[00:00:00] Emily Thompson: Welcome to Being Boss, a podcast for creatives, business owners and entrepreneurs who want to take control of their work and live life on their own terms. I'm your host, Emily Thompson, and in this episode I'm joined by J.J. Peterson, head of StoryBrand to talk about saying yes or no to opportunities as an entrepreneur, as well as discussing and breaking down exactly why inviting customers into a compelling story is one of the best ways to market and grow your business.
[00:00:27] You can find all the tools, books, and links we reference on the show notes www.being boss.club. And if you like this episode, be sure to subscribe to the show and share us with a friend.
[00:00:40] Having a fulfilling career and succeeding in business are what we're all here to accomplish. Right? Well, if it resonates, then I've got a new show for you to check out that's all about educating you on how to best market yourself in the new digital age. It's called Big Brand Energy, hosted by Sophie Wilson, brought to you by the
[00:00:57] Hubspot Podcast Network, the audio destination for business professionals. With episodes on building an authentic brand and how business and online dating are the same, you'll get a fresh take on online marketing in the new year. Listen to Big Brand Energy wherever you get your podcasts.
[00:01:18] Since 2013, Dr. J.J. Peterson has used the StoryBrand framework to help thousands of organizations clarify their message in order to grow their business. He holds a PhD in communication and has spent the last 20 years practicing and teaching communication theory. J.J. Has studied CS Lewis and Oxford Debated theology with filmmakers at the Sundance Film Festival,
[00:01:39] directed a documentary, served in marketing and PR for two multinational nonprofit organizations. Served as a communication professor and has spoken to thousands of people about creating a clear message. As the head of StoryBrand, J.J. travels around the world facilitating StoryBrand workshops and keynotes, helping people grow their business.
[00:01:59] J.J., welcome to Being Boss.
[00:02:01] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Oh, thank you for having me. I'm so excited to be here.
[00:02:04] Emily Thompson: I am so excited about this as well. For anyone listening to this, you should know that I just did an episode with J.J. for his show. So if you want to go check out Marketing Made Simple, I'm not sure when it comes out, but we'll make sure we include a link in our show notes.
[00:02:18] I'm excited about it. We did a quick little intro over there. I wanna spend a little bit more time diving into this cheese conversation.
[00:02:26] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Yeah, yeah.
[00:02:27] Emily Thompson: Which, which we had, um, that we introed that show with. But we're gonna dive into it a little bit further here cause we have the time and I'm excited. Um, So I first met J.J. In Boston for HubSpot's Inbound conference.
[00:02:42] Ton of fun. We sit down to dinner with the entire HubSpot podcast network. By chance, I'm sitting next to J.J. And y'all. We spent two hours talking about cheese.
[00:02:53] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Yes. And that is not an exaggeration.
[00:02:55] Emily Thompson: Mm-hmm.
[00:02:55] Dr. J.J. Peterson: It was two hours.
[00:02:57] Emily Thompson: Mm-hmm. It was, it was some of the most blissful two hours I think, of my entire year.
[00:03:02] Like if I think about, honestly, honestly, if I think about some of the moments when I felt the most, like joy and fulfillment, that dinner was absolutely at the top of my list.
[00:03:16] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Yeah, at, at about two hours we both had to say, Hey, we probably need to talk to other people about other things.
[00:03:22] Emily Thompson: I had to leave the table.
[00:03:23] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Yes, you did. Like we couldn't stop you. Literally like, Hey, this is not about you. I need, we like, we're here to meet people and grow and make connections. So you're like, I'm gonna go to the other table, like I have to leave. And by the way, when you came back later, I was talking a little bit about some wine and cheese and we got back into the cheese conversation.
[00:03:44] Emily Thompson: Yes, we did. We really did. And it was, it was such an inspiring conversation. I actually, I, I wanna have you back on the show for this other conversation that we have talked about. I think it's really important to have you on in this moment to share this sort of like meaty background and foundation of who you are and what you do.
[00:04:02] And then a follow up of this really great thing that you do for yourself, which is you just like follow your curiosity and you do really engaging amazing things for yourself. Um, and the one that we were talking about is you actually did a cheese making course, like a whole day cheese making intensive, which I just needed to know all the details about.
[00:04:25] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Yes, yes.
[00:04:26] Emily Thompson: Here in Tennessee, which was even more exciting to me, um, which really sent us down a really beautiful rabbit hole.
[00:04:33] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Yeah, cuz I, one of the things that I do just for myself on the side is I always try to find one thing every year that I've never done. So, I wa , you know, did a cheese making class, I have done glass blowing.
[00:04:46] Um, couple years ago I decided to see if I could win a blue ribbon at the Tennessee State Fair. So I actually, researched which competitions had the least amount of entries and that I could make, and actually ended up winning a blue ribbon for adult dioramas fairy habitat smaller than 12 by 12. That was the cate, like that's how narrowed in I got the category because I knew that there would, that was the least amount of entries and I won a blue ribbon at the state fair.
[00:05:20] So it's like things like that, that I always am, I'm always looking to try to, I mean, I travel a lot, like I try to leave the country once a year and things like that, but I'm always looking for, New things to learn and grow and just keep things kind of fresh for me and all of that. So yeah, that was part of our conversation that kind of, it started with cheese and then really kind of led into all of these other things, right?
[00:05:41] Emily Thompson: Over the course of like two or three days. So like, you know, we'd sort of like break up and go talk to other people and come back and be like, okay, blue ribbon, excuse me, , um, And so you all can see why J.J. Was someone that I just kept going back to. We just kept having these, like this build ons of really interesting conversations.
[00:05:59] And yes, we were talking about work and business and you know how it is that we do the things that we do. We're there as part of a, um, you know, a podcast network. We're talking about podcasting and the businesses we're in and all of these things. But we're also talking about just the interesting things that we do outside of work, including eating a lot of cheese.
[00:06:17] Um, Really inspiring conversation had such a blast with you. I'm so excited to introduce you to our audience. Uh, we are gonna be talking about some businessy things today. Um, but I think to really start us out, why don't we start with you just sharing your journey. So how did you get to where you are now?
[00:06:38] Who are you other than a Tennessee State Fair Blue Ribbon winner?
[00:06:42] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Well that is, that is the primary thing.
[00:06:45] Emily Thompson: That's, that's it.
[00:06:45] Dr. J.J. Peterson: That's actually, and that is it.
[00:06:46] Emily Thompson: Yeah.
[00:06:47] Dr. J.J. Peterson: That's my identity. But there.
[00:06:48] Emily Thompson: Yes.
[00:06:49] Dr. J.J. Peterson: There, there are other, you know, components, but really that's who I am. Um.
[00:06:54] Emily Thompson: Yes.
[00:06:55] Dr. J.J. Peterson: You know, I've had kind of a, it, it's when people always ask me, like, so I start telling stories and they're like, wait, you did what? You came from where? You used to do this?
[00:07:04] And my, the, the core driver, I would say of my, everything I've done in my life has always been around being a stronger and better communicator and helping other people do that as well. So it, it comes from everything from where I was like actually a pastor for a while. I did, uh, public relations for nonprofits to different international nonprofits that did community development in Central America and in like nine different countries in Africa.
[00:07:33] So I traveled a lot kind of doing that, helping those doing fundraising. Then I became a comedian for a little while. I actually went into improv comedy and toured and did improv comedy, and then started kind of moving into Hollywood and doing some writing, directing, acting in that space, and then decided I wanted to teach that.
[00:07:50] So I went back and got my master's actually in Theology in the Arts. So a study of story and theology in art and music and television and movies, and began teaching communication and then um, did that for a while and then became Dean of students at a university. So it's always kind of been, I've always been like speaking and teaching and sharing and then just studying how to be a better communicator and it kind of came to a little bit of a head where, I was Dean of students at this university in Southern California and I sold a reality television show to production company, as you do in Southern California.
[00:08:30] And the reality television show was based on me and my brothers, who are all, we used to all be ordained pastors at one point, and um, the show is called Bad A Brothers. and the premise was that my brothers and I are so not bad a, that we can't even say the word badass. And so we can't say badass and, and so the way we'd become more badass bad A is by traveling around the United States and finding those old, weird laws that are still on the books.
[00:08:59] and researching history behind them and then breaking those laws like, so you can't, you can't cross a Minnesota border with a duck on your head. That's still a law. And you can't have an ice cream cone in your back pocket in Atlanta. So those are still laws that are still on the books. We'd research the history of why, like the Atlanta one is because that's how people used to steal horses.
[00:09:21] If a horse followed you onto your property, then you kept it. If you let it, like with a, a rope. Then you couldn't, but if you, if it followed you, you got to keep the horse. So they would put ice cream cones in their back pocket. Horses would follow 'em on their land. They would steal it. So we'd research all that.
[00:09:36] We'd then we'd break those laws and um, and so I quit being in higher education and began kind of creating some television stuff. And in the process I met, um, a man named Donald Miller.
[00:09:50] Emily Thompson: Hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on.
[00:09:52] Did this show happen? Is it real?
[00:09:54] Dr. J.J. Peterson: It, it never made it on tv.
[00:09:56] Emily Thompson: Okay.
[00:09:56] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Yeah. It never as, also many things in Hollywood happen.
[00:09:59] It, uh, but I do have the rights back now. Um, so I sold the rights and now I have it back. So there may be a YouTube version coming soon.
[00:10:06] Emily Thompson: Yeah. Okay. Love that. , continue. Sorry. Sorry.
[00:10:08] Dr. J.J. Peterson: I know. See, that's the kind of thing, it's just like, oh yeah, I created a television show. I did comedy. Like I skip over things and people are always like, wait, you did what?
[00:10:15] Yeah. Yep. I did that. I was on The Office I was on, My Name is Earl, West Wing. I was on all this stuff. So anyway, did that, so in the process, I ended up meeting this guy named Donald Miller, who started a company called StoryBrand. And the idea behind StoryBrand is helping people clarify their marketing and branding messaging, using story frameworks, narrative marketing, specifically using a lot of film theory and teaching people how, teaching people how story works and why our brains are compelled by story, and then creating a good story through your marketing and messaging.
[00:10:56] And really kind of the power behind it is understanding that most brands and companies position themselves as the hero of their story. And we need to actually pos, be positioning our customers the hero of the story, and us as the guide. So what I do now is I teach companies all over the world how to it, uh, really invite customers into a beautiful story that they are positioned as the hero.
[00:11:22] The company is the guide, and ultimately their product and service helps the hero win the day. So it's, uh, so that's kind of where it led to. It really was, you know, from my background of being in PR and fundraising and doing a lot of branding in that space and then in the movie industry and then the teaching industry, like all those things kind of ultimately came together.
[00:11:43] In this one thing that I never would've ever dreamed would've been a thing that I could actually help businesses. I could be creative, I can involve the movie side of things and help people grow their business. So that's kind of how I got to where I am today. And, and, and I'm not sure I would've looked back.
[00:12:00] I'm not sure when I was in it, I would've said that story was the driving thing. But looking back, it was like, oh my gosh. It was always about telling a great story no matter what I was.
[00:12:09] Emily Thompson: Oh, obviously, obviously. And I feel like you are, you are one of my favorite storytellers. Even just like conversationally.
[00:12:16] It's why we talked for days about all manner of nonsense, um. But I also feel like your windy story, that's one of the things that, you know, we always feature with that question. Everyone with any kind of success comes here and rarely were they like, you know, I went to school for this thing, I got a job and now I'm here.
[00:12:32] Right. It's like I went to school over this other thing. I dropped out 18 times. Like, you know, I met these people, I did these things and, and there's always this thread that while you're doing it, you have no idea. You don't know what thread you're following, you're just being who you are and taking the opportunities that feel right or whatever it may be.
[00:12:52] And it leads you along this windy path. And I think yours is the windiest. Love this very much.
[00:12:59] Dr. J.J. Peterson: I even left parts out. I left parts out.
[00:13:01] Emily Thompson: I bet you did. I bet you did. Um, windiest. But like, but I love that you still see the thread.
[00:13:07] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Mm-hmm.
[00:13:08] Emily Thompson: You still see that thread that holds it all together from point, you know, A to Triple A.
[00:13:15] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:13:16] Emily Thompson: You went to the alphabet a couple of times to get you to where you are. Question, do you, do these opportunities come to you easily and naturally? Are you out searching for, like, what is the ease with what you have moved through this life?
[00:13:32] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Yeah. Yeah. Uh, I think there's a couple things. I'm not sure I have ever seeked out one specific path.
[00:13:38] Emily Thompson: Mm-hmm.
[00:13:39] Dr. J.J. Peterson: But especially when I was younger. I really stepped into the Say Yes. You know, like I'm, I'm a, I come from improv training, so the yes and in improv is kind of the way that I live my life. So I stepped in and did a whole bunch of just crazy funny things that it was like, oh, this is a great opportunity.
[00:13:59] This is a great opportunity. Now, I also think that, I would say that really drove, especially my twenties and my maybe part of my thirties, was the yes and. But I also had to figure out when were the seasons that I had to say no and really sit for a bit and, and I think most of my life is driven by yes and but also, yes.
[00:14:21] And I find those moments that I go, okay, actually this is a season of, no, this is a season of I'm gonna plant myself here and grow for a little bit and learn more. But there really hasn't until my current role, there's never been a thing that I thought, this is forever. I never went into it thinking this is forever.
[00:14:41] So the first part is I really lived a lot in the yes and, and then the second part is I really always said, this isn't forever. So no matter how hard things got or how, you know, difficult or like the risky jumps that I was taking, I was like, okay, I'm gonna do comedy. Like I'm actually gonna be a professional comedian and two around the country for, I did it for about three years and the whole, even going into it, I was like, it's not forever.
[00:15:07] It's not forever. If I do this for a year. And then I step back and I work at Starbucks, I'll be fine. Like I, you know, I think the joke always is for a lot of people who are entrepreneurs, like, why could I always work at Starbucks. And you know, or like for me, because I wasn't married and didn't have kids, I was like, I could always go live on my parents' couch.
[00:15:23] Like there was always kind of like I went to the worst case scenario. It's like worst cases, I'm working at Starbucks and living at my parents. Not the funnest, not my choice that I would want my life to be. But that's the worst. And even that's not forever. So I think those two things, any new step I went into, I was like, all right, I'm gonna do this and see where it goes for a year.
[00:15:43] I'm gonna, I'm gonna become an i'm. Even when I'm like, I'm gonna get my master's, that's two years I'm gonna become a professor. That doesn't have to be forever. And I just kind of, and then each time something fun or unique that piqued my curiosity or my interest I stepped into. So even with the Hollywood stuff, I actually didn't think I was ever going to build a career in Hollywood.
[00:16:05] I might, I, I might at some point in my life be a writer in that space, but for me it was like, oh, you need craft services? Done. I, I just stepped into it. Nothing was beneath me when it came to curiosity. It's like, yeah, I'll put out food for movie stars even though I have a master's degree and I'm a professor.
[00:16:24] Like, yeah, let's do it. It's for a day. It's not forever. I'm doing this for a day. So I think those are two of the things as, as I've looked back, that really drove me to be able to take risks and do other things outside of what maybe some other people might have considered too scary.
[00:16:41] Emily Thompson: Those are two really important ones and two that we've sort of hit on here on the show, off and on along the way, but I love that you're bringing them both together.
[00:16:49] We can sort of highlight them both for a second because this, yes and, and seasons of no. You know what? I think there is some, well, this is, see, it's dangerous to say this sometimes to creatives. I would love to know your thoughts around this, because sometimes with creatives, I'm like, yes. You know, say yes to opportunities, but creatives will make opportunities out of the craziest things.
[00:17:09] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Yes.
[00:17:09] Emily Thompson: And then, nothing is getting done. No movement is all these things.
[00:17:13] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Yes.
[00:17:14] Emily Thompson: Um, and they're stretched too thin and losing their minds and all the things. Um, so one, maybe like how, how has that shown up for you? And I love it. Pairing it with the seasons of No, here we always go like no more new things.
[00:17:29] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Yeah.
[00:17:29] Emily Thompson: Like I'll have like four months of no more new things.
[00:17:32] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Yep.
[00:17:32] Emily Thompson: Anything comes up. It's an easy No. So I love that you're bringing that in, but what has your been your experience with the Yes and as a creative.
[00:17:40] Dr. J.J. Peterson: The, the, yes and as a creative gave me a lot of opportunities to do things that I never would've done.
[00:17:46] Like, you know, even just when we're joking about making cheese or like I see an opportunity like that, or glass blowing or you know, just even, like I said, being on set, it gave me so many opportunities and connections that led to other things that I never could have imagined.
[00:18:02] Emily Thompson: Yeah.
[00:18:02] Dr. J.J. Peterson: You know, like, and, and so it wasn't about, it wasn't about the glass blowing, it wasn't about the being on set, doing catering.
[00:18:09] It was about what opportunities that created out of that, right?
[00:18:13] Emily Thompson: Mm-hmm.
[00:18:14] Dr. J.J. Peterson: It's like, so it was like people that I met or things I got inspired to do or things like that. So it wasn't always just about that moment. It was about what it opened up in me as a human. But the no part where that really came to a big head for me is that, so I actually, um, ended up, I got my PhD in narrative theory and narrative marketing.
[00:18:35] So I studied story and how it works in marketing and I realized in that season in particular that if I wanted to get my PhD, if I actually wanted to complete it, because most people do not complete it, is that had to be a very strong season of No. And what that meant actually for me was, the way I had to reframe it in my mind was I'm saying yes to basically three things.
[00:19:00] I'm saying yes to my work, saying yes to my friends, and I'm saying yes to my PhD. I'm saying no to everything else, which meant I was not in a volleyball league, which meant I was not, um, you know, taking a whole bunch of extra creative classes, it meant that I had to not be involved in this many. Just like going to concerts and things like that, so, but I was still saying yes to my friends.
[00:19:24] I was still saying yes to my job and I was saying yes to a PhD and that was like, okay, for this season. This is all I'm saying yes to is these things. And so otherwise, if I just started saying yes to everything else, I would never accomplish my PhD. So I think again, for a season, I said, this is my goal for this season.
[00:19:47] This is my goal for this time period. It's not forever. I'm not saying no to all these things forever. I'm saying no to these probably for the next five years for the most part, at least during the school year, during summer, I can say yes to a lot of other stuff, but during the semester it's, Nope. These for the next five years, This is my everything else.
[00:20:07] My PhD is my everything else that I'm gonna say yes to. And that real and, and it, it's not easy. It's hard, but it also allowed me to get my PhD and I finished that season and then now I can say yes to a bunch more things again. But I go in and out of that. I don't think it's always say yes or always say no, When you have the space and when you're wanting to be a little bit more creative and try new things, obviously the yes is what you wanna step into.
[00:20:34] Be brave, be bold. But when you have a specific goal that you're trying to accomplish, you're trying to build your business from here to here. You're trying to start a business, you're trying to get a PhD, you're trying to do something that has. Not a finite ending, but something that this season, let that thing, that goal that you're trying to step into, be your everything else.
[00:20:55] You still have family, you still have, you know, job, you might even have, like you need to just your exercise. Like those are your things that like, I know I need those. That's what sustains me. My everything else right now is going to be grind the business. My everything else right now is going to take this business to the next level.
[00:21:12] My everything else is going to be getting my masters. It's not everything. It's just everything else.
[00:21:18] Emily Thompson: Yeah. Oh, I love that understanding that a no is a yes and vice versa. Right? You can't say yes to everything. You can't say no to everything. There are seasons of being a little more open. I love that you went into the yeses with your eyes open.
[00:21:31] I feel like there's an element of like, this is not just yes, this is yes to all the things. And so it's, um, I think feel like it probably has more of an impact than if you're like, yes, I'm just gonna say yes to this thing and only for this thing. If you're walking in with your eyes open, you're really opening yourself up to so many more opportunities, which I also love.
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[00:23:30] Emily Thompson: The second part of what you were talking about that I have to hit on, especially after the conversation we just had on your show, is this idea of this mindset that this is never forever. Right. Or is never, this is forever.
[00:23:45] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Mm-hmm.
[00:23:46] Emily Thompson: It's always, this isn't forever. Um, I think that's so powerful. We were talking on your show about decision making and how that is such a paralyzing thing for so many people, especially when you're an entrepreneur.
[00:23:58] You're making decisions for literally everyone. Always. And that is such a great mindset to have because oftentimes the paralysis comes from this idea that if I make this decision, I'm making it forever, right? Of like, if it's wrong, I'm screwed. If it's, you know, if it's right. Hooray. But like that, like fear of it being wrong and never being able to remake that decision keeps people from making decisions.
[00:24:23] And so just generally in entrepreneurship, um, and being in the fields that we are in, the idea that when you make a decision it is never going to be forever is. Incredibly true and do a much better mindset to have than being afraid that you'll never be able to make a decision again.
[00:24:41] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Well, and it's so freeing to me.
[00:24:43] Emily Thompson: Yeah
[00:24:43] Dr. J.J. Peterson: right. Like it's just like you, we put, I think especially as entrepreneurs and creatives, like we put so much pressure on ourselves, so much pressure on ourselves, but this is kind of. Go with me on this. This is a little bit, you know, .
[00:24:58] Emily Thompson: Let's go.
[00:24:59] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Uh, one of the ways I think about it is this, for myself, this is how I try to picture myself when my nephews and nieces, which I have nine of, and I'm, I'm a very, very proud uncle. Um, and we can talk about stuff that I do with them to help them kind of live in this space. I actually, when they turn 11, I take 'em on a trip anywhere they want to go in the United States, and they have to fly by themselves to me. So it's an opportunity to like, They, they have come back from those trips changed cuz they've never flown by themselves.
[00:25:26] They're going to New York, they're going to Florida and they come back and they go, I can do this. So that's a whole other thing. But I do that with my nephews and nieces. But when they're little, when we all know this, like when we see a child, a kid, When they're learning to walk, they stand up and they wobble and they take two steps and fall on their butt, and we all cheer and we start crying.
[00:25:51] Like they took two steps. Nobody walks over to that child and G and grabs their hand and goes slaps it and goes, you better. You'd need to do better, right? Like nobody does that to a child. We celebrate those tiny little steps that they took, and if you watch recordings like parents' hands are in the air behind them and people are like, oh my gosh, they record the moment.
[00:26:16] They mark it, they're sending it to everybody celebrating these two little steps that in reality were shit. Like, like they're shit walkers. They're not good walkers if we're just gonna be really honest about toddlers. They're horrible walkers. Right.
[00:26:31] Emily Thompson: Indeed. Indeed.
[00:26:32] Dr. J.J. Peterson: That's the reality is if we're measuring that against the world, They didn't run.
[00:26:38] They fell down after two damn steps, like they're shit walkers. But, we are raising our arms and we are celebrating them and we have tears. And if we miss it, it's like a hard moment. And I have to remind myself of that. Of that is like, that needs to be more of the universe that we're creating is that there are moments when you say yes to things that you're gonna be a shit walker.
[00:27:05] Like you are not gonna be good at it. Okay. Okay, let's still celebrate the fact that you were brave enough to stand on your own two feet and put one foot in front of the other and risk falling on your ass like that is, that is bravery and that is power. And that is, and I try to remind myself of that, which is why some of those things, like I'm telling you, so I don't know if I gave you the follow up to that Cheesemaking class.
[00:27:32] So I went to that Cheesemaking class that we talked about. And I'm telling you, the cheese that I made in that class was some of the best cheese I've ever tasted in my entire life. Then I went and spent. I'm gonna say $200 minimum. I, I bought every single thing that I needed to make for those cheese, to make those cheeses on my own.
[00:27:54] And the first batch was so disgusting. like, it was the most disgusting thing I've ever, it's tasted like, like sour cottage cheese, mixed with farts. Like it was just so disgusting and I had to throw it all away. And I could pause there and go like, okay, I'm never making cheese again. I am a horrible cheesemaker based on that thing, but the reality is that was my shit walk.
[00:28:22] That was my two steps, and I fell on my butt and now I need to get up and I need to try it again. Which I did try it again. It was a little bit better. It still wasn't good yet. And I'm trying to do, I'm going to do it one more time so I can give it as, um, I'm not sure when this podcast is coming up, but I'm gonna be giving it as Christmas gifts.
[00:28:38] Right. So my goal is to have it done by Christmas of where I can actually make cheese. That's edible.
[00:28:43] Emily Thompson: Yeah. So good. You'll gift it.
[00:28:45] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Yeah, exactly. But I would gift it away, but I am not there.
[00:28:48] Emily Thompson: No pressure.
[00:28:48] Dr. J.J. Peterson: And I, and I might not be there by Christmas, but like that's the reality is that I can one, just go, all right, I'm throwing away all this stuff that I've done.
[00:28:55] I'm a horrible cheese maker. Or I can go, wow, that's hilarious that I just fell on my butt when I did that, and let's celebrate that. I took that risk and let's move forward with it. Right? So that for me, And, and I don't allow those things to define me. I, I am a cheesemaker. I may be not great at it at this moment, but I'm a cheesemaker.
[00:29:16] Dang it. So, you know, like that is where this is headed. And so I just kind of do that with, I, I do that with everything and, and I may give up on Cheesemaking, who knows? Cuz again, it's not forever. But I do that in every phase of my life of that like, Even the job right now. I stepped into this job seven years ago.
[00:29:34] I've been working with companies and helping them do this for seven years, and I came. I moved from LA to Tennessee, and I was like, all right, well, it's not forever. And yet it's been the most glorious and best decision I ever made. But I walked in going, I'm gonna get an apartment. I'm not buying a house.
[00:29:52] I'm gonna just like, I can live six months to six months. And I even, while I was doing that, I looked at moving to New York and different stuff, but it was like, no, I'm, it's not forever. And I think that that gives me, and again, I have kids. I, I mean, I don't have kids. I don't, I'm not married, so I do have a little bit more freedom in that space.
[00:30:09] So I want to acknowledge that for people who, the risks are big. Like, I'm not saying, oh yeah, you don't need to worry about the risks. You just can do whatever you want. Yeah. These are all calculated things. I, I stepped in knowing the risk. Eyes wide open going, and I went to that worst place scenario. All right.
[00:30:28] I could end up at Starbucks and on my parents' couch. Am I okay with that in this season? Yes, I am. Let's do it. Let's move to Tennessee.
[00:30:36] Emily Thompson: Lovely. Was so glad you're here. I love all of that, all of that mindset stuff. For sure. Um, we also joked about how you. We could just talk for days. I do wanna get into the meat of this.
[00:30:48] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Yeah.
[00:30:48] Emily Thompson: But I think that, that, that is such a wonderful look for everyone into some entrepreneurial mindset. Things that I, one make you stunning. And two I like are the elements that I see threaded throughout every successful in whatever way they're defining it because everyone's defining it differently.
[00:31:10] Every successful business owner slash entrepreneur. Those things right there that you just shared on a whim as you're navigating your crazy life. I love it. I love it. Are you trying to be the most interesting man in the world, ?
[00:31:26] Dr. J.J. Peterson: No.
[00:31:26] Emily Thompson: Is that the goal here? Cause sometimes I meet people and I'm like, someone told you this was a thing, didn't they? You're trying real hard.
[00:31:32] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Well, no. What's funny as I feel like my life is actually really boring.
[00:31:38] Emily Thompson: Okay. Maybe not. Then. I'm pretty sure he's convinced that his life is the most interesting.
[00:31:43] Dr. J.J. Peterson: No, no, no.
[00:31:44] Emily Thompson: Oh, love it. Okay, so let's dive into the meat of this then, because you are king of storytelling. I'll call you in this moment, if I may. Um, And I want to bring this expertise to our folks because this little piece, actually a little bit of back, very small bit of backstory.
[00:32:01] We've been doing, um, surveys of our audience every year for, you know, six, seven years. There are always two top struggles for bosses. One time management. We're always chatting about time management. Two is marketing. This marketing piece is incredibly difficult for, I think business owners in general. Most of us do not start businesses cause we're great marketers.
[00:32:28] Uh, we start businesses because of passions and you know, we wanna help somebody. We wanna make a thing, we wanna provide a thing, whatever it may be. Marketing is just something we have to do to do the thing we want to do. Um, and that is where you come in and where storytelling comes in, we've, um, we have. book clubed StoryBrand and the Being Boss Community before most or a large part of our audience are very familiar with your work and what you guys are doing over there.
[00:32:56] Um, but for anyone who is not familiar or anyone who needs a refresher, why is storytelling such a good way for anyone to market their business?
[00:33:10] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Yes. Uh, bottom line is it works. So that's what my PhD was, number one. If you wanna really cut to it, cut to the chase. If the research says it works, but here's really why it happens is a lot of people are spending a lot of time and money on marketing and they're just kind of feeling like they're throwing spaghetti against the wall.
[00:33:27] Emily Thompson: Mm-hmm.
[00:33:27] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Like, it just doesn't quite work.
[00:33:29] Emily Thompson: That is an analogy that I hear all the time.
[00:33:30] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Yeah, all the time. I'm testing, I'm trying all these things and it's a lot of money. Like, it's a lot of money and time. But here's the thing is why, uh, people need to understand how our brains work. And it's this way that our brain is always looking for information.
[00:33:46] Uh, our brain is trying to keep us alive. And the way, two of the ways it does that is it's always looking for information that helps us survive and thrive. And ignoring information that does not. And second, it's trying to conserve calories. So here's kind of how that works, is if you and I were in a giant stadium right now, I could ask that entire audience, how many of people know how many chairs are in this room, and nobody would raise their hand.
[00:34:11] But if I asked everybody, Where is the bath or where? Where is the exit? Everybody would be able to raise their hand and point to it, right? Or the bathroom, right? But the exit, if I said, does everybody know where the exit are? Everybody would raise their hands because when we walked into that stadium, our brains immediately went, I need to focus on the information that helps me survive and thrive.
[00:34:30] But the number of chairs in here doesn't matter. Like, so we actually, subconsciously, we're always just ignoring a ton of information that's around us, which is good. Cuz if I had to process every piece of information that was coming at me all the time, I'd never move. So we just go, oh, I need that, I need that.
[00:34:48] I'm done. And so we're looking for that. The second thing is that our brains actually at any given moment, only have a limited number of thinking decision making calories that actually go down and can be replenished, so they go up and down. Our brain also knows if we get into an emergency situation, we need some of those calories left or we're just gonna like freeze versus fight or flight kind of thing, right?
[00:35:13] So our brain is going. All the time looking for information that contributes to my survival and thriving, and also can be understood so quickly that you don't have to burn thinking calories. So if something's confusing or overwhelming, our brain is designed to tune it out. Here's how this matters to marketing.
[00:35:35] Every day we receive between three and 5,000 commercial messages a day, our brain is automatically ignoring the information that does not directly contribute to our survival and thriving. And if it's any confu, if there's any confusion or I have to burn any calories to understand it, I'm out. So that's just how we live.
[00:35:56] So in order to battle through that noise, you have to be able to, as a brand, tell a story that does that. Talks to your customer in a way that shows how your product contributes to their survival and thriving and does it in such a way that they, it's so clear they don't have to burn any calories to understand the fastest and best way to do that is by telling a clear story.
[00:36:21] Our brain just naturally processes information as story. We organize like we go, you know, if somebody goes well, here's like the trends that are happening in the world in social media, da da, da. And they're like, well, what does that mean? And then somebody goes, well, let me tell you a story about this person, right?
[00:36:37] Like they take this kind of just ethereal data and formulate a story to go, let me give you an example so it makes more sense. Our brain processes and actually has what we would call a well worn path of understanding how story works. And this has been studied all the way back to Aristotle and Plato, who would argue that the best way to move a society is through story to change people's mind. So I can go into all of that data, but the reality is it's all based on this idea that when you tell a story in a clear way, You do it in. And when you position your customer as the hero of that story, what you immediately do is you show how your product contributes to their survival and thriving.
[00:37:21] So the most basic version of a story really has seven elements to it, and these are them. And so I'll kind of go through this quickly, but this is what we teach people how to do. is every good story has seven elements. The first is that you have to have a character, a hero who wants something, and that something has to be very clear.
[00:37:43] If we're watching a movie, you're reading a book and the hero wants 500 things. You know, Jason Bourne wants to know who he is. Open a bakery, adopt a cat. We're out. Right? He has to want one thing. Then that's the first element. A hero who wants something, then. The second is that that hero has to encounter a problem.
[00:38:05] A story is only good if the hero encounters a problem. If the hero's just walking around shopping all day, not a good story. We're not interested. The hero has to be kidnapped or the, or somebody in their family has to be kidnapped. And now we're like, wait, are they gonna get him back? The problem is the hook of the story.
[00:38:22] So then the hero wants something, a problem gets in the way of. Then in order to move forward in the story, the hero must meet a guide, somebody who helps them overcome the problem. So we have in Hunger Games, we have, um, Hamit who helps Kanu in Lord of the Rings. We have Gandolph who helps Frodo, and then, and there's always somebody who's older, wiser been there, helping the hero win.
[00:38:47] Then the guide gives the hero a plan, shows them how to move forward. We always hear in a movie like, what's the plan? Here's the plan. Then there's a moment the hero has to be called to action. They need to destroy the bomb. They need to fight the villain. They need to, there's something they need to be in or out on.
[00:39:04] And then we as an audience, the last two elements are what we would call success and failure. We know that this can ha, this story can have a happy ending and we're rooting for that. Or it can have a very tragic ending failure and everybody could die. Like so, we just know this in every movie. This is every movie you've ever seen.
[00:39:21] A hero who wants something, who encounters a problem, who meets a guide, who gives them plan, that calls them to action, that results in success and failure. And when we have all of those elements in that order, it's a very clear story. You actually, when you go into it, when you are every day, what we do is we actually daydream about 30% of the day, which means that our brain is shutting down.
[00:39:44] We actually shut down so we can conserve calories. When you go into a movie theater or you're reading a book. The, the story does the daydreaming for you. It actually enters you into that world and ultimately has influence over you in that. It can happen in your marketing as well. So we take those principles of story and then say, those are the key elements that then you need to have in all of your marketing to position your customer as the hero and you as the guide.
[00:40:11] You need to clearly identify what it is that your hero, your customer wants, then you need to position yourself as a guide with empathy and authority. You cannot be the hero in the in a story because if you're the hero of a story and your customer's the hero of the story, you're in competing stories. So if you want to actually engage your customer, you have to be the guide.
[00:40:31] So you have to come in with empathy and authority. Then you have to give your customers a plan. How are you gonna take care of them and move the story forward? So how do they buy your product? What's your strong call to action? 70% of small businesses in America do not have a strong call to action on their website.
[00:40:48] 70%. What do they need to do? What do they need to buy? What schedule call do they need to make? You need to have that. And then you need to show your customer what life is like if they do buy your product, what success looks like and what they look like. What, what their life looks like if they don't, what failure they will experience.
[00:41:09] When you can create those seven talking points for your marketing, what you do is you create a clear story where your customer is the hero. Your product is positioned as the thing that ultimately helps them win the day and overcome their problems. So it's a little bit deeper than that ultimately, but that's really the basics of it.
[00:41:28] And the research shows. That when you actually use narrative marketing, you will have more success in engaging more customers, in ease of creating marketing and ultimately, um, more fulfillment in the relationship with your customers.
[00:41:44] Emily Thompson: And I feel like this is right up creative Sally, right? You get to, like do a little bit of fiction storytelling.
[00:41:51] It's this non-fiction. It just is in a right, in a sort of fiction feeling storyline. Um, and you are. I feel like engaging with your customer in such a, is refined really the word that I want right there. It's not,
[00:42:09] Dr. J.J. Peterson: it's clear
[00:42:09] Emily Thompson: spaghetti yet. Yes, it's, it's clear.
[00:42:11] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Clear.
[00:42:12] Emily Thompson: It's clear
[00:42:13] Dr. J.J. Peterson: it, I think what often happens in marketing, going back to that spaghetti against the wall, is people try to include everything and every story in their marketing because what they think they're do is they're adding value by saying, well, we do this, we do this, we solve this problem. We do this, da da. And throwing all of this stuff, like throwing the spaghetti. Well, spaghetti doesn't work. You have to be very clear. When you're clear, then people can see, oh, that is my story.
[00:42:38] Yes, I want that cuz they've articulated it very clearly. Also, that solves this problem that I'm experiencing. They are the guide because they've actually solved the problem for other people. So I see that in testimonies, in that maybe they are like me, there's a clear path forward of how to buy the product.
[00:42:55] So I don't have any questions about that. I know what to do, and then I'm invited into that story a little bit more with the stakes of the story of like, I can actually imagine myself in a better light when they tell me what that light is gonna look like at the end of that tunnel. So it really, it's, it's clear and what a lot of people think when you make those choices in clarity, that then you're going to miss out on a whole bunch of other people.
[00:43:20] And the reality is you're already missing out on everybody. So , you want to be clear about what you do and what problem you solve for people. Those are the two key things I would say if, if for your audience, if you are looking at your marketing. If your marketing, your website does not explicitly say what you do, so I was just working with a company that they said on their website, it said something to the effect of, we help you reach new heights.
[00:43:48] I have no idea what that means. Right? It's very aspirational and, but it's not clear. I don't even mind that statement, as long as the subheader under that says, we coach entrepreneurs to build their business. That's it. So we reach new heights. Great. That's aspirational, but I need clarity underneath that.
[00:44:08] Tell me what you actually do so I don't have to burn any calories to understand. So if you have that, and then the next section of your website is if you actually articulate the problem, they're experiencing. So even just a couple sentences, say, so many entrepreneurs who get started are overwhelmed by all the choices they need to make.
[00:44:29] They're overwhelmed by their marketing, their website. It's, they don't know what words to put on their website. You're just like saying two or three sentences and then going, we can help. So you hook people with the problem of the, of the story. So if you start out by naming what they want, which is basically what you do.
[00:44:44] Invites them in and says, yes, that's the story I wanna be a part of. And then the very next section on your website, and talk about the problems they're experiencing that you can solve. Now you've hooked them. If you do those two things in your website and in your emails and in your social media, that alone will bring clarity to your story and allow more people to understand how your product serves them well.
[00:45:07] Emily Thompson: Mm. I love that clarity. Um, do you have any examples, like any like poster children, let's say , if someone who was like, come and it was such a mess, you did this and it became so amazing or like, fixed a q few key things or like any sort of examples that you can give of maybe creative like companies that you took
[00:45:29] through this.
[00:45:30] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Some of them I can't talk about specifically because
[00:45:33] Emily Thompson: Sure, sure.
[00:45:33] Dr. J.J. Peterson: NDAs.
[00:45:34] Emily Thompson: We're fine with, with veils of illusion.
[00:45:36] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Yeah. Um, I, I'll talk specifically, let's say, um, let me see. Creative company, creative company. So let me talk about, um, a company that really was positioning themselves as a lifestyle brand. They were trying to position themselves as a lifestyle brand, peop somebody who could come in and help you live an overall lifestyle.
[00:45:59] So they had, they were talking about this, they were putting all of their lifestyle, we help all with lifestyles, da, da da, da da. The truth is, what they actually did was help people lose weight. That's what they actually did.
[00:46:11] Emily Thompson: Oh, okay.
[00:46:12] Dr. J.J. Peterson: And then once people lost weight, then they engaged in some of the lifestyle brand stuff, but nobody was coming to this company or at the, and the individuals that are part of it, to by essential oils and other things they were coming, or even like yoga and, and, um, clothing and things. They were trying to position themselves to the whole thing. And I actually sat and, and so they were missing out. Well, what ends up happening is they started as a weight loss company and then tried to add all of this other stuff, and their message got really, really muddy.
[00:46:47] And they were losing sales, so that's why they brought me in. And so we started looking at this and they said, we're trying to build this lifestyle brand. And I realized, I actually ended up finding out that 90% of their customers were coming to them for weight loss. So I said, you're not a lifestyle brand, you are a weight loss brand, and you need to be really clear about that.
[00:47:06] The other part is those 10% who were coming and buying other products, 90% of them started as weight loss clients and then moved into the lifestyle brand. So I said, you're fine selling lifestyle stuff, you're fine building that, but that's not what your main message should be. You help people lose weight and you're really good at it, and you actually serve those people well and that's what they're looking for.
[00:47:29] And when you try to confuse that market with all this other language, then you ultimately actually are going, are losing sales, which is what they were doing. Go back to your original messaging and then after people enter in, say, it's more than weight loss, it's really about lifestyle. And then move into that.
[00:47:45] So those are some things just to bring some clarity, but the biggest thing that people have, even, especially as artists and creatives, is that thing of what problem do we solve, right? So if I am, um, if I'm a painter, what problem do I solve? If I am a jewelry maker, what problem do I solve? When you're living in the creative and art space, the problem that you solve is not a physical, what we would call external problem.
[00:48:13] So it's not like the problem is you need good art for your wall. No, that's not the problem that we're dealing with. You're actually dealing with either elevating your space or. Uh, or giving a gift that will be remembered forever or making something personal, right? So that's I think where a lot of marketers in the creative space struggle is they go, well, the problem I solve is just that somebody needs to put a painting on their wall, or they need to buy a necklace.
[00:48:39] No, no, no. When you're in the creative space, it's not about that physical, tangible problem. You're looking for that next layer of problem. So when you're trying to stand out as a brand, what is it about the necklaces that you make. That people tell you why they want it? Is it cuz it's unique? Is it cuz it's special?
[00:48:57] Is it because it connects me to my past? Is it because it connects me to my now? What is it that people have told you why they bought your creative piece that you're making that will give you the language to say, that's the problem I solve for people. And then put that in your marketing. Use that as branding.
[00:49:16] You don't need to come up with something brand new that nobody has ever said before. If people are telling you there's a reason they're buying your product, then put that in your marketing because then you're gonna find more of those ideal customers and you're gonna solve the same problem for them that you solve for your current customers.
[00:49:33] Emily Thompson: Wonderful. And that's the name of the game, right? Like that's why we're here is to solve the problems for the people that we are ho most here to serve. And I love that. The love, the clarity and sort of simplicity that you have brought to just that one thing that I know keeps many creatives up at night.
[00:49:48] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Yep. Yep.
[00:49:49] Emily Thompson: Lovely. J.J, this has been such a treat. If anyone is looking for, to dive deeper into StoryBrand and you know, creating this whole suite of information for themselves, where can they find more.
[00:50:01] Dr. J.J. Peterson: We have an online version of what we call a brand script. So the place to put all these talking points, and it's at mystorybrand.com.
[00:50:09] So if you go to mystorybrand.com, you go and you actually see there's the boxes. There's literally boxes where you identify what is it that you're customer wants, what's the problems that you solve? How do I position myself as a guide? What's the plan? What's my call to action? Success and failure? So you can begin the process of just practicing writing out those talking points and then see if those talking points are in your marketing.
[00:50:32] If they're not, take 'em and put 'em in there. So mystorybrand.com.
[00:50:36] Emily Thompson: Lovely. J.J., this has been such a treat. Thank you for coming and hanging out with me.
[00:50:40] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Oh, thanks for having me. I've loved it.
[00:50:42] Emily Thompson: This has been so much fun. You will be back again. I have one last question for you. What makes you feel most boss?
[00:50:51] Dr. J.J. Peterson: Ooh, helping other people. Uh, really, like that's when I feel like I live in my sweet spot when people like when they come alive and I just go, I'm a badass. Like that's really like when I like now I can say it because it's just.
[00:51:04] Emily Thompson: It wasn't about a ice cream in your pocket .
[00:51:06] Dr. J.J. Peterson: No, no, it wasn't. It is genuinely about helping other people and when I can do that, when I live in that space, that's when I'm like yep. This is it.
[00:51:15] Emily Thompson: Lovely. Great answer. Thanks for coming. All right, boss, because you're here, I know you want to be a better creative business owner, which means I've got something for you. Each week the team at being boss is scouring the news, the best entrepreneurial publications and updates and releases of the apps and tools that run our businesses, and is curating it all into a weekly email that delivers the must know tips and tactics in the realms of mindset, money, and product.
[00:51:43] This email is called Brewed . We brew it up for you each week to give you the insight you need to make decisions and move forward in your creative business. Check it out now and sign up for yourself beingboss.club/brewed. That's beingboss.club/brewed. Now, until next time, do the work. Be boss.