Grow Your Impact with Jeff Bartsch

Reading Time: 17 Minutes

In this week’s episode with Jeff Bartsch, we discuss the power of storytelling and how to weave that into your business.

Takeaways We Learned from Jeff…

Unleash the Power of Narrative Forces

Understand the power of narrative force in your life. It’s like gravity, controlling every communication. When you take control, you better understand yourself, others, and lead more effectively.

Craft Your Story with Strategic Intent

Elevate your storytelling to be strategic. Craft messages for specific audiences with a purpose. It’s not just about telling stories; it’s about strategic storytelling that drives change.

Skills Trump Natural Talent in Storytelling

Don’t believe storytelling is a talent. It’s a skill. Learn the fundamentals like narrative forces and storytelling techniques. Skills can be acquired, honed, and mastered.

Focus on Showcasing Change

In storytelling, focus on change. Whether you’re telling a personal or business story, showcasing transformation is key. Change resonates and captivates your audience.

Clarify the Purpose of Your Story

Understand why you’re telling a story. Is it to explain who you are, why the business exists, or how it helps clients? Clarity in purpose ensures a focused and impactful narrative.

Human Connection Through Internal Change

Distinguish between external and internal change in your stories. Internal change, the emotional and personal transformation, creates a profound human connection. Share the deeper aspects of your journey.

Start Your Business Story with Personal Growth

When telling your business story, start with personal growth. Highlight the founder’s journey, emphasizing internal changes. Your audience connects more when they see the human side of your business evolution.

Stories Are Universal and Profound

Every life has an amazing story, and it’s not about epic tales. It’s about attaching meaning to our experiences. Stories, whether personal or business-related, are universal and profoundly shape our understanding.

Integrity Illustrated Through Stories

Core values and mission are best communicated through stories. Integrity, for instance, is better understood through a story of someone demonstrating it rather than a mere explanation. Stories make ideas stick.

Repetition Strengthens Messaging

Just like saying ‘I love you’ in a relationship, repetition is key in storytelling. Even if you think they know, keep telling your story. It reinforces your message, ensuring everyone stays aligned and connected.

Intersecting Storylines in Leadership

Leadership involves managing intersecting storylines. As more people are involved, ensure storylines align, everyone wants the same thing, and work collectively toward shared goals. It’s the essence of effective leadership.

Complexity of Human Perceptions

Human interactions bring complexity. People perceive stories differently based on their experiences. Understanding this complexity is crucial for leaders to guide their teams effectively and align diverse perspectives.

About Jeff Bartsch

Meet Jeff Bartsch, a visionary storyteller and marketing strategist who founded Story Greenlight.

With over 20 years of experience in the entertainment industry, Jeff Bartsch has worked with some of the largest media outlets in the world and has established himself as a leader in his field. Through Story Greenlight, Jeff empowers experts and professional advisors to tell their stories, expand their impact, and serve more clients.

Read the Transcript

Allison: Welcome back to the Deliberate Leaders podcast. I am your host and Executive Business Coach Allison Dunn. Our guest today is Jeff Bartsch. He is a visionary storyteller, a marketing strategist who founded story Greenlight. With over 20 years of experience in the entertainment industry, through story, excuse me through Story Greenlight, Jeff empowers experts and professional advisors to tell their story, expand their impact and serve more clients. Jeff, thank you so much for joining us here today.

Jeff: It’s an honor to be here ally. Looking forward to this.

Allison: Me too. I love to kick these off with a deliberate conversation. What would be your number one leadership tip for our listeners today.

Jeff: I would like to offer to the listeners to …

Learn to understand the power of narrative force in your life. Because when we understand narrative forces, we come to see that they are the underlying functions of every story, every communication, and it’s so wide ranging, it’s and it’s so inexorable. It’s like gravity. This stuff controls everything that happens in communication, whether we realize it or not.

So when we take control of narrative forces, we better understand how to understand ourselves, we understand others. And because of that, we can more effectively lead ourselves and we can lead others to. It’s incredibly powerful.

Allison: The power of this just saying narrative force out loud feels like dynamic. How can you give me an example of what you’d be hearing to know that that is a narrative force? Can you give me an example? 

Jeff: Sure. The easiest place to start is to just get clear on what we call a story in the first place. A lot of people within business and storytelling, they are they like to reference Donald Miller and story brand. So it I actually read one of his earlier books, and this jumped out at me where he said, a story is where a character wants something and overcomes obstacles to get it. I added to that to say and experiences transformation as a result. And I’ve yet to find a better definition of what a story is, in its truly fundamental state. It’s where a character wants something overcomes obstacles to get it and experiences transformation as a result.

So to your question of narrative force, we can take that idea of what a story is, you can expand it out to the most crazy, epic series of movies and TV, or you can just shrink it down to just a few words. And when you shrink it down, you come to these things like that. They’re referred to as narrative forces, you have identity, you have character who has a desire, you come up against obstacles, you under end, when you come through those obstacles, you experience transformation.

So character identity, obstacles and change. And if you had to focus on just one thing out of all that if you if people say, what’s the single word that you have to focus on to tell a story, it’s change, show change.

Allison: Change how to get changed, or just show that there’s a change that’s been made?

Jeff: It can go either way, depending on what you’re depending on what you want the story to do, which is why in conversations like these, it’s really easy to say that to hear the word story and to say, oh, yeah, that’s yeah, I tell stories all the time, or I suck at telling stories, or I don’t have any stories, or my stories are boring, or just it’s easy to sleep on it because it feels really familiar, which it is because all of us are living stories every moment of our lives. The so because of that, I like to elevate the conversation to talking about strategic storytelling, where we talk about, okay, how do we craft a message in a specific way for a specific audience with a specific purpose? So when that happens, you’re talking about change. It depends on the purpose on what you want to see change or what you want to communicate about a change that has already happened. It’s, it can go lots of different directions.

Allison: Do you find that people have a difficult time working through that or is that just an easy process once you have kind of a rhythm of like, kind of a sequence of breaking it down?

Jeff: I would say people are so familiar with the idea of story we are, we are surrounded by it our entire life. And some people latch on to it. And they think, Oh, they kind of get by feel. They kind of get it by osmosis or they’re in, they’re raised in environments where they learn how to air quotes tell good stories. And far more people, they just, they understand what it feels like to experience a good story, but they have no earthly idea how to tell it, or how to actually do it for themselves.

The good news is, it all comes down to skills and fundamental elements like these narrative forces and knowing how to plug in the different tools at the right time. And because of that, it skills and skills can be learned.

Allison: Can you walk me through how to create that we’ve all have a story and habit applied to a business? Can you kind of walk us through an example of how to how to create one so that anyone listening can see how they may apply some of the questions and or principles or structure to their own business?

Jeff: Sure. So let’s get a little bit more specific than are we talking about? Are we talking about the story of the businesses, the entity? Are we talking about a founder story? Are we talking about a product story?

Allison: Questions? Why don’t we talk about a company story like that the actual firm itself, the founding of the firm the story behind it?

Jeff: Okay. So typically, when you have, when you have a company, you have you, it’s started by an individual or individuals who saw a need, there’s something missing in the world, and we’re going to provide this product or this service, to say, Okay, we’re going to, we see a need, we fill a need kind of thing. And so it starts with, you know, if you think about this, within the terms of that definition, the character who wants something overcomes obstacles to get it experiences transformation, as a result. If you look at that, if you look that, at that definition, in terms of a business, so you can say, all right, well, our founder started up, you know, what could be? Are you open to going out on the tightrope with me here? Are you open to talking about your family business from back in the day?

Allison: Um, we could talk about my family business, or we can talk about my business.

Jeff: Actually, let’s talk about your business. How did your How did your business get founded? What?

Allison: So there’s two phases to it. Help me figure out which phase of the story we start the story at. So my first mentor, actually was the founder of Deliberate Directions. And 28 years later, he’d passed and I actually was married to his son at this point, somewhere after that, and reopened it and launched it under my own brand. So where does the story start? I always get confused with like, how far back do you go in your story? I can’t be the only one though.

Jeff: Sure. The question is, why are you telling the story? Okay. Is it to tell? Is it to explain who you are? Or what the businesses or why the business exists? Or how it can help? Its clientele? Okay. Can we? Can we just pick one for the sake of conversation here?

Allison: Sure. So I would say the purpose of telling the story is to talk about how we can help. That’s if that’s the channel that you want me to pick and so maybe it doesn’t start back at the beginning. Maybe that’s not the point.

Jeff: Well, it can, okay, because the most personal the most, okay, pause, again, a sidetrack to a tiny little bit of film school snobbery here, if you feel so there are two types of change that happen in any kind of storytelling. And one is external. It’s happens outside the people. It’s something visible. And because of that, it’s easy to see a bomb goes off and a building explodes. You know, the building was there. Now it’s not there. Most people aren’t going to get emotionally connected to that. It is also easier to show. The flip side of that is the other kind of change, which is internal change what happens inside the heart and mind of the audience or the characters.

And so that is what really gets an audience hooked into something because it’s far more human. It happens inside our hearts and minds and we’re all one Hunting, we’re all desperately wanting change to happen inside our hearts and minds all the time just as human beings in our everyday lives.

We have external change and internal change, internal change is always going to make more of a human connection when telling a story.

Because of this talking about your business, my my gut instantly goes to when we want to tell the story of the founding of your business, we start with you and your mentor. What what how, what state were you in, before you met your mentor? And how did he change you?

Allison: Hmm. Okay, I was a young 16 year old girl who was in probably a path to not a good place. And he was the administrator of a preparatory school. And going through the interview process, I wasn’t sure exactly how I would afford to go there. And when he accepted me, he helped me work out a payment plan. So he guided me to take my parents no, for myself. Hmm.

Jeff: Okay. So just, you can see how I mean this, this can, you can start digging and digging and go down all sorts of rabbit trails, which we don’t have time for in our format here. So the but the cool thing, just from what you said so far is, you were you were starting out. As a team, you were looking for some direction your wind to go with the school, you weren’t in a good place. This man came alongside and said, Let’s, let’s make this happen. And he became your guide. In a nutshell, what you can do is you can you can connect that idea of I was I didn’t know, the direction needed to go, I needed some help. This man came along, that came alongside me and became my guide. And really, if you really wanted to, you could make a direct connection to, and 20 years later, 30 years later, or however long it’s been, it’s this is exactly what we do for our clients. We work with people in the Treasure Valley. And we work with people, you know, even across the nation. And they’re smart, they’ve gotten their businesses to a certain place. But they don’t know the next step. They don’t know what they don’t know yet. And so that’s what we do. We come alongside and we are we become their guides, just as the mentor became was a guide for you. I mean, so I mean, just right there, you instantly have a fundamentally human foundation for how you experienced internal change, and how your clients can experience internal change, too.

So it’s, I mean, a lot of people think my story is not epic. I don’t have you know, I haven’t been Frodo trying to destroy the ring in epic tales. You know, I haven’t, you know, I haven’t been chasing down the dragons and all that stuff. They’re everyone going through life has amazing stories. It just, it just depends on what purpose you’re wanting to know what purpose you’re wanting to accomplish with it, and how you attach what happened to the meaning behind it. Because that’s what we do. I mean, we attach meaning to things all day long. That’s what we do as human makes.

Allison: Yeah. It’s an interesting, like, you asked me that, and I wanted to discount it. But it immediately made me emotional. In trying to share, like, You mean, like the beginning of the story, which is interesting. And I would have said that, I think about it often, but I don’t share it very often. Thank you. Yes. Thank you, actually.

Jeff: It’s a privilege to be here. And to hear that. Thank you.

Allison: Absolutely. So how, how do you help companies work in the magic of storytelling, and how does it help their business strategically?

Jeff: So here’s the thing. There is an incredible amount of research that has come out in the last 10 to 20 years. With the adoption of you know, with the invention of functional magnetic resonance imaging machines, F MRIs, which basically, instead of just CAT scans, we can literally put people inside these fMRI machines And we can see what happens in their brain, when they think, can see the different parts of their brain light up. And what people have discovered is that when Pete When, when test subjects inside an FMRI machine, listen to a story, their brain lights up in the exact same way as if they were experiencing that same thing, themselves first person, it’s an incredibly engaging human thing.

And not only does that happen, it written, the people in these in these machines, when they are undergoing these tests, they can actually measure the chemicals, the hormones in their bloodstream, that’s that increase and decrease when they are hearing these stories. Basically, when our brains tell stories, it dumps chemicals into our bloodstream. And it causes physical reactions, and we feel things. And depending on what the chemical is, it ends up being we feel feelings of attention, or we feel concern or interest or empathy. And when we feel those things, it means when we’re paying attention, we are we want to hear what’s next.

So when we hear something in the form of a story, or something, a message shaped by narrative forces, which is how sales and marketing works, then we ended up paying attention, and we are far more likely to say yes.

So at the risk of sounding simplistic, a story told well, means that people are far more likely to say yes, or at least to keep listening, so that they can get to the point where they say yes, to your product, service, or business. That’s the high level idea of how stories actually matter to business. It happens every day. So when we when we think about how to apply this to, well, good grief, you can apply it to one to many, with your marketing, you can apply it one to one in a sales conversation, you can apply it one to a group, or a one to one internally, or one to a group, with your team. And I would also add, the larger that your company becomes, the more important internal communication becomes. Because if you’re a startup, if you’re a startup, you know, everyone’s you know, everyone’s scrappy, and everyone’s there, maybe even working in the same room comp, it’s kind of a vibe. And everyone knows what the company is about, and why we’re here and what we’re doing and why it matters, how we’re helping people. But the bigger you get, the more diffused it all gets, and all of a sudden have divisions and silos and all the things that people hate about huge corporations just stereotypically speaking. So I could, I could go all sorts of different directions here. So do you have a specific direction you’d like to take it?

Allison: Yes, a little bit, because it’s possibly just reinforcing an experience that I just had for myself. So we’re a small and mighty team. We’re not in starting mode. I mean, we’re almost in our 10th year. But our team has recently expanded with some new talent, which is amazing. And so just in our queue for quarterly planning, we start going through some of the basics. And I’m sharing some of the principles with my eight year staff person, and then my, you know, what, that half staff person like, who’s now on the team, and my eight year person doesn’t even necessarily all like I was doing something that I thought she’d heard 100 times, if not 200 times. She’s like, gosh, like, I know what you’re training me, but I don’t remember the specifics. And there’s just like, So how often do you have to tell your story? Or share it even though you think they already know?

Jeff: How many times? Do I How many times are you in a relationship? And you how many times is the correct is the correct time to say I love you? Yeah, you know, how many times should we say it? I mean, I don’t know that. You know, if you’re growing up in the 1800s and you’re from Norway. Let’s tell our wants on the wedding day and if it ever changes I’ll let you know. I mean, I’ve heard some we’ve heard some friends say pet stories for like that from their great grandpa. But in terms of telling stories, in terms of telling stories, it’s it is really, really easy. wait for things to slide in terms of messaging, and really making sure that everyone understands. And I would say that’s part of, I would say, that’s part of what people talk about in terms of leadership, and the CEO and casting the vision. And part of that is very much saying, This is who we are, this is where we come from. This is what we believe in, this is where we’re going. And that’s not all story driven.

But a lot of it is communicated by stories. I will say, when it comes to the idea of core values in a company, it’s really easy for people to have those core core values and put them up on a plaque and everyone walks by and kind of ignores them. But I mean, when you think about it like this, I have an eight year old son and a four year old daughter. And if I tried to tell them about the idea of integrity, there is no way they’re going to latch on to the idea of integrity. But man, you tell them a story about someone who demonstrated integrity. They get that. And so do we as grownups. It’s one of those things where the story, those narrative forces, they engage our brain, the dump the brain chemicals into our bloodstream. And we remember we pay attention. And we remember because the stories make things stick, the story makes the idea stick. So in terms of talking about core values, and mission, those are most effectively communicated and remembered when they’re attached to a story.

Allison: Jeff, do you do you have like a way to crafting craft the content of a story or the guide for a storyteller? Is that something that that you’ve written? If you’re not you should?

Jeff: I do, actually, and since you know what I’m going to take the liberty and say that I’m actually there is a specific page on the My company’s website, specifically for listeners of your podcast. It’s where I mean, when you go there, there is a worksheet where you can start collecting some of these elements. And you can start putting them together in a way that is emotionally compelling. It’s not just, Oh, I did this, and this and this. And this, it’s no, let’s start from the beginning. Who’s the audience? Who are they what they want? What do they want? What’s getting in their way? Why are we telling the story, all that kind of stuff? Okay, that kind of a checklist is available for anyone who wants it from.

Allison: So that people don’t think bounce back and forth? If you would share that in the textbox? I promise anyone who’s listening who would like that in the show notes. So go to the show notes to find the link.

Jeff: I can do that. So that is there. That is said to answer your question that is absolutely available. And that’s a way for people to get started and say, Hey, this is how we can actually make some sense of this. From my own life for my from my company, for my stakeholders, whoever needs to have the message communicated to.

Allison: Yeah. And I love the fact that like, I think when people think about their story, and then you said, Well, we you know, what story are we telling, right? We’re telling a story, the firm, we’re telling the story, but clients are telling the story about our team, or we tell you that there’s all of these different stories that we should be crafting, and have on the ready to express at any time. So like, it’s not just one story.

Jeff: Yeah. And, and I will, I will say, the challenge with this is, especially when in the context of leadership, anytime that we are interacting with another human being, we end up having our storyline intersect with someone else’s storyline.

And the more people who are engaged in the conversation, or are part of the audience, those storylines start stacking up.

So the question then becomes, are the storylines aligning? Are they lining up? And are all the stakeholders? In any given scenario? Do we are we all going in the same direction? Do we all want the same thing? Are we all working to get over the same obstacles? And, you know, that is where you can take that idea and you can apply it, you can apply that to risk mitigation, you can apply that to public relations, PR you can apply it to you can apply it to employee retention, anything you can imagine. It all starts getting, you can see how anytime people interact. There’s always these storylines, interacting, and you say, Okay, well how are these lining up or not lining up and that’s a starting point where you can start going down all those different rabbit holes.

Allison: Yeah. Yeah. It’s such an interesting way to think about it because as you do have more people involved, everyone’s perceiving it from their own their own way. Right. Yeah.

Jeff: And that’s where that’s where things get incredibly complex because people, humans are complex. Humans are complex just by our nature so and that’s why it’s so important to have to have guides, like you who can say, hey, we walk down this road and say, Hey, this is this is what’s going on this is how to get these people more on the same page and all these and all those different steps that need to happen.

Allison: Jeff, I have one final question. Can you tell us about conquering the course the thrills and spills of the American Ninja Warrior?

Jeff: Haha. Okay. So it is, it’s been about 20 years that I’ve been editing television and shaping content in one form or another in Hollywood, for ABC, NBC, Universal, Disney, Apple, all kinds of different folks, if I had to choose a favorite, a favorite project that I’ve ever worked on, it would be American Ninja Warrior. And here’s why. Because in my opinion, I get to do the coolest part of this all because I get to tell the stories of the athletes before they set foot on the stage. And the reason that this is such a big deal is because if you’re looking at this TV show, which is basically if you’re not familiar with it, it’s been a massive, absolutely massive obstacle course, people are trying to get through it, one person trying to get through the course one at a time.

And so if you know what that per who that person is, and what they’ve been through to get to that start line, all of a sudden you care what they do. Because if you don’t know, it’s, you know, if you don’t know anything about them, it’s really hard to care. So the coolest part about this is the entire show is a metaphor for overcoming obstacles in life. Because every time an athlete gets to the end of an obstacle, it’s a physical obstacle that’s been overcome. But it’s a psychological message of inspiration to anyone watching saying, just as this person has overcome this obstacle, or even conquered the entire course, every time they get through obstacle, it’s a message to the viewer saying you can do this, whatever obstacles in your life, you can do it, you can do it, you can do it. And it is so cool. To be part of that.

Allison: I love it. That is very cool. I very much appreciate the time and what you’ve shared today regarding storytelling, and especially the ability for listeners to download the checklist. So for that, thank you very much. I have very much enjoyed our time here today and just thank you so much.

Jeff: Thank you so much, Alli. Appreciate you.

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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