the podcast recap episode with aj & rory vaden

Ep 407: Telling Stories That Make a Difference | Damon West Episode Recap

Listen to the episode below

Step into the riveting world of storytelling and its profound impact on your brand’s message in this special episode recap.

Explore the significance of transforming your brand’s story into an inspirational narrative that cultivates emotional connections, sets you apart from competitors, fosters trust, captivates your audience, and aligns seamlessly with customer values.

In this episode, we highlight the main takeaways from our conversation with Damon West and unpack how to tell a good story and get your message across to audiences based on insights from our conversation with him.

We delve into the profound choice of viewing the world through fear or faith, uncovering the transformative power of maintaining a positive mindset even in the face of adversity, why consistency plays a pivotal role in cultivating and sustaining a positive outlook on life, and much more.

Join us as we unlock the key to leaving a lasting impact through your unique narrative and empowering others through your message of authenticity, resilience, and unwavering faith. Tune in now!

Key takeaways from this episode

  • Turning a personal story into a universal message.
  • Finding the ‘SWAT Team’ story in your life.
  • Creating a message through the pivotal moments in your life.
  • Developing your signature stories.
  • How to make your personal story and message stand out.
  • Tailoring your presentation without changing your message.
  • Viewing the world through fear or faith.
  • Why consistency is essential to maintaining a positive mindset.

Tweetable Moments

“What we really want is a [story] that will be impactful to the audience. That is going to help make better decisions, think differently, and inspire them in some way.” — @AJ_vaden [0:07:30]

“There are only two ways to think about the future. It is with fear or with faith, and they both have more in common than you think.” — @AJ_vaden [0:11:04]

“Success is not easy. It takes work.” — @AJ_vaden [0:13:43]

About Damon West

In this intimate and personal podcast, Damon shares his cautionary tale and message of hope in a brutally honest presentation. Damon takes the audience on an emotional journey from childhood sexual abuse, adolescent addiction and living with ADHD, playing Division 1 football, working in the United States Congress and ultimately working for one of the biggest Wall Street banks, UBS, before being introduced to meth. His nightmare life of meth-addicted crime and receiving the maximum punishment (Life) is vividly described. The survival stories on the life-sentence building inside a Texas maximum security prison and the lessons he learned while incarcerated, which ultimately delivered him into recovery, are spellbinding and riveting.

Links Mentioned

Damon West

Damon West on Facebook

Damon West on Twitter

Damon West on LinkedIn

Damon West on Instagram

Damon West on YouTube

The Change Agent

The Coffee Bean

The Coffee Bean for Kids

AJ Vaden on LinkedIn

AJ Vaden on Twitter

Rory Vaden

Rory Vaden on LinkedIn

Rory Vaden on Twitter

Take the Stairs

Brand Builders Group

Brand Builders Group Free Call

Brand Builders Group Resources

The Influential Personal Brand Podcast on Stitcher

The Influential Personal Brand Podcast on Apple

AJV (00:02): So I just had this amazing conversation with a newer friend of mine, his name is Damon West, and he’s got an incredible story from being a collegiate athlete to working at a very large investment bank, to getting hooked on meth, to being sentenced life in prison, to getting parole, to becoming a motivational speaker and a multi-time published author. And the stories just awesome. But while I was talking to him, it spurred this idea to make this video to share with all of you. And I think it was really good cause we were talking about how do you incorporate these crazy stories, these events, these, I can’t believe this happened to me, type of story into your message. And how do you take a very, you know, you focus story, in this case, a very me focus story and turn it into a message that is universally helpful to your audience, where I’m not just telling you my story to help you get to know me, but I’m telling you my story. AJV (01:14): Because within that story, there is a message that means something to you, the person who is listening, the end user, right? So at Brand Builders Group, we have a really simple formula that talks about this, which is tell a story, make a point. If you’re going to tell a story, what’s the point of that story? The story part is about you. The point, the message is about them. So what are you trying to convey during this message? And this was just a really great storytelling conversation, is really what it ended up being, is how do we tell our story in a way that actually helps other people? And so here’s a couple of things that I just wanted to share from this conversation cuz I thought they were worthwhile. So number one is just asking yourself, and I’m, I’m literally using words out of his mouth cuz I thought this conversation was so great, is what’s the SWAT team story in your life? AJV (02:14): Like, if you’re struggling on how to make a point and create a message, then ask yourself like, what are the SWAT team stories in my life? And what I mean by that is, you know, in Damon’s life, there was a SWAT team raid, and that’s how he got arrested. A SWAT team busted down the doors, rated a, I think meth house would be the appropriate term and arrested him, right? That’s a SWAT team story very literally for him. But all of us have those swat team stories in our life, those defining moments or events or decisions that said, my life was going this way and then this thing happened. That SWAT team moment AJV (02:59): And then my life went in another direction. Could be good, could not be good. But what are the SWAT team stories, the stories that make you stop in your tracks and go, wait, what that happened to you? Like this thing, this decision, this event, this moment? Like, wait, I, what? So what are the SWAT team stories in your life? And then what’s the message within that story, right? That, what’s the point of that story? Because that’s what takes a story that’s yours and makes it a story that other people need to hear. Because there is a message, there is a point, there is something within that story that is universally applicable to anyone who hears it. I’m going, I needed to hear that today. I needed to be reminded of that today. So that’s the first thing. Second thing is know what your signature stories are. AJV (03:50): When I was talking to Damon, we, we were both talking about how it doesn’t matter what audience you’re in front of, right? This is maybe an audience of one and maybe you’re just practicing in the mirror, right? Maybe you are the audience of one. Maybe it’s in a one-on-one coaching call. Maybe it’s on a podcast like this. Like right now, technically I’m talking to my camera, right? Although others will hear it. I’m talking to myself, right? The only thing I see right now is a little green dot on my computer. I’m talking to myself. However I have you in mind, right? So maybe it’s that maybe you’re making content videos or maybe you’re speaking on stages. Maybe you’re speaking on stages to hundreds of high schoolers or thousands of people in corporate America. The the point is, it does not matter who you’re talking to. AJV (04:32): It’s what are the signature stories that you tell no matter what, because this is a signature story of your message of your life. And it’s profound in many ways. And so we have lots of stories. Like I have a list of probably at this point, a hundred different stories that I could tell, but I have two or three that I tell no matter what. Those are my signature stories. And it’s like, I know that this was such a defining moment. This was such a swat team story in my life that it doesn’t matter what audience am I, I’m in front of, this is a story I’m telling. That’s what we’re calling your signature stories. It’s those one or two stories that are in every single message that show up in all the different types of conversations because they’re that powerful because they were powerful to you. AJV (05:17): And if they were powerful to you, if they changed you, they have the power to help change someone else too. So what are your signature stories? All right, so have your list. The next thing is knowing how to tailor your presentation without changing your message. And I thought this was really profound because in an era of everyone’s something that’s a little special to them, right? Most audiences wanna feel like this was catered to me. This was tailored for me. This was crafted or built or customized just for my audience. At the same time, that’s what we think we want. But what we really want is we want something that we know is going to be impactful to the audience that’s going to help them, help them make better decisions, help them think differently, help inspire them in some way. And sometimes having something brand new isn’t the best way to do that, right? AJV (06:07): Sometimes the good old tried and true is what people really need, although that’s not what they think they want. So knowing how to tailor your message or your presentation know how to tailor your presentation for the audience without ever actually changing the message. So here’s how you do that is you can tailor the opening. You can tailor the ending. You can work in industry lingo or statistics. You can make it about the event. You can weave in acronyms. You can tell a story about the audience. You can do something about the city that it’s in. Like I have go-to stories and jokes. If I’m ever speaking in Las Vegas there are just, this is like, I’m gonna tell this joke or I’m gonna tell this story if I’m in Las Vegas because it, I know it’s gonna be a home run no matter where I tell it. AJV (06:56): Or if I’m ever speaking at 8:00 AM I always have a story for an 8:00 AM if I’m ever speaking over lunch. I have little jokes that it’s always for lunch meetings. If it’s I’m, if I’m the closing speaker and I’m the last people, that last person there and people are constantly leaving to catch their flights because nobody thought about having a speaker right before everyone leaves. It’s like, I have stories and jokes just for those time that’s tailoring the presentation that makes it feel custom and unique. Although my message is never impacted. So how do you tailor your presentation for the industry, for the audience, for the company for the location, the locale, the theme of the event without ever actually changing the message itself. Cuz when people say, Hey, I I love that you customize this, what they’re really saying is, I love that it felt like you customized it just for us, but what they really want is the goods. AJV (07:47): And you only know it’s the goods because you’ve delivered it enough to know that point resonates. That story is what people remember. You need to be doing your message and your presentation so often that it’s like, I know a laugh is coming here. I know a silent moment is coming here. And not only happens cuz you’ve done it dozens, if not hundreds of times. And so people say they want something custom, but you don’t wanna try out brand new stuff and an audience like that, that’s for your small group of friends or for your mirror, right? That, that takes practice to know it’s like it’s gonna crush that’s gonna make a difference. That’s going to actually be what they asked for while also giving them what they want, which is making it feel custom and tailored. And you can do that without ever changing your message. So don’t change your message. Learn how to tailor the presentation, right? And then I have these other quick three things that I just thought were really good. Just little motivational bombs for you today. So number one I thought this was so good for all of us, is that there’s only two ways to think about the future. It’s with fear or with faith. And they both have more in AJV (08:54): Common than you think. They are both a hundred percent based on things in the future. One is negative and one is positive. Fear is thinking about all the bad things that might happen in the future. Faith is remembering that good things are coming your way. And as we’re doing all these things, we’re thinking about, you know, speaking on that stage or writing that book, or getting our message out into the world or, you know, starting this new venture or this relationship or having a baby. It’s like we can choose to be filled with fear, which is the negative, or we’re gonna choose to have a little faith because they’re both a choice. And it’s just which one, which path are you gonna take? Is it the path of fear or the path of faith? And that I needed that yesterday when I had this conversation. AJV (09:36): So thought maybe it would be good for you too. Number two is that you are always more capable to overcome more than you think. You are always capable to overcome more than you think. And I think that’s just a reminder to all of us. It’s like once we’ve overcome it, then we’re reminded of like, whoa, I did that. But before it happens, or even during, we’re like, I don’t know if I can do this. But the truth is you can, you can do it. You can overcome this. You can make these new decisions, you can create these new habits, you can do this. And you are way more capable of overcoming more than you ever thought was possible. You are capable. That was number two. And then number one, I asked a amen at the very end. I said, with all these life trials that you’ve been through that you have overcome without, you know ease with lots of difficulty what would you say is like the number one thing when it comes to keeping this positive mindset and choosing a faith future over a fear future? AJV (10:41): And he said, number one key to my mindset and to my emotional wellbeing and my overall growth is just consistency. It’s nothing big. It’s just showing up every day. It’s making a choice. I’m not going to, you know, do drugs again. I’m not gonna take that sip of alcohol. I’m not gonna eat that cookie if I want it. I’m not gonna spend that money here. I’m going to investigate here. I’m gonna wake up every day. I’m gonna get in the shower and I’m gonna try. I have to put in the work. And he said, it’s n nothing profound and it’s nothing big, he said. But it’s those daily decisions. Those defining moments that were made in the, the ease of the moment where I could have easily said, this is too hard. But it didn’t. I said, no, this is hard and I can do hard things. And it was a great reminder to me, and I hope it’s a great reminder to you that success isn’t easy. It takes work whatever that success is. It’s not supposed to be easy. Who said this was supposed to be easy? But the best things in life come from overcoming. I, I know that for most of us when we look back, it’s like we don’t remember the things that came easy, but we profoundly remember the things that AJV (11:53): Came hard then we overcame because it changed us, it challenged us and it grew us. Those are the things that we remember and those are the things that your audience is gonna remember too. So don’t be afraid to share those moments of your life, the hard stories because they do make a difference. They made a difference for you and they make a difference for people like me. So tell your story. Get out there and I’ll see you later.

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