‘Your story is about you, but it’s not for you. Someone, somewhere woke up this morning needing to hear your story to not feel alone.’
For most of us, it’s hard for us to see how our personal story fits into our professional life. But Mark Leruste believes that your personal story is the ’emotional glue’ that makes sense of everything you do in the world, and people need to hear it.
In this fascinating conversation, we discuss not only how you find and own your story, but how you use it for good in the service of others as a business book writer. He also reveals how he designed his own book, Glow in the Dark, as a Trojan Horse for a much deeper message….
Glow in the Dark website: https://www.glowinthedarkbook.com/
Mark’s website: https://www.markleruste.com/
Mark on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarkLeruste
Alison on Twitter: https://twitter.com/bookstothesky
Join me in London on 6 December for the launch of Exploratory Writing: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/448701898457
The 10-day Business Book Proposal Challenge January 2023: https://pi-q.learnworlds.com/course?courseid=proposal-challenge-jan-23
The Proposal Challenge Gift Edition: https://pi-q.learnworlds.com/course/proposal-challenge-jan-23-gift
WriteBrained: A 28-day exploratory writing adventure: https://pi-q.learnworlds.com/course?courseid=writebrainedcourse
The Extraordinary Business Book Club on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1447064765612358/
Alison Jones: I’m here today with Mark Leruste, who is on a mission to help entrepreneurs and business leaders impact the world with their story. A transformational leadership coach, founder of Ministry of Purpose, and award-winning host of the Unconventionalists Podcast, he previously served as Country Manager at the Movember Foundation where he helped raise 2.8 million euros for men’s health, and his new book is called Glow in the Dark: How sharing your personal story can transform your business and change your life.
Hello, Mark, good to see you.
Mark Leruste: Good to see you Alison, thank you so much and I’ve got to say, I’m really impressed that you actually managed to pronounce The Unconventionalists without even slipping. I mean, that’s a win for the start of this podcast already.
Alison Jones: It’s funny, isn’t it? You come up with these great names for your podcast and they seem absolutely brilliant to you and it’s only after, you know, five episodes in that you realize Extraordinary Business Book Club is is too long and nobody can remember the sequence of the words or Unconventionalists can’t be said by 90% of the population.
Mark Leruste: And you know what, the funny thing is, I’m dyslexic, so I don’t know how on earth I thought this was a good idea, like, I can barely spell it. Everyone’s asking me how to spell it and just, you know, little anecdote, fun anecdote, when I launched my podcast back in 2015, I had no title for my podcast. So the first episode, if you go back and check it, this is a true story, I think I say ‘Welcome to the yet to be named podcast.’
Alison Jones: That didn’t stick? No.
Mark Leruste: Yes, no, that didn’t stick at all. So then I went The Unconventionalists. Then I remember attending, and I’m sure we’ll dive into this, a session on how to find book titles or something like that, like coming up with book titles and they were giving some of the rules, right? Or some of the things you should look out for.
One of them was, it needs to be easy to remember. It needs to be easy to spell and you mustn’t look silly when you try and say it. I was like, my podcast name is none of those things.
Alison Jones: Fail, fail, fail. But it is distinctive and that is one of the big rules of book titles, isn’t it?
So we got there and I want to come back to the dyslexia point later on. So, mental note, we’re going to come back to that when we talk about writing, but first I want to talk about Glow in the Dark. So just tell us a little bit about where that idea came from and what you mean by it, and why it’s important for people to share their stories.
Mark Leruste: Yes, it’s so it’s been a journey and I know that people listening to this podcast are either on that journey, they’ve been on that journey, or they’re thinking of getting on that journey of writing. So I’m very happy to answer any question you have that you might think that might be helpful for your audience.
But I’ve got to take you back and I’m going to try my best to do the short version of this. But back in 2019, I used to give talks in companies on a particular topic around millennials and I thought about writing a book back then, and I thought, I’m going to write a book to position myself and sort of define my position as the expert for motivation for millennials in the workplace.
And then Covid happened and nobody cared about giving talks on millennials and stuff. So I’d already drafted an outline. I’d already gone through a lot of the process of kind of research and almost draft manuscript, I think about maybe 30,000 words. And I just knew that it wasn’t the book I wanted to write anyway.
So I started thinking about, what book did I really want to do? And you know, like many people listening to this, maybe you’ve had this, maybe you’ve got a bunch of authors you’ve worked with who had this, I had like gazillion ideas, you know, I had a book about X and a book about Y, and I jumped on a call with Hal Clifford he was the editor behind David Goggins’s sensational book, You Can’t Hurt Me or You Can’t Stop Me, I forgot what it’s called. Anyway and we had this chat and he basically said until you figure out what you want to do, you’re not going to figure out what book you want to write.
And it was really, this is April 2020, I think it was. And I remember that conversation. It really hit me. And so then I started thinking about, what is the book I want to write? And at that time, I thought the book I wanted to write was a book about how to overcome imposter syndrome for entrepreneurs and business leaders, because again, you’re probably familiar with this, especially in your field, most people I came across, or worked with or spoke to, were really good at what they did, no doubt about it. They delivered results for their clients. They loved working with the people that they were, but they hated putting themselves out there. They hated the idea of having to show up, be it on stage or on social media. And I thought that was such a tragedy.
And what I realized is that a lot of what was getting in the way was, at least what I thought at the time, was this concept called imposter syndrome, right? A term that was coined around this idea, we are not as worthy as the world thinks we are. We don’t internalize our success. We pass on our accolades like a hot potato by thanking someone else. Actually, it’s not me. It’s, you know…
Alison Jones: It was very funny actually. I loved your story in the book about turning up to the awards dinner, feeling like an imposter, and then talking to people and every single person there couldn’t believe they were on the list.
Mark Leruste: But, you know, but you know what’s funny about it, this story happens all the time. So, for example my partner Judy, she went to Oxford. She did a Masters in Neuroscience. She went in there thinking, this is a fluke, total fluke. Like there must have been an issue at the admission. And then when she went later on and changed careers and became a coach, she used to coach students at Oxford. And turns out everyone feels the same way, maybe like a small percentage of very self-centered, narcissistic, overconfident students, but most average I’d say people would relate with this idea, right.
So that was the idea originally and I kind of put it out into my network, and on my newsletter I happened to have an amazing guy called David Over who used to be the marketing manager or something, or Director at Penguin, who I think you know, and he spoke very highly of you.
Alison Jones: I know David.
Mark Leruste: And he just replied saying, Hey, I can help out. I know how the sausage is made.
Alison Jones: That’s a great phrase.
Mark Leruste: I started hanging out with David and he was amazing and he helped me shape a kind of a draft idea. And then, again I’ve got to plug you in here, Alison, I was having a chat with Lucy Werner, one of your authors, and we were just chatting and she, oh, you should try Alison Jones, you know, the book proposal challenge, the nonfiction business book proposal challenge that you run. And you’re probably going to say the right name, correct me.
Alison Jones: 10 Day Business Book Proposal Challenge. There’s another one, you see, to me that’s so obvious.
Mark Leruste: No, but it’s like, there’s too many words.
If you give me a word more than two syllables or a sentence with more than three words, I’m out.
So I did that with the intention of just getting clarity on what the book was about. And it was amazing. Like, I’m not saying this because I’m talking to you. I just thought it was really great the way that you structured like, Hey, on this day we’re just going to focus on your bio, on this day we’re just going to focus on who your audience is.
So it gave me a structure and someone who has got massive ADD I needed that kind of intensity. And also the group dynamic worked really well for me. But I didn’t go in it with the intention of or thinking that I would win it because people who don’t know this, if they haven’t been listening to your show for a while, is that you actually award a book deal to one person at the end of the week. I’m guessing you still do this.
And so when you said that, and I honestly, again imposter syndrome, as we were going through this, I was like, there’s no way I would win, it wasn’t even on my radar, to the point where when you announced the winners and it was the winners… I wasn’t there because I was thinking, but I just thought I’ll catch up with a call.
And I got tagged on Facebook. And I looked on Facebook and you said, and the winner is, you know, and you put Mark Leruste and I thought, What? I won a book deal. Like it was so crazy. And then we had a lovely talk and I told you, I said, look I just want potentially shop this book around and you said You go. It’s great. Like go and get some advice. You know, we’re always here and I really appreciate that. And I told you this offline the other day. I said I really appreciated that non-pressure, that kind of like go, and anyway, you know, it’s great for everyone, you know, if you’re going to go and deal.
Alison Jones: Absolutely brilliant. It’s like, yes, our winners of our..
Mark Leruste: Or graduates
Alison Jones: The graduates of the proposal challenge everywhere. Hachette Penguin, Pearson, Routledge…
Mark Leruste: Exactly
Alison Jones: Yes, Bloomsbury…
Mark Leruste: So, David Over helped me with shaping of the book manuscript. So the reason why I’m saying this long story is I want people to understand, it’s a long process. Because it wouldn’t give it justice if I gave you just a short version at the end because it makes it sound like, oh that was easy.
So we’re now going with David through this book proposal and he’s kicking my ass. And we’re going back and forth and we’re trying to make, and I wanted to do it differently because I did a video CV back in 2011 when no one was doing it. Just because I needed to do something to stand out.
And so I wanted to create a book proposal that was really beautifully designed, right? So we end up doing it. I then heard a rumour that you were meant to get a literary agent to get a book deal. And so I went out again to my network, I said, does anybody know a literary agent? Sophie Devonshire, who is the CEO of the Marketing Society and wrote two great books,
Alison Jones: … she’s been the podcast too.
Mark Leruste: Yes, well, there you go. And she’s awesome.
And she said, I know I haven’t worked with her, but I know someone who has, and she introduced me to Kitty and that’s where it started. And then she was like, okay, let’s shop it around. We shopped it around. We got a few offers, not as many as I thought I would. I thought I was like, you know, she was like this could be great. We’re going to get everybody. I was like, yes, Penguin and everyone’s going to line up. And it was like, yes, but no, yes, but no. Great but no, like, maybe not now, you know?
Eventually we had, I think, three offers on the table and I went with one who actually, funny enough is very much about the book.
He’s the only Commissioning Editor who kicked off our conversation by telling me a story about the publishing house he was working for. Like he kicked off by saying this is a story of a publisher that’s one of the longest trading in the UK and we’ve published Jane Austen and he gave me like this story, and so I was emotionally involved and I felt like he understood the concept of the book better. So I went with him, signed the deal, that stuff. Then the pressure comes, right? Like you get, I got like a stupid short amount of time, like three months or two months to write the whole manuscript, which I hadn’t done at this point.
So I start writing and about halfway through the writing process, I realize that again, this is not the right book. I love talking about imposter syndrome. I can talk about it, you know, off the cuff from my talks, but it wasn’t really the thing I wanted to be known for. It’s not the thing I’m really known for. And there was just something else that was calling me. And so I had a bit of an identity crisis about halfway through and I didn’t know what to do.
I had two options: either I don’t say anything, I pivot my book, write the book, submit that book at the end and say, ‘surprise!’ And hope for the best.
Alison Jones: Maybe they won’t notice.
Mark Leruste: Maybe they won’t notice. Or I have a difficult conversation with my publisher, which is what I opted for. And I was very honest. I said, look, I would rather not get a book deal than having to write this book, but if you trust me, I really believe in this other book, which was effectively around, it was still the same territory, but what I kept on being astonished by, and knew as a podcast host as well and as an author and people, and you know, as a book as well. It’s, people just don’t see how valuable their story is. In fact, I often say, you know, most entrepreneurs and business leaders don’t see how powerful their story was. If they did, they wouldn’t be sitting on it. And I saw this firsthand with people that I interviewed on my podcast, some people that you and I both know, and they just didn’t think their story was that great.
And I’m like, are you kidding me? I would get messages from people who had heard that podcast saying, that inspired me, that changed the way I see X, or I’m now going to do Y. And so I was in this really weird intersection between people sharing their stories, me helping them unpack them, sometimes for the first time, like live on air, and being on the receiving end of the impact of that on people. And I kept on thinking, this is nuts. This is like the only thing that’s unique about us. It’s a method that’s been around for, you know, millions of years. And yet we don’t leverage it. We’re afraid of it. So why? That’s where I got curious about the topic and the research in my book. And look, my publisher trusted me.
I went down that road and what became clear is, I talk about in the book, there’s like 10 blockers, right, which I’ve identified as to why people don’t show their personal story in a professional or business context. But just the real, like, I think the number one I was asked recently by Jodie Cook, who writes a column for Forbes.
She did a feature on me and my book and she said, you know, what’s the number one thing out of those 10? and I said, I think it’s that people just don’t see their story as valuable, right? And there’s this proximity bias effect, which is when you’re so close to something, you just don’t see how great it is. You can see that in relationships, you might have been in your relationships sometimes, Alison, in your life where you took it for granted and maybe you broke up and once you were away from that relationship, you realize, Wow, actually that was a really special person. I was just too close to see it.
And it’s the same thing with our stories. And I give an example in the book about, and can I use you for example, Alison, is that okay? Yes, so what’s your favourite book? Well, what’s your favourite, actually no, for the context of this podcast, let’s go for the book. What’s your favourite book?
Alison Jones: Oh, that’s a really tough question for me. I’m going to go with The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks because it’s one I just come back to again and again and again.
Mark Leruste: How many times have you read The Big Leap?
Alison Jones: Oh, about four, five times.
Mark Leruste: Okay. Four or five times. Do you remember how you felt the first time you read it?
Alison Jones: Yes, like this chap was putting into words things that I had known but never had words for before.
Mark Leruste: Love that. Okay, so imagine if I told you, right now you’re going to have to sit down and you’re going to have to read this book back to back. Not just five times, but a hundred times, not just a hundred times, like a thousand times, right? How do you think you would feel after the 20th time of reading it back to back?
Alison Jones: I think even, sorry Gay Hendricks, but I think even The Big Leap would start to feel like a little bit of too much of a good thing after the sort of seventh time. Yes.
Mark Leruste: So you would lose a little bit of interest of it. You might not see just how great it was the first time you read it. It’s the exact same thing with our stories. We’re so close to them that we’ve lived them over and over and over and over again, that we’ve just forgotten what it’s like for someone who hears it for the first time. And that’s kind of what I cover in the book. And I try and land that in the book to say, you’re the worst judge for how valuable your story is because you’re way too close to it. Right?
And I’ve seen this over and over and over again with clients and CEOs and founders and entrepreneurs I’ve worked with, where they have this thing and they just thought it’s completely irrelevant and I’m like, that is the thing that is going to connect everyone to what you do. And I shared this example in the book with Ash. You know, he’s a decorated army kind of leader. You know, he’s done all sorts of things in his life. He’s competed for Team GB. He’s won a gold record as a choir boy, you know, he’s been honoured by her late Queen Majesty, on and on and on, right. So he sounds a bit superhero and I remember when I worked with him, when I unpacked his story, I kept on going: there’s something missing. There’s something that just doesn’t click here. And we ended up going and talking back about his childhood. And it turns out that he grew up in a pretty difficult environment and childhood.
His father had abuse problems and was physically violent, and he often had to put himself in front of his dad and his mum and sister to protect them. And I remember even talking about this now, this was years ago. I remember when he said that. I was like, have you ever shared that with anyone? He was like, ‘No, never and I never will.’ And I thought that that is the glue, the emotional glue that we were missing to your piece, because it makes sense as to why you would run towards fire in a war situation, right. When, literally when a helicopter got shot down and everybody’s panicking, he slows down and grabs the women and men he’s leading, it’s because as a young child, he had to step in and that’s why today he wants to work with companies and help them too.
Do you see what I’m saying? So, and it took a year, I think it was a year later after we worked together, he sent me a message or an email, I forgot, and he said, it took me a while but I heard what you said. And I’ve just shared for the first time my story on this podcast that went on and won like an awards at the British Podcast Awards. That podcast.
But the point was, and I know this is going to sound a little bit out there to everybody listening to this, who is going, well, here we go, another millennial telling us some kind of big, deep moment, but it’s healing. And for a long time, I was hiding that element of my book as the Trojan Horse. So I would tell to my friends and close ones, I said, you know what? The Trojan Horse in my book is actually healing. Like this book is going to help you feel confident to share your story in a professional and business context.
It’s going to help you make a better impact when you introduce yourself. You’re going to learn and navigate and be confident, whether you’re on a podcast, on a stage, on a panel, blah, blah, blah. It’s going to help you grow your business, your profile, your impact, et cetera. But really the reason why I wrote this book is because it’s going to heal pieces of you and parts of you that others around you are going to benefit from.
And my friend Emily Gindlesparger, who’s the author of, Please Help Me Love Me, said to me, stop making that the Trojan Horse, make that the central promise of your book.
Alison Jones: That’s so fascinating and there’s so many dimensions to that story piece. There’s the authenticity, there’s the recognition of why you are who you are. There’s the connection with other people. There’s also, I mean, looping right back to the imposter syndrome piece there’s the piece that when you share your story, you kind of enable other people to share theirs.
And unless we are talking honestly, nobody realizes that everybody feels the same and everybody’s feeling the fear and like they shouldn’t be there and all that stuff. So many things I want to touch about. I’m trying to pick up, right, what I would love to pick up on is I guess a counter argument or something that I’d like to, because although there are many, many people who don’t share their story and don’t see the value and all the rest of it, there are other people, particularly in the book writing world who, you know, I get this quite often, people come to me and say, oh, I’d like to tell my story, and my heart sinks a little bit. Because actually, unless you are a celebrity, nobody really gives a toss about your story. They only care about it if it helps them understand their story better. And so, because we know we’re talking to an audience of people who many of whom aspire to write a business book, how do you know… and I want, that thing about the impact story, I think is probably the best thing to draw out here, how do you know when it’s right to share your story or where it’s just self-indulgent waffle?
Mark Leruste: I love that question so much. Let me unpack that the best as I can. So I’m going to give a counter argument to that and I’m going to say everyone should write their story regardless if they publish it or not…
Alison Jones: Yes
Mark Leruste: …period. I don’t care whether you put it up on Amazon or get to work with Practical Inspiration Publishing, which you should.
But I think number one is the process is there’s actually a very cathartic experience of writing your story. And I actually, one of my, you know, I say at the end of the book, spoiler alert, that one of my secret wishes with this book is that it starts a revolution of people owning their stories and sharing their stories so we can capture the stories of our elders and that our kids and nieces and pets and plants get to hear our stories.
So I’m going to separate the two between I’m writing a book because I want to make a best seller, I want it just to help me grow my business. I’m going to tell my story, with the, I feel I have a story inside of me that I want to tell.
And actually Gabor Maté who’s the author of the book that just came out called The Myth of Normal spent a lot of his time as a doctor and pediatrician, I forgot what the term is in Canada. But anyway, as a doctor. And he talked about what he learned from the dying. And he talks about like all these different things that we know about, I wish I was… I wish I said I love you more. I wish I spent more time with my kids. I wish I hadn’t lived other people’s expectations, the classic stuff. But the one that I wrote, and actually again, double spoiler alert, this is coming out on my book launch event that I’m doing. I’ve got it on a slide. It’s what most people said is, I want to tell my story. I want my story to be heard.
And that moves, it really moves me because I’m thinking imagine if you get, because you want to be seen, heard and understood, deep down I think we all crave that. We can say we don’t, I think that’s ultimately a lot of our human drive is we want to be seen, heard, and understood.
And so the process, it’s funny because when I wanted to write my book, my partner Judy had the exact same reactions like, you’re going to write a, because one day I’d love to write, and I put air quotes people listening to this, you know, a ‘memoir’. And she’s like, who the hell do you think you are? Like, you’re not a celebrity, you’re not a politician.
But I said, it’s not for anybody else apart from my kids and hopefully maybe my children’s children. It’s that I wish I had that about my grandparents. I really, really do. Like I’ve got memories of sitting as a kid around the table and my grandmother, my French grandmother, my French granddad talking about the war, because I’m the great grandchild of Pierre, who was like a war veteran who won the Legion of Honour from Charles de Gaulle he was like this really great resistant leader and he went into concentration camps in Germany and my grandmother was tortured and my granddad went to war, ended up in working camps. So these were the narratives around the dinner table.
And I was fascinated from a young age, and what I wouldn’t give to hold in my hand a book that my grandmother wrote, or that my granddad wrote, or my great-granddad wrote, and I could learn about them because I think when we learn about those around us, we learn a bit more about ourselves. You know.
Alison Jones: I am going to haul you back to the business book.
Mark Leruste: Yes. Okay. Sorry. Thank you. So, so…
Alison Jones: …impact of story.
Mark Leruste: Yes. thank you, thank you very much. So I wanted to say that so that people listen to say, I might just want to write a book for the sake of writing it. Then what I do with it is a different story. So the intention is what you’re, basically what you’re asking is, you’ve got to clarify what your intention is. So is your intention to say, I feel I’ve lived through something that could be helpful to others, and I want to distill my story into a message of hope or a message of a method so that they can too heal, recover, get over, fix whatever it is.
So if that’s the case, then great. Just get really clear on what your final outcome is. And I talk about this in the book, you reverse engineer your story. So I’ll give you an example in a business context, right? Let’s say you’re someone who’s, I don’t know, who’s discovered the power of gut health. I’m just coming up with some random topic here, Alison, so bear with me.
But you’re someone who’s like, I used to have terrible IBS issues. I couldn’t go out, you know, the idea of going to the cinema with my partner was just like horrendous, you know, fill in the blank. I used to travel around with toilet paper, and then I discovered X and it really helped me and I felt so alone when I was going through these moments and it felt like nobody else was going through this. And I just wish there was a book that would’ve told me, Hey, A, you’re not alone and B, there’s a way out, and I want to write that book. So when you come from that place, I can go, yes, that makes sense but it’s a story about you, but it’s not for you.
Alison Jones: Right.
Mark Leruste: Right. So it’s like you’re basically… yes, your story’s a vehicle for a bigger message that you’re trying to convey or land.
That’s the difference I think, between the, actually I don’t know if you remember the three golden rules of impact driven stories from the book. Like, there are three parts. I’ll just remind you really quickly. So the three parts are, you’ve got to give context, you’ve got to give connection, and you’ve got to give a conclusion.
So it’s like, tell me, teach me. No, tell me, take me, teach me, that’s it.
So the reason why I came up with this really simple formula was storytelling can be over, what’s the opposite of simplified? Complexified.?
Alison Jones: Overcomplicated.
Mark Leruste: Thank you. So Complexified. Anyway, over…
Alison Jones: …complexified is a great word though.
Mark Leruste: It’s a great word. We should totally use that. That’s a great book title for a next author of yours.
So it was just, just like, yes, seven different steps, 12 steps. And I just thought, that for me, my brain’s just three steps. Three, three really simple steps. So I’ll walk you through them. So step number one is about Context, and that’s about give us the scene. What is the minimum information we need to know about your story, so that we don’t wonder, wait, where’s this, when was this? Just like really simple. Okay, so you take us into the scene. You give us the context.
The number two is Connection. This is where you take us into the story, the emotional kind of arc of your story. What did you go through? What did you overcome? What did you know, all this kind of stuff. Where most people go wrong is that they stop there. When you stop there, your story becomes more about you and there is not a lot in it for anybody else listening.
So that’s why the third step is really important, and that’s Conclusion. What is it that you want to teach us? What is it that you want to share?
Alison Jones: The So What?
Mark Leruste: That’s it. So what exactly, so that’s exactly right. So, you know, in my story, let’s take the imposter syndrome story that you said. So imagine if I said, I was like, you know, it’s 2000, I forgot what year, I’m going to make it up. I forgot what year it is, it’s 2016.
I’m walking into this hall, I’m hearing the music. I’m seeing all these people around and I’m thinking, the only thing I’m thinking to myself is what the hell am I doing here? I’ve somehow been shortlisted and selected as one of the 50 most inspiring people in London, and I’m 100% sure this is a mistake. Some fraud police is going to knock through the door and take me out, right?
So I’ve taken you. Now, if I stopped it there, it would be like a nice anecdote between you and I over a drink or nibbles or something. But in a business context where if you’re trying to raise your profile, make an impact, all this kind of stuff, grow influence, you’ve got to take a step further. So what I would say is, you know, what I was feeling was what is often commonly referred as imposter syndrome. And just when I thought I was alone, I thought of speaking to people around me and they kept on saying, I have no idea what I’m doing here.
Alison Jones: Yes.
Mark Leruste: And I said, Me too. And before you know it, I realize that every single person in that room felt exactly like I did. And what I learned that day, and this is kind of where you drop in the conclusion. What I learned that day is we can sometimes feel like we’re the only people going through something. And that shame of going through that experience is what keeps us in silence and in the dark. But actually the moment you shine a light on it and show someone else is the moment you realize you’re not alone, find the people who are going through the same thing so that you can also connect and feel like there is hope.
So I just made this up on the spot, but can you see how I just used that three step formula and I applied it to a random story? And I think that’s, to answer, a really long answer to your question, is that’s how you separate a please like me, love me, and give me your sympathy, versus, I’m going to show you a story, but it’s not about me, it’s for you. And here’s why. And I’m going to finish with that kind of message.
Alison Jones: And what I love about that and the whole book as well, is that double, it’s that Trojan Horse thing, isn’t it? It’s the, when you do this for yourself, it is incredibly powerful for you. And then when you share it with other people, it’s incredibly powerful for them. And boom. Yes.
Mark Leruste: Yes, and you picked up, you picked it up really nicely. I talk about there’s a different energy about someone who owns their story.
Alison Jones: Yes.
Mark Leruste: And I actually use the example of Eminem in 8 Mile the film for those who, B-Rabbit,
Alison Jones: The way he disarms his opponents
Mark Leruste: Yes, so even if you’re not into hiphop, if you’re not into Eminem and you find him, you know, whatever. Just, that seems amazing. If you don’t mind, I’ll just just say it really quickly. a rap battle and the concept of a rap battle is you’re meant to dis, dis is you’re supposed to kind of break down your opponent by making fun of them, making everybody laugh, and they’re just too embarrassed come back, disrespect them, that’s right. Right. Dis, thank you. And so the usual method is that you’re going to start off by taking all your attention and focus on the other person and trying to dismantle them to your best abilities and hope that you break them bad enough that they can’t come back. That’s kind of like in a really nutshell, right?
But it’s the final scene, spoiler alert, if you want to watch 8 Mile, pause this or accelerate this for the next few seconds. And he goes, he gets the mic and you see this moment of hesitation and he’s bopping back and forth and there’s kind of like this music in the background. Everybody’s kind of, you know, waving their hands and he kicks off and he basically lists all the things about him, which would be shameful, embarrassing and literally at the end he says you know, I forgot what the final line is, and everybody who has watched the film, those fans are going to hate me for this, I’m going to get so much hate, hate mail for this. But he says something like you know, I am a bum, I do live with my mum and the trailer trunk. You know, no, no, no. Then he says, now go ahead tell them something they don’t know about me, and he drops the mic.
And everybody like, even now I can feel, everybody just, there’s this huge energy. And he just is speechless because when you remove the weapon that you fear most by owning your story and sharing it. You experience ultimate freedom, which is you no longer fear what other people hold on you or know about you or don’t know about you.
Alison, it’s like, look, I still have stuff right, which I’m working through. And we talk about this in the book, about open wounds but there is a different energy about someone who rocks up and just owns it. Like the fact that I can tell you, I think we talked about this in the past, at the beginning, that I’m dyslexic.
I couldn’t say that before. And I think I talk about this in the book, I can’t remember.
Alison Jones: You do, that lovely moment when you talk about being a kid and just grappling with these books and hating it. And then if you could go back and tell yourself, not will you come through this but be published under the same imprint of these you are hating. I mean, just beautiful.
Mark Leruste: It is, it is. Like by the time this comes out, I reckon the video will be out, so I think it’s okay for me to talk about it. So I had a videographer come with me to shoot a day where I did the audio book and I went to see my publisher and they surprised me with a copy of my book.
And they literally just gave me the book in my hands. And so you’ve got this on video, you can watch it. I can send you the link if you want to link it in the show notes. And I’m going through this book and I’m kind of explaining the story, like that story but I’m kind of sharing it. And Alison, out of nowhere, this emotional wave hits me and in my experience I’m like this snot and all crying. I’m bawling.
Actually, when you look at the video, I’m just kind of like tearing up a bit. But it’s that full circle of the books that used to traumatize me, with that logo of Hachette. My healing book, I hope now bears the same emblem. But this time it’s a book for good. And look, education books are really important, so I don’t want to hate on them, but it felt crazy.
It felt 100% crazy when I realized that like never in a million years could that six year old self, who was bullied on a daily basis by school teachers, who felt inadequate and would’ve felt, oh my God, I’m going to get a book that’s going to be out there and help people. So.
Alison Jones: Yes. Brilliant, going to tear up myself in a minute.
I want to ask you for your one best tip, Mark. I’m conscious of time because there’s so much else I want to ask you, but it would be remiss of me not to give you that kind of, you know, one thing, just one thing that people can take away if they didn’t know that it’s going to change things for them.
Mark Leruste: Yes, that your story matters. No matter what your voice inside your head tells you right now, whether that’s no one cares, your story’s not that exciting. The scariest one is if people knew who you really were, there’s no way they’d love you, right? Like all those voices inside your head, and I talk about the 10 blockers in the book, there’s a bunch of them, but their purpose is in a way to protect you. Like, you’ve got to acknowledge that voice by going, Hey, you don’t differentiate between the six year old, seven year old, eight year old self and the 30, 40, 50, 60, whatever year old self, right? Just know that, just know that you may not be the best judge of how valuable your story is.
And I’ll be cheeky and add a second tale to that, which is, your story is about you, but it’s not for you. Like someone somewhere woke up this morning needing to hear your story to not feel alone. Your story has a trajectory of changing someone’s life. Like I kid you not, the number of times I heard people saying how X story helped them overcome, you know, Y challenges. You would be amazed at what comes back to you when you start having the courage to share your personal story in a public context.
And I also want to say, do it. Do it in a way that feels safe, really important, right? I talk about this in the book and I learned about this the hard way. There are certain, and I call it I think it’s called the supercharge your story formula, something like that. It’s understanding that the platform, the audience, the message and context in which you share your story matters.
There’s certain stories are best reserved for your therapist. Some stories are best reserved for your investors. Some stories are best reserved for your team and some for the public. So I’m not asking you to go and spill your guts on social media right now about your deepest wounds, right? Whether that’s the little T trauma or Big T trauma.
What I’m saying is, please take the invitation and the call that I’m asking you to explore what would it be like if you owned your story? What would it be like if you shared your story? That’d be my call.
Alison Jones: I’m going to put a personal plug for Exploratory Writing as a lovely, safe space in which to that as well.
Mark Leruste: Yes. 100%. You know, I think it’s a great companion book, I really do. I think it’s, I actually say to everyone again, you know, people are going through this, I talk about the four different types of stories, you know, the open moves, the broken record, all this stuff. Writing is a beautiful practice to come to terms with some of the things you grapple with.
And yes, I talk about Dax Shepard a lot in the book who’s the host of the Armchair Expert podcast. And he’s in AA, which is the Alcoholics Anonymous program with 12 steps. And he talks about the number of times you hear people share stories that you should hate them for. You should want nothing to do with them, but the moment you kind of own it as a fault and as a, I’m not perfect, but I’m doing my best, is the moment you create connection.
Go on for this for about hours, obviously, but I’m…
Alison Jones: I know, and we are so over time and I don’t even care. Tell us the book that you would recommend, you’re not allowed to recommend Glow in sorry. But what book would you recommend that people listening should read if they haven’t already?
Mark Leruste: Oh my days.
Such an unfair question, isn’t it?
Oh my. Okay. Let me
Alison Jones: If, you are watching this on video, Mark is basically just scanning his bookshelf at the moment,
Mark Leruste: Yes, so, okay, so, oh my, so for me it’s like, oh my, it depends, like it’s context dependent Alison. It depends what you’re looking for. A book that they have… is this nonfiction, business or just any book?
Alison Jones: Any book.
Mark Leruste: Any book. Oh, okay. I’m going to go with the first book that comes to mind for whatever reason. And it’s When Breath Becomes Air. Don’t know why that book comes up, but it came up.
Alison Jones: That’s written by the palliative care surgeon, isn’t it? He’s talking about oh, not surgeon, palliative care consultant. He’s talking about end of life care.
Mark Leruste: yes and…
Alison Jones: I can’t remember his name.
Mark Leruste: … and I don’t know why that book came up because I’ve got like a gazillion books I’d talk about and recommend, but that book is so beautifully written and you know, I don’t think it’s a coincidence I’d said that book, as I think about it, it’s kind of a man’s journey to capture his story before the end. And, just heads up, get tissues. I’m just going to say that.
Alison Jones: And do you know, it doesn’t have to be directly relevant to you. I think when you hear of a really well written non-fiction book, it’s so worth your time to read it because the patterns and the rhythms of really good writing stay with you and they make you a better writer. So for that reason yes, and Mark, if people want to find out more about you, more about The Unconventionalists, just saying it again to show off. Where should they go?
Mark Leruste: Yes, I appreciate that. So I think the best place to go at the moment is www.glowinthedarkbook.com. There you can find everything you need, whether that’s interview on a podcast or featuring me, whatever it is, buy the book, anything you need is probably going to be there. Then I direct back to my websites like markleruste.com and all that stuff, podcast, but that would be the best place.
Alison Jones: But book wise, that’s where you go. Brilliant. And hopefully we’ll have a link to that video that you’re talking about so people can see you bawling.
Mark Leruste: It’s ready now and we’re about to publish it, so you’ll 100% get the link. And I’m not bawling like, I just want to say, in my mind again, you know, that whole thing about perception versus reality. In my mind, I am like snot, tears, uncontrollably crying. When you look at the videos, you’ll be like, really Mark, doesn’t even look like you’re crying.
But anyway, yes, I’ll share
Alison Jones: Brilliant, wonderful. And everything will be, the transcript as well, will be up on the show notes at extraordinarybusinessbooks.com.
So thank you for your time today, Mark. It was just brilliant hearing the story behind the book and the story behind you. Thank you.
Mark Leruste: Thank you Alison for being part of the journey and making this a reality. Thank you.