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Pink Headphones: Storytelling Secrets w/ Dave Bricker

unsplash-logoMay Lawrence

Welcome to this Epic-sode of the Dreamers succeed podcast. We are sitting here with a dear friend; someone who I know you’re going to love.  I promise you guys are in for a treat. Have you ever struggled to create messages that customers actually want to hear? Have you wondered why some messages connect with audiences and others don’t? Are you talking about your clients or talking about yourself? Today’s guest spent 15  years sailing in search of stories. He’s the author of 11 books, including an adventure sailing memoir, two books about writing, and three about storytelling.

His company, Remarkable Stories Inc, teaches the art of business transformation through storytelling. If you want to say it, share it, or sell it, bring him your story and he’ll help you tell it. Today he’s going to be talking to us about how stories work and how we use strategic storytelling to grow our businesses.

Please welcome award-winning speaker, author, and graphic designer (in addition to trans-Atlantic sailor and a pretty good jazz guitarist).

My friend: Dave Bricker. Welcome, Dave.

Dave

Thank you… great to be here!

Berta

I’m so happy you’re here! Guys, you’re in for a treat, like I said. Not only is he a great storyteller. The fact that he’s been able to turn that into a business and really help people and companies tell their story well to increase their sales and revenues. It’s a beautiful way that he’s been able to capture how to teach people to do that [storytelling].

We’re going to be learning some great nuggets today. Dave, you ready?

Dave

I am ready!

Berta

Before we get to the nuts and bolts, I know you spent a number of years on a sailboat. Tell me how that helped you bring some of these great stories to life.

Dave

I don’t know if you remember the Christo Surrounded Islands project in 1983. The artist Christo surrounded a group of islands in Biscayne bay with a 200-foot-wide border of pink fabric. I got to work on that. Best job ever. I got paid to sit in a boat all day. Not sure it was a good influence long-term but I had a good time.

On that job, I met some people who lived I the sailboat anchorage in Miami. They just had fantastic stories. I was a private prep school kid. My father was a doctor, my mother was a lawyer, and I was a disappointment.

When I heard these stories and I realized that adventures weren’t just something that happened in books and movies, I went off the straight and narrow path. I got myself a little sailboat for about $3000. By the time I graduated college, I was living aboard. About 6 months later, I took off with $30 in my pocket and a locker full of food and dreams.

Berta

I didn’t know that part of your story. I knew you have this passion for sailing and you actually did it and lived it. It’s such a big deal for me. I don’t think that I know many people or any one – you were the first person I met – that actually lived on a sailboat. You’re living the dream.

Dave

Actually, I was afraid. But I was afraid of things that I think are bigger than what other people are afraid of. I was afraid I was going to get old and look back and regret all the things I hadn’t done because I’d been afraid to do them or made excuses not to do them. I thought, this is the time in my life. I can’t think of any reason not to. Off I went.

Berta

And how long was that first leg of your adventure?

Dave

First trip was about six months. Then I came back to Miami and got a job in Washington D.C. Don’t ever do that. Don’t go out into the wilderness and dump yourself into the big city. It torques your brain. I did that for six months and then I went back to the Bahamas for about eight months. I jumped on a friend’s sailboat. It was a beautiful wooden boat that he had made himself. This German guy.

You think, hand-built, wooden boat. I don’t know about that. This thing was a sailing cuckoo-clock. It was gorgeous. He invited me to sail across to Europe with him and I said, let me think about it… yes. Let’s go.

Berta

How long does that take? Like, on a sailboat to go transatlantic.

Dave

It was 38 days total sailing time. We did 26 days nonstop to the Azores. We spent about 2 months in the Azores. There was one day to cross and another 10-11 days to get to Gibraltar. It was 38 days total.

Berta

That’s major. Obviously no sea sickness or anything like that.

Dave

Oh, there was plenty of that.

Berta

Yeah? Did you encounter anything that was… I can see now hopping on a wooden ship and you’ve got these amazing stories. How did everything you experienced there help you turn that into a business. I think it’s fabulous. You’ve got to have a million stories, but how do you do that?

Dave

Part of it is having that life experience. The other things that I like to do are all communications-based. I’m a writer. I’m a speaker. I write code. I play music. All of these things are just different dialects of storytelling. Now it took me 20 years to figure that out and put it together. For a while I was just that guy with the weird stories.

For a while, I really didn’t tell them. We’re all on a journey. Every story has a journey in it. My trip across the ocean is a metaphor for somebody else’s journey in starting a business or anything that they set out to do – raising kids. We all have to learn to trust our compass. We all have to navigate. I started mining the metaphors in my story.

Other people… we both know speakers and people who are mountain-climbers – who use that as a big metaphor for people reaching the top and things like that. It’s really not all that big a stretch. It’s just to take your story and use it as a metaphor for your listener’s story.

Berta

How do you do that from the stage, especially when you’re speaking? I know you work with a lot of major corporations. When you’re speaking to that part of our society, how do you do that?

Dave

I think that, especially in a speaking context (but it could be writing, blogging, anything). People forget that the purpose of a speech or any form of communication – when it comes right down to it – is to transform the listener, the viewer, the reader (whatever it may be). Too many people begin by talking about themselves. Blah blah blah.

It’s selling the features, not the benefits. If you begin by figuring out, “I want to create a message that accomplishes x, y, z outcome for my listener and work backwards from that outcome, that tends to drive the stories.

Berta

Sort of Stephen Covey “Start with the end in mind sort of thing.” I just think that not a lot of people see it that way. When I work – and I work a lot in accountability – we always have to start at the finish line and just reverse engineer everything. I just never looked at it that way with storytelling or speaking.

Dave

I think it’s counter-intuitive. I’ll bring up sales, but I want to qualify that. Some people think sales is a dirty word. They think about used car salesmen and that kind of a cliché, traditional salesperson. We’re all selling. Anyone who has tried to calm down and get a kid to go to bed is selling. Anyone who wants to be listened to.

If you’re taking a test or writing a paper in school, you’re selling your ideas and trying to get that professor to evaluate them in a way that’s satisfactory to you. Whether we’re selling products or services or ideas or credibility, we’re all selling.

To me, the golden rule of storytelling is that stories are all about people. IF we talk about prices, processes, ingredients, and data, we’re not talking about people. If we’re not talking about people, we’re not telling stories. If we’re not telling stories, we’re not connecting. If we’re not connecting, we’re not selling.

Berta

I love the connection piece. A lot of times, things become more transactional than relational. Then we miss that connection. I know we’ve both seen that [as speakers]. People get so focused on the message or what they’re trying to do or the technicality of how they’re trying to do that. We forget about that connection that we need to have.

You can say just about anything. If you have a great connection with your audience, that message is going to be received very differently than if you’re just out there trying to make yourself look good or trying to get through it and get off the stage.

Dave

I think a lot of people have been subjected to that ABC philosophy. Always Be Closing. When are you going to go in and ask them to part with their money. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t close, but if you build those relationships, the transaction happens as a byproduct of the relationship.

Let’s say… pick an ad agency or a financial firm. They’re going to come in and pitch their services. If they’re top firms – professional firms – the offerings are going to be pretty similar. They’re going to get the result from whichever one they choose. The prices are not going to vary that much. The outcome is going to be worth more than the price anyway, so it doesn’t matter. What’s going to happen with that?

They’re going to pick the team that they like the best. It’s all about relationships.

Berta

Do you think the team that they like the best is going to be the team that can tell the best story?

Dave

I think so. I think it’s going to be the team that tells the best story about the client. If you’re up there talking about yourself, people are going to turn off pretty quickly. I can tell you sea stories. After a while, it’s like, “Okay, that’s entertaining, but I’ve got Netflix.”

Berta

Can you share an example? Just because I know you’ve worked with many of these organizations in that very capacity. We’ll talk about selling in a minute. I do want to get a little more into that.

Dave

Something brief: I used to live in the anchorage, which means that I used to row out to my sailboat. I was about a half a mile out on the bay. It sounds very isolated, but we had the whole secret floating village out there – a wonderful little community. I was sitting on my boat at the end of the day one afternoon and I looked in toward the channel and there was commotion. Somebody was splashing around in their dinghy. It was my friend Bill.

He was rowing out to the boat. I was trying to see what was going on. He’d row a few strokes and he’d stop. Then I could see he was bailing out the dinghy. There were little arcs of water flashing in the sun. He’d row a little bit more and bail a little bit more. And he came out next to my boat. Finally, I said, “Bill, what’s the problem?”

He said, “The dinghy is leaking. It wasn’t this morning, but I’m sinking. Do you have a bigger bucket?”

I mean, look, was it a life-threatening situation he would have ended up in the bay. I’ll drop a ladder over for you.

So I went down in my cabin and I came up not with a big bucket but with this little tiny jar. He looked at me with this incredulous face. I said, “This is lanolin. Your drain-plug is probably leaking. Here’s a rag. Stick the rag in the plughole. Grease up that plug, put it back in. Probably, the leak will stop.

Of course, by this time, his butt’s wet. The water is rising over the seat. The oars are starting to float in the dinghy. He does this wonderful contortion act where he holds the rag and the plug hole with his big toe. He’s greasing the plug. He finally gets it put back together. At this point I’m just laughing at him and he sees it and starts to laugh at himself.

I invited him on board to get him a towel. We have a drink and watch the end of the day together. I think that what happens is sometimes we think we need a bigger bucket and what we really need to do is to plug the leak. Sometimes, we think we need another cup of coffee and what we need is a little more sleep. Sometimes we think we need more clients and what we really need to do is raise our fees.

There’s an example where I’m just taking a little slice of anchorage life and turning it into a business lesson.

Berta

I see that totally, and I know that’s how you operate. How easy did it become to you to see from a very different perspective all these things that you can’t see when you’re on the inside.

Dave

I just think it’s a matter of becoming people-centric. Service-centric. When you become interested in speaking… look, we’re both members of National Speakers Association and Toast Masters. We watch lots of speakers make lots of mistakes. That’s part of the path. But the people who get up there and talk about themselves… they talk about their baggage and their abuse and their drugs and “If I can do it, you can do it” stories.

There’s someone in the room who might be a bigger loser than you are, and you’re not going to inspire that person and you’re going to intimidate them. If you take them into the dark place and you don’t bring them back into the light, you’re doing a great service for local therapists with your audience.

There’s any number of storytelling mistakes that people make beca9use they grow into that journey. If you focus on what’s in it for the audience… what’s in it for my listener?

If I get up there and just talk about myself… narcissism is the only disease in the world where the sicker you are the better you feel. What can you do to take your stories and put them int the service of your audience. I know some people are probably thinking, well gee do I have to sail across the ocean? Do I have to sleep in a volcano? Do I have to run a marathon?

No! Anybody who has had pets or raised kids… we all have stories. Size doesn’t matter. It’s just a question of whether you take those stories and get creative about putting them to work for other people. We’re all on a journey.

Berta

Tell me how a story works.

Dave

It may surprise you to learn that I use a nautical model for storytelling. That’s what StorySailing is all about. We did the golden rule: that stories are always about people. Imagine that this main character, this person, is out on a sailboat on the rocky, stormy seas of conflict. There’s something that they’re grappling with.

They went sailing on a nice day and the weather picked up and suddenly, circumstances have changed. What they really want is to get to that safe port of transformation. They have a journey to make. Think of that as sort of the horizontal axis – from left to right, if you will.

What happens – for example in marketing – when we see advertisements that show people will yellow teeth and fingers or black lungs… they don’t convince anybody to stop smoking because they’re all about the conflict. Whereas if we look at somebody who is a little older spending time with their grandchildren or somebody finishing a marathon, that’s the transformation. That’s what people are buying.

Why does most marketing fail? It’s the same thing. Selling the features not the benefits. Making it about the reader, the listener, the viewers instead of about “our product has six active ingredients.” Nobody cares. There’s too much data out there. The data-dump presentation or ad or whatever it may be.

There’s two other things to consider. One is for that sailboat to make it from the stormy seas of conflict to the safe port of transformation, the water has to be deep enough. Anyone who has ever run aground with a sailboat knows that you hit the ground, the bottom. The tide goes out, the boat slowly leans over and you have to wait for the tide to come back up. That’s a nice twelve hour round-trip between running aground on the wall.

We talk about deep questions and deep people. It’s interesting that we use the word deep to refer to people and situations. A lot of people are not getting to the authentic conflict. That usually has something to do with survival. It’s sex, it’s status in the tribe, it’s safety for you and your children, it’s food, it’s shelter, it’s love… it’s deep, authentic survival of the species kinds of needs. If I offer you and opportunity to make a lot of money, you’re going to say, “That’s great.”

But money is paper. You can’t eat it. On a certain level, a hundred dollar bill has the same value of paper and as a one dollar bill. It’s what you can do with the money. What do you need that money for?

You’ve got kids, right? And at some point your kid questions you. You ask them to do something and they say, “Why?” You explain patiently and they say, “Why?” Why, why, why? Then finally you say, “Because I said so.” Then you became that parent you swore you’d never be.

But if you keep asking, “Why?” You ultimately get to what you ultimately want to achieve with the money. What is it that’s meaningful to you? I find that a lot of the marketing and messaging we see… it doesn’t really resonate with people because it doesn’t go deep enough.

Berta

You touched on it a little bit: everybody gets in closing mode without really focusing on what the need is. I read a great book once by – I forgot his name now and I have to remember that because I love recommending it – but it’s about just that transaction with the close. Somebody will come and say, “How do I know you’re the right coach for me?”

They go off and listing all their features and everything that they do and their processes. It doesn’t mean crap to the person sitting on the other side.

Dave

And the answer is, we don’t. Let’s have a conversation and see if we’re a good fit. Otherwise I’ll try to refer you to somebody. It’s not about closing. The worst thing you could do is end up with the wrong client or clients who aren’t coachable because they’re not open to ideas. They’re spending money and you’re not delivering results and that just ripples through your business.

Berta

And word of mouth and referrals and everything else. What they should be asking is just what you’re saying. I know you come from a place of service and generosity always anyway. I don’t know if I’m the right coach. Tell me what you need. Usually you’ll be able to tell.

We just had something a week ago. It was a potential coaching client, but I knew you were going to be much better in service of him than I could possibly be. That’s just really what it’s about. It’s listening to what the need is from the client and seeing how you can fill that gap. It might not be you, but you fill the gap.

Dave

I call it lead by listening. It actually takes us around to that final fourth element of storytelling. What else does a sailboat need to move?

Berta

Wind.

Dave

Wind. Now, wind is interesting because it’s powerful. We live in South Florida, we’ve been through hurricanes. Wind can be extremely powerful and dangerous, but it’s invisible. It’s kind of like gravity. It’s this magic power. You know it’s there, but you can’t see it. You have to trust that it’s there and it’s not going to shut off tomorrow or blow your house down the day after.

I think everybody’s got different magic. As a coach, as a speaker – as a barber, a plumber, a dentist – people go by their titles. They introduce themselves by their job titles, but they don’t think about what their special skill or passion is. It could be their experience. It could be their ideas. It could be their team or their equipment. Any number of things that differentiate one person from another. Encouraging people to find that magic – that’s the real product that they’re selling. You can go to any dentist and get a tooth filled. Chances are, it’s going to be relatively painless within a certain range of reality. The job’s going to be within a certain range of quality.

So what’s the difference? It comes down to that dentist’s particular magic. Maybe an area of specialization, maybe just it’s a little more painless than the next person. Everybody’s gotta find their magic. When you hide behind that job title, you’re competing with a whole bunch of other people who are also named “Dave” or “Berta.”

Berta

That’s the “So What?” factor.

Dave

I love this model. Coaching people, coaching speakers… there are other speakers. My friend Neal Petersen. He was the first black sailor to race alone around the world. He’s done a lot more sailing than me and dealt with much more adverse circumstances. His stories work, my stories work. It’s not that we’re both sailing speakers and we have to go to a meeting planner which one of us has the biggest story. It’s just which one of us is going to produce the best outcome for that audience.

Berta

I think that’s the focus. When I do workshops, I’ll come in and just be on the stage and say, “Who are you?” People automatically hear, “How are you?”  They’ll be like, “Great.” I’m glad you said that, because maybe your subconscious heard me ask, “Who are you?” The fact that you already know that you’re great – we’re way ahead.

I ask them to write a definition of themselves at some point. Different workshops call for different things. They can’t use what they do for a living in their definition. Let me tell you – people get stuck. Automatically they go straight to the pen and the paper and start to write. When I tell them that [they can’t use what they do for a living], they’re taken aback. How do you identify without saying what you do for a living?

They come up with these beautiful definitions of themselves. A lot of times I’ll pick people randomly and they’ll get up and read it aloud. Usually tearfully because we’re not what we do. We’re human beings, not human doings.

Dave

I think there’s just this tendency… the baby pops out and someone says, “It is a boy or a girl? Who cares? What’s it going to do?! Is it going to be a doctor or a lawyer?!” It’s this kind of expectation. People get buried under this and a lot of other stuff. At some point, if they’re lucky, they get involved with some mentors and programs. They get to rediscover they’re big.

Berta

You talked a little bit about the importance of sharing story but to the customer or to the end-user. To that audience, which left me a little bit confused. How do you share your stories but make it about somebody else? I don’t know if that’s what you were trying to say.

Dave

For example, when I told the red bucket story, at the end of it, it’s basically a business fable. I told my story and I took you into that story. I wanted you to kind of see the water splashing in the sun. I wanted to take the listener out of their chair and into my space.

Before I get to the ending, something interesting is happening here. We’re all hunter-gatherers. In evolutionary terms, we stepped out of the wilderness 20,000 years ago, which is nothing. Our nature is to scan for threats and opportunities. That’s what we’re doing. Stand on a street corner and look up. Someone’s going to stand beside you and start looking up. Either something is falling on me and it’s about to kill me or it’s about to make me rich. There’s a threat or an opportunity. It doesn’t take long before there’s a half a dozen people standing and staring at the sky.

We have this nature. If I tell you a story and you’re in a safe place like a movie theater then you pay attention. What that means is that you’ve stopped scanning in the real world and you’ve started scanning for threats and opportunities within my story. I’ve hijacked your amygdala, your brain, and it’s fascinating. You can go to a movie theater and forget that there are strangers sitting next to you crinkling candy wrappers and munching popcorn and slurping their drinks and disciplining their kids because you’re watching whatever is on the screen. You’re in that story.

If that’s my story, I’m the guide. I’m the one you’re depending on to navigate in that landscape. There’s a position of connection and influence. I take you there and I take you into this world but then I drop this…

Sometimes we think we need a bigger bucket and we need to plug the leak. Sometimes we think we need more clients and what we need to do is raise our fees. I bring it back where, oh, okay, they weren’t even aware that I was talking about their journey. What happens if your friend comes to you and your friend says I’m having a terrible problem with my partner. Their friend says, “Dump them, move on.” They’re never going to do it because the idea came from the outside. Coaching works by leading people to discover their own truth.

When you make the decision to take action and you make it on your own, you can’t say “I don’t want to do that because that’s what Joe said to do.” That came from inside. You have to summon up the moxy to do it and that’s a different struggle. I think that’s one of the reasons I like coaching over consulting. A coach asks wise questions. A consultant brings smart answers.

The story is a perfect mechanism for doing it because you can take people out of that space where they’re defensive; out of that real world of nuts and bolts and daily situations and into a different place. Then they’re thinking without all of that baggage.

Berta

That’s such an important part of leadership. There’s a lot of talk about leadership and influence now. I’m thinking of it from the corporate perspective. Leadership in general. Let’s say from the corporate perspective. I know that’s a big part of your clientele – these major corporations. I’m curious to know: how does the leader embrace their ability to tell the story so that they can engage – as when you’re in the movie theater when you’re watching that movie – and have their team embrace the vision so that everyone can grow and move forward.

Dave

I’ll give you two ways. First of all, I’m astonished at the number of people in major leadership positions who don’t have any coach. They’re very lonely at the top of that pyramid trying to pretend that they don’t have impostor syndrome. They’re trying to look confident for everybody because that’s what they have to be. The smart ones have, above the top of the pyramid there’s this little cloud of angels that helps them out.

I think the idea that leaders get some communication coaching – that they learn how to speak and engage the employees…

Think about a big corporate merger. Think about something like US Air merging with American Airlines. This all happens on the stock exchange, right? It’s not like one day you walk in and you said, “Guess what? You all work for American now.” They know what’s coming. The employees are scared and the stock-holders are scared.

The speeches that are given by both those CEOs collectively could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. They do it without coaching and they put a bunch of excel spreadsheets up on PowerPoint slides. How do you measure the cost of that? Getting the presentation coaching and the storytelling coaching, to me, is just leadership 101. Get the support you need.

Then the other level is harmonizing the narrative throughout the organization. Usually the C-suites is telling one story and the sales staff is telling another story and the support people and the accounting people are telling a different story. Then the customers are telling a different story.

You go to different people in the company to ask them what they do, what the company does, and you get very different answers. When you use that story and you harmonize the work culture, now you’re hiring people because they’ve got a place in the narrative. Instead of sign your insurance papers, here’s your cubicle, meet your boss, it’s, “This is the value you’re going to be providing for the customers and your colleagues. You have an important role to play in your story.”

Now what happens when somebody offers them a couple extra grand a year? They’re not leaving. They have a meaningful work life. They’re not just another gear in the machine. We see too much of this: people jumping from job to job with these little pay increases. They need them but there’s no job satisfaction. There’s no loyalty. What do they say? Culture eats strategy for lunch.

Berta

So many corporations out there are facing retention issues. Even the best of them. How expensive does it get when a company is a revolving door?

Dave

Some of these tech companies… it costs 15k to on-board a new employee – to train them and get them in. You want them to stick around. So what’s the value in a case like that of building a culture around a compelling story where people want to stay?

Berta

How do you go in there and let them know the importance of that and how you can help bring that story to life on all levels?

Dave

Well there are different ways to do it. One way to do it is to get in and talk with a leader. Ideally the CEO. But whoever really is the voice of the company – the spiritual leader of the company or someone who at least should be that. Listen to them and sit down with them and help them re-frame the narrative in terms of offerings instead of, “Well, we have four divisions and they do this and that.” Everyone’s asleep already.

How do you make this all about the people? How do you make the culture inside the company something that becomes a builder of culture outside the company? It starts with a lot of listening and conversations. How do we rephrase this? How do we reframe that?

The other thing is – on an organizational level – sometimes it’s just a matter of doing workshops. A lot of companies have very presentation-rich cultures, but they don’t have any real training. Yeah, they know how to use PowerPoint… big deal! They don’t have the speaking skills, they don’t have the engagement skills. That means that people are spending a lot of times in meetings boring each other to death. That’s bad for morale. A lot of really great, innovative ideas are not getting sold to management because  you’ve got engineers and people spelling out all the active ingredients and chemical reactions.

They’re not going so far as to say, “Here’s what this is going to do for your clients.” Or, “Here’s how you’re going to build a whole new base of clients.” Essentially we change the conversation from price to value. Whatever level.

Berta

I know that for organizations and people that I’ve worked with throughout the years; if you can change that mentality from a numbers bottom-line to an impact bottom-line and added value and service… you become competition-proof. That’s one of my talks. Becoming Competition-Proof. The way we do it, we have to be focused on the results like you said.

Dave, walk me through a sales story. I know a lot of our listeners are entrepreneurs themselves or work for a major corporation or on the sales side of things. What is a good sales story?

Dave

Well let’s say I’m trying to sell you my widgets and there are other people who make widgets too. A widget just being whatever – something made up. So I’m trying to sell widgets. If I see my job as having to go out there and get people to buy the widgets, then, so what? I’m in competition with other people. What typically happens is someone says, look, our widgets are cheaper or our widgets are made in the United States by Americans. What is the pitch? What is the appeal?

Ultimately, the widget has to be of value to somebody. First of all, they have to need it. How many times do people get in touch with us and they say, “You need this.”

No I don’t. If I needed it, I would have looked for it. First of all, establish that need. And then find out, okay, what does that customer need? Then add value to that need. What I mean is sometimes it’s the bigger bucket story in a way. Somebody thinks they need a bigger bucket. Well, what’s that worth to you? Let me think of a less metaphorical example.

Somebody’s got a piece of software that they need written that is going to help them increase productivity, right? It’s going to save them a certain amount of time. That’s great! So they go to the software developer and the software developer thinks, “Well there’s a certain number of hours it’s going to take me to make this piece of software.” But the sales person is going to say, “Tell me what it’s costing you without this extra level of efficiency?”

The person thinks it’s probably costing the ten people in my accounting department two hours a day. So you’re talking about ten people times 2 is 20 hours a day times a week times a year. So let’s say we can save that 20 hours a day. What could you do? What’s not getting done right now because of this inefficiency? Where could you grow? Where could you expand? Where could you cut?

All of a sudden, you’re taking the savings and you’re building it. This little technical hurdle that they had is extremely important and extremely valuable. We didn’t try to sell them more features. We tried to really look at the size of the problem and the impact. More importantly: what’s the transformation? If you solve this problem, what are you going to be able to do? Can you take these people and assign them over here now and get this thing done that wasn’t even on the table? You might build a whole new division on your business with those 20 hours a week that you save. It could be worth millions.

You focus on the real problems, the impact of the problems, and the outcome of your solution.

Berta

That’s what it comes down to: the solution. And being really able to bring that outside perspective. We’re seeing things differently when we’re on the outside. I learned this from Bob Burg who we’re going to see this weekend. He talks about sales.  I always say I’m the worst salesperson in the world. I can’t sell a coca cola to someone who’s been stranded in the desert forever. The truth is that sales comes from the Latin word salen, which is to give. We’re just giving a solution. They can look at it as a sale but it really comes down the solution – the results.

Dave

I think the speaking business is the example I probably should have used. We go to these chamber of commerce breakfasts and they bring in some expert or someone who took a company public. They don’t have any training as a presenter. Most of the time, everybody is falling asleep in their scrambled eggs and trying to get a second mimosa. Okay – so and so has status and they bring him in and I guess it makes the organization looks good. So why do top speakers make ten and twenty and more just for getting up on stage for talking for 45 minutes. Let’s face it: we’ve been doing that right now and we’re not getting paid for any of it.

What is the value of it? If that speaker can get in the room and increase that productivity by 10% or if they can get in a room and make people feel better about going to work and punching the clock on Monday morning, any number of things. If they can save  five tech employees from leaving that year and help the company build a better culture, the solution that they’re selling far outweighs the fee.

Berta

You shared a story once about a big project that you did. They were paying you really good money but the results they were getting because of your work was a thousand times more. So it was worth it to them and it was worth it to you because it was a great contract. That’s the thing: for people to be able to focus not on what they’re spending but on what the result is bringing them. I think a lot of times, we might run into that as coaches or as speakers. I know you don’t work like that or operate like that.

I don’t care what it costs. I’m looking at what I’m going to get as a result of that.

Dave

I taught graphic design and web design at the art institute for many years. Of course, students go to school, they rack up an enormous debt, and they want to know – are they going to survive in the world? They’re doing these little club flyers for 100 dollars and trying to stretch their wings and build their skills. When you’re starting out at anything it’s fine. But there is always this [question], “How do I price my services?”

I did a role play with a student. She said, “How much is a website?” I said, “A half a million dollars.”

She rolled her eyes and she said, “I’m running away.”

I said, “What if I told you that my last five clients doubled their investment in the last five years?”

She said, “I’m going to go borrow the money.”

It’s not about what it costs. Nobody cares what the price is. If you’re going to make more money than you spend, then it’s a good deal at any cost. We get hung up on the price. People pay designers 20-25 bucks an hour and they can’t break out of that and they think they’re competing with Fiverr. You’re not. If you’re not offering more value than you’re charging, you’re either working for the wrong clients or you’re not good at what you do.

Berta

It all comes down to that added value and what we can do. It’s so funny that you use that story because you just talked about the difference between selling the features and the process rather than the results. Of course, if they’re looking at the features, this might not be that great deal. I don’t remember who it was at one of the FSA things. They said, “Even broke people make bail.”

How bad do you need this result? That’s going to determine how much you’re willing to pay for it. When we, as coaches and speakers, or anyone focus on features instead of the results, it’s going to be a hard sell. What you’re bringing to the table is a way to save the story properly wrapped up in a way that the end-user will realize what that result is going to mean for them.

Dave

It’s all about the transformation, isn’t it?

Berta

Dave, what’s the craziest thing that happened to you when you were out there sailing across the world?

Dave

The craziest thing that happened to me is… I think we were a few days past Bermuda. It was rainy weather. Kind of sloppy but not very windy. There was this one moment where the wind picked up and it picked up some more and the seas picked up. I’ve never seen anything quite like this: there was this cloud. I would almost want to describe it as a tornado. It came down from this black cloud and looped back up into the cloud. It wasn’t a funnel cloud.

It didn’t actually hit us, but I’m guessing the wind probably got up to fifty to seventy miles an hour for a few minutes. We got all the sails down in time except one. That sail flogged itself to shreds in about five seconds. It was a heavy jib. This all was a few minutes. It was a microburst. We sailed for just that five or ten minutes blasting along using just the hull of the boat as a sail. That was one of the most intense weather systems I think I’ve ever [seen]. Aside from being in hurricanes and things, which I’ve never been on a boat for (and plan not to). That weather system was just freaky. It was like nothing else I’ve ever heard of.

Berta

Not scary enough to make you stop sailing altogether. I know you’re working on  your sailboat again. Tell me about that. I’m excited for you.

Dave

I’m working on my fifteen footer. It’s a little open wooden boat and I’m just putting some varnish on again because it’s been a couple of years. It’s time to make it pretty again. I’ll get a big boat again at some point in my life, but right now I’m here in Miami. I’m working on the business, working with great people and great companies. I’m speaking, I’m having a good time. I like being in South Florida. Having a little boat on a trailer is just perfect for me right now.

Berta

How often do you get out?

Dave

Not often enough.

Berta

So what would you say is the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?

Dave

The greatest piece of advice I’ve ever gotten is, “Skip the talk and leave the dock.”

Berta

You used that well. That came in very handy to you. So what’s on your vision board for 2020?

Dave

More speaking, more coaching clients, more workshops. I’ve already done a few this year that have gotten great reviews. I’m really happy about it, because we’re always finessing and polishing and refining our offerings to make sure we connect with people. I’m feeling I’ve got a good start to the year. I’m about 25,000 words into that other public speaking book. There are so many of them out there.

This one is not so much a storytelling book but it will talk about the art of speaking. Not so much from what to do, but why people pay attention. A little bit more of that brain science and what works, what doesn’t. There’s a little bit of speaking business, there’s a lot of stagecraft. How to go from the page to the stage.

Berta

All under your umbrella but all really great resources for people who want to get into that world. Dave, how do we find your books? They’re on Amazon?

Dave

My books are all on Amazon. You can look up Dave Bricker. I’m there – all of them are there. I also have the blog at http://StorySailing.com I talk a little bit about public speaking tips, a little bit about storytelling. I blog every two weeks. I think I’m just about – next week will be blog post #50, so I’ve got a ton of good material in there and it’s all non-commercial stuff. It’s all here’s something you can use. It’s all done in the spirit of building those relationships.

Berta

It’s really good stuff, guys. If you can get in there and follow it. Before we go, I want to thank you for being here, because you’re amazing and you know I’m a huge fan. I know there’s always something exciting. But if I looked you up in the dictionary, what would it say?

Dave

I think it would be the dictionary. The whole thing. I don’t know. It’s a blessing and a curse. I’m interested in so many different things and I love learning. The reason I’m unemployable in a traditional sense is that if you put me in one place doing one job, I’m going to go nuts. I need to be doing a little of everything. Writing is fun, but that gets boring. I need to go play some music. I need to design something. I need to write some code. I need to move around and use different parts of my brain.

So maybe the word in the dictionary is “Polymath.”

Berta

Dave, I’m so blessed by you. I’m so grateful that you came out to play. Any parting words for our listeners?

Dave

Just grow every day. Expand yourself every day. Write something every day. Build something every day. Create something new every single day. Get up early, before everybody else does, and get on it. Skip the talk and leave the dock.

Berta

Amen! Okay, guys – Dave Bricker! Look him up.

Dave

If you look up Dave Bricker, I’m all over Google. If you start with Storysailing.com, that’s really where everything comes from. I’ve got a Facebook page and all that stuff but it’s mostly content that comes from the blog. I’m a one-stop shop.

Berta

Okay, folks. You heard it here! Look up Dave. I promise you will be extremely happy that you did. For now, be good, do great, and go play outside. It’s beautiful today.

Dave

Thank you so much for having me on board. I really am grateful to have been part of your story today.

Berta

Thank you for being here, Dave.

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