Ep44: How to Tell Good Stories | with Jeff Bartsch


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If you do creative work for a living, you’re a storyteller.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a film editor like me working in scripted television, maybe you work in online marketing, you are a director, writer, graphic designer, composer, or anything else creative: You tell stories. Whether it’s with a single image, a specific font choice on a poster, a music cue to increase emotional impact in a scene, or any other decision that impacts how someone perceives your work – you must understand how to make sure the story you’re telling has maximum impact.

Even beyond telling stories in your work, the most important story that you need to be able to tell if you intend to be successful is your own story.

If you tell other people’s stories for a living with ease but you have no idea how to translate your storytelling abilities into crafting your own story, it’s a good thing there’s now a place for that: Story Greenlight.

Story Greenlight is the brainchild of Jeff Bartsch who is a multi-faceted author, teacher, and television editor based out of Los Angeles. He is the author of “Edit Better: Hollywood-Tested Strategies for Powerful Video Editing” and built his career editing television for ABC, NBC, Universal, Disney, Apple, and many others. (As a side note, Jeff edits American Ninja Warrior, so I might just be a tad bit biased!)

Jeff is the founder of Story Greenlight, a virtual community that helps online video creators connect with their audience, turn up the impact of their message, and change people’s lives.

Whether you create online content, you just want to perfect your elevator pitch or the about page on your website, or if you just want to better understand the fundamental building blocks of good storytelling, this episode is a must-listen.

And after listening if you want to dive even deeper into the power of story, specifically understanding how to make a living telling stories that you are proud of and overcoming the psychological barriers that might be holding you back in your career, I recommend sticking around for part 2 in my “Storytelling” series with Robert Hardy, the founder of Filmmaker Freedom.

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Here’s What You’ll Learn:

  • Learning how storytelling defines everything we experience and create
  • Structuring your origin story
  • What does storytelling look like in a reality show like American Ninja Warrior?
  • Jeff Bartch’s guide to telling compelling stories
  • Understanding the most basic elements of story and their ubiquity in art
  • You can’t NOT tell a story, so learn how to do it engagingly
  • The dangers of comparing your story to others instead of living your own
  • If you’re struggling, remind yourself that you are at the beginning of your story
  • Stop making excuses and turn your problems into obstacles to be surmounted
  • Don’t worry about being original, learn to be authentic

Useful Resources Mentioned:

Edit Better: Hollywood-Tested Strategies for Powerful Video Editing

Story Greenlight

Our Generous Sponsors:

This episode is made possible by Ergodriven, the makers of the Topo Mat, my #1 recommendation for anyone interested in moving more at their height-adjustable workstation. Listen, standing desks are only great if you’re standing well, otherwise you’re constantly fighting fatigue and chronic pain. Not like any other anti-fatigue mat, the Topo is scientifically proven to help you move more throughout the day which helps reduce discomfort and also increase your focus and productivity. And they’re really fun and a great conversation starter.

Guest Bio:

Jeff Bartsch is a multi-faceted author, teacher, and television editor based out of Los Angeles. He is the author of “Edit Better: Hollywood-Tested Strategies for Powerful Video Editing” and built his career editing television for ABC, NBC, Universal, Disney, Apple, and many others. Jeff’s commentary on the entertainment industry has been featured in TIME Magazine, USA Today, the Associated Press, and multiple textbooks.

Jeff is the founder of Story Greenlight, a virtual community that helps online video creators connect with their audience, turn up the impact of their message, and change people’s lives.

Show Credits:

This episode was edited by Curtis Fritsch, and the show notes were prepared and published by Jakin Rintelman. Special thanks to Krystle Penhall and Sarah Furie for helping to spread the love!

The original music in the opening and closing of the show is courtesy of Joe Trapanese (who is quite possibly one of the most talented composers on the face of the planet).


Note: I believe in 100% transparency, so please note that I receive a small commission if you purchase products from some of the links on this page (at no additional cost to you). Your support is what helps keep this program alive. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Zack Arnold (ACE) is an award-winning Hollywood film editor (Cobra Kai, Empire, Burn Notice, Unsolved, Glee), a documentary director, father of 2, and the creator of the Optimize Yourself program. Zack helps ambitious creative professionals and entrepreneurs overcome procrastination, depression, and creative burnout so they can get sh*t done and achieve the most meaningful goals in their lives...without sacrificing their sanity in the process. If you’re interested in learning how to better manage your time, your energy, and develop ninja-like focus, download Zack’s “Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Creativity (And Avoiding Burnout).”