MARTIN BARNES: Mountains of Imagination

MARTIN BARNES: Mountains of Imagination

“I used to introduce myself in the wrong way, and I used to talk about the mechanics, because I felt like that’s what people needed to know, and that that’d make me appear to be an expert. But I don’t need to know how my 4G works for me to buy a smartphone. I want to know: what are the results I get? And so I realized by my mistakes, I need to show the audience in my message. So my message went from WHAT I do, to WHY I do it.”

- Martin Barnes



Today’s guest is Martin Barnes. Martin is from South London and came to China 14 years ago. He has a very eclectic background and has worn a lot of hats professionally, mostly centered around art and design. He’s created logos, t-shirts - including a run back in the day with past show guest Dominic of Plastered8 - and done loads of work for advertising agencies, major car companies, etc.

His current company though, Mountains of Imagination, is based on designing presentations - you know, the need to stand up in front of a person or a group and drive a PowerPoint as you talk - in a way that you not only most effectively tell your story, but that you ENJOY yourself while doing it, too. The genius of this approach, as I saw for myself firsthand when I heard Martin speak at a event a few weeks ago, is that if you can prepare properly and relax enough to enjoy yourself while speaking, then your audience can relax enough to enjoy listening to you, and the story you’re sharing will stick in a way that isn’t possible otherwise. 

This simple insight has proven to be a very successful one for Martin to build a company and a career around, but it’s the life lessons he learned leading up to this moment in his life that he shares in the interview that I think hit home the strongest with me. There’s a relevance in Martin’s methods to communicating that can positively impact ALL endeavors and transactions, both in business and in life. I think this is a very special one, and I hope you enjoy it.

On a personal level, I had a few takeaways that I’d like to share, too...

The first is about WeChat. I’m going to do a totally unpaid plug for WeChat - not that they need it here in Asia, but those of you listening from places where it hasn’t become the norm yet: my advice it to get it - it’s free - and learn it, live it, love it. I have friends & family back home that I’m basically their only WeChat friend, and we use it ALL THE TIME. Get it. Then add me! My WeChat ID is just my name, BrendanDavis, with no space between Brendan and Davis. Easy.

But the conversation also got me thinking about opportunity. As we talk about in the episode, opportunities are everywhere, but the ones in China are particularly significant. And interestingly, it’s the very things that often drive people from more Western cultures a bit crazy here that are the same things that CREATE massive opportunity for innovation.  

For my industry, it’s the awareness that China will never be Hollywood. And I don't think for a second that it wants to be. It just wants to be...itself. But it's still discovering what that means. Luckily, I think I can help. Which is why I’M here. :D

On a more universal note, my take on things it that as an outsider, we need for our contributions to bring enough value that we are worth the extra effort it takes for locals to deal with and take care of us (between language issues, cultural difficulties, the higher pay we expect and the higher expectations that go along with that) and vice versa.

Anyway, speaking of opportunity and in the spirit of asking for what you want and need, and since you never know who's listening who might need exactly what I have to offer, I'm going to be super candid here and share that the personal benefit of hearing Martin’s lessons was that it gave me extra fuel to help me work out the business plan for the new company I want to build here - and the show is one small part of that.

I’m proud of the growth in both quality and audience that we’ve had so far, and with support, I can continue to make it better and better and also expose it to a much wider audience, which is essential to make this what I see that it can be.

So if you're a potential sponsor or partner for the show, please reach out and let's discuss what that could look like. And in the meantime: if you feel that you receive value from the show, you can help support it with a share, a like, a comment, or a donation to the cause. Support links to Paypal and WeChat Pay are in the show notes and on the website, It's fast, it’s easy, and it would really make a difference. Thanks!

Okay, now on with the show. This one is long and in-depth, and highly practical but fun and philosophical, too. Enjoy it!

Martin Barnes & Mountains of Imagination:

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