Podcast

Why Resonance Matters More Than Reach: Rethinking Marketing with Jay Acunzo

Podcast

Why Resonance Matters More Than Reach: Rethinking Marketing with Jay Acunzo

Podcast

Why Resonance Matters More Than Reach: Rethinking Marketing with Jay Acunzo

Podcast

Why Resonance Matters More Than Reach: Rethinking Marketing with Jay Acunzo

Podcast

Why Resonance Matters More Than Reach: Rethinking Marketing with Jay Acunzo

Download PDFDownload PDF
Podcast

Why Resonance Matters More Than Reach: Rethinking Marketing with Jay Acunzo

/
Podcast

Why Resonance Matters More Than Reach: Rethinking Marketing with Jay Acunzo

33:41
MIN
/
About the Episode
You should always follow best practices, right? Not necessarily, according to Jay Acunzo. As a marketer, Jay has dedicated his life to creating content that matters instead of maintaining the status quo or following generalized measurements of success. Whether you’re a marketer, salesperson, or product manager, his tips will help you better understand how to resonate with an audience, build a community, and create love and trust for your brand.
Episode Highlights

Create resonance
Reaching new audiences shouldn’t outweigh building a strong relationship with your current one. 


Gather feedback
Your audience will reveal important data and opinions if you just ask them to provide it. 


Simplify storytelling
Great stories don’t have to be grand or complicated; all you need is tension and clear communication.

Meet our Guest

What has Jay Acunzo not done in marketing? The author, podcast host, speaker, content creator, and producer has been a leader in the marketing industry for years. He’s created everything from highly engaging podcasts to informative and educational marketing classes. His unique point of view on creating content that matters, not just that aligns with best practices or expectations, is what truly sets him apart. Get a feel for his style by enjoying one of his shows, like Unthinkable, 3 Clips, or Against the Grain.

Episode Transcript

Chris Byers: Reimagine a world where we focused less on metrics, less on a reach and more on making a difference and telling a good story for metrics driven marketing, that would seem really scary and potentially wrong. What if we changed our thinking, though, about marketing altogether? What if we have it all wrong? And what if the best practices are no longer the right practice? Jack is a writer and host of The Unthinkable podcast. He's focused on equipping brands with workshops, insights and content for creating original shows. He's a leader when it comes to thinking outside the box, challenging marketing show runners to create their audiences favorite show to make a difference. While it's evident Jay is using his voice to redefine real marketing, let's uncover the story. I'm Chris Byers of Formstack and this is Ripple Effect, a show celebrating the positive impact your decisions made. Jay, welcome to the show. Is there anything we missed in that intro?

Jay Acunzo: Thanks, Chris. I do a lot of a lot, but I capsulize it pretty well. Yeah, I like to make things that help other people make what matters.

Chris Byers: I love it. Well, share with the audience the work that you're doing today, and we'd love to hear more about that.

Jay Acunzo: Sure. Right now I'm focused on a couple of projects. So you mentioned unthinkable. That show is like my digital baby. It's a labor of love. I've done it since twenty sixteen. It's a narrative podcast about creative people. And so that is my laboratory where I learned the hard way in many ways how to make a podcast and not just a show that has a bunch of predictable questions in it, but a story, a premise, a format to how you deliver that premise each episode, a community and spinoff projects. And it's kind of where I add to the list in my head that's titled This Might Not Work, which I think is I think it's always a healthy list for a creative person to add to, but it's also a scary list to visit every single day. And I'm really trying to do that. So that's been my focus for a time now. And I'm also the proprietor of a community group for creative people called Make What Matters. So as you can see already, that's a theme with me. It's I just think we spend too much time creating things that are copycat. Our commodities are following some kind of, quote unquote, best practice without really looking hard as to whether or not it's the best approach for you or your audience. And we only get this life once. So I think that's wasting a lot of time that we could otherwise be doing really meaningful work. I've been trying to figure out what it takes to actually do that and help others do the same.

Chris Byers: So something you just talked about really must come from a deeper kind of desire that's pushing you to say, I want to change the world around me. What is it that drives you and causes you to create this daily exploration?

Jay Acunzo: I think early in my career, I just fell in love with the creative craft and trying to feel stuff when I make things and help others feel stuff when they consume the creative work. And then I get into marketing in the startup world. In the tech world, I worked for companies like Google and HubSpot and both in my day job and surrounding my day job, I just saw willingness to kind of just ship nothingness, to just look like everybody else. A podcast is a really easy example. In the B2B world, it's largely just talking topics with experts, but things like topics don't differentiate you and don't really help change things for your audience. You also need a point of view. You need story. You need the rise and fall of tension and the resolution of that tension. That's like the carbon element of storytelling. If you don't have carbon, you don't have life. If you don't have tension, you don't have a story. And so there are these things that we focus on in the workplace, especially from my background in marketing that are all focused on the idea of growing reach, where I think you should focus on the idea of increasing resonance. And just like growing reach, increasing resonance is a learnable skill. It's a craft. So I've just been disillusioned for a while. To answer your question, Chris, about what I see and what I've experienced or what I was hired to do in certain places, and I just got fed up enough where I was like, enough is enough. I'm going to send up a flare through my creative work and see if anyone else comes out and says, I feel the same way, too, although I haven't been able to say it for a number of reasons. And yeah, we should be making better things because I think that helps advance various causes in positive directions.

Chris Byers: I think you've touched on a quote that you've talked about. The hard work isn't getting people to arrive, but getting them to stay.

Jay Acunzo: We've become so obsessed in the digital age with discoverability that we forgot the importance of memorability. But that's the job. Whether you're building a business or you're pushing for some kind of change in the world, whether you care about the metrics or you care about the human relationships that you're developing, nothing gets better. If you just get a bunch of folks to visit you quickly and leave. It requires people to stick and stay. And so obviously that's more overt in certain projects, but it's present in all of them. It's over in a podcast. You know, somebody hit play on this episode. Oh, my gosh. Whoever is listening to this, I'm speaking to you right now. You hit play. And I am paranoid as a guest on Chris's show that you're going to hit stop. So I better bring it. I better present the right ideas, the right ways. I better create some form of tension in the way of articulating these things that then gets resolved later. Otherwise you're going to bail. Nothing good happens for the people we want to serve or for us or for the companies that we call home during the day unless we get people to stay. But we're so obsessed with getting more and more to arrive that I think we've lost sight of that. And it's just as practical, if not more so, to flip how we think the marketing term would be grab attention versus hold attention. That's another way to think about this. It should be way more focused on the latter. And if you get whatever feels like a small number to you to stick and stay, to love what you do, you earn trust and love and deepen relationships with them. Good things happen for you. You also get this passionate cohort of super fans that can then go of. Evangelize and grow your cause to the folks that are total strangers, but because we're not doing that, there we go again, typically running around the world trying to get a bunch of people who don't know us to look our way. It's far more efficient and more effective to serve the people that are already aware of us and focus on that idea of holding attention or staying or affinity, let's say, instead of awareness.

Chris Byers: There's this idea very similar that people talk about, which is we spend all our time getting new customers if it's a lot less costly and a lot more valuable to keep and grow your current customers. And so I think we read that in books and we hear about it and and I think a lot of us, not our heads, and we get it. That makes a lot of sense. But I get the sense that there's something we're not doing to really embrace that and really say, yeah, but it's not just like turning on an internal email campaign to your customers. It's I think you're saying it's something more. What do you think about that?

Jay Acunzo: Yeah, it is. And I don't think we align our incentives or whatever we're building. We don't really orient what we're doing around these beliefs. I came across a quote and I've been searching for the source. So if anybody listening knows it, tell me, because I cannot find the source. I just know it wasn't me. And the quote was this enough is a decision you make, not a destination you reach. And I love that because everybody is playing the game of more faster. That's actually the goal. We're hoping that by getting more faster, good things happen. We'll make money, we'll have a great life, will change something for the better in the world, will help people. But this idea of enough, if you only could have the however many people already know and like your work right now and that was it. Those are the only people you could speak to and serve forever. How might your behavior change? So one example of that is I'll just keep going with the podcast thing, because that's what I love to make and teach. We usually skip the part where we're trying to develop the premise of the show, but the premise of the show is the most important thing to develop, because it's how you say something that matters to the world. That's the biggest challenge, not what microphone you use or whether you should be on clubhouse as well as have a podcast. Like we agonize over the incremental. But these fundamental things start with say something that matters. We're so focused on the net new that we skip the part where we're building something that the net new would stick around. It's not like pouring water into a leaky bucket anymore. So I think it's a lot healthier and we actually grow better if we stop sprinting frenetically in efforts to grow quicker and grow more. And we actually just fix our home turf, serve the few folks that already know us more deeply, give them a reason to talk about us, not because we're giving them incentives to do so, but because we're equipping them with ideas and experiences and products that they love and can't wait to tell their friends about. I think that's the one sort of mission I have with my work, which is like everything I put out, I want the right people to be like, you're speaking of my soul, because I think if I can get that result, everything else tends to fall in line.

Chris Byers: Yet you're making me think about that kind of first rise of podcasts, what, ten, eleven years ago? And then Nick died and then came back, raging five years later. But I wonder if some of that is people got it finally, which is it's less about just dump a bunch of content out there. But people began to tell stories and then people emulated telling stories. And so now we've got this huge rise of the podcast. I'm curious what our brand is getting wrong when it comes to creating content. How do you think they can break old mindsets and really connect to new ways to their audience?

Jay Acunzo: So let's agree that the point of creating content is to earn trust and love. There's really everything else hangs off of that, but without earning trust and love over time. So time spent is a big part of this. It doesn't matter what you publish, if it's about time spent, it's about earning trust and love so that, yes, all the good things we're trying to do as businesses might happen and all the change we want for the community might happen, too. Then we tend to see a misalignment between the value being promised or offered in the content and the delivery vehicle of a show, for example, common type of show, tips and tricks, how to do interviews with experts, advice from experts. The buyout kind of laid out and end of an expert, of an influencer, of an author, etc. That's the typical show. That's what I would call transactional value. And transactional value is something that is just a quick injection of information or it should be. And so when you create transactional value or offer it in a show, there's a misalignment between what you're offering and the way it's packaged, a better experience when it's a transaction. Because remember, the value of a transaction is to finish the transaction. It's having listened, not the listening. So I'd rather get the transcript. I'd rather get a blog post summarizing it. I'd rather get the bulleted takeaways or I'd rather already know everything. The value is having consumed it already or even not needing it. So I'd rather have it through a different medium. You want it to be the must have. Show, and that's not transactional value, that's a transformational experience and that sounds lofty, but what I say, transformational experience, instead of just trying to dole out some answers, question, answer, question, answer or interview a bunch of experts for their answers, have that premise that is about changing something and having a point of view on something for your audience. So if a transactional value based show can help people, a transformational experience changes them,

Chris Byers: can you share some examples of people getting it right?

Jay Acunzo: One of my favorite examples is from a software company called Lessonly. So Lessonly sells tools for training salespeople and all their competitors do content marketing the same way. It's like tips and tricks for salespeople, interviewing sales executives on their podcasts, etc. and they all blend in. And the team told me they have seven hundred and ninety competitors in North America alone. So there's a lot of noise. So they came along lesson and they created a show called Practice First. Practice First is a show for salespeople, but they seek to change sales by elevating the role of practice. They want to make it feel and help people realize if you want to be better at sales, you should learn how to practice. And yeah. Oh, by the way, they have tools to help you do that. But on the show they go exploring how Olympians practice, how Somalia is practiced and sure how business leaders practice to so that they can elevate the role of practice. That's transformation. That's saying something right now isn't good enough. We see a better way. We have no idea how to manifest that better way. But we're building some tools to do that. We're going to create some content to do that. And every episode is us trying to take a step in that direction. Join us if you believe what we believe. Join us on this journey. Now, that is not something you want spoiled. You don't want the bullet hit takeaways. You want to be in it. It's catharsis. It's emotional. It's it's inspiring or at least empowering to experience. So that's transformational versus transactional. And it's the best way, in my estimation, to do things like prompt subscription and grow an audience and win over fans and followers and customers.

Chris Byers: Jay, I love a good spreadsheet. In fact, I tell people at times you want to convey your strategy to me conveyed in numbers. It feels really good. I love it. So what do you tell a guy like me who struggles to know how to measure things that aren't buried in numbers?

Jay Acunzo: Well, if you're someone who fervently believes in numbers, I have to communicate the way you prefer to hear it. So I can't say all the things I just said necessarily. Maybe that comes later. I need to start with where you're at, understand your goals and communicate accordingly. All those decisions get a lot easier. If I can start by saying I want to create a show and a community around it that increases the LTV and decreases the cash for a business, increase the lifetime value of every single person that encounters this show to our brand, and lower the customer acquisition costs at the same time. And I think I found a way to do that. Now you're going to listen now at least you're going to give me more time to talk. And so that's how I position it.

Chris Byers: But it sounds like you might also be asking us to measure a little bit differently. Are there some other ways you think about what I'll call measurement, but maybe even think about it differently? That isn't about the numbers.

Jay Acunzo: Yeah, I mean, you want to use data, you lead with intuition and course. Correct with data. But data does not mean numbers. It just means information stored for later use. So if you actually want to be data driven or data informed, it's probably better if you actually want to be data informed, you need to use more than numbers. So I call it the forces of podcast measurement. It's stats, surveys, statements and syndication. So stats are the numbers, downloads, time spent, drop off rate, maybe email subscribers coming off of the show, those kinds of things, their obvious stats. That's where we stop. And that's a poor picture of the overall success of how we're performing. So you can move on to things like surveys. You have a captive audience. They trust you. They spent so much time with you. The theory of the show is that a subscriber to your show, having spent hours with you, is way more valuable asset to your brand than someone who's only looked your way or followed you on Twitter or opted into an email list, but really hasn't engaged hours of time spent. What a relationship. So you can survey the audience, you can get these insights about them. You'd have to pay to get elsewhere and you can then inform all of your work content marketing more broadly, advertising, product development using those insights. So there's a return on investment through the stats. You're looking at the numbers. There's also a return on the survey information. You can gather statements, talking to your boss, talking to your peers. If you are in client services, talking to clients, learning yourself as an individual practitioner, the qualitative feedback we get is profoundly underused. If you're not hearing anything from your audience, you have to go out and schedule conversations with them. It's rife with learning. And you can also measure that there's a better chance that people will re tweet you than, say, post an original thought on Twitter linking to your show. So the latter is more valuable because they took more time and it was higher friction. It's more of their reputation on the line when they post an original thought and recommend you to their friends than when they just click a quick button and read to you. And then lastly, syndication is a great show of. Real estate, yes, there is actually a great show about real estate for real estate agents, it's from the software company Home Light In. I think they're based in Seattle right now. No, no tech company is based anywhere today. So they have a show about real estate. Unlike other shows, they believe in putting the humans at the center of real estate instead of automating the agents away. So they're big hit among agents. The show is called The Walk Through. And the host, Matt Magee, was telling me about their newsletter and how takes them hours to put together their weekly newsletter. And he was frustrated that a lot of the newsletter subscribers don't listen to his show. It's like an order of magnitude bigger on the newsletter. What they learned was by looking at the episodes of the show and using things like excerpts or at least inspiration from the show and occasional quotes, the time it took the writer to put together their weekly newsletter dropped by almost half. Now you can reinvest those hours into other projects or growing the existing one that she's assigned to. That's a return on investment as well. So we just need to get more sophisticated and strategic with how we think about podcast measurement.

Chris Byers: So we have people from, let's say, all walks of a company that might be listening to us, maybe in marketing, but maybe in sales, maybe executives. And so across the board, how can they think about storytelling within their own business organization and how to further a business initiative?

Jay Acunzo: I think the evolution of storytelling is really the evolution of your use of tension in how you communicate. So when we first start communicating, we don't really use tension as a tool. And so when you first start communicating, it's just how to or advice or opinion or statements of fact. The classic entrepreneur story is like for years, marketers have been doing it this way, but along came the Internet and social media and that playbook was broken. So the better approach is content marketing. And oh, by the way, we have a tool to help you be a better content marketer. And then you have variations of that same story. And literally the tension is just in the center between what was and what you would like it to be. And over time, you then start to mess with that tension. You start to change that story. You start to use little moments of tension. So here's an easy example, Chris. This morning I woke up, got dressed, went down to the kitchen, and I saw my notebook sitting on the kitchen table. And I read the five words in that notebook that inspire me every morning. Now, I just told you a story about literally nothing. But what is the question on your mind? What did you read? So just by using this idea of tension or intrigue or what they call an open loop, where you start a sequence and don't complete it, you raise questions in their minds and answer it later, you're gripping in the way you communicate. So when we say story, we tend to overinflate what it is, right. You need some grand picture. You need some incredible arc. You need to dump money at it. But really, story is just the use of tension rising and falling when you first get started. It's as simple as this is then this happened, but then this and so then that. And that's it. So we can become better storytellers just by mastering and continuing to play with our use of tension when we communicate.

Chris Byers: I'm curious how you think that even examples of where you've seen that play out for maybe an individual or a company,

Jay Acunzo: any brand you can think of that tells a better story to the world, uses tension. I worked for HubSpot for a year. What the example I just gave you was basically there's like four years. It was this playbook of outbound by email lists, banner ads, advertising offline, out of home, and then the Internet came along. And everybody wants what they want when they want it on their terms. The audience has all the control. And so inbound marketing is a better way to build your business. And oh, by the way, we have tools for marketing, but they cared more about the way of the world. They were trying to build that. They pushed you on their product. That's an easy example. Wistia is another really great example. They sell video and podcasting tools. I should disclose Wister is a sponsor, so they sponsor my work, but they're always top of mind. I've known them way before. They sponsor their buddies here in Boston, but they believe, like business should be more human. And for years it felt like you were talking to a logo and it was stuffy and it was an avatar for humanity or their ideas that were distant like personas. Well, why not put your team on camera? Why not have some ability to speak directly to your audience through video and audio? That's a better way of the world. So all of these companies that we admire that typically have a brand centric feel to them or a content centric feel, usually if you look under the hood, they have some simple story that helps inform everything they're doing, sometimes overtly, sometimes implicitly.

Chris Byers: How do you think brands and companies can actually humanize what they do and their brand and how it comes across to the world?

Jay Acunzo: I think if a brand is stopping and asking how do we humanize ourselves, I think that's the wrong question. But I think that doesn't necessarily mean they shouldn't do it. I think what they're actually looking for is how do we approach our audience, customer prospect, community member partners, whoever more like whole people and less like some kind of avatar. Really a good example is the tech platform for designers called Invision. So Invision sells to product designers, the people who have designed the interfaces on your phone and all the apps that you use every single day on a laptop or your phone. These are profoundly powerful positions that they occupy. Years ago, Invision recognize that these designers were treated like last mile, make the logo bigger, change the color, change the font pixel jockeys. And they wanted to lionize these individuals and also acknowledge the frustration, their feeling about their careers that in no way maps indirectly to envisions products, but far closer to the product would be for them to run a blog that's like techniques for product design. And so they started treating their audience like whole people. They have wants and needs and fears and hopes and dreams and all these things that have nothing to do with their day, their more than their title. And I think whether it's marketing or you're trying to be a community leader, it's really tempting when you can't actually know everybody one to one to start treating them like some narrow 2D version of themselves or flat 2D version. I think the way to say that is just too divergent then like a 3D individual. And so when you're talking about humanize your brand, I don't think you can act like a corporate overlord or a bot or a deck of brand guidelines manifest in some feed somewhere if you're trying to treat your audience like whole people and whether or not that quote unquote scales is going to be dependent on the culture of the organization and the ability to teach that culture and pass it on to employees and less about, again, some deck that tries to corporatist the creative process. So I think that would be my answer is just treat others like whole people and recognize that they are

Chris Byers: how important I think it is for an individual to actually think about creating their own brand. And what does that look like?

Jay Acunzo: Not at all. I hate the personal brand saying it's let's can we just go back to calling it reputation and can we go back to saying, I'd like to serve my audience and solve a problem and I will let others declare what my brand is? I just I think it's a total waste of calories.

Chris Byers: Well, there you go. I love that strong thinking about a personal brand. I think you're right. I think a lot of what you're talking about, though, is something along the lines of being authentic, like we each have our own purpose and characteristics and personality. And it sounds like you're asking us to just let some of that out, is that right?

Jay Acunzo: Yeah. I love the idea of letting your quirks out from where they're hiding. Absolutely. The authenticity thing I get a little weird about just because if you're a jerk, then you're an authentic jerk in your work. I don't know if that's what we're going for. I'm exhausted. I'm spent. I'm running on fumes. I have been for months. I have a toddler. I used to be out on the road with lots of events. I'm an extreme extrovert. I'm cut off from friends and family. I have very little left. You don't want me showing up on this podcast acting that way, but it's authentically how I feel today, right? Like you want me to fake it or at least to dip into the part of me that doesn't feel like it's authentically or easily on the surface right now. And that's what I owe to your listeners, to you. So I get a little antsy when we start talking about authenticity. But I do think taking the right way, it's the best version of you as a person through whatever medium you're putting it, like, for example, a version of me you'd get over. Coffee is a different version that I'm putting on a microphone day to day. But it's still I'm trying to put the best version of me through this microphone as possible. So it's like this context, specific authenticity that might be that little nudge we need in the right direction.

Chris Byers: I love that story. And in fact, I appreciate even the vulnerability of talking a little bit about how you actually feel right now. I think that actually is the way that people to me begin to connect to to who we are. Because you're right, when I get in podcast mode, my voice changes just a little bit and I get into a different mode if I'm presenting than I do if you and I are having to your point coffee. Each conversation we have on the show ends up highlighting innovative ideas, fresh perspectives, and offers a different way to think about marketing, but more specifically about the power of storytelling to create connection. Jay, if you could give advice to our listeners, how can they unlock their genius to tell better stories?

Jay Acunzo: It may not be the place that we've been told in school is where good ideas come from or that we see from others. For my money, I bet every time on you starting your idea development, your story development and your content development from a place of frustration, just what can't you stand about the status quo facing your industry, your audience, your own situation, like what has you frustrated and then you go and you write a bunch of stuff and share a bunch of things and you start to integrate that into your conversations with others and you get some feedback really quickly and you hear how they're talking about it, what they notice. And you go on this little idea investigation, which is this is broken. I may not know what is better, or maybe I have a theory, but it's pretty vague. It's pretty blurry. And so you're like in this idea aeration mode and sometimes that's content, sometimes that's conversation. And I think the lesson here is great ideas are built, not found. And instead of waiting to come up with something drilled. Down to the core of your thinking and your emotions, and usually when you reach first principles like you can't get any further, at least right now with your current knowledge, now you go investigate. So an example of this is on my show, unthinkable. Right now, we're exploring an idea that I would call the next rep. Why aren't creators creating better work, more work? Why do people not start? Why do they feel they've plateaued? Why aren't they leveling up? There's all these problems that we face as creators. And if you really get down to it, it's like the IRA Glass quote about creativity. You have taste which far exceeds your skills to match that taste so your work falls short of your own expectations. So some people stop, some people never start. Is all these reasons that we can't close the gap between our taste and our skills really what closes the gap is doing a lot of work building your body of work. OK, so now it's about your body of work, but what is your body of work like? The atomic unit of that is just doing the work, getting a little bit better. You've done the thing one more time. You arrive there faster, you arrive there better. So how do people do that? Like I'm frustrated by people not making what matters most to them and I've been able to whittle it down by talking to folks and writing about stuff to realize maybe it's actually the problem of getting to the next step. So let's explore that for a while. And over time, you start to hone in on your hypotheses, your ideas, your stories, your heuristics, all that stuff. It's just you willing to pull a thread based on curiosity instead of expertise. And I think the way you unlock a healthy curiosity, it starts with frustration.

Chris Byers: I love the way you're thinking about that. Funny enough, I was listening to a podcast. John Maxwell talked about this idea that great leaders really work out of frustration. They don't work because they think things are perfect in the world. Entrepreneurs that find a frustration that they're like this has got to be better. And I don't always think about that as an individual, that there's some power in that. And I can build on top of that, even when I'm telling stories that I'm frustrated, which probably means somebody else is frustrated, too. And so if I can tap into that, there's probably something there.

Jay Acunzo: And the beauty of it is especially today, you have movements like building and public and things like that. But when you do this investigative approach, my buddy Andrew Davis, who's a wonderful author and speaker in the marketing space, he talks about asking questions Google can't answer and then going on a quest. And that's the difference between an expert and a visionary. So I got this idea from him. But you get to invite others along that quest. You get to say to people, I actually don't have all the answers, but I'd like to figure it out. I actually don't know what happens when a successful creator builds their body of work, like I can surmise, but I have no idea if I could try to zoom in to one rep, to the second rep. All these questions emerge and all these behaviors are probably present in people I admire or people that are successful or people that are struggling. And I don't have the answers. But more importantly is if I'm saying that to you, hey, I'm exploring this, I'm investigating this, this is broken. And potentially this is a better way. Now you get that beautiful. Oh, you're speaking to my soul, which is how you start and grow an audience and how all the good stuff we're looking for tends to come out. But we're so obsessed with trying to have the answers that I think we've lost sight of the power of of this like invite of curiosity, this desire to make things better without knowing how. But you're telling people you'd like to and then inviting them to come with you.

Chris Byers: Well, as we wrap up the conversation, I've got a handful of questions. What do you suggest listeners do to tap into their creativity,

Jay Acunzo: put yourself on a deadline and or find whatever gives you energy and make stuff like it doesn't matter who watches it, listens to it. I admire what happens when people talk about their side hustles. I prefer side projects because when you say side hustle, you're implying the monetization, the audience growth. A side project is literally I'm doing this for the practice and that's all creativity is. It's just practice. It's a repetition plus reinvention over time. And so to ignite creativity, I think the danger is you try to go find ideas. I'd rather find the idea while creating I think you feel energized and find good ideas and get more creative through practice. So in other words, don't look for the ideas out in the world or go search for inspiration. Just start making stuff, slap some messy clay onto the table and start shaping it. And that's more important because I think eventually you find yourself, you find your ideas, you find a specific place you're stuck to then go get ideas from others rather than over research up front. The job is not to be creative. The job is to create. So just start creating anything bad, private, unknown, and eventually you do it enough and you start to get better and find yourself

Chris Byers: in the way that you talk about things, about reaching people's souls in a way. What do you think people can do differently in their day to day to create a positive impact for others?

Jay Acunzo: I think we remove the self way too much. And I've talked about frustration. I've talked about your curiosity. Like we are looking for the general advice or technique or tactic of what works on a channel. And I think it's far more important, I think. And no disrespect. The person who said this, I can't figure out who it was, I saw this person tweet, Your mission will get you further than your metrics. And I love that you're not thinking about our mission or thinking about like I'd like to grow audience. I'd like to generate a sale. I like to hit my numbers. I'd like to be famous. But we're not thinking about I'd like to change this for others. I'd like to actually help them. I'd like to solve this problem. And when you orient yourself like that, not by removing yourself, by saying I genuinely, as a person me would like to see this solved. And I know there's more that feel that way when you lead with your beliefs and your point of view and your frustrations, that tends to serve the audience better than some of the more hollow, generalized thinking creation advice seeking that we we go about our days stuck in

Chris Byers: what's something you're practicing right now as you think about impacting the future?

Jay Acunzo: I'm trying to get better at not leaping to assumptions and conclusions, but just saying here's the question I have and I'm not going to overengineer the solution yet. I'm going to go explore this for a while. I'm going to launch an investigation. But I think I'm just trying to get better at being like I actually don't know. And I know you're asking me or my own brain is saying that to me. I know you should have it, but I don't. So let's go figure it out. I'm going to go tell some stories and have some people on the show and, you know, maybe get a little bit closer over time. So I think the thing I'm trying to get better at is just being willing to say, I have a question and I actually don't know the answer. So let's go figure it up.

Chris Byers: Some of practice aligns with the idea of at times succeeding and failing, winning and losing. How do you think about failure and how you either use that in your craft or think about it?

Jay Acunzo: I think we have to be willing to fail. I don't think we should seek it out. I think we want to be successful and we put failure is one of those like fetishized ideas and startups, entrepreneur communities, etc. And I think we've lost sight of why it's being so fetishized. I think it's because inherently creativity is about saying, I don't know if this is going to work, but I'm going to try it anyway. And so without an acceptable fail rate, without slack in the system, without the ability to say genuinely, I don't know if it's going to work, we never do anything exciting. I think about the David Bowie quote, about creativity a lot where he said you should wait out into the water just far enough for your toes. Just don't touch the ground. And right there you'll do something exciting. That's failure because you don't know, am I going to sink or swim? Am I going to have to retreat back to the sand where I can stand again? And it's OK because you could. So failure to me is just it's not the seeking out of failure. It's just the willingness to say inherently this work we're doing is going to result in some failures by the very nature of what we're doing, which is where we're trying to make things better.

Chris Byers: To learn more about how people are reimagining their world of work, head over to formstack.com/practically-genius, also linked in our show notes. Thanks for joining us today on this episode of Ripple Effect.

Podcast

Why Resonance Matters More Than Reach: Rethinking Marketing with Jay Acunzo

Podcast

Why Resonance Matters More Than Reach: Rethinking Marketing with Jay Acunzo

Get the Report

Great, thank ya!

You can now access the content.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Podcast

Why Resonance Matters More Than Reach: Rethinking Marketing with Jay Acunzo

Panelists
No items found.
Introduction
Introduction

Great, thank ya!

You can now access the content.
Download NowDownload Now
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Chris Byers: Reimagine a world where we focused less on metrics, less on a reach and more on making a difference and telling a good story for metrics driven marketing, that would seem really scary and potentially wrong. What if we changed our thinking, though, about marketing altogether? What if we have it all wrong? And what if the best practices are no longer the right practice? Jack is a writer and host of The Unthinkable podcast. He's focused on equipping brands with workshops, insights and content for creating original shows. He's a leader when it comes to thinking outside the box, challenging marketing show runners to create their audiences favorite show to make a difference. While it's evident Jay is using his voice to redefine real marketing, let's uncover the story. I'm Chris Byers of Formstack and this is Ripple Effect, a show celebrating the positive impact your decisions made. Jay, welcome to the show. Is there anything we missed in that intro?

Jay Acunzo: Thanks, Chris. I do a lot of a lot, but I capsulize it pretty well. Yeah, I like to make things that help other people make what matters.

Chris Byers: I love it. Well, share with the audience the work that you're doing today, and we'd love to hear more about that.

Jay Acunzo: Sure. Right now I'm focused on a couple of projects. So you mentioned unthinkable. That show is like my digital baby. It's a labor of love. I've done it since twenty sixteen. It's a narrative podcast about creative people. And so that is my laboratory where I learned the hard way in many ways how to make a podcast and not just a show that has a bunch of predictable questions in it, but a story, a premise, a format to how you deliver that premise each episode, a community and spinoff projects. And it's kind of where I add to the list in my head that's titled This Might Not Work, which I think is I think it's always a healthy list for a creative person to add to, but it's also a scary list to visit every single day. And I'm really trying to do that. So that's been my focus for a time now. And I'm also the proprietor of a community group for creative people called Make What Matters. So as you can see already, that's a theme with me. It's I just think we spend too much time creating things that are copycat. Our commodities are following some kind of, quote unquote, best practice without really looking hard as to whether or not it's the best approach for you or your audience. And we only get this life once. So I think that's wasting a lot of time that we could otherwise be doing really meaningful work. I've been trying to figure out what it takes to actually do that and help others do the same.

Chris Byers: So something you just talked about really must come from a deeper kind of desire that's pushing you to say, I want to change the world around me. What is it that drives you and causes you to create this daily exploration?

Jay Acunzo: I think early in my career, I just fell in love with the creative craft and trying to feel stuff when I make things and help others feel stuff when they consume the creative work. And then I get into marketing in the startup world. In the tech world, I worked for companies like Google and HubSpot and both in my day job and surrounding my day job, I just saw willingness to kind of just ship nothingness, to just look like everybody else. A podcast is a really easy example. In the B2B world, it's largely just talking topics with experts, but things like topics don't differentiate you and don't really help change things for your audience. You also need a point of view. You need story. You need the rise and fall of tension and the resolution of that tension. That's like the carbon element of storytelling. If you don't have carbon, you don't have life. If you don't have tension, you don't have a story. And so there are these things that we focus on in the workplace, especially from my background in marketing that are all focused on the idea of growing reach, where I think you should focus on the idea of increasing resonance. And just like growing reach, increasing resonance is a learnable skill. It's a craft. So I've just been disillusioned for a while. To answer your question, Chris, about what I see and what I've experienced or what I was hired to do in certain places, and I just got fed up enough where I was like, enough is enough. I'm going to send up a flare through my creative work and see if anyone else comes out and says, I feel the same way, too, although I haven't been able to say it for a number of reasons. And yeah, we should be making better things because I think that helps advance various causes in positive directions.

Chris Byers: I think you've touched on a quote that you've talked about. The hard work isn't getting people to arrive, but getting them to stay.

Jay Acunzo: We've become so obsessed in the digital age with discoverability that we forgot the importance of memorability. But that's the job. Whether you're building a business or you're pushing for some kind of change in the world, whether you care about the metrics or you care about the human relationships that you're developing, nothing gets better. If you just get a bunch of folks to visit you quickly and leave. It requires people to stick and stay. And so obviously that's more overt in certain projects, but it's present in all of them. It's over in a podcast. You know, somebody hit play on this episode. Oh, my gosh. Whoever is listening to this, I'm speaking to you right now. You hit play. And I am paranoid as a guest on Chris's show that you're going to hit stop. So I better bring it. I better present the right ideas, the right ways. I better create some form of tension in the way of articulating these things that then gets resolved later. Otherwise you're going to bail. Nothing good happens for the people we want to serve or for us or for the companies that we call home during the day unless we get people to stay. But we're so obsessed with getting more and more to arrive that I think we've lost sight of that. And it's just as practical, if not more so, to flip how we think the marketing term would be grab attention versus hold attention. That's another way to think about this. It should be way more focused on the latter. And if you get whatever feels like a small number to you to stick and stay, to love what you do, you earn trust and love and deepen relationships with them. Good things happen for you. You also get this passionate cohort of super fans that can then go of. Evangelize and grow your cause to the folks that are total strangers, but because we're not doing that, there we go again, typically running around the world trying to get a bunch of people who don't know us to look our way. It's far more efficient and more effective to serve the people that are already aware of us and focus on that idea of holding attention or staying or affinity, let's say, instead of awareness.

Chris Byers: There's this idea very similar that people talk about, which is we spend all our time getting new customers if it's a lot less costly and a lot more valuable to keep and grow your current customers. And so I think we read that in books and we hear about it and and I think a lot of us, not our heads, and we get it. That makes a lot of sense. But I get the sense that there's something we're not doing to really embrace that and really say, yeah, but it's not just like turning on an internal email campaign to your customers. It's I think you're saying it's something more. What do you think about that?

Jay Acunzo: Yeah, it is. And I don't think we align our incentives or whatever we're building. We don't really orient what we're doing around these beliefs. I came across a quote and I've been searching for the source. So if anybody listening knows it, tell me, because I cannot find the source. I just know it wasn't me. And the quote was this enough is a decision you make, not a destination you reach. And I love that because everybody is playing the game of more faster. That's actually the goal. We're hoping that by getting more faster, good things happen. We'll make money, we'll have a great life, will change something for the better in the world, will help people. But this idea of enough, if you only could have the however many people already know and like your work right now and that was it. Those are the only people you could speak to and serve forever. How might your behavior change? So one example of that is I'll just keep going with the podcast thing, because that's what I love to make and teach. We usually skip the part where we're trying to develop the premise of the show, but the premise of the show is the most important thing to develop, because it's how you say something that matters to the world. That's the biggest challenge, not what microphone you use or whether you should be on clubhouse as well as have a podcast. Like we agonize over the incremental. But these fundamental things start with say something that matters. We're so focused on the net new that we skip the part where we're building something that the net new would stick around. It's not like pouring water into a leaky bucket anymore. So I think it's a lot healthier and we actually grow better if we stop sprinting frenetically in efforts to grow quicker and grow more. And we actually just fix our home turf, serve the few folks that already know us more deeply, give them a reason to talk about us, not because we're giving them incentives to do so, but because we're equipping them with ideas and experiences and products that they love and can't wait to tell their friends about. I think that's the one sort of mission I have with my work, which is like everything I put out, I want the right people to be like, you're speaking of my soul, because I think if I can get that result, everything else tends to fall in line.

Chris Byers: Yet you're making me think about that kind of first rise of podcasts, what, ten, eleven years ago? And then Nick died and then came back, raging five years later. But I wonder if some of that is people got it finally, which is it's less about just dump a bunch of content out there. But people began to tell stories and then people emulated telling stories. And so now we've got this huge rise of the podcast. I'm curious what our brand is getting wrong when it comes to creating content. How do you think they can break old mindsets and really connect to new ways to their audience?

Jay Acunzo: So let's agree that the point of creating content is to earn trust and love. There's really everything else hangs off of that, but without earning trust and love over time. So time spent is a big part of this. It doesn't matter what you publish, if it's about time spent, it's about earning trust and love so that, yes, all the good things we're trying to do as businesses might happen and all the change we want for the community might happen, too. Then we tend to see a misalignment between the value being promised or offered in the content and the delivery vehicle of a show, for example, common type of show, tips and tricks, how to do interviews with experts, advice from experts. The buyout kind of laid out and end of an expert, of an influencer, of an author, etc. That's the typical show. That's what I would call transactional value. And transactional value is something that is just a quick injection of information or it should be. And so when you create transactional value or offer it in a show, there's a misalignment between what you're offering and the way it's packaged, a better experience when it's a transaction. Because remember, the value of a transaction is to finish the transaction. It's having listened, not the listening. So I'd rather get the transcript. I'd rather get a blog post summarizing it. I'd rather get the bulleted takeaways or I'd rather already know everything. The value is having consumed it already or even not needing it. So I'd rather have it through a different medium. You want it to be the must have. Show, and that's not transactional value, that's a transformational experience and that sounds lofty, but what I say, transformational experience, instead of just trying to dole out some answers, question, answer, question, answer or interview a bunch of experts for their answers, have that premise that is about changing something and having a point of view on something for your audience. So if a transactional value based show can help people, a transformational experience changes them,

Chris Byers: can you share some examples of people getting it right?

Jay Acunzo: One of my favorite examples is from a software company called Lessonly. So Lessonly sells tools for training salespeople and all their competitors do content marketing the same way. It's like tips and tricks for salespeople, interviewing sales executives on their podcasts, etc. and they all blend in. And the team told me they have seven hundred and ninety competitors in North America alone. So there's a lot of noise. So they came along lesson and they created a show called Practice First. Practice First is a show for salespeople, but they seek to change sales by elevating the role of practice. They want to make it feel and help people realize if you want to be better at sales, you should learn how to practice. And yeah. Oh, by the way, they have tools to help you do that. But on the show they go exploring how Olympians practice, how Somalia is practiced and sure how business leaders practice to so that they can elevate the role of practice. That's transformation. That's saying something right now isn't good enough. We see a better way. We have no idea how to manifest that better way. But we're building some tools to do that. We're going to create some content to do that. And every episode is us trying to take a step in that direction. Join us if you believe what we believe. Join us on this journey. Now, that is not something you want spoiled. You don't want the bullet hit takeaways. You want to be in it. It's catharsis. It's emotional. It's it's inspiring or at least empowering to experience. So that's transformational versus transactional. And it's the best way, in my estimation, to do things like prompt subscription and grow an audience and win over fans and followers and customers.

Chris Byers: Jay, I love a good spreadsheet. In fact, I tell people at times you want to convey your strategy to me conveyed in numbers. It feels really good. I love it. So what do you tell a guy like me who struggles to know how to measure things that aren't buried in numbers?

Jay Acunzo: Well, if you're someone who fervently believes in numbers, I have to communicate the way you prefer to hear it. So I can't say all the things I just said necessarily. Maybe that comes later. I need to start with where you're at, understand your goals and communicate accordingly. All those decisions get a lot easier. If I can start by saying I want to create a show and a community around it that increases the LTV and decreases the cash for a business, increase the lifetime value of every single person that encounters this show to our brand, and lower the customer acquisition costs at the same time. And I think I found a way to do that. Now you're going to listen now at least you're going to give me more time to talk. And so that's how I position it.

Chris Byers: But it sounds like you might also be asking us to measure a little bit differently. Are there some other ways you think about what I'll call measurement, but maybe even think about it differently? That isn't about the numbers.

Jay Acunzo: Yeah, I mean, you want to use data, you lead with intuition and course. Correct with data. But data does not mean numbers. It just means information stored for later use. So if you actually want to be data driven or data informed, it's probably better if you actually want to be data informed, you need to use more than numbers. So I call it the forces of podcast measurement. It's stats, surveys, statements and syndication. So stats are the numbers, downloads, time spent, drop off rate, maybe email subscribers coming off of the show, those kinds of things, their obvious stats. That's where we stop. And that's a poor picture of the overall success of how we're performing. So you can move on to things like surveys. You have a captive audience. They trust you. They spent so much time with you. The theory of the show is that a subscriber to your show, having spent hours with you, is way more valuable asset to your brand than someone who's only looked your way or followed you on Twitter or opted into an email list, but really hasn't engaged hours of time spent. What a relationship. So you can survey the audience, you can get these insights about them. You'd have to pay to get elsewhere and you can then inform all of your work content marketing more broadly, advertising, product development using those insights. So there's a return on investment through the stats. You're looking at the numbers. There's also a return on the survey information. You can gather statements, talking to your boss, talking to your peers. If you are in client services, talking to clients, learning yourself as an individual practitioner, the qualitative feedback we get is profoundly underused. If you're not hearing anything from your audience, you have to go out and schedule conversations with them. It's rife with learning. And you can also measure that there's a better chance that people will re tweet you than, say, post an original thought on Twitter linking to your show. So the latter is more valuable because they took more time and it was higher friction. It's more of their reputation on the line when they post an original thought and recommend you to their friends than when they just click a quick button and read to you. And then lastly, syndication is a great show of. Real estate, yes, there is actually a great show about real estate for real estate agents, it's from the software company Home Light In. I think they're based in Seattle right now. No, no tech company is based anywhere today. So they have a show about real estate. Unlike other shows, they believe in putting the humans at the center of real estate instead of automating the agents away. So they're big hit among agents. The show is called The Walk Through. And the host, Matt Magee, was telling me about their newsletter and how takes them hours to put together their weekly newsletter. And he was frustrated that a lot of the newsletter subscribers don't listen to his show. It's like an order of magnitude bigger on the newsletter. What they learned was by looking at the episodes of the show and using things like excerpts or at least inspiration from the show and occasional quotes, the time it took the writer to put together their weekly newsletter dropped by almost half. Now you can reinvest those hours into other projects or growing the existing one that she's assigned to. That's a return on investment as well. So we just need to get more sophisticated and strategic with how we think about podcast measurement.

Chris Byers: So we have people from, let's say, all walks of a company that might be listening to us, maybe in marketing, but maybe in sales, maybe executives. And so across the board, how can they think about storytelling within their own business organization and how to further a business initiative?

Jay Acunzo: I think the evolution of storytelling is really the evolution of your use of tension in how you communicate. So when we first start communicating, we don't really use tension as a tool. And so when you first start communicating, it's just how to or advice or opinion or statements of fact. The classic entrepreneur story is like for years, marketers have been doing it this way, but along came the Internet and social media and that playbook was broken. So the better approach is content marketing. And oh, by the way, we have a tool to help you be a better content marketer. And then you have variations of that same story. And literally the tension is just in the center between what was and what you would like it to be. And over time, you then start to mess with that tension. You start to change that story. You start to use little moments of tension. So here's an easy example, Chris. This morning I woke up, got dressed, went down to the kitchen, and I saw my notebook sitting on the kitchen table. And I read the five words in that notebook that inspire me every morning. Now, I just told you a story about literally nothing. But what is the question on your mind? What did you read? So just by using this idea of tension or intrigue or what they call an open loop, where you start a sequence and don't complete it, you raise questions in their minds and answer it later, you're gripping in the way you communicate. So when we say story, we tend to overinflate what it is, right. You need some grand picture. You need some incredible arc. You need to dump money at it. But really, story is just the use of tension rising and falling when you first get started. It's as simple as this is then this happened, but then this and so then that. And that's it. So we can become better storytellers just by mastering and continuing to play with our use of tension when we communicate.

Chris Byers: I'm curious how you think that even examples of where you've seen that play out for maybe an individual or a company,

Jay Acunzo: any brand you can think of that tells a better story to the world, uses tension. I worked for HubSpot for a year. What the example I just gave you was basically there's like four years. It was this playbook of outbound by email lists, banner ads, advertising offline, out of home, and then the Internet came along. And everybody wants what they want when they want it on their terms. The audience has all the control. And so inbound marketing is a better way to build your business. And oh, by the way, we have tools for marketing, but they cared more about the way of the world. They were trying to build that. They pushed you on their product. That's an easy example. Wistia is another really great example. They sell video and podcasting tools. I should disclose Wister is a sponsor, so they sponsor my work, but they're always top of mind. I've known them way before. They sponsor their buddies here in Boston, but they believe, like business should be more human. And for years it felt like you were talking to a logo and it was stuffy and it was an avatar for humanity or their ideas that were distant like personas. Well, why not put your team on camera? Why not have some ability to speak directly to your audience through video and audio? That's a better way of the world. So all of these companies that we admire that typically have a brand centric feel to them or a content centric feel, usually if you look under the hood, they have some simple story that helps inform everything they're doing, sometimes overtly, sometimes implicitly.

Chris Byers: How do you think brands and companies can actually humanize what they do and their brand and how it comes across to the world?

Jay Acunzo: I think if a brand is stopping and asking how do we humanize ourselves, I think that's the wrong question. But I think that doesn't necessarily mean they shouldn't do it. I think what they're actually looking for is how do we approach our audience, customer prospect, community member partners, whoever more like whole people and less like some kind of avatar. Really a good example is the tech platform for designers called Invision. So Invision sells to product designers, the people who have designed the interfaces on your phone and all the apps that you use every single day on a laptop or your phone. These are profoundly powerful positions that they occupy. Years ago, Invision recognize that these designers were treated like last mile, make the logo bigger, change the color, change the font pixel jockeys. And they wanted to lionize these individuals and also acknowledge the frustration, their feeling about their careers that in no way maps indirectly to envisions products, but far closer to the product would be for them to run a blog that's like techniques for product design. And so they started treating their audience like whole people. They have wants and needs and fears and hopes and dreams and all these things that have nothing to do with their day, their more than their title. And I think whether it's marketing or you're trying to be a community leader, it's really tempting when you can't actually know everybody one to one to start treating them like some narrow 2D version of themselves or flat 2D version. I think the way to say that is just too divergent then like a 3D individual. And so when you're talking about humanize your brand, I don't think you can act like a corporate overlord or a bot or a deck of brand guidelines manifest in some feed somewhere if you're trying to treat your audience like whole people and whether or not that quote unquote scales is going to be dependent on the culture of the organization and the ability to teach that culture and pass it on to employees and less about, again, some deck that tries to corporatist the creative process. So I think that would be my answer is just treat others like whole people and recognize that they are

Chris Byers: how important I think it is for an individual to actually think about creating their own brand. And what does that look like?

Jay Acunzo: Not at all. I hate the personal brand saying it's let's can we just go back to calling it reputation and can we go back to saying, I'd like to serve my audience and solve a problem and I will let others declare what my brand is? I just I think it's a total waste of calories.

Chris Byers: Well, there you go. I love that strong thinking about a personal brand. I think you're right. I think a lot of what you're talking about, though, is something along the lines of being authentic, like we each have our own purpose and characteristics and personality. And it sounds like you're asking us to just let some of that out, is that right?

Jay Acunzo: Yeah. I love the idea of letting your quirks out from where they're hiding. Absolutely. The authenticity thing I get a little weird about just because if you're a jerk, then you're an authentic jerk in your work. I don't know if that's what we're going for. I'm exhausted. I'm spent. I'm running on fumes. I have been for months. I have a toddler. I used to be out on the road with lots of events. I'm an extreme extrovert. I'm cut off from friends and family. I have very little left. You don't want me showing up on this podcast acting that way, but it's authentically how I feel today, right? Like you want me to fake it or at least to dip into the part of me that doesn't feel like it's authentically or easily on the surface right now. And that's what I owe to your listeners, to you. So I get a little antsy when we start talking about authenticity. But I do think taking the right way, it's the best version of you as a person through whatever medium you're putting it, like, for example, a version of me you'd get over. Coffee is a different version that I'm putting on a microphone day to day. But it's still I'm trying to put the best version of me through this microphone as possible. So it's like this context, specific authenticity that might be that little nudge we need in the right direction.

Chris Byers: I love that story. And in fact, I appreciate even the vulnerability of talking a little bit about how you actually feel right now. I think that actually is the way that people to me begin to connect to to who we are. Because you're right, when I get in podcast mode, my voice changes just a little bit and I get into a different mode if I'm presenting than I do if you and I are having to your point coffee. Each conversation we have on the show ends up highlighting innovative ideas, fresh perspectives, and offers a different way to think about marketing, but more specifically about the power of storytelling to create connection. Jay, if you could give advice to our listeners, how can they unlock their genius to tell better stories?

Jay Acunzo: It may not be the place that we've been told in school is where good ideas come from or that we see from others. For my money, I bet every time on you starting your idea development, your story development and your content development from a place of frustration, just what can't you stand about the status quo facing your industry, your audience, your own situation, like what has you frustrated and then you go and you write a bunch of stuff and share a bunch of things and you start to integrate that into your conversations with others and you get some feedback really quickly and you hear how they're talking about it, what they notice. And you go on this little idea investigation, which is this is broken. I may not know what is better, or maybe I have a theory, but it's pretty vague. It's pretty blurry. And so you're like in this idea aeration mode and sometimes that's content, sometimes that's conversation. And I think the lesson here is great ideas are built, not found. And instead of waiting to come up with something drilled. Down to the core of your thinking and your emotions, and usually when you reach first principles like you can't get any further, at least right now with your current knowledge, now you go investigate. So an example of this is on my show, unthinkable. Right now, we're exploring an idea that I would call the next rep. Why aren't creators creating better work, more work? Why do people not start? Why do they feel they've plateaued? Why aren't they leveling up? There's all these problems that we face as creators. And if you really get down to it, it's like the IRA Glass quote about creativity. You have taste which far exceeds your skills to match that taste so your work falls short of your own expectations. So some people stop, some people never start. Is all these reasons that we can't close the gap between our taste and our skills really what closes the gap is doing a lot of work building your body of work. OK, so now it's about your body of work, but what is your body of work like? The atomic unit of that is just doing the work, getting a little bit better. You've done the thing one more time. You arrive there faster, you arrive there better. So how do people do that? Like I'm frustrated by people not making what matters most to them and I've been able to whittle it down by talking to folks and writing about stuff to realize maybe it's actually the problem of getting to the next step. So let's explore that for a while. And over time, you start to hone in on your hypotheses, your ideas, your stories, your heuristics, all that stuff. It's just you willing to pull a thread based on curiosity instead of expertise. And I think the way you unlock a healthy curiosity, it starts with frustration.

Chris Byers: I love the way you're thinking about that. Funny enough, I was listening to a podcast. John Maxwell talked about this idea that great leaders really work out of frustration. They don't work because they think things are perfect in the world. Entrepreneurs that find a frustration that they're like this has got to be better. And I don't always think about that as an individual, that there's some power in that. And I can build on top of that, even when I'm telling stories that I'm frustrated, which probably means somebody else is frustrated, too. And so if I can tap into that, there's probably something there.

Jay Acunzo: And the beauty of it is especially today, you have movements like building and public and things like that. But when you do this investigative approach, my buddy Andrew Davis, who's a wonderful author and speaker in the marketing space, he talks about asking questions Google can't answer and then going on a quest. And that's the difference between an expert and a visionary. So I got this idea from him. But you get to invite others along that quest. You get to say to people, I actually don't have all the answers, but I'd like to figure it out. I actually don't know what happens when a successful creator builds their body of work, like I can surmise, but I have no idea if I could try to zoom in to one rep, to the second rep. All these questions emerge and all these behaviors are probably present in people I admire or people that are successful or people that are struggling. And I don't have the answers. But more importantly is if I'm saying that to you, hey, I'm exploring this, I'm investigating this, this is broken. And potentially this is a better way. Now you get that beautiful. Oh, you're speaking to my soul, which is how you start and grow an audience and how all the good stuff we're looking for tends to come out. But we're so obsessed with trying to have the answers that I think we've lost sight of the power of of this like invite of curiosity, this desire to make things better without knowing how. But you're telling people you'd like to and then inviting them to come with you.

Chris Byers: Well, as we wrap up the conversation, I've got a handful of questions. What do you suggest listeners do to tap into their creativity,

Jay Acunzo: put yourself on a deadline and or find whatever gives you energy and make stuff like it doesn't matter who watches it, listens to it. I admire what happens when people talk about their side hustles. I prefer side projects because when you say side hustle, you're implying the monetization, the audience growth. A side project is literally I'm doing this for the practice and that's all creativity is. It's just practice. It's a repetition plus reinvention over time. And so to ignite creativity, I think the danger is you try to go find ideas. I'd rather find the idea while creating I think you feel energized and find good ideas and get more creative through practice. So in other words, don't look for the ideas out in the world or go search for inspiration. Just start making stuff, slap some messy clay onto the table and start shaping it. And that's more important because I think eventually you find yourself, you find your ideas, you find a specific place you're stuck to then go get ideas from others rather than over research up front. The job is not to be creative. The job is to create. So just start creating anything bad, private, unknown, and eventually you do it enough and you start to get better and find yourself

Chris Byers: in the way that you talk about things, about reaching people's souls in a way. What do you think people can do differently in their day to day to create a positive impact for others?

Jay Acunzo: I think we remove the self way too much. And I've talked about frustration. I've talked about your curiosity. Like we are looking for the general advice or technique or tactic of what works on a channel. And I think it's far more important, I think. And no disrespect. The person who said this, I can't figure out who it was, I saw this person tweet, Your mission will get you further than your metrics. And I love that you're not thinking about our mission or thinking about like I'd like to grow audience. I'd like to generate a sale. I like to hit my numbers. I'd like to be famous. But we're not thinking about I'd like to change this for others. I'd like to actually help them. I'd like to solve this problem. And when you orient yourself like that, not by removing yourself, by saying I genuinely, as a person me would like to see this solved. And I know there's more that feel that way when you lead with your beliefs and your point of view and your frustrations, that tends to serve the audience better than some of the more hollow, generalized thinking creation advice seeking that we we go about our days stuck in

Chris Byers: what's something you're practicing right now as you think about impacting the future?

Jay Acunzo: I'm trying to get better at not leaping to assumptions and conclusions, but just saying here's the question I have and I'm not going to overengineer the solution yet. I'm going to go explore this for a while. I'm going to launch an investigation. But I think I'm just trying to get better at being like I actually don't know. And I know you're asking me or my own brain is saying that to me. I know you should have it, but I don't. So let's go figure it out. I'm going to go tell some stories and have some people on the show and, you know, maybe get a little bit closer over time. So I think the thing I'm trying to get better at is just being willing to say, I have a question and I actually don't know the answer. So let's go figure it up.

Chris Byers: Some of practice aligns with the idea of at times succeeding and failing, winning and losing. How do you think about failure and how you either use that in your craft or think about it?

Jay Acunzo: I think we have to be willing to fail. I don't think we should seek it out. I think we want to be successful and we put failure is one of those like fetishized ideas and startups, entrepreneur communities, etc. And I think we've lost sight of why it's being so fetishized. I think it's because inherently creativity is about saying, I don't know if this is going to work, but I'm going to try it anyway. And so without an acceptable fail rate, without slack in the system, without the ability to say genuinely, I don't know if it's going to work, we never do anything exciting. I think about the David Bowie quote, about creativity a lot where he said you should wait out into the water just far enough for your toes. Just don't touch the ground. And right there you'll do something exciting. That's failure because you don't know, am I going to sink or swim? Am I going to have to retreat back to the sand where I can stand again? And it's OK because you could. So failure to me is just it's not the seeking out of failure. It's just the willingness to say inherently this work we're doing is going to result in some failures by the very nature of what we're doing, which is where we're trying to make things better.

Chris Byers: To learn more about how people are reimagining their world of work, head over to formstack.com/practically-genius, also linked in our show notes. Thanks for joining us today on this episode of Ripple Effect.

Panelists
No items found.
Infographic

Why Resonance Matters More Than Reach: Rethinking Marketing with Jay Acunzo

Jay Acunzo, podcast host, author, and marketer, shares tips on how to resonate with an audience, build a community, and create love and trust for your brand.
Download InfographicDownload Infographic

Chris Byers: Reimagine a world where we focused less on metrics, less on a reach and more on making a difference and telling a good story for metrics driven marketing, that would seem really scary and potentially wrong. What if we changed our thinking, though, about marketing altogether? What if we have it all wrong? And what if the best practices are no longer the right practice? Jack is a writer and host of The Unthinkable podcast. He's focused on equipping brands with workshops, insights and content for creating original shows. He's a leader when it comes to thinking outside the box, challenging marketing show runners to create their audiences favorite show to make a difference. While it's evident Jay is using his voice to redefine real marketing, let's uncover the story. I'm Chris Byers of Formstack and this is Ripple Effect, a show celebrating the positive impact your decisions made. Jay, welcome to the show. Is there anything we missed in that intro?

Jay Acunzo: Thanks, Chris. I do a lot of a lot, but I capsulize it pretty well. Yeah, I like to make things that help other people make what matters.

Chris Byers: I love it. Well, share with the audience the work that you're doing today, and we'd love to hear more about that.

Jay Acunzo: Sure. Right now I'm focused on a couple of projects. So you mentioned unthinkable. That show is like my digital baby. It's a labor of love. I've done it since twenty sixteen. It's a narrative podcast about creative people. And so that is my laboratory where I learned the hard way in many ways how to make a podcast and not just a show that has a bunch of predictable questions in it, but a story, a premise, a format to how you deliver that premise each episode, a community and spinoff projects. And it's kind of where I add to the list in my head that's titled This Might Not Work, which I think is I think it's always a healthy list for a creative person to add to, but it's also a scary list to visit every single day. And I'm really trying to do that. So that's been my focus for a time now. And I'm also the proprietor of a community group for creative people called Make What Matters. So as you can see already, that's a theme with me. It's I just think we spend too much time creating things that are copycat. Our commodities are following some kind of, quote unquote, best practice without really looking hard as to whether or not it's the best approach for you or your audience. And we only get this life once. So I think that's wasting a lot of time that we could otherwise be doing really meaningful work. I've been trying to figure out what it takes to actually do that and help others do the same.

Chris Byers: So something you just talked about really must come from a deeper kind of desire that's pushing you to say, I want to change the world around me. What is it that drives you and causes you to create this daily exploration?

Jay Acunzo: I think early in my career, I just fell in love with the creative craft and trying to feel stuff when I make things and help others feel stuff when they consume the creative work. And then I get into marketing in the startup world. In the tech world, I worked for companies like Google and HubSpot and both in my day job and surrounding my day job, I just saw willingness to kind of just ship nothingness, to just look like everybody else. A podcast is a really easy example. In the B2B world, it's largely just talking topics with experts, but things like topics don't differentiate you and don't really help change things for your audience. You also need a point of view. You need story. You need the rise and fall of tension and the resolution of that tension. That's like the carbon element of storytelling. If you don't have carbon, you don't have life. If you don't have tension, you don't have a story. And so there are these things that we focus on in the workplace, especially from my background in marketing that are all focused on the idea of growing reach, where I think you should focus on the idea of increasing resonance. And just like growing reach, increasing resonance is a learnable skill. It's a craft. So I've just been disillusioned for a while. To answer your question, Chris, about what I see and what I've experienced or what I was hired to do in certain places, and I just got fed up enough where I was like, enough is enough. I'm going to send up a flare through my creative work and see if anyone else comes out and says, I feel the same way, too, although I haven't been able to say it for a number of reasons. And yeah, we should be making better things because I think that helps advance various causes in positive directions.

Chris Byers: I think you've touched on a quote that you've talked about. The hard work isn't getting people to arrive, but getting them to stay.

Jay Acunzo: We've become so obsessed in the digital age with discoverability that we forgot the importance of memorability. But that's the job. Whether you're building a business or you're pushing for some kind of change in the world, whether you care about the metrics or you care about the human relationships that you're developing, nothing gets better. If you just get a bunch of folks to visit you quickly and leave. It requires people to stick and stay. And so obviously that's more overt in certain projects, but it's present in all of them. It's over in a podcast. You know, somebody hit play on this episode. Oh, my gosh. Whoever is listening to this, I'm speaking to you right now. You hit play. And I am paranoid as a guest on Chris's show that you're going to hit stop. So I better bring it. I better present the right ideas, the right ways. I better create some form of tension in the way of articulating these things that then gets resolved later. Otherwise you're going to bail. Nothing good happens for the people we want to serve or for us or for the companies that we call home during the day unless we get people to stay. But we're so obsessed with getting more and more to arrive that I think we've lost sight of that. And it's just as practical, if not more so, to flip how we think the marketing term would be grab attention versus hold attention. That's another way to think about this. It should be way more focused on the latter. And if you get whatever feels like a small number to you to stick and stay, to love what you do, you earn trust and love and deepen relationships with them. Good things happen for you. You also get this passionate cohort of super fans that can then go of. Evangelize and grow your cause to the folks that are total strangers, but because we're not doing that, there we go again, typically running around the world trying to get a bunch of people who don't know us to look our way. It's far more efficient and more effective to serve the people that are already aware of us and focus on that idea of holding attention or staying or affinity, let's say, instead of awareness.

Chris Byers: There's this idea very similar that people talk about, which is we spend all our time getting new customers if it's a lot less costly and a lot more valuable to keep and grow your current customers. And so I think we read that in books and we hear about it and and I think a lot of us, not our heads, and we get it. That makes a lot of sense. But I get the sense that there's something we're not doing to really embrace that and really say, yeah, but it's not just like turning on an internal email campaign to your customers. It's I think you're saying it's something more. What do you think about that?

Jay Acunzo: Yeah, it is. And I don't think we align our incentives or whatever we're building. We don't really orient what we're doing around these beliefs. I came across a quote and I've been searching for the source. So if anybody listening knows it, tell me, because I cannot find the source. I just know it wasn't me. And the quote was this enough is a decision you make, not a destination you reach. And I love that because everybody is playing the game of more faster. That's actually the goal. We're hoping that by getting more faster, good things happen. We'll make money, we'll have a great life, will change something for the better in the world, will help people. But this idea of enough, if you only could have the however many people already know and like your work right now and that was it. Those are the only people you could speak to and serve forever. How might your behavior change? So one example of that is I'll just keep going with the podcast thing, because that's what I love to make and teach. We usually skip the part where we're trying to develop the premise of the show, but the premise of the show is the most important thing to develop, because it's how you say something that matters to the world. That's the biggest challenge, not what microphone you use or whether you should be on clubhouse as well as have a podcast. Like we agonize over the incremental. But these fundamental things start with say something that matters. We're so focused on the net new that we skip the part where we're building something that the net new would stick around. It's not like pouring water into a leaky bucket anymore. So I think it's a lot healthier and we actually grow better if we stop sprinting frenetically in efforts to grow quicker and grow more. And we actually just fix our home turf, serve the few folks that already know us more deeply, give them a reason to talk about us, not because we're giving them incentives to do so, but because we're equipping them with ideas and experiences and products that they love and can't wait to tell their friends about. I think that's the one sort of mission I have with my work, which is like everything I put out, I want the right people to be like, you're speaking of my soul, because I think if I can get that result, everything else tends to fall in line.

Chris Byers: Yet you're making me think about that kind of first rise of podcasts, what, ten, eleven years ago? And then Nick died and then came back, raging five years later. But I wonder if some of that is people got it finally, which is it's less about just dump a bunch of content out there. But people began to tell stories and then people emulated telling stories. And so now we've got this huge rise of the podcast. I'm curious what our brand is getting wrong when it comes to creating content. How do you think they can break old mindsets and really connect to new ways to their audience?

Jay Acunzo: So let's agree that the point of creating content is to earn trust and love. There's really everything else hangs off of that, but without earning trust and love over time. So time spent is a big part of this. It doesn't matter what you publish, if it's about time spent, it's about earning trust and love so that, yes, all the good things we're trying to do as businesses might happen and all the change we want for the community might happen, too. Then we tend to see a misalignment between the value being promised or offered in the content and the delivery vehicle of a show, for example, common type of show, tips and tricks, how to do interviews with experts, advice from experts. The buyout kind of laid out and end of an expert, of an influencer, of an author, etc. That's the typical show. That's what I would call transactional value. And transactional value is something that is just a quick injection of information or it should be. And so when you create transactional value or offer it in a show, there's a misalignment between what you're offering and the way it's packaged, a better experience when it's a transaction. Because remember, the value of a transaction is to finish the transaction. It's having listened, not the listening. So I'd rather get the transcript. I'd rather get a blog post summarizing it. I'd rather get the bulleted takeaways or I'd rather already know everything. The value is having consumed it already or even not needing it. So I'd rather have it through a different medium. You want it to be the must have. Show, and that's not transactional value, that's a transformational experience and that sounds lofty, but what I say, transformational experience, instead of just trying to dole out some answers, question, answer, question, answer or interview a bunch of experts for their answers, have that premise that is about changing something and having a point of view on something for your audience. So if a transactional value based show can help people, a transformational experience changes them,

Chris Byers: can you share some examples of people getting it right?

Jay Acunzo: One of my favorite examples is from a software company called Lessonly. So Lessonly sells tools for training salespeople and all their competitors do content marketing the same way. It's like tips and tricks for salespeople, interviewing sales executives on their podcasts, etc. and they all blend in. And the team told me they have seven hundred and ninety competitors in North America alone. So there's a lot of noise. So they came along lesson and they created a show called Practice First. Practice First is a show for salespeople, but they seek to change sales by elevating the role of practice. They want to make it feel and help people realize if you want to be better at sales, you should learn how to practice. And yeah. Oh, by the way, they have tools to help you do that. But on the show they go exploring how Olympians practice, how Somalia is practiced and sure how business leaders practice to so that they can elevate the role of practice. That's transformation. That's saying something right now isn't good enough. We see a better way. We have no idea how to manifest that better way. But we're building some tools to do that. We're going to create some content to do that. And every episode is us trying to take a step in that direction. Join us if you believe what we believe. Join us on this journey. Now, that is not something you want spoiled. You don't want the bullet hit takeaways. You want to be in it. It's catharsis. It's emotional. It's it's inspiring or at least empowering to experience. So that's transformational versus transactional. And it's the best way, in my estimation, to do things like prompt subscription and grow an audience and win over fans and followers and customers.

Chris Byers: Jay, I love a good spreadsheet. In fact, I tell people at times you want to convey your strategy to me conveyed in numbers. It feels really good. I love it. So what do you tell a guy like me who struggles to know how to measure things that aren't buried in numbers?

Jay Acunzo: Well, if you're someone who fervently believes in numbers, I have to communicate the way you prefer to hear it. So I can't say all the things I just said necessarily. Maybe that comes later. I need to start with where you're at, understand your goals and communicate accordingly. All those decisions get a lot easier. If I can start by saying I want to create a show and a community around it that increases the LTV and decreases the cash for a business, increase the lifetime value of every single person that encounters this show to our brand, and lower the customer acquisition costs at the same time. And I think I found a way to do that. Now you're going to listen now at least you're going to give me more time to talk. And so that's how I position it.

Chris Byers: But it sounds like you might also be asking us to measure a little bit differently. Are there some other ways you think about what I'll call measurement, but maybe even think about it differently? That isn't about the numbers.

Jay Acunzo: Yeah, I mean, you want to use data, you lead with intuition and course. Correct with data. But data does not mean numbers. It just means information stored for later use. So if you actually want to be data driven or data informed, it's probably better if you actually want to be data informed, you need to use more than numbers. So I call it the forces of podcast measurement. It's stats, surveys, statements and syndication. So stats are the numbers, downloads, time spent, drop off rate, maybe email subscribers coming off of the show, those kinds of things, their obvious stats. That's where we stop. And that's a poor picture of the overall success of how we're performing. So you can move on to things like surveys. You have a captive audience. They trust you. They spent so much time with you. The theory of the show is that a subscriber to your show, having spent hours with you, is way more valuable asset to your brand than someone who's only looked your way or followed you on Twitter or opted into an email list, but really hasn't engaged hours of time spent. What a relationship. So you can survey the audience, you can get these insights about them. You'd have to pay to get elsewhere and you can then inform all of your work content marketing more broadly, advertising, product development using those insights. So there's a return on investment through the stats. You're looking at the numbers. There's also a return on the survey information. You can gather statements, talking to your boss, talking to your peers. If you are in client services, talking to clients, learning yourself as an individual practitioner, the qualitative feedback we get is profoundly underused. If you're not hearing anything from your audience, you have to go out and schedule conversations with them. It's rife with learning. And you can also measure that there's a better chance that people will re tweet you than, say, post an original thought on Twitter linking to your show. So the latter is more valuable because they took more time and it was higher friction. It's more of their reputation on the line when they post an original thought and recommend you to their friends than when they just click a quick button and read to you. And then lastly, syndication is a great show of. Real estate, yes, there is actually a great show about real estate for real estate agents, it's from the software company Home Light In. I think they're based in Seattle right now. No, no tech company is based anywhere today. So they have a show about real estate. Unlike other shows, they believe in putting the humans at the center of real estate instead of automating the agents away. So they're big hit among agents. The show is called The Walk Through. And the host, Matt Magee, was telling me about their newsletter and how takes them hours to put together their weekly newsletter. And he was frustrated that a lot of the newsletter subscribers don't listen to his show. It's like an order of magnitude bigger on the newsletter. What they learned was by looking at the episodes of the show and using things like excerpts or at least inspiration from the show and occasional quotes, the time it took the writer to put together their weekly newsletter dropped by almost half. Now you can reinvest those hours into other projects or growing the existing one that she's assigned to. That's a return on investment as well. So we just need to get more sophisticated and strategic with how we think about podcast measurement.

Chris Byers: So we have people from, let's say, all walks of a company that might be listening to us, maybe in marketing, but maybe in sales, maybe executives. And so across the board, how can they think about storytelling within their own business organization and how to further a business initiative?

Jay Acunzo: I think the evolution of storytelling is really the evolution of your use of tension in how you communicate. So when we first start communicating, we don't really use tension as a tool. And so when you first start communicating, it's just how to or advice or opinion or statements of fact. The classic entrepreneur story is like for years, marketers have been doing it this way, but along came the Internet and social media and that playbook was broken. So the better approach is content marketing. And oh, by the way, we have a tool to help you be a better content marketer. And then you have variations of that same story. And literally the tension is just in the center between what was and what you would like it to be. And over time, you then start to mess with that tension. You start to change that story. You start to use little moments of tension. So here's an easy example, Chris. This morning I woke up, got dressed, went down to the kitchen, and I saw my notebook sitting on the kitchen table. And I read the five words in that notebook that inspire me every morning. Now, I just told you a story about literally nothing. But what is the question on your mind? What did you read? So just by using this idea of tension or intrigue or what they call an open loop, where you start a sequence and don't complete it, you raise questions in their minds and answer it later, you're gripping in the way you communicate. So when we say story, we tend to overinflate what it is, right. You need some grand picture. You need some incredible arc. You need to dump money at it. But really, story is just the use of tension rising and falling when you first get started. It's as simple as this is then this happened, but then this and so then that. And that's it. So we can become better storytellers just by mastering and continuing to play with our use of tension when we communicate.

Chris Byers: I'm curious how you think that even examples of where you've seen that play out for maybe an individual or a company,

Jay Acunzo: any brand you can think of that tells a better story to the world, uses tension. I worked for HubSpot for a year. What the example I just gave you was basically there's like four years. It was this playbook of outbound by email lists, banner ads, advertising offline, out of home, and then the Internet came along. And everybody wants what they want when they want it on their terms. The audience has all the control. And so inbound marketing is a better way to build your business. And oh, by the way, we have tools for marketing, but they cared more about the way of the world. They were trying to build that. They pushed you on their product. That's an easy example. Wistia is another really great example. They sell video and podcasting tools. I should disclose Wister is a sponsor, so they sponsor my work, but they're always top of mind. I've known them way before. They sponsor their buddies here in Boston, but they believe, like business should be more human. And for years it felt like you were talking to a logo and it was stuffy and it was an avatar for humanity or their ideas that were distant like personas. Well, why not put your team on camera? Why not have some ability to speak directly to your audience through video and audio? That's a better way of the world. So all of these companies that we admire that typically have a brand centric feel to them or a content centric feel, usually if you look under the hood, they have some simple story that helps inform everything they're doing, sometimes overtly, sometimes implicitly.

Chris Byers: How do you think brands and companies can actually humanize what they do and their brand and how it comes across to the world?

Jay Acunzo: I think if a brand is stopping and asking how do we humanize ourselves, I think that's the wrong question. But I think that doesn't necessarily mean they shouldn't do it. I think what they're actually looking for is how do we approach our audience, customer prospect, community member partners, whoever more like whole people and less like some kind of avatar. Really a good example is the tech platform for designers called Invision. So Invision sells to product designers, the people who have designed the interfaces on your phone and all the apps that you use every single day on a laptop or your phone. These are profoundly powerful positions that they occupy. Years ago, Invision recognize that these designers were treated like last mile, make the logo bigger, change the color, change the font pixel jockeys. And they wanted to lionize these individuals and also acknowledge the frustration, their feeling about their careers that in no way maps indirectly to envisions products, but far closer to the product would be for them to run a blog that's like techniques for product design. And so they started treating their audience like whole people. They have wants and needs and fears and hopes and dreams and all these things that have nothing to do with their day, their more than their title. And I think whether it's marketing or you're trying to be a community leader, it's really tempting when you can't actually know everybody one to one to start treating them like some narrow 2D version of themselves or flat 2D version. I think the way to say that is just too divergent then like a 3D individual. And so when you're talking about humanize your brand, I don't think you can act like a corporate overlord or a bot or a deck of brand guidelines manifest in some feed somewhere if you're trying to treat your audience like whole people and whether or not that quote unquote scales is going to be dependent on the culture of the organization and the ability to teach that culture and pass it on to employees and less about, again, some deck that tries to corporatist the creative process. So I think that would be my answer is just treat others like whole people and recognize that they are

Chris Byers: how important I think it is for an individual to actually think about creating their own brand. And what does that look like?

Jay Acunzo: Not at all. I hate the personal brand saying it's let's can we just go back to calling it reputation and can we go back to saying, I'd like to serve my audience and solve a problem and I will let others declare what my brand is? I just I think it's a total waste of calories.

Chris Byers: Well, there you go. I love that strong thinking about a personal brand. I think you're right. I think a lot of what you're talking about, though, is something along the lines of being authentic, like we each have our own purpose and characteristics and personality. And it sounds like you're asking us to just let some of that out, is that right?

Jay Acunzo: Yeah. I love the idea of letting your quirks out from where they're hiding. Absolutely. The authenticity thing I get a little weird about just because if you're a jerk, then you're an authentic jerk in your work. I don't know if that's what we're going for. I'm exhausted. I'm spent. I'm running on fumes. I have been for months. I have a toddler. I used to be out on the road with lots of events. I'm an extreme extrovert. I'm cut off from friends and family. I have very little left. You don't want me showing up on this podcast acting that way, but it's authentically how I feel today, right? Like you want me to fake it or at least to dip into the part of me that doesn't feel like it's authentically or easily on the surface right now. And that's what I owe to your listeners, to you. So I get a little antsy when we start talking about authenticity. But I do think taking the right way, it's the best version of you as a person through whatever medium you're putting it, like, for example, a version of me you'd get over. Coffee is a different version that I'm putting on a microphone day to day. But it's still I'm trying to put the best version of me through this microphone as possible. So it's like this context, specific authenticity that might be that little nudge we need in the right direction.

Chris Byers: I love that story. And in fact, I appreciate even the vulnerability of talking a little bit about how you actually feel right now. I think that actually is the way that people to me begin to connect to to who we are. Because you're right, when I get in podcast mode, my voice changes just a little bit and I get into a different mode if I'm presenting than I do if you and I are having to your point coffee. Each conversation we have on the show ends up highlighting innovative ideas, fresh perspectives, and offers a different way to think about marketing, but more specifically about the power of storytelling to create connection. Jay, if you could give advice to our listeners, how can they unlock their genius to tell better stories?

Jay Acunzo: It may not be the place that we've been told in school is where good ideas come from or that we see from others. For my money, I bet every time on you starting your idea development, your story development and your content development from a place of frustration, just what can't you stand about the status quo facing your industry, your audience, your own situation, like what has you frustrated and then you go and you write a bunch of stuff and share a bunch of things and you start to integrate that into your conversations with others and you get some feedback really quickly and you hear how they're talking about it, what they notice. And you go on this little idea investigation, which is this is broken. I may not know what is better, or maybe I have a theory, but it's pretty vague. It's pretty blurry. And so you're like in this idea aeration mode and sometimes that's content, sometimes that's conversation. And I think the lesson here is great ideas are built, not found. And instead of waiting to come up with something drilled. Down to the core of your thinking and your emotions, and usually when you reach first principles like you can't get any further, at least right now with your current knowledge, now you go investigate. So an example of this is on my show, unthinkable. Right now, we're exploring an idea that I would call the next rep. Why aren't creators creating better work, more work? Why do people not start? Why do they feel they've plateaued? Why aren't they leveling up? There's all these problems that we face as creators. And if you really get down to it, it's like the IRA Glass quote about creativity. You have taste which far exceeds your skills to match that taste so your work falls short of your own expectations. So some people stop, some people never start. Is all these reasons that we can't close the gap between our taste and our skills really what closes the gap is doing a lot of work building your body of work. OK, so now it's about your body of work, but what is your body of work like? The atomic unit of that is just doing the work, getting a little bit better. You've done the thing one more time. You arrive there faster, you arrive there better. So how do people do that? Like I'm frustrated by people not making what matters most to them and I've been able to whittle it down by talking to folks and writing about stuff to realize maybe it's actually the problem of getting to the next step. So let's explore that for a while. And over time, you start to hone in on your hypotheses, your ideas, your stories, your heuristics, all that stuff. It's just you willing to pull a thread based on curiosity instead of expertise. And I think the way you unlock a healthy curiosity, it starts with frustration.

Chris Byers: I love the way you're thinking about that. Funny enough, I was listening to a podcast. John Maxwell talked about this idea that great leaders really work out of frustration. They don't work because they think things are perfect in the world. Entrepreneurs that find a frustration that they're like this has got to be better. And I don't always think about that as an individual, that there's some power in that. And I can build on top of that, even when I'm telling stories that I'm frustrated, which probably means somebody else is frustrated, too. And so if I can tap into that, there's probably something there.

Jay Acunzo: And the beauty of it is especially today, you have movements like building and public and things like that. But when you do this investigative approach, my buddy Andrew Davis, who's a wonderful author and speaker in the marketing space, he talks about asking questions Google can't answer and then going on a quest. And that's the difference between an expert and a visionary. So I got this idea from him. But you get to invite others along that quest. You get to say to people, I actually don't have all the answers, but I'd like to figure it out. I actually don't know what happens when a successful creator builds their body of work, like I can surmise, but I have no idea if I could try to zoom in to one rep, to the second rep. All these questions emerge and all these behaviors are probably present in people I admire or people that are successful or people that are struggling. And I don't have the answers. But more importantly is if I'm saying that to you, hey, I'm exploring this, I'm investigating this, this is broken. And potentially this is a better way. Now you get that beautiful. Oh, you're speaking to my soul, which is how you start and grow an audience and how all the good stuff we're looking for tends to come out. But we're so obsessed with trying to have the answers that I think we've lost sight of the power of of this like invite of curiosity, this desire to make things better without knowing how. But you're telling people you'd like to and then inviting them to come with you.

Chris Byers: Well, as we wrap up the conversation, I've got a handful of questions. What do you suggest listeners do to tap into their creativity,

Jay Acunzo: put yourself on a deadline and or find whatever gives you energy and make stuff like it doesn't matter who watches it, listens to it. I admire what happens when people talk about their side hustles. I prefer side projects because when you say side hustle, you're implying the monetization, the audience growth. A side project is literally I'm doing this for the practice and that's all creativity is. It's just practice. It's a repetition plus reinvention over time. And so to ignite creativity, I think the danger is you try to go find ideas. I'd rather find the idea while creating I think you feel energized and find good ideas and get more creative through practice. So in other words, don't look for the ideas out in the world or go search for inspiration. Just start making stuff, slap some messy clay onto the table and start shaping it. And that's more important because I think eventually you find yourself, you find your ideas, you find a specific place you're stuck to then go get ideas from others rather than over research up front. The job is not to be creative. The job is to create. So just start creating anything bad, private, unknown, and eventually you do it enough and you start to get better and find yourself

Chris Byers: in the way that you talk about things, about reaching people's souls in a way. What do you think people can do differently in their day to day to create a positive impact for others?

Jay Acunzo: I think we remove the self way too much. And I've talked about frustration. I've talked about your curiosity. Like we are looking for the general advice or technique or tactic of what works on a channel. And I think it's far more important, I think. And no disrespect. The person who said this, I can't figure out who it was, I saw this person tweet, Your mission will get you further than your metrics. And I love that you're not thinking about our mission or thinking about like I'd like to grow audience. I'd like to generate a sale. I like to hit my numbers. I'd like to be famous. But we're not thinking about I'd like to change this for others. I'd like to actually help them. I'd like to solve this problem. And when you orient yourself like that, not by removing yourself, by saying I genuinely, as a person me would like to see this solved. And I know there's more that feel that way when you lead with your beliefs and your point of view and your frustrations, that tends to serve the audience better than some of the more hollow, generalized thinking creation advice seeking that we we go about our days stuck in

Chris Byers: what's something you're practicing right now as you think about impacting the future?

Jay Acunzo: I'm trying to get better at not leaping to assumptions and conclusions, but just saying here's the question I have and I'm not going to overengineer the solution yet. I'm going to go explore this for a while. I'm going to launch an investigation. But I think I'm just trying to get better at being like I actually don't know. And I know you're asking me or my own brain is saying that to me. I know you should have it, but I don't. So let's go figure it out. I'm going to go tell some stories and have some people on the show and, you know, maybe get a little bit closer over time. So I think the thing I'm trying to get better at is just being willing to say, I have a question and I actually don't know the answer. So let's go figure it up.

Chris Byers: Some of practice aligns with the idea of at times succeeding and failing, winning and losing. How do you think about failure and how you either use that in your craft or think about it?

Jay Acunzo: I think we have to be willing to fail. I don't think we should seek it out. I think we want to be successful and we put failure is one of those like fetishized ideas and startups, entrepreneur communities, etc. And I think we've lost sight of why it's being so fetishized. I think it's because inherently creativity is about saying, I don't know if this is going to work, but I'm going to try it anyway. And so without an acceptable fail rate, without slack in the system, without the ability to say genuinely, I don't know if it's going to work, we never do anything exciting. I think about the David Bowie quote, about creativity a lot where he said you should wait out into the water just far enough for your toes. Just don't touch the ground. And right there you'll do something exciting. That's failure because you don't know, am I going to sink or swim? Am I going to have to retreat back to the sand where I can stand again? And it's OK because you could. So failure to me is just it's not the seeking out of failure. It's just the willingness to say inherently this work we're doing is going to result in some failures by the very nature of what we're doing, which is where we're trying to make things better.

Chris Byers: To learn more about how people are reimagining their world of work, head over to formstack.com/practically-genius, also linked in our show notes. Thanks for joining us today on this episode of Ripple Effect.

Chris Byers: Reimagine a world where we focused less on metrics, less on a reach and more on making a difference and telling a good story for metrics driven marketing, that would seem really scary and potentially wrong. What if we changed our thinking, though, about marketing altogether? What if we have it all wrong? And what if the best practices are no longer the right practice? Jack is a writer and host of The Unthinkable podcast. He's focused on equipping brands with workshops, insights and content for creating original shows. He's a leader when it comes to thinking outside the box, challenging marketing show runners to create their audiences favorite show to make a difference. While it's evident Jay is using his voice to redefine real marketing, let's uncover the story. I'm Chris Byers of Formstack and this is Ripple Effect, a show celebrating the positive impact your decisions made. Jay, welcome to the show. Is there anything we missed in that intro?

Jay Acunzo: Thanks, Chris. I do a lot of a lot, but I capsulize it pretty well. Yeah, I like to make things that help other people make what matters.

Chris Byers: I love it. Well, share with the audience the work that you're doing today, and we'd love to hear more about that.

Jay Acunzo: Sure. Right now I'm focused on a couple of projects. So you mentioned unthinkable. That show is like my digital baby. It's a labor of love. I've done it since twenty sixteen. It's a narrative podcast about creative people. And so that is my laboratory where I learned the hard way in many ways how to make a podcast and not just a show that has a bunch of predictable questions in it, but a story, a premise, a format to how you deliver that premise each episode, a community and spinoff projects. And it's kind of where I add to the list in my head that's titled This Might Not Work, which I think is I think it's always a healthy list for a creative person to add to, but it's also a scary list to visit every single day. And I'm really trying to do that. So that's been my focus for a time now. And I'm also the proprietor of a community group for creative people called Make What Matters. So as you can see already, that's a theme with me. It's I just think we spend too much time creating things that are copycat. Our commodities are following some kind of, quote unquote, best practice without really looking hard as to whether or not it's the best approach for you or your audience. And we only get this life once. So I think that's wasting a lot of time that we could otherwise be doing really meaningful work. I've been trying to figure out what it takes to actually do that and help others do the same.

Chris Byers: So something you just talked about really must come from a deeper kind of desire that's pushing you to say, I want to change the world around me. What is it that drives you and causes you to create this daily exploration?

Jay Acunzo: I think early in my career, I just fell in love with the creative craft and trying to feel stuff when I make things and help others feel stuff when they consume the creative work. And then I get into marketing in the startup world. In the tech world, I worked for companies like Google and HubSpot and both in my day job and surrounding my day job, I just saw willingness to kind of just ship nothingness, to just look like everybody else. A podcast is a really easy example. In the B2B world, it's largely just talking topics with experts, but things like topics don't differentiate you and don't really help change things for your audience. You also need a point of view. You need story. You need the rise and fall of tension and the resolution of that tension. That's like the carbon element of storytelling. If you don't have carbon, you don't have life. If you don't have tension, you don't have a story. And so there are these things that we focus on in the workplace, especially from my background in marketing that are all focused on the idea of growing reach, where I think you should focus on the idea of increasing resonance. And just like growing reach, increasing resonance is a learnable skill. It's a craft. So I've just been disillusioned for a while. To answer your question, Chris, about what I see and what I've experienced or what I was hired to do in certain places, and I just got fed up enough where I was like, enough is enough. I'm going to send up a flare through my creative work and see if anyone else comes out and says, I feel the same way, too, although I haven't been able to say it for a number of reasons. And yeah, we should be making better things because I think that helps advance various causes in positive directions.

Chris Byers: I think you've touched on a quote that you've talked about. The hard work isn't getting people to arrive, but getting them to stay.

Jay Acunzo: We've become so obsessed in the digital age with discoverability that we forgot the importance of memorability. But that's the job. Whether you're building a business or you're pushing for some kind of change in the world, whether you care about the metrics or you care about the human relationships that you're developing, nothing gets better. If you just get a bunch of folks to visit you quickly and leave. It requires people to stick and stay. And so obviously that's more overt in certain projects, but it's present in all of them. It's over in a podcast. You know, somebody hit play on this episode. Oh, my gosh. Whoever is listening to this, I'm speaking to you right now. You hit play. And I am paranoid as a guest on Chris's show that you're going to hit stop. So I better bring it. I better present the right ideas, the right ways. I better create some form of tension in the way of articulating these things that then gets resolved later. Otherwise you're going to bail. Nothing good happens for the people we want to serve or for us or for the companies that we call home during the day unless we get people to stay. But we're so obsessed with getting more and more to arrive that I think we've lost sight of that. And it's just as practical, if not more so, to flip how we think the marketing term would be grab attention versus hold attention. That's another way to think about this. It should be way more focused on the latter. And if you get whatever feels like a small number to you to stick and stay, to love what you do, you earn trust and love and deepen relationships with them. Good things happen for you. You also get this passionate cohort of super fans that can then go of. Evangelize and grow your cause to the folks that are total strangers, but because we're not doing that, there we go again, typically running around the world trying to get a bunch of people who don't know us to look our way. It's far more efficient and more effective to serve the people that are already aware of us and focus on that idea of holding attention or staying or affinity, let's say, instead of awareness.

Chris Byers: There's this idea very similar that people talk about, which is we spend all our time getting new customers if it's a lot less costly and a lot more valuable to keep and grow your current customers. And so I think we read that in books and we hear about it and and I think a lot of us, not our heads, and we get it. That makes a lot of sense. But I get the sense that there's something we're not doing to really embrace that and really say, yeah, but it's not just like turning on an internal email campaign to your customers. It's I think you're saying it's something more. What do you think about that?

Jay Acunzo: Yeah, it is. And I don't think we align our incentives or whatever we're building. We don't really orient what we're doing around these beliefs. I came across a quote and I've been searching for the source. So if anybody listening knows it, tell me, because I cannot find the source. I just know it wasn't me. And the quote was this enough is a decision you make, not a destination you reach. And I love that because everybody is playing the game of more faster. That's actually the goal. We're hoping that by getting more faster, good things happen. We'll make money, we'll have a great life, will change something for the better in the world, will help people. But this idea of enough, if you only could have the however many people already know and like your work right now and that was it. Those are the only people you could speak to and serve forever. How might your behavior change? So one example of that is I'll just keep going with the podcast thing, because that's what I love to make and teach. We usually skip the part where we're trying to develop the premise of the show, but the premise of the show is the most important thing to develop, because it's how you say something that matters to the world. That's the biggest challenge, not what microphone you use or whether you should be on clubhouse as well as have a podcast. Like we agonize over the incremental. But these fundamental things start with say something that matters. We're so focused on the net new that we skip the part where we're building something that the net new would stick around. It's not like pouring water into a leaky bucket anymore. So I think it's a lot healthier and we actually grow better if we stop sprinting frenetically in efforts to grow quicker and grow more. And we actually just fix our home turf, serve the few folks that already know us more deeply, give them a reason to talk about us, not because we're giving them incentives to do so, but because we're equipping them with ideas and experiences and products that they love and can't wait to tell their friends about. I think that's the one sort of mission I have with my work, which is like everything I put out, I want the right people to be like, you're speaking of my soul, because I think if I can get that result, everything else tends to fall in line.

Chris Byers: Yet you're making me think about that kind of first rise of podcasts, what, ten, eleven years ago? And then Nick died and then came back, raging five years later. But I wonder if some of that is people got it finally, which is it's less about just dump a bunch of content out there. But people began to tell stories and then people emulated telling stories. And so now we've got this huge rise of the podcast. I'm curious what our brand is getting wrong when it comes to creating content. How do you think they can break old mindsets and really connect to new ways to their audience?

Jay Acunzo: So let's agree that the point of creating content is to earn trust and love. There's really everything else hangs off of that, but without earning trust and love over time. So time spent is a big part of this. It doesn't matter what you publish, if it's about time spent, it's about earning trust and love so that, yes, all the good things we're trying to do as businesses might happen and all the change we want for the community might happen, too. Then we tend to see a misalignment between the value being promised or offered in the content and the delivery vehicle of a show, for example, common type of show, tips and tricks, how to do interviews with experts, advice from experts. The buyout kind of laid out and end of an expert, of an influencer, of an author, etc. That's the typical show. That's what I would call transactional value. And transactional value is something that is just a quick injection of information or it should be. And so when you create transactional value or offer it in a show, there's a misalignment between what you're offering and the way it's packaged, a better experience when it's a transaction. Because remember, the value of a transaction is to finish the transaction. It's having listened, not the listening. So I'd rather get the transcript. I'd rather get a blog post summarizing it. I'd rather get the bulleted takeaways or I'd rather already know everything. The value is having consumed it already or even not needing it. So I'd rather have it through a different medium. You want it to be the must have. Show, and that's not transactional value, that's a transformational experience and that sounds lofty, but what I say, transformational experience, instead of just trying to dole out some answers, question, answer, question, answer or interview a bunch of experts for their answers, have that premise that is about changing something and having a point of view on something for your audience. So if a transactional value based show can help people, a transformational experience changes them,

Chris Byers: can you share some examples of people getting it right?

Jay Acunzo: One of my favorite examples is from a software company called Lessonly. So Lessonly sells tools for training salespeople and all their competitors do content marketing the same way. It's like tips and tricks for salespeople, interviewing sales executives on their podcasts, etc. and they all blend in. And the team told me they have seven hundred and ninety competitors in North America alone. So there's a lot of noise. So they came along lesson and they created a show called Practice First. Practice First is a show for salespeople, but they seek to change sales by elevating the role of practice. They want to make it feel and help people realize if you want to be better at sales, you should learn how to practice. And yeah. Oh, by the way, they have tools to help you do that. But on the show they go exploring how Olympians practice, how Somalia is practiced and sure how business leaders practice to so that they can elevate the role of practice. That's transformation. That's saying something right now isn't good enough. We see a better way. We have no idea how to manifest that better way. But we're building some tools to do that. We're going to create some content to do that. And every episode is us trying to take a step in that direction. Join us if you believe what we believe. Join us on this journey. Now, that is not something you want spoiled. You don't want the bullet hit takeaways. You want to be in it. It's catharsis. It's emotional. It's it's inspiring or at least empowering to experience. So that's transformational versus transactional. And it's the best way, in my estimation, to do things like prompt subscription and grow an audience and win over fans and followers and customers.

Chris Byers: Jay, I love a good spreadsheet. In fact, I tell people at times you want to convey your strategy to me conveyed in numbers. It feels really good. I love it. So what do you tell a guy like me who struggles to know how to measure things that aren't buried in numbers?

Jay Acunzo: Well, if you're someone who fervently believes in numbers, I have to communicate the way you prefer to hear it. So I can't say all the things I just said necessarily. Maybe that comes later. I need to start with where you're at, understand your goals and communicate accordingly. All those decisions get a lot easier. If I can start by saying I want to create a show and a community around it that increases the LTV and decreases the cash for a business, increase the lifetime value of every single person that encounters this show to our brand, and lower the customer acquisition costs at the same time. And I think I found a way to do that. Now you're going to listen now at least you're going to give me more time to talk. And so that's how I position it.

Chris Byers: But it sounds like you might also be asking us to measure a little bit differently. Are there some other ways you think about what I'll call measurement, but maybe even think about it differently? That isn't about the numbers.

Jay Acunzo: Yeah, I mean, you want to use data, you lead with intuition and course. Correct with data. But data does not mean numbers. It just means information stored for later use. So if you actually want to be data driven or data informed, it's probably better if you actually want to be data informed, you need to use more than numbers. So I call it the forces of podcast measurement. It's stats, surveys, statements and syndication. So stats are the numbers, downloads, time spent, drop off rate, maybe email subscribers coming off of the show, those kinds of things, their obvious stats. That's where we stop. And that's a poor picture of the overall success of how we're performing. So you can move on to things like surveys. You have a captive audience. They trust you. They spent so much time with you. The theory of the show is that a subscriber to your show, having spent hours with you, is way more valuable asset to your brand than someone who's only looked your way or followed you on Twitter or opted into an email list, but really hasn't engaged hours of time spent. What a relationship. So you can survey the audience, you can get these insights about them. You'd have to pay to get elsewhere and you can then inform all of your work content marketing more broadly, advertising, product development using those insights. So there's a return on investment through the stats. You're looking at the numbers. There's also a return on the survey information. You can gather statements, talking to your boss, talking to your peers. If you are in client services, talking to clients, learning yourself as an individual practitioner, the qualitative feedback we get is profoundly underused. If you're not hearing anything from your audience, you have to go out and schedule conversations with them. It's rife with learning. And you can also measure that there's a better chance that people will re tweet you than, say, post an original thought on Twitter linking to your show. So the latter is more valuable because they took more time and it was higher friction. It's more of their reputation on the line when they post an original thought and recommend you to their friends than when they just click a quick button and read to you. And then lastly, syndication is a great show of. Real estate, yes, there is actually a great show about real estate for real estate agents, it's from the software company Home Light In. I think they're based in Seattle right now. No, no tech company is based anywhere today. So they have a show about real estate. Unlike other shows, they believe in putting the humans at the center of real estate instead of automating the agents away. So they're big hit among agents. The show is called The Walk Through. And the host, Matt Magee, was telling me about their newsletter and how takes them hours to put together their weekly newsletter. And he was frustrated that a lot of the newsletter subscribers don't listen to his show. It's like an order of magnitude bigger on the newsletter. What they learned was by looking at the episodes of the show and using things like excerpts or at least inspiration from the show and occasional quotes, the time it took the writer to put together their weekly newsletter dropped by almost half. Now you can reinvest those hours into other projects or growing the existing one that she's assigned to. That's a return on investment as well. So we just need to get more sophisticated and strategic with how we think about podcast measurement.

Chris Byers: So we have people from, let's say, all walks of a company that might be listening to us, maybe in marketing, but maybe in sales, maybe executives. And so across the board, how can they think about storytelling within their own business organization and how to further a business initiative?

Jay Acunzo: I think the evolution of storytelling is really the evolution of your use of tension in how you communicate. So when we first start communicating, we don't really use tension as a tool. And so when you first start communicating, it's just how to or advice or opinion or statements of fact. The classic entrepreneur story is like for years, marketers have been doing it this way, but along came the Internet and social media and that playbook was broken. So the better approach is content marketing. And oh, by the way, we have a tool to help you be a better content marketer. And then you have variations of that same story. And literally the tension is just in the center between what was and what you would like it to be. And over time, you then start to mess with that tension. You start to change that story. You start to use little moments of tension. So here's an easy example, Chris. This morning I woke up, got dressed, went down to the kitchen, and I saw my notebook sitting on the kitchen table. And I read the five words in that notebook that inspire me every morning. Now, I just told you a story about literally nothing. But what is the question on your mind? What did you read? So just by using this idea of tension or intrigue or what they call an open loop, where you start a sequence and don't complete it, you raise questions in their minds and answer it later, you're gripping in the way you communicate. So when we say story, we tend to overinflate what it is, right. You need some grand picture. You need some incredible arc. You need to dump money at it. But really, story is just the use of tension rising and falling when you first get started. It's as simple as this is then this happened, but then this and so then that. And that's it. So we can become better storytellers just by mastering and continuing to play with our use of tension when we communicate.

Chris Byers: I'm curious how you think that even examples of where you've seen that play out for maybe an individual or a company,

Jay Acunzo: any brand you can think of that tells a better story to the world, uses tension. I worked for HubSpot for a year. What the example I just gave you was basically there's like four years. It was this playbook of outbound by email lists, banner ads, advertising offline, out of home, and then the Internet came along. And everybody wants what they want when they want it on their terms. The audience has all the control. And so inbound marketing is a better way to build your business. And oh, by the way, we have tools for marketing, but they cared more about the way of the world. They were trying to build that. They pushed you on their product. That's an easy example. Wistia is another really great example. They sell video and podcasting tools. I should disclose Wister is a sponsor, so they sponsor my work, but they're always top of mind. I've known them way before. They sponsor their buddies here in Boston, but they believe, like business should be more human. And for years it felt like you were talking to a logo and it was stuffy and it was an avatar for humanity or their ideas that were distant like personas. Well, why not put your team on camera? Why not have some ability to speak directly to your audience through video and audio? That's a better way of the world. So all of these companies that we admire that typically have a brand centric feel to them or a content centric feel, usually if you look under the hood, they have some simple story that helps inform everything they're doing, sometimes overtly, sometimes implicitly.

Chris Byers: How do you think brands and companies can actually humanize what they do and their brand and how it comes across to the world?

Jay Acunzo: I think if a brand is stopping and asking how do we humanize ourselves, I think that's the wrong question. But I think that doesn't necessarily mean they shouldn't do it. I think what they're actually looking for is how do we approach our audience, customer prospect, community member partners, whoever more like whole people and less like some kind of avatar. Really a good example is the tech platform for designers called Invision. So Invision sells to product designers, the people who have designed the interfaces on your phone and all the apps that you use every single day on a laptop or your phone. These are profoundly powerful positions that they occupy. Years ago, Invision recognize that these designers were treated like last mile, make the logo bigger, change the color, change the font pixel jockeys. And they wanted to lionize these individuals and also acknowledge the frustration, their feeling about their careers that in no way maps indirectly to envisions products, but far closer to the product would be for them to run a blog that's like techniques for product design. And so they started treating their audience like whole people. They have wants and needs and fears and hopes and dreams and all these things that have nothing to do with their day, their more than their title. And I think whether it's marketing or you're trying to be a community leader, it's really tempting when you can't actually know everybody one to one to start treating them like some narrow 2D version of themselves or flat 2D version. I think the way to say that is just too divergent then like a 3D individual. And so when you're talking about humanize your brand, I don't think you can act like a corporate overlord or a bot or a deck of brand guidelines manifest in some feed somewhere if you're trying to treat your audience like whole people and whether or not that quote unquote scales is going to be dependent on the culture of the organization and the ability to teach that culture and pass it on to employees and less about, again, some deck that tries to corporatist the creative process. So I think that would be my answer is just treat others like whole people and recognize that they are

Chris Byers: how important I think it is for an individual to actually think about creating their own brand. And what does that look like?

Jay Acunzo: Not at all. I hate the personal brand saying it's let's can we just go back to calling it reputation and can we go back to saying, I'd like to serve my audience and solve a problem and I will let others declare what my brand is? I just I think it's a total waste of calories.

Chris Byers: Well, there you go. I love that strong thinking about a personal brand. I think you're right. I think a lot of what you're talking about, though, is something along the lines of being authentic, like we each have our own purpose and characteristics and personality. And it sounds like you're asking us to just let some of that out, is that right?

Jay Acunzo: Yeah. I love the idea of letting your quirks out from where they're hiding. Absolutely. The authenticity thing I get a little weird about just because if you're a jerk, then you're an authentic jerk in your work. I don't know if that's what we're going for. I'm exhausted. I'm spent. I'm running on fumes. I have been for months. I have a toddler. I used to be out on the road with lots of events. I'm an extreme extrovert. I'm cut off from friends and family. I have very little left. You don't want me showing up on this podcast acting that way, but it's authentically how I feel today, right? Like you want me to fake it or at least to dip into the part of me that doesn't feel like it's authentically or easily on the surface right now. And that's what I owe to your listeners, to you. So I get a little antsy when we start talking about authenticity. But I do think taking the right way, it's the best version of you as a person through whatever medium you're putting it, like, for example, a version of me you'd get over. Coffee is a different version that I'm putting on a microphone day to day. But it's still I'm trying to put the best version of me through this microphone as possible. So it's like this context, specific authenticity that might be that little nudge we need in the right direction.

Chris Byers: I love that story. And in fact, I appreciate even the vulnerability of talking a little bit about how you actually feel right now. I think that actually is the way that people to me begin to connect to to who we are. Because you're right, when I get in podcast mode, my voice changes just a little bit and I get into a different mode if I'm presenting than I do if you and I are having to your point coffee. Each conversation we have on the show ends up highlighting innovative ideas, fresh perspectives, and offers a different way to think about marketing, but more specifically about the power of storytelling to create connection. Jay, if you could give advice to our listeners, how can they unlock their genius to tell better stories?

Jay Acunzo: It may not be the place that we've been told in school is where good ideas come from or that we see from others. For my money, I bet every time on you starting your idea development, your story development and your content development from a place of frustration, just what can't you stand about the status quo facing your industry, your audience, your own situation, like what has you frustrated and then you go and you write a bunch of stuff and share a bunch of things and you start to integrate that into your conversations with others and you get some feedback really quickly and you hear how they're talking about it, what they notice. And you go on this little idea investigation, which is this is broken. I may not know what is better, or maybe I have a theory, but it's pretty vague. It's pretty blurry. And so you're like in this idea aeration mode and sometimes that's content, sometimes that's conversation. And I think the lesson here is great ideas are built, not found. And instead of waiting to come up with something drilled. Down to the core of your thinking and your emotions, and usually when you reach first principles like you can't get any further, at least right now with your current knowledge, now you go investigate. So an example of this is on my show, unthinkable. Right now, we're exploring an idea that I would call the next rep. Why aren't creators creating better work, more work? Why do people not start? Why do they feel they've plateaued? Why aren't they leveling up? There's all these problems that we face as creators. And if you really get down to it, it's like the IRA Glass quote about creativity. You have taste which far exceeds your skills to match that taste so your work falls short of your own expectations. So some people stop, some people never start. Is all these reasons that we can't close the gap between our taste and our skills really what closes the gap is doing a lot of work building your body of work. OK, so now it's about your body of work, but what is your body of work like? The atomic unit of that is just doing the work, getting a little bit better. You've done the thing one more time. You arrive there faster, you arrive there better. So how do people do that? Like I'm frustrated by people not making what matters most to them and I've been able to whittle it down by talking to folks and writing about stuff to realize maybe it's actually the problem of getting to the next step. So let's explore that for a while. And over time, you start to hone in on your hypotheses, your ideas, your stories, your heuristics, all that stuff. It's just you willing to pull a thread based on curiosity instead of expertise. And I think the way you unlock a healthy curiosity, it starts with frustration.

Chris Byers: I love the way you're thinking about that. Funny enough, I was listening to a podcast. John Maxwell talked about this idea that great leaders really work out of frustration. They don't work because they think things are perfect in the world. Entrepreneurs that find a frustration that they're like this has got to be better. And I don't always think about that as an individual, that there's some power in that. And I can build on top of that, even when I'm telling stories that I'm frustrated, which probably means somebody else is frustrated, too. And so if I can tap into that, there's probably something there.

Jay Acunzo: And the beauty of it is especially today, you have movements like building and public and things like that. But when you do this investigative approach, my buddy Andrew Davis, who's a wonderful author and speaker in the marketing space, he talks about asking questions Google can't answer and then going on a quest. And that's the difference between an expert and a visionary. So I got this idea from him. But you get to invite others along that quest. You get to say to people, I actually don't have all the answers, but I'd like to figure it out. I actually don't know what happens when a successful creator builds their body of work, like I can surmise, but I have no idea if I could try to zoom in to one rep, to the second rep. All these questions emerge and all these behaviors are probably present in people I admire or people that are successful or people that are struggling. And I don't have the answers. But more importantly is if I'm saying that to you, hey, I'm exploring this, I'm investigating this, this is broken. And potentially this is a better way. Now you get that beautiful. Oh, you're speaking to my soul, which is how you start and grow an audience and how all the good stuff we're looking for tends to come out. But we're so obsessed with trying to have the answers that I think we've lost sight of the power of of this like invite of curiosity, this desire to make things better without knowing how. But you're telling people you'd like to and then inviting them to come with you.

Chris Byers: Well, as we wrap up the conversation, I've got a handful of questions. What do you suggest listeners do to tap into their creativity,

Jay Acunzo: put yourself on a deadline and or find whatever gives you energy and make stuff like it doesn't matter who watches it, listens to it. I admire what happens when people talk about their side hustles. I prefer side projects because when you say side hustle, you're implying the monetization, the audience growth. A side project is literally I'm doing this for the practice and that's all creativity is. It's just practice. It's a repetition plus reinvention over time. And so to ignite creativity, I think the danger is you try to go find ideas. I'd rather find the idea while creating I think you feel energized and find good ideas and get more creative through practice. So in other words, don't look for the ideas out in the world or go search for inspiration. Just start making stuff, slap some messy clay onto the table and start shaping it. And that's more important because I think eventually you find yourself, you find your ideas, you find a specific place you're stuck to then go get ideas from others rather than over research up front. The job is not to be creative. The job is to create. So just start creating anything bad, private, unknown, and eventually you do it enough and you start to get better and find yourself

Chris Byers: in the way that you talk about things, about reaching people's souls in a way. What do you think people can do differently in their day to day to create a positive impact for others?

Jay Acunzo: I think we remove the self way too much. And I've talked about frustration. I've talked about your curiosity. Like we are looking for the general advice or technique or tactic of what works on a channel. And I think it's far more important, I think. And no disrespect. The person who said this, I can't figure out who it was, I saw this person tweet, Your mission will get you further than your metrics. And I love that you're not thinking about our mission or thinking about like I'd like to grow audience. I'd like to generate a sale. I like to hit my numbers. I'd like to be famous. But we're not thinking about I'd like to change this for others. I'd like to actually help them. I'd like to solve this problem. And when you orient yourself like that, not by removing yourself, by saying I genuinely, as a person me would like to see this solved. And I know there's more that feel that way when you lead with your beliefs and your point of view and your frustrations, that tends to serve the audience better than some of the more hollow, generalized thinking creation advice seeking that we we go about our days stuck in

Chris Byers: what's something you're practicing right now as you think about impacting the future?

Jay Acunzo: I'm trying to get better at not leaping to assumptions and conclusions, but just saying here's the question I have and I'm not going to overengineer the solution yet. I'm going to go explore this for a while. I'm going to launch an investigation. But I think I'm just trying to get better at being like I actually don't know. And I know you're asking me or my own brain is saying that to me. I know you should have it, but I don't. So let's go figure it out. I'm going to go tell some stories and have some people on the show and, you know, maybe get a little bit closer over time. So I think the thing I'm trying to get better at is just being willing to say, I have a question and I actually don't know the answer. So let's go figure it up.

Chris Byers: Some of practice aligns with the idea of at times succeeding and failing, winning and losing. How do you think about failure and how you either use that in your craft or think about it?

Jay Acunzo: I think we have to be willing to fail. I don't think we should seek it out. I think we want to be successful and we put failure is one of those like fetishized ideas and startups, entrepreneur communities, etc. And I think we've lost sight of why it's being so fetishized. I think it's because inherently creativity is about saying, I don't know if this is going to work, but I'm going to try it anyway. And so without an acceptable fail rate, without slack in the system, without the ability to say genuinely, I don't know if it's going to work, we never do anything exciting. I think about the David Bowie quote, about creativity a lot where he said you should wait out into the water just far enough for your toes. Just don't touch the ground. And right there you'll do something exciting. That's failure because you don't know, am I going to sink or swim? Am I going to have to retreat back to the sand where I can stand again? And it's OK because you could. So failure to me is just it's not the seeking out of failure. It's just the willingness to say inherently this work we're doing is going to result in some failures by the very nature of what we're doing, which is where we're trying to make things better.

Chris Byers: To learn more about how people are reimagining their world of work, head over to formstack.com/practically-genius, also linked in our show notes. Thanks for joining us today on this episode of Ripple Effect.

Collecting payments with online forms is easy, but first, you have to choose the right payment gateway. Browse the providers in our gateway credit card processing comparison chart to find the best option for your business. Then sign up for Formstack Forms, customize your payment forms, and start collecting profits in minutes.

Online Payment Gateway Comparison Chart

NOTE: These amounts reflect the monthly subscription for the payment provider. Formstack does not charge a fee to integrate with any of our payment partners.

FEATURES
Authorize.Net
Bambora
Chargify
First Data
PayPal
PayPal Pro
PayPal Payflow
Stripe
WePay
ProPay
Monthly Fees
$25
$25
$149+
Contact First Data
$0
$25
$0-$25
$0
$0
$4
Transaction Fees
$2.9% + 30¢
$2.9% + 30¢
N/A
Contact First Data
$2.9% + 30¢
$2.9% + 30¢
10¢
$2.9% + 30¢
$2.9% + 30¢
$2.6% + 30¢
Countries
5
8
Based on payment gateway
50+
203
3
4
25
USA
USA
Currencies
11
2
23
140
25
23
25
135+
1
1
Card Types
6
13
Based on payment gateway
5
9
9
5
6
4
4
Limits
None
None
Based on payment gateway
None
$10,000
None
None
None
None
$500 per transaction
Form Payments
Recurring Billing
Mobile Payments
PSD2 Compliant

Chris Byers: Reimagine a world where we focused less on metrics, less on a reach and more on making a difference and telling a good story for metrics driven marketing, that would seem really scary and potentially wrong. What if we changed our thinking, though, about marketing altogether? What if we have it all wrong? And what if the best practices are no longer the right practice? Jack is a writer and host of The Unthinkable podcast. He's focused on equipping brands with workshops, insights and content for creating original shows. He's a leader when it comes to thinking outside the box, challenging marketing show runners to create their audiences favorite show to make a difference. While it's evident Jay is using his voice to redefine real marketing, let's uncover the story. I'm Chris Byers of Formstack and this is Ripple Effect, a show celebrating the positive impact your decisions made. Jay, welcome to the show. Is there anything we missed in that intro?

Jay Acunzo: Thanks, Chris. I do a lot of a lot, but I capsulize it pretty well. Yeah, I like to make things that help other people make what matters.

Chris Byers: I love it. Well, share with the audience the work that you're doing today, and we'd love to hear more about that.

Jay Acunzo: Sure. Right now I'm focused on a couple of projects. So you mentioned unthinkable. That show is like my digital baby. It's a labor of love. I've done it since twenty sixteen. It's a narrative podcast about creative people. And so that is my laboratory where I learned the hard way in many ways how to make a podcast and not just a show that has a bunch of predictable questions in it, but a story, a premise, a format to how you deliver that premise each episode, a community and spinoff projects. And it's kind of where I add to the list in my head that's titled This Might Not Work, which I think is I think it's always a healthy list for a creative person to add to, but it's also a scary list to visit every single day. And I'm really trying to do that. So that's been my focus for a time now. And I'm also the proprietor of a community group for creative people called Make What Matters. So as you can see already, that's a theme with me. It's I just think we spend too much time creating things that are copycat. Our commodities are following some kind of, quote unquote, best practice without really looking hard as to whether or not it's the best approach for you or your audience. And we only get this life once. So I think that's wasting a lot of time that we could otherwise be doing really meaningful work. I've been trying to figure out what it takes to actually do that and help others do the same.

Chris Byers: So something you just talked about really must come from a deeper kind of desire that's pushing you to say, I want to change the world around me. What is it that drives you and causes you to create this daily exploration?

Jay Acunzo: I think early in my career, I just fell in love with the creative craft and trying to feel stuff when I make things and help others feel stuff when they consume the creative work. And then I get into marketing in the startup world. In the tech world, I worked for companies like Google and HubSpot and both in my day job and surrounding my day job, I just saw willingness to kind of just ship nothingness, to just look like everybody else. A podcast is a really easy example. In the B2B world, it's largely just talking topics with experts, but things like topics don't differentiate you and don't really help change things for your audience. You also need a point of view. You need story. You need the rise and fall of tension and the resolution of that tension. That's like the carbon element of storytelling. If you don't have carbon, you don't have life. If you don't have tension, you don't have a story. And so there are these things that we focus on in the workplace, especially from my background in marketing that are all focused on the idea of growing reach, where I think you should focus on the idea of increasing resonance. And just like growing reach, increasing resonance is a learnable skill. It's a craft. So I've just been disillusioned for a while. To answer your question, Chris, about what I see and what I've experienced or what I was hired to do in certain places, and I just got fed up enough where I was like, enough is enough. I'm going to send up a flare through my creative work and see if anyone else comes out and says, I feel the same way, too, although I haven't been able to say it for a number of reasons. And yeah, we should be making better things because I think that helps advance various causes in positive directions.

Chris Byers: I think you've touched on a quote that you've talked about. The hard work isn't getting people to arrive, but getting them to stay.

Jay Acunzo: We've become so obsessed in the digital age with discoverability that we forgot the importance of memorability. But that's the job. Whether you're building a business or you're pushing for some kind of change in the world, whether you care about the metrics or you care about the human relationships that you're developing, nothing gets better. If you just get a bunch of folks to visit you quickly and leave. It requires people to stick and stay. And so obviously that's more overt in certain projects, but it's present in all of them. It's over in a podcast. You know, somebody hit play on this episode. Oh, my gosh. Whoever is listening to this, I'm speaking to you right now. You hit play. And I am paranoid as a guest on Chris's show that you're going to hit stop. So I better bring it. I better present the right ideas, the right ways. I better create some form of tension in the way of articulating these things that then gets resolved later. Otherwise you're going to bail. Nothing good happens for the people we want to serve or for us or for the companies that we call home during the day unless we get people to stay. But we're so obsessed with getting more and more to arrive that I think we've lost sight of that. And it's just as practical, if not more so, to flip how we think the marketing term would be grab attention versus hold attention. That's another way to think about this. It should be way more focused on the latter. And if you get whatever feels like a small number to you to stick and stay, to love what you do, you earn trust and love and deepen relationships with them. Good things happen for you. You also get this passionate cohort of super fans that can then go of. Evangelize and grow your cause to the folks that are total strangers, but because we're not doing that, there we go again, typically running around the world trying to get a bunch of people who don't know us to look our way. It's far more efficient and more effective to serve the people that are already aware of us and focus on that idea of holding attention or staying or affinity, let's say, instead of awareness.

Chris Byers: There's this idea very similar that people talk about, which is we spend all our time getting new customers if it's a lot less costly and a lot more valuable to keep and grow your current customers. And so I think we read that in books and we hear about it and and I think a lot of us, not our heads, and we get it. That makes a lot of sense. But I get the sense that there's something we're not doing to really embrace that and really say, yeah, but it's not just like turning on an internal email campaign to your customers. It's I think you're saying it's something more. What do you think about that?

Jay Acunzo: Yeah, it is. And I don't think we align our incentives or whatever we're building. We don't really orient what we're doing around these beliefs. I came across a quote and I've been searching for the source. So if anybody listening knows it, tell me, because I cannot find the source. I just know it wasn't me. And the quote was this enough is a decision you make, not a destination you reach. And I love that because everybody is playing the game of more faster. That's actually the goal. We're hoping that by getting more faster, good things happen. We'll make money, we'll have a great life, will change something for the better in the world, will help people. But this idea of enough, if you only could have the however many people already know and like your work right now and that was it. Those are the only people you could speak to and serve forever. How might your behavior change? So one example of that is I'll just keep going with the podcast thing, because that's what I love to make and teach. We usually skip the part where we're trying to develop the premise of the show, but the premise of the show is the most important thing to develop, because it's how you say something that matters to the world. That's the biggest challenge, not what microphone you use or whether you should be on clubhouse as well as have a podcast. Like we agonize over the incremental. But these fundamental things start with say something that matters. We're so focused on the net new that we skip the part where we're building something that the net new would stick around. It's not like pouring water into a leaky bucket anymore. So I think it's a lot healthier and we actually grow better if we stop sprinting frenetically in efforts to grow quicker and grow more. And we actually just fix our home turf, serve the few folks that already know us more deeply, give them a reason to talk about us, not because we're giving them incentives to do so, but because we're equipping them with ideas and experiences and products that they love and can't wait to tell their friends about. I think that's the one sort of mission I have with my work, which is like everything I put out, I want the right people to be like, you're speaking of my soul, because I think if I can get that result, everything else tends to fall in line.

Chris Byers: Yet you're making me think about that kind of first rise of podcasts, what, ten, eleven years ago? And then Nick died and then came back, raging five years later. But I wonder if some of that is people got it finally, which is it's less about just dump a bunch of content out there. But people began to tell stories and then people emulated telling stories. And so now we've got this huge rise of the podcast. I'm curious what our brand is getting wrong when it comes to creating content. How do you think they can break old mindsets and really connect to new ways to their audience?

Jay Acunzo: So let's agree that the point of creating content is to earn trust and love. There's really everything else hangs off of that, but without earning trust and love over time. So time spent is a big part of this. It doesn't matter what you publish, if it's about time spent, it's about earning trust and love so that, yes, all the good things we're trying to do as businesses might happen and all the change we want for the community might happen, too. Then we tend to see a misalignment between the value being promised or offered in the content and the delivery vehicle of a show, for example, common type of show, tips and tricks, how to do interviews with experts, advice from experts. The buyout kind of laid out and end of an expert, of an influencer, of an author, etc. That's the typical show. That's what I would call transactional value. And transactional value is something that is just a quick injection of information or it should be. And so when you create transactional value or offer it in a show, there's a misalignment between what you're offering and the way it's packaged, a better experience when it's a transaction. Because remember, the value of a transaction is to finish the transaction. It's having listened, not the listening. So I'd rather get the transcript. I'd rather get a blog post summarizing it. I'd rather get the bulleted takeaways or I'd rather already know everything. The value is having consumed it already or even not needing it. So I'd rather have it through a different medium. You want it to be the must have. Show, and that's not transactional value, that's a transformational experience and that sounds lofty, but what I say, transformational experience, instead of just trying to dole out some answers, question, answer, question, answer or interview a bunch of experts for their answers, have that premise that is about changing something and having a point of view on something for your audience. So if a transactional value based show can help people, a transformational experience changes them,

Chris Byers: can you share some examples of people getting it right?

Jay Acunzo: One of my favorite examples is from a software company called Lessonly. So Lessonly sells tools for training salespeople and all their competitors do content marketing the same way. It's like tips and tricks for salespeople, interviewing sales executives on their podcasts, etc. and they all blend in. And the team told me they have seven hundred and ninety competitors in North America alone. So there's a lot of noise. So they came along lesson and they created a show called Practice First. Practice First is a show for salespeople, but they seek to change sales by elevating the role of practice. They want to make it feel and help people realize if you want to be better at sales, you should learn how to practice. And yeah. Oh, by the way, they have tools to help you do that. But on the show they go exploring how Olympians practice, how Somalia is practiced and sure how business leaders practice to so that they can elevate the role of practice. That's transformation. That's saying something right now isn't good enough. We see a better way. We have no idea how to manifest that better way. But we're building some tools to do that. We're going to create some content to do that. And every episode is us trying to take a step in that direction. Join us if you believe what we believe. Join us on this journey. Now, that is not something you want spoiled. You don't want the bullet hit takeaways. You want to be in it. It's catharsis. It's emotional. It's it's inspiring or at least empowering to experience. So that's transformational versus transactional. And it's the best way, in my estimation, to do things like prompt subscription and grow an audience and win over fans and followers and customers.

Chris Byers: Jay, I love a good spreadsheet. In fact, I tell people at times you want to convey your strategy to me conveyed in numbers. It feels really good. I love it. So what do you tell a guy like me who struggles to know how to measure things that aren't buried in numbers?

Jay Acunzo: Well, if you're someone who fervently believes in numbers, I have to communicate the way you prefer to hear it. So I can't say all the things I just said necessarily. Maybe that comes later. I need to start with where you're at, understand your goals and communicate accordingly. All those decisions get a lot easier. If I can start by saying I want to create a show and a community around it that increases the LTV and decreases the cash for a business, increase the lifetime value of every single person that encounters this show to our brand, and lower the customer acquisition costs at the same time. And I think I found a way to do that. Now you're going to listen now at least you're going to give me more time to talk. And so that's how I position it.

Chris Byers: But it sounds like you might also be asking us to measure a little bit differently. Are there some other ways you think about what I'll call measurement, but maybe even think about it differently? That isn't about the numbers.

Jay Acunzo: Yeah, I mean, you want to use data, you lead with intuition and course. Correct with data. But data does not mean numbers. It just means information stored for later use. So if you actually want to be data driven or data informed, it's probably better if you actually want to be data informed, you need to use more than numbers. So I call it the forces of podcast measurement. It's stats, surveys, statements and syndication. So stats are the numbers, downloads, time spent, drop off rate, maybe email subscribers coming off of the show, those kinds of things, their obvious stats. That's where we stop. And that's a poor picture of the overall success of how we're performing. So you can move on to things like surveys. You have a captive audience. They trust you. They spent so much time with you. The theory of the show is that a subscriber to your show, having spent hours with you, is way more valuable asset to your brand than someone who's only looked your way or followed you on Twitter or opted into an email list, but really hasn't engaged hours of time spent. What a relationship. So you can survey the audience, you can get these insights about them. You'd have to pay to get elsewhere and you can then inform all of your work content marketing more broadly, advertising, product development using those insights. So there's a return on investment through the stats. You're looking at the numbers. There's also a return on the survey information. You can gather statements, talking to your boss, talking to your peers. If you are in client services, talking to clients, learning yourself as an individual practitioner, the qualitative feedback we get is profoundly underused. If you're not hearing anything from your audience, you have to go out and schedule conversations with them. It's rife with learning. And you can also measure that there's a better chance that people will re tweet you than, say, post an original thought on Twitter linking to your show. So the latter is more valuable because they took more time and it was higher friction. It's more of their reputation on the line when they post an original thought and recommend you to their friends than when they just click a quick button and read to you. And then lastly, syndication is a great show of. Real estate, yes, there is actually a great show about real estate for real estate agents, it's from the software company Home Light In. I think they're based in Seattle right now. No, no tech company is based anywhere today. So they have a show about real estate. Unlike other shows, they believe in putting the humans at the center of real estate instead of automating the agents away. So they're big hit among agents. The show is called The Walk Through. And the host, Matt Magee, was telling me about their newsletter and how takes them hours to put together their weekly newsletter. And he was frustrated that a lot of the newsletter subscribers don't listen to his show. It's like an order of magnitude bigger on the newsletter. What they learned was by looking at the episodes of the show and using things like excerpts or at least inspiration from the show and occasional quotes, the time it took the writer to put together their weekly newsletter dropped by almost half. Now you can reinvest those hours into other projects or growing the existing one that she's assigned to. That's a return on investment as well. So we just need to get more sophisticated and strategic with how we think about podcast measurement.

Chris Byers: So we have people from, let's say, all walks of a company that might be listening to us, maybe in marketing, but maybe in sales, maybe executives. And so across the board, how can they think about storytelling within their own business organization and how to further a business initiative?

Jay Acunzo: I think the evolution of storytelling is really the evolution of your use of tension in how you communicate. So when we first start communicating, we don't really use tension as a tool. And so when you first start communicating, it's just how to or advice or opinion or statements of fact. The classic entrepreneur story is like for years, marketers have been doing it this way, but along came the Internet and social media and that playbook was broken. So the better approach is content marketing. And oh, by the way, we have a tool to help you be a better content marketer. And then you have variations of that same story. And literally the tension is just in the center between what was and what you would like it to be. And over time, you then start to mess with that tension. You start to change that story. You start to use little moments of tension. So here's an easy example, Chris. This morning I woke up, got dressed, went down to the kitchen, and I saw my notebook sitting on the kitchen table. And I read the five words in that notebook that inspire me every morning. Now, I just told you a story about literally nothing. But what is the question on your mind? What did you read? So just by using this idea of tension or intrigue or what they call an open loop, where you start a sequence and don't complete it, you raise questions in their minds and answer it later, you're gripping in the way you communicate. So when we say story, we tend to overinflate what it is, right. You need some grand picture. You need some incredible arc. You need to dump money at it. But really, story is just the use of tension rising and falling when you first get started. It's as simple as this is then this happened, but then this and so then that. And that's it. So we can become better storytellers just by mastering and continuing to play with our use of tension when we communicate.

Chris Byers: I'm curious how you think that even examples of where you've seen that play out for maybe an individual or a company,

Jay Acunzo: any brand you can think of that tells a better story to the world, uses tension. I worked for HubSpot for a year. What the example I just gave you was basically there's like four years. It was this playbook of outbound by email lists, banner ads, advertising offline, out of home, and then the Internet came along. And everybody wants what they want when they want it on their terms. The audience has all the control. And so inbound marketing is a better way to build your business. And oh, by the way, we have tools for marketing, but they cared more about the way of the world. They were trying to build that. They pushed you on their product. That's an easy example. Wistia is another really great example. They sell video and podcasting tools. I should disclose Wister is a sponsor, so they sponsor my work, but they're always top of mind. I've known them way before. They sponsor their buddies here in Boston, but they believe, like business should be more human. And for years it felt like you were talking to a logo and it was stuffy and it was an avatar for humanity or their ideas that were distant like personas. Well, why not put your team on camera? Why not have some ability to speak directly to your audience through video and audio? That's a better way of the world. So all of these companies that we admire that typically have a brand centric feel to them or a content centric feel, usually if you look under the hood, they have some simple story that helps inform everything they're doing, sometimes overtly, sometimes implicitly.

Chris Byers: How do you think brands and companies can actually humanize what they do and their brand and how it comes across to the world?

Jay Acunzo: I think if a brand is stopping and asking how do we humanize ourselves, I think that's the wrong question. But I think that doesn't necessarily mean they shouldn't do it. I think what they're actually looking for is how do we approach our audience, customer prospect, community member partners, whoever more like whole people and less like some kind of avatar. Really a good example is the tech platform for designers called Invision. So Invision sells to product designers, the people who have designed the interfaces on your phone and all the apps that you use every single day on a laptop or your phone. These are profoundly powerful positions that they occupy. Years ago, Invision recognize that these designers were treated like last mile, make the logo bigger, change the color, change the font pixel jockeys. And they wanted to lionize these individuals and also acknowledge the frustration, their feeling about their careers that in no way maps indirectly to envisions products, but far closer to the product would be for them to run a blog that's like techniques for product design. And so they started treating their audience like whole people. They have wants and needs and fears and hopes and dreams and all these things that have nothing to do with their day, their more than their title. And I think whether it's marketing or you're trying to be a community leader, it's really tempting when you can't actually know everybody one to one to start treating them like some narrow 2D version of themselves or flat 2D version. I think the way to say that is just too divergent then like a 3D individual. And so when you're talking about humanize your brand, I don't think you can act like a corporate overlord or a bot or a deck of brand guidelines manifest in some feed somewhere if you're trying to treat your audience like whole people and whether or not that quote unquote scales is going to be dependent on the culture of the organization and the ability to teach that culture and pass it on to employees and less about, again, some deck that tries to corporatist the creative process. So I think that would be my answer is just treat others like whole people and recognize that they are

Chris Byers: how important I think it is for an individual to actually think about creating their own brand. And what does that look like?

Jay Acunzo: Not at all. I hate the personal brand saying it's let's can we just go back to calling it reputation and can we go back to saying, I'd like to serve my audience and solve a problem and I will let others declare what my brand is? I just I think it's a total waste of calories.

Chris Byers: Well, there you go. I love that strong thinking about a personal brand. I think you're right. I think a lot of what you're talking about, though, is something along the lines of being authentic, like we each have our own purpose and characteristics and personality. And it sounds like you're asking us to just let some of that out, is that right?

Jay Acunzo: Yeah. I love the idea of letting your quirks out from where they're hiding. Absolutely. The authenticity thing I get a little weird about just because if you're a jerk, then you're an authentic jerk in your work. I don't know if that's what we're going for. I'm exhausted. I'm spent. I'm running on fumes. I have been for months. I have a toddler. I used to be out on the road with lots of events. I'm an extreme extrovert. I'm cut off from friends and family. I have very little left. You don't want me showing up on this podcast acting that way, but it's authentically how I feel today, right? Like you want me to fake it or at least to dip into the part of me that doesn't feel like it's authentically or easily on the surface right now. And that's what I owe to your listeners, to you. So I get a little antsy when we start talking about authenticity. But I do think taking the right way, it's the best version of you as a person through whatever medium you're putting it, like, for example, a version of me you'd get over. Coffee is a different version that I'm putting on a microphone day to day. But it's still I'm trying to put the best version of me through this microphone as possible. So it's like this context, specific authenticity that might be that little nudge we need in the right direction.

Chris Byers: I love that story. And in fact, I appreciate even the vulnerability of talking a little bit about how you actually feel right now. I think that actually is the way that people to me begin to connect to to who we are. Because you're right, when I get in podcast mode, my voice changes just a little bit and I get into a different mode if I'm presenting than I do if you and I are having to your point coffee. Each conversation we have on the show ends up highlighting innovative ideas, fresh perspectives, and offers a different way to think about marketing, but more specifically about the power of storytelling to create connection. Jay, if you could give advice to our listeners, how can they unlock their genius to tell better stories?

Jay Acunzo: It may not be the place that we've been told in school is where good ideas come from or that we see from others. For my money, I bet every time on you starting your idea development, your story development and your content development from a place of frustration, just what can't you stand about the status quo facing your industry, your audience, your own situation, like what has you frustrated and then you go and you write a bunch of stuff and share a bunch of things and you start to integrate that into your conversations with others and you get some feedback really quickly and you hear how they're talking about it, what they notice. And you go on this little idea investigation, which is this is broken. I may not know what is better, or maybe I have a theory, but it's pretty vague. It's pretty blurry. And so you're like in this idea aeration mode and sometimes that's content, sometimes that's conversation. And I think the lesson here is great ideas are built, not found. And instead of waiting to come up with something drilled. Down to the core of your thinking and your emotions, and usually when you reach first principles like you can't get any further, at least right now with your current knowledge, now you go investigate. So an example of this is on my show, unthinkable. Right now, we're exploring an idea that I would call the next rep. Why aren't creators creating better work, more work? Why do people not start? Why do they feel they've plateaued? Why aren't they leveling up? There's all these problems that we face as creators. And if you really get down to it, it's like the IRA Glass quote about creativity. You have taste which far exceeds your skills to match that taste so your work falls short of your own expectations. So some people stop, some people never start. Is all these reasons that we can't close the gap between our taste and our skills really what closes the gap is doing a lot of work building your body of work. OK, so now it's about your body of work, but what is your body of work like? The atomic unit of that is just doing the work, getting a little bit better. You've done the thing one more time. You arrive there faster, you arrive there better. So how do people do that? Like I'm frustrated by people not making what matters most to them and I've been able to whittle it down by talking to folks and writing about stuff to realize maybe it's actually the problem of getting to the next step. So let's explore that for a while. And over time, you start to hone in on your hypotheses, your ideas, your stories, your heuristics, all that stuff. It's just you willing to pull a thread based on curiosity instead of expertise. And I think the way you unlock a healthy curiosity, it starts with frustration.

Chris Byers: I love the way you're thinking about that. Funny enough, I was listening to a podcast. John Maxwell talked about this idea that great leaders really work out of frustration. They don't work because they think things are perfect in the world. Entrepreneurs that find a frustration that they're like this has got to be better. And I don't always think about that as an individual, that there's some power in that. And I can build on top of that, even when I'm telling stories that I'm frustrated, which probably means somebody else is frustrated, too. And so if I can tap into that, there's probably something there.

Jay Acunzo: And the beauty of it is especially today, you have movements like building and public and things like that. But when you do this investigative approach, my buddy Andrew Davis, who's a wonderful author and speaker in the marketing space, he talks about asking questions Google can't answer and then going on a quest. And that's the difference between an expert and a visionary. So I got this idea from him. But you get to invite others along that quest. You get to say to people, I actually don't have all the answers, but I'd like to figure it out. I actually don't know what happens when a successful creator builds their body of work, like I can surmise, but I have no idea if I could try to zoom in to one rep, to the second rep. All these questions emerge and all these behaviors are probably present in people I admire or people that are successful or people that are struggling. And I don't have the answers. But more importantly is if I'm saying that to you, hey, I'm exploring this, I'm investigating this, this is broken. And potentially this is a better way. Now you get that beautiful. Oh, you're speaking to my soul, which is how you start and grow an audience and how all the good stuff we're looking for tends to come out. But we're so obsessed with trying to have the answers that I think we've lost sight of the power of of this like invite of curiosity, this desire to make things better without knowing how. But you're telling people you'd like to and then inviting them to come with you.

Chris Byers: Well, as we wrap up the conversation, I've got a handful of questions. What do you suggest listeners do to tap into their creativity,

Jay Acunzo: put yourself on a deadline and or find whatever gives you energy and make stuff like it doesn't matter who watches it, listens to it. I admire what happens when people talk about their side hustles. I prefer side projects because when you say side hustle, you're implying the monetization, the audience growth. A side project is literally I'm doing this for the practice and that's all creativity is. It's just practice. It's a repetition plus reinvention over time. And so to ignite creativity, I think the danger is you try to go find ideas. I'd rather find the idea while creating I think you feel energized and find good ideas and get more creative through practice. So in other words, don't look for the ideas out in the world or go search for inspiration. Just start making stuff, slap some messy clay onto the table and start shaping it. And that's more important because I think eventually you find yourself, you find your ideas, you find a specific place you're stuck to then go get ideas from others rather than over research up front. The job is not to be creative. The job is to create. So just start creating anything bad, private, unknown, and eventually you do it enough and you start to get better and find yourself

Chris Byers: in the way that you talk about things, about reaching people's souls in a way. What do you think people can do differently in their day to day to create a positive impact for others?

Jay Acunzo: I think we remove the self way too much. And I've talked about frustration. I've talked about your curiosity. Like we are looking for the general advice or technique or tactic of what works on a channel. And I think it's far more important, I think. And no disrespect. The person who said this, I can't figure out who it was, I saw this person tweet, Your mission will get you further than your metrics. And I love that you're not thinking about our mission or thinking about like I'd like to grow audience. I'd like to generate a sale. I like to hit my numbers. I'd like to be famous. But we're not thinking about I'd like to change this for others. I'd like to actually help them. I'd like to solve this problem. And when you orient yourself like that, not by removing yourself, by saying I genuinely, as a person me would like to see this solved. And I know there's more that feel that way when you lead with your beliefs and your point of view and your frustrations, that tends to serve the audience better than some of the more hollow, generalized thinking creation advice seeking that we we go about our days stuck in

Chris Byers: what's something you're practicing right now as you think about impacting the future?

Jay Acunzo: I'm trying to get better at not leaping to assumptions and conclusions, but just saying here's the question I have and I'm not going to overengineer the solution yet. I'm going to go explore this for a while. I'm going to launch an investigation. But I think I'm just trying to get better at being like I actually don't know. And I know you're asking me or my own brain is saying that to me. I know you should have it, but I don't. So let's go figure it out. I'm going to go tell some stories and have some people on the show and, you know, maybe get a little bit closer over time. So I think the thing I'm trying to get better at is just being willing to say, I have a question and I actually don't know the answer. So let's go figure it up.

Chris Byers: Some of practice aligns with the idea of at times succeeding and failing, winning and losing. How do you think about failure and how you either use that in your craft or think about it?

Jay Acunzo: I think we have to be willing to fail. I don't think we should seek it out. I think we want to be successful and we put failure is one of those like fetishized ideas and startups, entrepreneur communities, etc. And I think we've lost sight of why it's being so fetishized. I think it's because inherently creativity is about saying, I don't know if this is going to work, but I'm going to try it anyway. And so without an acceptable fail rate, without slack in the system, without the ability to say genuinely, I don't know if it's going to work, we never do anything exciting. I think about the David Bowie quote, about creativity a lot where he said you should wait out into the water just far enough for your toes. Just don't touch the ground. And right there you'll do something exciting. That's failure because you don't know, am I going to sink or swim? Am I going to have to retreat back to the sand where I can stand again? And it's OK because you could. So failure to me is just it's not the seeking out of failure. It's just the willingness to say inherently this work we're doing is going to result in some failures by the very nature of what we're doing, which is where we're trying to make things better.

Chris Byers: To learn more about how people are reimagining their world of work, head over to formstack.com/practically-genius, also linked in our show notes. Thanks for joining us today on this episode of Ripple Effect.

Chris Byers: Reimagine a world where we focused less on metrics, less on a reach and more on making a difference and telling a good story for metrics driven marketing, that would seem really scary and potentially wrong. What if we changed our thinking, though, about marketing altogether? What if we have it all wrong? And what if the best practices are no longer the right practice? Jack is a writer and host of The Unthinkable podcast. He's focused on equipping brands with workshops, insights and content for creating original shows. He's a leader when it comes to thinking outside the box, challenging marketing show runners to create their audiences favorite show to make a difference. While it's evident Jay is using his voice to redefine real marketing, let's uncover the story. I'm Chris Byers of Formstack and this is Ripple Effect, a show celebrating the positive impact your decisions made. Jay, welcome to the show. Is there anything we missed in that intro?

Jay Acunzo: Thanks, Chris. I do a lot of a lot, but I capsulize it pretty well. Yeah, I like to make things that help other people make what matters.

Chris Byers: I love it. Well, share with the audience the work that you're doing today, and we'd love to hear more about that.

Jay Acunzo: Sure. Right now I'm focused on a couple of projects. So you mentioned unthinkable. That show is like my digital baby. It's a labor of love. I've done it since twenty sixteen. It's a narrative podcast about creative people. And so that is my laboratory where I learned the hard way in many ways how to make a podcast and not just a show that has a bunch of predictable questions in it, but a story, a premise, a format to how you deliver that premise each episode, a community and spinoff projects. And it's kind of where I add to the list in my head that's titled This Might Not Work, which I think is I think it's always a healthy list for a creative person to add to, but it's also a scary list to visit every single day. And I'm really trying to do that. So that's been my focus for a time now. And I'm also the proprietor of a community group for creative people called Make What Matters. So as you can see already, that's a theme with me. It's I just think we spend too much time creating things that are copycat. Our commodities are following some kind of, quote unquote, best practice without really looking hard as to whether or not it's the best approach for you or your audience. And we only get this life once. So I think that's wasting a lot of time that we could otherwise be doing really meaningful work. I've been trying to figure out what it takes to actually do that and help others do the same.

Chris Byers: So something you just talked about really must come from a deeper kind of desire that's pushing you to say, I want to change the world around me. What is it that drives you and causes you to create this daily exploration?

Jay Acunzo: I think early in my career, I just fell in love with the creative craft and trying to feel stuff when I make things and help others feel stuff when they consume the creative work. And then I get into marketing in the startup world. In the tech world, I worked for companies like Google and HubSpot and both in my day job and surrounding my day job, I just saw willingness to kind of just ship nothingness, to just look like everybody else. A podcast is a really easy example. In the B2B world, it's largely just talking topics with experts, but things like topics don't differentiate you and don't really help change things for your audience. You also need a point of view. You need story. You need the rise and fall of tension and the resolution of that tension. That's like the carbon element of storytelling. If you don't have carbon, you don't have life. If you don't have tension, you don't have a story. And so there are these things that we focus on in the workplace, especially from my background in marketing that are all focused on the idea of growing reach, where I think you should focus on the idea of increasing resonance. And just like growing reach, increasing resonance is a learnable skill. It's a craft. So I've just been disillusioned for a while. To answer your question, Chris, about what I see and what I've experienced or what I was hired to do in certain places, and I just got fed up enough where I was like, enough is enough. I'm going to send up a flare through my creative work and see if anyone else comes out and says, I feel the same way, too, although I haven't been able to say it for a number of reasons. And yeah, we should be making better things because I think that helps advance various causes in positive directions.

Chris Byers: I think you've touched on a quote that you've talked about. The hard work isn't getting people to arrive, but getting them to stay.

Jay Acunzo: We've become so obsessed in the digital age with discoverability that we forgot the importance of memorability. But that's the job. Whether you're building a business or you're pushing for some kind of change in the world, whether you care about the metrics or you care about the human relationships that you're developing, nothing gets better. If you just get a bunch of folks to visit you quickly and leave. It requires people to stick and stay. And so obviously that's more overt in certain projects, but it's present in all of them. It's over in a podcast. You know, somebody hit play on this episode. Oh, my gosh. Whoever is listening to this, I'm speaking to you right now. You hit play. And I am paranoid as a guest on Chris's show that you're going to hit stop. So I better bring it. I better present the right ideas, the right ways. I better create some form of tension in the way of articulating these things that then gets resolved later. Otherwise you're going to bail. Nothing good happens for the people we want to serve or for us or for the companies that we call home during the day unless we get people to stay. But we're so obsessed with getting more and more to arrive that I think we've lost sight of that. And it's just as practical, if not more so, to flip how we think the marketing term would be grab attention versus hold attention. That's another way to think about this. It should be way more focused on the latter. And if you get whatever feels like a small number to you to stick and stay, to love what you do, you earn trust and love and deepen relationships with them. Good things happen for you. You also get this passionate cohort of super fans that can then go of. Evangelize and grow your cause to the folks that are total strangers, but because we're not doing that, there we go again, typically running around the world trying to get a bunch of people who don't know us to look our way. It's far more efficient and more effective to serve the people that are already aware of us and focus on that idea of holding attention or staying or affinity, let's say, instead of awareness.

Chris Byers: There's this idea very similar that people talk about, which is we spend all our time getting new customers if it's a lot less costly and a lot more valuable to keep and grow your current customers. And so I think we read that in books and we hear about it and and I think a lot of us, not our heads, and we get it. That makes a lot of sense. But I get the sense that there's something we're not doing to really embrace that and really say, yeah, but it's not just like turning on an internal email campaign to your customers. It's I think you're saying it's something more. What do you think about that?

Jay Acunzo: Yeah, it is. And I don't think we align our incentives or whatever we're building. We don't really orient what we're doing around these beliefs. I came across a quote and I've been searching for the source. So if anybody listening knows it, tell me, because I cannot find the source. I just know it wasn't me. And the quote was this enough is a decision you make, not a destination you reach. And I love that because everybody is playing the game of more faster. That's actually the goal. We're hoping that by getting more faster, good things happen. We'll make money, we'll have a great life, will change something for the better in the world, will help people. But this idea of enough, if you only could have the however many people already know and like your work right now and that was it. Those are the only people you could speak to and serve forever. How might your behavior change? So one example of that is I'll just keep going with the podcast thing, because that's what I love to make and teach. We usually skip the part where we're trying to develop the premise of the show, but the premise of the show is the most important thing to develop, because it's how you say something that matters to the world. That's the biggest challenge, not what microphone you use or whether you should be on clubhouse as well as have a podcast. Like we agonize over the incremental. But these fundamental things start with say something that matters. We're so focused on the net new that we skip the part where we're building something that the net new would stick around. It's not like pouring water into a leaky bucket anymore. So I think it's a lot healthier and we actually grow better if we stop sprinting frenetically in efforts to grow quicker and grow more. And we actually just fix our home turf, serve the few folks that already know us more deeply, give them a reason to talk about us, not because we're giving them incentives to do so, but because we're equipping them with ideas and experiences and products that they love and can't wait to tell their friends about. I think that's the one sort of mission I have with my work, which is like everything I put out, I want the right people to be like, you're speaking of my soul, because I think if I can get that result, everything else tends to fall in line.

Chris Byers: Yet you're making me think about that kind of first rise of podcasts, what, ten, eleven years ago? And then Nick died and then came back, raging five years later. But I wonder if some of that is people got it finally, which is it's less about just dump a bunch of content out there. But people began to tell stories and then people emulated telling stories. And so now we've got this huge rise of the podcast. I'm curious what our brand is getting wrong when it comes to creating content. How do you think they can break old mindsets and really connect to new ways to their audience?

Jay Acunzo: So let's agree that the point of creating content is to earn trust and love. There's really everything else hangs off of that, but without earning trust and love over time. So time spent is a big part of this. It doesn't matter what you publish, if it's about time spent, it's about earning trust and love so that, yes, all the good things we're trying to do as businesses might happen and all the change we want for the community might happen, too. Then we tend to see a misalignment between the value being promised or offered in the content and the delivery vehicle of a show, for example, common type of show, tips and tricks, how to do interviews with experts, advice from experts. The buyout kind of laid out and end of an expert, of an influencer, of an author, etc. That's the typical show. That's what I would call transactional value. And transactional value is something that is just a quick injection of information or it should be. And so when you create transactional value or offer it in a show, there's a misalignment between what you're offering and the way it's packaged, a better experience when it's a transaction. Because remember, the value of a transaction is to finish the transaction. It's having listened, not the listening. So I'd rather get the transcript. I'd rather get a blog post summarizing it. I'd rather get the bulleted takeaways or I'd rather already know everything. The value is having consumed it already or even not needing it. So I'd rather have it through a different medium. You want it to be the must have. Show, and that's not transactional value, that's a transformational experience and that sounds lofty, but what I say, transformational experience, instead of just trying to dole out some answers, question, answer, question, answer or interview a bunch of experts for their answers, have that premise that is about changing something and having a point of view on something for your audience. So if a transactional value based show can help people, a transformational experience changes them,

Chris Byers: can you share some examples of people getting it right?

Jay Acunzo: One of my favorite examples is from a software company called Lessonly. So Lessonly sells tools for training salespeople and all their competitors do content marketing the same way. It's like tips and tricks for salespeople, interviewing sales executives on their podcasts, etc. and they all blend in. And the team told me they have seven hundred and ninety competitors in North America alone. So there's a lot of noise. So they came along lesson and they created a show called Practice First. Practice First is a show for salespeople, but they seek to change sales by elevating the role of practice. They want to make it feel and help people realize if you want to be better at sales, you should learn how to practice. And yeah. Oh, by the way, they have tools to help you do that. But on the show they go exploring how Olympians practice, how Somalia is practiced and sure how business leaders practice to so that they can elevate the role of practice. That's transformation. That's saying something right now isn't good enough. We see a better way. We have no idea how to manifest that better way. But we're building some tools to do that. We're going to create some content to do that. And every episode is us trying to take a step in that direction. Join us if you believe what we believe. Join us on this journey. Now, that is not something you want spoiled. You don't want the bullet hit takeaways. You want to be in it. It's catharsis. It's emotional. It's it's inspiring or at least empowering to experience. So that's transformational versus transactional. And it's the best way, in my estimation, to do things like prompt subscription and grow an audience and win over fans and followers and customers.

Chris Byers: Jay, I love a good spreadsheet. In fact, I tell people at times you want to convey your strategy to me conveyed in numbers. It feels really good. I love it. So what do you tell a guy like me who struggles to know how to measure things that aren't buried in numbers?

Jay Acunzo: Well, if you're someone who fervently believes in numbers, I have to communicate the way you prefer to hear it. So I can't say all the things I just said necessarily. Maybe that comes later. I need to start with where you're at, understand your goals and communicate accordingly. All those decisions get a lot easier. If I can start by saying I want to create a show and a community around it that increases the LTV and decreases the cash for a business, increase the lifetime value of every single person that encounters this show to our brand, and lower the customer acquisition costs at the same time. And I think I found a way to do that. Now you're going to listen now at least you're going to give me more time to talk. And so that's how I position it.

Chris Byers: But it sounds like you might also be asking us to measure a little bit differently. Are there some other ways you think about what I'll call measurement, but maybe even think about it differently? That isn't about the numbers.

Jay Acunzo: Yeah, I mean, you want to use data, you lead with intuition and course. Correct with data. But data does not mean numbers. It just means information stored for later use. So if you actually want to be data driven or data informed, it's probably better if you actually want to be data informed, you need to use more than numbers. So I call it the forces of podcast measurement. It's stats, surveys, statements and syndication. So stats are the numbers, downloads, time spent, drop off rate, maybe email subscribers coming off of the show, those kinds of things, their obvious stats. That's where we stop. And that's a poor picture of the overall success of how we're performing. So you can move on to things like surveys. You have a captive audience. They trust you. They spent so much time with you. The theory of the show is that a subscriber to your show, having spent hours with you, is way more valuable asset to your brand than someone who's only looked your way or followed you on Twitter or opted into an email list, but really hasn't engaged hours of time spent. What a relationship. So you can survey the audience, you can get these insights about them. You'd have to pay to get elsewhere and you can then inform all of your work content marketing more broadly, advertising, product development using those insights. So there's a return on investment through the stats. You're looking at the numbers. There's also a return on the survey information. You can gather statements, talking to your boss, talking to your peers. If you are in client services, talking to clients, learning yourself as an individual practitioner, the qualitative feedback we get is profoundly underused. If you're not hearing anything from your audience, you have to go out and schedule conversations with them. It's rife with learning. And you can also measure that there's a better chance that people will re tweet you than, say, post an original thought on Twitter linking to your show. So the latter is more valuable because they took more time and it was higher friction. It's more of their reputation on the line when they post an original thought and recommend you to their friends than when they just click a quick button and read to you. And then lastly, syndication is a great show of. Real estate, yes, there is actually a great show about real estate for real estate agents, it's from the software company Home Light In. I think they're based in Seattle right now. No, no tech company is based anywhere today. So they have a show about real estate. Unlike other shows, they believe in putting the humans at the center of real estate instead of automating the agents away. So they're big hit among agents. The show is called The Walk Through. And the host, Matt Magee, was telling me about their newsletter and how takes them hours to put together their weekly newsletter. And he was frustrated that a lot of the newsletter subscribers don't listen to his show. It's like an order of magnitude bigger on the newsletter. What they learned was by looking at the episodes of the show and using things like excerpts or at least inspiration from the show and occasional quotes, the time it took the writer to put together their weekly newsletter dropped by almost half. Now you can reinvest those hours into other projects or growing the existing one that she's assigned to. That's a return on investment as well. So we just need to get more sophisticated and strategic with how we think about podcast measurement.

Chris Byers: So we have people from, let's say, all walks of a company that might be listening to us, maybe in marketing, but maybe in sales, maybe executives. And so across the board, how can they think about storytelling within their own business organization and how to further a business initiative?

Jay Acunzo: I think the evolution of storytelling is really the evolution of your use of tension in how you communicate. So when we first start communicating, we don't really use tension as a tool. And so when you first start communicating, it's just how to or advice or opinion or statements of fact. The classic entrepreneur story is like for years, marketers have been doing it this way, but along came the Internet and social media and that playbook was broken. So the better approach is content marketing. And oh, by the way, we have a tool to help you be a better content marketer. And then you have variations of that same story. And literally the tension is just in the center between what was and what you would like it to be. And over time, you then start to mess with that tension. You start to change that story. You start to use little moments of tension. So here's an easy example, Chris. This morning I woke up, got dressed, went down to the kitchen, and I saw my notebook sitting on the kitchen table. And I read the five words in that notebook that inspire me every morning. Now, I just told you a story about literally nothing. But what is the question on your mind? What did you read? So just by using this idea of tension or intrigue or what they call an open loop, where you start a sequence and don't complete it, you raise questions in their minds and answer it later, you're gripping in the way you communicate. So when we say story, we tend to overinflate what it is, right. You need some grand picture. You need some incredible arc. You need to dump money at it. But really, story is just the use of tension rising and falling when you first get started. It's as simple as this is then this happened, but then this and so then that. And that's it. So we can become better storytellers just by mastering and continuing to play with our use of tension when we communicate.

Chris Byers: I'm curious how you think that even examples of where you've seen that play out for maybe an individual or a company,

Jay Acunzo: any brand you can think of that tells a better story to the world, uses tension. I worked for HubSpot for a year. What the example I just gave you was basically there's like four years. It was this playbook of outbound by email lists, banner ads, advertising offline, out of home, and then the Internet came along. And everybody wants what they want when they want it on their terms. The audience has all the control. And so inbound marketing is a better way to build your business. And oh, by the way, we have tools for marketing, but they cared more about the way of the world. They were trying to build that. They pushed you on their product. That's an easy example. Wistia is another really great example. They sell video and podcasting tools. I should disclose Wister is a sponsor, so they sponsor my work, but they're always top of mind. I've known them way before. They sponsor their buddies here in Boston, but they believe, like business should be more human. And for years it felt like you were talking to a logo and it was stuffy and it was an avatar for humanity or their ideas that were distant like personas. Well, why not put your team on camera? Why not have some ability to speak directly to your audience through video and audio? That's a better way of the world. So all of these companies that we admire that typically have a brand centric feel to them or a content centric feel, usually if you look under the hood, they have some simple story that helps inform everything they're doing, sometimes overtly, sometimes implicitly.

Chris Byers: How do you think brands and companies can actually humanize what they do and their brand and how it comes across to the world?

Jay Acunzo: I think if a brand is stopping and asking how do we humanize ourselves, I think that's the wrong question. But I think that doesn't necessarily mean they shouldn't do it. I think what they're actually looking for is how do we approach our audience, customer prospect, community member partners, whoever more like whole people and less like some kind of avatar. Really a good example is the tech platform for designers called Invision. So Invision sells to product designers, the people who have designed the interfaces on your phone and all the apps that you use every single day on a laptop or your phone. These are profoundly powerful positions that they occupy. Years ago, Invision recognize that these designers were treated like last mile, make the logo bigger, change the color, change the font pixel jockeys. And they wanted to lionize these individuals and also acknowledge the frustration, their feeling about their careers that in no way maps indirectly to envisions products, but far closer to the product would be for them to run a blog that's like techniques for product design. And so they started treating their audience like whole people. They have wants and needs and fears and hopes and dreams and all these things that have nothing to do with their day, their more than their title. And I think whether it's marketing or you're trying to be a community leader, it's really tempting when you can't actually know everybody one to one to start treating them like some narrow 2D version of themselves or flat 2D version. I think the way to say that is just too divergent then like a 3D individual. And so when you're talking about humanize your brand, I don't think you can act like a corporate overlord or a bot or a deck of brand guidelines manifest in some feed somewhere if you're trying to treat your audience like whole people and whether or not that quote unquote scales is going to be dependent on the culture of the organization and the ability to teach that culture and pass it on to employees and less about, again, some deck that tries to corporatist the creative process. So I think that would be my answer is just treat others like whole people and recognize that they are

Chris Byers: how important I think it is for an individual to actually think about creating their own brand. And what does that look like?

Jay Acunzo: Not at all. I hate the personal brand saying it's let's can we just go back to calling it reputation and can we go back to saying, I'd like to serve my audience and solve a problem and I will let others declare what my brand is? I just I think it's a total waste of calories.

Chris Byers: Well, there you go. I love that strong thinking about a personal brand. I think you're right. I think a lot of what you're talking about, though, is something along the lines of being authentic, like we each have our own purpose and characteristics and personality. And it sounds like you're asking us to just let some of that out, is that right?

Jay Acunzo: Yeah. I love the idea of letting your quirks out from where they're hiding. Absolutely. The authenticity thing I get a little weird about just because if you're a jerk, then you're an authentic jerk in your work. I don't know if that's what we're going for. I'm exhausted. I'm spent. I'm running on fumes. I have been for months. I have a toddler. I used to be out on the road with lots of events. I'm an extreme extrovert. I'm cut off from friends and family. I have very little left. You don't want me showing up on this podcast acting that way, but it's authentically how I feel today, right? Like you want me to fake it or at least to dip into the part of me that doesn't feel like it's authentically or easily on the surface right now. And that's what I owe to your listeners, to you. So I get a little antsy when we start talking about authenticity. But I do think taking the right way, it's the best version of you as a person through whatever medium you're putting it, like, for example, a version of me you'd get over. Coffee is a different version that I'm putting on a microphone day to day. But it's still I'm trying to put the best version of me through this microphone as possible. So it's like this context, specific authenticity that might be that little nudge we need in the right direction.

Chris Byers: I love that story. And in fact, I appreciate even the vulnerability of talking a little bit about how you actually feel right now. I think that actually is the way that people to me begin to connect to to who we are. Because you're right, when I get in podcast mode, my voice changes just a little bit and I get into a different mode if I'm presenting than I do if you and I are having to your point coffee. Each conversation we have on the show ends up highlighting innovative ideas, fresh perspectives, and offers a different way to think about marketing, but more specifically about the power of storytelling to create connection. Jay, if you could give advice to our listeners, how can they unlock their genius to tell better stories?

Jay Acunzo: It may not be the place that we've been told in school is where good ideas come from or that we see from others. For my money, I bet every time on you starting your idea development, your story development and your content development from a place of frustration, just what can't you stand about the status quo facing your industry, your audience, your own situation, like what has you frustrated and then you go and you write a bunch of stuff and share a bunch of things and you start to integrate that into your conversations with others and you get some feedback really quickly and you hear how they're talking about it, what they notice. And you go on this little idea investigation, which is this is broken. I may not know what is better, or maybe I have a theory, but it's pretty vague. It's pretty blurry. And so you're like in this idea aeration mode and sometimes that's content, sometimes that's conversation. And I think the lesson here is great ideas are built, not found. And instead of waiting to come up with something drilled. Down to the core of your thinking and your emotions, and usually when you reach first principles like you can't get any further, at least right now with your current knowledge, now you go investigate. So an example of this is on my show, unthinkable. Right now, we're exploring an idea that I would call the next rep. Why aren't creators creating better work, more work? Why do people not start? Why do they feel they've plateaued? Why aren't they leveling up? There's all these problems that we face as creators. And if you really get down to it, it's like the IRA Glass quote about creativity. You have taste which far exceeds your skills to match that taste so your work falls short of your own expectations. So some people stop, some people never start. Is all these reasons that we can't close the gap between our taste and our skills really what closes the gap is doing a lot of work building your body of work. OK, so now it's about your body of work, but what is your body of work like? The atomic unit of that is just doing the work, getting a little bit better. You've done the thing one more time. You arrive there faster, you arrive there better. So how do people do that? Like I'm frustrated by people not making what matters most to them and I've been able to whittle it down by talking to folks and writing about stuff to realize maybe it's actually the problem of getting to the next step. So let's explore that for a while. And over time, you start to hone in on your hypotheses, your ideas, your stories, your heuristics, all that stuff. It's just you willing to pull a thread based on curiosity instead of expertise. And I think the way you unlock a healthy curiosity, it starts with frustration.

Chris Byers: I love the way you're thinking about that. Funny enough, I was listening to a podcast. John Maxwell talked about this idea that great leaders really work out of frustration. They don't work because they think things are perfect in the world. Entrepreneurs that find a frustration that they're like this has got to be better. And I don't always think about that as an individual, that there's some power in that. And I can build on top of that, even when I'm telling stories that I'm frustrated, which probably means somebody else is frustrated, too. And so if I can tap into that, there's probably something there.

Jay Acunzo: And the beauty of it is especially today, you have movements like building and public and things like that. But when you do this investigative approach, my buddy Andrew Davis, who's a wonderful author and speaker in the marketing space, he talks about asking questions Google can't answer and then going on a quest. And that's the difference between an expert and a visionary. So I got this idea from him. But you get to invite others along that quest. You get to say to people, I actually don't have all the answers, but I'd like to figure it out. I actually don't know what happens when a successful creator builds their body of work, like I can surmise, but I have no idea if I could try to zoom in to one rep, to the second rep. All these questions emerge and all these behaviors are probably present in people I admire or people that are successful or people that are struggling. And I don't have the answers. But more importantly is if I'm saying that to you, hey, I'm exploring this, I'm investigating this, this is broken. And potentially this is a better way. Now you get that beautiful. Oh, you're speaking to my soul, which is how you start and grow an audience and how all the good stuff we're looking for tends to come out. But we're so obsessed with trying to have the answers that I think we've lost sight of the power of of this like invite of curiosity, this desire to make things better without knowing how. But you're telling people you'd like to and then inviting them to come with you.

Chris Byers: Well, as we wrap up the conversation, I've got a handful of questions. What do you suggest listeners do to tap into their creativity,

Jay Acunzo: put yourself on a deadline and or find whatever gives you energy and make stuff like it doesn't matter who watches it, listens to it. I admire what happens when people talk about their side hustles. I prefer side projects because when you say side hustle, you're implying the monetization, the audience growth. A side project is literally I'm doing this for the practice and that's all creativity is. It's just practice. It's a repetition plus reinvention over time. And so to ignite creativity, I think the danger is you try to go find ideas. I'd rather find the idea while creating I think you feel energized and find good ideas and get more creative through practice. So in other words, don't look for the ideas out in the world or go search for inspiration. Just start making stuff, slap some messy clay onto the table and start shaping it. And that's more important because I think eventually you find yourself, you find your ideas, you find a specific place you're stuck to then go get ideas from others rather than over research up front. The job is not to be creative. The job is to create. So just start creating anything bad, private, unknown, and eventually you do it enough and you start to get better and find yourself

Chris Byers: in the way that you talk about things, about reaching people's souls in a way. What do you think people can do differently in their day to day to create a positive impact for others?

Jay Acunzo: I think we remove the self way too much. And I've talked about frustration. I've talked about your curiosity. Like we are looking for the general advice or technique or tactic of what works on a channel. And I think it's far more important, I think. And no disrespect. The person who said this, I can't figure out who it was, I saw this person tweet, Your mission will get you further than your metrics. And I love that you're not thinking about our mission or thinking about like I'd like to grow audience. I'd like to generate a sale. I like to hit my numbers. I'd like to be famous. But we're not thinking about I'd like to change this for others. I'd like to actually help them. I'd like to solve this problem. And when you orient yourself like that, not by removing yourself, by saying I genuinely, as a person me would like to see this solved. And I know there's more that feel that way when you lead with your beliefs and your point of view and your frustrations, that tends to serve the audience better than some of the more hollow, generalized thinking creation advice seeking that we we go about our days stuck in

Chris Byers: what's something you're practicing right now as you think about impacting the future?

Jay Acunzo: I'm trying to get better at not leaping to assumptions and conclusions, but just saying here's the question I have and I'm not going to overengineer the solution yet. I'm going to go explore this for a while. I'm going to launch an investigation. But I think I'm just trying to get better at being like I actually don't know. And I know you're asking me or my own brain is saying that to me. I know you should have it, but I don't. So let's go figure it out. I'm going to go tell some stories and have some people on the show and, you know, maybe get a little bit closer over time. So I think the thing I'm trying to get better at is just being willing to say, I have a question and I actually don't know the answer. So let's go figure it up.

Chris Byers: Some of practice aligns with the idea of at times succeeding and failing, winning and losing. How do you think about failure and how you either use that in your craft or think about it?

Jay Acunzo: I think we have to be willing to fail. I don't think we should seek it out. I think we want to be successful and we put failure is one of those like fetishized ideas and startups, entrepreneur communities, etc. And I think we've lost sight of why it's being so fetishized. I think it's because inherently creativity is about saying, I don't know if this is going to work, but I'm going to try it anyway. And so without an acceptable fail rate, without slack in the system, without the ability to say genuinely, I don't know if it's going to work, we never do anything exciting. I think about the David Bowie quote, about creativity a lot where he said you should wait out into the water just far enough for your toes. Just don't touch the ground. And right there you'll do something exciting. That's failure because you don't know, am I going to sink or swim? Am I going to have to retreat back to the sand where I can stand again? And it's OK because you could. So failure to me is just it's not the seeking out of failure. It's just the willingness to say inherently this work we're doing is going to result in some failures by the very nature of what we're doing, which is where we're trying to make things better.

Chris Byers: To learn more about how people are reimagining their world of work, head over to formstack.com/practically-genius, also linked in our show notes. Thanks for joining us today on this episode of Ripple Effect.

Chris Byers: Reimagine a world where we focused less on metrics, less on a reach and more on making a difference and telling a good story for metrics driven marketing, that would seem really scary and potentially wrong. What if we changed our thinking, though, about marketing altogether? What if we have it all wrong? And what if the best practices are no longer the right practice? Jack is a writer and host of The Unthinkable podcast. He's focused on equipping brands with workshops, insights and content for creating original shows. He's a leader when it comes to thinking outside the box, challenging marketing show runners to create their audiences favorite show to make a difference. While it's evident Jay is using his voice to redefine real marketing, let's uncover the story. I'm Chris Byers of Formstack and this is Ripple Effect, a show celebrating the positive impact your decisions made. Jay, welcome to the show. Is there anything we missed in that intro?

Jay Acunzo: Thanks, Chris. I do a lot of a lot, but I capsulize it pretty well. Yeah, I like to make things that help other people make what matters.

Chris Byers: I love it. Well, share with the audience the work that you're doing today, and we'd love to hear more about that.

Jay Acunzo: Sure. Right now I'm focused on a couple of projects. So you mentioned unthinkable. That show is like my digital baby. It's a labor of love. I've done it since twenty sixteen. It's a narrative podcast about creative people. And so that is my laboratory where I learned the hard way in many ways how to make a podcast and not just a show that has a bunch of predictable questions in it, but a story, a premise, a format to how you deliver that premise each episode, a community and spinoff projects. And it's kind of where I add to the list in my head that's titled This Might Not Work, which I think is I think it's always a healthy list for a creative person to add to, but it's also a scary list to visit every single day. And I'm really trying to do that. So that's been my focus for a time now. And I'm also the proprietor of a community group for creative people called Make What Matters. So as you can see already, that's a theme with me. It's I just think we spend too much time creating things that are copycat. Our commodities are following some kind of, quote unquote, best practice without really looking hard as to whether or not it's the best approach for you or your audience. And we only get this life once. So I think that's wasting a lot of time that we could otherwise be doing really meaningful work. I've been trying to figure out what it takes to actually do that and help others do the same.

Chris Byers: So something you just talked about really must come from a deeper kind of desire that's pushing you to say, I want to change the world around me. What is it that drives you and causes you to create this daily exploration?

Jay Acunzo: I think early in my career, I just fell in love with the creative craft and trying to feel stuff when I make things and help others feel stuff when they consume the creative work. And then I get into marketing in the startup world. In the tech world, I worked for companies like Google and HubSpot and both in my day job and surrounding my day job, I just saw willingness to kind of just ship nothingness, to just look like everybody else. A podcast is a really easy example. In the B2B world, it's largely just talking topics with experts, but things like topics don't differentiate you and don't really help change things for your audience. You also need a point of view. You need story. You need the rise and fall of tension and the resolution of that tension. That's like the carbon element of storytelling. If you don't have carbon, you don't have life. If you don't have tension, you don't have a story. And so there are these things that we focus on in the workplace, especially from my background in marketing that are all focused on the idea of growing reach, where I think you should focus on the idea of increasing resonance. And just like growing reach, increasing resonance is a learnable skill. It's a craft. So I've just been disillusioned for a while. To answer your question, Chris, about what I see and what I've experienced or what I was hired to do in certain places, and I just got fed up enough where I was like, enough is enough. I'm going to send up a flare through my creative work and see if anyone else comes out and says, I feel the same way, too, although I haven't been able to say it for a number of reasons. And yeah, we should be making better things because I think that helps advance various causes in positive directions.

Chris Byers: I think you've touched on a quote that you've talked about. The hard work isn't getting people to arrive, but getting them to stay.

Jay Acunzo: We've become so obsessed in the digital age with discoverability that we forgot the importance of memorability. But that's the job. Whether you're building a business or you're pushing for some kind of change in the world, whether you care about the metrics or you care about the human relationships that you're developing, nothing gets better. If you just get a bunch of folks to visit you quickly and leave. It requires people to stick and stay. And so obviously that's more overt in certain projects, but it's present in all of them. It's over in a podcast. You know, somebody hit play on this episode. Oh, my gosh. Whoever is listening to this, I'm speaking to you right now. You hit play. And I am paranoid as a guest on Chris's show that you're going to hit stop. So I better bring it. I better present the right ideas, the right ways. I better create some form of tension in the way of articulating these things that then gets resolved later. Otherwise you're going to bail. Nothing good happens for the people we want to serve or for us or for the companies that we call home during the day unless we get people to stay. But we're so obsessed with getting more and more to arrive that I think we've lost sight of that. And it's just as practical, if not more so, to flip how we think the marketing term would be grab attention versus hold attention. That's another way to think about this. It should be way more focused on the latter. And if you get whatever feels like a small number to you to stick and stay, to love what you do, you earn trust and love and deepen relationships with them. Good things happen for you. You also get this passionate cohort of super fans that can then go of. Evangelize and grow your cause to the folks that are total strangers, but because we're not doing that, there we go again, typically running around the world trying to get a bunch of people who don't know us to look our way. It's far more efficient and more effective to serve the people that are already aware of us and focus on that idea of holding attention or staying or affinity, let's say, instead of awareness.

Chris Byers: There's this idea very similar that people talk about, which is we spend all our time getting new customers if it's a lot less costly and a lot more valuable to keep and grow your current customers. And so I think we read that in books and we hear about it and and I think a lot of us, not our heads, and we get it. That makes a lot of sense. But I get the sense that there's something we're not doing to really embrace that and really say, yeah, but it's not just like turning on an internal email campaign to your customers. It's I think you're saying it's something more. What do you think about that?

Jay Acunzo: Yeah, it is. And I don't think we align our incentives or whatever we're building. We don't really orient what we're doing around these beliefs. I came across a quote and I've been searching for the source. So if anybody listening knows it, tell me, because I cannot find the source. I just know it wasn't me. And the quote was this enough is a decision you make, not a destination you reach. And I love that because everybody is playing the game of more faster. That's actually the goal. We're hoping that by getting more faster, good things happen. We'll make money, we'll have a great life, will change something for the better in the world, will help people. But this idea of enough, if you only could have the however many people already know and like your work right now and that was it. Those are the only people you could speak to and serve forever. How might your behavior change? So one example of that is I'll just keep going with the podcast thing, because that's what I love to make and teach. We usually skip the part where we're trying to develop the premise of the show, but the premise of the show is the most important thing to develop, because it's how you say something that matters to the world. That's the biggest challenge, not what microphone you use or whether you should be on clubhouse as well as have a podcast. Like we agonize over the incremental. But these fundamental things start with say something that matters. We're so focused on the net new that we skip the part where we're building something that the net new would stick around. It's not like pouring water into a leaky bucket anymore. So I think it's a lot healthier and we actually grow better if we stop sprinting frenetically in efforts to grow quicker and grow more. And we actually just fix our home turf, serve the few folks that already know us more deeply, give them a reason to talk about us, not because we're giving them incentives to do so, but because we're equipping them with ideas and experiences and products that they love and can't wait to tell their friends about. I think that's the one sort of mission I have with my work, which is like everything I put out, I want the right people to be like, you're speaking of my soul, because I think if I can get that result, everything else tends to fall in line.

Chris Byers: Yet you're making me think about that kind of first rise of podcasts, what, ten, eleven years ago? And then Nick died and then came back, raging five years later. But I wonder if some of that is people got it finally, which is it's less about just dump a bunch of content out there. But people began to tell stories and then people emulated telling stories. And so now we've got this huge rise of the podcast. I'm curious what our brand is getting wrong when it comes to creating content. How do you think they can break old mindsets and really connect to new ways to their audience?

Jay Acunzo: So let's agree that the point of creating content is to earn trust and love. There's really everything else hangs off of that, but without earning trust and love over time. So time spent is a big part of this. It doesn't matter what you publish, if it's about time spent, it's about earning trust and love so that, yes, all the good things we're trying to do as businesses might happen and all the change we want for the community might happen, too. Then we tend to see a misalignment between the value being promised or offered in the content and the delivery vehicle of a show, for example, common type of show, tips and tricks, how to do interviews with experts, advice from experts. The buyout kind of laid out and end of an expert, of an influencer, of an author, etc. That's the typical show. That's what I would call transactional value. And transactional value is something that is just a quick injection of information or it should be. And so when you create transactional value or offer it in a show, there's a misalignment between what you're offering and the way it's packaged, a better experience when it's a transaction. Because remember, the value of a transaction is to finish the transaction. It's having listened, not the listening. So I'd rather get the transcript. I'd rather get a blog post summarizing it. I'd rather get the bulleted takeaways or I'd rather already know everything. The value is having consumed it already or even not needing it. So I'd rather have it through a different medium. You want it to be the must have. Show, and that's not transactional value, that's a transformational experience and that sounds lofty, but what I say, transformational experience, instead of just trying to dole out some answers, question, answer, question, answer or interview a bunch of experts for their answers, have that premise that is about changing something and having a point of view on something for your audience. So if a transactional value based show can help people, a transformational experience changes them,

Chris Byers: can you share some examples of people getting it right?

Jay Acunzo: One of my favorite examples is from a software company called Lessonly. So Lessonly sells tools for training salespeople and all their competitors do content marketing the same way. It's like tips and tricks for salespeople, interviewing sales executives on their podcasts, etc. and they all blend in. And the team told me they have seven hundred and ninety competitors in North America alone. So there's a lot of noise. So they came along lesson and they created a show called Practice First. Practice First is a show for salespeople, but they seek to change sales by elevating the role of practice. They want to make it feel and help people realize if you want to be better at sales, you should learn how to practice. And yeah. Oh, by the way, they have tools to help you do that. But on the show they go exploring how Olympians practice, how Somalia is practiced and sure how business leaders practice to so that they can elevate the role of practice. That's transformation. That's saying something right now isn't good enough. We see a better way. We have no idea how to manifest that better way. But we're building some tools to do that. We're going to create some content to do that. And every episode is us trying to take a step in that direction. Join us if you believe what we believe. Join us on this journey. Now, that is not something you want spoiled. You don't want the bullet hit takeaways. You want to be in it. It's catharsis. It's emotional. It's it's inspiring or at least empowering to experience. So that's transformational versus transactional. And it's the best way, in my estimation, to do things like prompt subscription and grow an audience and win over fans and followers and customers.

Chris Byers: Jay, I love a good spreadsheet. In fact, I tell people at times you want to convey your strategy to me conveyed in numbers. It feels really good. I love it. So what do you tell a guy like me who struggles to know how to measure things that aren't buried in numbers?

Jay Acunzo: Well, if you're someone who fervently believes in numbers, I have to communicate the way you prefer to hear it. So I can't say all the things I just said necessarily. Maybe that comes later. I need to start with where you're at, understand your goals and communicate accordingly. All those decisions get a lot easier. If I can start by saying I want to create a show and a community around it that increases the LTV and decreases the cash for a business, increase the lifetime value of every single person that encounters this show to our brand, and lower the customer acquisition costs at the same time. And I think I found a way to do that. Now you're going to listen now at least you're going to give me more time to talk. And so that's how I position it.

Chris Byers: But it sounds like you might also be asking us to measure a little bit differently. Are there some other ways you think about what I'll call measurement, but maybe even think about it differently? That isn't about the numbers.

Jay Acunzo: Yeah, I mean, you want to use data, you lead with intuition and course. Correct with data. But data does not mean numbers. It just means information stored for later use. So if you actually want to be data driven or data informed, it's probably better if you actually want to be data informed, you need to use more than numbers. So I call it the forces of podcast measurement. It's stats, surveys, statements and syndication. So stats are the numbers, downloads, time spent, drop off rate, maybe email subscribers coming off of the show, those kinds of things, their obvious stats. That's where we stop. And that's a poor picture of the overall success of how we're performing. So you can move on to things like surveys. You have a captive audience. They trust you. They spent so much time with you. The theory of the show is that a subscriber to your show, having spent hours with you, is way more valuable asset to your brand than someone who's only looked your way or followed you on Twitter or opted into an email list, but really hasn't engaged hours of time spent. What a relationship. So you can survey the audience, you can get these insights about them. You'd have to pay to get elsewhere and you can then inform all of your work content marketing more broadly, advertising, product development using those insights. So there's a return on investment through the stats. You're looking at the numbers. There's also a return on the survey information. You can gather statements, talking to your boss, talking to your peers. If you are in client services, talking to clients, learning yourself as an individual practitioner, the qualitative feedback we get is profoundly underused. If you're not hearing anything from your audience, you have to go out and schedule conversations with them. It's rife with learning. And you can also measure that there's a better chance that people will re tweet you than, say, post an original thought on Twitter linking to your show. So the latter is more valuable because they took more time and it was higher friction. It's more of their reputation on the line when they post an original thought and recommend you to their friends than when they just click a quick button and read to you. And then lastly, syndication is a great show of. Real estate, yes, there is actually a great show about real estate for real estate agents, it's from the software company Home Light In. I think they're based in Seattle right now. No, no tech company is based anywhere today. So they have a show about real estate. Unlike other shows, they believe in putting the humans at the center of real estate instead of automating the agents away. So they're big hit among agents. The show is called The Walk Through. And the host, Matt Magee, was telling me about their newsletter and how takes them hours to put together their weekly newsletter. And he was frustrated that a lot of the newsletter subscribers don't listen to his show. It's like an order of magnitude bigger on the newsletter. What they learned was by looking at the episodes of the show and using things like excerpts or at least inspiration from the show and occasional quotes, the time it took the writer to put together their weekly newsletter dropped by almost half. Now you can reinvest those hours into other projects or growing the existing one that she's assigned to. That's a return on investment as well. So we just need to get more sophisticated and strategic with how we think about podcast measurement.

Chris Byers: So we have people from, let's say, all walks of a company that might be listening to us, maybe in marketing, but maybe in sales, maybe executives. And so across the board, how can they think about storytelling within their own business organization and how to further a business initiative?

Jay Acunzo: I think the evolution of storytelling is really the evolution of your use of tension in how you communicate. So when we first start communicating, we don't really use tension as a tool. And so when you first start communicating, it's just how to or advice or opinion or statements of fact. The classic entrepreneur story is like for years, marketers have been doing it this way, but along came the Internet and social media and that playbook was broken. So the better approach is content marketing. And oh, by the way, we have a tool to help you be a better content marketer. And then you have variations of that same story. And literally the tension is just in the center between what was and what you would like it to be. And over time, you then start to mess with that tension. You start to change that story. You start to use little moments of tension. So here's an easy example, Chris. This morning I woke up, got dressed, went down to the kitchen, and I saw my notebook sitting on the kitchen table. And I read the five words in that notebook that inspire me every morning. Now, I just told you a story about literally nothing. But what is the question on your mind? What did you read? So just by using this idea of tension or intrigue or what they call an open loop, where you start a sequence and don't complete it, you raise questions in their minds and answer it later, you're gripping in the way you communicate. So when we say story, we tend to overinflate what it is, right. You need some grand picture. You need some incredible arc. You need to dump money at it. But really, story is just the use of tension rising and falling when you first get started. It's as simple as this is then this happened, but then this and so then that. And that's it. So we can become better storytellers just by mastering and continuing to play with our use of tension when we communicate.

Chris Byers: I'm curious how you think that even examples of where you've seen that play out for maybe an individual or a company,

Jay Acunzo: any brand you can think of that tells a better story to the world, uses tension. I worked for HubSpot for a year. What the example I just gave you was basically there's like four years. It was this playbook of outbound by email lists, banner ads, advertising offline, out of home, and then the Internet came along. And everybody wants what they want when they want it on their terms. The audience has all the control. And so inbound marketing is a better way to build your business. And oh, by the way, we have tools for marketing, but they cared more about the way of the world. They were trying to build that. They pushed you on their product. That's an easy example. Wistia is another really great example. They sell video and podcasting tools. I should disclose Wister is a sponsor, so they sponsor my work, but they're always top of mind. I've known them way before. They sponsor their buddies here in Boston, but they believe, like business should be more human. And for years it felt like you were talking to a logo and it was stuffy and it was an avatar for humanity or their ideas that were distant like personas. Well, why not put your team on camera? Why not have some ability to speak directly to your audience through video and audio? That's a better way of the world. So all of these companies that we admire that typically have a brand centric feel to them or a content centric feel, usually if you look under the hood, they have some simple story that helps inform everything they're doing, sometimes overtly, sometimes implicitly.

Chris Byers: How do you think brands and companies can actually humanize what they do and their brand and how it comes across to the world?

Jay Acunzo: I think if a brand is stopping and asking how do we humanize ourselves, I think that's the wrong question. But I think that doesn't necessarily mean they shouldn't do it. I think what they're actually looking for is how do we approach our audience, customer prospect, community member partners, whoever more like whole people and less like some kind of avatar. Really a good example is the tech platform for designers called Invision. So Invision sells to product designers, the people who have designed the interfaces on your phone and all the apps that you use every single day on a laptop or your phone. These are profoundly powerful positions that they occupy. Years ago, Invision recognize that these designers were treated like last mile, make the logo bigger, change the color, change the font pixel jockeys. And they wanted to lionize these individuals and also acknowledge the frustration, their feeling about their careers that in no way maps indirectly to envisions products, but far closer to the product would be for them to run a blog that's like techniques for product design. And so they started treating their audience like whole people. They have wants and needs and fears and hopes and dreams and all these things that have nothing to do with their day, their more than their title. And I think whether it's marketing or you're trying to be a community leader, it's really tempting when you can't actually know everybody one to one to start treating them like some narrow 2D version of themselves or flat 2D version. I think the way to say that is just too divergent then like a 3D individual. And so when you're talking about humanize your brand, I don't think you can act like a corporate overlord or a bot or a deck of brand guidelines manifest in some feed somewhere if you're trying to treat your audience like whole people and whether or not that quote unquote scales is going to be dependent on the culture of the organization and the ability to teach that culture and pass it on to employees and less about, again, some deck that tries to corporatist the creative process. So I think that would be my answer is just treat others like whole people and recognize that they are

Chris Byers: how important I think it is for an individual to actually think about creating their own brand. And what does that look like?

Jay Acunzo: Not at all. I hate the personal brand saying it's let's can we just go back to calling it reputation and can we go back to saying, I'd like to serve my audience and solve a problem and I will let others declare what my brand is? I just I think it's a total waste of calories.

Chris Byers: Well, there you go. I love that strong thinking about a personal brand. I think you're right. I think a lot of what you're talking about, though, is something along the lines of being authentic, like we each have our own purpose and characteristics and personality. And it sounds like you're asking us to just let some of that out, is that right?

Jay Acunzo: Yeah. I love the idea of letting your quirks out from where they're hiding. Absolutely. The authenticity thing I get a little weird about just because if you're a jerk, then you're an authentic jerk in your work. I don't know if that's what we're going for. I'm exhausted. I'm spent. I'm running on fumes. I have been for months. I have a toddler. I used to be out on the road with lots of events. I'm an extreme extrovert. I'm cut off from friends and family. I have very little left. You don't want me showing up on this podcast acting that way, but it's authentically how I feel today, right? Like you want me to fake it or at least to dip into the part of me that doesn't feel like it's authentically or easily on the surface right now. And that's what I owe to your listeners, to you. So I get a little antsy when we start talking about authenticity. But I do think taking the right way, it's the best version of you as a person through whatever medium you're putting it, like, for example, a version of me you'd get over. Coffee is a different version that I'm putting on a microphone day to day. But it's still I'm trying to put the best version of me through this microphone as possible. So it's like this context, specific authenticity that might be that little nudge we need in the right direction.

Chris Byers: I love that story. And in fact, I appreciate even the vulnerability of talking a little bit about how you actually feel right now. I think that actually is the way that people to me begin to connect to to who we are. Because you're right, when I get in podcast mode, my voice changes just a little bit and I get into a different mode if I'm presenting than I do if you and I are having to your point coffee. Each conversation we have on the show ends up highlighting innovative ideas, fresh perspectives, and offers a different way to think about marketing, but more specifically about the power of storytelling to create connection. Jay, if you could give advice to our listeners, how can they unlock their genius to tell better stories?

Jay Acunzo: It may not be the place that we've been told in school is where good ideas come from or that we see from others. For my money, I bet every time on you starting your idea development, your story development and your content development from a place of frustration, just what can't you stand about the status quo facing your industry, your audience, your own situation, like what has you frustrated and then you go and you write a bunch of stuff and share a bunch of things and you start to integrate that into your conversations with others and you get some feedback really quickly and you hear how they're talking about it, what they notice. And you go on this little idea investigation, which is this is broken. I may not know what is better, or maybe I have a theory, but it's pretty vague. It's pretty blurry. And so you're like in this idea aeration mode and sometimes that's content, sometimes that's conversation. And I think the lesson here is great ideas are built, not found. And instead of waiting to come up with something drilled. Down to the core of your thinking and your emotions, and usually when you reach first principles like you can't get any further, at least right now with your current knowledge, now you go investigate. So an example of this is on my show, unthinkable. Right now, we're exploring an idea that I would call the next rep. Why aren't creators creating better work, more work? Why do people not start? Why do they feel they've plateaued? Why aren't they leveling up? There's all these problems that we face as creators. And if you really get down to it, it's like the IRA Glass quote about creativity. You have taste which far exceeds your skills to match that taste so your work falls short of your own expectations. So some people stop, some people never start. Is all these reasons that we can't close the gap between our taste and our skills really what closes the gap is doing a lot of work building your body of work. OK, so now it's about your body of work, but what is your body of work like? The atomic unit of that is just doing the work, getting a little bit better. You've done the thing one more time. You arrive there faster, you arrive there better. So how do people do that? Like I'm frustrated by people not making what matters most to them and I've been able to whittle it down by talking to folks and writing about stuff to realize maybe it's actually the problem of getting to the next step. So let's explore that for a while. And over time, you start to hone in on your hypotheses, your ideas, your stories, your heuristics, all that stuff. It's just you willing to pull a thread based on curiosity instead of expertise. And I think the way you unlock a healthy curiosity, it starts with frustration.

Chris Byers: I love the way you're thinking about that. Funny enough, I was listening to a podcast. John Maxwell talked about this idea that great leaders really work out of frustration. They don't work because they think things are perfect in the world. Entrepreneurs that find a frustration that they're like this has got to be better. And I don't always think about that as an individual, that there's some power in that. And I can build on top of that, even when I'm telling stories that I'm frustrated, which probably means somebody else is frustrated, too. And so if I can tap into that, there's probably something there.

Jay Acunzo: And the beauty of it is especially today, you have movements like building and public and things like that. But when you do this investigative approach, my buddy Andrew Davis, who's a wonderful author and speaker in the marketing space, he talks about asking questions Google can't answer and then going on a quest. And that's the difference between an expert and a visionary. So I got this idea from him. But you get to invite others along that quest. You get to say to people, I actually don't have all the answers, but I'd like to figure it out. I actually don't know what happens when a successful creator builds their body of work, like I can surmise, but I have no idea if I could try to zoom in to one rep, to the second rep. All these questions emerge and all these behaviors are probably present in people I admire or people that are successful or people that are struggling. And I don't have the answers. But more importantly is if I'm saying that to you, hey, I'm exploring this, I'm investigating this, this is broken. And potentially this is a better way. Now you get that beautiful. Oh, you're speaking to my soul, which is how you start and grow an audience and how all the good stuff we're looking for tends to come out. But we're so obsessed with trying to have the answers that I think we've lost sight of the power of of this like invite of curiosity, this desire to make things better without knowing how. But you're telling people you'd like to and then inviting them to come with you.

Chris Byers: Well, as we wrap up the conversation, I've got a handful of questions. What do you suggest listeners do to tap into their creativity,

Jay Acunzo: put yourself on a deadline and or find whatever gives you energy and make stuff like it doesn't matter who watches it, listens to it. I admire what happens when people talk about their side hustles. I prefer side projects because when you say side hustle, you're implying the monetization, the audience growth. A side project is literally I'm doing this for the practice and that's all creativity is. It's just practice. It's a repetition plus reinvention over time. And so to ignite creativity, I think the danger is you try to go find ideas. I'd rather find the idea while creating I think you feel energized and find good ideas and get more creative through practice. So in other words, don't look for the ideas out in the world or go search for inspiration. Just start making stuff, slap some messy clay onto the table and start shaping it. And that's more important because I think eventually you find yourself, you find your ideas, you find a specific place you're stuck to then go get ideas from others rather than over research up front. The job is not to be creative. The job is to create. So just start creating anything bad, private, unknown, and eventually you do it enough and you start to get better and find yourself

Chris Byers: in the way that you talk about things, about reaching people's souls in a way. What do you think people can do differently in their day to day to create a positive impact for others?

Jay Acunzo: I think we remove the self way too much. And I've talked about frustration. I've talked about your curiosity. Like we are looking for the general advice or technique or tactic of what works on a channel. And I think it's far more important, I think. And no disrespect. The person who said this, I can't figure out who it was, I saw this person tweet, Your mission will get you further than your metrics. And I love that you're not thinking about our mission or thinking about like I'd like to grow audience. I'd like to generate a sale. I like to hit my numbers. I'd like to be famous. But we're not thinking about I'd like to change this for others. I'd like to actually help them. I'd like to solve this problem. And when you orient yourself like that, not by removing yourself, by saying I genuinely, as a person me would like to see this solved. And I know there's more that feel that way when you lead with your beliefs and your point of view and your frustrations, that tends to serve the audience better than some of the more hollow, generalized thinking creation advice seeking that we we go about our days stuck in

Chris Byers: what's something you're practicing right now as you think about impacting the future?

Jay Acunzo: I'm trying to get better at not leaping to assumptions and conclusions, but just saying here's the question I have and I'm not going to overengineer the solution yet. I'm going to go explore this for a while. I'm going to launch an investigation. But I think I'm just trying to get better at being like I actually don't know. And I know you're asking me or my own brain is saying that to me. I know you should have it, but I don't. So let's go figure it out. I'm going to go tell some stories and have some people on the show and, you know, maybe get a little bit closer over time. So I think the thing I'm trying to get better at is just being willing to say, I have a question and I actually don't know the answer. So let's go figure it up.

Chris Byers: Some of practice aligns with the idea of at times succeeding and failing, winning and losing. How do you think about failure and how you either use that in your craft or think about it?

Jay Acunzo: I think we have to be willing to fail. I don't think we should seek it out. I think we want to be successful and we put failure is one of those like fetishized ideas and startups, entrepreneur communities, etc. And I think we've lost sight of why it's being so fetishized. I think it's because inherently creativity is about saying, I don't know if this is going to work, but I'm going to try it anyway. And so without an acceptable fail rate, without slack in the system, without the ability to say genuinely, I don't know if it's going to work, we never do anything exciting. I think about the David Bowie quote, about creativity a lot where he said you should wait out into the water just far enough for your toes. Just don't touch the ground. And right there you'll do something exciting. That's failure because you don't know, am I going to sink or swim? Am I going to have to retreat back to the sand where I can stand again? And it's OK because you could. So failure to me is just it's not the seeking out of failure. It's just the willingness to say inherently this work we're doing is going to result in some failures by the very nature of what we're doing, which is where we're trying to make things better.

Chris Byers: To learn more about how people are reimagining their world of work, head over to formstack.com/practically-genius, also linked in our show notes. Thanks for joining us today on this episode of Ripple Effect.

Chris Byers: Reimagine a world where we focused less on metrics, less on a reach and more on making a difference and telling a good story for metrics driven marketing, that would seem really scary and potentially wrong. What if we changed our thinking, though, about marketing altogether? What if we have it all wrong? And what if the best practices are no longer the right practice? Jack is a writer and host of The Unthinkable podcast. He's focused on equipping brands with workshops, insights and content for creating original shows. He's a leader when it comes to thinking outside the box, challenging marketing show runners to create their audiences favorite show to make a difference. While it's evident Jay is using his voice to redefine real marketing, let's uncover the story. I'm Chris Byers of Formstack and this is Ripple Effect, a show celebrating the positive impact your decisions made. Jay, welcome to the show. Is there anything we missed in that intro?

Jay Acunzo: Thanks, Chris. I do a lot of a lot, but I capsulize it pretty well. Yeah, I like to make things that help other people make what matters.

Chris Byers: I love it. Well, share with the audience the work that you're doing today, and we'd love to hear more about that.

Jay Acunzo: Sure. Right now I'm focused on a couple of projects. So you mentioned unthinkable. That show is like my digital baby. It's a labor of love. I've done it since twenty sixteen. It's a narrative podcast about creative people. And so that is my laboratory where I learned the hard way in many ways how to make a podcast and not just a show that has a bunch of predictable questions in it, but a story, a premise, a format to how you deliver that premise each episode, a community and spinoff projects. And it's kind of where I add to the list in my head that's titled This Might Not Work, which I think is I think it's always a healthy list for a creative person to add to, but it's also a scary list to visit every single day. And I'm really trying to do that. So that's been my focus for a time now. And I'm also the proprietor of a community group for creative people called Make What Matters. So as you can see already, that's a theme with me. It's I just think we spend too much time creating things that are copycat. Our commodities are following some kind of, quote unquote, best practice without really looking hard as to whether or not it's the best approach for you or your audience. And we only get this life once. So I think that's wasting a lot of time that we could otherwise be doing really meaningful work. I've been trying to figure out what it takes to actually do that and help others do the same.

Chris Byers: So something you just talked about really must come from a deeper kind of desire that's pushing you to say, I want to change the world around me. What is it that drives you and causes you to create this daily exploration?

Jay Acunzo: I think early in my career, I just fell in love with the creative craft and trying to feel stuff when I make things and help others feel stuff when they consume the creative work. And then I get into marketing in the startup world. In the tech world, I worked for companies like Google and HubSpot and both in my day job and surrounding my day job, I just saw willingness to kind of just ship nothingness, to just look like everybody else. A podcast is a really easy example. In the B2B world, it's largely just talking topics with experts, but things like topics don't differentiate you and don't really help change things for your audience. You also need a point of view. You need story. You need the rise and fall of tension and the resolution of that tension. That's like the carbon element of storytelling. If you don't have carbon, you don't have life. If you don't have tension, you don't have a story. And so there are these things that we focus on in the workplace, especially from my background in marketing that are all focused on the idea of growing reach, where I think you should focus on the idea of increasing resonance. And just like growing reach, increasing resonance is a learnable skill. It's a craft. So I've just been disillusioned for a while. To answer your question, Chris, about what I see and what I've experienced or what I was hired to do in certain places, and I just got fed up enough where I was like, enough is enough. I'm going to send up a flare through my creative work and see if anyone else comes out and says, I feel the same way, too, although I haven't been able to say it for a number of reasons. And yeah, we should be making better things because I think that helps advance various causes in positive directions.

Chris Byers: I think you've touched on a quote that you've talked about. The hard work isn't getting people to arrive, but getting them to stay.

Jay Acunzo: We've become so obsessed in the digital age with discoverability that we forgot the importance of memorability. But that's the job. Whether you're building a business or you're pushing for some kind of change in the world, whether you care about the metrics or you care about the human relationships that you're developing, nothing gets better. If you just get a bunch of folks to visit you quickly and leave. It requires people to stick and stay. And so obviously that's more overt in certain projects, but it's present in all of them. It's over in a podcast. You know, somebody hit play on this episode. Oh, my gosh. Whoever is listening to this, I'm speaking to you right now. You hit play. And I am paranoid as a guest on Chris's show that you're going to hit stop. So I better bring it. I better present the right ideas, the right ways. I better create some form of tension in the way of articulating these things that then gets resolved later. Otherwise you're going to bail. Nothing good happens for the people we want to serve or for us or for the companies that we call home during the day unless we get people to stay. But we're so obsessed with getting more and more to arrive that I think we've lost sight of that. And it's just as practical, if not more so, to flip how we think the marketing term would be grab attention versus hold attention. That's another way to think about this. It should be way more focused on the latter. And if you get whatever feels like a small number to you to stick and stay, to love what you do, you earn trust and love and deepen relationships with them. Good things happen for you. You also get this passionate cohort of super fans that can then go of. Evangelize and grow your cause to the folks that are total strangers, but because we're not doing that, there we go again, typically running around the world trying to get a bunch of people who don't know us to look our way. It's far more efficient and more effective to serve the people that are already aware of us and focus on that idea of holding attention or staying or affinity, let's say, instead of awareness.

Chris Byers: There's this idea very similar that people talk about, which is we spend all our time getting new customers if it's a lot less costly and a lot more valuable to keep and grow your current customers. And so I think we read that in books and we hear about it and and I think a lot of us, not our heads, and we get it. That makes a lot of sense. But I get the sense that there's something we're not doing to really embrace that and really say, yeah, but it's not just like turning on an internal email campaign to your customers. It's I think you're saying it's something more. What do you think about that?

Jay Acunzo: Yeah, it is. And I don't think we align our incentives or whatever we're building. We don't really orient what we're doing around these beliefs. I came across a quote and I've been searching for the source. So if anybody listening knows it, tell me, because I cannot find the source. I just know it wasn't me. And the quote was this enough is a decision you make, not a destination you reach. And I love that because everybody is playing the game of more faster. That's actually the goal. We're hoping that by getting more faster, good things happen. We'll make money, we'll have a great life, will change something for the better in the world, will help people. But this idea of enough, if you only could have the however many people already know and like your work right now and that was it. Those are the only people you could speak to and serve forever. How might your behavior change? So one example of that is I'll just keep going with the podcast thing, because that's what I love to make and teach. We usually skip the part where we're trying to develop the premise of the show, but the premise of the show is the most important thing to develop, because it's how you say something that matters to the world. That's the biggest challenge, not what microphone you use or whether you should be on clubhouse as well as have a podcast. Like we agonize over the incremental. But these fundamental things start with say something that matters. We're so focused on the net new that we skip the part where we're building something that the net new would stick around. It's not like pouring water into a leaky bucket anymore. So I think it's a lot healthier and we actually grow better if we stop sprinting frenetically in efforts to grow quicker and grow more. And we actually just fix our home turf, serve the few folks that already know us more deeply, give them a reason to talk about us, not because we're giving them incentives to do so, but because we're equipping them with ideas and experiences and products that they love and can't wait to tell their friends about. I think that's the one sort of mission I have with my work, which is like everything I put out, I want the right people to be like, you're speaking of my soul, because I think if I can get that result, everything else tends to fall in line.

Chris Byers: Yet you're making me think about that kind of first rise of podcasts, what, ten, eleven years ago? And then Nick died and then came back, raging five years later. But I wonder if some of that is people got it finally, which is it's less about just dump a bunch of content out there. But people began to tell stories and then people emulated telling stories. And so now we've got this huge rise of the podcast. I'm curious what our brand is getting wrong when it comes to creating content. How do you think they can break old mindsets and really connect to new ways to their audience?

Jay Acunzo: So let's agree that the point of creating content is to earn trust and love. There's really everything else hangs off of that, but without earning trust and love over time. So time spent is a big part of this. It doesn't matter what you publish, if it's about time spent, it's about earning trust and love so that, yes, all the good things we're trying to do as businesses might happen and all the change we want for the community might happen, too. Then we tend to see a misalignment between the value being promised or offered in the content and the delivery vehicle of a show, for example, common type of show, tips and tricks, how to do interviews with experts, advice from experts. The buyout kind of laid out and end of an expert, of an influencer, of an author, etc. That's the typical show. That's what I would call transactional value. And transactional value is something that is just a quick injection of information or it should be. And so when you create transactional value or offer it in a show, there's a misalignment between what you're offering and the way it's packaged, a better experience when it's a transaction. Because remember, the value of a transaction is to finish the transaction. It's having listened, not the listening. So I'd rather get the transcript. I'd rather get a blog post summarizing it. I'd rather get the bulleted takeaways or I'd rather already know everything. The value is having consumed it already or even not needing it. So I'd rather have it through a different medium. You want it to be the must have. Show, and that's not transactional value, that's a transformational experience and that sounds lofty, but what I say, transformational experience, instead of just trying to dole out some answers, question, answer, question, answer or interview a bunch of experts for their answers, have that premise that is about changing something and having a point of view on something for your audience. So if a transactional value based show can help people, a transformational experience changes them,

Chris Byers: can you share some examples of people getting it right?

Jay Acunzo: One of my favorite examples is from a software company called Lessonly. So Lessonly sells tools for training salespeople and all their competitors do content marketing the same way. It's like tips and tricks for salespeople, interviewing sales executives on their podcasts, etc. and they all blend in. And the team told me they have seven hundred and ninety competitors in North America alone. So there's a lot of noise. So they came along lesson and they created a show called Practice First. Practice First is a show for salespeople, but they seek to change sales by elevating the role of practice. They want to make it feel and help people realize if you want to be better at sales, you should learn how to practice. And yeah. Oh, by the way, they have tools to help you do that. But on the show they go exploring how Olympians practice, how Somalia is practiced and sure how business leaders practice to so that they can elevate the role of practice. That's transformation. That's saying something right now isn't good enough. We see a better way. We have no idea how to manifest that better way. But we're building some tools to do that. We're going to create some content to do that. And every episode is us trying to take a step in that direction. Join us if you believe what we believe. Join us on this journey. Now, that is not something you want spoiled. You don't want the bullet hit takeaways. You want to be in it. It's catharsis. It's emotional. It's it's inspiring or at least empowering to experience. So that's transformational versus transactional. And it's the best way, in my estimation, to do things like prompt subscription and grow an audience and win over fans and followers and customers.

Chris Byers: Jay, I love a good spreadsheet. In fact, I tell people at times you want to convey your strategy to me conveyed in numbers. It feels really good. I love it. So what do you tell a guy like me who struggles to know how to measure things that aren't buried in numbers?

Jay Acunzo: Well, if you're someone who fervently believes in numbers, I have to communicate the way you prefer to hear it. So I can't say all the things I just said necessarily. Maybe that comes later. I need to start with where you're at, understand your goals and communicate accordingly. All those decisions get a lot easier. If I can start by saying I want to create a show and a community around it that increases the LTV and decreases the cash for a business, increase the lifetime value of every single person that encounters this show to our brand, and lower the customer acquisition costs at the same time. And I think I found a way to do that. Now you're going to listen now at least you're going to give me more time to talk. And so that's how I position it.

Chris Byers: But it sounds like you might also be asking us to measure a little bit differently. Are there some other ways you think about what I'll call measurement, but maybe even think about it differently? That isn't about the numbers.

Jay Acunzo: Yeah, I mean, you want to use data, you lead with intuition and course. Correct with data. But data does not mean numbers. It just means information stored for later use. So if you actually want to be data driven or data informed, it's probably better if you actually want to be data informed, you need to use more than numbers. So I call it the forces of podcast measurement. It's stats, surveys, statements and syndication. So stats are the numbers, downloads, time spent, drop off rate, maybe email subscribers coming off of the show, those kinds of things, their obvious stats. That's where we stop. And that's a poor picture of the overall success of how we're performing. So you can move on to things like surveys. You have a captive audience. They trust you. They spent so much time with you. The theory of the show is that a subscriber to your show, having spent hours with you, is way more valuable asset to your brand than someone who's only looked your way or followed you on Twitter or opted into an email list, but really hasn't engaged hours of time spent. What a relationship. So you can survey the audience, you can get these insights about them. You'd have to pay to get elsewhere and you can then inform all of your work content marketing more broadly, advertising, product development using those insights. So there's a return on investment through the stats. You're looking at the numbers. There's also a return on the survey information. You can gather statements, talking to your boss, talking to your peers. If you are in client services, talking to clients, learning yourself as an individual practitioner, the qualitative feedback we get is profoundly underused. If you're not hearing anything from your audience, you have to go out and schedule conversations with them. It's rife with learning. And you can also measure that there's a better chance that people will re tweet you than, say, post an original thought on Twitter linking to your show. So the latter is more valuable because they took more time and it was higher friction. It's more of their reputation on the line when they post an original thought and recommend you to their friends than when they just click a quick button and read to you. And then lastly, syndication is a great show of. Real estate, yes, there is actually a great show about real estate for real estate agents, it's from the software company Home Light In. I think they're based in Seattle right now. No, no tech company is based anywhere today. So they have a show about real estate. Unlike other shows, they believe in putting the humans at the center of real estate instead of automating the agents away. So they're big hit among agents. The show is called The Walk Through. And the host, Matt Magee, was telling me about their newsletter and how takes them hours to put together their weekly newsletter. And he was frustrated that a lot of the newsletter subscribers don't listen to his show. It's like an order of magnitude bigger on the newsletter. What they learned was by looking at the episodes of the show and using things like excerpts or at least inspiration from the show and occasional quotes, the time it took the writer to put together their weekly newsletter dropped by almost half. Now you can reinvest those hours into other projects or growing the existing one that she's assigned to. That's a return on investment as well. So we just need to get more sophisticated and strategic with how we think about podcast measurement.

Chris Byers: So we have people from, let's say, all walks of a company that might be listening to us, maybe in marketing, but maybe in sales, maybe executives. And so across the board, how can they think about storytelling within their own business organization and how to further a business initiative?

Jay Acunzo: I think the evolution of storytelling is really the evolution of your use of tension in how you communicate. So when we first start communicating, we don't really use tension as a tool. And so when you first start communicating, it's just how to or advice or opinion or statements of fact. The classic entrepreneur story is like for years, marketers have been doing it this way, but along came the Internet and social media and that playbook was broken. So the better approach is content marketing. And oh, by the way, we have a tool to help you be a better content marketer. And then you have variations of that same story. And literally the tension is just in the center between what was and what you would like it to be. And over time, you then start to mess with that tension. You start to change that story. You start to use little moments of tension. So here's an easy example, Chris. This morning I woke up, got dressed, went down to the kitchen, and I saw my notebook sitting on the kitchen table. And I read the five words in that notebook that inspire me every morning. Now, I just told you a story about literally nothing. But what is the question on your mind? What did you read? So just by using this idea of tension or intrigue or what they call an open loop, where you start a sequence and don't complete it, you raise questions in their minds and answer it later, you're gripping in the way you communicate. So when we say story, we tend to overinflate what it is, right. You need some grand picture. You need some incredible arc. You need to dump money at it. But really, story is just the use of tension rising and falling when you first get started. It's as simple as this is then this happened, but then this and so then that. And that's it. So we can become better storytellers just by mastering and continuing to play with our use of tension when we communicate.

Chris Byers: I'm curious how you think that even examples of where you've seen that play out for maybe an individual or a company,

Jay Acunzo: any brand you can think of that tells a better story to the world, uses tension. I worked for HubSpot for a year. What the example I just gave you was basically there's like four years. It was this playbook of outbound by email lists, banner ads, advertising offline, out of home, and then the Internet came along. And everybody wants what they want when they want it on their terms. The audience has all the control. And so inbound marketing is a better way to build your business. And oh, by the way, we have tools for marketing, but they cared more about the way of the world. They were trying to build that. They pushed you on their product. That's an easy example. Wistia is another really great example. They sell video and podcasting tools. I should disclose Wister is a sponsor, so they sponsor my work, but they're always top of mind. I've known them way before. They sponsor their buddies here in Boston, but they believe, like business should be more human. And for years it felt like you were talking to a logo and it was stuffy and it was an avatar for humanity or their ideas that were distant like personas. Well, why not put your team on camera? Why not have some ability to speak directly to your audience through video and audio? That's a better way of the world. So all of these companies that we admire that typically have a brand centric feel to them or a content centric feel, usually if you look under the hood, they have some simple story that helps inform everything they're doing, sometimes overtly, sometimes implicitly.

Chris Byers: How do you think brands and companies can actually humanize what they do and their brand and how it comes across to the world?

Jay Acunzo: I think if a brand is stopping and asking how do we humanize ourselves, I think that's the wrong question. But I think that doesn't necessarily mean they shouldn't do it. I think what they're actually looking for is how do we approach our audience, customer prospect, community member partners, whoever more like whole people and less like some kind of avatar. Really a good example is the tech platform for designers called Invision. So Invision sells to product designers, the people who have designed the interfaces on your phone and all the apps that you use every single day on a laptop or your phone. These are profoundly powerful positions that they occupy. Years ago, Invision recognize that these designers were treated like last mile, make the logo bigger, change the color, change the font pixel jockeys. And they wanted to lionize these individuals and also acknowledge the frustration, their feeling about their careers that in no way maps indirectly to envisions products, but far closer to the product would be for them to run a blog that's like techniques for product design. And so they started treating their audience like whole people. They have wants and needs and fears and hopes and dreams and all these things that have nothing to do with their day, their more than their title. And I think whether it's marketing or you're trying to be a community leader, it's really tempting when you can't actually know everybody one to one to start treating them like some narrow 2D version of themselves or flat 2D version. I think the way to say that is just too divergent then like a 3D individual. And so when you're talking about humanize your brand, I don't think you can act like a corporate overlord or a bot or a deck of brand guidelines manifest in some feed somewhere if you're trying to treat your audience like whole people and whether or not that quote unquote scales is going to be dependent on the culture of the organization and the ability to teach that culture and pass it on to employees and less about, again, some deck that tries to corporatist the creative process. So I think that would be my answer is just treat others like whole people and recognize that they are

Chris Byers: how important I think it is for an individual to actually think about creating their own brand. And what does that look like?

Jay Acunzo: Not at all. I hate the personal brand saying it's let's can we just go back to calling it reputation and can we go back to saying, I'd like to serve my audience and solve a problem and I will let others declare what my brand is? I just I think it's a total waste of calories.

Chris Byers: Well, there you go. I love that strong thinking about a personal brand. I think you're right. I think a lot of what you're talking about, though, is something along the lines of being authentic, like we each have our own purpose and characteristics and personality. And it sounds like you're asking us to just let some of that out, is that right?

Jay Acunzo: Yeah. I love the idea of letting your quirks out from where they're hiding. Absolutely. The authenticity thing I get a little weird about just because if you're a jerk, then you're an authentic jerk in your work. I don't know if that's what we're going for. I'm exhausted. I'm spent. I'm running on fumes. I have been for months. I have a toddler. I used to be out on the road with lots of events. I'm an extreme extrovert. I'm cut off from friends and family. I have very little left. You don't want me showing up on this podcast acting that way, but it's authentically how I feel today, right? Like you want me to fake it or at least to dip into the part of me that doesn't feel like it's authentically or easily on the surface right now. And that's what I owe to your listeners, to you. So I get a little antsy when we start talking about authenticity. But I do think taking the right way, it's the best version of you as a person through whatever medium you're putting it, like, for example, a version of me you'd get over. Coffee is a different version that I'm putting on a microphone day to day. But it's still I'm trying to put the best version of me through this microphone as possible. So it's like this context, specific authenticity that might be that little nudge we need in the right direction.

Chris Byers: I love that story. And in fact, I appreciate even the vulnerability of talking a little bit about how you actually feel right now. I think that actually is the way that people to me begin to connect to to who we are. Because you're right, when I get in podcast mode, my voice changes just a little bit and I get into a different mode if I'm presenting than I do if you and I are having to your point coffee. Each conversation we have on the show ends up highlighting innovative ideas, fresh perspectives, and offers a different way to think about marketing, but more specifically about the power of storytelling to create connection. Jay, if you could give advice to our listeners, how can they unlock their genius to tell better stories?

Jay Acunzo: It may not be the place that we've been told in school is where good ideas come from or that we see from others. For my money, I bet every time on you starting your idea development, your story development and your content development from a place of frustration, just what can't you stand about the status quo facing your industry, your audience, your own situation, like what has you frustrated and then you go and you write a bunch of stuff and share a bunch of things and you start to integrate that into your conversations with others and you get some feedback really quickly and you hear how they're talking about it, what they notice. And you go on this little idea investigation, which is this is broken. I may not know what is better, or maybe I have a theory, but it's pretty vague. It's pretty blurry. And so you're like in this idea aeration mode and sometimes that's content, sometimes that's conversation. And I think the lesson here is great ideas are built, not found. And instead of waiting to come up with something drilled. Down to the core of your thinking and your emotions, and usually when you reach first principles like you can't get any further, at least right now with your current knowledge, now you go investigate. So an example of this is on my show, unthinkable. Right now, we're exploring an idea that I would call the next rep. Why aren't creators creating better work, more work? Why do people not start? Why do they feel they've plateaued? Why aren't they leveling up? There's all these problems that we face as creators. And if you really get down to it, it's like the IRA Glass quote about creativity. You have taste which far exceeds your skills to match that taste so your work falls short of your own expectations. So some people stop, some people never start. Is all these reasons that we can't close the gap between our taste and our skills really what closes the gap is doing a lot of work building your body of work. OK, so now it's about your body of work, but what is your body of work like? The atomic unit of that is just doing the work, getting a little bit better. You've done the thing one more time. You arrive there faster, you arrive there better. So how do people do that? Like I'm frustrated by people not making what matters most to them and I've been able to whittle it down by talking to folks and writing about stuff to realize maybe it's actually the problem of getting to the next step. So let's explore that for a while. And over time, you start to hone in on your hypotheses, your ideas, your stories, your heuristics, all that stuff. It's just you willing to pull a thread based on curiosity instead of expertise. And I think the way you unlock a healthy curiosity, it starts with frustration.

Chris Byers: I love the way you're thinking about that. Funny enough, I was listening to a podcast. John Maxwell talked about this idea that great leaders really work out of frustration. They don't work because they think things are perfect in the world. Entrepreneurs that find a frustration that they're like this has got to be better. And I don't always think about that as an individual, that there's some power in that. And I can build on top of that, even when I'm telling stories that I'm frustrated, which probably means somebody else is frustrated, too. And so if I can tap into that, there's probably something there.

Jay Acunzo: And the beauty of it is especially today, you have movements like building and public and things like that. But when you do this investigative approach, my buddy Andrew Davis, who's a wonderful author and speaker in the marketing space, he talks about asking questions Google can't answer and then going on a quest. And that's the difference between an expert and a visionary. So I got this idea from him. But you get to invite others along that quest. You get to say to people, I actually don't have all the answers, but I'd like to figure it out. I actually don't know what happens when a successful creator builds their body of work, like I can surmise, but I have no idea if I could try to zoom in to one rep, to the second rep. All these questions emerge and all these behaviors are probably present in people I admire or people that are successful or people that are struggling. And I don't have the answers. But more importantly is if I'm saying that to you, hey, I'm exploring this, I'm investigating this, this is broken. And potentially this is a better way. Now you get that beautiful. Oh, you're speaking to my soul, which is how you start and grow an audience and how all the good stuff we're looking for tends to come out. But we're so obsessed with trying to have the answers that I think we've lost sight of the power of of this like invite of curiosity, this desire to make things better without knowing how. But you're telling people you'd like to and then inviting them to come with you.

Chris Byers: Well, as we wrap up the conversation, I've got a handful of questions. What do you suggest listeners do to tap into their creativity,

Jay Acunzo: put yourself on a deadline and or find whatever gives you energy and make stuff like it doesn't matter who watches it, listens to it. I admire what happens when people talk about their side hustles. I prefer side projects because when you say side hustle, you're implying the monetization, the audience growth. A side project is literally I'm doing this for the practice and that's all creativity is. It's just practice. It's a repetition plus reinvention over time. And so to ignite creativity, I think the danger is you try to go find ideas. I'd rather find the idea while creating I think you feel energized and find good ideas and get more creative through practice. So in other words, don't look for the ideas out in the world or go search for inspiration. Just start making stuff, slap some messy clay onto the table and start shaping it. And that's more important because I think eventually you find yourself, you find your ideas, you find a specific place you're stuck to then go get ideas from others rather than over research up front. The job is not to be creative. The job is to create. So just start creating anything bad, private, unknown, and eventually you do it enough and you start to get better and find yourself

Chris Byers: in the way that you talk about things, about reaching people's souls in a way. What do you think people can do differently in their day to day to create a positive impact for others?

Jay Acunzo: I think we remove the self way too much. And I've talked about frustration. I've talked about your curiosity. Like we are looking for the general advice or technique or tactic of what works on a channel. And I think it's far more important, I think. And no disrespect. The person who said this, I can't figure out who it was, I saw this person tweet, Your mission will get you further than your metrics. And I love that you're not thinking about our mission or thinking about like I'd like to grow audience. I'd like to generate a sale. I like to hit my numbers. I'd like to be famous. But we're not thinking about I'd like to change this for others. I'd like to actually help them. I'd like to solve this problem. And when you orient yourself like that, not by removing yourself, by saying I genuinely, as a person me would like to see this solved. And I know there's more that feel that way when you lead with your beliefs and your point of view and your frustrations, that tends to serve the audience better than some of the more hollow, generalized thinking creation advice seeking that we we go about our days stuck in

Chris Byers: what's something you're practicing right now as you think about impacting the future?

Jay Acunzo: I'm trying to get better at not leaping to assumptions and conclusions, but just saying here's the question I have and I'm not going to overengineer the solution yet. I'm going to go explore this for a while. I'm going to launch an investigation. But I think I'm just trying to get better at being like I actually don't know. And I know you're asking me or my own brain is saying that to me. I know you should have it, but I don't. So let's go figure it out. I'm going to go tell some stories and have some people on the show and, you know, maybe get a little bit closer over time. So I think the thing I'm trying to get better at is just being willing to say, I have a question and I actually don't know the answer. So let's go figure it up.

Chris Byers: Some of practice aligns with the idea of at times succeeding and failing, winning and losing. How do you think about failure and how you either use that in your craft or think about it?

Jay Acunzo: I think we have to be willing to fail. I don't think we should seek it out. I think we want to be successful and we put failure is one of those like fetishized ideas and startups, entrepreneur communities, etc. And I think we've lost sight of why it's being so fetishized. I think it's because inherently creativity is about saying, I don't know if this is going to work, but I'm going to try it anyway. And so without an acceptable fail rate, without slack in the system, without the ability to say genuinely, I don't know if it's going to work, we never do anything exciting. I think about the David Bowie quote, about creativity a lot where he said you should wait out into the water just far enough for your toes. Just don't touch the ground. And right there you'll do something exciting. That's failure because you don't know, am I going to sink or swim? Am I going to have to retreat back to the sand where I can stand again? And it's OK because you could. So failure to me is just it's not the seeking out of failure. It's just the willingness to say inherently this work we're doing is going to result in some failures by the very nature of what we're doing, which is where we're trying to make things better.

Chris Byers: To learn more about how people are reimagining their world of work, head over to formstack.com/practically-genius, also linked in our show notes. Thanks for joining us today on this episode of Ripple Effect.

Chris Byers: Reimagine a world where we focused less on metrics, less on a reach and more on making a difference and telling a good story for metrics driven marketing, that would seem really scary and potentially wrong. What if we changed our thinking, though, about marketing altogether? What if we have it all wrong? And what if the best practices are no longer the right practice? Jack is a writer and host of The Unthinkable podcast. He's focused on equipping brands with workshops, insights and content for creating original shows. He's a leader when it comes to thinking outside the box, challenging marketing show runners to create their audiences favorite show to make a difference. While it's evident Jay is using his voice to redefine real marketing, let's uncover the story. I'm Chris Byers of Formstack and this is Ripple Effect, a show celebrating the positive impact your decisions made. Jay, welcome to the show. Is there anything we missed in that intro?

Jay Acunzo: Thanks, Chris. I do a lot of a lot, but I capsulize it pretty well. Yeah, I like to make things that help other people make what matters.

Chris Byers: I love it. Well, share with the audience the work that you're doing today, and we'd love to hear more about that.

Jay Acunzo: Sure. Right now I'm focused on a couple of projects. So you mentioned unthinkable. That show is like my digital baby. It's a labor of love. I've done it since twenty sixteen. It's a narrative podcast about creative people. And so that is my laboratory where I learned the hard way in many ways how to make a podcast and not just a show that has a bunch of predictable questions in it, but a story, a premise, a format to how you deliver that premise each episode, a community and spinoff projects. And it's kind of where I add to the list in my head that's titled This Might Not Work, which I think is I think it's always a healthy list for a creative person to add to, but it's also a scary list to visit every single day. And I'm really trying to do that. So that's been my focus for a time now. And I'm also the proprietor of a community group for creative people called Make What Matters. So as you can see already, that's a theme with me. It's I just think we spend too much time creating things that are copycat. Our commodities are following some kind of, quote unquote, best practice without really looking hard as to whether or not it's the best approach for you or your audience. And we only get this life once. So I think that's wasting a lot of time that we could otherwise be doing really meaningful work. I've been trying to figure out what it takes to actually do that and help others do the same.

Chris Byers: So something you just talked about really must come from a deeper kind of desire that's pushing you to say, I want to change the world around me. What is it that drives you and causes you to create this daily exploration?

Jay Acunzo: I think early in my career, I just fell in love with the creative craft and trying to feel stuff when I make things and help others feel stuff when they consume the creative work. And then I get into marketing in the startup world. In the tech world, I worked for companies like Google and HubSpot and both in my day job and surrounding my day job, I just saw willingness to kind of just ship nothingness, to just look like everybody else. A podcast is a really easy example. In the B2B world, it's largely just talking topics with experts, but things like topics don't differentiate you and don't really help change things for your audience. You also need a point of view. You need story. You need the rise and fall of tension and the resolution of that tension. That's like the carbon element of storytelling. If you don't have carbon, you don't have life. If you don't have tension, you don't have a story. And so there are these things that we focus on in the workplace, especially from my background in marketing that are all focused on the idea of growing reach, where I think you should focus on the idea of increasing resonance. And just like growing reach, increasing resonance is a learnable skill. It's a craft. So I've just been disillusioned for a while. To answer your question, Chris, about what I see and what I've experienced or what I was hired to do in certain places, and I just got fed up enough where I was like, enough is enough. I'm going to send up a flare through my creative work and see if anyone else comes out and says, I feel the same way, too, although I haven't been able to say it for a number of reasons. And yeah, we should be making better things because I think that helps advance various causes in positive directions.

Chris Byers: I think you've touched on a quote that you've talked about. The hard work isn't getting people to arrive, but getting them to stay.

Jay Acunzo: We've become so obsessed in the digital age with discoverability that we forgot the importance of memorability. But that's the job. Whether you're building a business or you're pushing for some kind of change in the world, whether you care about the metrics or you care about the human relationships that you're developing, nothing gets better. If you just get a bunch of folks to visit you quickly and leave. It requires people to stick and stay. And so obviously that's more overt in certain projects, but it's present in all of them. It's over in a podcast. You know, somebody hit play on this episode. Oh, my gosh. Whoever is listening to this, I'm speaking to you right now. You hit play. And I am paranoid as a guest on Chris's show that you're going to hit stop. So I better bring it. I better present the right ideas, the right ways. I better create some form of tension in the way of articulating these things that then gets resolved later. Otherwise you're going to bail. Nothing good happens for the people we want to serve or for us or for the companies that we call home during the day unless we get people to stay. But we're so obsessed with getting more and more to arrive that I think we've lost sight of that. And it's just as practical, if not more so, to flip how we think the marketing term would be grab attention versus hold attention. That's another way to think about this. It should be way more focused on the latter. And if you get whatever feels like a small number to you to stick and stay, to love what you do, you earn trust and love and deepen relationships with them. Good things happen for you. You also get this passionate cohort of super fans that can then go of. Evangelize and grow your cause to the folks that are total strangers, but because we're not doing that, there we go again, typically running around the world trying to get a bunch of people who don't know us to look our way. It's far more efficient and more effective to serve the people that are already aware of us and focus on that idea of holding attention or staying or affinity, let's say, instead of awareness.

Chris Byers: There's this idea very similar that people talk about, which is we spend all our time getting new customers if it's a lot less costly and a lot more valuable to keep and grow your current customers. And so I think we read that in books and we hear about it and and I think a lot of us, not our heads, and we get it. That makes a lot of sense. But I get the sense that there's something we're not doing to really embrace that and really say, yeah, but it's not just like turning on an internal email campaign to your customers. It's I think you're saying it's something more. What do you think about that?

Jay Acunzo: Yeah, it is. And I don't think we align our incentives or whatever we're building. We don't really orient what we're doing around these beliefs. I came across a quote and I've been searching for the source. So if anybody listening knows it, tell me, because I cannot find the source. I just know it wasn't me. And the quote was this enough is a decision you make, not a destination you reach. And I love that because everybody is playing the game of more faster. That's actually the goal. We're hoping that by getting more faster, good things happen. We'll make money, we'll have a great life, will change something for the better in the world, will help people. But this idea of enough, if you only could have the however many people already know and like your work right now and that was it. Those are the only people you could speak to and serve forever. How might your behavior change? So one example of that is I'll just keep going with the podcast thing, because that's what I love to make and teach. We usually skip the part where we're trying to develop the premise of the show, but the premise of the show is the most important thing to develop, because it's how you say something that matters to the world. That's the biggest challenge, not what microphone you use or whether you should be on clubhouse as well as have a podcast. Like we agonize over the incremental. But these fundamental things start with say something that matters. We're so focused on the net new that we skip the part where we're building something that the net new would stick around. It's not like pouring water into a leaky bucket anymore. So I think it's a lot healthier and we actually grow better if we stop sprinting frenetically in efforts to grow quicker and grow more. And we actually just fix our home turf, serve the few folks that already know us more deeply, give them a reason to talk about us, not because we're giving them incentives to do so, but because we're equipping them with ideas and experiences and products that they love and can't wait to tell their friends about. I think that's the one sort of mission I have with my work, which is like everything I put out, I want the right people to be like, you're speaking of my soul, because I think if I can get that result, everything else tends to fall in line.

Chris Byers: Yet you're making me think about that kind of first rise of podcasts, what, ten, eleven years ago? And then Nick died and then came back, raging five years later. But I wonder if some of that is people got it finally, which is it's less about just dump a bunch of content out there. But people began to tell stories and then people emulated telling stories. And so now we've got this huge rise of the podcast. I'm curious what our brand is getting wrong when it comes to creating content. How do you think they can break old mindsets and really connect to new ways to their audience?

Jay Acunzo: So let's agree that the point of creating content is to earn trust and love. There's really everything else hangs off of that, but without earning trust and love over time. So time spent is a big part of this. It doesn't matter what you publish, if it's about time spent, it's about earning trust and love so that, yes, all the good things we're trying to do as businesses might happen and all the change we want for the community might happen, too. Then we tend to see a misalignment between the value being promised or offered in the content and the delivery vehicle of a show, for example, common type of show, tips and tricks, how to do interviews with experts, advice from experts. The buyout kind of laid out and end of an expert, of an influencer, of an author, etc. That's the typical show. That's what I would call transactional value. And transactional value is something that is just a quick injection of information or it should be. And so when you create transactional value or offer it in a show, there's a misalignment between what you're offering and the way it's packaged, a better experience when it's a transaction. Because remember, the value of a transaction is to finish the transaction. It's having listened, not the listening. So I'd rather get the transcript. I'd rather get a blog post summarizing it. I'd rather get the bulleted takeaways or I'd rather already know everything. The value is having consumed it already or even not needing it. So I'd rather have it through a different medium. You want it to be the must have. Show, and that's not transactional value, that's a transformational experience and that sounds lofty, but what I say, transformational experience, instead of just trying to dole out some answers, question, answer, question, answer or interview a bunch of experts for their answers, have that premise that is about changing something and having a point of view on something for your audience. So if a transactional value based show can help people, a transformational experience changes them,

Chris Byers: can you share some examples of people getting it right?

Jay Acunzo: One of my favorite examples is from a software company called Lessonly. So Lessonly sells tools for training salespeople and all their competitors do content marketing the same way. It's like tips and tricks for salespeople, interviewing sales executives on their podcasts, etc. and they all blend in. And the team told me they have seven hundred and ninety competitors in North America alone. So there's a lot of noise. So they came along lesson and they created a show called Practice First. Practice First is a show for salespeople, but they seek to change sales by elevating the role of practice. They want to make it feel and help people realize if you want to be better at sales, you should learn how to practice. And yeah. Oh, by the way, they have tools to help you do that. But on the show they go exploring how Olympians practice, how Somalia is practiced and sure how business leaders practice to so that they can elevate the role of practice. That's transformation. That's saying something right now isn't good enough. We see a better way. We have no idea how to manifest that better way. But we're building some tools to do that. We're going to create some content to do that. And every episode is us trying to take a step in that direction. Join us if you believe what we believe. Join us on this journey. Now, that is not something you want spoiled. You don't want the bullet hit takeaways. You want to be in it. It's catharsis. It's emotional. It's it's inspiring or at least empowering to experience. So that's transformational versus transactional. And it's the best way, in my estimation, to do things like prompt subscription and grow an audience and win over fans and followers and customers.

Chris Byers: Jay, I love a good spreadsheet. In fact, I tell people at times you want to convey your strategy to me conveyed in numbers. It feels really good. I love it. So what do you tell a guy like me who struggles to know how to measure things that aren't buried in numbers?

Jay Acunzo: Well, if you're someone who fervently believes in numbers, I have to communicate the way you prefer to hear it. So I can't say all the things I just said necessarily. Maybe that comes later. I need to start with where you're at, understand your goals and communicate accordingly. All those decisions get a lot easier. If I can start by saying I want to create a show and a community around it that increases the LTV and decreases the cash for a business, increase the lifetime value of every single person that encounters this show to our brand, and lower the customer acquisition costs at the same time. And I think I found a way to do that. Now you're going to listen now at least you're going to give me more time to talk. And so that's how I position it.

Chris Byers: But it sounds like you might also be asking us to measure a little bit differently. Are there some other ways you think about what I'll call measurement, but maybe even think about it differently? That isn't about the numbers.

Jay Acunzo: Yeah, I mean, you want to use data, you lead with intuition and course. Correct with data. But data does not mean numbers. It just means information stored for later use. So if you actually want to be data driven or data informed, it's probably better if you actually want to be data informed, you need to use more than numbers. So I call it the forces of podcast measurement. It's stats, surveys, statements and syndication. So stats are the numbers, downloads, time spent, drop off rate, maybe email subscribers coming off of the show, those kinds of things, their obvious stats. That's where we stop. And that's a poor picture of the overall success of how we're performing. So you can move on to things like surveys. You have a captive audience. They trust you. They spent so much time with you. The theory of the show is that a subscriber to your show, having spent hours with you, is way more valuable asset to your brand than someone who's only looked your way or followed you on Twitter or opted into an email list, but really hasn't engaged hours of time spent. What a relationship. So you can survey the audience, you can get these insights about them. You'd have to pay to get elsewhere and you can then inform all of your work content marketing more broadly, advertising, product development using those insights. So there's a return on investment through the stats. You're looking at the numbers. There's also a return on the survey information. You can gather statements, talking to your boss, talking to your peers. If you are in client services, talking to clients, learning yourself as an individual practitioner, the qualitative feedback we get is profoundly underused. If you're not hearing anything from your audience, you have to go out and schedule conversations with them. It's rife with learning. And you can also measure that there's a better chance that people will re tweet you than, say, post an original thought on Twitter linking to your show. So the latter is more valuable because they took more time and it was higher friction. It's more of their reputation on the line when they post an original thought and recommend you to their friends than when they just click a quick button and read to you. And then lastly, syndication is a great show of. Real estate, yes, there is actually a great show about real estate for real estate agents, it's from the software company Home Light In. I think they're based in Seattle right now. No, no tech company is based anywhere today. So they have a show about real estate. Unlike other shows, they believe in putting the humans at the center of real estate instead of automating the agents away. So they're big hit among agents. The show is called The Walk Through. And the host, Matt Magee, was telling me about their newsletter and how takes them hours to put together their weekly newsletter. And he was frustrated that a lot of the newsletter subscribers don't listen to his show. It's like an order of magnitude bigger on the newsletter. What they learned was by looking at the episodes of the show and using things like excerpts or at least inspiration from the show and occasional quotes, the time it took the writer to put together their weekly newsletter dropped by almost half. Now you can reinvest those hours into other projects or growing the existing one that she's assigned to. That's a return on investment as well. So we just need to get more sophisticated and strategic with how we think about podcast measurement.

Chris Byers: So we have people from, let's say, all walks of a company that might be listening to us, maybe in marketing, but maybe in sales, maybe executives. And so across the board, how can they think about storytelling within their own business organization and how to further a business initiative?

Jay Acunzo: I think the evolution of storytelling is really the evolution of your use of tension in how you communicate. So when we first start communicating, we don't really use tension as a tool. And so when you first start communicating, it's just how to or advice or opinion or statements of fact. The classic entrepreneur story is like for years, marketers have been doing it this way, but along came the Internet and social media and that playbook was broken. So the better approach is content marketing. And oh, by the way, we have a tool to help you be a better content marketer. And then you have variations of that same story. And literally the tension is just in the center between what was and what you would like it to be. And over time, you then start to mess with that tension. You start to change that story. You start to use little moments of tension. So here's an easy example, Chris. This morning I woke up, got dressed, went down to the kitchen, and I saw my notebook sitting on the kitchen table. And I read the five words in that notebook that inspire me every morning. Now, I just told you a story about literally nothing. But what is the question on your mind? What did you read? So just by using this idea of tension or intrigue or what they call an open loop, where you start a sequence and don't complete it, you raise questions in their minds and answer it later, you're gripping in the way you communicate. So when we say story, we tend to overinflate what it is, right. You need some grand picture. You need some incredible arc. You need to dump money at it. But really, story is just the use of tension rising and falling when you first get started. It's as simple as this is then this happened, but then this and so then that. And that's it. So we can become better storytellers just by mastering and continuing to play with our use of tension when we communicate.

Chris Byers: I'm curious how you think that even examples of where you've seen that play out for maybe an individual or a company,

Jay Acunzo: any brand you can think of that tells a better story to the world, uses tension. I worked for HubSpot for a year. What the example I just gave you was basically there's like four years. It was this playbook of outbound by email lists, banner ads, advertising offline, out of home, and then the Internet came along. And everybody wants what they want when they want it on their terms. The audience has all the control. And so inbound marketing is a better way to build your business. And oh, by the way, we have tools for marketing, but they cared more about the way of the world. They were trying to build that. They pushed you on their product. That's an easy example. Wistia is another really great example. They sell video and podcasting tools. I should disclose Wister is a sponsor, so they sponsor my work, but they're always top of mind. I've known them way before. They sponsor their buddies here in Boston, but they believe, like business should be more human. And for years it felt like you were talking to a logo and it was stuffy and it was an avatar for humanity or their ideas that were distant like personas. Well, why not put your team on camera? Why not have some ability to speak directly to your audience through video and audio? That's a better way of the world. So all of these companies that we admire that typically have a brand centric feel to them or a content centric feel, usually if you look under the hood, they have some simple story that helps inform everything they're doing, sometimes overtly, sometimes implicitly.

Chris Byers: How do you think brands and companies can actually humanize what they do and their brand and how it comes across to the world?

Jay Acunzo: I think if a brand is stopping and asking how do we humanize ourselves, I think that's the wrong question. But I think that doesn't necessarily mean they shouldn't do it. I think what they're actually looking for is how do we approach our audience, customer prospect, community member partners, whoever more like whole people and less like some kind of avatar. Really a good example is the tech platform for designers called Invision. So Invision sells to product designers, the people who have designed the interfaces on your phone and all the apps that you use every single day on a laptop or your phone. These are profoundly powerful positions that they occupy. Years ago, Invision recognize that these designers were treated like last mile, make the logo bigger, change the color, change the font pixel jockeys. And they wanted to lionize these individuals and also acknowledge the frustration, their feeling about their careers that in no way maps indirectly to envisions products, but far closer to the product would be for them to run a blog that's like techniques for product design. And so they started treating their audience like whole people. They have wants and needs and fears and hopes and dreams and all these things that have nothing to do with their day, their more than their title. And I think whether it's marketing or you're trying to be a community leader, it's really tempting when you can't actually know everybody one to one to start treating them like some narrow 2D version of themselves or flat 2D version. I think the way to say that is just too divergent then like a 3D individual. And so when you're talking about humanize your brand, I don't think you can act like a corporate overlord or a bot or a deck of brand guidelines manifest in some feed somewhere if you're trying to treat your audience like whole people and whether or not that quote unquote scales is going to be dependent on the culture of the organization and the ability to teach that culture and pass it on to employees and less about, again, some deck that tries to corporatist the creative process. So I think that would be my answer is just treat others like whole people and recognize that they are

Chris Byers: how important I think it is for an individual to actually think about creating their own brand. And what does that look like?

Jay Acunzo: Not at all. I hate the personal brand saying it's let's can we just go back to calling it reputation and can we go back to saying, I'd like to serve my audience and solve a problem and I will let others declare what my brand is? I just I think it's a total waste of calories.

Chris Byers: Well, there you go. I love that strong thinking about a personal brand. I think you're right. I think a lot of what you're talking about, though, is something along the lines of being authentic, like we each have our own purpose and characteristics and personality. And it sounds like you're asking us to just let some of that out, is that right?

Jay Acunzo: Yeah. I love the idea of letting your quirks out from where they're hiding. Absolutely. The authenticity thing I get a little weird about just because if you're a jerk, then you're an authentic jerk in your work. I don't know if that's what we're going for. I'm exhausted. I'm spent. I'm running on fumes. I have been for months. I have a toddler. I used to be out on the road with lots of events. I'm an extreme extrovert. I'm cut off from friends and family. I have very little left. You don't want me showing up on this podcast acting that way, but it's authentically how I feel today, right? Like you want me to fake it or at least to dip into the part of me that doesn't feel like it's authentically or easily on the surface right now. And that's what I owe to your listeners, to you. So I get a little antsy when we start talking about authenticity. But I do think taking the right way, it's the best version of you as a person through whatever medium you're putting it, like, for example, a version of me you'd get over. Coffee is a different version that I'm putting on a microphone day to day. But it's still I'm trying to put the best version of me through this microphone as possible. So it's like this context, specific authenticity that might be that little nudge we need in the right direction.

Chris Byers: I love that story. And in fact, I appreciate even the vulnerability of talking a little bit about how you actually feel right now. I think that actually is the way that people to me begin to connect to to who we are. Because you're right, when I get in podcast mode, my voice changes just a little bit and I get into a different mode if I'm presenting than I do if you and I are having to your point coffee. Each conversation we have on the show ends up highlighting innovative ideas, fresh perspectives, and offers a different way to think about marketing, but more specifically about the power of storytelling to create connection. Jay, if you could give advice to our listeners, how can they unlock their genius to tell better stories?

Jay Acunzo: It may not be the place that we've been told in school is where good ideas come from or that we see from others. For my money, I bet every time on you starting your idea development, your story development and your content development from a place of frustration, just what can't you stand about the status quo facing your industry, your audience, your own situation, like what has you frustrated and then you go and you write a bunch of stuff and share a bunch of things and you start to integrate that into your conversations with others and you get some feedback really quickly and you hear how they're talking about it, what they notice. And you go on this little idea investigation, which is this is broken. I may not know what is better, or maybe I have a theory, but it's pretty vague. It's pretty blurry. And so you're like in this idea aeration mode and sometimes that's content, sometimes that's conversation. And I think the lesson here is great ideas are built, not found. And instead of waiting to come up with something drilled. Down to the core of your thinking and your emotions, and usually when you reach first principles like you can't get any further, at least right now with your current knowledge, now you go investigate. So an example of this is on my show, unthinkable. Right now, we're exploring an idea that I would call the next rep. Why aren't creators creating better work, more work? Why do people not start? Why do they feel they've plateaued? Why aren't they leveling up? There's all these problems that we face as creators. And if you really get down to it, it's like the IRA Glass quote about creativity. You have taste which far exceeds your skills to match that taste so your work falls short of your own expectations. So some people stop, some people never start. Is all these reasons that we can't close the gap between our taste and our skills really what closes the gap is doing a lot of work building your body of work. OK, so now it's about your body of work, but what is your body of work like? The atomic unit of that is just doing the work, getting a little bit better. You've done the thing one more time. You arrive there faster, you arrive there better. So how do people do that? Like I'm frustrated by people not making what matters most to them and I've been able to whittle it down by talking to folks and writing about stuff to realize maybe it's actually the problem of getting to the next step. So let's explore that for a while. And over time, you start to hone in on your hypotheses, your ideas, your stories, your heuristics, all that stuff. It's just you willing to pull a thread based on curiosity instead of expertise. And I think the way you unlock a healthy curiosity, it starts with frustration.

Chris Byers: I love the way you're thinking about that. Funny enough, I was listening to a podcast. John Maxwell talked about this idea that great leaders really work out of frustration. They don't work because they think things are perfect in the world. Entrepreneurs that find a frustration that they're like this has got to be better. And I don't always think about that as an individual, that there's some power in that. And I can build on top of that, even when I'm telling stories that I'm frustrated, which probably means somebody else is frustrated, too. And so if I can tap into that, there's probably something there.

Jay Acunzo: And the beauty of it is especially today, you have movements like building and public and things like that. But when you do this investigative approach, my buddy Andrew Davis, who's a wonderful author and speaker in the marketing space, he talks about asking questions Google can't answer and then going on a quest. And that's the difference between an expert and a visionary. So I got this idea from him. But you get to invite others along that quest. You get to say to people, I actually don't have all the answers, but I'd like to figure it out. I actually don't know what happens when a successful creator builds their body of work, like I can surmise, but I have no idea if I could try to zoom in to one rep, to the second rep. All these questions emerge and all these behaviors are probably present in people I admire or people that are successful or people that are struggling. And I don't have the answers. But more importantly is if I'm saying that to you, hey, I'm exploring this, I'm investigating this, this is broken. And potentially this is a better way. Now you get that beautiful. Oh, you're speaking to my soul, which is how you start and grow an audience and how all the good stuff we're looking for tends to come out. But we're so obsessed with trying to have the answers that I think we've lost sight of the power of of this like invite of curiosity, this desire to make things better without knowing how. But you're telling people you'd like to and then inviting them to come with you.

Chris Byers: Well, as we wrap up the conversation, I've got a handful of questions. What do you suggest listeners do to tap into their creativity,

Jay Acunzo: put yourself on a deadline and or find whatever gives you energy and make stuff like it doesn't matter who watches it, listens to it. I admire what happens when people talk about their side hustles. I prefer side projects because when you say side hustle, you're implying the monetization, the audience growth. A side project is literally I'm doing this for the practice and that's all creativity is. It's just practice. It's a repetition plus reinvention over time. And so to ignite creativity, I think the danger is you try to go find ideas. I'd rather find the idea while creating I think you feel energized and find good ideas and get more creative through practice. So in other words, don't look for the ideas out in the world or go search for inspiration. Just start making stuff, slap some messy clay onto the table and start shaping it. And that's more important because I think eventually you find yourself, you find your ideas, you find a specific place you're stuck to then go get ideas from others rather than over research up front. The job is not to be creative. The job is to create. So just start creating anything bad, private, unknown, and eventually you do it enough and you start to get better and find yourself

Chris Byers: in the way that you talk about things, about reaching people's souls in a way. What do you think people can do differently in their day to day to create a positive impact for others?

Jay Acunzo: I think we remove the self way too much. And I've talked about frustration. I've talked about your curiosity. Like we are looking for the general advice or technique or tactic of what works on a channel. And I think it's far more important, I think. And no disrespect. The person who said this, I can't figure out who it was, I saw this person tweet, Your mission will get you further than your metrics. And I love that you're not thinking about our mission or thinking about like I'd like to grow audience. I'd like to generate a sale. I like to hit my numbers. I'd like to be famous. But we're not thinking about I'd like to change this for others. I'd like to actually help them. I'd like to solve this problem. And when you orient yourself like that, not by removing yourself, by saying I genuinely, as a person me would like to see this solved. And I know there's more that feel that way when you lead with your beliefs and your point of view and your frustrations, that tends to serve the audience better than some of the more hollow, generalized thinking creation advice seeking that we we go about our days stuck in

Chris Byers: what's something you're practicing right now as you think about impacting the future?

Jay Acunzo: I'm trying to get better at not leaping to assumptions and conclusions, but just saying here's the question I have and I'm not going to overengineer the solution yet. I'm going to go explore this for a while. I'm going to launch an investigation. But I think I'm just trying to get better at being like I actually don't know. And I know you're asking me or my own brain is saying that to me. I know you should have it, but I don't. So let's go figure it out. I'm going to go tell some stories and have some people on the show and, you know, maybe get a little bit closer over time. So I think the thing I'm trying to get better at is just being willing to say, I have a question and I actually don't know the answer. So let's go figure it up.

Chris Byers: Some of practice aligns with the idea of at times succeeding and failing, winning and losing. How do you think about failure and how you either use that in your craft or think about it?

Jay Acunzo: I think we have to be willing to fail. I don't think we should seek it out. I think we want to be successful and we put failure is one of those like fetishized ideas and startups, entrepreneur communities, etc. And I think we've lost sight of why it's being so fetishized. I think it's because inherently creativity is about saying, I don't know if this is going to work, but I'm going to try it anyway. And so without an acceptable fail rate, without slack in the system, without the ability to say genuinely, I don't know if it's going to work, we never do anything exciting. I think about the David Bowie quote, about creativity a lot where he said you should wait out into the water just far enough for your toes. Just don't touch the ground. And right there you'll do something exciting. That's failure because you don't know, am I going to sink or swim? Am I going to have to retreat back to the sand where I can stand again? And it's OK because you could. So failure to me is just it's not the seeking out of failure. It's just the willingness to say inherently this work we're doing is going to result in some failures by the very nature of what we're doing, which is where we're trying to make things better.

Chris Byers: To learn more about how people are reimagining their world of work, head over to formstack.com/practically-genius, also linked in our show notes. Thanks for joining us today on this episode of Ripple Effect.

Meet The Host
CEO of
Connect
Chris is on a mission to turn people into great leaders. He's passionate about helping problem solvers see more value in the work they do every day.