#43: Tamsen Webster shares how to overcome the marketers paradox, what is the one fundamental human need that should guide all your messaging, and how to get your audience to take lasting action that will turn them into lifelong customers.
If you’re the type of person who wants to fundamentally shift your messaging to get people see things in a radically new way, you’ll definitely want to listen to this episode.
Podcast Episode Summary
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- what keeps her constantly interested in the world and in other people;
- connect quickly and powerfully with the people who you most want to connect with;
- why you should start with the perspective that people are smart, capable, and good;
- why you need to shift the focus from sales enablement to buyer enablement;
- about the rich history of The Red Thread.
The Red Thread is a mental framework that I’ve developed. So that even in a moment where you’re not even expecting a question, if somebody gives you that question, you have a mental framework to fall back on, that will always be strong and always be different and always kind of get your point across. (08:14)
Marketers, when they have their marketing hat on, they kind of forget that they’re human and they do things and say things that they would never want done or said to them at all. (10:14)
Never sacrifice clarity for cleverness. (11:09)
People have to understand first. And that means that when you’re thinking about not even thinking about what to say, but thinking about helping people think about what to say, that there has to be something that is flexible enough to adapt. (11:11)
We believe that we’re smart, capable, and good. Each individual human either believes they are smart, capable, and good, or at least wants you to believe that they’re smart, capable of good, they want to be seen as smart, capable, and good. (15:12)
I have found that if just that one realization, that the person that you’re talking to, whether it’s an individual or a group of people that they are smart, capable, and good – changes a lot about how you talk about anything that you would otherwise want to talk about. (15:26)
If you can’t make your perspective, if you can’t make your idea, your concept, your product, your service make sense to them within their current worldview, they will never do what you want them to do. (17:07)
It may not mean that I can actually change their thinking or behavior, but it means that I can respond differently. And that’s important. (18:29)
The language of marketing and sales is often the language of action. (19:08)
It’s effective to get people on board, but once you’ve got them on board, you can’t keep challenging what they’re thinking, because then they’re challenging why they went with you in the first place, which is not good. (22:49)
What I saw is, what got you in there is never what keeps you there. (26:33)
You have to solve the problem somebody says they have before you can solve the problem that you know they have. (27:10)
Ideas exist in the in-between. Your job is to figure out how your expertise and expertise meld. And you can only do that if you have given them credit for the expertise that they already have and that you don’t come in saying, well, I know your business better. No, no, you know your own business better. (27:39)
Connect with Tamsen Webster
LinkedIn: Tamsen Webster
Ep. 43: Overcoming the Marketers Paradox, with Tamsen Webster
I mean, I think we've all been there where we're at a networking event or something like that. And you can tell that moment where somebody like drops in to this like memorized elevator pitch and you just like, you are not even human. And I would refer to it as the marketer's paradox. And what I meant by that is that marketers, when they have their marketing hat on, they kind of forget that they're human and they do things and say things that they would never want done, or said to them.
Welcome to Content Heroes, everyone. We're back with another great conversation to help you build a profitable business on your own terms, by creating content online. Our guest today is known as a professional idea whisperer who helps people find, build, and tell the stories of their ideas. She's combined 20 years in brand and message strategy. And four years as a TEDx Executive Producer to create a revolutionary messaging framework called The Red Thread, which is a simple way to change how people see and what they do as a result. Today, we're going to cover how to overcome the marketer's paradox, the one fundamental human need that should guide all your messaging and how to get your audience to take lasting action that will turn them into lifelong customers. If you're the type of person who wants to fundamentally shift your messaging to get people to see things in a radically new way, you'll definitely want to stick around for the rest of this episode. So let's jump in.
You're listening to the Content Heroes podcast, where entrepreneurs, marketers, and creatives share how they build profitable businesses on their own terms by creating content online. And now your host, Josiah Goff.
I'm here with Tamsen Webster, who is a Message Strategist and the creator of The Red Thread. And I'm really excited to have this conversation, Tamsen. Thanks so much for being on the show today.
I am super happy to be here. Yay.
Awesome. Well, let's start with your origin story. Like we said, you're a messaging strategist and you consult with a lot of enterprise companies like Verizon, Johnson & Johnson, people like that, but how did you get started?
Well, I think it started because, let's see, like a military kid, latchkey kid, severe introvert, all of that. And, so it meant that I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to connect quickly and powerfully with people. So for various reasons, I ended up studying marketing in school and I think unusually for a lot of market people kind of stayed with marketing, but the places have changed a lot over time. So, you know, after a brief, but enduring turn as a change management consultant, I worked in a museum for awhile with heading up the exhibition planning program, figuring out how to get the contents of the museum, like out in front of people in a way that was engaging to them. I was the head of marketing for a local performing arts college. So, very similar, spent about three or so years as the head of fundraising communication strategy for Harvard Medical School. So that really kind of drove me into science and kind of where, where my passion lies now. Switched over to agencies for awhile kind of early days of social, did the social strategy, digital strategy for an advertising agency for local regional national brands, B2B and B2C, decided I want more knowledge kind of the day to day messaging of sales. So went and worked with the agency there. And in addition to being the Executive Producer and Idea Strategist for the oldest TEDx events in the world, about five years ago, I started my own thing. About four years ago to really just really focused on that piece of marketing that I love the most, which is the thing that I focused on when I was a kid, which is how do you connect quickly and powerfully with the people who you most want to connect with?
That's fantastic. I love that. You know, I, I moved around a lot as a kid as well. I wasn't, I wasn't in the military family. Just kind of how it worked out. I've actually moved, I think 26 times now.
Oh, you got me beat. That's a lot.
And it's not, it hasn't been to, it wasn't too a different city every time, but just like the actual process of moving. And I'm curious, you know, you talk about how, like, that really shaped your ability to create meaningful connections quickly. I'm really curious to hear about like, how else you feel like that has shaped your strengths and your interest in what you're doing.
There's a, I think there's a couple of ways that that's shaped that. I mean, I think that it was particularly evident in the early days of social. I have this, I am really curious. And actually when I was a change manager consultant to I'm really interested in both informal and formal power structures, like how do things get done and who are the people that get things done and what do they do and how do they talk about it and where is that source of power? And so it's one of those things that's always been really interesting to me. And when you move around a lot or you're somebody who is not terribly comfortable with talking with other people, particularly in a big social environment all the time, you tend to want to figure out, well, how can I find out what's most interesting to this person and where, and how can I connect with them around that? And so that served me well. And I see it even when I, in the days where we traveled, even when I go to a new city or something like that, I'm not usually a big one for the hitting all the major tourist sites. I really just like to observe the city and maybe that's because my mother was an anthropologist. I think it's just, I just love to watch and figure out what is it that makes this city or this place different. And what is that feeling and how does it get that? And just that constant questioning that I did all the time has just turned into a more formalized process with what I do in my work is why is this interesting and how is it different? And where is the power and how do we talk about that to somebody else? It's just, it's not my own phrase, but I love it. And I forget who said it, but the past is a straight line when you, you know, when you look back, like everything makes sense and it all ties together. But, you know, I certainly could not have predicted any of this from where I wanted to start out, because I wanted to, I wanted to be a museum director. That's, doesn't every little kid grow up and want to be an art museum director, but that's what I wanted to do. And then turned out when I actually worked in an art museum that it started to kill my love for the art. And I was like, I don't, yeah, I don't want to do that. So I'd rather be in a position kind of a lateral position where I can help and just be able to help people get the things that they love out there. And it's, so I see that now and how much I love working with academics and experts and founders, because those are people who really just love and represent and serve these ideas that are bigger than themselves. And that's just kind of what keeps me constantly interested in the world and in other people.
Yeah. So I went through a very, very socially awkward phase, just trying to like, I was actually, I was homeschooled until seventh grade. And so that made me that made the whole moving around a lot thing, even even harder. I'm curious, you know, you talked about being a pretty severe introvert. I'm curious how you worked through that on your side.
We always develop things to like serve our own neuroses and perceived gaps. And so I just, I remember this one time, the thing that I hate, I always hate is not knowing what to say or how to say it. Like that's the worst for an introvert. And so whether it was a situation where people are expected to make small talk or a memory that I have very traumatic engagement in like English class as a high school senior, where like, I'd be asked a question and I would know the answer, but because it didn't have the words ready, I'd be like, ah, uh, and I was convinced, convinced that this teacher who we referred to as Bat Peterson, she was awesome. And then horrible way, the, I was just convinced that she just thought I was an idiot. And I just didn't like that feeling. And the more that I kind of looked at and talked with other people, I mean, there are other people in that situation as well, where, you know you have something important to say you're really excited about it. And you know, when that moment comes, you're like, you just don't know what to say. So in a lot of ways, I think in my jobs, working in marketing, either for organizations or with agencies that work in essence was being able to supply to these organizations what to say when somebody asks. So that's very much the work that I still do. And, you know, The Red Thread that you mentioned is kind of a, is a framework, a mental framework that I've developed. So that even in a moment where you're not even expecting a question, if somebody gives you that question, you have a mental framework to fall back on, that will always be strong and always be different and always kind of get your point across. So yeah, it's all one big practice in solving my own neuroses.
Yeah. And as you're talking about that, I'm realizing that I have the same neuroses. We were talking before we hit record. And then you're asking me, you know, about my agency and the pivots we're making and who we're serving and all this stuff. And then I'm realizing like, Oh, I probably sound like an idiot because I, we said we're in the COVID-19 brain fog. And I'm like, I can't even put words together.
I'm so much worse right now, it still is.
But it highlights that importance though, of having that framework that you can fall back on when you're in the brain fog. You know, that you can at least answer that question semi intelligibly, which I did not do.
You did. It's totally fine. And one thing that's really important to me. So I, again, as an observer of power and effectiveness and change, oh yeah. I forgot to even mention talk about the brain frog that I spent 13 years as a Weight Watchers leader, which it really taught me more than anything else about all of this. That was in kind of in addition to my main, my, to my full-time jobs. But one of the things that I observed, particularly with my, you know, marketing messaging, you know, sales messaging, those kinds of jobs is that one thing that doesn't consistently work is telling people exactly what to say, right? Like, I mean, I think we've all been there where we're at a networking event or something like that. And you can tell that moment where somebody like drops into this like memorized elevator pitch and you just like, you are not even human. And I would refer to it, like when I was active in marketing, I would refer to it as the marketers paradox. And what I meant by that is that marketers, when they have their marketing hat on, they kind of forget that they're human and they do things and say things that they would never want done or them at all. And so this is kind of where the marketing and the Weight Watchers piece came into play with each other, which is like, how can I help people and organizations figure out how to talk about what they do powerfully, but in a way that it's adaptable and flexible to those all the different situations that they come into, because nobody, I, you know, I've worked with folks that were, you know, that would give you a great way to introduce yourself and they can be interesting. But I would find that like, I don't know, 9 times out of 10, 8 times out of 10, I'd feel like a complete jackass saying that thing. And because it'd be like this really clever thing, but it's just like, well, give the person I'm talking to this clever answer is not the good one. Like, it actually needs to be clear first. And so, you know, I've got, have a recent mantra for me is never sacrifice clarity for cleverness. Like people have to understand first. And that means that when you're thinking about not even thinking about what to say, but thinking about helping people think about what to say, that there has to be something that is flexible enough to adapt. And I just, that's where I see, you know, so not only do a lot of people struggle with what do I say in the first place, but a lot of times the answers they get for what to say, just aren't flexible enough for all the day to day uses. I mean, most people I've had some experience with working with, or for a company that invested probably a bajillion dollars in some kind of rebrand. And they came up with a tagline and then like poor people charged with generating content everyday are like, what do I have, how else can say like three words? Like if our tagline is like diversity, inclusion and beauty, like what, what else do you do with that? Like how do you adapt that? So that's been a real obviously point of passion for me is like, how do we, how do I help that? How do I solve that problem where it's give people something to say, but also give them a way to think about what they're saying so that it actually, it's more useful for them long-term.
Yeah. I love that you said a framework versus like a script that's like, no one wants to be read a script.
No, no. Cause it's yeah. Cause the script inherently feels like it wasn't for you. Right? And that's one of, that's what, you know, one of the greatest sources of power of connection is you feeling like someone's talking to you and that they have adapted, they have cared enough about you and what you're interested in to adapt what they're saying to you and what you care about and what your situation is. And so a script conveys none of that generally, you know, a script is, here's the thing that I want to tell you about me. Here are the things that I think are important. And we don't end up thinking about how is it that someone comes to a decision, you know, how it is that someone goes to the process of understanding agreement and ultimately before they can get to the action that we're hoping that they get to. And so that's the piece and you can't do that with a script. You just can't, I mean, you can have like a lots of little scripts where you're like, okay, well, when I'm talking to this person, this is generally how I frame it. Or when I'm talking with this kind of customer client, this is generally how I'm going to frame it. But you know, this is a lesson I learned doing all the work that I do with TEDx is that the best TEDx talks are ones that actually don't feel scripted at all. And there's only two ways to get there. One is to rehearse the crap out of it until it really is conversational. But the secret there is that actually most of the people who actually make it sound conversational, have gotten it and rehearse it so much that they've left the script behind, that they actually do end up finding in the moment that conversational piece. And I just think that that's really important. And so, you know, the thing that I've been talking about a lot lately, as, you know, how do you build a conversational case for your idea? And so this idea of a conversational case is at least for now, like my answer to what fills the gap between a tagline and a script. And it's a framework that helps you structure and it doesn't have to be mine, but just having a framework that structures how to think about and how to talk about what's important to you is again, at least for me personally, it's been a useful thing. And thankfully, you know, my clients and other folks seem to find that useful as well.
Yeah, absolutely. And, and so let's dig into, into your framework. The thing that I love about it is you start with this understanding that people are smart, capable, and good. And so can we talk about why that's important?
Yes, absolutely. And I know just, some people are like, Oh Lord, this is going to be total Pollyanna, but actually so rooted in science. So here's the other thing about like minor rosies is that when you move around a lot and you have to prove yourself a lot, then you get very used to anticipating all objections to anything you'll ever say. And so anything that I do is researched fairly well, but this idea of smart, capable and good is really one of the most fundamental human needs. We believe that we're smart, capable, and good. Each individual human either believes they are smart, capable, and good, or at least wants you to believe that they're smart, capable of good, they want to be seen as smart, capable, and good. And I have found that if just that one realization, even if you have no framework or nothing, it just that mindset of starting from that position, that the person that you're talking to, whether it's an individual or a group of people that they are smart, capable, and good - changes a lot about how you talk about anything that you would otherwise want to talk about. And of course we can see a lot of this with politics and more recently with people's responses to the pandemic. But I just find that it's a lot less stressful for you and for other people, if you just start from the position of, I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt, I'm going to operate, not just from a as if I thought you were a smart, capable, good. No, you actually have to put yourself in a position of believing people are smart, capable of good because they do. And the moment that you do that, it allows you to have a much better ability to say, so why would they do this thing? Why would they think this thing? So if someone's doing something or acting in a way that you don't understand, if you go and say, listen, okay, they're smart, capable of good people. Why would a smart, capable, and good person do this? What it does is it removes from consideration the easy. And I would frankly say probably lazy answer of they're crazy or they're stupid, or they're just bad pers- like, no, they're not, they're not. And they don't think they are. And so if you want to understand either a.) why they're doing what they're doing now, because b.) you're like the folks that I tend to work with, cause you want them to do something different, then you have to understand where they're coming from right now. It's the only way that you can start to see how in their current worldview, how your perspective would make sense to them. Because if you can't make your perspective, if you can't make your idea, your concept, your product, your service make sense to them within their current worldview, they will never do what you want them to do. They will never, and they certainly won't ever do it long-term. You might get someone to like try it or just guilt them into it or fear them into it, which I hate. But long-term for someone to stick with something, it has to feel consistent with them. It has to feel consonant to them and it has to feel an alignment with them. And so that's why, if you just remember that they think that they're smart, capable, and good, or they want to be seen that way. You can make a huge step forward in not only how you talk about things, but actually just in your understanding of other people, particularly right now, I find that that's, it is a way for me to diffuse my own anxiety and my own outrage and my own agitation when I come into contact with something that I don't immediately understand, or don't immediately agree with because it gives me something to do, right. There's nothing more powerless than feeling like, Oh, that person they're crazy. Oh, and there's nothing we can do. And I'm like, well, no, actually there is something I can do. And the thing that I can do is say, why would they think that, why would they do that? And it may not mean that I can actually change their thinking or behavior, but it means that I can respond differently. And that's, that's important. Cause I don't, I don't enjoy being in a state of agitation and I don't think most people do.
Yeah. Definitely. One of the things that you touched on there that I'd like to dig into a little bit deeper is the difference between getting people to take an action versus getting people to actually change their behaviors. Can we dig into that a little more?
Absolutely. So I guess that is, that's another thing that came from this intersection of my marketing life and my, my Weight Watcher leader's life, because the language of marketing and sales is often the language of action, and for good reason, I mean there, that's how businesses survive is by getting people to take action. Whether it's internally - Hey, help us all build this thing. Or it's externally, Hey, clients and customers buy from us, invest in us, etc. So we need action. But the thing that I learned at Weight Watchers is it's actually not that hard to lose weight. As most people will tell you that I've lost weight. It's actually, what's really hard is keeping it off. And so what I found was going over the 15 years that I worked with Weight Watchers and the 13 years that I was a leader, which meant that I was the person kind of at the front of the room week in, week out, giving people information and facilitating discussions and providing advice where needed, is that the only actions that would last are back to what I was saying before, the ones that were consistent with what made sense to people, both emotionally and rationally. And this made me go back to the work that I was doing in marketing and go, well, of course, it's another side of that. It's a lot easier to retain a customer than it is to recruit one, right? Or a person like an employee. That's a lot easier to get the folks that are already with you. You're going to long term, that's going to be more profitable to kind of keep your base than to have to refill it all the time. And so that meant to me, and I particularly saw this when I worked at nonprofits like nonprofits have a big fall off every year and the churn of their donor base. Right? So every year they're having to go find new people to raise money from. And so it's the same thing that companies see. And so I was just like, well, gosh, you know, how is this any different than somebody wanting to lose weight and keep it off? It's not like it's because at heart, anything that we want to happen at the market level has to happen in an individual level first. So that meant that I really started thinking about how do we get these messages to, how do we design them for change by which I mean sustained action in a new direction, not just one time, but how do we keep someone doing a thing from their own volition and not from cheap gimmickry of gamification or those kinds of things. 'Cause that, again, that stuff doesn't last over time generally. And I just really started to focus on what has to be there for someone to sustain the action. And that meant a lot of, again, the kind of similar to I was saying before, these kind of, you know, these easier outs, I just decided to take them off the table. You know, I just, leveraging pain or guilt, or you should want to do this or you should buy this or you should want this thing, even though you want this other thing right now, like things that we talk about all the time in marketing and sales messages, like, well, you know, I know you believe this is true, but actually you're wrong. The minute you do that to someone you were making them feel, not smart, not capable, not good. And they don't like that. Like nobody likes that. And so there's a lot of research that shows that the shooting the messenger is real. Study after study shows that like the people who bring you bad news, like you don't like them as people, like, even if you've never met them before. And so again, think about how, like for instance, sales works, it's built on relationships. So how do you build a long-term relationship with someone who's constantly giving you bad news. And you don't. And even there, the research bears this out, which is yes, something, you know, approaches like the challenger model, for instance, that came out of CEB where you're exposing the flaws or the misinformation and the customer's perspective, and then showing them something better, you know, the research shows, and this is work that a company called corporate visions did with, I believe Stanford show that actually. Yeah. Okay. It's effective to get people on board, but once you've got them on board, you have to actually flip to, you can't keep challenging what they're thinking, because then they're challenging why they went with you in the first place, which is not good. And actually Gardner did really some research that backs us up to this basically says that given how much information people get, marketing, sales, whatever that we need to really start thinking about shifting from a focus of sales enablement, which is how do I get you to do a thing once? Like how do I help my sales team get you to do a thing to buyer enablement, which is how do we empower the buyer to feel confident that they have made the right decision, not only in what they've chosen to do, but with whom they've chosen to do it. And so, yeah, it just comes back to like, okay, you can think about all these different details and stuff, but it really, it just comes back to, start the perspective that people are smart, capable, and good. And when you do that, other things start to fall into line behind it that just generally are gonna make your life not just as a marketing or sales person or a leader, but as a human, just so much easier.
Yeah. I love that. That's fantastic. I, you're absolutely right that there's this misconception that we can just keep pulling the threads out, like poking, you know, poking the holes in everything. And they're going to continue to want to work with us or buy from us.
Yeah. Again, marketer's paradox. Like, would you want that done to you? No, so why do we do it to other people? Like, that's like, that's what's always been so bananas to me and this, you know, this I think is just in my wiring. So, you know, if I had to choose, okay, there's two. But if I had to choose one proverb to like sum up one, you know, my worldview, one of them would be, What's good for the goose, is good for the Gander. Like why would the rules apply differently? And I was just reading something the other day that was talking about how definitions of fairness and the one that people from the widest backgrounds of political beliefs or whatever. It's just that everyone, everyone is given an equal chance. Right? And so this idea of, you know, let's give everyone an equal chance. Let's apply these rules equally is again, one of those things that's just deeply rooted in us. And there's just something magical that happens when we're put in a position of having to oftentimes from our business perspective, talk about what we do or talking to people, to get them to do something different where this paradox just comes into play. Yeah. Maybe we should rename it like the persuasion paradox, because I think that's what happens is that suddenly we forget that in our attempt to persuade somebody else, we actually start to do things that we would never want to have done to us or that we know based on experience don't work when it's done to us. And yeah. So even though it's been a little small little baby revolution I'm trying to lead it's it really is just saying, Hey, there's, there's a different way to do this. It makes sense why we leverage pain. And like I said, there are some situations where that's what you need to get somebody started, but if you want to keep them going, right, you want to keep them going, then you have to do something different. So Weight Watchers, we would often talk about this. Like, you know, the straw moment, like the straw that broke the camel's back, right? Like what's that moment where you decided this is the time and I'm going to go in and I'm going to do something about it. Most people have that. Sometimes it's a big moment where something horrible happened. And sometimes like me, I was just watching Oprah one day and I'm like, this is not what I want to be doing. Nothing wrong with Oprah. But I was just like, this is not the life I want to live at 26, which is how old I was at the time. And, but what I saw is, you know, what, what got you in there is never what keeps you there. And so that's what we have to understand is that even if you've got a negative prompt that starts somebody, you have to be thinking about, what's the bigger thing that they're looking for, because that bigger thing is almost always tied into smart, capable, and good. Like what is the bigger thing that they're trying to achieve, that they would agree that they're trying to achieve? Because that's a big thing too, is that we get really presumptuous with people about trying to solve problems that we "know they have but they don't yet know, yet". You know, the thing that I've learned over and over again is you can't solve a problem. Well, let me put it this way. You have to solve the problem somebody says they have, before you can solve the problem that you know they have. And I'm going to put no in quotation marks because nobody's more of an expert in them. And this is true for business as well, the business, like they're, the expert goes back to smart, capable, and good. They actually do know more about their own business than you do. You may know more about this particular service or this particular concept or whatever, but this is, you know, I like to say ideas exist in the between like your job is to figure out how your expertise and their expertise meld. Right? And you can only do that if you have given them credit for the expertise that they already have, you know, and that you don't come in saying, well, I know your business better. No, no, you know, your own business better. And what you're trying to do is use that to help them get their business better. That means you actually have to stop and listen to what they are actually saying. And even if your experience shows you that that is code for something else, they are still not going to open up. They're still not going to trust you until they feel like they've been heard and validated and what they are currently doing and what they currently want and what they currently believe. And until you can validate that from a position of truth from you, yourself, like you actually understand why they would do that. That's the only point that I found really that you're in a position to be able to start and say, okay, why, again, within that current worldview that I said earlier, why would they do something different?
Oh, that's so good. One of my mantras is, you know, in any interpersonal relationship is seek first to understand. And so I love that. I'm totally on board with that. Can we talk about why you named this, The Red Thread and how that fits in?
Yes, absolutely. So there's actually three and I need to go update. Like I have my most viewed like YouTube video and the thing that lands people on my website the most are people trying to find them the meaning of a red thread, because there's, there's lots of red threads and there's, and they show up in all sorts of different cultures. So there's actually three that are relevant to what I'm talking about. And then I'll save the last one. The one that really, you know, is really the red thread that I'm talking about. I'll say that one to the end. The first one that most people think about redthread is, is one from Eastern philosophy. And so in, in Chinese lore and legend, when somebody is born, there's an invisible red thread that is to them that connects them with the other people in their life that they are destined to meet. And for some folks, they interpret this as your soulmate. Other folks that, you know, I know a woman and a friend and a client who she adopted a child from China. And so she sees this red thread is connecting the two of them that she was really meant to be this young girl's mother. And I love that. And so I think even from the perspective that I'm talking about with the red thread is I refer to it, that it is a way to connect you and your idea to the people that you are most meant to serve. And I say that because one of the ways I described the red thread is that it's the connection. It's the case between somebody's answer and your idea by which, I mean, concept, product or service, it's between their question and your idea as the answer. And you humans have to see a connection between those two. They're not just going to take your word for it, that this is the right answer. And the way I like to illustrate this is with a faulty game of jeopardy. So if we're going to play jeopardy, right? Jeopardy where you're giving the answer and you have to come up with the question, you know, if I just give you the answer 42, you could come up with actually a bunch of questions that could technically be right. And you don't actually know which one is right until there's another piece of information that actually serves to connect those two. So you need the category to say, okay, if the category is US presidents, then you would say, Who is Bill Clinton? And the category is retired, baseball Jersey numbers. You would say, Who is Jackie Robinson? If the category is existential questions, and you would say, What is the answer to life universe and everything? But the same thing is true, right? So to me, this red thread is really this connection between you and the people that you're meant to serve. And it is this kind of connection between question and answers. That's how I adapt the Chinese and Eastern philosophy version. The second version is one that's really accurate for those folks that are looking for differentiation. And a second, very famous red thread also goes by the name of the Rogue's yarn, which I love. And that comes from actually the kind of the time of sailing tall ships. And in that time, when tall ships used, obviously used a lot of rope to get their sails up. And those kinds of things, and rope was a very valuable thing, a valuable enough commodity that people would steal it. And so one of the things that the British Royal Navy did was that they twined their rope with a red thread in it. So that if you were to ever cut a piece of the rope, you would be able to see that red thread, and you would know that it belonged to the British Royal Navy. So no matter where you were in the world, if you cut a piece of rope and there was this red thread, this Rogue's yarn in it, you kind of expose the rogue for having stolen the rope. So I love that because to me, this connection between who you serve and, and how right, their question, your answer is actually something that is unique to you because that connection is based on your worldview and your point of view. And that is whether it's an organization or an individual that's the only non duplicating thing. Like that's truly, the only thing that is that is unique in this world is the path that you've taken to the moment right now. And so to me, the red thread also has this kind of this, when done well, your message, or how you talk about it should like you could, in some ways, take your name off of it. And it would still kind of be identified with you now, the third place. And this is really kind of where I actually started with the red thread is that it's a Swedish idiom. So take the other two that I've come into have talked about and Swedish, Nordic, German, they tend to describe what's the red thread of things. What is this kind of invisible connection that holds things together that makes things make sense. I see interior designers talk about the red thread of the room, academics talk about what's the red thread of their thesis or their white paper. And I was really curious when I first found out, you know, I first heard this from a Swedish client. I'm like, what does it mean? And where does it come from? And she was like, I don't know. And I'm like, this is not a satisfactory answer to me. So I did the research and it turns out that most people think that that red thread, the one that makes things make sense, the one that serves as kind of a guiding force has its roots in Greek legend and Greek mythology and to the Theseus and the Minotaur's labyrinth. So a very quick version of that story is that Theseus was the son of the King of Athens. He needed to kill the Minotaur that lives in this maze in order to save a city. Everybody had failed. Before the maze was possible to exit because the door moved and changed after you entered it. And so he took into the maze with him, a sword to kill the Minotaur, but also a skein of red thread. And so he used the red thread to trace his path to the Minotaur so that he could then retrace his path on the way out. Now, the way to me that this really connects. And the reason why I named my process, the red thread was because this is exactly in my mind, what happens. So from wherever you start, right, you come to your answer by a series of turns that typically by the time that you've arrived at your answer, your new way of slaying a monster, you kind of forgotten how it was that you actually got there, but in order to show other people how to follow that same path, you actually have to go and retrace those steps. And so for me, the red thread, this process is actually that process of starting with a question that either you asked or other people asked and then making that connection in a unique worldview way so that by the time people get to your new answer, they feel like it's designed for them, unique to them, and really based on something that's going to stand the test of both their mental and their emotional of rationalization about why they should or shouldn't do it. It turned out like I, and I originally started only really knew about the, you know, only really knew about the kind of Chinese one. And then when I was that I found that the Greek method I'm like, what? And then like when I later discovered the rogues yard piece, I'm like, Oh, this is just too good, too good. But there's other things like, you know, there's, and I think all the other versions I've seen, there's a red, you know, there's a red thread in the Bible, the Kabbalah, and I think some South Asian religions have like a red string that they were typically from what I understand that is. So that's to ward off the evil, it's a, it's a talisman against evil, but I think that works too. I just, I'm not as, I'm not as familiar on the thinking and the philosophy behind those, so I don't claim any expertise on those other interpretations.
Well Tamsen, this has been fantastic. Really enjoyed our conversation so much value in there. Love the idea of the red thread and the meaning behind that as well as the actual framework before we hop off here, can you just share with everyone where they can find you and connect with you online?
Sure. So I am at Tamsen Webster, So TamsenWebster.com. I am Tamsen Webster on most major social platforms except Twitter 'cause I'm still in a battle to actually get my name from them. So I'm @tamadear on Twitter, but everywhere else Tamsen Webster and I'd love to offer folks a way to kind of draft up this framework. So there's, I created a tool that I call The Conversational Case that helps people create a basic framework for how to figure out a message and how to rely on that as a way to fill in the blanks. And they can find that at TamsenWebster.com/conversationalcase.
Awesome. And we'll make sure all that's linked up in the show notes. So for everybody listening, until next time, go be a hero.
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