#18 From False Connections to Wholehearted Storytelling

Today's Guest: Tom Ruwitch

Today, I interview Tom Ruwitch who talks about his roots and success in the sales industry. He realized that although he “communicated” and “hustled” all day, the quantity was squelching the quality. What he was doing didn’t represent who he truly was and how he felt on the inside.

Tom points out that we’re taught that the harder we work the better we’ll do, and not to lean on others. He has learned how to instead express his vulnerability, build connections with people, help each other, and share a flow of empathy.

Tom Ruwitch is the founder and president of Story Power Marketing. Coaches, consultants, and thought leaders choose Tom to harness the power of storytelling so they can captivate prospects and inspire them to buy.

Watch the episode:

Connect with Tom Ruwitch

Transcript of Interview

Find Your Voice, Change Your Life Podcast

Podcast Host: Dr. Doreen Downing

Free Guide to Fearless Speaking: Doreen7steps.com

Episode #18 Tom Ruwitch

“From False Connections to Wholehearted Storytelling”

(00:39) Dr. Doreen Downing:

Hi, this is Dr. Doreen Downing and I am with the Find Your Voice, Change Your Life podcast. I give people the opportunity to talk about how at some point in their life, they came to realize that they didn’t have a voice. Whether it was because of some family traumas, some kind of experience at school or just waking up to who we really are authentically in society sometimes can be a challenge. And today, I have a friend of mine, Tom Ruwitch. And first I’d like to say a couple of things about him before we give him the floor. Tom is the founder and president of StoryPower marketing. Coaches, consultants and thought leaders choose Tom to harness the power of storytelling, so they can captivate prospects and inspire them to buy storytelling. Tom, well, is there anything else you’d like to add to that intro?

(01:47) Tom Ruwitch:

I think that says it all. I’m very happy to be here. And we’ll add more as we go along. But I think that’s a good introduction to what I do and why I’m here.

(01:58) Dr. Doreen Downing:

Great. And I’m sure that we’re all interested in hearing how you came to be who you are and what you offer as a story power marketing person. But let’s start if we can, and I know it sometimes is vulnerable to go back in your early life and talk about a time.  Maybe you have a story about what it was like and when you didn’t have a voice.

(02:29) Tom Ruwitch:

Yeah, the way I like to put it is when I was first getting started in business, I was a feeble storyteller. And that’s another way for me to say I didn’t have a voice because what I really was driven by a very formulaic and very tactic driven approach to business and sales. I was an entrepreneur. I had started and was growing a software business… email marketing software. And I was driven by the same old routine that the more you hustle, and the more that you knock on every door on every floor, I literally still have a pair of shoes with holes that I burned in the soles from running around town. My throat was raw from cold calling. And at the time, I thought I had a voice. But what I really came to recognize was that I didn’t, that I was just sort of barging around town pitching product descriptions. We had worked those up and they came from the minds of our people. But I wasn’t being authentic and communicative and connecting with people. I was simply knocking on every door on every floor, cold calling until my throat was raw and burning holes into the shoe leather, and it was tiring. And it was frustrating and it wasn’t fulfilling. It wasn’t fun. And what I’ve come to realize is that’s a pretty typical routine for a lot of people who are trying to sell their products and services.

(04:29) Dr. Doreen Downing:

Yes, you said communicative and connected and I want to talk about that in a moment. But before I go there, I get the sense of you, being a young man and entering the work world and having a sense of what that should look like, putting on the jacket, the shoes and moving forward in your life and making a business. Do you have a sense of earlier in life, was that kind of a message that you got from your parents, your father? Was he a businessman? I mean, how did you come to think, well, this is who I should be.

(05:13) Tom Ruwitch:

Yeah, my father was a businessman, and I knew a lot of successful businesspeople. And there was a certain ethic that I witnessed, and that I grew up with where it was about hustle and hard work. And, and these are virtuous things. Don’t get me wrong, but so much of the business and sales methodology that I learned was rooted in that, in that one idea, Hustle, Hustle, Hustle, hard work, hard work, hard work, and again, virtuous things. But those were not necessarily things that fostered the kind of connection building, and the kind of find your voice building that I’ve come to realize are really much more important.

(06:13) Dr. Doreen Downing:

Yes. And in our society, I’m thinking about you as a young boy, and you go into school with some kind of sense of hustle, as you’re saying, but isn’t that amazing? How young, we get that message to show up and prove ourselves and to make something out of whatever it is that you’ve got to produce as schoolwork?

(06:45) Tom Ruwitch:

Memories of school and hustling. Yeah, I mean, the principles were similar to a certain extent. The schools that I went to, were very sink or swim, you didn’t, you, you didn’t want to demonstrate or express any sense of vulnerability. I think for a young man, especially, versus young women, the idea that you soldier through it, and you just keep pushing, and the harder you push, and the harder you work, and the more hours you put in, the better you’ll do. And to a certain extent, where we’re taught, and we’re programmed not to lean on others, not to rely on resources, we’re taught that flying alone is a virtue. And I’ve come to realize and recognize that flying alone is just plain, stupid. And that what we really need to do is be able to express our vulnerability, be able to build human connections with people lean into those who can help us provide help to others. Seek those who are empathetic, and be empathetic with others, so that you can build those bonds and those connections and those are the things that ultimately feed business success and sales success.

(08:29) Dr. Doreen Downing:

You obviously, from what you’re saying now have learned something. Oh, it’s been a journey. And I get that early on, you were kind of programmed, you might say to be the achiever, the high achiever and the one who is trying to make something happen in the ways that you were taught. But it does seem like you came to some kind of realization. There must have been something that went, aha, this isn’t who I am really. So is there a story about one day?

(09:07) Tom Ruwitch:

There’s always a good story. And the story I will tell is about my email marketing software. The company was called Market Vault. We sold it about a year and a half ago but market vault had a VP of Sales named Pat Han. And Pat came back from a sales call one day and told me this story he had met with a prospect named Jane. Jane was responsible for creating the emails that were being sent out on behalf of a team of sales reps at this manufacturing company. And Jane hated her job, just hated it. It was a hassle she had to make, take the same email, copy and copy it multiple times over to deliver it under the name of each separate sales rep. And she found it miserable, she dreaded it, it was painful for her. And Pat in the course of walking her through some of the things that Market Vault could do revealed to her a way of doing email marketing, that really instantly, she recognized would transform her life. And, I don’t say that lightly when I say transform her life. But it, it was true, because she recognized immediately that this thing that she hated to do, that she dreaded, that literally gave her a headache, would now be something that she could look forward to that was easier, that took less time, that would be almost fun for her. And she was so fired up by this, that she literally jumped into Pat’s arms, gave them a bear hug, tears streaming down her cheek. And this was just a story about software. But really, it’s not a story about software. It’s a story about a human being, and a human being whose life was transformed. And when Pat told me that story, it just lit a light bulb for me that, that we were spending so much time doing that hard charging, Hustle, Hustle, Hustle kind of sales pitch, that we weren’t taking the time to really dive deep and understand the human beings whom we were serving, and the transformations that we were enabling. And that story really brought home for me that what we were doing was not selling software. But what we were doing was transforming lives. And when I recognized that, it immediately transformed the way that I talked about the business from hard charging, knock on every door, and every floor cold call till my throat was raw sales, pitching, to storytelling, telling stories about my prospects, and the transformations that they experienced, or the desire to experience. And it felt immediately so honest, and so accurate. And so authentic, so rooted in human connection and empathy. That, for me, it was a transformation because now I realized the things that I was talking about the stories that I was telling were real, were meaningful for me. And were more meaningful for prospects. No longer was it a numbers game for me. Well, yeah, I knock on enough doors, 90 people say no, but if I knock on 100, enough times, I’ll get 10 yeses, 10 yeses, 10 yeses, and I’ll fill the bucket. That was not fulfilling for me, connecting with fewer people in an authentic way, where my voice was resonating for me and felt authentic for me, and felt authentic, and was authentic to my clients. That transformed my life. My business gave me the voice that I wanted and really transformed what I do for a living.

(13:39) Dr. Doreen Downing:

So the story about Pat, who talked about a real conversation and connection with somebody then you woke up to being able to say, Oh, I get it, I really want to have relationship and be what my business is about. And that relationship happens when you can be more authentic, more real, show up in a more vulnerable way. And story, feels like what we’re talking about. But that’s the change and have your voice be able to go yes to story. So, say a little bit more about storytelling and just your approach to what you’ve learned about storytelling and what you can share with us today.

(14:34) Tom Ruwitch:

Sure. So, I’ll start by talking to you about what story isn’t. Because in here’s sort of a common story that I experience. I will connect with people who hear that I help them with stories, and they will tell me Well, I don’t have an interesting story to tell. I’m not into interesting. I don’t want to talk about myself. And my response is, number one, everyone has an interesting story. So, you’re going to find your interesting story, but go ahead and put that aside for the moment. Because really, it’s not about you. It’s not about a story about you, it’s a story about your prospects, and your customers, and everyone with whom you’re trying to connect to whom you’re trying to sell. Everyone has a story. And that story is about before, to after, where are they now? What is it that they’re going through? What are their problems? What are their fears and frustrations, and where is it that they want to go, we don’t wallow in the fear or the frustration or the anger or whatever the emotion may be, but we acknowledge it, we empathize. And then we take people by the hand, and we lead them to wherever it is they want to go. And that journey from before to after, is the story. And the more that you can understand where your prospects wish to go, what journey they wish to take, then, the better you are able to captivate them, to attract their attention to get them to lean in. So, they will say, Tell me more. And then you can tell them how your product and your service is the bridge that will help take them on that journey. So, with Jane, the prospect that we discussed, we were able to evoke for her a journey from time wasted to time saved from frustration to relief, from dread, to something I look forward to. And when I would tell that story with that emotional journey to prospects. After I had that epiphany, so many people would lean in and say, Okay, tell me how that is going to happen. And what they’ve done then has invited me to tell them about our software, they want to know about the software because I’ve sold them on the journey, the story, the story is what we sell, the software, the product, the service, whatever it is, we sell whatever it is you sell. That is the means to the end, not the thing you’re selling.

(18:01) Dr. Doreen Downing:

And I’m watching you, I don’t know if people will be able to go to the playlist and watch you speak about how you are showing up right now, when you smile we see the excitement that you have about helping people. And I also got that as a coach, what you do is to help people find their voice, like you said, they start out I don’t have a story. And then you went, “Yes, you do.” And this kind of welcoming and permitting them to be able to find their voice. So, in a way, I feel like you help people find their voice, you help them find their story.

(18:42) Tom Ruwitch:

Yeah, I think that’s true. And I think this is a place where you and I have connected in many ways, say a similar thing to our audiences. We’re trying to encourage them to remind them that it is within you that you just have to discover ways to let it out and to find it. And there’s a lot of mindset work and what you do and in what I do. I think that when it comes to marketing, especially storytelling for the sake of selling a lot, there’s a lot of resistance. I mentioned before that you begin by wanting to discover where your prospects are. And most people when they are shopping for a product or service are dealing with some kind of frustration or problem or issue that they need to address. And so, if we are going to be authentic in meeting them where they are, we have to at least acknowledge them, meet them where they are, and that involves raising the issue. Acknowledge the problem, citing some concern or something that’s keeping them up at night. And doing so is really an act of connection and empathy. It’s not an act of manipulation. And that’s a hard distinction for a lot of people to make. A lot of people feel, it’s kind of icky to sell. And it’s really icky to sell when you’re citing somebody’s problems. But I said an important thing earlier about this, that we are not wallowing in it. We’re not deliberately throwing fuel on fires, what we’re doing is we’re meeting people where they are, we’re telling them, I see you, and I hear you, I empathize with you. Now, let me take you by the hand and show you the other side. Or let me at least acknowledge that I hear where it is you want to go. And I’ll show you how we’re going to get there. And to do that, to understand where your prospect is, and where you want to go, is such a critical thing. And it’s something that everyone can do. It doesn’t take some magic or some creativity or some muse on your shoulder. To draw it out. You just have to listen and look and pay attention and deliberately connect. And when you do that, you’ll discover the stories, you’ll discover what your prospects really want, where they want to go, what’s frustrating them. When you have all of that, storytelling is very, very easy, compared to just sitting in front of a blank screen and thinking, what do I write now what am I going to say? Well, your prospects are going to tell you what you need to say, because they’re going to share with you the place they are and the place they want to be.

(22:13) Dr. Doreen Downing:

One of the things that I’m taking from our conversation today, it’s the journey idea. It feels anybody who is looking at marketing and using your services around how to market using storytelling, that it’s a journey. You want to take yourself through, in learning how to tell a story, but also in learning how to invite them to go on a journey. That’s what I think that’s one of the things that captivates people. Oh, let’s go on an adventure. Let’s go on a journey. And that it’s not about so much in terms of sales, getting to the end, which of course it is, you want to be able to connect and make your product useful to others. But I think the relational quality and going on a journey together like today with you, I feel like you and I have gone on a little mini journey here and discovering who you are, how you got to be the way you are. And now what I’d like to do and give the audience is an opportunity. How to find you, where do we connect with you?

(23:30) Tom Ruwitch:

Sure. So there are a few different things that you can do. First, go to storypowermarketing.com, all one word, story, power marketing.com. And you can sign up for my email list there. You also can sign up for a free training that I offer, called How to harness the magnetic power of storytelling to captivate prospects and inspire them to buy. And that training is a great way to dive in and really begin to discover some of the key ideas that we’ve been talking about today and how to get started. I’m also on social media, you can connect with me on LinkedIn, and you can connect with me on Facebook, but going to the website, signing up for my emails, and signing up for that free training is really the best and, and easiest way to connect with.

(24:25) Dr. Doreen Downing:

Oh, thank you for putting together a free training. I think that first step is what people can do is just take that one step. We don’t have to say you have to sign up for everything. It’s just like, oh, you’re going to learn so much if you just take that one step and find yourself captivated by some of your words.

(24:47) Tom Ruwitch:

Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah.

(24:49) Dr. Doreen Downing:

Any last words you would like to give us around storytelling today?

(24:54) Tom Ruwitch:

Well, that big idea is that it’s not an act of magic. I think a lot of people suffer from writer’s block and feel intimidated by this idea of storytelling, they picture themselves, or they literally have experience sitting in front of a blank screen. And, you know, once upon a time and now what. And the beauty of it is that this can be approached systematically, where you learn how to draw from your prospects, what it is that they want, what it is that they need, what it is that is frustrating them. And when you do that, well, we call story discovery. You build a collection of building blocks. And the act of composing a story or writing a story is really the act of assembly, taking the building blocks and putting them together in a certain structure, which is so much easier to do once you’ve learned how to do it. Then drawing from some creative magic that you fear you don’t have, we all can do this in a systematic way, if we discover the processes that it takes to do it, and I think that’s a really important idea. Because the bottom line is, anyone and everyone can do this. You don’t have to be a creative magician.

(26:42) Dr. Doreen Downing:

Well, those are really wonderful, final and uplifting words. And thank you so much for being with us today.

(6:50) Tom Ruwitch:

Really happy to be here. I enjoyed it greatly.


Also listen on…

7 STEP GUIDE TO FEARLESS SPEAKINGPodcast host, Dr. Doreen Downing, helps people find their voice so they can overcome anxiety, be confident, and speak without fear.

Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speakingdoreen7steps.com.

7 STEP GUIDE TO FEARLESS SPEAKINGPodcast host, Dr. Doreen Downing, helps people find their voice so they can overcome anxiety, be confident, and speak without fear.

Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speakingdoreen7steps.com.