3 ways I use storytelling structure in coaching and consulting


Hey, Misbah here. Welcome to the Habit Chest Podcast. On this show, I like to explore the question of how do the underdogs like us? How do we build our own table, and how do we do it in a way where we don’t have to ask for permission or be asked to sit down? We can set up the game in a way. That serves not just the algorithms, but that serves us.

And hopefully we can build skills, we can build systems, and we can get really good at allocating our time and thought to the right things and projects that matter to us. So I appreciate you hanging out and joining me today. Make sure to check out the links in the description below. There’s a bunch of free tools and all that good stuff there that you might find helpful.

But anyways, let’s dive into the episode. So stories are in everything. These are things that we’ve done since the beginning of mankind. Mm-hmm. We love stories. There was tribal stories that were passed down, written on walls. There were stories that we used to write down on scrolls. There’s stories that we now.

Conducted either audio, right? Like when my grandparents were growing up on the radio, right? Or now video. And so human beings have always loved stories. That’s something that captures us. And the art of the coach is learning how to our articulate the client’s story. And so we, we came up with three ways.


Discovery Call

We really wanted to break this down. So there is the discovery call of the story, which is someone’s reaching out to you, and this is like the. This is the beginning of the story, right? This is like where Karate Kid meets Mr. Miyagi, right? And there’s like this situation. So your job is to figure out where your service fits into their story.

So that’s one way. So what are some ways, like you’ve used stories in a discovery call or in a sales call that have been helpful and like what are key things you look for when talking to a potential client? So one of the main things I found, and I tested this early on, where like I would keep it focused on them in the discovery call and just like asking them questions versus maybe revealing stories about myself.

Like what’s my backstory? How do I get into the, get into this? Like, why do I love coaching? Why do I, how do I discover this philosophy, right? Like of training. Those things when I didn’t bring that up and I just kept it focused on them, I noticed at the end like they still would have those questions for me.

So how, tell me a little bit about yourself. How’d you get into this? And that’s the opportunity. I realized I would mess up all the time, to be honest, because it’s like it wasn’t an accurate representation. I felt flustered. I was like, oh my gosh, how do I. Condensed the past seven years of 10 years of experience into a 32nd thing, right?

So that is so important in the discovery call because this person’s deciding if they wanna work with me, right? So the story’s everything, right? Because they can go hit another trainer up down the street. The difference is, what’s the story separating some of us, right? It took me a while to figure this out cuz you’ve also seen this storytelling is everywhere.

Like people say, use story like science around storytelling is wild, but how do you practically apply the structure? That’s always what I’m studying and looking for and it’s all in the specifics I found. So the discovery call, like you can keep it vague. Oh, I always wanted to help people. I was into playing baseball when I was younger.

Like those things are cool, but. The key change. When I read the book we were talking about Off-Air StoryBrand by Donald Miller, um, and then also Expert Secrets by Russell Brunson, in which he cites StoryBrand and uses a lot of that structure as well. But basically the key difference was you are not the hero of the story, right?

So I’m not the hero of the story trying to show you how awesome and how hard it was and how I overcame everything. The customer, the listener, the viewer. They are, the client is the hero of the story. And you are playing the guide or mentor, right? So you telling the story, whatever it might be. Me telling the back injury story for example, that was a key one for me that like I didn’t have to force it.

Truly, it was true and it was natural like, That really impacted me when I had a back injury at 19, it stopped my whole world. Like for a year and a half, I could barely vacuum. I had to get out of the car a certain way. It was like I, I had to stop teaching spin classes. Like I, it was devastating, right? But I was able to figure out how to tell these stories and to the lower back injury, or anybody who’s coming from an injury standpoint.

Immediately you could see this. Dude, I feel the same thing. And here’s an example of a specific, right? One step forward, two steps back. Yeah. Every person who’s had a back injury knows that feeling. Oh man, I messed it up a little bit too. Oh man, it’s back. Three weeks of progress. I gotta start over again.

That key part of the story, when I would explain how annoying that was to me, like regression progression, regret back and forth, made them go, dude, I know you know exactly what I’m talking about. You get it. That’s exactly what’s happening with me. And that’s what. I needed to win over the sale. Like that excitement would come out and then they would tell me more stories and then we went back and forth.

Importance of crafting your own backstory


So in the discovery call, the key story is your backstory. What’s the backstory that gives us an interest in you? Like, why should we listen to you? That’s the unspoken elephant in the room, and this is where the coach crafting their angle of, look, I was in your shoes. I hurt my back Also, that’s an angle.

There’s also, Hey, I’ve been in this 40 years. I know what I’m doing. Da da. That’s a story as well. Right? So backstory is one and then two, I would say if you are, cuz you are gonna introduce like what your offer is, how you think about training a little bit. Like you need to have a story for that. How did you discover the origin story, basically for what you’re putting them through, essentially.

Yeah. I also think like one of the best things in a quick 1510 minute discovery call is like feeling the pressure of the time to really ask questions to get the story. So being a good listener is also asking good questions to continue to get more of the story, cuz they don’t know that they’re telling you the story, they just are giving you information.

But sure won’t look at it as just information. Look at it as how do I build all the story together to then create. The sticking point where the service is like the answer, and it’s the answer. Not because you’re manipulating, but because it really does fit the story right. It’s okay, this is why they call.

They knew it, you knew it, but we’re just trying to come to the conclusion together. It’s like people trying to come and are articulate something they both already know, but they’re trying to say it in a way where both parties say, yes, that’s it. And so there’s those moments, right? So that’s the big picture.

But I would just say ask good questions. Be a great listener and then I always love doing this repeat back. Like, Hey, this is what I’m hearing you tell me if that’s how you hear it too. Yeah, just like that. Give them the opportunity to have this agreement of yes, that’s the story. I feel heard. I feel like you get it.

I feel like you encompassed that gives so much trust and buy-in right there. That’s really scary, bro. What I was watching this like video or documentary where it was like the CIA studied N F B I studied the hell out of this technique, which is like mirroring. In building rapport with somebody, right?

Yeah. Versus some other methods basically, and out of everything, for some reason, mirroring, repeating back maybe in a slightly different way or the same thing that they just said. There was like a crazy like 30, 40%. I don’t wanna misquote like the thing, but essentially what’s I took from that was like, oh my gosh, this is actually valuable and there’s a reason we do it.

That’s what active listening is, which is, I take in what you’re saying, repeat back to you to show that I heard what you said. If I am wrong, that’s good because it gives you a chance to go, no, this is what I meant. And oftentimes that’s easier than somebody articulating from scratch. Perfectly. Well, I really love that.

Yeah. I kept it focused on offer up stories for yourself that builds rapport and opens up the door so that they can give you stories. And I think the story that really we’re trying to get to, like me and the discovery call, I’m trying to understand what happened before this that led me, led them to me.

Yes. So there’s usually some emotional thing to have. That’s a great question. And they won’t tell, you won’t find that out sometimes until month two. But if you can find that out front, you can be like, all right, this is useful information. How do I keep this in mind? This is what’s important to this person, and we take it from there.

Significance of storytelling in monthly consultations


You wanna do anything else on discovery call before we go into consultation? No. And just to conclude on that, I think that’s good on two fronts, what you just said, which was the idea of asking the question, how did you hear about me or get toward me. And the reason is because, It helps them share a little bit of the story of how they heard about you, and then maybe there’s a repeatable way of continuing to market that way so you can bring more, more people like that, if that’s your clientele or your niche.

So that’s really good information. And then I think it’s also just, I think it’s just good. It’s a good way to start because it gives you insight on them. Like where are they looking? What are they looking for? How did you fit into that looking for so, I think that a lot of this does translate back over into the monthly consultations you should have with your clients too.

Yep. Because what you’re doing is in good coaching, right? You’re building out like long-term plans for people. And those long-term plans are like a story that’s connect, like a journey. It’s a map of the story of trying to complete and make them the hero, right? And it’s like Sam Ganji and he’s using the map to get up the mountain, right?

Frodo’s wa going along with him and trusting him and sometimes looking at the map himself, right? But that’s kinda like the. Macro cycle. And so what you’re looking for in that is I think you really want to make sure that you take those long-term plans, you sit down and then you listen monthly. Same thing, asking questions, having good, which is why I like we created the 101 consultation questions because que questions really do give you the story and structure to get people on the path that they wanted to go.

But that all starts with know what the person wanted with to begin with, which is why the discovery call and the initial onboarding phase is so important to get that story down because then the 30 minute consultations are really just like repeating back, listening, mirroring. I like how you use that word structures to help.

One of the things that jumped out to me, that applies to, I think, consultation and retention. Okay, so storytelling structure to make this like really tangible for people. Let’s say that in the first four weeks, you’re really excited, right? You’re like, I got a new trainer, the new coach, the student’s awesome.

Like I’m gonna crush it. And then all of a sudden in week four, motivation wears off. You’re like, oh man, I’m tired. I start eating more sugar or whatever. Like I’m back on my old ways. That is now. A story that they are coming into the consultation with, which is, man, I’m unfixable. Like I look at this, I’m back at my shit after four weeks.

Like I’m paying hundreds of dollars. And I’m not that, they’re not saying that’s an internal monologue, but you have to be able to identify that’s the problem or that’s what you’re trying to solve. Hey, I’m trying to help them with nutrition in this consultation. How do I tell a story that meets them where they’re at in this really low point?

Like they feel, oh shoot, I’m a piece of shit for falling off the boat. And it’s only been four weeks, right? Yeah. And so how do you establish, look, you’re not falling off the boat. I just had ice cream the two days ago, and here’s why. And you tell the story of the time you had a coach where they controlled everything to a tee and it was miserable.

And here’s what you learn from it, right? Now that’s a story that helps rewrite the beliefs that they came into about your process, your structure, and you buy them back in every single time. Yeah. With whatever problem they’re facing. Totally. Like I think that’s the way to apply this, like every month or every two weeks if you wanted to.

It’s if you’ve ever been with like a really good counselor and you start talking with them about yourself, just like you would with a coach and you fell off the wagon, or you’re upset that you didn’t live up to your values or your standards. And then you start shame talking yourself. Or like you said, shit, talking to yourself and, and then they say, let’s get curious about that and not just beat ourselves up.

And I think good coaching, right, gets away from just yelling at someone like, Hey, do better. Or even like up it a little bit. That sounds better. We all try to do better than that, right? But we’ll say things like, Hey, if you really want it bad, like you’ll do it. Obviously you’re showing that you really don’t want it.

That bad right’s, the contrary. Which we all do, and there’s truth to that, but it’s not helpful. And so what’s more helpful is what, where do we think, why do we think this is so hard? Or we fall into this so much? Let’s just get curious about that. And they’re, let’s like how, let’s all of the emotion down the sheen goes away, and then we can look at it more logically and then get back to the story of, oh, that makes perfect sense.

Yeah. I would probably want to eat ice cream too, if my kids were all screaming for the last three hours before bedtime and. And you’re just exhausted from a long day. And instead of eating carrots and hummus, you decided to just grab ice cream in your freezer. Yeah, that makes sense. Your cortisol levels are high.

You’re frustrated. You just want a quick dopamine effect. What do you think we could do instead to make that better? And now we’re like, this is where the story of a somebody coming, someone aside someone, and then next time they go for the carrots and hummus, just to keep it the analogy. And we celebrate, we cheer them on because they’re the hero.

They just needed some, they needed someone to help them have that realization moment. Mm-hmm. Power in them to do it and then bam. That’s coaching. That’s helping them. That’s where they get it. Versus like the coach who yells at you or just tries to hold you to a high standard or not against high standards.

I’m just saying it’s lazy coaching if that’s the only way you go about trying to help someone get to their goal. That’s not just what they’re paying you for. Say, Hey, eat more protein. It’s breakdown for me in my life how I can eat more protein. I’m already struggling with that. I wanna share as we close this up, this five step framework that I keep in front of me every time I record stuff.


What is The Epiphany Bridge Script?

It’s from Russell Brunson’s Expert Secrets book. You could search the image online. It’s called the Epiphany Bridge Script. I like the 32nd one. And it goes through these five stages. If you, I’ll read through it for audio listeners. Number one, backstory, okay? Number two is journey. Journey Number three is new opportunity.

Number four is framework, and number five is achievement. So let’s run through this from the top. Number one is the backstory. What gives, give us context. What’s the vested interest we have? Let’s say you’re talking to a parent, right? And you are also a parent. You can get across luck. I got three kids. It’s tough when I’m sitting down with them, feeding them at 6:00 PM and they’re eating pizza and I’m hungry and I eat off their plate too.

Boom. That establishes a little bit of backstory. You got kids, they got kids, boom. Number two, journey. How, what’s, what was the conflict? What’s the whole like thing, the problem you’re actually dealing with, that you’re trying to solve, whether this is a short, like a piece of content you’re trying to make?

Or you’re talking to somebody in a consultation or trying to get a point across, there’s a problem, right? So step two is where we tell that story of how we encounter that. Number three is new opportunity. The new opportunity is really important because it’s, this is where you go, oh, I had an epiphany and I realize that I could make my own chicken fingers and have that at the same time, and if I did that, then I wouldn’t eat their chicken fingers or whatever the new opportunity is Then.

Importance of framework and achievement

Number four is framework, right? So the framework is gonna be. Turning this, give it a name. A lot of times when we hear a name, like instead of hidden fees, Ramit Seti likes to say Phantom costs. Okay, boom. Now that gives me like a thing in my brain. I’m like, okay, I can see. It’s just a good note taking skill, right?

So give somebody a framework because it now establishes you also as an expert, like you’re naming it your way, making it your own, giving it a structure. So the story stuff you just talked about, step 1, 2, 3. Now that you have attention, you’ve got buy-in emotional stuff. Fourth is the framework and they’re ready for the prescription.

Yep. Then number five is achievement. So after I tried doing this framework, number five, the, what’s the transformation that happened? Right. It’s like that should also highlight like what your client actually wants and help lead to that goal. Well, helpful. Yeah. Did that make sense? Yeah. So applicable to coaching.

I’m brainstorming as I’m listening to you, just like better frameworks, cuz we all need to get better at that. But just that makes it so simple. Yeah. And this is really, I think, a great practice thing. Cause I’ve been doing this myself since I, and I’ve read this book seven years ago and I come back to it every year.

And this year I opened it up and decided to try to get a little bit better at this. And I always tried, but I didn’t fully put effort into it. And so I would say make a little flashcard that has these five steps. Keep it in front of you anytime you talk, even on your consults. The goal is, it doesn’t have to be a whole long-winded story.

Every time this is, remember it’s a 32nd script. So each of these could be one sentence if you wanted to, and so it could be a story in 30 seconds. Get really freaking good at that, cuz no matter if you’re in the remote coaching world or you venture off into another world like this, skill stays with you for life.

I think that’s good. I love that. Anything else you wanna conclude on for today? Do you, I guess my question for you is, do you feel like it was clear some of the examples that I gave going through with the five step structure? Because another example I would say is a challenge not to go off on this, but as a challenge to somebody listening if they wanna try making their own story and submitting it to us, I would love to take a look at that.

But to give you an example, to spark something, it’s like I had a client lives in New York, kind of bougie, right? Traveled to Spain for a couple weeks and did everything he could to lose, try to lose weight, did my programming, all that stuff, but wasn’t losing the weight he wanted. And then he goes to Spain for, and he’s not really working out there.

He’s walking okay every day, like miles and miles. He’s eating like he’s enjoying himself on vacation. Comes back. He’s lost 10 pounds and looks leaner and slimmer and he feels good. And he’s, yes, dude, I just walked. That is the B birth of a framework that you could be like, boom. That’s how I realized you gotta come up with the walk, you know, the wi, I don’t know.

You come up with like your own name, right? Yeah. And display the importance of walking. So I would encourage anybody who’s listening, if you can find a story, whether it’s your backstory or origin story, Whatever you want to dive into, take a shot at writing it. If you wanna send it to me or Blake, we’d love to see it and help you out.

But check out more free tools, trainerslab.io. We’ve got everything there and in the description below. And we’ll be back with more storytelling structure cuz this is a important and weighty topic. But we wanted to give you something quick and tangible that you can implement like right away after listening.

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