Homework For Life – Storyworthy is a Book I Couldn’t Stop Reading

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I have added a new book to my “Must Read” list if you are a podcaster. The first one was Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt. Why? Because he talks about making WOW content. My second must-read book is Will It Fly?: How to Test Your Next Business Idea So You Don't Waste Your Time and Money by Patt Flynn. Why? Because it talks about making sure your product (or in this case a podcast) is going to connect with your audience. My now third must-read book is Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Power of Storytelling This seems somewhat obvious, but someone who is good at storytelling wrote a book that was hard to put down. That's like saying I couldn't stop eating cupcakes from the top cupcake baking chef. It's a book I want to read over and over until the skills in the book are as natural to me as breathing.

Matthew Dicks Had his Arm Twisted to Tell a Story

It's amazing that Matthew (who I consider a Master storyteller) was terrified to tell a story in front of strangers. His wife had to buy the tickets to go to attend the Moth (a storytelling competition in New York). He walked in petrified. His named was called. He was able to perform his story. One more thing, he won. This automatically enters him into the Gandslam. Matthew has gone on to win the Moth Storyslam 42-times and is a 6-time GrandSLAM winner.

Great Stories Include Transformation

In the book, he talks about how most great stories involve some kind of transformation. This somewhat ruins movies for you. When you watch a movie that starts with a girl who is horizontally challenged who hates her image in the mirror, you know by the end of the movie she will learn to love herself. Rudy will get to play in the big game. Rocky will become the champion. Danny becomes the ball in Caddyshack. Indiana Jones believes in God. The guy in Jurrasic Park who hated kids would die for them.

It's Also about Stakes

I just went hiking here in Ohio. I climbed a big grass-covered hill today that I used to sled ride down in the winter. Previously this year I hiked in Utah where if I took one wrong step I would die.

Can People Relate to the Topic?

Matthew has had a wild ride in life. One of his stories is about the time he had a horrendous car wreck and died. However, the story isn't about that? Why? Have you been in a car accident and been brought back to life? (me neither). The story is about feeling alone when his parents don't' make it to the hospital before his surgery. Have you ever felt alone? Me too.

Bridge the Gap

That transformation is the action, the movement, that stops the story from being random facts. If all we needed was facts, we'd all be reading the encyclopedia. The story about the car wreck starts with Matthew hearing how he purchased Christmas gifts for his friends who don't believe in buying presents for friends. You think, “How is this going to end?” The story keeps moving and pulls on heartstrings, tickles your funny bone, and ends up making you feel emotions that an encyclopedia won't do.

Give Your Story a Location

You will notice a difference between me describing my Grandmother if I say, I remember my Grandmother working in her garden. Once is half a picture of an old woman, the other is more clear.

Fast Forward to the Good Parts of the Story

There are many times when we start to tell a story that we feel the need to “Set the scene” or provide a bunch of background information that isn't needed. If we go back to movies most movies start with some sort of action be it John Travolta walking down the street in Saturday Night Fever, Indian Jones taking a golden idol in Raiders of the Lost Ark, or any James Bond movie, they don't explain what is going on. It's not needed now and they can fill it in as the story goes on an as-needed basis.

Don't Turn the Lights in the Theater

The goal is to transport people into the theater of the mind you don't want to do things that will snap them out of the theater. For example, if I'm telling a story and then ask, “We've all done that, right?” It takes the listener out of the location I took them to and has them concentrate on the here and now.

Whenever Possible Use a Personal Story to Make a Point

Keep an eye open for things you do and see every day that might be able to be used in a future podcast. Matthew has an exercise he does every day called, “Homework for life.”

Homework for life is where you write down what part of your day was the most story-worthy. Write down the date. It might be something like:

October 5th, 2019. Watched Landyn score two touchdowns, cause and recover a fumble in Lousiville, Ohio.

Homework for Life  allows you to recognize these simple moments for what they really are:

Storytelling material
Life-altering moments
A means by which your lens on the world is permanently changed

Homework For Life

Today I started the day walking up a giant hill in a park I used to sled down as a child. It made me sweat. I got to to the top and enjoyed the beautiful view here at the beginning of Fall in Ohio. For whatever reason, I thought, “there is going to be a day that I won't be able to walk up this hill (maybe when I'm 80, or 85 years old). Then I thought if I walked this hill on a daily or at least weekly basis who is to say I couldn't do this at 80?  The more you do it, the more natural it becomes.

Technically this too much. It should be 10/6 Hiked up Goodyear Metro Hill. Wondered if I could do this in thirty years.

Matthew swears that if you do this 100 days in a row you will start to see these stories that are happening every day (that you may be missing), and that life may actually appear to slow down.

Your First Draft is Not Going to Be Your Best

One thing in reading/listening to this book (you can get it on Audible) is that a good story will not just pop out of your head. Matthew can probably do that, but that's because he is a master at hit and his first draft is 100 times better than our tenth draft. Last week I put out a show that I feel was a hot mess. It really had three parts:

  1. Giving you a nudge to start a podcast
  2. Examples of how Tom Brady (the quarterback) wasn't always amazing and it took work
  3. To get your podcast unstuck, you need to focus on what your audience wants

Consequently, if I had taken some more time this could've gone from the “helpful” episode to a great episode. I still got good feedback, but the problem was I had this idea on Wednesday and worked on it (in my head) until Sunday when I recorded it. Thus, what you heard was my first “official” draft and when I listen back to it a few days later I just didn't like it.

With this in mind, we might want to follow the example of live theater (who do dress rehearsals), television shows (that do a table read) and just put the information out there in a format for us to chew on and put it into the light so we can look at it up close.

Storytelling May Be a Hard To Find Commodity

With a world that lives staring at their phones, and texting is the method of choice to communicate with people, in the future, there is going to be a need for people who can get words to come out of their mouths in a way that will inspire others.

Get Storyworthy For Free on Audible

If you are a new custom of Audible, you can sign up at www.schoolofpodcasting.com/freebook and get Storyworthy for free. If you see more books you might enjoy, stay subscribed. If not, cancel your subscription and keep Storyworthy for free.

More from Matthew Dicks

Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Power of Storytelling

Matthew's Website www.matthewdicks.com

His Speakup Storytelling Podcast

Homework for Life Tedx Talk on YouTube

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Aimee Jay tells the story of how she got to interview the cast of the Netflix show Haven on her Revisiting Haven podcast and now has taken her experience and focused it on her Chasing Dreams podcast.

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What is the biggest regret or negative side of podcasting? I talk so much about the good side of podcasting, what is the negative side? Let me know at www.schoolofpodcasting.com/question

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Christianity is one of the most popular and fastest-growing podcast categories and happens to be the least represented at mainstream conferences. We want that to change. In February 2020, Christian podcasters and influencers will gather to collaborate in Houston, Texas for the first-ever Spark Christian Podcast Conference and two-day networking event.

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2 thoughts on “Homework For Life – Storyworthy is a Book I Couldn’t Stop Reading”

  1. Thanks for dissecting this valuable resource. Since my (upcoming) podcast is about telling transformation stories,your insights were very helpful.

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