Welcome to the Marketing in the Wild podcast. I’m Julia from Stratos Creative Marketing, where we are obsessed with finding real-life examples of the good, the bad, and sometimes wild, in marketing.
Julia: All right, friends, welcome to the Marketing in the Wild podcast. Today, we have my friend Monica Mikhaeil, to talk to us about the StoryBrand livestream. So before I introduce her, I just wanna talk about why we’re doing this episode. I became a guide back in 2018 or 2019. I already forgot, but I have loved being in the StoryBrand network. And one of my favorite things is we do quarterly livestreams where Donald Miller, JJ Peterson, and now Leia Harris walk us through all of the seven pieces of the StoryBrand framework. The reason I met Monica is because she entered a drawing for a free pass to the livestream and she participated and I love what she does. So I invited her to talk about her experience and her business.
So Monica, tell us about yourself, where you’re located, your business, fun facts, whatever you want.
Monica Mikhaeil: Cool. Well, Julia, thanks for having me. I’m really looking forward to our conversation. As you said, my name is Monica. I am a psychotherapist at Third Edge Psychotherapy. I am located in the Chicago area in Illinois. And a fun fact about me is I am a third culture kid, which is relevant to what I do, but what that is is, if no one knows, it’s any person who, from the ages of zero to 18, grew up between countries, and they end up creating a third culture out of all the different cultures they’ve been a part of. And so there’s a lot of people out there that are third culture kids, and it is the people that I love working with.
Julia: That’s awesome. Ironically enough, before I even met Monica, I also have a third culture because as some people might know, I grew up in Peru from ages 3 to 18, then came back to the states. And so that was my third culture experience where I had parents who were American, who lived in a different country and we would go back and forth and I didn’t feel quite American enough to live in the United States or quite Peruvian enough to live in Peru.
I remember one of my, I will stop talking soon, but one of my proudest moments in my life as a child was when I went to a camp that was all Peruvian and people, I was telling a story about the United States and they were like, you must go to the United States a lot. And I’m like, well, I’m actually from the United States. And they were shocked. And that was the first moment that I felt like truly assimilated.
Monica Mikhaeil: A moment of pride!
Julia: I know! That happened in seventh grade. It’s still one of my proudest moments of my life. Monica. Tell us how you have a third culture, cause you also have one.
Monica Mikhaeil: Yes. So I was born in Egypt and then my childhood, I grew up in Oman and then my teenage years and young adult years were in Chicago and then, early adult years were in Kansas City.
So also not Egyptian enough for Egyptians. Not Omani, even though most of my most meaningful memories are in Oman, and then not American enough for America. And so, and even when I say, when I’m traveling, if I say I’m Egyptian American people assume different things. So they assume one of my parents is white and the other one Egyptian. That’s if I’m traveling abroad. And then if I’m here, they’re like, oh yeah, Egyptian American. But it doesn’t capture the TCK part.
[00:04:25] Julia: For sure. It’s where, it’s your heritage, but not necessarily your experience. That is fascinating. I could talk about this alone for really long. Because, if you are listening and you are also a TCK, you know that once you, even though the third cultures might be different, there’s so much that you can relate to each other because of it.
Monica Mikhaeil: Yep. The common experience.
Julia: Yeah, exactly. So tell me, what made you wanna start your business around this?
Monica Mikhaeil: Yeah, so I feel like it was like a long time coming and it was pieces at different times and it all kind of came together around the same time. So I wanted to be a therapist because I think, being a TCK or a third culture kid, I became very curious about what makes us who we are. And why we tick the way we do and why like two people can go through the same thing.
And then on the other end of it, it impacts them differently. In retrospect, it totally adds up because, in living in so many different places and being exposed to so many different cultures and worldviews and perspectives, you don’t necessarily just buy the narrative or the main culture. You start realizing, I think most cultures do things because it really makes sense in their context. So that was the TCK piece and the therapist piece. And then eventually it was like, okay, well I wanna be a therapist. I was a therapist. After I became a therapist, I graduated in the middle of COVID in grad school.
So I started my work. I had a dream job at a college in Minnesota. I ended up moving for it in the middle of COVID. And it was, you know, I was a mental health therapist and a multicultural specialist with college students. And so I loved it because I got to, in a team context, you know, in a team setting, work with students and meet not just third culture kids, but all sorts of different walks of life. In one segment, life stage, you know, where everyone is launching out of their parents or their families, and becoming their own person, and kind of seeing that life stage in so many different contexts. And because I got to kinda be in that space for about two years, I think it became clearer and clearer that I love working with TCKs because my own journey was, I didn’t even know I was a TCK until I was 26 in my own therapy. Like, “ Have you heard of TCKs?”
That was a light bulb moment that was life changing. And so I started realizing actually more and more as I sit with young adults who are becoming their own person, or figuring out who they are, that very few people are familiar with the TCK term and experience. And you know, we come up with words to kind of capture experiences. So that’s the word that was coined by a social worker, a sociologist, I believe actually, in the seventies. And part of her research, I believe she herself might have been a TCK or had been exposed to it somehow and so she started finding common threads between this experience and it was before the internet. Snd so now, you find that the term is still not common, it’s not commonly used. But I actually think there are more TCKs out there than they themselves realize.
Julia: Oh, I would believe it because even if you think about immigrants or children of immigrants, those might be considered TCKs. There’s a lot out there. Every time somebody asks me like, “Well, where are you from?” I’m like, well, what part do you wanna know? I was born in Wisconsin and I mean, you have even more steps in your story and I’m like, Well, it’s so complicated.
Monica Mikhaeil: It is probably the most hated question by TCKs. Like where are you from? Or where is home? Because it all depends on the person, the time they have, yep.
Julia: Totally. Be like, “I don’t really wanna have this conversation with you. I’m just from Wisconsin.” So now that you are launching this business, we met right towards your turnover, where you were figuring out to launch your business, you’re still in that process. What made you interested in the StoryBrand Marketing livestream?
Monica Mikhaeil: I had not heard of it, but when I became aware of the opportunity and I kinda looked it up, I was already in a space where I was trying to find other entrepreneurs or business owners who figured out how to brand themselves or market themselves in a way that makes sense and can be consistent where it’s not like throwing things against the wall and hoping something sticks. So I had already found a little self-paced mini workshop online that I had gone through and it was essentially to help me write my website. And it was so overwhelming. I had already been going through it for a month. And I had gone through all the videos and it was time to start actually typing things out and it was not happening. I would get stuck on one piece for two to three weeks. And so I was like, you know what? I will try anything.
Julia: Yeah, for sure. And the StoryBrand livestream, I know the one thing that I love about it is that while self-paced things are good, like the fact that you have to take two days out of your schedule to actually sit down, do the work, but then you also get matched with like a StoryBrand coach and you were in our group, and I think, because I went through the livestream too; it’s so helpful because one, you have to set up for two days, but then you have somebody who can be like, yes, what you did is correct or like, no, but here’s an idea. And so it’s not like, I’m all for self-paced things, but there is a challenge because you’re like, well, I just wrote this headline. Did I do it right? Did I do it wrong? So what was something that you enjoyed most about the two day livestream?
Monica Mikhaeil: It’s hard to answer just one. So I signed up not knowing what I was signing up for and then like, you know, I set aside two days. Okay. I’ll do that. And because I didn’t expect to win this and I did, it was like, okay, like I need to make the max out of this.
So I was like, okay, I’m just gonna go through everything. It doesn’t matter if I end up with what I want on the other side or not, I’m just gonna give it my all. And that way I know I tried my best. And then, you know, that way, it is what it is. And so I definitely loved the fact that it was actual video, you know, the actual live, someone actually speaking, lecturing.
But then it was being able to be part of a group and have other people be like, “What you just said makes absolutely no sense.” I mean, no one was that rude or mean or whatever, but there was that option to be like…
Julia: And we had really interesting people in that group. We had some, if I’m remembering like the right group, we had somebody who was doing some sort of real estate investment company. We had another person who had a company that helps other companies become more eco conscious. Just really different diverse fields where, in a way it is helpful because one of the things that Donald Miller says, even if you’re talking to somebody who’s not in your target audience, they should be able to say, oh, my uncle needs that or, oh my, my brother needs that.
So they have to understand it well, enough to be able to identify who might need it. And I think that’s one thing that’s really helpful about those small groups is, like you said, People who might not be familiar with your business or your audience, but they know enough to say I have no idea what you’re saying. Or like, Hey, I do get what you’re saying and my nephew needs that or, oh, I could recommend you to somebody because I understand it enough.
Monica Mikhaeil: Yeah, I feel like the two days were, you know, not to sound cliche or anything, but it was life changing because I was able, in two days, to address everything that I had been trying to figure out for a month.
Julia: Yeah. Cause I know for you, we talked through and we can talk through the seven pieces, like we talked through who is your audience? Cause you had to have that figured out and you had already worked on that a lot before you came, but I know we talked a lot about the aspirational identity, and the problem, because it was like, okay, what is the core problem? And there could be a lot of them, too. But what do we really wanna speak to your message? So talk us through that. What were some of the most vital parts of the seven pieces of the framework for you?
Monica Mikhaeil: All right. I think one of the hardest things for me was figuring out that transformation identity. Obviously my main targets audience are other third culture kids. But kind like what we were talking about earlier, because most TCKs, or not most, but a good chunk of TCKs might not even know that that’s the word they used to describe themselves.
And then even within the community of you know, cross culture, third culture, global moments, I mean, there’s so many different interchangeable words and slightly different experiences that I was trying. It was hard to kind of come up with a word that captures that. And so we went back and forth a lot of that, if you remember.
Julia: Oh, I think we spent half of one day doing that, where we were like, but what if we tweaked it to this word? Sotell us what you ended up with.
Monica Mikhaeil: So I ended up with, well, the word misfit for actually before and after. And one of them was like “alienated misfit” to an “integrated misfit” and it’s kind of capturing the misfit as, from something that’s painful to something that’s your magic sauce.
Julia: And that was so fascinating because normally with an aspirational identity, it would be like, “Oh, you don’t fit in” to “You do fit in”—like an opposite. But we were almost nuancing it, where it’s like, “You’re not gonna fit in, no matter what, unfortunately, but you’re gonna feel more comfortable with the fact that you don’t fit in and you’re gonna treasure the fact that you don’t fit in or that you have different experiences.”
So I loved that one. What were some other ones that really stuck out to you from the BrandScript that were either hard or easy or enlightening?
Monica Mikhaeil: The problem was one, there’s such a long list and you can include so much that narrowing it down becomes really hard. You’re like, “I don’t let go this word!” So again, it was helpful to have actual live people there who hear it out and to be like, okay, well, these two words sound similar. And I believe alienated was like the core word that kept repeating.
Julia: And it’s because in the end, we have the character who has a problem. And in your case, I’ll generalize it right now, third culture kids who are feeling alienated. That’s the problem that, in this case, your business seeks to address. Because frankly, anybody who’s listening to this, if you’re not solving a problem, you need to find a problem because your business will not survive. Because nobody’s gonna use your business if it doesn’t solve a problem.
Monica Mikhaeil: Right. But you know, even if you know that there’s a problem you’re solving, I think sometimes it’s hard to articulate that as a business owner.
Julia: Yeah, that’s a good point.
Monica Mikhaeil: And I think the magic of the entire two day experience is that, even the way it’s being taught to the business owner, when I was learning it, it makes sense. You’re learning it as a story. You’re writing a story, but then also…I don’t know how to explain it. I don’t know if I’m making sense, but it’s almost like two way, as you’re learning it, you’re learning it in a way that it’s hard for you not to forget it, or like it’s hard for you not to remember it or whatever.
But then because it’s so memorable when you go to apply it, your brain kind of holds onto those things. So like, I need to be the guide, not the hero.
Julia: Right. There’s lessons throughout the whole two days where you’re, I think it helps reposition your messaging, but also like, even just your framework for how you run business too.
I have another client that went through this process and they actually created their whole culture guidelines for their company around “We are the guides, not the heroes.” And so in their weekly meetings, they talk about how are we guiding clients? And I think even that’s a really pivotal message because you’re right. You’re learning things. And then you’re also creating messages to talk to your clients, but it’s also almost helping you create this story based culture for both your marketing and then also how you run your business.
And so for all of you who are not familiar with the StoryBrand framework, it’s the character has a problem. So the character is your audience. The problem is what you solve and they meet a guide, which is you. We position business owners as the guides who gives them a plan, calls them to action so that they can have success and avoid failure. And throughout that, then there’s the transformational identity.
And so we’ve talked through Monica’s transformational identity, the problem. Let’s talk about the call to action really quick. So for you, the call to action. We had two of ’em, there were direct transitionals. What was your direct one?
Monica Mikhaeil: The direct one is book a session and actually we also went around a lot with that one because it could be book an appointment, give us a call, that sort of thing, and so I think book a session felt general enough that no matter what, people would get it.
Julia: Yeah, for sure. Well, and in the end, you could always, that’s something that once you have it in your marketing, which I know your website is live now, you can always test it too. I think people get really, they get nervous cuz they’re like, well, what if it doesn’t work? But don’t worry. You can test everything. So let’s talk about the transitional call to action. Cause that one’s a little bit harder. When we were going through the workshop, what did you think about that? Had you heard of that before?
Monica Mikhaeil: I hadn’t heard of it that way. So what I learned about how they can, they kind of delineated or separated direct call to action and transitional. It kind of clarified and so it started making sense like, oh yeah, when I’m on websites, when they offer you this thing to sign up, like a free PDF or a free video, and those are things that I go for. Those are the things that I’m like, oh yeah, I am okay giving them my email address if I can get this piece of information. And so even though I hadn’t heard of it before, it kind of made sense. And as I was going through it, I had examples of this come up even in my field and so that then helped me because I know who my main character is and what their main problem is. If they’re not ready to sign up and book a consultation or a free session or to have a conversation yet, then I can give them something, I ended up going with the misfits journal.
So I end up putting together a journal that’s specifically for third culture kids. And of course I use the misfits journal because if they don’t use the word, “third culture,” anyone actually, whether they’re TCK or not, if they feel a sense of alienation, it could be a good way to get in touch with themselves.
Julia: Totally, totally. I love that. And I think that that’s where the magic of the transitional call to action comes in is. We have all downloaded a coupon or something like that. And then we get put in their email marketing. And that’s like the whole point of it and it’s because if people aren’t ready to use us, then we can stay in touch with them. Or maybe at least, especially retail. I don’t know about you, but there are specific brands that I love that I don’t buy from that often. But you better believe that when I do, I’m gonna use a coupon or I’m gonna wait till there’s like a sale. And so I stay signed up, read their emails and then once I need it, then I will buy it.
So it’s a great way to stay in touch with people. All right. I know we’ve kind of been dropping in on certain things. Let’s just drop in on success because that’s another favorite bucket of mine. What did you put for your success piece?
Monica Mikhaeil: So you mean the part about what their end result will be?
Monica Mikhaeil: They’ll be better integrated or they’ll feel a deeper sense of belonging. They’ll feel more connected, confidence.
Julia: Yeah. I would say I, as somebody who is quite literally your target audience, I feel that after you go through therapy and really figure out your experience, you do walk away feeling more comfortable in your own skin in a way and where it’s like, okay, I don’t have to know all of the pop culture of the nineties because I wasn’t here. Peru is generally five years behind whenit comes to American pop culture.So anyway, those are some of the pieces. I thought it was really fun to go through it with you in the moment, but you’ve continued to develop it as you go too.
But tell me, the finished product for those of you who don’t know is what we call the BrandScript. How do you feel like the BrandScript has helped you both in your work and your marketing? I know you’ve talked about how it’s helped reframe it, that you’re the guide, not the hero. It’s helped you get it done because you’re not doing the self based course any longer. Are there other things that the transcript has helped you with in your work and marketing?
Monica Mikhaeil: Yeah. I don’t know if you can tell from this or not, but you know, I’m a bit of an introvert and I can be a little shy and it can be really hard for introverts, not to generalize, but for this introvert to talk about myself or to kind of toot my own horn, if you will.
And so I feel the script gives me a good reference point to kind of fall back on when I have those moments of, am I being too much? And even when I get stuck with things like a social media post, it’s going back to, well maybe I should use a direct call to action, or it gives you, the moments you feel stuck, those memorable points of, we have a character, we have a guide. To like fall back onto that and be like, okay, what did we say again? Okay. Just throw that out there. And it’ll be in the vicinity of what you need.
Julia: Totally. I think that it almost gives you like a formula for all of your marketing. Both for social media, emails, whatever. Sweet. Anything else? I’m gonna be honest with you guys. I feel like I inadvertently created a giant 20-minute testimonial for myself. And I did not mean to do that. I’m just gonna say that this is part of a guide piece where your authority gets shown by other people, your stats, like your testimonials, but we really did wanna showcase Monica’s experience because I think even in those two days, we saw a transformation in itself where you went from your confusion, your not knowing to do what to do to clarity, confidence, is what I’m hearing. And so I think that is worth showcasing as well.
So Monica, I’m glad that you came and I’m glad that we connected. If people want to find you, I know you’re still working on officially launching, so by the time this comes out, you might be already head first in client meetings, who knows. But where can people find you? All right.
Monica Mikhaeil: Well, in social media, on Instagram, you can find me @third.edge.psychotherapy. And my website is thirdedgepsychotherapy.com.
Julia: Perfect. We’ll put it all in the show notes so you can find Monica. If you are a TCK, even if you’re like, Hey, I’m not ready for therapy, which I would 100% recommend anyway, reach out to Monica because she has like a ton of good resources too, where you can kind of figure out how to integrate yourself into whatever culture you wanna integrate yourself. There’s no right or wrong answer in the end as long as you feel comfortable with yourself.
Monica, thank you. We really appreciate you and we’re glad that you’re part of the StoryBrand community, and also our Stratos community.
Monica Mikhaeil: Thank you. I appreciate you, Julia. This was a great conversation.
Julia: Hey guys, I hope this behind the scenes view of what the livestream could be like for a participant was really helpful. Even if you’re just working on clarifying your message on your own, these elements are so important. If you’re looking for help and you want to participate in a StoryBrand livestream, StoryBrand hosts them about every quarter. And I always host a group within the StoryBrand livestream. So I would love for you to be a part of my group. We always have a lot of fun. We are better than all the other groups, JK, but maybe. Anyway, I would love to have you on it.
We have some special links that you have to use in order to get into my group. So make sure you visit our show notes or shoot me a message and I can get you those links.
If you’re listening to this near its release date, you have also the opportunity to win a free ticket to the livestream. If you are not listening to this near the release date, don’t worry. Pretty much every livestream, we have a free ticket. So make sure you follow Stratos on Instagram. Also follow @marketinginthewildpodcast, but follow @stratoscreative because that’s where we host the giveaway.
We actually direct all of our Facebook people. We direct all of our email people, everybody enters on Instagram so that we can keep it in one spot. So make sure you check out @stratoscreative to enter for that giveaway. We have a livestream coming up mid-September this is 2022, in case if you are in the future, listening to this but we have one coming up mid-September and so we are giving away a ticket to that livestream.
Make sure you check out Instagram to see if you can still enter. If not, follow us so that you know the next time we’re doing it. Guys, I am partial, but I love StoryBrand because it helps communicate a clear message. However you do it, make sure you make your message clear because if you confuse your people, StoryBrand says you will lose them. Talk to you next week!
Friends, thanks for tuning into this week’s podcast episode. I am so glad that you have, if you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have, I just ask you to subscribe so you know each time we have a new episode coming out. If you loved our podcast and want to give us a rating or a review, I promise we will read each and every one of them. A special shout out to our friend, Carson Childers, who is producing our podcast. We really appreciate him and all the hard work that he’s done for us.
Also thanks to the Stratos team. They have been behind the scenes doing all of the graphic design, brainstorming, et cetera, et cetera. Really, this wouldn’t be possible without them. I’m thankful for each and every one of you guys. Lastly, listener, we’ll be back next week and I hope you will be too.
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