, up there performing stand-up comedy, just living the normal life, and I woke up with sore feet. This is going back to 2006.
I didn’t know what it was. I thought my feet must have been left out of the covers at night, and they’d gotten cold, and they were weird to walk on. But I went to see the doctor a couple of weeks later when my fingers started to come into sort of inflammation.
He said I had a degenerative autoimmune disease, in which the body attacks the joints. It’s like multiple sclerosis. He said it affects 2% of the Australian population, and it ruins lives.
He told me of all the diseases he would not want to get; this would be on the top of his list.
So I had to wait a couple of weeks to see the rheumatologist. His treatment approach, without disrespect to anyone who has a rheumatologist friend, that’s their treatment.
You get a range of different drugs to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and there are only drug options unless surgery comes in, which you’ll see I had soon.
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