Park Howell The Business of Story

Park Howell is known as The World’s Most Industrious Storyteller having grown purpose-driven brands by as much as 600 percent. He is a 35+ year veteran of the advertising industry and hosts the popular weekly Business of Story podcast, author of Brand Bewitchery, and co-authored The Narrative Gym for Business. He is sought after internationally to help leaders excel through the stories they tell.

Topics we covered:

  • Growing his passion into his profession
  • The makings of a captivating story that’s guaranteed to hook listeners in
  • The realities of sustaining a podcast and what you can do to overcome them

This episode is brought to you by “Podcast Accelerator Challenge“. I’ve been using podcasting as a powerful business growing tool for years. Nothing is more powerful than podcasting for help businesses grow. If you’re tired of playing roulette with your ad dollars and frustrated with algorithms constantly changing on social media platforms, the only thing that has changed about podcasting is the popularity of the platform.

If you’re a business owner and you want to grow your business but you’re not sure where to start, then join the FREE 5-Day Podcast Accelerator Challenge“. Within 5 days, you’ll go from no podcast to having a full realized podcast with built in strategies to help use this tool for your business.


Select Links from the Episode:

Show Notes:

  • The makings of an entrepreneurial storyteller (02:33)
  • Straying from the traditional and digital media world (04:46)
  • How Park developed the framework of the Business of Story (05:58)
  • The 10-step process to building your business’s brand (08:43)
  • How podcasting became his business’s singular marketing platform (11:46)
  • Why even Joe Pulizzi says that it will take at least 16 months for your podcast to gain traction (13:20)
  • How to avoid burnout in podcasting according to Joe Pulizzi (14:02)
  • Why a profitable podcast does not happen overnight and what you can do to make it so (16:05)
  • What makes podcasting worthwhile (17:05)
  • The 3 essential elements of every story (22:46)
  • Struggling with audio quality (25:54)
  • The secret to combating perfectionism (27:42)
  • The wonders podcasting can do for your knowledge and network (30:23)
  • How Park was able to turn his dream guests into friends (31:43)
  • Why podcasting has turned Park into a rockstar of his own (33:45)
  • How you can easily market your business without actually selling via podcasts (34:25)
  • The best way to make yourself impervious to your analytics (38:13)
  • Learning the And, But & Therefore narrative framework (39:59)
  • The 2 sure-fire ways to avoid pod fade (42:09)
  • How Park prepares for his interviews so that they’re not all cookie-cutter (46:23)
  • The untold method of becoming Larry King in your own way (48:24)

Transcript:

Cliff Duvernois: Today’s episode is brought to you by podcast pipeline. We’ll take care of all your podcast production so you can focus on your business. Visit us at PodcastPipeline.com. 

Cliff Duvernois: Hey, there world changers and welcome to another episode of Entrepreneurs on Podcasting. Now today’s guest is the world’s most industrious storyteller, and I love story. Now having grown purpose-driven brands by as much as 600%. That’s huge. He’s a 35 plus year veteran of the advertising industry. He is the author of Brand Bewitchery and coauthored the Narrative Gym for Business.

Cliff Duvernois: He is sought after internationally to help leaders Excel theirs through the stories that they tell. Please, welcome to the show, the host of the popular weekly Business of Story podcast, Park Howell. Park, how are you?

Park Howell: Cliff. Thank you very much for having me. I am doing great. How are you doing?

Cliff Duvernois: I am doing well, sir. Thank you for asking and I gotta, I gotta tell you, I’m really excited about this podcast because I’m a huge advocate of using media platforms to share your story. This is your bread and butter. So I’m really super excited to have you on the show today.

Cliff Duvernois: And thank you so much.

Park Howell: Oh, man. I am happy to be here and always happy to share anything I might know on storytelling. 

Cliff Duvernois: Good. So what I’d like to do normally I would just jump right in and start talking about podcasting, but in reading over your, your website and your backstory a little bit, cause I’m a sucker for a good story. You actually started off in the advertising space. And then at the age of 55, you answered the call of being an entrepreneur and went all in on business story.

Cliff Duvernois: So I got to kind of take a step back, you know, just talk briefly about what made you get into advertising and what made you decide after all that time to hang up your hat and go full-time into promoting, business story and helping brands tell their.

Park Howell: Yeah, well, it really goes back to when I was a little kid. I started playing the piano because of my grandmother, Mabel, who like she sat down one day when I was a little tiny dude and was playing in a, blew me away. And I said, I want to be able to do that. And then I started writing songs and little diddies here and there and whatever.

Park Howell: And I came up through high school, playing the piano. I went to Washington state university, got a degree in music, composition and theory, but figuring cliff that I wasn’t going to make any money as a composer. I also. Got a degree in communications, public relations, journalism. That’s where those two disciplines came together.

Park Howell: As in the advertising world. When I graduated and I spent a decade after my graduation, working for different agencies and whatever, I’m honing my skills in writing in an account service work in media in radio production, I did a whole ton of radio commercials and I absolutely loved it because it was such theater of the mind.

Park Howell: And I was trying to tell stories. They’re not, not intentionally. I mean, just having fun with the medium. And now in hindsight, when I look back, I go, gosh, there was, there were so successful because they were always some sort of wacky story that I was telling about the, the customer. And then in 1995 is really when I became an entrepreneur because that’s when I started my ad agency Park & Co. in Phoenix, Arizona.

Park Howell: Which I ran for 10, well, 20 years there, the first 10 years up until 2005 was a lot of fun the second, 10 years, not so much. And what I had seen we’ve done and we had grown quite large for the, the area out here to local market. Advertising was being consumed by digital media and our brands and our clients used to own the influence of mass media.

Park Howell: But through the internet, of course, the masses became the media and it sort of suck the living daylights out of creativity, of advertising of which I knew in traditional media and even more important. It was so hard to be heard. I think digital marketing, most of it, 95% of it simply doesn’t work. And yet clients are happy to give you their money to go and do it for them.

Park Howell: And you just don’t get the return. I was never comfortable doing that. So I started studying story in around 2003, 2004 to figure out. How do you get heard in this really noisy world out there? And what I found was, you know, the ancient power of stories, the way we homo-sapiens, or another way to think of it, we, storytelling monkeys make meaning out of the madness of being human beings.

Park Howell: And it’s still today the structure of story that we pay attention to, no matter what channel. So I pivoted away from my 20 year old agency. At that point, I was fed up with the agency world. I had already been employing, storytelling in our work for the previous decade. And I said, I’m all in on the business of story.

Park Howell: My folks went and got other jobs. Some of them worked with me a little bit, but now all I do is consult, teach, coach and speak on the power of story in. 

Cliff Duvernois: Nice. I absolutely love that now. So I want to take a quick step back. Cause you, you said that the business of story framework has been with you. How did you develop it?

Park Howell: Yeah, well, I was lucky and the universe has this way of answering your call. I found out, 

Cliff Duvernois: Yes, it 

Park Howell: passionate about something and you dive into it and you don’t know why other than your like, There’s something here and I don’t know what it is. So the problem I was trying to solve back in 2002, 2003, is to be heard, help our clients continue to grow in the mayhem of the internet and.

Park Howell: Any answers cliff. And I was lucky because our middle child, our son Parker, went to film school at Chapman university over in orange, California, a very prominent film school. And he graduated when he went 2006 to 2010. Graduated spent the last 11 years in Hollywood directing primarily virtual reality films and so forth.

Park Howell: So he was all in, but here’s the. When he was going to school there and I was on my journey to try to figure out how do you communicate in this noisy world? I asked Parker, I said, send me your books and your lecture notes. And even any recordings you have of your classes when you’re done with them since I’m paying for them.

Park Howell: Because I want to know. Oh, what do they teach? Young? Up-and-coming aspiring professional storytellers like you to be competitive and the most competitive storytelling market in the world. LA and Hollywood. What could I learn from that, that I could apply in my own world. And that’s where I found the hero’s journey, Joseph Campbell.

Park Howell: And I’m like, oh my God, here’s a template to really powerful brand storytelling. And so I mapped. To what a business mind would think about it. And I took the hero’s journey and built my 10 step story cycle system, which then we use to great effect in building out brand story strategy. And that’s cliff, when I got really excited.

Park Howell: So now you’re in fast forward. We’re about 2009 and I’ve had my agency almost 10 years at this. But even then actually more than 10 years, 14 years. That’s when I realized that my old agency was going to be going away. It’s my off ramp into doing this new thing, because I so enjoyed teaching our customers and our clients about how story works, how to use it in their work.

Park Howell: And that’s what really led me to where I am. 

Cliff Duvernois: Excellent. And because I really do want to get to the podcast and yummy stuff here, but I think this is going to be kind of very important for us as we move forward. And I, I definitely want to make sure I’m checking all my boxes. Would you briefly share with us what the story cycle system.

Park Howell: Yeah, it.

Park Howell: is a stent, a 10 step process, and it is captured in my book brand be Witchery how to wheel the story cycle system to craft spellbinding stories for your brand, but it takes you on a strategy. Trek. And it starts like chapter one is essentially the backstory and what that is, is really defining what your brand stands for in the market.

Park Howell: So you’re setting the stage for your overall brand story, right? I’ll go quickly through it. Chapter two is all about the hero in your story and oh, by the way, it’s not you and your brand, it’s always your customers. So I then have you identify your top three audiences and then we focus on your number one audience to build out the rest of it.

Park Howell: Chapter three is what’s. It’s. This leads to your unique value proposition that helps them get what they want in the world. Chapter four is the obstacles and antagonists. This is where you find story tension. What is happening in the market that is pushing back on your customer and your brand that you can actually leverage and kind of a jujitsu move sort of way to make your brand stand for something even greater in their minds, because you are helping.

Park Howell: Overcome those obstacles and antagonists chapter five is the mentor. This is where you come in. This is where you define what your core personality or brand archetype is. That will inform how you show up every day from your website to your sales presentations, to whatever else it is the impetus for your creative community. Then we go on chapter six is journey. So we now start collecting stories that you can tell about your brand and demonstrating the real world impact you make for your customers, for your colleagues, for the communities you serve that, then start becoming content for your. Marketing plan and so forth, which leads to chapter eight, nine and 10, which are about your marketing plan, how you’re going to market with your story strategy.

Park Howell: Chapter nine is literally after you’ve done all this work, the moral of your story. This is what your brand purpose statement is, and it doesn’t come till chapter nine. Because you’ve got to do all that heavy lifting in advance of that. And that’s when the aha comes for and say, oh, now that we’ve done all the story work, this is our singular purpose.

Park Howell: And then chapter 10 is how do you scale your story through repeat business, word of mouth marketing and get people telling your authentic story. And that’s why the Story Cycle System is a brand story strategy platform. 

Cliff Duvernois: And so now that we understand that let’s take a step back here for a second and you’ve launched your business, you know, you’ve decided you’re going to go all in on business story. And so you’ve done that. And at some point in time, you say I’m going to start a podcast.

Cliff Duvernois: So first off, what made you decide to start a podcast?

Park Howell: Well, I actually started the podcast before I launched business of story. While I still have my agency 

Cliff Duvernois: Oh, 

Park Howell: co I launched it July 1st, 2015. And the reason why is podcasting was just getting going. And remember I told you how much I love producing radio commercials and 

Park Howell: and generating theater of the mind and imagery while the podcast was a natural outlet for me.

Park Howell: And I don’t do any video podcasts, I just do only audio. And the reason being is that was going to be my platform for a few different things. Number one, I saw it by, at this point by 2015, had read a gazillion books, watched the gazillion videos. There weren’t a lot of podcasts on story at the time. And I wanted to start interviewing these people I read and I wanted to literally learn as much as I could.

Park Howell: So I launched the podcast with my own interest of. Who are the top leaders that I could get on that I would learn from. And I figured if I’m learning from them, then my listeners are going to learn from them. And gosh, that was 350 episodes ago. My shows are every Monday and it has been my singular marketing platform for the business of story.

Park Howell: Now I’ve got a website and I’ve got social channels and all that, but I’ve almost given up blog writing. And because I got some really good advice from probably the top mind in content development and that’s Joe Pulizzi of content marketing world. He is like the go-to guy. And I had him on my show or early in the podcast, in my generation of the podcast.

Park Howell: And he said, Mark. If you’re starting your show it’s gonna take you 16 to 18 months to build any traction. So you have to be there day in and day out. Be super consistent. Never miss. And just know that you’re going to Bumble along with a hundred or two subscribers for good be the first 12 months.

Park Howell: And you’re going to feel like nothing is working and then you’re going to see that head. And that’s kind of what I saw. I was lucky. I was able to get up to a couple thousand subscribers in my first year. But it wasn’t until that 16th, 18th month mark, did I see it really take off? And so Joe was absolutely crystal clear and dead on, on that advice.

Park Howell: The other thing. He says the mistake people make are trying to produce too much content on too many different channels. So none of it is very good, nor is it very consistent. And I had already written hundreds and hundreds of blog posts at that point, and I was burned out of doing it. And so I really, I still do some podcasts, some blog posts, but my core messaging is a podcast.

Park Howell: I have not missed a Monday and almost seven years. And I’ve got four shows produced, so I won’t miss any in the next month. And then I take those shows and I atomized that content into sometimes blog posts, but of course, LinkedIn posts, Instagram posts and everywhere else, but that is my singular focus is the Business of Story podcast.

Cliff Duvernois: Hey everyone. We’re going to take a short break to thank our sponsors.

 I love that you say that, and I will have to make sure that we, we dive into that a little bit more about, podcasts and being the tip of the of the marketing spear free for your company. Let’s take a step back here because you’ve worked with fortune 500 companies, right?

Cliff Duvernois: Feed spot says you got the number one business story podcast out there. And so kudos to you for that. What is podcasting done for your business? You decided that this was going to be your platform that you were going to focus on, but really in terms of tangibles, what is it, what has it done for your business?

Park Howell: Yeah.

Park Howell: I’ll tell you right now, Cliff, and it might be kind of a downer for your audience. It’s not a windfall. It’s not like, oh my God, I heard your show. I’ve got to have you. Come out. It’s quite different. It’s quite contrary to that. So we use it. We get great SEO out of it. We have great listenership. And when I get hired for business, sometimes most of the time, honestly, they have never even heard my podcast.

Park Howell: They have, our SEO pops me up there because of the work we do with the podcast and the back links and so forth we get. They come in, they hit my website, they look and see that I’ve got a podcast. They may, at that point, listen to one and say, geez, I like this guy. Or this guy seems to know what he’s talking about.

Cliff Duvernois: Yeah.

Park Howell: Those that do listen. It’s kind of weird. You get a little bit of podcast celebrity to it. So when they hire you and you come out and they go, oh my goodness. I get to meet you in person. I’ve been listening to your voice for the last two years. This is so cool to finally meet you, which is always a little bit odd for me.

Park Howell: But I can tell you, I sometimes, take a deep breath and ask my wife, Michelle, I go, gosh, this is so much work. I do enjoy it, but I really want. What the ROI is on it. And it’s, then I will get a note from a listener saying I just listened to such and such a show and it just changed my whole thought process on this or this show here was so helpful to me.

Park Howell: And honestly, Cliff, that’s what keeps me going. Now. I might get two or three of those. But that’s all I hear. So if you’re in the podcast world, even if you feel like people aren’t responding to you, you’re having an impact out there. And I think it’s important for people to remember that. 

Cliff Duvernois: Yeah, I absolutely agree with it. You know, the one thing I always tell people, especially when I’m working with them is that, you’re putting your content out there and especially with podcasts, right? The only. The only real metric we have is downloads. And that really doesn’t. I mean, we could see, depending on how much money you’re paying for your hosting package, but you could see geography or you might be able to see like how many females versus males or whatever it is, but really at the end of the day, you can’t, you can’t see that.

Cliff Duvernois: So you don’t know the impact you’re having until somebody reaches out to you and says, man, that episode really impacted me or changed my thinking on this or something else like that, which is, if I could take a step forward here What introduces them to, the business story framework, because it is a very different way of thinking, you know, a lot of people, what they’re doing, I see this out there anyways, for people wanting to get into digital advertising and stuff is that they’re trying to take what worked for them in a magazine.

Cliff Duvernois: 20 or twenty-five years ago and trying to translate that into Facebook or something else. When you know the very heart of a lot of the platforms we got out there, social media is the social aspect, right? It’s about, you know, making sure that you’re engaging and building your relationship with your clients.

Cliff Duvernois: I E telling a story like every time you put on a piece of content, it should tell some kind of a story. Even if that story is done video. And it’s interesting that you that you bring up the, the, the podcast angle and the fact that you’re, you’re impacting people.

Cliff Duvernois: And I think I went off on a tangent there, 

Park Howell: No, it was great. 

Cliff Duvernois: So let’s talk about how you are applying the Story Cycle Program, because I know you live in eat and breathe this stuff.

Cliff Duvernois: So it’s like, it’s not that hard to see, but how are you applying your system, the story cycle system to your podcast.

Park Howell: Yeah. Now, let me bring you up to speed a little bit on what I do these days. So like any new territory you dive in whole-hog and you look. All the complexities of it. You try to get your arms around it, which I did through Hollywood through the hero’s journey, through the 15 story beats of Blake Snyder and saved the cat to the seven or eight steps 

Cliff Duvernois: that in a while. 

Park Howell: you know, the picks are way to all of these involved complex story strikes.

Park Howell: As I learned this, I wanted to keep simplifying it. Then I came across the five primal elements of a short story for big impact that you can tell in under a minute to make your business point for you and really get your audience leaning in, which led me to. Well a decade ago in 2013, Dr. Randy Olson, Harvard PhD, evolutionary biologists, turn USC film, school grad documentary maker who has written seven books.

Park Howell: Now teaching scientists, how to use story structure to communicate their big ideas. In his second book called Connection, I read about this little framework called the And-But-therefore, the ABT that he had identified for not only as Hollywood days, but actually from South Park. South Park Matt stone and Trey Parker uses thing called the Rule of Replacement when they’re writing scripts. If a script isn’t working for them, they take out the ands and they replace them with buts and therefores. So what happens, what most of us do is we and, and, and our audiences to death. We never get to the point or the action of the story we always remain in exposition or act one.

Park Howell: You get one and then you get a but. In the but is the trigger word that means our plot has just shifted, which triggers our curiosity. And our limbic system is like, oh my God, what’s going to happen next. Then you get the therefore and, but therefore, or A-B-T. So in all of my training, you know, and I work with everything from the four-star generals in the Air Force, out of Washington, DC to Home Depot, to Banner Health, to Lexel.

Park Howell: I mean, to carry too, it goes on and on with these large brands, but also small ones as well. I don’t start with the story cycle system. It’s too big and evolved. I start with the and-but-therefore am because that’s what builds your narrative intuition. So let me give you an example of the shortest ABT.

Park Howell: And I’m always asked what is the shortest ABT, Park, that actually uses story structure to trigger us. And it’s this, you’re an executive who communicates and cares, but bores, therefore tell a story. So I’ve used act one with the And statement of agreement. Act two is now the action “But you’re boring. Oh my God. What are we going to do about it?” It calls for a resolution. Therefore, tell a story.”

Park Howell: Now I can expand that even more. It is not a story in and of itself, but it uses the three forces of every story. That is agreement set up, you know, validating someone’s world, contradiction, the but. Here’s the problem we’re solving for.

Park Howell: And then therefore resolution here’s the consequences of that contradiction or the resolution we’re looking for. 

Park Howell: You can go right through the Hero’s Journey or the 15 story beats of Blake Snyder and see that they are grouped in order with these three framework, these three steps in there. And, but therefore. So let me expand that and but therefore for you a little bit, and I’m doing this for your listeners because you can start applying this right away.

Park Howell: You are an you O an executive that wants to connect with your communities and your colleagues. And if you can really connect on a deep level, then you can move them to action. But you’re not connecting because you’re leading with logic and reason when, what your audiences really want is the emotional appeal of a story.

Park Howell: Therefore begin with the and, but, and therefore the ABT to hack through the noise and hook your audience from the very start. And then you can go on and on. So whenever I’m doing a show, I will always do the intro in an and but therefore, to set it up for my listeners and to get me super focused on what the theme is for that particular show. 

Park Howell: I will literally recite and, and, but, therefore up top. I will use it to set up my guest a little bit later in, after I do the whole intro. And then I’ll even use the ABT through out the show because I want my show to have this and, but therefore framework to it as well. My guest comes on and that and statement of agreement is let’s learn about your back story.

Park Howell: Tell us a little bit about this and, I’m setting them up as the expert. Okay. But where has it gone wrong? Or, but where have you seen other people go wrong? You know, that you learn from, and that’s what you’re teaching. Therefore, what are the outcomes that you’re going to be teaching us today to get us through this?

Park Howell: If you are really strong with that and, and, but building huge conflict and statement of agreement, here’s what a brighter day looks like tomorrow, but here’s the problem why you currently don’t have it. The more contradiction you have there, the longer your audience will give you for your therefore resolution.

Park Howell: So that’s where all of my stuff starts. And my every single show I do is base on an ABT. I’m always thinking about that throughout the show.

Cliff Duvernois: I love it. And I think I’m gonna think I’m going to play around with it for this particular podcast, because I liked that framework. So I’m going to throw up. In here. 

Park Howell: You got it. 

Cliff Duvernois: So you’re already comfortable, behind the mic, you’ve decided to get into podcasting, you’ve got your story framework, you’re, you are just, ready to go.

Cliff Duvernois: When you first get into a podcasting, what was one of the biggest struggles that you had?

Park Howell: Ah, quality of sound. I kept messing with different, you know, you’re on Zencaster here. I started with Zencaster. Actually. I started with zoom, hated the quality of sound. Then I went to Zencastr. Your, I was messing around with different microphones. It all sounded a bit cheesy to me. And then I was really lucky because I’ve got a buddy of mine up in Seattle, Washington named Paul Herrick, who I grew up with.

Park Howell: I’ve known him since the third grade. Paul has a complete audio file and to support me, he goes, man, I love your show, but you got to get your audio better. So he bought me and sent me a Sony mic. And, uh, the, the audio box, uh, divided Midi device. He sent me $400 of audio equipment to support me in my effort.

Park Howell: How cool is that? I mean, and then once they got that dialed in, then I started feeling more comfortable with the audio quality of my show. It took a year or two before I really found a format for the overall show that I liked. And now I love what we do the way we set it up. The way we do a pull quote from a guest.

Park Howell: And it just takes a while. It just it’s, they’re never perfect. You just got to get in and just got to do them. And then you’re going to find your own pace, your own format that works. 

Cliff Duvernois: And I’m glad you pointed that out because you have to keep working at it, you’re never going to be perfect on the very first try, but it’s more important for you to get that first episode out so you can make the second seek, make the third. So along the way you can make.

Cliff Duvernois: Incremental improvements to, to just get better. You know, with regards to, the audio quality and you said you were on your search for it and everything else. And I face this myself, I’m a little bit of a perfectionist, uh, which can sometimes just really slow me down, how did you get over that to just get your first episode out and say, it’s done

Park Howell: Oh, that’s just the way I’m built. I just go for it. I give myself a deadline and I produced five shows before I even launched my first one. And I was on a deadline for myself. I was my own client. And so instead of working with clients through Park & Co. a story became a Park & Co.mpany client, and it was up to me to get the guests, to do the recordings and just wing it at first until I could figure out what in the world has really doing.

Park Howell: But the one thing that, that kind of saved me and I think, is. Great advice is you can almost take your ego out of it. So my ego is obvious the at played and I wasn’t crazy about the quality of it in the format. That’s all my ego talking, but ask yourself, how am I in service to my listener? Once you really get straight with that also in your ego falls away.

Park Howell: And you’re like, I don’t really care if it’s perfect. What I want to absolutely make sure is I provide actionable, interesting, entertaining content so that they don’t feel like they ever wasted a moment with me. So it just ask yourself that question. Don’t worry about perfection. Just how are you in service to your listener. 

Cliff Duvernois: One of the things I saw it was a, um, a video on Facebook from a coach who was talking about, if you know that you have this perfectionist mentality, you have to understand something that perfectionism is about you. It’s not about how you’re serving your client.

Cliff Duvernois: So in that moment, when you’re like, oh, everything has to be perfect. You’re making it about you. You need to come from a place of service. And think about your client and the best way to do that is to get your message, your advice, your story out in front of them, cause the only person really at the end of the day, who’s going to notice the mistakes as you.

Cliff Duvernois: So one of the biggest lessons I had to learn,

Park Howell: Yeah. And cliff, I would say if people are out there going, oh my goodness, that’s me. My ego is totally in the way. I don’t want him to feel bad. Look at that as a human condition, we all have that. And we all suffer from it every single day. But if you’re getting really stressed out about it, it’s probably because you’ve made it about You and not about your listener.

Park Howell: And as soon as you make that change, all of a sudden life becomes a lot easier and you have a lot more fun with it too.

Cliff Duvernois: You do? And that’s, I think that’s a key tenement to, getting into podcasting is just, you got to remember to have fun with the platform. You can’t be serious, 24 7 people are gonna find you’re boring. Your personality doesn’t come through. You gotta be able to just relax, get on that microphone and, just rip out a really good solo episode or have a really good interview with somebody.

Cliff Duvernois: Like you said, it’s a great platform for learning things. You don’t.

Park Howell: Yeah, that’s the most beautiful part of it. I mean, talking about self-interest is you get on experts. That really enlightened you about so many different things. So that’s where it really plays for a host. I mean, it’s such added value to you as a host. It’s unbelievable. And the other thing is that grows your network among these people.

Park Howell: So when I go on the speaking circuit, Over in San Diego at social media marketing world here March 14, 15, 16. This will be the sixth year I’m there. And I do a 90 minute businesses story workshop to kick off the whole thing. But when I’m there, I get to run into all these people that I’ve had on the show and they become kind of friends, even though you don’t know them that well, but you have had this intimate, powerful conversation with them.

Park Howell: And that’s something that I think any show hosts should never do. That, that is like one of the most important things of hosting a podcast. 

Cliff Duvernois: Yeah, exactly. Building up that network. Definitely one of the top points of having a podcast. Uh, so we talked about, what was one of your, you know, what was your biggest struggle to, when you were getting started? Why don’t you share with us one of your biggest successes or a couple of successes that you’ve had with the pod?

Park Howell: Hmm. I wonder how you would define that. So. 

Cliff Duvernois: I’ll leave that up to you.

Park Howell: I suppose one of the biggest successes is when you can go out and you can land some sort of superstars in their field to come on the show and talk about story in their own way. One of my favorites is a gentleman by the name of Kenny Aronoff. And if you don’t know that name immediately, I’ll put it in a context.

Park Howell: He was the drummer for John Cougar Mellencamp for 17 years. And he’s gone on to, uh, do a whole ton of records with about every superstar out there you could imagine. And Kenny is ranked in rolling stone magazine among the top 100 best rock and roll drummers ever. And he is an absolute hoot. And a gentleman and he was just so much fun to have in the show.

Park Howell: He and I have become fast friends through all of that. So that’s one of the successes because you get to kind of highlight, a big time star and how they use it. And then, you befriend them at that point. Derek Thompson, a writer for the Atlantic that I was able to get on my show, David Siegel from MPR came on.

Park Howell: So to me, those are some of my personal superstars. It’s fun to have them on the show personally, to get them out there, but really probably the greatest wins are when I get those emails. And it could be from some show that I thought was. Maybe, I didn’t think the guest used as dynamic as I wished they could have been, but they obviously had dropped some wisdom bombs where I will have just a random individual.

Park Howell: Write me a note and say, oh, thank you so much for having cliff on a show last week, what he said about such and such completely rocked my world. I’d never thought at that way of it, that way I tried. And it’s been amazing. So thank you. Keep doing what you’re doing whenever I get those. Those are the biggest wins. 

Cliff Duvernois: Yeah. Yeah. It’s awesome. When you get notes from people you never even heard of before talking about how you’ve, you know, you had an impact on them. And that, that to me is the most important thing. You know, if I can, through this podcast here, if I can help one entrepreneur. Avoid pod fade. If I can have one entrepreneur land a client, if I can help, one entrepreneur, be able to make payroll, because through podcasts and or something else like that, then all of this effort to me was absolutely worth it.

Cliff Duvernois: So I definitely, for me anyways, I definitely appreciate that because part of my personal mission statement is about the impact that I want to have on the world. And I know not everybody’s going to work, want to work with. I totally accept that and I’m fine with it. But if one episode that I put out there, it can help somebody to, bridge a gap or, you know, like I said, be able to get a client or something else like that, then, mazeltov, I’m, I’m all for that.

Cliff Duvernois: So 

Park Howell: You know, cliff. 

Cliff Duvernois: really good stuff.

Park Howell: You had asked earlier about, marketing and how you use it. One really great thing I’ve found with my podcast is if I’m in a biz-dev mode, someone’s called they’re interested in something. They have a particular request about storytelling within their organization. I out of 350 episodes always have one episode that I can point them to.

Park Howell: That is the very problem they have and what better way. And here’s what I do. So maybe I have that conversation at 10 in the. And I follow up. Hey, thanks. And here’s some, by the way, you might want to listen to episode number 360 2, and I’ll have a link in there who the guest is on it.

Park Howell: The main thing we talked about and I’ll even guide them. I said on your drive home tonight, just go ahead and plug it in and you’ll hear how they addressed it. So what are you doing is you’re giving them added value immediately and you get to. Uh, accompany them on the ride home. So you were there, they’re listening to you.

Park Howell: And it’s like an ongoing sales engagement, but you are delivering massive amounts of value. You’re not selling, you’re just sharing. 

Cliff Duvernois: And I’m glad you pointed out. Cause that’s one of the things that, you know, when I’m talking with my clients is to keep in mind, cause they’re always asking me like, what, what types of content can I put out there? What can I do about this? And I always tell them, some of the things that you can talk about is your FAQ’s right?

Cliff Duvernois: Cause you know, you’re, people are going to be reaching out and wanting to work with you and they’re going to say, yeah. So what about this? Or what about that? The best thing you can do is reply to them and say, Hey, here’s the short answer, but I go a lot further in this episode.

Cliff Duvernois: And like you said, you get to spend 20 to 30 minutes on their commute home in their. Arguing for, why you can help them solve their problem, why they should do business with you. This is the power. When I talk about like podcasting building relationships, this is huge because you won’t get that from a Facebook post.

Cliff Duvernois: You won’t get that from an Instagram real, but man, when they’re driving home, like I said, it’s almost like you’re sitting in a car. 

Park Howell: Yeah. 

Cliff Duvernois: And just be like, okay, so let’s talk about your problem. You know, I, I stumbled across this. This is, use your ABT 

Park Howell: The perfect 

Cliff Duvernois: tell a really good story. 

Park Howell: You know, you actually start that email with, at ABT. So sharing you told me you wanted this and it’s important to you because of this, but you currently don’t have it. Therefore, I want you to listen to this particular episode that covers this, this and this on your way home tonight.

Park Howell: And if you like ping me tomorrow with any questions, man, even if they don’t. They appreciate the fact that you did it. They look at your show graphic and there’s that celebrity attached to it. They’re like, oh, parks already covered this thing. So I don’t got to bring him up to speed with me. And then they do listen to it.

Park Howell: You’ve triggered this reciprocity thing cause you’ve just given them all this wisdom and they’re like, you’re my guy, you’re my gal. Let’s bring you on in. 

Cliff Duvernois: Yeah, I love it. And if you know the good thing. With that is, especially if that episode’s good, it’s compelling, you know, you’re telling the story, like you were just saying there, odds are, they’re going to listen to another episode they’re going to go through and they’re going to find another episode and be like, Hey, you know what I was wondering about that?

Cliff Duvernois: Or, oh my God, I can’t believe they had this guest on there. I want to listen to that. And for, for having a podcast out there, and this is the only time I really pay attention to downloads, but I know you’ve done it as well. Cause you’re a podcaster, but I love. When I’m looking at my download graph and all of a sudden, I see like a huge spike one day, because I know somebody has found that podcast and they’ve gone back and started at episode one.

Cliff Duvernois: And now they’re listening to all of them. Again, nobody’s going to go back and look at your Instagram reels from day one. Nobody’s going to look at your Facebook posts from day one, but they will consume your podcasts content from episode one, which is great. So I’m tickled pink. You brought that.

Park Howell: Yeah, uh, podcasting is evergreen, certainly. And you can go back and cherry pick and share them, but I got to confess cliff. I read. Ever look at my analytics. I have someone else that does that because here’s the thing I’ve learned and it was before podcasting and it was while in the advertising world that you can produce two TV commercials, two radio spots in the same campaign.

Park Howell: One of them will pull amazingly well, the other one. Yeah, no, not so great. And you can sit and analyze those and look at them and try to figure out why the hell did this one work and this one didn’t. And I have found that is true with my shows that again, I will put out with, I kind of like sometimes feel like it might be a little bit of a dog show and it’ll frickin go through the roof and then I’ll produce like this amazing show I think.

Park Howell: And it’ll go ma on me. I do not know. What the rhyme nor reason is for that. So my default is if I look at analytics, sometimes they depress me because I think a show that should have done really well, does it do as well as one that I had no clue would do as well as it does, which is just confusing to me.

Park Howell: So I go back to my singular analytic in my brain. How am I of service to my audience today? What is the focus of this show? How can I show up and just give it my best and leave it at that? Let the numbers take care of them. And that’s what works for me anyway. 

Cliff Duvernois: I really do want to ask this question. You’ve given out so much, really great advice in this episode. I’m actually going to be, I love that ABT thing. I’m going to be doing some more research and incorporating that into my interviews because I think that will level them up.

Park Howell: Well, can I share something 

Cliff Duvernois: here’s 

Park Howell: you the ABT?

Park Howell: Here’s the deal I’ve got two, I’m going to sell now, but it’s really cheap and it’s hugely powerful. I’ve got two short ABT courses. One’s called the ABT’s of selling, which is 18 minutes, three short videos by me walking you through how to use the ABTS for your sales and marketing.

Park Howell: I launched that in May and it blew up. It’s been huge. I’ve had people saying “Park, when are you going to come out with an ABTS of branding?” Which I just did. I launched it on Valentine’s day, for the love of story. There’s now the ABTS of branding. They’re both $35. You can go in the ABTs of branding is a little bit longer.

Park Howell: It’s just under 30 minutes because I have more examples in there of how brands use them. I will be coming out with the ABTS of leadership here in another couple of weeks. But you can find those two courses on Thinkific. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Thinkific platform. If you go to business of story.thinkific.com or go to my website and we’ll link you over there you can take either one of those courses or you can take both of them.

Park Howell: I have people that are first done leadership and then branding. The point is you learn the same dynamics on how to use the ABT and all of your messages. One is just simply focused on sales and marketing. The other one is absolutely focused on narrative brand development. It is not the 10 step story cycle system.

Park Howell: It’s the three steps of the end button, therefore, and how to find your core position statement. And even your tagline out of that little ABT exercise. 

Cliff Duvernois: I love it for our audience. We will make sure to have those links done in the show notes down below, because I sense my wallet getting about $70 lighter. I do want to ask this final question now, uh, in. So it’s like actually like the main purpose, uh, this particular podcast. I want to help the entrepreneur out there who has a podcast who’s struggling, what is like a piece of advice or maybe a couple pieces of advice as you would have for that entrepreneur who is maybe like a 10 episodes or 15 episodes. And it’s just, for whatever reason, another, they’re not finding their rhythm, they’re struggling, whatever.

Park Howell: It’s where Joe Pulizzi told me. It just got to keep going. If you are 10 or 15 episodes in that means you’re 10 or 15 weeks in, maybe if you’re doing it weekly or your a few months in. You got to give it a year and a half. I mean, I just don’t know any of them, the blow up without a good solid year and a half.

Park Howell: So you got to believe. Number two, you got to like it, you got to enjoy doing it. I love doing it and I still get burned out, but I still do it, 

Cliff Duvernois: Yeah.

Park Howell: know, just because I do ultimately like it. And I know that I’m helping lots of people out there. So I think it’s soul searching Cliff. I think it’s ultimately coming down and asking yourself to get really love it? If you don’t really love it, then maybe you’re not in. Maybe it’s not for you. There’s another avenue for you to do it. If you really love it. And you’re still getting burned out, suck it up and just keep going. And the third thing I would say, and I’ve done this on my, and I still do it today. You really love it.

Park Howell: You get kind of burned out. Maybe you’re feeling a little stale, mix it up a little bit. So I will start my show with a typical show music open, and then I’ll do a quick little intro then a soundbite for my cousin, my guest, then the backstory and the guests. Then we get into the show, but like the other day I started with Bill Haley and the Comets a rock around the clock, because I was trying to make a point about how that song got famous and it was going to be the whole premise for the whole show. 

Park Howell: So I threw my audience and utter curve ball. They were not expecting that on Valentine’s day. I did a special show with just me, no guests at all. And I don’t know if you know who Stan Freberg is, but he’s an ad guy who passed away about a year ago.

Park Howell: But before that he was a cartoon character voice for Looney tunes and the bugs bunny Roadrunner hour. And he was a comedian that did these marvelous marvelous records from the fifties and sixties. Well, he’s got this really goofy take on these TUPE it’s just him doing the voices, but it’s John. Marsha Marsha, Marsha, Marsha, John.

Park Howell: And all he does is use the names back and forth to, uh, to evoke this romance going on for two minutes while I started my Valentine’s day show with that. Go check it out. You can listen to it. And in-between the Johns and Marsha’s, I would jump in and talk about the show and what’s coming up and have some fun for Valentine’s day on it.

Park Howell: And then I just produced a show today. That’s going to come out next week and it’s going back to my standard. You know, show open little announcement up top and doing it. So I mix it up for me, but I’m also mixing it up for my listeners just to kind of keep them on their toes to say, I wonder what the hell he’s up to this week.

Park Howell: Some of it works. Some of it doesn’t, but it sure is fun because it keeps it lively. 

Cliff Duvernois: I’m glad that you put that in there because there’s a. Certain, almost like a server, certain liberation of put in a little bit of creative element into, you know what you’re doing. So like for instance, for this particular podcast here, I’ve got a set of questions. I’d like to ask each guest, but I try to mix it up in that.

Cliff Duvernois: I always ask follow-up questions. I never know what they are ahead of time. And I don’t know until my guest starts talking. So that way when they say something and I’m like, oh, I need to go back and explore that a little bit more. Right. Let’s talk about that a little bit more. And for me, I think that that helps me to keep this fresh in my mind.

Cliff Duvernois: As well as, you know, just asking different questions. Cause there’s no two interviews that are ever going to be the same. Every entrepreneur is different. Everybody’s using podcasting, differently. And so when I go up there and I just start getting them to share their story, everybody’s story is different.

Cliff Duvernois: Everybody’s story is unique to them. So by just, just paying attention during the interview process and just asking the questions and asking follow up questions, uh, in my mind helps to keep this whole thing fresh. I find that if I listen to a podcast where the host is asking the same set of questions to every single person, I get bored.

Cliff Duvernois: Fast. I mean, after like two or three episodes, it’s like, okay, so now they’re going to ask this question and now they’re going to ask this question. I get what you’re saying when you’re talking about, uh, doing a little bit of variety, you know, and just splash something different, you know, keep, keep the audience guessing.

Park Howell: Well, you know, Larry King, who is a famous, famous, maybe the most famous interviewer, he would never do any research on his guests, or if they were showing up to promote the book, he would never even read the book or even look at the Cliff Notes. He always wanted to be there and just be on the edge of his seat and be curious and see where that interview went, because he felt like if he was entertained and sucked into it, then he was doing the good job for his viewers and his listeners.

Park Howell: And I used to be where I would read every book that came to me and then try to make up my notes and go through it. Now I will scan them. So I’ll have a clue because I want to find that ABT theme. I want to find that singular focus and then I jump into it and see where the interview takes us. But I’m always keeping that ABT in the back of my mind to make sure it’s fully. 

Cliff Duvernois: Nice. And speaking of which, when I first got into podcasting back in the day, I would get somebody to say yes to being on my podcast. I would have an hour long pre-interview call with them. Just drilling them on their backstory. I would take tons of copious notes and then I would ask all unique questions to them for the interview and that added two to three hours before I even interviewed them right to, to my process. 

Cliff Duvernois: And I just realized one day, the first off I’m getting like 12 downloads. So, but the second thing is, is I actually heard a Larry King talk on the Tim Ferriss show. And I don’t know if that was the first time he said it or he’s probably said it multiple times, but he actually made that comment about how he doesn’t do any research on any of his guests. And I’m like, well, shoot, if that’s good enough for Larry King, that’s good enough for me, you know? Cause he was like one of the guys that I picked when I got into the podcast and I’m like, I want to be Larry King. I want to be like Cliff King.

Cliff Duvernois: Right. I want to be that next guy. Well, he said that and I was like, shoot, man. I’m just, I gotta stop doing that. So my podcast production schedule went from 12 hours down to 10 and I was doing jumping jacks. Right. I was like, yeah, it’s so cool. So, 

Park Howell: thing is the Larry King is very, very, or was very, very well read. You know, he had his pulse on a lot of different things. And so you can do that in your own specialty. I have read about everything that I can possibly digest and make sense of in the storytelling world from Hollywood to business, to marketing, to sales. 

Park Howell: So I am well-versed in it. That’s my job. So I need to be there so I can bring people in. But I can play off of all this other stuff. I’ve all this knowledge I’ve gained to help guide that interview. That’s the same thing you can do in your particular show. You don’t have to be an expert on world affairs and COVID and the, you know, politics or anything be that world expert in your domain.

Park Howell: And then as you are interviewing people, you can be the Larry King playing off of that expertise and then let those stories, let those conversations just come somewhat organically. As long as you have a focus for the interview. 

Cliff Duvernois: Yeah, exactly. Great piece of advice. So if somebody is listening to this podcast, so they kind of want to, they want to check out what it is you’re doing. They finally find your website. Find you out on the socials, whatever, what’s the best way for them to connect with you online.

Park Howell: Yeah, LinkedIn is where I really like to be connected with. And I’ve got an unusual name. It’s just park P a R K Howell H O w E L L. So you can find my handle very easily. I’m also same handle on Instagram. And Twitter and Facebook and so forth. But LinkedIn is where I do most of my communicating. Come on over to business of story.com and you can get all my information there and whatever.

Park Howell: And then finally, Cliff, what I’d like to do is I’m not sure when this episode is actually going to air, but what I’d like to do is create a promo code for your listeners to get $10 off. Each either one or both of those courses. And I’m going to give you the promo code right now. And it is CliffABT Cliff ABT

Park Howell: and what I want to do is know when you think the show’s going to air and I’m going to make that a promo code live for 30 days. So your listeners can go there and have access to the course for 30 days. For $10 off either one or both of those courses. 

Cliff Duvernois: Nice. So thank you for doing that. That’s really very generous. When this interview goes live, for the people that are listening out there, they can definitely take advantage of that code. So, um, but yeah, I will definitely let you know, we’ll, we’ll coordinate that, but yes. Thank you for that. That’s very generous.

Park Howell: ha my, you know, I’m happy to do it. I would give it away, but I found that there there’s no value to someone if they get it for free. That you got to invest in yourself. You got an invest in your story. I’m obviously not getting rich on this, but I want you to be able to use the ABT because I found it to be the single most powerful framework where all really solid business storytelling begins. 

Cliff Duvernois: Nice. And thank you so much for that. And, Park it’s been, man, it’s been awesome having you on the show today and, I’d like to reach out cause I could talk all day about story here and I know we’re bumping up against the hour, but, I’d love to reach out to you again, in the future and just talk another, another story about this.

Cliff Duvernois: Cause I think, being able to communicate your story via podcasting, just ridiculously powerful. So, you know, I’d love to have you back on the show again, at some point in time in the future and talk some more. This is great stuff. 

Park Howell: Well, any time Cliff. And it’s my honor to be here. Thank you so much for having me on your show today.