How To Build A Strategic Narrative with Guillaume Wiatr

February 14, 2022
Episode 52
The Recognized Authority Podcast Cover

The podcast that helps independent consultants & subject matter experts to get more clients without having to beg for referrals, or make soul-destroying cold calls!

Storytelling has been the topic du jour in marketing over the past couple of years. We all know we should use stories more in business, but what does that actually mean from a practical standpoint?

In this episode, Guillaume Wiatr and Alastair McDermott discuss a practical approach to using stories in business, the seven elements of a strategic narrative, and how to develop your origin story.

They also discuss the four different strategic narratives that can be used in your business, as well as further resources that can help you implement stories in a practical way.

Show Notes

Learn more about Guillaume here:

Books mentioned:

Strategic Narrative Diagram

Elements of Origin Story

  1. Main Character
  2. The Situation
  3. The Triggering Event
  4. The Core Emotion
  5. The Motion
  6. The Opportunity
  7. Authenticity

Guest Bio

Guillaume is the principal and founder of MetaHelm, a boutique strategy consulting firm in Seattle, USA. MetaHelm specializes in strategic storytelling for executive leadership of established companies. They reframe and revive your business strategy with a narrative that will unlock profit and energize your team. His clients range from early stage startups to fortune 500 companies.

Transcript

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

people, business, narrative, origin story, stories, story, opportunity, product, alastair, website, perspective, podcast, strategic, clients, company, problem, founders, authority, thinking, talk

SPEAKERS

Alastair McDermott, Guillame Wiatr, Voiceover

 

Guillame Wiatr  00:00

It’s a powerful tool for alignment, for efficiency, to grow your business. It’s a powerful tool for of course marketing communications, but also aligning people around the same value, and putting forth a product that makes sense to your customer.

 

Voiceover  00:15

Welcome to The Recognized Authority, a podcast that helps specialized 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  00:34

Before we get into today’s episode, I just want to let you know that if you want help with niching down, specializing your business, developing your point of view or building your authority, I’d be happy to help. You can find out more about that at TheRecognizedAuthority.com/coaching. And now on to today’s episode.  So today, my guest is Guillaume Wiatr. Guillaume is a business strategy consultant. He’s a leadership coach. He’s a writer and an artist. And he teaches CEOs, founders and business owners how to build a strategic narrative. And he is the principal and founder of MetaHelm, which is a strategy consulting firm specializing in helping business leaders to unlock profit and energize a team with a shared narrative narrative. So we’re gonna be talking a lot about narrative today. I just want to frame this conversation a bit. I know that you work a lot with founders and entrepreneurs, a lot of people listening to this are going to be independent consultants, like you and I, so, so we’re gonna try and put your examples in that frame. Is that okay?

 

Guillame Wiatr  01:33

Yeah, that’s great. Yeah, absolutely, Alastair.

 

Alastair McDermott  01:36

So, okay, the first thing I’m just gonna ask about is what is strategic narrative ’cause I know a lot of people right now we’re talking about storytelling and and stories like is massive a particularly since Donald Miller, Miller brought out the Story Brand Book. So I know a lot of people are talking about story and storytelling and stuff. Um, can you tell us a little bit about strategic narrative and and what that is, and how that relates?

 

Guillame Wiatr  01:58

Yeah, and you’re right, you know, there’s so much happening, so much being told about storytelling, because it’s a, it’s an amazing skill to have, it’s an amazing tool to put to, to, to master when you’re in business. And we use story, the word story in the word narrative almost, you know, interchangeably, if you, if you pay attention to your conversations, or if you read anything about this, you will see that people use them as synonyms.  And I came and it was my case for for many years. And I came to the realization that these two words have a have, you know, they exist for a reason, the reason the difference exists for a reason is story to from based on my research and my my experience, my definition, a story is something that is from the past, first of all, it’s a, it’s something that is closed, and that it has happened. It is a recount of event and facts that you can tell about. So you can walk people through a story. And when you tell a story, you have an audience. And by definition, an audience is passive, you know, you’re the recipient and you’re consuming a story, you may buy a book, you may buy a movie, or listen to a stock to, to a podcast, for instance, for example, and you’re here sitting and you’re just receiving the information.  The word narrative is as also that same definition, but if you do some more research, it’s also understood understood as a, as a way to fro to frame a piece of reality. So a narrative is also, you know, an interpretation of, of a story or many stories. And a narrative promotes a particular point of view. And that becomes to be very interesting for us in business, because, as you know, very well, Alastair, to be a recognized authority, you have to have a point of view, you can’t just stay silent about things you do you have to have a perspective, right.  So the net, the word narrative offers this, this open door to a different kind of a different understanding that I’ll I’ll keep explaining here in this app, in this podcast narrative is about the future. It’s an open ended piece of information that turns people into participants versus audience. So when you start to think like that, you are in the mindset of how can I, how can I mobilize people? How can I connect with them and help them achieve something greater?  And for sure, you know, you mentioned Donald Miller storebrand wonderful work and wonderful book. And I think this that, you know, he’s approach works really well, but for a very specific case, and he makes this very clear, it’s all about marketing. And it’s about all about engaging people and being very clear which I’m a big proponent of that, of course, but in my view, I think this is also a limited perspective, because it’s great to have a message and send it out, you know and catch people’s attention we need that. The world is overloaded with information. But how do you really engage people? How do you mobilize them to work differently?  That’s something that people who are innovators who are company founders who want to change the rule of the markets are really interested in. And that’s, in fact, that’s their job. That’s the job of the CEO founder who has a was an innovation that they want to want to bring out there. There, they are faced with the challenge of changing people’s buying behavior, for instance, and you can’t just do that by just telling a bunch of stories. You have to frame your buyers ready them to a new narrative. That’s the main difference that I do. So long answer, but I think it’s worth you know, starting there is really the difference between those two words.

 

Alastair McDermott  05:49

Yeah, I think that’s really fascinating. And for me, the word that jumped out at me when you started talking about this is framing it, because I even said that at the very start of this conversation, I said, I want to frame what we’re doing here.

 

Guillame Wiatr  06:02

Yeah. Yeah.

 

Alastair McDermott  06:03

Just that that, like that is what you’re doing. Yeah. And, and it being past versus future and close ended versus open, passive audience versus participants. That’s all all fascinating. I see where you’re coming from with this. Okay, so can we talk about how this works on a practical level? Like, like, how can we take that something that seems like a semantic kind of nuance, between this difference? And how can we take that and say, Okay, well, let’s implement this, let’s use this in a practical way of some kind.

 

Guillame Wiatr  06:35

Well, you know, since this is a, this is about storytelling, let me tell you a story. I want to tell you the story about how I, I ran into this, right, and that’s from quite a while ago, but I was about 28, young consultant for a large consulting firm. And I was sent as a quote unquote, expert, I say, quote, unquote, because with hindsight, I didn’t know much about the topic. But still, it was a, you know, early 2000, it was 2001. Already 2000, many organizations, many companies wanting to digitize their processes, I was, I was brought in to a company called Totaal in France, it’s a very large energy company. And I was brought in to help a group led by the head of purchasing a total. So you know, the, probably the the guy who runs billions of dollars in purchasing equipment to, you know, drill oil, and so on. And they were stuck on a project where they needed somebody who knew how to digitize information that was paper based.  So keep in mind, this is, you know, early 2000s, there is the .com, boom, and we’re trying to make everything electronic. And I, I show up, you know, I prepare for this kickoff meeting. And I show up that day, there is a room with 20 engineer, the head of procurement number three guy at total. And they’re all looking at me expecting, you know, a very organized agenda with the solution there. And 30 minutes into the meeting. I’m like, Okay, this is not going nowhere. They mean, they’re not listening to each other. They’re talking about different things. We’re kind of lost in translation. Jargons goes left in jargon, you know, jargon is stuff go left and right. And I see that the problem that they have is not a technical problem. I just follow my gut my intuition. And something tells me that if they don’t align on on their own work, what is it that they want to achieve that we’re not going to do anything here? They’re going to fire me maybe next week?  So just on a whim, I asked. And that was I was terrified. I was petrified last year, but I thought it was the right thing to do. I asked that they asked, you know, is that is that possible if we if we do a kind of an outside the box exercise here, I’d like to suggest that we all take a piece of paper and a pen and we draw the project. So you can imagine the reaction, they kind of look at me with googly eyes,

 

Alastair McDermott  09:00

Interesting. Yeah.

 

Guillame Wiatr  09:01

And they’re like, Okay, I guess that’s a good break. Reason, good reason for a break. So let’s kind of let’s do that. If if the new consultants say so sure. Let’s try.

 

Alastair McDermott  09:11

What’s, what’s the suit saying?

 

Guillame Wiatr  09:14

So I hand out, you know, letter size pieces of paper, and it really grabs their their pen. And, you know, there is a moment of there’s three to five minutes moments of dark and deep silence where I’m like, Okay, I think I’m getting fired with this. I have no idea what this is going to do. But the reason why I pulled that off is because I thought maybe they’re going to, you know, hopefully they’d rather something that has something in common. So after after five minutes, I pick, I pick the drawings, I put that on the on the wall, I post them and the drawings did the rest of the work. Everybody could see that there is no alignment. Everybody’s talking about something different.  And that was the very moment where I realized, okay, so I can’t do any technical work here if I don’t have a mission In my understanding of what is the story we’re talking about, at the time, the word story came to mind. But not but but that was, you know, 20, 20 years ago. And I obviously did a lot more research and work around this. And what I would say today is that they were not running under the same narrative, everybody came to the table with a with a different story. And all of the stories didn’t connect together. So maybe, you know, the engineers had this priority and, and the person was in charge of bringing the suppliers to this new platform, they’re building had this other priorities.  So, so so when I teach people about this idea of strategic narrative, I have this diagram and that’s always the hit with everyone who sees that visual. On the left is a series of stories that people you know, typically will recognize such as your brand positioning your mission and vision, your website, you have sorry, on your website, you get a sales deck, you’ve got a business strategy, maybe an innovation roadmap somewhere. And all of those stories don’t really match and don’t, don’t really connect. So what I do with this strategic narrative is realign those stories. So that we have some alignment, we have some connection here and we see people rowing in the same direction. And I see I see four facets to that work. There is a there is an internal facet of the to this work and an external facet to this work.  Most people think that storytelling and narratives are about communication and marketing. And that’s true, but it’s also a very narrow understanding of what this thing is. A narrative runs your whole business, even for yourself. So I also see a collective and an integral fatty facet to a narrative. If you’re a solo entrepreneur, the narrative that you tell yourself about why you’re doing this job, where where is this supposed to take you, and where do you see your clients go is extremely important. But very few people talk about this. We are we are all we’re in the service business. So we’re interesting about telling you the story of of our of our product, or offering our clients and testimony resolve that, but it’s not just that it’s also what is your narrative in your mind. So that’s how I came across that…

 

Alastair McDermott  12:16

It brings it into, this brings it into business goals, and and all of that kind of right. Um, so yeah, just kind of high level high level planning. Yeah.

 

Guillame Wiatr  12:26

Yeah. So very practically, it’s a it’s a powerful tool for alignment for efficiency to grow your business. It’s a powerful tool for, of course, marketing, communications, but also aligning people around the same value, and putting forth a product that makes sense to your customers.

 

Alastair McDermott  12:43

Right. Okay. Okay, so I want to talk about the different, so is there anything else on the fundamentals that you that you want to give us because I want to ask you about the different types of stories that you mentioned. But is there any more framework or kind of groundwork that we need to know, before we get into that?

 

Guillame Wiatr  13:02

I think I’ve give you a it was a rapid crash course here. But the the I think the highlight would be to keep in mind that a strategic narrative is a system of stories. It’s a system of stories, think think about it as building a system of different stories that may not feel connected, but that all connects in a central focal point.

 

Alastair McDermott  13:24

And that diagram you mentioned, can we make that available to the podcast listeners?

 

Guillame Wiatr  13:29

Yeah.

 

Alastair McDermott  13:29

Show notes?

 

Guillame Wiatr  13:29

Absolutely. I would love that. I think you’re in that case, you know, this image is worth a thousand words.

 

Alastair McDermott  13:36

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Okay. Well, I want to ask you now about about the first story, which is the origin story. And this is something that I you know, I see people talking about a lot and it’s in in the book and “Primal Branding”. I think it’s Patrick Hanlon, who mentioned that, and I’ll link to that in the shownotes. But he mentions the origin story is one of these primal elements of a brand. So it’s this really powerful thing. So you talk about originm can you tell us your perspective on or your framing of the the origin story?

 

Guillame Wiatr  14:07

Yeah, okay, so I haven’t read that book. I wish I could make I could that would love to make a reference. I will. I’ll pick it up and read it. My understanding is you know, when you are an entrepreneur, when, when you want to start something new or or declare that you’re going to do something innovative, the roots are always somewhere in the journey that you go through and you know, in your daily life and I’ll give some examples but in your in your daily life, maybe you see something that is a problem to you something that creates frustration or you see something that you change really.  And you know, I like to use the example of of Netflix, for example, you know how Reed Hastings started the company. We don’t know it like that anymore, but Netflix used to be just a DVD based, you know, DVD rental company, and the way it started the company was that one day, he tried to return a VHS tape that he had kept for too long. And he was heavily fined. Heavily meaning I think he had to pay $40 at the time. And he felt really, he felt really bad or bad about this, you know, we can see he just forgot or I don’t, I can’t remember the details but just forgot. He’s he’s just like, he’s a busy guy. And he shows up to the video store. And that’s that’s that, you know, from the for people listening here, we used to have to rent VHS tape to watch movies. That doesn’t make any, any any younger. But so, so Reed goes,

 

Alastair McDermott  15:38

You have to rewind them.

 

Guillame Wiatr  15:39

You had to rewind that. But yeah, otherwise, exactly the way they would yell at you. And, and I don’t know about you, Alastair, you remember those days where you would you would show up to the store, make sure that you don’t show up late, that you showed before, before it’s closed. And if you’re late, you know, you’re already preparing yourself to negotiate with the with the person you’re going to, they can give you a break on the fine.  And so Reed gets fined 40 bucks. And he feels really bad about this. And he’s already thinking about how he’s going to have to tell this to his wife. And he’s like, I can’t tell her that. So he’s like, he walks back home. And he’s like already thinking about what am I doing here, I’m compromising my marriage because of a stupid VHS tape that I returned late. And he starts thinking about this and realizes that, hey, wouldn’t it be great if you could just rent movies, just like we go to the gym, we just pay a membership and monthly membership and, and there you go, you can you can watch as many movies as you want, and keep them for as long as you and that’s and that’s the, that’s the beginning of Netflix.  And that very story right there that very, you know, handful of minutes when he the way he thinks, the way he challenges the established narrative of the video rental industry, it shapes the whole history of Netflix, because then he keeps thinking about new enhancements, you know, not now, and then later streaming. And, you know, filming shows and in the Netflix created even binge watching, you know. So they went through through several innovation curves, we call them S curves. And so I like to point this kind of story to people I work with, because I tell them somewhere, you probably don’t even remember or there is exploration to be done here, in interpreting, interpreting why you started, why you even started this company. That’s how I frame the origin story.  So it’s really the, the origin story is the kind of the seed that where the, you know, the seed that holds the DNA of the company. And, and and if the metaphor is a plant, after you’ve planted the seed, the seed disappears, right, there is a root system building, and then the beautiful tree and your business grows and flourish. And you forget about that.  And so working on your origin story is not just a communication exercise to look good on your website and to just publish and say, hey, look how I started this company. It’s it’s a very introspective exercise is a research exercise that you should continue to do, you know, on an ongoing basis, maybe moving to, you know, other events than just the first one. Because doing that exercise really adds a layer of meaning that keeps you focused, keep you aligned, and helps you make decisions, you know, whether whether your product is going to be digital, or are you going to pivot to another direction.  You know, a few minutes ago, in this show, I showed my origin story. And I knew from the get go, that this was kind of the mission that I had. This is kind of why I came to this, you know, to be on earth here is to work with people who have a hard time working together and build better companies. And so that’s what the origin story is. It’s a written and spoken account of the series of events that tell us why and how you started.

 

Alastair McDermott  18:56

Interesting. And so there’s a couple of things that sprang to mind as a result of that. The first is, if you’re doing something complex or difficult, it can be a good idea to write down why you’re doing that and put it in somewhere you can see it very often to remind yourself, Why am I doing this thing? That’s difficult?

 

Guillame Wiatr  19:16

Yeah.

 

Alastair McDermott  19:16

Because Because when you don’t have that y in front of you, sometimes you forget me, and it just becomes this slug that becomes very difficult. Now I can see why that’s useful.

 

Guillame Wiatr  19:25

I agree with you, is, I’m just gonna give an amnesia, right? We all have amnesia, about why we do what we do, so,

 

Alastair McDermott  19:35

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I have a fantastic memory. I forget things all the time. Usually things that aren’t so important, but sometimes it gets me in trouble. Yeah, it sometimes gets me in trouble when when Emery will ask me about something and I’ll have forgotten something that she’s told me. Okay, then I can remember some very, very technical on important details. So you’ll

 

Guillame Wiatr  20:01

You have to teach me your strategies to not…

 

Alastair McDermott  20:05

Yeah.

 

Guillame Wiatr  20:06

Because I need them, I think.

 

Alastair McDermott  20:09

The other thing about the origin story that strikes me when I think about my own origin story, is that I could pick a start in about 12 different places spread across 10 years. And I could say, well, the origin of this was, you know, when I rebranded the podcast recently, or the, the brand, you know, or I could say it was back in March of 2007. You know, when I was contemplating, I was sitting up with my Mom having a whiskey about one o’clock in the morning, talking about my job that I hated. And she said, Well, look, what’s the worst that happens if you if you quit, and you try and start your own business? And I said, well, the worst thing that can happen is, if it doesn’t work out, we’ll have to go get another job. So that that could be that could be my origin story.  Or it could be, you know, I could pick a few different places. So I’m just wondering about that, you know, that the fact that you have all these different potential origin stories, like, how do you pick the one that’s, that’s the one that you want to say, this is the origin story for this?

 

Guillame Wiatr  21:09

Well, first of all, you have to figure out which of those use, you said you have 12 starts, you have to you have to put them on paper, you know, you have to visualize them write about them.  And, okay, so now we’re getting into why I call this a system, it’s because the origin story in the context of what we’re trying to do, which is establish a business and hopefully be successful at it should be connected with the opportunity that you’re trying to bring to your market. So you’re going to pick your the right event in your in your, in your background in your origin that makes most sense, to explain the opportunity that you want to put forth.  So in my case, you know, I was, you know, I’m doing consulting here, I’m helping CEOs, executives, founders, small business owners to, you know, position their business in a way that is relevant to them. So I want to tell them, when I started to think about this turns out it was a while ago. So it also shows that I’ve been thinking about this thing for over 20 years. So maybe I have a couple of things to say about this. That’s another criteria, credibility, longevity.  I also, I also pick that even because, you know, people say things you leave through things. And that even was very emotional to me, I told you that story, I was really scared. I was really, you know, second guessing myself. But still, at the same time, I intuitively I know that this is what I had to do. And in the work that I do, I feel like intuition is also very, very important.  So that’s there is another element here is like what value, what are your values? Like, what do you care about? And so you may want to create a connection here between how you operate today, what are the values, maybe it’s innovation, maybe it’s flexibility, maybe it’s client by client centricity, anything you want, but make sure that it has a connection with how you started. So that’s why in the first place, it was talking about alignment in a system of stories, these can be disconnected and countless times, you know, I go on websites, or I talk to company founders, and I, they tell me everything about their business. And then, and then suddenly, you know, the next day, or whenever they don’t pay attention, I asked them about how they started it. And there is no relationship. There’s no relationship whatsoever. And I gently point this out. And most of the time they go, Oh, yeah, I was always trying to figure this out, I but couldn’t find anybody to talk to about this. And it turns out, that’s my job to help you fix it.

 

Alastair McDermott  23:37

That makes sense. And so in that context, if I was to look at the, you know, the 12 different starting points, or whatever that number is that I can pick from the one that makes sense, in the context of this brand, being The Recognized Authority, is the day that I realized, I wasn’t able to be an authority in everything. And so I needed to specialize. And I needed to niche down. And if I did not do that, I could not become an authority, because at the time, I was trying to become an authority in websites. And it’s just not possible. It’s too big a problem area. And I realized, you know, I’m trying to write a blog post here, I’m trying to plan a podcast, and I can’t like, I just can’t do this. I can’t be an expert in everything here for every type of website. I can’t be an expert in E commerce websites and lead generation websites and this type of industry in this type of industry. So that was probably the origin story, which relates to what I’m doing now. So, so yeah, that makes sense.

 

Guillame Wiatr  24:40

How did you feel that day when you realize this, that kind of question and I’ve never asked you this question before?

 

Alastair McDermott  24:46

Yeah, yeah. I feel that I I’d say I probably felt relief that I was finally getting to grips with the problem and frustration that it had taken me so long in figuring it out.

 

Guillame Wiatr  24:57

Did you,

 

Alastair McDermott  24:58

It took me a long time to realize that specialization was the key. That was the thing I was missing.

 

Guillame Wiatr  25:02

Did you wonder if other people may have this problem?

 

Alastair McDermott  25:05

At the time? No, didn’t didn’t occur to me. Okay, just just that it was just this lightbulb moment of, okay, this this, this starts to make a lot of sense now, because I had been seeing the same type of advice about niching down and getting more specific about your target market. And I had found found those exercises difficult to do. And I kind of put them off, because I was working locally as well. So I was taking all comers, all types of businesses, that would come to me. And so that would be you know, there was all of the problems that go along with specialization, the spheres of specialization that go along with that.

 

Guillame Wiatr  25:42

Yeah.

 

Alastair McDermott  25:42

And yeah, I mean, I would have had those as well. Until, you know, I became a total zealous and now I’m now I’m the biggest fan of specialization. So, yeah,

 

Guillame Wiatr  25:56

So there you have it, there, you have the first connection between your story and your business. And, and this connection starts to system, I want to point something out to that may be useful to people who are listening to us that there is this constant debate over who should be the hero of the story. And back to your reference to Donald Miller, you know, his perspective is, you are not the hero of the story, you know, your client is the hero of the story.  It’s true for another story that I’ll talk about fully, you know, later in this show, but I feel like in the origin story, you are the hero of the story. You it’s it’s the only place where you where you’re going to be in my world allowed. And you should really talk about you and what was the situation. So here are the here are the seven elements that I put in this origin, I encourage people to think about this as a framework. And his origin story is.  The first one is who’s the main character I always asked. I was like to ask that, because if it’s not abuse, it’s you, the founder, the person who starts the business. And then next is like, what, what’s this? What’s the situation? So you mentioned, you know, one time talking to your grandma one time, you know, facing the struggle of specialization? And think about where you were that day? What what happened, you know, who did who did you talk to what, what was what were you trying to do? Because that shows up in you know, later in your perspective in how you sell your services. What was the triggering event? What was the drop that made, you know, that made the that make that made things you know, just kind of overwhelming? What was like the, okay, okay, that’s it. I’ve had enough of that. Okay, the F F moment, F word moment, like, Okay, I’ve just, I’ve never had enough of that. I just want to do something about it.  And and what in number four and five? Is what’s the core emotion and what put you in motion? What made you start? Because if that made you start, maybe that will make other people start and change the course of whatever they do. And that’s how you mobilize people it’s like, by telling them how you decided to change something, then maybe, you know, maybe other folks want to specialize? Maybe other folks want to be The Recognized Authority. Turns out yes.

 

Alastair McDermott  28:09

Yeah, absolutely. So I’ll tell you very

 

Guillame Wiatr  28:13

Yeah, point at some pointers here.

 

Alastair McDermott  28:14

Can I Can I just go back over those, right. So we have the main character, that we have a triggering event.

 

Guillame Wiatr  28:21

So let me get a we skipped…

 

Alastair McDermott  28:25

Oh, sorry, you recap it that that would be better.

 

Guillame Wiatr  28:27

Okay, cool. And we can put that we can put that in the show notes to the main character.  Yeah, cool.  The situation, the triggering event, the core emotion, and the emotion like, what did you do? Yeah, the opportunity that you saw then, and the seventh one is kind of an overarching is authenticity, you have to be true. You can’t lie. It has to be genuine. You cannot make up an origin story. This is not going to work. You’re going to be sad and depressed later on. If you do this, people are going to find out you’re a fraud. I was reading an article a few days ago about why and how entrepreneurs lie. And sure enough, sometime we have to stretch reality a little bit right. Wink wink.

 

Alastair McDermott  29:13

You get the narrative, yeah.

 

Guillame Wiatr  29:14

Right. But in that instance, I highly recommend you’re as as authentic as true to yourself as possible.

 

Alastair McDermott  29:23

That makes sense. Okay, now, we have limited time. So I don’t we’re not going to be able to go into everything in as much detail as we possibly could. But you have three other stories that you talk about, the opportunity story, the perspective story and the product story. Can you give us the Cliff Notes version of of of those, just just give us just touch the high points. So we kind of have a bit of an understanding of what the overall is.

 

Guillame Wiatr  29:47

Right. Well, let’s let’s talk about the opportunity. So you know, the opportunity, the the idea of what you want to do next, you know that what’s the chance that we have to in your case, you know, become a recognized authority. That’s that stems from the origin story, but then it becomes really the Radek, potentially the what I call the rally cry of a movement. It’s the, the headline of why your company exists.  So let’s talk about Netflix, you know, the at the time, Reed Hasting started with the, you know, Netflix with the opportunity to change the way we have access and the way we consume entertainment, for you know, drastically change it. In my course, I take also the example of Volvo, back in the early 60s, when Volvo was not very well positioned as a business, you know, they’re trying to sell f-fast family cars, until they realize that they were all about safety. That’s the opportunity, the opportunity that they had at the time was saving millions of life. So for your, for your business. That’s the big idea there behind the opportunity story.  So the definition of the opportunity is the written and spoken account of facts that tell us why we should follow you in the purse in the pursuit of this desire that you have. So back to your example, Alastair, why should I become a recognized authority? What’s the opportunity for me? And maybe for our community of entrepreneur here? Why does this matter so much? That’s the opportunity right there.  So it’s an idea, it’s a story that is probably bigger than your, than your company or your business. And it’s something that should really help you gain attention, you know, start differentiating and have conversations with a community that is maybe broader than your your clients. That’s the high level.

 

Alastair McDermott  31:38

And, yeah, we see Jonathan Stark, who’s one of the guests when the first guest on the show, actually, and he has a he has a great kind of mission, which is to rid the world of hourly billing, and even his podcast is called ditching hourly.

 

Guillame Wiatr  31:52

Yeah.

 

Alastair McDermott  31:53

That’s an example. I think.

 

Guillame Wiatr  31:54

That’s a great example. Thank you for mentioning Jonathan. And he has, he has another quote, I’m not not going to be perfectly right. But he goes like this. It’s like, no, the opportunity is not to make more money to serve people. And he says that, if you really think about sales, and marketing as helping someone, you just triggered, the opportunity is so much bigger. So your your whole business tactics to you know, is lifted there.

 

Alastair McDermott  32:23

Okay. And so when should we use the opportunity story?

 

Guillame Wiatr  32:27

The opportunity story is critical to use, in moments where you, you’re meeting people who know you who are meeting you for the first time, and instead of going straight to your product, and pitching them on, hey, my look at my services, you know, it’s much better, I’m going to help you do this without doing that, you know, try to try to avoid the temptation, the temptation to go too fast into your product and really set up context, like what’s going on around us? Why is this? Why does your your business matter? What Why is there an opportunity? So early sale or earlier in your sales cycle? Might be a good idea? Also, if you’re trying to raise money?

 

Alastair McDermott  33:08

Yeah, yeah, so this just just strikes a chord with me on on something else. So, so there’s something I mentioned briefly before another episode. In the world of copywriting for websites and sales pages, there’s a couple of different frameworks and things. But one of the very simple ones is called pain, dream fix. And pain, dream, fix is basically the concept that you talk about the pain of the problem first, then you talk about the dream, which is the the, the the ideal outcome. And then he talked about the fix, which is your solution. And so that’s the order, you know, on your webpage, like, let’s say, your homepage, or on your product page, a services page. And so that sounds like what you’re talking about, there is the pain and the dream is you’re talking about the problem. And the opportunity is the problem and the outcome. Yeah, the opportunity, literally, yeah.

 

Guillame Wiatr  33:56

What I I agree with you that connects to that. The way I think about the opportunity story is more to also at a collective level. Because the pain, the pain in the dream can be just for your client, just at an individual level, like what does it do for you as a person or a business owner or a consumer, but also what’s the impact of your business on society?  So Jonathan Stark, let’s take that example wants to get to it wants to get rid of hourly billing everywhere. Blair Enns. Some of you might know Blair Enns, with with win without pitching, Blair Enns wants to change the way creative services are sold and bought. That’s like ever it’s universal. It just goes way beyond his home clients. That’s the That’s the mindset you have to be in for the opportunity story. So I would say yes, it connects to the framework you just pointed but within added layer of global understanding, universal thinking.

 

Alastair McDermott  34:50

Right, yeah, yeah, connecting it to the kind of the bigger world. By the way, Shannon Lee, from from Blair Enns Blair Enns colleague was just on on the podcast, and so you can listen back to that. It’s a couple episodes.

 

Guillame Wiatr  35:03

I can’t wait. I love Shannon. She’s a great friend.

 

Alastair McDermott  35:07

Excellent. Yeah, she’s brilliant. Yeah. Fantastic.

 

Guillame Wiatr  35:10

People have,

 

Alastair McDermott  35:10

Okay, so,

 

Guillame Wiatr  35:11

Have to listen to this. Yeah.

 

Alastair McDermott  35:12

Okay, so next up, and this is like totally a whistle stop tour of the strategic narrative. But the perspective story, can you give me some perspective on that?

 

Guillame Wiatr  35:22

Right, right. So actually, let me steal I want to steal a quote from Blair, Enns, Blair Enns and Shannon themselves, the you know, your perspective is a is a reason to disagree with your competitors. And I just love that quote, because I think it sums it up very, very nicely. If you are doing what you’re doing. If you’re right, it’s like if, if you’re if you’re going to do a, what I call the me to business, like, you know, copy paste of a business that this is story. Yeah, sure, it might work if you’re doing something commoditize. And, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s, you know, it’s kind of right there, it’s not a lot of effort to just bring, you know, bring, maybe by a by a franchise, you know, or start to start in your, in your town, start the motel in the hotel that everybody needs, but without anything fancy, or innovative or different, just just just do that.  But if you’re about innovating and changing the narrative, you know, bringing some something new to the world, you’re gonna have to tell people what you believe that is so different. What Why is the your perspective so different? So why did we want to, you know, start manufacturing electric cars? And how are we going to, how are we going to go about this, it’s probably the, you know, the earliest version of the perspective of Tesla, for instance.  And so the perspective can manifest himself in different forms, it can be a manifesto that you’re right, it could be a book that you write, it could be just a simple list of key bullet points. I have about 15 of them that I believe are my strong rules and beliefs that I asked all my clients read before they work with me, because I don’t want to, you know, catch them off guard, I want them to know what my perspective is.  And so the summary of a perspective story is the fundamental set of beliefs that define the way you look at a situation and how you recommend that we treat this situation. There are, there are many ways to solve a problem. And that’s your way.

 

Alastair McDermott  37:26

Yeah. And so I’ve seen so I think that what you’re talking here, at least incorporates a point of view or distinctive point of view, as some people call that, which we’ve we’ve spoken about a lot before with Philip Morgan. But you know, having that particular point of view and one point of view that I have two points of view, I think that I strongly believe in that I know a lot of people will disagree with them. One is, which is referrals are dangerous for your business. I think that, you know, moving away from a dependency on referrals is essential. And then the other is that I strongly believe in vertical specialization.  Right.  I think it’s like a superpower. I’m happy to talk ad nauseum about why that is. And I will in, in other episodes.

 

Guillame Wiatr  38:11

And a bed these are connected about how you started the company. And what your what opportunity do you see out there for people who adopt your perspective?

 

Alastair McDermott  38:20

Yeah, yeah, it was a connection. Yeah, absolutely.

 

Guillame Wiatr  38:23

So see, again, we’re talking about a system. And once again, number one, you will not hear this in any kind of, you know, major, best storytelling bestseller, like pick a pick up a storytelling vessel, you’re going to hear about your hero’s journey, you’re not going to hear about the perspective and how it should be connected to your product and how you go to market.

 

Alastair McDermott  38:44

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Well, then let’s get into that last one. And I know we’re just pushing on watching the clock here.

 

Guillame Wiatr  38:50

Yeah.

 

Alastair McDermott  38:51

So let’s just briefly touch on the product story, which is the the last of the of the four stories in in the strategic narrative system. At least I think I hope I have that right.

 

Guillame Wiatr  39:01

Yeah, yeah, you do. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So the product story, is the sequence of facts that elevates your product is the ideal way for your community, your customers to take action towards the opportunity. So if if your product is not differentiated, because of everything you’ve you’ve we’ve covered before, then you’re probably not giving the right products. Your product, as I like to define it for my clients is the material expression of how you think about the world. So so a product story is should be, you know, it’s the main thing that people go towards, like, Okay, what’s the product, but it’s really a balance between the context you’ve said before, and the product that you have in your hands that is going to help people to access something better, a better state of themselves.  So I’ll use your your, your, your your your case, again. And lastly, you know, the product you’re putting in front of us today is a podcast, it’s the start of a journey, right? It’s it’s a gold mine of thoughts, and examples and connection to how we can become better experts. So already there, this is one of your products, it’s a free product, I can access your podcast for free, but it’s the first step in the, in the ladder in the, in the staircase, to getting to that to that better opportunity.  So when, when companies are stuck in their research and development processes, or, you know, they have a hard time deciding if they if they should use technology, A or B, I like to help them and refer them back to what’s their perspective on technology? What what do they believe in? Are they more about crowdsourcing or buying IP from others? Do they write? You know, it’s, again, it’s the connection here. So product story is, what’s what, what is your product? Number two, what the product does, very bluntly, don’t try to be fancy or acute there.  Number three is the proof that it works in, you may have statistics you may have, you know, credibility builders, like testimonials and things like that. And also, how can I get it? Like, what’s what, you know, how do I access the product? And number five is something I see rarely. But you know, to just close the loop here on the strategic narrative idea is how do I invite, how do you invite people to join you on the movement you’re building to reach that opportunity?

 

Alastair McDermott  41:33

Right, okay. And so call to action, you might call that? Or is that like more of a, it’s just or

 

Guillame Wiatr  41:41

I like to call it invitation to join because here’s why. Everybody thinks a call to action is a button that you click on a website is something you it’s it’s a purchase, it’s a it’s a transaction that you place. Sure. But again, that’s very limited, is a very limited view of things. Before I go buy your stuff, I have to start, I have to start feeling like I belong to you, your business idea. Do I even join you in your in the way you think about thing? Like, you know, and for me, that’s the, that’s an element that’s always overlooked. And everybody thinks, you know, all right, yeah, we’re gonna, we’re gonna just make this, you know, a transaction or a button or download this or start the contract, they’re sure we want to do that we want to be profitable. Don’t get me wrong. But before this, you have to ensure that okay, we’re on the same page here.

 

Alastair McDermott  42:33

Absolutely. Okay. Um, I know, we’re, we’re pushing close to time. So I’m going to try and wrap this up, I’m not going to ask you the typical questions I normally would. I just want to ask you, because I know that you talk a bit about, you know, once you construct or create these stories, actually putting them into action. Can you just give us a quick overview of like, if we spend some time creating these stories, how do you actually go about using them?

 

Guillame Wiatr  43:02

So what you need to do then is put them into is activate them, put them into practice and around that, that cluster for stories is a set of things you can do you know, choices. So most people, most people think about redoing the marketing collateral in their website, so you may, you may want to look at your website and see where the stories fit in. But also, if you have a team, you may want to look at your ways of working harder, how do the ways of working how the culture, how the values, maybe some of your processes? How do they relate to that to that system and stories. So that’s the activation phase, you should not wait until you’ve got to do four stories perfectly written, you know, I hope you got that. I’m describing more of a process than a product. I mean, for sure, you, you you write them in that that’s the product piece of that exercise of strategic narrative. But it’s mostly a process of building a business.  So the activation phase is kind of ongoing. And in my in on my website, on my in my email list, you know, I write seven days a week and in my workshop in my upcoming workshop, I give a list of 60 different activation practices to help you stay align, and make sure that your strategic narrative just glows inside and outside your business.

 

Alastair McDermott  44:24

Yeah. And so I know you’re doing one of those workshops at the moment by the time this podcast comes out. The next workshop will be starting probably a month after this podcast comes out, in and around that. So if anybody’s interested can you can you just tell them a little bit more about what the podcast looks like? Sorry, podcast, what the workshop looks like.

 

Guillame Wiatr  44:43

What the workshop looks like. Yeah. Happy to do that. Yeah, the next workshop is a is gonna start end of January. The exact date will be posted soon on my website, MetaHelm.com. This is a seven week experience guided by me so you get access to me, it’s a small group of people limited to 12 participants. And I take you through the the storytelling and strategic narrative framework I just described today. The goal is to help you use the Canvas, the strategic narratives canvas that I developed over the 20 years, so that you end up with a system that I describe today. It’s a seven weeks program. Everything is pre recording, I mean, the content, I don’t lecture people I don’t like to do that. The content is on videos, you have access to the slides and transcript. And then we meet as a group every Tuesday morning at 8:30 Pacific. I’ve had all already successful cohorts take this workshop. And we’ve seen some really, you know, big impact happening already. Yeah. And I highly recommend working with Guillaime, very smart guy. Okay, so people can find you at MetaHelm.com and and I’m going to link to the workshop page for when you get that page set up for the for the next cohort. And I will also include the diagram that we mentioned earlier and the bulletpoints you’re going to give me for the for the overview of what we just discussed earlier on. So is there anything else that anywhere else people can go to find you I know my website is, I mean, I’m very active on LinkedIn. You can find me on LinkedIn at LinkedIn/GuillaumeWiatr. Probably the best place to start is my, is my website, MetaHelm.com. If you’re interested in the workshop, it’s MetaHelm.com/workshop. And if you’d like to find out a little more and you know, get a sense of a feel for who I am, I send a daily publication. And you want to go to the daily insights page on my website.

 

Alastair McDermott  46:53

Cool. Excellent. Guillaume Wiatr, thank you very much for being with us here today.

 

Guillame Wiatr  46:58

It was a pleasure, Alastair, thank you so much. Thanks for listening to The Recognized Authority with Alastair McDermott. Subscribe today and don’t miss an episode. Find out more at therecognizedauthority.com

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