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Digital Velocity Podcast Hosted by Tim Curtis and Erik Martinez

58 Strategic Storytelling for Business - Jeff Bartsch

This week on the Digital Velocity Podcast, Jeff Bartsch of Story Greenlight joins Erik and Tim to discuss how strategic storytelling can help brands create an emotional connection with customers while driving results for business.

In today’s market, consumers want more than just goods and services, they want a relationship with brands. Jeff says, “…there is very little that we can offer in terms of products or services that is not already a commodity, especially with information, physical products, you name it. The desire for people right now is they want to connect, they want to know that they matter. They want to know that they can bring change to their lives.”

Strategic storytelling is instrumental in helping businesses promote feelings of connection to customers. Jeff explains, “The fundamental answer, in terms of why storytelling is so compelling, it's brain science, But then, the result of that is we feel things, and we end up experiencing greater levels of empathy, understanding, interest, attention, all those kinds of things. And so, when you can get people to feel more empathy towards you or towards the product or a service, that means the conversation gets to continue, and that means they're that much closer to saying yes to you, whatever you're asking them to do.”

When selling products or services, strategic storytelling has the power to ultimately change and improve a consumer's life. Jeff says, “When you think about what a story is, every story ever told the entire goal is to bring change. And so, when we elevate our communication from, okay, I've just got to get this campaign out, just got to do this, got to just have this meeting, got to give this presentation, whatever, if we can say, okay, how can I approach this in a way such that we are helping people experience the change that they want to see in their lives? That is an incredibly motivating thing, and it's an incredible honor to be part of that, and I hope that people can take that into their own lives for themselves.”

Listen to this week’s episode to learn more about how compelling stories can elevate business messaging.

About the Guest:

Jeff Bartsch is a visionary storyteller and founder at Story Greenlight. With over 20 years of experience in the entertainment industry and online business, Jeff has helped shape content for clients including ABC, NBC, Universal, Disney, Apple, and many others. Jeff’s commentary has been featured in major publications including Time Magazine, USA Today, and the Associated Press. Through Story Greenlight, Jeff and his team empower experts and professional advisors to tell their stories, serve more clients, and expand their impact in the world. He believes that the power of story is within reach of everyone and that human connection is everything.


Erik Martinez: [00:00:00] Welcome to today's episode of the Digital Velocity Podcast. I'm Erik Martinez from Blue Tangerine.

Tim Curtis: And I'm Tim Curtis from Cohere One.

Erik Martinez: Today, we welcome Jeff Bartsch to the show. Jeff is a visionary storyteller, communication strategist, and the founder of Story Greenlight. With over 20 years of experience in the entertainment industry and online business, Jeff has helped shape content for clients including ABC, NBC, Universal, Disney, Apple, and many others. Through Story Greenlight, Jeff and his team empower business experts and leaders to tell their [00:01:00] stories and expand their impact in the world. Jeff, welcome to the show.

Jeff Bartsch: Great to be here, guys. Looking forward to this.

Erik Martinez: Hey, did I actually pronounce your name right?

Jeff Bartsch: 100%. All good.

Erik Martinez: Wow. That's a miracle.

Jeff Bartsch: There you go. It's just got a bunch of extra consonants at the end, so I just blame the Germans on that one.

Erik Martinez: Maybe you could take a few minutes and just briefly tell us a story of why you started Story Greenlight and the work you do today.

Jeff Bartsch: Well, would you believe, I do have a story about that, and it won't take forever. I will say that when most people look me up online, they say, okay, well, what's Jeff about? Oh, you spent 20 years in Hollywood working for ABC and NBC and Apple and all these guys, so that's where you learned about storytelling and communication. Which a lot of that is true. The fact of the matter is though, there's something much bigger than what I've been doing in Hollywood.

And I started learning about that when I was a kid because I actually started out at age four taking classical piano lessons.[00:02:00] For the next 20 years, I was known as Jeff, the piano guy. I got really good at it. I became known for being really good at playing piano. With our conversation before we started rolling, I know both of you guys are musicians yourselves. So, you probably know that Mozart and Bach, within the classical world, they are super technical.

So, I liked that a lot because I was the brain-nerdy, keep-your-nose-in-a-book kid. I liked the fact that I could just play the notes on the page, and I could get pretty close to what the composer intended. And everyone says, Oh, Jeff, you're amazing. So, a lot of the reps that I put in, in my early years, well, actually in all my time in music was on Sunday mornings because I spent a lot of time in church and doing music there.

There was one day, one of the older musicians at church came up to me and she said, Jeff, it's all well and good to play the notes on the page, but when you get older, you come to a place where you need to learn to play from your soul. I looked at her, I was 10 or 11 years old, [00:03:00] and I just thought that was the stupidest thing I'd ever heard in my life. So, I ignored her because my feedback was Jeff, you're amazing. You're doing a great job.

Until in the coming years, when I learned more about music and what it truly meant to bring a piece of music to life, more than just the notes on the page, people's responses started changing. They said things like, Jeff, that song was the exact song I needed to hear today. Thank you for playing that. Every once in a while, it would go along to the point where people would say, Jeff, your music today brought me into an encounter with God. And I thought, whoa, okay, there's something far bigger than me going on here.

I realized that that lady was right. I was doing the best that I could playing the notes on the page, but I didn't realize that there's a whole other level where you can take things that are ordinary, and you can elevate them to become extraordinary. And that's when human connection takes place, that's when memorable experiences take place that stick [00:04:00] in the hearts and minds of people, sometimes even for years.

That's really the core of what I've been doing literally for 40 years. I'm 44 now, and it's been four decades that I've been learning about how this all fits together. And when we find what these forces are that can take any message that we put out, when we put those together in the right way, on purpose for the right people, incredible things can happen in business, incredible things can happen in our lives. It's an incredible thing to think about.

Tim Curtis: That is sage advice, sage life advice. It's moving from that technical to the adaptive. It's taking what was once technical and learning to live outside of that. Still keeping the technical.

Jeff Bartsch: And giving yourself the grace to say, everyone does have to have the chops and whatever you're doing, there are always going to be the fundamentals. I heard a panel in Hollywood a long time ago. There's a guy who's a rerecording mixer at Warner Brothers. And so his mixing console that he spends all day at, good grief, it's 200 channels. It [00:05:00] stretches across the entire room. He says the bigger and more complex the tools, the more important it is that you learn them like the back of your hand so they can disappear. So, you can focus on the higher level thinking and the strategy of what really matters. But those fundamentals will always remain no matter what you do.

Erik Martinez: Absolutely true. So, Jeff, I've read a few different books on storytelling. Donald Miller's StoryBrand, The Narrative Gym by Park Howell. I really get excited about the subject. It always raises the question for me, why is storytelling so compelling? Not only as a form of entertainment but in everyday marketing and advertising and running our businesses, why is it so compelling?

Jeff Bartsch: It's compelling because it mirrors every moment of our daily life. Every time we interact with a human being, we have our own storyline that's happening. Every interaction with another human being means our storyline is intersecting or coming in parallel with another [00:06:00] storyline. And the more people you add to that, the more complex it gets. There's that element and there are lots of different trails that we can take the conversation down, depending on what you guys are looking for.

But in terms of why it's so compelling, one of the most foundational elements to it is it's brain chemistry. If you go to Google and you look up the phrase narrative transportation or storytelling and fMRI tests, you will find all sorts of stories about scientists who put their subjects inside fMRI machines and they've discovered that the test subjects' brains lit up when they hear a story in the exact same way as people's brains light up when they are experiencing something firsthand for themselves.

On top of that, when they start looking at what happens to the physiology of our bloodstream when we experience a story, you will find an entire cocktail [00:07:00] of different chemicals that are released by our brains and our hormone systems throughout our body when we experience stories. So, if you've ever been in suspense if you've been watching a scary movie or something, you know, the world's about to blow up or whatever, and you've been sitting on the edge of your seat, that's chemicals in your bloodstream. That's your brain releasing cortisol throughout your blood.

That is what our brain does when we engage in narrative messaging. And it's not just when you're sitting in a movie theater. This happens when you read a great headline, when you read an excellently written headline in a newspaper, on a sales page, or a Google ad. You say this is something that I'm interested in. All of a sudden, you get these chemicals dripping in your brain. I'm paying attention. I'm focusing. I want to learn more about this.

The fundamental answer, in terms of why storytelling is so compelling, it's brain science, But then, the result of that is we feel things, and we end [00:08:00] up experiencing greater levels of empathy, understanding, interest, attention, all those kinds of things. And so, when you can get people to feel more empathy towards you or towards the product or a service, that means the conversation gets to continue, and that means they're that much closer to saying yes to you, whatever you're asking them to do.

Tim Curtis: And it's such a small percentage of, I guess you could say brands or marketers that have really started to figure this out. So, fMRI, functional MRI scans, basically for those in the audience listening measure blood flow. And so, it's measuring blood flow in the brain. Where's the activity when the test subject is basically exposed to certain different types of stimuli?

The functional MRI, the FMRIs, have not really come into vogue into the last 10 years or so. That's where the science really began to be much more readily available to marketers to utilize. And I think, there's clearly been some ethical conversations about [00:09:00] are we creating marketing and advertising that's so compelling it's just moving people along without thinking. I think it's more than that. I don't think we're moving people into it without thinking. What we're beginning to understand is the human brain and the neuroscience behind why do we have the reactions we do. And it's been very, very interesting.

But too few have really taken the time to study or understand that. And I can tell you, you are 100 percent correct. When you start to get your head around the science behind why the brain works and how it's working, just as you indicated on those functional MRI scans, the brain lighting up with a story as opposed to just tired regurgitated content that's coming out. Most brands seem as if they are rushing along to deliver a message. There's clearly not the work or not the architecture behind, as you sort of call it, strategic storytelling, there's not the architecture behind that.

fMRI scans have been used to tell us a lot of things. So, for example, in marketing, we're also taking a look at print as a [00:10:00] driver as opposed to digital advertising. Part of the reason that that's become an interesting point of conversation is so many marketers are seeing diminishing returns within the digital space, not fully understanding that the brain is a very, very adaptive tool. Over the course of the last 15 years, it has rewired and added in some protections for itself to prevent overstimulation from just the nonstop noise that comes from our digital devices.

So, we have the ability to cognitively just scan as we're going along and just swipe and not really be overstimulated. It takes a story, it sort of takes that hook, if you will, to really get people to pull in and break outside the noise. We had Park Howell, as we mentioned before the show, talk about the idea of digital marketing and that onslaught of messaging. Again, kind of going back to some of what we've learned from the functional MRI scans.

It's really important that we kind of take a step back and let's unpack it, maybe a little bit about your strategic [00:11:00] storytelling, sort of the techniques behind it that will develop that narrative. What do brands need to do to take a step back and to really think about that approach? So, why don't you unpack that a little bit, your strategic storytelling?

Jeff Bartsch: So, first of all, I'm a huge fan of Park Howell. One of the things that he talks about a lot is the idea of the ABT, which he's described as the DNA of storytelling, of narrative communication. I would agree, 100 percent. ABT stands for and, but, and therefore, for those who haven't heard the episode, you should totally go back and listen to it.

The thing that I've realized, spending 20 years in Hollywood, at the beginning, I thought that we're here in Hollywood, we're amazing because Hollywood likes to think that it's amazing and everyone wants to be us. When the fact is that's not nearly as true as Hollywood likes to think it is.

But when you're there and when you're in that world and you hear a Hollywood screenwriter talking to you about three-act structure [00:12:00] and 97 moving plot points as if that is the end all be all of story structure. Well, it is, asterisk, if you have traditional long-form content and you have to keep people's attention for a long amount of time. So, the longer the format, the more moving plot points you need to keep people engaged, you know, going back to people's brains and expectations and what we're used to and all that kind of a thing. So, the good news in business is that we can shrink all that stuff down.

One of the things that I always talk with my clients and my students actually comes from Donald Miller, one of his earlier books, where he says, a story is where a character wants something and overcomes obstacles to get it. I've expanded that to say, a story is where a character wants something, overcomes obstacles to get it, and experiences transformation as a result. That's what I call the core definition of what a story is.

And when you take these ideas, you can see that when you are looking at [00:13:00] this, you are dealing with fundamental narrative forces, character, identity, desire, obstacles, conflict, working around those obstacles, and then change, experiencing transformation. Those kind of core obstacles, they are the bedrock of any storytelling or communication structure. It can line up with ABT with Park and Randy Olson's description of ABT. It just kind of stacks on itself and accordions out. The more complexity that you add to it, the longer form that people's stories go. That's the core of what this is.

But truly when it comes to communication, communication never takes place unless it's received by its audience. In this conversations with marketing and sales, it is all about the audience, it is all about the [00:14:00] story of the audience. So, as Donald Miller says, the brand is not the hero, the customer, the client is the hero.

We, as providers of products and services, we are the guides coming alongside to help the hero, our client, our customer, get what they want. We are here to help them overcome their own obstacles. So, everything starts fitting together. It can expand out and it can squeeze back down to these fundamental areas, but it only matters, and it only works, if it's done within the context of the audience's story.

Erik Martinez: In the realm of marketing, and retail marketing in particular, there is a heck of a lot of noise. There's way more noise today than there was 10 years ago, or even five years ago. So, if you're selling a button-down white shirt, I can find literally hundreds of retailers who can supply that particular shirt [00:15:00] in the quality that I want and the price point that I want. So, when we are working on advertising products like that, how do you brands cut through that clutter? How do they tell a great story about those products, and as you say, put the customer in the hero slot?

Jeff Bartsch: Let's be forthright here. I mean, and let's say, if you're Procter and Gamble and you're selling toothpaste, the things that you use, the psychological elements that you use to sell toothpaste, are going to be very different than if you're selling a six-figure contract B2B software solution. It's a completely different world. B2B and B2C are very different worlds. Sometimes we have to consider what is the difference in relationship between the client, the audience, in this case, the buyer, if we're talking B2C.[00:16:00] What kind of actual relationship can we expect?

When you're selling a commodity, the elements of making product move off the shelves often does go beyond what the message is. In spite of that, you will always find examples of people, of companies who say, this is why we exist, this is what we believe in. If you believe that, if you're one of our people, then this is when we can start building that connection. And Hey, we have white T-shirts. Want one? Yes, I do. Because I like you.

One of the things that I always talk about with my clients is everyone has their own level of weeds, you know, getting down into their weeds and the minutia of their expertise. Brand marketing is not my weeds, but it's one of these areas where I see all these ranges of connections within the broader context of communication. What are your thoughts on that in terms of that B2C world?

Erik Martinez: I think you're absolutely right.[00:17:00] If I'm selling a commodity, which I would argue today, almost everything is a commodity, it has been commoditized. Not everything is, but there are things that used to be obscure and hard to find are now more commonplace and there's more options for consumers to choose from. So, what makes them choose?

Your point is right. If they like you and they agree with your point of view, at least this is my interpretation of what I'm hearing you say, then they're more likely to buy that commodity from you than from the guy next door because they're connected with you and you being the brand.

Jeff Bartsch: How many brands of soap out there? But you have Dove standing for, we believe in your true inner beauty. How many women, specifically in their target market have said, thank you for saying it's more than just the external appearance [00:18:00] that everyone else in the cosmetics world is saying that I need this in order to be beautiful. I already am beautiful. Thank you. Yes. I will buy your soap.

Erik Martinez: I think that's a great example.

Jeff Bartsch: I will say, messaging and alignment of psychology becomes more and more important the higher the price point and the higher the level of trust required in order for a customer or a client to say yes.

Tim Curtis: The thing that I keep rolling back to, and I think the messaging and alignment of the psychology is sort of tangential to this. When I take a step back and I look at businesses today that are selling their wares, and you'll often hear them say, yeah, but I sell widgets and it's hard to make widgets feel special. And I get that. You have to try harder is the first thing.

Every product can have a unique selling proposition. Every product can. You just have to really work at it and understand and think about that and you have to create your brand story. You have to create something compelling that is sort of the DNA or the nucleus of your own messaging that is attractional to people outside of that widget [00:19:00] that you're selling.

Too often what people have relied upon historically, and Erik kind of mentioned this historical aspect, is scarcity. We're living in a world where scarcity is no longer an advantage that you can hold, or at least hold very long. Guarantee you there will be someone else that will come into that space. If there is scarcity, it is a vacuum that is very quickly filled. The market will catch it and we'll correct it.

All of these things, we kind of boomerang back down to that strategic storytelling framework and how it's going to play out, not only for a brand but also within the products. Brands that do it well, cut through. It's just a level of discipline, and as I often tell clients, listen, you don't need to beat 100 percent of the companies out there because only 5% are really going to do this part of it. So, you're really competing against the 5% to come up with capturing some of that market share. It's frustrating.

But here we are 2023 cruising into [00:20:00] 2024, and we're still having conversations about the importance of brand, the importance of storytelling, and it's only getting bigger. It's not diminishing. And then you sort of pivot from that talking point, and you position yourself in business. Let's say you are leading a business and how are you then going to structure storytelling to lead that business, to lead employees, to lead, you know, investors or your own board and how important does that become? Right?

Any of us who have spent time and a better course of two decades now in executive leadership, I can tell you a storytelling is absolutely mission-critical. It's a mission critical to everything I do. It's also important to listen. Listening helps you refine your own story. What are your thoughts on pivoting that into the context of a business leadership?

Jeff Bartsch: Well, that is where the idea of a character who wants something, overcomes obstacles to get it and experiences transformation as a result, no longer applies to moving product or services, it applies to interacting with other human beings.[00:21:00] So, as leaders, we really have to know our audience. We have to listen, we have to know our team members. We have to know how they think, how they operate. Either they tell us straight out or you have to figure out, in terms of what they want and what is getting in their way.

That is where we, as leaders, come alongside to say, okay, how can I be Obi-Wan or Yoda without the ear hair, and help you get what you want here? Hopefully, you can stay here, grow and flourish, help our business grow and flourish, or be in a place where you can say, Hey, whether you stay here or not, we want to be the kind of leaders who invest in our people so that you will be an elevated version of yourself, wherever you go, whether you stay here or not because we care about you. We care about you learning and growing. We care about elevating you as a person.

Tim Curtis: I kind of get into these, I guess you could call them sort of rhythms where I like to put a practice into a rhythm. [00:22:00] And so, when I'm talking about storytelling, one of the rhythmic practices that I do is I incorporate strategic questions. And the strategic questions are designed to legitimately draw out information or insights that I believe I'm lacking. If there's an area where I'm thinking this is probably what's happening, but I need to make sure I'm understanding. Whether it's a client engagement, it's our own internal team, I want to make sure I'm getting that input and plenty of it.

You know, as I kind of take a little bit of time to synthesize that, that sort of helps shape some of that story. And then the last piece of that is when I do go into that storytelling component, a portion of my strategic storytelling structure is I incorporate a level of vulnerability or openness in that story. And what I'm doing is I'm sharing my thought processes and how I process things and how I got to the conclusion that I did and I make sure to incorporate the feedback and the information I [00:23:00] got. It's worked very, very well for me in my career.

It seems to establish a level of trust with people. And it's honest, it's an honest trust. I'm not trying to blow past anybody on this. Because I can tell you, listen, there are many times where you come up with observations and they're not well founded. It's something that you've cooked up. We talk these days about AI hallucination. I'm like, well, hello. We've all been doing that for years in our own heads. And this is the kind of thing that it's yeah, it's vulnerable.

You know, as an executive, do you want to admit that you could be wrong about something? Absolutely, you do, if trust and true communication is your end goal. The storytelling structure again, is just such a critical, critical component of that. But I do believe that you can take some of these elements and you can kind of put a little bit of your style or your process into it. Wow. You come out of it from just such a completely different place, but man, it's a healthy place.

There are people watching you and you're kind of uncomfortable, a little bit like, oh gosh, there's probably better people to watch or emulate than me but they're watching the way you [00:24:00] handle those things and they're watching your openness. And in that story, there's a little bit of them in that story, because they know they got talked to and their contribution helped shape an outcome. Anyway, really think it's a fantastic way to do it.

Jeff Bartsch: Well, and it's one of the core skills that we can develop as communicators, whether we're talking about leading a team. I mean, I'm working with some clients right now on messaging for a podcast that they've recently launched, and it's the idea of this is like this.

One of the elements of story and narrative transportation is, when narrative transportation takes place, the audience is engaged and pays attention and their brain starts thinking about, okay, what was a time when I experienced something like this? That is what draws them in. That's what happens as they are drawn in through this neurochemical process, this person-to-person process.

[00:25:00] The audience starts thinking about a time when they've been in that same situation and they go through that journey. And as you describe your journey, they start understanding how you have struggled. They start empathizing more with you simply by hearing the story. So, when that happens, it's the specificity that brings them in. As an example, what would be a typical scenario where you would want to give some feedback to a team member that may be received badly if it was delivered in a bad way, for lack of a better word?

Tim Curtis: Let's take a scenario where someone has given a client presentation. The facts are there, you've hit all the facts, but we may not be completely balanced in how we presented it, and we may not have articulated the risks that the client takes from inaction in a way that fully expresses how significant of an issue it is. So, usually we're talking [00:26:00] about not so much errors in calculation or errors in pulling together facts, but it really kind of comes back down to, ironically enough, the ability to story tell, or the ability to help the client understand the significance of that event.

Erik Martinez: I can give you another example. This is something our team is really, really working hard on. A few years ago, as our agency started to grow and we started to add more people to the team, I was no longer doing all the client presentations. In those client presentations that generally happen monthly, you're doing a status report, you're looking at numbers, right? You're talking about the business. As this thing has evolved, our team engulfed the process of just reporting.

It's kind of like reading the weather reports. Like, oh, it's a sunny and 82, with a light breeze out of the Southeast. And you're like, oh, okay. Yeah. I feel like it's sunny and 82 and there's a light breeze. To Tim's [00:27:00] point, it's not getting to the essence of what is really important in that discussion. Being able to create the narrative that says, Hey, the reason that's important is that at this time of year, it is typically been 30 degrees. So, the people who are buying fleece aren't buying fleece right now because they're still wearing summer clothes.

And this is happening more regularly. So, you have to pivot merchandising strategy, whatever that is, we need to do a better job of communicating, not just the facts, like Tim said, it's really getting to the essence of what does the client or the individual you're sitting across really need to know in order to advance themselves.

Jeff Bartsch: In storytelling parlance, we call that stakes, raising the stakes. Why does it matter? There's a tsunami happening in Japan. That's nice. Does it affect my life? Well, if it's going to cause the state of California [00:28:00] to fall off a cliff. Well, okay, well, now we know why this matters and why we should move.

When we're having a conversation talking about a client presentation and the team member who's made that presentation has given the facts. Awesome. That's cool. The place to come back to at that point is the question of what does the client truly care about. What is important to them? What is getting in their way, and how does our service or our product help them get what they want? It's all well and good to have information, but if we shape it in the context of why this matters to what you want, you don't have to necessarily tell an entire story on this.

To the bigger point, a lot of people say, dude, I'm just writing the headline or I'm making a post. Don't tell me about the hero's journey in a three-act structure. I mean, that doesn't apply here. The fact is if you are making a communication from one entity to another entity that involves human beings these forces govern it, [00:29:00] whether you want to admit this or not.

Tim Curtis: Exactly.

Jeff Bartsch: It all is controlled by this.

Tim Curtis: Hot button issue, hot button issue. I'm telling you. So, I think when you get advanced or you get experienced in storytelling, especially if you have an understanding of the power of neuroscience in marketing and communications, you begin to understand that there is not a period, if you are working on those kind of headlines, that kind of copy, there's not a period where you get to phone it in. Because it requires a core focus on those elements, the storytelling elements, strategic storytelling elements. You're always going to have to do it.

I'm just writing a headline. Right. But you still have to follow the idea or the process in order to come out with something that's going to be compelling and is going to move readers. And I think that's the problem, especially let's talk about ChatGPT or any of the generative AI is at the moment. And when we're testing all of them. Erik and are both involved in the AI community. We've been very heavily leveraging these [00:30:00] things and you end up finding a lot of times that it's lacking those core components.

At the same time, I've also learned, Hey, I'm not in a place right this moment to be able to write this. Full disclosure, maybe I'm processing, and if you start to understand some of the neuroscience, maybe I'm dealing with the devil's cocktail, right? It's the cortisol and adrenaline that's flowing through my head. I'm irritable. I'm uncreative. I'm critical. I have some memory impairment. I'm prone to bad decisions when my body's flooded with these chemicals. Not the time to do that.

At the same time, if you're basking in the glow of an angel's cocktail, which is the dopamine, the oxytocins, and the endorphins, you're going to have all the emotional pull probably to make some of those, but you're also going to be less critical. That's the chemicals that happens when we fall in love and we can all testify to how less critically thinking you are in that period. There's not a period of time where we don't have to be cognizant of those things when we're working in marketing communications.

Jeff Bartsch: And I tell you for people who engage in the discussion around AI,[00:31:00] I am hugely optimistic. Now, you guys had an episode talking about when you went to MAICON and all the things you took away from there. The fact of the matter is everything begins with humanity. Language learning models, they're synthesizing all this enormous amount of information of what already exists and they're accelerating that.

When you talk about innovation and standing out, building human connection and saying, Hey, I'm a real person, you can trust me, you can trust this brand, we believe what you believe, that comes from human beings. Anything that we do with AI can enhance that, it can implement that, it can scale that, but ultimately it's human messaging going through these tools so that they can be received, hopefully in the way that we want them to be received, by humans. So, in a world filled with [00:32:00] AI, the study of human connection and communication has never been more important than it is this very moment.

Tim Curtis: Killer concept. Killer concept.

Jeff Bartsch: And it's also incredibly encouraging because there's a lot of fear out there. There's a lot of fear. So, I say, fear not.

Erik Martinez: I gotta say that was one of the most compelling parts of the MAICON conference was the infusion of humanity into the process. That was center stage. So, Jeff, as we move to close out our discussion today, what is one thought or piece of advice that you'd like to leave for our audience?

Jeff Bartsch: I would go back to what we've been talking about, the idea of there is very little that we can offer in terms of products or services that is not already a commodity, especially with information, physical products, you name it. The desire for people right now is they want to connect, they want to know that [00:33:00] they matter. They want to know that they can bring change to their lives.

When you think about what a story is, every story ever told the entire goal is to bring change. And so, when we elevate our communication from, okay, I've just got to get this campaign out, just got to do this, got to just have this meeting, got to give this presentation, whatever, if we can say, okay, how can I approach this in a way such that we are helping people experience the change that they want to see in their lives? That is an incredibly motivating thing, and it's an incredible honor to be part of that, and I hope that people can take that into their own lives for themselves.

Tim Curtis: That's the money. If you can figure that part out of life, the rest of it will fall into place. Such good advice. Well, if someone wants to reach out to you, what's the best way to do that, Jeff?

Jeff Bartsch: The one place that listeners for this podcast should go [00:34:00] is to velocity, a special page, especially for listeners of this podcast. It's digitalvelocity. Have some resources there as a link to my own podcast. There is also a checklist where if you want to start digging into how to actually collect some of these elements to create a compelling story, an emotionally compelling story for your own work, for your own messaging, for your own brand, there's a checklist there and worksheet to help you do that. And of course, if there's a place where you want to get some one-on-one help with me and my team, that's what we do. Happy to continue the conversation there.

Tim Curtis: Awesome. Well, that's it for today's episode of the Digital Velocity Podcast. Jeff, we appreciate you coming on today and sharing. It's been a fun one. My name is Tim Curtis. I'm from CohereOne.

Erik Martinez: I'm Erik Martinez from Blue Tangerine.

Tim Curtis: Thank you, everybody. Have a good day.

Jeff Bartsch: Appreciate you guys. [00:35:00]

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