Tell Crossroads

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With new technology always emerging, and more and more content constantly being published, we content creators have to stay on top of the shifting and evolving media landscape. It’s important for us to be willing and able to take risks and innovate, and tell compelling and interesting stories with what we’re putting out into the world. DJ Hurula is the founder of ONE Brand Studio, a multidiscipline creative branding agency that serves cause-driven organizations. He’s very passionate about helping businesses clarify their message and audience in order to lay the strongest foundation for powerful content creation later. Today we reflect on what 2017 taught us as content creators, as well as where content is headed in 2018. We talk about what it takes for content to be compelling, and DJ breaks it down to 4 elements. We also talk about the role of trust in our client-relationships, and how foundational that is to be able to take risks with your content. What do you see on the horizons for content creation in 2018? What takeaways do you have from 2017? Let us know in the comments on the episode page!   In this episode: DJ’s takeaways from 2017 and reflections on the amount of content out there What’s important for content creation in 2018 The 4 things that make content compelling How to build trust with your clients to allow you to take risks on creative projects   Quotes: Make it compelling, it’s not enough to just make stuff anymore. We really need to make stuff that moves people. (15:07) The ability to take risks ultimately comes from a place of trust. (23:02) A way to self-assess where you’re at on the [trust] continuum… is how early you’re brought in. The earlier you’re brought in, the higher degree of trust. (26:25)   Links: One Brand Studio Follow ONE Brand Studio on Twitter Oblique Strategies card deck  
If you’re a listener of this show, you probably know the importance of storytelling in conveying your message and value proposition, but do you understand the art and science behind it? Jill Pollack, is a storytelling guru who joins us today to break down what makes a good story, and where to even start when it comes to sharing ours, or our company or organization’s. Jill is the founder and director of Story Studio Chicago, an award-winning communications consultant, writer, editor and speaker and this is just the tip of the iceberg. With a degree in theater, storytelling has been her passion for as long as she can remember. But after too many years working in places that stifled her creativity, she jumped ship and started Story Studio, where they teach writers of all levels how to tap into their creativity, get published, or get noticed with their work. In this episode, we dive into the necessity of storytelling in both the creative and business fields, how science is now pinpointing how and why stories work inside our brains, and how to get rid of the fear and self-doubt in trying to write your story. If you have ever struggled with how to begin telling your story, then this is a must listen. What role does storytelling play a role in your business? What work have you done to develop your storytelling muscles? Drop us a comment below!   In this episode: Why businesses need to be thinking about storytelling seriously Some of the most crucial elements of effective storytelling Tips on how to keep focused and be more creative How to strip away the self-doubt and insecurities when sharing your story One thing you can do today to create more creativity in your life   Quotes: “There’s not a ton of science yet, but there is certainly enough for us to begin pointing to experiments that have shown us exactly how stories work in the brain.” (10:53) “In content marketing, we know we don’t sell; we start a conversation and stories are all about conversation.” (12:45) “The first place we tell people to look is to look beyond yourself and think more about who you’re talking to, who is the audience and what do they need?” (17:46) “I think for somebody who feels like they have lost that creativity, I would say to them, strip everything else out of your life and find those moments where you can just sit and think. Where you can write or draw but it’s so hard for us to turn things off and we have to, the screens have to go off.” (29:31)   Links: StoryStudio Chicago  Follow StoryStudio on Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn Follow Jill on Twitter  Story Studio Words For Work Essentialism (Book) 
Confession time: It took me almost 10 years of running my business and managing my employees to finally become comfortable with the word “boss”. I just didn’t want to be that guy, I wanted to be a part of the team. And I know I’m not the only one The thing I realized however, is that for my team to succeed and achieve its potential, it needs me to be the boss and to own that role. That was a pivotal moment in my business career that I look back on, but I know I still have a long way to go in improving myself in that regard. René Boer is the co-author with Geno Wickman of How To Be A Great Boss and he joins us on the podcast today to share some of the insights he’s gained in a 30 year business career working with brands like Pizza Hut, Arby’s and Jamba Juice. As an EOS implementer René has worked with hundreds of leaders and managers, helping to align them around a shared vision and gain traction while improving team health. Are you “The Boss” in your organization? How do you feel about your role, is there room for improvement? Let us know your biggest takeaway from this episode in the comments!   In this episode: The 5 things you need to be doing as a leader The 5 things you need to be doing as a manager The importance of vulnerability and humility as a leader Why you need to be scheduling clarity breaks 4 Simple truths to being a great leader     Quotes: “You have to constantly be asking yourself ‘Am I earning people’s respect?’ You can’t command that, you must earn it.” [8:47] “If the boss would spend more time asking questions, and you get the employee talking, they actually solve the problems themselves.” [28:14] Links: How To Be A Great Boss  Find René Online
For so many of us who are creating anything, one of the biggest challenges we face when starting out is finding our voice. Whether we’re writing a book, a blog recording a podcast, or writing copy for our business’ website, we all want to convey who we are - whether as an individual or brand - but often don’t know where to start. Steve Wiens is an author, podcaster, speaker and founder & pastor of Genesis Covenant Church. Needless to say, he’s had plenty of opportunity to discover and hone his voice, but it didn’t come easily. In fact, he left his first pastoring job and undertook a five-year journey of finding himself - and his voice - facing depression along the way before finally discovering what he wanted his message to be, and how he needed to present it in order to be true to himself. We cover Steve’s experience with developing that voice, his insights on book publishing and marketing, how to build a launch team and engage others in helping you reach your goals, aaaaand we spend some time talking about the mullets we used to have in days gone by. What have you done to develop your unique voice? Are there any exercises that you’ve found useful? When did you find that it finally clicked for you? In this episode: • How to present yourself and your brand authentically in a way that encourages engagement • Why we need to become comfortable sharing both our successes and our struggles with our audiences • How to put together a successful launch team • The power of asking for help from others
So you’ve been working at the same job for years but lately, you’ve been feeling that it’s just not a great fit. Maybe it’s never been a great fit. Either way, you know there’s more that you could be offering the world, but you just don’t know what, or where to even begin. Don Lee has over 25 years of experience as a C-level executive for midsize and large companies working at companies across 5 different industries. Despite all of his success however, Don recently made the decision to strike out on his own in pursuit of a calling that more deeply reflected his Why. He’s now the Founder and Managing Partner of OptiGear where he partners with businesses struggling to connect the dots and helps them optimize their strategy. He also leads IMPACT3, a social enterprise impact fund with a goal of helping entrepreneurs in under-resourced communities. Don and I cover a lot in today’s conversation, but it all seems to tie back to knowing who you are as a person and being guided by your Why. So often we think of those struggling with these decisions as recent college grads trying to decide what’s next. As Don exemplifies however, many of us will face these types of career forks and decisions many times throughout our lives. Knowing what we want out of life and our work, and knowing what we want to give back can help us make the decisions that will bring us the most fulfillment and ultimately abundance in our lives. What is your why? How is that reflected in what you do? Let us know in the comments! In this episode: - Don’s advice for where to begin discovering your why - How a clear and concise business plan can take the stress out of business - Why a mentor or coach may be the best investment you ever make, especially as you climb the ranks in your career - The importance of establishing accountability for yourself Quotes: “It gets lonely at the top, and you think you have to bear all because you don’t want to be transparent with your employees because they’d freak out. I think the opposite. I think sharing on the vision and sharing on the plan empowers people.” [10:46] “Your companies mirror you. And so the why really tells a lot about you, it tells a lot about where you want to go.” [17:00]
Jon Collins was making a living pioneering short product explainer videos for Silicon Valley startups and tech companies such as Google and Facebook. Early on he identified and developed his skill of taking an extremely complex topic and conveying the central idea in a concise and engaging manner through video. As is so often the case with creatives, he was looking to push himself further than his day job was allowing him to. And so it was that in 2014 alongside his good friend Tim Mackie that the two of them took up the challenge of conveying the central themes, ideas, and structure of one of the most complex stories ever told.  The Bible. Through 5-minute animated videos. Yeah, these guys are crazy right? Whatever your religious beliefs, it’s impossible to deny the impact of The Bible and the stories contained within it. Combining Tim’s deep knowledge of the books literary, historical, and theological elements with Jon’s unique brand of visual storytelling, the two have racked up over 23 million views on YouTube and almost 450,000 subscribers on their channel The Bible Project. Today, they join me on the show to talk about what elements have contributed to their massive success, how they’ve managed to fund their ongoing project and build a team around them, and the power of showcasing the people behind your brand, whether you’re telling the story of the Bible, or the story of your latest product. How do you educate your clients and customers rather than sell to them? Leave a comment to let us know! In this episode: - Where and how to get started with a short video campaign for your brand - How to effectively use crowdfunding for creative projects - How to approach personal projects, and some of the challenges involved - Why your goal should be to help your customers see the world through your brand’s eyes Quotes: “People like to support something when they see that you’re already doing something. It’s really difficult to raise money for an idea. It’s really easy to raise money for something that’s already happening.” [20:01] “My bias is that people like to learn, people are smarter than we give them credit for, and if we can just figure out how to explain things really well people will very grateful, because you’re bringing them up to a level that they usually don’t feel like they’re able to understand. I think for brands that are teaching, there’s a lot of opportunity there.” [29:54] “I’m certain that there are incredible things that way more people should know about, that would benefit all of us, if you could watch a five minute video.” [35:40]
Brands are a lot like people. The companies and organizations we own or work for all have values, beliefs, and aspirations that they attempt to live up to every day. Sometimes however, our brands begin to drift away from those stated values and the resulting gap is perceived by our clients and customers as an inauthentic brand. Brain Lischer is the founder of Ignyte, a branding agency whose sole focus is on helping drifting brands achieve alignment and authenticity. With a background in psychology, and a deep curiosity in understanding how and why people make decisions and perceive brands in certain ways, Brian and his team dive into the process of helping clients rebrand with academic level research and strategy. After coming to the realization years ago that he himself was living an inauthentic life, Brian has dedicated his life to understanding authenticity through the lens of branding and perception, and is here today to share his insights with us. Many of the benefits of branding are hard to measure, but they are also much farther reaching than we might think. Whether or not you’re happy with where your brand is at right now, Brian will help you evaluate it in an objective manner and determine if your brand - and you - are living authentically.
Full post found at: For many of us, the word brand is something that we associate more with large companies than with our one person solopreneur companies. If we’re employed by another company, big or small, we might not think of our own personal brand at all. The thing is that we all have a brand, and when it comes time to move on from whatever it is that we’re currently doing, we take that brand with us and it influences our future outcomes. If you live in or around Detroit, you’re probably already familiar with Cal Cagno. You may have seen him on a billboard on I-75, throwing out the first pitch at a Tigers game, or more likely, heard him on the radio at some point over the past 18 years. For business reasons beyond his control however, Cal is out of a job and taking the brand that he’s built up over the past two decades into uncharted territory. Cal joins us today to talk about why he’s excited about the new opportunities that lay ahead, and how he built up, protects, and expands his brand.
Full post found at: Ok, so I’ma give you a heads up: this episode is a bit different from our usual episodes. Brace yourselves, it doesn’t have anything to do with video production. GASP! I know, I know, but, But, BUT! It does have a whole heck of a lot to do with storytelling, and isn’t that the whole reason why most of us got into video production in the first place? We talk a lot about storytelling as it relates to video production on this show typically, but this show is going to be all about how storytelling relates to people. Which is something we should always be keeping in the back of our minds as filmmakers, videographers, and storytellers. April Fallon is the founder of Adoption Now, a Denver based non-profit as well as weekly radio and podcast series that has been broadcast to over 10 millions listeners worldwide. On the show, April tells the stories of individuals who have been through the adoption process in one way or another. From children, adoptive parents, birth mothers and more, these stories hit close to home for many of us, and as you might imagine, are incredibly powerful.
Full post found at: “I think you’ll do great in college, but I think you’ll learn a lot more from these tapes and people like Brian Tracy than you will college.” [11:00] That was the advice Jon Dwoskin’s father gave him before heading to college, after giving him a set of tapes by Brian Tracy called The Psychology of Success. (Yes, tapes. For a walkman. I remember mine as well, I know it dates me.) Jon turned that advice, and a voracious appetite for learning into a hugely successful career. To start with he co-founded and grew an internet company that ultimately got bought out by a big Silicon Valley company. He then became the top selling agent at the largest investment real estate firm in the country before taking over an office for that company just before the ‘08 crash, and then turning it into the most profitable office in the company in the ensuing years. These days Jon helps successful but stuck business owners and C-level execs find a way to grow their businesses, and grow them big, through his company, The Jon Dwoskin Experience. Somehow, on top of all of this he manages to find a way to produce an insane amount of content including a podcast, videos, blog posts, e-books, and more. As you can tell, Jon knows how to get things done, and he shares some tips on what you can do today to move your business forward, as well as what’s working for him in promoting and marketing his own business.
Full post found at: Whatever business you’re in, I’m guessing one of your aspirations is building a strong, instantly recognizable brand image. We all aspire to the distinctive branding that the Nike Swoosh, or the Apple, well, Apple, conveys to anyone who sees them. The thing is, too many of us stop there, thinking that the logo makes the brand and not the other way around. Aruna Mall is the Creative Director for Teal Media. A lifelong creative, Aruna is halfway through a second decade of work in the digital design field, and along with her team at Teal, is an expert when it comes to branding and design. In today’s episode, she shares some of the most common mistakes individuals and brands make when thinking about design and branding, and how you can avoid them with your own business. As she points out, coming up with an engaging and recognizable image is more about asking questions of your audience than it is about a flashy logo (although those are nice too).
Full post found at: If you’ve been listening for a while, you probably think like I’m some kind of incredibly gifted orator who never flubs a word or goes off on a tangent. Ok, I jest, I’ve been known to do both of those from time to time (per episode), but I’m ok with that because that’s who I am and is part of my story, and my storytelling style. That said, there are a lot of mistakes and awkward pauses in the making of any podcast that don’t advance the story or narrative, or are just plain distracting to you, the listener. Today’s guest is Jeremy Enns, the guy who makes me sound as good as I do on this podcast as our editor and sound engineer. Jeremy is the Storyteller in Chief of Ascetic Productions, a company that provides podcast consultation, management, and post-production to brands, entrepreneurs, and storytellers who are looking to grow their audience through authentic storytelling. He’s an avid traveler, and runs his business from around the world (in the UK at the time of this recording), and is always looking to tell stories through a variety of mediums including audio, photography, and blogging. Starting this show was something I was really passionate about doing, but I found the post production daunting and it was putting me off from actually starting in the first place. Sometimes you just need an expert who can do what they do best, to free you up to focus on what you do best. Do you have any tasks in your business or life that you’ve realized weren’t worth the time for you to do them? Maybe you’ve thought about podcasting before but like me were intimidated by everything that goes into the production? Let us know in the comments!
Full post found at: Do you ever find yourself staying in a hotel in a new city (or maybe one you’ve been to before), and everything about the hotel is so generic that you have no concept of where you are? Maybe the hotel looks the exact same as the one in Detroit, or Toronto, or London or Sydney. Each city is unique and exciting with a lot to show off, shouldn’t the hotels branding reflect that? Deanna Ting is the associate editor of Skift, the largest travel industry intelligence platform, providing media, insights, and marketing to key sectors of the travel industry. Personally, Deanna reports on all things hospitality from hotels and hostels to short term rentals and B&Bs, and today she shares some of her insights into what hotels are doing right, and what many are doing wrong when it comes to digital marketing. The good news is that many boutique hotels, and even some large chains are breaking out of the monotony that often defines hotels and are finding new ways to reach audiences and grow their brand. Many though seem to be pursuing new marketing avenues too ambitiously, spreading themselves thin and missing out on the people they should be reaching.
Full post found at: In 1949 author and mythologist Joseph Campbell introduced the concept of The Hero’s Journey to the world. It was originally conceived as a framework that myths and stories the world overall seemed to fit into, but as Preston True shares with us today, it’s a framework that also seems to apply to just about every entrepreneur today. For the past 12 years, Preston has been helping entrepreneurs and businesses clarify their vision, execute with precision and create more functional and cohesive teams through his business True Point Advisors. It was during one of the tough times that we all go through as entrepreneurs that he was introduced to The Hero’s Journey, and realized that the struggles he was going through were all part of - and necessary to - the process. Preston helps identify the steps we, as heroes need to take to emerge triumphant in Act 3 of the journey, from facing down the dragons we are sure to face, to seeking out mentors, and ultimately passing on the knowledge we have gained to others.
Full post found at: Check out the video podcast (vodcast?) of this episode HERE. If you’ve been listening to us for a little while, you’ve probably heard that here at Tell, we’re a little bit obsessed with crafting and sharing great, authentic stories for everyone we work with. If you’re new around here: We’re obsessed with crafting and sharing great, authentic stories for everyone we work with. Well today I’d like to introduce you to the man behind many of those stories, our Creative Director and “Story Guru” here at Tell, John Azoni. Originally a fine art painter, John made his way to video as a way to market his art, and before long, had fallen in love with the medium as a way to tell a story. A video can be a big investment of time, money, and creative energy, but the payoffs can be huge. John joins us today to talk about what goes into crafting a story from the heart from a brand perspective, as well as some of the pitfalls people and organizations often make when going through the video making process.
Full post found at: “Most people can talk. Most people can verbally connect some words together and string them into something that resembles a sentence. Very few people can communicate so effectively that people are drawn to them.” [24:15] It’s true, I know for myself at least that (as you’ll hear in the episode) I struggle to communicate as clearly and effectively as I would like. Part of that is the filler words we all use, but truly great communication is about a lot more than that. It’s listening, the way you approach interpersonal situations, and the giving and receiving that takes place within a conversation. Jason McCullough is a presenter, teacher, and above all, an expert communicator. As he reveals in this episode however, it wasn’t something that he was just born with as we might tend to think. Like any other skill, communication can be learned and perfected over time, which is what Jason wants to help you do through his website Plus One. We all care so much about the work that we do. We know that we have the vision and talent to do great things for our clients and customers, but oftentimes our passion and skill hits a bottleneck when it comes to communicating what we do to those around us. It doesn’t have to be this way though.
“Every business, every organization, every person in fact, they all have a brand already, whether it is a good brand or not a good brand is up for evaluation.” [14:15] Branding is one of those things that we all know is important to our businesses, but few of us actually grasp how to do it well, or even what elements contribute to our brand image. Kacha Azema has worked as a strategist and designer for major brands for over 20 years, and now serves as creative director for Skidmore Studio, a boutique creative agency that specializes in restaurant branding. He joins us to discuss some of the factors to consider when thinking about your brand. Contrary to what a lot of us think, it’s not quite as simple as hiring a branding agency to shape our public image into one that converts consumers. In fact, as Kacha explains, the bulk of our brand reputation comes from within our organizations, and it is largely up to us to design the image that we want to portray. How do you know whether an idea is worth pursuing? Personally, I’ve had multiple projects fail because it turned out no one else was as excited about them as I was. Sometimes, however, you just seem to know that you’re onto something with an idea. Some of us call your gut, or God and others call it intuition. Whatever it is, by paying close attention to that little voice, we can often identify the opportunities that are both a good fit for us and the world. Allan Goetz is a serial entrepreneur, the founder of Tour Connection, Michigan Buck Pole, and the soon to be opened 20 Front Street, an intimate acoustic music venue in Lake Orion, Michigan. In this episode, Allan shares the calling he felt that led to the founding of two of his businesses, and how he used market research to qualify the third. No matter how excited we are about an idea, there’s never any guarantee that people are going to show up when we open the doors, and there’s always the fear that we might be left playing to an empty room. Somehow we have to choose which ideas are worth devoting ourselves to, and which ones to pass over.
I’ve always viewed stories as the most powerful method to convey information and bring about change. Generally though, we think of ourselves as being affected by the stories of others, often downplaying our own story, or thinking too hard about what we can learn from our story, or if it’s even accurate or even worth knowing - let alone sharing. Grant Peelle is a documentary filmmaker, and a Cohort Leader for the newly launched Better Human program, an intensive 5 week course that guides participants into looking at their own personal stories and rewriting them to change the trajectory of their lives. Aside from changing lives through the Better Human program, Grant was behind the documentary I’m Fine Thanks, a film about how everyday people fall into lives of complacency, and most importantly, what they do to change their lives and create their own paths to fulfillment.
Something I struggle with at times in business is committing to focus my energy on the things that I’m really, truly good at, and letting other people handle the things that I’m not. It’s easy to get pulled into the mindset of thinking “well I should be more like this...” or “I should be good at that...”, “all entrepreneurs need to do this…” and so on. Greg Heist is the Chief Innovation Officer at Gongos, a marketing research firm that has grown from five people when he and a few partners started the company 25 years ago, to now employing 135 people. Greg shares how playing to his strengths helps him spread a culture of innovation and forward thinking throughout the company, as well as how to implement organizational change as a business grows, matures, and shifts its focuses. Greg is also the co-host of The Future Stir Podcast, an absolutely awesome podcast focusing on the future of society, technology, intelligence, and retail. Ever wondered what the future of drones will look like? Maybe you’re curious why vinyl records are making a comeback? If you like thinking about topics such as these, you should definitely check out The Future Stir.
So, I know I’m not the only one who struggles with knowing what to do with the seemingly endless ideas that find their way into my head. It can be overwhelming at times and makes it almost impossible to know where to focus your energy and then to know and which projects are even worth pursuing. Carl Winans is a serial entrepreneur whose vast array of ideas cover everything from digital design including virtual reality, to physical products like the insanely cool Anti Gravity Case for iPhone and Galaxy, to selling his homework to his classmates… Ok - that last one was how he got his entrepreneurial start in 7th grade - but the way the story ends is so… junior high - you gotta listen!
You know what's the worst? Stale networking events filled with a bunch of people you don't know rubbing elbows, shoulders, maybe even knees. Find out what Nathan Mersereau did to set up truly unforgettable networking events in this episode.
Joe Sanok’s story which includes huge financial success as a counselor and running an online business at among other online ventures ALSO experienced some very big challenges like cancer, struggles in his marriage and more. I’m sure you’ll be able to identify with his story and learn from some of the things he’s implemented to help get things done - while learning how to focus on the right things.
Every business has a story to tell. A lot of businesses begin with, “We were founded in (insert year) by our founder (insert name) and we make (insert widget). #boring. Today’s marketplace is much more competitive than it has ever has been - and one thing that can help set businesses apart is by diving deeper into what it means to tell your business’s story. Matt Dibble from Final5 is our guest and helps us understand his passion for helping organizations find and share their great stories in order to create community, build trust, and propel change.
I recently interviewed Scott Hauman from NewFoundry in Ann Arbor, Michigan. NewFoundry helps businesses "go from idea to 1.0 in just weeks." Pretty awesome. Scott does a much better job talking about how they come alongside businesses - so, without further ado, enjoy!
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Podcast Details

Created by
Ryan Koral
Podcast Status
Jul 14th, 2016
Latest Episode
Apr 2nd, 2018
Release Period
2 per month
Avg. Episode Length
40 minutes

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