Brand Storytelling: Doing it Right with Melanie Deziel

TODAY'S GUEST

Melanie Deziel

Melanie Deziel is the founder of StoryFuel, a company that enables brands to tell better stories. She is an international keynote speaker and award-winning content strategist. She has a Bachelor’s degree in investigative journalism and was Magna Cum Laude from The University of Connecticut. Her Master’s is in Art Journalism/Editing from Syracuse University. She was the first editor of branded content at The New York Times where she introduced the best practices of journalism for branded content, marketing, and sales teams. She has many achievements in her arsenal which include, “100 Significant Women in Native Advertising,” by Native Advertising Institute and, “50 Content Marketing Influencers You Need To Follow,“ by Atomic Reach.
WEBSITE: StoryFuel

YOU’LL LEARN

  • Content ideas to build your business
  • What are brand stories?
  • How to communicate brand stories to your audience
  • How to create stellar content
  • Process of writing brand stories
  • Brands nailing content marketing

Key Takeaways

[1:04] Melanie’s Childhood

[5:05] Melanie’s Family

[9:14] Interesting Fact About Melanie

[10:42] Melanie’s Life in New Jersey

[14:20] Melanie Talks About College

[20:44] Career Journey

[28:07] All About Mastermind

[32:29] Promoting StoryFuel

[35:28] Content Ideas for Melanie’s Clients

[37:32] Melanie’s Book

[40:44] Process of Writing Good Content

[43:24] Companies Doing Great Content Marketing

[45:00] Melanie’s Favorite Tools and Apps

[50:21] Melanie’s Side Projects

[53:32] Perfect Day for Melanie

[55:09] What Would Melanie Do With $10 Million?

Storytelling is an art. Not everyone can engage their audience and make them visualize the story through their words. The same holds true for brand stories.

Your brand story should be compelling enough to make the audience believe in your brand and purchase from you. It’s an important pillar of a good content marketing strategy. To help you craft the perfect brand story, I’ve with me, Melanie Deziel. She’s the Founder of StoryFuel and an award-winning content strategist who loves the art of storytelling.

However, before we understand the process of creating a brand story, we need to understand what a brand story is first.

What is a Brand Story?

Simply put, a brand story is any communication or message sent out by a brand to its potential or existing customers. This may also include messages sent out unintentionally.

A brand story is all about content and its distribution through your website, sales representatives, or even through your customer care. Your brand story should define your core values and selling propositions. The content on your social media accounts and press releases are also a part of your brand story.

Now that it is clear that what is a brand story, let’s look into how we can create a stellar brand story and build stronger content marketing.

How to Tell Your Brand Story

Here’s how you can create branded content for your brand:

1. Know Your Target Customer

You will be able to tell a better story if you know who is listening to it. This is why you must know who your target customers are before you start marketing your business. It is impractical and a waste of your time and effort if you do not know your target audience.

Study the demographics and other qualitative data of your audience. You should know their likes and dislikes and what prompts them to buy. For this, you can conduct surveys and also observe your competition and their customers. This will help you understand your target audience better.

2. What is Your Brand Identity?

Define your brand’s identity. What does your brand stand for? Find out the problems that your brand resolves for its customers and try to understand its significance in your customer’s lives.

You should know the answers to these questions before you start working on your brand story. Develop your brand guidelines, and based on that, create your branded content. This will ensure that it reflects your brand’s identity.

Your company’s mission and vision should also align with your brand story.

3. Define Your Core Values

Your brand story should narrate your company’s core value proposition. All of the communication that is sent out to your audience should tell (or show) what your company does and what it stands for.

The story should highlight all of the points that can help you stand out from your competition and show why you’re the better choice. Define your unique selling points (USPs) and key differentiators. You should also narrate your mission and vision.

Making your target audience familiar with your principles will bring them closer to your company and may turn them into loyal customers if they share similar values.

4. Add a Personal Touch

Adding a personal touch to your branded content goes a long way in defining your relationship with your customers. You need to connect with your audience on a personal level to grow your brand effectively.

The most powerful way of adding a personal touch is by using your existing customers to narrate a brand story to your potential customer. This can create trust in the minds of your audience as they’ll know the experience other customers had with your brand.

5. Test Run Before Launching

You should consider doing a trial run with your brand story before going public with it. A great test audience for it is your employees. If your employees can relate to the brand story, then it is bound to impress your target audience.

Your sales and customer service teams should be your main target. They should truly understand and relate to your brand story. If your sales team isn’t convinced of your value proposition, they will never be able to convert your target customers through it.

Conclusion

Stories can help you establish a connection with your target audience. If you want them to relate to your brand, your brand story should create an impact on them.

Keep the narrative simple, unique, and original. It will attract your potential buyer’s attention and will differentiate your selling proposition from your competition. Make sure you add a personal touch to your brand story, ensure that it’s aligned with your brand values, and test it before going ahead.

Do you have any questions or tips about developing a brand story to add? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Full Transcript

Shane Barker: Welcome to the podcast.I am Shane Barker, your host in Shane Barker’s Marketing Madness podcast. In this episode, we will talk about how you can generate more content ideas to build your brand. My guest, Melanie Deziel, is the Founder of StoryFuel, a company that helps marketers tell better brand stories. She is an international keynote speaker and an award-winning content strategist who loves the art of storytelling. Before she started her company, she was the first editor of branded content at The New York Times. Shane Barker: Melanie Deziel, obviously you guys, we're excited about having you on the podcast today. We're going to be talking about how to generate content ideas to build your brand because obviously you've been doing this for a long time. Keynote speaker, there's a lot of fun stuff. We'll kind of get into that as we go into the podcast about what you've done in your experience. But let's start this off, where did you grow up? I mean where did this whole life of Melanie start? Melanie Deziel: The life of Melanie, the origin story? It was a September day in Waterbury, Connecticut. That's where I grew up actually about two and a half hours North of where I live now in the New York City area. I joke that I didn't make it very far, so I grew up in Connecticut. I went to school in Connecticut. I went to grad school and upstate, and then I settled here in New York City Metro. So I've stayed on relatively the same series of highways my entire life. Shane Barker: That's funny. I've actually been to Connecticut, you talk about a beautiful state. Just how green it is, and what I liked there was some in California. So our plots of land are like, you know, I actually do real estate as well. So the reason why I'm telling you that like our plots of land are usually tiny. Right. And then you've got etiquette and they're like, you can't get anything less than 10 acres or something. And the prices are great. Right. I mean, compared to California, because we're all expensive and everything. But I was thoroughly impressed, in fact, we went by Mike Tyson. I don't know if he still has a house, but the girl that I was visiting as a friend of mine, Sarah, that I met in Amsterdam, that’s another conversation. And we're still friends today and my wife and I went to her wedding and she's just been a lifelong friend, but she took us by Mike Tyson's house, I don't know how many years ago, this is maybe 10 years ago, 15 years ago. It was just a mansion but I think what she was laughing about, I don't know if this is true, but she's like, all of my Tyson's maids are white. I was like, Oh, look at that. I'd be like, yeah, flip it. That's right. I'm going to have white people at my place, which is awesome. I'm equal opportunity the way I think, if that's good then that's cool. That's cool. Melanie Deziel: It's funny too because I think Connecticut, like we have a little bit of a branding issue I would say is that people think that all of Connecticut is country clubs and like lacrosse teams. There's a significant portion of Connecticut that is like below the poverty line that is very industrial. You're Bridgeport, Connecticut is so, so much so that it was a joke on a family guy about Bridgeport, Connecticut, right? So the number one producer of abandoned factories. So, there's a lot of diversity in Connecticut that I think people don't necessarily know if he didn't grow up there. But as much as I love Connecticut, it was always my goal to get to New York. It’s being so close that it was like reaching for it. Like that's where I want to be. That's where the action is. Shane Barker: Everybody, not everybody, I mean a good percentage of people always want to usually get out of their home state further or city for the most, not always, but I feel like, especially with New York, right? Because you have New York, the big city of dreams and all that stuff and, you know, not that kids don't have that but it just doesn't have that same, I guess that same appeal, especially in the industry that we're in. Right. It's like kind of exposure and being out there and speaking just it's a little sexier I guess but not that Connecticut's not nice. Melanie Deziel: If there's someone out there whose lifelong dream was to grow up and move to Connecticut, please reach out, let us know. I'm not sure if those people are out there, maybe they are. But I think New York definitely takes the cake. Shane Barker: Which is not, I actually would love to have a place in, just for me it just seemed a lot slower pace. Right. Which is, one's going to live in California. Melanie Deziel: It’s true. Shane Barker: And I do enjoy that. I don't know because I naturally talk fast and I'm always in fifth gear. I don't know if I could like grind it back to fourth gear. I would love to like the idea of that. My wife is an example, I'll go and sit down my mom's like, you just can't sit down, can't with anything. I'm like, vacuum, I'm doing this and she's like, are you like on drugs or something? And I'm like, yeah, because my mom knows I'm growing up, I've always been this little winery guy, but it's just crazy like, it's hard to, but I enjoy, it's no different than yoga for me. Like I look at you and God, that would be awesome if I could just focus on that and do that. But I'm just thinking about, hey, what am I going to wear tomorrow and who am I going to interview? And hey, what do we got here? We improve this and so there's always. Melanie Deziel: But that's your superpower, right? I mean, that's part of what makes you who you are and allows you to do the things that you do is the fact that you've always got at least one gear turning somewhere, sort of marinating something in the background, right? Shane Barker: Yeah. Yeah. You should be a counselor or something I agree with, I remember saying that is my superpower. I mean, I've actually tried to medicate to try to stop that superpower. Maybe I should not. Maybe I should just go full blown and. Melanie Deziel: Just harness it. Shane Barker: I'm going to go get a new shirt and say, I've got a new superpower. That's awesome. Okay, good. I like that let's tell my wife I have a new superpower and she's going to go like. Melanie Deziel: There you go. Shane Barker: Go do the dishes. How big was your family growing up in Connecticut? Melanie Deziel: My extended family was huge. My immediate family was small. So my parents split when I was very young and it was just me and my sister and we went back and forth between my dad and my mom who are both very close to us. But my mom is one of eight, so when you start counting cousins and aunts and uncles and all of that, you know, Christmas parties where a rock ass event. Shane Barker: That’s awesome, it's so funny my family, I mean obviously two sides of my family and my biological dad lives in Utah, blah, blah, blah. Long story. But our families were always pretty small when it came to like reunions and stuff. Like we didn't have any big, I'm always kind of envious of people that have large families and have, I'm going to just do family reunions and stuff like that? Melanie Deziel: Well, I guess we would if we all lived much further apart, but I'll be honest, most of my mom's family we're like 20, 30 minutes from where I grew up in Connecticut. So, you know, reunion is birthday parties, weddings, graduations everybody's there. It's big. It's like we were thinking about, my husband and I are expecting our first child any day now really and as we were looking at the baby shower it was like just a small little baby shower, just aunts and uncles and it was like, yeah that's going to be 60 people. Like you know when you get two sides of the family in, his family is big too it adds up fast. Shane Barker: Yeah. That's awesome. I mean it's only not awesome when you have to pay for all of that. But the other side of it is family and you have that kind of everybody working together and you know, it's nice to have that because you never know when you might need it. I would love to have big families and donors so, you know, that's, that's awesome. Melanie Deziel: And you adapt. I mean I remember when we were younger because there were so many of my cousins, my aunts and uncles were like, man, I'm going to go broke if I have to buy 47 Christmas presents. So they devise the system where all the adults would put their kids' names into a hat and you drew as many kids as you had. So you have three kids, you draw three kids and you get a bigger gift from all the aunts and uncles as opposed to everyone having to buy tons of tiny or gifts. So it worked out well. You know, we developed a system. Shane Barker: I tell you if I had to buy 47 gifts, I just wouldn't make it to Christmas. Like I am the epitome of them and I'm going to put all males into one category, which is very terrible. And I'm just like literally the guy that, I'm terrible at Christmas. I love Christmas, I love it but I'm terrible at the gift giving and all that kind of, I'm just not, I wish I was better at it. I mean, my wife can contest this, sometimes I have great ideas and I'll put some stuff together then other times I just, I don't know it's one of those things love Christmas, but the idea of buying tons of presence and doing this and doing that. Like Amazon saved me, which is kind of sad, right? Melanie Deziel: Yeah. I live there. Shane Barker: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I should probably have gotten some stocks or something. Yeah. Restocked. Melanie Deziel: Well, it works really well for me. I really like the idea of gift giving, I think it's one of my like love languages, you know? It's like a way that I like to show that I appreciate people, but similarly, I often have a hard time figuring out what this person wants or needs. So I actually have, you know, whatever your task management or your note taking system, I keep track and I make note of when people mentioned certain things. So someone has a favorite team or a favorite TV show or some new food item that they're just obsessed with. I'll keep track there so that when it comes time for gift giving it's like, Oh yes, that person has a new hobby they've just started knitting. Okay, I'm going to get them this fancy, you know, so you can kind of like have those notes to refer back to because otherwise, I mean, how are we supposed to remember all these things? Shane Barker: So this is what I'm going to do. I'm going to do you a huge favor right now. I like the San Francisco 49’s my birthday is July 30th, my anniversary, let's not talk about that, it's in March. What I'll do is I'll send you an email with everything and I'll just kind of tell you – Melanie Deziel: I already have all your favorites, links and stuff to Amazon. I might be an affiliate too. So I might pick double money because I mean it's just the things that I do, it gets the wrong stuff because I feel the connection between us is very strong at this point. Melanie Deziel: Yup. There we go. So now I know what to get and where to send it, perfect. Shane Barker: The only reason why I do the podcast so that I can try to get people that I interview because that's it. I'll let you know how it ends up by the end of the year if I ended up keeping doing the podcast or if I'm like that was a bus. I got to figure out some way to hustle people in a different manner. Melanie Deziel: Okay. You do what you got to do. Shane Barker: I know it's a dog eat dog world, so tell us an interesting fact about growing up. I mean, is there anything like, people would never imagine we did this or this happened or I don’t know, like you had a dog with two legs or something. I'm like, give me something. Melanie Deziel: You know, I mean, I think I got a couple, like what are those like two truths in a lie or like the unexpected fact about you? Right. So, you can't see me, those of you who are listening, but I'm a fairly small person I'm five, three, I'm a small person. I was at one point in the top five javelin throwers in Connecticut, when I was in high school, it was just like one of those random, nobody at my school would throw javelin, so we would always lose the points in the meet. And I was like, that seems like fun I'll figure out how to do that. I'll just appoint myself a javelin throw of the school and I just sort of like taught myself how to do it. I got really into it. I had no competition so I could own that area of the field and had all the equipment to myself. And by the time I graduated high school, I was an all-star javelin thrower, which is a skill I've not used since obviously Shane Barker: I would ask you, do you think that's the reason your husband would never leave you for safety? Melanie Deziel: Maybe. Because if he's less than 110 feet from me and I've got a javelin, he's in trouble, you know. Shane Barker: No, I get it. I get it. So if anything happens to him, we have it on the podcast that you potentially would do something, which is cool. I would never use this against you when we're in a court of law. Melanie Deziel: I mean that being said, if anyone were to turn up having been brought down by a javelin, I mean the list of potential people is probably pretty small. Shane Barker: Yeah. I mean especially because your name's on a plaque in Connecticut. So I mean you would probably be. Melanie Deziel: It would drag me down fast. Shane Barker: Yeah. Yeah. We don't want to do that. We'll figure out another way, you need to do something like that. And you did say that you currently live, what you're in New York now? Melanie Deziel: Yeah, so I'm just across the river from New York City on the New Jersey side in Jersey City, quick access to the city, which is amazing but I get a little bit more, we talked about like the pace and the space that you would get in Connecticut. So I feel like, you know, Jersey City offers us kind of the best of that. It's about 10 minutes for me to get into New York City, but we've got way more space. We've got, you know, there's greenery outside, the rent is a lot cheaper, so it's a nice compromise there. Shane Barker: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, that's what I like is when, if you can just tap into the city. So I live, I'm in Sacramento and my brother and some of my family live in San Francisco. And of course it's longer than 10 minutes, but I like the fact I can go into San Francisco an hour and a half away in Sacramento and go to Tahoe. I can go to the beach. It's like I said 10 minutes away. But I do like the accessibility of it and that's the reason. And it's not quite as expensive as San Francisco, these other areas that are, you know, they're obviously going up and up in value and it's. I enjoy being in the kind of the hub of that and it sounds like you're kind of in the same position. It's like you can go tap into the crazy New York life or you can also kind of stay back and kind of have a little bit more space. Melanie Deziel: Yeah. Well it's funny and I've got to ask you, how often do you actually take advantage of that or is it for you, is it more the perception of like, I'm close to the city. I could go if I wanted, because that's where I've realized I'm at this point in life. Shane Barker: So this is funny. So when I was younger, I used to go to San Francisco pretty often and I do it. So it's nice because I actually take this as my little thing. So I have a bus or it's called Mega bus and no, they're not a sponsor, but if you're listening to Mega bus you should reach out to me because I'm a fan. What we do is like from Sacramento, it's maybe a quarter of a mile from my house. So I go on a bus and it's like 6:00 AM . They have the internet, all this fun stuff and I get a little Vietnam VIP, but at [very low] I pay an extra three bucks or whatever it's cheap. I would ahead of time, like literally I've gotten bus rides from San Francisco or Sacramento, San Francisco for like $5. Do you have the internet? I can get stuff done. I get dropped off and then I can Uber and Lift into any meeting I want. Go do that, go meet my brother they just had a baby, Noah, and shout out to Noah Barker. And so I can do whatever in the city and then I can come back and jump on this bus and not have to drive back and fight the traffic and stuff. So I used to do it quite often. I don't do it as often because I don't have as many clients in San Francisco, but I do have my brother that's out there. So I try to fly, if I do anything international, usually I fly out of San Francisco because it's usually cheaper and then I can stay night and in Cisco with my brother. So like, originally I thought I'm going to be in San Francisco three times a month and that used to be the deal. It's not quite that anymore. So you know, we still have no reason to go. I'm married for 13 years and my son in college, like I don't really need to go out in San Francisco, and. Melanie Deziel: Yeah. Well, and that's how it is for us. I mean, like I said, we're about 10 minutes on the subway gets us right into the world trade center, right downtown. Right? So when we first moved over here, we were both moving from Manhattan or in Brooklyn. So we were like, Oh, we'll be so close. We'll still go to the same places. And now it's like if I get in once a month and it's only 10 minutes I don't have the need for any more of, as you slowly transition out of that, and at the same time, the idea of moving further away so that I'm no longer 10 minutes from the city, it seems terrifying for no reason. It's just weird. Shane Barker: Yeah. It's accessibility. I mean, there's no difference than having a gym membership that you haven't gone to for three years. Right. You're like, cancel it. Melanie Deziel: Then what if I do want to go? Shane Barker: What happened? Yeah. But what happens if that one day I wake up and I'm like, God, I got to pump these arms up today then the idea of the whatever, 30 bucks a month, then it's like you're still committed. It's like the same thing with New York I might have to tap it in New York. I haven't done it for two years, but you just never know. Melanie Deziel: You never know Shane Barker: You have a baby and the baby might want to go to New York. So there we go. Melanie Deziel: She just might. Shane Barker: She? Melanie Deziel: It’s a she. Shane Barker: Ah, look at that. Melanie Deziel: Yep Shane Barker: Congratulations! Melanie Deziel: She just made might want to go on adventures in the city, you know? Shane Barker: Yes, I want to go hang out. I get it. So you said you went to college in Connecticut, so where did you get the contract? Melanie Deziel: So I studied undergrad at a Yukon university of Connecticut, which was, you know, yeah. Huskies exactly. Probably because of our women's basketball team. Right. Shane Barker: Probably Melanie Deziel: I mean, when we were talking about what Connecticut has, it has no professional sports teams of any kind except for Yukon women's basketball. That is our state official state team, so yeah, I mean I went not too far from home. It was nice, it was a great school. I studied journalism there. It was a fairly small program. A lot of really dedicated professors and I was really involved with the student newspaper but it was also an under-resourced program, you know, all the love in the world to that program. It was just a state school. We didn't have a lot of amazing facilities there so I actually went to grad school up at Syracuse at the new house school. They have like an amazing communication school there so for me it was, I had the most amazing professors and such a close knit community. It was a small program at Yukon and then to go up, you know, to Syracuse, which was a much bigger school and had, you know, just state of the art facilities and all this technology it was kind of like a good marriage of both sides. I got to see what both of those were like and build these two different networks that both helped me get to the city. So I think they complemented each other really well. Shane Barker: That's cool. That has one thing that I wish, I mean I went to a number of different colleges because I just couldn't fully commit to anything because I wanted to travel and it took me 10 years to graduate from college. Not because I was failing out, it's just because I just wanted to travel and do this and do that and had some fun doing that. But that's one thing I really wish I would have gone away to college. I ended up graduating from Sacramento state college CSU here in Sacramento. I went to other colleges here and there but I just wish I would have had that like that Yukon or something. Melanie Deziel: Yeah. Shane Barker: Yeah, I just didn't really have that. I was telling my son, he was like, Oh I'm going to go to a local college here and I’m like no you're not like I'm literally going to kick you out of the house and we'll help you pay for, we'll take care of it. But you're going to go like I need you to go somewhere because I don't want you to look back and go, Oh I wish I didn't stay local. And so he's an hour and a half away. I mean they think that's far enough for them and they don't have a huge sports team but he's enjoying himself. So you know, it's those things. Melanie Deziel: And I think it's good because at least when I look back on it, I feel like it marked different periods of my life. You know, you look back on your life and you, I don't know for everyone it's different. Maybe it's where you lived or you know who you were with at the time all those different things, the city where you were. But for me, I can clearly see the growth that happened at those different points. Like the person that I was, the skills that I learned, the people I knew in that one place and then I moved to this other school. I was only in Syracuse for a year but a different community, different mentors, learning different skills. It kind of like it's different chapters in that life that kind of lead you up to the next point. And so having those clear markers when you go away I think definitely helps you recognize that you're in a new stage. Shane Barker: Well and it's foundational, right? I mean I look at it, everything in life and everything happens for a reason. Right. And then the people that you meet, I think I believe in that though certain things happen, whether it's good or bad happened for a reason. And I'm a firm believer in that and it's difficult to understand really what that is while it's happening. But I believe that, you know, I look at things and I've had things in my life that you'd look at it and go, that's just crazy like how'd you even survive that? I have things I haven't even talked about on the podcast we'll talk about it probably at another point. But just things that you're like, wow, that's crazy but once again, I look at it like, Hey, I got punched in the face. We've got a few things that happened and it's all good. Didn't kill me. So, hey, we got to keep on moving. You keep on shaking. Melanie Deziel: Yeah, and it's also easy. I mean, there's this fun game, I forget what this exercise, where I picked it up from, but thinking about how long ago and what the real meaning here is how recently was your life substantially different, right? So if you can look back and say, wow, six months ago I hadn't started this new health regimen or three years ago I hadn't met my partner or I hadn't gotten this job. You know, for everyone it's different. But thinking about what's that point where it was substantially different and it helps you see how interrelated all those parts of your life are. Because even that job, you hated that partner that didn't end up serving you. Well, all those things, they take you one step closer to wherever you end up. You know. Shane Barker: It's all good stuff, you know, people will say like, Oh I have my business, my business failed. And I'm like, well but did it though? Like what did you learn from that? Like I understand financially you might feel bad or you might for three, six months, but the idea is like if you learn something from it and it'll make you a stronger person, a better business person, whatever that is. There is something to learn with everything. And I think people sometimes miss that, you know? And I think that's important because once again, it's like there's certain things that you, maybe you don't realize. And I think that what you're talking about is the going through that is awesome because then you kind of go, Oh wait, this happened because of this. Oh and that happened because of this guy that was a terrible job. But I met my wife cause that was my ex bosses, whatever it is. Melanie Deziel: Right. Shane Barker: And the thing second, this is a lot more intertwined than what you think, right? Because one of those things instead of making a left, making a right changes a lot of things. Melanie Deziel: Of course, of your life. Yeah. Shane Barker: Which is kind of nuts if you think about it. Melanie Deziel: Well, yeah, and I look back and I think like, well the time, you know, when I, when I was choosing colleges that's what we were just talking about. You know, it seems like this huge, amazing decision of like where am I going to go? What am I going to do? And I remember being somewhat disgruntled at the time that I was going to Yukon. Like I had other schools that maybe would have been my higher choice for me or a higher priority. And I think back and I'm like, gosh, I have no idea what that life would have been had I gone out of state at that age had I not met the friends that I met or had the experiences and the professors that I did. Your entire life trajectory could be different. Same thing like you said, for a job or a partner or moving to a new city. It's wild. Like how all those different fractals take off and all those different paths that could have happened. Shane Barker: It really is mind blowing. I mean, literally I remember choosing your own adventure books. Melanie Deziel: Yeah. Shane Barker: Go to page seven and go to page 19 and I mean it's literally that. We'll jump into kind of the meat of the podcast here in a second, but I remember thinking I was, there was a point where I was going to go to Chico, which is actually where my son's going to school. I want to go to Chico or I saw the movie Good Will Hunting and I wanted to go to Boston. I was like, Boston is the place that I'm going to go for whatever reason. You know, Robin Williams and Matt Demon that was like a finale. I really was one of those movies that like touched me and I ended up going to Chico. But I'm like, what happens if I would've went to Boston? Right? Or I think what happens if I would've done an early startup in San Francisco because everybody that I know that went to San Francisco did early start up like made money for the most part. But it's just kind of crazy, and I'm not saying I don't like the direction that I've taken, because once again I look like this is where I'm going anyways. Like I'm just kind of steering the wheel. I got to make a right or left and somebody like, okay, cool, let's go this way and that's okay with that. You know, you just never know what's going to happen. But it's kind of exciting to see, it's kind of fun to see, obviously this whole thing unfolds. Melanie Deziel: Yeah, Shane Barker: We talk about unfolding and all this other fun stuff. What about your career journey? I mean we talked about everything's foundational, like obviously you have story fuel, right? But how did that come into play? What did you do when you got out of college, how did this whole thing play out? Melanie Deziel: It's so funny. It's so on point with the discussion we were just having about kind of going with the flow and not knowing where things take you. So, like I said, I studied investigative journalism as an undergrad. I wanted to be one of those like serious old school reporters, like uncovering injustice and stuff. And then my master's, I studied arts and cultural criticism because I recognized that I was sort of like too much science. I needed a little more art in voice and creativity so I was trying to balance those things. And then I graduated and realized this was right as all the newsrooms across the country were digitizing and downsizing and there were a lot of layoffs happening. We still haven't recovered from the recession. And so, you know, there weren't many teams of investigative reporters that were around, never mind hiring. And the same thing for arts teams. You know, you didn't see art critics on the staff anymore. So I had all these skills and I didn't know what the heck I was going to do with them. I could not find a job doing the thing that I imagined I would be doing. So it was actually a recruiter that I had initially reached out to about a job that folded, you know, didn't exist anymore. She reached out to me and said, well, I've got this job at the Huffington post, it's sort of like a reporter job, but you're going to work in the marketing department, you're going to create content. But for the sponsors, for the advertisers it's not exactly what you were looking for, but hey, it'll get you to New York and maybe it's a good fit. So I told you before that was part of my goal. I wanted to get to New York. So I thought, all right, Huff Post is a great brand I'll take this gig. My title was something like native ad product manager, right? Like something totally unrelated to what I had studied seemingly, and I took this job that, you know, truthfully, it was the early days, but I was a content strategist, is what I was doing. I was coming up with content ideas for Huff Post advertising partners and then I was executing those on HuffPost platforms. So our team eventually, why is that up to the fact that native ad product manager is not a real thing and doesn't really indicate what we're doing. And we became HuffPost partner studio and we became content strategists and you know, we sort of got with the lingo. But yeah, so I got there kind of by accident and again, talking about just like the way things work out, this was the early days of every publisher, digital or print was realizing that this was a revenue stream to be able to create content for brands. So everyone was starting one of these teams. So I had been on the team at HuffPost partner studio for exactly three months when I was the most senior member of the team because everyone else had been hired away to another publisher to come start their team. So three months in, I graduated three months ago thinking that I was going to go into journalism. Suddenly, I'm the most senior member of this branded content team that I didn't know was a thing three months ago. I'm being tasked with coming up with new product ideas and I'm working with amazing brands like Citigroup and Amex and Johnson and Johnson and Cheerios and all these amazing brands. And it was such a cool opportunity, but I was still feeling that ache of like, is this listicle of recipes containing Greek yogurt fulfilling for me on like a creative and skill based level. You know, it fits the audience, it fits the brand message but I wasn't loving the work which isn't always the metric for success, but I was hoping I might be able to find some more, a little more joy in it. And, so I got very lucky that right around the time I had been there about a year, we grew the HuffPost partner team to about 15 people. And then the New York Times announced that they too were going to be starting one of these brand content teams. So I was able to make the transition over there. The New York Times. I was the first editor of branded content there and helped build out what ultimately became T brand studio. They're now 150 plus person sort of studio agency team that creates all their brand content. But that was able to get me a little bit closer to the kind of work that I wanted to be doing. You know, what kind of work that fits in contextually to the New York Times. They kind of even branded content was much closer to the journalism that I wanted to be doing. Then maybe lists and blog posts, you know, that are more native in a Huff Post environment. So, that was a big transition for me for sure. Shane Barker: That's crazy. So you're like moving up the food chain like no other, -- Melanie Deziel: Yeah, lightning fast. And it was a little terrifying to be honest. So at the time I got this job at the New York Times, I think I was 24 and I was the first editor of brand content at the Times. I felt so much pressure to make sure that we were setting good standards. You know, there were a lot of people who were very skeptical about a legacy news organization, like the New York Times doing branded content. Right. That's scary, which I fully understood and I think part of the advantage and the reason that job was such a good fit for me is I came from the world of journalism. So I had this tremendous respect for the brand, and I also was willing to fight for our independence and keeping everything that needed to be separate, separate. Because I was a New York Times fan girl. I mean, from the journalist's perspective I respected that so much. I wanted to protect it even from myself. Shane Barker: Yeah, for sure. And then how did that play into the StoryFuel? Because obviously, I mean after one year you were like the queen of New York. Sounds like right. Melanie Deziel: Yeah, that escalated quickly. Shane Barker: Ever in New York. No one even don't want to go back to New York. You're like, because I've worked for those, I've already kind of ruled the whole city over 10 minutes away. How did that play into the StoryFuel? Melanie Deziel: Yeah. So I had one more step actually before I started my own company. So I had been at the New York times for, again, I did about a year there and then time incorporated, which at the time, you know, it's since been broken apart and acquired but time incorporated at that point had 35 magazines in the United States time, people entertainment, weekly, sports illustrated, like really amazing big brands. And they were looking for someone to build a content studio at a corporate level that would serve as all of those magazines. So they brought me over from the New York Times to do that. My title was Director of Creative Strategy, which was like a big open-ended title there. But yeah, essentially my task was to create the infrastructure for this content team that would ultimately serve all of our different magazines. And I was noticing as I started to get to around a year, it was like eight or nine months. I thought I'm in the same situation I've now been in twice, which is I get brought in at the early stages. I help build the infrastructure, I help set the products, I help build the team and put the processes in place and I'm going to be out of a job in a few months because it's working well and it'll be time for me to move on somewhere else and start that process again. And so, you know, I had this moment where I thought, I'm starting to look like a job hopper when I think I'm actually a consultant. I think my strong suit is actually coming in for a limited period of time. Assessing what's wrong, assessing what needs to be implemented to get brand content rolling in some way or optimize it if it's already happening. Help put those pieces in place, get things moving, and get things changed and then move on to the next brand or move on to the next company, the next publisher. So that was sort of my realization of like, I'm just going to have to keep changing jobs every year if I'm doing it well. So maybe it's time to sort of put up my own shingle and make that more clear, my objective is to just work with people for a more limited window. So, the company was initially called MDL media because you know, you have to write something down on the paperwork when you file for an LLC. And I hadn't thought about it yet. We've since rebranded the story's fuel but our mission is to work with brands publishers and marketers and help them sort of adapt the tools and best practices and processes that you find more often on that journalism side in the newsrooms and put that to work in your brand content team instead of a publisher inside your brand newsroom if you're, you know, in a brand. And lately I actually launched a mastermind because I'm trying to help people do that individually for people who might be like authors or speakers like us. Entrepreneurs, small business owners, they don't maybe have a whole team, but they can take some of those best practices and put them into work in an individualized way that can be very helpful too. So really it's just that I'm trying to take what I love about storytelling and, and share it with as many people as possible. Shane Barker: That's awesome. And the mastermind thing, it's so funny, I've never like directly participating in a mastermind. And the reason I'm saying that I've been invited to a lot of them and I just, it's so funny because it's something that I've wanted to do because I just think there's just huge value in it, right? I mean, it's like having a mentor. That was one of the things I've talked about this in past podcasts. I wish I would have had 10 mentors growing up. Right? I mean the thing was I was always kind of like, Oh, I've got it. Like I can figure this out and I'd probably spend a hundred thousand hours that I didn't need to spend if I would've just asked the right people the right questions, people that I'd helped or, but I do think the mastermind is probably a brilliant idea. Because you, I mean, you talk about accelerated learning right? You have this chance to be able to take where you're at today and go tenfold in 10 times faster. So I think that's awesome you put that together for everybody. Melanie Deziel: Yeah. Well I think you know where it came from for me is that most of my work up to that point with story fuel for the last three years you know that's how long we've been around almost four years. I was primarily working with big brands. I've been lucky I've gotten to work with finance brands big tech brands you know insurance companies diamond retailers all this stuff but they're big companies with big budgets and big teams. And I think the realization for me was my ability to have an impact is probably even greater on a small team on a two person marketing team on a mom and pop shop that you know if they could just learn a few of these little things it could make a massive difference in their business and their life you know. And at the time I just didn't have a way. I mean I didn't have you know packages or scalability to be able to do that. And so the only way I could think to do it was well if I get a group of 10 to 12 of these folks together and I can address them in a group way we can work together. I can still have that time that impact but do it in a way that's scalable because I can't just spend all day working with just one person you know. So it was sort of like a journey to get to that point of realizing like OK if we can get a few of these smaller folks together from all different organizations, different backgrounds, different places around the country and get in a room and have these conversations about setting strategy about content repurposing about coming up with content ideas then you know we can all grow together and that's been super exciting for me because I think again you see the fruits of that labor much more quickly. Sometimes if you work with a big brand it's like you know we were talking about this before it takes you know a year and a half and 16 rounds of legal review to change copy on the website. But when you're a small agile team or a solopreneur you can make changes so quickly. Shane Barker: It's a delicate balance because the smaller companies don't have the budget right. You always want to go to budget but the thing. And it's like just mind numbing and I have this I'm going to say the client but I had a certain client that I was working with in California I should just tell you was the state of California, I was doing consulting with the state of California and it was a very, very slow process for me. I'm like Hey let's get this done let's move on to the next thing. And it was just a very slow process I mean that's the nicest way that I can say it. For me literally I would tell my wife and think I'm going to have to medicate myself because I'm ethical in this meeting to go listen you can't be in sixth gear but you just can't. And so, I like the smaller companies when you said it's agile it's quick they can make adjustments there's a two or three person they go hey let's do this yeah let's do it boom you get it done. And next you know you're starting to see some of the fruits of the labor right, because it's happening in front of you you're like. That's awesome. But the hard part is that you know in the beginning I had startups that I work with they're not funded they don't have budgets you know like you do want to help you. Because I know there's some good tweaks that I can help you guys with that you guys would start to see some change. But there's only you know last time I checked I can't pay my mortgage with the like an IOU from a startup that I'm working with so that I always start at the beginning that was hard for me like trying to because I want to help everybody right now like how do we going to be able to make it so economies of scale. You know a mastermind is a great way everybody can pay whatever it is to get the mastermind you're doing one hour but you're doing it with 12 people and so you're maximizing that time. So I think that's awesome that you do that. I've talked about doing a mash what I might do that over time just because I think it's I think you can have that higher impact with some other stuff organ of course is not that which is all another conversation but. Melanie Deziel: Yeah. Shane Barker: And then how did you start promoting your brand. I mean it kind of sounds like you naturally were working with these brands I'm sure once you start off on your own they were like all right, I'm your first client. I mean at that point it's like you know everybody know you it's like. Melanie Deziel: Exactly I was very lucky on a few accounts and you know I say look I don't want to discount you know also hard work and good performance and networking and all these other things that contribute as well. But I was coming from a series of roles where my full job was to interact with people who worked at different brands to work with their agency teams. So I had a lot of network connections because I came from the journalism world. I knew a lot of people who were working in different media organizations that were going through the same trouble trying to set up a brand team trying to set up a native ad team. So once I sort of put out into the world the lives of like hey I'm starting my own thing I'm available for this kind of help. I was really blessed to get a lot of inbound from people that I knew that I had connected with and maintained relationships with I didn't have to do a ton of cold calling. The other thing that I had working for me is you know I was working as a speaker as well. So many of these roles at the different organizations I would go out and represent the work that our team was doing at different industry conferences. So I had experience speaking on stage and I knew the power of speaking on stage to market your business but I also knew it as something that allowed me to have a great impact. So part of my strategy when I started what became StoryFuel was I was a speaker and consultant. And the reason was sometimes I can address it and get paid for that that wouldn't otherwise be able to become clients. So that's wonderful still furthering our mission you know educating people. Other times I can speak to an audience where many of those people may become consulting clients. So it works both for impact and for marketing and in creating inbound demand. So over the last couple of years I've actually shifted the balance and have done usually more speaking actually because like anything the more you do it the better you get. You learn the systems you learn how it works. And I find that I really love it and I again I love that I can get on stage and impact 750 people in one hour and maybe not all of them will take action maybe it won't transform everyone's entire life. But the emails you get or this the feedback on social media from people showing you that they've put into action something that you taught them in that one hour on stage. It feels really good. I think I like getting that kind of feedback and knowing that it's making a difference. So I've definitely done a lot more speaking in the last few years than I was at first. Shane Barker: Yeah, now I understand that it's nice to be able to have that kind of a big impact when you're saying stuff. But in the beginning I used I think people already know this stuff and then when I get off the stage I'm like oh my god like and people were when they come in they respond Oh my God that was amazing set up for me. I think this is kind of basic information for them or for them it's like it can make a huge impact. I think that's what's kind of nice about it is if you can make that impact over a large amount of people that you know once again you get one person that aha moment it changes things on their maybe their transition of life or what they've got going on which is kind of nice to know that you're at the power of doing that. How do you like it? I mean I'm thinking but you obviously work with some really big brands like when you talk about like content ideas and how do you work on stuff like that. Because I mean I think that's the hardest part is whether you're a big brand or small brand is like a consummate. It's like putting that together and like that process of like figuring out what you know putting that story together I guess. Like how does a process that you have that you put in place with your clients are like let's talk about that a little bit? Melanie Deziel: So one of the things I want to differentiate because I think that different people use a lot of the terms that we use in marketing in different ways. So when I talk about content ideas and brand stories I mean the things that you are saying on your blog and your videos you know in the copy on your website. What I'm not talking about is sort of your overall brand messaging right. I'm not going to come into your company and tell you how to position yourself who you are. Right. But I am going to help you communicate that information to your audience through the different content channels you have. Right. So sometimes I have to clear that up first because someone says look we have a logo and we need a brand story and I'm like well that's more branding like that's not quite my expertise. But when it comes to creating those platforms whether it's we're setting up a blog or we want to start a YouTube series we have Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and we don't know what to say. Three times a day you know for the entire year that can be really intimidating it feels a little bit sometimes like you're feeding this machine that's always just hungrier and hungrier and you can't keep up and that's super intimidating. What I found is I really enjoy that process and I couldn't at first articulate where those ideas were coming from. So my value to many of the brands I work for that first was my ability to walk into the room and just give them a hundred content ideas. Right. But that's not scalable. I can't do that for everyone and it's the whole thing right. Teach a man to fish. I can't just keep fishing for everyone that's not sustainable so I needed to figure out how to articulate that process. And it took me a while. It's tough when you have like we're talking about these innate skills that you don't realize are our learned skills. It's just something that you know how to do. Sometimes the process of breaking that down and deconstructing it is actually really difficult. So it took me a while but what I finally figured out is what I was essentially doing in my mind was creating a matrix right. You know a grid if you will where different approaches or lenses on storytelling were on one side and then the formats in which you could bring that story to life or on the other side. And so my brain was sort of evaluating which combinations are going to be right given our goals given our resources. And so what I created was something that I call the StoryFuel content idea matrix and so that's exactly what it is. Is this grid where I've defined some really common and really useful frameworks for looking at storytelling? So for formats right we could do it through audio like all of you are listening to right now through video, through writing, through infographics. You have a concept like those different ways we bring stories life but then you think about what are the focuses is what I call them is the ways you would tell a story you could tell a story about a person, you could tell a story through your opinion, you could tell a story by curating different things, you tell a story through history by looking back at something what's the history of this particular topic. So, by combining those different things you wind up with so many different combinations and even if you don't create all of them or use all of them it at least gives you like a very high number of ideas to sort through and start and make sure that you're choosing the best one and not just the first one because it's the only one you could think of. Shane Barker: So I have a question for you so what you just touched on is this happened to maybe potentially be in this thing we call a book that might be coming out? Melanie Deziel: It does. It does. So that's exactly where the book is. Yeah. That's exactly what the book's going to be. So this this process that I was talking about as I said it took me a while to kind of come up with it and once I said I think this is what my brain is doing. I wonder if this makes sense to anyone else, I presented it a little over a year ago in a workshop environment and I said look let's try this out. Here's how I think. I think this is how I think. Can you think this way as well? Right. And sort of seeing if I could teach people how to use that process. And to my absolute elation people loved it. Right they'd started adopting it. They were adapting it in their own ways you know adding their own rows and columns based on industry or team specific needs. And I was like I think there's something here I just found that the reaction the way people reacted to it was so strong. So I kept presenting it. I kept using it in workshops and getting feedback getting thoughts about what was working and what wasn't. And so I adapted it over the course of several months and once I felt like, okay, I think this is the thing. I think I made a thing I thought well now I've got to share the thing with people and the easiest way to share it with as many people as possible was to put it all together in a book. So that is what I spent the last better part of probably three to six months you know in bits and pieces between everything else putting that manuscript together and I actually just yesterday as we're recording this got the revisions back from the editors so it's on its way to being a very real book that will be coming out and probably February or March of 2020. Shane Barker: So a book and a baby? Melanie Deziel: Yep. Shane Barker: Who knew? That's a great little combo right there. You've been busy. Melanie Deziel: It's a great deadline. I'll tell you that. Shane Barker: Yeah right. Melanie Deziel: Getting that Book or anytime. Shane Barker: And we're not going to talk about my book because my book is like I've been talking about my book. I don't know how long every podcast presents. I'd be like oh you just got to do it, I've got outlines of this other fun stuff I'm more excited about your books I'm going to read your book. That gets me one step closer to writing my book. So in regards to light content so obviously with the strategy side of things, how do you like if someone wants to write it like a company or brand wants to write a more remarkable piece of content you might touch on this in the book as well. Melanie Deziel: Yes. Shane Barker: What is your process for those are like a process you have that you say, okay, to remote write a good piece of content I know you talked about the maybe the lenses and man and that kind of how you know you say, okay, this is the overlap and this is what you need to do is YouTube videos because you have this kind of a story and it's what I get. How does it work with creating a piece of content, is it kind of the same thing? Melanie Deziel: So it's a little bit different so the matrix that I was talking about is really useful for coming up with ideas if you're like I don't know what to say. I don't know what we should talk about. I know we have this event or this product or this need and I'm not sure how to tell that story, right? The matrix will be very useful for filling in the blank of this is how we communicate that to our audience. If you've been settled on an idea and you kind of want to figure out, well, how do I now put it into action you know create this thing that we've decided to create? That I would say is a little bit of a different process and I do definitely talk about that on stage and in consulting it's not part of this particular book you may be getting clues as to what the next one will be. But yeah the point that you want to look at when you're trying to create the content is really making sure that you have a clear goal upfront, right. So that's always the first question I would say is, why are we making this and how will we know it's successful? You've got to answer those questions because that's going to determine in many ways how you approach creating it right. Making sure you're saying the right things in the right way for the right people. So having that goal, you know, why are we creating it and how will we know it's successful asking that first before you make anything is always my recommendation. And then I would say there's a few things that I think of them more like a checklist than maybe a process because you use them to different degrees and in different order. But one of the questions that I always encourage people to ask is what's unique about this story. So oftentimes especially in marketing we want to talk about our products. We want to talk about our events, our achievements and oftentimes that's going to have a hard time breaking through the noise. Because we're talking about ourselves in a way so asking what's unique about this story, what's truly special, why should someone care about this? So if you can ask that question that will often give you clues on the way you should approach the story. Another recommendation I would have is to always look for as many sources as you can so human or non-human. And again this coming from the journalism side of things. It's always better if you can get someone else to say something that you believe than to say it yourself right. So rather than talking about how great your product is, have customers say that, have clients say that. Rather than talking about how earth shattering your new report is find and find a researcher who can back up that claim and say that your research is really interesting. So just looking for sources. So there's a few little tactics like that questions to ask yourself and things to try to do that to beef up the credibility of that content or how compelling that content can be. But yeah there's definitely some room for a process to follow in that area too I think. Shane Barker: Yeah a little third party validation or a little social proof. Never heard anything. Melanie Deziel: Yeah. Shane Barker: So who do you look at I mean she worked with a lot of the big brands but who would you look at regarding the companies that are crushing like their content marketing campaigns. Anybody you look at you go, oh Nestlé, is right there you guys are doing awesome I either big company or small company that you recognize and go wow they're doing an awesome job. Melanie Deziel: Yeah I mean there's a couple, I think there's always the Darlings right. You know I never want to say Red Bull or Apple or Coke or like any of those big brands if you can avoid it right. I think Blue Bottle Coffee is a company that I think has done some really cool and creative stuff. So you know they were one of the first brands I became aware of. I actually heard Ann Handley if I will speak in the content space talking about it. They created a course on skill share about how to brew the perfect cup of coffee. So that was my cue of like while they're really thinking about educating their consumers. Not many brands put together a free course to teach their audience how to do something. But The Blue Bottle has also put out like a coloring book for kids and a coffee table book that you know beautiful photos from the coffee industry. So, I like the way they think differently about what form content can take you know. Shane Barker: Didn't they just get sold too? They got purchased for like a million bucks or some like maybe you might've been a year ago remember. Yeah because they're in San Francisco. And remember there was a really popular brand. I was also a fan of theirs  content the emails they would send out were always great and it's cool stuff there. And it's funny I'm actually going to see in Henley next week I'm going to go down text in Toronto so I'll tell her you said hi. Melanie Deziel: Yeah. Shane Barker: Yeah. So that's interesting. But after looking it up I do think that – Melanie Deziel: It’s Nestlé. Shane Barker: Yeah Melanie Deziel: I think the majority stake is Nestlé. So there you go. That was your first example of that. It turns out that was right. Shane Barker: [Cross talking] crazy. You knew that was not planned folks this sends the vibes are just there and – Melanie Deziel: That's just what happens. Shane Barker: That's what happens [very low] you've got to tap into that. So tell us about three apps like what are three apps you can't live without it can be in regards to the content space or perhaps you're like God if I didn't have these apps it would be life would be different. Melanie Deziel: I really like Twitter. I know that's not special or unique in any sort of way. That's where I think I've just curated a group of people and organizations that I really enjoy and so it's a place that keeps me informed. You know I laugh all the time I find so many things that I want to share with others I really just like the access to information that it gives me. So that's usually my go to if I'm like waiting for the bus or you know waiting in line for coffee I'm like let me just let's just see what's happening on Twitter you know. That is a big one. Shane Barker: That's funny we call Twitter. All it like I call Facebook is like the dinner party that I called Twitter is like when everybody's drunk at the party like everybody had like the after party. Yes. I mean who knows what's going to happen like somebody is on the printer you know taking a picture of the button they get kind of like you can kind of tap into somebody like I don't know what I'm going to get and do but it's going to be somebody you've got to. Melanie Deziel: Oh yeah. Shane Barker: You know you can still be the guy who has a beard going to watch your rails going crazy or you know it's just it's there's some funny stuff that happens on Twitter. I'm actually a huge fan of Twitter myself? I used to be heavy on it all the time and not as much. Yeah. But I do I do like to tap into it because you just never know what you're going to see. You get some you know up to date news and stuff like that. It's been interesting. So what are some other apps or some other you like software? Melanie Deziel: I mean I don't know if this is necessarily the sexiest answer but the Gmail app I'm all about doing things on the go especially when if you're speaking a lot you're traveling and so it took me a long time to find the right male app and I finally realized that the gmail app is just the one that I love the most. I think it's the most intuitive and it helps me get a ton of stuff done. But my other app that's like managing my entire life is to do list. It's like aTo Do list but with no L and I use that as my task management system. So if you guys are familiar with like Trello or Wunderlist or Asana it's in that same sort of family of task management tools. But I have been using this since 2013 like early days like Beta. And so my entire freaking life to do it's like I have reminders for my health and wellness you know to get a new prescription for my contact lenses like to water my plants, you know birthdays are in their projects and tasks are in there. I mean if they ever close you all may never hear from me again because I'll just be hiding under a rock somewhere because my entire life is managed through there. Shane Barker: You'll be blind you won't be able to get your high heels in. I mean all that kind of stuff you [cross talking] Melanie Deziel: I’ll be ill, blind. Shane Barker: [cross talking] paper. Yeah. Melanie Deziel: My plans are dead. Shane Barker: That's a struggle. No, it's funny so we would use other project managers result from this set the other I've used to do list before and then I've also used a few other ones that I've used in the past. I just use notes now like four notes for me because it's searchable and it's on my both. I don't know if I will go back and forth with you because I'm a huge list. I'll have, you know, I mean as you nobody can see this but I'm holding up a yellow notepad I've got like sixteen thousands of them on my desk. All over the posted notes and stuff because that's all that keeps me insane. But I didn't say sane I say insane. But you know it's listening I think it's done there's something about writing lists. And the idea of the way having that just right in front of you is just so easy and accessible for me. So. Melanie Deziel: Yeah. Well people sometimes asked me for a recommendation. I say look I like to do this because I've used it for so long. I've figured out how to make it work for me. I don't know what the right tool is for you but the most important thing is just that you have some sort of system that you use and trust and rely on and for me to do list is that system. Because I've just you know when you have it for so long the switch cost is so high to like move your whole life over to something. Shane Barker: Yeah, and you know that. Shane Barker: Yeah I mean that's the whole idea is [cross talking] switch you. Yeah. I mean that's but that's the same with Gmail, I mean even the idea of it is the big it's so convenient that you don't leave or leave and then there's other things they can sell you. I use Evernote as well. I mean I use it for documents and stuff like that I just want to put up in the cloud. But I've never used it like the full blown Evernote that I think it could be. It's just like I said the list thing and there's some other things that don't resonate as well with me. But I do have a good system now of knowing where my stuff is at. So I don't have it all on my desktop and I try to remember to upload it and all the other fun stuff to stay somewhat organized. But I think it's important one of the things that was a book I read I can't remember the book but you talk about the thousand things that you think about whether you really think about it or what's happening behind the scenes. If you can get rid of some of that stuff right and that's I think that list happened in Evernote. All I got to do this, okay, I put this document now I know it's safe. I don't have to think about that it could only take up you know point zero one percent of your mind but all those things over time you get at a certain point where like I can't do anything because there's all these things I need something needs to give right. I think lists help. Melanie Deziel: I don't know if this is the book you're talking about “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. He talks a lot about sort of that the cost of remembering right, like just your brain. Yeah like some little tiny part of your brain is trying to remember every single day did I water the plants, do I need to water plants, I water the plants right. So I just free up that space and outsourcing it to someone or something else, you know you free up these micro portions of your brain. Shane Barker: That's it. And I don't have a lot of my brain left so I have to be very careful. Melanie Deziel: Yeah we're going to manage our storage. Shane Barker: We're going to do something. You know we're not getting more RAM. I'm getting less Ram, I don’t even know if that's possible. Anyways we'll figure that out, Melanie Deziel: Comes at you fast. Shane Barker: It does. It does. So what are there any other cool projects you're working on these days, anything else fun? I mean you've got a book and you got a baby. I mean I don’t know what else you can do. I mean I know you also teach. We don't even jump into the university side of things. I mean you’ve had like five universities or something. Melanie Deziel: Yeah it was I was an adjunct for that online program at Syracuse I where I'd gone to grad school. That came about just a former professor of mine is going on sabbatical and said you took this class you do this for work you could probably fill in for me and then I sort of played that role for several other professors just over the course of time teaching online courses there Fairleigh Dickinson University here in New Jersey actually came to me and said that they were creating a Master’s of Science and in marketing. And one of their gaps was content marketing. So they had asked you know we can't find a course we can't find someone who's teaching this the college level could you develop a curriculum for us for a content marketing master's level course. So that was that was a whole experience in and of itself. I didn't study education and so I had to go through some teach myself you know through the university training on creating curriculums and education theory and all these kinds of things in order to do that successfully. Which was really helpful and very interesting. I've stepped away from that course at this point there's someone else who's teaching it for me while I'm on maternity leave. But yeah it was a really interesting process to create a course like that from scratch and obviously a lot you can take from that process and apply to your own work or you know for me apply to my own work now with whether it's developing courses or just thinking about education in a little bit more strategic and theoretical way. Shane Barker: So it's funny. So you and I've talked about this in past podcasts but I used to teach it while I still teach at UCLA. I just I haven't I haven't gone back in a semester or quarter two but I had the same issue because UCLA came to me and said hey we want you to teach us a course. And I’m like you got to be kidding me and I went in and it was like you just totally huge learning curve like obvious had been in space and speaking and all that fun stuff. Melanie Deziel: Yeah Shane Barker: Not a problem. But like developing curriculum for students is like, you and I. So when you're saying that I'm good I mean I know it's like it's coming from left field. Like I have you know I've done workshops and all the other fun stuff but I'm like man teaching for three hours a week you know for a whole quarter it's a beast of a project. Melanie Deziel: Or even just so many things that you never thought about but of course there's thought put into it you know where you're like I came up with this cool project and like great. Now what's your student centered rubric philosophy for evaluating it? And you're like I don't know what that means yet I'll get back to you. Shane Barker: Ruby. That was one of the words I had to look at like literally somebody told me that I was like I'm going to look that one up like I don't even know what that means. Melanie Deziel: Yeah. But it's like you need to have a clear strategic way to evaluate every assignment. And it has to be clearly articulated which of course makes sense you think of your experience as a student. I want to know how to get how to do well and what's being graded and all that but man when you're building it from scratch it's a lot of work. The teachers are going to pay more. Shane Barker: Man, I'll tell you. Yeah. And that's that is that definitely needs to happen but not today. That was you know we won't go into payroll or anything but I was like oh this really sucks. I can't do this full time we've been there but yeah, shout out to UCLA and Syracuse we love you guys still so no bad feelings at all we're still with you guys. Okay let's talk about this. What is your idea of perfect days we're going to break outside of if you didn't have to work? Which I can't imagine not working to be honest even maybe never be it's hard work as much but I understand you're in sixth gear with me. You are running side by side. Like on a Saturday let's say you're not working or not that's possible. You and hubby are hanging out babies born not born I don't know but you tell me when does a day look like where you're like, God, this is the perfect day. Melanie Deziel: Well it's funny. My husband is an entrepreneur as well so your joke about like Saturday maybe you're working get we're 100 percent working like the two of us all the time and we help each other with projects. But in an ideal world, you know all of our finances are taken care of and the world is our oyster we could do as we please. I would love to sleep until I wake up and I really hate like alarms the whole thing just makes me really grumpy I'm not a morning person I'd like to sleep until I wake up. I like to have a cup of coffee outside like on a deck, on a balcony, on a park somewhere just outside with nature. I would like to have breakfast with my husband and then I would like to read and write like those are the things that I really just enjoy doing for myself that I don't get enough time to do that. I think it's always easier to find work to do instead I've got like a collection of books that I passionately cannot wait to read and can never find the justification to read when there are other things to do. So I think that's what I would do if I had, and that's actually partially what I'm planning to do with some of this maternity leave is like working my way through some of those books now that I don't have as many clients and travel and all these things on my plate. I'm hoping to make a dent in that sadly dusty bookshelf. Shane Barker: So slow down a little bit. So we've got that we're perfect day and tales now let's say if I gave you a winning 10 million dollar lottery ticket how does it change things is that cup of coffee now have Baileys in it. Or I mean now you on a helicopter instead of, you know, look I mean or you a simple person you like what I don't even need all that chain and I'll just give it back to you because this was a great podcast interview. Melanie Deziel: I mean I'll share some with you that definitely Shane Barker: You’re an angel. Melanie Deziel: I don't think it would change much. I mean I think the place where I'm doing all of this would probably be a little bit nicer. Right. Like you upgrade where you live. That's probably my first route. I'm an extremely practical person so that I'm probably the worst for this right now helicopters, no craziness happening I'm like I'll buy a slightly larger more practical home. Shane Barker: You know the helicopters in the fueling is expensive from what I understand. Melanie Deziel: You got to get a pilot it's a whole thing. Shane Barker: And you've got to clean it all weekend, she's. Melanie Deziel: Where you’re going to store it. Shane Barker: Yeah. Melanie Deziel: Now I need a helicopter garage. Shane Barker: Yeah. That's the best day of a helicopter owners life is when he gets it when he gets rid of it, that's what I've heard. That's boats but I just put it to helicopters. Melanie Deziel: So same. Shane Barker: Yeah same thing. So Melanie Deziel is a great little interview. Melanie Deziel: This is a lot of fun. Shane Barker: I don't want to bring this up I would do this every Friday if we could change your name and we'd switch it up or maybe we'd just keep talking. I don't know maybe -- Melanie Deziel: That sounds good. Shane Barker: Just you and I. Melanie Deziel: That sounds great. Shane Barker: If anybody music get in contact with you. How do we go about doing that? How can they get in contact with the infamous Melanie Deziel? Melanie Deziel: Well the good news about being the infamous Melanie Deziel which I just discovered that I am seconds ago, is that there is only one of me. So if you were to search for Melanie Deziel, you will find me whatever social platform you happen to be looking for. Our Web site is storyfuel.co so like the fuel diesel. You can find out all about the mastermind, you could find out about the book, you could find out about speaking consulting all the things we talked about all there. And you can actually download a version of the matrix that we were talking about so if you wanted to check that out the contact idea matrix and learn a little bit more about how to use that. There's a free PDF download of that you could find at storyfuel.co as well. So wherever you'd like to find me you can find me. Shane Barker: Melanie's out there you guys there we got D.E.Z.I.E.L Melanie Deziel thank you so much for being on the podcast today. You're an angel. Have a great weekend and good luck on having that beautiful little baby girl here soon. Melanie Deziel: Thanks for letting me share my story. Shane Barker: All right. We'll talk to you soon. All right all right.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in influencer marketing, content marketing, and SEO. He is the Co-Founder of Attrock, a digital marketing agency. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.

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