Connecting Leadership and Storytelling with Ryan Hawk

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Connecting Leadership and Storytelling - Untold Stories of Innovation

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“Every person on your team has a different personality and a different motivation. As a leader, it is our job to understand connecting leadership and storytelling, to help encourage them to do their ultimate best work for the betterment of both themselves as well as your organization.” — Ryan Hawk

From today’s episode you’ll learn:

We speak with Ryan Hawk, author of Welcome to Management and Podcast Host of “The Learning Leader Show.” Ryan shares with us his mission to share the commonalities of leaders who sustain excellence and his passion to engage and inspire millions through his writing and on his podcast. Ryan considers himself a lifelong student of connecting leadership and storytelling, and he shares with us the depth of integrating compassion and empathy in our daily leadership endeavors, whether that be in our personal or professional lives.

Today's Guest:

Ryan Hawk is a speaker, writer, and advisor. He is the author of Welcome to Management and Podcast Host of “The Learning Leader Show,” where he has spent his lifetime dedicated to being a student of leadership, committed to help others reach their fullest potential as a leader. Ryan inspires millions of his listeners that has now reached out to 150+ countries, as well as publishing his book in 2020.

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Podcast Transcript

This episode is powered by Untold Content’s Innovation Storytelling Training – Connecting leadership and storytelling. . Increase buy in for your best ideas in this immersive and interactive, story-driven experience. Where your teams refine storytelling techniques for their latest projects, prototypes and pitches—and get inspired by 25 epic examples of impactful innovation stories.

Katie Taylor [00:00:04] Welcome to Untold Stories of Innovation – Connecting leadership and storytelling, where we amplify untold stories of insight, impact and innovation powered by untold content. I’m your host, Katie Taylor. Our guest today is Ryan Hawk. He is a keynote speaker, advisor and author of the new book Welcome to Management. He’s also the host of The Learning Leader Show, which is a podcast named on Inc magazine’s list of five podcasts to make you a smarter leader. He’s also the head of Brooks. He admires leadership advisory practice. Ryan, I’m so thrilled to get to have you on the podcast. Thanks for being here.

Ryan Hawk [00:00:42] Katie, I’m pumped to be here. I appreciate you having me excited for all the good stuff that you’re doing.

Katie Taylor [00:00:47] Yes. I think, you know, we met about a year ago and I learned more about it. I’ve been listening to your podcast longer than that. But we got to learn more about some of the keynote speeches that you gave and some of the workshops that you hosted. So tell us more about your passion for leadership and why that is the thing that sort of sets you on fire.

Ryan Hawk [00:01:08] Well, I would say for me, it’s because primarily that I was lucky to be led by incredible leaders from a very young age, starting with my mom and dad. And they’re still doing that to this day, as well as two particular coaches in my life played leadership roles, Bob, Greg and Ron of my football coaches in high school, which I first truly learned the power and the value of leadership. And seeing those two guys use their power for good really inspired me to try to to have a similar impact on other people as I grew up and matured. And so once I got left the world of playing sports and transitioned into the business world, I wanted to see if there was a way I could have that type of impact on other people. And so that’s why I’ve been so passionate about both studying excellent leadership and then trying to practice it myself to help others. And that’s that is a big reason why my podcast of learning leadership exists and has for the past five years is because that’s what I’m truly most passionate about, whether it’s leading in the business world or even more importantly, leading my household as a husband and a dad. And it really translates into all worlds. And that’s why I love it so much.

Katie Taylor [00:02:31] It’s incredible, isn’t it, how sometimes the most unassuming people in our lives become the most influential?

Ryan Hawk [00:02:38] It’s true. It really is. And I’ve got to feel that firsthand. And so I hope to do the same for others now. And I think just as you do, it’s exciting. It’s fulfilling. It’s gratifying. It lights you up. And I think that’s that’s really the fun part about all of this.

Katie Taylor [00:02:58] So we’ll get to talk about innovation together in particular in a little bit. But first, I want to start with the concept of leadership and its relationship to storytelling. Can you share some of your thoughts around why stories matter as someone enters into the realm of leadership?

Ryan Hawk [00:03:15] Well, I think of one of my favorite bosses of all time. He’s actually my boss’s boss, so I haven’t worked directly for him. But his name is Brian Miller. And one of the reasons that I thought Brian was so effective was that he always started each of our meetings or our or our town halls with a story. And the story was typically picked up over the course of his knowledge gathering, whether it’s reading books or articles or watching TED talks. And he would take a story, let’s say it, even as if I remember one specifically was of a golfer, a golfer named Webb Simpson. And Brian told us how Webb increased his scoring by just half a stroke from one season to the next. And then he showed the difference of where he ranked on the top one hundred golfers list. And he and he improved dramatically just just by that simple half stroke improvement. And then he related it to our world. At this time, I was a sales professional. He was able to relate that then to our world and how we could implement some of the same behaviors that Webb Simpson did on the golf course, but then do it in the world of professional selling. And at that point, I realized that Brian had this magic skill to go out and be a consumer of knowledge, distill that knowledge in those stories down to its essence, retell them to all of us, and then most importantly, create some sort of practical application. So we will remember the story. And then we also remembered how to implement into our daily lives based upon the stories that he told. So instead of him standing up there and sharing the numbers of the last quarter numbers of the future quarter and saying we must hit this goal, he found a way to to pull from real life stories. I still remember this was over, let’s say, ten years ago. Now, Katie that is pretty crazy and I still remember that specific story and how it impacted me, and so when I saw a guy like Brian Miller doing that, I thought I needed to work on and develop that same skill of being able to tell stories and then relate them to the people that I’m leading.

Katie Taylor [00:05:31] Yeah, I think it’s so true, isn’t it? Every really powerful mentor in my life, every, you know, really great boss or mentor has had that ability to tell stories that help me relate to where they were at that time in their lives related to a time that I have been in my life and such a challenge that I faced. And it’s powerful when humans can do that, when we can connect to one another like that. And yet it can be really challenging for a lot of us to. It’s almost like a level of bravery to sort of and a memorization challenge, I think, for a lot of people to kind of store stories in our mind.

Ryan Hawk [00:06:09] How do you act as a professional storyteller, like how do you do this? Like, do you have a process in place to have a bank of stories and know when to go into that bank and pull them out, whether it’s in the written word or spoken like? Do you have any? I’m curious about this because I’m always working on trying to do this better. Connecting leadership and storytelling. 

Katie Taylor [00:06:28] Yeah, absolutely. Repetition matters deeply, but also listening and being able to adjust your story with feedback that you’re getting from different listeners and from different stakeholders. I think one of the best strategies comes from ancient Greece, where oration was everything. And so you have to forgive me for getting nerdy for just a minute. This is my city. And so here we go. Let’s go back to the grad school days. But yeah, so oration was everything in that culture. They didn’t even have writing. And so one strategy that operators would use at that time was they would go into a building or a space and they would speak different lines of their monologue or their script, if you will, their story in different sections of the building. And so you’d stand in one corner and look at the environment. You kind of get a visual for where that space looked like. There might be something hanging on the wall. There might be a cup in the corner. Right. And you would sort of see those objects and you would speak the first few lines. Then you would physically move to a different part of the room and you’d be looking at a different you’d be looking at a seat, for instance, and you would speak the next few lines and you would physically move throughout the building, different levels, different floors, different objects that you’re looking at. And you would memorize your entire speech that way. And wow. Yeah. So they had a deep respect for space and visual cues to help us memorize. And so I like to use that. That’s one fun practical protip I guess is try to practice speaking different sentences or different stories in different spaces so that you can kind of create a pattern. And it’s sort of a way to recall, as you’re then telling the story, you’ll recall where you were when you said those words. Connecting leadership and storytelling. 

Ryan Hawk [00:08:23] And I just feel like when it gets back to, though, it’s not necessarily sexy, but the repetition is so important for practice, rehearsal, continuously doing it over and over and over. And I know the difference between when I prepare and when I rehearse versus when I don’t. It’s noticeable. Yeah. Even if I’ve even if I’ve already given a keynote, that’s going to be a similar message a hundred times. I still know I’m going to be better on that stage in front of all of those people if I’m in my hotel room doing, practicing, getting the reps, telling the stories, using emotion, understanding the highs and lows of your voice, a reading the audience like, which is hard to do on your own, but it’s put it’s being mindful that I just find that I take that from the sporting world, too. Is that the value of being overly prepared for the moment so that when you do get on stage or something may happen that was unexpected, you’re prepared because you’ve got your material down cold and that comes from proper preparation. Connecting leadership and storytelling. 

Katie Taylor [00:09:27] Yes, yes, exactly. And I appreciate the athletic metaphor, because getting even a step nerdier here, the operators at the time would also go to these schools where their athletics were just as central and important as the art of oration. And so they would literally go from wrestling to their next activity, which would be practice for speech. And and so really physicality and your physical environment and muscle memory was something that was deeply understood and felt back then. And I think it’s important. You know, we have a lot of technological tools now to help us memorize, write. We can write things down. There’s paper, there’s computer, computers, there’s text. And if you’re a visual person being able to sort of see the words, some people, you know, memorize and really work through how to say things in different ways by creating different. Variations of your talking points on the text screen, right, and and for some of us, it’s really about coming up with visual cues, but I completely agree with what you’re saying, that it is about muscle memory and getting those reps and matters. Connecting leadership and storytelling. 

Ryan Hawk [00:10:33] Yeah, no, no doubt. No doubt about it. I think it’s like anything that you’re going to do if it’s important to you and then get the repetitions and leading up to it because that’s being overly prepared. There’s no downside. I mean, there really isn’t. Whether it’s a podcast, it’s a speech, it’s writing. Right. That’s why writers have to write every single day, not just, oh, I have a writing project, it’s time to start writing. It’s like, no, that’s part of my regular routine is that I’m a writer. And so I have to write every day. And I think all of those reps matter. Connecting leadership and storytelling. 

Katie Taylor [00:11:03] Yes, exactly. You know, something else, too, that I think is really important as we think about stories, is to be able to empathize with many different viewpoints and voices. It’s a really good habit to start telling stories that aren’t only yours. So being able to say, here’s something that I heard from our head of operations or here’s something that I heard from one of our, you know, customer service reps and here’s her perspective on it. And creating really, I think, being able to increase diversity and inclusion by by giving voice to the perspectives of people who aren’t only going to use cultural references that are the same as yours or because, you know, that’s how we that’s how we change organizational cultures and make sure that there’s not sort of just only the same types of metaphors or references getting circulated, which can kind of inadvertently make people who might feel outside of that, you know, racial or gender identity or cultural reference feel excluded. And sometimes that’s not intentional, but it can happen. And so I think using our power of storytelling to lend voice to others and or to invite others, especially when you’re in a leadership position, to open up in a way that aligns with the values that you want to spread. Right. Or that aligns with the mission that you’re trying to lead against, but inviting other voices onto that stage with you and really giving the opportunity for diversity to be a habit, something that’s completely saturated, if you will, throughout your organization.

Ryan Hawk [00:12:45] Sure. And it probably also creates a greater perspective for you as a leader to put yourself in the shoes of that person, as well as empathy and compassion, which are two great qualities of effective leaders. And so if you create a habit of working to tell other people’s stories or others or think of it from their perspective, I don’t see any again, I see only upside and putting yourself in that position on a regular basis. Connecting leadership and storytelling. 

Katie Taylor [00:13:11] Yeah, I love that point. Yeah. Really, empathy is another talk about getting your reps and it really is about practice and reminding yourself every day, like my opinions, not the only one that matters of my voice and in my power can be used to lift up others. Right. So yeah. Yeah, yeah. Good stuff. So tell me more about your new book, Welcome to Management.

Leadership and Storytelling Ryan Hawk Quote Image

Ryan Hawk [00:13:36] Well, it was really written for myself and because I remember the leap I made from individual contributor to manager. And it’s I think especially where I was in corporate America, it was a gigantic leap that I was ill prepared to make. And most people are, in fact, because you focus so much on being excellent at your current role as an individual, at least I did. I guess I should speak for myself, but I’ve seen others who have dealt with this that you focus on that. But then you realize and because you do well at that, it gives you the opportunity to get to interview for these bigger roles in leadership positions to be a manager. Yet the skills that it takes to be successful as an individual contributor and the skills it takes to be successful leading others, very few of them are the same. And so you get promoted for the work that you did in the past. That doesn’t have very much to do with the work you’re going to do in the future. And so you’re not really ready to go. And I wrote the book that I needed to have when I made that first jump, because unfortunately I was one of those bad bosses, bad managers that my initial professionals had to deal with for a period of time and didn’t really fully know what I was doing. I had a great boss, but he also had a lot going on. And so I needed to figure some things out and I could have used some sort of manual or a guide in order to help me do that better. And so I tried to write that guide now that many years have passed. And I’ve also spoken with more than 350 of the most thoughtful leaders and borrowed some of their wisdom, mashed it together with my experience and my learnings and then and then produced it in a 60 thousand plus word book. And so that’s my hope is, Katie, that literally every person who gets promoted from that individual contributor to manager role gets a big congratulations, Pat, on the back and handed this book. Yes. That could help them do a much better job than I did when I first got promoted. Connecting leadership and storytelling. 

Katie Taylor [00:15:48] I love your personal story in the way that you relate it to, you know, what sparked you to write this book and take on these topics and all of the content that you’re creating. And, you know, the book is relevant to all business sectors and all business sizes and individuals within those positions. Rika’s management stretches across all aspects of what professional trajectories can look like. But I want to speak specifically to the startup community a little bit, because management is something that in the startup world, it can hit fast when a startup changes and it starts to gain momentum and it starts to grow and hire. And sometimes those companies are experiencing, you know, 300 percent of 500 percent or 800 percent year on year growth. And they’re expected to also be people who were really the idea people in the beginning and working with a small team of three or four or five people where individual contributions are really everything. And that’s all you need to run a solid show once you start to scale rapidly, the demand to take on a different identity as a manager and a leader, that shift can be very rapid for people who are in high growth startups. Can you speak a little bit to I mean, I know that for me personally, as a startup founder, that’s something that I’ve experienced and I’m sure I’ll continue to learn from it. Now, I’m in a position of trying to coach the rest of, you know, my next group of, you know, people in the company to start thinking of themselves as managers and as leaders so that we can continue to scale. It’s really for the four startups in particular, it’s really critical to scale that the people making up our company are viewing themselves as managers. And it’s a way of positioning those startups to dream bigger. Hmm. Connecting leadership and storytelling. 

Ryan Hawk [00:17:40] Yeah, I think it’s a big challenge because you go from just being the doer of the work to now leading others to do the work. And so your job is just a dramatic change as a dramatic transition that sometimes isn’t it’s not always timed properly or maybe you don’t necessarily want to, but in order for the business to grow and be successful, that’s what needs to happen. And so that’s why I think it’s it’s a worthy cause to study and understand how to be an effective leader, how to understand, to inspire people and empower people to do their ultimate best work and how and also the fact that each and every person on your team, Katie, has a different personality, has a different motivation internally. They have a different for why they’re doing what they do. And as the leader, it is our job to understand what that is, to help unleash those people, to do their ultimate best work for the betterment of both themselves as well as your organization, your company. And that takes a lot of time. That takes effort, that takes careful thought, it takes reflection. And most importantly, it takes you deliberately caring deeply about each of those people because they certainly don’t care how much you know, unless they know that you care. And I found that putting all of that together is much easier said than done. The execution of all of that is a daily battle in order to stay on top of it and to lead with trust, which is the foundation of all relationships. And in doing that, though, as hard as you’re trying to think of a top line business, see type terms as well as you have to combine that with leading actual people. And that’s that’s the challenge of doing what you do. Connecting leadership and storytelling. 

Katie Taylor [00:19:42] It’s so incredibly true and so much of it, I think, to that transition. It’s really a strange mindset shift where before you might have been rewarded, you might be rewarding yourself, you know, the positive internal messages inside your head. That and also from your own management at the beginning or in the case of a startup from clients or from investors that, you know, do a good job. You hustled, right? Like you did the work you’re here, the doer and transitioning from that and to. Scaling what it is that you just did into a process that can be reliable or into the ability to support other individuals to run a process or bring their creativity to hand, that is such a different mindset. I’m really grateful that you’ve written this book because it seems it’s really helping us pay attention to how strange of a shift that really is for so many people, especially when we reward ourselves and are rewarded in companies for being able to do the work really, really well by ourselves. And that’s oftentimes the reason why someone gets identified for a management promotion. Right. But then ironically, it’s also the challenge of sort of getting out of that mindset and saying, oh, now it’s my job to empower other people and help them get the recognition and the reward for the hard work.

Ryan Hawk [00:21:12] It’s exactly right. How is it been for you as you’ve gone like you’re in this current role now where you’re making this shift? Like how’s it going? Connecting leadership and storytelling. 

Katie Taylor [00:21:22] Oh, thanks for asking. You know, I think that if I look back at the origin of Untold Content, it would have never been the company that it is today had I not been passionate about being a leader from the beginning. You know, I started off as a research professor and started consulting on the side, and that was just me working independently on my own. And luckily, I had some incredible mentors, in particular, someone who sort of served as the prime government vendor for a subcontract that I was on with the Department of Veterans Affairs. And she said to me, you know, Katie, you’re not under contract to have to do all of this by yourself. You could know that you could actually hire people or subcontract to others to help you achieve the scope that they were asking for. And also keep your research agenda and your teaching going. And I thought, that’s brilliant. I can scale myself. That’s amazing. And right. So in startup speak that that’s the that’s a huge mindset shift to at least for me at the time. Right. It was sort of more in the professional services, you know, kind of definition, I guess, of a startup. But and that’s shifted for untold as we start to dream quite, quite bigger. But I know that in the beginning it was it just became very important to me as I realized how much more was possible if I could create jobs for people, if I could create opportunities and we could reach more clients that way, we could really help accomplish this, this broader mission of being able to translate technical information and ways that all people can understand it, just that a larger vision came into play. And the way it’s going for me now is that I’m in a new role as we’ve scaled quite a bit over the last, you know, since our founding three years ago. And now I’m running a team of about seven and helping them think with with that kind of mindset is my current job as a leader so that we don’t limit ourselves and also to identifying and really, again, to to what you said, which is helping people identify their strengths and their desires professionally, you know, so sort of understanding the value of people who are doing the work. You know, for us, that’s really high level research, writing and content creation. And we work with highly complex subject matter. And so, you know, in technical, scientific, medical fields and so really deeply respecting the work that’s being done at the content level, at the research level, and not forcing everyone on the team to need to scale themselves if that’s not their professional trajectory, but also balancing that with the vision to scale this this organization and the belief that with processes and practices and with really strong management, we can, in fact scale much more rapidly and be able to create even more jobs for more people and get, you know, be able to to work with with more innovative organizations to support them and therefore accomplish our bigger mission. So I’m in an interesting position now of trying to really coach others potential. You know, people who, you know, in a startup, we sort of have this interesting choice, especially when we’re not at this point yet, we don’t have the pressure of investors yet have to force to scale. And so there’s sort of this, like, ability to decide how fast or slow we want to go. And that can be a point of tension, too. So it’s super different in the startup world in deciding at what point to bring in. You know, larger investors and that sort of thing, and but I’m a very sort of empathy led leader and so thinking and really letting this company grow based on, to some degree, the talented people who make it and their visions to combining our visions together and building something that I could never have imagined on my own. Right.

Ryan Hawk [00:25:41] Do you do I mean, I’m fascinated by the kind of like what you do when it comes to your business development slash sales process, like how much how much of your selling or acquiring new clients happens because of you and your team’s ability to tell stories, to tell effective stories? I would say 100 percent that I go like, what does it sound like? I’m fascinated by that. Connecting leadership and storytelling. 

Katie Taylor [00:26:13] Yeah. So, you know, just like with all effective storytelling and in sales, it really is about meeting the need of the customer, the potential customer that you’re speaking to. So, you know, it varies. Of course, we have to we have sort of different talking points, depending on, you know, which type of client we’re speaking to but overarchingly are. Our greatest story at Untold is that far too many of your organization’s experts, their insights are sort of left at the lab bench or at the patient’s bedside. And there’s not enough there’s not enough thought leadership content coming out of those individuals. And and if you are looking to become more innovative in terms of your public presence and the way that your customers or consumers understand your brand, then you really need to be harnessing the insights of your experts. And at the same time, to many experts really struggle to share their research and their data in ways that make sense to anybody else. Right. And so we’ve worked for a long time with engineers and product designers and scientists and medical providers to help sort of create a bridge between research and development and some of those more subject matter expertise areas of organizations to translate what those individuals know and their insights to the sales and marketing team so that they can leverage that in conversations and and help produce thought leading content. That’s, you know, evidence based content. That’s a lot of what, you know, we do. And there’s so much need for that, especially as there’s more especially there’s, you know, increased transparency is a demand from consumers. And more and more leaders are feeling pressure to make sure that they are communicating thought leadership and articulating the fact that they are, in fact, innovative and they know the trends and they’re on top of their game. And so not really. I think there’s just this dual pressure now in a way that is more as a higher demand than ever, where you don’t just have to be great at the work and leading the work. You also have to show thought, leadership and project that identity inside your organization and beyond makes so much sense.

Ryan Hawk [00:28:35] Well, I love to hear. Thank you for answering them. Appreciate it. I should practice my five second version. I love it. That’s cool. That’s cool. I mean, it’s not it’s not really there’s not there’s not a five second answer there, so I love it.

Katie Taylor [00:28:50] Yeah, thank you. Thanks so much so so oh, my goodness, I can’t believe we only have one minute left this time, just flew by. But, you know, tell me, what do you think in terms of storytelling in the way that it matters, especially to innovation or to companies that kind of are encouraging us to look toward what to expect in the future? Connecting leadership and storytelling. 

Ryan Hawk [00:29:11] Well, I mean, I think it’s one of the most effective tools in order to move people. And that’s really innovation is all about making changes, effectively taking somebody from one place to another place. And if you can effectively tell that, tell that in the form of a story to get whether you’d call it change management in the leadership world or what have you. But I’ve found that whether you can look at history, I mean, JFK, the man on the moon speech at Rice University. Right. Like what an effective story he told and the why behind that story. And there are countless examples like that that have really changed the course of many people’s lives. And leaders have that ability to do that if they study and understand what storytelling is all about. And that can really inspire innovation. It can inspire change. It can inspire people to move. Also, as a leader, storytelling can build confidence. And the people that you are leading, it shows that you are a thoughtful person, that you’ve done some deliberate work in trying to understand what the future holds or what are people most scared of. They’re scared of uncertainty. And so leaders who can tell effective stories about what they want and see and think will happen moving forward, have the ability to to excite and inspire people. And I remember talking to Marcus Buckingham about this. He’s like the leaders I want to follow and see around the corners. So what do you mean by that? Well, they’ve done the necessary work that I’m not going to say that they can predict the future, but they have a way about them that builds confidence that they have. They seem to have a better understanding of what may happen moving forward than those who don’t. And that’s why I went up when I’m asked what are qualities of effective leadership, I think being extremely thoughtful, reflecting, really understanding what’s happening and then being very intentional. And I think storytelling plays a role. And both of those are really thinking things through at a deep level and then being intentional with your actions following that careful thought and being intentional about the story that you are crafting for yourself as well as for the people that you’re leading, will make a massive difference in the success or failure of your team, of your company, of your business. And so that’s why it’s important for all of us as leaders to really think about that and be intentional in how we’re crafting that narrative for ourselves and our teams.

Katie Taylor [00:31:47] That’s completely right. I love that you’re emphasizing the importance of reflection and deep consideration and thought, you know, once once a leader has identified an important message or an important story to share, what are your thoughts on the best ways to communicate that? What sorts of goals do you think that leaders should be setting for themselves and when it comes to the delivery of their stories? Connecting leadership and storytelling. 

Ryan Hawk [00:32:13] Well, I mean, we’ve probably all seen some of the models out there. And I’ll tell a quick story in order to maybe we’re getting better here. But I remember when I had sent early drafts of my book to some really good authors who had been guests on my podcast, and they offered some really helpful feedback. And one I remember in particular was a guy by the name of Ryan Holiday, who’s a fantastic writer in a number of books, including The Obstacle Is the Way Ego Is the Enemy and a number of others. And Ryan was gracious enough to offer feedback. And I had sent him an early draft of my book. And he said, I remember as an email and then we had a follow-up phone call. He said, What are you doing? The story on page forty three should be on page one. You must grab them by the throat and make them want to continue to turn the page. And what that and it was a pretty harsh analogy or metaphor. But what he really meant is you have this great story and you’re burying it in the middle. You should open with that story in your book. It’ll it’ll it’ll help people turn the page. And what that tells me is when I am giving a keynote or writing a piece, don’t be afraid to lead off with a compelling story that will make them really perk up and want to wait for the next word. Because really, what are you doing as a speaker? You’re just trying to earn the right to have your audience’s attention. For the next few minutes, and so my keynotes, whether they might be an hour long, but I’m trying to earn the right every few minutes to hold their attention for a few more minutes. When I’m writing a book, I’m trying to earn the right for that reader to turn the page to go to the next one and want to continue turning pages. And so as from a storytelling perspective, that’s what it’s all about. If I understand the dynamics behind telling an effective story that makes people want to continue listening to my speeches or read my book or listen to my podcast, that’s what I have to do. And so I think having a hook, having something that maybe is a bit surprising to kick it off is one way to to understand the power of the beginnings of things. And I always try to think of, all right, let me let me get to the beginnings of things on a regular basis where I’m grabbing attention and then and then having the dynamics of storytelling play itself out through the course of either speaking or writing that. And that’s one memorable story in my life that has had an impact on me that I’ve tried to implement on a daily basis. Connecting leadership and storytelling. 

Katie Taylor [00:35:01] I love that advice. That is incredible. Yeah, there’s a sort of thing called the surreal position effect. This reminds me that your advice reminds me of it. It’s the idea that people will better remember the first thing they hear and the last thing they hear and the words in the middle, I kind of get lost, but you’ve really got to hook and create something lasting and memorable at the start and the finish.

Ryan Hawk [00:35:26] Yeah, I agree, and then obviously there’s conflict and you’ve got to tap emotional nerves and and I think you need to have a couple of surprises along the way. And it’s sometimes helpful to say, oh, wait, there’s more. Right. And then there’s a satisfying ending. I think those are some of the dynamics of the story. But it starts with understanding the power of the fact that this is like when you’re giving a keynote and I learned this very early on from speaking coaches. And so I’m lucky I did. I would typically go up there and say, oh, I’m so excited to be here. Thank you so much for having me. And that’s such a waste. You’re wasting such precious moments when you have all of their attention and you immediately just let them down by not having any type of surprise, no hook, nothing. You’re just saying, oh, thanks so much. This is so great. What a good venue it is when you should go boom right into the story or right into the moment immediately so that they’re like, wow, this is different. I got a perk up, I’m ready to go. And then from there you take off. But I don’t like wandering into a speech if I’m going to go and I’ve learned this the hard way by making mistakes. But whether you’re leading your team’s meeting on Monday morning coming up or you’re giving a keynote in front of thousands of people or you’re writing a book, don’t wander into it. Understand that that first initial moment is so important. It’s so vital. Don’t waste it. And most people do, but don’t waste it. Don’t wander and just go in like, OK, if you were writing, just delete the first paragraph and start with the second paragraph. Yes. Write like that’s that’s one way I think of it. OK, I’m just going to get rid of that part. Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s much easier said than done though. We all have made those mistakes and we’ll make them in the future. But, but, but that’s something to really be cognizant of when you’re, when you’re in the mode of leading a meeting or telling a story or even writing a book of don’t waste that initial moment. Connecting leadership and storytelling. 

Katie Taylor [00:37:17] You know, I love that example, though, that you originally had that story in the middle of page forty five. I heard everything and you needed to pull it forward. I know that from my own writing process this is something that I talk with clients about a lot, if you’re oftentimes not going to know that first thing you need to say until you are 45 pages and or or at least a few paragraphs. And like, oftentimes it’s the conclusion that needs to then actually be the start of it all and and the recursive nature of writing and of thought leadership. We just really think it goes back to our advice about reps really don’t just walk away with a shitty first draft and, you know, be OK with allowing yourself to have a shitty first draft, but you have to be willing to put in the reps. And one really good strategy to remember is that you’re probably going to say the smartest, most interesting, most surprising thing near the end.

Ryan Hawk [00:38:15] You’ve got to warm up a little bit when you’re writing. It takes some time to get to the good stuff. We’re not let’s say you’re one of those aliens who’s really good right away, which is not me. It takes some time to get it to get it going.

Katie Taylor [00:38:26] Yeah, definitely. So, Ryan, thank you so much for being on the podcast. If you’re inspired by today’s conversation, you have got to check out the book. Welcome to Management and Ryan Show The Learning Leader podcast. Ryan, thank you so much. Where can people find you? Connecting leadership and storytelling. 

Ryan Hawk [00:38:43] Thanks for having me. Katie was great to talk with you on my website. Has pretty much everything or if you happen to be listening on your phone, you can text the word learners to four, four to two to these learners, the four for two to two. And you get pretty much all of my stuff. We’ll make sure you have it all that way too.

Katie Taylor [00:39:01] Awesome. Ryan, thank you so much for being on the podcast.

Ryan Hawk [00:39:04] Thanks, Katie. Appreciate it. Connecting leadership and storytelling. 

Katie Taylor [00:39:07] Thanks for listening to this week’s episode. Be sure to follow us on social media and add your voice to the conversation. You can find us at Untold Content. Connecting leadership and storytelling. 

You can listen to more episodes of Untold Stories of Innovation Podcast.

*Interviews are not endorsements of individuals or businesses.

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