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Hidden Gems: Meet Josh Hester of The Storyteller Studios

Today we’d like to introduce you to Josh Hester.

Hi Josh, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Thanks. I’m Josh Hester. I graduated from Columbia College Chicago in 2003 with a degree in Film and Video Production.

My passion there had been Documentary Filmmaking – telling stories, real stories, cinematically. I freelanced for a bit before moving back to my hometown of Springfield, Illinois, and taking a position at a regional healthcare system there in the communications and marketing department.

Over the next seven years, I had the privilege of supporting early social media marketing efforts. I also watched as the market naturally began moving closer to my own sensibilities when it came to marketing content. The expectation consumers had of what effective marketing content looked like changed dramatically with social media.

It was now all about telling authentic stories that made emotional appeals – precisely where my interest was. After a brief hiatus to produce a weekend news magazine show for our regional ABC affiliate, I launched The Storyteller Studios in the spring of 2013. The idea was to bring authentic, cinematic storytelling to marketing efforts for businesses and causes of all shapes and sizes.

Almost 10 years later (time flies), we have grown into a regional company, trusted by clients big and small all over the country, and sometimes globally, to partner with them to tell their stories in a way that connects people emotionally to their products, services, or mission.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It’s clear I never went to business school. I think any business owner would tell you that it never feels smooth. I’ve certainly made mistakes and have learned a lot of lessons the hard way, but I don’t think I’d change anything either. We’ve got a great team in place here now.

They are the most talented people I know and the work they’re doing is absolutely the best, and most impactful, of their careers. It’s been a privilege to pull them together in service of our clients. We’ve had some incredible opportunities to do really interesting work and there’s no reason to expect it won’t continue.

In the beginning, it definitely felt like we were still swimming against the tide when it came to convincing clients our approach was going to be effective. It requires they place a lot of trust in us. We get that.

But I can honestly say, I can’t think of more than a couple of times clients weren’t totally thrilled with the results, and in those few cases, it was really just a philosophy mismatch than anything having to do with the actual work.

It’s become easier over time as younger people with more experience in internet marketing have moved into key positions. We’ve really got it down to a science now and that’s exciting.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about The Storyteller Studios?
We’re a video marketing company that partners with businesses and causes of all shapes and sizes to help them tell their stories and connect people emotionally to their products, services, and mission. We believe great videos are more than great images. Great videos tell stories. Stories connect people. And people support businesses and causes they feel connected to. That’s why we exist. To connect people through the power of story. And it works! Our clients report a higher return on investment than any other marketing tool they’ve tried. And we’ve now had the privilege of providing the highest quality work throughout mid-America and beyond. We’ve helped non-profits raise thousands of dollars in support of their mission. We’ve helped small businesses grow. And we’ve helped national brands land global contracts. It’s incredibly rewarding to leverage our talent and skills in this way.

If you had to, what characteristic of yours would you give the most credit to?
I wish someone else could write this because it would likely be much more accurate and much less self-serving, but I’d say courage and conviction? Owning and operating a small business is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage. You will face criticism. Lots of it. You have to know what your values are and stick to them. You don’t have to work with every single client that wants to work with you. Never forget why you got into it in the first place and seek out and partner with clients that align with your own values and mission.

If and when you encounter those who don’t, kick the dust off your sandals and move on. The same goes for the team you build to help you. Know your values and find people who share them and who will share your commitment. It’s so much more important to hire the right people than to hire the people you feel have the right skills. You can teach skills. It’s much harder to teach a set of values and commitment to them. You owe it to yourself, your clients, and your other team members, to have the right people in place.

Lastly, be paranoid about mediocrity. Do the best work you are capable of every time. The quality and effectiveness of the work are mission-critical. Never cut corners. Never compromise. Even when it’s hard.

And remember that clients not only hire you for the quality of the product you deliver but also for the experience of working with you and your team. Relationships matter. And try not to work all the time. Ensure you are protecting your work/life balance. You can’t be effective if you’re overworked and tired. The potential for burnout is real.

Don’t be afraid to make decisions. Even if you make a bad one, at least you’ve gotten it behind you and can move on faster. Learn from your mistakes and stay hungry.

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1 Comment

  1. Anne Smith

    July 21, 2022 at 9:40 pm

    All I can say is WOW…. what a company Josh…. and you must have all the right people working with you… as a team.🙏🏼❤️

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