For our Season 3 finale, Naga is in conversation with podcaster and content guru - Jay Acunzo to discuss, what differentiates great creators from all others, how to find your first 10-50 true fans? Is there a one size fits all approach to monetization?
Reach out to Jay Acunzo and Check out his content -
Member Group (Paid) - https://jayacunzo.com/membership
Podcast - 3 Clips – https://jayacunzo.com/3-clips
Podcast - Unthinkable – https://jayacunzo.com/unthinkable-podcast
Twitter – https://twitter.com/jayacunzo
Website - https://jayacunzo.com/
Books: Break the Wheel: Question Best Practices, Hone Your Intuition, and Do Your Best Work
Reach out to Naga –
Twitter - @n1n3stuff / @PassionPeop1 (https://twitter.com/ThePassionPeop1 )
Facebook - The Passion People Podcast
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/thepassionpeoplepodcast/
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Sound Attribution and Credits - Music from Pipo and Wowa(you should check out their music on Spotify here - https://open.spotify.com/artist/6zZPxLiRfbGUnoEAJmfJJN) from Unminus. All music other than the jingle on the episode is under the CC0 License and downloaded from freesound.org , freemusicarchive.org and unminus.com
[00:00:00] Jay Acunzo: [00:00:00] you hear the phrase creator economy used quite often. And I think what we're living through is a very dangerous transition for a group of people who are trying to earn a living and a comfortable living at that using their creativity.
[00:00:15]it's also very dangerous because with that momentum comes this, misunderstanding that to do this, you need to be famous that you need to be an influencer. And I think fame and influence is becoming way too closely tied to the creator economy.
[00:00:31]most importantly, this shifting mindset from essentially building on rented land like YouTube or Twitter and moving over to a platform you actually own like your own website and email list.
[00:00:43] Naga S: [00:00:43] Hey Jay. Hello and welcome to the passionate people podcast. And thank you for taking the time
[00:00:48] to be on the show.
[00:00:49]Jay Acunzo: [00:00:49] Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it,
[00:00:50]Naga S: [00:00:50] Jay, you have an extremely unique perspective, given your background in content marketing, the kind of shows that you've launched and the amazing work that you do at three clips.
[00:01:01]So as, as we start. I would love to just get like a 30,000 feet view of the content landscape from your lens and how it looked at the start of 2020 and how COVID has changed it.
[00:01:13]Jay Acunzo: [00:01:13] Yeah. I'd love to answer. I spend very little time thinking about the trends and what everyone else is doing, because if I did that, I think I would probably break down.
[00:01:22]I'm so focused on trying to. Serve the audience that I'd like to serve that it's difficult to follow the trends, but I will say that I think what we're living through, you hear the phrase creator economy used quite often. And I think what we're living through is a very dangerous transition for a group of people who are trying to earn a living and a comfortable living at that using their creativity.
[00:01:46]Because on the one hand you have momentum. Which is helping more and more people say, well, I have this craft, for me, I like to create shows. I like to tell stories about the workplace. Somebody else might focus on a different niche, [00:02:00] but I have this creative craft. It's never been a better time to go and build your own audience, which by the way means moving off of social media, using social media, but not stopping there, moving people to your website and your email list, building an audience.
[00:02:14]And serving that audience more deeply with products and experiences that they pay for. So it's never been a better time for that, but it's also very dangerous because with that momentum comes this, misunderstanding that to do this, you need to be famous that you need to be an influencer. And I think fame and influence is becoming way too closely tied to the creator economy.
[00:02:39]So I think where I'd like to see this all go. Is to have a middle-class develop. So middle-class in a, like a classic sense that there's a sociologist named Dennis Gilbert. He wrote a great book called the American class structure in an age of growing and an inequality. And Gilbert defines middle-class as upper and lower middle-class.
[00:02:59] So there's two little segments, but they combined to make up about 45 to 50% of the total population. And that 45 to 50% is judged based on their ability to have a comfortable standard of living significant economic security, considerable work autonomy, and a reliance on their own expertise to sustain themselves.
[00:03:21]So what I'd like to see is a future in the not too distant future, by the way, where we stop trying to be super famous and have. Massive and impressive audience reach. And we actually truly embrace the ideas like Kevin Kelly's 1000 true fans or Seth Godin's smallest viable audience and try and find a small number of people who react in a big way to what we do and serve them more deeply.
[00:03:49]And how do we get there? I think we need to stop trying to be social media famous and trying to serve people with our craft. So my fear. Is that way too many people are [00:04:00] way too excited about more and more, more bigger, bigger, bigger, get famous in a niche or anything. General. My hope is that we can get to a place where 45 to 50%.
[00:04:08] And that's, I think that's the bar. If you look at all, creators are 45 are about half of them able to earn a comfortable standard of living with significant economic security work autonomy. Using their expertise to sustain themselves. And I think it's going to take a lot of education to get there better tools.
[00:04:27]And most importantly, this shifting mindset from essentially building on rented land like YouTube or Twitter and moving over to a platform you actually own like your own website and email list.
[00:04:39]Naga S: [00:04:39] Got it. Let me double click on some of the concepts that you've spoken about here. Right? First one is Kevin Kelly's , a hundred true fans or legions thousand true fans, or what they talk about in terms of how much money are these folks willing to give you so that you are able to pursue your craft.
[00:04:56]Right? So in order for us to be able to get to these thousand of these hundred people, you will at least need to reach like a 10,000 folks or like, you know, 5,000 folks. Right. And they might eventually convert into those smaller number of people who might end up being, who are potentially be able to sustain us financially.
[00:05:14]So if your suggestion is for folks not to be too worried about having a broad reach, or I think what you're really trying to say is that people should not approach like a, have a spray and pray approach, where they say that I'm trying to get everyone is my audience. And you're saying that you really need to have a niche.
[00:05:31]But my question is more fundamental in terms of how do you really build that first initial audience who would be like the top of the funnel for your paying customers later on?
[00:05:41]Jay Acunzo: [00:05:41] Everything I'm about to say is going to sound incredibly hard to do, because everybody wants to see the final result, but I assure you, I don't know any other way to do this other than you get incredibly lucky.
[00:05:51]Lightning strikes and suddenly lots of people know who you are. So I think those stories are mostly myth here. Here's what I encourage people to [00:06:00] do. Stop thinking about the funnel and think about your audience as a series of concentric circles. So kind of like a bullseye in the middle and bigger and bigger circles moving out from the middle.
[00:06:09]When you think of it like a funnel, I think you do think of it kind of the way you just described it, Naga where you need to reach 10,000 people to get a hundred or a thousand to. For example, subscribed to your newsletter. I actually think you need to just put aside the funnel, right? Stop trying to reach a lot of people first and convert a few people in the end of it all.
[00:06:29]And start thinking about these concentric circles, where in the middle there's this circle called super fans. And as you radiate out from super fans, you get closer and closer to total strangers. What most of us try to do when we market, what we do is we go to total, strangers may be passive observers of our work, and we try to basically try to get them to like us quickly.
[00:06:52]And that makes no sense. So whether you think in like human relationship terms or dollars and cents. It's inefficient and ineffective to try and convince total strangers that you're worth subscribing to or paying it's a lot easier and a lot more in line with how humans work to go to five other human beings that, you know, you can serve more deeply and try to build something that they like.
[00:07:14]So I think most of us are in a position where we have some people in our network, social network or otherwise like online network or in the real world where we can reach a very small number of people. I mean, whatever small means to you, one, five, 15, 5,500, it depends on you and give them something that they love and react too strongly.
[00:07:34]And if you can't do that, Then that's the problem. The problem isn't I can't reach more people, but I need to, the problem is you haven't actually built something that people are willing to refer others. So ostensibly, if you reach, I don't know, let's pick a number, a hundred people to listen to your podcast episode.
[00:07:52]You should be pretty well situated to grow the show more easily because those hundred people should be spending [00:08:00] a lot of time with you and telling all their friends. You know, relevant friends, check out that show. I think we assume we do that. We assume that we're actually creating something for super fans that is worth sharing.
[00:08:12]And then we say, well, it's not growing. So the problem must be the marketing. We have to go reach 10,000 people. I don't think that's true. I think actually, when you think about building a real-world community, you think about meeting up for coffee or drinks with two or three people, then two or three more next time than five or six more.
[00:08:30] The next time, then you have an event, then you have a panel. Then you have a huge conference. Like it really is that slow build approach. It's the same online, just because you can reach a lot of people doesn't mean that that's actually an effective way to grow. It actually starts by making something that one or a few people really, truly do love.
[00:08:48]And tell their friends about, and it's a dangerous assumption to make. If you're not growing to assume you've actually done that. So the way it's sum this up is most of the time we don't have a marketing problem, we have a product problem. We have a service problem. We have a depth problem, not a reach problem.
[00:09:04]Naga S: [00:09:04] Got it. I also think that some of this narrative is being carried over from like the startup world or like SAAS businesses in general, that they refer to all of these numbers of like funnels and that that's how they look at the world. However, the mental model that you suggested, which is how actual communities really get built.
[00:09:23] It's the way creator should be looking at it. Like, no, it should be like, they're talking to the first individual 5,000. How many of the people that they can and then see how they can expand that. That's a great insight that you give that. So then the next question I have for your Jay is that now you mentioned that it's not about marketing, it's your product and you've, you've seen a ton of content.
[00:09:46]And there will be some things that set apart great content from everything else that's out there. In global shows, your, you spoke about, we don't really need another podcast, which talks to you [00:10:00] know, famous authors and how they got there.
[00:10:01] But what we need is something. A lot more specific though. Can I just ask you to dive a little bit deeper into what makes a great product, especially now that our attention spans are so low and there's so many things that are finding to make us want to look at
[00:10:16]Jay Acunzo: [00:10:16] Sure. I mean, our attention spans aren't so low because we're bingeing, Netflix shows we're subscribing to newsletters that write essays.
[00:10:23]We're reading books were having conversations with friends and family. I read somewhere and I wish I remember who said this. This is not my quote. We don't have we don't have shorter attention spans. We have shorter interest spans, which means we are going to tolerate things that are not engaging and not personal for less time. So table stakes be relevant. Table stakes, be enjoyable. Differentiating is to feel refreshing that you've done something different and good, not just a random stunt, not a gimmick that feels hollow to grab attention, but something delightful that people didn't expect in a welcome way. Differentiating is to feel personal.
[00:11:02] Like you want the reaction not to be, this is a popular thing, but you want it to be, this is my favorite thing. And favorite is not number one in the category. It's not different because you pulled a stunned. Favorite means somebody's personal and preferred pick for a specific purpose. So when you think about a product, a service content, any experience today, the goal is to make it feel personal to the other person you're trying to serve, or the audience we're trying to serve.
[00:11:28] In other words, the best reaction you can get is they say to you, now this is speaking to my soul. That's what you want. Your brand, the way you position it, the story you just publish, the way you talk about the world and see the world and lead your community. This is speaking to my soul. It is my personal preferred pick for this specific purpose.
[00:11:47] It is my favorite. And so, you know, your favorite restaurant may not be the top rated restaurant. Your favorite shirt may not win any awards for fashion. My favorite basketball team is the New York Knicks. If [00:12:00] you know anything about basketball, you know, the New York Knicks are one of the worst basketball teams.
[00:12:04] So just really think about that objectively. One of the worst things in this set is my favorite thing. So feeling like someone's favorite has nothing to do with how big it is or how academically or objectively awesome it is. It has nothing to do with the things we look at. When we look at our peers, it has everything to do with, are you resonating deeply with somebody on a personal level?
[00:12:26]So backing all the way up to starting your build a product content, a podcast, something else. There's really some set problems you're going to face, which I think we fail to address because we're so focused on the tech and the distribution and the measurement of it all. But the first challenge you're going to face is are you saying something that matters?
[00:12:46]So if it's a podcast, for example, have you actually developed a premise for your show? And a premise is not just the topics you explore. It's not just what you cover. It's also how you explore them. So it's your topics plus your hook? So there's plenty of sales podcasts in the world who talked to experts in sales, but there is only one podcast for salespeople that explore the value of practice in your sales job.
[00:13:13]And that's a show called practice first from a SAAS company called Lessonly. So that's a good example. Lessonly is saying something that matters. They observed their sales audience and they're like, look, you want to be better at sales? Well, I think you need to be better at practicing your craft. So Lessonly sells training software for salespeople, and they know that their customers who value practice close faster, and they're more valuable for their businesses.
[00:13:38]Well, they're also then saying to the world, we need to elevate the role of practice. So we're not going to just interview a bunch of sales executives on this show on practice. First, we're going to learn how world-class practices do that to then try to translate it to our world in sales. So they'll talk to Olympians, they'll talk to Somalis.
[00:13:58]They will talk to coaches. [00:14:00] And to me that is. That's IP that's intellectual property. That is defensible because when you say that to the world, like, actually this is something that matters to us and to the community, someone is saying, man, that is speaking to my soul. I'm with you, I'm on the journey to understand practice and how to practice better as a sales individual.
[00:14:20]And someone else is saying, yes, I'm in sales, but I don't believe that practice is that important. Well, that's fine. This is not a show for you. That's okay. Also, if you, if you tried our product, you would dislike our product too. So it's that level of specificity and saying something that truly matters of combining your topics.
[00:14:38] In other words, what you explore with your hook, that unique angle into the topics, your point of view, your quest, that you're bringing people on. Those are the things that combined to say something that matters. And those are the starting points for building in your words, a great product.
[00:14:53]Naga S: [00:14:53] So now we've spoken about the number of people that you need for your, like a minimum viable audience you've spoken about. How do you make a great product once content creator has achieved both of these things? What do you think is the next best way to achieve? Monetization. And what I mean by monetization is that the audience typically is expecting to either be entertained or to learn something new or to be taken on a journey or be disconnected from reality, so to speak because they just want to relax and unwind when, when they're consuming content apart from these three broad value teams, what are some of the other Aspects that creators can keep in mind so that they can move towards monetization in a quicker and more thoughtful manner.
[00:15:43]Jay Acunzo: [00:15:43] I can't answer that question because it's too general. Because there's a million, everything at our disposal today, our tools. Right. So like, could you do a course? Sure. Could you run ads? Sure. Could you sell a book? Absolutely. You know, could you create a membership group? Absolutely. These are all tools.
[00:15:58]And so [00:16:00] rather than have me give a general answer, I would encourage people to go and talk to their audience and understand what is. Still bugging them. What problem is left under addressed or what thing is under explored that they'd like to understand better? So we have all these tools at our disposal and I'm kind of struck by today.
[00:16:20] We're all looking for that, answer, that silver bullet, you know, the savior tactic, you should do this. Well that's general advice and I don't know the variables of your specific situation. So just ignore what I say and go talk to your audience. You know, a good example of this is, this podcast called three clips, which is where podcasts join us and take us inside their best work.
[00:16:41]And we do so by playing three different clips and breaking them down together. So I talked to the audience of three clips all the time on social media. I do one-on-one video calls through my newsletter. And one of the things I've recognized is this audience desperately wants to create really awesome shows, but there's this disassociation.
[00:17:02] They feel between their heroes and them, whether they admire great podcasts, but they're like, Oh, I could never do anything that big. Well, it's like, okay. But if you're like, listen to the show, these people aren't describing anything big or stunt, like they're describing these tiny choices they made all the time that combined to making a great show.
[00:17:20]So you can put process to that. Well, what is the process I was, you know, okay, I'll go write some essays about what I'm learning from the show. I'll send some tweets, I'll send some newsletter, additions, all about the things I'm learning and thinking about as a result of this show. And now I'm looking for, you know, am I getting a strong reaction from the audience?
[00:17:38]Okay, the answer is yes. Great. Well, how do I then go a level deeper with these ideas? Let me take one specific thing. And in this case, I took the premise because that is such an important and overlooked thing. How do you develop a premise for your podcast? That's what prompts subscription. That's what drives the sharing of your show?
[00:17:55] It's what helps you make choices inside your show? The premise development is [00:18:00] crucial, but most people don't think of the premise. They think of growth. They think of growing the show. How do I know that? Because I talked to these people and when I bring up premise development, it's like their eyes glaze over and they have no idea what I'm talking about.
[00:18:12] Then I explain it, you know, then I explain it, then they get it. So when I talk about growth, they lean in, when I talk about premise development, they lean back. So I have to put the two together. So you want to grow your show. Great. What makes a growable show? Well, it starts with the premise. So then I developed a course.
[00:18:29]To help people grow their shows by developing a better premise called it Growable shows. So all those decisions from the content I'm creating, you know, that's away from the show to pressure test my ideas to the name itself growable shows because I could have called it premise development. It all comes from me talking to the audience.
[00:18:47] So as a creator today, it can be overwhelming because you have myriad tools and tons of different products that you could create for your audience. There's no way you can pick that out. In theory, you have to just pursue endless curiosity and pursue little threads that your audience surfaces to you. And for me, the best way to do that is actually not to create podcast episodes it's to write is to use writing as a way to explore.
[00:19:11]I might learn something through the podcast, but then I'm like, great. I'm going to write a ton about this stuff. I'll write stuff on Twitter. I'll write stuff in my blog. I'll write stuff on my newsletter. I'll write and write and write until I understand these things better. And have process and have technique I can teach.
[00:19:25] And I'm also getting a feedback loop for my audience to understand if they're, if they're picking up what I'm putting down. So I know that's a long answer, but I don't think there is a simple answer. I think it is go talk to your audience, but be process-driven about it.
[00:19:36]Naga S: [00:19:36] Yup. I love the fact that you're, you're not only engaging with your audience and in one form.
[00:19:42] Right? And, and even as part of the clips, you also have like specific episodes that are just dedicated to input your conversation with the listeners and the kind of stuff that you hear back from them.
[00:19:52]Jay Acunzo: [00:19:52] That's another great example of talking to the audience that I sort of discovered by accident. It's like I do.
[00:19:58]A listener mailbag episode, [00:20:00] once in awhile, where mostly on Twitter, I ask if people have questions about creating shows and we'll do five to seven questions in an episode that I'll answer. So we don't have a guest. It's not the usual production. It's just Q and a, and I'm answering questions I got on Twitter.
[00:20:14]And what I realized is everybody's questions, or a lot of questions tend to focus on things that they think they need to know. But I want to show them actually, what you really need to know is over here. And I can't just say that I have to start with the problems that they think they have and walk them every step of the way to the problem that I know they have.
[00:20:36]Which is something I learned as a public speaker, because when you give a keynote speech, unlike a breakout speech or talk, you're giving like a big idea how to think talk. And so the keynote, you can't just get up there and be like, everybody's doing it wrong. Think about it this way. Instead you have to say, so we all want to get over there.
[00:20:54]Right. And here's how we're going about it today. Okay. We're in agreement. Okay. Well, here's the problems with the status quo with our current approach. And people go, huh? Hadn't thought about it or, Oh my goodness. Yep. You get me. Those are the problems I deal with all the time. And then you can say, okay, well consider this different thing here.
[00:21:13] Let me give you a story that shows what it looks like. Let me break it down into a framework that we can use with some lessons and some examples, you know, and let's go deeper if you want away from the speech. Let's talk after subscribe to my newsletter, take a course, et cetera. So this idea of being a keynote speaker kind of taught me that our jobs as creators is not the pander to existing market demand. It's actually to look at what people think they need and actually tell them what they really need. You know, the, the classic idea of Henry Ford talking about his customers. Like if I asked my customers what they wanted, they would've said faster horses.
[00:21:46]So actually we're all in the business of understanding the pain, understanding the problems, understanding what is broken about the status quo and people's current processes. But then we can't just propose a radically new and different solution or category. We have to [00:22:00] start with where they're at and move them every step of the way towards something better.
[00:22:03]And for my money, one of the best ways to do that today is to start a podcast. So that's why I love it because a podcast is like a journey between the status quo or your current understanding. And something better in the distance. So it kind of mirrors a keynote speech stretched out over a much longer period of time, but either way as a creative person, you are in the business of making change and helping people do something better or differently.
[00:22:26] Not just saying everybody's asking for this. So I'll write a bunch of stuff that addresses that you're in the business of change.
[00:22:32]Naga S: [00:22:32] You spoke about how every creator's journey to monetization. Is different. And you also said that, , that there are different things that they might not know that they want, but it's up to us to find out what they really need and help them bridge the gap.
[00:22:47]One of the ways to bridge the gap also is to see what someone else is doing in your blog posts. You've spoken about extraction. It's spoken about how do you observe and document like. The underlying framework of a particular episode. I think I wrote about it in reference to a TV show.
[00:23:04]How can somebody apply that in terms of borrowing, so to speak best practices from other creators so that they're able to apply it for their content?
[00:23:15] Jay Acunzo: [00:23:15] It's a great question. I rejected the idea early in my life that creativity. And great creative projects have a format, have a structure, have a repeatable process.
[00:23:25]But if you look at everything from scientific studies about creativity, to just real-world examples and advice from people, constraints actually yield better creativity. I think we, we believe the opposite. We believe we want creative freedom, but I think that's only because we've had bad constraints or constraints we disagree with or didn't know were there.
[00:23:44] With teammates, employers, ourselves, but putting positive or proactive constraints on your work actually breeds better creativity. And one amazing type of constraint to put on your work is the format of whatever it is you're creating. So for me, those are [00:24:00] shows. So I have a, I have two podcasts. I've mentioned three clips.
[00:24:03]The other one I have is a show called unthinkable, which three clips has kind of a segmented interview on thinkable as a narrative style show. So to heavier production, lots of story and voiceover and music and sound design, and the audience gets one end to end episode. Every time it feels like one coherent story.
[00:24:20]But what I know is happening underneath an episode, which then makes me better to create it is I know we have six or seven blocks of content with the same purpose. A block is for this B block is for that. And they have different runtimes. And we have to fill those blocks with content. So we're going to go and research.
[00:24:36] We're going to go interview. We're going to craft it and in editing. And I got that idea from TV because in TV you have both visible and invisible what they call rundowns. So visible rundown is like a news program often has that you see the ticker of what subjects they're covering and when a sit-com or a story style show, anything where you don't know the format, it's not told to you.
[00:25:00] That's an invisible rundown. And so my favorite storyteller is Anthony Bordain and his show parts unknown on CNN before, you know, he tragically died and I took a notebook early in my time, creating unthinkable. And I sat down with that show and I just tried to document what is it that makes his show so magical?
[00:25:18] Like what's the format, even if him and his production team didn't have it in their heads. There's something going on in repeatable fashion here. And if I could extract the rundown. I can modify it and use it for my show. So I'm not trying to imitate Bordain. I'm just trying to have a flow that feels similar to his.
[00:25:36]So my voice is different, but the structure is the same. And you can do that with anything you admire take a notebook, see if you can figure out what your favorite creators are doing underneath their content. What's the structure of a given story of your favorite newsletter or book. You know, how do they actually format that video that you love?
[00:25:54]And chances are, you can come up with something that approximates their plan, or maybe they didn't have a plan, but you have [00:26:00] a structure anyway. So I call that exercise and extraction and it can really radically transform your creativity. You know, first of all, it gives you a repeatable process. So you don't burn out every time.
[00:26:11] Like every episode of unthinkable early on for me, felt like I was just kind of proceeding on gut feel alone and I would burn out a lot. Well, now you have a repeatable process. I know what I need to get in my research in my interviews with people in post, I have a plan. The second thing that happens is the audience gets a better final result because you have a plan to get them to the end of the thing, you know, in my case, in episode.
[00:26:33]So I have like a structure to it. Not just because it's fun or sounds right, but because lineup, all these sections, you have one great coherent experience that people don't want to leave. So it benefits your production, it benefits your audience sticking around, and it also benefits the longevity or show because you can look at that rundown and re-invent with purpose.
[00:26:52]Instead of being like, I have all these ideas for new types of episodes or additions. If my newsletter or my blog, you can say, well, this is the structure, you know, in my case of an episode, and every time we hit B block, it seems to fall apart. So let me change it. Or actually, I think we could try to experiment with a playful type of segment at the end, or maybe that becomes a mini series or a whole new show after we do it five or six times inside an existing episode.
[00:27:17]So you get to reinvent with purpose. So I think having structure is transformative, but we fight it too much as creative people. And I think that's a huge missed opportunity.
[00:27:25]Naga S: [00:27:25] The first time that I really, , had my brush with structure was when I was studying to get into business school. And I was reading about , reading comprehension, how do you break down a passage? It was just a revelation for me to realize that even in my favorite Netflix show, there is a specific story arc.
[00:27:42]The protagonist is going through certain things and it always ends. With a clincher and that sort of keeps you coming back for more and more and more. And this, like you said, like let's structure everywhere, but it's just that we're not really thinking about it or looking for it or looking for inspiration from those places.
[00:27:58]Jay Acunzo: [00:27:58] Yeah. Like there's, there [00:28:00] are some famous story structures, you know Joseph Campbell's hero's journey is a big one. There's a modified version of that that's been used in pop culture and entertainment from. Dan Harmon, who's the showrunner behind shows like community and Rick and Morty. He uses something called the story circle.
[00:28:15] You can just pull up Google images and search for hero's journey or Dan Harmon story circle. And you'll find that it just makes sense, like these visuals explain story. I mean, even tiny little heuristics, like there's, there's a technique called the open loop. So here's an example of an open loop. So Naga this morning I went downstairs to my kitchen and my notebook was sitting on the counter and I read the first page of my notebook, which had five words that inspired me.
[00:28:43] And I read them every morning. Okay. Nothing happened in that story like this, literally a story about nothing. I went to the kitchen, I looked at my notebook. I read five words that inspire me, but the question on your mind immediately, Is
[00:28:55] Naga S: [00:28:55] what are those five words?
[00:28:56] Jay Acunzo: [00:28:56] Exactly. And so you're like that story is about nothing, but please continue.
[00:29:01]And so open loops are just, you start a sequence of events and you end them later, you open questions or raise intrigue and you resolve them later. Open loops, even the word, but is a form of open loops. And that's what I thought. But then Naga called me. Who's Naga. Why he call you? How did it change your perception of what you thought the word, but is like a form of a tiny little open loop.
[00:29:25] It's a storytelling device. Open loops can span years, like game of Thrones who will sit on the throne. That's an open loop that the name itself opened for the audience. It raised intrigue. Before you even saw the show. If you just heard the name during the promotion for season one, now there's already an open loop and that lasted 10 years.
[00:29:43]So big and small, you have this technique called the open loop and we don't know how to wield it as creators. So either we don't use intrigue or don't create questions. And so our experiences are flat or we use it in a very. Abusive way. We, you know, we re we [00:30:00] abused the responsibility inherent and being a communicator.
[00:30:03] And we do things like clickbait headlines, which is like a crude form of an open loop. And I think if you learn how to tactfully use tension, that's what creates great stories. And that is where these story structures come in, because it's like, okay, what details happened before the tension? Where do I introduce the tension?
[00:30:21] Where do I relieve the tension? And sometimes it's as simple as one, two, three, sometimes it's a little bit more nuanced and like a wave that, you know, rises and falls and story structure or ways for you to focus that. But without the structure and without even knowing these open loops exist, we're just winging it and good for us for doing that because a lot of people won't even try that.
[00:30:42]But if we want to have a sustainable thriving career, And we want to be better at this craft. I think we're far better learning about what actually goes on in the theory of it all to the structure, the format. How do we make things consistently and make things consistently better every single time?
[00:30:57]Naga S: [00:30:57] Absolutely. I think that's a phenomenal note for us to wrap up this conversation, Jay, who we've spoken about of extraction and spoken about structure, spoken about honing a craft and spoken about. The product or the premise marketing the right way. So can you bottom line it for us?
[00:31:15]Jay Acunzo: [00:31:15] Don't Mark it more matter more.
[00:31:17]If you just focus on that, you'll be set up for success. It's really hard to do because it's easy to market more. It's really hard to matter more, but I think if we focus on the wrong things, eventually we find out it's actually a lot easier to focus on mattering to people than marketing to people.
[00:31:33]Naga S: [00:31:33] Fantastic. Can people reach out to you? What's the best way for them to reach out,
[00:31:38]to reach out Twitter? You know, my show is three clips. That's about podcasting. And then my other show is about creativity at work, which is unthinkable.
[00:31:45]Fantastic. I'll make sure that I include the links to your shows as well as your Twitter handle in the show notes.
[00:31:52]Jay Acunzo: [00:31:52] Thanks Naga.
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