Storytelling is one of the oldest form of transferring information for the humankind. Yet in the fast paced digitalised world it is evolving. It is no longer the one to many model but many to many model at play. How can businesses navigate through the modernised and constantly evolving marketing landscape.
My special guest on this episode is Graham Brown, who is a recognised thought leader in the world of podcasts. Through useful anecdotes, examples from history and simplified perspectives, Graham shares 360 degree insights into building thought leadership.
This hour is power-packed with value and challenges everyone in the business world to think of building thought leadership.
Graham can be reached at https://www.grahamdbrown.com/
If you enjoyed this episode, please review the podcast on apple podcast as it can reach to many more people. If you think there were areas on the episode where I could do better, I welcome feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you!
[00:00:00] Surbhi Dedhia: Hey Graham, it is absolutely my pleasure to have you on Making of a Thought Leader podcast. Welcome.
[00:00:07] Graham Brown: Thank you very much for inviting me.
[00:00:09] Graham Brown: I'm looking forward to this, Surbhi..
[00:00:11] Surbhi Dedhia: Yes, absolutely. So before we get in, let us talk about you and your backstory, and what you do.
[00:00:19] Graham Brown: Thank you. So I'm a storyteller in the sense that I help companies, brands tell stories. A lot of that work is done through podcasts now, which is how do you take often quite a dry subject and turn it into an engaging content piece for an audience.
[00:00:37] Graham Brown: And that seems to be a lot of the work that we do. I also help people guest on other people's podcasts, which is really down to the individuals now is like, you know, I don't have an interesting story to tell all these kinds of imposter syndrome fears that people have getting them through that, getting them onto podcasts and turning them into thought leaders. That's what I do.
[00:00:58] Surbhi Dedhia: Yes, and that's [00:01:00] phenomenal area, because that's what we talk about on The Making of a Thought Leader podcast . The audience here is SME owners, business owners who have years of experience, and yet they hesitate to put their footprint on the digital landscape. And I think the building part leadership is much imperative today.
[00:01:21] Surbhi Dedhia: One question that keeps repeating here is do, do SME owners themselves have to build thought leadership, or they can promote an organization culture to the thought leadership culture within the organization.
[00:01:35] Graham Brown: Right if you're an SME owner, Leader, CXO then probably you do everything in that business and can do everything.
[00:01:46] Graham Brown: Maybe you elect not to do it all now that you've grown a little bit. But generally you are the chief Rainmaker of the business. You are the face, the voice. And no matter how you think about it, you are the chief sales [00:02:00] person. You may have business development people, but ultimately you, your story, if you're fundraising, investors are investing in you, not your product, it's always you first.
[00:02:10] Graham Brown: And then the product seconds in the same way clients buy from you. They buy from people first. It's always people, product price, that's sort of sales 1 0 1. Have you started in a sales job? So as an SME leader, owner very much are at the heart of the thought leadership piece, creating it and really, you know, remembering as well that people follow people, not brands.
[00:02:37] Graham Brown: So you are that brand in all earnest to your partners, your clients, your investors, therefore, your story, your opinions, your thought leadership architecture is, is the most important. Of course, you've got a team around you and it's not just you doing this, but you have to be wary of shying away from [00:03:00] the stage that people may say I'm an introvert, or, you know, I'm not good at storytelling, but ultimately you have to be, you have to get out there because you know, we all live and die by storytelling and your thought leadership as an individual will make or break your company.
[00:03:16] Surbhi Dedhia: Yes, that's very true. The positive that many people talk about of pandemic is the whole collaboration piece that has happened on digital. So even if you're an introvert as an SME owner, I think there's enough to do on digital behind the scenes, not be out there talking at events or so that, that actually brings me to the topic of B2B, because events was like the lifeline for B2B.
[00:03:46] Surbhi Dedhia: And in your experience, talking with the corporates, what are you seeing on on this piece where it's completely disrupted and how are B2B companies building their thought leadership? [00:04:00]
[00:04:00] Graham Brown: Well, the Genie'svery much out of the bottle of Surbhi. You can't put it back in that now people have looked at digital as a way of communication, and now consider it as not a second rate channel for building thought leadership or biz dev, but maybe the most effective one that's never going to change.
[00:04:22] Graham Brown: And then with the events as well, if you think about, for example, how much of that was, you know, the mainstay of our business lives in B2B, it's not coming back anytime soon. Sureevents are coming back, but are people going to willingly go into an expo of a thousand people where everybody's talking, you know, and you know what the, the attitude is like, people are not necessarily going to go in the numbers.
[00:04:47] Graham Brown: They're not going to sponsor. These events are planned years out as well. So we don't see that coming back in the same shape or form that it did two years ago. People talk about hybrid events. That seems to be the thing [00:05:00] now, but like really the smart people are saying, well, there must be something else.
[00:05:04] Graham Brown: And people are looking at digital communication now as a way of thought leadership. So podcasts are definitely one creating digital content, creating your digital thought leadership strategy. And the great part about that is it scales unlike an event which has done and dusted in a day or two, your digital content is this, this podcast between us to be out there for 10 years.
[00:05:28] Graham Brown: If you went on stage in an event and presented, or you had a booth. And it's gone in a couple of days, but this will be around for, could be forever.
[00:05:39] Surbhi Dedhia: True. True. And that is, I think, changes the whole lens now because whatever you putting out there stays out there and then it can be reused repurposed, obviously seen by different audiences and there is no time limit.
[00:05:55] Surbhi Dedhia: Do you think that that changes the funnel? How does this impact the funnel then? [00:06:00]
[00:06:00] Graham Brown: Very much so. Now we have to learn SEO. We have to learn content marketing. These are new concepts, which really have come from the marketing world. But if you're in comms now, for example, these are concepts you need to know, especially in the B2B space where comms and marketing have very much twin bed fellows.
[00:06:21] Graham Brown: They, they're not really separate departments. They work very closely together. Unlike, you know, B to C, where there may be very separate, but in B2B space, they're almost identical. And therefore you have comms people who have to learn SEO now, and this is completely alien and importantly, it's completely alien because you've got this concept of metrics which never existed in the world of comms before, if you were in PR your metric was a byline or a column inch, that's all gone.
[00:06:54] Graham Brown: If you look at the metrics on press releases, they are terrible, the actual metrics, [00:07:00] it's all this sort of very nefarious and, and, you know, intangible aspect of communications, which almost is like advertising 20, 30 years ago. When you know, it was all about kind of brand building and brand equity and you couldn't really pin it down, but now the funnel has completely changed because it's all measurable.
[00:07:19] Graham Brown: Now, if we were to do a content piece, you could create attribution, which somebody could try it back and say, well, because of this podcast series, we've had these many sign-ups right. This many people downloaded our lead magnet, our report, our white paper it's trackable. And that is putting a big question, mark, over traditional comms and marketing strategies, which could never do this.
[00:07:43] Graham Brown: So I think there is a definite positive shift in that way that the data that's coming out of digital. Is really reforming communications and marketing in the B2B space. And it's a good thing, you know, they'll do two [00:08:00] columns. What Google did to advertising, you know, completely disrupt.
[00:08:03] Surbhi Dedhia: I started my career in PR and communications, and I remember that the KPIs as they used to call in those days, used to be the number of mentions that we've got. Oh, And obviously those, those were the days when Google was coming up, but the keywords and none of this all existed.
[00:08:24] Surbhi Dedhia: So the way things have evolved, my take is that the thought leadership is more or less going to be like the standard, which is not going to evolve or not going to go away from here. What I have seen is the PR part of it comes and goes the SEO is the new thing or some other thing, like, you talk on your podcast about a clubhouse and TikTok and that 15 seconds of fame, these things come and go, it's becoming so dynamic, but I [00:09:00] feel thought leadership is I foresee this to be like this common denominator, if you will, of everything that you do to build who you are as a brand, what's your take on that?
[00:09:13] Graham Brown: You know, it's insightful that what, what is thought leadership really as a function? And there's a lot written by Edelman, for example, on thought leadership and the benefits of thought leadership in the buying process. It's, well-established that thought leadership impacts buying that it has an impact on the bottom line.
[00:09:33] Graham Brown: And really, if you think about the funnel where it sits is that thought leadership is the new advertising without a doubt it's top of funnel. In the sense that I see a Coke billboard. I don't then go and buy a Coke straight away, but it influences the next time I feel thirsty. I think w what do I want to drink?
[00:09:50] Graham Brown: Pepsi or Coke? So I reached for a Coke because it's in my head and I've seen plenty of the billboards at sport events and on buses and that's advertising. [00:10:00] And that's what thought leadership is doing. Now. It's replacing that because it's creating that in the B2B space. And really the function of marketing now is the performance it's performance marketing in the sense that it's about clicks and conversions and sign ups.
[00:10:17] Graham Brown: It's about getting people over the line. So you think about how these two fit together, the thought leadership and marketing, and we take thought leadership, which is really communications, performance, communications and marketing performance marketing. One is about making you aware of. A brand or a person and trusting them and wanting to find out more.
[00:10:38] Graham Brown: And the other is about taking that and getting you over the line. So that's how the modern funnel sits together. You've got performance, communication and performance marketing working together, and that's kind of how I think we need to think about it. It's replacing what advertising was for many, many years.
[00:10:55] Surbhi Dedhia: Yes, I think the way you explain it makes total sense to [00:11:00] me in terms of what I see in even SMEs, because the SMEs, traditionally, they have a marketing department, maybe a one or two men, woman department, and most of it is outsourced. So in that case, there is the marketing department. Typically doesn't have a seat at the table to push the thought leadership agenda.
[00:11:24] Surbhi Dedhia: It's really up to the owners, the business owners to take the charge, to look into the space. And it really requires somebody from outside to be, you know, kind of come knocking and saying that, Hey guys, you have such a brilliant product. You have so much years of experience. Why don't you talk about these areas instead of spending money on AdWords?
[00:11:46] Surbhi Dedhia: So yes. Thought leadership, I agree is a top of the funnel activity, but I'm also thinking what happens when the prospect is now in the funnel. Does thought leadership have any impact on the middle of [00:12:00] the funnel. And finally at the bottom of funnel,
[00:12:03] Graham Brown: yeah. A thought leadership impacts all of it in the same way.
[00:12:08] Graham Brown: Trusting Coke will impact your experience of actually drinking the Coke. You know, they've done this, like I think it's Dan Arielli would do those experiments where they would get people to drink unbranded Cola. And they would say, I prefer what turned out to be Pepsi by a margin because it tasted slightly sweeter and so on.
[00:12:29] Graham Brown: And yet when they showed people beforehand and they repeated the experiment, but they knew what they were drinking. People prefer the taste of Coke by a factor of four to one. So if you think about it thought leadership or the, the expectation of that brand has shaped our experience of it. Not physiologically changed that experience at the level of the brain.
[00:12:54] Graham Brown: And so, yeah. Thought leadership does impact everything right down point, which I'm signing [00:13:00] this off. Okay. You know, actually engaging in a project with an SME as a client, you know, did I do the right thing? Was this the right brand? I have to go back to my boss and explain why I signed off a six-figure deal with this SME when I could've done it with AWS, or I could've done it with Microsoft, or I could have done it with McKinsey and paid more, you know, I'd never get fired for doing that.
[00:13:24] Graham Brown: But yes, this SME is the world leader in data analytics. They publish thought leadership, white papers on it. Everybody knows them for that. Right. And therefore it's still impacting it all the way through the process and it, yeah, it starts top of funnel, but it goes right the way through an even beyond purchase.
[00:13:45] Graham Brown: So there is a difference in the funnel between acquisition and influence. You know, a lot of SMEs are obviously very focused on acquisition as an activity. I have to get leads. That's why they're going to events all the time. [00:14:00] But the influence part is equally important that you have to keep influencing people all the way through the funnel, because, you know, if I come to your digital consultancy Surbhi, you're not just one conversation. Your clients are having many conversations with people and they're shopping around and they're constantly being bombarded with ideas. And it's not like a very clean funnel process. Like we had 20 years ago. There's so much competition. You've got to be constantly influencing people all the way.
[00:14:27] Surbhi Dedhia: Absolutely. I think that that is the way to think about it. And I agree fully with you when you say that it takes through the way. So the way people should think about thought leadership is not do the top of the funnel and be done with it, but actually design thought leadership in a way that the consumers of that thought leadership can see through the entire piece. So that actually means you need to be authentic in what you do because you can't fake it.
[00:14:57] Surbhi Dedhia: Yeah. Let's, let's talk about [00:15:00] authenticity. And since you work with so many corporates around the world, how do you bring that authentic self within them?
[00:15:07] Graham Brown: Well,authenticity is very much been co-opted by the marketing and corporate world in the last few years, before that nobody really cared about it. And now it's a thing, know like vulnerability and people talk about these concepts. And to some degree they hijack them and use them without out of context. A good example, being the word friend, if you think about it, that that used to mean something, but now it's like you click and they're a friend and even that icon the heart, that's now synonymous with liking something.
[00:15:43] Graham Brown: You know, I click on the Ikea and like the Facebook fan page doesn't mean I love them, which is what that icon really means. In many ways we have to be careful when we talk about authenticity, that really there is authenticity and there is the corporatized [00:16:00] version of if you like, which is somewhat sanitized, what authenticity really means.
[00:16:04] Graham Brown: I mean, if you look at the word itself, you got to go back to ancient Greek, the etymologically, it stems from the same word root as audience and authority. It's that 'AU', which has no direct translation, but it means to feel, to perceive, I feel and perceive. It's why when you listen to somebody, you hear them, you felt heard. You know, how important that root is to relationships and to vulnerable parts of ourself, the emotional core that we are as humans. And so bring that into the world of the corporates. What is authenticity, but how we show up as human beings. I mean, that sounds like it could easily be quite a trite statement.
[00:16:49] Graham Brown: The opposite of that is what we've lived in the last 80 years of the industrial model, which is efficiency. Have you think about the factory model, Henry Ford, [00:17:00] the production line, the least efficient part of that model is the human being. And so we've built this whole process in the last 80 years, all the way down to our communications about efficiency.
[00:17:11] Graham Brown: And it's about eliminating mistakes. You take McDonald's, it's the ultimate efficient machine. It can be run by teenagers in the same way with communications. The efficient part is the veneer, the Polish, the not making any mistakes. It's the, oh, you can't ask Mr. Brown that question or send me the 20 questions beforehand.
[00:17:32] Graham Brown: So there are no mistakes. There are no like cracks in the arm or, or revelations that that person is actually a human being. You know, when they go home at night, They're just hanging on and they're one argument away from a meltdown and, you know, they've got their laundry in the back when you zoom call them and you can see, and that's the real life, that person we want to hide all of that and push it away.
[00:17:58] Graham Brown: That's efficiency. [00:18:00] So authenticity really is the opposite of that. We've reached peak efficiency. You know, there's no more gains if you think about it and becoming more efficient in a lot of our processes as humans, we can give that to the machine, the computer, what we need to do, and what corporates need to do all of us is to be more authentic.
[00:18:18] Graham Brown: And that starts with admitting it's okay that you've made mistakes. You know, it's no good saying to people. I want all you subordinates to make mistakes and fail like startups, which is very typical, but not make mistakes yourself. That's as a parent, we know parents, three laws of parenting or example, example, example, it's the same with leadership, right?
[00:18:45] Graham Brown: So we have to show that we make mistakes. We have to show that we're vulnerable first and go out there and yeah. It's okay. That you say you screwed up. Yes. It's okay to say you don't know if somebody asks you a [00:19:00] question. I don't know the answer. Where do you ever hear that? On an interview? If someone says, I don't know how wonderful I've heard that I saw somebody to the other, therefore that's so refreshing.
[00:19:11] Graham Brown: So I don't know. Great. We don't expect you to know. You don't have to have all the answers. That's authentic because okay. You're not a perfect human being. And that's okay. We forgive you. I think there's some great examples of leaders out there who are very authentic and are playing that game very well.
[00:19:28] Graham Brown: So, you know, props to them,
[00:19:30] Surbhi Dedhia: Wow, this, this was so powerful at the way you put it because it brought memories. Really. I don't know if I should say dark now, but you know, it's really those memories where we used to prepare us PR team used to prepare briefs for our analysts to go out there and speak in the media.
[00:19:52] Surbhi Dedhia: And then every interview was kind of reviewed again and again, to say, oh, you cannot use these kinds of words. You can not use this. And I'm thinking, [00:20:00] yeah, what for, what for did we do all that? Because that was the cut-and-dye model that you just follow.
[00:20:05] Graham Brown: And you are removing all the mistakes. Yeah, because we were very scared of making mistakes
[00:20:10] Surbhi Dedhia: and, and, you know, and that brought even those really smart people who had so much of insight into their subject matter to a very superficial level suddenly because they were really bothered about how they look, how they talk and how they would be evaluated after each interview which was not productive at all at the end of the day.
[00:20:31] Graham Brown: Well, it goes back to the factory model, doesn't it? You're going to basically eliminating all the, the wiggle room of the, the widgets. If you like, you're just kind of narrowly compartmentalizing as much as possible that they can't say these things. Oh my God. If they said hashtag something, hashtag China, we're in trouble.
[00:20:52] Graham Brown: If you, you know, as a comms person, if you go to any Comms Event. And there haven't been many recently, but before the pandemic [00:21:00] I attended a comms event and it was all about crisis management. Your executive has mentioned hashtag dah, dah, dah, dah, dah. Now what do you do?
[00:21:09] Graham Brown: And so it was all about control. If you think about that control it's, you know, the, the, the factory model is all about control isn't control and the information. It is an asset, the control of information, like a pipeline, it's like a, it's like an oil pipe. And if you think about an oil pipe, what you don't want, is it leaking?
[00:21:28] Graham Brown: So you've got all these valves and stop along the pipe and you protect it and you put an army around it to stop people doing stuff to it. But that's kind of how we've managed the flow of information in companies for years. So it trains us to think about, you know, just make sure it doesn't leak this thing, but now we live in a world where it's not a pipeline, it's a platform.
[00:21:50] Graham Brown: Where, you know, it's not about how do I control this thing? How do you know every comms person has gone from being a gatekeeper to an enabler? Now I have to say, right, [00:22:00] you're the CEO. Here are a few talking points. I go, and that's what has got to be, it's like, here's a megaphone go out there and tell your story.
[00:22:10] Graham Brown: And this is like, brings us back to this whole point about, you know, the, the vulnerability part and the fear, because now they're like, oh my God, I've got to get out there and talk and do it in a human way. And I don't have all these handlers around me to protect me in the pipeline model. Right. So there's a very much a mindset shift, and it's a good thing, but it's going to take time.
[00:22:32] Graham Brown: Surbhi, I think, you know, it's going to take people who realize that and who can kind of let go a little bit of the whole storytelling piece.
[00:22:41] Surbhi Dedhia: And it is hard at the end of personal level as well. It is hard to you know, show your true self because your LinkedIn being one of the examples, like where people showed up professionally and now actually on LinkedIn, you see people showing their pets photos and [00:23:00] when they do the live,
[00:23:00] Graham Brown: And people say this is not Facebook.
[00:23:02] Graham Brown: That's the immediate response people say when they see that.
[00:23:05] Surbhi Dedhia: Right. Right, right. So you you're ending up looking at, There is this new word as well. Coined it is but between professional and personal, perfessional is what is it called? Like it's like a midway where you showcase your personal self, like personal stories as well as obviously share your thought leadership on professional front.
[00:23:26] Surbhi Dedhia: And it is interesting to see how many of them are actually are coming up and I see a lot of women actually taking up that piece.
[00:23:33] Surbhi Dedhia: All this while you're talking about SMEs and the business owners to take up the charge on thought leadership, but in your work experience, you also meet brilliant minds who are in the corporate world. Tell us a little bit more about how can executives professionals who are, probably seven, eight years worth of experience growing into a corporate ladder. How can they build their thought leadership?
[00:23:59] Graham Brown: [00:24:00] Yeah. So the challenge here is that it's traditionally done by the brand, the thought leadership piece, but now audiences connect with people and therefore it's the realization that actually be the slowest moving part of all of this is that the company you work for and not having to wait for permission to do that, and really not having to wait for somebody to give you the tools, but to really drive that. And if you look for example, like at LinkedIn, you look at the LinkedIn page of Microsoft and they will have posts on their thought leadership pieces.
[00:24:41] Graham Brown: You know, it would be about SMEs and it would be about Azure for small business, for example, and it will have two or three likes. I'm not joking two or three likes on a post, and I'm sure your listeners can go and verify that this is a company that has, I think, 13 million followers on LinkedIn. So you can [00:25:00] think about the actual conversion rate on that is extremely low.
[00:25:04] Graham Brown: And yet you've got somebody like Satya Nadella who is on LinkedIn. Obviously these guys part own LinkedIn, so they should be there and he's posting and his, his posts will get thousands of likes. You know, it will be about him and it'd be about digital transformation, for example. So I think we need to realize that, we are the brands that people experience of our company and therefore we all have a role in doing this.
[00:25:32] Graham Brown: So that's the first part is understanding that we are an agent in all of this, as opposed to just somebody supporting the brand, doing it. We have to do this. The second part is really about what do I talk about, which is the big stumbling block for any executive, because they feel that they have to stick to the script, or they're not interesting enough.
[00:25:56] Graham Brown: They're not Elon Musk and they're not mark Zuckerberg. What can they talk about? [00:26:00] And this. Something that really, I feel we have to approach it with the mindset of the, the era, which is agile. So I talk about agile storytelling, which is taking out of context. No comedian was ever born, funny comedians got on stage, or even from their school days, they practice and practice and practice and they got their content and they just refine their material.
[00:26:25] Graham Brown: And guess what, you know, 80% of the stuff that they practiced and tried out on audiences bombed didn't work, but then they got a laugh and they thought, why did they laugh at that? And maybe if I change it, oh, it's even funnier next time. And then maybe I change the story a little bit and, oh, it's even funnier or it bombs..
[00:26:46] Graham Brown: And that's how comedians and stand up work is that they go onstage. They face the moment of truth because you can't practice this in your bedroom. You know, let's try some funny lines out or you can't do this with your own people. You've [00:27:00] got to get on stage where you're going to face rejection. So you've got to get on stage, practice your material and get feedback and keep in an agile way, iterating on that.
[00:27:09] Graham Brown: So my advice to any executives or even small business owners is do this in an agile way. There's a lot of focus these days about finding your why. And I think it's nonsense that finding your why is probably the biggest reason why people never start.. 'cause, I don't have a why, you know, I'm not here to save the planet.
[00:27:34] Graham Brown: I'm not here to cure cancer. I'm not here to create a billion dollar app. Nobody really knows this, that, you know, people kind of know what they want to do. This is what I enjoy. This is what I don't like, but finding your, why just stops a lot of people. So I say to the people I work with, find your start rather than your why just get started.
[00:27:55] Graham Brown: And I'll tell you your why will come like Steve jobs started [00:28:00] joining the dots later on, right? Yeah. So get started. You don't have to have this published book to have a story worth telling. So for those people thinking about starting a podcast or getting on other people's podcasts, it's like just get started.
[00:28:16] Graham Brown: And it's amazing watching people, you know, I work with people guesting on other people's podcasts and these are senior business leaders and that evolution that happens, they start podcast one, they have a very loose group of key talking points. And then by about three or four, it's coming together. Now they're starting to really draw than they're in.
[00:28:38] Graham Brown: And they're starting to say, actually, that's what I want to talk about. And then by five or six, they're really getting sharp on that messaging. And that note seven, eight, and they're looking back and think, wow, I've really come a long way. So my advice to anybody who's saying, let's look at where you you're going to be there.
[00:28:56] Graham Brown: And you're going to be looking back at number one and number one's going to be [00:29:00] cringe. You're going to listen to yourself. Ah, no, I'm on, I'm on. I said that, but you've just got to get through that, right? Because unless you get through that, you will never get to 8, 9, 10, and so on. And that I feel is like, there's too much emphasis on finding your why like this perfect story nobody ever lives like that. And even these people that seem to have all these kind of, magical TED-like missions, you know, I'm sure it all came in hindsight.
[00:29:33] Surbhi Dedhia: True. Yeah. That's true. You solve the puzzle or you live your life in the hindsight and say, oh, that is why this happened. Or that is how you know, I was meant to do this.
[00:29:42] Surbhi Dedhia: And that is how you, because you joined the puzzle only in the hindsight. So obviously that, that really makes sense. And I liked what you said about just find your start. I'm going to use that as a quote.
[00:29:53] Graham Brown: Yeah. You know, like you get out there and you practice your material and you try something. [00:30:00] And one thing I do is I write, I do a lot of podcasts and I try to create scenes, which is, you know, each is like a brick, if you like.
[00:30:12] Graham Brown: And it's, I suppose if you're a musician, it's like, you know how this chord progression would work. It's the same. So if you asked me about Steve jobs and the iPhone, I could tell you a story about that. Or you asked me about the hero's journey. I can tell you a story about that or , the printing press, for example, and just collect these stories, practice them.
[00:30:30] Graham Brown: Maybe I tell you the story about Steve jobs and the iPhone. It's like it bombs. Oh, that didn't work then it's okay. Either I kill it, refine it. Or, you know, decide what I'm going to do with it, and then just keep practicing those. And so you build up these bricks, these building blocks of your storytelling, that's thought leadership is that you can bring all this stuff together, but you know, if you want to talk about these subjects, you can go onto any podcast and talk about anything related to your [00:31:00] core subjects and make it interesting because you can bring this content in and it's well-practiced and well rehearsed in a very authentic way.
[00:31:07] Graham Brown: It's not like you're just kind of plug and play, you know, you're actually kind of responding to it. You're not just sort of firing off like a jukebox style. That is individual stories. I think that's, you know, getting practice with that. And, you know, I worked with execs on refining those scenes. If you like, you know, tell us about the time when you left Singapore and went to Dubai.
[00:31:30] Graham Brown: That must've been interesting, right? Those kinds of scenes in people's life. I think a fascinating,
[00:31:35] Surbhi Dedhia: yeah. And that is it keeps it really. I think the scenes drawing from experiences and drawing from other stories to tell your story keeps it really real. And that I think is also something which appeals nowadays, because it's not you know, kind of construed or massaged in a way to only talk about your product brand.
[00:31:59] Surbhi Dedhia: But it [00:32:00] also talks brings in that authentic storytelling ability. It
[00:32:05] Graham Brown: it's hard to fake, isn't it? Yeah. It's hard to fake. If you told me a story or I told you a story, you would kind of, that doesn't sound right. Something wouldn't work with that, you know, if somebody was trying to fake it, unless they were really, really good, but that kind of is hard.
[00:32:24] Graham Brown: And I think, yeah it appeals now, but we've been doing this for thousands of years -telling stories. It is part of a evolutionary makeup. Right. We told stories because that helped us evolve faster. It was a way of transmitting information into the cloud. If you like it, wasn't kind of tied to our physical form.
[00:32:46] Graham Brown: So it's a key part of us and how we communicate with each other.
[00:32:49] Surbhi Dedhia: Yeah, absolutely. podcasts as a medium, you have done very close to 1500 odd podcasts so
[00:32:56] Graham Brown: far. Like my birthday is I'm losing count.[00:33:00]
[00:33:02] Graham Brown: Yeah. Once you get over 40 I'm nearly 50. So you start to lose count of everything. Yeah.
[00:33:11] Surbhi Dedhia: Yes. Let's say that, that you've done a good amount of podcasts that you have enough experience in sharing your stories, connecting with your audiences through this audio, medium. Talk to us about the medium as such. Why podcast and how do you see podcasts evolving going forward?
[00:33:33] Graham Brown: Yeah, I mean, we've seen a really interesting growth in podcasts in the last couple of years. We were like, I think 3.7 million podcasts now. And obviously it's now being picked up upon by. Business that there's two types of podcasts. There's B to C and there's a B2B podcast and they're quite different. So this would be a B2B podcast, for example, right.
[00:33:55] Graham Brown: But a, B to C podcasts would be like a serial or a, Netflix style documentary. If you'd [00:34:00] like, which is aimed at building a very large consumer base to advertise on. Right. But in B2B podcasting, you are the advertiser effectively. You already have an advertiser. So the goal now isn't to be able to large piece of real estate for an advertiser it's to build strong, meaningful connections with a certain group of people.
[00:34:23] Graham Brown: And that certain group of people could be 200, 300 people. And it still be really valuable. I was on a podcast the other day about storytelling and we were talking. A friend who, who's the number one podcast in the world for solar panels and you're thinking about it. Yeah, it's extremely niche, but that's the point is that he only needs 200, 300 people from listening to that podcast.
[00:34:48] Graham Brown: Every episode for it to be valuable because that's 200, 300 people that given up 40 minutes of their time and are interested in solar panels. So maybe [00:35:00] they're people from the industry, maybe they're buyers, maybe they're regulators who knows. And you think about that model. Now it's very different to the old model broadcast.
[00:35:10] Graham Brown: Now we're in this narrow cost model, which is very much about clearly defined avatars of who your audience is. You, you got to, I mean, anybody doing a podcast really has to tightly define their audience avatar because the numbers just are unfavorable, which is, that. I think the average number of podcasts people have on their feed on their device is six, six to seven.
[00:35:39] Graham Brown: So 6.5. So people only listen to let's say six podcasts regularly. So you think about that out of 3.5 million there's extreme competition, and you can't win by being bigger than the next guy. But what you can do is be even more niche. You can be even more focused, even more [00:36:00] communicative with your audience.
[00:36:02] Graham Brown: So now we're starting to see this very, very micro niching of podcasts right down. People are building very small audiences, which is what it should be. No 200 people. If you went to a conference and spoke to 200 people, you think you were a rockstar. But, you know, people look at podcasts and say 200 and that's nothing, you know, you can get YouTube videos with millions, but this is not a YouTube, right?
[00:36:29] Graham Brown: This is a very authentic and intimate medium, and people will keep coming back. And, and importantly, it's an asset where else can you have a conversation? And it's stored for over that is key to building thought leadership because you have to have assets, you have to have something that's discoverable out there.
[00:36:50] Graham Brown: So I think it's a really interesting time, very much at the beginning. Anybody you saying, oh, everybody has a podcast. Now look at the numbers. [00:37:00] We're I would say to put it into context we're in 1998 in the internet and the, almost the norm was at the same. I think there were 3.5 million websites in 1990.
[00:37:13] Graham Brown: 3.7 million podcast. Today, today, there are 1.7 billion websites.
[00:37:21] Graham Brown: That's how it's panning. I really feel, you know, forms a similar purposes like websites are in a communication interface for business. You know, if I'm a customer, I can phone up the switchboard or I can go to the website and order. I don't have to turn up at the store to see if it's open.
[00:37:35] Graham Brown: I can see. So that's a communications interface and now podcasts are a communication interfaces for the people inside those businesses. So what we haven't experienced yet is that, you know, you've got one brand, but 10,000 people, that's going to be interesting because I feel over the next 20 years, 10 years at least, is that [00:38:00] the number of podcasts we're going to see is increase exponentially in the same way we saw websites do the same.
[00:38:06] Surbhi Dedhia: Right. Just to clarify there, did you mean that you have got one brand and 10,000 people within a brand, like the employees who will take up podcasting medium as the, communication piece?
[00:38:20] Graham Brown: Yeah. Like you're going to see it in stages. The old model is the pipeline, which is one brand, one story, one podcast.
[00:38:28] Graham Brown: That's how we started. Now. You're saying we need, if you look at McKinsey, for example, they have like eight or nine podcasts. Hmm. So they will have a McKinsey. The digital team will have a podcast. You'll have McKinsey global health care, have a podcast, et cetera, et cetera. That's sort of the intermediary stage, which is now one brand to many teams, each team, one podcast.
[00:38:53] Graham Brown: The future is like the real democratization of that model, which is the platform, which is, you've [00:39:00] got one brand, many teams, many leaders inside those teams. So you could have a healthcare podcast, insider brand with five or six different podcasts. It could be regional. It could be focusing on niches or particular applications.
[00:39:17] Graham Brown: One could be a recruitment podcast. One could be, announcement, podcasts, whatever it may be. So I think that's going to be the next step is. I don't think it's unfathomable to think that a McKinsey or a large bank will have a hundred podcasts within five to 10 years.
[00:39:33] Surbhi Dedhia: Yeah, but I think it's an interesting insight to look at like how brands are evolving from zero to one and from one to many, and depending on the size of the organization, you know, it could be, as you just rightfully said, like it could be three podcasts within a team or even 10, depending on how large and what purpose the team solves for the brand.
[00:39:56] Surbhi Dedhia: Is podcasts being used as a audience [00:40:00] communication or connecting tool? .
[00:40:01] Graham Brown: No, we've gone from one to many, to many, to many model now, which is, the control part is shifting to curation. If you like, you know, my role as a comms person is to curate content, not to control it.
[00:40:15] Graham Brown: And therefore that requires a different mindset with all the, the guidelines, if you like. And I think they're there for a reason, obviously you want to make sure people are on point, but. There it's a different model. It's it's like GreenLights and guardrails. That's what I call them. It's like, you know, you give your people the green light to go out and talk and give them the guard rails, the safe zone in which they can talk.
[00:40:40] Graham Brown: They know that they can talk freely about these subjects and know that they're not going to be censored, or they're not going to be in trouble for talking about something else. So just give them the guardrails in which they can talk. And this is what we want to talk about. And these are the parameters of that.
[00:40:56] Graham Brown: So that's one part. And regardless of how [00:41:00] corporates are using, I really feel , in the B2B space, this is all about brand authority. It's all about fault leadership. It's all about how do you do this? 24 7. If I write a report, how do I keep that conversation going? You know, somebody reads that report and now they're talking to my competitor the next day.
[00:41:20] Graham Brown: That's the reality, the half-life of content. It's half of what it was a year ago, and it's just going to get half and half and half. Right. It's just, you know, you think about a LinkedIn post. You can post on LinkedIn, get thousands of likes. And then two days later, you're back to the beginning. That's the reality.
[00:41:39] Graham Brown: And you think that model is deliberate. It's the casino model of social media, which is designed such that you can't build an asset. You know, you can't build an asset inside LinkedIn or, or any sort of social media really it's like, you don't own it. Right. Th that [00:42:00] favors eyeballs and attention, and keeping you coming back and keeping you, trying to work your way back up to a thousand likes and so on.
[00:42:07] Graham Brown: But the reality is, you know, these, these companies know this now or learning it and think we have to build assets, right? We've got to build something that keeps the conversation going. Even when all our guys are asleep or in planes or in meetings. That's the challenge that we have, you know, that's the many to many model that you've got to keep.
[00:42:24] Graham Brown: It's gotta be a synchronous. It's gotta be constantly then people's radar.
[00:42:31] Surbhi Dedhia: Yes, I I've spoken to this about owned media and the owned house versus rental house. And the same concept applies here with social media, as well as your own con assets. So this, this is really fantastic perspective. And I, I see what you're seeing from the corporate side as well on how corporates as business owners at large can actually take this up as asset building you know opportunity because it, it is going to last a long time.[00:43:00]
[00:43:00] Graham Brown: Yeah. Yeah. I, you know, think of it as an asset and invest in it. Just a, a sort of a story to give you an idea. As you know, I used to live in Japan and at least to live in Tokyo. And at one point I was down in Kyushu, which is the island of the south of Japan. And I was walking across. A crossing in the street in Fukuoka, which is the biggest city there.
[00:43:22] Graham Brown: And just walking across and somebody grabbed me by the arm whilst I was walking across the road. And it was just quite rare in Japan for somebody to do that. So something was wrong and somebody grabbed me and said, you, your, the podcast guy. And it was a very strange interaction that, firstly it's podcasts, they don't really know what I look like, check me out.
[00:43:46] Graham Brown: Secondly, you know, I was thousands of kilometers away from where I lived and I didn't, you know, again, it's, it's an English as well, so I didn't expect many people to know it. And they sort of pulled me over to the side and said, he'd been listening to my podcast and following it [00:44:00] for 18 months. And this is what you get with podcasting.
[00:44:04] Graham Brown: Is that one of the amazing things about it is again, it's like the billboards of Coke. It's it creates this awareness about you, that you may not be aware of yourself. But a lot, when the event industry comes back, I guarantee if you've got a podcast you're tying up to the event and people will say, yeah, I listened to it and you'll be like, wow, I don't even know you.
[00:44:25] Graham Brown: And you think of the power of that. And so I would put it to all business owners and leaders out there. Think of the power of your ability to reach thousands, maybe more people and touch them and such that they know you before. You know them, that's the nearest we can get to cloning ethically. Right? It's putting you out there creating conversations at scale.
[00:44:46] Graham Brown: And I feel everybody can do it. You know, you don't need massive budgets and you don't need a big idea and you don't need thousands of people listening to your podcasts. You'll be surprised. I'm sure it's probably already happening to you or we'll do [00:45:00] once we get back into the physical expo. But it's happening all around
[00:45:04] Surbhi Dedhia: us.
[00:45:05] Surbhi Dedhia: Right? Right. This is fantastic. Graham, so far, I want to know who are your role models? Who do you, who influences you? What inspires you? What keeps you going
[00:45:17] Graham Brown: so many in the business space, or just generally,
[00:45:21] Surbhi Dedhia: generally you can talk about either or, and both.
[00:45:26] Graham Brown: I got so many, I can't give them enough credit in the time.
[00:45:29] Graham Brown: I would say people that inspire me. I really like good storytellers. People who have used their position of fortune or privileged to good effect as people, I always say. Respect. I'm a big fan of in the business sphere, Steve jobs, just because he was a master storyteller and in sort of arts, I would say I'm a huge fan of John Lennon.
[00:45:56] Graham Brown: For that reason, they feel that anybody that can kind of speak [00:46:00] to a bigger truths and face criticism, I think is admirable. I like those people, you know, there's so many authors in the business space. I'm huge fan of Seth Godin. You know, and those sort of pioneers who aren't scared of speaking to truth, speaking the truth or on a mission to find truth.
[00:46:23] Graham Brown: And, you know, that's a dangerous mission because it can raise many uncomfortable questions in your own head, as well as the people around you. So anybody that does that you know, Martin Luther king, an amazing storyteller again, paid the price for speaking the truth. And I'm not really a political person, but very much a big fan of Robert Kennedy, not John F.
[00:46:42] Graham Brown: Kennedy, RFK, Bobby Kennedy, I think was an amazing man. Again, spoke the truth and sought truth despite who you are. And you're not afraid to ask questions and tell stories. You know what I mean? I would advise anybody. There's an amazing video. It's black and white and a bit [00:47:00] old and grainy, but of Robert Kennedy speech on the Eve of Martin Luther King's assassination.
[00:47:08] Graham Brown: And so you're going back 50, 60 years now, and it's just phenomenal. It's an impromptu speech. And he gave it in a park in America and somebody just captured it on video at the time. And it could have been a speech of hate and division, which is, you know, we live in this time demagogues and hate speech, but it was probably one of those powerful Speeches stories ever told, and it was, you know, if somebody wants to see what is good storytelling and what does it mean to be a role model, go on and have a listen to that.
[00:47:40] Graham Brown: I think it's on YouTube. So that would be my advice. And that'll give you an insight into the kind of people that inspire me,
[00:47:47] Surbhi Dedhia: Super. Where can people find you?
[00:47:50] Graham Brown: Let's go to my website, Grahamdbrown.com Okay.
[00:47:55] Surbhi Dedhia: That's fantastic. Thank you so much, Graham, for your time today, this [00:48:00] conversation is really very meaningful, very insightful, and I'm sure it's opened up a lot of our minds to look at things in a different way.
[00:48:10] Graham Brown: Well, thank you. And thank you for doing what you're doing and carrying the torch for a lot of people.
[00:48:18] Surbhi Dedhia: Appreciate it. Thank you so much.