#storytellerjewels Welcome to the telling of story podcast. I’m your host, storyteller jewels. And along with my guests, it’s my endeavour to explore the art and science of storytelling, to attract, engage and retain a business audience and to unpack why it works for some and not for the many that try this week I have the pleasure of sitting down and chatting with founder and principal of Meld Studios, Steve Baty. Listen in as Steve talks about the part of the proposal, there are likely to remember when you’re presenting one forward.
Steve Baty and we tend to remember that story about that person far more strongly, and they resonate far more strongly with people than a requirements document ever could.
#storytellerjewels Welcome to the telling of story podcast. I’m your host, Storyteller Jewels, and I’ve been looking forward to this interview with Steve Baty. Since 2009, Steve has been the co-founder and director at Melds Studios, as well as the co-founder and conference director at UX Australia is also the founder of UX Book Club, both globally and the Sydney chapter. Steve has presented at many conferences and events globally and locally, including being the keynote speaker Midwest UX 2016, Interaction South America 2017, as well as speaking in many cities around the world, including in Istanbul, Amsterdam, Helsinki, San Francisco, just to name a few. Steve is a good design ambassador. He’s also an awards judge, a member of the Australian Democrats and, importantly, a father of four and husband Steve. Welcome to the show.
Steve Baty Thanks for having me a pleasure to be here.
#storytellerjewels Steve, the term UX came up quite a lot in your bio. For those who may not be aware, what is UX and can you define that for us?
Steve Baty So UX stands for user experience. It’s a way to describe the act of designing for digital systems primarily, but not only in a way that takes into account how people feel about things rather than just taking a functional view of what they’re doing and how they’re doing. So historically, user experience was a reaction to a very functional view of software development, which has been translated into the Web in the late nineties and early two thousands and didn’t really have a lot of soul to it. That quite functional view is you know, you still see it today. You still see it in the way that a lot of software is designed and developed. But what we were finding in those early days was that there was a way of designing those things that took into account how people were thinking how they were feeling and using that as the focal point for the design exercise were able to come up with websites, software applications that people were more likely to use and more likely to use more. Um, so the utilisation of these things was higher. People’s satisfaction with them was higher. Um, and from that industry was born almost by definition.
#storytellerjewels Good UX designs means that you’re taking people on a bit of a journey from what is and what can be. And I can only imagine that storytelling plays a part in that how big a partner storytelling play, if at all, in what you do.
Steve Baty One of the one of the best books, um, talking about those foundational books on on user experience, which was actually written by a guy by the name of John Coco. He’s um, still practising, uh, in Austin, Texas, and he wrote a book called Thoughts on Interaction Design. If I if I had to pick a date because I don’t remember exactly, it was probably written around 2000 and 7, 2000 and eight. Um, and the reason I mentioned it is that in the introduction to the book, John talks about the interaction design, which is, you know, sort of a foundational part of good user experience. But John John talks about this idea of, um, interaction. Design is the design of the dialogue between the user and your service or your product, and it’s a really interesting way to think about what it is that you’re doing. There is this sort of back and forth between you, your service and the user. And if you take that one step further and think about it, not just in terms of the dialogue but in terms of a narrative, Um, then you start to see the importance of what is the story that’s being told through those interactions. What is the, um, the story of the benefit that’s being delivered to the customer, to the user through what you’re doing and it becomes quite a foundational way of thinking about what we’re doing, why we’re doing it. Why somebody should be using your product, like those sort of core value proposition things that are so important to marketing, start to come through and can be provided that overarching context if we start thinking about that narrative of how somebody is interacting over time with the thing that we have designed.
#storytellerjewels So within that process, talk to me about what the thought process that you take people through of when they’re looking at the user experience of the of the customer and how they’re about to interact or engage in that. What’s the process that you take them through to get them to really think about that evolution of the way it’s being used and the intent of the use of it and the outcomes of the use of it? Break that down a little for me.
Steve Baty There are there are a couple of tools that we use are a couple of devices that we use in our design work a lot. So at milk studios we do a lot of work that can be categorised as service design more so than user experience design. But that customer experience of the user experience carries through is quite an important part of what we’re doing in those service design projects, which is this sort of end to end design of what you’re delivering and how you’re delivering it over time. One of the tools that we use quite a lot is a journey like a customer journey or a customer journey map. And in that you have this sort of series of key interactions that are taking place over time from the early sort of parts in the sale cycle. And a customer or a person discovers and researchers and understands your service or your product and the benefit that it delivers where they compare that to their own needs. Um, and they make value judgments around price convenience. How easy it’s going to be to use your service all the way through to signing up on boarding, ongoing use, ultimately the off boarding process. When they’re no longer a customer. They’ve gotten what they need from you. But you create these narratives around these sort of key moments, almost like a story board, and in a lot of cases you can actually tell the story of somebody’s journey with your poet, quite literally threw a storyboard that wouldn’t look out of place in a movie, um, setting or in a cartoon typesetting comic strip type setting, where you’ve got these sort of key scenes that tell you what’s happening that make it clear to the reader, um, what it is you’re delivering, how it is you’re delivering it. Why it’s critical in that moment, and that visual narrative in a lot of cases is the thing that helps people get on board with a concept. It helps them understand. What is it that we’re trying to achieve with this thing? It helps software developers, hardware vendors, you know, those sort of technological people who are going to deliver on something understand the intent behind a lot of what’s going on. So rather than being reliant on these sort of technical requirements, business requirements is the thing that drives the design and development of the system. You can actually take it from the point of view of Here’s the difference we’re trying to make to somebody’s life. Here’s the experience we want them to have when they’re going through this process when they’re using our surface when they’re visiting our centre. We want them to be able to do these things, and we want them to be able to feel in these kinds of ways and storytelling is a great way to get that across, Um, as humans. Not only do we engage with stories really, really well, but we also remember them a lot better as well. And we tend to remember that story about that person far more strongly, and they resonate far more strongly with people than a requirements document ever could.
#storytellerjewels So I’ve been online for a very long time and have read, um and you know, and seen many, many good and bad websites, good and bad software. And and one of the things that I sort of note, I guess, is the quality of the information or the type of information that’s delivered at a point in time and a lot of poor systems. If you like, try and over deliver on information, there’s too much information at mostly inappropriate times, and what that tends to do is sort of cloud. My understanding cloud my feeling about why I’m there and what I’m trying to achieve. Conversely, a good website or a good system will deliver the right information at the right time. How important is that when you’re doing UX designed to deliver information and those stories behind that information at the right time, in context to where I’m at rather than where you want me to be? I guess if that makes sense,
Steve Baty what’s going on there is something really important. So those Paul sites, the ones where you’ve had a confusing experience or information overload or the the quantity of information feels overwhelming is that they haven’t provided any sense of a contextual philtre for you. They haven’t provided you with a sense of information priority for you, and they haven’t structured the information in a way that presents any kind of hierarchy for you. So you’re missing a lot of the framework, the sort of scaffolding that you as a customer or you as a user might need to make rapid sense of the information that’s being presented to you in that moment. And that’s usually a sign that the designers and the content designers don’t know because they haven’t asked. They haven’t gone and spoken to the people who are likely to use their software and use their systems. They haven’t taken the opportunity to understand what it is that those people need. So in specific moments they present everything that you might possibly need rather than the thing that’s most likely to be needed. They don’t present you with the next bit that you’re likely to need based on where you are right now. And so you get presented with this sort of overwhelming, um, barrage of information when people do things really well. Um, and they do that design part really well. What they’ll go and do is research with people, and by that I simply mean that a lot of cases they’ll go and talk to the sort of people who will use the thing that they’re designing. Um, and I’m being vague there because it works with any number of things from train stations through the mobile apps. But by talking to that person and talking to a range of people who are going to be using the thing that you’re designing, you get into a position where you can say okay, I feel reasonably confident that I know what are the most likely things to be going through that person’s mind in this moment. What are the key questions that they might be asking? Because I’ve got that sense of a dialogue going on. What are the key questions that they might be asking? And therefore I can prioritise. The most likely answer is that they’re going to need, um, and I can subsequently layout logical next steps for them as well, based on my understanding of that type of person in this moment, what their overarching activity looks like, what the steps involved in that, like in completing that activity might be, and I can lay out a path for them. So you you’ve both got a sense in the moment. I understand what that dialogue needs to look like and what that the highest priority content needs to be. And I’ve got a sense of, Well, what is the overarching journey and where are where are we on it? So instead of designing the context, lys moments, I am designing this sort of narrative flow, and I am designing a flow with intent.
#storytellerjewels And how difficult is that to achieve when we’re talking about potentially tens of thousands of people trying to do it at scale that might be coming through the process. Is it? You know, you talk about, you know, talking with people and getting their understanding and understanding what their journey is, and then determining which the most likely priority and context in each of those stages. How difficult is that when there’s tens of thousands of people and they might all be slightly different?
Steve Baty It’s really not. What we find typically is that the numbers of people that you need to speak to, um, are relatively low and to give an example what we’re what we’re trying to do with that research is find the big things. We’re trying to identify what the main issues are. We’re not trying to conduct a comprehensive audit of all of the things that might be going on. We’re looking to elevate the top 123 things only, And so because they’re the most common things that we expect to arise, I don’t need to go and talk to that many people before those things start to surface. By their nature, those main concerns, those common concerns will be common. And so once I talked to 68, 10, 12 people, I will find that I’m getting pretty good coverage around what those major issues are. Depending on the like the differences in the audiences that I might be designing for. I might actually segment that and talk to six or eight from each of the different types of people because I expect their behaviours to be distinctive, and therefore there needs to be distinctive as they navigate through the site. But designing for millions of people doesn’t mean interviewing and researching with millions of people. It still comes down to good research with dozens of people only, and that’s quite a manageable exercise. When you think about the sort of infrastructure and those sorts of systems that we’re talking about, um, you know the main website that you use to engage with the tax office, for example, or the my Gov of website, for example. You know, these sort of big government systems, Um, you could still produce very good systems and very well designed and well targeted systems, speaking with dozens, perhaps hundreds of people and subsequently going out and delivering well, a digital service to millions of Australians.
#storytellerjewels I just want to change tack for a little bit. You’ve spoken at many events globally and locally. Did you purposefully set out to become a keynote speaker or speak to these events? And are you a natural storyteller, or is it something you’ve had to work on over the years?
Steve Baty I’ll take that in parts. So, um, I have been very fortunate over the last 12 or 15 years. In particular, two initially be able to write for a variety of different publications. Um, I had picked up riding in design magazines in the late nineties and early two thousands, um, doing software reviews and sort of industry surveys for the graphic design industry, um, writing about new releases of Photoshop or Quite express or FREEHAND when those things were, you know, desktop publishing tools were dominant in the design industry. I carried that across to ride into things like business and technology. U X matters Johnny Holland magazine. Um, and those got me invitations to speak at conferences. Over time, those invitations gained prominence. So instead of giving a 20 minute talk or a 45 minute talk at a conference, I was asked to come and give closing. Keynote Um, and that’s it’s an enormous privilege to be asked to come and do that kind of thing. Um, as a conference organiser myself, I know the amount of faith you put in a keynote speaker. Whether it’s to open a conference, opened the day’s proceedings, closed the day’s proceedings or wrap up the entire event. There’s a lot riding on the ability of that person to actually articulate well, a collection of thoughts that will resonate with an audience and in a way that will resonate in an audience rather than alienate them. The last thing you want as a conference organiser is to have your closing keynote, the one that you want to wrap up the conference themes tied up in a nice package, deliver it to the audience and send them off. You know, with this sort of coherent collection of thoughts and inspired and energised, and instead they alienate the audience. And I have had that once or twice. It’s a it’s a privilege. So I I haven’t sought it. I haven’t gone out and said, I’d like to be a keynote speaker and approach different conferences. I’ve just been fortunate over the years that a number of conferences have actually reached out to me and said, Look, we’d like you to take on this role. Are you? Are you up for it In terms of Am I a natural storyteller? I haven’t had to work for it. I don’t know, to be honest, um, I’m I’m not short of words. But whether or not I’m actually a good storyteller or not, I’m going to leave to you and to others. I think I don’t think I’m a confusing individual, but whether I’m a good storyteller or not is a work in progress.
#storytellerjewels I’m sure you’re doing pretty well and doing a very good job at it. Otherwise you wouldn’t get invited to more than one. I would imagine. Yeah, you think so? Right. So what effect, if any, has building your personal brand had on your business and building your business?
Steve Baty I think those two things go reasonably hand in hand. So as a company to add milled studios as a company. And I was fortunate to start the company with two other people Janet Walda, who was in the US when we started the business. Ian Barker, who is from the UK but was already in Australia, both of whom, in their own right, Have strong reputations, have their own sort of high profile positions, have written things, presented things, um, and then, like and myself. Um, but we made a decision when we started the business that we didn’t want to be the sort of company that advertised. Um, what we wanted to be was the sort of company that people can do. And in order for people to come to you, you really need a few things that work to reinforce one another. And so we’ve worked on those over the years, and one of those is simply that you are able to deliver good work. Whatever work you get, you do it well. And that may sound trite. Um, but I don’t believe that a lot of organisations necessarily focus on high level of quality. Some studios are set up to simply turn over work, and they do satisfactory work, and they do a lot of it. Um and that’s their business model. And we had sort of deliberately set out that we would do high quality work, and irrespective of the project that we won, we would do our best work on. The second thing is that we then talk about that work. Um, so we go through the effort of reflecting on what we’ve done, reflecting on what we’ve done well, reflecting on new techniques that we’ve developed or alterations to existing techniques that we might have developed. And then we talk about that stuff publicly. Now that can be through conference presentations. Over the years, as a company, we have encouraged our staff to run workshops at conferences. We run public workshops ourselves to help other people learn the techniques that we use in our design work. We’ve written articles, we’ve given conference presentations. Um, and we’ve also encouraged our staff to teach. So we have a number of staff over the years who’ve, um, worked as lecturers, um, delivering course materials at university level in design, service design, strategic design courses. Um, which subsequently builds a profile out in the community that attracts bit of projects. And a better project is one with a good brief that’s well resourced with a company that sort of understands and will invest their own time, which subsequently raises the likelihood that you will be able to deliver an even better piece of work next time. Then you can then talk about that you can then and around that goes, is sort of this this sort of positively reinforcing cycle, um, as a nice side effect. It also tends to attract good stuff. People from all around the world routinely reach out to us, not in the last 12 or 18 months, because everyone in the world is locked down, but, as a general rule will accept, will receive approaches from people from all around the world who are looking for a change of scenery or who are specifically looking to come and work with us. And that’s sort of been that broad strategy since we founded that doing good work, thinking about it, critically talking about it in a way that’s useful for other people. So it’s not. It’s not a boastful exercise. It’s a an attempt to genuinely be useful, Um, so that the people who engage with what we’re saying are in a position to do better work themselves, um, to another aspect of that is the simple recognition that we can’t be the only people who are doing this work well. Ideally, we need as many people in as many organisations both inside the organisation and in agencies who can do their best work. Um, and some of that will come from the lessons that we are able to share. And hopefully there are other people out there. And obviously there are people who are out there doing the same thing, and we can learn from them and incorporated into our next piece of work. So that’s sort of broadly the idea. Um, as a result, my profile and my reputation both as an individual and as a person at Melt Studios has had sort of active work over the time. And that helps, as I say, to both attract good staff to the business, but also to attract those clients who want to work with us.
#storytellerjewels Do you have any sense of, um, how big an effect that has actually had? I imagine when you first started meld studios that perhaps you were you know, like every starting company, you’re beating the pavement and knocking on some doors and trying to sort of build, build some business and and getting out there somewhat. Um, is there a sense of actually now most of the attraction or some of the attraction of half the attraction comes from
Steve Baty a lot of this public stuff that we do, or maybe two thirds of our work comes from direct referrals from people we’ve I’ve worked with in the past or have sort of spoken to a colleague that says Go and Go and talk to Melt studios. Some of that’s go and talk to Steve Some of its go and talk to Ian. Some of its go and talk to one of the other people that the company don’t talk to. Some of its direct follow on work you do a piece of work with with a client and they say, Okay, now let’s work on the next bit Um, and that’s all good And that’s a good sign that not only were you delivering good work, but you were delivering good value and you were delivering it in a way that was easy to work with. Um, so if you’re delivering good work that you’re a pain and they asked to deal with, then clients will actually turn away and just going okay, but the work was great, but I don’t want to deal with you personally, Um, so there’s a There’s a reasonable sense that we’re working in a way that people are happy with with delivering results that they’re, um they’re valuing and they’re willing to actually say to a colleague or appear in another organisation. That’s a company that you should go and speak to. Almost without fail, though, we will get approaches from people who’ve read an article. Senior conference presentation attended a workshop that we’ve run. Um, who’s I really liked what you had to say in your perspective, on whatever that topic is. I need your help in my organisation. I need you to come and do for us what you were talking about doing for that other organisations. They’re similar to us. They have a similar challenge. What you did for them would be really good if you could come and do that for us, and that’s, you know, like that, then feeds the next cycle of referrals. But I’d say it’s maybe 20 to 25% of new clients come to us through that public profile. Um and sometimes that is, we’d like you to, um like, we’d like to invite you to participate in this sort of closed tender. Um so it’s still a competitive process. No guarantee of having won it. Um, but that person, that company might be reaching out to just three or four businesses that they feel confident can deliver. Um, and your reputation gets you into that mix, and that’s always a pretty a pretty good position to be in. And I’d say about a quarter of our work comes through those sorts of interactions. Over the years, I’ve worked with a number of different clients, and it’s sort of still surprises me to some degree that I stumble across a new client. Perhaps, and, you know, I dig into their business a little bit and discover that they’re actually doing some really amazing things. But I’ve never heard of them. I’ve never stumbled across them. It was by accident that I stumbled across them at that point in time. Always call them the you know the best kept secrets, and that’s not something you want to be known for in business. How important is it? Do you think for a business owner, for an entrepreneur in general to actually get out there and be the face of the business and be visible, we’re going to a process? At the moment of engaging with a marketing company to help us. So for for all of the good that we can sort of do in it when you’re in it. It can also be difficult to really identify where you might need some help. Um, to take the time to really analyse where leads are coming from and where people are finding it, uh, and and make sure that you are telling a story that’s answering their questions today. So this is This is one of those things that again it’s sort of good research will tell you the answers to these things. But when you’re in the midst of doing your own job, it can be hard to to go and conduct that research. So we’ve brought in that help, Um, and they’re they’re going through and looking at well for the people who are engaging with companies to do the kind of work that we can do that we would help them with. How are they framing that problem and then translating that into What should we be talking about? How might we be telling that story so that we’re connecting those two things? Um, and it’s not about you could take that as a cynical exercise and say, I’m going to talk about stuff that we really can’t do, but it’ll attract work and then I’ll figure out how to do it. But there’s also a very real problem, as you say, of people who are doing really good things but aren’t talking about it in a way that would allow anybody else to know it. They’re not broadcasting it. They’re not publishing it. Um, maybe they’re not using the rights terminology or they’re using technical jargon or industry jargon instead of words that our client would use. And so those two things never get connected, and all of that is important. But we’re sort of taking on that message of we’re going to get help with that and going through this process of looking at what we’re saying and how we’re saying to find those ways that we can improve it because otherwise you’re back into that situation that we’ve been trying to avoid as a business of having to advertise, and even then you’re in a position of in that ad. What is it that you’re actually saying? And if you’re not clear on what people are trying to solve For what? Problems that they’re thinking about what questions they’ve got in their mind, then the likelihood that you’re out is going to be any better than your content. Marketing was is low over the years
#storytellerjewels you’ve ventured across and published in a number of different formats. So, you know, you talk about writing in the early days and publications you’ve done some presentations and keynotes. You know, you build your personal brand across, uh, award ceremonies, for example, you talk about teaching. So as a whole number of different formats that you clearly have been active in, how important is it to spread yourself out across maybe more than one format? Um, and is it important to be seen in different places or where your audience might be? Or would you suggest maybe focusing in on one or two areas and being known and being very good at that?
Steve Baty I am not yet clear on whether or not there’s a single answer to that question. So after 25 years of working across various parts of the design industry, um, I’m not. I’m not clear. So I have, um, you know, colleagues and peers, um, a friend and co worker by the name of Ram Ram Costello, who runs a very successful podcast called Giant Thinkers. Um, hundreds of thousands of subscribers. It might even be millions of subscribers. It wouldn’t make a lot of sense for him to spread out and diversify necessarily if it was going to detract from his ability to do that podcast. Um, so you can understand if you’ve built up a successful following, Um, and you’ve got that audience in a particular medium, like that podcast that requires additional work that requires ongoing energy and effort. Spreading yourself into other areas may not make a great deal of sense for him. Um, I don’t have that. I don’t have a platform where I’m attracting millions of followers. I don’t have, you know, like a blog that gets hundreds of thousands of readers or, you know, millions of followers on Instagram. I’m not going to start doing beauty product influencing on tiktok anytime soon. Um, so I for me, it’s about getting stories out into the industry where those people will tend to be listening. So, um, articles on medium are good articles in different magazines. Online sort of magazines are good linked in articles work reasonably well as well, because a lot of both our clients and prospective prospective staff will be in those areas. I’m reasonably active on Twitter, um, conference presentations not only at the conference itself, but they provide an ongoing audience with people logging in to either listen to them or watch them many years down the track. For me. At least, um, I’m not fixed on a particular platform. And so I can adopt the practise of simply putting things out into the medium. That seems to make the most sense. Um, I’ve recorded a few videos on on different topics. Uh, conference presentations have been both video and audio recorded, and they’re out there. We’ve written a lot, and I’ve written a lot over the years. Um, which is obviously a sort of persists as well. I think there’s there’s something to be said for that ability to focus on a channel and outlet. Um, put the effort into building that, and that actually creates an audience. If your audience isn’t necessarily going to come to you, then you will need to find ways to reach it. Um, and that will come from things like this appearing on somebody else’s podcast or writing an article and publish it on somebody else’s site? Um, engaging in difference Slut communities, for example, is another way of reaching out to people. But it’s a very personal form of interaction. Those sorts of things I’ve been on Twitter being on LinkedIn being in sort of slack communities. It’s very much about that personal interaction that you’re having, rather than the brand being out there and growing on its own.
#storytellerjewels Would you call yourself a conscious creator? So do you put, you know, time in your diary every week and you write, you know, religiously write a blog or, you know you want to do four keynotes a year and you you work towards that, or is it a bit more random? A bit more ad hoc.
Steve Baty I think ad hoc and random would very well summarise my approach to these things. Um, I have been able to develop, um, some habits over the years, but not when it comes to writing and presenting. Um, for whatever reason, I get sort of distracted and I’ll go through a flurry of activity, and, um, then I get distracted by something else. again, and I’ll go to another flurry of activity. Um, I found what one good thing that I have gotten into the habit of is around the US Australia podcast, Um, that we’ve been producing now for just over a year. Um, and with that, I have these effectively seasons of the podcast, and I’ll record anything up to 15 or 20 episodes, and they tend to be about 20 minutes long. Um, they’re often, um, uh, sort of collected around a conference. We run three conferences a year and a bunch of other events. So I have this opportunity to go. Who are the speakers at the conference? I’m going to do short interviews with each of them, and then we will release it as a season. Over the summer, I did one around women authors, female authors, and I did a about eight interviews with, um, women authors, and we released that as a season. We did a season around the design research conference that we ran in March. I’m in the midst of recording the US Australia conference season at the moment, um, and then those can be released, and I’ve found that that style of habit if you like, which is that I’ve got a season and I’m going to record a bunch of interviews. And then I’m fortunate that I can hand it off to somebody else to edit and publish, because us Australia has an events team and a production team associated with it. So I can do that. Um, and I’m currently recording those, and I’m in the process of planning the next season. So the next season of the US Australia podcast will be looking at the issue of designing for a net zero economy. And the plan is to talk to people who can help explore that issue. They carbon economists, uh, sustainability people, um, fossil fuel people. Um, I’m interested in understanding What are the sorts of things that we engage with that we make that we use, um, that are derived from fossil fuels in some way or another, like we understand the energy that goes into making something. But what about the materials themselves? All plastics, for example, have fossil fuel foundations to them. Um, gas, heating and cooking is quite obviously a fossil fuel. But if I’m someone like a technology startup who’s designing a fitness out To what extent do I need to think about carbon emissions when I’m designing that service when I’m designing that system? And how would I go about it if I run a retail outlet like Woolworth’s, um, big major supply chain type of thing? How do I account for the carbon that’s in my supply chain? How do I account for the difference between in store shopping versus Click and collect as a systemic issue as it relates to carbon emissions? And how would I redesign that if my intent was to reach Net zero? So that’s going to be the topic of that podcast. But as I say for me, just because of the way that I organise my time and my myself being able to say, Okay, that’s a topic that’s a season I’m going to line up 10 or 12 interviews that explores that record them and hand them off is something that I find I can do decently well rather than these people who are sit down for an hour a day or sit down for a couple of hours a week and just do that content creative activity much more sporadic.
#storytellerjewels It’s pretty obvious to me that whilst you may say, you’re not consistent in that way, what you have been consistent on is producing over a long period of time would be fair to say that you’ve been writing for you say, 25 years. Um, that has led into different formats as things evolve. So speaking, podcasting, those kinds of things. So the longevity there, I think, is where you are now reaping a lot of those benefits. And I do see that quite a bit is whilst you might not be consistent on a daily weekly basis, as long as you are consistently putting yourself out there, the benefits are only going to come given enough time and, you know, putting it out in the right formats and and in the right places, so well done. So congratulations on doing that. Do you have any sense that, um, you know, from a production perspective how important is it to do things like good quality, uh, graphics, good quality, sound and audio, good quality video and lighting. How important is that versus the quality of the content itself? In other words, is it best to just get it out of your head and get it out there and don’t worry too much about the quality, or is there a need for a certain amount of quality for it to work?
Steve Baty The better the quality that you can make it, the better it will resonate with people. I believe, however, I think there’s a a a risk that we run of not doing it at all because we’re not happy with the quality of it. Well, we don’t think the quality will be there. And so it doesn’t happen if I can’t achieve a certain production and quality that I’m not going to do it at all is probably doing a disservice to ourselves, because somewhere in between those two points is decent quality but still really good content. Um, and that at least starts people engaging with the ideas and at least starts people, um, moving it around. Audio podcasts are much easier than video to do well, um, and so you can create a decent quality, quite a decent quality podcast with very little infrastructure. Um, so if quality is an issue, go for a podcast. That’s that’s probably the easiest of all of those things. Um, articles on medium are very easy to write. So if you’re more comfortable writing than speaking, publishing on one of those sorts of platforms is something that you can do reasonably well. There are going to be issues around licencing and cost, and a copyright and a range of other things that you should investigate before you use a platform like medium or use any any sort of publishing platform. But those are relatively low barriers to entry. Once you start doing video, I think issues like, um lighting, picture quality, the quality of the editing, where it served and whether or not it will stream will become much more important and can get in the way of people actually engaging with the ideas. So I’ve been watching some very well produced videos recently from a policy group called the Australia Institute. Um, a series around the economy and various elements of the, uh, the Australian economy and and they do some quite good videos recently well produced. Um, it’s not like watching a production on the ABC or SBS or commercial television. It’s a couple of people in the studio talking, but they do it reasonably. They do a read something good job of the production, the better quality. You can do the better. Um, but as I say, I don’t Don’t let that stop you. Um and I’ve I’ve seen and spoken with a lot of people who have let quality simply stop them from doing anything at all. And I’d encourage people that it’s better to articulate those ideas to get them out into the public domain, allow people to engage with them, allow that scrutiny to come through, and overall, they’ll be much better as a result.
#storytellerjewels It’s a lovely segue into my final question, Steve. That I’d like to ask everybody as we as we finish up, is if somebody paid you a million dollars to pick your brain. But you only had a few minutes to sort of impart some of your best knowledge. What? What would you say to them?
Steve Baty I’m going to give it away for free. Wow. Okay, instead of saving it for for a million bucks one day, I think one of the most one of the most sort of critical things, um, that we forget. And I see it in my Children sometimes is this idea that we’re going to be good at anything straight off the bat. We will always be bad when we start out. And if our focus is on how we compare to the best people in the industry for the best people in a domain that can be quite confronting and it can scare us away. Um, one thing that was told to me by a magazine editor many years ago when I expressed this sort of I don’t know that I’m, you know, the right calibre to be writing for your publication. You know, you’ve got this sort of litany of names of people who have this high profile. Um, and the editor sort of turned around and said The reason they have such a high profile is because they write to this magazine, not the other way around. And I’m interested in your thoughts. Okay, well, that’s not the way that I was thinking about it. I was thinking about it as they had a profile, and they had this sort of expertise, and that’s why they were writing. You will always be bad at whatever it is you’re doing when you get started. And the only way to get better at it is to get started, Um, and just to work on improving yourself and to reflect on what you need to improve and what kind of effort you need to put in to actually get there That works in so many domains. Um, it works in design. It works in exercise. It works in your favourite hobby. It works in learning a language. It works in our relationships with other people. You’re not going to be good at those things when you start, but you will get better over time if you continue to work at it.
#storytellerjewels Steve of highly enjoyed our conversation. And thank you so much for sharing some of your wisdom. It’s been a pleasure. Where can people find out a little bit more about you.
Steve Baty So you are most likely to find me on Twitter at Doc Beatty D o c b a T y. That is where I am most vocal, um, most cranky. And also most of those in, if you can believe that on Twitter, Um, otherwise you will find me on LinkedIn. Um, and, of course, it at melt Studios and also at the U. S. Australia podcast, which you can sign up to at your ex Australia dot com today.
#storytellerjewels You fantastic. Thank you so much. Thanks for being a part of the telling of story.
Steve Baty Thank you for having me. It’s been a pleasure.
#storytellerjewels Wow, I hope you enjoyed that chat with Steve Brady as much as I did. There are so many things in that to unpack everything from making sure that you’re asking your customers about what it is they need and when do they need it and delivering on that as part of your customer journey. The time that it’s taken Steve to build his personal brand, the consistency in which he has done so even though he humbly says he hasn’t been consistent, he’s been there and done that for 25 years. And as a subsequent side effect, he’s built a great business that attracts a really good customer base because of some of the public stuff that he does do, His personal brand and his business brand have actually melded together. Pardon the pun for what I loved. What I really loved was when he spoke about doing good work, unpacking that internally, but then speaking about it in public and not just speaking about it in a bragging kind of way, but doing it in such a way as to help others such an authentic approach. And I get that from everything that, he said, was that his true desire was to make the world a better place and if he can contribute to that than he’s done his job. But what that does is attract a better type of client and also a better type of employee. So what a great tip there is to put out your work in an authentic, meaningful, useful and honest way, and that will attract a better audience, much love chat soon.