The Jay Kim Show #58: Ryan Foland (Transcript)
Today’s show guest is Ryan Foland. Ryan is a communication strategist who helps people convey their businesses and personal brands more effectively. Ryan has a unique 3-1-3 coaching system, which is a way to concisely articulate your value proposition of your brand or your business to anyone at any time in any situation. We go over a live example of this today on the podcast. I recently met Ryan in Shenzhen, actually. We were both speaking at a marketing conference. His speech was so good and so articulate, and it blew me away. So I had to get him on the podcast.
Alright. Let’s get on to the show.
Jay: Ryan, thanks so much for joining us. Welcome to the show, man.
Ryan: Ahoy. It is great to be here. I wish I was there with you in person because that would be more fun, but this will have to do.
Jay: I know. We only had a brief amount of time to spend when we were up in China together, but I was so blown away by your speech that I had to ask you to come on the podcast because the value you provide is just unbelievable. So for the audience listening in, why don’t you give us a little introduction. Who’s Ryan Foland? What do you do for a living?
Ryan: Sure. What I do for a living is I solve probably the biggest problem that early-stage entrepreneurs have.
Jay: And what might that problem be?
Ryan: I’m glad that you asked. It is their inability to communicate what they do or what their idea is in a very short amount of time.
Jay: So you’re talking about something like the elevator pitch?
Ryan: I want to eliminate the elevator pitch. I want to replace it with a conversation pitch or what I call permission-based pitching because as soon as you start to think that what you’re doing is a pitch, you’re looking at it all wrong because when you pitch, you talk at people, and I believe the best way to communicate is to talk with them.
So I’m being a little cheeky here. You asked me what I do, and I’m basically saying that I’m solving problems. But if you’ve noticed, now you’re asking me what that is, and we get into conversation. So I’m just kind of leading by example, but if you want to think about what I do, what I get paid to do, it’s to solve the problem that people have with ineffective communication. And you can think of me as the craftsman of communication. I work at a university, and I help to solve the problems of about 25+ units and departments on campus. We’re trying to communicate what they do to a large number of students amongst a lot of noise.Then outside the university, I work with people to help them communicate who they are in the world with an extreme amount of noise.
That can be boiled down to the personal branding concept. Because if you are not focused on or aware of the importance of what other people think about you in this day and age, then you should start to get privy to it. It’s intimidating because we don’t feel like we have control over Google. There’s this fear that, no matter what I do, I still don’t have control, but I want to give control back to people because the more effectively and the more consistently you communicate what you want to be known for, the more the world will see you as that, the more publications will write about that, the more content is created around that. Therefore, you ultimately can reverse engineer what’s found online and help people understand in a quicker way what you want them to think about you. And that’s exciting to me.
Jay: Right. Because you actually have some control. Before we get into that, Ryan, let’s take a little bit of a step back. Give us some human background. Where did you grow up? Where are you from? How did you get into this communication field?
Ryan: Sure. It all started back in the ’80s. When I grew up, I was convinced I was going to be an archaeologist, and I was very much into Indiana Jones, that is, until I realized how hot the desert really is. And being a ginger of fair skin and red hair, I immediately turned complete direction. Though I thought it was cool, my early days of thinking I was going to be an archaeologist fell flat.
In high school and middle school — actually more so in middle school — unfortunately, I was bullied pretty bad and isolated. That really lead me to a solution, which was martial arts. So martial arts was a huge part of my early life because the sooner I realized and had the mechanics of how to stand up for myself and even use my words as verbal judo, my life got so much better. I found the right kind of friends, and I started to excel.
In high school, I ended up being senior class president, was really active in the school community, did fun stuff like invented a car smash where I got two cars donated to campus and got sledge hammers and then charged a dollar per hit, and we raised all kinds of money by beating in cars. That never happened again, but I was able to get it in. I also created the battle of the sexes week, which was a lot of fun. But again, after my presidency, that was something that was allowed.
So I’ve always been kind of pushing envelopes. I went to University of California Santa Barbara. I was a gaucho. I got into a few places but really wanted to be by the beach. I grew up on Huntington Beach. My parents were educators. So if I’m not on land, there’s a good chance I’m on the ocean, and I’m sailing, or I’m in the water, or I’m at the beach. That’s a huge part of me and even my brand today. I’m a communicator and an innovator, and I’m a sailor. That’s what is the closest tie to being human, for me, is. Just nothing like being on water with no control over the wind but ultimate control over your sails. And I find that’s an analogy I run with in life as well.
Out of college, I accidentally discovered the theater. Really. I did not think it existed. I still don’t really like musicals, but I got involved with a student that were called the Sherwood Players at the time. And I accidentally went to an audition because I thought it was for extra credit. And I honestly had no idea what it was. I read a piece of paper; they laughed at me. I left. I’m pretty sure I shed a couple of tears. I was very embarrassed. They called me back and said I got a part. And it was an adaptation of Sin City, which just recently came out in the movies, but this was way back before it was even thought about. And we turned comic books into a script, and I was Marv because I had this martial arts background.
So here’s this skinny 125-pound kid that is doing all these crazy martial arts moves on stage. Nobody had even seen anything like it because they were all classically trained. So I’m like, “Let’s do this. Here, let’s get a bottle. Let’s break this over somebody’s head. Let’s do a Van Damme kick.” So I had a lot of fun with that, and I ended up acting-acting, producing-producing, directing-directing, and then took the whole crew over. And every quarter, we put on these crazy plays that were not musicals, and it actually created a lot of controversy. At one point, they shut us down. I applied to a different college on campus. I got accepted. I put on a show, got called into the office, the big office, slapped the newspaper because we were front cover. They’re like, “What are you doing?”
We said, “You can’t take us down because we’re actually a website.” Then they tried to kick us out of school, and we actually went to court, and we had probably 150 people that were protesting in support of us, and we won our case based on the fact that we were not a student group. We were a website. And the school didn’t have jurisdiction around it. So the plays went on, and we actually protested our next show, even planted drugs on our actors in line and created a big stink and had a lot of fun with it.
So I thought I would be a great movie producer and film producer, so I went into Hollywood, and I got internships at ABC and Moon Productions. David E. Kelly was on all these sets. The very common theme was a slap across the shoulder and going, “We’ll see you in 30 years, kid. We’re looking forward to your contribution.” And that’s kind of the mentality in Hollywood, is that, unless you have nepotist ties, or you have a lot of money, you basically have to work your way up. And there was like, there’s no way I can work 30 years without having creative insight.
So I left that industry and went to make a whole bunch of money in the mortgage industry, and I fell in love with sales and sold my way to the top, presidents, chairman. Drawing stick figures was actually a key way of how I made that happen. But that’s a side story. But I made a whole bunch of money and then decided I could make more on my own. And I went and started my own brokerage firm, and then the market crashed. Perfect timing for me to learn a nice lesson of failure. That was pretty much you have to not dwell but sort of run fast forward.
It was a humbling time. I had a house that I lost. I had a car that I lost. I was working a construction job swinging a hammer just to make ends meet. And then it all got to a point where I actually filed for bankruptcy, and two weeks later, my application got returned, unopened, because I was 32 cents short on my postage. So right there in front of the mailbox, I just ripped it up and worked my way through it, literally hit that proverbial rock bottom and worked back up to where I was financially secure and got into APT development, and I was COO of an APT development company that was a startup, and we had a lot of success. That got me on the map here in Orange County.
Then I was asked by UCI, University of California, Irvine, to start their entrepreneurship program for undergrads. So that was exciting.
I was on campus, boots on the ground, starting a startup at a major university, and within the first two years, we crushed it. We had more traction than departments that have been around for 10+ years, helped over 2,400 students start companies. I got pulled into my boss’ boss’ office, and I thought I was getting fired.
Jay: For a good reason this time?
Ryan: Honestly, it was weird. My boss at the time was like, “Let’s go right now. We’re meeting with my boss?”
“What do you mean?”
“Just grab your stuff. Let’s go.”
I was like, “Oh, my god.” Classic. I’m sitting there, and I’m like, “Okay. Cool. I’m going to get fired.” I was doing all kinds of stuff — making Snapchat goes, six-foot Snapchat goes. We were throwing paper planes off of the top of the student center. I got reprimanded a few times, and classically, did not ask for permission but had to ask for a lot of forgiveness.
I’m there. They say, “Okay, Ryan.” They look at each other. “Do you want to start?”
“No. Do you want to start?”
I’m like, “Okay. Somebody just fire me already.”
They’re like, “We see all this stuff that’s happening on social media and all this stuff–”
I’m like, “I can explain. I can explain.”
They’re like, “No. We really like what you’re doing, Ryan, and what we’ve done is we’ve fitted a new position in a vice provost office. We’re not even sure what we’re going to call it, but we want you to do whatever you’ve done for the Entrepreneurship Center and multiply it by 25 times.”
And I was like, “Okay.”
So I’ve been running with that ever since. And part of any type of business is the output. So I have successfully proven myself from an output standpoint so much that I implemented step-by-step directions from the one, the only Tim Ferriss in his 4-hour work week. And I’ve negotiated a remote work agreement on campus, so I’m only there a few days a week, which allows me to hustle from home or from all over the world or China or whatever I may be, to explore and craft, basically, my ability to help people communicate more effectively. Because communication is something that you have to learn and learn and learn and learn and perfect. And I am so obsessed with learning. That’s why I feel so good about teaching.
Jay: Beautiful. Thanks for the introduction. That was awesome. You went really in depth there, but I feel like a lot of entrepreneurs, and successful ones particularly, hit some sort of rock-bottom point where it’s almost necessary, where failure is important for success, no matter how… You learn a lot from failure, but it’s the ones that, at that point, that can reach inside of themselves and can turn the situation around that I also seem to feel like they end up doing a lot better in the long run. While in the short term, it might be painful, in the long run, it’s worth it.
Let’s talk about communicating and what you were talking about earlier and pitching ideas. You mentioned this in your speech at the marketing conference up in Shenzhen when we met. You had a few ideas, one of which is called the 3-1-3 method. What’s that all about?
Ryan: Yes, my favorite thing. That is what I want to be remembered for. Generations to come, they’ll be working through the 3-1-3, and they’ll take a slight moment, and they’ll be like, “That guy Ryan must have been pretty crazy to come up with this thing.” Then they’ll move on. This is my magnum opus, and it continues to get more exciting.
The 3-1-3 stands for a method that will help to hone in on the way you communicate your idea or your business or even yourself. The first 3 stands for three sentences. And then the 1 stands for one sentence. And the 3 stands for three words. So in trying to address this problem I see — which is people having a very difficult time explaining what they do in a short amount of time, and if you’ve ever talked to an entrepreneur at an event or a conference or one-on-one or at the bar and you say, “What do you do?” they just get super excited and take a big, deep breath, and they go, “Oh, my gosh. What I do is…” and it just keeps going. And oftentimes, you’re more confused after they talk with you, and then it get awkward.
So solving that problem, I help people craft a three-second communication pitch, a one-second pitch, and a three-word pitch. I think I said one second, but I meant one sentence.
It’s a very exciting technology because it’s something that once people understand or are exposed to, there’s nothing holding them back from trying it themselves. It’s not like I’m teaching somebody to code C++ or S+ or whatever the heck it is. It’s a methodology that, when understood what the steps are, anybody can do it. And that’s what’s so amazing and powerful.
I was recently in Haiti and giving them the presentation, and the feedback was so amazing because immediately after the workshop, they were able to use it. They had a startup pitch competition, and the first three places — first, second, and third — all completely changed what they did to follow this 3-1-3 methodology. It’s exciting to see that go.
So what it does is it’s based on three principle pieces of information that you have to communicate to give the nuts and bolts of what you do, and that’s the problem that you solve, your solution, and the market which you serve. Any business book is going to tell you that, but what makes this exciting and unique is that I put limitations on it. It’s like the Twitter of pitching. I say you only get one sentence to tell me the problem. You can only tell me your solution in one sentence, and you can only tell me your market in one sentence. And though that may seem simple or even just because the words “single” and “one” seems simplistic, it is so, so difficult, and that’s what makes it so exciting.
The biggest principle of it is that I don’t care what people do, and I really don’t think anybody cares what anybody does. They really care about the problems the people solve. I really, really, really care about what you do if I have that problem, and you see this a lot. There are certain people that are interested in certain types of services. But those services are self-serving for those customers. And when you can, early on, identify — as in, the first piece of information you give people — if you can identify the problem that you solve first, it helps them to know if they’re interested, and it helps you to know if they’re interested. Because if you are giving an elevator pitch, you’re not listening. And if you’re giving people more information and assuming that the product or service is for them, you’re kind of disrespecting them. So it’s based on this concept of permission-based pitching.
Imagine for a moment next time you ask somebody what they do, and they turn around and say, “Jay, this may sound funny, but it’s not what I do that’s important. It’s the problem that I solve.”
And then you are going to be like, “Whoa. What problem do you solve?”
And that person could then clearly define, “I think it’s one of the biggest problems that entrepreneurs who are in early stage trying to raise capital or trying to find founding members, it’s a problem that they have.”
Now if you’re a startup or you’re interested at all, you’re going to move one step closer and be like, “Ryan, tell me. What is this problem?”
So it’s a way to get people interested in what you do without even telling them what you do, because nobody cares what you do. They only care about the problem that you solve. It’s a really fun way to get people involved in that conversation.
Jay: That’s pretty interesting. You know what? It draws parallels in my mind to — this might sound funny — but email marketing. When you’re building an email list, you basically want to hyper target it. So a more responsive list is better. A smaller, more responsive list is far better than a large 10-million person list that no one reads or no one opens.
Jay: So when you’re going down this email, and if you’re building a course or trying to sell something online or trying to ascend them to some sort of product, you actually don’t care if they unsubscribe because that person is a dead lead. He’s never going to ascend into whatever product you’re trying to sell him. In my mind, it’s kind of the same thing. You’re basically targeting. You’re streamlining that process and making your conversation more effective because if the guy doesn’t have that pain point that you can potentially solve, then he’s not going to be tuned in to what you have to say anyway. So you don’t even have to go into all that.
Ryan: Yeah. I love that analogy. Let’s take it one step further because there’s an element here that I think we can stack on top of it, or, I think you said, “ascend to.” I really like that word “ascend” — ascend to my products. So in your example here, you have a marketing campaign. You have a million people that have somehow gotten on the list, and you’re communicating this messaging to them, and based on that messaging, they’ll sort of identify if it’s right for them, and they’ll drop off. And you’re going to focus your attention on those that stay on.
Parallel to the conversation, if you keep pitching or you keep communicating with somebody, and they’re right in front of you, they don’t have the option to opt out. They can’t put a spam-stop on you or unsubscribe at the moment. Their eyeballs might be drifting. They’re going to think about how they exit. They’ll position their feet towards the doorway. Their body language will say it. Right? But people still don’t pick up on that.
But here’s the thing: If you communicate with them in a way that they feel you’re listening to them, and you’re taking responsibility for their interpretation, then it goes down this path I call binary sales. If I say, “Here’s the problem that I’m solving. Sir, do you think it’s a problem? Yes or no? Just in the world?” They’re going to say yes or no.
In an email form, you have sent them something, and you have them click on an A button or a B button. And you learn a little bit more about them to send them further down the sequence. So they’re going to click the button verbally that says, “Yes, that is a problem in the world.” And you always ask if it’s a problem in the world first because no one wants to admit that they have issues, but it’s easier to admit that other people have the issues.
So now the second level, or this next email, in this little live conversation, you would say, “Do you have that specific problem?”
Now, they’ve already admitted that other people have it, so it’s not as big of a deal, and they’ll either say yes or no. If they say yes in the email identification funnel, you move them to the next stage, and you ask them, “Are you looking to solve that problem?” And it’s either yes or no. If they say yes, you tell them, “Great. Here’s my service or I can help you out.” No big deal.
But let’s go back to where you initially asked if they had the problem. If they say, “No, I don’t have that problem” in an email, you lose them in that marketing campaign, and they disappear. But in human interaction, if you’re looking at somebody, and you honestly say, “You don’t have that problem? Well, that’s awesome. That’s totally amazing, and I’m so excited for you.” Now you’re done pitching with them, but you can say, “Do you know anyone that has that problem?” They know that you’re not going to pressure them into a product that they don’t need because they don’t have that problem.
But now you’ve gotten them to say, “Well, yeah, I know some people.” That’s why they would then be interested in listening to what your solution is. And this is a way for you to not only quickly identify the person you’re talking to, if you can help them but gain their trust to potentially get a referral for you to help someone else that they know.
And if you’ve ever been pitched at and people don’t even realize you’re like, “Look, dude, you’re talking to me about an iPhone app, I have an Android. It’s not going to work for me.” There’s a great example. When people talk about their apps, I’ll stop them. I’ll be like, “Can you tell me what platform this is on.”
“Oh, it’s on iOS.”
“Well, I don’t have an iOS phone.”
And then they just keep telling me about it. If it’s [inaudible 23:21], like, “Oh, that’s cool. Android’s cool. Do you know anybody with iPhones?”
“Do they have that problem?”
So that’s a way… I love your analogy of the email marketing, but you have this opportunity in person to gain their trust, keep you on the list as a referral partner.
Jay: Totally. So let’s drill down into the 3-1-3. Can we do an example of that?
Ryan: Do you have a startup that you could pretend that you are in or act on behalf of somebody else? Could you be the test pilot?
Jay: Sure. I’ll be the test pilot.
Ryan: Don’t tell me what you do because remember, I don’t care what you do. I only care about the problem you solve. So step one: Tell me the problem you solve in one sentence without telling me what you do.
Jay: I’m going to use my friend’s startup as an example. I help–
Ryan: Stop. This is tough love here, Jay. You said, “I help people.” That’s what you do. That’s not the problem that you solve. Tell me the problem without telling me what you do.
Jay: Early stage investors have difficulty with transparency when making investment decisions.
Ryan: Now we could ask people, “Is that a problem or not?” And most people, I think, would say yes. But here’s another side story question for you. Have you ever had a paper cut?
Jay: Of course.
Ryan: And what happens with a paper cut? Pretend you just got one. Oh. What happens. What do you do?
Jay: It’s annoying.
Ryan: It’s annoying. You make a little noise, and hopefully, nobody saw it, and you problem don’t even need a Band-aid. You just kind of cover it with your thumb for a second. Right?
Ryan: What if you had a piece of paper that was so sharp and some weird, crazy angle, you actually got a paper cut so severe, it chopped your finger off, cut right through your bone. Your finger is now on the floor, squirting around, and there’s blood flying everywhere, and everyone around starts screaming. What do you do at that point?
Jay: Scream for help.
Ryan: Right. And so somebody is going to call… What is it? 9-9-9 for you guys?
Ryan: Somebody is going to get the finger. Somebody is going to put the finger on ice. Somebody is going to calm you down. Somebody is going to put a tourniquet around your finger. Somebody is going to go get the car. Somebody is going to put you in the car. They’re going to take you to the ambulance, dah, dah, dah. Do you see the difference? The difference is that a finger getting cut off is more severe, but there are actionable steps that happen after it happens. And when you’re communicating, if you describe a problem that’s like a paper cut, people are going to be like, “Meh, yeah. That’s probably going to hurt a little bit, but, dude, you don’t even need a Band-aid for that.”
So in your friend’s example here of the problem — yeah, it’s a problem, but you described almost like a paper cut. It doesn’t really sting. It doesn’t make me feel like there’s any immediate action. So if you–
Jay: How about this?
Ryan: Make it bloody.
Jay: Yeah. Investors are losing millions of dollars in early stage companies due to lack of transparency.
Ryan: Way better. Right? And we could even make it bloodier. Right? Because what are those millions of dollars? It’s really not only the millions of dollars, but they’re credibility, and it’s their ability to feed their families and keep their wives happy or their husbands happy. So you have these degrees that you can sort of notch up. And if you’re doing this on your own, come up with your problem statement, share it with somebody, and ask them the following questions.
“Is this a problem or not? Yes or no?”
“On a scale of one to ten, show me how many fingers — 10 being this is the worst problem ever, and it has to be solved, or one is like, meh.” Then you’re going to ask them. Honestly, you’d say that to somebody the way you said it, and they’ll be like, “Oh, it’s kind of a seven or an eight.”
And then you can ask them…because psychologically there’s a couple of things that are missing. You say, “What are one or two things that could make it bloodier?”
And they’ll be like, “Well, I know an investor that actually killed himself.”
And you’re like, so we’re solving the problem that investors not only lose millions of dollars, their reputation but sometimes, even their lives if they don’t have the transparency they need when they’re in the startup investing space. It’s like…oooohh. Right? Again, this is just showing you the example of the severity.
Let’s say that know it’s a problem, and it’s bloody. I think we’re at an eight, which is cool, but we want to eventually get it to a ten. So there’s your problem in one sentence. Now tell me the solution in one sentence.
Jay: My platform provides all the transparency you need for early stage companies.
Ryan: Yes, yes, yes. Now the reason why people can’t explain what they do in one sentence is because their instincts are to explain how they do what they do, and that becomes way more than one sentence. So what you did — spot on. Because my question is, “Does your solution solve the problem?” And it’s a very direct yes. You’d be surprised. People still have solutions that aren’t completely 100% correlated with the problem that they solve, and that creates a disconnect when it comes to market-product fit.
So you’ve got this solution, and the amazing part about saying your solution like that, if I am interested at all in this platform that helps create transparency for investors who deal with startups, what do you think I’m going to ask next?
Jay: How does it work?
Ryan: Exactly. And as soon as I say, “How does it work?” You now have permission to go on. But I even tell people, when people give you permission, double down on it. Because if I ask you how it works, your question to me should be, “Ryan, tell me how much you know about investing in the startup space?”
I’ll be like, “Well, not only have invested, but I work with investors all the time, and I hang out with them…”
And you’re like, “Okay. Cool. So you know exactly how it all works. Let me just get down to the nitty-gritty of why we’re different than the next guy or why this is a unique platform.”
Imagine if you didn’t ask me that question, and you said,
“There’s this thing called investment capital, and when I say startup, it means a company that…”
When you tell people things that they already know, it’s a form of verbal disrespect. So by asking them questions and qualifying what they know, you can now speak to them in terms that they respect you. Because they’re like, “Wow. This guy just shortcut the whole conversation to just giving the information that I actually wanted.”
So you’ve got your problem in one sentence, your solution in one sentence. I explain this through what I call the iceberg theory because what you do is the tip of the iceberg, and how you do it, you view as under the water. Don’t take people off of the boat and drag them underwater to see how you do what you do until they ask for it.
So your third sentence in the three-sentence pitch is going to be your market. So can you tell me your market that this problem is for, the market for the solution for the people who have the problem?
Jay: The market, as in the target client?
Ryan: Good question. Let me ask you the difference between your target market and your market potential. What are the differences between those two things.
Jay: The target market is quite wide. It could be anyone that is interested in early stage investing. Right?
Ryan: I would almost say the opposite because think like a target. It would be maybe the first hundred investors that would sign up for this platform that you actually could talk to or that’s super, super narrow. I often try to get people to not use the A word or the E word. The A word is anyone, and the E word is everyone. Because as soon as you say, “My product is for everyone,” a sophisticated investor is going to say, “It’s not for everyone, dude.” And they’re sort of shut out, and they know that you don’t know as much as you think you do about your market. And a market potential is like globally and internationally, and if this took off in a small marketplace… Tinder started on a college campus to then explore to another college. And then, now they’re global. But they didn’t start off global.
So when you’re describing your market, I feel people make a mistake of starting too wide. So in this 3-1-3 concept, the more specific you can be about what that customer looks like, the better it paints a picture in the person’s head that you’re talking to. Is that me? Or is someone I know? So this is your target market.
Jay: So the target market is angel investors that want to invest in Asian start-ups.
Ryan: I like how you’ve got a location in there. We know that they’re angel investors. You could even go a little bit further if it’s in Asian early-stage startups if that’s what this really is. Right?
Jay: Sure. Yeah.
Ryan: So the more specific you get with a target market, the better I can understand it. There’s a huge value in the takeaway, because if you’re talking to somebody and you say, “This isn’t for everyone. If you’re a VC, maybe not my game. If you’re a traditional investor, not my game.” As soon as you say, “This is not for everyone,” people start to get interested because no one wants to be left out.
So you’ve got your three-sentence pitch here. So the next time that your friend is talking with someone, and they have an opportunity to converse, they can use those three sentences as the cornerstone of communicating what they do.
Jay: I like it.
Ryan: To take it one step further, if you want to know how to do that all in one sentence, it’s simply mathematics. The hard part is developing the three sentences. Are you in front of your computer? Do you have three items in front of you? Name three random items that you can touch right now.
Jay: My podcasting mic, my laptop, and my desk lamp.
Ryan: Cool. And I have a USB drive, a little tether for a cord, and a Post-It note. So we have these different things. How many different ways can you arrange those on your desk? I’m not going to make you do it, because we’ll probably lose connection, and the lights will go out. But if you were to rearrange these three things in a certain order, how many different ways could you arrange those three things?
Jay: It’s like math. Right?
Ryan: Yes. This hint is, it’s three factorial.
Jay: Yes, that’s right.
Ryan: So three with an exclamation point. So the shortcut is three times two times one. The mathematics say six. But after the call, if you don’t believe me, you can arrange your microphone and my lamp and your laptop six different ways. That’s it. Right?
Jay: I believe you.
Ryan: So let’s imagine that the podcast microphone represents the problem, and the laptop represents the solution, and the lamp represents the market. The same math holds up. You can arrange those three elements six different ways. And if you truly are only communicating one problem — which you did — and you’re communicating the what you do, not how you do what you do, and then you’re communicating this really specific visual on who this is for, your market, you can combine those elements in one sentence six different ways.
For the people with this problem, I have these solutions, and here’s who it’s for. Or put the laptop in front, and it says, “I have this type of a platform to solve this problem for these people.” It’s a really powerful thing because, again, you never want to seem rehearsed. And oftentimes, if we’re in networking situations or at conferences, and you have multiple people that you’re talking with in groups, if a new person came up to that circle, and there’s always that, “What do you guys do?” Then everybody looks around and gets scared because nobody has half an here for everybody to give their ten-minute spiel again.
You can say, “Well, for early-stage investors who are afraid of the real problem of transparency, we’ve got a solution that’s in an app format or however it’s delivered.” You’ve just explained everything within one sentence, and five more people could walk up to that group, and you could say it differently each time. And that, to me, is authentic. That’s organic, and it communicates those core nuggets for people to understand if it’s a problem that they have or a problem that someone that they know has, and they’d be interested to ask how you do what you do, and then to challenge you on your market, or help them see if they know someone who you could connect them with. That’s the middle part. So that’s one sentence.
The final is where it gets really exciting because it’s breaking things down into relational terms. Now getting it into three words is the magic swing zone. That’s the strike zone. If it happens to be more words, it’s not a big deal. The concept is that it’s actually relating two different things. One word is one thing, the second word is a relational term, and the third word is technically this other thing. We have mental mind maps that are created in the process of learning linguistics. You see a fan, and you think fan, and you know what a fan does, and you have a fan, and then you like the fan that has a… All these neurons actually create these little trails that connect the dots in your brain, and we learn language based on relative things. Ryan, that’s a dog because it’s not a cat. Ryan, it’s three o’clock because it’s not four o’clock. Things are really in just position.
So we are these crazy marketeers in our own mind because we’re always trying to make sense of the world in terms of other things. And that’s the power of those three words. So if I say, “Think of me as the blacksmith of branding,” you know what a blacksmith is. You probably thought of the last time that you either were at Knotts Berry Farm or maybe you think of a horse and a horseshoe, however crazy your memory goes. You know that it’s a lot of work, and it’s a lot of pounding, and it’s a lot of heat and retrying and refining and refining and refining and refining until you get this amazing, beautiful, medieval sword.
I can tap into that mental map by saying, “Think of me as a blacksmith,” but when it comes to giving talks. Now, it might not make sense at first, but your brain tries to find the connection. The most powerful thing you can do is get someone else to think of what you do before you even tell them. I’m technically not telling you. If I say I’m the blacksmith of branding, that kind of doesn’t make sense. But you’re going to be like, “Wait a minute. So you help people build their brands?”
“Yes. You’re so smart.” Now they’re engaged. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a group activity and you suggest, “Oh, we should do this with this slide,” or, “Let’s use this picture.” If you get that one that’s chosen in a group, you’re proud of it. You’re like, “That was my picture. I chose that.” So you’re giving people the ability to do this.
So let’s think of this for your buddy. Let’s think of terms that have nothing to do with investing, but really, it’s almost like a transparency. Do you have contacts? Is there anything with transparency…anti-fog. Think of company as like an anti-fog for investments. It doesn’t make sense. You’re just coming up with this. But you think, visually, fog, you’re clearing the mirror of the fog, and then you start to say, “The problem is that transparency when you come to startups, people lose millions of dollars and their credibility,” and they’re thinking in their head, yeah. So we have this platform…and they, literally could stop you and go, “Wait a minimum. Is that some sort of technology that let’s their be more visibility when you’re investing in startups?”
And you’re like, “Yes. Oh, my gosh. You’re so smart. How are you so smart?” And so they get all excited, and then they get that. And you can say, “Really, here’s what we do.”
Then they ask, “How do you do it?”
“Hold on. It’s not for everyone. It’s just for these people. Unfortunately, I couldn’t even give you access to it, but maybe you know somebody who I can help out.” That’s the kind of magic of how that works. It could be for business. It could be for brand. We could even do it for your podcast.
Imagine if you go up to somebody and you’re like, “Oh, dude, you’ve got to check out my podcast.”
They’re like, “What’s it about?”
You looked at them and said, “It’s solving the biggest problem that you have.”
They’re going to be like, “What?”
“Yeah. The problem I solve. Now, this radio show might not be for everyone.” It’s solving the problem, ______ (blank). And your solution is a podcast that delivers experts who help to solve that problem collectively. And then your market is, you take it away, and you say it’s only for these core people that are at this stage or that are really interested or people that are actually the type of people that listen to information and take action, because the last thing I want is somebody who is not active in my community, because we’re building, not an email list of a million but an email list of a thousand people who are really, really into solving their problem.
So it’s exciting. I think that each time I talk about it, I get a little bit more excited.
Jay: It was awesome. I really think that every person — whether you’re an entrepreneur or you’re just whatever. Whatever you do, whatever your occupation is, you should have this down pat because it’s really great for social interaction as well. Any party that you go to or mingle or meet up, these are all very effective way of communicating who you are.
Ryan: Here’s another little fun snippet of some of my communication theory. Jay, have you ever jumped out of an airplane?
Ryan: When you do — I’m just assuming from power [inaudible 42:40] here, that you will experience this. I haven’t, but I will at some point. Would you rather have a circular parachute, or would you rather have one that’s rectangular?
Jay: I have no idea, but I’m guessing the circular one.
Ryan: Cool. Congratulations. You’ve jumped out of plane, and now you have no control of where you land. You can land on a tree. You could land in a cow field. You can be like, unfortunately, WWII and get caught up on a fiery electric pole or something like that.
Here’s the thing, Elvis — or somebody dressed like Elvis — can have smoke coming out of his heels, and with a rectangular parachute, land right on the 50-yard line, right at the right time. And the difference between a circular parachute and a rectangular is control, is your ability to control where you’re going.
Visualize the words that you’re going to say. Let’s say, a networking meeting, and let’s say you have a friend who is a financial writer. It doesn’t get any less sexy than that. Right? “I’m a financial writer.” Imagine a financial writer.
Jay: I’m actually a financial writer as well, by the way.
Ryan: It’s super sexy. But the thing is when you have those words attached to string that is attached to a circular parachute, imagine that traveling through someone’s ear, like Honey-I-Shrunk-the-Kids style, and you have no idea where it’s going to land in someone’s brain. They may have had a bad experience with finance, and anything having to do with the word finance, they just shut it down. They may have this preconceived notion of a writer, that you’re a boring the person.
The way that we choose words is a way that we sort of float them into someone’s head. And if you use what is already in someone’s head, and you’re really specific in getting people creatively involved in the process, then you can literally steer your words directly into their brain where you want, and it can resonate in a way that’s more exciting and creates intrigue.
Jay: I love it. I love it. Dude, Ryan. Thanks for walking me through the method. I definitely need to work on it myself, and I think the audience — anyone listening in, tuning in right now to the show — I encourage you guys to go and do this exercise on your own. Write it out on a piece of paper or rehearse it with someone. I’m going to do it myself.
Ryan: And here’s the thing too. I challenge you to tweet it to me. Just use the hashtag #313method, and then, in one tweet, explain your problem, and I’ll beat you up on it, and we can actually create a poll around it. Do people think it’s a really big problem or not so big of a problem? Then tweet me your solution in one sentence and tweet me your market in one sentence.
It’s fun for everybody to learn together, but this is a very much an active kind of communication theory where you need to get input from other people, and, even on a public platform, it’s very fun because people will chirp in and honestly give you feedback on how it lands where in their brain.
Jay: That’s awesome. Thanks for offering that. You guys listening in, and guys and gals, free coaching on Twitter from the GingerMC himself. Ryan, as we’re looking to wrap up, what exciting things you working on right now that you’d want to draw the audience’s attention to?
Ryan: With with my company Influence Tree, influence tree.com… If you forget it, think about growing your influence like a tree. Now you have this burned image instead of a URL in my mind. We have our core personal branding course, and we have a really exciting new program that’s coming out called Future Experts, because we’ve had people in high school reach out to us. They’re like, “I’m not an expert yet, but I want to start building my brand.” So there’s a different way of positioning yourself as you’re building your brand without being an expert, and we’ve brought on 10 young millennials and/or Gen Zs who are successfully building a brand, helping us to teach the lessons. So that’s come out, which we’re excited about.
Then we have a course called… We haven’t come up with a title yet, but it’s about helping people get on the TEDx stage, because speaking on TEDx, at TEDx, in TEDx, is the quickest way to get massive credibility for you and your brand because it’s about ideas were spreading. I’ve landed two TEDx talks. I’ve coached a bunch of TEDx speakers. I’ve involved with a whole bunch of them from just different capacities. And I believe that I’ve cracked the code of helping people figure out how to get up there. It’s a 12-step course. That sounds bad, but it there are 12 lessons. There’s 12 lessons, and we step everybody through that entire process. So we’re going to launch that’s soon.
Then I have a strategic pitching and networking class which talks about 313. So the most exciting thing I have is taking this content that we developed and putting it on a platform to where people from around the world can leverage it without leveraging my time because my time is very expensive. I like to say it’s throw-up-in-your-mouth expensive. So we’re we’re treating these opportunities because I’m really passionate about getting the information out there because I really believe that the one way you can upgrade your life is by mastering communication from a personal level, to a business level, to just even speaking with kids. No matter what you do, we’re communicating all day long. So we’re creating these courses around it, and that’s exciting.
Jay: Yeah that’s awesome. Ryan is partners with Leonard Kim who was also on my show previously as a guest. That’s awesome. Ryan, what’s the best place that people can find you, follow you, connect with you, and learn a little bit more about the Ginger MC himself?
Ryan: If you want to learn about me, go to RyanFoland.com. My last name is just like Poland, but imagine erasing the middle of the P. So it’s an F. Again, communication. I’m drawing these images in your brain. “Who was that guy? It was like Poland. Got it.” So learn more about me at RyanFoland.
If you want to connect with me, Twitter is my platform. That’s @RyanFoland.
If you want a stick figure drawing every day, you can follow me on Instagram, and that’s Ryan.Foland. Think of the dot as a sharpie marker, because every day I do sharpie-marker stick figure drawings, which is fun.
Then if you want to have access to these training courses, you go to InfluenceTree.com.
Jay: Awesome. By the way, just a quick side note, what’s up with the stick figures on Instagram?
Ryan: Well, I believe that you should be on social media platforms for a reason. Personally, I don’t have a reason to be on Facebook. I don’t want to be on Facebook because, for me, it sucks up my time, and I don’t like it. I still post, but I’m not really there. Twitter, I love to share my tips, and it’s all about keeping it simple and short. All my articles, I share, and I love that as a platform. Instagram, I needed to figure out why I would be on Instagram. Sure, I have fun and stuff, but I don’t have a purpose of posting selfies and what I’m doing. But I found my purpose challenged by the one and only Tony Robbins. I was at one of his events, and basically, he said, “Look, you need to make a big goal.” That was my 3-1-3 book, which I’ve written. And then he said, “You need to make a small goal.”
I’m like, “Well, I’m not sure what that is.”
After some exploring and digging down, I’m like, “Well, I draw stick figures.”
“Why can’t you draw a stick figure a day? Could you make that commitment?”
“Yes.” So I made that commitment, and I’m almost two years into it, and every single day, I draw a stick figure. And I started to use quotes of other famous people, and I ran out of them. I couldn’t find short quotes, so I just started to make them up, my own. So I go throughout my day, and I’m thinking in this quote mentality. It’s a lot of fun, and it gives me structure, and it has a lot of value that I’m able to provide on that platform.
I challenge everyone to have a mission statement for your social media platforms, because if you don’t know why you’re on social media — at least that platform — then you might really need to think about why you’re on there. That all comes with the communication part of things. Control what you communicate. But you’ve got to decide first what you want to communicate.
Jay: 100%. Awesome, man. Such a pleasure having you on. Ryan Foland, the #GingerMC. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge, and I think that all of us, after we get off listening to this, we’re going to go run and take care of our mission statements and our 3-1-3 exercise. Thanks again, man. I appreciate your time.
Ryan: Alright, buddy. You too. We’ll see you soon.
Jay: Aright. Take care. Bye.
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