And if it doesn't help us win why even talk about it?
And if it doesn't help us win why even talk about it?
This episode is the moment when the Davies Method solidifies into a distinct shape. John explains the steps to building the best message, constructed from all the interviews and listening to the community that has been done up to this point.
Takeaways and Teachable Moments
FIVE TO NINE FINDINGS SHOULD BE ENOUGH.
GO BEYOND THE OBVIOUS FEARS AND DREAMS.
DON’T TRY TO BEAT SOMEONE AT THEIR OWN GAME, FIND A BETTER GAME.
DON’T GET INTO DEBATES ABOUT TRIVIAL MISCONCEPTIONS.
DON’T TRY TO DISPROVE EVERY FALSE BELIEF, FOCUS ON ACTUAL OUTCOMES.
DIFFUSE THE FEARS OF A WIND FARM WITH THE DREAMS OF STRONGER COMMUNITIES.
REASONS IN FAVOR OF A PROJECT TURN INTO STRAIGHTFORWARD 24-WORD CORE MESSAGES.
CREATE MESSAGING TO INOCULATE AGAINST ALL OF THE DANGERS.
CREATE MESSAGING ON HOW TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE OPPORTUNITIES.
CREATE MESSAGING ON HOW TO SHARE THE STRENGTHS.
LET THE PEOPLE ADD THEIR OWN SUPERLATIVES AND CONCLUSIONS.
Sometimes we can’t simply defeat the fears of a community, and instead, we have to give them new and bigger dreams. A community has to come to want a project without feeling forced to make the decision. John will go into what to do with all the research you collected and discusses how to build out concise messaging which will leave room for the community to join in the dream of a successful wind farm rather than to run from it.
This episode is not the beginning and is actually deep into the method. If you are just now joining this podcast it will serve you to go back and listen to the previous shows in which John Davies builds vocabulary and lays out a strategic plan for winning approvals in the wind industry.
Overcome The Opposition: Dreams and Fears
Mark Sylvester: John Davies has a method. An approach he systematically developed over a career spanning three decades. He's proven it to be invaluable for dozens of industries and thousands of projects facing public acceptance.
Up until now the method has only been available to his select client list. John is unpacking his insight and wealth of knowledge to overcome opposition, and earn public support for the first time right here.
Throughout these episodes we'll take a deep dive step by step with John into his strategies to overcome opposition, and create support. Nothing is free in this world, but good ideas are priceless. This show could be just the thing you've been looking for.
I'm Mark Sylvester, now let's get started and talk with John.
Welcome back to the show. John, this week I want to talk about this second step in the applied action here, which is dreams and fears. So we spent this time listening. And we learned that you get these findings, and a bunch of you aggregate and listen to 25 hour-long episodes. You read those transcripts, the verbatims I think you called them.
John Davies: Right.
Mark Sylvester: And then you've come up with some answers, but now it's about dreams and fears. Why do you call it dreams and fears?
John Davies: Well, let's look back on the listening. So my deal is the first step is listen. But we call listen first. And the idea is know what others think, don't tell them what you think. And you know if you stop for a second, and you think how any human and action would be so much better if someone wanted to know what you thought, or how you felt about something. And then addressed you from that point of view. It changes everything, right?
If they know your dreams and your fears in a personal conversation everything changes, because they're on your side now. They're thinking about you, especially if they're trying to persuade you. Or they're trying to build a relationship with you. Or even better, if they have a relationship and they really love you and want to hang out with you they want to help you because that's what they're doing then. You're having dinner, they understand what your dreams and fears are in life, and they want you to melt the fears away and help you achieve your dreams.
So, that's what this is all about. For us it's about their dreams and their fears, not yours. So it's not about your dream to build a wind farm. And as a project manager or a land act manager. It's not about your dream to getting this wind farm done in a timely manner. Get to check the boxes as your third one.
You're now on your way to be a serious player in the industry. That's not the dream that we're talking about. And it's not your fear that this is gonna go on for five years, and it's gonna fail, and you're gonna have a failure. That's not their fear, that's yours.
So we gotta focus on their dreams and fears, what's going on. So when we go through the research and read the verbatims, we talked about last time we make findings, five to nine findings. We find ourselves in the seven category. When we get to nine, feel like we haven't really addressed the findings.
When you get too many it's like you haven't dug in deep enough. I mean if you have 30 findings it just doesn't mean anything. So, get the top five, seven findings that really matter. And they're about how these people in this community look at their life in the community and what are they really worried about?
Mark Sylvester: Are there some universal findings? I've got to imagine you've done this so much that there are some things that you're going to expect to hear. And that when either you hear them, you go, "Yep, I knew that." Or, "Now I'm starting to listen for what we call the unusual thing and then, I didn't expect to hear that."
John Davies: Okay, the answer is yes and no. And let me explain. Yes being that there are things that you're going to recognize. If they have fear that wind is going is rural. We're not doing wind farms in downtown LA. And so it's rural. And it's a place where the wind blows, so it's someplace flat. And so a lot of that is farm country. And so, yeah, we're worried about where that farming, is going.
Or, we've been losing family farms. And sometimes it's a farm is booming, and we're worried about anything that can impact it. But there's a subtlety in each community. Some communities that are close to the urban areas have a fear not just that they're losing family farms at 10% a decade, or 20% a decade. It's the folks that have moved there from urban areas. They love the farms. They moved there for a change.
They don't love the farmers. They don't love the crops. They don't love the industrialization. They love looking at the open space. So it's a whole different game, so every place based on demographics have a totally different point of view.
So the more we do it, the more you go beyond the obvious. And I think that's the beauty of us having done this method for 25 years. We go so far beyond the obvious. Our statements are simple, they're straightforward. We have a pile of findings we've done for the industry at a whole that are interesting. And maybe we should do a little podcast.
I don't know, Mark. Maybe we should do an offering of sending out those findings that we've learned doing thousands upon dozens of these all over the country with our overall finding.
Mark Sylvester: Why don't we put that into the show notes.
John Davies: Okay, that'd be great. Let's do that. I'd be more than willing, because I think we have 15, or 20 findings that have been overall looking at it. So the whole idea of looking at the dreams and fears is to get to a message. It's not to say, "Oh, my gosh everyone in this town is really worried." And so what type of message are we looking for?
So we have a winning message and a losing message. Or is in the past I used to call it an agenda of debate. One is a winning one, and one is a losing one. So if you and I are going to play a game of chance for a year's income, we'd each put a year's income on the table, and I'm amazing backgammon player. Let's say you're an amazing backgammon player. You look like a better backgammon player than me. You play backgammon for blood.
And I play chess. And I'm really a good chess player. What game do you want to play?
Mark Sylvester: I want to play backgammon.
John Davies: So why do you play chess every time I get into a debate with you about something? That's what happens in the industry. So the people that are opposed to win, they are great backgammon players. I'm a great chess player. They start playing backgammon, I go over there and start arguing with them.
So our winning message is our best winning agenda of debate. If we can discuss this winning message it enables us to win because we talk about it. And if they're fighting with us and debating with us it doesn't matter. So, wow, I don't believe his is really gonna help farmers.
But we're not talking about them debating how many birds are killed by a wind turbine versus cats, cause that's a losing agenda for us. We don't want to go over there and debate that. We have to deal with it at points, but we want to talk about how much money the farmer are gonna get. How are we gonna help them succeed?
Mark Sylvester: Which is a dream.
John Davies: You got it. Which is their dream. So the dreams and fears we turn into a message. So our winning message is our authentic story. So our authentic story of who we are. So, what does that mean?
Mark Sylvester: When you say we, who's the we in this story?
John Davies: The we is us as our authentic story. How we're gonna address them, what are we going to do to address these dreams and fears? And so it becomes a story of our purpose, and our purpose of what we're doing. And in our purpose is we want to do a wind farm. And to do a wind farm, we've got to be a part of you and your community. And we want to stay here. And it's a story of our purpose. And our purpose tells people why, not how, and not when or what.
Mark Sylvester: Now you had said listen first, until know what others think, don't tell them what to think. So now that you've found out what they thought you figured out these findings, you want to come up with this authentic story, but in an earlier episode you explained something called DOS. So where does DOS figure in now?
John Davies: Are you saying that I forgot probably to explain one of the most important things that we do?
Mark Sylvester: Well, you don't forget a thing, John, because you're quite good at that. I just thought that DOS is where we connect the dots.
John Davies: I just forgot -
Mark Sylvester: yes, so here it is.
John Davies: Right, so we do the findings, and we present these to our clients and sometimes I see their eyes glaze over. Sometimes they get really excited. The findings are really important to us. So we take it then, and we go into a DOS. And I talked about this before.
DOS being the strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities, whatever the SWAT that most people do, we call it DOS and it comes from a man named Dan Sullivan from the Strategic Coach. I love the simplicity of it. So DOS, dangers. What are the external threats? What are the opinions that people can have that will kill the project?
And so if the conversation is dominated by the fear of a wind farm we're gonna lose. So what are they? How do we get through those?
Mark Sylvester: I can imagine because you know I'm so visual, and what I would love to see is a DOS map. You know what a storyboard is...
John Davies: Right.
Mark Sylvester: An emotional board, and I would love to see a color board of the conversation where all of the dangers were in red, and all the opportunities were in green, and all the strengths were in blue, and be able to look at the caliber of the conversations that way.
John Davies: That would be really interesting. That would be fun to do. And we have limited attention spans for people, so I would love to do that. And I'll come back to something we do like that in a second.
So the danger, so we do three, just three. It's a declarative sentence.
Mark Sylvester: Example.
John Davies: A DOS example, okay. Let me jump to a housing one because this will keep me out of telling people and with something that may not be true for them. High rise rental begins a xenophobia fear, that if we do a high rise apartment in some communities, a high rise is four stories, in some places 12. You create a xenophobia. There are gonna be people that aren't like us. They're gonna move in there. And then that goes, too.
So if we're defined that doing taller buildings means it's gonna be people coming there that aren't like us, we'd lose. We gotta redefine that.
Mark Sylvester: So that's a danger.
John Davies: That's a danger, that's a serious danger. So we gotta work on changing that.
Mark Sylvester: And you have figure out what the top three are.
John Davies: And sometimes you'll have like ten, between just three or four of us, and you gotta look at them. Some of them get eliminated because they're not that important. If the other ones come true the lower ones don't matter, so -
Mark Sylvester: It feels like it's a bridge between listen and dreams and fears as we understand that.
John Davies: Right, exactly. So what it is it's a bridge between the findings, so between the research, and the messaging. So we come out of the research with findings, we come out with dangers. Opportunities are similar to dangers. They are things that are external, they can be internal, they are things that we haven't thought about, talked about in the past or knew about, that we can use to help tell our story.
Mark Sylvester: Are there different ... So I'm thinking the messaging is really that's the pot of gold here, right?
John Davies: Right.
Mark Sylvester: That's the secret sauce, but are there different types of messages within the messaging?
John Davies: Yeah, so we get done with the three, the dangers, opportunities, strengths. And strengths are always, "Oh, yeah, of course." Because they're there but you gotta repeat them because it helps. Then we translate that into a core message. Straightforward, 25, 30 words.
Mark Sylvester: Oh.
John Davies: Short. Now that isn't gonna be put on the front page of a brochure, but it's going to help define how you create the creative crafting of a word.
Mark Sylvester: Is that like a ... I've worked on projects where we had this guiding message -
John Davies: Exactly.
Mark Sylvester: The guiding thought -
John Davies: Totally, totally.
Mark Sylvester: It's like you could ... You may not put it on the front page of the paper, but I certainly would make a huge poster and put it up in my war room or in my conference room.
John Davies: Exactly, exactly, and part of it is for the internal team. Working on projects where people have been going for two years and this is what we want to talk about. Well, that doesn't work. We've gotta change what we talk about. So the first persuasion I have to do is with our client team. This is what we talk about.
Mark Sylvester: You know what they say, they say, "The first sale is to yourself."
John Davies: You got to sell yourself first, yeah. And that's what we have to sell to our team.
Mark Sylvester: Isn't that ironic?
John Davies: Oh it is, but my favorite part is getting on conference calls in the first few months, and our client goes, "Oh, John, I know you're gonna get mad at me today. You're gonna yell at me because this is what I think." And I'm on the call for 15, 20 minutes, or for an hour and half, and the rest of the team's on it, and I look over at someone I point at them, "No, you gotta get mad at him today." And the deal is we're not mad at him, but the deal is, "Yeah, I know that feels good, doesn't it?" To say those things, but it doesn't help us win.
And if it doesn't help us win why even talk about it?
Mark Sylvester: So we have a core message 25 to 30 words, are there other messages?
John Davies: Then sub messages. So how we do this is and sometimes we share it with the clients, sometimes it doesn't work, is for the three dangers, the opportunities, three strengths, we write a message. We write a message to inoculate all the dangers, how to take advantage of the opportunities, and how to share the strengths. So we write those, even if we're just writing the emails between one another. And that helps us form a core. Then the sub messages lots of times, or play off the opportunities and the strengths, but not always. Sometimes some of the strengths don't become a written thought, because it's just a given. And then we have the inoculation message.
Mark Sylvester: What's an inoculation message?
John Davies: Well, when you don't want to get the flu...
Mark Sylvester: Right.
John Davies: What do you do?
Mark Sylvester: I get a flu shot.
John Davies: Right, so we're taking a little flu shot. And then we're bridging to a better answer. This is sort of part of the acknowledge.
Mark Sylvester: Oh.
John Davies: But we need to deal with problems that we're gonna face, that someone's gonna bring up, and we need to move on from there. And so we inoculate for a future problem. And if you watch presidential debates good presidential debaters will inoculate for some issues, they'll change the subject, they'll refocus.
My favorite is Ross Perot. One of the greatest ones in history. The only reason that he was in the race he said, "I may not have any experience. I don't have any experience in running up a trillion dollar debt. I don't have any experience at creating the worst education system in all the developed world. I don't have any ..." and he just went on. "But I do have experience in getting things done." That's an inoculation.
Mark Sylvester: So I've got a core message, I've got sub messages, and I have inoculation messages. However, I've gotta say that two teams of people given the same findings, some are going to come up with messaging where you read this and you're like, "Oh my god, that is brilliant." And some it's just, they don't get it. I feel like there's something else you're leaving out here on. Is it just good writing skills? Is it good listening? What is it that makes that message great?
John Davies: I think it's an economy of words. I think it's the simplicity and we don't like adjectives and adverbs in our copy. As much we can we try to take them out.
Mark Sylvester: Give me an example of with and without.
John Davies: Well, let's just think about what an adjective does. I tell you, "This is the most beneficial project in the history of Indiana." And said, "It is clean energy, support for farms, and tax revenue for schools."
Mark Sylvester: Those are those sub messages without adjectives.
John Davies: Right, right. And what happens when you use verbs and nouns it makes sense. Where do the adjectives and adverbs come from? The listener, the reader, "Oh, that'd be great. That's fantastic."
Mark Sylvester: You want them to make the adverbs.
John Davies: We want them to make the conclusion.
Mark Sylvester: Got it.
John Davies: And add the adjectives, the superlatives, I guess you would say if it's really great. And you see that happen when you meet with people one on one. Then, you share something and they add it. I mean if you tell someone, "This is a really, really amazing project for you." What's the first thing they start doing?
Mark Sylvester: "Uh, maybe it's not that amazing."
John Davies: Exactly. How do you define amazing?
Mark Sylvester: So we're focused on amazing.
John Davies: Right, we're focused on amazing instead of it's going to do X, X, and X, and make this happen.
Mark Sylvester: So we talked about that in our third, fourth show we were talking about bridging and we were talking about benefits and all of that. So the messaging is really, again, bringing all that together, right?
John Davies: So this point brings together the listening.
Mark Sylvester: Yes.
John Davies: And the method. So this is really the method we talked about the acknowledge, contrast, embrace, engage, and bridge. And that's where it all comes together in the message. And how do you do it in a really short headline?
Mark Sylvester: A tweet or a hashtag?.
John Davies: Yeah, Well now it's even less. I mean sometimes it's three, four words.
Mark Sylvester: I am so appreciative of people who can do that. It's the distillation, or the poetry of communication.
John Davies: It is, and the deal for us is usually one spread within a factbook that will have a lot of information. We do that for the person who likes to go to into the a “store.” Remember Pier One, the store?
Mark Sylvester: Sure.
John Davies: Have you ever looked at Pier One's ads and Pier One's store? They're exactly the same. Cluttered full of stuff, with columns all over. Go to Bed, Bath, and Beyond. You go to Bed, Bath, Beyond, Target, or Container Store. I can go walk around Container Store all day, I'm fine. I go to Bed, Bath, and Beyond I start itching. I start worrying about the consumerism of my family, the junk everywhere, I can't handle it.
But there are people that they're attracted to that. And so when we do a page we do these minimalist pages with simple graphics that tell our story in a photo, a headline, and 25 words of copy, or a graph. We're appealing to certain people. We're getting a message through everyone. But there's a point we need to put some more information on a page for the people who like, that feel like you need more stuff.
Mark Sylvester: For more information go to the Daviesmethod.com for instance, right?
John Davies: Right, exactly.
Mark Sylvester: If you want to learn more. So this is one of those longer lessons when we really had to dig in.
John Davies: Let me share one other thing if I can. A recent real estate project, it's in a community where the fear that I started talked about, that more people, taller building. And the fear was more cars, more people, roads filled, or grocery store crowded. The Bay area is where this is in Silicon Valley, and it's just booming, right? I mean, it's just booming.
People are getting tired of all the people. Well, the dream is to have this downtown that hasn't worked, and it sat vacant for 12 to 15 years, and a couple developers that tried and crashed. Well, we're going to fulfill the dream. And for most people that will overcome their fear of a taller building.
So that's how the dreams and fears can work together. Because you can't always just dismiss the fears, or inoculate. Sometimes you have to overcome it with a bigger dream.
Mark Sylvester: I'm gonna end it right there. I love that, that you can't always get rid of the fear you just have to overcome it with a bigger dream. John, thank you so much. I know are next lesson is around getting the message out. And I know you've got some key tips on that. Thanks a lot, John .
Thank you for listening. It's now your opportunity and responsibility to use the method today. You've completed one segment toward understanding the Davies Method. We look forward to you subscribing. Join us as we uncover and explain the nuances of John's distinctive approach. For more episodes visit the Daviesmethod.com. I'm Mark Sylvester recording at the Pullstring Press Studios in Santa Barbara, California.