As we explore different business models and really get to know the business owners that I interview on our podcast, I realized that there is one major piece to their success that no one really talks about.
All of my interviews have a powerful message behind their story. They share their journey in hopes to reach people of the same thread. Their messaging and business practice is molded around their mission, their story, and their passion.
Today, our guest is not a military spouse- but that doesn't discount his vast knowledge and expertise around propelling his wealth-building practices around a life of mobility and time freedom.
He is, by far, the most fascinating story we have to date. And I hope you can really see how he uses his story to guide his business marketing plan- not just in social media strategies, but in business sales & practice as well.
Listen to the full interview here or keep reading for my commentary <3
Meet Michael & Learn How He Used The Power Of Story in His Business
My name is Michael Zoupa- My story, well in the background you can actually see, my book “Highly Intoxicated Youth,” which is about my adolescence and going from self-medicating, mental health issues to more spiritual, self-improvement, inquiring to the self and the human condition in order to become the latter and to manifest into the coach that I've become in the last probably 10 years.
I stopped doing drugs and drinking and tried to make something of myself. That journey began 20 years or so ago-
Did You Start As An Author or Was Your Coaching Business Your Main Practice Before You Started This Journey Into Telling Your Story?
I read somewhere, “stop looking for your passion that's been under your nose the whole time.” This article really spoke ot me at that time because I was thinking to myself, “what have I done this whole time?” and it was a rushing thought.
My grandmother had an old typewriter. I didn't know why she got it out, but my hands were too small to do the proper typing form- I was only five years old. I couldn't, push the keys down unless I did it with my right hand key by key.
I was too young to conjure my own stories at that age. So I would just type up things that I've watched on TV and then draw pictures for the stories I regurgetated. That was the start of my writing.
Then when I was around 17, I was sort of looking through my journals and self indulgently believing “this is quite funny. This is actually quite entertaining.” Finally, it made sense on paper and I started to extrapolate those three little notebooks into the story you can read today- one that's now, actually, a book.
What Inspired You to Share Your Story- Other Than Your Life Experience?
Was there a moment in your life that really forced you to tell your story to the rest of the world? Or was it just something that was always, kind of- nagging you to do?
No, not a moment. It was more nagging, but, it definitely tied in with the coaching because- well, I went to rehab when it's was 16 and when I got out, I went to a school that was a very alternative, what you would call a druggie kind of school. A guy who I was in the hospital with was there as well.
We could sort of see that it was, very — us and them. It was the recovery people, and then everyone else. And I could see even then that there was the distinction between people who had opened up to spiritual inquiry and people who were just trying to avoid feeling, you know, avoid their emotions and such.
I did always feel like if I tell my story it might help someone and probably not every bit of information for every single person, but when people go, “ah, yeah, that, that bit -you know,” like you take something that they were ready to interpret for where they're at in their life at that time. So I did write that particular book for that reason. Yeah.
Tell Me A little About The Story Behind Coaching And What It Entails
A lot of people don't understand what life coaching really is. Is there a way that you describe your work to people?
In conjunction with your question before, I believe I've always had a counsel-ee type of personality where I just was interested in what people were feeling.
I was interested in thinking, and I was always like, “okay, why, why do you believe that? What's that relief?” And, just interested in psychology in general and the human condition for myself and now, more for others.
But the coaching aspect, you know, I felt like I could have people under stuff that they were holding on to that was always responded with
“well what's another way of looking at that?”
and sort of help them to say,
“yeah, I'm holding onto this preciously to avoid moving forward”
or to get a secondary piece off of the thought- if I'm too anxious to leave the house, then I could just stay home all day. You know, there's a payoff that's immediate and one that's not so obvious. And I like investigating that with people.
Once that sort of trauma or all that limiting belief or those things were put aside there's a real feeling of, “Now what?” and I had that in my experience with the clearing kinesiology.
Next to my book on my shelf here, there is a book of some Chinese medicine and that's probably the most relavant, thing that I've ever experienced to date.
When the guy did it for me, (he knew I didn't want to do it) he said, “if you give me lifetime membership at your martial arts studio, I'll take you through my thing.” And I was NOT interested, didn't think I needed help- al that mess. But did it anyway- and after all that conditioning in my life was put out of the way- I felt much better as a human.
I actually just didn't know what to do with myself after because I'd been running on all that western conditioning, you know, like trying to prove people wrong and show the world a different perception of me that I didn't necessarily believe myself to be.
I was motivated by insecurity and low self esteem and stuff. And so once those issues were sort of gone, I was like,
“Well, now what do I do?”
I feel like life coaching is, is an important element to that state of mind- to have aims and goals where I can know where I am going. Not just what am I trying to get away from.
So there's a distinction there. We're all trying to helix and creatively resolve things in a way that makes us feel better, but it's easy to stagnate and then get miserable from not doing anything as well. So I think coaching brings stagnance to a more in a positive direction and keeps you in motion.
I have to take a moment to completely agree with Michael here. In today's society where everything is so accessible all the time, you tend to get distracted and you lose focus of what your true calling and potential are.
It's nice to have somebody to bring the reigns in for you and hyper-focus on your talents and combine design them to be harmoniously working together and melting into one significant path.
I think a lot of people misunderstand that too- we, as coaches, get tied in with the therapist or counselor role and that's not what it is- coaching is simply building a bridge from where someone is to where they want to be by helping them design a strategy and actionable steps.
Because you aren't dealing with trauma and needing to concern yourself of licensure, life coaching is a very good way to build a business profitably and be able to scale globally so that if you're in the States one year and you decide that you need to move to the UK with your husband because that's where you are–
and I'm using my life experience here- then you can take your life coaching practice with you and actually do it online, which is the beauty of technology. It allows you that freedom as opposed to being restricted with licenses for actual therapy or actual counseling.
The misconception of life coaching actually transitions well to my next question.
Don't Get His Story Twisted
What is something that you would clarify to people that might make an assumption about your life story- or might misunderstand something about you that you would want to kind of clean the slate? Something that tells them, “This is what it's about. This is what I have to offer, and this is why you need to take me and my relevant lessons (my message or story) seriously.”
I've changed my market. This caused problems in my relationships in the past because I was reminding myself as much more of a hooligan, you know, highly intoxicated youth- as kind of this, bad-ass martial artist and very, very brash, very edgy.
Making these very shaky comments on the internet, which works, being a polarizing character, is really good for marketing, and apparently for online dating as well. Like when you try to be everything to everyone, you don't really get to anyone, but when you're a bit of a smart ass, you get attention, you know.
So, that was very much my niche martial arts and even personal training. I remained relevant just in the back of people's minds and then people would come out of the blue and go, “ah, you know, I'm looking to lose some weight off.”
I wouldn't have heard head from them for 10 years and they just kind of come out of the woodwork. But I just remained relevant. It's like, “Oh, that shaky young man, he's such a hooligan,” but it works for that.
Now, I'm moving into stuff that's deeply personal in some Chinese medicine, kinesiology thing brings up a lot of like deep set trauma that gets quite difficult to just have a conversation about that if someone's just come out of the blue, like a cold client who I don't know- and then I'm asking them about their family and deeply personal things.
So I've been portraying myself with a much higher degree of integrity and trust and if people had known me before aa some the hooligan- then it's like, “Oh, now he's trying to portray himself as a reliable, stable man.
I've actually been that guy for a lot longer than a couple of years. It just didn't really sit the image that I was transmitting that was very much working in sort of way. There was a big conflict of images and I'd like people to know that I've always been there with integrity. I've always been that guy and just being at bit shaky-madhouse as well.
Going off of what Michael is saying here about image and reputation when researching a life coach, you don't necessarily want to get your first impression from their marketing tactics because the whole premise behind your marketing is to grab the attention of people that are just, you know, brainlessly scrolling through their screens.
So, do your homework and find someone that's willing to be vulnerable with you, that can actually help you in the industry that you need help with. If things like anxiety or trauma are your barriers. Then find a coach that is specializing in those barriers. If you need a health coach, then you go to a health coach, that type of deal.
Looking Back At Your Storyline, What Would You Change?
In regards to your business, if you looked back at your 20-year-old self or your younger self. Or, let's say you are a brand new entrepreneur, maybe you came just outside of the daily nine to five grind and you were barely making ends meet. What type of advice would you give your younger self to accelerate your path more intentionally than you might have done the first time around?
Let me give you a tiny bit of background- I think when I went from working and I was doing hospitality, I worked at subway and I worked at a cafe. I was doing that trading time for money thing and you know, somebody said to me, she goes,
“You should become a personal trainer.”
And I was like, “what are you talking about?”
This was my friend's girlfriend. So I was quite close to her, and I'm always reading these stupid fitness magazines. And I was like, “so that qualifies me to be..” Anyway, I took the leap.
I spent a year paying off a personal training course cause I didn't want to do it and then be in debt or be sort of resenting my new business as a debt device. So, I was ready to take a risk.
I spent that year working for $11 an hour, which is, you know kind of minimum wage here – So paying this thing off every month was something that I really couldn't afford.
But, when I finished paying it off, I went into the coarse. It was only eight weeks as well. So, you know, you're right, you don't have to go to school for three years to try something.
I just kind of fell into holding pads to people so they could punch and kick things and that made them more confident and it was more fun than running around in circles, you know, doing this and that, but I'm taking the chance and then going,
“what's this going to be like after I take it?”
It sounds like Michael did a natural transition, Much Like Grace B. did with her health coaching story (listen to her interview or read about her story here.
Michael is already doing the life coaching aspect in his personal training career. He just had a physical outlet tied to it, which is also really great because now, he can coach basically anyone that needs help with getting over some mindset issues.
Also, to the point that he was speaking about being in debt- It's really interesting because my last conversation with Grace and episode one, part two, she talked about how she was trading her time for money and she decided to ease more into the risk that she wanted to take – and she definitely had a vision but gave herself more confidence and stability as she learned this new thing.
She took her employment and slowly transitioned out of her full-time employment into her own business. So it's really interesting to see that there's a commonality between what everyone's doing and how they're strategically planning their exit and entry into a new space.
Your Story Will Drive Your Passion
Is there anything that I did not know enough to ask about in regard to any of your businesses that you would like our followers to know?
If you are deeply passionate about something- to get up in the morning and continue down that road in the face of obstacles, in the face of online haters, in the face of physical, emotional, mental strain and stress and struggles. When I'm deeply passionate about something, I can keep packing, continue to move towards it regardless of suffering.
I believe that I used martial arts to be a coach, to be a life coach. And after the class was over and was sitting around on the floor in little circles talking about our feelings with, young men who don't have that outlet, who don't have people that you invite in, like their best friends, kind of joke about personal things and don't really unpack it and don't want to get into it.
Telling Your Story Summary
Okay, so there was a TON covered in my interview with Michael and the advice and story I discovered truly illustrated just how powerful a story can be to one's business marketing plan. Here is what you should take away from this article:
- Telling your story and integrating it into your business marketing strategies can create a loyal fan base. People want connection, they want to know who they are supporting and what they are all about!
- Tell your story to polarize your audience. Your story and perspective can polarize your audience in a good way. Like Michale suggested- when he was the no-nonsense- cheeky trainer- he was sought after, even years later. Because people knew him and remembered him when the need came up in their life.
- Telling your story can clear the air– People like to assume from posts on social media and make quick judgments on how one presents themselves at networking events, but telling your story is a way to seek understanding and connection with your potential clients.
- Use your story to drive your why- We can actually use our story to motivate ourselves to push to new levels. Remembering where you came from and measuring success along the way will bring confidence and clarity to your strategies moving forward. Michael knew he had a calling to move forward and do something more with his life.
- He knew that stability and starting off the right way would keep him from feeling those raw emotions he felt as a young boy. So, instead of going into debt for his training he worked his way through paying off the tuition-free and clear. That vision and planning might not have been possible had he not reminded himself of his past and what he has overcome. Essentially learning from his mistakes and moving forward with lessons learned.
- Be intentional with your story– You don't need to get unnecessarily vulnerable because let's face it, no one likes to come off as complaining or portraying themselves as the victim.
- Vulnerability in a relatable story can move people to take action. For example, Michale uses his circumstance with drug addiction to connect with people and offer light to those facing the same struggle. By opening up and showing others how he overcame those obstacles, he built trust and a following that is more likely to take action when he calls for it.
All in all, this interview gave me a very abstract way of learning the power behind a story and how influential we can become when we bring a story into our business practice and marketing. The power of a good story can viscerally influence an audience and move them to take action or build trust with a person. In today's day and age, a story is a really great way to be attractive to your target market.
Where To Find Michael Zoupa- Master Story Teller (Author), Trainer, & Life Coach
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