Jen Grisanti is an international speaker and an acclaimed story consultant and writing instructor at NBC. She spent 12 years as a studio executive. She is also the author of Story Line: Finding Gold In Your Life Story; TV Writing Tool Kit and her new book, Change Your Story, Change Your Life.
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Worst Entrepreneur Moment
- Jen got up to present and had a panic attack. PURE paralyzing fear. The #1 phobia for Americans is public speaking. Why is this?
Entrepreneur AH-HA Moment
Small Business Resource
- iAnnotate: Over 1 million people use iAnnotate, to read, mark up and share PDF, DOC, PPT and image files on the go.
Best Business Book
- Change Your Story, Change Your Life by Jen Grisanti
- The Obstacle Is the Way by Ryan Holiday
- Pivot by Dr. Alan Zimmerman
- Start with Why by Simon Sinek
- Gift for Fire Nation! – FREE Story Arc for Your Business Worksheet and Special Discounts With JGCI
Jen Grisanti: Absolutely.
John Lee Dumas: Yes! Jen is an international speaker, and an acclaimed story consultant, and writing instructor at NBC. She spent 12 years as a studio executive, and she’s also the author of Story Line: Finding Gold in Your Life Story, TV Writing Tool Kit, and her new book, Change Your Story, Change Your Life. Jen, take a minute, fill in some gaps in that intro, and give us just a little glimpse in your personal life.
Jen Grisanti: Absolutely, thank you so much for that. First of all, I’m absolutely thrilled, and congrats to you and all of the success. You are killing it out there.
John Lee Dumas: Thanks, Jen.
Jen Grisanti: Ah, I love the service that you are offering entrepreneurs. So congrats for that, and again, I’m thrilled to be here. A little bit about me. I love yoga; I’ve done yoga for 25 years. I am also a meditator, I love to meditate. I am a believer that anything you can visualize, that you can make happen. I love to write.
My story, to help fill in some of the blanks, I’m definitely a believer that amazing things can happen from failure. So I love that this is a topic of your podcast because rock bottom moments, or all-is-lost moments, are everything that my brand is about, and it’s everything that I work with storytellers on. I went through a rock bottom moment that was the end of a studio executive career after 15 years with two sister companies in mid-pursuit to running a studio, and I turned that rock bottom moment into the best thing that could’ve happened to me.
And after hitting rock bottom, what I did was I really started to think about what do I love about my job, and what makes me want to wake up every morning, and how do I create a business with an impactful message around it. And that led to me creating Jen Grisanti Consultancy, Inc., which then led to me writing the three books that you were so gracious to mention, which then led to me speaking at the Big Island Film Festival, which led to me meeting the love of my life. And then, I went on to speak in Israel, Australia, and London. And none of this would‘ve happened if I had not hit my rock bottom moment.
John Lee Dumas: One thing that I really loved in finding out a little bit more about you, Jen, was your focus and your passion about story. That’s a big, big part of EO Fire, and that’s something that we always focus on within every single interview. So I’m really excited to be getting into your journey as an entrepreneur because it’s been a fascinating one. You have had the ups, you have had the downs, you’ve had the in-betweens as, you know, most of us have.
But before we kind of get specific, Jen, and kind of let you loose on telling a couple of stories to us here, let’s first talk about today, present times. And you’re an entrepreneur, you’re making things happen, you’re traveling around the world. What are the different revenues streams that you’ve created as an entrepreneur?
Jen Grisanti: Well, it’s interesting because I have listened to a number of your podcasts, so many that I love, that resonate with me in such a major way. And, you know, one thing I noticed that you have tapped in to – which I’m definitely from the older generation – like, you’re the brand new generation that is all about: you don’t have to spend 15 years in the corporate world building your expertise, you can start with your expertise by understanding your passion.
And, for me, still, a large part of my business is the one-on-one consults versus the programs and the courses – which I do have a Storywise 10-Week Teleseminar that I do once a year that gets writers from all over the world. That is definitely a huge thing for me, and then, of course, being the writing instructor at NBC for writers on The Verge, my books, I have workbooks, I have CDs, I have webinars at The Writers Store. So I think the biggest thing was learning how to create income; certainly, we all love passive income, which is the key to all of it.
But I have to admit, with me, with the consults, with scriptwriting, it is so important that you get the one-on-one feedback. Or with personal story, any storytellers that are interested in understanding how to develop and reveal their emotional truth, the one-on-one plays in to that. But I am learning, John. I’m learning from you, which I love.
John Lee Dumas: Keep listening to EO Fire, Jen, and we’ll get you there, for sure.
Jen Grisanti: Absolutely.
John Lee Dumas: Now, I love the fact that you found the love of your life, that you found a passion that you can get up and do every single day within your work, and that you are still learning, you’re still getting up, you’re listening to podcasts, reading books, audio books, you’re doing all the right things. And Fire Nation, you are too. That’s why you’re hearing my voice and Jen’s voice right now.
And again, Jen, I really wanna go back to the fact that I love your story. Because it sounds like right now, again, a lot of things are working incredibly great for you, but it’s a journey, you know; we’ve been on that roller coaster. And we’ve kind of talked about some of the ups, and we’re gonna talk about a few more in a little bit here. But I don’t just wanna talk about the downs now, I wanna talk about the lowest of the low; what you, Jen, consider your entrepreneurial moments to date. And Jen, tell us that story. Take us to that moment in time and tell us that story.
Jen Grisanti: Okay, so I’ve definitely had many of them, as we all have, and I definitely have learned from every single one of them, and this was no exception. My very first absolutely horrific entrepreneurial moment was when I was brought to speak for my first big speaking engagement in Seattle at the Northwestern Writer’s Guild. And, you know, they paid me a lot of money, and they took care of my travel. And I got there, and it was a three day event, and the first night was Q&A, and it was very easy, everything went incredibly well, and I think there were, like, 80 people in the room. And the next day, I knew that we had, I think, close to 100 signed up, and it was an eight-hour day.
And I got there, and I woke up in the morning, and I thought, okay, wow, you’re in a new place, you don’t know anyone, and you’re doing this event. I mean, how spectacular and incredible, and you’ve got everything ready, and this is gonna be great. And I got up to the microphone, and I literally had a panic attack. I literally was just like – it felt like someone had taken an eraser and erased 17 years of knowledge. And I was like, oh my God. And I thought, I have eight hours with this group.
So what I learned, how I got past that in the moment, was I started asking people, “Why are you here?” And as soon as a few people answered why they were there and what they hoped to get out of it, then all of the fear went away. So what came out of that, what I learned from that, which I thought about on the way home, was I couldn’t believe that all of the research, and analysis, and everything I had done in building my business, that I had not studied presenting, I had not studied how to give a perfect presentation. And it took me hitting that moment to make me devour everything out there on speaking. And I think my favorite book that I read as a result of that experience was Presenting To Win by Jerry Weismann.
And then, another dark moment happened from that experience when I had this exercise, this icebreaker exercise where I asked everybody around the room, does anybody have universal life moments that they want to share; explaining that a universal life moment was a moment where the rug was pulled out from under you, and life as you knew it, changed. And suddenly, I had this room coming alive. But the hard thing was, I had people sharing for, like, 15, 20 minutes, and that didn’t work.
So what that negative experience led me to do was create and exercise which has become my most popular exercise in all my events which is called Log Line For Your Life. And a Log Line For Your Life is a summary of a life moment utilizing the formula: Set Up of Who – create empathy, the you is you – dilemma, action, goal, with a twist of irony.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, I know you’re listening to this story and you’re like, this is exactly why I never want to get up in front of a crowd and give a talk, because Jen got up to present, she had eight hours to present, she had all of these wide-eyed, open-mouthed people in the audience staring at her, and she had a panic attack. Just an eraser just came down and just wiped out her memory, and it was just blank. And it’s no surprise that the No.1 phobia for Americans, it’s not death, it’s public speaking.
And Jen, I love how you actually ended up getting over that by starting to engage with the audience, that’s a great little Ninja trick. Fire Nation, always remember, engaging with the audience, bringing your audience in to it, that just kind of breaks that ice wall that seems to separate the speaker from the attendees in the audience.
Now, you went through the techniques that you learned, and you went through the different books that you’ve read, and the tactics that you practice. All of this is so important, Fire Nation. The first time you give a talk should not be the first time you step up on stage and look out over the audience; that needs to be a practiced trade. And we’ve had Michael Port on the show multiple times, and he has this great course called Heroic Public Speaking. And, actually, his most recent book is about this as well, so he’s another great resource to go along with the one that Jen mentioned for this kind of stuff, Fire Nation; it’s key. And I’ll never forget when Kate was gonna give her first talk, she was like, what’s the one thing I need to do. I said, when you first get to the actual place you’re gonna give the talk, you’ve gotta jump up on stage and get used to the actual view that you’re gonna see, to the seats, to the depth of the actual area that you’re at. The first time that you’re standing on that stage should not be when you’re opening your mouth to start your talk; it needs to be a comfortable place for you. So there’s just a lot of things like that.
Jen Grisanti: I love that.
John Lee Dumas: Yeah, there’s a lot of things like that. And Jen, I’m sure you have a lot, so can you kind of just, maybe, share with Fire Nation just one or two things that you really think would help them avoid what happened to you?
Jen Grisanti: Yes, I think the No. 1 thing Jerry Weisman mentioned in his book Presenting To Win, which was so helpful to me and so logical, was he said if you are prepared, you won’t be nervous. And I was completely prepared except for my opening. So my opening where I’m just greeting people, not my introduction into my talk, but my opening where I’m just greeting people, I hadn’t really thought about what am I gonna say, and how am I going to connect in the beginning. Because, certainly, with story – the biggest thing about story is you want to create safety and you want to create trust, so it is pivotal, how you begin.
So I think, through that recognition, and then through the recognition that you have to believe in the value of what you have to offer, and if you believe that you are going to create transformation, and that you have the knowledge and the expertise to take the audience from point A to point B, then the nerves will disappear.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, this is absolute gold. And I love the resources that you’re sharing, Jen. I’ve actually never heard of those before, so I’m gonna add those to my arsenal. And I just really think it’s a key thing for you, Fire Nation, to realize, hey, getting out there and actually speaking in public, getting on podcasts, doing webinars, this is part of the world we’re entering into.
I mean, there’s Blab.im now, there’s Periscope, there’s Meerkat, there’s all these great opportunities to actually get out there and speak, and interact, and present. And you really, as an entrepreneur, want to make sure that this is part of your arsenal you can use going forward and building a great business.
And now, Jen, for you, you’ve had a lot of great ideas as well, a lot of “aha” moments, a lot of light bulbs that have turned on throughout your journey as an entrepreneur. But I wanna challenge you and see if you can just bring us to one of those moments, one of those stories that you think’s gonna resonate with Fire Nation in a powerful way. What is that story, Jen? Share that with us.
Jen Grisanti: Okay. So I actually have two, but can I say a beginning one and a later one?
John Lee Dumas: Absolutely.
Jen Grisanti: Okay, good, thank you. So my beginning “aha” moment that really resonated on every level was the recognition that you can fail forward. So every successful entrepreneur has a story of failure, and what I came into “aha”- wise is when I began to public speak, as soon as I would share the pivotal moments of my personal story that led to my professional success, I would connect with my audience.
So the “aha” was, our failure actually moves us forward. So that was one. And then, that was at the beginning. And I have to say, when you’re in failure, I don’t think anybody is comfortable in it, but if you shift the way you see failure, and if you begin to see failure as a step forward instead of a step back because you’re getting information about what doesn’t work, then you can see it differently. My second “aha” moment –
John Lee Dumas: Well, real quick, to break in there, Jen, because I love that point and I kind of want to just maybe frame it in a different way for Fire Nation. Just like you said, a) not only to not look at it like it’s a failure, but to say, hey, listen, my comfort zone is where I know what I’m doing, I’m probably good at it, I’m probably not failing that often. I’m probably making little mistakes, but I’m in the comfort zone, I know where I’m at, I know what’s going on. All the magic is gonna happen outside of your comfort zone. That’s where you’re gonna make the big failures, the big mistakes, and also the big gains and the big wins. So get out of your comfort zone, Fire nation. And Jen, go to that second story. Take it away.
Jen Grisanti: And it’s also: get out of your own way, which I think is the thing that causes most of us to hit failure. Again, I think, though, that it’s really recognizing that failure is our gift, failure is our gold, and it’s what connects us.
So my second “aha” moment was, you know, I knew that the mission from my company was to stop isolation and create community through the telling of story on a global level, so I didn’t know exactly how am I gonna do that. Before I went to – you know, I started my company in 2008, so before I went to London, Israel, Australia, it really was the idea of how do I take the knowledge and expertise that I have and make it connect with writers around the world.
And what I learned – which you certainly know with webinars and podcasts – is, again, through my podcasts and webinars, but my Storywise teleseminar, which is a 10-week teleseminar, which is everything that I teach writers on The Verge at NBC. And what made me come up with this and then recognize the value of teaching online was the recognition that there are thousands of people who submit for writers on The Verge at NBC, and only eight people make it per year. So I thought, okay, let’s look at who are those thousands of people, and what if I had a program where they could get the same knowledge, and get exposed to the same experience with story. What would it do?
And so that led me to come up with this, which led me to use – I use Cisco WebEx, I use Facebook ads, I use Twitter ads, and I ended up getting a 108 people from all over the world, and it’s grown year after year. And then I created community which, again, was everything I knew my brand was about by having a private Facebook page. And suddenly, I created friendships with people all over the world so that when people were traveling, they would connect with each other.
And when people would succeed, when they would get staffed on a show, or sell a pilot, or any big pivotal moment, in a writing competition, we’d celebrate it as a group, and that created this tremendous sense of community. So I would say doing webinars was definitely an “aha” moment for me to recognize how to further my reach around the world with the teaching story.
John Lee Dumas: Well, I love that “aha” moment. And a lot of people are saying, “Oh, 108, that’s great. Like, that’s a good number of people.”
Jen Grisanti: But it’s not like 10,000.
John Lee Dumas: Right, but – first off, Jen, I mean, don’t go there, girl, because I am all about comparing and despairing. It is just the worst thing you can do, Fire Nation, as an entrepreneur is to ever compare. But picture 108 people. Have you, Fire Nation, ever spoken in front of 108 people? Picture that. That’s a massive number of people who have chosen to be there live, to listen to your voice, to listen to your message, and potentially take action on whatever that course, that program, that product is that you’re offering. I mean, that is huge. Huge, huge, huge.
Jen Grisanti: And it was a 10-week commitment, and I had four different pay levels. So I knew that I had – Because I had offered four different levels, which is a great thing for all entrepreneurs to recognize is when you offer different levels, and you’re offering value at different levels, then it increases revenue in the most major way, and it helps people not feel like, oh my God, I can’t afford that course. You know?
John Lee Dumas: I love all this. And Jen, you have a lot of cool things going on right now. I mean, you’re hanging out here in San Diego on a gorgeous sunny day. I mean, life is good, but what’s the one thing that has you most fired up right now?
Jen Grisanti: I would say – now, it’s gonna be thanks to you, John, because I – you know, one of the things that I have been very fired up about is I was actually approached recently by a publisher. Now, my books are published by Michael Wiese Productions who – they are absolutely incredible, and I am forever grateful to be involved with them.
And it was an interesting thing because, with this, a publisher actually came after me, so it was a really interesting turn of an experience. And they said, “This is the book we need, and we think you’d be the perfect one to write it.” And I really got into the idea of, okay, I’ve written three books, I took a year and a half off or two years off, I think I’m really ready to write another book, and I was very fired up about that. But then, I listened to your podcast with Amy Porterfield yesterday, who’s phenomenal, by the way, and I absolutely loved everything she had to say. And I started thinking about it.
And I started thinking, you know, I am supposed to do this as a digital product; this is what I’m supposed to do. And it just shifted everything in me where I thought, okay, if I create a digital product on this, then people can have this anytime of the year, it’s not just the once a year that I’m doing something, but it’s anytime of the year that this would be beneficial to them and bring them value. Because I’m all about: how do you bring the client a quantifiable outcome.
John Lee Dumas: Wow, and where would we be able to find out more about this?
Jen Grisanti: Definitely on my website which is JenGrisanti.com. So I will be going into it, and you know what I’m gonna do, John, is I’m gonna use your freedom journal for the 100 –
John Lee Dumas: Yes!
Jen Grisanti: I’m going to do that. I thought, okay, I’m gonna do this. I am just gonna do this. I know I’m not gonna have a publisher holding me accountable like I do for books, so I need to have something holding me accountable. And I saw your Freedom Journal and was like, okay, I’m gonna do that.
John Lee Dumas: Well, Jen, you are not going to regret a) using the Freedom Journal as your accountability partner, that’s amazing, but b) going the route of the digital product. I just am so glad you made that decision. And Fire Nation, you’re not gonna regret sticking around for the Lightening Round which is coming right up. But we’re first gonna take a minute to thank our sponsors.
Jen, are you prepared for the Lightening Round?
Jen Grisanti: I am.
John Lee Dumas: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Jen Grisanti: For me, it was an attachment to what I believed was security.
John Lee Dumas: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Jen Grisanti: The best advice, Buckminster Fuller. There’s a quote he gave that has really resonated with me in my business, and it is, “If you want to change how a person thinks, give up. You cannot change how another person thinks. Give them a tool, the use of which will gradually lead them to think differently.”
John Lee Dumas: What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Jen Grisanti: I wake up at 4:00 a.m.
John Lee Dumas: Oh, miracle morning, girl.
Jen Grisanti: Yes, I know, exactly. I am definitely a believer that amazing things come, whether it’s writing content, expression, meditation, yoga – amazing things come when you wake up, and you come off of the dream state, and then you have a routine that starts your day. And that is definitely a major factor that contributes to my success.
John Lee Dumas: Now, what time are you going to sleep at night?
Jen Grisanti: I go to sleep at 9:30.
John Lee Dumas: Me too.
Jen Grisanti: See, doesn’t it feel amazing?
John Lee Dumas: Oh, I love it, I love it. For me, my life was spent from 9:00 to midnight, I used to just veg in front of the TV and basically be just in this slug mode, and I’m like, what’s the point of that? No. You know, I don’t quite get up as early as you; I’m a 5:30 a.m. guy. But I’m in bed at 9:30, usually falling asleep by 10:00 when I’m reading, and I’m up at 5:30, taking on the world. And, as I like to say, Jen – and I’m sure you do, too – I get more stuff done before 9:00 a.m. than the rest of the world does all day.
Jen Grisanti: There’s something magic about knowing that the rest of the world is sleeping and you’re awake.
John Lee Dumas: And when you’re awake was pretty crazy, it was at 4:00 a.m. Even most of the East Coast is still sleeping, so you’re really getting a jumpstart, girl. Now, share an internet resource like an Evernote with Fire Nation.
Jen Grisanti: You know, it’s interesting. A resource that I couldn’t live without is called iAnnotate, and it is a way that you make notes inside of a PDF. And not only can you do written notes – so I do all my notes on story through iAnnotate – you can also record notes.
John Lee Dumas: Wow.
Jen Grisanti: Yeah. And then you send them. And so, for me, this has been a game changer for my business, and I love it.
John Lee Dumas: Now, if you could recommend just one book for our listeners, Jen, to join Change Your Story, Change Your Life on our bookshelves, what would that book be and why?
Jen Grisanti: Now, I’m gonna tell you, I’m a voracious reader. Like, I probably have read 1,000 books in the last ten years, easily.
John Lee Dumas: Well, I’m gonna tell you that the word “voracious” is underused, so I love your use of it.
Jen Grisanti: Thank you, thank you. So I actually have three for you, and they have all affected me because they resonate with where I’m at in my life right now. And the first is Start With Why by Simon Sinek. The second is The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday. And the third is Pivot by Alan Zimmerman.
So for me, the reason – like, Start With Why – I’m definitely a believer that when you share with your audience why you’re doing what you’re doing, then you connect, and you give them the emotional fuel that is taking you to the outcome. And so, I’m definitely – this is everything I teach in story, so when I saw this book, it resonated with me in a massive way.
The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday, it resonated with me because, like my own shift in how I saw failure, it was the recognition that our obstacles actually pave the way to where we’re supposed to be. So I think, again, it created a transformation inside of me, and it also created the type of transformation that I want to create, and continue to create, with my clients. So, this one really resonated.
And then, Pivot was, again, I think, a massive way of looking at how we see things, and how we shift from one mindset to another. So these three books have definitely had an incredible effect on the way that I do business. So I highly recommend them.
John Lee Dumas: Well, Fire Nation, I know you love audio, so I teamed up with Audible, and if you haven’t already, you can get an amazing audio book for free at eofirebook.com. And Jen, are your books in Audible?
Jen Grisanti: You know, I believe that they are but I – Oh, my books. No, my books are not. No!
John Lee Dumas: Naughty, naughty on the podcast.
Jen Grisanti: I know, we have worked on that. I think we’re in the process, hopefully. My publisher, we’ve talked about that.
John Lee Dumas: How about you hit the record button, and read your own book, and submit it to ACX, and have a go. Take control, Jen.
Jen Grisanti: You know I like that. I like that a lot, John.
John Lee Dumas: Kind of how I operate.
Jen Grisanti: Now, the difference is – and I will look into it, and I love that that is what this is all about. Now, when somebody publishes your book, and they own the rights to it, then it’s not the same as a self-published book. TV Writing Tool Kit is self-published, so a book like that, I could do that, so I am gonna take you up on that.
John Lee Dumas: Yes! Now, Jen, I want to end on Fire with you sharing a parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, and then, we’ll say goodbye.
Jen Grisanti: Okay. Best way you can connect with me is on my website which is JenGrisanti.com, and I’m sure you’re gonna have it up. And also, I wanted to let you know, John, I’m gonna give you the handout that you can put up on your website for the Log Line For Your Life formula and a story arc formula to help entrepreneurs understand how to tell their story.
John Lee Dumas: Wow, wow, love that. Where is that gonna be? Just at your website?
Jen Grisanti: Yeah, I’ll have it under my website under blog.
John Lee Dumas: And a parting piece of guidance.
Jen Grisanti: I’m definitely a firm believer that every writer who I have helped launch into a successful writing career did the emotional work and understanding that success was going to be part of their path. So I am a believer that everything that has happened for me, and my whole mission when I started my own business, was to create the income that I had when I was a studio executive. And I did this in two years, and I have created more and more every single year. And all that came through belief. I knew, for me to succeed in that way that my writers or my storytellers had to have quantifiable results. So that’s what I focused on, that’s what I believed in.
John Lee Dumas: Well, Fire Nation, you need to believe that you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with, and you’ve been hanging out with JG and JLD today. So keep up the heat and head over to EOFire.com, just type “jen” in the search bar, her show notes page will pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about, her books, her recommendations. Of course, visit JenGrisanti.com and you will be able to ignite over there. And Jen, I just want to thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. And for that, we salute you, and we’ll catch you on the flipside.
Jen Grisanti: You got it. Thank you.
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