Spot the Red Thread in Others’ Messages
One of the best ways to get better at crafting messages around a Red Thread is to see how it shows up in others’ messages. Most people aren’t explicitly using the Red Thread Method, but there are some “tells” that signal where the key concepts are in a message or story.
Tamsen started thinking about this when she saw Disney’s The Little Mermaid— not the 83-minute animated movie but the 15-minute Disney on Ice version. The story was cut down to five major numbers, and they happen to correspond pretty closely to the steps of the Red Thread. “Part of Your World,” for example, is a pretty clear Goal Statement.
In this episode, we look at the most common Red Thread tells, little phrases in others’ messages that tell you when they’re stating the Goal, the Problem, the Idea, the Change, or the Action. Paying attention to these cues will help you spot the Red Thread in the wild.
How can watching Disney musicals make you better at spotting the Red Thread in the wild? I’m Tamsen Webster of tamsenwebster.com and that’s this week’s topic on Find the Red Thread.
One of the best ways to get better at crafting messages around a Red Thread is to see how other people craft messages around Red Threads— even in some unexpected places like Disney musicals— because the problem is most people are not using the Red Thread method yet and so they’re not broadcasting, “Hey, here’s my Goal Statement; here is my Problem Statement; here is my Idea Statement, Change Statement, and Action Statement.”
But, there are little tells. There are little signals that people or communicators or marketers or storytellers or movie makers will give you that signal that this is a key concept, this is a key moment of this particular message or story. And so if we can reverse engineer back from those key moments and those little tells, we can start to see how it is that different people use those elements to craft very different sounding stories and very different sounding messages, even though the core elements are still the same.
And this is where Disney musicals come in. How I first figured this out was when I was watching The Little Mermaid, but not the movie version, the Disney on Ice version. Now, if you remember The Little Mermaid movie, it’s an hour and 32 minutes, but the Disney on Ice version is only 15. Now, how is that possible? Because they took that whole movie and they just reduced it to its key songs and that for a Disney musical is the tell for a key concept.
So think about it. The first big number that they did was “Part of Your World,” where Ariel sings about how she wants to be part of your world, the human world. Well, that’s a Goal Statement if I ever heard one.
The next big number was “Under the Sea,” which is starting to create that Problem because the problem is she’s not part of that world. She belongs under the sea and there are just all sorts of great things that are happening for her there.
The idea that she has to understand is represented with “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” which is that there’s going to be something that she has to give up permanently if she really wants to be part of that world. And even though it doesn’t end up taking that particular form, that is one of the key ideas that she has to understand.
The next big number was “Kiss the Girl.” That’s the change that has to happen. There has to be something that happens that unites the two worlds together. And then ultimately, what do we see as the result?
Well, the big finale where they go back to “Part of Your World” where she regains her voice, she has legs, but she’s able to be part of both the human world and the undersea one, but there still is that permanent change that she had to give up. She gave up her true mermaid-ness.
You might be saying, “Well, I am not crafting Disney musicals. How is this useful for me if I’m trying to find messages elsewhere?” Those tells show up all over the place. When you’re looking at TEDx talks or TED talks, speeches, commencement speeches, there will be little phrases that help you see that this is what this particular idea is all about, one of those key concepts.
For instance, listen for when somebody says, “Well, the problem is,” or “the real challenge,” or “the thing that we have to uncover,” that’s great Problem Statement language.
Things like, “but then I realized,” “but here’s the big discovery,” “this is what this really means,” “and then I finally understood,” those are phrases that can tell you that you are probably right on top of an Idea.
The last little tell, one that really helps you find a Change Statement is things like, “and so this is what this means we have to do,” “and so I decided I needed to X,” all of those things are tells for the Change Statement.
And the Goal has its own piece too. I mean, actions are easy to figure out, but the goals can sometimes start off just with a question right at the beginning, “What if,” or, “Have you ever wondered,” or, “We all want, don’t we?” Those are all tells.
So next time you’re trying to figure out, “How can I find a Red Thread in something that I’m looking for?” Watch a Disney musical, see what’s captured in those main songs, but also listen for those tells and you’ll see, just as I told you, that you can’t keep a good Red Thread down.
To help you work on that Red Thread, go to findyourredthread.com and download the free Red Thread worksheet. And if you have any troubles or have any other questions about how you can work with me to get help finding your Red Thread, go to tamsenwebster.com/contact.