storytelling for connection

In today’s episode, our host Britney Gardner sits down with Jay Acunzo, an acclaimed author, speaker, and creator of the Creator Kitchen membership group. Jay shares his insights on the power of storytelling for connection and how it can elevate your content to make it truly irreplaceable. Join us as we delve into Jay’s unconventional choices, refreshing content creation strategies, and mission to help aspiring storytellers find their unique voice. Get ready to step out of your comfort zone and embrace the posture of a storyteller as we dive deep into the art of creating compelling content. Let’s get started!

The next time you go to write a blog post, don’t try to rely on some keyword research you did or AI tool you used–don’t start there. Start with what you have observed and lived because you’re the starter, and no two starters make the same dough.

Jay Acunzo

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Highlights in this episode:

  • [00:02:37] Creator Kitchen focuses on personal storytelling menus.
  • [00:05:49] Embrace curiosity, be a storyteller, store ideas.
  • [00:11:26] Developing categories of stories for effective communication.
  • [00:17:23] Use personal observation to engage readers.
  • [00:23:17] Content vs Connection: Be unique to succeed.
  • [00:26:57] Creator Kitchen: Membership group for incredible storytellers
  • [00:29:31] Connection trumps content in creating impact.

In today’s fast-paced digital world, creativity and storytelling have become essential tools for marketers, writers, and entrepreneurs to captivate their audience. From harnessing a potent premise for creativity and curiosity to embracing the power of storytelling in online marketing, these we explore the strategies that can elevate your content and set you apart from the crowd. Join us as we delve into the art of generating ideas, capturing moments of inspiration, and crafting narratives that forge deeper connections with your online audience. Get ready to unleash your creativity and storytelling skills to take your content to new heights.

Embracing the Power of Storytelling in Online Marketing

The digital ecosystem is ever-changing, and entrepreneurs are frequently on the lookout for innovative ways to make real connections with their online audience. One strategy that has emerged as an unbeatable tactic is storytelling. 

Introducing Storytelling in Marketing

The times when marketing was solely about selling a product or service are long gone. Today, it’s about creating an engaging narrative that resonates with your audience and sets you apart and determines whether you’re a commodity (milk, wheat, gold…) or in a category of your own. Until you pair your product with a good story, milk is just milk–and we’ll pick any brand at the market that happens to be on the way home.

milk as a superhero

So, what is storytelling? Simply put, it is the process of using narrative and account to engage with an audience. But when it comes to marketing, storytelling is about using this narrative to create a profound connection that leaves your audience better understanding your offerings.

Storytelling: The Game-Changer

Jay emphasizes that becoming ‘irreplaceable’ revolves around the unique narratives you tell and how you infuse your wisdom and experiences into your work. For him, storytelling is the key to differentiating your content from the crowd. This same ideology is what he trains creators and marketers for via his membership program with co-founder Mel Deziel, Creator Kitchen. 

Breaking the Storytelling Myths

When we hear the term ‘storytelling’, a grand vision often comes to mind: a riveting tale that engages the audience or a groundbreaking revelation. But Jay suggests we ditch this perception. Storytelling, in his view, revolves around everyday experiences. What catches your eye? What feels different to you? These simple experiences, unique to you, can be the building blocks of your stories. 

Harnessing A Potent Premise for Creativity and Curiosity 

You might have found yourself looking at everyday things, a mug, for example, and all of a sudden an idea sparks. Everything around you seems to turn into potential material that feeds your creativity. This scenario perfectly describes a regular day for creative and innovative individuals — marketers, writers, musicians, etc. — all over the globe. 

The Power of a Potent Premise 

The game-changer in continually drawing creative insights from your environment is having an underlying premise that guides your exploration. This premise, which could also be referred to as a personal mission, colors how you perceive things around you. It’s the pair of spectacles that allows you to see the world through a particular lens, making everything look like potential material. 

Imagine your focus was on “How can we prioritize resonance over reach?”, like Jay’s. Just like that, everywhere you go, every experience becomes material that feeds into answering this question or exploring this premise. You become inclined to examine everything you experience critically, leading to the generation of new ideas. 

collection of story categories

Fuel your Curiosity

Your curiosity should not be limited to specific moments or environments. Allow it to permeate every sphere of your life. This way, your mind does not shut down; it continually generates ideas from your experiences and interactions.

Don’t Lose Your Ideas 

In the midst of your creativity and exploration, ensure you have a system in place for logging down every striking idea or observation. Capture these moments as they come, whether on a physical notepad or within an app on your phone. This way, you can easily refer to these details when you finally decide to flesh out your ideas.

Living with Constant Ideas

Living in a state of constant idea generation can sometimes be overwhelming, but remember, no one is rushing you. Tackle your ideas one at a time, and don’t stress yourself over the ones you can’t immediately bring to life.
In conclusion, your creativity drives you, but it’s the potency of your premise that navigates this creativity and dictates your course. Generate, vet, and document your ideas, seeing everything around you as potential raw material. And remember, it’s the mundane, unnoticed elements that sometimes hold the most significant creative potential.

Storytelling for Connection FAQ

rolodex of stories

How can tailoring your stories improve your connection with your listeners?

Tailoring your stories to fit the audience, moment, and lesson allows you to better connect with your listeners because it shows that you understand their needs, interests, and context. It demonstrates empathy and relevance, making your stories more relatable and impactful.

What are the different categories of stories you can develop and use across various mediums?

The different categories of stories you may want to ready include:

  • Brand story: your premise, your defensible idea that you own and include in your intellectual property
  • Personal story: how you got here–your answer to the “tell me about yourself” question, tailored to your point of view for the interview
  • Personal anecdotes: smaller moments that you’ll talk about to arrive at the key lesson
  • Lead story: like the opening chapter of the book or the big keynote speech, usually about others and carries a thread end to end
  • Anecdotes about others to share another realizing a point
  • Skeptic story: the story you tell when you see they’re pushing back; helps the audience identify with another skeptic, who, of course, overcomes their skepticism

These categories can be utilized in various mediums by selecting the most appropriate story that aligns with the purpose and audience of the medium, ensuring maximum resonance and connection.

If you wanna create things that are singular, you have to use what is singular in the equation, and that is you.

Jay Acunzo
using mundane life moments to illustrate your content

What is the distinction between creators who prioritize content and those who focus on connection?

The difference between creators who prioritize content and those who focus on connection  is important because prioritizing connection means resonating deeply with your audience and helping them see, do, think, or change something. By focusing on connection, creators can create content that stands out, resonates, and brings about meaningful results.

This is the quick win we want to provide our audience to help build that know, like, and trust factor, and the win that closes the first open loop you create in your content.

storyteller creating connection

What is crucial for creating original and resonant content?

Infusing your work with personal experiences, perspectives, and traits is crucial for creating original and resonant content because it adds authenticity, uniqueness, and relatability. By sharing personal stories and perspectives, you create a genuine connection with your audience, making your work more memorable and impactful.

Who we are is the one thing that’s defensible that no one else has access to, because we all have access to the same advice content, the same technology, the same software vendors.

Jay Acunzo

How can everyday moments be used as material for storytelling, and why does this create more impactful work?

By finding the deeper meaning and emotions in these moments and passions, you can create stories that resonate with your audience on a personal level. This is valuable for creating impactful work as it adds authenticity and relatability to your content.

The mundane moments can matter too… Everywhere we go, there is material. And so as long as you’re curious… the curiosity really drives you finding every moment, every idea, everything you consume or experience as material.

Jay Acunzo

Everyday moments and personal passions can be used as material for storytelling by recognizing their universal elements and underlying themes. Jay often ties this in with the phrase, “That’s the thing about…” to relate everyday stories back to your key point.

What are some practical methods or tools for generating and storing ideas to support consistent content as a creator?

Some practical methods and tools for generating and storing ideas include having a specific premise or personal vision for your audience, which guides your creative work. Additionally, creating a system for storing ideas, whether through digital tools or physical notebooks, allows for easy access and organization. This helps creators consistently generate ideas and make informed creative decisions.

Britney Gardner [00:00:07]: We are the content rebels. We've got 0 time for busywork that masquerades as marketing, and we're done with losing the impact of our big message Just to satisfy some SEO or social media algorithm rules. This is a show about marketing for established soloish entrepreneurs Who want to build real relationships with clients online? Join me each week as we make your content work for you. Hey. Hey, friends. Today, we are gonna be talking all about storytelling. We are in for a treat. We have Jay Acunzo on the podcast today, and we're gonna be talking about how storytelling is what's going to separate your Content from the masses. It's going to make you irreplaceable, and it's going to help your people understand whatever it is that you're selling and serving and offering So much better. Jay Acunzo is the founder of Creator Kitchen, a membership program helping professional creators and marketers push themselves creatively. After working in marketing roles for brands like ESPN, Google, HubSpot, Jay is an author, speaker, and the host of the award winning podcast Unthinkable, Where creative people take us inside unconventional choices they made to break from best practices and all the refreshing things that they've created as a result. With that, let's hop right on into the interview. Alright. Jay, welcome to the No Like and Dress show.

Jay Acunzo [00:01:35]: Thanks so much for having me, Britney.

Britney Gardner [00:01:36]: Obviously, our listeners are not gonna be seeing this, but you just picked up a mug that literally said Jay on it. So if I had forgotten your name, we'd be good there.

Jay Acunzo [00:01:44]: I was in a friend's wedding, and he gave Awesome YETI Giant Mugs, which come in handy when you're, like, toddlers at home and you're always sick and you need to chug water constantly because you podcast a lot. It's it's very nice to This yeah. Although I should maybe cover this up because everyone who sees it, it's gonna be like, why do you have a giant mug with your own name on it, man?

Britney Gardner [00:02:02]: I mean, you know, we all forget things sometimes. Right? With that, we can move into the actual topic at hand, which is storytelling. So I'm just kind of open to hearing what you would like to share on storytelling. I've been in Creator Kitchen for a few months now, and we just completed, the storytelling menu, which has been fantastic. It's been I won't say eye opening for me, more like just clarifying little bits, You know, those little glimmers of ideas. And I just I hope that we can share with the audience some of what I've gleaned from from these last couple months hanging out in the kitchen.

Jay Acunzo [00:02:37]: For sure. I think so we do these menus. So the Creator Kitchen is my membership, which you're a part of. Thank you, Britney. And we're focused on helping people become incredible story to help their careers and however they use it, whether you're an in house employee, independent, and a small business owner like like you and I are or something else. I just think everywhere we show up as a storyteller, we serve others better, and so we we are better served too. And so but I think a lot of people have this when you hear storyteller of, like, well, you have to do what Jay does. You have to host a podcast and give speeches and, like, have a public platform and or there's maybe this, like, certain, like, grandiose feeling to it, You know, to tell stories, and I have to have something groundbreaking or notable in the newsworthy sense. And a sound bite that you've heard me say several times To members is, like, it's noteworthy in that you noted it. Like, something caught your eye and you're like, that felt different. You know, maybe you keep chickens. That's your example, Britney. And, like, maybe you like the New York Knicks. That's maybe an an example of mine, or I like to cook with my my 4 year old daughter. I walk the dog out here, in my town outside of Boston. We're all experiencing moments that are either areas of passion or mundane routine things. They don't have to be like, I did a groundbreaking thing, and I'm telling, quote, unquote, my story. It's just that as you move through the world, That can all be material for metaphors, for analogies, for allegories, you know, which is just basically a story version of a metaphor. But you have material around you. It's just that I think we pull back from using it because either, a, we think it has to be some, you know, grandiose thing I experienced, Or, b, we think and this is a much more than common question on our minds. Well, why would they care? Why would they care about the thing I observe? Why would they care about my hobby? Because there are marketers trying to do x, y, or z. So let me just show up and, once again, start addressing something with flat instruction instead of story, which is Very inspiring and moving and gripping and sparks action far better. So that was the big mission for a time within well, it's really the overarching mission, I'd say, of the membership. But within The last 8 weeks, we focused on personal storytelling as a as a unit, which we which as you know, we call menus.

Britney Gardner [00:04:47]: You know what? One of the things that I think I came into this with was already the idea that I can draw from my my regular life. I've never shied away from being like, hey. I was gardening, and then this thing happened, and that's so very much similar to this other thing that I was talking about. And I feel like I've always done a pretty good job of that, and and I've really incorporated that into, like, the emails I send my list. And, I'd Actually done a whole workshop on how to use short, easy stories to introduce an idea in emails for another private community. And that part to me was always easy. It's it was more the, for me at least, the fear of using the same kind of story too often. And In my words, boring my audience was something that was not interesting to them. And, obviously, you already mentioned my chickens. Right? Like, Yeah. Yeah. Because I hang out with my chickens quite a bit. Like, there's a lot of lessons there. Totally. And and, I mean, is that a common thing? Do a lot of people have that same kind of Fear moving into personal storytelling?

Jay Acunzo [00:05:49]: Well, first of all, when you say say it that way, I think it's really telling moving into it. I always talk about, like, you have to step out over the cliff out onto this Wire without a safety net. Like, no one is gonna be interviewing you someday on a podcast, and they go, Britney, can you tell me, like, how should marketers be thinking about AI? And before you answer, can you please answer in personal story? Like, no one is gonna say that. You just have to decide to show up with the posture of a storyteller. And so we talk a lot about in the kitchen and elsewhere, in my work, talking about, yes, there's a process. And, of course, you have to practice, and you need a practice. Like, this podcast arguably is yours, but we also have this thing called posture. We need to master that. It's the way you see yourself in the world. So seeing yourself as a storyteller pursuing some kind of change, stepping out over the edge onto that Little thin wire without a safety net is a big part of this, so I'm glad you said that. One of the things that causes us, I think, to retreat back to what we perceive to be sturdier ground is well, the thing that's coming to mind for me is whatever. I have kids, so I'm just gonna pull constantly from having kids. And what if people get sick of that? What if I'm like what if I'm what if I become known as some weird little self made niche of, like, Jay's the Storyteller with kids. Like, I I don't want that. Right? You Britney's the freelancer with chickens. Like, we don't necessarily want that. And I think the only way that we end up that way is if we shut off our curiosity. Frankly, like, that's really the crux of all of this, which is if you are spending a lot of time with your chickens and you're observing a lot of stuff, what you just said was true. You're finding a lot of lessons for your audience of marketers. But that's not like you carry that same mentality with you everywhere you go, so apply it everywhere you go. And I'm talking, like, in for people listening, like, the mundane moments can matter too. Like, You you have this mug you realize you never looked critically at, and someday you did, and that sparked this random idea. Like, everywhere we go, there is material. And so as long as you're curious and I think there's, like, 2 things, 1 on the front end of your curiosity and 1 on the back end. But the curiosity really drives You finding every moment, every idea, everything you consume or experience as material. So that the 2 things that could help, the thing on the front end is What's your premise? Like, what are you exploring that is specific and defensible? What's the personal vision you have for your audience? And so for example, like, The premise I'm exploring overall is I think we should prioritize resonance over reach. How do we do that? Well, I think we should be an effective storyteller. What does that mean? There's all these questions that come out when you're like, I wanna own the idea of resonance in the world of creators and marketers, And I wanna pursue that with curiosity. Now all of a sudden, everything I do, everywhere I go, I'm sort of, like, vaguely thinking about that idea because you don't shut off your brain. You don't shut off creativity. And so having a very potent premise that takes a while to articulate and find, but knowing it, you might call it a personal mission, is like coloring the glasses you're wearing so you always see the world through that lens, meaning everything is gonna look like potential material where you can quickly vet it as such. So that's on the front end of your curiosity. And then on the back end is just a place to put it. You know, an an app that syncs neatly to your phone and your computer, just an easy way to Store all these things so that even though you spend 80% of your free time with your chickens, the 20%, 5%, percent that you spend away from it is still yielding ideas that you can log. So I think if you have those 3 things, if you have a premise through which you see the world and press all your work, which is supposed to serve the audience, of course. And then curiosity everywhere you go, which if you're creative, I think you do. You're sensitive to the world. You ask questions. You wonder. It hits you. You go, And then you have a place to store all these things. Now when you go to create stuff, You can make the decision, which I know you do, Britney, which is like, I've written about my chicken several times as metaphors in the last, like, 3 weeks. Maybe I'll pick a different idea, but you're set up to do so more easily.

Britney Gardner [00:09:50]: Well, like, I like what you said. I mean, I have my own way of storing, like, ideas and, You know, comparisons I've noted in my everyday life. Yeah. I used to do a lot more than I do now. I don't store nearly as many these days because I found that I don't actually need to Trello board certain things. They just kind of pop back up. Other things, though, like, they're that that tenuous idea you have, you know, right as you're falling asleep or waking up, you're like, if I don't grab my phone and write this down right now, it is Yeah. Not going to stay around. Right? So There is that. There is, like, that that kind of practice of, like, storing the ideas that you have. But so many of my really good ones, they just kind of spark During conversation or during other things. Even, like, you know, earlier, you were, you know, talking about how you cook with your 4 year old daughter, and I was, like, Just this weekend, doing the same thing with my 5 year old son. We were making this, like, Japanese oh goodness. I'm gonna butcher it. Kohakuru candy. It's like a Sugar crusted gummy on the inside, and he's so annoyed because it takes several days for it to actually develop that crust. Talking about patience. I could insert that story anywhere. You know what I mean? Like and and it's not the kind of thing I'm gonna forget the minute I'm thinking. Oh, I need to talk about, Like, the wait and see approach I need to talk about. You know? Like, it'll pop back into my head because it's probably the most notable thing that people would resonate with that I've experienced lately. But when it comes to, like, bigger ideas, kind of more overarching storytelling ideas, do you have any ways of Not managing, but just kind of, like, forming those kind of thematic stories that you insert?

Jay Acunzo [00:11:26]: Yeah. I think there's there's a bunch of categories of stories that, As an author, like, for 3 straight years, my job was basically, like, to give speeches and work on and or promote the book. It's very privileged to say, and most people don't have that privilege or want to pursue it in the 1st place. They like building their business or whatever it is. And I also had great mentors helping me. But for 3 years, I was basically, like, developing a bag of stories that I could carry with me everywhere, And then they made their way into the book and the speeches, etcetera. And what I found was, oh, okay. Everywhere like, listening to podcasts is an easy example. Everywhere our favorite authors show up, they tend to grip you with these stories. Right? And the really great ones are not just saying the same words over and over again. Even if it's a similar story, they're molding it to fit the audience, fit the moment, fit the lesson. So but they have a short bag to play with. They don't have infinite stories. And so those are consciously developed. And so for for a time, I was like, well, what if that's how we all operate? Because we're all showing up publicly now. We're all little mini media companies acting more like authors or we should. And I think we're stuck acting like bloggers too much, meaning no disrespect. I've been a blogger since 2005. But meaning, I have, like, a general topic that I cover. I'm a marketing blogger. And then I have a bunch of pieces that kinda hold together loosely to that topic, how to do this, why you should that, Threads just launched from Meta. Here's what to know. Like, all those things. Right? But an author goes, here's a premise that is specific and defensible. I can own it like intellectual property. Gonna explore it deeply and from all different angles, and I'm gonna have lots of stories about that. Okay. What if we approach our own platforms like that? So I touched on the premise idea, But now there's categories of stories I think you need. So the premise idea is almost like the brand story or the mission story. But then you need a personal story, which is like, hey, Jay. Tell me about yourself. How'd you get here? Okay. How do I tell my story in sort of a macro level general sense? And make it not about me, but about the thing I'm there to teach others. In other words, the thing people care about, which is not just a laundry list of stuff I've done. So you need the brand story, the personal story. I have personal anecdotes, which are just smaller points or smaller moments that I'll talk about to arrive at Key lesson, like, to answer a specific question, I can bring out one of these anecdotes and say, well, that's the thing about this topic. Here's the lesson from that story. So Brand story, personal story, personal anecdotes, lead stories. These are like the opening chapter of the book or the big Keynote speech, the central story, or a pillar podcast episode, these are about other people, and they illuminate something end to end. Like, here's an example of what it looks like. Tell you the story. But just as I had the personal story and lead story, I also need now third party anecdotes. So this is, oh, well, Britney is a member of the kitchen. The other day, Britney, we're we were talking about how she keeps chickens, and then finally, the skeptic story. So I don't know how much that is. That's the brand story, that's 1. Personal story, personal anecdotes 2 and 3. The lead stories, which are about other people, those are kind of like the pillar stories about others. Then Anecdotes about others, that's 5. And this a skeptic story, which is just you know, I know you're not getting it, or I know you're pushing back, or I know this seems scary. You sound kinda like Bill let me tell you about Bill. Right? Bill started at Skeptical 2. So that's 6 categories of stories. And to develop them, like, pick the one you feel is Most exciting to you, most important to you as a general category, or find 1 specific story and see where it slots in though those 6. And then the way you develop it is you just start to tell it everywhere. Like, you can put process to it, and I have a method I use to do that, which I'm happy to talk about, but It's just showing the road show that story. Act like a stand up comic. Take it on the road. Tweet it. Put it on LinkedIn. Write it medium form. On your newsletter, write it in long form, put it on stages, give it out loud to friends or on podcast interviews. You basically have to run one of these stories in any of those categories through the ringer. And bay if you step back from this rant of mine, what you come away with is, I have a premise, which is just the way I see the world and the vision I have, the change I wanna inspire. And then I have all these stories supporting that premise. And now everywhere I show up, I am stronger for it in any medium, live, offline, in person, virtual, doesn't matter. I can resonate a lot deeper and a lot easier because I've done this development work. That's a freakish thing that I got to do as a job, but I just sort of lifted what what I did for 3 years. I mean, that process could take you 2 months. Right? Like, to do that little process. I think we're all better if we do something like that.

Britney Gardner [00:16:05]: I love that you named I think it was 6 of them. Right? I I love I love that you named all 6 because For the general person who's maybe not a marketer, but is clearly now, as he said, a mini media company in and of themselves, The the idea of including even 1 story can be a little bit difficult for some of my clients at least, some of the people that I've worked with. So the idea that there are, you know, several different categories of stories that that you can test because marketing is a test. We do need to test it out. Right? That you can kind of move through this process and that it's okay for you to kind of watch some stories flop, but that it's okay for you to say, this was good. There is potential there, but I need to push and develop it a little bit further because it's not quite hitting the way I'd hoped. Right? I like knowing that people who have done this professionally for 3 years, like you said, are encouraging others because there's so much out there that we can be doing. And I know for for many people who who maybe marketing is not their their primary, you know, thing. They have to market their business or in the services because That's what we do online. But knowing that we can do it in a more personal way, I think, takes so much of the, this is just that thing I have to do out of it when you can kind of include and pull back from the things that you do love and put it into that marketing.

Jay Acunzo [00:17:23]: And you could find very narrow. I gave you 6 broad categories, and under each category that you could have a bunch of different stories or come up with a bunch of different ideas or or things that jump to mind or that you observe. But right down to, I just wanna write the next blog post. I mean, like, this applies. Like, thinking about opening with a metaphor from your personal life, an observed moment that helps you arrive at a lesson makes it a lot stickier in people's brains that helps helps cement that literally, People have studied how how memories of experiences form, and there's something called the primacy and recency effects or phenomena. The primacy and recency the in other words, the first and the last, moments with something really cement the memory in people's brains. So if you want people to have a favorable memory of you, Open strong, close strong, right, if you're writing a blog post. Well, the way you open strong is not to do the bad high school writing turn chat GPT lazy use case, which is like everybody knows everyone knows the importance of this thing in marketing today. Well, today, we're gonna discuss the 6 ways you can do this in your marketing if you're in the services business or or whatever, that generic opening we're all familiar with. Instead, if you open with something that feels like the other day, I was at a pizza place, and believe it or not, The waiter gave me an insight that I think we all need in marketing. I couldn't believe it. Right? So that is an observed thing having seemingly nothing to do with marketing pizza. It's from my personal life. It's not groundbreaking, and it also opens a loop, which is like, how in the world is he gonna land this to be relevant to me? Know, what was the groundbreaking thing? And then you continue it with a little tiny template that I like to use. So the template is this happened. I was at a pizza place, and the waiter says something to me. And then the second thing is, which made me realize that's back in our world. I'm teaching you something about storytelling or marketing or whatever. And as a result, this or so this means that. In other words, people go, so what? I like the realization. So what do I do as a result of that? So this happened. I was at a pizza place, and I sat down, and I started chatting with my favorite waiter about their competitor down the street. And I was like, how do you describe the differences between these 2 places? Because you're both award winning pizza places. And he said to me something that changed my perspective on our work as, bring it back home, storytellers. He goes, well, we all have access to the same vendors, meaning, like, the cheese, the ingredients, sauce, all of it. But the thing we have access to that they don't, and also that applies in reverse to us and them, is we each have different starter dose. And starters, it's like the flour water mixture that you use to start making dough. So as a result, no 2 starters make the same dough, So we can taste different because we have this starter dough in our world, in our office, in our kitchen, and it's been fermenting over time, and we expose it to this type of lighter heat or in this container. And if you were to make our dough with their starter, we'd taste more like them and vice versa. So that's what that's when I realized, Wait a second. In creative work, we are kinda like the starters in our content. And we're not really starting with who we are as people. But who we are is the one thing that's defensible that no one else has access to because we all have access to the same advice content, the same technology, the same software vendors. Right? Same toppings, same cheese, the same sauce. So what does this mean? Well, it means the next time you go to write a blog post, don't try to rely on some Keyword research you did or AI tool you used, don't start there. Start with what you have observed and lived because you're the starter, and no 2 starters make the same dough. If you wanna be original, Start with what you actually have that's original. You. You're the starter. Okay. Now I could shorten that into a couple paragraphs for the blog post opening. Right? That is, by the way, one of my stories I carry with me all the time. But, hopefully, I made the point, which is this happened. You observed a thing or experienced a thing, which made me realize, here's an insight that I hope is profound and useful for our audience today. And that means and then let let me play it forward. How does this actually turn into action? How does this change my behavior if I'm in the audience? That little tiny template, those the 3 beats of a metaphor is kinda like a little sift, little sieve that you can use. You press through a moment that you've had in your life and see what pops out. Takes you 5 minutes, And you go, does this fit? No. Let me reengineer this part or that part. You know, it's part of the drafting process, but it makes your draft more like a story than just, like, flat, Everybody knows this. We're gonna talk about this today.

Britney Gardner [00:21:54]: Man, you really do use the kitchen metaphors. I know you said that you do, but you actually really do.

Jay Acunzo [00:21:59]: Oh,

Britney Gardner [00:21:59]: yeah. It's funny. I you know, it's k. So you mentioned AI earlier, and, I know that you've written and talked about it at least a little bit. Well, we all have, I guess, at this point. I, while listening to you talking about the dough, I thought you were gonna go in a different Different direction. And I had this vision of, Will Ferrell in the movie Elf. You know, he he, like he's wandering the streets, and he sees, you know, one of those little, like, New York diners, and it says world's best Coffee, and he's like, you did it. World's best. I thought you were gonna go in that direction with the with the dough, you know, that they're all award winning. Right? But that sparks the whole idea in my head. Right? Like, AI. Right? You were talking about the template. Well, you know, these are the 6 ways that you can do this. You know, marketing is always like this. Right? And so much of the commodity content that we're seeing out there, even before AI was introduced, but certainly it's worse Since then, how's that kind of, you know, remnants of that we're all the world's best coffee owner kind of feel? And Sure. Everything that we're talking about with personal storytelling and giving your own unique event and and using the starter door that only you have access to, It's what gives me hope that AI is not gonna ruin us. And I'd I would just love to hear some of your thoughts on that before we kind of start wrapping things up.

Jay Acunzo [00:23:17]: Sure. It's very simple. I have a very simple assessment of what's happening right now. I think there's an enormous bright line emerging between creative people. On one side of the line, you have people who think this job is about content, and on the other side, you have the people who really understand the job is about connection. And if you understand that the job is not to produce 10 x the stuff, a 10 x the speed, or half the cost, but the actual job is to resonate deeply with others to help them see or do or think or change something, well, then you're I think you're set up to be fine, be totally fine. If all you're trying to do is create generalized expertise, commodified content, Yeah. You're very replaceable. And so you need to imbue something into that work that could only come from you, your creative fingerprints. And if you know how to do that, AI is your intern. You don't, if you're creating stuff that anybody in your space pretty much could create, then AI might be your replacement. But even if it's not, You have to know that you're creating commodities. Now commodities are not useless. Gold is a commodity. It's useful. Wheat, very useful. Right? It's just that the source doesn't really matter until you start to tell a better story. Right? I can get that anywhere, and you're anywhere. I gotta pick up milk on the way home for the kids. I can get that anywhere. I don't really care where I get it. I don't really care about the brand, right, unless you tell a better story to me. And so When you're creating commodities, the only way to win is exhausting. You have to shout louder. You have to hype harder. You have to outspend your competition. You have to reach them before The competition reaches them because you're all offering the same thing, a commodity. Again, I can get it anywhere, and you're anywhere. But the things that make you you, The things that are your perspectives or your overall perspective, the personality traits you have, the quirks, Again, the lived moments and personal stories, all those things. You know, no LLM is trained on that to spit it out into some tool. So what is it about you that truly does make you the starter in what you're creating? So what we're what this means is while this has always been true, this has now gotten urgent. We are entering this era where, again, a truth that's been around for a while is now urgent, where all the things you've experienced, the fact that you're sarcastic, the fact you have a little sister, the fact that you like the Knicks, the fact that you're very star very, Italian and have, like, a love of food And and wine and bourbon, the fact that you went to Bermuda when your mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in sophomore year of high school and you had, several long term relationships instead of being single. Literally, everything you've ever experienced now matters and can now be used to create more original, more gripping work. Because if you wanna create things that are singular, you have to use what is singular in the equation, and that is you. You're the biggest, most differentiated variable in the equation you're running. And if you remove that, you're running the same equation that either every comp competitor is running or all these tools are running. Right? So the at the end of the day, we have to remember, this is not about content. This is about connection. It's not about making more stuff. It's about making things that make a difference. That's how we get results, and that's how we also defend ourselves against being replaced.

Britney Gardner [00:26:23]: I love that. Thanks, Jay. That was awesome. I, well, very clearly tell that you're passionate about it, but you very succinctly said one of the things that I've been Not so succinctly saying for a long time that it's not about content. It's about connection. And, obviously, content is one of the ways that we can connect, but We have to do it with more intention than what the tools out there will do by themselves. Thank you. Wanna tell us a little more about Creator Kitchen? I would love for you to share it just because I've had just it's only been a few months, but I've had such a great experience so far.

Jay Acunzo [00:26:57]: That just means the world to me. Thank you for saying that. So the Creator Kitchen is a is a membership group for people who wanna become incredible storytellers and wanna use that storytelling to anchor their career and grow their business and their audience or or whatever cause. And so what we found was When you care about ideas like quality and craft and creativity and you work in fields like you're a content marketer or a content creator of any kind, we have a lot of independence in our group, and most of us are freelancers or owners ourselves, so creators. When you care about ideas like that, you look at what happens on the Internet, especially on social feeds, And you're disgusted and disillusioned and simply not served by that basic stuff. And so what we wanted to do is create a a beautiful corner of the Internet where people like You and me, Britney, can thrive on the quality of our ideas and the mastery of our craft. And so what we do is we help people essentially experience creative growth and consistent creative momentum together with their peers. So there's a lot of, I think, junk in the world that is Pulling you away from creating the work that only you can create, causing you to dilute not only the work but your results. And what we're trying to do is say, well, What are the skills we actually have to master to do work only we can create? It's certainly not following Jay's giant blueprint for how he works. Although you do get access to my entire process behind the scenes as you know, it's much more about personal transferable creative strengths, like personal storytelling, or we just announced our next shared focus, which is gonna be branding and modeling your ideas. How do you come up with that awesome visual or acronym or, you know, the 2 by 2 framework you put on a slide or You teach to people or it anchors all of your business and projects they're in. Those are the types of things. Personal storytelling, You playing with tension, using tension, we're thinking about that, interview skills, branding and modeling your idea. These are things that go with you everywhere. If you can do this, they're all the different traits of a star of an effective storyteller. So everywhere you show up, you can do the work that only you are capable of doing. So my sneaky not so hidden agenda is I wanna create irreplaceable creators, but that's not why people arrive. They're not, like, scared of AI. They're just hopeful that there's a the higher caliber of work in them, and they might wanna unleash that work alongside other people who sort of get it if you're feeling isolated or stagnant elsewhere.

Britney Gardner [00:29:17]: Perfect. Jay, thank you so much. This has been great. I'm really hoping that our audience was able to just feel better, feel not just hopeful, but, like, Inspired to better work out there.

Jay Acunzo [00:29:28]: Thank you, Britney. I really appreciate that.

Britney Gardner [00:29:31]: Alright. I loved this conversation. Guys already heard me. I don't feel like I have a lot to add to it. I just wanna reiterate, though, content is never gonna be as good without connection. Or as Jay said it, it's connection over content. And that might sound a little bit funny coming from a content strategist, But it is the connection that makes the content sing. It's what makes it work for you. Do that heavy lifting in your business so you can get back to living your life. See you next week. If you found value from this episode, there are 2 things you can do to thank me. The first is share it with a friend. If you enjoyed this episode, you learned something from it, odds are you know somebody who needs to hear this message. I do truly believe that a rising tide lifts all boats. And if you help that friend with something that they need to do, we're gonna have less crappy marketers out there, which means less scams, And we get to help more people in those ways that we uniquely are meant to help them. The second thing you can do is leave a rating on whichever podcast app you are listening to the show on right now. Doing that helps me reach more people, getting, again, this same great information out there, And we all make a better, happier, effective, and ethical world as a result. Thanks so much. See you next week.

Music by Michael De La Torre. Thanks, Mikey!