In today’s episode, we have Nic Fitzgerald from Friendly Giant Films, who is going to share with you the importance of storytelling when trying to market and sell your own products.
You will also get to hear how he turned his passion for creating videos into a full-time consulting business, why relationships are fundamentally built on stories, and his nine-step framework for crafting your perfect story.
YouTube: Friendly Giant Films
LinkedIn: Nic Fitzgerald
In this episode, you will hear...
… Nic’s incredible journey of pure resilience and grit from losing his job to starting a profitable film-making business.
… the power of a positive attitude and a coachable mindset that helped Nic turn his struggling business into a massive success.
... how Nic used social media to get his message out, build a network, and create a name for himself in a competitive industry.
… the strategy Nic used to free up his time while scaling up his business and attracting more customers.
… how Nic discovered a powerful story-telling concept that helped him create an emotional connection with his audience and drove massive sales.
… Nic’s simple nine-step framework for crafting powerful, emotional, and effective stories for your online business.
… story-telling tips and tricks that online content and course creators can use to attract a loyal following that stays through thick and thin.
… how you can leverage your unique story to resonate with your audience and stand out from your competition.
… advice for beginners on getting started now and putting everything into action instead of procrastinating.
… why Nic loves using Facebook Live to share stories and keep his audience engaged and connected.
… how to repackage your story in different forms of content and repurpose it for different online platforms.
Hey, everyone. Thanks for checking out the podcast today. We have Nic Fitzgerald, founder of Friendly Giant Films. How are you doing today?
I'm doing awesome. How about you?
I'm doing good, Nic. I'm excited to have you on. As you know, I found out about you the other day and learned that you are a great storyteller and that you have done all these wonderful things in film industry and documentaries.
And I just got into learning about you because I was asking about how can we be better speakers? How can we be better presenters? And how can we tell better stories? And through a bunch of recommendations, I found out about you and what you have to offer.
I was looking through your stuff and I really enjoyed it. I reached out and I'm so happy to have you on the podcast because I feel like storytelling is a very important part of what we do with online marketing. I just felt like you could help us out. So thank you for being here.
Yeah, it's awesome to be here. And you're totally right; how storytelling is a huge part in being able to market and get the message out there.
Yeah, definitely. I always like to start the podcast off just hearing people's backstories and where they came from. So, if you could just take a couple moments and tell me how you got into online business, how you got into storytelling, and what you were doing before, what you're doing right now?
It's a fun, crazy story. That's the great thing about being an entrepreneur is it's never a straight shot. Our paths wind around, and we take unexpected turns, and we have challenges come up.
I started my entrepreneurial journey fully in 2015. And it was funny; I was a financial advisor before I started my own business. I actually was fired from my career as a financial advisor because I didn't meet my sales quota for the year 2014.
The backstory a little bit: I was in a partnership and it was great. I was making more money than I'd ever had in my life at that point and things were good. But two of the partners at the end of 2013 decided they wanted to go on just themselves. So myself and one of the other partners had to reboot our financial practice.
I wasn't able to get it going back to the levels that it was pre-partnership split. So, there I am at almost 35 years old, asking myself what I want to be when I grow up again. I've worked in corporate America.
I'd changed jobs and career paths and doing all sorts of different things just trying to make more money and provide for my family. I'm married; I've got four kids, that kind of stuff. So I'm trying to be responsible and those things.
Finally, after I got fired from that position, it was just one of those things where we were renting a basement apartment from a family member because we had lost our home. We had burned through all of our savings, all that kind of stuff. There was nowhere to go up.
And for some reason, that finally took that mental block off of me to finally listen to my inner voice of, "Okay, you have hated doing "the responsible thing". Do what you want. There's nowhere to go but up from here."
So I set out to create a video production company. I started doing that, and I didn't even have a camera of my own. So I had to borrow one until I could save up enough money to buy one myself.
I started trying to get local business clients and just create cool videos for their websites like the About Us type of stuff that lets people know who they are, what they do, and why they do it, as opposed to "Here's our stuff and this is why we're better than everybody else." I wanted to create stories.
So I started doing that, but I quickly found out that when you're starting out and you don't have a book of business and you don't have a portfolio, that paying clients are hard to come by. And then when you do find those, they're the types of clients that want something that looks like The Revenant, but they have 200 bucks to pay for it.
It was frustrating. So I was looking for opportunities. On days that I didn't have stuff scheduled, I'd just take my camera out and go shoot video just to get better at my stuff.
I came across a house that was on fire before fire crews got there and got some great footage; turned it into the local news. I was able to parlay that into a position as a freelance photo journalist for NBC here in Salt Lake City. So I started telling news stories and I started to get a little more income that was more steady as I was still trying to build my business.
I was going through that and we were on food stamps and Medicaid and those programs, still renting the basement apartment, and just working my butt off. When I'm doing the one-man-band type of stuff as a photo journalist, I am doing all the camerawork, the sound, the lighting, the editing on the back end.
You rarely go out with a reporter. So you're asking the questions, and conducting the interviews, and all these kinds of things. And I just wanted to see what's it like to not be a one-man-band and just specialize in one area of production?
So I found my way onto a film set through some Facebook groups here in Utah, and I started working on feature films in the fall of 2015. From there, I worked on 13 feature films, two TV series that were on network television, and tons of commercials, all while shooting news stories as well.
It was so much fun to be able to use my creative abilities to make money. I never thought that was possible before, but now I was doing it. The problem was I wasn't making very much. On good sets, I was only making $200, maybe $300, $350 a day on a set, if I was the best boy electric or in a higher position on set.
So I was working all this time and hanging out with Hollywood producers and actors and directors. I worked with three Oscar winners, a bunch of Emmy winners; these kinds of cool personalities and stuff. It looks glitzy and glamorous, but I'm working 12 to 16-hour days and only making 200 or 300 bucks a day.
So the time exchange of money was just terrible, really. If I made 300 bucks a day for a whole year, that's not terrible on paper, right? But the fact that I have four young kids and a wife, and those kinds of things that when I'm home for a day and a half on the weekends, I'd like to be present and do stuff with them.
I wasn't fulfilling my responsibilities. Plus, I wasn't making enough money to get off these programs and stuff or be able to get out of the basement. So I was like, "Something's got to change. I am working my butt off. I'm really good at my skills and all these things. Why am I not making enough money?"
It actually came across my path when I found out we were being audited by the state of Utah to see if we had received too much assistance in the food stamp program. I had to get all of the two years of financial statements and tax returns and all sorts of stuff for them to go through.
And I was just frustrated because the year before, I'd only made $25,000. I was super frustrated. I went to Facebook and I vented about it. It was three years ago, this month, actually, July when we're recording this. It was July of 2017 when I put this post out.
One of my friends saw it, who has a successful business. And he reached out to me personally and said, "Hey, I'm sorry that things are tough right now. I know it's been a long time since we've spoken." We went to elementary school, middle school, high school together, but outside of little social media interactions, we hadn't had any meaningful conversations.
So he's like, "I think I know what your problem is. And if you'd like help, I'd love to show you what you might be doing wrong and see if there's something that I can do or guide you to make this shift." So I was like, "Sure, I'd love it."
I'm coachable. I love when somebody is at a level or has expertise or knowledge that I don't that can help me further myself. I always go in on it. I played high school and college division one basketball, I played semi professionally so I'm coachable. So I was like, "Yes, teach me."
So this friend introduced me to his podcast, sent me a couple of his books. If any of you know who Russell Brunson is and ClickFunnels, that's my friend that I'm talking about. He'll be a billionaire in the next few years. I have no doubt about that.
He reached out, and he just introduced me into a way of thinking that, okay, I have these skills, I have these abilities and talents and expertise. Now I need to be able to use them to help other people make money with their business.
And once I made that shift, and started applying the things that I was learning and taking big steps forward, and taking massive action, so to speak, things started to turn around for us. April of 2018, I joined a coaching program, and I dove in. And it was amazing. I put to work the things that I was learning.
And by December of that same year, we were able to move out of the basement and into the house that we're in right now. My business went from basically $0 to $100,000 in those eight months.
I started to see that by taking my expertise and my knowledge, and putting it out there, telling my story, that was the thing that really amplified things. It took us to the next level of growing my business and being able to provide and meet the needs of my family as well.
It was just really cool to see how taking action and doing, but also being vocal and publishing and telling my stories and being strategic and intentional in what things I talked about really magnified the growth of my company.
Definitely. And what a blessing in disguise getting fired from your job, right?
Yeah, exactly. I'm one of those firm believers that things happen in order to prepare you for greater things in the future. So whatever struggles you're going through right now, whatever they may be, whether they're mental, emotional, financial, whatever it might be, you can overcome it. It's not a fun journey, but you're going to be better qualified to serve and help more people going forward at the deeper level than you could have, without it.
Yeah, I definitely agree with that. During those times, they're tough and you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. And then you look back and you say, "Wow, how crazy my life has changed from that moment." What do they say? You can't have a testimonial without the test, right?
Well, cool. So your business started turning around; you were taking some coaching. When it started going for the better, what were you doing at that time? Were you teaching or were you still doing video for people? What was the actual business model, when you started increasing your revenue?
It was a blend. I had local clients that I would do video work with, and things like that. I helped fill them modules for courses and little social media videos and things like that for people here locally.
But then, where I started to get the growth was I would hop on and do these 90-minute, two-hour long sessions with people to identify the types of stories and videos they needed to tell for their business. And then give them a proposal on, if you wanted to work with me on making these into awesome videos for your website, this is what it would cost.
So I'd have a paid two-hour session where people would pay me 2,000 bucks to tap on and go and identify all of these stories. And then I'd put a proposal saying, "Here's the story. This is the story. Here's the messages that we need to craft. And here's what it would cost if you wanted me to come out to you and we spend a few days or a week or however long it is to film it. And then you have these as assets to use in your business."
So I started doing that and that's where I got my first international client and clients around the country, being able to do that while still working locally with some video production thing. And the thing that's great about my time in film is now I have a network of amazing technicians who know how to do all the stuff.
I do as well, but I can facilitate getting the message identified, and then they can execute turning it into pretty pictures and stuff. So as I started doing that, when I made that shift from getting out of film to focusing again on businesses, I realized a couple things.
Again, I didn't have a network of people or business owners or a community that I could plug myself right into and start getting business. I had to create a name for myself. I had to get my message out there and attract people to me. So I started doing Facebook lives every day.
I've done over 1,000 now since 2018, just sharing stories, seeing things that I would notice in the world that compared to entrepreneurship. Or I'd share some tips on video stuff or some storytelling tips and things like that.
As I started to do that, I started to attract the right people who then would reach out to me and be like, "Hey, I would love to talk to you about my story or about some things from my business. How can we go about doing this?"
So that's what I started to do in order to start generating the right kind of traffic, the right kind of leads, and qualified people coming into my world. But of course, it evolved it. Everything minds around.
I started out doing that, but then I started to realize that by doing that, if I could get two or three two-hour sessions a day, that's great. But I can only do that many before my brain just turns to complete mush and oatmeal. So I found that there was sort of a cap to what I could do.
There were only so many people I could fit into a day, right? So I started to think about how can I take some of this knowledge and expertise and package it into something that's consumable, and gets results, and helps people get clarity right now? Some people can't afford 2,000 bucks to hop on a session or that kind of stuff.
So I wanted to be able to give people results without having to take all of my time every day doing it. That's where the masterclass type of stuff started to become an attractive draw for me to be able to give and serve people at a high level, but also save me time on the back end.
Awesome. Really cool. That's scalability is what you're looking for. And having the course facilitates that and you can still do the coaching and the consulting on the side, too.
Exactly. And that's what I found is that the front end, so to speak, with the masterclass course focus is a great way for me to be able to help people that maybe couldn't afford to work with me individually, or have me do things for them because when you're paying for individual expertise, the cost goes up, and stuff like that.
So it's a way to be able to nurture my audience up to the level where they can afford to work with me, but then also, I can scale that and it can become its own thing down there. And then I can not have to spend any time or not as much time building and creating content and all those kinds of things.
It's already in place and done and finished. Now I can focus on working individually with entrepreneurs and businesses at the higher levels, while other people are having fun and getting results with me as well without it taking my time. It's just so fun to be able to have that freedom come up.
It's all about getting the right people to it, and, getting them to jump on it rather than spending all your time on sales calls trying to convince somebody to see the value in jumping in on it.
And then thinking about Russell Brunson and reading through his books, he talks about the different stages of the value ladder, and you might be pulling in different people at different stages. And so it's nice to have those front end, middle end, and back end parts of your funnel set up like that.
So you started out, it sounded like you were doing some film and video for the news, and then you got into films and documentaries. And then you were doing some consulting; your business is growing. I know because I come from an audio/video production background myself, when you think about video, you think about the camera and the rule of thirds, and the pictures.
But many times, we don't think about the story. It's kind of maybe even a side thought unless it's like a documentary that's based around the story. Most of the times, marketers, online course creators, entrepreneurs, I don't feel like we focus enough about the story. So at what point was it for you that you realized that the storytelling was the important part of the formula?
Well, I've always loved connecting with people. One of the things that made me successful as a financial advisor is I actually listened to them. I heard their stories. There's no way that I could get somebody to tell me that they had a million dollars of assets or cash in an old investment fund or an old 401k or things like that unless there was trust.
And I found that storytelling was a way to build that trust and that connection really quickly. So I saw that in my other career paths, how storytelling was... I maybe didn't recognize it specifically as storytelling. I just was able to connect with people. And I've seen that sharing stories is how you connect.
I'm married. We will be celebrating 18 years of marriage at the end of this month, and stuff like that. And that relationship, the dating, if you've ever had any sort of relationship that way, you are sharing your stories, and you're finding the common ground within it. And then it builds and propels you forward.
Or you make the decision like, "Oh, this isn't going to work," and you move on. So I saw that very early in my life, how stories were a connector. But it wasn't until I got into the Russell Brunson world, so to speak, where I saw...
Russell Brunson has this event every year called Funnel Hacking Live. The first one I ever went to was in 2018, in Orlando. And I remember sitting there in my chair as he gave this presentation called The 12-month Millionaire.
I watched him for an hour and a half just telling story after story after story about things that he had experienced himself, things that he had seen people that he consulted with, or clients had done, and then things that he had witnessed other people in the world do that helped them make money.
And I was just like, "This is so cool." And he wasn't saying, "Here's this sales tactic and here's this strategy." It wasn't that at all. It was just story after story layered on another one, and it just built.
And at the end of that presentation, he proposed a coaching program that, at the time, it was $18,000 for the full year, or it was $1,800 a month. At the end of that, I was so excited because I'm like, "Wow, this is exactly what I need." But the price was just like such a shock.
I turned around, and to my amazement, there were hundreds of people at the back of the room buying and paying him $18,000. And that's when for me the light really clicked on with what I needed to focus on with my business is if I can focus on telling stories that help people understand the results that they can get, and help motivate them get emotional responses, engage the thought process, and then get them to take action.
If I could do that, then I will have success in my business because I just witnessed it firsthand. I found myself at the back of the room paying him $18,000. So, for me, that was like the first experience when I literally saw all of it come together to work in a business type of setting where I could charge or quote somebody a $20,000 thing and not feel self conscious or feel achy about it because I could build and show them exactly how it's going to work for them.
That was my first real experience with witnessing. It was truly amazing. And since then, I started to be... okay, I'm really good at connecting with people naturally. That's one of my natural skill sets or abilities that I've been given. But if I can be more intentional with those things, still being genuine, still being me, still being specific in what I'm doing...
I always talk about beginning with the end in mind when it comes to our storytelling. What do I want the audience to feel, think, and do? What is that journey I want to bring them on?
As I start to craft and share the messages, it's been amazing to see how people make those decisions themselves and come into my world and become clients or buy into the masterclasses or whatever it might be. It's been really fun to see how it really comes together in growing a business or selling a product.
Just listening to you talk and thinking back to actions that I've taken and even getting into Russell's world, the story is so powerful because the person who is listening can put themselves in that person's shoes, who's telling the story. Russell is such a great storyteller.
I can tell you his potato gun story and his wrestling stories and all of that, and I'm not a wrestler. But when he tells those stories, I can place myself in that story and relate it to things that are going on in my life. I'm so glad to have you on here because I feel like this is a big piece that a lot of people miss and that we can work on.
Let's talk a little bit more about strategies and tactics. This podcast is for online course creators. So this is people who are creating online courses as you've done yourself so you know about it, and people who are trying to market their courses, maybe they're doing Facebook, social media, YouTube. Can you give us some strategy or some tips on how we can use a story in this atmosphere to help sell more online courses?
Yeah, definitely. There are a few things that all of us as entrepreneurs, whether you're a course creator or you have a different type of business that we run into when it comes to thinking about telling or using stories for our business. One, we just don't think that stories will actually work for us.
Like I witnessed, we may have gone to a seminar or an event or something, and somebody pitched something. And we either bought it or we were just floored with how many people that we witness run to the back of the room and buy it. And so we might have been like, "Yeah, that worked for them. It's not going to work for me."
We have that kind of false belief, so to speak, that we don't think stories will actually work for us, because our business is different than Tony Robbins'. But the truth about that is that, stories, like I said, are ways that you build trust and relationships really quickly. It's the way to sell more products and services at even a higher value than you currently are.
And then it's the way to multiply wealth. So if you have something that's successful, or you have the money that you're wanting right now, or those kinds of things, it will multiply how much you get back. It's really incredible.
So that's the one thing is like storytelling does work because it builds trust, it helps in the sales process, and then it multiplies the success or the wealth that you already have, or grows it to a level that you hadn't before thought you would.
And then the next one is how many of you have been to a party or a networking event, you've had an opportunity to share a little bit about yourself, but it just fell flat? It's super awkward, right? We don't think that we're good at storytelling.
But like I said, if you've been through any sort of relationship, if you've been on dates, if you've been in a partnership, if you've ever sold anything to anyone, you have told stories, and you've done them successfully. Whether it resulted in a marriage or a breakup or whatever, the stories that you have told have been successful.
And you've told 1000s if not millions of successful stories in your life already. You just haven't had success with it being intentional with your business, possibly. There's a disconnect. We can tell stories all day every day with complete strangers at the grocery store or at marketing or networking events or things like that, but when it comes to our messaging for our business, there's a disconnect.
A lot of people are like, "I don't know where to start. I don't know what stories to tell." So many people I meet fall into one or two categories, like, "I'm really boring and don't have an interesting life. What am I going to talk about?" Or, they've had so much experience that they don't know what they should share versus what they shouldn't, or where to start, and all those kinds of things.
But I'm telling you that right now in your life, you've told 1000s of successful stories in your life. And then the next thing to think of is that you're comparing yourself to the Gurus, and that's just not fair.
Like, I look at Tony Robbins and guys like Dean Graziosi, and even Russell Brunson. They're master storytellers. And we go to their things or we hear their webinars, or we go to their events and we feel like we could run through a brick wall after hearing their messages. We're like we can take on the whole world.
And then when we think of ourselves or we try it ourselves, it falls short. It doesn't get the same results. But these guys have spent tons of money and time developing and honing these stories. They have focus groups and they have consultants and all these different types of people to help them identify or weed through or solidify some of their core stories.
And then they have years and years and years of repetition of telling the same stories. Like if you follow Tony Robbins, for instance, he tells the same stories at every event. But guess what, you're still on the edge of your seat, you're sucked into them. He still gets emotional during them because he's coming from a genuine place. It helps us connect with him and all those kinds of things.
And that's why people can go and walk on hot coals at his events of Unleash The Power Within and things like that. So, a lot of times, we just don't have the resources that they've had access to. Strategically, if it's cool with you, Jeremy, I'll go through, just really quickly, the nine steps of the framework that I use.
Yeah, that'd be great.
All of you, whether you use this in the modules in the courses that you're creating, or you use it in the stories and the marketing messages that you tell to get people to your course, these nine steps will help you totally get the clarity on what needs to go into your story. And then you will start to see how to structure the story and how to tell it in a way that gets an emotional response like you see these gurus do.
So, step number one is beginning with the end in mind. That's a phrase that was kind of popularized by Stephen R. Covey with his book, 7 Habits For Highly Successful Individuals. It's his second step in his but it's the first in mind because as entrepreneurs, and course creators, content creators, everything that we need to do, everything that we do needs to be intentional. There has to be a purpose behind it.
So when you begin with the end in mind, whenever you tell a story, whether it's a Facebook Live, or a podcast episode, or even a TikTok something that's that simple, you can think of, what do I want the audience to feel, think, and do? What is the result I want at the end of this video, or at the end of the story?
And when you engage the feel - the emotions - what emotions can you stir? Because, one, when people have those emotions active, it helps their decision making process. The emotions, actually, are the subconscious' way of letting the conscious mind know its decision.
So when you can engage those emotions good things happen, and it becomes a connection point to you and to your brand as well. And then thought processes. What do you want them to think you want to be engaging in? Hopefully, they're asking questions or thinking about, "Man, this is what my life is like right now. What would life be like after partnering with Jeremy or partnering with Nic?
And that starts them thinking about how they can prosper and grow with your help. And then, what actions do you want them to take? If it's buying or opting into your email list or buying your course or subscribing to your YouTube channel, whatever it is that action.
And I find that when you begin with the end in mind, then you can reverse-engineer it and identify the stories and experiences that you have or that you've witnessed to lead the audience to that conclusion. So beginning with the end in mind is the first step because once you have that, then you can start identifying the stories and the experiences that you have in order to get the audience to that end game.
I like that. How many times do we hop on a Facebook Live because we have a great idea, and then you realize halfway through the live, where am I taking people?
Yeah, exactly. There's merit in going live or publishing for the sake of publishing to get good at it, but when you can throw this intention on the beginning of it, you just will consolidate the timeframe.
A lot of us don't have the luxury of having a few years to really struggle through and hone our stories because we've got to pay our bills now, or those kinds of things. We don't have that luxury to test something and see what works without making a living at the same time. So this will help you get the results and that kind of stuff, but also move along and just speed up your improvement.
Steps two through six are kind of all about how you structure your story. Step two is that every story has three simple things. And it's a beginning, a middle, and an end. People chuckle when I bring that up because it's so simple, but every great story does very specific things within those three areas.
When you follow that structure and do these things, you, again, invite the audience into your story. They come on the journey, they buy in, and there's a lot of emotional connection that happens as you do this.
If you look at any movie that you love, like I love the Star Wars movies and Back to The Future and all these things, if you look at the structure and the things that happen within those stories that get us to totally buy in and follow these characters and cheer when they win or cry when they lose and all these kinds of things. You can have those same results with your stories and what you tell
I've witnessed this with my own stories and things like that. It's super powerful. But when you can invite people into the story in the beginning, and then in the middle, you ramp up the story and the conflict and push it forward. And then at the end, you resolve the issues and things like that.
When you can structure it that way, amazing things happen between you and the audience. Step three, is the key of the beginning part of your story. It's introduce the conflict early.
When you can introduce the conflict, every single one of us started a business or has a course or something because there was conflict or a problem in our life, or that we saw in the world. And we set out to fix it or to help people navigate through it or overcome the challenge themselves.
So when you introduce the conflict early, one, it just shows that you are not some god or goddess on a hilltop that has a perfect life, that you have gone through your own struggles, which again, connects the audience to you because they're in the middle of their struggles, or else they wouldn't be looking into your product or service.
Then it also just hits, it gets that emotional buy in really quickly. It draws that line in the sand, so to speak, and they choose to come along with you or go away. And with marketing and branding, we want to attract the people who we want to work with and repel the people that we don't. So this is just the first step in drawing that line and getting people to decide with us or go away.
I like that one. That one seems really important for course creators because we're solving a problem and that problem is something that we've experienced. So we've had that problem, learned how to get through it, and now we're helping others with that problem. I like this one a lot because it's talking to those people who are currently struggling with what you're trying to teach them, basically.
Exactly. And again, it just makes you relatable. If you think of all these stories with the heroes in it - Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, he's the hero of Star Wars, but Obi Wan Kenobi is the wise man who's kind of gone through the things that Luke is about to. So he's there to guide.
So it's the same kind of thing where you have that expertise, you have that experience that somebody else doesn't yet have, and you're there to guide them and help them navigate it. And it's just super powerful to have that.
Step number four is also part of the beginning of the story. It's introducing the key characters. You're not the only person in your story. There might be family members or a spouse or partners, or co-workers or former bosses or global pandemics or whatever. There are other characters to your story. You didn't go on your journey alone.
And by introducing the key characters, it helps the audience understand that they're not alone in their journey. They're surrounded by amazing people as well. But then it also gives other perspectives for the audience to connect to because not everyone is like me, or can resonate 100% with me.
So as I share my wife's perspective, and these other types of things, and how my journey affected these people, then they see themselves in these other characters as well. So it's more connection points to you. It's very powerful, right?
Then, coming on to step number five is naming an enemy. We talked about how all of our stories have conflict; there is a person or an entity or something that brought that conflict to us. It could be a person or a corporation, or a health issue or a global pandemic, whatever it might be.
As you name the enemy, Star Wars, there's the rebellion and the bad guys are the empire. We know who the enemy is. As we learn more about them and their motives and how they affected us or made our journeys a challenge, then the audience is going to resonate more.
It's like human nature to root for the underdog. So when they know that you're up against something, again, that gives them something to root for on your side, and it gets them emotionally bought into it. They're invested in your success as well.
And when they see your success, they celebrate it because now they know that it's possible, and they want to experience that themselves. So naming an enemy is super powerful.
And of course, if the enemy of your story is your ex spouse or somebody that if you name them specifically by name could cause some unnecessary drama or things like that, you don't have to name them specifically by name that way. Earlier on, I mentioned my former partners. I didn't mention their names specifically or what firm we worked for. I just mentioned my former partners, right? So just be wise in how you do it, but when you can name specifically, it's really powerful.
That makes me think about what you said about marketing; drawing those people closer to you, that are in your shoes or want to be like you. When you name that enemy, it seems like you're drawn that line in the sand and the people who have experienced that before are like, "Oh, I can relate to his ex girlfriend because I had a girlfriend just like that." I feel like it would draw them closer to you in that sense.
Exactly. And that's the whole thing. We attract the people that we want to work with and repel the people that we don't. If there are people that think we're total idiots or whatever, you don't want to spend any time with them because as clients, they are not fun to work with. And they end up being a lot more work than they're worth and things like that.
So it's just another great, draw that line in the sand, and they buy in. Step number six is raising the stakes. This is where we transition to the middle of the story. The middle of the story is all about conflict and making it more complex.
For me, I mentioned in my story that I was fired. So there's the initial conflict that started me on my journey. And then I started as a freelance photo journalist, and then I worked on films and TV commercials, and TV shows, and all these cool things. And then now I work with entrepreneurs and businesses to help them structure their stories.
While all of those parts of my stories are true, there was conflict, or there were things that caused me to take the next step in each one of those. We don't have time to go deep into it, but your journey and where you're at and where you've been. You might have said, "Okay, I'm going to start my own business and I'm going to be able to live out of a backpack," like Jeremy and I were talking before we rolled out.
He's got his office in a backpack. There are things that happened that got him to make these shifts. There conflict just changed. It doesn't always have to stay the same. It just evolves and changes and gets more complex and brings new problems. We find a solution. But now we recognize, "Oh crap, now I've got to handle this."
So when we raise the stakes, again, like you think of movies, it gets to the point where Marty McFly, if doesn't hit the wire right when the lightning hits the clock tower, then he's stuck forever in 1955 and doesn't get to go home and his family disappears. All these things.
The conflict didn't start out as that. It started with him inadvertently driving and traveling back in time in the DeLorean. Spoiler alert, if you've never seen Back to The Future. It's one of those things.
So throughout that movie and in stories, you see that the conflict gets more complex. You raise the stakes where it becomes imperative that you succeed or else you have that do or die type of moment.
Step number seven is being detailed. When you can share the details: sights, smells, emotions, people who you're with, all those kinds of things, that draws the audience in. All these little details that you can share in your story are so powerful.
If you think of September 11, 2001, those that were alive to experience that, everyone knows, and remembers exactly where they were, what they were doing when all those events happened. And when you share those moments with other people, you bring them in, and they can understand how it felt and how it impacted you.
It's the same with your stories. Don't gloss over things; really dig into it because, one, details, create new memories or help the audience tap into their memories and experiences that might similarly mirror what yours are.
But also when you're telling stories, the parts of the brain outside of just the audio and the language processing parts, the other areas of their brain are working as if they were actually experiencing that moment themselves. So the more detailed you can be, the more they're going to connect. And that's super powerful.
I love this one. This was a light bulb moment for me one day. I was listening to Steven Larson talk and he was doing a video. He was explaining the same thing and he used an analogy of, "I came home from work and I opened the door and I smelled the greatest dinner smell I've ever had. I saw my wife standing..."
And he went on and described the story and then took back and said, "What were you thinking? What door did you see? What smell did you smell? It was really powerful because like you said, it draws the listener in, and the listener starts putting themselves in the story. And when you do that, you're creating that connection, right?
Exactly. And when you can get to that point when they feel like they are there with you in those moments, they will be with you for the long haul. This is the part that will build those emotional connections between your audience and your brand, or yourself, or whatever it is that you're building and get them to be loyal, loving followers that stick with you through thick and thin.
They come back again and again, they continue to pay you or buy your products and services. There's a reason why Disney is so successful. And there's a reason why they raise the prices of their tickets to Disneyland every year.
People groan about it, but guess what, still people show up every year and pay $7 for a Churro or $14 for a turkey leg, all this kind of stuff because they are drawn in. And everything within Disneyland, for example, all the littlest details are intentional. And it just creates loyalty beyond measure.
They even put fake smells throughout the park. I've heard that they'll actually put a popcorn smell throughout the park, or you'll go on a ride and they'll use smells inside the ride to make you drawn in. I love that.
Yeah. Well, while with our branding messages we don't do that per se, but again, when we're discreet. It's so powerful for the audience. I've had complete strangers come to my masterclass; people who had no idea who I was, that at the end, they feel connected with me. They join and they send me a message like, "Oh my gosh, I can't believe it. I'm so excited I'm in. I had no idea that this was even out there."
The details create that kind of a reaction. That's amazing. Then, step eight is be genuine. It's kind of two-fold. Being genuine is one. Some people are like, "I can't cry on camera." You don't have to be emotional. You don't have to have a Barbara Walters special where your cry.
Don't force yourself to become emotional because unless you're Tom Hanks or something like that, you can't fake that and have it be really believable. So don't feel like you have to force things or get yourself to become emotional in order to get your point across.
But then the other side of that coin is don't fake or embellish or makeup aspects of your story that are not true. It's not a question of if; it's a question of when it comes out that it's not true or that it didn't happen. Somebody somehow, as you grow, the truth will come out if you made up a part of your story.
I think of Jay Shetty, it was about a year ago, it kind of came out that some of his content wasn't his own. He wasn't 100% claiming it was his own original content, but he didn't accredit some of it to the actual creators of it. And it bit him in the butt and he lost some trust and things like that.
And when you lose trust because you were caught lying to your audience, it is almost impossible to regain. So you have to be genuine that way as well with what you share.
But then also thinking about if you wanted to add another side to it is just think about the people that you're wanting to serve, who you can help right now, who are struggling through the same things that you struggled through, who are losing sleep or having stress or having arguments with their spouse or loved ones and things like that.
They're in pain now. And they need your help. And as you think of them, and how you can help them, your message when it's geared towards that audience and wanting to help them, it comes across so clear, and it resonates with them. How many times have you listened to a pitch or you've got a new friend on Facebook, and then two minutes later, you get, "Oh, hey, how's it going?"?
It automatically goes into a pitch without them knowing you. That's not great. And we can see through that and it rubs us the wrong way. Whereas if it's something that where you are coming from a place of truly caring and you want to help and serve, and you share your message through that lens, it connects and people really resonate with it.
Then the last step, I know we've gone a little long, so I apologize for that everybody. But the last step, that if you don't do this one, all of the other eight steps before are absolutely useless. And you might as well have deleted and not listen to any of them.
It's do it now, and don't wait. You have to take action. You have to start doing it now because waiting, "Well, I'll wait until I have 10,000 followers," whatever it is, the longer you put those kinds of benchmarks on it, you're not going to reach it. You're going to keep pushing it off and pushing it off.
Then the flip side of that, again, talking about what we're saying with the genuine part is that there are people who need you now. They're searching for you right now. They might not know they're searching for you specifically by name, but by publishing and doing it now and not waiting and putting it out there, they're going to hear your voice, they're going to recognize it, and it's going to change their life forever.
The longer that you keep telling yourself the lie, "People aren't going to care," or whatever those things are, the longer you're keeping them in pain. And if you're anything like me, I love the people that I serve. The thought of keeping them in pain because I'm being selfish and keeping things to myself is almost unbearable for me.
It's just a good way to be able to get out of our own way, to stumble through it. But now you have this framework so you're better qualified than most people that come out of challenges and things ready to take on the world that have no tools in their toolbox to get the message out. You've got this framework now.
But when you start doing it now, you will have the most amazing experiences. I go to events, I go to things... well, back when we used to be able to have them. I go to these events, and I have complete strangers that I did not know existed before this moment, come up to me and say, "Hey, I watch all of your Facebook Lives," or, "I've totally loved what you did on this," or, "Thank you for sharing your story on this podcast," or on this summit or whatever it might be.
It was powerful for them and it helped them to take action or to get clarity or whatever it might be. But if I would have shied away from it, if Jeremy when he reached out to me to say, "Hey, would you like to hop on and do a little interview?" And I'm like, "Oh, I don't have the audience that size that I want. So, no, I'll wait."
If we put it off, those people would not get the motivation, the inspiration, the information, or the tactical things to move themselves forward in one way or another. So that's why you have to be doing it now. Don't wait another day.
As soon as you get done with this, write down these nine steps and starting doing it. Do a Facebook Live or something right after just to get in that habit and start building that habit. And I promise you that it won't be long before you start seeing new people coming into your world. You'll be getting messages saying, "Thank you for this or that." It will be powerful for you and powerful for the people that it goes up to.
Yeah. How awesome was it the other the other night when I learned about you, and you told me you had your master class? I found out you had a master class and I looked at it and I sent you a message. And you sent me a video and it was a short, like four-minute video. How long does it take to shoot a four minute video?
I mean, this was six or seven o'clock at night. I don't know what time it was for you, but for me, it was like six or seven at night. And you were like, "I'm about to have dinner with the family. I was about to be done for the day, but I wanted to shoot this video out." A
You told me who you were, what you had, and all this stuff. And that was very impactful for me because no one ever takes the time to send a personalized video. If it's Facebook Messenger, people will message you. Every now and then, you'll get the person use the audio feature, but no one ever does a video.
Now, it would have been just as easy for you to be like, "It's six o'clock at night, I'm about to have dinner. I'll talk to him later." But you took the time, you made the video, you sent it to me, and it really built that relationship. I think I even texted you.
I was like man, "I just had a masterclass in relationship building," because I was so floored. Then I'm like, "Why would I not invest into someone like this who has taken the time to care?" And had you not done it, we might not be having this podcast. So that's really awesome.
So I had a couple follow up questions, but let's just make sure that we have all the points here. So, number one, start with the end in mind. Number two, make sure you have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Number three, introduce conflict. Number four, introduce key characters. Number five, name an enemy. Number six, raise the stakes. Number seven, be detailed. Number eight, be genuine. And number nine, don't wait, get started. That sums it up. In case anyone wasn't writing it down, hope you wrote it down this time.
Yeah, that's it.
All right, cool. That sounds like a good strategy. Now, one question that I had is do you set this framework for every story that you're going to tell? If I need to do let's not even say a Facebook Live once a day, let's just say that I can only do a couple a week or one once a week. Do you recommend going through this framework every time that you sit down to map out what you're going to talk about?
I absolutely do. Every time I sit down before I'm going to do a live or things like that, I always do the whole begin with the end in mind, feel, think, and do, every single time. Now, depending on what it is you're messaging or trying to sell or what action you're wanting them to take, you might not have a huge emotional type of story.
But I'm telling you this framework of structuring conflict, characters, enemies, raising the stakes, those kinds of things, everything within the story - if you want to do more than just regurgitate or spit out data or information, if you want your audience to connect, if you want them to understand you and build a relationship - this framework is magic at doing that.
I've had people that have come into the masterclass and within the first module, they go and they try. They just put the feel, think, and do, begin with the end in mind, put that part to work and they get immediate results.
So when you do this, it's all designed to build that emotional connection. This is where brands are built is with the emotional aspect of storytelling. You look at Amazon or if you're an e-commerce seller, you look at products and things you buy, and you price-compare, and all those kinds of things.
You can give that information, but when you wrap it in a story, Nike with "Just Do It", or "It's Gotta Be the Shoes" back when Michael Jordan was the face of the company and all these kinds of things. Those emotional connections that are built with the brand are the reasons why Nike is still a household name. It's why Coca Cola beats Pepsi in sales, even though Pepsi beats Coca Cola in taste tests.
The connection to the brand is the difference maker. If your course or your master class or whatever it is, your product is a little bit more expensive than one of your competitors, the story that you share it in and that you wrap it in will be that difference maker that gets them to choose you over the competition.
The story and following this framework will help level the playing field between you and your favorite gurus. You see what they do, they do the same things. Watch any presentation from whoever your marketing heroes are, or whatever gurus or entrepreneurs that you follow. You watch their presentations and the things that they do, and you will see this framework at work.
So I do it with every message that I put out. I don't spend tons of time on it because I've been doing this my whole life. Even when I'm doing a 15, 30, or 6o-second TikTok or an Instagram story, I think about these things first. And it helps me be more clear on who I serve, what I do to serve them, how I want to sell it or get it into their life.
So if you want to be able to know the who, the what, the how, and have a great understanding, this framework will help you get that.
That's great. It's funny listening to you talk and I'm thinking back to my earlier years in life. And we were talking about Disney and I actually have a degree in computer animation. I wanted to be computer animator because I just loved video games and movies growing up too.
And I didn't realize when I went into computer animation that the majority of the film is spent on the storyboarding. And if anyone out there is listening and doesn't know what a storyboard is, it's the sketch drawings that animators create and stick on a wall and look at before they even begin creating the film.
And they'll spend days, weeks, and months perfecting that storyboard, perfecting the sketches and the flow and how it's going to look and feel. So when they go to animate it, it's already pretty much done, right? They just got to put the icing on the cake.
It seems like the same thing. So many times we go out there and we just start publishing content with no end in mind. We don't know the beginning, middle, and end. We haven't done some of these steps. And like you're saying, if you just take the time to be a little more focused and intentional, it just seems like it's going to take you much further.
Absolutely, it definitely is. And even if you've had success with your stories, this framework will just compress the time. You run your stories through this little checklist really easily. If you can check off all nine of these steps, then you're in good shape and you just go forward and you just improve and get better at it by being intentional through the framework.
But you're totally right. Hollywood has made nearly a trillion dollars since 1970 just in ticket sales through the box office. And even the bad flop movies still made a little money at the box office. They follow these steps.
And when we do it for our business, I think there's a revolution or a renaissance happening with how businesses are marketing themselves. And emotional storytelling is one that is starting to gain some traction. The big names have been doing it and there's a reason why they are multimillionaires and billionaires.
But now for those of you who are on the starting end or trying to build up to being a seven or eight figure business, this is the way to go about selling more of your stuff to the right.
We're definitely seeing a resurgence of more personalities and brands now. You've got Burger King on Twitter making funny jokes, and it seems like that the marketing is going more toward that personal feel, that personal relationship.
I had a question for you. This is more of a personal for me question because I've always wondered this. Do you keep like a journal or do you keep your stories organized somewhere? I've thought about this myself.
I reached out to you because I was wondering about my own stories, and how can I speak better, be a better presenter, or tell better stories. And I started writing down stories in what I could relate that to.
So if I wanted to talk about email marketing, maybe I got a story that relates to that somehow. Do you do that? Do you organize your stories or keep some kind of Journal of them, so you can refer to them later on?
Yeah, I have a Google Doc that I copy and paste. If I do a really good Facebook post that gets a lot of engagement, that's just like copywriting basically, I'll copy and paste those and put those in. But I like to use Facebook Live as a testing place for a lot of my stories because you get immediate feedback.
You can see the analytics, you can see the comments and the likes and all these kinds of things. So I'll go and do those from, I have my Nic Fitzgerald entrepreneur page type of thing. So if I publish it there, I have a lot of data and analytics.
So I do a little bit of both, where I copy and paste and I keep sales copy or email sequences and messages and things that I put out there. And then I have the Facebook Lives where I can go back and look, listen to how I told the story and make some adjustments and those kinds of things.
But writing out, even when you think of your entrepreneurial journey and kind of bullet-point it to start out just saying, "Here's the story of right before I got started. Here's the thing that got me started. Here's the thing that I learned when I did this." Just bullet-point it.
That way, you can see, "Oh my gosh, I've got a lot of stories that I could work on or I have told." It's a good thing to be able to keep tracking. Everyone's different. Like if I can write it in a notebook, I internalize it a lot better.
So I bullet-point certain stories that I want to tell or work on. I'll write those out and then I'll go flesh them out digitally, from there and then refer back to them. But it's definitely a great idea to journal or catalog or whatever system works for you.
If it's a spreadsheet with links to the Facebook Lives or the stories that you told if you did it live or podcast interviews, that kind of stuff. It's a good way to be able to refer back, see which ones you're telling often because when you identify those core stories for your business, and you put more focus into those, then everything benefits and grows as a result too.
Nice. Now, what do you say about the fear of telling the same story over and over again? Like, how often should we be telling a story or how often is too much? I think a personal fear and probably a fear of a lot of people is I just did a Facebook Live last week on this story. When should I say it again? Or should I not say it again? How often is too often?
A lot of it depends on the audience. The stories that I've shared about starting my journey and stuff, I've shared those hundreds, if not 1000s of times on podcast interviews and virtual summits, and all that kind of stuff. You're going tell your story over and over and over, and you'll start to get sick of it a little bit.
You'll get to a point where like, "Oh, here I go again. How can I change this up so it's more interesting to me?" But the thing to remember, even if you're doing it to your own audience, it's always good. Every single one of my Facebook Lives, I give an intro, and then I tell just a little bit about myself.
I'm like, "I'm Nic Fitzgerald..." I go through this pre-scripted mini story for anyone who just might be there for the first time. So you're going to get sick of your stories before anyone else does. But the benefit that comes from being repetitious in the stories that you tell is they become automatic.
You can also try little tweaks and little changes in order to see what resonates with an audience. And then you get them really dialed in and it's super powerful. I would say if you just went live yesterday and shared your origin story of why you started your business, yeah, going on today and doing the same thing is probably not a good idea.
So now you try and think, again, feel, think, and do. Yesterday, I wanted to introduce myself and why I got into business to my audience. Okay, so I did that. Now, what new questions might there be? What new things might they be experiencing? Or maybe I can talk about how I have this course that I created.
Let me tell the story of how I created this course. There might be some similarities within both of those, but it's just a different angle, right? And when you can explore your stories from different angles, you can find better ways to tell it.
So I wouldn't shy away from being worried about, "Oh, they heard that story." Again, I have 1000s of people who have heard me tell parts of my story that I shared today. It will open up the door for them wanting to hear more. So you can go deeper into things when you might not have the time constraints or restraints upon you.
Or you can focus on certain aspects. Like, "I told the story of how I started my business. And in that story, I talked about this. I want to talk about..." Explain more about this aspect of it.
So it's just a good way for you to really flesh out because if you have an hour, 90 minutes, three hours, or you've got 30 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 seconds, you can get good at telling the same story in different ways, then you can maximize it and repurpose it in lots of different places.
That's awesome. One of my favorite motivational speakers, Zig Ziglar, said that one time. He says, "I tell the same story. And I can tell you the same story in five minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, or two hours." He says, "It's the same story, but depending on the time, you can elaborate on it more and more."
And it's cool because people who know you and like you and heard your story, they typically don't care if they hear it again. Or maybe there are some changes that they didn't hear the first time.
You mentioned having heard Russell Brunson stories a bunch of times, right?
For you and the audience listening, think of whoever it is that you follow, whatever entrepreneurs or business mentors or things like that. How well do you know their story? You didn't hear it just once. You've heard it over and over, a bunch of times. And you still love it. You relish it.
It's not like you're, "Here we go again," when you hear them going into it. It's the same for you. Now, you just have to think how many people in your world know your story or know your background? That should be the motivation for you telling your story.
You want to become well-known to them, where they know your story, and they're telling their friends about it. They're going on other people's podcasts or stories and telling your stories a little bit. When you get to that point is when you know that you are building a brand and something that will stand the test of time as opposed to, "I just found a really good product and I'm selling it and it's doing really good right now." It's what will take you to the next level.
Man, that's perfect. That's really awesome. Nic, in the next couple of years, I know your business has taken off and doing really well. You've got your consulting the film stuff, you've got your masterclass that you're doing. Where do you see yourself in the next couple of years? Have you found out what you want to be when you grow up yet?
It's funny that that always is shifting and changing, but it's becoming way more dialed in. My superpower is in helping people identify and find those core stories that they should be telling. Like for e-commerce, you have the reason you started your business, you have a story for each product that you sell, and put out there.
So I intend to be the go-to when it comes to identifying and crafting the core stories for your business, and getting those so dialed in, so that they can go out and serve the world immediately and get you results immediately.
So whether that's through the done-with-you, one-on-one type of stuff, or some people just don't have the time to donate or delegate to it. So there's the done-for-you versions of it as well. So I just see crafting the powerful stories because once you have the stories identified, then you can use it as a podcast or in a video or a Facebook Live, or whatever.
But if you don't have the message dialed in or even identified, how can you feel good about investing 1000s of dollars to hire a videographer or a production company to come in and create a video for you that might only work for you for a few months, or maybe a year?
Once you get dialed in and really identify those core stories, they'll work for you for years and years and years, all day, every day, never call in sick on whatever platform that you decide to publish on. So that's where I'm going.
Awesome. That's perfect, man. Well, we appreciate you coming on the podcast today and just giving us all this juicy information. And talking about stories; I feel like a lot of people out there can take this information and start using it in their own business. I know I will.
And if people want to work with you, or they want to take your masterclass, or find out more about what you have going on, where would the best place for them to go be?
If you want to get a free download of like this framework that we talked about, I have that available on friendlygiantfilms.com. You can download it immediately and start. It goes in a little bit deeper than what we had time for today, but you'll be able to refer back to it.
If you want to go deeper into that framework, I have a storytelling framework masterclass. And so storytellingframeworks.com is where you can go and look at that. It's not one of those courses that's designed to overwhelm you. You, course creators know some people tell you to build your course to overwhelm the audience, they need more from you.
This one is designed to give you all of the tools when it comes to knowing what needs to go into your story, how to structure it, and how to go about telling it to get emotional responses. So those are the two places that you could go get started.
And of course, I'm on social media as Nic Fitzgerald. You can follow along and all that good stuff too. But that would be where I would send you if you want to get started with intentionally telling stories for your business.
And if you follow Nic on social media, you may or may not see him playing guitar.
Yeah, that was awesome. Oh, cool, man. Thank you so much. We appreciate you being here. Thank you for your time today. And I just look forward to your continued success in the future.
Thank you, Jeremy. It's great to be here and appreciate it.
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.