Storytelling With Robert Kennedy III

Thomas Green here with Ethical Marketing Service. On the podcast today, we have Robert Kennedy the Third. Robert, welcome.

Thanks, Thomas. So glad to be here.

I’m glad to have you. Would you like to take a moment and tell the audience a bit about yourself and what you do.

Sure I am a dad. I’m a dad, I’m a husband. I’m a business owner. I’ve been a business owner since 2008, well actually full time since 2009, but I’ve owned businesses since 2001, and right now my business is a training company. We work with leaders and organisations, teaching them how to present more powerfully, how to deliver messages that connect with their teams and get them to move to action. And we also work with business owners. Small business owners who want to create more visibility for themselves and through video and storytelling. Thank you for the introduction. There was one thing I wanted to ask you right away because it really piqued my interest and that was, there are some things I figured out on the way that I wish I’d been savvy enough to get from a mentor and I don’t know about you.

But sometimes when I sort of realised things, I sort of think back and think now I wish I would pick that up sooner or I wish I had, you know, noticed that. And so do you mind sharing what that was for you? For me, delegation was the big thing. I think a lot of times as business owners. We have ideas and we birth the business and when we birth the business we think that we’ve got to do all of it right. And so when I was creating my task list or my schedule for the day, I would literally think about it in terms of how many things I could do and I learned my time has got to be really spent a little bit differently. A mentor said to me, You’ve got to work towards being 80% strategy and 20% execution. So I’m the brain capital, I’m the visionary for the business. And so the things that only I can do are really chart the path.

Figure out creative ways of developing or delivering content in my style or in the way that I want to see it happen. But there are so many other things that other people can do that I just need to leverage the resources that are around me and I don’t have to do them myself. It’s a really good point. I spoke to one of my other guests. It was Larry Sharpe and he said that people like yourself or you know the owners or the entrepreneurs within the business are centres of purpose. So people sort of revolve around them but they don’t, you know, they don’t do the work, but there are the reasons why people have jobs and that sort of thing reminds me of that. Absolutely, absolutely. So you help business owners create messages that moves people tell me about that. Well, a lot of times in going into corporations, one of the complaints that we constantly hear are we have we have these meetings and nothing else happens after the meeting or the message comes across as cloudy and there’s a lot of data, a lot of charts, a lot of stuff that shared, that nothing happens with it.

So it feels like we’re having the same meeting over and over and over again and so what people want to happen is okay, we have this meeting, we have this presentation, we’ve got this product, we’ve got this process, we want people to connect with it and then do something with it after. So we share with them processes. We talk about frameworks like business storytelling frameworks that really helped to position information in a way that connects emotionally and then connects that to the bridge or the action that needs to be taken. And then, most importantly, why it’s important, what’s the benefit of that action being taken? I am one of those who are guilty of facts, figures, features, benefits, but maybe not enough story. So what would you say for other people who are also in that camp? I think a lot of us are in that camp, especially in the business world we’ve grown up in, in a world where storytelling has been something that we’ve done since, you know, since humans have been around.

Right. And so, before we had writing, before there was papyrus and pencils and chisels or whatever, we shared information via oral tradition and the way that we did that was through experiences and stories. And so you know, campfires, bedtime stories, family get-togethers. We, we shared stories, right? But then we got to this place where in the corporate world, we thought we were, we were told that the only way to transfer information is through data and we’re like, you know, it’s, you got to give us the realistic information. You got to give us the facts. And the truth is at the end of the day, the facts are there. But when it comes to making decisions, apples to apples and oranges, to oranges, people are moved by an emotional element in something. So if I go to a car dealership and the, and the owner or the salesperson says, hey, I’ve got these two cars on the floor, both have the same horsepower. They both have the same internal features.

They both are the same year. They both have the same inside. They both got leather on the seats and then he points both of them out to me and one is an electric blue shiny one. And then there’s the other one that has a blue hood, green doors, orange trunk or boot or whatever you call it. Right. And so I, if I look at it, which one am I making the decision about? The one that makes me feel better, The one that’s shiny, the one that really piques my interest even though the data for both of those is nearly identical. So for people who are data driven, yes that’s important. What is the emotional cell or the emotional tell or the connection that that allows people to move to action? I must admit I thought you were going to say and the other one was owned by like a rock star or something like that. Well, that’s another thing, I mean we can use that if there are two identical colours but if I tell you that one was owned, you know Mick Jagger used to drive it then you’re like oh okay that’s a little bit status like that’s a story that I can tell to people when I drive up onto my block and they see me in the car.

Yeah, so we’re about to get a master class right now because I’m going to ask you about your story because I was I was interested in you became an accidental entrepreneur story there. Well, so I mean I I suppose I could jump in at several places with that but I’ll start with my very first business so my wife and I we’re in our bedroom doing that thing that couples do in the bedroom. The budget, right? Right, so she says to me dude you’re spending too much money on CDs. And so I’m at that point. I was a musician, had a music group and I’ve got to be ahead of the game, so I’ve got to have the latest CDs that are out, right? And so I try to figure out man how can I get free CDs. I don’t remember how I figured it out. Google wasn’t around. I think if I remember it was like Alta Vista and Ask Jeeves, or something like that. This is the early 2000s and you didn’t install Napster then?

Well no, that was later Napster had come. Yeah so I figured out that I could call up record companies the A. And R. Executives and pr agencies and say I wanted to interview they’re artists and they would send me CDs. All I needed to have was some established and I’m using air quotes, established presence. So I remember calling one and he said yeah what’s your website and I said we’re fixing some things. We’re adding some information. I’ll give you the website information on Thursday. This is Tuesday. So I learned in two days. Html threw up a website reviewed some CDs put some information on there and put wrote a few articles and put on there and call them back on Thursday and said here’s the website alright so then they started sending me CDs, man. So we started interviewing artists. And then we added an online internet an internet radio station to the site and that blue traffic through the roof. And then after that happened we started getting requests for ads.

Then we started getting independent artists coming to us and saying hey, can you interview us? And when we asked them about their website sometimes they didn’t have websites. Ding ding ding, new business idea. So we’re we add onto that, we start building websites for independent musicians are our bands. And so that was the start of my first business man. That’s amazing. Or because you wanted some free CDs, free CDs, yep that’s it, what do you make of that, what do you learn from that that story? I suppose you could interpret that in so many different ways. What did you take? Well, you know what I think that my interpretation is that you don’t always have to have a crystal clear fleshed out idea in order to start sometimes it’s simply just a desire that makes sense to nobody else but you know, if I said to anybody else, hey I’m trying to get free CDs. Or I’m doing this business because I wanted to get free CDs. They said yeah that’s pretty cool politely, right? But it was an intense desire. It was something important enough to me to stay up late act on it, figure out how to do it. And then the other things that involved revenue building kind of came after that. And so my initial intent, I mean, I guess if you, if you think about me saving money on CDs, that might have had a revenue impact. But the initial intent was not for me to make a bunch of money. And where did, where did things go from the initial website? So we, that business stayed around for, so, so here’s the thing, while I was running that business, I was a teacher, so I was still working full time as, as a teacher. And so over the course of time, certain things, um, happened with the business and I didn’t know about scaling or building and I didn’t know that I wanted to get larger with it, but I did get tired of doing certain things or sustaining the business in a certain way.

So, over time, I let the main part of that business die. And then the website building part of that died because the help that I had, I had my brothers that were helping me build certain things and some other resources and those resources, you know, moved away or were not available after a little while. So that ended up dying. And that was about 2007. I was still teaching now I had moved to an online university and I was a faculty for them and then we moved from Massachusetts where I was living to Maryland. And 10 days after we moved to Maryland, I lost my job as an online faculty and then we did what regular people do right, you lose a job, you put out resumes, you apply online and try to get interviews and none of that was happening for me. I wasn’t getting any call-backs, nothing. And so I figured out how to build online courses for some companies and colleges and the more that I did that I got a few contracts doing it and after I got a few contracts I said, hey, let me start a company.

So I registered it and set up the LLC and we went off. Yeah, the rest is history. Yeah. I saw something that I actually do remember is that in some instances it’s easier to start a business and get work than it is to get a job. Which is crazy. Yeah. But what happened, how did that business go? So that was my third business. And that business, we went pretty well for a little bit for a few years. We went well, and we I decided that I wanted to scale and grow and so as I started to scale, I said, you know what, let me hire people, let me hire some contractors and pull myself out of the development end of things. And so you know, good idea and I did that. But the challenge was I didn’t have experience with project management and managing people and all of the different elements of the business outside of myself.

And so we have this one particular contract, a pretty big contract, our biggest contract at the time. And I had a developer, I had a contractor blow through about 40% of our budget In about 10% of the time. And so I ended up having to pretty much dive in and deliver work for free, you know, not getting paid myself for it because most of the budget was used up and that pretty much put us in a tailspin for quite a little while and we ended up shutting down that business. And so After that I went into corporate for about 10 months and after 10 months in corporate, the company that I was with lost their government contract and everybody who was let go. So I’m back by myself and at this point I had started to explore the world of public speaking and so I started to get some gigs speaking, I started to get some requests to do some leadership development trainings from companies.

And as I started to do that it started to build and I started to do more of it and the more of it that I started to do then I got back to the place where we could form a company again. And so this time I decided not to hire a bunch of contractors this time I said you know what, let’s just really push and only get essential staff admin in place. So that was the genesis of that. So we’re at the space now where I still have our team of about two or three admins in place, we have our finance people, bookkeepers, etcetera. And then from time to time we have other trainers that collaborate or do things for us and you know, so that’s the stage of growth that we are and we’re looking to increase that over the next couple of years. What lesson did you take away from the last business? Well, project management was a big lesson.

The other lesson was don’t hire just for the sake of hiring, don’t hire, just for the sake of saying that you’ve got manpower, right, you’ve got to have a plan in place, you’ve got to be strategic about the hires and the projects and you know, don’t be shy about hiring but I you know I also struggled with managing people in doing different parts of the business and so I needed to learn a little bit more about the core elements of business before deciding to scale it. So I didn’t notice when you said in your current business it’s like essential, essential staff, you feel like you had too many in the previous one. Yes, that’s absolutely true. Yeah. We had people that I didn’t really know what to tell them to do sometimes because there were there were there were so many of them, right?

And I didn’t have a good grip on what were all the things that needed to be accomplished in the business. I also did not have a good onboarding process. So I kind of had people come in, we had meetings and I would say, hey yeah this is the stuff that I need to do but I’m also I’m the creative, right? I’m not the COO detailed operations person. Alright, that’s not my strength, that’s not my skill set. But yet I still had to play one on tv right? I had to play that role in in in my business. And so learning to pull people and share some of the strategic side of business, either with mentors or with people who have that skill set as we are in the growth process and so now I’ve got kind of an advisory board in place, a mastermind and things where I can share different elements of the business direction and get some brainpower in place where I’m not the expert in certain areas so we’re current business current day what do people typically ask you to talk about when you’re speaker on stage speaker, is that right?

That’s one of the things, Yes. Stage speaker, keynote speaker, a lot of the bulk of what we do really is training, so we do a lot of workshops full day, half day, a couple of our trainings virtual and in person and so typically what we speak about has to do with communication in some way, shape or form, especially over the last year and a half, two years now, what do we do with these virtual meetings? How do we connect and communicate with people in the virtual space? How do we do that effectively? And prior to that, a lot of it was sometimes presentation skills, we’ve got people in our organisation that have to deliver presentations and as we were talking about data and facts and figures at the beginning, we know how to pull that together, We just don’t know how to deliver it in a way that comes across as confident and is interesting. So can you help us figure out how to increase our confidence and what are some of the things that we need to do to structure our speaking in a way that is interesting, positions us as, as experts and like we know what we’re talking about and then it doesn’t overwhelm people to the point where they walk away and have no idea what you just said and what they need to do, we need to have something clean, clear.

And one main thing that sticks with them so that they can walk away and say aha, yep, I know where we are, I know what direction we need to go and how we need to do it. So would you say not having that main message, that’s probably one of them regular mistakes was some other ones that people make. so if we’re talking about presentations where you’ve got visual media slides, those types of things a lot of times overwhelming people with information, so you’ve got slides with you that have a ton of information on them, you’re either reading from them or you’re sharing a lot of information and so the expectation now is your audience is trying to read what you’re saying on this, what’s on the slide and then follow along with what you’re saying and so overwhelming with overwhelming people with information is a big faux pas or something that happens quite a bit and so we, we teach people how to decide step that and or and how to present information in a way that is not overwhelming and memorable, any misconceptions about what you do, misconceptions, that’s a that’s a good one, I don’t know if I’ve had that question before, but I think sometimes people, the biggest one is that they don’t need, what we do a lot of times people feel like well we know how to talk, I mean I’ve been talking since I was two, so we should know how to present information, right?

And as long as I present it, as long as I gather together and throw it at you, then my responsibility is done and everything after that is on you. However, we don’t recognise that we as storytellers, we as information delivery personnel, right? Are responsible to make sure that the people not only hear the information and receive it, but they get it and understand it right? Because if we think about communication, communication involves receiver and sender and then inside of that there’s intention and perception. So I intend to give you information in a in a certain way, you perceive it a certain way. And if your perception is different than my intention, then we still have a miscommunication. It’s like that thing that meme where there’s a number on the floor and one person’s on either side of it, and one person says that’s a six. The other person says no, that’s a nine, right?

Because their perceptions differ. And so we’ve got to figure out how to deliver information in a way where the perception and your intention as the delivery mechanism line up so that everybody ends up pointing in the same direction and on the same page, interesting. Tell me about what your goals are of it. My personal goals are my business goals, bit of both if you like. Well, my personal goal is pretty simple. I want to be a great dad and a great husband, that’s primary. I’m a big family person. And so I want to spend as much time with my family as possible. I think part of the reason I have my business and have formulated in the way that I do is because I’ve got young kids. My youngest is gonna be 14 next month. But I’ve got a girl and two boys and they’re all interested in different things. They’re athletes and they play basketball and soccer or football in your country.

All right. And so I want to be at their games. I want to be available for them and when they were younger. I wanted to be able to teach them. So I wanted to be in a space where I wasn’t working far from home. So for the most part, my office has always been at home, right? I’ve, you know, had a couple of times where I had an office in a different space, but I ended up spending more time at home in the home office. So my office has always been here. So if I if I transition that to my business goal, one of the business goals that we have is to build a centre for storytelling and communication and we want to do that in the next few years here. So, you know, my kids are getting a little bit older and moving to high school and out of that. So by the time they do that well we’ll have a space where we can teach people about storytelling and communication and allow them to bring that to their businesses as well.

So what does that look like? Like a I guess I can stop that. What does that look like? Well yeah, it looks like an auditorium. It looks like a place where we can teach people about presentations and not just give them the theoretical but we can actually do the practical with them in that space. It also looks like a space where some video information can be recorded and take place. And so especially now we’re in an in an age where video is crucial and important and so how do you show up on camera? You know, a lot of businesses they end up on camera for because of you know, news or whatever reasons or externally and internally they’re delivering information and that’s on camera that’s on video. So how do you do that? And how do you tell the story while you’re on camera, how do you come across as confident? How do you transition? How do you get information out there in a way that connects with people through a lens and through a screen and so we want to have classrooms and places where we’re able to help people to do that?

And also a place where people can just sit dream and develop their own stories. So like you would have it like a part studio, part stage type thing. Is that right? Yes, absolutely. Yes. Well, I’d like to see that. Let me know when it’s done. Yes, absolutely. Is there anything that I should have asked you today? I don’t know. If there’s anything that you should have asked me, I think you’ve done a really fantastic job of digging in a little bit number one, you’re a great listener man and you’re very thoughtful with, with the questions that you’ve asked. So I, I really appreciate this time with you compliment. I’ll take it, thank you. Where’s the best place for people to find you, Robert? I am pretty easy to find. My main speaker website is The number three alpha numeric. And I am Robert Kennedy. The number 3 on all social media as well. With the exception of TikTok, we just opened up an account and some other person had the Robert Kennedy 3 handles so I’m a little bit upset about it. They’re not active. They’re not using it. Right. And so I’m a little bit upset. So I’m the real Robert Kennedy 3 on TikTok and we’re gonna start posting content. They’re pretty short.

You’re the real one. I like that. All right, well thank you very much for the value you brought today.

Appreciate it, Thomas. Has been a fantastic time here, man.