Write, Interview, Tell Your Own Story with Brianna Blacet (2/2)

Welcome to episode 122 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two Pre-Sales Technical Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we share part 2 of our interview with Brianna Blacet in which Brianna shares tips for improving your writing, how we can use storytelling in the interview process, and how she keeps things fresh in her field.

Original Recording Date: 04-21-2021

Brianna Blacet is an Innovation Storyteller at VMware and happens to be a writer. Catch part 1 of our interview with her in Episode 121.

Topics – Improving Your Writing, Stories in the Interview Process, Career Advice

2:35 – Getting Better at Writing

  • Nick mentioned people in the tech industry starting out with blog writing to show proof of work and gives the example of David Klee using blogs to launch a company.
  • How do people decide what to write about if they want to blog?
    • Think of what you write as a product. If you are a subject matter expert you are selling your expertise. Look at the market and the competition.
    • When Brianna was paying her dues as a an upcoming writer, she was told what to write and had her work tweaked many times by editors.
    • With the democratization of media, we all have the opportunity to tell our story directly to the world with no intermediary and no editor.
    • For example, you can publish articles on LinkedIn directly. People want to see writing samples.
      • Other ideas include writing short pieces on Twitter or gaining a following on Reddit.
      • You could tell your story through video or audio if that is preferred.
      • Getting noticed is a different story, but as far as telling your story, the world is your oyster!
  • The length of the content…depends.
    • If you are writing for social media, for example, the millennial generation has been raised with short form content.
    • Sometimes people want to consume things in bite size pieces. But there are ways to format your content with subheadings to make it look like short form content.
    • You can become well recognized on Twitter in 280 characters over time.
  • How frequently should someone post their content?
    • Consistency is key.
    • Brianna is a podcaster and learned out of the gate that the number 1 determinant of podcast success is keeping up the cadence.
    • This is the world of a news feed where things scroll by quickly. In a world of Instagram stories, you had better post all the time. Things are gone in a heartbeat.
    • It helps to post multiple times per day.
    • Look at what others do (your competition) and go do it better!
    • You are competing for attention. There is so much information out there and only so much you can digest. You are competing for the attention span of someone.
    • If you want to be a writer, you have to be faster, stronger, and better than the competition.
  • Nick thinks back to reading Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath and how we learn through stories.
  • At work, Brianna has to give presentations on storytelling and on thought leadership.
    • She does not come from the corporate world and doesn’t tell the story the same way as others. She uses minimal slides and humor
  • Storytelling is the original human form of communication. People told stories to explain what was happening in the world.
    • Think about mythology.
    • As a person now, what are the first things you remember? It’s stories we hear.
    • Stories evoke pictures, sensory perception, etc.
    • Listen to the example Brianna gives of communicating directly vs. telling a story and the impact on the audience.

15:07 – Incorporating Stories

  • How does storytelling play into the interview process?
  • A popular question interviewers ask is to have the candidate walk them through how they got started.
  • Instead of walking the person through your resume, tell them a story about your career.
    • Think back to Brianna’s story about her writing professor from last week’s episode. You would probably remember her more after hearing that than if she had explained it differently.
    • You want people to be able to relate to the protagonist (many times that would be you but could be someone else).
    • A story evokes emotion and cements an image in the mind.
    • Listen to Brianna’s made up story given to a collaboration software company to illustrate the power of story and its impact.
    • Find that story about yourself to use in the interview. You have one to tell.
  • Brianna will be doing a storytelling workshop for Sales teams next week.
    • Sharing a customer story can be extremely impactful for Sales teams.
    • Sharing stories can be impactful in so many situations.
    • Take television marketing ads, for example. So many of them are shared in stories to make the message more impactful.
      • Brianna uses the example of car commercials. People want to feel like the people they see in the commercials.
  • Thought leadership is really just influencing, and it goes hand in hand with storytelling.

23:08 – Keeping It Fresh and Parting Thoughts

  • Brianna is different in that she is not a technologist. She is a Science Writer helping people from all over the company tell stories.
    • You can tell the story from different angles.
    • This is a great job for Brianna because new stories come in every single day, and she tries to publish several blogs per week.
    • Helping people tell their stories is what we’re doing when we have things like calls for papers at conferences or small user groups.
      • Nick would encourage anyone who has never done something like this, written a blog, shared content in some way to consider doing it.
      • Brianna says the best way to measure the story you are telling is through analytics. How do I know if the blogs are working?
        • She uses analytics to show her what length of posts may be best.
        • You can even measure when podcast listeners, for example, abandon the episode.
        • Measuring the success of things done verbally is tough because people will lie to you.
      • Nick tries not to focus too much on the metrics of blogs and podcasts because it can drive you crazy. Brianna is obsessed with metrics.
  • You could write the best book in the world, but if there is no audience or measurement, it won’t succeed.
    • Nick recently read High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard. The author recounts wanting to write a New York Times bestseller, and the steps needed to do it were not what he originally thought because he did not effectively get the word out in previous writing attempts.
    • If you want to be a writer, you will hustle every single day and sell your writing every single day. It’s a lot of Sales and a lot of pitching.
  • Final career tips
    • Always be true to yourself. Brianna’s parents guided her away from being a writer.
    • Do your homework all the time. Never forget that if you want it, there is someone else who wants it too. Be ready to work very hard.
      • Being a writer is hard and not glamorous.
    • If you don’t love what you do, go do something else. Life is too short.
  • Brianna loves what she does and loves to mentor people.
    • She’s open to providing feedback on the writing of others, and if you want to be a writer, she would love to talk to you!

Contact us if you need help on the journey.

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