Teacher of Brand, Presentations, Marketing and More Brian Burkhart (#99)

Storytelling with Squareplanet’s Chief Word Guy

For years, Brian Burkhart has been on staff at Northwestern University’s highly prestigious Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He’s coached 10 teams for TV’s “Shark Tank,” and most of them got deals.

Brian’s a podcaster, an entrepreneur and so much more. I invited Brian Burkhart to join me for this Educational Storytellers episode because if his education background – at the university as well as his speaking.

Brian is the “chief word guy” at Squareplanet, an agency that helps its clients tell better stories in presentations, events and more. Brian’s the founder and a hell of a storyteller (scroll down for his introduction email!).

“I’ve logged hundreds of thousands of miles on planes. A grand total of zero times I’ve poked my head in the cockpit and told the pilots how to fly. Just because I fly a lot doesn’t mean I know how to fly. But for some reason in the world of corporate storytelling, people think they know better and they don’t.” - Brian Burkhart on letting the professionals do their job

Brian’s a Storyteller

Want to see how to get on a podcast with story? Check out Brian’s email to me pitching himself.

SUBJECT: Have You Ever Been in a Turkish Prison?

Hi Dan!

Thankfully, I’ve never been in a Turkish prison, or any prison for that matter. Sounds awful. You know what else is awful? Most business podcasts. They’re poorly constructed, hosted by boring people and feature uninspired guests. Oh sure, there are a number of exceptions to the rule — but face it, I’m more right than wrong. Good news: No time in the big house for you — you’re not guilty of these crimes! I’m lovin’ your podcast, especially dug the 'Entrepreneurial Storytelling' episode with Chris Brogan.

My name is Brian Burkhart and I’m fired up! Nope, it’s not time for the Catalina Wine Mixer. I’m fired up because we should podcast together. Here’s why:

  • I’m the founder of three businesses with total revenues exceeding $10 million 

  • Faculty adjunct lecturer at Northwestern University outside Chicago

  • Author of the book “Stand for Something,” a powerful branding book loaded with real-world case studies

  • I speak. Quite well, actually. In front of big groups of wicked-smart people

  • And...I host a podcast, too. It’s enjoyed by my large and growing network of followers. Two words: cross promotion.

I think this could escalate in a hurry — I mean, we could be friends. There’s a real chance that if all goes right, I’ll be at your place this Thanksgiving. My hunch is you’ll want to know more about me, so here’s a SUMMARY with a bunch of links. You’ll see, I’m kind of a big deal. In fact, my house is full of leather-bound books and smells of rich mahogany.

Let’s record something awesome soon. THANKS

– Brian

Connect with Brian:

If you liked the show, please consider sharing this podcast with your friends, family and network. Your stamp of approval is more valuable than anything I can offer to your network. I appreciate your sharing! Also, leaving a review (and rating) helps spread the word. And just makes me feel warm and squishy.

 The Storytellers Network with Dan Moyle publishes every Monday at 7 AM EST.

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David Flowers - Author, Teacher of Attorneys (#98)

Today’s guest is a former attorney who spent his career representing victims of sexual abuse in civil litigation. David Flowers wrote Taming the Lion Tamers about the South Carolina case of convicted pedophile Eddie Fischer, and the people who protected him for decades. It’s a powerful story, and is the same case on which the Emmy-nominated documentary film What Haunts Us is based.

David fought for victims for decades, using story to their advantage. Now he teaches upcoming attorneys about the power of story.

Prime Time TV Storyteller DJ Nash (#97)

Storytelling with Creator of A Million Little Things, DJ Nash

Is there any type of storyteller “bigger” than someone who creates and writes a television show in prime time? We’re obsessed with our TVs and the characters who move us. Even in the world of streaming, network TV is still a juggernaut.

A Million Little Things, on ABC, tackles everything from suicide to infidelity to a man overcoming breast cancer (but who is far from a saint). On this episode of The Storytellers Network, the creator and showrunner DJ Nash (also a writer and executive producer of the series) takes time to explore storytelling at a whole new level.

“Every single one of them is broken because all of us are broken in different ways. Don’t let that be your limitation. Let it be your inspiration.” - DJ Nash on his characters

Novelist Michelle Keener (#96)

Storytelling with Faith and Fiction Author Michelle Keener

Today’s guest is author Michelle Keener. Writers definitely entertain us, and Michelle does so with purpose-driven stories like Mission Hollywood and her memoir Shared Courage.

Michelle describes herself as a wife, mom, homeschooler and an author of inspirational fiction and nonfiction… whose books are fueled by Jesus and caffeine.

She’s been involved in ministry for over a decade, including serving in prison ministry, evangelism, women's ministry and youth groups. She currently leads workshops for Christian writers and enjoys encouraging writers and artists to use their gifts to impact the world and glorify God. She has several new books either recently published or getting ready for publication. When she isn't writing, Michelle is reading, baking or eating chocolate… or hanging out on Twitter.

Michelle and her husband Paul have two amazing children and one spoiled dog.

“In my head I know the scene. I know what’s happening. I know what people are wearing. I have to go back and think, ‘Dan might not know these things.’ For me, it’s important to be deliberate about world building.” - Michelle Keener on storytelling

Storytelling Through Animation and Voiceover with Ryan Johnston (#95)

Voiceover Director Ryan Johnston Shares His Story

Today’s guest works in Hollywood behind the scenes. He’s worked in sound for television series’ like Ultimate Spider-Man, Hulk and the Agents of SMASH, and Sailor Moon. Sound recordist, recording engineer, dialogue recording mixer … there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes on some of our favorite stories.

So today we get to hear some of those behind the scenes stories from Ryan Johnston. Ryan has worked in entertainment for more than a decade, and today he’s sharing his journey, his moments… his story.

“Sometimes I’m working with voice actors I’ve been listening to since I was a kid. Right away it transports me back to Saturday morning cartoons… now I’m in a position to help mold those stories, and pass them along to the next generation. You can’t put a price on that.” - Ryan Johnston on voiceover storytelling

Using Story to Create Entertaining Ads with Steve Robinson (#94)

In his debut book, former Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Chick-fil-A, Steve Robinson shares with readers the secret to the growth and success of one of the nation’s fastest growing fast food restaurants. In Covert Cows and Chick-fil-A: How Faith, Cows, and Chicken Built an Iconic Brand, Robinson takes people behind the scenes to show them how Chick-fil-A scaled up from 184 stores and $100 million in annual sales to more than 2,100 stores and $6.8 billion in annual sales during the 34 years Robinson served as CMO. Read that again marketer. 34 years as CMO.

With an emphasis on building relationships rather than focusing on transactions, Robinson shares some of the philosophies Chick-fil-A employs that may seem counterintuitive to business…and why it has worked so well.

In our conversation, Steve and I also talk about how advertising that entertains is more powerful than just average interruptive advertising.

Stories Through Audio Drama and More with Paul Sating (#93)

Author, Podcaster, Audio Drama Creator Paul Sating

Paul Sating is an author and creator of five audio drama podcasts, including Subject: Found, Diary of a Madman, Who Killed Julie?, YOU, and Atheist Apocalypse. He is also the host of Horrible Writing, a podcast where he shares his journey toward being published, along with candid interviews with other writers.

His first three books were published in 2018. Chasing the Demon (a thriller), 12 Deaths of Christmas (a horror anthology), & Novel Idea to Podcast (nonfiction) helped him realize his childhood dream of becoming a published author.

In addition to those ventures, he is the co-creator of an upcoming horror audio drama titled Family Portrait and, when he's not writing books or podcasts, he's punching out short stories for his Patrons and perpetually working on his novels.

“Apple could get out of digital media completely. Then what do you do? You need a newsletter. You don’t control Twitter, Facebook, Spotify… nobody.” - Paul Sating on owning your content

The Animated Woman JC Little (#92)

JC Little is a mom, an animator, a humorist, an award-winning story artist, a compelling public speaker and a social media minx! Always playful and often poignant, JC Little blogs her eclectic slice-of-life stories with unique drawings and animation at TheAnimatedWoman.com. She's a happily married mother of three and a director whose 30+ year career in animation has spanned commercials, feature films, TV series, new media, mobile apps and picture-books.

JC is a two-time BlogHer Voice of the Year honoree, and winner of three Canadian Weblog Awards. She's on the Wacom site as a Wacom Ambassador, and delivers highly illustrated keynotes (she what she did there…) on leadership, visual storytelling and empathy. JC is the creator and director of the Disney-syndicated, Gemini-nominated kids TV series, My Life Me, and has animated over 30 short films, the latest of which is the award-winning Papa Pasquale.

She also drew my bride and me for our wedding back in 2011. Look in the show notes for those very special illustrations.

I’ve known JC for a few years now and have followed her story through a couple chapters. Now I want to share her stories with you.

Rich Prange: Using Story in Comedy (#91)

Photojournalism to Comedy with Rich Prange

Rich Prange is a stand-up comic in Phoenix, Arizona. He’s also an award-winning photojournalist. Which is why I know him. We worked together at a TV news station in Kalamazoo, Michigan years ago. And it’s been fun to watch his story unfold, to where he’s now performing his comedy on stages. Rich sees comedy as a storytelling art form much like music.

“People will say they saw a comedian and it’s the same as they saw in a video. That’s because it’s scripted. It’s like a concert. They aren’t just going off the top of their head. It’s a song they wrote.” - Rich Prange on comedy performances

Taming the Beast of Marketing a Zoo with Anja Stas (#90)

Telling the Story of the Antwerp Zoo and Convention Center with Anja Stas

Anja Stas creates meaningful marketing with campaigns such as A Room with a Zoo / Zoo of Life/ Kai-Mook. Anja Stas is an award winning marketer with a passion for the possible; bridging ecology and economics. She works for the Flanders Meeting & Convention Center of Antwerp – which is the Antwerp Zoo in Belgium. But it’s so much more than a zoo. It’s a story. And for Anja, being a storyteller is in her makeup.

“We have winter and summer. We have ups and downs. Work, for me, is like that. When you’re an artist, which you are when you’re a storyteller, it’s not about being in balance everyday. It’s from a balanced self within.” - Anja Stas on balancing life and work

Singer, Songwriter, Recording Artist Willie Wisely (#89)

Telling Stories Through Music with Willie Wisely

Today’s guest is… a musician whose music is hyper-personal, and by turns quirky and unexpectedly profound. On stage he delivers much more than just song. He plays and moves in a can’t-take-your-eyes-off him style that reminds you why leaving the house for live music is so critical to understanding the pop music art form.

I first heard of Willie Wisely when I discovered James Gunn’s Tromeo and Juliet. Willie was the film score composer. I dove into his music from there, had a few conversations, and even tried to help get him to my hometown with a living room concert. If you don’t know what that is, look it up. Unfortunately, it didn’t work, but I’ve kept in touch with him and followed his career. His albums Parador and She have been staples for me over the years. I’m stoked to bring you Willie Wisely on today’s episode.

The longtime Los Angelino (and now prodigally-returning son to his native Minneapolis/St. Paul), has surprised the LA songwriter scene with a recent career rebirth. He brings with him a decades-long, criminally overlooked catalog of pop recording and songwriting that might leave any Paul McCartney & Wings fan wondering why the hell Wisely isn’t opening at Dodger Stadium for Macca in July. Wisely’s love of music permeates his everyday life, including how he decided to cover a Jackie Lomax tune from an obscure Beatles era story.

“We were convinced we were the only people in the world who knew him [Jackie Lomax]. His obscurity was so deep, that when we played his tracks live at our shows we just said we wrote them.” - Willie Wisely on performing

Entertaining Fans with Jesse Cole, Founder of The Savannah Bananas (#88)

Using Story to Entertain Baseball Fans

Jesse Cole is the founder of Fans First Entertainment and owner of the summer league baseball team the Savannah Bananas. The Savannah Bananas currently have sold out every game for 3 straight seasons and have a waiting list in the thousands for tickets.

Jesse is an in-demand speaker and released his first book “Find Your Yellow Tux – How to Be Successful by Standing Out” in 2018. He's been featured on MSNBC and as a keynote speaker all over the country, promoting his motto "If it's normal, do the exact opposite."

“Contagious caring creates a ripple effect. All of us need to care more. You can talk about caring til you’re blue in the face. But how do you show it?” - Jess Cole on sharing your wins

Singer Songwriter Aaron Burdett (#87)

Story Through Music with Singer Songwriter Aaron Burdett

Meet singer-songwriter Aaron Burdett, one of the top 10 most important musicians of western North Carolina according WNC Magazine. He’s named alongside such greats as Doc Watson, Steep Canyon Rangers, and The Avett Brothers. It wasn’t always easy though, as you might imagine.

After seeing a lot of his friends and musical colleagues struggle to be full-time musicians, sometimes at the cost of their marriages and family lives, Aaron moved back to his hometown and decided to go another route. He started a construction business, built a home for himself and his wife, and started a family, all while continuing to write songs and playing music, recording an album every year or two. In 2013, Aaron decided to pursue music full time, so fast forward to today, and his distinctive clear voice has carried his dream into a successful career. Aaron’s songs effortlessly transition from solo performance to full band, with equal emotional impact on audiences. 

Aaron has 7 albums dating back to 2005. He tells stories through his music, his lyrics and his performances.

“I believe the most powerful stories, works, pieces of music and novels … are a reflection of that person, that only that person could write in that way.” - Aaron Burdett on the power of personal story

Podcaster, Coach, Speaker, Writer Michelle Steffes (#86)

How Routine Can Drive Your Greatness with Michelle Steffes

During this portion of the Entertainment Storytellers season, I wanted to bring on a special guest to explore something a little different. Today we’re talking about your journey to greatness. It’s more a resource than an example… my guest is the author of Your Journey to Greatness Through Routine and host of her daily podcast with the same name. She is also the CEO and founder of IPV Consulting working with companies to address organizational dysfunction getting to the root of human behavior using cognitive training methods. Michelle Steffes brings insight, information, and inspiration to this episode, to help us all reach greatness.

“If you go into a bank and you want to borrow money, they’re going to require a business plan. Why in the world do we think that we can just fly by the seat of our pants when it comes to accomplishing big dreams?” - Michelle Steffes on preparing for greatness

Storytelling with Slam Poetry Artist Ebony Stewart (#85)

Poetry to Entertain, Educate and Inspire with Slam Poet Ebony Stewart

Ebony Stewart is an international touring poet – of slam poetry – and performance artist. Her work speaks to the black experience, with emphasis on gender, sexuality, womanhood, and race, with the hopes to be relatable, remove shame, heal minds, encourage dialogue, and inspire folks in marginalized communities. 

As one of the most decorated poets in Texas, Ebony is a respected coach & mentor, one of the top touring poets in the country, and a Woman of the World Poetry Slam Champion.

She is the author of Love Letters to Balled Fists and Home.Girl.Hood. Her work has been featured in For HarrietAfroPunk, Teen Vogue, and The Texas Observer. The only poet to perform at the 2018 Seattle Pride Festival before 200,000 people, was Ebony Stewart.

“It just so happens that I have been afforded a life where I can write deeply about gender and race and colorism and sex and those things move me because they’re things I know a lot about.” - Ebony Stewart on her story

Audio Drama Podcaster Sarah Rhea Werner - Girl In Space (#84)

Storytelling with Writer, Podcaster Sarah Rhea Werner

Sarah Rhea Werner is a professional podcaster, writer, editor, coach, speaker, voice actor, ghostwriter, a contributor to Forbes, founder of the Write Now podcast, and TEDx speaker.

She’s also the writer, editor, and executive producer of the hit audio drama Girl In Space. Sarah is an up and coming entertainment storyteller and huge supporter of audio dramas – fictional podcasts that tell a story and entertain.

For Sarah, creating stories for others to enjoy is all about finding her inspiration from her community.

“The inspiration comes from other people. Inspiration for characters, inspiration to keep going. The community keeps you invested in what you’re doing. It seems like a solo project, but it’s not.” - Sarah Rhea Werner on story inspiration

The Go-Giver Part 2 - John David Mann (#83)

The Power of Parables and Story with John David Mann

Welcome to the season finale of Season 6: Business Storytellers. This is part 2 of 2… focusing on the “Go Giver” series of books and their principle in business and in storytelling.

My guest for part 2 is co-author John David Mann. John is an award-winning author whose titles include the New York Times bestseller The Red Circle and of course the international bestseller The Go-Giver. His new book The Latte Factor is already earning a ton of praise.

As a storyteller, John knows what it takes to create effective, engaging parables that move people. If the reader isn’t moved, they won’t care, they won’t learn, and they won’t retain.

“If I don’t cry when I’m writing it… if I don’t laugh when I’m writing it… if I’m not moved when it’s going on the page, then the reader won’t be moved.” - John David Mann on the power of story

The Go-Giver Part 1 - Bob Burg (#82)

Welcome to the season finale of Season 6: Business Storytellers. This is part 1 of 2… focusing on the “Go Giver” series of books and their principle in business and in storytelling.

My guest for part 1 is co-author Bob Burg. Bob is a hall of fame speaker and bestselling author, a former top sales pro and podcast host of, you guessed it, the Go-Giver Podcast.

In our conversation, Bob shares insight on topics vital to the success of today's businessperson, and storyteller… often crossing the lines between both. In his daily walk, he speaks for corporations and associations internationally, including Fortune 500 companies, franchises, and numerous direct sales organizations.

For Bob, it’s all about giving value above and beyond, bringing value back to the originator.

“Money is simply an echo of value. It’s the thunder to value’s lightning. The value must come first. You must focus on bringing value to another human being.” - Bob Burg on success in business

Getting Clarity of Your Story with Steve Woodruff (#81)

Clear Storytelling The King of Clarity Steve Woodruff

Steve Woodruff, known as the King of Clarity, is a consultant and author who has helped many professionals - from solo consultants to Fortune 100 pharmaceutical companies - with their brand identity and messaging. He’s best known for his intensive clarity sessions, which, in less than a day, unlock a company's DNA and market positioning, and produce crystal-clear messaging to generate sales and referrals. He also helps people find their professional purpose with Clarity Consulting.

The author of Clarity Wins, Steve loves to help people and businesses find clarity. In our conversation you’ll hear how Chris Brogan gave him his nickname, how a Russian oligarch and his French chateau plays a part in Steve’s story, and so much more.

“I’ve replaced the term elevator pitch with the term memory dart. Which is an even shorter version of an elevator pitch. Symbols are the most powerful, an analogy or a word picture. Distill it down to something that is symbolic.“ - Steve Woodruff on clarifying your message

Pure Storytelling with Pure Michigan's Dave Lorenz (#80)

Dave Lorenz is the Vice President of Travel Michigan. He’s responsible for leading the state’s tourism branding, advertising and public relations efforts. Essentially, Dave’s the guy behind my favorite marketing campaign, the award-winning Pure Michigan tourism campaign. He also coordinates overall statewide tourism initiatives.

Dave also speaks around the world on behalf of Michigan for tourism, as well as telling the Pure Michigan success story. He’s a storyteller through-and-through.

Dave currently serves on the board of directors for the U.S. Travel Association, the National Council of State Tourism Directors, Michigan Cares for Tourism, Circle Michigan, Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, MotorCities National Heritage Association, and the West Michigan Tourism Association, Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Grand Rapids Hotel Advisory Board.

He’s a true, authentic Michigan storyteller and ambassador.

“They literally brought the state together, the upper and lower peninsulas.” – Dave Lorenz on Mighty Mac and the Michigan story