people, storytelling, listening, hear, story, writing, voice, business, dialogue, alastair, talking, clients, speak, carmel, word, challenge, world, person, louder, communication
Alastair McDermott, Voiceover, Carmel Finnan
Carmel Finnan 00:00
When you can explain back to them what you do in their language, they know that you’ve heard them. And then I come back to when you feel heard – when we as human beings feel another person has truly witnessed what we have said and taken it in – I will give that person my attention.
Welcome to The Recognized Authority, a podcast that helps specialised consultants and domain experts on your journey to become known as an authority in your field. So you can increase your reach, have more impact and work with great clients. Here’s your host, Alastair McDermott.
Alastair McDermott 00:36
So today my guest is Dr. Carmel Finan. Carmel is a communication and storytelling consultant. And her work is about developing effective communication skills in a world that is shifting from hype and noise, to connection, collaboration and community. And she focuses on helping clients to improve and implement their storytelling skills as a way of engaging in interactive dialogue with others. And the brand is storydialogue.com and I’m really interested. Carmel, because there’s so much talk about story these days. But I know that for you, the more important word in your brand is actually the dialogue part. Can we talk about that a little bit?
Carmel Finnan 01:15
Sure, Alastair, actually I really like to, to, to get to the essence of what storytelling is about. And it’s not about you know, having a formula also known as the hero’s journey, the simplified, simplified hero’s journey, and everything becomes a formula and that’s called a story and everything is, I mean, we’re up, people are actually getting sick of the story. As soon as somebody starts thinking, they know where it’s going, there’s no, they know exactly where it’s going. So, story was never intended to be just reduced to a formula. It was something that was supposed to connect us if we want to go back to the essence of what story is it’s in to connect us as a community to give us something to hold us together and to had many, many functions to inform us teachers to get us through trauma to get us to give us direction to pass on wisdom to pass on you know, through stories of course and you know, storytelling and business as a kind of a 20 plus years old and it came in you know, this this that it came into a business world that was very steroid people talked about the house though and and and the fact the facts and the stats as people say and then people discovered Well, you know, we have to personalise we have to bring in the human more so the way storytelling came in with that, and now it’s become this silver bullet and fix it all. And if your communication is broken, storytelling is not going to fix it. It’s simply just another it’s just simply another layer of dysfunctional communication. I would sum it up and that is how I experienced it in so many different settings. And it’s it’s, it’s there’s the golden Google storytelling and business, you will get 1000s of cheat sheets, you know, how six steps to making you a brilliant storyteller? What is just not that simple. You know, it’s, it’s, it’s something we, we’ve unlearned, you know, as a people, and I’m not just saying this as a personal personal kind of a comment. for other people. We’ve unlearned, we authentic, engaging, interactive storytelling and that’s what I’m want to help people rediscover in themselves. And I use the word with a dialogue because dialogue is always about interaction as opposed to a monologue, a monologue, you know, from it’s about one person talking at somebody’s dialogue, you’re talking with each word and it changes everything.
Alastair McDermott 04:13
Interesting, because those two words story and dialogue story seems to be a monologue. And then dialogue is dialogue. So it’s kind of you know, it’s it’s almost like they’re opposites, right?
Carmel Finnan 04:24
Isn’t it you know, that’s a good point to make that the story as it is used in business has become just a series of monologues. That’s not what real real storytelling is about. It’s about truly engaging with other people and creating something you know, as a listener where we’re hearing the story we’re living the story. You’re listening seen good storytelling, and I use the word storytelling rather than story because story is a kind of your your plot your events, your car, your water. What we’re hoping that it comes alive in the telling,
Alastair McDermott 05:06
Right? Can I can I get really practical here for a minute, and just talk because we have people listening to this, who are experts and consultants, and they are hearing this message from all around. You know, there’s I think it’s Donald Miller with story brand. And there’s all this all of these other people talking about story. There’s the monomyth, that the hero’s journey, and people are seeing that and, you know, being told, you know, you need to be the guide, not the hero and that kind of stuff, which I think is good advice. But in but I’m just wondering, how do you view the practical application of storytelling, when it when it comes down to somebody who is an expert in their field, and they’re, you know, they’re they’re writing their their homepage? Or they’re a bay page? Or they’re writing posts on LinkedIn? How do you view? Or what advice for you would you have for people in that scenario, you know, as, as opposed to just following one of these cheat sheets?
Carmel Finnan 06:06
Yeah. Well, I start with, it’s about communication. So just forget the word storytime for a second. And let’s start with dialogue. And what that is, it’s about your listening, a good a good storyteller, a good speaker. A good presenter is somebody who is able to listen. So good storytelling, good dialogue, good communication begins with listening. So with the when you speak, you know who you’re speaking to, you know, where they’re coming from, you know, what they, you know, you know, your audience. And you have listened to how not just to what they say, but to how they say it. So that when you speak, they hear themselves. When somebody feels heard by another person feels seen feels heard. They are automatically ready to listen and give you the attention so that you don’t have to shout. You don’t have to be loud, you don’t have to sandblast your posts into every channel. When you speak to somebody in a way that they feel heard and seen by you. That’s when when you connection takes place. Now, bring that back to storytelling. Short story has a structure that has because we are human beings and patterns are important to us. It’s how we organise things. We organise ideas, we organise, and we organise information through patterns. So yes, story has a structure. It’s not a complex one. It’s not one of these hero journey we use what about 16 different points on the one Wow, I teacher, it has three. And then the telling, the telling is all about creating engagement, creating relationship. And I teach how we do that, how we how we how we do that in in storytelling. And that’s not just for you know, that’s how we communicate in every way when we talk to somebody. You know, I was too young, the biggest, what I say I always call it another challenge, the biggest challenge people have when they when I work with them, and I say this, it comes up is learning to listen. Because we live in a world where we’re offered, you know, become a better speaker, how to become a better speaker. And there are so many different courses, workshops, consultations, often knew how to become a better speaker. But the essence of that come back to it of being a good speaker. A good storyteller is your ability to listen to listen, you know, not just to perform listening, you know, because it’s a cheat sheet on how to listen. You go Aha, you make eye contact, you start summarising, the person. But if you’re really listening to somebody, you don’t do those things. Because your attention is on listening to the other person. And I’ve done that I’ve done kind of my own experiments in workshops, where I somebody speaks to another person and they have maybe a certain amount of information that they have to recall, or maybe a poem and they have to try and summarise the forms. It’s, you know, it can be influenced, or when they listen deeply to the other person and attentively, they don’t do any of the performance of listening that you get on a cheat sheet. They are so totally concentrated on hearing what the other person is saying. And that is is what I start with is is listening is when people get it then they get it but it takes a while for people to learn to listen because we we have no experience in doing that we are not made aware of the importance of listening and like everything it’s a skill that like a muscle we have whether you use it it gets stronger or when you don’t use it you lose it you know and when you get the listening aspect of listening is about listening in a non judgmental way without interrupting without offering your advice really open deep listening. And if you need more information you ask another question and then before you respond you reflect and you don’t if you know your your response is nonsense you’re what you learn from that it’s not putting it right it’s not judging it it’s a kind of our yes that that’s interesting what you say I didn’t understand x I didn’t understand why. But that that really gives me another insight gives me another perspective on something. So when you’re engaged in dialogue, you’re journeying with another person and the outcome is always when when you have learned something from them and they have learned something from you and if we want to put that into the business world you know, this is practical I’m a practical person. How do we what was the why is it important to be able to listen and listen in a non judgmental way to people? First of all, we think of clients you know we all think we know what our clients wants want but if you really ask them if you ask them and listen to what they say it sometimes can be surprised it’s not what you thought they wanted and if you listen to the nuances of what they how they talk about challenges are facing or how they tried to fix the challenge themselves and I didn’t work you’re you’re learning so much about the essence of where they’re stuck. When you can explain back to them what you do in their language they know that you’ve heard them another comeback to when you feel heard when we as human beings feel another person has truly witnessed what we have said and taken it in I will give that person my attention i will i and you’ve already building up trust now It applies the same way to colleagues you know working working you know, I mainly work with with professionals and micro and small businesses. But you know, even in businesses with two or three people the ability to listen has enormous benefits. enormous benefits on the ability to do dialogue with each other has just it just changes everything.
Alastair McDermott 13:08
Interesting. Okay. So there’s there’s so much there that you’ve just said to embark. So okay, so one thing about the word storytelling is it’s a two part word. And so we have the story and then we have the telling we’re almost like the performance of it, right? Yeah. Yes. And so so that’s that’s a two parter so so so first of all, we’re talking about like the maybe it’s almost like writing so creating the story. And then we have the telling part. You mentioned three points that you have rather than like a 16 point hero’s journey. Can you tell us a bit about the three points that you that you take people through with when they’re constructing a story?
Carmel Finnan 13:58
What my you know, my work method is always to simplify. And when I when I teach people storytelling I said you’re the most effective stories are stories that are simple, your most effective storytelling is when you make it simple when you’re telling a simple now simple, Alastair, is not the same as easy you know, some painter said you know, took me a lifetime to be able to paint like a child. I just can’t remember who it was but you know, you can google all this now.
Alastair McDermott 14:33
And I think it was because so but I could be wrong.
Carmel Finnan 14:35
Yeah, I think I think you’re right, I think you’re right, actually yeah. So I start off with a simple structure and in the business world, I would take something like you know, the problem that you can that you can solve so what’s what’s the problem, the problem your your, your clients have opposite problem in your organisation, you know, you might have be three people and you’re just not, you’re just not getting along on something or you’re just money to money, differences of opinion you’re kind of pulling in different directions. So challenge can come in many guises, okay in the business world, and then there’s a call to action is what you’re going to do. And then there’s the outcome of your call to action. And that can be the benefits the solution, the resolution of the challenge, the initial challenge. And that wheel, if you think of that circular wheel, sometimes our story might start at how, at the outcome, the resolution and then we go to the problem and we say, and and the call to action is the how we do with how we fix it. Now that’s that’s a very simple structure. Now there are, you know, there are the consequences of the problems, you know, we are, we can add, in a sense, depending on the story, depending on the context, but that’s the three kind of half tools, and then we can add a small, small agenda to that.
Alastair McDermott 16:01
Okay, so we have the outcome, the call to action and the solution, is that right?
Carmel Finnan 16:05
No, not sorry, we have the outcomes at the end. Okay, you start off with with the challenge. Okay.
Alastair McDermott 16:11
The challenge? Yeah, sorry. Yeah.
Carmel Finnan 16:12
The conflict, whatever you want to call it?
Alastair McDermott 16:15
Carmel Finnan 16:15
Call to action.
Alastair McDermott 16:19
Carmel Finnan 16:20
And the conclusion, we want to keep you see teachers of yours kind of keep the three C’s the conclusion. And the conclusion is our outcome. You know, the promise we can fulfil for somebody.
Alastair McDermott 16:36
Carmel Finnan 16:37
Depending on your, as I said, this would be this will be, you know, we have to customise what this this, this three parts to each person, what we’re, where they’re coming from, and who they’re working with, who their clients or their collaborators or partners, whatever, whatever the situation is.
Alastair McDermott 16:55
Carmel Finnan 16:55
And that, and that, as I said, that is your wheel, if we think of it as a wheel, because, you know, life is just we were never, you know, challenges are coming up all the time. And the challenge today, we managed to bring it to a conclusion, great, but tomorrow, we’ll, we’ll produce another one. And, and we’re living in a time where we’re faced with where our challenges are changing the, the essence of the challenges we’re facing are changing as well. So, you know, but still, we still, and I like to use the word rise to the challenge in a way. Now, when it comes to the actual storytelling. It’s used the basis of dialogue, which is listening, reflecting, responding now, that’s it very, very simply, Alice, you know, just just, it’s just putting that into practices is just a little bit more because we would each of them is about it’s about building a relationship. It’s about connection, relationship, collaboration, that’s where we’re heading for connecting.
Alastair McDermott 18:07
Okay, so I’m an engineer. So by background. Well, I’m a software engineer by background, which isn’t a real engineer, but I’m, so I’m, I’m looking at I’m looking at this, I’m thinking okay, listen, reflect and respond. So when we’re talking about storytelling, we’re actually talking about telling so so you are speaking. And so where does the speaking part come in there? I mean, if we have the story already constructed, it’s not the listening part. And it’s not the reflect part. So it must be in the respond.
Carmel Finnan 18:42
Yes, sure. But what have you done, the listening for the listening is listening to the problem. Right? The listening is Have you listened to your clients? Have you listened to your colleagues? Have you listened to the people you have to collaborate with whoever that is? And I mean, we can honestly we can we can apply this to our personal relationships as well. I mean, if you have if there is a challenge in any relationship, whether it’s professional or personal. One of the biggest barriers to solving it is that people don’t feel the other hears. You didn’t you don’t understand it, because you don’t listen, you know, it’s the same. It’s the same in the business world. You know, you try and say, I don’t want to hire you because you haven’t heard me You haven’t, you don’t know what you’re doing or what I’m going through. You don’t know my problem. So the listening is where you create that initial connection.
Alastair McDermott 19:41
Right? And so there’s no point in having the story. If you haven’t done the listening and reflecting before,
Carmel Finnan 19:49
You don’t have the story really.
Alastair McDermott 19:50
Carmel Finnan 19:51
You haven’t done the variation, their story.
Alastair McDermott 19:54
Carmel Finnan 19:55
we’re story and my logo is it’s two circles, you know, interest Second thing, you know, if you remember from your masters the vesica Pisces, you know that you’re the Armand kind of shaped thing in the middle. And that’s that’s where we’re where storytelling happens is where were you listening? reflecting then your call to action has to meet the clients challenge, not the enough what you think is going to solve it it’s if they have to when they feel heard, then you said this is what I think, Yeah would help to solve the problem. And then you offer your solution we call it switching. Explain that with the benefits to them of how, you know mean, solution is I get you 10,000 new clients What? That’s not a solution, you know, that that is that is that, of course it depends on the on the problem. So I shouldn’t be jumping ahead, but but our, our solutions are not silver bullets, you know, they are organic to the challenge to the call to action.
Alastair McDermott 21:10
Okay, so everything that you’ve told me makes sense in a, in a dialogue, say in a sales call, or a coaching call, or any kind of scenario where you’re one on one speaking with somebody, maybe with a group, a small group, I think definitely in a one on one scenario. So Can Can we take this storytelling and apply it to situations where you’re not speaking directly to somebody to where you know, you’re writing your a bay page? Or you’re writing a LinkedIn post or something like that? How, how does this apply in that scenario? How would you apply it?
Carmel Finnan 21:50
Oh, yeah, we need it, you know, our communication is not just verbal anymore, as we all know, you know, I mean, it’s moving more and more into into graphics. And, and, you know, I mean, that’s a whole, that’s a story for a conversation for another time, it applies to everything I mean, in, you can start off with the problem, the challenge, how you would solve the call to action, as I call it on the conclusion, that’s it that is that is simply, you know, you can start you can start anywhere, it’s just you have to finish the circle, you can start at the end, you know, you’ve I mean,
Alastair McDermott 22:32
there’s an old copywriting formula that I learned years ago, and when I first started doing web pages, and sales pages, which is pain, Dream fix. And so you start with the pain with the problem. And then you talk about the outcome, the dream, what’s the what’s the end results, and then you talk about the solution. So what’s the fix or paint pain dream fix is kind of seared into my mind as as the, the formula, I think that sounds a bit like what you’re talking about, here.
Carmel Finnan 23:02
It is, you know, and sometimes it’s appropriate to start at the end. Sometimes it’s appropriate to start at the core to actually fix whatever, whatever name you give it. And sometimes it’s appropriate to start with the problem of people. You know, there was an old when I started, I was told, always start with the pain. Yeah, well, we’ll start with the pain, which is, you know, we call it the challenge of the problem. That’s not necessarily true at all. You know, it’s true in some cases, it works in some cases, but there’s no always to this. And that’s where I come back to dialogue is if you know your audience, and you don’t have to know each single member of your audience on a visually, you know, in this, you know, I work one on one, so it is an individual, but I work with, with startups, you know, groups of startups, so I’m never going to get to know these people personally, but but I, you know, I always managed beforehand that they answer questions, get feedback from them, so that when I’m going in, to teach them how to pitch or something, that I’ve already heard that they’re hearing me talk about things they’ve already told me, or they’re written to me in this case. So So that’s, you know, on the problems with with, I can start off with with the challenges startups face. Because there’s a lot of tech is a lot in the ad tech FinTech area. So these will be people who wouldn’t see themselves as being particularly skillful with say, in the art of presentation, and they wouldn’t have a lot of confidence in in their abilities to stand up and pitch. So it’s not just about giving them you know, these story structures and dialogues have results about you know, reaffirming for people that in actual fact they do have, they do have a voice They do have a very unique voice and they do have a story to tell. And, you know, it’s it’s a little bit of coaching, it’s it’s a lot of coaching actually, in some cases,
Alastair McDermott 25:12
you just gave me a perfect segue to a question I want to ask you, because I know it’s gonna trigger you a little bit. We discussed beforehand, the phrase finding your voice, and that was, that was something that said, Can we talk about that? Because I find that interesting?
Carmel Finnan 25:28
Yeah, yeah, no, it’s, it’s, you know, we all have our little triggers. And pigs are all finding your voice, and they’ve courses and you’re finding your voice, and I said, No, stop looking. call off the search party. You have not lost your voice. It’s there. It’s just buried under conditioning, social conditioning, conventional ways of speaking. cliches, buzzwords that were never yours in the first place. And I talk about, you know, it’s actually, you know, expressing you your authentic voice for want to a better word, authentic is another word that’s coming loaded now with with all kinds of meanings. But in the end for you, you know, our world is getting louder. It’s getting more chaotic. And it’s great. You know, you could start a business in the morning, which is wonderful. An online business in the morning, when you get to the practicalities of it is it’s really very noisy out there. So, coming back to what I always say is how do how, how can we be heard? How can we be seen? How can we be found in this chaotic, noisy world? And there’s one approach we all know is you shout louder. You son blast your posts onto every platform you can find and hope that it’s 10% or 5% with sticks, you know, or YouTube it the easy way, the simple way is that you dialogue with people who are already tuned in to hear you are looking for you and it’s I call it the quiet approach. You don’t need to shout to be heard. But you do need to know who you are talking to. And I use this this kind of story you know, if you if you ended up tomorrow in Shanghai was a busy city, I’ve never been there but and you’re a very busy junction. And you’re lost. And all you hear is Chinese all around you. Front 1000s of people and you’re just completely mesmerised and then you hear English Okay, I’m speaking to an English speaking audience here so you’re hearing this so even though it’s not louder than the Chinese you hear it Why? Because you recognise that as your own your own language you know now if we take this to say you had a very busy junction Dublin wherever he speaks English so you were standing in the middle of a country per se and you want to go with let’s see what you want to call the garden of remembrance. Okay? But you don’t know whether it’s left or it’s right or straight ahead. And you hear a voice and other everybody’s talking talking talking. And then you hear a voice Are you lost? Can I help you? You hear that above the den? because it speaks directly to where you’re at so it’s not that these the English in Shanghai is louder than the Chinese or are you lost? Can I help you It’s thought is what are the use? Somebody is connecting with your ears for one to a better word. And that is
Alastair McDermott 29:04
Like pattern matching your
Carmel Finnan 29:05
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And that goes back to listening, reflecting, responding. And the story we hear the story that we can own as our own that we say that’s me. When we can say that’s that’s that’s what I struggle with. That’s exactly how I feel when somebody tells a story of youth and the person listening to it can say yeah, that’s me that’s that’s what I’m going through. That’s exactly what the problem I have. You have that’s how you get people’s attention not by blasting them, as I say with with cliches, empty promises, you know buzzwords, etc. That’s just it numbs, you know, we’re becoming more and more numb to the to the noise. That’s just being being You know, blast as a call, it’s like sandblasting us with noise, you know. So your voice, you come back to that your voice is there, Hollister, everybody’s voice is there, it may need a little tweaking it varied some development, it’s like a muscle back to the muscle practice. But it’s, it’s, you have it, you it is there. And you get to it. By uncovering by getting rid of what’s there, what’s the barrier between you and your voice, which is all the conventional jargon and cliches, the peep. You know, I mean, one of the outcomes, I suppose of the pandemic is people are online a lot more. So the quantity of online activity posting and so on has increased enormously, but also is becoming very automatic, less, less for want of a better word. And as somebody said to me last night, you know, got he he’s so prolific is so prolific, but I can’t feel them. I don’t know who that person is, he’s just, I have no sense of who the person is. Because they all the, everything he’s churning out, and he doesn’t have such a rate is I have no person, I can’t feel a person behind it at all. And what it comes down to is, there’s no voice, there is no personal voice. And I want to say to people is you don’t have to have literary talents to have a voice. Nor to be a good storyteller. Of course, it helps. Of course, we all know, if we’ve been to a wedding and somebody gets up, and they just waffle. And then somebody gets up, and they just hold us with a great story. Of course, there’s there is there is a skill to it. But it holds people back from even trying by thinking I was never good at English in school, or I’m not really good at that. And that that may well be true, you may never have been very good at English. But you may never have had a very good English teacher, it could be one of the reasons why you were never particularly good at English, or you don’t read much would you never really found a book that actually enjoyed or you know, it never crossed your path, you know, and as I say, we’re moving into the world of visual storytelling as well. So it’s, it’s, that’s changing as well. So. So I want to tell people, you know, that, yes. In a sense, we are all natural born now. We’re all storytellers. But we have and I will say this working with people is we haven’t learned a lot of the basic skills. And storytelling is not a matter of standing up and talking about yourself and your backstory, which people think once they have a good bucks, it’s it’s it’s, it’s much more than it’s about an interrupt being able to dialogue, really. And that is a skill that is very learnable.
Alastair McDermott 33:05
So to to make this actionable, or practical, if somebody wants to uncover their voice and stop using that conventional jargon or cliches, what advice would you have for them in? Like, how would they go about doing that?
Carmel Finnan 33:24
Well, the first thing and I’m I’m putting together a self study course on this, and I’ll probably say the first part of it will be a two part course, the first part is going to be is uncovering your authentic voice, and we talk about the uncovering process is is, you know, take out pieces, you’ve written maybe a blog post or whatever, whatever, where you, you know, for whatever your, your content creation is, maybe it’s a page of your website that you wrote two years ago, or whatever, you know, and just go through it. And then look at how many words would you if you were sitting down with a friend over a cup of coffee or, or a beer, or whatever, and you were chatting? How many of those words would you use? And somebody said, Well, most of us who go and that’s probably true for a lot of people. I think the one that, you know, I mean, there’s There are many ways of doing this, but one one of the ways that I when I started my business, I had to let go I came out of academia and I had spent decades learning a very dry way of speaking and writing you had to perfect your academic jargon. And I had to let that go. And I found that really, really difficult because like, I honestly thought, I don’t know who what, what my voice is. So one thing that really helped me was the advice I got and it’s really happening is you write for One person, that one person is somebody who gets you, who values you, who thinks you’re worth listening to are reading. And I had a friend that when I left my academic job, she was one of the few who actually supported me on it and said, you know, if you don’t do what you do better for the rest of your life, and you know, what could possibly go wrong. But when it was the kind of the support that I needed at a very kind of a very transfer, you know, transitionary time in my life. So I wrote to her because she is a critical, trustworthy human being, who I know is out for my good. And if there’s something that she thinks isn’t up to achieve, she would tell me because it’s, it’s, it’s about me, and it’s not about her, you know. So I will tell her, and I wrote for somebody that I would have shared Manny’s cup of tea and a pot of tea and all of that over over hours. And I went back and rewrote a lot of the stuff I’d written, as if I were talking to her, and I call it, I call it as your cup of tea voice. Now, for you, it might be the glass of wine versus it’s just, you know, and that that was a hugely help. For me, there are many other ways because we have to develop our own our own personal style that is ours, you know, it’s like, it’s like, when you read something, do you ask, Can you feel the other person?
Alastair McDermott 36:38
Carmel Finnan 36:39
You know, and that’s that. So that’s, can you feed yourself, so you have to start feeling yourself, you know. And that’s something that for some people is quite, quite daunting exercise.
Alastair McDermott 36:53
Yeah. And I hear you on the, you know, being buried under the academic part, because that, that was a friend of mine who, who attended a very prestigious university. And he found it very difficult to write blog posts, because we were talking about writing them in a in a casual, friendly manner. And his writing style was pure academic, you know, and it was very difficult for him, particularly at the start. So yeah, no, I completely hear you on that. I do actually have taped to my monitor right now. I have explained it to, and then they have two names up there. I’m not gonna say who they are. But there are two actual clients, people who I know. And so when I’m, when I’m actually talking to the camera, you know, in my monologues, anytime I’m doing a monologue, I see this just under the camera I explained it to and these people’s names. And that’s, it’s because it’s those people I’m trying to target. And this is something that I did very badly wrong at the start of my, my business journey, I guess, when I had no no particular target audience, I had nobody in mind. So I was trying to, I was trying to write my blog posts and trying to create a podcast for literally every type of business. And it was, it was horrible. Like, I looked at what I had written was so generic, it was so untargeted that it was almost meaningless. You know, it was for everybody. So was for nobody. So I really, I really liked the idea of, of, you know, addressing it to a single person, I think that’s a really good idea.
Carmel Finnan 38:26
Yeah. Yeah. And, I mean, subsequently, you know, I’ve had clients that, you know, we’ve just, we’ve just been a perfect match, you know, and, and I write for them, you know, I write exactly to them, because I know, they’re the kind of people that, that get me that value my work. And I said the word where there’s a flow, Venus, you know, yeah, sure.
Alastair McDermott 38:50
So, so. So in order to be heard, in this noisy world, even if we have a quiet voice, now, I don’t have a quiet voice. But I know that, you know, some people will have a quieter voice than I do. But, you know, in order to be heard at that noisy junction, rather than shouting louder, what we’re doing is we’re listening, so that we understand the perspective and the problems of the person that we want to communicate with. And then we’re reflecting that back to them.
Carmel Finnan 39:25
We hear we hear how they speak, we hear the words they use, we hear the nuances, you know, mean, it’s really important to get the to get the nuances of what they’re not saying as well, you know, I mean, this is where the listening comes in, you know, is you hear the words that use the phrases they use, how they, how they speak, you know, in all in its totality.
Alastair McDermott 39:51
Carmel Finnan 39:52
When you talk to them, when you talk to them, you speak to them in their language, you will have plenty of opportunity to speak in your unique voice for when you speak to them to get their attention to make that connection, initial connection, it’s you. It’s the restaurants they hear it’s they pay you on the same restaurants. And that’s that’s the connection happens.
Alastair McDermott 40:20
Yeah. And that really so that reminds me of why vertical specialisation which is something I talk a lot about. Where you specialise in serving clients in one single industry. I think that’s yet another reason why that’s so effective. Because you learn the language of an industry and you, you get to know the nuance, and the words and everything within that industry. And they can tell that you’re an insider, not an outsider. And I think that’s one of the reasons one of the many reasons why vertical specialisation i think is the the kind of the the superior form of specialisation when it comes to music now which is a totally different topic, but I always try and get specialisation into my podcast episodes so
Carmel Finnan 41:11
It is nice because it’s because you have that familiarity is because you run you you know your client you know when to be banal is that you’re a specialist in their in their world and it’s about being the expert for them and and the expertise you know, that it starts with knowing what they’re struggling with and knowing how you can help them and being able to offer them a call to action. That’s believable and doable. And they trust you do you actually carry it through?
Alastair McDermott 41:53
Yeah. Okay, I want to segue because we have we got about five minutes left. So I want to ask you a couple of questions that I like to ask people about in in particular I want to ask you about failure in business so I’m really interested. Do you have a story of of when you failed in business sometime and what did you learn from that? Did you have an even have
Carmel Finnan 42:18
Stories? Of course I mean, I I went to thinking you you haven’t but I tell you, Alastair I don’t use the word failure anymore and it’s not because I’m afraid of failure and it’s not because I’m embarrassed of failure I have you know, if you want to stick with the word I yes, I have failed many times. But I have had many very instructive experiences that have taught me a hell of a lot and one of them is when I was only about a year in business and like I came from academia so I had zero, zero idea of what it was like to be a freelancer you know that the whole practicalities of of running a business. So of course you know all these expensive courses 10,000 euros and then you’ll be seven digit earning at the end of it you know that, you know that I fell for one of those right? What I say to people now is you know, there is no secrets to business success that one person hasn’t been conservative for 10,000 years. It’s common knowledge. Know what you’re really good at, get really good at, become somebody who is really respected and let your reputation, your work be your unique selling point. Know the people who will benefit most from that. Know them inside out, upside down where you find them, can they pay for you this thing? And then know how you can deliver on your promise. That’s it I mean, I mean, and if you have that and be able to communicate then of course the thing is go back to where it is be able to communicate that to those people,
Alastair McDermott 44:01
Carmel Finnan 44:02
So that you are easily found by the people who you can serve best now. If you have that you don’t need a core 10,000 euro course. If you don’t have it, no 10,000 euro course is going to fix it. That’s what I learned.
Alastair McDermott 44:20
That’s a good lesson. That’s a good lesson. I like to ask people about resources are there any books or resources that have helped you along the way in your journey?
Carmel Finnan 44:29
Well I tell you books I do courses with Seth Godin I don’t know if that’s the name you are familiar with. I would recommend I think some of his books and you don’t mean I gosh Which ones did I
Alastair McDermott 44:41
I have 10 or 12
Carmel Finnan 44:43
Yeah but I found I found he spoke to me now that the mean that there’s that was yes I got him and I felt he got me and I read his books and I ended up you know doing courses on on your marketing entrepreneurship and that with his
Alastair McDermott 44:59
Yeah the the altMBA or the the Marketing Seminar
Carmel Finnan 45:03
Yes, yeah, yeah, yeah so so um, that
Alastair McDermott 45:07
I’ll link to Seth’s resources because he has some resources online and and yeah, he’s definitely like he’s kind of like the I guess he’s the pinnacle in the marketing world of like he’s almost like a celebrity authority in the marketing world.
Carmel Finnan 45:23
Alastair McDermott 45:24
Carmel Finnan 45:24
Alastair McDermott 45:25
Carmel Finnan 45:26
Alastair McDermott 45:28
Okay. What about fiction what what do you do for in your downtime? Do you read fiction books?
Carmel Finnan 45:34
Oh I do I’m I’m of grief I love reading, gosh, I read I since I could read as a child I i’ve never far from books, I have to say what am, I read a great book over during the pandemic? Didn’t I read about three times more than normal? Like a lot of people. I was great. It was called “A Gentleman in Moscow”. Now I can’t think of the the author’s name was Toll, Toll, we can Google all this now “A Gentleman in Moscow” and it was really about somebody who was was confined to a hotel for the rest of his life at the age when he was in his late 20s so it was a bit like quarantine and how he created, lived for decades and decades in a tiny little room in a hotel in Moscow because he belonged to the old regime on the, on the new regime took over he was an enemy of the state and and and he wasn’t sent to Siberia for some reason given him the book why he wasn’t sent to one of the camps but he was put in to kind of house arrest in a, in a hotel and it was very like it was very lucky you know of the quarantine restrictions but I thought it was absolutely brilliant. Yeah, it was a perfect time to read it as
Alastair McDermott 46:52
I absolutely Amor Towles is the guy’s name or
Carmel Finnan 46:56
Alastair McDermott 46:58
Okay, well check that out I just pulled it up here on Goodreads in front of me so we will link to that in the show notes as well I’m really interested in that is there anything that I should have asked you about storytelling that I didn’t ask you? Or is there any one message that you would give people if they’re considering using storytelling?
Carmel Finnan 47:17
Make it personal. The whole point of storytelling became popular was is to personalise our communication to start talking to each other as human to human and in the end you know when you work with somebody I don’t care how big your concern is or how whatever you’re you’re just another human being working connecting with another human being and use that as your guideline when you think of storytelling and when you think of communication just be get back to who we really are we’re just humans doing the best we can every day and that’s that’s how we do business as well we’re doing the best we can as as we’re doing as good as we can I would always like to give people will benefit of the doubt.
Alastair McDermott 48:01
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I would agree with that too. Okay, so when this goes to air you may already have your your course your home study course you mentioned that may already be be live. Can you just tell us a bit about what your what you’re going to do with that?
Carmel Finnan 48:18
Well is it an idea that came literally in the conversation with the next client last night and I said yeah, I can do that. She said I don’t want another I don’t want another webinar. I’m sick I’m sick I said. I want something I can just study on my own time at home and I said I could do at home study course. And we talked about this kind of increasing quantity online posting on content and the the corresponding drop in quality and the fact that people are become the whole thing has become so automated that there’s not human beings behind it and I said what can we just have our own so I said I’d do something on been heard and and you know, using your authentic voice and our loved word I haven’t title or anything yet but it’s it’s really about how to be heard in a very noisy world and I’m going to do it you don’t make it really, you know, two part you know, they could vary and I don’t even know that you know, but I’ll be working there’ll be a worksheet in it. You know, there’ll be exercise for people to do, there’ll be a place to ask questions and get get responses as well but it’s really just to be able to connect you know to get to give you kind of an even this still limited to what you can do in a home study, but there’s certainly enough to get people Oh yeah, I could do I could try this. This is something I could do. I want to kind of give people a few tools that they can practice themselves.
Alastair McDermott 49:43
Carmel Finnan 49:44
Let’s see how far that takes someone if you want to go further, we can think about it then afterwards, but at least get something to, to the you connect with your own voice. You start then expressing yourself in your own voice and you start building your and something that you build competence.
Alastair McDermott 50:00
Carmel Finnan 50:01
You would practice you build competence.
Alastair McDermott 50:04
Now it’s going to be really interesting because I’m going to make sure that we publish this episode after you have that live. So I would coordinate with you to make sure so we’re really interested to see the translation because people listening to this will be able to immediately click on the show notes and go over and have a look at that. So, so be interested to see that. Okay, Carmel, where should people go to find that and to find to find you online to connect with you? Maybe if they want to work with you on their storytelling?
Carmel Finnan 50:30
Well, you can check out my website, which is storydialogue.com.
Alastair McDermott 50:36
Carmel Finnan 50:36
And my email address, you can write directly to me is Carmel@storydialogue.com. And if you’re on LinkedIn, just Google my name Carmen Finnan, and we can connect there or you can check, check out my posts, you get an idea of the kind of stuff I might talk about on LinkedIn if you just
Alastair McDermott 51:00
So Carmel knows you’re not a spammer mentioned the podcast
Carmel Finnan 51:05
We mentioned mentioned at a serve Alice’s podcast. Absolutely The Recognized Authority indeed.
Alastair McDermott 51:11
Super, Carmel, thank you so much for being with us today and for sharing your knowledge of story and dialogue. It’s been really interesting.
Carmel Finnan 51:19
My pleasure, Alastair, thank you for the opportunity.
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