As an Emmy Award-Winning Director and Producer, Nick Nanton, produces media and branded content for top thought leaders and media personalities around the world. He is recognised as a leading expert on branding and storytelling, has authored more than two dozen Best-Selling books (including the Wall Street Journal Best-Seller StorySelling™) and
produced and directed more than 40 documentaries, earning 5 Emmy wins and 14 nominations. Nick speaks to audiences internationally on the topics of branding, entertainment, media, business and storytelling at major universities and events.
For those who do not know you, what are you known (famous) for?
I’m known for a few things with my business partners, but in essence, we own the largest personal branding agency in the world. We’ve worked with many Celebrities in the world, providing them with the Media, PR, Branding, Marketing and Positioning that will serve them the best. We’ve helped 1000’s of people to become best-selling authors, we get them on TV, Magazines, Newspapers and introduce them to the world.
So when you don’t do all of that, WHO is Nick Nanton really?
I’m actually just a big kid with ADD who get bored very quickly and try to have
fun in everything that I do - that is my honest answer. So in essence, I try and
live life in such a way that I am always entertained, have fun and that my life is
angled in such a way that I help as many people as I can. I’m also a husband, a
father to three kids, a storyteller and a friend.
How does one build an incredible brand and tell the perfect story? What are the most important aspects of a great story and therefore a great brand?
I can only talk about what I’ve learnt in life. In life and in business, our story is about
inviting people to join us on our journey. “Hey, this is what I’m doing… come along with me”. I’ve learnt never to talk about something or sell something that I’m not excited about myself. So many people get caught up in a job or business that they think they’re “supposed to do”. I
went to law school and my brother to medical school because our parents encouraged it, but I knew all along that I will find a way of using it on my journey into the future. So the way I decide about business or storytelling is to never do or talk about something that I am not excited about myself - or I try to do that at least… I get that there are times that you have to do stuff you don’t want to do, but when inviting someone on a journey (through storytelling) you
have to personally believe in and be excited about it!
Secondly, I believe that when you are building a Supporting Team, you have
to surround yourself with people that are really incredible and just as excited
about the Journey as you are. The easiest way of doing that is to spend a ton of
money, but I believe that if your concept is right, everybody will do their bit and
together you can do something really phenomenal. So make sure that you
have the strongest people around you in order to go further.
More importantly, it is not really worth telling your story until you realised it is not about you, but only about helping others. You have to be able to:
1. Help other people to reach success - that is the absolute key. You have to be inspiring and instructive to others about how you have and they too can achieve success.
2. Get out of the way of the story - make sure that what you share has value to others, not simply because you want to feature in the storyline.
What helps you decide who’s story will be successful and worth telling?
Most people have a story to tell, they just don’t know how to position it. I believe that PEOPLE are the most interesting thing on the planet. Where most people miss the boat on telling their story is that they think their story is not important. There is just ONE difference between
you and everybody else in your market place and that is your story. No one can copy that. There is a series of events that got you to where you are and you should never dispute or disregard that. I - personally - try to help people who help other people. That way the journey
What is the structure of a good story?
Some things to remember when telling your story will be to talk about what you did before, what helped you change that, who did you impact along the way and what will happen next in your life. Try to remember 4, 5 or 6 key aspects of your life that got you to where you currently are… Growing up, College, first career days, early struggles… Think about how it related to what you do today. You have to take the time to relate incidents of your past to the success of your current journey and how that can help others. The ”what” becomes your “why” in it all.
I remember when I was a kid of 17/18, I wanted a record deal and was looking for an entertainment attorney to represent me because I was so young. I was so frustrated then, that even considering the fact that I may or may not have had the talent, I couldn’t even get a seat
around a table to discuss my own future in music. Thinking about that a year or so ago, I realised that that moment was probably the biggest driving force for me building the business I’m in right now. To provide a platform for someone to tell their story, or rather to be instrumental in positioning them at any table they want a seat at…
When and where does “Storytelling” fall flat?
Well we - the Agency - can get you all the recognition and PR and branding in the world, but without the next step of “marketing” and “selling” it will all mean nothing. Most people do not know (or even learn) how to monetise the exposure they get; so we will get them written up in Inc Magazine, or on the Morning TV Shows, etc and it doesn’t do what they thought it was going to do… It most probably will not explode your business if your marketing is not in place.
Despite all this evidence, most businesses and salespeople still rely on product pushing, facts and figures, and price. Yet, they find themselves losing the interest of the prospects they worked so hard to engage.
Consider instead the brands that rely on storytelling.
Campbell’s Soup is one of those brands and we’d bet everyone has heard of them and even sipped one of their soups. That’s because the company has strategically interwoven its brand
name recognition with the stories of happy and healthy American families.
Another is GoPro. This camera company has exploded in the years since it was founded in 2002. Their advertising strategy simply uses footage from actual users filming with their cameras to showcase adventurous stories in the first-person. And those stories are what sell the brand.
That same strategy can and should be applied to every business out there. Create your story and then use that to make people remember you and want to buy what you’re selling. Sell your story rather than your product and the product sales will follow. Selling through your story is the absolute key to being successful.
The best thing usually to do with a great article, story, book, or piece - that is if it is good - is to use it as part of your communication - to validate who you say you are. On its own, the “story” will not sell, but it acts as confirmation of your marketing material and your authority.
What would you have liked to know sooner in life?
I want people to know that fear is part of the journey, I mean I’m still scared every day of my life. But if you allow your identify to be determined based on your success (or lack thereof) you are treading in stormy waters. Failure and struggle is part of the Journey to Success. Even Disney have failed movies. You’re always one bad movie, or book, or story away from never getting invited to the party again. It is up to YOU to decide what will be your final story.
When I made the documentary about Brian Tracy he said: “there is no failure, just ways that it
didn’t work”. So the cliché goes something like “True failure only exist when you quit”! I guess I would have liked to know that your personal identity should not be aligned to your perceived failure or success, but based on who you really are.
Nick, what are you really proud of?
I’m also proud that I managed to stay within my skill set. I built a business and lifestyle around my strengths. I manage to have balance in my life by choosing to surround myself with really smart and productive people. If I’m busy with work, I’m productive in order to go home and have a balanced lifestyle where at least 50% of my time and activities have to involve FUN. If it doesn’t involve FUN, I simply don’t do it. I need at least one adventure a week. I need to be able to look forward to something really awesome. And I work really hard at staying true to that.
Also - In 2010 I decided to make my first documentary; I now have 50+ of those. I just had a movie come out about Human Trafficking, a popular movie named Rudy - that is coming out around September / Oct 2018. I did Larry King’s Life story, and I’m doing other series of prominent people (I can’t say too much about that right now). So these days I spend the majority of my time making documentaries and then I also have a deal in Nashville Tennessee where I write country music. So that’s what I do with most of my time now…
What is that ONE big story that Nick Nanton is still chasing…. and why?
Wow, that is a great question. It is not as much a story as it is a storyline. Music has been a big part of my life and I still want to write great music that tells stories - specifically Country Music.
As far as people stories are concerned, I’m working with a couple of iconic people in the music realm and preparing to tell their stories to the rest of the world. About who they really are outside of their music. That may or may not happen, but I’m very excited about the probability of that.
I guess - I’m really blessed that as my team and I get better at it, some great stories are starting to find us.