The Bcast is a podcast that helps you learn how to pitch your business, and brand storytelling with Park Howell.
Peter and Jonathan discuss how to sell your company this week, and Park Howell (from The Business of Narrative podcast) discusses how to convey your brand story.
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Listen to the tenth episode:
Notes on the show:
- How to Pitch Your Company — (:26)
- Park Howell’s Brand Storytelling – (11:13)
Transcript of the audio:
Jonathan: Hello, Peter. How are things going for you?
Peter: All right, that’s quite nice.
Jonathan: That’s great.
Peter: It’s fine. We didn’t really come up with an introduction, did we?
Jonathan: No, it’s not true. What are we discussing this week?
Peter: So, I believe you want to speak about this new amazing item you released on Bplans, but it has something to do with pitching in general. We’ve discussed the concept of pitching a company before. We’ve discussed the ins and outs, the wherefores and howfores, the whofores and whyfores.
Jonathan: Yes, and particularly the substance of a pitch and what you should be discussing in your pitch, correct?
Peter: I suppose so. I’d had enough…
Jonathan: Who’s who, what’s what, who’s who, who’s who, who’s who, who’s who, who’s who, who’s who, who’s who, who’
Peter: For a brief time, it reminded me of Dr. Seuss.
Jonathan: That’s right, the who’s it and what’s it.
Peter: Moving on, I believe one of the points made here is pertinent to our today’s guest. One of the concepts is the notion of storytelling, or telling a tale. Anyone who has ever seen a TED Talk or heard a brilliant public speaker understands that the notion, the fundamental idea of really captivating a listener, often centers around the concept of storytelling.
Jonathan: Yeah, and just as a warning for our listeners, if you want to learn more about what should be in your pitch and the substance of your plan, you should listen to episode two, not episode four.
Peter: Dash, episode two…
Jonathan: This is the second episode.
Peter: Two colon four, two colon four, two colon four, two colon four, two
Jonathan: To assist you in determining what should be included in your pitch. This will concentrate on how you pitch.
Peter: This notion of why you put the pitch together, why you go through it, why you practice it, why you come up with all the elements that will go into it is something we’ve discussed previously. How many different kinds of pitches should you have available when you do that? Do you have one for new workers and another for investors? As the CEO, you must be able to describe your business, including what you do, how you do it, and other pertinent information.
Jonathan: Free investor pitch deck templates are available on Bplans, which we recently launched a few weeks ago. You may choose from approximately three different styles to download. Everything you need to know is right there. All you have to do now is tailor it to your company’s needs, and you’re good to go. It looks fantastic, and you will as well. If you want to get our investor pitch deck templates, go to bit.ly/bcast-pitch and follow the instructions.
Peter: That’s fantastic. What’s the best way to click that audio?
Jonathan: You must put it in, and it will be included in the show notes as well.
Peter: One of the major issues out there is whether you need a PowerPoint at all. We have this PowerPoint, we have these templates. I believe that many times, the idea of an elevator pitch indicates that you do not have a PowerPoint to open, correct?
Jonathan: Right, and there are times when you won’t be able to use your handy dandy pitch.
Peter: I think the problem with a lot of people is that they become obsessed with the things that they know a lot about and, as a business owner, you tend to ignore the things that you don’t know as much about or that scare you a little bit, so financials, forecasting your financials, coming up with strategic partners if you don’t like doing that kind of work, all those kinds of things are the things that you tend to ignore as a business owner.
Jonathan: Yeah. How would you go about preparing for your pitch? Do you have a method for thinking about it or putting it into practice? What suggestions do you have?
Peter: That’s an excellent point. That inquiry has a customized response. On the one hand, I would strongly advise using a template like the one Jonathan has made accessible on his website. ly hyperlink
Jonathan: Don’t be concerned. That will be noted in the show notes.
Peter: To listen to the audio, go to the link. That’s something we’ll have to work on. Use anything along those lines. Use something like LivePlan’s built-in calendar. Figure up a method to gather everything in one location, and then see how long it takes you to organically go through everything. It’s OK if it takes ten minutes. Start thinking about how you can pare that down even more, how you can better summarize things, how you can further edit yourself down to whatever timeframes you think are appropriate, and then go ahead and make a version that is two minutes, a version that is three minutes, a version that is five minutes by beefing up or omitting certain sections as needed. Just double-check that you have everything.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll be ready to begin training, which I believe is something you’ll have to do on your own. You should do it with your friends and family. It’s something you’ll want to do over the phone. It’s something you should accomplish through Skype. Do it as many times as you can in as many strange circumstances as you can.
Jonathan: What is the advantage of doing so, of doing it in those many ways?
Peter: In the case of Alex Blumberg, he was taken off guard. He was standing on a corner. He felt like he was in a different position than when he was alone in the home pitching to his wife. I believe a lot of performance-type individuals will be in the same position, and I may recognize a little bit of it, but if all you ever do is practice your trumpet at home, alone, behind closed doors, everything changes the moment you go on stage. Your hands aren’t the same as they used to be. Your brain does not function in the same way as other people’s. Everything is unique.
Jonathan: I’m at a loss for words.
Peter: Feel free to toss all of those bizarre possibilities at yourself. Speak with a bartender. Give your pitch to someone who isn’t interested in hearing it. Give the pitch to someone who isn’t interested in hearing it, and do everything you can to mix up your own delivery so that it gets so ingrained in what you do that you can’t fail to deliver key portions.
Jonathan: We wanted to highlight Guy Kawasaki before we go into some questions about how you should prepare your pitch and other topics. He has certain throwing guidelines that are worth following.
Peter: At the end of the day, Guy Kawasaki’s main point of view is actually about the concept of storytelling, and we’ll hear a little bit more about how to make sure you’re fully involved in that process. In his book “Enchantment,” and even in “Art of the Start,” he discusses this concept, but the idea of describing a business, of describing all these elements, should really be about telling that story, that cohesive narrative that also reveals a little bit about who you are, the storyteller, what the business is and what it does, so that’s the practical side.
Also, and I believe this is at the heart of the “Enchantment” book, it draws the listener in, makes them feel like they are a part of it, and encourages them to participate further. You can probably guess how much it’s worth. If you’re talking to an investor, an employee, a prospective employee, or a possible strategic partner, you want them to feel like they need more at the conclusion of your pitch, like they need more from you or want to hear more from you, and so on.
Jonathan: Guy Kawasaki’s guidelines for delivering a successful presentation include the 10/20/30 Rule: 10 slides, 20 minutes, minimum 30 point font, and a black backdrop. That’s his pitching rulebook, but you’ve already mentioned situations in which you won’t have 20 minutes. You’ve got 10 minutes, 5 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Peter: I believe you are free to take anything you want from it. If you can put it together the manner he explains and you’re a fan of Guy Kawasaki’s approach, I believe you should go for it. That’s fantastic if it works well for you. I believe you should go through that process, but I would also recommend taking that exact same piece of content, that 20-minute piece, and being able to deliver it in a one-and-a-half-minute format, as well as a three- or five-minute format, and just having that so practiced that if someone at the bar asks, “Hey, what’s your deal, what’s your business,” you can rattle it off so quickly that they’re going to leave.
Jonathan: Would you want to know my secret to making all of my pitches successful?
Peter: Every single one of them.
Jonathan: In the background, I’m listening to the Final Countdown.
Peter: It’s all in your mind.
Jonathan: Then, towards the end, throw a lot of pennies at them. It’s just right. It’s the greatest way to wrap things up. I’ve never had a pitch miss in my life.
Peter: Isn’t it time we changed this to the Arrested Development reference podcast?
Will people understand that? Jonathan: We’ll have to wait and see.
Peter: Perhaps not. The second thing I believe you referred to, Jonathan, is this notion of whether you remember the pitch or know most of the words you’re going to say when you give it, and I think that’s a very personal element. It all boils down to your own perspective on the situation. You did remember all the words if you were performing Shakespeare. Many individuals struggle to give a memorized pitch without sounding robotic or stiff, and it’s a difficult talent to master. Personally, I like knowing pretty much every phrase I’ll say and then having to rehearse again to go back to sounding genuine. If I’m speaking on the spot, there’s this natural rhythm that hopefully, I don’t know, is natural enough. Man, you tell me.
Jonathan: I believe the objective is to avoid sounding like a magazine salesperson when you approach. “Hi. My name is so and so, and I’d want to show you something.” You wish to break out from that pattern.
Peter: Without a doubt. We’ve all heard pitches like that. They are the result of memorizing. They arise from being nearly too knowledgeable about what you’re talking, and you, the speaker, have lost the natural cadence, rhythm, and interest in what you’re expressing. If that’s the issue you’re having, you’ll need to retrain, and someone who is listening to your practice will tell you that, so pay attention if someone gives you that feedback.
Jonathan: It’s essential to remember that the substance of the pitch is crucial, but so is how you present it, because remember that when someone invests, they’re mainly investing in you as the entrepreneur. You are the one who sells your goods.
Peter: Without a doubt. The goal here is to get them down in a minute, three minutes, five minutes, twenty minutes, whatever the format is, and practice them, but what you’re actually doing is not missing key components. Do not create the “Shark Tank effect,” in which the audience repeatedly asks the same three questions after you’ve finished your presentation. Get to the point where if someone continues asking those questions, you build it into the pitch, and then if they keep asking new questions, you develop it, and it’s all about summarizing, which may be tough at times. That’s where the job takes place. Feel free to put forth the effort. Again, I believe that many individuals just do not engage in this activity, but it is beneficial and will pay off in the long term.
Jonathan: To finish things up, I’m going to suggest a few of activities for our listeners to do. The first step is to get our investor pitch deck templates. I’ve already provided you the URL for that. Also, we have a post titled “Our Favorite Tools for Creating Your Pitch,” which you should read. Haiku Deck is one of the things we’ve discussed. It’s also possible with LivePlan. Then there’s PitchEnvy, which is a fantastic way to gain some inspiration by looking at other pitches and slide decks.
Develop envy, Peter.
Jonathan: Yes, that’s correct.
Peter: Okay, that’s fantastic. So, I’m happy we’ve had our guest on today to speak a little bit more about this narrative concept.
Jonathan: Of course.
Peter: That’s great.
Jonathan: That’s fantastic.
Peter: That’s fantastic.
Jonathan: Hey. Park Howell, the creator and president of Park&Co, is our guest today, Peter. He’s been in the industry for nearly 30 years and, in addition to being the founder of Park&Co, an advertising firm, he’s also a storytelling professor at Arizona State University’s Executive Master’s of Sustainability Leadership program.
Peter: That seems like a lot of fun.
Jonathan: We found out about him because he hosts a popular new podcast called “The Business of Story.”
Peter: Let’s make a note of it in our notes.
Jonathan: Of course. We suggest that folks look it up and listen to it. Park, welcome, and we’ll leave it up to you to take it from here.
Park: Thank you, Jonathan, and thank you, Peter, for allowing me to join your team. It’s fantastic. Our podcast debuted on July 1st. We’ve had a lot of success in the past. Jay Baer and I have been collaborating. I’m sure some of your listeners are familiar with Jay. He spends a lot of time on social media and gives a lot of speeches all around the nation. His company, Convince & Convert Media, collaborated with us to help develop, produce, and market the new podcast, The Business of Story. We’ve been having a great time.
Jonathan: Park, what do you want to say to us today, and what do you want to share with our audience in particular?
Peter: Well, I believe it all boils down to the art of storytelling. It’s a fascinating topic for me, and I’ve been geeking out over it for the past 12 or 13 years or so, because, as you said in your introduction, I’ve been in this industry for 30 years. How could you be so deliberate and pragmatic in your sales and marketing narrative that you could virtually guarantee success, I’ve often wondered? I wasn’t sure whether there was such a thing as a silver bullet. I suppose there is no silver bullet, but what I have discovered is that when you utilize narrative structure in a really pragmatic and deliberate manner, you can create a powerful tale.
What I mean is that most individuals have no understanding of what a tale is. I didn’t know anything about it until I began studying it. “I’ve got my narrative pulled together,” or “I’ve got my brand narrative pulled together,” or “I’ve got my brand tale pulled together,” was a common phrase. The difference between having a brand narrative and having a story pulled together is that narratives are that really boring guy or gal you run into at a cocktail party who is already two drinks too many and is going on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on until you start rolling your eyes and sneak out the
A tale is that man or female that catches your interest, sets up the plot, and then quickly throws you into conflict, as in, “Oh my goodness, what happened next?” Then there’s the issue of resolution. A narrative contains three distinct parts: a beginning, a middle, and a conclusion. When one of my clients was thinking about sales, he remarked, and I thought it was the finest, “In a narrative, you must have the hurt, intensify the agony, then heal the wound.” That, I believe, is where all brands go wrong. It might be a one-person business around the block, or it could be extremely big companies that don’t understand the need of conflict in every narrative they tell.
We use brand story structure in everything we do with our clients, from high-level brand strategy to tactical execution, whether it’s a PowerPoint that needs to be done flawlessly in a boardroom or a large work area, communicating with internal employees in a break room setting, or reaching out externally through advertising and marketing. Set me up, present me with an issue, and have me solve it.
Jonathan: Where does storytelling fit in for our listeners who are a mom and pop business, a single proprietorship, or just selling their goods on the corner with a booth? What’s the deal with that?
Peter: Jonathan, are you referring to a banana stand?
Jonathan: I believe I’m referring to a frozen banana stand.
A frozen banana kiosk in the park. So, why do you offer frozen bananas, is my first inquiry to the owner. What is it all about, from a very personal standpoint? What motivates you to do what you do? I believe most people have watched Simon Sinek’s TED talk by now. Because that’s what people purchase, it’s important to truly grasp why you do what you do. They are more interested in your why than your how and what. My question is always… to create your why narrative first. You may utilize the narrative cycle, which is a fundamental story framework. I’ll explain that in a minute, but what you want to do is take this basic 10-step narrative structure and describe your plot in a couple of three lines each stage.
I often tell individuals, especially small businesses, to begin with their own genuine personal story: why are you in company and what do you want to achieve, what do you contribute to the world that elevates your community and customers? Once you’ve put down your reasons, you may turn the narrative outward and no longer be the main character. You’re going to make your brand the main character in this narrative, and you’re going to be the mentor in this process, taking it through the same 10-step storytelling structure process to find out what your brand’s story is.
Those are critical stages in laying the groundwork for the most essential narrative of all: your customer’s story. After you’ve established your why narrative and the story of how it led to the development of your brand, you’ll want to use the same 10-step story cycle method to put your consumer at the center of the tale. You then write a story about your customer, including where they started, where they’re going, what’s at stake for them, what they want, what obstacles they face when trying to buy your product, and how you’re there as a mentor in their journey, so you’re Obi Wan Kenobi to their Luke Skywalker. Finally, you go through the customer engagement process, ending up on the tenth chap.
You may think that anybody could utilize this, from Coca-Cola to that frozen banana shop, since the same narrative structure concepts apply to everyone. In fact, I’d argue it’s like that rock and David’s sling for small businesses fighting against Goliaths with more money and more chances to reach out and engage with their own audiences. If you’re attempting to grab a slice of that frozen banana pie, as it’s known, I’ve found that using narrative structure in a deliberate and pragmatic manner helps to level the playing field.
Peter: We’ve spoken about pitching the company a little bit while we’re putting up a narrative. Obviously, we’ll speak about it a little bit more today. Is there a particular duration that we should go for when we speak about or tell this narrative in a proposal for a company, a pitch for an established firm? Is it necessary for individuals to prepare their stories? Should you practice it and remember every word? What are your thoughts on the subject?
Park: Without a doubt. I believe there was just a news a few months ago that the goldfish now has a greater attention span than the typical human being, at nine seconds. The length of your narrative matters a great deal. You want to grab someone’s attention right away. They’re all different authors, some of the individuals we have on our program. They come from a highly creative background. One of our future guests, Lisa Cron, author of the fantastic book “Wired for Story,” speaks about the importance of keeping a ball in play and having a ball in play right away.
You must first write down your tale before you can practice it. Outline it, write it down, and keep it in mind, but get your audience’s attention as soon as possible, and then put them into a little bit of difficulty, and then let them know how your brand or business can help them get out of that issue, and then do it again. You don’t have to write a whole tale in one sitting. This setup, dispute, and resolution software may be used to create two or three separate revolutions.
The old saying, “you don’t know what you don’t know until you write it down,” is especially relevant here since I believe you already have the narrative in your head, or at least most people who are passionate about their brand do. When they write it down, they become more deliberate and realistic in their approach. The last thing I want them to do is remember it. What I want them to do is acquire a good sense of the flow and be able to recall it in a normal discussion with that memory. If we seem too memorized and stiff while delivering our brand narrative, it sounds like we’re simply advertising our brand, but if we can build a real discussion around it utilizing storytelling methods, we can keep our audience’s attention for a lot longer and connect with them on a visceral level.
Because narrative is built into our brain, I mean that. Let me have a look at this. Consider this for a moment. Our brain resembles an amoeba in several ways. They have one thing in common: they are both pursuing the same goal: the survival of the being. We can spend weeks without eating if we think about it. We can go days without drinking, but only about 35 seconds without our minds needing to generate meaning from anything, which we do by scanning our surroundings continuously. Our brain, with this inbuilt software called curiosity, is constantly looking for hints under the surface.
Curiosity is now really amazing since it is essentially our first search engine. As I already said, we survey our surroundings. We are drawn in by exterior cues. We filter through information based on previous events and experiences in order to aid our brain in predicting the future. Why does it desire to know what will happen in the future? In the sake of survival, it seeks to bring order to the chaos that surrounds us all. Nature has provided us with a great gift. Nature has been kind to us and has tempted us with stories. Why? Because tales command our undivided attention. We learn from them, stay out of danger, and don’t die as a result of it.
Consider all of the amazing stories you’ve ever heard. You may definitely live vicariously via the character so that you can get into mischief without risking getting murdered in the process, as well as discover what you would do if it happened to you. Now, this is a subconscious turning that is always turning, no matter how hard we try to stay in our conscious mind; it is always scanning and searching for this. It tells tales based on what’s going on in the world.
Finally, effective tales utilize urgency, freshness, and surprise to effectively convey a universal truth, which is exactly what our brains are searching for. What is the universal truth that you are attempting to convey when you think about sharing your brand story? Starting with why do I do this in the first place, it gives your audience a good understanding of who you are and what you’re about, share your values and how those values are reflected in your company’s brand, and then connect the values of you and your brand that you share with your audience through the moral of the story.
Every narrative has a moral, whether it’s inherent or expressly stated, since it’s inside the moral that our brains discover the truth and significance of what’s going on around us. That’s why narrative structure is such an essential biological process; every part of it is just as important as our lungs, minds, and hearts, and that’s how story affects businesses big and small.
Jonathan: Park, what would you say to someone who is listening today for the first time and is interested in learning more about the idea of brand narrative structure? This clip from our podcast has been heard by them. What do they do if they want to learn more?
Park: First and foremost, I’ll be surprised if this is the first time they’ve heard of it, because story and storytelling have become the soup du jour of advertising and branding agencies in the last ten years, and rightly so, because we’ve been given permission to be storytellers and to really flex our storytelling muscles in our line of work. Starting in first grade, it seems like the rest of the world has been hushed, and all we attempt to do is awaken everyone’s inner storyteller. Your listeners can learn more by visiting businessofstory.com, which is our new site that houses our podcasts. I’ve also got some storytelling tools there, and they can actually go in and download for free an interactive PDF that walks them through the 10-step storytelling process, which they can use over and over again.
They may start by writing their own narrative, then use it to inspire them to write their brand story, and then use that story to inspire them to create a third story about their customers’ stories and how their brand interacts with them. That’s where they can learn more about the type of work I’ve been doing and how our agency has put it all together through the story cycle, which is our version of the Hero’s Journey for brands and executives who simply want to move their initiatives forward faster and again, and you can find it at businessofstory.com.
Jonathan: That’s incredible. From our broadcast notes, we’ll connect straight to that narrative framework.
Park: I appreciate it. That is much appreciated. It’s a lot of fun. I love it because when I get up in front of a crowd, and I recently did it for a whole lot of little companies about 60 of them about a month ago, we have a major utility here in town called Salt River Project that does this quarterly and brings in their small businesses and tries to help them develop. When I go up and am able to conduct a workshop with them, we sit down and they are able to rapidly sketch out the narrative of themselves and their brand in under 20 minutes, and then a couple of them come up and present it.
Almost every time I see them together, one of them sheds a tear. They are in tears. It’s the most incredible thing. I don’t believe it’s because I’m a fantastic storyteller or presenter; rather, I believe there’s something common and fundamental that links the human and the heart. It’s really quite amazing how moving it is when it starts hearing really structure or a great story based on real structure that it needs in order to connect and have empathy with that audience or that presenter, and even in a small dose, as trite and corny as this sounds, a spoonful of story helps the data go down. That’s what I want to instill in our leaders. We speak about our brands and ourselves using statistics, but it’s really remarkable how you can drive a room to action when you convert facts into drama and wrap it into a narrative to convey a universal truth.
Peter: Do you have any suggestions for books to read? Do we have any books or articles that our readers should read to stay up to date on all of this?
Park: Sure. One of my all-time favorites is that when I go into a room, particularly with specialists such as lawyers, engineers, PhDs, and highly educated individuals, they usually start with their arms crossed, staring at him, and they remark, “Yes, communication is a soft talent.” They believe that narrative and story structure are nothing more than a gimmick that they will exploit to sell us a load of crap. If you’re the same way, or if you know someone who is, there’s a book called “The Storytelling Animal” by Jonathan Gottschall that you should read.
Jonathan Gottschall is an English professor on the east coast with a bright intellect, a wonderful writer, a lot of fun, and a lot of approachability, but it was the first book I read that enabled me to understand how our brains are biologically built to accept, appreciate, and enjoy narrative. He, of course, uses tale again and over to convey this to the reader, thus ‘The Storytelling Animal’ is a wonderful one. Another is Jonah Sachs, with whom we just recorded a podcast. It is now operational. Jonah may be heard. He’s been in this line of work for a long time, sharing stories about sustainability and purpose-driven businesses. He’s written a fantastic book called “Winning the Story Wars,” with the subtitle “those who tell and live the greatest tales will control the world.”
Those are the two novels I would strongly advise students to begin with. I’ve got a lot of other things on my mind. There are several excellent resources available online, including TED Talks. Also, there’s a movie about Joseph Campbell called “Finding Joe” that’s a lot of fun to see and is both motivating and informative at the same time. It was produced by the Joseph Campbell Foundation and it’s called “Finding Joe.” I believe it’s available on iTunes or Netflix. It will be released soon, or you may buy it online. Have your audience go to findingjoethemovie.com if they want a sample of it. They have a fantastic two-and-a-half-minute video there that will give people a feel of what the film is about, who Joseph Campbell was, and how the universal pattern of the Hero’s Journey is mirrored in our lives, from our daily activities to the great epic adventures that we all embark on.
The reason we identify with it so strongly in stories is because stories are just a reflection of our life, and this film helps students get a deeper knowledge and respect for Joseph Campbell and the Hero’s Journey. That is, once again, what motivated us to work on the narrative cycle.
Jonathan: Wow, that’s fantastic. Hopefully, at the end of it all, I’ll have assisted in the victory of the tale wars, and Peter will be a storytelling beast himself.
Park: Hey, in Eugene, Oregon, anything can happen.
Jonathan: I believe that is our slogan.
Park: I understand. Eugenius Eugenius Eugenius Eugenius Eugenius Eugenius Eugen It’s fantastic.
Peter: There are plenty of tales to be told, and plenty of small companies to tell them to. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today. This has been fantastic. I believe we have some suggestions and to-dos. Now is the time to go out there and start sharing your story. Tell it to your friends, clients, family, and coworkers until they can’t take it any more.
Park: The most essential thing is to write it down and create yourself a narrative.
Peter: Is it a genuine suggestion, one that you should write down and repeat to yourself?
Park: Definitely, because you won’t believe how far that tale progresses. All of our students do in my first six weeks is concentrate on narrative structure, and it completely changes from the initial 1,000 Word document they write to the sixth week when they have to give me their final deliverable, and it’s remarkable how they change as individuals in the process.
Peter: That’s fantastic. Make up your own tale. Tell yourself that. Tell your friends and relatives about it. It appeals to me.
Park: Of course.
Peter: This is fantastic. This is closely related to the concept of pitching your company, of going out there and talking about it. This is essentially the how-to section of the conversation about your company. Everyone, go out there and start writing down what you’re thinking and telling yourself your narrative. That’s fantastic. I’d want to express my gratitude for your time today, Park. It’s been wonderful having you here. We hope to see you again in the future for more storytelling advice.
Park: Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with me. It’s been a lot of fun thus far.
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