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Why John Built His 1st Elearning Portfolio Piece Using "Interactive Storytelling"

 

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Story:
Feeling like you have a great portfolio idea but, no idea where to start building your portfolio piece?

Well, that's exactly where my client John used to be!

He had done the hard work of deciding to transition out of K-12 Education and knew it was time help with business problems.

It was time to take his experience and put it to a different use, but he needed clarity, guidance, and support to create that portfolio piece he felt he needed!

John knew he had a choice to make: "figure it out himself" and build a traditional course, or make something special and join the program.

He had everything in place, it was just a matter of executing and being with the right people, right ideas, and putting it all together.

Recently, I sat down to chat with John.

So if you're ready to hear how he was able to make a career transition, to invest in himself and join my coaching program, then watch his interview now!

In this video, Anna and John will discuss:

  • How Anna's systematic approach to engagement and interactivity is exactly what you need when you're building your portfolio piece
  • How John was able to build a career-defining portfolio piece, while meeting the needs of a client/stakeholder
  • AND... how the program provides the clarity and guidance you need to know you are making the right choices for your portfolio

TRANSCRIPTION

Anna:
Hello, everybody. Welcome. This is Anna Sabramowicz and I have a special guest with me today, John Trupiano. And John is one of the members of our Interactive Storytelling Accelerator Program and he's just launched his portfolio piece, which is kick ass and absolutely awesome and I hope all of you get to experience it. But first off, before we get into all the excitement, I really wanted to dig into John's journey. How he got up to this point before he even joined us and then some of the lessons and maybe some of the experiences that he found valuable and maybe surprising. And then definitely have him tell us about his Interactive story.

Anna:
So, John, thanks so much for being here. This is awesome.

John:
Yeah. It's great to talk to you.

Anna:
Okay. So, it's interesting, because you came about from a different route and you're definitely coming into this, it's a pivot for you, right? So, I'd love for you to tell us the background and then just how you got into all of this?

John:
Yeah. I originally, so my background is in K-12 Education and I've been teaching secondary economics for the last 10 or so years, doing it internationally. I have taught in schools in the United States and in China and in Switzerland. And now, I'm based in the Netherlands, and for different reasons. I just feel like I sort of accomplished everything I wanted to in the classroom and my family situation is changing, and I'm looking for ways to transition out of the classroom.

John:
And so, instructional design was something that I didn't know a lot about before I started, before I started looking outside of K-12s. And as I kind of saw how learning, sort of learning principles and theories could be applied to business problems, I thought that was really interesting. And I just started to want to learn a lot more about it and find ways to still use some of the knowledge I had from my experience in K-12, but put it to a different use outside of the classroom. And so, that's kind of how I kind of got my foot into the idea of instructional design.

John:
This particular project happened because I decided that for my portfolio, I wanted to build a course. Okay. So, I made the decision, I'm going to build a course and I was working with an investment advisor that I know. He's our subject matter expert for it and then I'm working with him to build the course. And I knew I wanted to make scenarios and I was just kind of building this thing like you would a traditional course. You do the analysis, you start building your objectives, and then you start putting it together piece by piece, backwards design.

John:
And I got to the point where, "Okay, now we need to put scenarios in this course." And I started thinking really hard about the scenario and how that would look and where it would fit into the course. And that's when I found kind of what you're doing and your group and just how much you take that to what's possible with scenarios and with the technology. And I really thought about that and I saw what you were doing. And I kind of thought about what's possible and I was just kind of like, "Yeah, that's awesome. I want to learn how to do that." Yeah.

Anna:
So what was it that actually made you jump in? Where you're like, "Okay, I'll do it?" Because I know you thought about it, right? You're like, "Anna, you've got all these videos online. Why would I jump in?"

John:
Yeah, yeah, I did. I remember that, yeah. I guess I realized that I didn't need the help. I sort of I feel like I'm capable of going online and finding the information and saying, "Look, I'm going to figure this out myself, I'm going to gather the resources and I have enough experience and enough education where I felt like I want to build things myself at this point in where I'm at. And I just wasn't, it wasn't, I guess, it just wasn't kind of turning out the way I wanted it to and I had a lot of questions. It was going slowly, as well.

John:
And I think that just the support or the idea that you have the support and the expertise to have someone who have experience in this. And I can engage with you on a regular basis and continue to show you the work and what I think I'm doing. And then to get the feedback from the point of view that you have and to build the modules that you're making in your accelerator, your story accelerator. I just knew that I needed the support and not like I don't know what I'm doing. But this is something that's going to, I have everything in place.

John:
And I just need that support that's going to give me that feedback I need, that regular feedback, that I got and continue to get from you and Ryan all the time. That is always on point and totally dialed in. And after getting the feedback, I realized I probably would have never come up with this on my own or it would have taken me another 20 years to figure out what I'm doing, why I'm doing it. And I think I just, I was able to recognize that you did have everything in place. And that it was just a matter of executing, and being with the right people and the ideas and putting it together.

Anna:
Cool. So, when you jumped in, and you shared your work. How was that? Were you freaked out? Was it different?

John:
Yeah. One of the members of the group, I remember when I first introduced myself, one of the things Gab said to me, he just... I said, "Hi." And I said, "I've got this course I want to share." And he just said, "Share early and share often." And that was the advice that he gave me and that was actually one of the first humps that I had to go over. It was kind of just saying, "Okay. I'm just going to do that." Right? I don't really feel very comfortable putting all this work out there and I was a little worried about how I would handle the feedback or you just feel like you get nervous about putting yourself out there.

John:
But I just made the decision early that, "You know what? I don't care if I'm posting too much or if my questions are stupid, or whatever they are. I'm just going to put them out there and because I just wanted to be really honest about what I know and what I don't know." And I think that let me take advantage of the resources and take advantage of the experience that you're sharing with us. And sort of think about how I could fit into the situation and the goals that my stakeholder had here to help him and his business and his investment advisor.

Anna:
I think we have a word for you in our group and it's fearless. Relentless and fearless. It's fabulous. Okay, so now, let's really talk about your interactive story. Let's talk about, tell us about who it's for, how it came about, where you got the idea for it. And then what's its goal?

John:
Yeah. So, I guess starting the goal is good. I mean, the goal is pretty simple. The client is an investment advisor and we want to have him be able to increase the assets that he has under management, right? So, we can talk to more people and advise them and help them manage their investments.

John:
And then, as we think about that as our starting place. In the development stage, what I started to do is I talk about, "Okay, who are these people that you're going to advise as an investment advisor? Who is your ideal client?" And that that was really, I think, an important part of the process, because it gave the stakeholder a chance to really reflect on it and clarify and articulate who he thinks that he can best serve. And I got, I think that was valuable for him for me to ask him a lot of questions about that and help him get really clear.

John:
And from his point of view, he's somebody who really values getting people who are kind of just starting out or maybe don't know a lot or maybe think that investing advice is too expensive. He takes a lot of satisfaction in helping people grow and sticking with them and giving them the advice and over the long-term, right? So, with that in mind, we're like, "Okay, so we're thinking about somebody here who maybe is younger and then he has an athletic background. And so, he feels he does really well with those self-driven people, who maybe also have athletic backgrounds or at least the kind of drive that an athlete might have.

John:
Because you kind of need that if you're going to be somebody who is reaching out for financial advice and really, early in your life, taking your savings and investment really seriously, then you probably are maybe already a little bit of an overachiever if you're already thinking about those things. And so, that was an important starting point because once we know who we're talking to, then we could build the story around, "Okay, other people will see this and that's good, but we want to really hone in on this persona, this avatar," who we think that we can help the most and then build the choices and the instructional design around that person's perspective and deliver that value as much as possible to that person first. Right? And then, anyone else who else gets it, great.

John:
So yeah. So that, I guess that was important, but I mean, I already had the traditional course kind of already started. And none of it actually survived now that I think about it. It was like reset and I think that was a result of the reflection we did about who we're selling, who he's trying to talk to, and who he's trying to help. Yeah.

Anna:
So, your interactive story is called a... is it a millennial investment story?

John:
Yeah, yeah.

Anna:
And so, this-

John:
It's-

Anna:
Yeah?

John:
Pretty direct in terms of that. Yeah. It's pretty, kind of marketing speak, but that's kind of the point, too, is, "Okay, who is this who we're trying to reach?"

Anna:
Cool. So, in effect, this interactive story is a way for somebody to self-select if they're interested in that service, if this resonates with them, right? When they go through it?

John:
Yeah, yeah.

Anna:
Cool. And then it also serves obviously as a lead magnet for this financial advisor if you are aligned, if this speaks to you, boom.

John:
Yeah, 100%. The idea then is to say, "Okay, we want to imagine what is your ideal customer path look like? What kind of journey does somebody have that experiences that they have to go through that they would have taken years for them to go through? Maybe it's dealing with the investments person at their workplace and trying to think about how those contribution works. Maybe they're dealing with trying to do the research on their own and figuring out themselves and some of the pitfalls and difficulties that comes with just doing it on your own.

John:
And that comes from the persona of the Avatar, right? We're looking at people who maybe are already high achievers who think they want to do it themselves or probably can do it themselves. Yeah, so. And what kind of choices that they're going to be faced with if they do that. What's the experience actually like when you do a lot of market research? And then you line up and say, "Okay. I've done my calculations and now, I'm going to do it. I've got to pick my stocks, and I'm going to press the button. Then I'm going to transfer thousands of dollars, or whatever it is." And actually give people the chance to, to go through that. That was like that's a scene in the story, so that was an important part.

John:
And then we thought like some of his clients might have inheritance. And so, we thought, "What would that look like if somebody does have a lump sum come in and now, what kind of responsibility do they have? What would they do with that? Do we use a bank account? Do they buy a house with it or do they invest it in stock market?" There's lots of choices and consequences for those choices that they would have to face with. And then even dealing with your peers. So, if you tell your friends, I'm actually going to hire someone to help me invest, what are they going to think of that? What are some objections that they might have or some of the ways that they might support it.

John:
And so, that's really roughly the scope of the story right there when we talk about, "Okay, here's the path of the Avatar." The people who are going to most likely be able to be helped by the client. These are the people. If that resonates with you, if you go through that story. And then you get to the end and now there's my client's page that says, "Okay. If you want to schedule a consultation for free, now, here's a way for you to do that." And I think it's really awesome, because yeah, you've taken them through this experience where they have this agency and they're making this choice. And they're identifying with that journey using all this actual storytelling and building all those pieces in and layers to make that work.

John:
So, yeah, hopefully, we're looking at something here that "Yeah, we sort of compressed someone's experience about what it might be like for them to get to that place where they're ready to ascend to the competency of scheduling that appointment with the financial advisor. And hopefully, or not, or maybe they learned enough from the experience or some of the feedback that they get in it. That also, they can take that away, just as something that's valuable and they'll see that it's associated with the client, too. And so, it's still a valuable asset that he's able to share with potential new clients, definitely with his own client base to help them be engaged. So, he can kind of keep that, reduce his churn levels, right?

John:
So, he's got people he wants them to renew, he wants them to stay on and continue to invest and to continue to engage with his clients. So, it's versatile for him in that sense where, "Yeah, he can share it with people who are outside that he hasn't met yet," but with his own book of clients, too. He shares that with them. And now he's got a great way to engage with them and start more conversations with them and see if they resonate with that and just engage with his clients. And keep them happy and providing them a lot of value that he wouldn't probably otherwise be able to do without the story.

Anna:
Yeah. And I feel that's also very important, because you add, they go through the journey, but it's not this at the end, you're like, "Hey, let's jump on a call." You also still give them feedback that's customized to their journey about some of the decisions or all of the decisions that they made. So, on its own, it's a really valuable experience for somebody to go through and you get some serious lessons. And you connect, actions and consequences and some of the consequences are very dire.

Anna:
But just the fact that alone, a standalone, it gives somebody a lot of value. I think that's huge. Because then you can just, you're just proud to share it because you're like regardless of what happens, you're going to get value. You're going to learn something here. Right? And that's so cool. Yeah.

John:
Absolutely. There's a lot of value up front. And yeah, and the adaptive nature of it was something that I learned how to do in the interactive storyteller group and to me, looking at that and seeing how the story changes. You make choices and the story changes as a result of the choices that you're making. It's adapting to the choices that the person is making. That is amazing in terms of using technology for education and experience and that just fits.

John:
That just seems like this is what technology has to do. It's the best use of tech integration for learning experiences when you can have people make choices and then have different outcomes that they can experience. It's how learning in the real world actually happens. And then to build that human-centered experience based on how people actually learn and leverage technology to make these valuable for different people. They're... what's the word for it? They're... there's a K-12 word for it. I'm trying to think of-

Anna:
Is it like personalization or something?

John:
Yeah, yeah. That's the gist of it. Differentiation. Yeah, you differentiate the learning. It's just if you're in K-12, you're looking at, "Okay, I've got a classroom of 20 students, I need to meet each one of those students based on their own prior knowledge and where they are and what their experience is." So, a K-12 teacher wants to be able to make the content accessible by delivering it in different ways to the students.

John:
And I think that these interactive stories are absolutely differentiating the experience for the people who are taking it because they're making different choices, they're experiencing different stories. Different people are going to experience different aspects of the story as they go through it. So, it's absolutely differentiated and yeah, it's just really cool. This is a really amazing use of technology to support human learning. Yeah.

Anna:
How was your experience building it? Did you enjoy that?

John:
Yeah, that was... enjoy? Yes. I would say enjoyed it, I'll call it. So, one of the things I thought was my biggest takeaway after going through the build is just how many different hats that you actually do wear as you go through it. And I think that that's really when I said, earlier that I would never have figured this out myself. I think a big reason for that is because, yeah, I would have. You're learning storytelling. You're learning about production processes, the Marvel method, right? You're doing, now you're building it and articulate. And I know, I'm missing a bunch of other things, but there's so many different hats.

Anna:
You worked with an illustrator?

John:
I was working with, yeah, right?

Anna:
You're managing another human.

John:
Yeah. So, yeah, I was doing project management working with an amazing Illustrator. And that was a whole different skill set, a whole different aspect of the project that to get done relied on different part of my brain, different skills to do that. So that was I think what I enjoyed the most about it is the way that you're taking from so many different fields. And then bringing them together into to create this module. And that's the only way you're going to actually make these things effective is if you really are drawing on moviemaking and storytelling and articulate and project management and scriptwriting. And yeah, like all of these things.

John:
And with it, yeah and without having Ryan and you there to, "Okay, look at this. This is what I think I'm supposed to be doing. Am I getting close?" And then, the feedback you guys, I really appreciate how you would take those questions and sometimes you'll be like, "Okay, I'm going to think about this." And then you would. You'd come back and be, "Okay, I had to think about this one." And then you give some great ideas.

John:
And in a lot of that, you just have to put a lot of forethought into it first and just trust that like, "Okay, my subconscious will eventually come up with the answer or if I get enough people to also think about this problem, how am I going to get this done?" And so, that's really enjoyable, yeah, is trying to nail those problems. And then when you do come up with how it looks, especially the storytelling, to make it all cohesive and to make it fit. And so, there's no jarring moments and all of that. Yeah. I really enjoyed that. And just, yeah, having experts to work with really, helps a lot, yeah.

Anna:
So, as far as like something that professionally was your favorite skill set or tool that you liked, you enjoyed taking away, which one would it be? I know that's not just out there, but what's your favorite?

John:
Honestly, I would say it was the scriptwriting. It's like a screenplay, right? Because I've done plenty of writing, just in my K-12 background. I spent a long time editing essays, like student essays. And that's one thing, but what I would have never done that I did here was write a script that includes that visual component to it. So, I'm going into a scene and while I'm writing is I'm describing what's happening. And then thinking about, "Okay, now, how is the dialogue look in there?" And continually getting more refined to make it all work.

John:
But I think the reason I enjoyed that so much is because I knew I had something if I actually had an emotional... I had a lot of emotional responses to the things that I wrote. So, I'd be sitting down somewhere, writing sometimes in public, and I'd be laughing to myself [crosstalk 00:35:54]. Because I got to figure this out. What's happening here? And I think of something funny and then I write it, and it works. And so, I probably did enjoy that the most because it's a very creative activity. Where then when you move into the actual build, I used Storyline to build it, that's totally different logical part of the brain.

John:
And now it's like, "Okay. This is not like I need to open my mind up to my subconscious experience. This is like I need to focus on all these tiny little details and really make sure everything is in order and working. And so, that was a bit of a jarring experience. And in the sense of just like, "Okay. Now, I could tell them, 'Look, I'm doing something totally different now in this part of the project.'" And yeah, so that was, which was, it's fine. That was also a good experience. I learned a lot about Articulate Storyline. I could sort of use it when I started and some of the logic.

John:
And the help that Ryan gave to build these choice screens. It's like sitting next to the smartest kid in your math class, I feel like when he's helping me do that logic. Because I had some solutions that were pretty good. To make like I created on my first draft was pretty workable. And then the feedback I got was like, "Okay. Well, if we build it up this way, though, then it's going to be just much more elegant and work even better." And again, that was one of those solutions where, "Yeah, I could get it to work, but not as efficiently." And some of the feedback I got there, it was really awesome. Yeah.

Anna:
And you took it and ran with it. It's the final is amazing. So, okay, so if you had a piece of advice for yourself when you first started, what would it be?

John:
I guess it would just be, yeah, just be open to failing and try and fail as often as possible. And I know, that's what your process, I think, let's you do that. Because that's the way it gets built is you keep putting your work out there and one of the things I learned working with you was you can't just take this thing and work on it for months. And then ta-da, show it to everybody after you put so much time and effort into because and then you'll never be able to take the feedback if you do that, because you put so much effort into it. It's so much better, this iterative process.

John:
Not only is it easier to get the feedback and apply it, but it also brings all the collaboration in and keeps people up to date on the project. And it's a really good workflow. That was another big takeaway. That's not really an advice for anybody, but yeah, just learning how the projects get built in terms of the process. And getting out in front of the stakeholder and really accelerating that process.

John:
When you're ready to hit the gas on certain parts of it, you can really push the project forward and get that momentum. And learning where to do that and how to do that to actually say, "Okay. Now, I want to get my next project and see how try and push those." I'll know when I get to the points where I can really accelerate where the parts I need to step back are at. Yeah, so.

Anna:
Cool. Fabulous. So, where can people reach out to work with you and what kind of people should reach out what kind of... what's your ideal customer?

John:
Yeah. Well, they can reach out, LinkedIn is probably the best place. If you contact me on LinkedIn would be the easiest place to get in touch with me. And I think anybody who's looking to in their customer enablement and success programs. Anybody that wants to look at ways to increase their customer engagement. I think that I'd be really interested in learning about how their customers interact with them already and how an interactive story might be a good fit, especially in the financial industry, because that's my background and that's what the story is. Yeah.

Anna:
Awesome. And that's probably on LinkedIn, they'd be able to also experience your interactive story?

John:
Yes. Yes. That will be, that is up there tomorrow.

Anna:
As in, as of now in our world.

John:
Yes.

Anna:
All right. Awesome. Fabulous. Thank you so much for this interview. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us.

John:
Yeah, thank you. I really appreciate it and it was fun.

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