Secrets of storytelling Part 2 with Matthew Dicks – Speaking of Influence podcast

If you haven’t already listened to part 1, make sure to go back and check it out first.

Earlier this year I downloaded an audiobook called Storyworthy by Matthew Dicks and I was blown away by all the amazing secrets of storytelling he shares from his own experience as an international best selling author, 48-time winner of The Moth Story Slam and 6 time Grand Slam champion.

Matthew is also the creator of Homework for Life, a daily practice of writing down your most story-worthy moments each day and filling your world with stories. This one tool alone has been transformative for me.

In this first part, Matthew talks about how he got started with telling stories and shares some of his insights into what makes a good story or a ‘meh’ story.

Make sure you subscribe to ‘Speaking of Influence’ for lots more great guests and content.

You can find out more about Matthew Dicks on his website https://matthewdicks.com/

Listen to the Speak Up Storytelling podcast with Matthew and his wife Elysha

TRANSCRIPT

John Ball : 

Welcome to speaking of influence with John Ball from present influence.com. Each week we talk about presentation skills and public speaking and the tools of influence and persuasion with experts and incredible guests. Stay tuned and enjoy the show. Speaking of influence is uploaded and distributed to all major podcast networks through buzzsprout. Buzzsprout is the simplest way to get your podcast started with tons of great resources for new podcasters. You could start your podcast today follow the link in the show notes. Welcome back to part 2. You’ve said that each story really is only five seconds long.

Matthew Dicks : 

Yes, I really believe that. I think that when we those moments of transformation and realisation they happen almost instantaneously. There is a long period of time where you think one thing and then suddenly you think something new is not a gradual process. It’s not I kind of think I kind of think I kind of think and I think it, it really is a oh my gosh, I can’t believe I never realised that right? That’s essentially a story or you suddenly look at yourself and you realise, wow, I used to be like that kind of person. Look at me right now I’m this kind of person, I do believe they happen instantaneously, or as close to instantaneously as possible. Yeah. It’s really a pure essence. So that’s what you need to build everything else around those five seconds? Yes. Well, every story that I’ve ever told, and every story I think people should tell, you essentially should begin at the end of the story. You should begin with the fundamental change that you suddenly experienced. Otherwise, you don’t have a story. Otherwise, you’re just telling stories about stuff that happened over time. So every story I tell begins with, oh, that was a moment for me. Right? Sometimes I can’t even define what it is. There are moments in my life where I think I just had a moment I have no idea what it means. It might take me years to figure out what it actually meant. Oftentimes, my wife has to tell me what it meant. You know, I say like, I know it meant something, honey, but what did it mean? And she says, You’re such an idiot. This is what it meant. And I go, Oh, god, you’re right. That is what it meant. But I’m looking for a moment. And once I have a moment, it’s always going to be the end of my story, because it’s the most important thing I’m going to say. And everything that I’m going to say about that moment should inform that moment, and nothing more.

John Ball : 

Yeah. Do you feel then that storytelling has been for you and can be for many people a way of doing therapy on yourself?

Matthew Dicks : 

Yes, I, I don’t think it’s therapy. If you come to my workshop hoping that you will get therapy by working with me but people have stopped therapy and started taking workshops with me and I don’t advise it. But I am 100% convinced that if you become a storyteller and you, you approach the craft seriously, you will fundamentally become a better human being for yourself. You know, I say that storytellers are oftentimes the most selfish people, or the most self centred people. Because we spend enormous amounts of time thinking about ourselves, and why we are, who we are and why we do the things that we do. Those are the best storytellers in the world. I was in the New York City Public Library last year, doing a talk on storytelling. And this woman raised her hand and she said, I just have no stories. I have nothing. And I said to her, I said, Are you the kind of person who like cares for an elderly relative and volunteers at a at a homeless shelter on the weekend and you you foster three cats, and you’re you know, you’re donating all your your extra time to some Read Across America programme and her friend who was sitting next to her said, that’s exactly who she is. And I said, so your problem is not that you don’t have stories. The problem is that you have no time or inclination to look inward. You are constantly looking outward into the world. So you have stories, you’re just blowing past them, because you’re focused on everyone else. So, what I often tell people and it’s what causes people to cry most often in my workshops, I say, I’m giving you permission to think about yourself for a long period of time. Just give yourself the time to think about your own life, and what you feel and what you think. And oftentimes people cry, the people who have spent no time thinking about themselves, oftentimes the mothers have three children. You know, the, the the woman who is taking care of her parents and taking care of her her husband’s parents and taking care of her own kids, those kinds of people, that the father who’s working three jobs to hold things together, those are the people who have brilliant stories, but just don’t have time to think about themselves.

John Ball : 

Right and in your book, that’s an interesting because in your book, you said like, you have some very big experiences. Now the this is going to hurt story being one example. But but also some of your stories are just about kind of small life events where it was impactful and some of the most impactful stories that I’ve heard, so it doesn’t mean that you have to have big life events to talk about in your stories, or the super important things is more or less those moments of transformation and realisation. Yeah?

Matthew Dicks : 

Yeah, the small ones are the best ones. In fact, you know that the big stories, the crazy things that have happened to me in my life, they’re the hardest stories to tell, because it is really hard to connect with people on a, you know, dying and coming back to life level, you know, which is odd. They happen to me twice, or the time I was homeless, or the time I was in jail. Those are moments that are not easy to tell the people because they’re hard to make relatable. So I would much rather tell a tiny story about a little moment I had with my wife or my kids or a woman in the in the line at the grocery store when she made me see the world in a slightly different way. Because those are moments we all experience all the time. So, you know, I was on trial for a crime I didn’t commit. I was arrested and tried and could have gone to prison for five years. And I’ve never told the story of that time and my storytelling friends think I’m crazy. They’re like, that wouldn’t be our first, our number one our best story. And, you know, part of me not telling you is it’s going to be a harder story to craft. So I’m a little lazy. But mostly, it’s the idea that it’s hard to get people to understand what it is like to be 21 years old, having, you know, been arrested and tried for a crime you did not commit, I’m going to have to find a way to connect to an audience. Whereas, you know, the other night, my wife and I were folding clothes here at this table, I’m sitting at our washing machine broke. So we had five days without a washing machine, so we had more laundry than we’d ever seen before. So for the first time in forever, we were folding clothes together, and I was folding my daughter’s pants and I was folding it in quarters. And my wife said no, you’re supposed to fold them in thirds. And I had the thought that there is no way to properly fold pants. This is a personal decision. Who do you think you are like quarters is just as good as thirds. What the hell is wrong with you? That was the thought that went through my mind. Then I thought to myself, and yeah, I’m not gonna say anything because this is not a hill, I’m going to die on. Because this is not important to me. And I had a moment now I don’t know if it’s really worth the stage. But I realised, you know what, 13 years ago when we got married, I used to go to war on this stuff all the time. You know, I remember the time when we debated when we moved in, whether we were going to put toothbrushes in a cup, or we were going to instal a toothbrush holder. And I was convinced that the holder was the way to go that a cup was unsanitary. And I lost that battle. And I lost that war, because for two days, she was mad at me about it right? And I thought, okay, 13 years later, I have learned I have become a different human being I had a moment of realisation, right, folding clothes with my wife. I don’t know if that’s a moment worth telling on stage. But that’s the kind of moments I look for.

John Ball : 

Because I think people can relate to it, right?

Matthew Dicks : 

Right. That’ll be easier to tell. It will be very entertaining if I do it right.Whereas the trial story that’s like lifting cement blocks, you know, to try to get people to understand what that’s like, I want to tell it and eventually one day I will, but I just think I’d probably tell the the folding of the pants story before I tell the trial story and I just have a million folding the pants stories, even just you telling it there as well.

John Ball : 

Yeah, I fold clothes the same way you do. And I have similar. I’ve had similar comments from my husband that I don’t do it the way Marie Kondo says you’re supposed to do it.

Matthew Dicks : 

Yeah. Right. And Who the hell is she anyway? I mean, what does she know?

John Ball : 

Yeah, she has a few good books. And I like some of the stuff but but yeah, I don’t think I’m ever gonna really care about folding laundry enough to write to do it that particular way. One thing that is very important to come to and I’ve done several courses on storytelling and and read a number of books on it as well. And I don’t think I’ve ever been quite as impacted as good as they’ve been your book. gives the biggest secrets of storytelling away. And then even a bit in the book where you say one of your fellow storytellers says, Don’t you dare tell little secrets.

Matthew Dicks : 

Erin

John Ball : 

Have you had any push back from giving away so much?

Matthew Dicks : 

No, I’ve had people, many people tell me, you’re making a terrible mistake. Because, you know, I’m a competitive storyteller. You know, and I don’t need to be at this point. You know, most of my friends I’ve watched, I go to the mall in New York, and I’ve watched the sort of the groups migrate on, you know, when I started telling stories, I can think about the people who used to be great and they’ve moved on, you know, they have their own shows they get paid to perform, they would never just sort of go downtown, drop a name and a hat and hope to get pulled and get five minutes to be judged and assigned a number. For me that sounds like the greatest thing that could ever happen to me. So people have told me you’re crazy to give this away because it’s the competition is going to be increased and you’re not going to win as often. But I genuinely believe… First of all, I genuinely believe that you know that arrogance, narcissism and stupidity, I’ll still be better than them because I’m still finding new tricks yesterday or last night, I was teaching a workshop and I found a new trick. I found a new strategy. It was truthfully a strategy I’ve been using all my life, I didn’t realise I was using it, now I can maximise it and weaponize it and and and move it forward and then eventually put it in my new book, actually. So I’m always like studying storytelling in a way that I don’t think most people are. My wife says, I talk about storytelling, like I’m a fossil Hunter, like, all the secrets already exist. And I just go and I dig them out and then and find them. Because I’ll come to my wife and say, I found a new one, I found a new strategy. And she says, it’s it’s like you, it’s like you’re not. She said, you don’t think you invent them? It’s like they already exist. And you think you’re finding them? And I said, Yeah, that’s kind of how I feel. So I don’t worry about that. You know, but I genuinely want the world to be filled with better stories, because I think most of the stories people tell they’re kind of miserable. And so if I can put some stuff out into the world, and it can make them better storytellers, I think especially in the world, right? Now, frankly, if we could get a little more authenticity and vulnerability from human beings, instead of what people seem to think, which is, you know, a lot of bravado and a lot of lies, and a lot of, you know, a lot of braggadocio and a lot of self praise, like these are things that for some reason have value in our society, and they should not. So if I can put some, some better storytelling into the world, I’m willing to give away my secrets for that.

John Ball : 

Yeah, I completely agree. I think storytelling is is real heart. And that’s what we need to put out into the world. That’s the stuff that people connect with VR stories really, is, maybe a cliche, but I think it’s a true one that historically, storytelling is how we’ve passed on information. And we remember stuff more when it’s in a story as well.

Matthew Dicks : 

Oh, absolutely. I mean, you know, a well told story can be told 20 years from now, you know, almost verbatim you know, and same thing with movies. You know, there’s a reason why, There’s a reason my my wife has watched Pretty Woman 10 times in her life. And yet no one has ever asked to see a PowerPoint for a second time. Right? No one’s ever said, Wow, that was a really great deck. Can you show me that deck again? Never. Right. But movies. You know, just the other night I was sitting on the couch, whatever we were watching ended, and the Terminator came on, you know, halfway through the Terminator. And my wife said, What is this? And I said, it’s the Terminator. He’s about to go into the police station. And it’s a great scene. I want to stay and watch it. Now I know it. I already know everything that’s gonna happen. But it’s a story. And because it’s a story, I’m willing to watch that scene again, because it’s great.

John Ball : 

That’s one of the stories you are happy to watch over and over again.

Matthew Dicks : 

Yeah, I mean, I kind of hate. I kind of hate watching things twice, unless I’m analysing them. Because I know there’s so much content in the world that I want to consume. But I can’t help but I’m the same way as other people. You know, there’s just there’s movies. If they’re on and I happen to slip by them, I’ll say, Oh, I’m going to stay to spend some time here. Now admittedly, it is, it’s almost like work for me. You know, it’s, it’s almost, it’s almost a way of making my craft better and watching these things. And so there is some value to that. And my wife has started to see a little bit of that, too. You know, there’s moments when she’ll pause the movie and go, Oh, that thing that you’re talking about? That’s happening right now? I said, Yes, it is. Good job. You know,

John Ball : 

You share in the book and in your YouTube channel as well. Something that I have found very powerful myself and I’ve been implementing, and you are the proud creator and proponent of homework for life.

Matthew Dicks : 

Oh, yes.

John Ball : 

Can you tell the audience a little bit about homework for life.

Matthew Dicks : 

Sure. Whether you’re going to be a storyteller or not, you should be doing homework for life. It will change your life even if you never plan on speaking. It is going to be something that’s valuable to you. It For me it was an attempt to find more stories, as the list of potential stories that I could tell began to shrink, I started to panic. I didn’t want to be one of those storytellers who rolled out the same 12 chestnuts, you know, every night which those people exist. I wanted a brand new story every single time. So, I gave myself a homework assignment, being an elementary school teacher it felt right. So, it’s simple. All I do is at the end of every day, although now it’s during the day as well. I asked myself a simple question, essentially, essentially, what is the most story worthy moment of my day? If you forced me to stand on a stage and tell a story about something that has happened today, even if nothing has happened, that is actually worth speaking of? What would be the thing I’d choose what would be the most story worthy of all the understory were the moments of my day. And then I write that moment down. I don’t write down the whole thing because that’s crazy. You know, those are journalers. Those are people who tend to write a lot when people dump them and tend not to write a lot when they’re in love. You know, I like to create habits, I like to create simple things that are repeatable constantly. So I use an Excel spreadsheet. It’s two columns. It’s a date on one side. And then I stretched the B column across the screen. And in that B column, I write the story, just enough to recapture the moment that has happened even if the moment isn’t even worth recapturing. And my goal was to find one new story every month, then I’d have 12 news stories by the end of the year. Instead, what I discovered over the course of time, is that my life is filled with stories that moments like folding the pants, right? That is a moment. It’s a moment that might be story worthy someday it probably is. If I’m not a storyteller, I have that moment I realised, oh, gosh, I’m very different than when I was 13 years ago, and I allow the moment to be gone forever. It passes I forget it. That’s how people treat their lives. That’s how I used to treat my life. Things happened I noticed things I realised things. I witnessed things. In the moment. Maybe I recognise their import, oftentimes I didn’t and then I just tossed them I like their trash, which is why when you ask someone tell me all the things that you can remember when you were 26, the 26th year of your life, tell me all the things you can remember most people can’t remember a damn thing. They lose entire years of their lives, because they don’t take a moment to reflect and to record things so that they can go back and, and remember and, and enjoy. And so, through that process, I’ve developed sort of a lens for storytelling where I see stories throughout my life constantly. And I’m not the only 1000s and thousands of people. No exaggeration. Every day, I get at least one email from someone telling me I’ve started homework for life. I’ve done 100 days, and in some fashion or some degree, it’s changed my life. It changes the way you look at your life. It changes the way you feel about your life. And you find all of those little moments they suddenly are so precious to you, and they become the stories that you tell the examine life, right? It really is the other thing that happens as you crack open, and all the memories that you’ve thrown away the ones that you’ve forgotten, as you start to examine your life and as you start to record them the memories suddenly return, you have a moment with your child. And it’s a beautiful moment. And suddenly you remember a moment similar when you were a child and that memory returns to you or, or it’s just like a wellspring of memories that appear. And that has been so wonderful for me because I’ve filled in all these gaps with stories that have been coming back to me.

John Ball : 

That was one of the things I was going to say before when I started homework for life that I found in a very short space of time, I was remembering all sorts of things that I hadn’t thought about for years. And all these stories and experiences started coming back to me, just from doing that, which I found incredible is like memory memory recovery service. It was an amazing experience and still goes on to be this stuff that sometimes comes up meaning Oh my God, I haven’t thought about that for years and years. I’ve forgotten all about that and it just pops back into your head that might never have happened have not done the homework for life. Right and I tend to think that when that happens to us, we start to feel better about our lives. Because I think a lot of times, we look back on our lives. And if we don’t see much, you know, and if we don’t remember much, we start to doubt how we’ve spent our days. And so the more you can sort of fill in, the more memories that returned to you, the more you realise the things you’ve done, and the places you’ve gone and the paths that you’ve tracked. And I just think that all of that is so helpful to people. It’s been so helpful to me, and to be able to turn to my wife and say, do you know what I did when I was 14 that I didn’t think about until just now and I don’t know if this has happened to you. But some of the most ridiculous things that I forgot have returned to me things like I thought, I can’t believe I forgot I did that. And suddenly it’s back with you. Yeah, I think there’s a few, I used to be a flight attendant and a few times I remember but members have come back of people asking me for drinks on the flight but I forgotten to ever take to them. SoI don’t know if that’s helpful, it’s recovered memories. That’s for sure. Well, that’s great. Now, I know I could very happily talk to Dan and he said you’ve got some time but I don’t want to be too greedy with this as well. But I do want to have happenings have been for you with with all the stuff that’s been going on recently I’ve just been diving into writing and stories have you been able to pretty much continue as normal?

Matthew Dicks : 

Well, I’ll tell you, the first thing I noticed was I actually have more stories from the pandemic, you know, my quarantine, I thought I would have laughs because it was less some. It was less variance in my life. You know, we really sort of hunkered down for a long period of time. But I started riding my bike, I couldn’t go to the gym anymore. So I pulled the bike out. I hadn’t written it in 20 years, probably and now I ride every day, 15 miles. And the number of moments I’ve had just on my bike alone, you know, noticing things I’ve just become more attuned. And I’ve heard that from a lot of the people who do homework for life, that oddly the pandemic is now generating more stories for them than they’ve ever imagined. I’ve started telling stories virtually My wife and I are producing virtual shows, I didn’t think I would like it at all. I thought it would be terrible. It’s not as good as real in person on a stage in front of an audience, but it’s not bad. And people really appreciate it. I think they need it now. All of my workshops initially dried up to they all disappeared. And so I turned to writing, you know, I turned to to a lot of books that I’m working on. But very quickly, people came back and said, we want to we want to have our workshops, can we do them online? And again, I thought it was gonna be terrible. I thought, do you really want to stare at me on a computer, but I’ve been doing that I mean, I did it last night. There’s been some like beautiful silver linings. The last workshop I did. I do workshops with six people at a time. One of the versions of workshops, I do six people at a time. And they were from Singapore and Seattle and Chicago, like all over the world, which people I would have never met had we not had this happen. I taught an all day workshop that had people from nine different countries and 37 of the 50 states. You know, I had a guy in Dubai who fell asleep on me because it was 3am where he was. But there’s been some wonderful things in terms of that, you know, it’s not great. I would much prefer to be in the company of human beings. But I’ve been busy storytelling is continuing and it’s marching forward and the moth is online now that they actually have competitions, story slams, that people can compete in. So if you have been a person who’s never been able to see them off, show or compete in one because there’s nothing in your area, now you can, you know, I’m going to be competing in the North Carolina story slam coming up just because I can and it fits on the night that I happen to be free. So it’s not all bad, but I look forward to the day when we can get back together and we can do things in person because that is the best way to do it.

John Ball : 

Yeah, I’m definitely going to be checking that out. And one of the things that I’ve been inspired to do from reading your book, which I shared with you, when I first contacted you is that I’ve been putting together a storytelling workshop for my Toastmasters Club, which I’ll be delivering. We haven’t quite set a date for it yet. But that’s coming up soon. And then from there, we’re going to, probably a bit later in the year have our own storytelling event, when we can do things that live and in person again, hopefully, and I really look forward to that. In the meantime, I can get some practice in, hopefully, online that sounds.

Matthew Dicks : 

It’s not terrible. I really enjoyed it. It’s just it’s just not as good as being in person. But it’s pretty good. My cat stare at me a lot while I’m teaching now. I’m shocked that my children have not interrupted us at some point. So those things happen. But otherwise, it’s pretty good. Yeah, cats are all still wondering why the humans are still at home, right? They’re happy. They’re they’re thrilled that we are home all the time. And I mean, my wife and I have been fortunate. We’re teachers and we were able to continue teaching online, which again, was not even close to being as good as in person. But we’ve been very fortunate. You know, it’s been a it’s been a really difficult and challenging time for us, but not nearly so. Compared to lots of people who I know who are suffering much harder circumstances than we are. So we feel blessed.

John Ball : 

Yeah, absolutely. I would always encourage anyone to check out your story with a bow. You mentioned you’re working on a new book, do you have any clues when that’s going to be ready for release?

Matthew Dicks : 

Well, we just pitched it to the editor. So um, you know, I, we pitch two nonfiction books, the one on productivity, which is close to being sort of ready, and then I’ve been furiously writing the new storytelling book. So I mean, it’s the way books work, it’s probably going to be a year at least before they come out. But I’m, I’m excited about them. You know, there’s been a big demand for another storytelling book. And the thing when I look at story worthy now, there’s so much content that I have learned so many strategies and tricks of the trade that are not in that book. And then there’s whole chapters that I dropped out of that book, because the length of the book can only be so long, and a couple of those chapters are just killing me that they’re they don’t exist right now. Because I’m constantly referring to things I’m talking about the structure of stories. I have a whole chapter on the structure of story. And I said, oh, that’ll be the chapter I drop. And all the time I’m talking about it now. And I’m thinking, you know, if I just could tell people to go to chapter 15, that would be much easier than me, you know, having to do this heavy lifting with them all the time. So I’m looking forward to it coming out, because there’s a lot of stuff I want to share with folks.

John Ball : 

Right? If you want any advanced readers to check stuff over, I’m more than happy to.

Matthew Dicks : 

I appreciate it. I use advanced readers all the time. I have four storytellers right now reading the new book, for people who I know really well and they really like it. You know, my hope is, I always tell people that story worthy is for everyone, including the non storyteller, but there is some genuine craft like I really do get sort of down into the, you know, down into the nitty gritty with storytelling, this next book is genuinely going to be for anyone. Even people who aren’t storytellers are going to find the value in the idea that not only do we tell stories to other people, but we first tell stories to ourselves, you know, every story that I eventually tell to you, I first told them myself. And people don’t do that people who are not storytellers are not telling stories to themselves. And I think that when we can really craft our lives and sort of frame them in ways that are more positive for ourselves, our souls, I think that really helps you as a person. So even like I say, even if you’re a mute and can’t speak, and you’re afraid of people, and you live in a cave and never want to leave it, you can still become a storyteller and find enormous value in it. And that’s what I’m hoping people get from this book as well as the craft I’m slipping in that I know people are going to want as well.

John Ball : 

Absolutely. I’m sure a lot of the listeners and people watching are going to want to find out more about you and your books and what’s the best way for them to do that or to connect with you.

Matthew Dicks : 

Sure.

John Ball : 

I think we’re getting cat interference here?

Matthew Dicks : 

Right, the cat is on here… you can find me at Matthew Dix calm. That’s my website. My wife and I do a storytelling podcast called Speak up Storytelling. And that’s very helpful for people. We take a, we take a story a week that we’ve had performed live in one of our shows, and we break that story down, we talk about what’s working, what’s not working. There’s also a homework for life segment on that podcast every week where I take a moment from my week, from my homework for life. And I talked about how it might be a story or might be part of a story someday so that people can start to see what I’m recording. And then how what we record can be useful in terms of storytelling. So that’s a very popular way for people to sort of connect with us and learn more about storytelling. But you can find all of it all of its at MatthewDicks.com.

John Ball : 

Excellent. Well, I’ll definitely put links in the show notes for everybody to contact you. I feel like I’ve been missing out by not having been realised how to podcast until today, and I haven’t been to so I’m going to be making up for lost time.

Matthew Dicks : 

We’re coming up on our hundredth episode, so it’s been a lot of fun and you know, it’s it’s really been wonderful because I do with my wife and we get emails from people who tell us they listen with their spouse, because they like to hear the relationship that my wife and I have, because we don’t always agree on the podcast. And apparently some people have a hard time disagreeing with their spouse in a polite and productive way. And somehow Elysha and I have just figured out a way to do that in our relationship. But it’s been, it’s been really, really great. There’s also episodes where I take my own stories, and I just basically play my story and stop it whenever I want to point out a piece of craft that I’ve done like, oh, here’s what I was thinking. When I put this together. I’ll even point out mistakes, you know, I’ll say, here’s a story, but there’s one giant stupid decision I made in the middle of it, and I’ll point out the stupid decision to why it’s stupid. So those are very popular to where I sort of just deconstruct my own stories.

John Ball : 

Yeah. One thing I always like to ask my guests is, I’m a big reader. I like reading and listen to audiobooks all the time. And so it’s always nice to get a book recommendation, whether that’s about storytelling or just a book that you think people should be because you love it or they’re gonna learn so much. What would your book recommendation be?

Matthew Dicks : 

I think the book I recommend the most, at least in terms of nonfiction is a book called Made to Stick. I’m sorry, (Cat meows)

John Ball : 

Dan & Chip eath, Right?

Matthew Dicks : 

Yes, exactly. It’s a brilliant book. It is essentially, a book that teaches you why people remember things that you say, if you’re a teacher, it’s the best book on teaching I’ve ever read in my life. If you’re a storyteller or writer, it’s probably the best book you’re going to read in terms of capturing attention, getting people to engage with you, all of those types of things. And then if you’re just a human being whoever wants to, like, I don’t know, convince your wife about the right way to fold pants Chip and Dan Heath book will be helpful to you so I have it both in hardcopy and audiobook, I listened to it every summer before my teaching year begins. And I give it out all the time to people. I think it’s just brilliant.

John Ball : 

Excellent. Any closing words for our future storytellers out there?

Matthew Dicks : 

Well, I, the thing I always like to remind people is the first quality you have to have as a storyteller is to be a listener. And so often in life, I hear people rushing through stories, or that look on their face like they wanted to tell a story, but they don’t feel like they’re going to be listened to. I think that too often in life, too many people want to talk and not enough people want to listen. And so in every circumstance that I’m in a dinner party, a meeting Wherever I am, I always intentionally tried to be the last person to speak. Part of it is also I’m a white American man. I am, I am straight and I am not physically disabled and I do not suffer from mental illness. I am the most privileged person that has ever existed on the planet. I have no reason to ever be discriminated against in any way and I recognise all those things. So I want to afford space and time for everyone but me to have say, but I think in terms of storytelling, so much of what I’ve learned is from being a good listener by being willing to shut my mouth for as long as possible, and listen to what other people have to say and listen to the way they say it. And sort of the the craft that they may be using intentionally or unintentionally, to say the things that they want to say. So I think the first thing you have to do is to be a listener and to open up space. And the phrase I say, all the time to people, is I hear the hint of a story. And I say to that person, please tell me that story. And I just I hear so many beautiful stories, and I learned so many interesting things about people at work at school where I teach, I’m often telling people things like, did you know that Monica learned English by working on McDonald’s drive thru? And you know, all of my colleagues say, No, how do you know that? And I say, well, one day I was on recess to do with Monica. And I heard her talking a little bit about immigrating to America. And I said, Really? Tell me that story. And if you just say, tell me that story, you’re going to learn things about people that you never would have learned already, you’ll find beautiful stories, and you’ll become a better storyteller. So be a good listener, open up space and try to be the last person who speaks it really will help you.

John Ball : 

I love that this whole conversation has been fantastic. You’re gonna find something from me in your inbox at some point when your next book’s out, because I want to speak to you again. I’m sure.

Matthew Dicks : 

I’d be happy to do so.

John Ball : 

Oh, that’s wonderful. You’ve been so generous with your time and your information today. So thank you so much. You’ve been one of my favourite ever guests, and I’m so thrilled that you agreed to be on the show. Thank you, Matthew, for coming on this week’s podcast.

Matthew Dicks : 

My pleasure. Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

(Visited 5 times, 1 visits today)