ABOUT THIS SERIES: Heading into the New Year, I'm cleaning up my Evernote -- aka my brain, outsourced. It is, um ... chaotic. But every so often, I stumble upon a gem that I either forgot was there or need to use more. I'm sharing those publicly here, because it's my blog and I can if I want to. (Also maybe they're valuable too. Okay, good talk.)
Creating a narrative-style podcast like Unthinkable can be back-breaking. To help ensure story quality stays high but episode production runs smoothly, I created what's called a "rundown." This is a concept stolen from TV writers' rooms -- hat-tip to Andrew Davis for teaching me this approach.
Today (December 21, 2017), I sat in a coffee shop and updated my episode rundown to prepare for Season 4 next year. I used my most popular and, I thought, highest quality story yet: The Man Bun.
Here it is...
COLD OPEN — 2 MINUTES
• Vivid description of something happening with hero
◦ Within the above action, establish the larger theme of the episode
◦ e.g. he knows, it’s all about putting in those reps
• Create a few closed loops
◦ Use analogies, and offer incomplete details
◦ e.g. it’s a rare craft he pursues in our digital world, but he’s a master craftsman
• Example of their great work, playing out
◦ e.g. quote from Scott Stratten’s speech // clip from documentary, etc.
• List the what and why it’s exceptional
◦ e.g. Scott is a keynote speaker, who has done X talks to Y brands and sold Z books…
◦ Introduce reasons the hero’s work seems unthinkable
◦ Use 3 adjectives over the opening sting/music to drive that point home
◦ “I’m Jay Acunzo.”
A BLOCK: How do they run counter the convention? — 5 MINUTES
• Conventional wisdom about the industry or task, delivered in a clever way
◦ e.g. Public speaking, biggest fears…not so much
• Make it clear: There’s a ton of advice, and there are stakes here — doing this thing matters, so people cling to the convention
◦ Combo of VO and quotes
◦ How is the hero an exception to all that?
◦ Use some examples, Q&A, clips, VO…
◦ How do they JUSTIFY that exceptional thing? What does it DO for them?
B BLOCK: Aspirational Anchor: Lead story and reflection on the emotional battle within — 5 MINUTES
• STORY — Friction of conventional thinking vs. them
◦ Have they struggled with that at all? Why don’t others do it that way?
◦ Stories they can share about what others have said? Self-doubt and feelings?
• ANAYSIS & REFLECTION — VO + quotes to make sense of this battle within
◦ Go deeper here — find the nuance. It’s not about being a rebel.
◦ What happens in reality?
◦ Get messy! Reality is a mess.
• VO: Final framework or quote to stick in your brain about this
C BLOCK: First Principle Insight: Why does this happen? Why best practices in general? What’s the human context? — 5 MINUTES
• DISCUSSION WITH HERO
◦ Why does this happen? Is it BAD? GOOD? How do they think about this? How do they FEEL?
◦ Find the fundamental reality of this situation.
◦ Strong opinions from the hero are key here.
• VO Call-Back: Bring back the theme of the episode, armed with new First Principle Insights from the discussion
◦ Knowing THIS…and knowing the Best Practice…something doesn’t add up, or something new has come to light.
◦ Given that…(D BLOCK)
D BLOCK: Doing the Work: Revisit their great work and backstory, now that we know more — 10 MINUTES
• Another story of the hero’s great work, now through our new lens
◦ Zoom way into it and talk through something specific
◦ Get their DETAILS and FEELINGS in their story
• Reconstruct the backstory
◦ Where this all began
◦ Early influences (in life and work)
◦ How it grew
◦ Conflicts he encountered
◦ Results and status today
• The craft — Focusing on the process above all else
◦ Geek out about the process, what they love about it
◦ Where they draw inspiration, anything outside the echo chamber?
◦ Looking ahead
◦ Embracing the struggle — what’s still hard? What’s hard about doing it DIFFERENTLY?
• What others get wrong about this
◦ What do they think is wrong about the usual process? What are they mad at?
◦ Why that hurts results…or careers.
E BLOCK: Emotional final punch — 2 MINUTES
• Quotes: What kind of meaning do they get in the work that they do?
• VO: Wrap it up, challenge them
• Final tweetable moment: quote or VO