How to Entertain Your Customers ~ Tucker Bryant & Jesse Warren

The last thing you wanna do is bore your cohort community members. That's why I interviewed Tucker Bryant and Jesse Warren to learn how to make community members feel something, whether it's inspiration or a hearty laugh.

We Covered
  • How Jesse and Tucker met and decided to create their cohort-based course (02:21)
  • The core of what Tucker and Jesse teach (08:18)
  • Being a really good CBC creator is being 50% educator, 50% entertainer (11:14)
  • In what aspects of your CBC you can be entertaining (13:30)
  • How to begin writing a joke (18:50)
  • An example of how to turn mundane truths into humor (22:51)
  • How to apply humor to your CBC (25:57)
  • Steps to craft an analogy to explain a complex concept in a way that’s easy to understand (29:40)
  • Creativity is connecting two things. You get an emotional response when connecting two things that don’t at first appear to be connected. (37:14)
  • The close connection between comedy, poetry, and other art forms (38:46)
  • How to make your existing CBC entertaining (41:58)
  • Final questions (44:52)
In a Nutshell
  1. Being a rockstar CBC creator means being 50% educator, 50% entertainer
  2. Take any element of your business whether it’s the course content, your blog, or the way you interact during group calls, and infuse it with:
  • Comedy: Anticipate where students have expectations, and subvert their expectation
  • Poetry: Explain difficult concepts using analogies
Full Transcript

[00:00:13] Jonathan: Ahoy, captain! Welcome to Cohort Captain, the only super actionable podcast made for cohort-based course creators. I'm your host, Jonathan Woodruff. You need to sell your cohort-based course. Well, what if, instead of sounding like a stereotypical car salesman, you instead captured people's attention by being funny or poetic? It's something that very few people in business are trying to do, which means this is an excellent opportunity to stand out and connect with people in a different way. 

That's why my guests today are captains Tucker Bryant and Jesse Warren, the creators of the cohort-based course, From Idea to Ovation, which you can see on Maven.

Tucker is a passionate poet, and he figured out how to take poetry frameworks and apply them to his work, getting promotions and ultimately to his work as an international keynote speaker. Meanwhile, Jesse has a background in engineering but more recently has made a living as a successful comedian. 

Together, they have reverse-engineered how poetry and comedy captivate people's attention, and they are here right now to share how you can go from idea to ovation. 

What is up Tucker?

[00:01:38] Tucker: Uh, wow. Uh, I'm doing great. I'm doing a lot better after (1) getting to see your transformation from pre-recording to recording. That was awesome. And (2), I think you might've just sold the course better than I at least ever could have. So yeah, long way of saying I could not be doing better.

[00:01:55] Jonathan: Awesome, man. What's up, Jesse?

[00:01:59] Jesse: Dude, so true, man. I was transcribing your intro of us, and I think we're going to use that for our course description. It was way better than what we have. Ours sucks, dude. Also, when you started, I straight up thought you were punking us, dude. Cuz you made like a noise to start. I didn't know you were saying the word, “ahoy.”

I thought you were just going, like making a note. I thought you were punking us. I was, it was very jarring.

[00:02:21] Jonathan: Good. Yeah, I try and make it jarring so people in their cars, if they're listening to the podcast, whatever, it's like, whoa, okay, it's time to listen to this podcast now. So, oh man. Well, it's so, so cool to have you guys here. I'm honored.

And I’m just really looking forward to getting to know you guys in the session and seeing how it actually works to break down comedy and poetry frameworks and apply it to, uh, CBCs. But first I wanted to say a poet, a comedian, and a podcaster walk into a bar. And Jesse, I want you to finish that by the end of this, if you can.

Cuz I'm not funny. I have no idea how it works to be, you know, I don't know anything about comedy. I think it has something to do with like being surprising or something like that. But, you know, in general, I, I don't consider myself to be too funny of a guy. So, I got a lot to learn and looking forward to it.

But for real, so we have a poet and a comedian in the house. How did you guys meet?

[00:03:18] Jesse: In a cohort course dude. In a cohort course. Yeah, I, yeah. Tucker was like a guest speaker, and I was floored by his performance. It was, it was good. I, it was a breath of fresh air. I'm not crazy about every person I see who's a guest. I mostly tune them out, but Tucker was like really on it, man. He was very magnetic, instantly magnetic.

[00:03:42] Tucker: And then I got to a chat to Jessie afterwards. And, you know, I learned about his comedy in the conversation that we had one-on-one after that cohort course. And he had just such a different approach to being creative, but one that I felt like I could identify with. And it was so, so interesting to hear someone talk about, you know, creativity, being something that can only be learned as opposed to being this innate skill.

And I was like already, like the way this guy thinks about his craft. So, so then I just said to him, tell me what you're doing. Cuz I wanna, I want to fall in line with that. And then we ended up here.

[00:04:22] Jesse: Right. We were just hanging out as friends. We were like, kind of just calling once a week and just talking. Cuz we liked each other and then, kinda fell into it. 

But dude, exactly like what you were talking about. Cuz you mentioned that you're like, I'm not really like a funny guy, dude. I like, so for sure don't like identify as like a naturally funny person.
That's what intrigued me about like the space initially. It's like, why do I think that every single thing in life is like very learnable except humor? Like, why is that, like, what everybody believes? Like I'm innately funny or I'm not innately funny. There has to be an answer to this. And there, there are, they're just like scattered across like shitty books written by comedians and all over the internet.

Like they're good at writing jokes but not really explaining how to do it to other people, but it's just like any other skill that can be, like learned. And it was very fun to learn.

[00:05:11] Jonathan: Awesome. Yeah. I'm so excited. 

And so you guys met in a cohort-based course. That's, that's pretty, uh, meta. Awesome. So, how did you jump from that? And like you were hanging out cuz you liked each other, but how did it eventually evolve into, okay, let's start our own cohort-based course and do this thing together.
How did that happen?

[00:05:32] Jesse: Somebody recommended I look into Maven and that I, cuz I mentioned that I was, I had a, kind of a novel approach to teaching improv for people who didn't give a fuck about performing. That’s like, I had a huge gripe with all these improv classes that were like trying to gear people up to become like improvisers.

It's like legitimately not even a profession, but people take the classes to become better speakers and have more confidence. And that's great, but they were doing all this, ancillary bullshit that really didn't like contribute towards their goals. They were like speaking in like British accents and stuff. I don't care about that. 

So I had this novel approach to teaching improv that I really thought would be useful to people in the tech sphere. in particular. So I applied to Maven, and I got in, and I thought it'd be way cooler to do something with Tucker than it would be to do something alone.

[00:06:22] Tucker: Yeah, it felt like a really natural thing to experiment with since we come from like, obviously different places, but had a similar philosophy on like, there are ways to do the thing… the kind of things that we do, that a lot of people seem to gloss over when talking about what creativity looks like.

And it belongs in a lot more venues than people recognize, you know, this idea of connecting in a poetic way or being funny or telling stories, you know, trying to develop some sort of charismatic way of presenting yourself to an audience. So, I was really excited to just see how the backgrounds that we have both have come together and could be a value, and also what we can learn along the process of figuring out what exactly is it that hasn't worked for us in situation X or situation Y. 

So yeah, we just kind of started brainstorming and designing and seeing where things balloon to.

[00:07:22] Jesse: Yeah, dude, it is largely selfish for me. Like honestly, like whenever I meet somebody who I think is like way better than me at a lot of stuff, I just try to spend as much time working with them as I can. And I watched Tucker’s poems on YouTube. He has very good poems. And I watched one of them. And then I cried.

I cried during it. I was alone and I cried. And then like a week later I was like, I should watch this again. And I cried again, dude. And I knew what was going to happen, but that's crazy. I don't, I don't like it. I don't get moved by poetry very often. So I was like this, I have to know this.

[00:07:54] Tucker: Yeah. It usually happens for you after like the, the, My Little Pony episodes and stuff like that, right? Isn't that the,

[00:08:00] Jesse: I never cry, man. I usually only do it if I watch like a motivational compilation before like a heavy squat workout, I'll cry sometimes, or like Nike commercials, but no, none of that child stuff does it for me now. I don't watch that stuff.

[00:08:12] Tucker: I cry often. I cry very often. So I was probably channeling some of that energy.

[00:08:18] Jonathan: I love that. That is impressive to… Yeah, it is rare to, to read something or see something and have that level of an emotional response to it. And again, just the fact that you've been able to reverse engineer that to be able to teach that to others, it’s just, ah! I’m just so excited. 

So, um, uh, so, so what does it mean though, to go from idea to ovation? And also, you know, what, what's the, I guess the core of what you guys are teaching in your course?

[00:08:50] Tucker: You pointed to me.

[00:08:51] Jesse: Yeah, dude. I thought I'd let you lead this one off.

[00:08:54] Tucker: Excellent. Excellent. So a couple of things, I think it's talking about, meta stuff. I think it's worth pointing out that the reason why we ended on that course title has a lot to do with stuff that we will teach in the course surrounding what makes a line stick. And, you know, a workshop that we're working on right now is about developing one liners and the techniques that a storyteller, comedian, a poet, but also a thought leader might use to make their ideas stick.

And one of those techniques, unsurprisingly is repetition and repetition by way of alliteration. So there were a few ways we could have framed what we are coming to teach, but we chose the one that kind of would put some of the secret sauce we're trying to bring into a, into this format into action.

So what we want to do for folks is, we know that a lot of people who are, you know, course creators or lecturers, aspiring thought leaders or people who want to be in the Ted Talk stage, they have really important and valuable stuff to share. They've been doing their research or their work for years and decades, and they know their shit extremely well.

But just knowing your shit isn't enough to get folks to remember it. And unless we can find a way to translate what goodness your ideas and insights have to offer into a performance really that will mesmerize and captivate people, you're going to be lost along, you know, within the sea of the would-be thought leaders or folks who put you to sleep in the back of a lecture hall?

So we're trying to get folks to be more comfortable in the 50% of them on stage that's not the expert but that is the entertainer, so that whatever their ideas are, as long as they're crafted in the best way possible and shared in the best way possible. There's no way for an audience member to leave whatever their interaction was with that person without knowing exactly what it was they wanted to communicate and sharing those ideas and wanting to hear more and learn more from that person. So that's the kind of pipeline we want to take folks through when they're involved in working with us.

[00:11:14] Jonathan: Yeah. And, you mentioned like, you know, the difference between being entertained and wanting more versus having that lecturer who's putting you to sleep. And that's something that, you know, I can see would be very applicable to a cohort-based course creator, because in that case they are the teacher, they are the professor, they are the person standing in front of their classroom, so to speak, online, and it would be possible to be boring and put them to sleep.

But you don't have to. You could be the person that really captivates them and not only, you know, gets their attention, but yeah, it makes them look forward to that next module, whenever that comes out next week or whatever.

[00:11:53] Jesse: Right. The heuristic that's been taught to us by the people who are at the forefront of this space is 50% educator, 50% entertainer. That's like what a cohort course creator is. And everybody fixates on this 50% educator component. And they're really good. They're really good. Kick ass at it, but, but they completely neglect the entertainer aspect, and that's half dude. It's like just by putting in a small amount there, you differentiate yourself immediately. 

Figure out where it makes sense to put in the most work. And that's how you separate yourself. I remember I was doing like coding interviews when I was about to graduate college. And everybody was like trying to figure out how to like, become like a better coder and like build all these crazy things.

But I realized that all the coding interviews were just like whiteboard this type of question, like whiteboard a solution to this type of like puzzle. So there, there are these whiteboard questions, and I was like, dude, that's the whole interview. Then I'll just do 200 of them. I'll become a master at 200 them. And all my friends were like doing all this, like become a better coder, generally stuff.
And they were really good coders, much better than me. And they got no jobs. In one round of one season of interviews, I got 20 job offers from like every big company as a shit coder. I suck. I'm so bad, but Microsoft, Space X, Snapchat, Uber, all the, all these companies were like, come get this job. Cuz I just did this one thing, like figure out where you get the most reward for a disproportionate amount of your work.

And in cohorts it's becoming entertaining.

[00:13:30] Jonathan: Wow. Wow. So what are all the areas that this applies specifically within a cohort-based course? Are we just talking about the course teaching aspect of it or are there other elements that come in here?

[00:13:42] Jesse: No dude, content creation, student engagement, like just even talking to people, one-on-one, it's everything. It's everything.

[00:13:50] Tucker: Yeah. I'm looking at our, at our course page to remind myself now because whew boy, we had a lot of stuff that we were brainstorming here, but, but yeah, everything from, you know, teaching your course, but then also to having conversations with folks, you know, even if you were a content creator, that's not performing your stuff in the traditional way, even if you're just a writer, a lot of the insights that we're hoping to train folks on are insights that'll help your writing be better, to more succinct, more impactful, more sticky.

[00:14:24] Jesse: Right, right, right, right. And a lot of this stuff is very…. at first glance, like lofty nebulous stuff. But the only thing we fixate on are mechanisms, like truly concrete mechanisms that you can point to like equations. Right? You can break most of this stuff down into math and that's the way I learn best.

And the people, our target audience… largely like people in tech are engineering-minded people… that's how they learn best too. And from what I can tell, very few people have approached comedy and poetry from this perspective. So I, and that's what would have been helpful to me. So I would like to share that if that's what's helpful to other people.

[00:15:09] Jonathan: Love it. I totally vibe with that too. I majored in math in college. So I like me some numbers and figures and equations. Yeah. It just makes sense. And I think we all do right. We all like a framework where it's like, okay, like, I don't feel like I'm a funny person. You know, everyone else around me, they can like crack a joke in an instant or not everyone, but like, you know, there's always like somebody in a group of people who you know, someone will say something and the other one will like be really snappy and crack a joke really quick. 

And I'm like, I have no idea. Like there's no way I could ever do that. You know, not ever do that, but it's just not naturally intrinsically something I know how to do.

[00:15:48] Jesse: Dude. And the person who is naturally able to do that isn't equipped to teach it because they, it was like something they kind of absorbed as they grew up. And now it's just this thing that they do. I think, people who are, who don't identify as naturally funny, but who learned it… That's, that's who I'm interested in listening to.

[00:16:07] Jonathan: Mm.

[00:16:08] Tucker: Yeah. And I think this even applies to some of the nuts and bolts of what we teach because, I mean, the example that you gave makes me think about a common creative problem that a lot of people have of like getting the equivalent of writer's block and whatever their craft is, just fueling that paralysis of like, if I threw your prompt, that said, “Write me a metaphor!” You might like, uhhhhhhhhh. But then if I give you a, you know, a prompt that gives you a step-by-step of what a metaphor is composed of and then give you really specific prompts: Like, tell me about how, uh, how Greek goddesses are similar to shampoo. You might talk to me about Afrodite aroma therapy or something that allows you to…

[00:16:57] Jesse: Oh, that was good, dude.

[00:16:58] Tucker: to parse what felt initially like an impossibly large problem by plugging in these inputs that feel like they were given to you and just become a lot easier to deal with.

[00:17:12] Jonathan: So let's start to break this down. Let's start to break down the process for how to go from idea to ovation. So on a high level, I was just looking through your guys' course page. You start with module one. How to cultivate creativity. It goes into module two, how to tell stories. And then module three goes into how to construct these jokes and analogies and imagery and metaphor. And then module four is how to prepare the material for the stage. 

So is that pretty much the high level kind of framework that we're going through in terms of, um, in terms

[00:17:47] Jesse: Not at all. In all honesty, complete placeholder, complete placeholder. We'll flesh it out, Uh, when we launch the course, it's tentative right now. Yeah. 

Tucker was that the right move - complete and open honestly? I feel like that's where I want to start.

[00:18:00] Tucker: That, that was, that was the right move because I was about to lie and

[00:18:04] Jesse: I know I did. I was like, I gotta, I gotta short circuit it dude, yeah.

[00:18:10] Tucker: No, no, that was perfect.

[00:18:11] Jesse: That would've been the rest of the podcast is us like justifying. Okay. Okay. I guess like that fits there. That would've been insane. I don't want to do that for half hour.

[00:18:20] Tucker: You're totally right. And I mean, like those pieces will all, they'll find their way in, but I think we still, we're leaving ourselves very open to understanding based on folks needs, like what makes sense to help them out in which moments in which place.

[00:18:36] Jesse: Right. We’re, we're doing a lot of workshops that fixate on like singular, desired outcomes. And we're, as we get feedback on those and iterate on those, we see how they fit together into the larger whole of the course. That's been the most useful for us.

[00:18:50] Jonathan: Okay. So the way I'm kind of seeing this, is maybe we could break down like how you deconstruct comedy and kind of the steps to, maybe writing a joke, like maybe by the end of this podcast, the listener can write a funny joke. 

And then, and then maybe we can, after that we can go to Tucker and then you can kind of deconstruct how to, we could do a metaphor or something like that, and kind of deconstruct that. So then by the end, someone can write a really good metaphor. That's really captivating. What do you guys think of that?

[00:19:22] Jesse: I think that sounds like it could be fun. Yeah. I haven't done that without like, a visual aid, but it sounds cool.

[00:19:28] Jonathan: Okay.

[00:19:29] Tucker: Yeah, I think that'd be good.

[00:19:31] Jonathan: Cool. Well, Jesse, we'll start with you, man.

[00:19:34] Jesse: Um, cool. So. Jonathan, if I were to tell you, just like, write a, write a joke. What do you think you would do first? Like you just write a joke. What would be your first step?

[00:19:43] Jonathan: Yeah, I would just think of the first joke that came to my mind, the cheesiest one that I could possibly remember from my past. And I would

[00:19:49] Jesse: No, no, write one. Write one. Original, no street jokes. Do you have a street joke, actually? Do you have a good street joke?

[00:19:56] Jonathan: Yeah. Yeah I do.

[00:19:57] Jesse: Okay, let’s hear it.

[00:19:58] Jonathan: I just Googled it one day, and it came to the top of the list, but it's uh… How do you make a tissue dance?

[00:20:06] Jesse: How?

[00:20:06] Jonathan: You put a boogie in it.

[00:20:08] Jesse: Okay. Yeah. Very good. Very bad. Um, but I, I like it, but, but like actually like writing, writing a joke. 

So if somebody were tasked to like write something funny, and people get tasked that all the time, because like a lot of marketing is like, skewing humorous now. I don't think that's the best place to start.

I think it's actually so counter-productive to be like, what is funny? Like I won't start writing until I write something funny. So the most useful thing to do to start is just writing truth. So either observations that you've had that you think are true, stories that are true to you, patterns that you observe in the world, just start from true things.

Start there. Write out long-form. Just start writing. As soon as you're like, well, that's not a joke, you won't end up writing anything on the page. So writing out long form these ideas, that's the most useful place to start. 

And after you have that on the page, you can then look at where there are like slots. So. you learn the various structures. There are like a grab bag of structures, about a dozen. Most jokes fall into these categories. 

You can then see where, oh, maybe I could filter on this type of joke structure. So if you have like a list, if you're like writing out the most common structure, it's like the rule of three, right?

The rule of three applies not only comedically, but people use it all the time. I came, I saw I conquered. So that's like the most famous example of tricolon, right? Three parallel structures. I saw this actually the other day. I saw as I was Googling examples of tricolon.

And I saw the example: I came, I saw, I bought the t-shirt. I thought that was funny. I thought that that was like a cool interpretation of that. Right. So if you were to write out long form these observations, and you were to see, okay. So there's this list being formed, in parallel structures. Well, you can just take the third one and then add something surprising there because what your brain does when it sees two things that are similar in a row, it makes a leap.

It goes, oh, I can predict what this next thing is going to be. At least somewhat. Well, anytime your brain makes a leap, that's a joke opportunity. You want to subvert it. That's the foundation of all comedy. It's just surprise. It has to be surprising, has to. 

So, I would start by looking for, not for opportunities to write jokes, but where in my truthful writing do I see assumptions being formed? Could I see an audience forming an assumption and then start asking myself how to subvert it?

[00:22:51] Jonathan: I'm trying to think of like what an example could be if I'm writing, you know, just truths, stories. These are like stories of my own life that I'm writing down, stories of what I believe in. Right?

[00:23:05] Jesse: Yeah. Yeah. Anything.

[00:23:07] Jonathan: So if I were to start writing down something, you know, I could start talking about how I moved around from city to city, my whole life.

I think it's actually been a good thing. You know, just being able to start fresh all the time and, you know, meet new people. I mean, I met my wife in Oregon because we moved there. We met in high school, and, I believe, people can be in happy marriages cause we're in a happy marriage, you know, just things like this, right?

[00:23:34] Jesse: Right, so I'll throw out some ideas, and they’re going to be so shit. Right? But that's also part of this. We want to throw out all our shitty ideas because we'll iterate on them. So you're like I'm moving around most of my life. So immediately I start thinking about like, okay, well, where do you call home?

So the expectation it's the city you probably spent the most time in, but if you moved around your entire childhood, it could be like the back of a Subaru… would be somewhere that you could go home. Right? That's a surprise. That's a, that is a place that is a non-city that is a place that also fits the description of like somewhere the truth of you moving around a lot. 

Again, so lame. I'm going to keep ‘em lame, dude. I'm going to keep doing another lame one. And you're like, okay, well there's benefits to moving around. You meet a lot of new people. That's how you met your wife… is moving around a lot.

Like, what does it make it easier to do? So you're saying it's easier to meet new people. Maybe it's easier to also break up with people. It does because you don't have to go through a breakup because you're, you know, you're physically leaving.

And that reminds me of this idea where I thought like the most attractive quality in… like, sometimes I'm very attracted to somebody because they're leaving. Like, that's a hot trait to me. Like if somebody, if somebody is like… 

My type is somebody with blonde hair, blue eyes and is leaving.

That is, that's like an idea of a joke. 

Again, ideas, dude, but I

[00:24:55] Jonathan: That is kind of funny, actually.

[00:24:57] Jesse: I like, I like generating these ideas, and if you can get in the habit of just enumerating these shit ideas, if I have 10 dude, one will be good.

[00:25:06] Jonathan: Interesting.

[00:25:08] Tucker: More than one in my experience of seeing the random stuff that Jessie shits out at a moment's notice.

[00:25:15] Jesse: I forgot to mention that another good place to start is things that evoke a strong emotion in you. So I mentioned observations, stories, but another really good place to start is what really makes you angry or sad or just evokes any strong emotion? Often, anger is a really good place to start. It's actually the easiest one to start. Just to start ranting is a good first exercise.

It's one of the first exercises we do in our workshops is just to have people choose a subject that they're angry about and just do in an uncensored fashion, start ranting about it. You'll be surprised how many jokes naturally emerge just by doing it.

[00:25:57] Jonathan: So then once you kind of have this list, you maybe pick out some things that are funny. Like how do you actually begin to apply this to your cohort-based course? Because it applies to everything you guys said. It's not just the lessons. It's also just in all the conversations you have and everything.

But if we were to just pick one, like maybe we do want to focus on making our course content more funny. So do we take our course content and then like take some of these things that are funny and put them in there. How does that, how do you start to apply that?

[00:26:31] Jesse: Yeah. Yeah. There are a couple of different levels, right? So what's cool is you already probably have some, at least an outline of a script, if not an entire script for what you want to lecture on. And then you also have a presentation. So you're at the presentation level. So you can subvert at like the presentational level. Like slides, there are inherent expectations. And slides… if you see a slide, what is your expectation: that you're going to see another slide. So you can play with things there already, because there's already this expectation, and you expect it to follow suit based on the previous slides that you've done. And you expect them to go chronologically, so you can subvert any of those.

Alright, so that's at the slide level, then you zoom in and you have the content where you have some kind of a script and similar to the story you were just chronicling, you would just look at where expectation is created within what you're delivering. And then look for, again, I don't want to cover a ton of different joke structures now, but look for where these jokes can be inserted because you already have this wealth of words to begin with.

It makes it way easier than beginning from a blank page. That was my, that was where I fucked up for so long. When I started doing standup, I would just like start with a blank page and be like, what's a joke I want to write. And it would be so unproductive.

[00:27:56] Jonathan: Interesting. Okay. So now, I mean, you probably have like a huge bank of things you've written down right by now, right?

[00:28:03] Jesse: Yeah. Stuff goes into my second brain every day. Yeah.

[00:28:06] Jonathan: Interesting. Sorry. I had a question and I think I lost It

[00:28:09] Tucker: It happens to me all the time. Yeah.

[00:28:11] Jesse: Never happened to me.

[00:28:12] Jonathan: Think that was an example though. Like, so I said, oh, like I had a question. I think I forgot. And then Tucker was like, oh, that happens to me too. And then you're like, I've never done that. Like, it was kind of set it up. Like you, you did the unexpected, right?

[00:28:28] Jesse: Right.

[00:28:29] Tucker: Right.

[00:28:30] Jesse: Well, right. Right, cuz the expectation is that, oh, we're all trying to make you feel better. Like, hey, don't worry about it, dude. Me too. Common human experience. No dude, I'm going to keep it real. 

Similarly. Similarly, when you were like, Hey, here's your course outline, man, like the first year of this, this and this, the expectation is of course we're going to be like, yeah man, like let’s dig into it.
So here's actually a great heuristic. This is just me riffing now. Often, telling the truth is completely unexpected. So when in doubt, just saying the true thing… one of my favorite comedians, Norm MacDonald, like this was his whole thing. He would just say the thing that was happening and because the norm is to not say the thing that's happening - that's not how people behave.
That's a joke.

[00:29:20] Jonathan: Hmm.

[00:29:21] Jesse: And it’s on everybody’s mind too, usually. That's why I made Tucker laugh. Right? Cuz he was like, oh dammit, this guy, he fucking, he said like, we were both thinking it, but he said it. I knew Tucker was thinking it too. I did that to make Tucker laugh. I thought, I thought… like largely, I thought I'd, I thought it would make them laugh.

[00:29:40] Jonathan: Awesome. So, Tucker. Let's uh, speaking of you, let's switch over to the poetry framework. So, tell us how

[00:29:47] Jesse: Let's get a metaphor, dude.

[00:29:48] Jonathan: Yeah. Let's yeah, let's do it.

[00:29:51] Tucker: I wish the audience could see Jesse, as you said that, he leans back in his chair, holding his glass of water, like, let's see this fucker flounder as he

[00:30:00] Jesse: I didn't want to go first, dude.

[00:30:04] Tucker: I think thinking of metaphors and talking about how to come up with them is a lot of fun, because specifically if we go one layer up into an analogy, it's, analogy is a really effective way to help an audience understand a complex thing really quickly by anchoring a comparison to that thing and something that they're already familiar with.

And of course, that can apply to things that are like technically complex, like, you know, a product idea or a business solution, but it could also just be like a way that you're feeling that we might all know, but because we're not in your head or your heart can immediately grapple onto. So, it's a way to get a lot, like cover a lot of ground really quickly.

And you can imagine ways in which that would be useful in talking to clients, customers, students, partners, what have you. So if we're trying to come up with a way to frame an idea in analogy before we speak out what the complex idea is that we want our audience to understand, right? So again, if it's your company, it could be your business solution.

If it's your origin story, it might be the kind of person you were when you're younger. Any of these things, just like a complex idea that would take more than 20 seconds to explain accurately. 

So once you have your idea, you then want to generate a list of just a ton of situations or things that you could compare that complex idea. And now, this part of the exercise is supposed to be broad on purpose. It's not one that you overthink. It doesn't matter what the actual connections are, or if you can immediately see what the comparisons are to the thing that you're trying to make an analogy for or not, that doesn't matter. And actually it's probably better if you come up with a bunch of things that at first glance seem to have nothing to do with what the thing is you're trying to talk about. 

So let's say that I was talking about my boss. I'm trying to give you a complex explanation of my boss who… I'm self-employed so I can shit on myself here, which makes this a lot easier. I could make a list of things like washing my car or cheetahs or going through a breakup, right?

Like at first glance, I can't think of any ways in which any of these things are relevant to me, but again, that's not what we're concerned about at this point. We just want to stretch our imaginations by coming up with a fat list of things that we could try to compare ourselves to. 

So once we have that list, go through it, and note at least one similarity, and this is where you have to search between your complex idea and your points of comparison.

So for the cheetah analogy, I might say like, my boss and cheetahs are both driven when they're hungry. They're motivated to go fast when they're hungry, that's a literal one, but obviously we can make it more abstract in a second. 

And the important thing about this step is that you're not super concerned about how accurate the comparisons are so much as what the things are that you're learning about your complex idea through those comparisons. So like, now I'm thinking, well, me being hungry isn't that interesting because everyone gets hungry, but what does hunger mean? Is it hunger for food? Is it hunger for success? Is it hunger for. you know, avoiding death, like what can all of these insights that we're talking about represent in a more abstract way?

Cuz that's when we start to get a little bit more interesting with these comparisons. So we've now got our list of comparisons between our complex idea and our unrelated group of stuff. And this is where we start to focus. 

So at this point we explore in one direction further, or we go a little bit deeper, right? So there, there are two ways we can do it. 

We can either pick one of the specific comparisons that we made and liked and expand upon it. So like, I'm kind of interested in this hunger piece. So I might try to come up with some new ways of thinking about what hunger means. 

Or take one of the insights that we generated and come up with other things that share that same quality with the complex idea and then kind of jump over to one of those other things that you like better. So if I think the hunger thing is interesting, but I don't want to make the comparison to a cheetah, what else gets hungry, and how can I compare that to my boss? 

And then you kind of just enter into this conversation between the things that start to feel unexpectedly related through this exploration.

I might end up in a place where, you know, giving an origin story or, you know, just talking about my boss again. Right. And I'm saying like, my boss is the cheetah of cohort-based courses. Right? And we open up like that. It sounds like I'm about to do some (growls) like or whatever, like, you know, I'm ferocious, whatever.

But then as we unpack it, we can move in a direction that ends in a place of like, you know, my boss is the cheetah of cohort-based courses, acts ravenous, but gets lazy the second he finds what he needs to to make it through the day, which is very true about me. I've got my one big thing. And once I've found it, we're sleeping under the Acacia trees in the shade for the next 18 hours.

So the insight here is poetic thinking, which is the doucheyest term that you could call it…

[00:36:04] Jesse: That's not true, dude. I've heard you come up with way doucheyer stuff. What as the

[00:36:07] Tucker: That's true.

[00:36:08] Jesse: What was the one you did for that last keynote that I was like, dude, that was incredible, you're parodying yourself. What was it? What was it?

[00:36:15] Tucker: We're definitely not saying it.

[00:36:18] Jesse: Okay, okay.

[00:36:21] Tucker: Oh, but yeah. So this way of thinking through poetic terms, it's about stretching our imaginations by thinking of things that feel disconnected and then forcing ourselves to prove how they actually are true. You know, we all know how it's true that you could catch a snowflake on your tongue, but now prove to me that it's also possible for you to catch nostalgia on your tongue or to catch a step ladder on your tongue.

Right? These ones that make our eyebrows raise and feel the most bizarre when we hear them initially are the ones often where the most delight can be found, because if you can actually find a way to connect two seemingly disconnected things. You're going to leave your audience with something that they've never heard before.

And for that reason, we'll probably never forget.

[00:37:14] Jonathan: That reminded me of something. what you were just talking about, this idea of connecting two things that appear to be disconnected. I've heard that, that's the definition of creativity. Like, nobody can actually create anything because the universe gives us the stuff to, you know, mish-mash things together, but nothing's ever born out of nothing.

It's… creativity is taking these two things. And I think to your point, what, you know, you can connect two things that you know, are obviously connected, but when you connect two things that are not obviously connected, it's like it, it does give that surprising factor, which is probably what makes it stick.

[00:38:00] Tucker: 100%

[00:38:01] Jesse: I'll piggyback. I'll piggyback off this, cuz this is, I love this, but this is going to get so vague, but so there's this book called The Act of Creation. And it's about like what you said, like what, like what is all creativity. It's exactly that. And the whole first chapter is dedicated to illustrating that it is just connecting these two things that are not alike, and it illustrates it through jokes.

That's this guy's not a comedian. He just goes, this is the best way to illustrate this: jokes. So, so, so there's an argument too that every joke is only analogy, and you can view it from that perspective. I don't find it functionally productive to think about it like that, but it is a truth.

Every joke is an analogy.

[00:38:46] Jonathan: So, so what I'm seeing here is that in the beginning, before this interview, I was like, oh, we have a comedian, we have a poet. They're two. totally separate disconnected things. But now I'm seeing, they're actually connected and maybe comedy is poetry. Poetry is comedy.

[00:39:03] Jesse: Dude. I mean, every meeting, every call, every call between Tucker and I is just talking about our ideas and then us going, what the fuck? That's… me too. Like, like what the fuck? Wait, that's just this, that's just this, that's all our calls.

[00:39:15] Tucker: Yeah. Especially when we realized that there, like, what we do is often just the direct opposite of what the other person does. One of the most interesting learnings that I've come across when talking to Jesse about our stuff is that both of us use comfort and vulnerability in our audiences, but use them for opposite effects.

So like a lot of poets specifically spoken word or slam poets, they will aim to create a sense of security in their audience initially and use that to then pack a more intense punch when five minutes later, two minutes later, what we thought was this happy or funny description of my time as a basketball player in the third grade, turns into this kind of dark or a powerful thing.

It disarms you and then kind of socks you, but Jesse can speak more to this. Comedy uses both of those factors, but in the opposite direction for the opposite effect.

[00:40:20] Jesse: Yeah. Yeah. it's really cool to see the commonalities, and I don't think it’s limited to comedy and poetry. Like, I, I just turned 30, but I want to learn how to dance real good. So I've been taking a lot, I've been watching a lot of YouTube dance tutorials, and I'm wa I'm looking at it through this lens of like, oh, that's the same as this comedy thing… like that.

That's crazy. Like the one's just purely physical and one's like this verbal thing, but it's, it's the act of creation. It's all. It's all quite similar.

Yeah, my goal is to dance really good. I want to go to my, one of my resolutions is in 2022, I want to go to a rave, no shirt, which I got that like, my body's crazy dude. Right. If I were to take my shirt off, you'd lose your mind, but I want to be like, but I, but that's all I have. Like I don't, I can't move it well.

So I can't like do the thing that I see all these confident people. I actually think I have a hypothesis now that like moving when music is on, it's like one of the most charismatic things you could do. And I do not have it. I'm like, oh, that's my weakness. I got to address this.

[00:41:21] Jonathan: It makes me want to watch some YouTube videos now learn how to dance.

[00:41:24] Jesse: Yeah, like a 16 year old on summer break, like lock yourself in your room with YouTube and just be like, I'm going to be different when I come back, that was my whole head space. I was like, girls are gonna like me when I come back, I'm going to like, yeah.

[00:41:37] Tucker: Same, man. I spent so much time in my upstairs computer room learning crank that soldier boy in fifth grade,

[00:41:45] Jesse: Yeah.

[00:41:45] Tucker: Only to realize that that only really works when your school is a private school in England where no one has heard American hip hop before. So yeah, it didn't go so well.

[00:41:58] Jonathan: Oh, my gosh. Well, So. how, what's your approach guys to your own cohort-based course, because I can see a listener, like hearing this and they're like, okay, I get an idea of how to incorporate comedy and poetry into my cohort-based course. But like, what's the first step that you guys, you know, when facing your own cohort-based course, what's the first thing you think of, of how to apply this to your own thing?

[00:42:26] Tucker: So, what we've talked about in the past is hoping that folks can come in with their big idea. Right. And that could look like their idea for the most important lecture they have to deliver to their audience or the presentation that they would submit for a Ted Talk, or the pitch that they would give to their investors.

And we look at that coming in kind of at ground zero, not having applied any of the lenses of storytelling, poetry, comedy to that asset. And then the idea is hopefully that we can kind of filter that through you know this pipeline that does apply all these techniques that we've recognized allow what's on the page and what makes us wait to the stage, be more magnetic and you walk away with the same idea but just crafted and delivered in a way that optimizes for that connection.

[00:43:31] Jesse: Right. So you have these filters and you come in with a single idea, and you can apply these filters onto that idea, but now you have these filters that you can hopefully apply to any idea you have in the future and through a cohort course, it makes the most sense to do it in one, because you have a community of people who can also try to apply those filters on your thing.

So it's like this pipeline, you take the course, you learn these filters, you work with people, you output the same idea, but it's all shiny now. Okay, cool. Now, anytime you have a new idea and you found it useful to collaborate, you can apply it through this filter again, this is pipeline again.

[00:44:07] Jonathan: Yeah, love it. And so in the end, I mean, you could keep iterating and keep refining and in the end you have a super funny, captivating, emotional, work of art, really. I mean, you're taking this cohort-based course, which is like, you know, it’s very business, you know, looks like a tuxedo, you know, I don't know, highly professional, whatever thing, but then you're really putting art into it.

You're putting some splashes of red and some, you know, some pink on the suit. And then all of a sudden you have something funky and fresh and something that people love.

[00:44:41] Jesse: Look at your influence, Tucker. Look at that fucking analogy. That was solid as shit. That was good, man.

[00:44:47] Tucker: Yeah, I take credit for that. Yeah, that would have happened if we hadn't been talking.

[00:44:52] Jonathan: Cool. Well, I loved to have you guys on. I really hate that we gotta go in a few minutes here, but just a couple more questions for you guys. Something I like to ask at the end, first one being, what's the biggest challenge that you guys have encountered so far in your cohort-based course, as creators, and how did you solve that challenge?

[00:45:12] Jesse: One thing. Tucker, you have one is yours better than mine or no?

[00:45:15] Tucker: I do it's, it's probably not better. It's probably just as good, but you go

[00:45:20] Jesse: Oh wait, no, I want to hear yours.. I want to hear yours.

[00:45:23] Tucker: No, I mean, what I would say is that there's a lot to teach. Like there's a

[00:45:30] Jesse: That was, that was mine. That was mine

[00:45:32] Tucker: Okay, good. I knew it was equally good as yours

[00:45:34] Jesse: Yeah, that was mine.

[00:45:35] Tucker: There's a lot to teach. It's really hard to not get so excited about all of it that you don't hone in on what the most essential insights are.

And so an exercise that we've gone through that we're honestly still doing is to challenge ourselves. If we only had two hours to deliver this, what started off as a six week course, what would be, what would we do? What would we offer people? And then using that core nugget of insight to build around, like what would come out outside of that or afterwards, or if it was a two day course instead of two hours, what would be involved then?

But yeah, it's, you know, there's always some fine tuning in that regard, so we'll see where it heads, but

[00:46:21] Jesse: And we found the same heuristic useful that we use, even at the micro level of like brainstorming for jokes or poetic ideas. Putting everything on the table ever, getting everything out of our brains and on the table, all our ideas good and bad. And then it's now just a matter of reduction. So that's, it works at the micro level, but at this macro level, it's particularly difficult because we're very excited about a lot of ideas we have.

Tucker keeps telling me, “I'm a genius. Like this is crazy that I have to be forced to reduce this. I'm so smart.” And I'm like, yeah, dude, you're one of the smartest people I know, but we do have to do this. we have a limited amount of time, and you have said that.

[00:47:04] Tucker: Yeah. Yeah. I've never one self-deprecated. That’s something you should know about me.

[00:47:11] Jonathan: Oh, my gosh. Well, I imagine, uh, our listeners, are going to want to get in touch with you guys. Where's a good place that they can, uh, find you, keep in touch with you.

[00:47:20] Tucker: On the left side of the screen. Check out our, check on our course page at Maven, the course is called From Idea to Ovation. You can find Jesse's and my contact information there. You can also look us up on LinkedIn or Twitter. For me, LinkedIn - Tucker Bryant. For Jesse, probably be Twitter. He can say his handle.

[00:47:42] Jesse: I'm not really on Twitter. I have an Instagram. Jesse Warren Bruh. J E S S E W A R R E N B R U H. I guess I'm also on Twitter. That's also my Twitter handle. I just don't check it as frequently. Yeah. And if you’re

[00:47:54] Tucker: So, that is…

[00:47:55] Jesse: What? What?

[00:47:57] Tucker: So that is your email address. I thought that I had the wrong email address cuz I Venmo charged you for Burmese food four months ago.

[00:48:08] Jesse: Well, you thought you charged the wrong person?

[00:48:10] Tucker: I thought I must have, but it was exactly what your Instagram handle is.

[00:48:14] Jesse: No, I just didn't. I just didn't pay you. I'm sorry. I was just like, I don't, I'm strapped for cash right now, dude. I haven’t got the 40 bucks.

[00:48:21] Tucker: It's just good to confirm.

[00:48:23] Jesse: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Tucker and I hang out in San Francisco sometimes. If you're in the tech industry, I do it like a tech roast show.

Then we travel to San Fran and Mountain View and Seattle and other tech hubs. And we roast people who work in tech. It's a fun show if you're in the industry, and Tucker comes out there. So come grab a drink with us or something if you're local.

[00:48:41] Jonathan: Sounds like fun. Well, thank you guys so, so much. I learned a lot and appreciate you.

[00:48:47] Jesse: Cool.

[00:48:47] Tucker: I appreciate you too, man. Thanks a lot for the time.

[00:48:49] Jonathan: All right. For sure. So, yeah.

[00:48:52] Jesse: Goodbye.

[00:48:53] Jonathan: Goodbye.

[00:49:00] Jonathan: Thanks for listening. If you'd like to listen to more episodes, hop aboard If you'd like to be my matey, I would love for you to message me on LinkedIn or Twitter. And remember always captain your cohort, always be my matey, and never lick an iceberg while your ship is passing by.

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