Unknown Origins

Dan Roam on Visual Storytelling

November 17, 2021 Dan Roam Season 1 Episode 86
Unknown Origins
Dan Roam on Visual Storytelling
Show Notes Transcript

Dan Roam is the author of five internationally bestselling books on business visualization and communication clarity, including; THE POP-UP PITCH, THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN, and DRAW TO WIN.

Dan is a creative director, author, painter, and model-builder. His purpose in life is to make complex things clear by drawing them and to help others do the same.

He has helped leaders at Google, Microsoft, Boeing, Gap, IBM, the US Navy, the United States Senate, and the White House solve complex problems with simple pictures. His whiteboard has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, and NPR. 

Before founding Digital Roam Inc, Dan served as Client Partner & Creative Director at Razorfish, Scient, The Interactive Bureau, Red Square Productions, The Moscow Times, and the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Dan graduated from the University of California Santa Cruz with degrees in Biology and Fine Art. He is a licensed pilot, avid runner, and landscape painter.

Creativity Without Frontiers available at all relevant book retailers

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Music by Iain Mutch 

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Roy Sharples:

Hello, I'm Roy Sharples, welcome to the unknown origins podcast. Why are you listening to this podcast? Are you seeking inspiration? an industry expert, looking for insights, or growing your career? I created the unknown origins podcast to provide access to insights and content from creators worldwide with inspirational conversations and storytelling, about art, architecture, design, entrepreneurship, fashion, film, music, and pop culture. Dan Rome is the author of five internationally best selling books on business visualization, and communication, including the pop up pitch, the back of a napkin, and draw to win. Dan is a creative director, author, painter, and model builder. His purpose in life is to make complex things clear by drawing them and to help others do the same. He has helped leaders at Google, Microsoft and Boeing gap, IBM and the US Navy and the United States Senate and the White House solve complex problems with simple pictures. His whiteboard has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, FOX and NPR. before founding Digital Romance, Inc, Dan served as client partner and creative director at Razorfish Cyant, the interactive Bureau, Red Square productions, the more score times and the San Francisco Bay guardian. Dan graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz, with degrees in biology and fine art. He is a licensed pilot, avid runner and landscape painter. Don, you have an innate talent to craft poetry, and a world where that is only prose. You grace the world with art, literally. Oh, well,

Dan Roam:

Roy, I mean, it is such a pleasure to be able to share some of these ideas with you and just knowing the work that you do and the audiences that you reach. I just couldn't think of anybody who'd be more fun to talk with today.

Roy Sharples:

What attracted and inspired you to become a visual storyteller in the first place?

Dan Roam:

Wow, Roy, thank you for the fantastic question. Can I just say, Show and Tell. And I don't know what you might call it in the UK or in Europe. But the idea here in American schools is by the time you're in kindergarten in first grade for me, and for many kids, the highlight of the day, is when you get to bring your favorite toy or your favorite stuffed animal or whatever it is to class. And you get to stand at the front of the class and talk about this thing that you love so much. And at first, you're so excited to do it. And then you get up at the front of the room. And in my case, I had my favorite model airplane, I remembered it was a silver, DC three with a red nose and I was in my I built it with my dad. And I was so excited to share it. And then I got up in front of everyone. And then I suddenly realized, Oh, this is this thing they call stage fright. So the real story is, most all of us not all but most all of us love to tell a story. And we love to tell a visual story to have something to show this is the product I've built or this is the thing that I love, and I want to share it with you. And my inspiration has always been to channel the joy that comes when someone gets to talk about something that they care about that they've created. And the benefit of that is to me and the audience, and the pure pleasure of being able to share it. And that's been my driving force from from day one.

Roy Sharples:

Stories are the oxygen for communication. Storytelling is a language that unites the world and brings us together helps us understand our past and reach toward the future. A well told story engages the mind, heart and soul. As Maya Angelou poignantly drove home. I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel. That is also an ancient proverb, saying, Tell me a fact and Alon, tell me the truth. And I will believe, but tell me a story. And it will live in my heart forever. Dan, what is your creative process? How do you make the invisible visible by dreaming up ideas, developing them into concepts, and then bringing them to actualization

Dan Roam:

Roy, it's interesting because I go back and realize that there's a truism that all advice is autobiographical, the sense being for anybody who tries to share their idea with anybody else. That idea is always based on what worked for me and so bad back to that idea of show Intel and that model airplane, my creative process is to imagine that there is something out there in the ether. That's an idea. And I'm chasing that idea. And I almost can grasp it, and then it gets away. But if I can take that idea, and for myself through drawing, drawing on a piece of paper, drawing on a whiteboard, taking a bunch of post it notes and folding them and moving them around on the desk in front of me and labeling each one of them, I realized what I'm trying to do is build a model of the universe, whatever that universe is, it could be a particular technical problem, or it could be a new business strategy. Or it could be a marketing story that someone wants to tell, for whatever reason, my approach is to say, Well, what might that thing look like? And what are the pieces that make that thing up now? Right, I understand that's very abstract, what I've just described, but what it is, is, it's a, I guess you'd call it it's a synthetic building process of trying to take all of the rough pieces that sort of sketchily exist around the perimeter of an idea, and chopping away at them one by one, and then putting them together on the metaphorical table or on the whiteboard, until they begin to fit together. And what I invariably find is that you cut out a lot of the things that just don't seem to be so meaningful. And at some point, there's like a catalytic moment in this creation process, where all of the pieces that you have retained, suddenly snap into focus. And you say, oh, my gosh, I get it. What before was a very ephemeral idea, now has tangible form. And usually, for me, now, that takes the form of a series of simple drawings that walk someone use initially myself and then whomever my partner or audience or colleague is in the process, to say, well, this is what the idea looks like to me. If it's distilled down into visual, tangible form, does this make sense? And does it look the same to you. And the beauty of me for me of doing the process that way, is that when you've got this drawing, this sketch, or this visual story told in the series, as a visual storyboard that's tangible. There is now something for people around the table remotely or in person to react to, from this shared model that we're now looking at. And then we can move forward in a really creative way. With that as our starting idea.

Roy Sharples:

Thank you, Dan, that was very insightful! Your creative process clearly balances divergent and convergent thinking, and the sequence is iterative and constant. And the alchemy of what you do tends to happen, and the execution of the process itself, the actual doing of the work, storytelling makes meaningful connections across history and time. uniting people by helping them make sense of themselves, and the world incites spread knowledge from one generation to another, linking traditions, legends, myths, archetypes, culture, history, and values, which unite communities and societies. We exist in time, our lives have beginnings, middles, and endings are filled with ups and downs, sudden reversals and unexpected successes. Conflict is the engine of narrative. It's what keeps us listening, details of hope, frustration, and joy inherent in any journey, deepen our narratives impact. Dan, I know you've mastered the art and science of storytelling, to help simplify the complex to problem solve in many situations and scenarios. Could you please share some stories of where you've applied the power of storytelling in business practice,

Dan Roam:

I'm going to tell you a little bit of a story. And it involves my three biggest clients right now for whom I'm bringing this approach of using visuals to craft a story. So there's, there's three companies. One of them is a little internet company headquartered out here in San Francisco, where I live called Google, you might have heard of them. So I'm doing a lot of work with senior leadership at Google right now telling the story of the future of the internet. And I can talk a little bit more about that. It's all public information. Now. The second one is an organization called J P L three letters Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which some folks may have heard of JPL is located down in Pasadena, which is just outside of Los Angeles here in California. JPL is a very tender to NASA. And in fact, if anybody's seen the movie, The Martian, the Ridley Scott movie, written by Andy Weir, did you ever see that movie with Matt Damon stuck on Mars? Yes, yeah. So JPL is one of the many great protagonists of that movie. Because JPL if you haven't heard from them about them, they are the organization that for close to 70 years, has come up with the concept, designed, launched, built, maintained and controlled most of NASA's interstellar space probe. So if you think about Mars, perseverance that's on Mars right now, that is a JPL Jet Propulsion Lab product, they conceived of it, they designed it and mission control, if you're watching sort of the soft landings with the sky crane on Mars, when you see Mission Control, that's not Houston. That's not Cape Canaveral. That's actually at JPL in Pasadena. So I've been working with them on helping their principal investigators be able to tell the story about why is it that we as a people, and why should NASA spend money going out into space? Like, why would we even want to do that. And if there was ever a reason to get a story across, it's that one because it's fascinating, we can talk a little bit more about it. And then the third applied example, is a company people may or may not have heard of it's it's a another US company actually headquartered as well, here in San Francisco. It's a company called Allbirds. And they are known as the world's most comfortable shoe. And they're really interesting startup, they're now eight years old. And Allbirds has become kind of a phenomenon for environmentally sustainable manufacturing of clothing. In particular, they started with shoes, and now they're branching into other types of of clothing. And what's interesting about Allbirds, many things are interesting. One is that they are called a B Corp, letter B, as in Bravo, a B Corp. And what a B Corp is, is it's a new type of corporation, new, about 12 years old type of corporation, where instead of just incorporating with the mission objective of earning money and returning value to shareholders, that's only half the mission of a B Corp, the remaining half is you must offer some sort of measurable benefit to society in the act of earning your profit. And so Allbirds is really interesting Corporation, they make a fantastic product shoes. And they're known for really being a company that focuses very much on manufacturing and materials innovation. So the shoes are made out of all natural products. Extruded types of cellulose that come from plants become the soles of the shoe, the shoes are all made out of wool or eucalyptus bark. They're super comfortable. And what's kind of fascinating about Allbirds, along with everything else is they just did their IPO a week ago. So they're now a publicly traded company. And it's a measure of how successful they've been in telling their story. And in delivering on that story that on the day that they launched their IPO by the end of the day, their share price was up 90%. So by any measure, it's a very, very successful IPO. So ROI between those three, we've got Google telling a story about the future of the Internet, we've got Jet Propulsion Lab talking about why should we go to Venus? And why should we as a people be happy to pay for that, because there's a benefit to all of us. And then all birds saying, there's actually a way to make money and be profitable by being very, very thoughtful about the environment and about diversity. So between those three, there are some powerful stories to tell. And I can share this, all of them are being told, using this 10 Page pitch, the core storyline that has become the template that's the focus of my newest book,

Roy Sharples:

You touch on one of the fundamental challenges for not just organizations, but humanity, the importance of communication. It's what we do as humans, yet more often than not, we're not fully optimized at doing it well. Many teams and organizations really struggle to communicate and tell their story well to their audiences and then feed them. I get we are swimming in a monolithic digital ccean of information, where it's the norm to get overwhelmed by information. But how can we cut through the noise and communicate? How do we connect with people when they're being bombarded with content? The answer is storytelling. People love stories. Stories bring people together, they build empathy, and create context. So that we understand each other, and ourselves.

Dan Roam:

It is and it here's the funny thing. The organization's are as diverse as they could possibly be. And yet here to me, Roy is what is fundamental and fundamentally cool. The storyline that we are using to tell these wildly diverse stories, it's all the same storyline. And what I mean by that is the 10 page pitch story. So for people who know you and would listen to you and watch you, though, we're creative people, we know the power of story, there's no surprise there that being able to tell a story is certainly a lot more motivating and persuasive than throwing a bunch of data endlessly up on bullet points in a PowerPoint, we know that. But what story is it that you're going to tell and what I've tried to do. And this is really the core of the book, the pop up pitches with the pop up pitch book is is to say, busy business or organizational person, you face a lot of constraints that are really significant, one constraint that all of us who are in the world of doing things, whether that's business or art or education, is we simply don't have enough time anymore to focus on all the things that we want to there's just not enough time, that's a problem. A second problem we all have is that any audience or any group with whom we're going to work or share idea is as attention deficit, as we are, nobody has the time to pay attention to our magnificent story anymore, amplify amplified by, of course, all of our activity over the last year and a half, where we've all had to go remote. And so now every time you're sharing an idea online, which is the only way we can really share it anymore, you are guaranteed that every single person you're sharing it with has their phone in hand in is as distracted by social media. Every time we open our mouths, now we're competing with effectively the entire world for people's attention. So what I thought was, look, let's say that you're the finance person in a large organization, and someone comes along and says, Hey, can you run me a profit and loss statement for quarter one and quarter two, what you don't go do is go make up the template for a profit and loss statement, what you do is you go into the financial system, you call up the template for a two quarter financial plan, you run the numbers, and now you've got your data. And you build your story from that. But here's the crazy thing. In for most of us, the number one thing that we spend most of our time doing lo call it in business, but that also could be in much of our creative work or much of our teaching is is we're actually trying to communicate something we're trying to tell a story. And very rarely has anyone ever given us the template for how to tell our story. And I've seen this, as I'm sure you have 1000 times where someone in business is told you have a presentation next week. And what that person does is they start flailing. They don't have a core storyline to work from so what I wanted to do was take advantage of the known creative power of constraint. And say, there are many, many stories that you could tell. But there's also one that historically over the millennia has proven to be a really effective storyline. We'll talk about it the hero's journey journey, the model man

Roy Sharples:

Yep, the the monomyth of the hero's journey, which is the standard template of stories that involve a hero who goes on an adventure is victorious within that adventure. And after confronting a decisive crisis, and then returns home to roost, a transformed person for the better.

Dan Roam:

It's been historically proven to be a really, really great way to tell a positive story that persuades people to take good action. How about we just took that and use it as a template. I mean, Hollywood does, why don't the rest of us and so what the pop up pitch is, is I took the classic Joseph Campbell articulated Monomyth hero's journey, I broke it down into his discrete series of 10 Simple, emotional turns 10 simple steps. I wove in some of the latest research on how humans actually make decisions coming out of behavioral economics, the work of Daniel Kahneman and Dan Ariely and others. And then I spun back into that good old classic American positive salesmanship, you know, in the form of Dale Carnegie and How to Win Friends and Influence People, stories and methods for positive persuasion that have proven to be effective for a century. I put all those together and said, What could I do to help Help a busy person, in less than two hours, create the best story they've ever told. And that was the template that I put together. And that's what the book is about.

Roy Sharples:

It's very powerfully done, and your book, "The Pop-Up Pitch" really does blend those three key elements of persuasive storytelling. So it has simple pictures, clear words, and powerful emotions, which together, motivate audiences to engage, pay attention, to learn something new, and to make effective decisions.

Dan Roam:

Well Roy, the thing is, I'm not trying to keep any of this secret. So the template the 10, page pitch story template is available, I'm just giving it away. It's, it's on my website, if anybody wants to take a look and download it, it's on danroam.com, just my name.com. And if you scroll about halfway down the homepage, you're gonna see that the templates for the two tools that make up this newest book, one is called the visual decoder, which is how to draw your idea in five pictures or less. And then the second one is this 10 Page pitch how to now take those handful of drawings and turn them into a coherent storyline that is effectively guaranteed to make your point in a persuasive way. Those tools are available for free as a PDF, and literally as a PowerPoint template that you just fill in the blanks. I just wanted them to be available to people. And then the book, the pop up pitch effectively describes in great detail through examples. Where did this template come from? For anybody who has reservations about Wait a minute, isn't storytelling meant to be super creative? Why would I want to rely on a template? Isn't that terrible? It's my story for why, on the contrary, given the creative power of constraint, why it is that by giving you a template, it actually forces creativity to come through in an interesting way, while at the same time, making it more viable for most people who don't have a background in storytelling, to build a really good one really, really, really quickly. So it's, it's been fun, and it's it's available, and I hope people enjoy it and download it. And I'd love to see the 10 page pitches that other people generate as well. You know, who are arguably the four most valuable companies on the planet right now. It's, it's probably varying, there's probably a fifth one in there as well. But we would say that they're likely Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Amazon, and probably Facebook, sometimes weaving in and out of that. Yeah. And Facebook's been falling on some pretty hard times lately. So I don't know exactly where they sit within that. But is as you just take kind of those big four. So if you just think about Google, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft, each one of them tells their story in a completely different way. And we as the consumers of all of them, because we all consume from all of those companies, which is why they're the biggest companies on the planet. We know intuitively, what we have come to expect from each one of those companies, when they communicate. And I think it's safe to say without making any enemies. What we don't anticipate is getting a good story from Microsoft, we expect to get a great story from Apple. Yeah, we expect to get incredible service from Amazon. And we expect to get incredible support, if you will, almost without even thinking about it from Google. They are the company, whether it's through Gmail or calendar, or YouTube or what have you. So with each of those big four, there is already a different story they tell. And the reason I bring this up is I need to come back even though it's old news to Steve Jobs at Apple, who was not a nice guy I know people who've worked with Steve and generally the consensus is a genius, but not a particularly nice human being. But if you go back and watch and again, it's old news now the keynote speech during which he debuted the original iPhone. Believe it or not, if you follow beat by beat the story that he stands on stage and delivers to unleash what has become arguably the most successful product of all time and probably has changed more about society and culture and economics in the last decade than anything else. He tells the 10 page pitch, beat for beat. He comes out and he says ladies and gentlemen, we have a common problem. The common problem is we all wish to share information about ourselves and our lives with our loved ones and our colleagues. And then he says but there's a problem. But technology has has not been able to support us doing that in the way that we would like. And then he shows a bunch of awful phones from that time that were covered with buttons. I'm not going to go into it because it's really worth watching. But what he does is he doesn't tell a story about the iPhone, he tells a story about what we as people want to do, and have always wanted to do. And halfway through that story, after he's explained to us and shown us why it's been so difficult to do this thing that we've always wanted to do. He takes a pause, and he says, Well, what if there were a thing that could do all of it. And then finally, 15 minutes into his talk, he says, here's the thing. It's, it's an amazing, amazing articulation of it at the moment, he said, It's the iPhone, it was exactly like Obi Wan, saying the Luke use the force. It was it was, you're not going to save the universe in the way you thought you were going to by doing what everybody has done before it won't work. So this time, this time, do something new, do something bold, here's the magic. And then he gives it to us. And we go, yes. And we use have been using the Force ever since. So at the risk of metal of mashing together too many metaphors. The idea is, if you have a story to tell, which is all of us, if you tell it using this templated structure, there are others, there are other stories you could tell. But this is one, that you are essentially guaranteed that if you follow it step by step, you will become a very confident storyteller, you will have a story that people love to hear, and it will persuade them. And to be able to do that in less than two hours. To me is that's the magic. That's my magic.

Roy Sharples:

Excellent Dan! What are the key skills needed to survive and thrive as a visual storyteller?

Dan Roam:

What a fantastic question, right? So let's break down the visual storyteller. There's three words in there, there's visual, their story, and there's teller. So I think it's probably safe to say that there are three skills that we need to work on. The first one is the visual skill, which is simply recognizing you don't have to be a great artist. That's not what it's about when I talk about drawing I'm not talking about drawing is an artistic process. Right? Nobody cares about the quality of the drawings you're going to make what people care about, is the clarity that they will bring to the table. And when we can visually articulate an idea, when we can reach the simplicity on the other side of complexity on the whiteboard or on a sheet of paper, we can work the problem enough to be able to chip it down to its most fundamental elements. On the other side of the complexity. That picture is the one people need to see. And it doesn't matter if your drawing looks beautiful. What matters is is it clear. So that's the visual side. And that's just practice. That's just practice and a little bit of understanding about how the human vision system works. The second word is story. And we've touched on that already. We all know the value of story humans, we now know the science of why it is that when we hear a story, it completely changes how we react to the person talking, and on a skill to develop, right. And this is a really, really simple one. I swear this is true for all of you that might be listening or watching this. Here's the thing that you could try the next time you have to give a presentation about anything. If you literally begin your presentation by saying the following words, it's guaranteed that your audience will listen. If you begin your presentation by saying this. I'd like to share with you a story. Every time you do that, it prepares your audience in a way that we know why to listen to you completely differently than if you said my name is Dan and I have a presentation today about the financial technologies. If I were to say even if I was going to tell a story about financial technologies, if I began by saying I'd like to share with you a story, everything in the room changes. And again, what's the story you're going to tell? Well, I like to follow this 10 Page pitch Hero's Journey story. It works really really well. And then so we've covered visual we've covered story and now let's talk about telling the third word meaning at some point like when I remember back to being in first grade and it was time to show Intel and I had the little model airplane to the DC three in my hands. You have to practice on the telling part. Your story is only as good no matter how well you've crafted it as your or someone's ability to actually then tell And that too comes from practice. And I'm going to share with you a secret of people who are paid public speakers. I've been on the paid public speaking circuit, if you will, for 15 years now. And I've traveled the world. And I don't see the status as ego aggrandizement. This is just to make the case for continents 35 nations, I think, probably I've been to 32 of the 50 US states to give presentations, I think I've probably given close to 2000 presentations, every single time when I meet the other people who are presenting, everybody who's about to get onstage is terrified. Every single one of us is terrified. If someone says, I'm just going to go out and stage and wing it, they're lying. They're either lying or they're insane. Yeah, the fact is, and it's very reassuring to know this, the same fear that I felt in first grade, when it was time to show my airplane, you get over it with practice. And there are some simple tools and tricks that you can do. Everybody is anxious before everybody has stage fright. All that's different is how you learn to recognize that it's not something to fight against the anxieties of stage fright, or something to use to power, the best version, the best storyteller you can be. So it's like, it's like, I don't know, a kind of a martial art or something. If if I can say this with full honesty, every single time I'm about to give a presentation, I get butterflies every single time. And I now recognize and I welcome them, I say, Oh, here you are. This is that fear, I guess you'd call it that I might screw it up. And the last thing I want to do is screw up in front of a bunch of other people, because they'll judge me harshly or whatever the awful outcome is, which is never going to be what happens by the way. But to recognize that your body understands that you're about to do something that is potentially high risk, you're doing something that's a little unnatural, you are taking the stage and you are going to be the focus. And for many of us, that's not necessarily the most comfortable position. But here's the thing that's good about it, we get a whole bunch of, of different chemicals flowing through our body, they're actually good because those chemicals are there to say, you know, you might want to do your best job, and I've got you here's the energy, use this energy and, and use it to help power the story that you want to tell, instead of fighting it, go with it. And Amazing things happen. So you asked me a simple question, Roy and I gave you a long answer. But the three skills would be work on your ability to draw visuals, work on your ability to craft a story, and then work on your ability to tell it very true,

Roy Sharples:

Dan, I just want to underline the point around perfecting your craft that you touched on. Being passionately dedicated to your craft evokes wonder and discovery and remaining honest, trustworthy and responsible. By taking pride in everything you do, helps you achieve the highest quality of craft and professional excellence levels.

Dan Roam:

I'm going to tell you his story. And you'll remember I began this by talking about this little model airplane that I had that I want to show that because I built it with my dad and my parents were pilots and I got my I got my flying license when I was young. So I've spent much of my life flying little planes and I love it. And some people fly little planes, everybody flies commercial one time or another at least we used to. And so here's the question I have. One of the reasons if you fly commercial, which most probably all of us have, at some point, why you can feel very, very confident is very likely the person the captain on that plane, he or she has probably got somewhere between seven to 15,000 hours of flying time, which is literally years of time and has probably landed a plane like that one. Oh, roughly 10 to 15,000 times. They know what they're doing. But here's the question, which is the landing during which the pilot says this is the one I don't care about. So this one, I'm just gonna wing it. Never. Every single time you approach your profession, there's never really a time when we would say this is the one I don't care about. This is the presentation that doesn't matter. If that's your feeling, then don't do it. Why waste someone else's time? Unless you feel as this is the one I'm going to do the best that I've ever done. Why are we even bothering to do it at all? And if you don't have a story to tell that's worth someone's time. And you can know it's worth time because you've got some passionate and you think it's going to help them. If you don't have that then why bother to tell it at all? Why even have the meeting? I mean, we all know that one of the greatest problems in business today is Death by meeting. And we'll just don't do it. Just don't go down that path. If there's nothing important to share, don't have the friggin meeting. And if it's just someone needing a report, we'll send it to him in an email for Pete's sake. There's no reason to waste anybody's time. Unless this time you have something important to share and make it matter. I truly, truly am sure you can sense this. I just absolutely believe in the things that I'm sharing. They work they work. And and one of the things that will often come up Can I share one more thought? Are we out of time?

Roy Sharples:

No, no, please - this is great!

Dan Roam:

I know that many people in your audience are in the creative world, which is the world I come from as well. So maybe music composers, designers, artists, educators, we live in the world of creativity. And here's something that I've had to learn in kind of a hard way. The moment someone said to me that it's possible to automate and templatized creativity. I started to get nauseated. And I wanted to be ill. And I said, No, no, no, that completely diminishes what I'm all about. I've learned that if you flip this notion around. In many cases, the very best creative work is done, like jazz when someone knows the template. And because they know the templates so well. They are then able to riff off of it and create something new from an understood template is where the magic really happens. And if we think about these Hero's Journey stories, whether it's George Lucas telling Star Wars or JK Rowling writing Harry Potter or JRR, Tolkien writing the Lord of the Rings, or the Hunger Games, or the Marvel comic universe, they're all we know, they're all telling the same story over and over and over again, the same character over and over again. And yet, we love it. Because in each case, the master of their craft has taken the template and use that as the basis. And the other analogy, musical is, it's like genres of music. When you like house or hip hop, or country, or pop. The first time you hear a song that you love the first time you hear it, it's because the song sounds like so many that you've heard before. But add something new to it. Yeah, that's where the creative part comes in. And I've said it a couple of times, and I just love it. It's the creative power of constraint, here's the template, you don't use. It's enough. Now make it your own. But remember the root because you know the rules of why it works. Now go make it your own. And that's where I find the real beauty beauty for all of us comes out.

Roy Sharples:

Yeah, having creative constraints, such as guiding principles, time, scarcity of resources, can force focus and drive innovation. The other point that I wanted to mention as well, is again, back to the whole thing around being a master of your your craft. And what comes with that. I remember several years ago, I remember reading an interview with Dustin Hoffman, when he met with Paul McCartney and he spent some time with him. And he said he was just able to throw any musical genre or theme or topic aren't McCartney, and he'd be able to pick up the guitar and just get a tune to make a tune out of anything that Dustin was was throwing at him. And similarly, the Scottish comedian, Billy Connolly. And I remember him speaking about his creative process as a comedian A while back, and he can't give the the example of you know, you can get these imposter type comedians who make these crazy statements around or you know, like if, if the stars are aligned a certain way and the moon light comes through, I will be able to, you know, create genius within the way that I cannot observe and tell a situational comedy piece. That's all nonsense. He said. You know, being a true blue comedian means doing it to order. Not when the stars and moon fates and constellations Elaine, for something to happen. No matter what the genre theme, that topic, they can just do it. It's a talent, a skill that comes from years and years of practice, and honing your craft. It means being committed to making sacrifices, being mentally tough, persistent, and having the independence to follow your impulse to master your craft and your pursuit for authentic creativity by embracing originality to, and rejecting the need for instant gratification and immediate success, which seems to be the run of the mill, today, more than than ever, I

Dan Roam:

Come back to the one because everybody can understand it is, which is the landing that the pilot isn't going to care about. Yeah, that's the one I don't want to see. Yeah. So I'm sure Billy Connolly would say, I don't know what Billy Connolly would say. But my guess is, and I've seen him doing enough interviews and enough comedy and things to imagine that I don't know. I'm just channeling him. But I would wonder if he would say, there's really not a time when I just didn't care about it. Or if there was, I just hope that the nobody remembers that one. Yeah. That you have to you have to care every time and it's from the act of caring that you get the energy by which you then practice to, and that's where you get good. So

Roy Sharples:

To truly care and all the details matter! You're spot on again, Dan! What are your lessons learned in terms of the pitfalls to avoid, and the keys to success that you can share with existing and aspiring visual storytellers?

Dan Roam:

Wow! Okay, I know it, I know it. And interestingly enough, it plays into our classic hero's journey as well. And I think might be part of the reason why the hero's journey as a story template, works for so many people for so long. The key lesson from my life would be at the moment you think you're alone, and you're feeling lost. You're not the turn in the hero's journey, classic story. In my pop up pitch version of it, it's the turn from page five to page six, where you go from utter despair, to the discovery of reality that is going to work. If you really boil it down is it's the realization that you're not alone. And if you think back to the classic, well, our generations classic stories again, go back to Harry Potter, go back to Star Wars go back to the Lord of the Rings. In all of those cases, the actual turn of the story, where it goes from, you're in the pit of despair, to beginning to work your way out, is when the protagonist who feels alone, and on the verge of death, hears a voice that says you are not alone. You have in you the thing you need to survive this dark time. Sometimes that's the voice of Obi Wan saying Luke, use the force, it's already in you. Sometimes it might be oh gosh, it might be a Dumbledore saying to Harry, you already have it in you. The thing that you need to magically destroy Voldemort once and for all has always been within you, whatever, whatever it is, whether it's a voice of a mentor. For many people, it's the voice of a spiritual entity. For some people, it might be the memory of your grandmother. For some people, it might be the hand that reaches into the trench and helps pull you out. That moment is when you realize you're not alone. That's the turn. And if I think back to my life, the moments when I was in despair, when I realized I wasn't alone is always the beginning of the moving out into the light.

Roy Sharples:

So so true. Again, Dan, everything you need is already inside of you. Free yourself from others expectations and walk away from the games and boundaries. They superficially try and impose upon you. Only you know your true worth. What's your vision for the future of visual storytelling on the role of creativity.

Dan Roam:

I have children, my own my own two daughters, and I want kids who are in school to nap today. Anybody who's maybe under the age of 15 Doesn't really matter, to enter into the workforce into the working time of their life, whatever that work looks like five years from now 10 years from now, with the knowledge that they can make the complexities of the world tolerable. because they can bring their visual mind to bear to clarify the complexity. It's not really that complex. It both is and isn't. But in the end, the way we live is by finding that simplicity on the other side of complexity. And the best way that for me to do that is through just trying it out. And I would like every kid, every child who's in school now, to have a tool set that says, maybe you don't read and write so well, maybe you struggle with this, maybe you've got a learning difference. Maybe you don't fit in that way. Maybe you're on the spectrum, whatever. But you know what you have, you have a brilliant mind and you have the ability to share your story with these simple pictures. Go do it.

Roy Sharples:

Spot on, Dan! Knowing how to channel your passion and energy into creativity, and your own unique creative pursuits. If you aspire to be as influential as the things that influence you, not to imitate them, but to influence others in your own creative way, you can't recreate the world! Do you want to learn more about how to Create Without Frontiers by unleashing your creative power? Consider getting "Cr

ativity Without Frontiers:

ho to make the invisible vi ible by lighting the way into he future." It's available in print, digital and audio on all relevant book platforms. You have been listening to the Unknown Origins podcast. Please follow subscribe, rate and review us. For more information go to unknownorigins.com Thank you for listening!