Redefining Destiny: Asanda Madikane’s Journey from Creative Director to Entrepreneurial Visionary

Episode Transcript


Anika Jackson 00:01

Welcome to your Brand Amplified, the podcast where we interview marketers, publicists and brands to learn their stories, what makes them tick and tips and tricks that make a difference. This is Anika Jackson, and I am so thrilled to have somebody who may change your life Just by listening to this episode. Asanda Madikane, who is a CEO and founder of Shift Pivot. Asanda, thank you so much for being here today.

Asanda Madikane 00:29

I’m excited to be here, Anika.

Anika Jackson 00:32

I love meeting up with fellow influencers and great minds, and it’s always a pleasure to share my knowledge with everybody else, as well, yes, and you do have some knowledge that you’re going to drop on us today that will create huge shifts and pivots in people’s businesses. We’re going to get into your case study, but before we get into that and what you do now, you have been a creative your entire career. I mean, gosh, I was looking over your credentials and everything creative director, music artist, producer, commercial director. You’ve done so many different things. I’m fangirling over you because I’m so excited by all the things that you do, but I would love to hear more about your journey and how your journey took you to your own shifts and pivots before you realized that, where you are now helping other businesses, particularly women on businesses, the top 1% of business entrepreneurs make changes that will have such a big impact on their lives.

Asanda Madikane 01:32

I think the best basis start would probably be my parents, because they were self-educated individuals. My dad had no education and he kind of worked hard to make enough money to put him through school, so he was very poor. My mom was an intellect, so she went to university and she followed her passion as a nurse and a teacher and a psychologist. I had this influence of people who were hungry for knowledge and wanted to change their lives and they became entrepreneurs by opening their own store. Because of the lack of knowledge and the lack of information, the whole business after five years completely crumbled and shifted our rival world and their world and we were back to not even knowing what you were going to eat in the morning and going to school with one slice of bread and trying to keep up with everybody, while still going to a very privileged school in South Africa so it’s like a private school, because most schools are public and still showing up in a private school in South Africa and knowing very well like you might come home with no electricity or there’s no water and going back to your little prippy school with a uniform and looking these because they said, whatever happens, you will continue to have education, you will continue to go to school. It doesn’t matter if we don’t have anything to eat.

02:53

So seeing them struggle and understanding and the feeling of coming home and having all of your furniture on the streets because the sheriff of town came to take your things away, it stays with you. It really stays with you and you kind of realize that something’s got to give. I mean, these people work extremely hard and they’re just losing everything. When you kind of understand, when you’re older, is because they just didn’t have enough information to become successful entrepreneurs in the long term. And I think the turn for me was when I was deciding what kind of career I wanted to do and I had two choices. I worked really hard, I was really good at school and very diligent at it and I was like I’ve got two choices I either be an orthodontist because I love tea.

Anika Jackson 03:41

God knows why I wanted to do that.

Asanda Madikane 03:44

I wanted to be an orthodontist. That’s what I wanted to do and then. But I also had this passion for storytelling, and theater and film was what was calling me, and I did so many things at school when it came to choir and performing. So I was always doing stuff on stage. You can ask anyone in my years like, yeah, I’ve just been on stage all the time. So I loved performing and I loved creating stories.

04:08

So my most pivotal question I ever asked my life was asking my dad what should I do? Should I do be an orthodontist or should I do film? My dad just looked at me and I think he understood very well why I was asking that question. He’s like, please, the last thing I want you to do is go to university and I pay for it, and then you find that you’re not happy, so that you continue working very hard. And the next thing I see in the news, you’re standing in the building and you want to throw yourself off the building because you’re not happy and that’s not how it’s supposed to work. Don’t choose a job just because you know it’s going to give you money, and don’t choose a job because you think it’s going to be fun, because whatever you choose, you’re going to have to fight for it. You just have to choose what you want to fight for. So I was like, okay, no, that doesn’t clear everything out. That absolutely clears. Like, what am I willing to fight for? Because it’s never going to be easy. Whether I choose being an ardentist or a filmmaker, it’s not going to be easy. But what am I going to fight for? And I chose Ful and he was absolutely right.

05:12

I fought tooth and nail to be a top performer and the film school was extremely competitive, with male and dominance over the way that you tell stories and structure. And that’s what showed me what true grit is. That’s what showed me that it does matter what we spend our time creating and efforts towards it, because we somehow, the universe, conspires to help you to attain it. As long as you want to fight the good fight or overcome those battles, you just go through them knowing that this is what I want. So this is what I want. I’m willing to go there. That’s to answer your question. That really opened up to. I was never afraid of trying something new because I had. I was very sure with myself, or in very strong alignment, that that’s what I wanted to do and I was willing to get the rejections and negativity, the hate, the lack of support. I was willing to go through it because that’s what I wanted and it meant a lot to me.

Anika Jackson 06:13

Yeah, like I can tell how much passion you have for it. Yeah, but I love that you also talk about that you have to fight for it, because I think a lot of times, yes, when we’re in the flow state, when we’re doing what we’re really supposed to be doing and something we’re passionate about, but we also have the skill set for, and that we’re willing to fight for right, I feel like things do flow to us more easily, but there are still going to be hurdles in your road. You’re still going to have to show every day. You’re going to have to show up and show that this is what you really want, and there are so many distractions in life that can take us down different paths.

06:44

And every time I find this with myself. Every time I go down one of these other threads, I keep going back to the center because I’m like oh yeah, this is what I’m really supposed to be doing. That sounded nice, it looked good. Maybe it was more of a steady foundation for right now, but it’s not where I’m supposed to be. So I love that you’re talking about this, that you had a fight for it and that you were willing to step up every day to do something you were very passionate about.

Asanda Madikane 07:11

Absolutely, I think. And every time I did step away and do something what I thought everybody else wanted or I thought what, like I said, expected of me. It just never turned out right and it was really hard and difficult and it even sucks even more when it’s not something you’d want to do. So I was like, okay, let’s do this, I’ll just do what I want to do and then just know that I’m going to go up the mountain and fight the battle for that, and at least every day when I’m, if I’m sad or I’ve had enough, I know it’s still what I want. I did. I said I’m working on something that you don’t even want and you still wondering why, why am I suffering so much for something that I don’t even want? And it’s not even an idea or a gift that I want for myself, like we always want these high expectations, but whose expectation is mine or other people? So I had to be very clear with my own voice, my own inner voice, on making decisions in my life.

Anika Jackson 08:13

Wow, and you moved from South Africa. Now you are in Belgium, correct? How did you transition? Was that part of your job? Was that part of the roles that you were playing? That was me being ambitious.

Asanda Madikane 08:27

I was still young, I was like 21 when I started working in film and commercial working on millions of dollar commercials as very young black, very petite South African, and I had incredible bosses that I was working with who really believed in me and I just got to play. It was just this beautiful playground where I could create and do whatever I want and I just and.

08:53

I’m getting all this money. You’re like, what am I supposed to do with all this money? That’s like so much in my lifetime. I was like, oh my goodness, but I had so much fun doing that. And I think the crisis came around and it would shut down kind of the high paying commercial jobs and my bosses kind of shifted because they were in their 60s already.

09:11

Oh, wow they wanted to go and I don’t know, want to cut it ago and watch the Formula One and the other ones Horse, horse, whatever ranch. I was like you guys, go live your best lives. I’m just starting. So I found myself with my experience of working in corporate television as a creative director Channel three of South Africa at my young age. And you play differently, because the play now it was very restricted. We couldn’t expand on what we wanted to do. It was always stuck in these specific regimen and I had no space to expand my creativity. I got what I wanted. I had a high paying job and doing very little and I was very bored. So I was like I got to do something else.

09:56

And at that same time I met an incredible man that would literally change my life and be my husband, and he was Belgian. And so I was like, well, you’ve been here in South Africa for 10 years, maybe we should go back in Belgium, maybe I’d like to try it out there and see if I can continue my expansion. And we left, obviously, and we came to Belgium, but it was not what I expected. It was not the land of milk and honey and free opportunities. It was almost totally the opposite and he didn’t warn me about that. But I didn’t listen. And he did warn me and I didn’t listen and I just came to another world where I was not part of the cookie cut of anything. I just I was completely the exterior alien on the side. And that’s how even my work and my experience was not recorded, because I got from feedback. It’s like people were intimidated.

10:52

I was so young and they’ve had to work 10, 15 years to get the same position that they have. So there were always in this contradiction way to hire me or not. So I was like, after 301, I’m joking About 56 different interviews, like literally 56 interviews I was like, let me just go and do something else and I really love film, but I can’t grow and expand the way that I want here. So my other passion is to learn how to manage money and how to be an entrepreneur. So I took on the opportunity to go to one of the best universities here in Europe and that’s where I just bloomed as an entrepreneur and launched my first project and he got awards and it just did extremely well. I was just completely in this different way of creating and creating it in a way that could actually also shared with other people, so that’s how I got to.

Anika Jackson 11:48

Belgium, fantastic, yeah. And then you started your independent career. You won awards, and when did you also decide to become a recording artist? Was this something you were doing in South Africa and that was doing? And so, yeah, not a lot of people can say they’re recording artists successfully.

Asanda Madikane 12:08

I love singing. I love singing more than anything else Like. If I could, like, quit my job or my business or whatever it is that I do in my lifetime, I would go and just think I love singing. I was a 100% choir girl. It was my home, it was my family, it was my everything. It was the fullest expression of myself and my joy, and I wanted to be a music artist.

12:33

But this was before the great opportunities of the internet. Right, we just record and make yourself an artist. You had to like, know someone, know someone who can give you a deal and la la. So it was another good old, complicated days. Yet I couldn’t have that as I didn’t have the opportunity to make that in a career.

12:51

So, once I’ve launched my e-commerce, when I was in Belgium my first son and everything but I realized that I was not aligned with my offer and my business I was creating. I was actually creating a business for everybody else to say wow, you made it in Belgium. You accept you. Yes, you’re amazing. Oh my gosh, I was doing it out of frustration that I came here with my gifts. Nobody accepted me and I’m going to prove you guys wrong. I did prove you, everybody wrong. I had the e-commerce, I had the wards, but it just felt so empty. It’s like what the hell am I doing? I’m just building this business because I’m looking for validation for everybody else and I think when you become a mom and you have your first child or whatever you carry a human being, you become a completely different person and you just have a completely different reflection about life, and I took on the responsibility to not continue to create a facade that was making me very unhappy but making my ego great.

Anika Jackson 13:56

So it just didn’t fit me.

Asanda Madikane 13:58

It didn’t fit my personality and I had an amazing person. I was like why are you running around trying to please everybody, trying to do the right thing? I’m just trying to prove, prove I can do it. But when you’re up to you give birth and you feel like a sticky mom, you don’t give a damn. After a while you’re like if you’re not free, you’re like I just want to do my thing. And that’s when the shift really happened.

14:20

And after my second child arrived, that’s when I was like no, this is not my legacy, that I want to leave. Yeah, I have to find out what it is that makes me happy. What do I stand for? What can I create that is selfishly, for the first time in my life, selfishly, just for me. And I was like well, we’re going to close my business, sell my assets and be a recording artist. I was sweating. I’m not going to lie to you. I was like stressed out of my mind. I made a decision it was stress with that to call my husband and tell him what I was about to do. And I had baby calm down, so I wanted to sit down. I wanted to just I don’t even want to talk to you. Basically, I called him and you know what he said to me. He says I have absolute faith in you because every time you do something you give 100% of yourself. So this time it’s for you.

15:10

And I was like I just boiled, I just bore crying and I just launched into creating all the music that was in my heart and performing. And I learned for the first time in my life that when you do something you’re really good at which was I’m really good at singing, I believe and when you’re absolutely passionate about it and you have a little bit of business skills, I’ve never created anything so seamlessly easy in my life. It just it goes flow. But every day was flow. Creating the music was flow, finding gigs and events to perform, it was just. It came to me. It’s like almost I opened the door of opportunity and it just like him swimming in.

15:52

I was like I don’t know what this is. I’ve never seen ease before. What is this easy thing? I always had to work hard and fight for it and climb mountains and for the first time there was like there’s no climbing, there just is. And that’s how I am still am a music artist, because it just gives me absolute joy, and when I’m performing on stage it feels like my heart is exploding. There’s just so much love that I’m giving and I don’t even want anything back. I’m just like I’m happy to be. Yet that’s it. It’s enough.

Anika Jackson 16:26

It was just enough and I love it, but how beautiful that when you finally did something for yourself, the world opened up and it flowed so easily. And also to give that gift to your family, because the same thing I think my daughter is my legacy and my job is to really. She is who she is and she’s always been. I really believe that kids are who they are, but it’s our job to help guide them and to also show them a good example, and by people pleasing, by doing things that were for other people, that was not showing them that they could achieve everything that they have inside themselves. So kudos to you for recognizing that, for having such a supportive partner so that you could give this gift to your family, but also the gift of your voice that you hadn’t been using to the world.

Asanda Madikane 17:16

It’s a game changer and I think that’s how I’ve taken that experience with flow, that I had music and I put it in my business now that I have now and it’s the two work well together. So it’s great to listen to this that, yes, you need hard work and you need to be determined, but it also has to make sense why you have to wake up the real morning. Yeah, it has to be. Yeah, that’s why I can say it.

Anika Jackson 17:41

And it’s a perfect segue into talking about your current business of Shift Pivot. I know you have some great case studies you’re going to share, and so you’re a consulting agency. A lot of people get confused about sales. What do we do for digital advertising? Does digital advertising even work anymore? You know there’s so many complexities and the rules are always changing.

18:01

And then you’re in Europe, so we know that there are certain the GDPR and the privacy restrictions, and then we have different ones in California versus the whole US versus, and China has their own. So it gets very complex and thinking about all these things. But so you’ve created a process in a system that really works to make sure that people are not having to deal with all of these what ifs and shiny bubbles and oh gosh, what do I do now? And the sky is falling and how much money do I have to spend and all those questions. So what was the pivot to your company? Taking your degree, taking the flow that you saw, the ease with your own career Once you moved to something you were really passionate about, how did you have the aha moment to build a system and what is your system?

Asanda Madikane 18:48

I didn’t want to start my business. It was not something I wanted to do. I really was enjoying the music and the creation of music. But then the pandemic era. So yay, pandemic. And the pandemic said now you have to shift. I’m like again. I was like why, having a good time, why was I changing it? Like no, now you’ve been called to do something else you have to call.

19:12

I was like I’m not coaching anybody. I don’t want to do. I’ve got a thousand million coaches out there. I’m not coaching because people are asking me can you help me with my website? Can you help me with this? I have to move my brick and mortar store online digitally and I can’t do. I don’t know what to do it, but you know how to do it.

19:30

So I had all these people asking me during my very quiet and relaxing time with my children and pandemic to like do coaching, and I was like I don’t want to do this. And everywhere I’d walk, I’d be walking and I’d hit my toe. I’d hit my toe like the smoothest surface in mankind. I’d hit my toe and hit my toe, and then to a point where one Sunday I was walking towards a cafe, hit my toe, broke my toe and I just like. I was like I just like, ok, OK, ok, I give up, I’ll do coaching. I had a deal with my guides and my ancestors that if I don’t listen, don’t let me go often, create something for like two years and then quit on it. Just tell me immediately or shout loud or give me a sign like what I need to do next so I don’t waste time.

Anika Jackson 20:19

Well, they were definitely giving you the signs.

Asanda Madikane 20:23

They broke my toe, I’m not going to the hospital, is COVID out there and he just like he just like pulled my toe back and I was like, all right, I’m out. I couldn’t coach and, yes, I resisted, but in that resistance did I understand how I wanted to create the business. I was building the business on how I wanted to work, the people that I wanted to work with and as I was creating this platform to helping other entrepreneurial women to bring their businesses online, create a great offer and send it out into the world. I was very also knowledgeable on the changes that you told about marketing and sales and this new app and that new shiny thing. Yes, they always something. It used to be six months, now it’s like every three months. There’s like something new and something shiny and I was able to adapt those things, but also be very true to what I wanted to do.

21:19

Like this is I don’t want to do everything. I don’t want to be a dancer on TikTok. What, what Right? You know what I mean. Yeah, like I know what works for me and my flow. Can I teach other entrepreneurs to create a business on their flow as well? And that’s how ship pivot really happens. Like, instead of you trying to create with everything what is?

21:42

it that you want to create with first and then build onto it, and that’s how the systemization began.

Anika Jackson 21:49

Wow, so tell us a little bit about that. So you build acquisition systems and teams which are ideal client.

Asanda Madikane 21:57

So I’m working with online service providers so any business that works online and coaches and consultants and we actually give them, we build, we give them a done for you built for you already system to bring in more leads, because that was the biggest pain point that my clients were having they just didn’t know how to convert their viewers, their followers, all their marketing efforts, they couldn’t convert those people into leads. So we actually built a system for them. So it’s a step by step. You just have to plug and play that actually brings in the leads for them and we actually train them as well of what the steps look like when you’re bringing in a new lead, how to nurture them, how to convert them and then, obviously, deliver your offer all in one platform.

22:43

And that made it easier for everybody to not be lost doing a thousand things, because focus was the most highest commodity that they were not using very well. Their focus was doing many things instead of focusing on one thing at a time in their business. That’s what the system, or the built for you system, does. And then what we also knew that was important was also the coaching. We had to coach them on the new skill of how do you bring in more leads? How do you speak to these? How do you do marketing? How do you sales and make it very connected to who they are and how they want to do it? And that’s how the system was created.

23:20

Also, what we best. As we built the system, we understood that businesses grow and they have different challenges, and so the next challenge was obviously hiring and getting good people into their company, and we were able to offer solutions for that as well, as well as having trainings for their teams and keep them motivated, because salespeople have a very specific mindset and you have to keep them motivated. So it was. I wanted to make sure that when you came into our business, you know, into our build and release infrastructure you were fully supported into your business skills to a million dollars and more.

Anika Jackson 23:54

And you have us. You study about a client. You got two million dollars in eight months time, my gosh. Can you hear a little bit about that client and when did they come to you? I don’t know if you can share more about their business, but I’d love to hear a little bit more about that.

Asanda Madikane 24:15

Yes, she’s one of many, and that’s what gives us so much confidence to. I say us, because it’s not me, only me, who works very hard in this company.

24:23

She’s just one of many others, from cyber security to fitness coaches, to life coaches and the reason I used her case study? Because she did spiritual coaching and not just any spiritual coaching. She was doing nine dimensional spiritual coaching. So it was a fantastic case study. To say it doesn’t matter how crazy your niche is or how out there it is. If you have the right system and you have the right focus at the right time in your business, you can also scale your business.

24:57

So she had this very important passion and purpose driven work and she just didn’t know how to convert all her attention meaning people that were following her on Facebook and Instagram and listening to her every day give it, because she was giving out a lot of information with her heart, but it was not really converting back into the full abundance of who she was. Wow, unless we started creating these beautiful containers to help the audience enter into her world and systemize that so that her company can be supported. That’s when the magic happens. So not only do we have a physical structure that helped her audience get to be part of her world, but they were also nurtured and looked after that process and those two aspects were so important in building the infrastructure. So that’s why we added strong team leaders who are in sales, that can actually talk to the clients and bring them into the sales process and nurture them into their chosen programs, and it just felt so holistic and it felt so specific to her and her needs.

26:05

Right, but the structure was there. So it was the same structure we use for everybody’s company, but I just loved how she really made it. Her experience Her clients came to a business so unique and that’s what made her business scale to one million. She was speaking the language to her clients and they heard her clearly and they knew how to get to her. And that’s what systems are there for. They’re just supposed to create a straight line to your goals, yeah.

Anika Jackson 26:32

When you work with clients, do you start with the end in mind. Do you start with I want to make a million dollars in my business, and then you work backwards, yeah.

Asanda Madikane 26:41

I always say I love that, that’s a great question. I always say what do you want? Because if you can’t tell me what you want, we can’t work together. Yeah, I can’t tell you what your goals are, I can’t tell you what you want, I can’t tell you what you have to tell me, and then I can show you how to attain your goal, and then we start the work.

Anika Jackson 27:02

Yeah.

Asanda Madikane 27:02

Because then the clarity of what the client wants becomes so clear for them. Then we can build the map to get there. It’s usually when they’re confused, and confusion leads to distraction and distraction leads to chaos. So once the entrepreneur really gets focused on what they want and how they’re attaining it, everything just magnetizes to that specific offer or that specific activity and things start to go around. I do believe that when the leader shows up in the company, the company works. Ooh, he needs to talk about that. Yeah, because if there’s no leader, if there’s no one leading the vision, there’s no one who has clear guidance of where that all of us are going.

27:47

All decisions are just spontaneous. Let’s just send a post and oh, no, send an email. Oh, today I’m feeling lucky. Let’s do a video. No, like, the universe loves order. It just loves order. It loves geometry, it loves connection, and once you are connected with yourself, you can lead the company and then the company can serve you.

Anika Jackson 28:13

That’s the ship that needs to happen. That is very profound, but you just said because I think that’s a lot of the problem it’s the entrepreneur’s dilemma we start these businesses Usually we’re alone. We don’t have the guidance, we don’t know which of the people out there telling us that they’re the one who can solve our problems is the right person. We might not have the budget, we might not have the funding stream set up yet, but we know we have something. But then we’re working and we’re serving the business. And then, when we start hiring employees, we’re serving the employees, the customers. It’s not that shift you just talked about, where the business is working for us. We’re not working for the business. That’s a huge mindset shift.

Asanda Madikane 28:54

It’s a huge mindset shift. It’s a scary one for some entrepreneurs, because they realize that they are responsible for everything that they create. It’s not the business as well, it’s actually you. You are holding the frequency and the energy of everything that’s going on in your business. And once they make that shift that the business is not there to solve their childhood trauma or make their popular, or make them rich or whatever all these things once they get over them, they realize oh, I’m just going to create the business to give me what I want.

29:31

Create a business that gives you what you want, because the end game is that you’re going to die anyway. So make the life good while you’re here. So get the business, help you Make the business, help you create a life well lived, and that’s what’s the purpose. And then the mindset comes. It’s almost like the stress lifts off your shoulder. Yeah, like you don’t have to prove something, right? Yeah, and I think you can have clarity on what needs to be done in the business instead of what I saw on Instagram yesterday. We need to do the same thing, right?

Anika Jackson 30:04

Exactly, exactly. Yeah, that’s so profound. So you work with people all over the world, all over the world.

Asanda Madikane 30:13

Yeah, anyway, and that’s so fantastic about it and they’re working with different time zones and different dialects and different accents, and incredible people who are really geared to changing their own lives. And that’s the kind of people that I want to work with. Like, what are you again coming to that alignment? Like what is it that you want and can our company help you get there Right? And they just give so much of themselves and help our clients, and it’s always growing and shifting. But, yeah, everyone’s international. I think even my clients, I think most of my clients are from the US, oh nice.

30:53

Most of them are from the US, even though I’m in Europe and I have some Europeans, but most of them are from the US, wow. But my team is from all over the world, yeah.

Anika Jackson 31:02

That’s one of the beauties, I think, that, even though we all came on more digitally faster because of COVID, it’s also one of the beauties of that experience together is that we can have these conversations we never would have met if we weren’t on the same platform, right, and we hadn’t been able to figure out how to make this happen, and now I know that we’re going to stay connected.

Asanda Madikane 35:35

Yeah, definitely.

Anika Jackson 31:22

Love that so much. And when it comes to what part of the business like, can somebody have just started their business or do they need to be a few years in and start having pain points before you work with them? And do you work with the smaller businesses, do they have to have a certain market size before you take them on?

Asanda Madikane 31:40

I think the best way to answer a question is our best clients are the ones that already have a business. So they started three months ago, two months ago, and they have done their best to search for a solution. And then they come to us for simplicity. And why I say that it’s not a beginner’s game? Because when it’s a really startup, they don’t really know yet what they want to create. And it’s very difficult to create a business when you still kind of find out what exactly it is that you want, because your mind is going to change and your mood is going to change and then the decisions change. So that’s what we found out was like super, I just got out of quit my job and I want to do this. It’s very difficult because the offer so important, the clarity of the offer and the value of the offer has to match with the marketplace. So you may come and I want to do crochet, but crochet to whom, how and who wants this thing? And is it some of the people? One? And sometimes you have to tell them no, nobody wants that and there’s not enough people in the market for you to give that.

32:54

So we really help our clients Create a great offer first that is aligned with the market and at a high value, because once you start Lower valuing your, your offer, so does the market. So we’ll have to change their mindset about their offer, restructured so that it’s actually profitable in the long term, so that they can grow a team and they can scale their businesses. So we’re always thinking long term for our clients and not just like I need to sell Something now to make money. No, it’s long-term perspective of how this often needs to Serve the market now and in the future and how you can also adjust that. So we always start with the offer and we help them create. We’ll re look at their offer to make it profitable to the market.

33:39

Especially, the market comes extremely saturated and everyone’s doing the same thing, which is great. I think it’s a great thing that markets are saturated means there’s business. So that just means that you just have to be able to structure your offer that actually solves a Solution for the marketplace and then show up at the right place, right. So that’s how I don’t really think this Competition the competition is very important. This is how you’re going to create your offer to fit the marketplace. That’s one the first thing we do. So we do work with people who already have a business. They’ve tried and they can see there’s something not working. That’s when they come to us because they’re very clear that some things are working and we become the solution to that.

Anika Jackson 34:23

Fantastic. Wow, I’m really excited about this conversation. This is one of those conversations I say probably every maybe ten episodes of interviews.

34:33

This conversation comes at the exact right time for me, where I’m making shifts in my mindset and everything that you’re saying resonates with me so deeply about working and persevering and shifting your mindset and stopping Thinking about what everybody else would be happy with right and trying to people please and really owning your own power and living in your own power and then sharing that with others. So I’m just, you know, so thrilled, Asanda, that you are here today. I’d love to see is there one thing for people who are just starting out their businesses might not be ready to implement your system, because we will have links to your materials in the show notes and I do want you to share your link as well, verbally. But you know, is there one thing that you can say, one or two that you can say to somebody who is just starting their journey? They might know what their offer is, but they might not be ready. They haven’t felt the pain points yet.

Asanda Madikane 35:27

To new entrepreneurs, I first want to say welcome. It is just a game.

35:35

We take it so seriously. It’s just a game and and you need to know what the rules of the game so you can break the rules and do whatever you want. And the fastest way to Break the rules and do whatever you want is just to work with someone who has really played the game failed multiple times and then one, but then you don’t have to do it. Just don’t stop her. Don’t just don’t stop her. So just know how to play the game and just have fun doing it. And if you are creating something, create something that you’re willing to work hard for, have sleepless nights over. This is not a job from the office. You can only rely on yourself, and I want you to go out there and create something and For it to fail, so that you could learn about who you are right, but what kind of person you want to be and where you want to spend your energy Creating.

36:32

I have worked with people who just came out of, who wanted to be entrepreneurs, but their mind was still how do I say this gently? Like in this victim good. Like somebody needs to look after me. I need a raise, I need days off, I need someone to come and rescue you. There’s no one coming to rescue you. When you’re an entrepreneur, you learn how to rescue yourself, and when you come into the game with that mentality that you’re here to learn and implement and do what’s necessary, then you are more than welcome to come and contact me and join any other Coaching programs that you want to join, or consultation things, wherever you may choose, is that you just come ready to play the game and you’ll find your selfic success, whether it’s your own personal growth or the growth of your company, though what happens simultaneously. So all new entrepreneurs, welcome to the game. It’ll just a game, david, easy. It’s not about you. It’s about what you want to give to the world.

Anika Jackson 37:36

And what about for people who happen in the game for a little while and they want to know More about your services, how they can work with you? Do you have mastermind classes that you hold as well, or group sessions, or is it more one-on-one work with clients?

Asanda Madikane 37:50

And my team has kind of grown. So we’ve really focusing on one offer and we’re offering to solve their lead generation Problems in their business. Yeah, so this is building an infrastructure for you to bring in new leads, to convert those leads and nurture those leads and then actually get them on board into your programs and your services. So we we give that all to you so that you don’t have to do that because it’s already done. You know you can focus on high-level activities, which is delivering your offer to your clients and nurturing your team and growing and scaling your business to impact more lives.

38:29

I think it’s very important that if you want to change the world, the only way you can do that is to have a platform or a Support to do that, to hold that space to welcome people into your world. So that’s what the platform does. It’s a but for you you system, so that you don’t have to try to figure out technology. It’s done and all you have to do is learn the skill of speaking to clients, navigating your mindset to being a leader and really building the company that you want to be aligned to. So this is for anybody who already has a business and they’re tired of figuring it out by themselves, and also they’re just tired of joining groups of trainings and then you left your own demises. I’ve seen that you’re like. You’re on your own, like, and there’s nobody to help you.

39:20

This is definitely for you, because we have a team for sales.

39:24

We have a team for building your infrastructure and working on and designing your, your offers so that they become strong in the market, and helping you build your business as you grow, so that you’ll never feel like you need to go buy another course or another program just to solve a problem, or the problems and the solutions of your business growth are within the system. So I’m looking forward to constantly let people know that they’re not alone in the creation of their businesses and that they can play this game in 2024. Yeah, it’s not too late. It’s not too late to change your business. It’s not too late to shift your business. It’s not even late to pivot your business to a different direction, especially with AI and technology and that we’re using in our company. We use AI to really get you started where you need to be, so you don’t have to take six months to get to your goals and missions. Our clients are hitting their goals within four to six weeks, because everything is there for them to be successful. That’s amazing.

Anika Jackson 40:27

Yeah, Ah well. I’m definitely very inspired by this conversation. So, Asanda, I very much appreciate your time. I always end with asking for a favorite quote, mantra, family motto, where it’s a wisdom.

Asanda Madikane 40:43

My current great quote is life is difficult because you try to be normal when you’re an extraordinary human being.

Anika Jackson 40:54

And I forgot to ask, although I will have, obviously, your website in the show notes. The best place to go is shift pivotcom.

Asanda Madikane 41:02

Yes, you can go into wwwshiftshit Pivot one word P-I-V-O-T dot com and you’ll be able to have access to some of that information and our case study on our client who made one million in eight months and the fun that she had, is even a long testimonial video for you to watch of her experience.

41:31

And it was just so much fun because it was just so unexpected and we’re just so happy for her, and so that’s also available for you, and in that specific video that will be on the show notes, I walk you exactly exactly what we do in our company. So please go in there, steal it, use it, copy it. I want you to go in there and steal the formula that they’re not even a formula. I want to build the step by step, exactly how we building our infrastructures for our clients, that you can be also successful. This is my goal. You’ve heard my story. I want everybody to have the knowledge and the support that they need to be successful, since my parents didn’t have it. So this is why I’ve built an infrastructure to make it easy for you to find success and have the support to do so. So that’s my gift for today is that go and steal, take, absorb, implement what you learn in that video, and if you need any help, we’re here to help you to execute it as well.

Anika Jackson 42:30

Awesome, thank you so much, thank you, and thank you to all of our listeners and viewers for coming back to another episode of your brand amplified, and learning some great information and having a lot of inspiration today from Asanda, madhikana and Shiftpivot. I will back again in a few days with another expert to share their best tips, tricks and information and inspiration for you. Want more? Check out amplifywithanikacom or follow me on socials at amplifywithanika.

Mastering Personal Branding and Social Media: A Roadmap from Influencer to Authority with AJ Kumar

Episode Transcript


Anika Jackson 00:01

Welcome to your Brand Amplified, the podcast where we interview marketers, publicists and brands to learn their stories, what makes them tick and tips and tricks that make a difference. This is Anika Jackson, and I am so thrilled today to have AJ Kumar on the show. The Digital Maestro by the Limitless Company, who has helped transform so many influencers from influencer ambassador to guru. I’m really excited to dive into this conversation and I know you’ve already kind of teased before we jumped on, but there’s a lot. You’re seeing a lot of activity and movement in the world of what does it mean to be an influencer? How do you get to being a guru? What’s going on in the world of digital today? So thank you so much for being here with us.

AJ Kumar 00:46

Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to be here.

Anika Jackson 00:48

Yeah, well, I know you’ve been in digital for over 15 years. I’d love to hear how you got into that as a career choice, because that was still kind of the earlier days of the internet.

AJ Kumar 01:01

Oh yeah, for sure it was yeah, I grew up a little bit of a nerd or a geek or whatever you want to call it, and I used to build these little computers. My dad kind of got me into computers because he was in it. I used to build little PCs when I was younger and high school and stuff. Then eventually, as the internet came about, I had people that I was working with that were wanting to get on it and then my curiosity led me to learn more about it. Then, in 2009, I met up with a friend, a guy named Neil Patel, and he’s a big guru’s guru in the digital marketing space. He was a mentor to me, taught me some of the, showed me the ropes, introduced me to his cousin, sujan Patel, and then we started a company called Single Grain, which was a digital marketing agency, mostly for corporate brands.

01:45

Really, I did that for a little bit for a couple years and then, almost right after I got into working with personal brands, I gravitated toward personal brands just because maybe it was my background, because I grew up in an environment where we looked up to gurus like spiritual gurus, and I always just worked with people that were they’re speakers on stage, they’re motivating people in the real world and then naturally, I guess that translated into the online world. From there, I just started working with different kinds of personal brands. Then, in 2020, I switched up my business model and turned my company, the Limitless Company, into an agency. Now I get to work with all sorts of people, from doctors, holistic doctors, to commercial real estate experts, and help them grow on social media.

Anika Jackson 02:34

Fantastic. I love your backstory and I love the fact that you’re weaving in the spiritual guru and that part of your background into taking it from in-person into online. What I’m also hearing you say is that anybody can achieve a guru status, potentially because you named a few different industries. I’d love to learn more about that and the transition into personal branding. Now, I am a big proponent of personal and professional branding. I’m in or out of the workplace. I think it’s something that it’s what you own. How did you decide how to work with people and how did you figure out the formula? I know this is something everybody beats their heads against like are the algorithms changing? How do we get recognition via social? What are the right channels to choose? How do we make sure that our voices are being heard amongst everything else that’s going on digitally?

AJ Kumar 03:27

Yeah, I don’t know, that’s a million dollar question, right, but essentially I’ll say it like this First off, there is just a path that people take because anyone could become a guru, right, and essentially what a guru is is they’re a popular thought leader. That’s what this conversation is about how do you become a thought leader? And how do you become a thought leader and build your personal brand? Because when you’re a thought leader and you have a brand and you’re really popular, you have all these different opportunities that come to you and that’s what people want. You grow up and you watch these leaders and these experts. In my case, it was like Oprah Ellen, martha Stewart, dr Oz. They’re controversial figures now, or whatever their reasons are, but just like the concept and the dynamics.

04:10

In 2012, I started working with a woman named Kimberly Snyder, who was a plant-based nutritionist, and that’s originally when this whole concept really came about. Because in my world, I come from this background of being a practitioner of neuro-linguistic programming and one of the philosophies of NLP is modeling, where you’re modeling successful people and, based off of modeling successful people, you reverse, engineer that and then you could essentially create a similar result. And back in that time, this was when I was in my early 20s, just got it. I’ve been doing really well in the online marketing space, working with really cool companies, corporations, and then I was able to apply that with a person. So Kimberly had a blog, she had 30,000 visitors coming to her website. She talked about plant-based nutrition and after I partnered up with her, we joint ventured and we started a company called Beauty Detox and then from there, I started working with her to enhance the way she was presenting and positioning herself online. So it wasn’t just a plant-based nutritionist. We started blending in other areas of interest, like spirituality, like yoga and just speaking, and then creating content really strategically, where I would look to see what’s happening in other parts of the world whether it was India, whether it was Europe then realizing like, oh, a lot of what’s happening in the US is modeling what’s happening in Europe, or whatever. It is right.

05:36

Using those ideas allowed us to create content and we took her blog at that time from 30,000 visitors a month to like 500,000 visitors a month, and that’s when my mind really just started to open up, because, again, I was doing this for companies and then the thought of doing it with people was kind of a new concept. So, as this started to happen and it feels like flying when you have hundreds of thousands of people coming to your website every single day, right, and we would capture these people, we would capture their email addresses, we would market to them through emails, we would send them to an e-commerce store, we would sell her books, we would sell digital products. Her company became a multi-billion dollar company and basically, like, as that was happening, I was looking to model Oprah, ellen, martha Stewart, what is it that they’re doing? Like I didn’t understand it, but there seems to be some kind of hierarchy in the United States.

06:28

I grew up in the United States as well and at the same time, I also have I’m Indian and I have this background of India and like I know of, like the caste system or whatever. Right, and I realized in America they have a corporate caste system or whatever, and essentially I called it something. I called it the five levels of thought leadership and, like I said, there’s five different levels. On the first level is this generalist and the generalist. Let me tell you the levels first and then I’ll explain it. There’s the generalist, there’s the specialist, there’s the authority, there’s the guru and then there’s the guru’s guru. The guru’s guru is the Oprah, the yellow and the marsuit, the Dr Oz, and essentially, the higher up you go, the more successful you are, the more magnetic you are to all these opportunities and all this, all the abundance that’s available to us, right, when you become really really good in your field. The people at the top are also really good at content creation. They’re essentially really good at demonstrating their value through content, right, because that’s how we see Oprah, that’s how we see Ellen, we see them on TV shows, we see them on television, right, whereas, fast forward to today, we have smartphones.

07:37

And one statistic that really blows me away and this is something I’m going to share with the students in the next couple of weeks is that the average person spends 2.5 hours on social media every day 2.5 hours. So think about growing up where you might have heard statistics like people spend four hours watching television, five hours watching television, et cetera, right, and over the past decade or so, I was able to witness that shift where more people were watching and consuming content from mobile devices, where less people were watching and consuming content from television devices, and I noticed that trend was happening. So that’s why, with any client or person I was speaking with. I was like, hey, got to get on mobile and one of the best ways was social media, but it wasn’t really social media until TikTok happened, right. And TikTok happened and basically introduced this new way for us to consume content that people have never really even understood, other than, like you could say, gen Z, who was familiar with platforms like Vine I don’t know if you’re familiar with Vine, right, where these six second videos super fast. People loved it and Vine evolved and all the people that were on Vine eventually moved over to YouTube and eventually moved on to TikTok, right. And that’s where that energy that was on Vine which I found out it’s called the frenetic energy right, as angsty teenagers, there’s all this frenetic energy that they have and traditionally, when social media and smartphones weren’t in so much in everybody’s hands, that frenetic energy would be dispersed through activities that we would do like sports or just going outside and running and biking and blah, blah, blah, right. But now, as a smartphone is there, the energy has to go to something and people have started transmitting that through content. So that’s why, when you looked at some of the Vine videos, it felt very unhinged and it felt really weird for anybody other than like a Gen Z right. Over time that style kind of changed and evolved and got modified to longer form content and it’s a lot of the stuff that we see on TikTok and things like that today. But yeah, so that’s the path essentially that I work with people on is that path to thought leadership.

09:56

You start off as a generalist, where you get to kind of experience and figure out what are the things that you’re interested in. Once you find that, you go deep into that and you become a specialist, you try to master that craft, that area, and then, as you do that, once you’re ready to take that to the next level and you get really good, you become an authority. That’s when you start creating more original content, right, whether it’s podcasts, blogs, videos, books, right. You essentially start to create content in a way that starts to shape or influence your industry a bit. But the problem that most authorities have is that they don’t know or people don’t know about them. So that becomes the next level.

10:37

Is the difference between an authority and a guru is someone that is now more focused on charisma. They’re more focused on their camera presence. They’re more focused on using their interests and their passions, to communicate their expertise more effectively. It could be through signature frameworks, right Like there’s a framework I call ROHOC, which is called Return on Attention Created, which is a framework that I’ve created right as I’m on my journey to doing that, and things like that along the way help you get to that status. And now the beauty of social media is that it allows you to do what historically took 10, 20, 30 years for people to do in a fraction of that time.

Anika Jackson 11:18

Yeah, there’s so many things that you’ve mentioned that I want to flag. One is I think a lot of times when people are trying to pay content, they are looking at peers, maybe people in the United States not looking to your point at other countries that are creating the trends that we then follow. So I’m flagging that. You said look at the trends that are going on around the world.

AJ Kumar 11:39

Don’t just say US centric, look at Europe, look at Asia, Look at Africa right, Look all over and see what people are doing, See what’s trending in your industry, because that’s a way that you can differentiate yourself as well 100%, and it’s especially in things like and the easy way to look at it is like I don’t know if you’re into clean eating, but a lot like clean eating is becoming a much bigger trend now, like people are thinking more about what they’re putting into their bodies and I work with a lot of doctors and functional medicine, so I get to hear this firsthand which is there’s not many rules here when it comes to the food that people consume, like there are some, but then when you go to other countries, they’re like yeah, we wouldn’t touch that with a 10 foot pole, yet alone put that into our kid’s cereal or whatever. It is right To what you’re just saying. Yeah, when you look to other countries, you get a different perspective, and that’s what people want On social media. They want different, unique perspectives.

Anika Jackson 12:36

Yeah, and then you also mentioned that you made the videos better. You fine tuned them. Does that mean, though because I think that’s a barrier for people when it comes to thinking about posting a lot on social media, and that’s where a lot of people get hung up, including myself it’s not about the time, right, we all have to make the time to do it. If we want to set the intentions, you have to make the time, but then people worry like, oh, like I have a cold today. Should I have canceled our interview because my voice is a little froggy? But same thing for social Like. If somebody’s doing a video, they feel like they have to be perfect and portray the certain image. So what do you have to say about that? Is it better just to be authentic and just create the content and just get things out there? Do you have to craft it so that, if you’re a woman, your hair and your makeup is perfect so that people look to you and take you more seriously?

AJ Kumar 13:23

That’s funny. Yeah, that really is the challenge that a lot of people face, especially like you know. You want to get dolled up and look good on camera, and then it’s a lot of work and then something messes up and then technology gets in the way. You’re frustrated and you’re like, ah, and then it just ruins and makes the experience the way it is. However, unfortunately unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it it is that you got to look at brand building like an iterative process.

13:49

So I always compare it to software, just because everyone can relate to you know, whether it’s Apple, whether it’s Windows, you know there’s version 1.00123. And then version 1.00124,. Right, like, they keep iterating their versions over time and over time we stop even noticing like there’s bugs, there’s fixes, etc. That’s kind of how you content creation is. You got to iterate. You got to start with the video, you got to post it and you got to be consistent with it. And I hate that answer because it sounds it’s like, oh gosh, you think you know, but it really is, if you could continue to create it. And it’s not just consistently posting without doing anything about it, it’s posting and learning from it.

14:33

Right, like MrBeast, who’s one of the biggest YouTubers of all of all time that has this thing where he says create 100 videos and then to come to me why you’re not getting views right. Because a lot of what happens in the beginning and this was true for me, this is true for a lot of people like you have these great ideas, you have these great concepts, you want to share them, but you want them to be perfect and you know you create it and then you post it and it’s not getting views right and it’s kind of sad and a little discouraging and that becomes part of the hurdle that, as a content creator, I also like to compare it to like being an athlete. I really think it’s an audience centric sport and you know we may not be in a stadium and you know competing in front of thousands of thousands of people per se, but we’re essentially doing that on this virtual stage. Got it, you got to do it, post it, get over it and it becomes that you got to suck until you become good.

Anika Jackson 15:31

It’s funny because in the world of PR, I tell clients the same thing in a different way a little bit, but we need to do the small interviews right. You have to. As it like if you’re a child, usually you learn how to crawl before you learn how to walk, before you learn how to run. And so if we take that and think about that structure, you’re going to start with baby steps and you’re going to start, you know, maybe on your knees and your hands, and then you’re going to take baby steps and then you’re going to be once you have the experience and you feel comfortable and confident, then you build up.

AJ Kumar 15:57

Yeah, yeah, exactly, it is that.

Anika Jackson 16:00

So would you say that 100 is kind of a sweet spot.

AJ Kumar 16:03

Number of videos I think 100 is a nice round number. To be honest, I think the like, the underlying lesson of that is you want to create anyone a post because the reality is it’s not done after 100. Like this becomes an activity you do for ever, essentially Like there’s not really a stopping to this. Like my buddy, neil Patel, also a client of mine, he’s been creating content since I’ve known him, like 2008, 2009, that you know he’s been blogging and he’s been doing that consistently, nonstop, every week, several times a week, whatever it was. He’s still doing it. Now we help him create video content where we post it daily, nonstop.

16:43

Here’s the guy that’s massively successful, that’s built this ultra successful business called NP Digital. It’s an ad agency, one of the top ones in the world, and it’s like even he’s doing it. So it kind of tells you that we don’t really stop the content creation. The purpose of doing it, even to get to 100, is to get better at it. So that’s all I was saying. Every time you post, you got to try to learn some one thing from it, right, like, oh, I should be more emphatic when I speak, or maybe I shouldn’t wave my hands like that thing in front of a car wash, trying to get your attention or whatever. It is right. So you got to learn something from it and then apply that thing that you’re learning. That’s how you could actually grow and make a difference from that investment in content creation.

Anika Jackson 17:24

Thank you for that. Do you ever have people come to you because obviously Neil Patel already had a brand he knew you know what he wanted to talk about. You’ve worked for the Kee Haskell strong brand. He really sniter, non-toxic dad Like do you ever have people come to you and say I want to do this, but I have like these three or four or five areas that I’m really interested in and can talk about and you have to help them hone in on what their specialty is going to be?

AJ Kumar 17:48

Yeah, I mean I could have cost that a lot more now than before, because we did turn into an agency in the last three years, whereas before I was primarily working with like a very specific type of clientele, and I do come across that and essentially we create a strategy. It’s not like it’s a much longer answer, but what it comes down to is it’s creating a strategy and figuring out the different topics that you like talking about and then looking for what’s referred to in marketing as like the red thread, which is you’re looking for consistencies and all these different topics. You’re looking for how they all connect to one another. So that helps you ground everything into like a central, like niche, but then it allows you to talk about different things that you’re interested in.

18:31

Because one of the mistakes a lot of people do make as they progress up the five levels of thought leadership is that you do need to niche down when you become an authority, you do need to really specialize and hone in on your skills.

18:44

But then the people that become gurus, the people that become famous for their expertise, famous for their thought leadership, tend to have cross disciplines, like they end up taking their authority on one topic like plant-based nutrition, and then now, all of a sudden, they become an authority in yoga or like a fitness topic. So there’s this conversation. I see a lot in social media land right now as well, where it’s like you are the niche, and that’s essentially what we’re talking about is find the things that you’re interested in, figure out what that red thread is like, what the commonalities of all those topics are, and then hit those areas of interest. Because that’s when you’re talking about areas of interest, that’s where you could speak in a way where it’s real and it’s coming from genuine enthusiasm. Now you’re trying to like, fake it to you, make it kind of thing.

Anika Jackson 19:34

Right, right, yeah, and it’s funny because I know you and I have had other conversations, not even just about the podcast, but about brand and branding, and it’s one of the things I’ll have talked to you about. But everything that you’re saying, I’m thinking about my own journey and my brand, how it’s shifted or how what I focused on, and I feel like I’m at that point where I’ve found that thread and this is the time when I’m like ready to take it to the end. But it’s funny because sometimes the thread or the niche that people want you to talk about, or what they’re seeing you as the expert in, isn’t necessarily the thing that you thought it was going to be. And I love that and I think it’s a really you know, it’s really exciting.

Anika Jackson 20:09

And I also would love to hear because we know there’s so much going on with digital and we know for digital advertising, cookies going away, email lists, surability has gone down, algorithms are all changing that short form video content. Now we have YouTube shorts, we have platforms like laps, which I guess could kind of be like Vine, but just for photos instead of videos. We have all these new platforms coming out all the time. So how do you help clients decide what platforms are most important to be on. You know what trends to follow or not follow, and how to continue being consistent, staying in your lane and flourishing.

AJ Kumar 20:47

Yeah, I love that Good question. So the platform I have clients really think about is their brand. The brand is the platform, because the reality is you don’t own any of these social platforms. It’s all rented space. However, the thing that you could own conceptually is mind share in audiences, so that, as you do develop that mind share in the minds of audiences, that becomes what can translate to other platforms, right, you get a guy like Mr Beast, who’s very successful on YouTube. It’s very easy for him to become successful on TikTok because the audience could easily transition over. So, when it comes to that platform, you build the brand. And then you also have things like email lists. You have a website because you own those assets, right.

21:36

And then you take social media for what it is, which is, like you know, I hear people complain about the algorithm or like this or whatever, but the reality is these are free communication tools. That’s what they are. They’re communication tools. A difference is you could communicate, you know, to mass people at one time and there’s a lot of interactivity and back and forth, and you use it for what it is and it’s fairly free.

21:57

And if you could also use their advertising tools but today, now more than ever you could be discovered organically because of the value you could bring right, whatever it is. You know you can get people to learn something, get people to laugh. I always say, like even making people laugh that is a form of value, because you know people are stressed out, they’re mad, they’re sad, they’re depressed, whatever. So when you’re bringing that value or bringing that joy, even if it’s through a phone, it’s kind of nice, it’s kind of what that’s. What I live for is doing it, you know, with the handful of people which allows me to. You know we reach tens of millions of people every month and just getting tens of millions of people every month to like, laugh and learn, and I feel like that’s exciting to me.

Anika Jackson 22:42

Yeah, it’s really exciting. Now, not everybody is going to be able to work with you, obviously, and I’ve even seen videos of like Gary Vee and his team and how many people he has on his team and it’s so big, and I think that also people might stack that up as a barrier to entry. Oh, I don’t have the budget, I don’t have the team to be able to create the content that I need to create. So if you boil it down for somebody who’s just starting out, who doesn’t have the finances to hire your agency or to build out a big team, what are some easy steps that they can do just to get it started?

AJ Kumar 23:16

I mean, the easiest step is using AI, which makes things significantly like it does a lot of the heavy lifting. No, it’s not perfect and you do need human intervention to do AI, but the truth is AI is available and it’s fairly affordable, right Like you’re paying $20 a month for an AI that could do a lot. They could do photos, they could do text Because the people that I work with are people that are experts, they’re busy in their field of expertise, and then content creation just it’s literally a full-time job. And that’s why nowadays you have people that are full-time content creators that are kind of struggling because they’re not necessarily experts in something, and then you have experts that want content creation but they don’t have the time for it. So we fill in the gap for experts that want content creation but they don’t have the time for it, right.

24:06

When it comes to content creators, one thing is you got to be really good at something, and that’s what social media is. It’s you’re demonstrating your value and get really good at being able to demonstrate that value and then use tools like chat, gpt or Claude or Bard. Chat GPT just launched their GPT store. That basically just means that it’s easier for you to get AI to give you the kind of output that you need. So, for example, a lot of people were having issues with AI giving content that sounds like a human versus sounds a little robotic or whatever, right. Well, now there’s ways to create prompts that help you get better responses, but now there’s also apps that are in their GPT store that help you do those kinds of things. So these kinds of tools are available to anyone you know. Then you have your phone Virtually everybody has a phone, everybody on the camera, and they could start doing it.

25:00

They could start filming themselves using the tools to help with that workflow, and then they could create content by doing it in batches, which is what we do with clients. Right, we work with clients and we film like 10, 15 videos within a two, three hour window. So then just put that in your schedule Nice, prepare for it and then you do it. Then the trick is to continue to do it, even when you flop and don’t have a phone. Don’t get views, but that’s the game.

Anika Jackson 25:26

Right, right, and I will give a quick plug here as well for Simplifiedcom, who also happens to be the show sponsor, but is a great platform for content creation AI. I’ve been tested it out. I love the company. I’ve used them before they became my sponsor. I’ll just throw that out there, but I’m able to upload a video episode of my podcast and their AI tool will create 10 short snippets for social media and include a virality score, add in the text boxes and all of that stuff.

25:56

So you’re right, there are a lot of tools we can use, and I was going to ask you the best use cases for AI, but I think you shared that. It’s really. It’s not writing your whole script out. You might have ideas and concepts, so you need to put them into AI just to refine them. I mean, that’s the way we use it for PR and marketing is we’ll do a band sentiment analysis and then we’ll say, okay, we need to come up with taglines for this campaign for a client. Here’s one that we’re thinking of, come up with 10 others that have to do with XYZ, and it’s been a game changer to just streamline the process, make it more quick and also come up with really nice language that we would not necessarily thought of off the top of our heads.

AJ Kumar 26:35

Yeah, I’ve noted, I saw, all of a sudden, everybody has a really high vocabulary. That’s kind of funny to see that. And then just one thing to add to that right, it’s true, it does make it easy, which you got to also think about, in the sense that that makes it easy for everybody. So now you have to start thinking more so about that differentiating factor, right? So this kind of to what I was saying about being an expert or being really good at something, what’s going to make you stay and out and make your expertise, your value, different is actual experience. Right, it’s experience and doing it. That’s the difference. I see a lot of people talking about marketing and they’re just really regurgitating everything else Everybody else is saying, but it’s the people that do it that actually apply it, learn from it and teach from that. Those are the people that become guru status, that are in integrity with what they’re saying and doing and thinking.

Anika Jackson 27:35

Yeah, and I do want to talk about measuring ROI, because we know it’s not all for the likes and the clicks. There has to be a bigger purpose. And that reminded me of what you’re talking about NLP and just thinking with the end in mind. So thinking what your end goal is and then mapping back to where you are now. But when you’re working with clients, what do you usually talk about for ROI? Because I know this is something that in the world of marketing organic marketing and PR sometimes clients don’t. They have certain expectations of. It’s going to lead to this many direct sales and you have to level set. Sometimes it’s not about that. It’s about the awareness building.

AJ Kumar 28:14

Yeah, exactly, that’s really the biggest challenge in social media right now. That was that ebook I was talking about. I basically created the ebook called the Thought Leadership Guide to Social Media ROI in 2024. So I’m specifically trying to nail this problem that a lot of people have so essentially from this. Over the years, as I’ve worked with a lot of different clients, they had different kinds of results. Sometimes the results were easy to say that there’s a direct ROI where you made $100,000 in a day from all these efforts. But the thing that’s common when it comes to organic brand building is that it’s a delayed response. It doesn’t happen like direct response advertising where it’s right away. It happens over time.

28:59

Now, another thing to add to that I just saw Mr Wonderful from Shark Tank talk about this recently, where he was talking about why he loves social media. He talks about how social media helps improve his ROAS, his return on ad spend and his CAC customer acquisition cost. So those are some ways you could easily tie your social media efforts to is that if you are spending money on advertising as you build your brand organically, it’s going to improve your ROAS, your return on ad spend. So that way, your ad spend is a lot more effective, especially as we enter into this cookie-less world where everyone’s ad spend is probably not going to be as great as it used to be. So the only way to really counteract that is by having an organic presence, because the reality is, people aren’t a different mindset when they’re watching an ad versus when they’re watching something organically. When they’re watching an ad, they tend to be more guarded, more skeptic, and they’re more evaluative of what they’re looking at, because they know that the person they’re looking at wants their money, whereas organically they’re more open, they’re more receptive, and that’s where the whole concept of planting seeds comes into play, and that’s why you need to allow the seeds to grow and you need time to build that relationship. So, when it comes to that conversation, these people need to look at it from a different lens, where they’re not just looking at it the way they look at advertising on social media, where you spend this, you get that, but they got to look at it from a longer time frame. That’s why we call it return on attention created, because it gives meaning to something that seems arbitrary. Social media metric, a share, a like, a save what are these?

30:48

Well, in today’s world, this is part of attention economics, the study of how attention has become a commodity and how, just like oil, just like gold I use oil as an example you could use oil to put it into a lawnmower or machine and cut grass. Or you could refine oil to become to fuel the rocket ship to go into outer space right. Same thing with attention. Attention could be refined differently and that’s why it’s a much bigger conversation. It’s a lot more sophisticated conversation. And hey, are you looking to become a bestselling author two years from now? I work with sometimes that are New York Times bestselling authors and they already get big, brand big. What is it called when they get upfront fees?

31:30

right, when they’re to write a book right If they’re getting $100,000 or $500,000,. Well, it’s like if you continue doing social media and you build up an audience, one year from now to years from now, your book advance could be $1 million, $2 million. That stuff happens all the time is you got to look at it from that longer perspective. So that’s why, as you create content, you’re looking at the return on attention created, which is going to be both quantitative, where you’re seeing these metrics, and it’s going to be qualitative, where you’ll literally experience your people and your reality changed the way they look at you. They changed the way they perceive you. And you come from the PR world. So you get this first tan, because that’s what traditionally publicists do they change the way people perceive their clients on a mass level, and that’s kind of like how digital marketing is, like a mix of all of these things and content creation allows you to do that.

32:25

And I see this first tan with a lot of the clients because they’re part of like influential circles, right, like Nikki Haskell, for example.

32:32

She’s part of some really elite circles and for the longest time she kind of faded away because she used to be popular in the 70s but then she kind of faded away into just how it is for most people, but by making her more popular on social and I’m talking. She gets 10 million views a month and it usually ranges from like seven to 10 million views on average. That’s how it’s been like for the last six or seven months and this was resulted in TV deals and it’s also resulted in people influential people around her looking at her differently and people that didn’t care for her before are now all of a sudden interested in talking with her and taking her out to dinner and wanting her to be in this and wanting her to do that, and that’s how this comes about. So it’s not an easy one word answer Like oh, yeah, it’s like a you know a 2x ROAS, or you know a one to one.

33:20

Whatever it’s about creating value what kind of value is important to the person? And then, by knowing that, reverse engineering, how you could get to that value.

Anika Jackson 33:30

Nice, and, to that point, a couple of small examples, because last night was our first night of teaching for the semester for the digital media management program at USC. We’ll shout out to the Trojans, but one of my students is a sneaker head and he sells sneakers online and asks his business, and now he only uses video and reels. He doesn’t do any static posts because that has kept the algorithms moving for him and helped him get more sales. Another student works at TikTok, and we were talking last night about how the organic, influencer based recommendations go a lot further than when people see ads on that platform, and so everything that you’re saying is you know, obviously you’re the experts, but I love that these students also have these little mini examples that they can share that are talking to exactly to your point. And I did want to ask, though you know algorithms what’s going on with algorithms right now? How are they changing, how do they work and what are some of the trends that you’re seeing for 2024 and beyond?

AJ Kumar 34:32

Okay, cool.

Anika Jackson 34:33

How do I answer that question? What are algorithms? Five questions, yeah.

AJ Kumar 34:38

In its most simplest sense, algorithms are designed to spy the user, and they also have. They have mechanisms in place that allow users to experience serendipitous moments. So if you could help to create these serendipitous moments, it helps the algorithms like win in the sense, because that’s their purpose. Their purpose is to make sure the user is satisfied. That’s what we want to accomplish. That’s why, like when you hear about this concept of watch time, because they want you to be on their platform the longest and if you could deliver on that.

35:10

Then they’ll show your content to more people because they know the content works and algorithms have gotten so sophisticated. One thing I love, and I love talking about this concept, which was before. It was very much about a social graph. It was very much about that six degrees from Kevin Bacon and we had this novelty of oh, you’re connected to this person, you’re connected to this person, but we typically didn’t see content from all these other various people because people weren’t creating content at the scale that people are creating it today, whereas today, short form vertical video and algorithms are interest based, and that’s beautiful because it allows anyone to discover anyone based off of their interests, and the more people who use social media, the more the algorithm understands what the person’s interests and preferences are.

35:56

So, as a content creator, your goal is to create content that satisfies the user in its most simplest sense. Contents like food. You want people to feel nourished when they consume your food. People could also create toxic content, just like how there’s toxic food, junk food, junk content, right, and misinformation. All that kind of stuff is out there, but anybody that’s listening to this is probably not thinking of using social media maliciously. You want to use social media in a way where you want to create content, food, people that consume, that make some learn something, laugh, feel better, get excited, things of that nature and then, as that content creator, it’s not just about creating things off the whim or based off of what you feel that contributes to it, but you’re also analyzing the content that you’re creating to see are there drop offs that are occurring? Why they’re occurring?

36:49

For example, a lot of the work that we do with non-toxic dad, like he’s another guy that we get a lot like three, four, five million views a month. I’ve noticed something in his content before where we were creating his videos and then we would show like an article and then it would go back to him and then I would notice oh wait, like why do I see this light drop off? That’s occurring as soon as we show an article. So then, in order to resolve that, instead of cutting away from non-toxic dad when we show the article now, we just keep him at front and center and then we have like snippets or like some highlighted piece that shows up, so that a person doesn’t have an excuse to click away right, cause there’s too much text on the screen. You click away from it.

37:30

So this is the kind of learnings that you get from creating the content. Looking at the metrics and a lot of the social media platforms are showing you this information they have retention graphs that you could look at to see where the drop offs are happening you have an idea for what the average time is that people stay on the site. So for people in 2024, if you’re someone that wants to create content, you got to be really data driven. Like content creation is an art and a science and it’s easy to do the art stuff, because I know math is hard and sometimes the brain sometimes I’m with you, but at the same time, once you do get a hang of it, it becomes a beautiful marriage art and science because then you know why something isn’t working or you get an understanding, and that gives you the motivation to make it better.

Anika Jackson 38:18

Yeah, Nice. So what are some of the other trends that you see coming up for? Is there anything new that we should be on lookout for in 2024?

AJ Kumar 38:27

A lot of people are talking about long form content. They’re talking about short form content, fatigue and things of that nature, which may or may not be a possibility. However, I think a lot of the people that are talking about that are going to the next trend and a lot of marketers are just talking about oh, now do long form. Do long form, because that’s what people want Long form. Tiktok wants long form. I don’t personally see that as the case. I think short form is here to stay for a long period of time.

38:56

I think platforms like TikTok are trying to do long form because all these platforms are competing with one another in one sense or another. It’s not to say don’t do long form or short form. It’s to do both, but short form is the best way to get discovered and to maximize the amount of people that you reach. Long form is the best way to develop and build a community and really build strong relationships with people that will become customers for your brand and advocates for your brand. So I think, keep doing short form and if you hear long form, yeah, that’s good and you could do it, but I would say, get a foundation growing with short form as well.

Anika Jackson 39:33

Nice, yeah, thank you for that. You talked a little bit about your e-book and I know you have a bigger book coming out this year. Thank you. When is the ebook coming out? How will people be able to access it and then tell us a little bit more about, let’s tease out to the audience. Do you have a wait list they can get on to get more information about Guru Inc when that comes out as well?

AJ Kumar 39:53

Yeah, well, obviously, thank you. I have a book coming out called Guru Inc. It’s about how to become the thought leader that everybody follows and that’s expected to be out later this year. In the interim, I had created an ebook because I want to get this stuff out there. That’s why I’m being on your podcast. It’s a way for me to share these ideas of what’s happening in our lab. So best way is to follow me on Instagram, ajthedigital Maestro. I’ll start sharing a lot of this really soon. Well, there’ll be landing pages where you can opt in and you can get access to these ebooks. The ebook I have coming out is called the Thought Leadership Guide to Social Media RY in 2024. I’m expecting in the next two weeks it should be out. So by I don’t know when this is going to become out, but let’s just say by February 1st the ebook will be ready to grab.

40:41

Then Guru Inc is a bigger book that will be published and it’ll be a lot more of the dynamics of becoming a Guru, beyond just the path of becoming a Guru. But there’s a bigger journey that kind of comes to play. There’s an emotional journey that comes to play. There’s frameworks that I’ll share. One is called the 3 C’s Content and Commerce, and Concert which is like the art inside. It’s a blending content and commerce in a way where people are still having good experiences.

41:09

Because another thing I guess this could also be a trend, since I’m going to be writing in my book too which is it’s about the audience’s experience and on all these different social media platforms, there’s all these different features that allow audiences to have different experiences. I don’t think most people think about it that way, but when you think about being a content creator and what I shared earlier, it’s an audience-centric sport If you could create content in a way that is like you’re thinking about the viewer’s experience, you’re going to have much more effective content right Tying it back to what we talked about modeling and reverse engineering.

41:47

So model in your mind what you want success to look like for your viewers and then reverse engineer to that.

Anika Jackson 41:54

Nice. Yeah, that’s so important and it’s something that a lot of times people forget in any part of marketing your business. Right, we’re all here to solve an issue that maybe we experienced, that we realized was a pain point for somebody else. So think about how you’re solving that, how you’re making somebody’s life better with your content, and so do this pouring stuff out that could be garbage or toxic.

AJ Kumar 42:17

Yeah, we have enough junk food out there.

Anika Jackson 42:21

Yes.

AJ Kumar 42:21

And more junk content.

Anika Jackson 42:23

Well, in this episode we’ll be dropping in February, so we’ll be able to put the link to your staff in the show notes, as well as on my website, yourbrandamplified.com. We’ll have the full blog and transcript for this episode. Anything else that you want to share? Any other facts that people should be aware of or think about as they’re thinking about building their brands in today’s age?

AJ Kumar 42:47

I guess it’s kind of fun. So I like playing with a Rubik’s Cube. I got it in the last few years.

Anika Jackson 42:52

And.

AJ Kumar 42:52

I realized that the Rubik’s Cube is a great representation of social media, where you think of it like when a Rubik’s Cube is not solved. You could see it and you know it Right. Social media is similar in the sense that you got to twist and turn, you got to solve the different ways, you got to create content for different platforms. So as you think about your social media compared to a Rubik’s Cube, it might help you with how to make a much more cohesive brand experience for your viewers.

Anika Jackson 43:21

Zen philosophy, everything rolled in. I love that. And, aj, do you also have a favorite quote, mantra, verse, words that you live by?

AJ Kumar 43:33

I’m going to just say, in the words of Shilabluff do it, take action, and people around me are laughing, as opposed to that game to mine, but just do it because that’s really the challenge that everybody faces is everyone’s in faking mode and whatever, but do it Take?

Anika Jackson 43:50

action Awesome, and with that I mean, that is, if you don’t take that first step, you’re never going to know what can happen, and you could, by listening to this show and following AJ, be the next guru or even get to guru’s guru status. So this has been such a delightful conversation. I’m really excited to be having you come on to the USC media scape speaker series and podcast as well, which I haven’t really talked about on this show, but which will be launching soon. And, aj, thank you again for giving your expertise to us today and being the digital maestro that you are.

AJ Kumar 44:26

Thank you so much for having me. I hope everybody enjoyed.

Anika Jackson 44:28

Oh yeah, this step, I have no doubt, and thank you to the audience for watching or listening this episode, whether it’s on your favorite podcast platform, YouTube, Traverse TV or 360 Talk Radio for Women. I’ll be back again in a few days with another amazing expert to help share their knowledge that will propel your business in 2024 and beyond. Want more? Check out amplifywithanikacom or follow me on socials at amplifywithanika.

From Ashes to Industry Influence: Matt Brown’s Journey of Entrepreneurial Resilience and Success

Episode Transcript


Anika Jackson 00:01

Welcome to your Brand Amplified, the podcast where we interview marketers, publicists and brands to learn their stories, what makes them tick and tips and tricks that make a difference. Today, I have the honor of having Matthew Brown on the show of the Matthew Brown show. Also multiple-time Amazon bestselling author, but even bigger than that, matt you are a veteran founder of 14 companies across 25 years with multiple successful exits. So I’m Anika Jackson, the host of your Brand Amplified, and, Matthew, it’s such a pleasure to have you on today.

Matthew Brown 00:37

Thank you. Thank you, Anika, for having me on and just to clarify, I also had a lot of businesses die on me.

Anika Jackson 00:44

Well, yeah, I mean, one of your books to that point is Secrets of Hashtag Fail, and I think that’s the dirty secret that we don’t talk about. People see, like any industry, right, whether you’re an athlete, an actor, a singer or a successful entrepreneur, people look to the successes, but they don’t realize all the lessons that you learned on the way. So before we get into that, I’d love for you to talk about your journey. We’re talking a little bit about your origins in South Africa before you came to the States. But what propelled you into the world of business? And I know you do a lot of other things now that we’re going to get into in this interview but I took you from Africa, and South Africa specifically, into the United States.

Matthew Brown 01:23

Yeah, thank you. I lost the ground to Kavaral trying to be concise. So my father was an entrepreneur and I watched him be successful, but I also watched him fail. And during apartheid was like 1994, there was a political activist called Chris Honey and he was really the voice of the resistance and anti-apartheid the system and the government and that stuff. And my father at the time he owned a firearms shop. He was selling guns and one day Chris Honey got assassinated at the front of his home in Johannesburg and basically the country just went into like this meltdown and a lot of the sort of the affluent people they went and they bought guns because South Africa was literally on the brink of civil war. Nelson Mandela was still in prison at the time and so he was incarcerated and so basically the country just freaked out and they all went and bought guns.

02:14

And my dad’s business at the time just made a lot of money. I mean, he was taking like six figures a day over the counter. You know it was crazy. There were riots in the streets and I was 14 years old I didn’t really understand what was going on, but I saw what was happening and so my dad was successful pretty quickly through this gun shop of his and anyway, thankfully South Africa didn’t go into civil war at the time. But what I did see was how my dad wasn’t able to scale that business and also, by the way, that business eventually died. It failed Well. And so I was watching this and you’re like, how can you be so successful? I mean, I mean, if you think about the market timings, having the right business just at the right time, okay, there’s obviously a very South African context, but how do you make so much money? And then how can that business die on? You Like I don’t understand that.

02:59

And then, for me personally, I had two passions in my life. You know, as I grew a little bit older, like 18, 19, I had two passions. One was music, the other one was business. And I moved to London and I founded a record label, and so at the time the whole industry was changing, it was moving from vinyl to digital downloads, and so I founded a record label called Voodoo Vinyl and I created something called the Voodoo Vinyl Remix Network. And so basically, what I was doing was I was preying on an old paradigm and old idea that if you were a creative artist, that you needed to have a record label to release your music for you, and so Napster was happening at the time. Now I’m showing my age, but Napster was like you know people were downloading piracy music and Metallica. It was freaking out and it was just like a really disruptive time. Social media was just starting and Facebook had maybe been founded and anyway, long story short, I was able to buy the master recording rights of original music for nothing.

03:55

So, my cost of acquisition was really low, and I was able to do that on the promise that you give me your master recording rights for free and I’ll release your music around the world through digital downloads. We had an online store, and so anyone around the world could come and buy our music, but what we would give you access to is a whole bunch of remix artists and Frankie Knuckles at the time had just won the World Space Remixer Awards on the MTV Music Awards Like it was now a thing remixing, what was that? And you had all these major artists that would pay these creative people to remix. They would create like Kylie Minogue would pay an artist to create a Ha song, as an example, and so this is the whole context at the time, and so we were releasing like 120 digital albums a year globally and my artists would remix these original songs, right, and we would just create this network. So you would basically have the opportunity to have other people make new music from your original, and so that was basically the business, and that started to scale and eventually I sold that.

04:56

And then I was 26 suddenly and I was in London and I thought I could walk in water. You know, your first, your first business, and you know you started so lucky the universe was going to fix all that for me because the next one failed, and so that’s pretty much been my journey. You know, like founding companies, you know selling companies I build and sell if I can scale them, but it’s hard. You know 99% of startups fail in the first four years, so to get through that period is a real achievement. And you know I started the map round show 10 years ago and what I’ve been looking to do is make a difference to entrepreneurs. You know, having very important conversations that I feel are relevant, like failure as an example and influence as another example, but just using my platform to make a difference, you know and so that’s what’s brought me to the US.

Anika Jackson 05:41

Fantastic. Well, first of all, I don’t think we talked about the music connection previously and I used to be a club promoter and launched a magazine called Revolution in the year 2000, which was a dance music magazine that came with a CD every month back when we had moved to CDs and I used to get digital music all the time when I moved from like people sending CDs in the mail to promote stuff to then the record label sending like a digital playlist. So my iTunes is still full of music that I don’t even know if I’ve ever listened to, because I just immediately downloaded it back because that’s what you did back then. You didn’t have the streaming capabilities of now. So I definitely remember the days of MySpace and Napster and then Friendster, before we all jumped to Facebook and all on and on and on.

Matthew Brown 06:24

So you know, that’s awesome, that’s cool. It would have been awesome if we had met back then.

Anika Jackson 06:29

I know right.

Matthew Brown 06:30

Yeah, I know.

Anika Jackson 06:32

Yeah, I was hanging out with like masters at work and winter music connoisseurs. We had parties with them at a winter music conference and doing all that kind of stuff.

Matthew Brown 06:39

No, I think you were probably more successful in the music industry than I was. Oh, no, no, no, no, I was more of the DJ producer, dj yeah.

Anika Jackson 06:49

Yeah, that’s amazing, and I think that when you start I find this often when people start from the music business particularly there’s a just organic skill set that you learn that you then can apply to so many other industries, and so I’m interested in you know if that was true for you as the label maker.

Matthew Brown 07:08

Yeah for sure, man. I mean, if you find any company and you’re creating, I mean it’s weird, right. But I look back at all my successful businesses, it was always the same formula that executed in a different context, you know. So there was obviously Boudou Vinyl, which was music, then digital kung fu was lead generation or pipeline generation for technology companies like Microsoft and stuff, but it was basically the same three things. It was like strategy, content and systems. You know, that’s it and you’re solving different problems, of course, and position differently. But it’s funny how that skill set of yours I mean even my current business show works media. It’s almost the same formula but executed differently.

07:48

And I think to your point, if you can figure out, if you listen, no one’s starting a new business. That’s completely novel. Do you know what I mean? Like no one’s doing that, like it’s basically an improbability and it’s like 99.9% of businesses are not novel. What they are doing is they are taking existing things and making them better. Right, they’re making them more efficient Artificial Genitive Intelligence, in our case, for self-publishing books, for CEOs of tech companies, you know. But it’s all about doing things in a more efficient manner and that’s what creates value, because everybody wants value faster, right.

08:22

And so if you can figure out your own formula for success and then you just map it to something that you’re passionate about, and that’s very important, because if you wind up building a business like my Li-Jian business that you don’t love, it’s a horrible thing to be successful and not for false. I think that’s the ultimate failure. And so when you figure out your own success formula, just do it again. You know, sell your next company for more money.

08:47

You know what I mean, and I’ve spoken to CEOs, entrepreneurs, that are like you have these multiple time exits, you know, like they’re just seeming me always successful, and the reason for that, I believe, is because they have this formula, like they’ve done it before, and all they then do is the same thing, maybe in a different industry, but they do it bigger and they do it better Because they’ve now learned okay, well, that works. I’ve got a $10 million exit. How do I get to $100? And even then they do it faster, right? So when it took five years or 10 years to do a $10 million exit, they’ll do a $100 million exit in five. And it’s because of this idea of mapping your own success formula to something that you know works, that maps to your skill sets and that you just rinse repeat.

Anika Jackson 09:30

You make it sound so easy. It’s not.

Matthew Brown 09:32

It’s so, not, you know, it’s not, and I don’t mean to create that perspective at all. It’s very rare to find entrepreneurs that do this, like one of my clients, shannon Scott. He runs an HR technology group and what he does is he buys companies with EBITDA profits, right, and he just adds more companies to his portfolio. Because if you have 10 companies doing you know $10 million a year in EBITDA, what does the collective value of that portfolio look like to a PE firm? Well, they’re going to pay you a 20 times multiple on that. So if he’s buying 10 companies and he spends you know a million dollars or $10 million, or, let us say, $100 million on each, he’s going to make a billion dollars off a PE firm who wants 10 years of future cash flow for their limited partners, you see? So then he does that. Now what? Well, he buys more companies, and you know what I mean. And the thing for him, and like many of us, is that if you work within a particular industry like HR tech, right, you suddenly know everybody, you know who’s building what and you know who would buy HR tech, in terms of which PE firms, or maybe you know IPO, the whole group, I don’t know.

10:42

But if you niche into a specific thing, you start to see everything starts to become clearer. You know, and niching to your point like what makes it successful, like you, make it sound so easy. What’s? Because, again, if you, the one of the formula that will the steps in the formula, is choose a niche like choose a niche like choose to be for someone, because when you do that, doesn’t matter who it is, you know. Everything becomes clear. Your competitors become clear, your pricing becomes clear, your product solution becomes clear, your go to market becomes clear and suddenly you no longer invisible because you were for everyone. You see what I’m saying. Yeah, so now you for this thing only, and so you have to choose. But when you choose, all those things become clear and then your success formula becomes clear, you see, but it’s definitely fraught with with uncertainty and a whole lot of failure.

Anika Jackson 11:31

Well, and I think also you’re touching on so many things that people need to understand when they’re going into business for themselves. A lot of times people want to be all things to all people and they don’t think about those specific customer personas and avatars. To your point, they don’t niche down enough. And then the shiny object syndrome. So somebody comes along and says, well, you’re having a lot of success with this, can you also do this? And we’ll pay you X amount of money. And so then you go oh, maybe I should add that service, even though it’s not necessarily in your skill set or in your perfect avatar range. And so I think those are two things that I see a lot when I’m working with businesses on their communications and strategy and branding is they want to be all things to all people. Or they they’re like oh, but they’ll offer us funding if we do XYZ. And I’m like but that’s not what you’re good at. How do you combat that?

Matthew Brown 12:19

Well, this is the problem with visionaries. You know they all want to chase the new and they’re romanced by the shiny new staff, when all they should be focused on is two things the more and the better you know. And so here’s what happens when you choose the new all the time, like to your point, like you work with these clients or have you and they want to add to their services. You know, because if you add another service, then you can effectively unlock another revenue streams. Let’s just say you’re a digital advertising agency and typically what you would do is you would create content. The social do. Social ads and that’s always been your bread and butter, you know will help you to reach a million people a year, whatever. And you know we’ll put 10,000 people on your website, generate your needs. Ok, and then to your point what about PR? Well, let’s add PR into that. We’ll also do a digital PR for you. That’s a fundamentally different discipline. But then what if we added a technology product that could track, like an online reputation management tool? Let’s, let’s add that in as well. So now you’ve added in these two additional services, but your whole ambition is to scale your company. So this is what happens Now you’ve added these two extra services, who’s going to deliver that?

13:23

And it was like, oh, I didn’t thought about that. Well, we’ll hire someone. Ok, cool, so you’re going to hire someone. What’s that going to do to your profit and loss statements every month? That’s going to add an expense, yes, but then we’ll also we’ll add margin and we’ll charge a price that allows us to absorb that cost. Ok, who’s going to sell it? Now I need a salesperson also. Ok, so now you need a salesperson also. So now you’ve added two new people, but then you need a manager to manage those two people. Then you’ve got to have an ops person. That then is going to create the systems and processes and standard operating procedures to deliver on that. And so now, what have you actually done? Well, you’ve added maybe some margin, but really you’ve added a whole bunch of complexity to your whole business, right, and so your opportunity to scale right, to become successful, is actually reduced.

14:13

So the trick I’ve learned is to say no more often. There’s a book that I’m writing and now it was coming out in February called Million Dollar Principles or Secrets of Million Dollar Success, where I talk about the power of saying no because you know. Going back to the romance of new. It is not always better, it really isn’t, and so you define yourself not by what you say yes to, but by saying no Like. What can you say no to?

14:39

And I think that I think the best businesses are the simple ones, and the more simple you can keep your business like from a proposition to who delivers it and whatever the more it’s going to be successful. I mean car washes, the most simple business in the world. I mean I think it was like Andrew Tate or something like that. He has probably not him, but there was a media guy I saw on the news the other day, and so his car wash business makes two billion dollars a year in the US. There’s another billionaire that I know, my network, and when I met with him, Jordan Zimmerman he’s got loads of cash, and so I said, you know, we’ve got chatting, and he’s like. I said, like, so what do you do with your money? He’s like well, you know, I buy caravan parking spots all around the US. In fact, I own 60,000 of them and it’s the most profitable, simple, cash flow, positive business like ever. Like he doesn’t have to think about. It’s literally concrete, some means with, like, you know, a charging station for your RV or whatever. You know what I mean, and you have 60,000 of these things all over the US, make some shit, tons of money, but it’s the most simple business in the world, you see? Yeah, and so I mean.

15:52

The challenge, though, is to choose. You know, you have to actually choose to do this. For us, last year, we were doing all these like influence, so much stuff around, influence in this net and then we’re like well, what’s the one thing that actually drives influence the most? Well, it’s becoming a bestselling author. Ok, cool. Well, let’s do that. Ok, so now we’ve got a system right, because it’s simple, but we have a system not like all these things that require all these people to deliver. We have a very simple system, so we can deliver a bestselling book 300% faster and a 50% less cost than anyone in North America.

16:25

My gosh, no-transcript. Everyone else is taking six months. So that’s what I mean is a competitive advantage, but it’s literally the simplest thing. Dude, you want to become a best-selling author? Yes, okay, why aren’t you one? I don’t have the time? Great, well, we can do it all for you. Do you know what I mean? And so we can solve all those problems, but it’s a simple thing. It’s a simple thing and that you know. So I hope that all helps, but just keep some.

Anika Jackson 16:51

No, that helps so much. And I will say I’ve been guilty of this as well. When I moved back to Los Angeles in 2019, I was just going to focus on PR. Now, when I lived in Houston, I had other businesses. I had a retail store, I had a social club. I did other things, you know, and I was like I’m just going to do PR. In fact, I need my agency, anika PR.

17:09

But then I found that people needed other services and I know marketing because I started in marketing. I know some digital, I know a little bit of this and that, and I started adding team members and I definitely fell prey to that scope creep and made those decisions and started bringing more people on and all of that stuff. And so I love that you’re talking about the power of saying no, because it’s something that so many of us are bad at, especially, I think, women in business. Often we want to be their nurturers, we want to take care of everybody, we want to say yes to everybody, and it’s something that I have to combat every day and learn to say no. And this is kind of my year of saying no, stepping back and stepping into my power and saying this is what I’m really good at and what I love doing, and that’s all I’m going to focus on. So I think this is a really important message for the audience to hear right now, because this is one of those things.

17:59

You know, as we’re teeing up, I feel like I’m doing a slow roll into 2024. And this is the month of really everybody needs to level set and figure out what they want to do and who they want to be and what that’s going to look like. So your advice is very actionable and appropriate, and your expertise of not only your own businesses but talking to so many super successful business owners Now, when you started your podcast, there weren’t really a lot of podcasts at that point. I mean, podcasting is 20 years old. At this point, I think really during the pandemic is when people started getting on the platform a little more. So what was it like being one of the first people out there? I don’t even know if you consider yourself in that vein.

Matthew Brown 18:40

I certainly would say I was probably like one of the early adopters of the medium. I think I was certainly first in like literally as in like the one or two you know number one and number two in Africa, because people didn’t even know what podcasts were right back then. And obviously it’s happened. And then I was like I think all the podcasts are the US is where it all started and I was at the time I was head of strategy for TV WA and Africa and so I was just looking for trains, like digital trains. I was like what’s this thing’s called a podcast? I was like, well, cool, let me start one, and what I’ll do is I’ll do three episodes only. I just want to have some content for a product launch. But I had no intention of, like you know, doing it for as long as I have and not having done so many episodes like it’s an 850 thing. But it was lonely. That’s what it was like. As you know, when I published my first episode, like I went to bed and super pumped to see how many like thousands of downloads I got. You know, when I woke up the next day and when I logged on, I was fascinated to see the fact that I had failed massively where there was only one download and it was me from the day before. So so you know that it was lonely. But I do believe sometimes, like the medium chooses you versus you choosing the medium. And even at the time it wasn’t even called the map round show, it was called the digital kung fu show.

20:00

And as I started to get you know, 50 episodes in, and then suddenly I was like damn, like I’ve stopped scripting everything and I’m actually not leading conversations with all the sharks from the shark tank, the TV series, you know, and, by the way, like they’re all just like me, you know what I mean. Like you have this imposter syndrome, like oh, he’s on TV, so he’s obviously better than me, you know. And then when you meet them you’re like yeah, actually they’re pretty much the same. You know there’s no real difference. They’ve just, you know, built something successfully, right, right. And then one day, a friend of mine, rich Mulholland. He’s a professional speaker. I was now like episode 100 and I’ve got partnerships with entrepreneur magazine and my profile starting to grow, and so now I’m like Dan, there’s actually a lot of ROI and podcasting. And Rich was at an entrepreneur’s organization meeting and the question was asked in the chapter like what are your favorite podcasts? And he said, well, it’s the digital kung fu show. And he was like why is it called the digital?

20:54

So you phoned me and he said, dude, like I don’t understand why you don’t call it the Matt Brown show, like why is it called the digital kung fu show? And I was like, no, I can’t have my name in it. You know, you’re a judgment, this kind of thing. And eventually I was like, yeah, fuck it, I’m going to rebrand it. And I did. And it was the best thing ever, because then that’s when things really kind of took off, because people were like, oh, actually I listened to his show because I want to hear what Matt has to say, you know, and so that’s kind of where it. And then we got into live podcasts, so you know, doing shows in front of live audiences and things like that.

21:28

And I covered the crypto space in 2019, sold out dozens of live shows. I had media partnerships with CNBC. They were broadcasting my events to like 50, 60 countries around the world, and so then I was like, damn, there’s a lot of ROI and podcasting, you know. But it was lonely in the beginning. But you know, like anything, if you just persevere, like success can happen at any moment. Like I’ve had so many moments where I phoned my producer, maverick he’s been with me since the beginning and I say, dude, I don’t want to do this anymore. And he’s like why? And I’m like well, because I’m bored, I’m tired of talking to people, you know like how many?

22:01

business conversations can you have in your life? Then he’s like no, just keep going, like, do another one, like a final, do another one. You know what I mean. And then it’s like, oh, I really enjoyed that conversation. And so you know it’s very up and down being a platformer and it takes a lot of time, like you know, and most people quit. You know there’s a little graveyard of could have been podcasts. The one thing for me is just like I don’t quit. You know I’m a sucker for punishments.

Anika Jackson 22:27

You can, I can tell. But what took you from those initial three podcast interviews to decide to continue with this platform?

Matthew Brown 22:35

I was just starting to enjoy the process. You know like that, the process of being a host you know, and the reason for that really was because I’m an introverse.

22:45

I don’t actually like people. I like people I know and trust, right, but if you send me off to dinner party with a bunch of strangers, it’s like my idea of hell. And so when I was meeting all these CEOs, I was like really uncomfortable with the process, like I should talk to a stranger for all our, especially a CEO of this listed company and I’m going to hold my own and this and that. But every time I had another conversation I learned something, you know, when I was like, damn that’s, that’s changed my own life or the way that I think about a certain thing. And, by the way, that certain thing was usually about how I was thinking about myself, because once I’d interviewed all the sharks from the shark tank and I was like, yeah, there’s no difference between name and me, suddenly I was like, well, I’m thinking more confidently, you know. And so the show was really a transformational tool that you know I used to transform my own inner game, like the way that I thought about myself first and foremost, and then also the way that I felt about the world, and so that whole piece externally was really about perspective. So cool. If you’re rich in perspective, you can always generate wealth, but if you’re poor in perspective, you will always be poor. And so I believe that I have a very, very wealthy perspective on the world of business and leadership, because less than 0.2 percent of podcasts actually get past 700 episodes. That’s a stat that was shared by me, like last year. So, if you like, in the top 0.1 percent are people who have had more conversations with more business leaders than anybody else.

24:19

Where does that put your perspective? And so that’s what I mean. That that’s why you keep doing it right Is because you might learn something or you might unlearn something, and then you’re able to make a more informed decision about your business. So should you keep it simple? Maybe you should make it complex, you know.

24:34

So I don’t really do the show or the world. I really do it first and foremost for me, because I enjoy it, and my superpower is unlocking secrets from these super successful people. And then, as a consequence, you know, if one person anywhere in the world you know benefits from that conversation or that story or that lesson or that insight or that tip, then I’m winning. You know I’m saying so. That’s what I mean by influence. It’s. It’s about elevating others, you know, and so it makes me feel good. You know, I think people get into whatever they do podcasting because they want to generate a need or make money, and I’m like that’s why you, you’re not going to be doing it in six months time. You’re trying to be. You’re looking at self enrichment rather than contribution.

Anika Jackson 25:17

Yes, this has been a big topic of conversation lately and a lot of groups I’m in is making sure that you’re pouring more into people than you’re taking away, because then it does come back to you and obviously, with over eight hundred and fifty episodes, you’ve done a lot of that and a lot of adding value for other people and be amenable to pick up and listen to episodes and learn from the best of the best.

Matthew Brown 25:39

Yes, yes, exactly, but you know people have to be careful, because people will want everything for free if you give it. So you just have to be careful about how you approach spending your time on something like this.

Anika Jackson 25:54

Well, I’d love to talk now about your current company, showworks Media. We touched on it a little bit earlier, but you know I’ve talked to a few people before on the podcast about the world of publishing books and how it’s changed so much and when you see a book that’s a New York Times or Wall Street Journal best seller, it means something, but it doesn’t always mean what we, as a consumer, would think it would mean.

26:16

And so let’s talk about the world of self publishing. So you’re saying that this is a trend that’s continuing and that is a great way for people to show that they are a thought leader, they have influence and that they’re the one that you want to work with.

Matthew Brown 26:31

Yeah, exactly so if I write about this in my book Secrets of Influence, I call it the ultimate business card that you can ever have as a best selling book. If you have three or four, you know then that’s even better. And so people want to do business with people they trust. Okay, so what drives trust? Credibility, what drives credibility more than any other thing? A podcast, maybe. Podcast worth 850 episodes, better. A podcast owner worth three best selling books? Yeah, okay, I’d like to see the. What drives credibility. So you know like I can get into any boardroom or network in the world or the story around and the reputation and the credibility around the show. And oftentimes, going back to the Jordan Zimmerman one, he said when you arrived on the show, he said to me dude, I don’t do interviews, but when I saw that you had done 850 episodes and you were a three time best selling author, I knew I wanted to spend this time with you and that’s a billion.

27:31

So the thing for me is like it’s all about what will people do people find when they search your name. So if they Google your brand Amplified or Anika Jackson, what are they going to find? Right, and, by the way, people are doing this for your competitors too? Yeah, so if you are, as an example, in a, you know, complicated markets or competitive markets where you’re selling something complex like a software of self, software as a service backup solution, whatever, you’re in a competitive market and so these buyers of your products and services, they also have a lot of choice, and so money is not necessary. Like, the commercial offer is important, of course, but it’s not the only reason. They want to know that you have solved this problem better than everybody else, like you genuinely built something novel and unique, and so what they will do is they will search for your competitors’ names and they will search for yours, and whatever they find there on the social web, the digital blueprints or whatever you want to call it, you know, is going to be influencing their decision on whether to take a meeting with you, whether to pay a higher premium, because they believe you’re the one with the best solution.

28:36

You see what I’m saying. Oh, yeah, and we did this with one of our clients, haiku, and met Simon Taylor through my show. They literally are the software as a service data backup business fastest growing in the world, actually, and when I met Simon he said dude, what do you do? And I said no, I just know influence, blah, blah, blah, blah, et cetera. And he said should I actually need this? And when I asked him why, he said well, we have to do a massive amount of education globally to chief information security office CIOs, ceos, et cetera, because they don’t actually know they have the problem that we solve. So if we can’t tell them that or explain to them or get them to grasp the fact that most ransomware attacks come through vendor software as a service applications, and they don’t have their data backed up, they will never buy the solution that we sell. So now it comes into what show works does.

29:24

So basically, here’s the problem with self publishing If you write 500 words a day, seven days a week, it’ll take you six months to write a book. What CEO of a firm scaling up has the time to do that? And I wrote my first book. I saw it never do it again and I haven’t. So what I’ve had to do is then look at well, what are some of the other issues here? So, because you don’t have the time to write the book, what do you look for? Ghost writers, right, okay, cool. So what’s a ghost writer going to cost you Minimum $50,000, sometimes upwards of quarter of a million dollars, depending on the seniority and stuff. Guess how much time they’re going to need? Six months, okay, that’s fine. And then you still don’t even have a launch campaign for your book. That’s a problem If you have to invest in that too. And then most self-published books are something like 90% of them don’t actually create any form of commercial value. Yeah, that’s a major problem.

30:13

So we looked at all of this as a team and we’re like no, in fact, we need to change all of this. So what we actually now do and there’s three things that drive a book now where we can deliver it 300% faster. So the first thing is strategy. You need to know what your influence strategy is Like. What is the story we’re going to tell? Why are we doing it now? Who are we trying to influence? Why are we trying to influence them? You know blah, blah, blah. So we have a process that we use, but from that influence strategy we create a video production plan, not a book production plan. We’re just saying and the reason for that is because you need content to launch your book, so we will shoot videos based on the storyline that we want to tell, and there’s a framework that we use, especially in B2P, that works like as bullet proof, but basically it’s called the P3 framework.

30:56

I write about this in my book, but it’s basically the problem, the product and the proof, and you shoot videos based on that narrative or that structure of story. So you land the problem and you really get into it. Like why is 52% of ransomware all coming through SAS? Why don’t you know about this problem? Though, like issues and here’s what happens with a ransomware attack actually comes to reality, like hospitals get shut down, kids on life support, don’t get those machines working, blah, blah, blah, great. So what’s the solution or the product that you’ve built? Ok, well, here’s what we’ve done in SAS Solves, prom.

31:27

And then you get into the proof Well, where have you solved this before? Well, iq solved it for the Boston Red Sox. We interviewed the Boston Red Sox film, that whole thing. So now you’ve got an amazing proof. So then we take that body of work and then we repurpose it into like a year’s worth of content. So now you’ve got a whole year’s worth of content to market the shit out of your book. And then what you do is you take the transcripts from those videos and you run that through artificial genitive intelligence. There’s prompts that we’ve designed for this Nice. They were able to produce a manuscript in eight hours. So six months was the old way, eight hours is the new way. If you’re a business CEO of a tech company, as an example and you’re evaluating other competitors ghost writing agencies or whatever who are you going to shoot?

Anika Jackson 32:09

Yeah, there’s no comparison.

Matthew Brown 32:11

There’s not even a comparison. So then you launch all that stuff and we guarantee, like number one Amazon, best selling positions. We do that by giving away your Kindle version for free for the first 48 hours. We have partners that we work with to just massively hack the algorithms, but now you’re in a number one status. We put you on a podcast tour and the whole thing takes 30 days. Yeah.

Anika Jackson 32:32

I’m floored. I’m floored right now.

Matthew Brown 32:35

That’s what I mean by keeping things simple, because none of that would be possible if we were trying to add other things. Or we’ll also manage your LinkedIn page and we’ll also do this and this and next. Well, that’s about the formula. You figure it out and then you just hammer that formula until you reach a number that you’re happy with.

Anika Jackson 32:54

So you’ve talked about a few things strategy and content. Best selling book as content to position you appropriately as the thought leader and the expert in your field, but also video, and so I think that’s something we’re also seeing. Everybody wants video, even YouTube. Now you can do YouTube shorts, you can put podcasts on YouTube, you can have long form videos still, and every social media platform is trying to figure out how to utilize this, and it sounds like you’ve really created an infrastructure to get people there so much more quickly. And it reminds me of speaking to AJ Kumar of the Limitless Company, and he worked with Neil Patel on his social and he’s worked with a lot of other people, and his entire strategy is strategy content shoot a lot of video and have a lot of content. How long does it take you to get that year’s worth of content?

Matthew Brown 33:43

You can do it in like a day. Again, I think people misunderstand just how much things have changed now with the AGI. Like artificial intelligence intelligence Like people are going to GPT and going writing me a thought leadership article. People seem to think that’s thought leadership, by the way, which it isn’t. If you’re using GPT to create articles and stuff like that, it’s not thought leadership. The reason for that is because it’s trained on all thinking that already exists. If you want to be a thought leader, you cannot be saying the same things that everybody else is saying. So, again, I write about this in my book. But if you’re going to be seen as a thought leader, you have to do original, non-obvious, evidence-based thinking. That’s what it’s about. So it’s not an opinion. It’s not like.

34:30

I spent 10 years as a CMO for a fortune 500 company, and here’s five things that I learned. You know what I mean. Click Betty stuff no one gives a shit about that. Now, bullshit radars are so fine, you’re tuned. Now Like if you’re doing that, you’re just wasting your time. You really are, and so the opportunity, though, is to think differently about well, how could we change or significantly improve the gain for a prospect or a particular niche by using artificial genesis of intelligence.

34:57

The applications are huge and everyone is just thinking about create a social media post. It’s rubbish. It’s rubbish, I mean. Another example of this. Right, this one’s very cool, I’m super pompous. So, people on LinkedIn they’re always marketing the problem or the solution, but they forget to actually market their value. So, as an example, let’s take the map round show. Let’s say that the problem is this, the year of CEO, and you need to get your story out to 100 countries around the world. Great problem solution I’ll interview you for 60 minutes and you can promote the shit out of your business and products and services solution. But is that really my value? No, it’s not. What’s my value? Well, my value is actually in the 850 interviews. You know, the four books, the whole. Like all the content, all the audience that you built up. Yeah, 100% man, 100% like that’s the value. Because none of those like the content from the interviews don’t exist in GPT. Right, they don’t, because they sit on my podcast again.

35:55

So then here’s what we built. This is true we built. It’s basically map brown AI. So you can get access to it now on my website, mattbrownshow.com. You sign up for the community. You get access to this AI web app. So basically, what it’s been trained on is literally all the transcripts from all the interviews from the super successful dudes and women, all the books like you just a whole massive body of work.

36:18

And now what I’m able to do and, by the way, it’s pretty cool Imagine you could access the minds and the stories and insights, the data points and all these and the lessons from the super successful people, but do it at a fraction of a second, because who has got time to listen to 850 interviews? Nobody. But you want access in the knowledge, right. So you build a custom AI app, right, gpt app.

36:42

And now I can do language translations. I’m able to now like into whole new countries. It’s China, right, you know Chinese business entrepreneur guy was Spanish and he’s sitting in Latin America, but you don’t speak English, it’s not your first language, so you would never listen to my message, you would never care about all that content. And so now I’m able to do all of that. Like, my team was weird. They sent me an artificially generated map brown, like an avatar, like I was speaking on camera, but it wasn’t me. It was very weird. So now imagine you have Mac Brown, the avatar speaking Spanish. Yeah, you see.

37:19

So now I’m able to massively amplify my influence to millions of entrepreneurs all around the world. So it’s no longer just a podcast. But none of that was possible 18 months ago, these feet, and everyone’s still like oh well, I must find a AGI platform to repurpose my concept for the podcast. It’s like yeah, that’s one use case, fine, you need it. That’s more like a vitamin than a headache pull, you know. And so that’s what I mean. Like just really fundamentally thinking differently about like, well, what is now the value? Not like the problem I can solve and the solution, but like what is the real value that I cannot go to market with right, so that I can take to the world, because that’s what true Influence is by innovating others, right?

Anika Jackson 38:02

Yeah, absolutely. And If to your point earlier, if you influence one person around the world because they listen to an episode To do something differently in their business, that equal success for them, then you’ve changed a life, or multiple lives. So cool.

Matthew Brown 38:17

So yeah yeah, and also it’s weird, right, I’ve had this. People, people listen to your staff and you don’t know about it.

38:24

Yeah like it’s really weird and people underestimate it. There’s a random story. So our, when I was to try left for the state, so I phoned a CEO so wanted to obviously make it with clients. But I went, hey, my name’s Matt, I’m the you know RNC of digital community, saying I said, are you Matt Brown? I’m like yeah, you the guy that’s always going live on LinkedIn. Oh, just like yeah. And the podcast? Like yeah, I recognize your voice. Just like I don’t know who this guy is. Like was he download 967? Or like Like you don’t know.

Anika Jackson 38:59

And it’s awesome, you know, to think that when you reach 10,000 people, organically like someone’s actually Listening to what you’re saying, you know well, yeah, okay, so you have the Matt Brown show, you have show works media and I believe we have an offer for our listeners that they can get 20% off their first best-selling book with show works media.

Matthew Brown 39:19

Yeah, do they?

Anika Jackson 39:19

need to have a special Code, or just we jumped you and said they listen to say, hey, just How’d you have an offer?

Matthew Brown 39:27

It’s fine. I mean, could Jackson?

Anika Jackson 39:30

super easy. You’re making it very easy for people. And then you also have your new book coming out in February. And tell us more about that book.

Matthew Brown 39:38

Yes, it’s called our secrets of million-dollar success. So, basically, these are like principles. I’m a great believer in like principles. Principles are they truly do stand the test of time. So, like, if you think about perseverance or saying, no, we’re having a lion mentality, or whatever you know, these are principles that you can really easily understand, and they kind of been, you know, battle-hardened Improvement. And so the insight, though, for why a million dollars? Right, because I had a small business loans marketplace Platform and I was doing research during COVID on the impact of COVID on small business loans. I found this SBA reports, where they literally showed a pyramid and they showed the distribution of Businesses by revenue sites. I was like I was shocked to see it, but this is true if you build a business that’s generating a million dollars in revenue, okay, yeah, you’re in the top 10 percent of all businesses that exist.

Anika Jackson 40:32

Wow.

Matthew Brown 40:33

I was like shit, and if you think about it it’s like cool. Well, that’s actually an achievable goal for a lot of people like you know. If you like 100 billions, like no, you just need a million dollars. Because if you you know again have a business that’s doing a million dollars in revenue, you could pretty much live whatever last, all you want. Well, it’s true, right, it’s true. And yes, you like, have ambitions to be connor McGregor, but for everybody else, a Million dollars is a very cool business.

41:00

To say you have a business generates a million and you don’t need a. You know, scale it and had go through this whole ambition thing. You can be successful, good and great, you know. And so what I wanted to do, having bought and sold multiple million dollar businesses, I wanted to just give these principles, you know, stuff that’s like here’s what I know to be true, you know. So how do you get there? Well, you need these, whatever, these 25 principles. And then each principles is shared with the story, right, that I’ve personally had to go through to reach that million dollar levels. That’s the whole context for the book.

Anika Jackson 41:36

Yeah, and this makes me go back to the beginning of our conversation, where you’re saying you’ve had successful companies, but you’ve also had companies that were not as successful. Really and where there are things that you did differently in those companies that do not follow your blueprint. That made that. You know that got you to the million plus for the successful exits.

Matthew Brown 41:55

Yeah, I think ambitions are double-edged sword. You have to be very careful with your own ambition. And I remember, you know this, digital confidia just doubled revenues every year for three years and then had this opportunity to move to the States. And I was like, well, you know, I’m gonna go scale it. And I went to my mentor and I said, listen, you know what do you think you know? He’s like, well, you said to me, you said to me, I know guys to bigger businesses than you, I have more money than you that went to the US and failed. Why do you think you’re gonna be successful? And I was like that’s a very good question, let me think about that. Because it’s like, oh shit, yeah, you know what if it doesn’t work? And so then he said to me we’ll sell it. And I was like, no, why would I sell it? I just, you know, super successful. Like no reason to sell it, you know. And I was like, damn. But the story was really amazing. We’d won Africa’s best tech startup. We were just hammering everybody, I was cleaning up the markets and I was just like, nah, I’m gonna sell it.

43:00

18 months later, covid happened, all will changed. And then I was like, snap. So what if I did sell it? What then would I have been able to do? You know, I would have had massive runway for the US. You know, I could bought to, bought a business with customers, you know, with proven product services, and then go and scale that, take all the risk out of Starting a company again. You know, and that’s what I mean by ambition, you see. So what I should have done was listen and sold the company, because I would have made a shit ton of money and I would have been able to start again.

43:33

You know, however and I’m, by the way, like this whole story around market timing has come up so many times in my podcast companies that have been around for two decades, you know, multiple businesses, loads of EBITDA, and then something changes, yeah, and then they missed that opportunity for an IPO, like we’re talking to an acquirer and the choir had got cold feet because something changed.

43:56

They had one bad quarter, and so one bad quarters all an acquirer will need to justify not paying you what you think you were, and so you know again, these are all the stories and, by the way, this is a principle actually in the book around market timing. You know, know when to sell and know what kind of you know found entrepreneur? Yeah, because I don’t believe. Especially today, especially now at AI like most businesses are not gonna survive. You know they’re just not. And so if you’re going to think about being financially free, right, and you build something where there is EBITDA there and you have a good story, seriously consider what would your life look like if you sold, rather than you know you’re gonna hold this thing for 50 years, because that’s not gonna happen.

Anika Jackson 44:40

Interesting. I’m definitely interested in hearing more about this because I know a lot of people said AI might take away some jobs, but it’s going to create other jobs. So, I’d love to hear a little bit. I’d love to unpack that a little bit more. Why do you think AI is going to make such a big difference to the world of business and companies being able to continue or fade away?

Matthew Brown 45:01

Yeah, the reason for that is because AI is evolving. So we’re thinking about it’s just chat GPT today, but you know, in three years time, even in the self-publishing space, you’re gonna have like true AGI is gonna come along and it’s gonna be able to write, you know, the next Harry Potter? Yeah, without any human. Yeah, you know what I’m saying, right? What does that then mean? So, self-publishers what happens to that whole thing? Wow, they’re publishers, traditional ones, you know. Or what about AGI that can truly create, like the next Drake album, without any Drake, but it sounds like Drake, mm-hmm.

Anika Jackson 45:40

We saw that with the.

Matthew Brown 45:41

Beatles recently yeah man, yeah man, exactly, we always underestimate what’s going to happen. Yeah, and that’s why you have to Truly be quit like only the paranoid will survive, truly that, as you said, there are opportunities, that if you’re thinking differently about problems with AGI and AI and stuff, then you will be able to create commercial value and you actually can create a business at scale much, much faster than before, because that’s how big opportunities will present themselves. And the ones that see them and then they commercialize them and they find the right business model for that and they just go full in on that like fully aggressive, like how hard can I hit this thing? Those are the guys that are gonna win, yeah.

Anika Jackson 46:25

Well, we’ll definitely have to thank you back on in another. You know, six months to a year, yeah, man, yeah, the world’s changed and how your new books doing. But I’ve really enjoyed this conversation. Thank you, matt, for offering your wisdom and your expertise to my listeners. It’s meant a lot to me and, I know, to them as well because, like you said, I love interviewing people because I’m meeting people I wouldn’t have met and I also am learning things along the way, so along right along with my audience.

46:51

So thank you for being here and thank you to the audience for coming to another episode of your band, amplified. Whether you’re listening to us or watching us on Tremors TV or YouTube, I’m so excited to be here with Matt Brown. Matt Brown show will have information in the show notes with how you can reach his offer and join his community, listen to his podcast, all of the great things he’s putting out there, and I’ll be back again in a few days with another amazing expert to share their best practices and wisdom with you. Want more? Check out amplifywithanikacom or follow me on socials at amplifywithanika.

Alex Brueckmann – Your Brand Amplified Transcript

00;00;01;05 – 00;00;19;15
Anika

Welcome to Your Brand Amplified the podcast where we interview marketers, publicists and brands to learn their stories, what makes them tick and tips and tricks that make a difference. I’m so excited to be here today on your brand amplified with Alex Brueckmann. Alex, welcome to the show.

00;00;20;00 – 00;00;21;04
Alex Brueckmann

Thank you very much for having me Anika.

00;00;21;17 – 00;00;53;10
Anika

Absolutely. So you are originally from Germany. You now live in Canada. We’re on the same – we’re both on the West Coast, just different countries. And you have quite an extensive background in business, having launched multiple businesses. And now I was just talking to you before we push record about being a strategist, so I’d love for you to share a little bit about your journey and what brought you from Europe and your businesses to Canada and then how you parlayed that into what you do now.

00;00;54;05 – 00;01;01;08
Alex Brueckmann

This is actually a very long story, but I don’t want to bore anyone Let let let me give you the executive summary of that.

00;01;01;08 – 00;01;01;28
Anika

OK.

00;01;01;28 – 00;01;22;17
Alex Brueckmann

So when my background is in in radio journalism, actually, that’s where I started. And later then went to university and studied business administration. I spiraled back into the business world, into a media corporation where I then earned my first rights around business strategy and worked a lot with the big consulting companies.

00;01;22;17 – 00;01;35;10
Alex Brueckmann

And that’s their client, basically. And then later became a consultant myself. However, what I do is not typically consulting. I don’t come in and tell you what I think you should do.

00;01;35;10 – 00;01;35;24
Anika

OK.

00;01;35;24 – 00;01;44;01
Alex Brueckmann

I come in and help you figure out what you want to do based on where you feel you want to go. And of course, I give you my opinion on that if you want it.

00;01;44;01 – 00;02;29;06
Alex Brueckmann

But it’s not about me. It’s about you and the process that I gave my clients through is really about creating clarity for them so that it works for them when I’m gone. The biggest problem that I’ve often seen in my career is consultants coming in, handing over knowledge, ideas, processes. They leave and everything goes down the drain because no one actually has accountability for their work. So to avoid that is to avoid that to my clients waste their money. I help them embrace ownership and do something like that. And that’s what in the end also brought me to where I am today, apart from not being in the same country anymore. So that is an entirely different story. You know, as they say, there’s always a girl.

00;02;29;17 – 00;02;51;01
Alex Brueckmann

So in my case, that girl wanted to go home to Canada. And yeah, that’s when I sat down with my business partner and we had the conversation of how I can transition into this new world. We made it work and yeah, almost three years ago we came to Canada and. Wait a second. Two years ago.

00;02;51;12 – 00;02;51;29
Anika

Oh, OK.

00;02;52;14 – 00;02;56;17
Alex Brueckmann

And yeah, ever since I’ve been building a life and a business here.

00;02;56;25 – 00;03;21;09
Anika

Nice. That’s wonderful. You know, I’ve seen a thread between you and my last three guests in that we in those conversations, we’ve talked a lot about people who have gone through the experience of being in business, maybe being on the corporate side, transitioned into really more of a role of helping and guiding people, but also taking this quantum leap forward.

00;03;21;21 – 00;03;51;02
Anika

And I like what you’re saying about accountability. My last guest and I were just talking about how one of my words for this year is intentionality and also focus. And I think as business owners and people in companies, even in corporate, we just go, go, go, go, go. We’re not always thinking and remembering the strategy. And so I want to dive into a little bit about what a strategist does a little more, because you said, you know, it’s not really about the title.

00;03;51;02 – 00;04;10;03
Anika

It’s really about how you actually help people achieve goals. And not, as you said, not just coming in and saying, this is what you should do and here’s the roadmap and then there’s no accountability. It just goes out the window. I think a lot of times people get trainings or they work with people. And that’s exactly what happens is, oh, that was so wonderful.

00;04;10;03 – 00;04;25;08
Anika

I learned so much, so inspired. And then the person leaves and then you get back into the minutia and the busyness of what you have in front of you right then and not thinking clearly about what it should look like in the future and how to project out.

00;04;26;15 – 00;05;00;02
Alex Brueckmann

Erm, intentional intentionality is I love that. I actually use that a lot on my website. There’s tons of free resources for business owners and entrepreneurs. One of the most important ones is the intentional strategy toolkit. And that that topic is so important because there is just not enough time in the day to do all the things that we want to do and therefore deciding with intent what you want to do and being intentional about how you use your time in the best possible way that truly matters for a lot of businesses.

00;05;00;19 – 00;05;25;04
Alex Brueckmann

I just came back from, from a workshop that I ran for a client. The owner was so overwhelmed. We met the night before. She was just we came back to the hotel at around 10:30 and she told me she would have to work for clients until 1 a.m. at the office today. And so totally overwhelmed and it was really hard to see her that way.

00;05;25;04 – 00;05;45;21
Alex Brueckmann

And on the next day, she decided with intention that she will not open her computer and she switched off her phone to allow herself to be fully present on that day in that workshop. And after the after the workshop, she turned on her phone. It’s like it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. Not that many messages.

00;05;47;13 – 00;06;18;09
Alex Brueckmann

And she said something that really that really struck me. She said you helped us move from despair to hope within one day. And that is something that describes and it’s a good answer to your question. That is what you do as a strategist. You help people create that future that they want to hold in their hands. And rather than giving them medication, you help them go to the root causes and change the root causes.

00;06;18;22 – 00;06;50;17
Alex Brueckmann

And because you don’t, you don’t take something and shove it down their throats, but you gently open doors and let them walk through, they realize an experience on their own. That they have all the knowledge that it takes. It’s never about knowledge. It’s about intentionality. It’s about what you do and what you do. Not and then bringing those things into a great connection, those things that you want to do, prioritize them accordingly, put them into a process that works for you.

00;06;50;27 – 00;07;11;01
Alex Brueckmann

And so in a nutshell, what I do is I help them to find where they want to be and how they get there and how they prioritize how they prioritize on the way. That is, in a nutshell, what a good strategist does. It’s not telling them some tactics in, let’s say, in marketing or in another subject that is consulting.

00;07;11;17 – 00;07;42;05
Alex Brueckmann

And of course, the term “strategist” is all around and everyone uses it, but you need to look behind the surface to understand what the person actually does for you. The value that a strategist produces for you is always a different one because this is not a defined term. So when you when you want to work with someone that allows you to explore based on your own intent and your own resources, find someone who facilitates a process for you and not someone who tells you what they think you should do.

00;07;42;10 – 00;08;02;24
Anika

Yeah. Yeah. Because not the same solution is not going to work for everybody based on where we are in our business or our personalities or what’s going on in our lives. I know that you have a family. I have a son. I believe I have a daughter. So a lot of my time is spent, you know, OK, I can do this work and then I need to take her to school.

00;08;02;29 – 00;08;23;24
Anika

Then I can get this much done. Then I pick her up, then I take her to activity. Then when can I get back to this call or this email? Or this proposal? So we have to take all of those things into consideration as whole people and whole beings. And so like it sounds like to me you’re also talking about like a mindset shift really when you said you took clients from despair to hope.

00;08;23;29 – 00;08;26;22
Anika

That’s I got chills. That’s very powerful.

00;08;27;22 – 00;08;36;24
Alex Brueckmann

Mindset plays a huge role. And it often has to do with moving from FOMO to JOMO. From the fear of missing out to the joy of missing out.

00;08;36;27 – 00;08;37;20
Anika

Oh, nice.

00;08;37;20 – 00;09;02;28
Alex Brueckmann

Understanding why you don’t need things. So every one of us has experienced this fear of missing out. It’s just in our nature that allowing yourself to step into your power and deciding, I don’t have fear of missing out because there is nothing to miss out on because what I want to achieve is not going to be built with this, this or that part.

00;09;02;28 – 00;09;11;11
Alex Brueckmann

So thank you, but no thank you. And you let go of it. And all of a sudden it doesn’t. It’s not important anymore. How many followers you have an Instagram, for example.

00;09;11;11 – 00;09;11;18
Anika

Right.

00;09;11;18 – 00;09;41;08
Alex Brueckmann

And whether anyone else does the next cool thing in their reels or God knows what, because you realize it’s not what drives your business anyway. So stripping away ego patterns, helping people understand how to how to create how to how to create speed over perfection, for example, and all of these different aspects of mindset play a hugely important role but in the end, I don’t teach them about mindsets.

00;09;41;09 – 00;10;02;24
Alex Brueckmann

I help them understand where they want to go and how to get there, and they kind of switch their mindset on their own in that process because it’s not me going in and telling you you need to change your mindset and then seeing Whoa, I created that in a day. You’ve got to be kidding. And this is so empowering and so motivating.

00;10;03;10 – 00;10;10;05
Alex Brueckmann

It’s awesome to see it always lights me up. My eyes start just blinking when I see this. It’s amazing.

00;10;10;08 – 00;10;21;06
Anika

Oh, that’s so cool. So when you work with somebody, for instance, in this one day workshop, then do you do follow up sessions, follow up workshops, all of that?

00;10;21;19 – 00;10;50;28
Alex Brueckmann

They’re often embedded in a longer process and longer in that sense means a few weeks so there are few phone calls prior to that session to prepare certain aspects that we need and very often it’s work that can be done without me. So therefore these sessions might, these phone calls might take 60 to 90 minutes stretched over four weeks maybe, so that people have time in between these calls to actually work on those topics.

00;10;51;22 – 00;11;18;02
Alex Brueckmann

Then we would have a workshop in there maybe three, four or five phone calls after that where I become sort of an accountability partner to really move things forward. Yeah, because we all know how it works. You have great inspiration. You created an awesome plan and then all of a sudden life takes over again. So holding that space over an extended period is often really helpful for my clients.

00;11;18;13 – 00;11;37;06
Alex Brueckmann

But it’s nothing that is, first of all, breaking the bank. So we’re not talking about a consulting project over six months. It costs half a million we’re talking about a minimally invasive support structure that you that you set up in order to move forward. You wanted to create into reality.

00;11;37;06 – 00;12;03;27
Anika

Yeah. Yeah, that’s really beautiful. And I’m laughing at what you said about moving from FOMO to JOMO and the Joy of Missing Out, because I recently read an article from Warren Buffett that was about Warren Buffett and how he says, no, he’s really focused and he says no to almost everything. And I think like you were also saying, as a business owner or an entrepreneur, it’s very easy to get caught up in.

00;12;04;05 – 00;12;22;04
Anika

Well, we have to be here. We have to be here. Everybody says you have to do a Facebook group if you’re doing X, Y, Z kind of business or you have to post a certain number of times or you have to go to all of these events to network but who are you networking with? And is that really going to help you reach your goal, or is that really the right audience and the thing that’s going to drive your business?

00;12;22;13 – 00;12;43;12
Anika

And so having somebody there who can kind of help redirect and cut through that so that somebody can say, OK, you know, this is really my goal. Now I can take action steps and put kind of blinders on so that I can only move forward towards that. It’s very powerful and it’s something we need reminder. We need accountability.

00;12;43;12 – 00;13;02;08
Anika

We need somebody who’s going to come in and help us because otherwise it does get very overwhelming. I’m completely commiserating with that client of yours. You know, thinking about like, oh, my gosh, I have so much to do and so much going on and we forget, OK, stop, breathe. Redirect.

00;13;02;26 – 00;13;27;03
Alex Brueckmann

And it’s not about killing the joy in your business, but it’s not about only focusing on business money and processes. Not at all. It’s the opposite. It’s standing in who you are as a business owner, being fully in line with the impact that you want to create and being on purpose. All the time that there is no bigger fun than that.

00;13;27;03 – 00;13;47;10
Alex Brueckmann

So people sometimes feel they would pigeonhole themselves when they are too focused on some things because they are going to miss out again. It’s the fear of missing out, miss out on some opportunities that might come their way. But the thing is, once you have that structure in place, every opportunity that comes your way, you can just take it, take a look at it and be like, interesting.

00;13;47;10 – 00;14;05;09
Alex Brueckmann

Is that actually an opportunity or is that just a shiny object? And I just let it pass. So it’s not that you’ve got to miss out on anything. You take conscious decisions, whether it is for you or not, not just because someone else says you should do benchmarking against your business and what you want to achieve. Yeah. And then you say, Hey, welcome to my world.

00;14;05;09 – 00;14;07;08
Alex Brueckmann

Or you say, Thanks, but no thanks.

00;14;07;25 – 00;14;25;14
Anika

Now, do you find when you’re working with businesses that sometimes they don’t know who they want to be or where they want to go? Maybe they just they start this business, they have this great big idea, but they don’t have those, you know, they don’t know I need X amount of clients or this much in revenue or they don’t have those goalposts.

00;14;29;03 – 00;14;50;26
Alex Brueckmann

Not on that fundamental level. The businesses that I work with are typically businesses, $1,000,000 revenue plus. So these people have been in business for quite some time. These are not newbies. They’re not starting out with some side hustle or things like that. They’re serious about what they do and they really know what they do. So it’s not that they don’t have clear goals or a lack of understanding of how business works.

00;14;50;29 – 00;15;09;08
Alex Brueckmann

Yeah, it’s but the first part of your question is totally relevant. They often don’t really know exactly what they want to build and how it should look like in some years down the road. So they run a fairly successful business. They are profitable, but it’s either that they have growth goals that they, for whichever reason, miss every year.

00;15;09;16 – 00;15;12;22
Alex Brueckmann

So we take a look at what why that is.

00;15;12;22 – 00;15;13;16
Anika

Yeah.

00;15;13;16 – 00;15;31;13
Alex Brueckmann

And we help them get it straight or sometimes it’s just that they kind of fell out of love with what they’ve been doing for so long, even if it brought them money that they want it and they realize that they have maybe ten, ten more years to go before they finally let go of work and focus more on, on.

00;15;31;19 – 00;15;51;28
Alex Brueckmann

Yeah. The fun side of life. And so it’s often about helping them fall back in love with their business by realigning who they are and what they want to see in the world with what they do for a living. And thereby you create that fun space at work where everything that you do resonates with who you are.

00;15;53;23 – 00;16;13;03
Anika

So what inspired you to get into this line of work from going from radio journalism in business? What made you go, Oh, wait, this is what I’m very passionate about, and I know that I can really help people and help these million dollar plus companies achieve this goal.

00;16;13;03 – 00;16;36;15
Alex Brueckmann

What happens if you don’t do it? I I worked for a business that has been neglected, the need for strategic planning and properly linking what they do to a greater good for way too long because they were so darn profitable that that that they felt there is no need for that. They just forgot it and became very complacent in the process.

00;16;37;10 – 00;17;09;03
Alex Brueckmann

And when those high revenues and high profit margins sort of disappeared over time, the moment they reacted, it was already too late. And we tried to restructure the business. We tried everything that we could to save it. But in the end, restructuring is not strategy. Restructuring is cutting off pieces that don’t work anymore. And I had to see how thousands of people lost their jobs.

00;17;09;03 – 00;17;09;27
Anika

Oh, my God.

00;17;10;15 – 00;17;31;27
Alex Brueckmann

It make me feel horrible because my father at the beginning of his fifties also lost his job. And I realized what it does to a family and how extremely difficult it can be to get back into the workforce at that age. And I felt partly personally responsible for that, even if I only came into the business when the good times were gone.

00;17;32;10 – 00;18;04;20
Alex Brueckmann

But we were not able to turn it around in a way that we want it. And that hurt me personally so much that I said, this is something that I can do. I can help businesses avoid to wait and to be complacent until it’s too late. I can help these people and these businesses to create what we call curse reinforcing circles that build the future while the businesses are doing well, not wait until it’s not going well anymore, because then strategy doesn’t work anymore.

00;18;04;21 – 00;18;35;17
Alex Brueckmann

Then we’re talking about restructuring and you really don’t want to be there. It’s not about regaining balance. It’s about reinforcing creating a growth loop, reinforcing circles that help you build something when you experience the good times, when you come to me and you say, Oh, our business is heavily under pressure, I will not work with you. I can only work with you when you have the mental capacity to focus on what’s possible and you have enough runway to get it off the ground.

00;18;36;00 – 00;18;40;25
Alex Brueckmann

If you run out of runway, you need a restructuring consultant. You don’t need me.

00;18;41;07 – 00;18;44;20
Anika

Yeah. So you want to be proactive rather than reactive.

00;18;44;28 – 00;18;45;14
Alex Brueckmann

Exactly.

00;18;45;19 – 00;19;06;09
Anika

Yeah. Nice. And what is- you talked about one example of somebody who was able to really get to that joy in a day know workshop. What are some other aha moments that you’ve seen with clients? That continued to bring you joy in the work that you do?

00;19;08;29 – 00;19;30;17
Alex Brueckmann

Let me put it that way. The work that I do and what I bring a certain knowledge on how to get to a certain point. So I bring my toolbox and in there, there are several tools and they are not made out of fairy dust. This is this is real stuff. And I’m not saying there are no fairies, so I don’t want to offend.

00;19;31;00 – 00;19;50;03
Alex Brueckmann

If you believe in fairies, go for it. It’s just really about the process knowledge that I bring, the tools that I bring that are sometimes just like, oh, I didn’t know that existed and now I get it. So and I don’t use these tools. I just hand them over. I help them with these tools, but they work with them.

00;19;50;19 – 00;20;11;16
Alex Brueckmann

And all of a sudden it’s not only about understanding what’s possible, but it’s also understanding how to do it. So by going through these through these workshops with me, for example, not only do they build where they want to be and how to get there, they also know how to do it next time on their own. They don’t need me when they want to do it again because they have the tools in their hands.

00;20;11;16 – 00;20;20;27
Alex Brueckmann

They can just do it. Yeah, and that is pretty cool for people because they don’t feel locked in if you know what I mean. They don’t have to go back to me. I don’t hold a secret key or anything. I give it up.

00;20;22;14 – 00;20;43;08
Anika

Yeah. I mean, you you have several resources on your website, even for people to tool around and look at different things. So what continues to inspire you and what do you see yourself doing next? How do you see yourself extending what you’re doing now? I mean, obviously expand into another country by virtue of moving.

00;20;45;13 – 00;21;10;15
Alex Brueckmann

So me it’s really about taking the experience and knowledge that I have and packaging it in a way that it is accessible for as many people as possible that don’t have a business background. So I don’t what I really didn’t enjoy and working for large corporations for a long time is the kind of lingo that’s being used. It’s often some sort of insights speak with terminology that is just not human.

00;21;10;16 – 00;21;36;16
Alex Brueckmann

That’s just weird words that some highlight strategy consultants feel they need in order to prove their value. I use normal people language when I talk about these things so that everyone understands that and repackaging it in a way and and building products around it and services around it that people can just use without me. That is currently what what I’m looking at.

00;21;36;16 – 00;21;59;05
Alex Brueckmann

So if you already said anyhow, there’s a lot of free stuff on my website just to experiment with it, you don’t need me to start working on these things, but hey, maybe these tools help you. And for example, I just finished writing two books, so one will come out in 2022 the other one likely in 2023. Again I just give it away, I just write it down the entire process, how it works, the tools, everything.

00;21;59;20 – 00;22;12;11
Alex Brueckmann

I just really want to help people get their businesses off the ground, build the future that they want, create the impact and the life that they want to see. And if I can have my $0.05, maybe two, that’s also fine.

00;22;12;19 – 00;22;33;25
Anika

Yeah, I feel like especially now, you know, you hear about the great resignation and you hear about people really trying to hone in on what they’re doing. And certainly many of those people will probably be future customers of yours clients because they will be able to come up with a great idea that will bring them the million dollar plus in revenue.

00;22;34;06 – 00;22;47;14
Anika

Right? Do you usually work when you’re working with companies with is there usually like a solo entrepreneur who started this business and built it up, or is it more corporations or is it a bit of both?

00;22;48;21 – 00;22;56;13
Alex Brueckmann

I work for some of the biggest brands in the world. At the same time, I work with the smallest business I currently work with is run by two women.

00;22;56;13 – 00;22;56;24
Anika

Wow.

00;22;56;24 – 00;23;08;04
Alex Brueckmann

And I enjoy both. But I’m moving more and more away from the large businesses because I see that the impact that I can have is bigger with the small businesses.

00;23;08;04 – 00;23;27;10
Alex Brueckmann

It’s just that the personal connection, the individual joy is bigger with large organizations. Don’t get me wrong, you impact thousands of people at the same time with the work that you do. But most of the time when the effects materialize, you weren’t around anymore because they take so long to get these things done, because these are complex organizations.

00;23;28;08 – 00;23;53;24
Alex Brueckmann

I’ve done that for more than 15 years, and I really enjoyed it. It’s now time for me to help people that want to build smaller businesses that are still small. Not to say that they can’t be big or that they won’t grow, but it’s really more about the personal connection that I’ve built with the business owners that helps them to take the tools and do something with it.

00;23;54;02 – 00;23;54;13
Anika

Yeah.

00;23;54;13 – 00;24;13;28
Alex Brueckmann

Without needing me all the way through. I feel like a Kickstarter or sometime, you know, some of them and how it’s and then they just run on their own. I don’t need to run with them all the time. If they want to have me around from time to time, that’s fine. But I’m not doing these huge projects anymore that consume a big chunk of my own time.

00;24;14;07 – 00;24;20;04
Alex Brueckmann

Because as you already said, I became a father two years ago, and that counts more than any money in the world.

00;24;20;11 – 00;24;55;29
Anika

It’s beautiful. Such a wonderful thing. What was it hard to make that transition when you moved personally and professionally? Because you have to find yourself, find new clients you know, network in a different way. Even though we are global community, there’s still those barriers. I think the last two years probably helped decrease the distance a little more when we’re all sitting at home figuring things out and how wonderful that you could be home and have that time with your family while you’re also helping businesses.

00;24;57;03 – 00;25;16;04
Alex Brueckmann

We don’t know how to answer that question. Was it difficult? Yes, of course it was horrible. We moved in March 2020. It was Frankfurt Airport, one of the biggest airports in Europe, completely dark. No one there. Military police running around with machine guns and you’re like, Do you want to shoot that virus out? What what’s going on here?

00;25;16;14 – 00;26;04;17
Alex Brueckmann

Doesn’t make sense because we were also afraid no one knew anything at that point in time. And you pack your life up in seven suitcases and move. And of course, if you don’t know anyone, I mean, Stephanie’s family lives here. So we did know people and people helped us settle in. But it was super difficult to live on our other continent away from my family now. And just being afraid all the time of what’s going on with them and how they are feeling. Of course, it was tough from a business perspective. The pandemic probably helped me. So when I when I remember taking an active just taking stock, asking myself what if what you did in the past 15 years, is this what you want to do in the future?

00;26;04;19 – 00;26;05;15
Anika

Yeah.

00;26;05;15 – 00;26;39;20
Alex Brueckmann

And I consciously took a decision. No, it’s not. I will take a certain part of that and I will I will pivot to serve a different target group in a different niche and use what I know and create valuable resources that I give people from books to toolkits to anything. Even this podcast, when you help women, when you, when you decide to do different things than before, I don’t think that in normal times this would have been my go to, if you know what I mean.

00;26;39;20 – 00;26;40;01
Anika

Yeah.

00;26;40;01 – 00;26;56;09
Alex Brueckmann

I needed this external trigger to take that look in the mirror and ask and ask myself, is there anything else you would like to do? Because right now the world has stopped. You have permission to think and to rethink. And that was that was a valuable learning for me.

00;26;56;28 – 00;27;23;16
Anika

Yeah. Yeah. And it’s something that you can then impart on your clients My mom lives in Thailand, so I very much can have empathy for what you had to go through. Not seeing her and waiting and seeing, you know, when can people get vaccinated or when people go to another country and what are the rules in each country and all of that, it’s very difficult to navigate and I was one of those people who my business actually exploded during the pandemic.

00;27;24;28 – 00;27;43;05
Anika

And so I like I could have used to you, you know, last year when I was thinking, OK, am I going to stay with this or what am I going to do next? I think that’s a very- you know it’s at that moment when a business owner wants to pivot or wants to look at, OK, I have this much.

00;27;43;17 – 00;27;48;07
Anika

Yeah, how can I extend this and who do I want to be when I grow up? In a sense.

00;27;51;11 – 00;28;17;03
Alex Brueckmann

I believe many business owners should regularly and basically all business owners should regularly reevaluate where they are and whether this is really what they set out for. And if they find that they kind of lost their way, then recalibrate and ask yourself what it is that’s missing and what it is that is good. Don’t just walk away from it.

00;28;17;17 – 00;28;33;09
Alex Brueckmann

There are too many business owners scared to walk away and pivot when it’s too early or when pivoting is actually not the right thing to do because they kind of fell out of love or they found something that is truly hard and just because they don’t have the tools in your hands does not mean you are in the wrong way.

00;28;33;24 – 00;28;56;20
Alex Brueckmann

Sometimes it’s really about finding someone that helps you make sense out of things. And if you then want to take a decision and walk away from it and start over and do something else, do it. But don’t take that decision silently. On your own somewhere deep down in your thoughts. This is something that you probably build something of value.

00;28;56;21 – 00;28;57;26
Alex Brueckmann

Don’t just walk away from it.

00;28;59;09 – 00;29;27;23
Anika

And when you’re working with the businesses that you work with, does it get to that point? Sometimes is it usually the joy people get to from despair to joy, or sometimes do they go through the process and realize, oh, this is that is time to walk away or it is time to, you know, make a big shift that’s going to change the entire scope of the business, maybe still keep the parts that are making the revenue.

00;29;27;23 – 00;29;33;03
Anika

But just take out all the other maybe that you don’t want to just laugh.

00;29;33;03 – 00;29;54;22
Alex Brueckmann

But let me put it that way Anika; the moment you bring me in, you can bet that it will be something afterwards that you have never thought of, because that’s the whole point about bringing someone like me. And yes, you don’t create a new strategy without massive change and opportunity. Otherwise it’s not worth the paper it’s written on.

00;29;54;22 – 00;30;22;17
Alex Brueckmann

Then it’s not a strategy, but a business continuity plan or or an operation excellence plan. If you bring someone like me in, you need to be prepared to go deep and allow yourself and give yourself the space to re-evaluate whether what you’re doing is the right thing or whether you keep a certain core of it and build something that excites you again. Otherwise, you don’t need me.

00;30;22;29 – 00;30;44;10
Anika

Oh, yeah. I love the positivity and how you all are looking at how to make things move forward, right? Not take a step backwards, not, you know, destroy everything just to really say, OK, there is a solution here, and let’s walk through that and figure out what that is.

00;30;46;00 – 00;30;51;14
Alex Brueckmann

What can I build? What I don’t? What do I not know yet? Where am I? Not yet?

00;30;51;14 – 00;30;51;26
Anika

Yeah.

00;30;51;26 – 00;31;03;21
Alex Brueckmann

It’s not about hitting yourself over the head for not knowing something in the past. It’s about just allowing yourself to grow personally and professionally and embracing the joy of it.

00;31;04;03 – 00;31;31;00
Anika

Yeah, wonderful. If somebody wanted to, your website, of course, will be in the show notes and resources, but what are some ways that people can learn more about you? On social media? Or if they want to work with you, do you give consultations? Should they go first and like, look at all the resources and I know you have like different discussion topics and people speaking and you know, there’s just a plethora of information.

00;31;32;04 – 00;31;53;10
Alex Brueckmann

I think, depending on where you are. So if you run a business that’s around let’s say, a million plus in revenue and you feel like you need someone like me, just give me a call, the contact details on the website and sit steady there. Just book a call and we talk. Yeah. If you run a smaller business, check out the free resources.

00;31;54;01 – 00;32;16;11
Alex Brueckmann

You don’t necessarily need to spend money you can take those resources and maybe start the process without me and experiment with it. And if you feel at some point in time you need a nudge again, go my work site book called It’s Very Simple. And of course, I mean, there’s tons of information out there. I don’t know, maybe 100 podcast interviews.

00;32;16;23 – 00;32;45;00
Alex Brueckmann

If, if you Google my name on Spotify or any other podcast platform, there’s just things that can help you kick start your thinking, not necessarily the entire process, but some things that might inspire you. I hold keynotes and all these things that that help people see their business from a new perspective, and that’s sometimes all it needs. You don’t necessarily need to spend money, but that don’t turn you away.

00;32;45;00 – 00;32;50;02
Alex Brueckmann

So if you really want to work with me, have you be in touch. Be my guest. I just I just love working with people.

00;32;50;12 – 00;32;59;07
Anika

Yeah, that that’s very evident and really comes through. And so when you’re talking about your books, did you set it out to be a two book series?

00;32;59;25 – 00;33;02;28
Alex Brueckmann

No, those two businesses are and they don’t have anything to do with each other.

00;33;03;12 – 00;33;03;24
Anika

Ah. OK.

00;33;04;06 – 00;33;29;21
Alex Brueckmann

So the first book that will come out is a multi author; an anthology that I created with people that I ran a business summit with so we had a business summit in February 2022 where I invited 45 speakers from five continents to help people build businesses that they love. And some of these ideas were absolutely exceptional.

00;33;30;02 – 00;33;46;29
Alex Brueckmann

And I asked these speakers and authors whether they want to contribute a chapter to that book. So the book will be all about entrepreneurship, leadership and self leadership. So the topic of How do I create a culture and a business that, yeah, this is on purpose.

00;33;46;29 – 00;33;47;07
Anika

Yeah.

00;33;47;07 – 00;33;54;17
Alex Brueckmann

And these people they include Marshall Goldsmith, 100 coaches, New York Times best selling author.

00;33;54;17 – 00;34;20;17
Alex Brueckmann

So they really do have very valuable messages. And my job is to weave them together and have this multi chapter book so that you can have a full meal in every chapter. But there’s also a greater arc that I that I create where things come together. And my second book, which will likely come out in 2023 is based on the work that I do with my clients.

00;34;20;17 – 00;34;37;09
Alex Brueckmann

It really explains every step of the way. It gives the way, the process, the elements, the exercises, the resources so I actually hope that people take this book and just do it. They don’t, they just do it. They can, they can run with it and do it on their own.

00;34;37;09 – 00;35;02;16
Anika

Wow. And will you be holding some workshops? So, to go with your book for next year. For instance, if there were small businesses that didn’t qualify yet, maybe they were just slightly under the million dollar mark, but they buy your book, they really want to work through the tools. Maybe you have this plan, maybe this is a new idea, but doing a workshop where people can pay to get your expertise and work through the book together at the same time.

00;35;03;01 – 00;35;30;07
Alex Brueckmann

It will be an online course based on the content in the book that you can go through with a ton of exercises with it so that you basically- I guide you through the process, but it’s not me doing it live with you on site. It’s on your own. In your own speed, at your own time. And it’s something that would probably help, especially new business owners that maybe not even have started that business.

00;35;30;07 – 00;35;59;23
Alex Brueckmann

It’s really about doing that groundwork, that million dollar mark that I mentioned that is not carved in stone. I also work with businesses that are smaller, but it needs to make sense for the state where the business is in if you come to me and you’re thinking about building a business, take my resources, run with them, come back when the time is right for the work that I do, needs a realistic environment, needs it needs to be grounded in a business’s day to day work.

00;36;00;26 – 00;36;02;09
Alex Brueckmann

It can’t be theoretic.

00;36;02;09 – 00;36;16;15
Anika

Yeah. Wonderful. Well, I often ask this question and sometimes it puts people on the spot and sometimes it doesn’t. But I want to know, is there a certain quote that you love or a mantra that you live by?

00;36;18;08 – 00;36;39;29
Alex Brueckmann

Don’t go for second best, baby. And yes, that’s the Madonna song reference. It’s it’s something that my ex wife once told me at the very beginning of my academic career, and I owe her the world for putting that into my head. Because from there, things massively shifted for me.

00;36;39;29 – 00;36;41;03
Anika

Wow.

00;36;41;03 – 00;36;51;28
Alex Brueckmann

If you if you ask yourself what you want in life and if you ask yourself at every step of the way, what would be the best thing to do, then you do the right thing.

00;36;52;16 – 00;37;26;02
Alex Brueckmann

You don’t go for compromises that don’t make sense, that don’t feel right anymore. You build something for the long term and not for short term gains. And yeah, you start playing the long game, not the hustle and bustle and daily busy stuff. And yeah, don’t go for second best. And this comes down to personal relationships. If you realize that what used to be friends have become toxic relationships, let go.

00;37;26;09 – 00;37;38;18
Alex Brueckmann

If it comes to your romantic relationships, never go for second best, go for what is the right thing for you. And that is something that inspires me every day.

00;37;39;08 – 00;37;40;21
Anika

And that song is going through my head now.

00;37;41;14 – 00;37;42;05
Alex Brueckmann

Sorry about that.

00;37;42;25 – 00;38;02;09
Anika

But it’s very it’s very inspirational. And it is I think there are a lot of gems in this conversation that people will be able to pull out that will add a lot of value and insight into our whole life journey. So whether it’s, you know, the business, is there anything else that you’d like to leave with our audience today?

00;38;03;09 – 00;38;09;12
Alex Brueckmann

Think we covered basically a lot more than I thought. So this is an exciting conversation Anika, I really enjoyed it.

00;38;09;13 – 00;38;29;21
Anika

Oh, good. Well, that’s I know. I was like, I like to have really organic conversation. It tends to kind of see where we are going to take it. And I think it helps me get to learn a lot more about you and who you are as a person and your business and how you approach things. And I feel like that really adds more value to our listeners, and I hope that they agree and pretty sure that they do as well.

00;38;30;06 – 00;38;33;23
Alex Brueckmann

If they don’t, hey, reach out and tell me. I’m as curious to learn about everyone out there.

00;38;33;23 – 00;38;54;06
Anika

Awesome. Well, Alex, thank you so much. I really enjoyed our conversation. You know, when we were getting on, I was like, oh, I was a little bit late. It’s like it’s a frantic Friday and I feel so much more calm now and grounded and like, OK, you know what? Yeah, don’t go for second best. Now. I’m going to work on that.

00;38;54;19 – 00;39;15;04
Anika

So I hope that our listeners got a lot out of today’s conversation. I’ll have all of your information in the show notes so people can go to your website, download those resources and really work on- with intentionality in their businesses. So thank you. I really appreciate you being on today. And to our audience, thank you for coming back for another week.

00;39;15;04 – 00;39;25;16
Anika

And I’ll be back next week for another listen. Want more? Check out AmplifywithAnika.com or follow me on socials @Amplifywithanika.

Bharat Kanodia – Your Brand Amplified Transcript

00;00;01;05 – 00;00;32;20
Anika

Welcome to Your Brand Amplified the podcast where we interview marketers, publicists and brands to learn their stories, what makes them tick and tips and tricks that make a difference. I’m so excited to be back for another week of Your Brand Amplified. I am your host, Anika Jackson, and I am here with Bharat Kanodia, who will be speaking about a topic that’s very relevant to the audience and the listeners of our program, but something we haven’t talked about before which is valuation and what it’s worth.

00;00;32;20 – 00;00;38;29
Anika

What is your business worth and how do you get there and why is it important? Brad, welcome to our show today.

00;00;39;11 – 00;00;42;05
Bharat Kanodia
Anika
, thank you so much for having me. Appreciate it.

00;00;42;11 – 00;01;02;08
Anika

Absolutely. Happy Friday. I am so excited to have you on. As I said, I have worked with a lot of startups on the PR side to try to help them to get press, to get in front of, you know, potential investors in a different way. And so what you do is something that I think is really important for them to understand.

00;01;03;09 – 00;01;11;01
Anika

And I’d love for you to first talk about who you are and how you got on this journey. And have you always been passionate about valuation?

00;01;12;09 – 00;01;17;17
Bharat Kanodia

I don’t know if I’ve been passionate about it. It helps when you are passionate about it.

00;01;19;29 – 00;01;36;09
Bharat Kanodia

You know, valuation was my first job out of college, and it turned out I was half good at it and I stuck with it. So yeah, I’ve been in valuation all my career and I’ve done all kinds of interesting, unique or weird things in valuation. So it’s been it’s been a great journey.

00;01;36;27 – 00;02;06;20
Anika

Well, you have quite the resume. You have worked on valuation, Uber, Airbnb, DoorDash, GE, Tesla, assets like the Golden Gate Bridge, airports, things that I think the everyday layperson wouldn’t think of in these terms. So will you please explain a little bit about the process of valuation and what are some of the things that you do? And I’d love to hear about some of these.

00;02;06;20 – 00;02;11;13
Anika

The more unique things that you have valued and how that came about.

00;02;12;26 – 00;02;43;06
Bharat Kanodia

A The process, frankly, is fairly straightforward. So irrespective of the asset dime that I’m appraising, could be a bridge or an airport or a company or a startup and the reason I have been successful at valuing all kinds of unique or interesting or mainstream things is because I never take my eyes off the ball. I always follow the fundamentals.

00;02;43;21 – 00;03;07;17
Bharat Kanodia

And if you follow the fundamentals, you can’t go wrong. The problem is now with social media and internet and clickbait ish title people lose sight of what’s important just because they want to have a click bearish title. I mean, you see it all the time, you know, Gary Vee and all these guys, he’s a clickbeat ish type of guys.

00;03;07;17 – 00;03;22;10
Bharat Kanodia

You know, they come up with things and one day saying, college is awesome, one is in, college is back, and it’s like, I guess I laugh at people who frankly follow Gary Vee. Go back to- your a bigger idiot to follow him. You’re not a Gary Vee fan are you?

00;03;22;23 – 00;03;23;15
Anika

I don’t follow him.

00;03;23;24 – 00;03;57;10
Bharat Kanodia

OK, we have to conclude this right now. So anyway, so the and the fundamentals are three. Anything is worth anything if it’s giving you cash flow over a period of time. Two years, five years, ten years, whatever cash flow it’s giving you and you take that cash flow and you present value it to today. And that’s one value. The second way to value anything is say, hey, my neighbor’s house was just sold for $100, so my house is worth $100.

00;03;57;15 – 00;04;24;09
Bharat Kanodia

Just home. It’s a comfortable house. And third way to value anything, Hey, what will it take for me to rebuild my house from the ground up today? $100, $70, $80. And that’s one value. So as long as I keep my focus on these three methods right through three methods, I’d sort of like the primary colors, right? All other methods, which there are, right?

00;04;24;10 – 00;04;50;16
Bharat Kanodia

Many other methods, but all other methods are a derivative of one of these methods or a combination of these three methods. And when people say No, no, there’s a 15th method, oh no, there’s a 31st method that I have come up with, they’ve just sort of, you know, come up with some kind of a combination of one of these three methods.

00;04;50;16 – 00;05;03;23
Bharat Kanodia

They haven’t invented anything so, you know, so focus on the primary colors and you will never go wrong. And that’s why I’ve been able to appraise all kinds of unique and weird shit yeah.

00;05;03;23 – 00;05;13;29
Anika

So when you’re doing this and you have these, so you come up with these numbers and they are probably not the same number all the time, or are they ever the same?

00;05;14;02 – 00;05;27;05
Bharat Kanodia

It’s never the same. OK, it is the same number. Something you ought to be questioning. Oh, no. What did I do wrong here? It’s never the same number and so, like, if somebody is too nice to you, you’re like, what’s wrong? What do you want?

00;05;27;09 – 00;05;47;18
Anika

Yeah, yeah. What’s ulterior motive behind it? So, OK, so you come up with this thing, numbers to benchmark and then what’s what happens next? And I’m a layperson when it comes to this. I haven’t ever been on this side of the equation. I think I told you, I’ve I’ve worked with start ups on helping them position themselves in the media.

00;05;47;21 – 00;05;51;21
Anika

Right. But when it comes to the work that you do, it’s completely foreign to me.

00;05;52;18 – 00;06;22;09
Bharat Kanodia

Well, it’s funny because because as a outsider, the question that you asked is really the million dollar question, and that is the Achilles heel of valuation then. OK, you use these three methods and you have three data points. How do you align these data points if they’re different or if they’re pretty close? And that is really, you know, you know, when they say valuation is the art and science.

00;06;22;23 – 00;06;46;18
Bharat Kanodia

So the science piece is coming up with those three data points. The art piece is trying to understand the relationships between these three data points and how they align with each other. And, you know, what’s the right answer when you take it out average? Let me just tell you that average is almost never the right answer. Hmm. OK, you never take an average, right?

00;06;46;18 – 00;07;15;20
Bharat Kanodia

People will say just take an average. I mean, OK, so one gives me value of a dollar. Another gives me a value of $1,000,000,000. Average what you know, let’s call it $500 million. Everybody go home now. Don’t work like that. Wow. So it always comes down to that. Hey, you know, while you’re working on these three methods, the exercise will help you understand the pros and cons of each method.

00;07;16;00 – 00;07;42;17
Bharat Kanodia

Mm hmm. Right. Pertaining to that particular asset. Right. And that’s the research that’s going to help you align the three values that, hey, should I be more skewed towards the income method or should I be more skewed towards the cost method? Because you’ve done your research when you’ve come up with those answers and you know what’s good, bad and ugly about each method, at least if you’ve done your job right, you would say so.

00;07;42;25 – 00;08;09;24
Anika

OK, so you figure out which way you kind of want to steer the ship towards which valuation is this is most of the work that you do when somebody is I mean, I guess you would work probably looking at the diverse things that you work on at all phases. So a company that’s really a beginning startup trying to figure out if they can even start going to series A or, you know, if they’re going to start down that road, somebody in the middle.

00;08;10;09 – 00;08;35;19
Anika

What are some of the things that you look for or the kind of companies that you that you usually work with? Is it in that wide range of, you know, very initial startup that has a good buzz and is promising and hopefully not the clickbait buzz, but just actually genuine product buzz to things that are, you know, a few years in the maturity and, you know, have a proven track record.

00;08;37;26 – 00;08;53;21
Bharat Kanodia

So there’s a saying, don’t judge a man by the answers, but by the questions he asks. Hmm. And as a outsider, you are asking pretty good questions.

00;08;53;22 – 00;08;54;13
Anika

Oh, thank.

00;08;54;13 – 00;08;54;19
Bharat Kanodia

You.

00;08;56;26 – 00;09;33;02
Bharat Kanodia

And as a PR person, that actually is a pretty good quality because most PR people are more into sales and people think sales is about talking and talking talking. It’s more about asking questions. So kudos to you for asking the right question. Oh, so when you were talking about startups, right? Startups valuations are most crucial for startups. And the reason for that is they almost never have a profit there’s no cash flow value.

00;09;33;08 – 00;09;53;09
Bharat Kanodia

Right. And they’re lucky if they have a product or revenue. Mm hmm. It might be two guys working out of a garage and hustling and saying, oh, we’re going to be, you know, $1,000,000,000 company tomorrow. But they got nothing today. Yeah. So what am I valuing a pie in the sky? Something they’re promising right?

00;09;55;23 – 00;10;20;19
Bharat Kanodia

I’m not saying that it’s not worth anything, but it is very difficult to opine on that pie in the sky. Hmm. So and yet, even though they don’t have any profit product or revenue startups of startup founders, they need to attract investors, customers, and employees. Yeah, and how would they do that when they don’t have any money? They don’t have any product, they don’t have any profit.

00;10;21;26 – 00;10;49;04
Bharat Kanodia

They do that by telling people this pie in the sky currency called valuations. Mm. OK. We have zero revenue. We have zero profit, but we’re worth hundred million dollars. Come work for us, OK? And people don’t know any better. People are stupid. People believe the headlines. People like you. Right? Right. I mean, that’s why you have a job, right?

00;10;49;04 – 00;11;10;15
Bharat Kanodia

Let’s face it. Look, you want to talk to me? Let’s be candid. You’re trying to, you know, insult anybody. I’m just saying that’s the way it is, right? And who’s coming up with those numbers? Schmucks like me, right? So you have these pie in the sky numbers that are printed in the media that everybody just eats up. And these numbers are made up by people like me.

00;11;10;15 – 00;11;49;01
Bharat Kanodia

So it’s like, wait a second. It’s like, you know, and some startups are better than others, right? But startups are kind of like churning butter, right? You got to churn it for a long time with a lot of patience and diligence. And that’s when you make butter. People who leave halfway their valuations don’t get anywhere. They’re never going to make cream so the importance of the story is don’t just believe the headlines that you might read in the newspaper because it’s let’s just say media is pay to play.

00;11;49;07 – 00;12;15;11
Bharat Kanodia

You know, yesterday I was talking to somebody and we were talking about doing something. And then later on this said to be an invoice. Oh, wait a second. I thought this was sort of earned media, like, no, no, no. With this paid media, I’m like, I’m sorry, honey. I don’t pay to play. Yeah. Content stands on itself, and I’m writing those stupid checks because I don’t have to.

00;12;15;26 – 00;12;16;24
Anika

Yeah, well, and that’s.

00;12;17;11 – 00;12;19;25
Bharat Kanodia

Yeah, why go to a prostitute when you can get it for free?

00;12;20;22 – 00;12;23;06
Anika

Oh, well, that’s quite the analogy.

00;12;23;18 – 00;12;27;07
Bharat Kanodia

But sorry. No, it’s an analogy.

00;12;27;15 – 00;12;47;19
Anika

And I will say that that’s something that really burns us as PR marketing professionals is these agencies that say, Oh, pay me X amount of money and we’ll get you in the media. Well, OK, you send out a press release. Yeah. You get some back links on, you know, certain pages of sites. It might be an NBC or an ABC affiliate in some small town.

00;12;47;28 – 00;13;01;24
Anika

And then you can say you were on NBC or ABC, but that’s not actually earned media. So we work really hard to make sure that we’re putting genuine stories out about products that actually have something. So, yeah, that’s that’s a big.

00;13;04;18 – 00;13;25;02
Bharat Kanodia

And forgive me, I wasn’t trying to talk your profession. I’m just saying that, you know, I and I have worked with a lot of people in PR and frankly, PR people are the nicest people. And I like to work with people when they’re actually genuine. And my process is very simple. I’m just myself and I approach them and I tell them, Hey, this is who I am, this is what I talk about.

00;13;25;19 – 00;13;35;19
Bharat Kanodia

And most of them love it. They’re like, Yeah, we would want you to we want we want to talk about you. You want to work with you. The ones who don’t. They don’t you know, it’s not everybody has to love everybody.

00;13;36;00 – 00;13;46;24
Anika

But to your point, a lot of people, companies, entrepreneurs fall prey to that. That paid media scenario because they don’t know the difference. And I’m.

00;13;46;27 – 00;13;49;15
Bharat Kanodia

Right. And people can tell when it’s pay to play, by the way.

00;13;49;24 – 00;14;11;14
Anika

Yes, people can tell 100% now. But I have had people who is talking to us potentially working together and they said, oh, well, I’m working with this other agency, and they got me in this and this and like that’s not a real publication because, you know, I was at the New York Daily or some some magazine that’s like I’m like, that’s not really a publication, like a real publication.

00;14;11;14 – 00;14;12;04
Bharat Kanodia

That’s yeah.

00;14;12;12 – 00;14;47;28
Anika

You know, you’re paying to have a sponsored post, basically. So it’s totally different. Now, that brings me to your question of in your business, what makes the difference between somebody who’s really good at their job and going to be straight shooters? Like I can tell you are with a company that they’re valuing and are there shysters who work in your industry who will go on to you’re not using those three basic the primary colors, as you mentioned, but are going to use maybe the 12, 13, 14, 15 formula to try to you know, twist or change the story.

00;14;49;08 – 00;15;20;05
Bharat Kanodia

No, no. If they’re using the 15 formula, I’m not saying they’re wrong. All I’m trying to say is the 15 formula is not a primary color, it’s a derivative of those three methods and it’s a derivative, it’s not the primary methods, it’s a derivative method. And most people, I think they try to do a good job, you know, for example I say said no to a client this morning, you know, it was a litigation client and they have a court date coming up which is two weeks out.

00;15;20;16 – 00;15;38;19
Bharat Kanodia

But we’ve been talking about doing their valuations for the last eight weeks and they finally turned around and they said, Oh yeah, OK, we need this valuation now. I’m like, No, honey, sorry, that doesn’t work like that. This was only two weeks ago, and that’s when I quoted you what I quoted you. You want going to do it now for saying, I can’t do it.

00;15;39;08 – 00;15;54;09
Bharat Kanodia

You want me to do it now? I’m going to have to charge you double. And they said, What? Wait, why would you have to charge your double because I have to be very careful. I have to put more people on the project so I don’t screw things up. And of course, they don’t get that. I’m like, I guess we’re not working together.

00;15;54;09 – 00;16;07;28
Bharat Kanodia

Yeah, I’m sorry I tried to help you, but, you know, when clients don’t pull the trigger and they know they’re under a deadline, especially a court date. Oh, sorry. That’s not on me. That’s on you. Yeah.

00;16;09;02 – 00;16;32;14
Anika

What is one of the most surprising? I don’t know if you can if you feel comfortable mentioning companies or clients or people are just generalizations, but what is one of the most surprising valuations that you did where you you maybe got in there and it was completely different than what it looked like when you first, you know, the private fascia like you got in there and you, you know, it was valued much.

00;16;32;14 – 00;16;38;16
Anika

You thought, oh, this is worth a lot more or a lot less or this shouldn’t even be going down this path.

00;16;40;19 – 00;16;43;25
Bharat Kanodia

You’ve seen that movie on We Work. What’s it called?

00;16;44;02 – 00;16;48;25
Anika

Oh, yes. I’ve been watching it recently. We crash.

00;16;48;25 – 00;16;49;11
Bharat Kanodia

That way.

00;16;49;22 – 00;16;50;27
Anika

Yeah. We crashed, I think.

00;16;51;07 – 00;17;14;20
Bharat Kanodia

Yeah, we crashed. I was in the room when that debacle happened. Oh, my gosh. And I went, oh, I can talk about it because it’s public knowledge, but I was there. Wow. When I told the investors when they wanted to the $47 million valuation and I had mentioned it to two of them that well, to my detriment, I said it may be me that isn’t we work just a fancy way of reading space.

00;17;15;14 – 00;17;39;04
Bharat Kanodia

Yes. Yes. And they didn’t want to hear it. They’re like, no, it’s a technology company. We’re Goldman, like Ford. I’m just a lowly valuation guy. What do you want three months later that $47 billion when we 1 billion I was in the room then I had to and I kept my mouth shut because it’s not my place to say it was my place to say three months ago yeah.

00;17;39;08 – 00;17;44;05
Bharat Kanodia

One day it’s happened. It’s happened. So yeah, shit like that happens all the time.

00;17;44;12 – 00;17;58;11
Anika

Wow. So you go through the whole process. You have a proven track record, you’re giving them your straight shooting and telling them, look, this is the real deal. But at that point, the investors can choose to listen or not listen. So then the onus is on them.

00;17;58;21 – 00;18;15;17
Bharat Kanodia

I’m working with the client right now. I mean, you know, fantastic entrepreneur. I mean, her company is doing extremely well and she thinks her company is worth ten to 20 billion, ten to 20 million and I’m coming up at two and a half million.

00;18;16;16 – 00;18;17;08
Anika

Big difference.

00;18;18;06 – 00;18;37;20
Bharat Kanodia

So I’m going to have to tell her I’m sorry, honey. It’s not ten, 20 million. I don’t know what to tell you and she’s not going to like the number. Yeah. Because in her mind it’s worth ten, 20 million and once somebody has made up their mind I’m not trying to change their mind. Right. I’m trained to do what I do.

00;18;37;20 – 00;18;44;17
Bharat Kanodia

So I’m just going to tell her that sorry it’s not ten, 20 million as to what actually like it or not, that’s what you paid me to do.

00;18;45;22 – 00;19;04;21
Anika

So this is really, I love hearing this side of things really, because I’ve worked with some startups that OK, they raise money, they’re going to launch immediately and then, oh, no, we’re going to delay the launch, then we’re going to delay it again. And then as you know, on my side of things, I’m preparing what’s the media plan?

00;19;04;21 – 00;19;27;01
Anika

When are we rolling out the PR strategy? When are we working on social media? When are we working on X, Y, Z? And all of it hinges on when they’re going to launch and then they delay it and then they delay it and then they delay it. I lose credibility. They lose credibility. You know, I had one who went through a name change after we’d already started seeing them in the press on really good outlets.

00;19;27;05 – 00;19;45;27
Anika

You know, they got they have some celebrity and people involved, so they’re able to pull some strings and get on, you know, today’s show or Good Morning America or a show like that and talk about and I’m like, OK, but then you’re going to change the name right after that interview. And then you’re going to launch and then, oh, now you’re launching, you know, a year later.

00;19;46;06 – 00;20;19;15
Anika

So and I think part of it is and I don’t know anything about the side of like the valuation and all of that or how much they’ve gotten in investment. But do you see that some like very often where once you get in there and talk through the numbers and they really see like how much work it’s going to take to launch their product or get the money, that’s really that appropriate number for their valuation and to launch properly that is I guess, is that a common scenario or is that just the people that I’m meeting or who are trying to start their businesses?

00;20;20;06 – 00;20;55;22
Bharat Kanodia

The problem is on the go, media has really skewed people’s expectations because 99% of the companies aren’t able to raise money or they don’t raise money at crazy valuations. But all you hear and see in the media is they raised 100 million at $1,000,000,000, you know, 200 million, a $50 billion or whatever crazy numbers. So most entrepreneurs in their mind they’re thinking that’s normal, right?

00;20;55;27 – 00;21;27;10
Bharat Kanodia

That’s, that’s the middle you know, that’s expected that’s average to it, not average. What you hear is the Brad Pitt’s of the world, the George Clooney’s of the world, right? The Meryl Streep. So not everybody is Meryl Streep. Right. So, you know, you there’s nothing wrong with being a nice theater actress or, you know, a nice actor on Broadway.

00;21;27;10 – 00;22;06;00
Bharat Kanodia

But, you know, Brad Pitt. Yeah. You know, yeah. So what that entrepreneur I’m telling you about, right, where she thinks there are companies worth ten, 20 million. Why does she think that? Because she’s read all these stupid headlines. She hasn’t done the real analysis that I’ve done. Yeah. So all in her mind, she is thinking that, hey, my neighbors, cousin’s wife, her company was sold for ten X, so my company is worth at least 15 x and that’s the calculation they’ve done in their mind, right?

00;22;06;26 – 00;22;31;19
Anika

Yeah. And on my side, I see that where if a client comes in, they immediately want to be in Forbes or Time magazine or Fortune or a big publication when like we haven’t, we’re just laying the groundwork first. We need to make sure, do you have, do you even have a bio? Do you have your key messaging? You know, do you know what your customer personas are when you’re reaching out to investors or the media or to potential consumers?

00;22;32;20 – 00;22;51;21
Anika

We need to start with the groundwork. So it sounds like it’s similar in a different way. You have to lay the groundwork. You can’t usually go from zero to 100. Sometimes it sometimes you can, but you can. Typically people have to you know, you have to do the work and the step up to get to the point where you even get those interviews.

00;22;52;12 – 00;23;16;12
Bharat Kanodia

I have a friend every time I meet him, he was like, You know, I have a client you know, he’s got $4 billion and he wants to invest somewhere. Do you have a company? He can invest money. And I say, No, oh, you know what? I have, you know, a client who wants to invest $100 million in real estate. Do you know anybody?

00;23;16;12 – 00;23;45;01
Bharat Kanodia

And I’m like, No. And I say, no, because he wants to go from floor zero to floor 100 within 40 seconds, OK? And you want to be careful of people like that. And by the way, I always pick up his tab whenever we go for dinner or drinks. So you got clients that you know are worth $4 billion and they want to invest with you.

00;23;45;01 – 00;24;03;01
Bharat Kanodia

I wouldn’t be picking up your tab every time. Yeah. So that’s why I just keep saying no. So yeah, be wary of people who do that, especially who want to come one time. Magazine and all that, right? Because yeah, of course they hired on and go I got can get us from Time magazine. Well, Arnica is no good, dude.

00;24;03;01 – 00;24;26;08
Bharat Kanodia

It don’t work like that. You don’t plan to see it and expect it to bear fruit the next day. It takes time. I mean, Time magazine isn’t going to hear you until you’re in another publication that’s maybe below target. Maybe then somebody you know, so you got to work up to it. But people, all they see is you know, Elizabeth Holmes.

00;24;26;08 – 00;24;35;14
Bharat Kanodia

Hey, she was on Fortune and Time magazine. Why can’t I get on Time magazine? Because I’m legit, dude. It took her ten years to get there. You know?

00;24;35;18 – 00;25;07;25
Anika

Yeah. Well, and speaking of that story, that’s I have had clients, I have one client specifically who’s actually in the Bay Area and she has been really trying to fundraise. She is a black queer woman founder, the only person in hyperbaric oxygen therapy space has great case studies, numbers for her brick and mortar. But when she is trying to go out and get investment, she’s you know, I think she has the barriers of black queer woman.

00;25;07;25 – 00;25;32;06
Anika

But then also people all look at her and say, well, Elizabeth Holmes, Elizabeth Holmes. So I know. And on one hand, people think that they’re worth a lot more until they get the actual numbers because they see companies like that. But on the other hand, things like that when it finally crashes are making it harder sometimes for people to maybe reach the right investor.

00;25;32;07 – 00;25;36;16
Anika

Maybe they need to, you know, look for different types of investors. I don’t know.

00;25;36;23 – 00;25;38;10
Bharat Kanodia

But this one was a scapegoat.

00;25;40;22 – 00;26;08;03
Bharat Kanodia

Yeah. I mean, she’s no saint. Let me say that, too, right? Yet she did a lot of things that were unethical. She shouldn’t have done that. But that was every entrepreneur, male, female. Let’s forget about the sex at this point. Yeah. They their job is to dream. Yeah. If they don’t, they shouldn’t be doing that job.

00;26;10;09 – 00;26;45;14
Bharat Kanodia

Well, the problem occurs when it stops being a dream to a hallucination. But I got to keep saying this lie because I have been saying this lie the problem is the investors, the people who invested in Elizabeth Holmes, they wanted to believe in the hallucination because it was to their benefit they just made her a scapegoat. They all were happy writing checks until she was making money.

00;26;45;14 – 00;27;06;03
Bharat Kanodia

It was almost like a Ponzi scheme. Wow. Oh, yeah. You’re making money or I’ll give you more money. Or you raise more money. I’m going to give you more money. Wait a second. You stop raising money. You are a thief. Wow. So she is no saint, but she was a scapegoat because these guys aren’t going to admit that.

00;27;06;11 – 00;27;28;20
Bharat Kanodia

Yeah, we were greedy and stupid to give her money. We didn’t really do what and we just got impressed with her, you know, because she was Steve Jobs, and she was playing in it, too. I mean, you know, she was not doing anything different than Steve Jobs except, you know, the music stopped, that’s all. You know, this just made her into a scapegoat, that’s all.

00;27;29;20 – 00;27;42;11
Anika

OK, now I feel like we’re really getting into the good stuff. I’m like, can I have you on to talk about all the different companies and, like, really pull back the curtain, peel the onion, it’s really fascinating. Yeah.

00;27;42;11 – 00;27;55;21
Bharat Kanodia

What do you think? It would have made a movie on her? The people who probably, you know, funded that movie are the people who funded her because they wanted to say, hey, I had nothing to do with this. It was very interesting yeah.

00;27;55;21 – 00;28;01;17
Anika

People don’t really think about it from that angle. That’s not what, again, the media portrays.

00;28;02;11 – 00;28;21;19
Bharat Kanodia

Hey, the media is a media is like salt in the right amount. It can really make a dish blossom in the wrong amount and really fuck things up. Yeah.

00;28;23;19 – 00;28;35;09
Anika

Well, so what are things that continue to inspire and motivate you in this work? I mean, I know you said, OK, I was good at this. This is my job right out of college. And you you kept on this path.

00;28;35;24 – 00;29;00;10
Bharat Kanodia

You know, now I’m at a point I don’t have to hide behind anything. I just say it like it is and I enjoy it. Yeah. Oh, and you know, when I don’t know something, I’m also at a point where I say, Hey, I don’t know, I shouldn’t be talking about it for the last few years, I’ve been creating a YouTube channel where I’m educating people on valuations and it’s gotten bigger traction.

00;29;00;29 – 00;29;42;02
Bharat Kanodia

And my next thing is I want to have an unscripted show on National Geographic around valuations. So and I share that with you because anybody listening to this would listen to me asking for this. Yeah. So I’m looking for a production company where I can add value. So I want to have a show, unscripted show, where I am valuing things like the Panama Canal, the Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall of China, because people want to know what these assets are worth and I am one valuation person, frankly, in the world who has appraise unique or weird assets like this.

00;29;42;23 – 00;29;52;00
Bharat Kanodia

So think of this show as modern morals, except it has the economic aspect to it, not just engineering.

00;29;52;09 – 00;30;04;13
Anika

So well, I hate to tell you this, but my partner is a documentary filmmaker and has some projects that are being created by this.

00;30;04;26 – 00;30;06;28
Bharat Kanodia

Because I like this is because.

00;30;06;28 – 00;30;14;26
Anika

It’s so funny when I do these interviews and I know this will be this will make it into the interview. I don’t I don’t like to do a lot of editing. I like people to really hear everything.

00;30;15;25 – 00;30;16;15
Bharat Kanodia

That’s why I said it.

00;30;16;22 – 00;30;40;21
Anika

Yeah. Well, and that’s why I’m saying this is that I feel like every time I do an interview with somebody for the podcast, that message is exactly what I need to hear or they need to hear at that exact moment in time. So you sharing this on the podcast? And I’m like, Oh, I actually know people I can put you in touch with to see, you know, to go through this idea because they have projects that are being looked at, at Netflix and at other places.

00;30;41;03 – 00;31;03;17
Bharat Kanodia

So show your partner my YouTube channel. I want to see if they like my work. And I think there is a way we can make that into a long form show and work with a production company and sell it to next year Discovery or History Channel or any, because I think there’s a market for those people. You know, you’ve we’ve all seen all kinds of shows around wonders of the world, right?

00;31;03;18 – 00;31;26;02
Bharat Kanodia

Machu Picchu, the Taj Mahal, how we’ve always made the story behind Taj Mahal, you know, the, you know, the ancient aliens and all that crap. Nobody has ever dissected those assets. From the economic perspective, what will it cost to build it today? Could you sell it? Could you buy it? How much money can you make off of it?

00;31;26;03 – 00;31;29;23
Bharat Kanodia

Nobody has done that. I am somebody who can do that. Wow.

00;31;30;04 – 00;31;43;13
Anika

That’s very that’s a very unique perspective and value add. 100%. What is one of the most surprising experiences that you had in working with a company.

00;31;46;16 – 00;32;08;21
Bharat Kanodia

That surprised me and things seem kind of surprising nowadays, you know, it’s just that, you know, people just have fallacies of grandeur, right? Like that lady I’m talking about, you know, her company is worth two and a half and like, you know, somebody would come to me and say, this was recent, this was funny to somebody to me recently.

00;32;09;02 – 00;32;30;16
Bharat Kanodia

And they said they want me to value their company. I said, Great, happy to do it. What’s the revenue? And that’s usually my, you know, few of the questions. What’s your revenue of $20,000? OK, all right. That’s all right. How much money have you raised? $200,000. OK, um, why do you need a valuation? We’re looking to raise more money.

00;32;30;22 – 00;33;03;16
Bharat Kanodia

OK, what do you think your company is worth about 3 million? Oh, wow. How did you get from 20,000 in revenue and 200,000 in capital raise to $3 million? Oh, we just spent like $150,000 on our branding in our website and our image and, you know, PR and you know, we’ve created a brand like you’ve created a brand and you’re selling your revenues $20,000.

00;33;04;04 – 00;33;20;11
Bharat Kanodia

You haven’t created a brand anything just because you spend $150,000 doesn’t mean you actually even are worth $150,000, doesn’t work like that. So yeah, I just chuckle when I get this. Yeah.

00;33;20;24 – 00;33;26;22
Anika

Well and that was actually my next question is what are some things that founders need to do to get ready for valuation.

00;33;36;26 – 00;34;02;29
Bharat Kanodia

I mean, just, you know, there’s no being ready for a valuation, right? I mean, I mean frankly, Onaga nobody wakes up one morning and says, I’m going to call my appraiser Barratt today. I mean you don’t go to a chiropractor because you feel like seeing him right you know, you go to chiropractic because you have a problem or you know you’re not feeling comfortable or there’s something that’s bothering you or there’s a need seem him with me.

00;34;02;29 – 00;34;28;15
Bharat Kanodia

You don’t go do that because I want to take Tommy to the vet today. You know, Tommi probably needs his shot or her shot or there’s a problem or he needs a bath or something. Same thing with me. I get those phone calls because there is a need. They’re looking to raise capital or they need to file taxes or they need to put money down on their books or, you know, they’re doing a transaction or something.

00;34;28;23 – 00;34;36;20
Bharat Kanodia

That’s when I get those phone calls. So whenever you know, somebody needs a valuation, they need to have it very clear in the head why they need a valuation.

00;34;39;13 – 00;34;52;14
Anika

Is there any other advice that you’d like to leave with people who are listening that you know or are thinking about starting something, or are they their mid, you know, mid flow there?

00;34;52;15 – 00;34;55;13
Bharat Kanodia

Really, I think your audience have been tired with me by now.

00;34;55;24 – 00;35;01;11
Anika

I know you had some great stories and really solid advice to share on.

00;35;01;11 – 00;35;01;24
Bharat Kanodia

Thank you.

00;35;02;00 – 00;35;06;18
Anika

Absolutely. And what’s the easiest way for people to find you.

00;35;08;09 – 00;35;15;25
Bharat Kanodia

Go to our website. There’s a Contact US button and send us an email and if you have any questions, so happy to answer them.

00;35;16;09 – 00;35;36;28
Anika

Right in the show. Notes, I’ll include some links to your YouTube and some of the other links that you’ve shared with me so that people can really dig in more and get some really good lessons from you and what you’re looking for. So I really appreciate your time today. I know it’s funny because you never know exactly where we’re going to go when I do this because I want to dig into it.

00;35;36;28 – 00;35;42;25
Anika

So I loved hearing your stories, and I know I’m sure you have a lot more to share. You should maybe write a book too.

00;35;43;18 – 00;36;03;03
Bharat Kanodia

I have been offered to write a book by Wiley. Yeah, yeah. Her book is boring. Who reads anymore? I read, but, you know, yeah, people like to watch things people don’t like to do too much effort. People like instant gratification. So I would rather do the unscripted show and not go.

00;36;04;07 – 00;36;15;19
Anika

Yes, I see that loud and clear. I also think this would be a good book that I would listen to an audible, for instance, when I’m driving to and from the office. So just keep that in your mind, too. Yeah.

00;36;15;25 – 00;36;18;14
Bharat Kanodia

Actually, I have a book title in mind and I have a few chapters.

00;36;18;14 – 00;36;19;28
Anika

Ready, but see, there you go.

00;36;21;16 – 00;36;22;24
Bharat Kanodia

I want to do more work on it.

00;36;23;27 – 00;36;28;23
Anika

Yeah, maybe. Maybe down the road after your successful unscripted show launch.

00;36;29;02 – 00;36;30;03
Bharat Kanodia

Yes, maybe. Yes.

00;36;30;03 – 00;36;39;18
Anika

Wonderful. Well, Bharat, thank you so much for your time today. This is a really wonderful way to start the morning for me. And I learned a lot, and I know our audience will, too.

00;36;40;20 – 00;36;42;26
Bharat Kanodia

Thanks for having me.

00;36;43;05 – 00;36;48;29
Anika

Want more? Check out AmplifywithAnika.com or follow me on socials @AmplifywithAnika.

Brad Smith – Your Brand Amplified Transcript

00;00;01;05 – 00;00;31;23
Anika

Welcome to Your Brand Amplified the podcast where we interview marketers, publicists and brands to learn their stories, what makes them tick and tips and tricks that make a difference. Welcome back to another episode of Your Brand Amplified. I am your host, Anika Jackson, and I’m here with Brad Smith, founder and CEO of Stellar Insights and executive coach to CEOs Fortune 500 for many, many people and full disclosure, little old me as well.

00;00;32;02 – 00;00;48;09
Anika

I was really excited to have Brad come on and talk about his journey to becoming a coach and then also why it could be important for somebody to have a coach. I think a lot of people don’t understand the different coaches that are out there and what they can offer and all the value that you can get out of it.

00;00;48;09 – 00;00;54;07
Anika

And and I know that I’ve gotten a lot of value out of our relationship. So, Brad, thank you so much for joining me today.

00;00;55;04 – 00;00;57;06
Brad Smith

I’m delighted to be here. Thank you, Anika.

00;00;57;15 – 00;01;04;20
Anika

Absolutely. So you were not you didn’t set out to be a coach that wasn’t your life dream and what you were doing.

00;01;04;20 – 00;01;22;16
Brad Smith

Oh, my God. No, no, no. Somebody had told me, you know, 25 years ago. 30 years ago. Oh, yeah, this is going to be your ideal occupation. I would have I would look at them say it was just not even anywhere close to me. I had no idea.

00;01;23;10 – 00;01;33;10
Anika

So talk about your journey. You actually were in a completely different field and how did that happen and how did you discover the wonderful wide world of coaching?

00;01;34;14 – 00;02;09;22
Brad Smith

OK, so I was raised by a really brilliant man. He was- had a bachelor’s in chemical engineering and a Ph.D. in biochemistry. And he was a product inventor. But he was also a really gregarious and he raised me to be a chemical engineer; think like a chemical engineer. I can remember the process he took me through. So I wound up at college and had signed up for business as my major like the week before I went to college.

00;02;10;21 – 00;02;35;17
Brad Smith

And I said I, I don’t, I’m not really interested in, in business that is. What do you think about me going into chemical engineering? And he said, it’ll be a good background. It’ll never it’ll never fail you. And so I went into chemical engineering. I spent two years in chemical engineering because of other stories. And we’ll probably get to a one or two of ’em.

00;02;37;03 – 00;03;05;16
Brad Smith

I wound up wanting to go into pre-med, pre-med, finally realized that my degree, my grades were like horrid, not anywhere close to the 4.0GPA I needed, nowhere close. So I flipped over and went into biochemistry because what I wanted to study was neuro biochemistry disease cause. So, the brain and then how that affected how our bodies create diseases.

00;03;05;24 – 00;03;41;12
Brad Smith

So that was the background. All right. My marriage wasn’t working great. I went I stopped for 11 years. I did analytical chemistry and formulation chemistry. And that period of time went back, finished my bachelor’s in business management because I wanted to manage R&D teams, which I thought was that was an exciting idea to me. Then I finished my MBA because in marketing and finance, because I wanted to understand what it took to run a business.

00;03;41;21 – 00;03;58;02
Brad Smith

The reason for that is, again, my dad, when we moved to the city, Corvallis, Oregon, where earnings state is where I went to school for my bachelor’s, I watched him start 34 different companies.

00;04;00;05 – 00;04;00;29
Anika

34.

00;04;01;06 – 00;04;23;26
Brad Smith

34. And of those 34, 30 of them failed. And 50 years later, three of them are still running and thriving. You know, a couple got sold off, but it’s like. So that was my impulse. All 34 of those stories came through the house, and we knew all the reasons they went and didn’t go. And so I got to form ideas about it.

00;04;23;26 – 00;04;54;27
Brad Smith

I’m 30 ways plugged up in the back of my mind to kill companies right it ranges from not enough money to horrible people, you know, people decisions to partners to sometimes you have no business going into a market because there’s actually the business model won’t ever work. So I have all of those plugged into the back of my mind and massive, you know, red flags pop up when I’m talking to somebody and I’m going your business model won’t work or you are this or you’re that.

00;04;55;05 – 00;05;25;08
Brad Smith

I’ve got all these different ways that business can fail so the story for how I got into coaching, that’s a big background story. My second wife, April of 1996, brought me an article in The Oregonian that talked about Coach University and the quote is You need because I was doing formulation consulting at the time with my dad and brother’s company.

00;05;26;05 – 00;05;52;23
Brad Smith

Brad, you need to call these people. You’re already doing this. You might as well get paid for what you’re doing. So that’s the quote, right? Couple of months later I got involved in the program. It was like stepping into my favorite set of shoes. It fit perfectly. I automatically knew everything except maybe the sales closing part. That was a little tough, but I learned that.

00;05;53;08 – 00;06;00;04
Brad Smith

So that was the start of it. And that was 25 years ago. And it’s automatic.

00;06;00;16 – 00;06;23;19
Anika

Yeah. It sounds like your dad didn’t just teach you how to think like an engineer, a chemical engineer, but also by sharing and being transparent with what was going on in all of these companies that he was starting. And the whole process really trained your brain to think about all of those modalities and the way things can go, right, the way things can go wrong, what’s involved in each piece of that.

00;06;23;29 – 00;06;45;02
Anika

So that’s a, I think, a very unique perspective, at least from what I’ve seen in the world of coaches, you know, because I think many of us get approached all the time by people trying to sell us stuff, whether it’s on LinkedIn, email marketing, et cetera. But I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to somebody who has been able to see that kind of overview and complexity.

00;06;47;20 – 00;07;28;19
Brad Smith

I’m an automatic strategic thinker. I think at the 100,000 foot level, it’s compulsive, it’s automatic. Because I was trained as a chemist, I automatically also think at the tactical level, too. So I’m thinking big picture and tactical, you know, events and processes and people automatically. And if you don’t connect those two so that’s part of that combination of big picture, five foot level, hundred thousand foot, five foot level automatically that’s what I teach my clients so that they can be successful.

00;07;29;12 – 00;07;31;27
Brad Smith

And that’s part of the process. I get to do it’s fun.

00;07;32;03 – 00;07;52;10
Anika

Yeah, yeah. Well, it sounds like and this actually it’s perfectly to my next question, which is what continues to inspire and motivate you about this work. You’ve stuck with it, you have stayed in it and I’m sure you’ve worked with some clients for a very long time and continue working with them on different areas of their business or what they’re what next is.

00;07;53;15 – 00;08;00;18
Brad Smith

Oh, there’s, there’s two different answers to that question. The longest client I ever had was 13 years.

00;08;00;20 – 00;08;00;29
Anika

Oh my gosh.

00;08;00;29 – 00;08;34;19
Brad Smith

Right. And what when I live in it, I’m going to get emotional here. One of the things that lights me up is I know when I talked to someone about a month before they get to an epiphany that they’re going to get to the epiphany, and I lead them to the epiphany. The point of an epiphany is everything inside them winds up transformed and there’s energy in them they didn’t have before.

00;08;34;29 – 00;08;59;26
Brad Smith

I called it. I called you know, I said this for a long time. I live on epiphany juice because what happens is when someone lights up with an epiphany, they’re different permanently. It’s like it’s not if it’s there, they’re aligned. All their neurons in the brain have lined up, their emotions have lined up, and they see the world differently and they behave differently.

00;09;00;08 – 00;09;26;17
Brad Smith

And what I get to do, that’s why I named my company Stellar Insight, because I take them from insight to insight to insight. When I listen to them. I had a friend of mine early white, 40 years ago say to me, Brad, when you listen to me, you listen with your whole body. And what I do is I listen, not just with my ears.

00;09;27;26 – 00;09;38;26
Brad Smith

I saw this quote yesterday on the Internet. People have three years. They have the left ear, the right ear and the ear of their soul.

00;09;39;00 – 00;09;40;08
Anika

Oh, that’s good.

00;09;40;20 – 00;10;05;03
Brad Smith

And what I do is I listen to people. I listen to their hearts. I listen to their character. I listen to the words they say. I listen to their intent. And if their intent and their business model were the things that are doing are misaligned, I will feel the difference and then get them to get down into the articulation of what that difference is.

00;10;05;17 – 00;10;46;03
Brad Smith

So the gap between who you are, everybody has a gap I have this girl and I am not, and I’m here. My goal is over there. Sometimes there’s this big Grand Canyon between and sometimes it’s just a little step little step pieces are fun, but the big ones are huge. So what happens in that? And this is the other description of why I get lit up when I listen to someone and I take them through their epiphanies, I help them restructure who they are, I restructure, help them restructure who their business is, who their business is, not just what their business is, but who their business is.

00;10;46;11 – 00;11;11;18
Brad Smith

And then we get down into the what and what I do is I go to help them. And then we measure that by the amount of, you know, profit and over revenue, you know, for revenue. So if I can help them double the growth rate of their company, we will hit places where they’ve not just doubled their income on an annual basis.

00;11;11;29 – 00;11;40;22
Brad Smith

Sometimes I have these really crazy grants where we can double that on a monthly basis. A few of those monthly basis, right? Those are early, right? But later ones that are like, you know, ten, 20, hundred million dollars you add a zero to $100 million, you’ve accomplished something. OK, you add a zero to $1,000,000,000 company, you’ve done something significant.

00;11;41;09 – 00;11;51;25
Brad Smith

So those are- and that lights me up because not only is the business different and the person is different, everybody that that company touches is different.

00;11;54;08 – 00;11;56;04
Brad Smith

I love that transformation.

00;11;56;12 – 00;12;07;08
Anika

Yeah. Transformation and really heart centered work. You’re not just about the numbers. You’re about the entire holistic ROI.

00;12;07;16 – 00;12;07;25
Brad Smith

Yes.

00;12;08;13 – 00;12;12;03
Anika

So tell us about one of your biggest successes.

00;12;14;24 – 00;12;39;01
Brad Smith

I’ve a couple I had a client in Minnesota, and when he first came to me, it was a 12 year old company 12 year old company. There were three executives and he was the leader, president and CEO, I don’t remember. And we took them and they’d been in existence and had an average for the last ten years of two new clients a month.

00;12;39;01 – 00;13;01;10
Brad Smith

That was the average for the year, two clients a month when we finished and I took about three years, we rebuilt the executive team. We rebuilt literally every process in the company well, but at the end of that three year period, the last month I worked with them, they added 54 new clients a month, a month.

00;13;01;20 – 00;13;02;12
Anika

Oh my gosh.

00;13;02;16 – 00;13;23;19
Brad Smith

And they had been doing better, wasn’t a fluke and had been incrementally stepping up to that every month. So 54 new clients a month, the year, the month before, they’ve done 52. Right. And so we progressively added it wasn’t just the growth of the company, it was the growth rate of the company, but that was fun. And he was fun to work with.

00;13;23;19 – 00;13;42;20
Anika

Yeah, but it’s obvious that you have great joy in the work that you do and you really understand it. So when somebody is looking, I think this goes on both sides, right? As the person coaching and as somebody being mentored and coached, it has to be the right fit.

00;13;42;20 – 00;13;46;07
Anika

If there’s not rapport. It’ll never work.

00;13;47;03 – 00;14;11;10
Anika

Yeah. So how do you take that from initially? You know, somebody reaches out to you or you reach out to somebody or your assistant reaches out to somebody, you get on the call. How do you tell when there’s that connection or that you can really help somebody? Because I think this is important because, you know, as somebody if somebody is looking for a coach, they need to know that it’s important for it to be a fit on both sides.

00;14;12;04 – 00;14;27;13
Anika

Because they might see somebody like you and say, Oh my gosh, I want to get to 54 new clients a month, but that might not be the right thing for them or for their business. And that they might not be the right person for you to work with. So how does somebody identify and how do you identify who you want to work with?

00;14;27;20 – 00;14;52;28
Brad Smith

Well, it’s different for how I identify and how the other person identifies. First, I require ambition, like, high levels of it. They have to have drive, they have to be ambitious and they have to be curious. If they’re not curious, coaching won’t work for them. They don’t take ideas in from outside. It won’t work for them. Every human being lives inside their own bubble.

00;14;53;03 – 00;15;28;13
Brad Smith

All of us, everyone. And the best you can do is run out to the edge of it and shove the edge of it out a little further every day. And if you’ve got somebody like that, but if you’re ambitious and you’re curious, you’re learning constantly. That’s what I require in a client now when I talk to someone or literally this is me, when I’m hearing their voice for the first time, I go through all the process they use for speaking and dissect their character just from their voice.

00;15;28;19 – 00;15;56;16
Brad Smith

And I will know from their voice whether they’re going to be a good client or not. Not everybody can do that. But for them to approach me do they like the sound of my voice? It does. It does it is it warm and inviting? And that’s how you build rapport. Listen, think about your very best friends. Your very best, best friends are people that you have rapport with.

00;15;56;26 – 00;16;19;21
Brad Smith

You wouldn’t have them as a good friend if you didn’t. Those are good friends, people that you trust with your life. But there’s a there’s a modulation in vocal tones process that makes the difference for those dear people who are out dating. Listen to the quality of the voice that you have and the quality of voice they have.

00;16;20;10 – 00;16;45;21
Brad Smith

If you think of each word as a block. Each word comes out as a block. Some people have rounded edges to their voices, to their words, and some people have really sharp edges and short gaps between them. So if there’s room for you to put a word in edgewise and there’s a reason why you have that right, there’s a reason why that’s their own right.

00;16;46;01 – 00;17;17;04
Brad Smith

If you if there’s a way to put words and start, you know, interact conversationally, then there’s a way for you to be friends. There’s a way for that interaction to work some people are so driven that they have no- and I apologize to the industry used car salesmen. If they’re really selling- push selling, they have no space between their words and their sharp edges to their words.

00;17;17;17 – 00;17;49;10
Brad Smith

So I listen to the quality of their vocal speaking, how they speak, and that’s important. And I know almost instantly within at least two or 3 minutes of talking to someone, well, I’m going to be a good fit. And then we have the adventure. So ambition, curiosity, and willing to take risks like be an adventure. Couple of my heroes from early in my life, like age nine or ten, I read Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, and they were constantly going on adventure.

00;17;49;10 – 00;18;03;22
Brad Smith

You know, they’re my heroes. Yeah, I love heroes. So I love adventures. So if you’re willing to go on an adventure and make more money and have fun, OK? All right.

00;18;04;01 – 00;18;07;11
Anika

That sounds pretty good to me. Sign me up. Oh, I already did.

00;18;10;01 – 00;18;17;12
Anika

Well, what do you see as your next step? What’s the next thing that you want to do in your life and your business?

00;18;18;20 – 00;18;41;03
Brad Smith

Well, there’s only one, Brad. Yeah, I can teach. I can teach what I can do. I can teach other people how to be that way. I can clone myself for four business coaching. I know how to do that. But for me to have impact, my next goal is and I have three things I’m working on right now. First, I have to build credibility.

00;18;41;15 – 00;19;17;09
Brad Smith

Then I have to build reputation. Then I have to build reach those three things. Well, cheap branding and marketing kind of helps with that, right? But beyond that, I’m I’m starting a podcast of my own. I’m calling it the, the Visionary Leader’s Mind. The Visionary Leader’s Mind is that’s an outreach for something that I want to do behind that, which is I’ve been studying being a human being and how all the underlying causes- core belief?

00;19;17;14 – 00;19;49;00
Brad Smith

I believe in cause and effect. There’s an effect in the world. There’s a cause for visionary leaders. They dead flat have to have intuition and fairly high access to it. I know how to teach people how to deepen that. It takes about a minimum of two years. So it’s it’ll be a two year weekly program not cheap but I will transform the people in it, transform their character and deepen their ability to reach into intuition.

00;19;49;05 – 00;20;10;26
Brad Smith

We all have that ability, all of us. You’re a human being, and you have a brain, you have intuition available to you if you work at it. Now, I know the science behind it. So that’s one goal, right? Teach it is the second one. And then I want to coach governors. And then in order to do that, I’m writing a book, so I have a few things.

00;20;10;26 – 00;20;36;07
Anika

OK, yeah. Yeah. You have a lot of irons in the fire, but I think that’s so interesting because I think that’s something often that we don’t do. We all have. We all know what we should be doing, but then we kind of resist it because we want to stay where we’re comfortable or, you know, you get that feeling in your gut and but you’re like, no, that, that this is the right thing to do.

00;20;36;07 – 00;20;54;25
Anika

And then you go down a path and realize, oh, maybe that whether it’s in life or in business, oh, maybe I wasn’t supposed to date that person. I wasn’t supposed to hire that person. I wasn’t supposed to add this to my business at that time, or I was supposed to add this other thing that I was resisting because I, I didn’t trust myself enough.

00;20;55;05 – 00;21;08;09
Anika

So I think that’s so interesting. It’s something that you do in your regular coaching to an extent. So I’m really interested to see how this program even deepens that further. And I feel like this also all goes back to your interest in neuroscience.

00;21;08;18 – 00;21;10;23
Brad Smith

Yeah. And well.

00;21;10;23 – 00;21;12;07
Anika

Brain. Yeah.

00;21;13;11 – 00;21;36;11
Brad Smith

I’m, I’m mapping out who are the neuroscientists that I’m going to have. You can measure it physically, brain wave wise. I just haven’t got the equipment yet. So it’s not if every human being is this brilliant being, and I have deep insight into how we got to be who we are and where we could be let’s put it this way.

00;21;36;29 – 00;22;08;27
Brad Smith

If everyone on the face of the planet had self-worth, deep self-worth and deep self understanding, there would be no insecurities in the world. All of our negative, reactive emotions, including murder, were all of those stealing and whatever all comes from insecurities. That’s the foundation of it. If none of us had insecurities and we could all be authentic, with each other, wouldn’t this world be amazing?

00;22;09;09 – 00;22;11;18
Anika

Yeah. Yeah.

00;22;11;18 – 00;22;16;02
Brad Smith

I have. I have goals. I want us as a human race. To be better.

00;22;16;08 – 00;22;29;22
Anika

Yeah, yeah. I love that. I also picked up on I thought it was interesting that you’ve been doing this work for 20 years, yet you still want to increase your reputation. You know, you still want to.

00;22;30;01 – 00;22;31;06
Brad Smith

Well, I’ve been hiding out.

00;22;31;10 – 00;22;43;26
Anika

Yeah, OK, well, that, that I think those three components that you talked about are things that everybody always should strive for personally and professionally.

00;22;46;08 – 00;23;16;15
Brad Smith

Somebody said to me early in my coaching, training, it’s like when you hit a certain goal, what’s next? Mm hmm. And so I constantly have what’s next in my mind. I have goals that will reach through the end of my life, if you would. Through the end of my life for me and for other people, but specifically for me, if we get to the end of this, you know, this life and what I want is I want to grow me.

00;23;18;00 – 00;23;50;06
Brad Smith

I think of Earth as a power over dimensions. You want it certainly for but 12 I think I’ve read somewhere that some of the scientists think there’s like 12 dimensions involved. You’re amazing. If there’s 12 dimensions right this entire Earth experience is for learning. Think about the hardest things you’ve ever gone through. And when you restructured yourself afterwards, divorce, death, child loss, bankruptcy, getting fired-

00;23;50;12 – 00;24;10;12
Brad Smith

All of those really major things each one of those is designed to say those are a brick wall you didn’t learn before you hit the brick wall. So if you if you have to learn one brick wall at a time, then you’ll have to learn. Then that’s how it is. I don’t choose to learn one brick wall at a time.

00;24;10;25 – 00;24;30;03
Brad Smith

I choose to learn from the whispers. Oh, Brad, you need to do this. But that’s a lot of work and it’s a lot of time. And I don’t think about it really carefully, Brad. And then then test it. Go do that for a little while, see what happens, and go do that for a little while and see what happens.

00;24;30;13 – 00;25;06;09
Brad Smith

What are the results you create in yourself so that in learning you’ve become better and different. You know, a better husband, better wife, a better parent. Those are the key pieces. A better boss, a better employee, a better business owner, a better global leader. And yes, I want people to understand who they are right now, who their whole character is, just a set of very deeply set habits.

00;25;06;28 – 00;25;41;10
Brad Smith

Each one of them can be changed there’s parts of myself I don’t like. One of them was hiding out. And so it’s taken me a year and a half to two years of hard work to get myself to a place where I’m absolutely comfortable. On your show is one of them, comfortable with the idea of standing in front of a group of people I don’t have interaction with or writing a book and putting my ideas out and having them transform in a way I’m not personally engaged in.

00;25;41;21 – 00;25;58;17
Brad Smith

That scared me. And so in order to grow my self to that place, the moment it ran across my brain, I said no. And then it’s like, No, Brad, it’s time it’s time. That’s the next thing.

00;25;58;27 – 00;26;07;06
Anika

Fantastic. How do people find you and learn more about working with you? And what you’re teaching and what you’re doing next?

00;26;07;16 – 00;26;44;28
Brad Smith

Well, everybody that calls me up and wants to maybe work with me gets a free session. OK, that’s what we’ll call it. The interview process. You get to interview me, see if they like me enough, and there’s enough if we can do enough traction in an hour. So my website is Stellarinsightinc.com. It took me a while to get to, and all my contact information a way to schedule an appointment with me is on that website. OK, so we’re inside or I’m on LinkedIn, which is how you and I connected yeah.

00;26;45;14 – 00;26;56;23
Anika

And what is your what’s your favorite quote or one of your favorite quotes? Favorite mantra, something that you try to live by that helps shape who you are?

00;26;57;10 – 00;27;14;12
Brad Smith

Well, I have several. We’ll start with one. Socrates, here’s one from Socrates. He said Smart people learn from everything and everyone. Average people learn from their experiences. The stupid people already have all the answers.

00;27;16;03 – 00;27;16;15
Anika

Wow.

00;27;19;08 – 00;27;20;05
Anika

Yeah, that’s a good one.

00;27;20;14 – 00;27;32;26
Brad Smith

So if you’re willing to learn, it means you’re and not one brick wall at a time. It means you’re in the smart category that’s. That’s one of my favorite quotes. I like that a lot. Yeah.

00;27;33;07 – 00;27;50;25
Anika

I like that, too. I’m going to have to write that down in my notebook. And look at it a few times a day to remind myself where I am on my journey as well. But thank you so much for taking time with me today on our podcast. Is there anything else you’d like to leave with the audience?

00;27;52;07 – 00;28;26;28
Brad Smith

Yes, I want everyone to. One of my other statements is best, one of my personal goals. It’s a statement. It’s like it’s a question is excellence or a lifetime pursuit. And what comes out of that is if excellence is your lifetime pursuit, think of your best self, the very best person you are, and the very worst person you are, and take your best self and grow like mad, learn, learn, learn and make your very best self, your worst self.

00;28;27;26 – 00;28;28;12
Brad Smith

Wow.

00;28;30;13 – 00;29;04;12
Brad Smith

Do that. Everyone around you will be different. Yeah, you will be eventually some way or another, happy constantly. We live our lives from the insight from the outside in. That’s what we call success. And the true measure of an adult is living from the inside out. Define yourself, define your goals, define your impact, define your emotions and your attitude because emotions your mind, your inklings, your intuitions.

00;29;05;05 – 00;29;10;21
Brad Smith

There are only tools that you get to use for being better.

00;29;11;13 – 00;29;42;21
Anika

Awesome. You’ve dropped some big gems today. I thank you so much for your time and audience you can find Brad on Stellarinsightinc.com or LinkedIn, Brad Smith, Stellar Insight and I will be back again next week and next week’s episode. We’ll build on something that Brad talked about. It is why entrepreneurs should look at book writing as a way to get word out about who they are and what they’re doing and how they can have impact in the world.

00;29;43;07 – 00;29;55;28
Anika

And with that, we will leave you for another week. And thanks again for listening. See you next week. Check out AmplifywithAnika.com or follow me on socials @AmplifywithAnika.

Dai Manuel – Your Brand Amplified Transcript

00;00;01;05 – 00;00;19;29
Anika

Welcome to Your Brand Amplified the podcast where we interview marketers, publicists and brands to learn their stories, what makes them tick and tips and tricks that make a difference. Welcome to another week of Your Brand Amplified. I’m your host, Anika Jackson, and I am here with Dai Manuel, how are you today?

00;00;20;05 – 00;00;32;29
Dai Manuel

I am fantastic, Anika. It’s great to be here. I know we’ve had some back and forth, some reschedules, and I’m just like, I’m so excited. I’ve been really looking forward to meeting you and connecting with you and, you know, hey, you know, just having a good conversation.

00;00;33;06 – 00;00;33;22
Anika

Yeah.

00;00;33;26 – 00;00;40;05
Dai Manuel

The art of good conversation. It’s not as easy to find as I’d like to think it is.

00;00;40;11 – 00;00;50;23
Anika

Yeah. No, it’s really fun. That’s one of my favorite things about doing a podcast is I get to speak to really awesome people, hear their stories. You’re up in Canada. Yeah.

00;00;51;04 – 00;00;51;29
Dai Manuel

Yeah. The Great White North!

00;00;52;10 – 00;01;14;18
Anika

Yeah, yeah. Off the coast. Vancouver is beautiful. I’ve been there, have been through Whistler snowboarding and all that stuff. But yeah, I’d love for you to share a little bit of because you have so much energy and exuberance for life and your story so I’d love for you to share a little bit with our audience, who you are, how you got to be who you are today.

00;01;15;06 – 00;01;15;28
Dai Manuel

Oh, boy.

00;01;16;07 – 00;01;16;24
Anika

Now I know.

00;01;16;29 – 00;01;17;16
Dai Manuel

Now the pressure’s on!

00;01;17;18 – 00;01;18;10
Anika

Philosophical.

00;01;19;11 – 00;01;34;27
Dai Manuel

Right? Well, you know, we all have a story. We all have a sort of that origin story, like where do we come from and how do we get to where we are and I guess, you know, first and foremost, I’ve just completed 45 laps around the sun. And so for those that have to do the math on that.

00;01;34;27 – 00;01;48;17
Dai Manuel

Yeah, that’s right. I’m 45 and first and foremost, you know, I’m a proud father of two teenage girls there and I should, you know, I like to think of them as kids still, but they’re 19 at 17 now. So they’re like,

00;01;48;17 – 00;01;50;01
Anika

Mine just turned 14.

00;01;50;01 – 00;01;57;12
Dai Manuel

OK, so yeah. Yeah, not, not, I mean you know how it is, they hit 12 and they think they are, what, 32? like-

00;01;57;12 – 00;02;23;12
Dai Manuel

So you’ve already been dealing with it. So it’s, but it’s amazing and you know my wife and I, we’ve been dating each other for 22 years. Love that so that’s very intentional with the language and I’m sure we can unpack that later. But those are really the things that matter most. Yeah, but there’s been periods in my life where I haven’t honored that and as such, you know, it’s created opportunity for challenges to arise, especially internally.

00;02;24;26 – 00;02;49;15
Dai Manuel

Again, I’ll get to that in a second, but you know, I’m someone that came to business kind of by accident. Entrepreneurship, I think was always in me because I watched my parents growing up being entrepreneurs. My father had his own practice. My mom always had a side hustle, like always, you know, whether it was the Airbnb antique selling antique shop, you know, she always had a side business.

00;02;49;15 – 00;03;14;06
Dai Manuel

So grew up watching her, you know, with small business. And, you know, so there was always that attraction to it. And fitness, though, because most people that do know me or I, you know, we connect whether online or offline, they instinctively feel that I’m someone that’s into health and well-being because I am those values. But but to be fair, I didn’t come to it naturally.

00;03;14;14 – 00;03;28;21
Dai Manuel

Hmm. And this is my long habit way of saying, you know, as much as we like to tell our stories and there’s usually an A to a B and then maybe do a C, and then at then a D and we have these nice straight lines. But my line was was anything but straight to get to where I am now.

00;03;28;21 – 00;03;51;07
Dai Manuel

And, you know, when I go back to that sort of origin point of why I got into health and wellbeing and more so those became passions of mine. And very much values, if you will, was at age 15. I was at my largest, I was morbidly obese and a lot of people aren’t familiar with my background. They meet me and they say, Oh, you don’t understand what it’s like to be healthy.

00;03;51;07 – 00;04;12;11
Dai Manuel

You’ve probably never been unhealthy. And I’m like, Ha ha ha, By the way, I have. And you know, I went through and it took about almost two years of me going through some significant lifestyle changes and really doing a lot of things that were very different than what I was doing up to that point in my life and creating all this change for myself.

00;04;12;16 – 00;04;30;06
Dai Manuel

And in that process, I really went from being a victim of change to really becoming a champion of change to to the point where, you know, I remember one day my friend of my mom’s came to the house and we’re like knocking on the door with this old screen door on the back porch, my mom being the antique kind of lady.

00;04;31;01 – 00;04;46;08
Dai Manuel

She made sure that we always had these old homes right? This old rockety porch on the back, this old screen door, and people would come up through the back door and it would see into our kitchen. And they would my mom would often have conversations through the screen door, like, why didn’t you just come and sit down?

00;04;46;08 – 00;05;01;02
Dai Manuel

But now, you know, it’s just sort of that small town vibe. And I remember them coming over there. Like, it’s always been the I’m like, oh, yeah, she’s in the back do some gardening. You can go talk to her there. And, you know, meanwhile, they stood at the door. They just stayed there. And I’m like, OK, you know, she’s in the back.

00;05;02;00 – 00;05;20;17
Dai Manuel

You need I’m like a 17 year old kid. I’m trying to make some food for myself. I’m like, What are you waiting for? And, and they’re, they’re just looking at me. And they’re like, Well, actually, I. Can we ask you a couple questions? And I’m like, Oh, man, an adult. It wants to ask me questions. I’m in my brain.

00;05;20;17 – 00;05;40;25
Dai Manuel

I’m like, What did I do? You know? I’m thinking, What did I do? I’m in trouble. What happened on the weekend? And oddly enough, you know, they came in the house and they proceeded to just mention, you know, these last couple of years, we’ve seen you literally change. You know, you’ve become so much more healthier and you’re happier and you’re more energy.

00;05;40;25 – 00;06;01;03
Dai Manuel

And I’m really it’s been inspiring watching you do these changes. And I’m like, I mean, that night I was feeling really good. I was like, you know, what am I love languages is words right for me? So far. So I was feeling very full OK through this interaction. And and they said, you know, do you think you can help us?

00;06;01;09 – 00;06;01;28
Anika

Wow.

00;06;03;13 – 00;06;23;08
Dai Manuel

I’m 17 year old boy at this point, right? And I’m like, wait a minute, you’re talking to me? And I’m like, looking around the room because I’m the only one in the kitchen, right? And I’m like, are you sure and and so it was just wonderful. I was filled with this feeling of fulfillment which up to that 17 years of my life, I can’t recall ever feeling that way about anything.

00;06;23;25 – 00;06;46;03
Dai Manuel

We’re here, me helping these people get their health in order so they can start to live into the life that they identified. They want to be living, but they feel that their health is preventing them from achieving that. And I was able to play a small little part in helping them get on that road, on that path, and it was right then and there I was like, I’m going to be helping people in some sort of capacity for the rest of my life.

00;06;46;06 – 00;07;07;18
Dai Manuel

I know, I know. This is my path! This is the journey now where I go now. And and that sort of set in motion a bunch of stuff that sort of is opened up as a result of just being in the right place. And I think for the right time and for the right reason. And I’ve sort of just evolved into this space of supporting people with change, you know?

00;07;07;18 – 00;07;07;27
Dai Manuel

Yeah.

00;07;09;02 – 00;07;09;11
Anika

Yeah.

00;07;09;21 – 00;07;16;11
Dai Manuel

There’s lots of stuff in between, but I skipped over about 30 years, but I figured, hey, we gotta leave some more for the convo.

00;07;17;00 – 00;07;41;19
Anika

Yeah, well, there’s a couple of things that really stood out when I was reviewing all your information, looking at your profile, and we were talking about you coming on the podcast, and one is your energy. It’s really obvious, like even just reading stuff about you, how much energy you bring to anything that you do, that exuberance that you love life, you have this big like happiness bubble around you, right?

00;07;42;15 – 00;08;04;00
Anika

And so you can see that you really have you are a champion for change. You are a champion for others. And that like just looking at you, I’m like, yeah, you know, I buy into it completely because you’re being authentic. I mean, that’s who you are. But the fact that you’re able to take something that you were doing just for yourself and then other people recognized, Oh, I think that he can help me change, too.

00;08;04;05 – 00;08;38;18
Anika

And that kind of set you off on this journey in this path. And there are two things that I really want to touch on. One is the five Fs that you live your life by, because I think that’s really important. And then the whole life fitness manifesto and what that means because I think often entrepreneurs forget that we have to take care of ourselves spiritually, mentally, physically, you know, it’s really easy to like get stuck just in meetings all day working, trying to set up the next deal for your company to make sure you’re taking care of all of the different things that it needs.

00;08;38;18 – 00;08;51;01
Anika

But if you’re not nourishing yourself, none of that matters. And so we have to remember to schedule that time and take that time out. So I would love to get into your philosophy and how that’s become kind of a cornerstone of what you do.

00;08;52;06 – 00;09;07;15
Dai Manuel

Thank you. Well, to be honest, it again, as much as we can theorize and it makes sense to us a lot of these ideas, you know, it’s the constant application of the idea of the actual action part.

00;09;07;15 – 00;09;08;08
Dai Manuel

Mm hmm.

00;09;08;08 – 00;09;14;18
Dai Manuel

That’s where the challenges lie for a lot of us, because a lot of us can rationalize all day long, like I get what I’m supposed to be doing.

00;09;15;13 – 00;09;39;07
Dai Manuel

But it’s just the actual doing that seems to escape me. Right? And and listen, we’re all victims of that at some point in time, if not more, than we care to admit. And for myself, it very much a case in point. When I got into entrepreneur, you know, really developing my business is you know, I became a personal trainer late in my teens.

00;09;39;08 – 00;09;58;22
Dai Manuel

And and then as I was working as a trainer, I was getting really frustrated because I was young and just very naive and not very empathetic. Which is interesting if you think about where I came from. Right. And but I was start to coach people that were older than me saying that they want to achieve these changes.

00;09;58;22 – 00;10;12;29
Dai Manuel

And I’m like, well, you just got to do the work, you know, like, you just got to do the stuff. Like, if you do this stuff, you’re going to get results. And but but yet they just weren’t getting the results. And I was like, you know, rather than saying, what could I be doing differently? How can I maybe support them differently?

00;10;12;29 – 00;10;30;23
Dai Manuel

You know, I just presume that I just can’t get it. I’m going to fire them now. I don’t need this client, you know, like just really bad. And like, really, I when I think back, you know, I’m like, I’m such an idiot. You know, like, just because I just really didn’t understand and I didn’t know how to relate to other people.

00;10;30;29 – 00;10;51;20
Dai Manuel

Given different health challenges that they might be working through, because I just couldn’t empathize because I hadn’t had a lot of big health challenges other than, you know, my, my obesity. And that created some other challenges. But that was when I lost all that weight, and I started to work out and eat differently. Everything got better. So I was just presuming that, hey, that’s the solution for everybody.

00;10;51;20 – 00;11;14;20
Dai Manuel

Just work out and eat better. And of course, we all know there’s so many more elements to whole life fitness. And so I’m sort of just building from context here to understand where the idea came from. Because I think we all have certain values that we honor and that we try to prioritize. Or I go one step further and say, we want to make them a non-negotiable you know?

00;11;15;00 – 00;11;45;28
Dai Manuel

And in particular, what I mean by this is I hear a lot of people say that, you know, family is a core value, meaning that they prioritize things in life around family. And I agree. And I think that’s one of my pillars as well. So I respect that when people share that. And where I used to run into challenge was as I started to build my business, you know, got into retail, had an opportunity to be a co-founder of a company and, you know, over 17 years scaled up to about eight figures a year.

00;11;45;28 – 00;12;11;25
Dai Manuel

And it was great, was fun and really lots of learning. Lots of learning and during that process, though, as much as I was trying to honor some of these values, like family, like even my health, now here I am selling fitness equipment, accessories, apparel, really the possibility of changing one’s health and wellbeing. And yet I was to at times find it a struggle to maintain my own health.

00;12;12;03 – 00;12;24;17
Dai Manuel

Wow. My own health commitments. And so that’s what I mean. As entrepreneurs, I know what it’s like. We prioritize everything else inside of us. And then when eventually it comes time to turn the focus back on ourselves, we got nothing left.

00;12;24;23 – 00;12;25;02
Anika

Yeah.

00;12;25;24 – 00;12;47;12
Dai Manuel

I, we got to have a life. We gave it, gave it to everybody else. My business got some, my family got some, you know, like the dude across the street. Then you know, he got so ready, and it’s like, I got nothing left to give myself, you know, and and of course, we find ourselves tired, fatigued, unmotivated, to take the action to do the things that we know will make us feel better.

00;12;47;24 – 00;13;15;07
Dai Manuel

Think a little bit differently. Maybe show up a little bit more differently, and it’s this interesting catch 22. Right. And so the long and short of it, you know, after these 17 years, I was struggling with a lot of different things. And one of the things was alcohol because as much as I’d had these very depleted moments at the end of the day, and I hadn’t honored my own health, especially my mental health.

00;13;15;16 – 00;13;15;28
Anika

Yeah.

00;13;16;07 – 00;13;34;17
Dai Manuel

It was really easy to escape some of those little voices in my head that were very judgmental of me, very critical, you know, that imposter syndrome. Oh yeah. It’s alive and well, you know, and, but I learned early on in life that I could quiet some of those voices and at least create a little bit of a repose.

00;13;34;17 – 00;13;40;21
Dai Manuel

You know, I got a little bit of a, a temporary break from that. If I’d have a few drinks

00;13;40;21 – 00;13;41;26
Anika

mm hmm.

00;13;41;26 – 00;14;05;08
Dai Manuel

And of course, you know, you repeat that habit enough, and that becomes more of a ritual and not necessarily a positive one. And that’s sort of where my TEDx talk that came out last year sheds light on a single story that happened about 13 years ago when I made a decision similar to that at 15 years old, when I made a decision to get healthy, I made a decision to get healthy again.

00;14;05;29 – 00;14;39;03
Dai Manuel

But it involved me changing and challenging that habit around alcohol. And because it was affecting me professionally, but especially personally. The relationships are really challenged and so I made a big commitment, you know, and I can get into that if you want. But, you know, I want to honor the questions you said about the 5 F’s. And after I made these changes and removed alcohol from my life, I started to realize I had a lot of personal growth yet to do, and I didn’t have the tools or the resources nor the understanding of how to do that.

00;14;39;03 – 00;14;47;17
Dai Manuel

So I had to learn how to ask for help. And believe me, at 33 years of age and I was not skilled in asking for help.

00;14;48;10 – 00;15;23;09
Anika

People rarely are. I don’t I don’t think very many of us are very skilled at asking for help. And I think, you know, I’ve experienced the peripheral, I guess, side of alcoholism with family members and different people. And there are so many things that we can use whether it’s alcohol or something else, to mask how we’re feeling. And then it is really hard to when you take those things away, to have to look at yourself and figure out, oh, wow, what do I, you know, what do I need to work on?

00;15;23;09 – 00;15;27;13
Anika

And you really see it. And then you have to decide if you’re going to take action right?

00;15;27;23 – 00;15;28;02
Dai Manuel

Yeah.

00;15;28;06 – 00;15;48;22
Anika

Or if you’re going to go backwards and I think it’s funny because my the podcast for the previous week to your episode one of the things we talk about is moving from you have an idea, you know, you need to take action. How do you actually take that step and take action? And we didn’t even we didn’t quite get to that finish.

00;15;48;22 – 00;15;53;03
Anika

So this is I love how this works out that like, oh, we didn’t even know we were going to go there.

00;15;53;03 – 00;16;16;17
Dai Manuel

But and to be fair, I didn’t know I was going to go there either. But when I saw the five Fs, I realized that without understanding some of the context of what I worked through or what it was, you know, challenges I was presented with, it can seem like a very let’s just say a rose tinted, you know, lenses, you know, rather than maybe overly optimistic.

00;16;16;17 – 00;16;41;04
Dai Manuel

And I don’t believe it as such, but it is rather simplistic as far as a philosophy is concerned on how we can prioritize things in our own lives. And so I and I think, you know, to get to your point of the action; I had to go through a period of really self-discovery again. You know, I had to get clear on some basic questions like who am I?

00;16;41;20 – 00;16;41;29
Anika

Yeah.

00;16;43;29 – 00;17;09;02
Dai Manuel

What do I want? Why am I here? What is it I want to be doing? You know, who do I want to be associated with, whether the experiences I want in my life, what kind of dad do I want to be like you know, just clarity. Yeah. And actually create some space so I can not only ask the question and think about it, but actually respond to it, you know, and not just simply invent an answer, but rather truly discover it through that introspection and reflection.

00;17;10;02 – 00;17;26;14
Dai Manuel

A lot of us don’t take time for that, right? I mean, I’m guilty of it. Like, trust me, I never make time for that stuff. You know, even whenever I hire business coaches, we’re talking about vision and stuff and I mean, like, right now, you know what? I’m just going to go do this. There’s this and there’s going to create this result.

00;17;26;14 – 00;17;32;25
Dai Manuel

You know, I was just so scientific about it rather than leaning into more of the what if space yeah.

00;17;33;08 – 00;17;33;17
Anika

Yeah.

00;17;35;17 – 00;17;57;26
Dai Manuel

And that was all based on where I was and because I was very limited, you know, I was dealing with a lot of stuff, let’s just say. And but everybody was because I know this now because I had to learn how to ask for help. It’s just I asked for help. And as soon as I started to share what I was struggling with, it was the weirdest thing there was like other people saying, Oh, you know what?

00;17;58;14 – 00;18;18;17
Dai Manuel

I got that same problem. And I’m like, what you do? I’m like, for how long? What? Like, forever? And, like, what? You know, because I talked to a couple of guys, and it took me a bit to share with that because I’m, you know, gosh, I’m like looking at guys as competition, not as allies. Right? Like, often that’s how I would just think about it, even though we would say we’re friends, we’re friends.

00;18;18;17 – 00;18;37;27
Dai Manuel

But I never really, truly felt connected. I felt there was always this sort of surface connection. Right. And so it’s easy. You open up, you start to practice vulnerability. And I say practice like any skill, vulnerability, skill, too. I realized that, gosh, there’s so many of us, we’re way more alike than we are different.

00;18;37;29 – 00;18;38;11
Anika

Yeah.

00;18;38;15 – 00;18;56;29
Dai Manuel

We go about our lives thinking that no one gets me, no one understands it. No one’s going to understand this thing. I’m working through right now. But the crazy thing is this is you open up and people start putting their hands up like, oh, me too, me too, me. Like, you look at the MeToo movement. I mean, it’s a prime example of as soon as you start opening up, you start telling your story and as some people say, your truth, right?

00;18;56;29 – 00;19;03;06
Dai Manuel

Like other people are like, hello. Thank you. Me, too. Because it takes one person that’s got to go first.

00;19;03;11 – 00;19;30;12
Anika

Yeah. Well, and it’s as you said, it’s really hard to live in vulnerability. And it’s really hard, especially if you look like a highly successful person. People see your beautiful family a happy marriage, successful business, you know, all of the things, the outside stuff, they don’t think to look more inside and realize that you’re young, but you’re still a person and you still deal with different struggles every day like everybody else does.

00;19;30;28 – 00;19;45;09
Anika

And it’s you don’t need to be perfect. You just need to be authentic. And living in that authenticity and being vulnerable is what helps create change, long lasting change for yourself and for others. And eventually, hopefully, everybody, right?

00;19;45;09 – 00;19;46;06
Dai Manuel

That’s right.

00;19;46;06 – 00;19;51;22
Anika

And that’s how we get to where the good stuff like the OK, how do we help each other through this and how do we really connect.

00;19;54;00 – 00;20;14;15
Dai Manuel

And I love that you say it like that because it’s right to the point. And that is exactly what it is. And, you know, because in doing this, it’s also clarity right? Like we gain that clarity when you feel clear on direction, not saying you have to have the absolute goal of where you’re going, figure it out. Like that’s that may not be a realistic initially, especially when you’re just self-discovering again.

00;20;14;15 – 00;20;36;16
Dai Manuel

Right? Like just learning about what motivates you, what you want to do and start dreaming again. But clarity can give direction and so at least you start to feel confident that, hey, you know what? If I start taking these steps, you know, one after the other going this direction, it’s going to bring me closer to that area I want to get to, you know, again, we do not have pinpoint exactly where that is.

00;20;36;16 – 00;20;50;22
Dai Manuel

You know, like if you listen to smart girls, I know you got to be very specific, right? Like, fair and I get it. That’s appropriate, too. But when you’re just getting started, it’s really hard to sit down. And I’m going to write some smart goals right out of the gate. When you’re not really connected to yourself, what motivates you?

00;20;50;22 – 00;21;13;15
Dai Manuel

What you really want and especially when you can’t answer the question, Who am I, like, you know, handling these other questions? Maybe do this one first, you know, and because it’s that clarity that builds confidence. And when we feel confident, we take action and we procrastinate less. Right? Like if you think about when you progress to these often when we just don’t feel confident about what we should be doing.

00;21;13;21 – 00;21;14;01
Anika

Yeah.

00;21;14;22 – 00;21;34;06
Dai Manuel

You know, and so easiest way to kill procrastination is get confident and the only way you can build confidence is you have to get clear on what it is you need to do. You have to learn something might have to do something different, but either way, it’s going to involve a little bit of change but change, it’s it’s usually hard.

00;21;34;25 – 00;21;39;07
Dai Manuel

Hmm. Rarely easy, right? But it’s always worth it.

00;21;39;20 – 00;21;42;21
Anika

Yeah. It’s always a growth opportunity. Yeah.

00;21;43;03 – 00;21;43;15
Dai Manuel

Yes.

00;21;43;15 – 00;22;04;03
Anika

And even all those failures are those. I mean, they’re not even failures. The, you know, the issues, the things that you saw in yourself that were flaws or things that needed to be fixed or lessons. There are things that you needed to learn to be able to really enjoy and experience the next level of life. And family and be there for your family and, you know, more fully.

00;22;04;24 – 00;22;21;01
Anika

So and I think that is another thing. So it’s we have to take care of ourselves we have to understand and be in tune with what we need to feel healthy ourselves. And then when we’re looking at family, I think it is really easy to say, oh, you know what, I can’t spend time with you. I have to finish this proposal.

00;22;21;11 – 00;22;42;26
Anika

I have to, you know, get on this call at 8:00, whatever the case may be. But at the end of the day, it is those moments my daughter and I just took a road trip for spring break and her 14th birthday, and it was so fun. It was just the two of us on the road. We went, we stayed in like Ponderosa covered wagon places and went to went hiking and canyoneering.

00;22;42;26 – 00;22;56;17
Anika

And I will always remember that time with her and she will always remember that time with me. And nothing can take that experience away. Me being in the office for the week, you know, holds nothing to having that time with her.

00;22;57;11 – 00;23;28;01
Dai Manuel

It’s it doesn’t take much, you know, it’s really interesting. But these moments that we create and these memories that are attached to them, I they can happen in a simple, quick interaction, you know, like just bumping into somebody on the street and that person saying something kind you’re doing something contrary or vice versa, stupid sometimes. And that like that, that one little action can forever change that person’s perspective and their relationship with life.

00;23;28;05 – 00;23;49;04
Dai Manuel

Like it’s the smallest of acts that can often create the biggest ripples. And when you start to see this in action and you realize that we all are just pebbles ready to be thrown into that, you know, like that’s all it is. But, you know, why wait for someone to throw us? Let’s just jump in you know, let’s go make some ripples.

00;23;49;04 – 00;23;52;05
Dai Manuel

And and I think that’s the part we all want to get to.

00;23;52;13 – 00;23;52;22
Anika

Yeah.

00;23;53;05 – 00;24;17;13
Dai Manuel

We all want to get there. And what I try to tell people and this is, you know, long my way of finally getting to the five F’s is, I try I try to give people a framework, you know, and I’m a OK, so even though I’m in I went to school the university originally for the sciences and after the first year and failing calculus three times to the point of the Dean says, you know what we can’t take your money anymore.

00;24;17;20 – 00;24;26;18
Dai Manuel

Wow. You literally I got a dean’s letter like you can’t do this course again. And it was like one of the required courses for where I wanted to go- where I thought I wanted to go.

00;24;26;28 – 00;24;27;12
Anika

Yeah, right.

00;24;28;00 – 00;24;48;24
Dai Manuel

And I was like, well, you just made my decision easy. I’m moving into the arts. And so I got into English literature and creative writing but more important, my major was in philosophy. So just to give you some perspective, as much as I love life and fitness and all that stuff, my my passions lay in the arts, especially in the classics.

00;24;48;24 – 00;25;12;24
Dai Manuel

But where I’m going with this is I always appreciated good alliteration and metaphor and because it’s a great way to take complex concepts really simple, you know, relatable as well as accessible. And so when I think about my life because I needed to make it something simple. Simple to identify, but simple for me to remember and hold that place in my mind.

00;25;12;24 – 00;25;41;18
Dai Manuel

Because if you can maintain clarity of vision, it’s easy to maintain direction, you know, and that’s sometimes all we need. We just need to know I just got to keep inching forward in this direction. And I know good things are going to happen. And so I’m going to argue that no matter who you are, the foundation upon which anybody wants to build any type of lifestyle or life, it’s going to be a foundation of health.

00;25;43;03 – 00;25;50;00
Dai Manuel

All right. Now, people can argue me on this, but I’m like, OK, when you’re not healthy, how good is life? You know.

00;25;50;01 – 00;25;50;07
Anika

Like.

00;25;50;23 – 00;25;53;06
Dai Manuel

Really, it might be good, but is it great?

00;25;53;11 – 00;25;53;23
Anika

Right?

00;25;53;23 – 00;26;15;11
Dai Manuel

Are you limited? Is your quality of life limited now based on maybe vitality constraints? You’re not having the energy to do the things that you want to do. Like really look at how the health plays into all that. And so when you look at health, there’s different aspects, of course. But I like to think of this is the foundation upon which I’m going to build a home and that home is representative of my life.

00;26;15;28 – 00;26;35;22
Dai Manuel

There’s four walls, so I’m going to take us all back to kindergarten. And now we’re drawing the old stick for the house, right? So it’s really traditional here. So you got this square home, four walls, and you’ve got a roof, the walls all by a letter F you’ve got fitness, faith, family and finance. With an overarching roof of fun.

00;26;36;19 – 00;27;07;18
Dai Manuel

And so this whole metaphor, you know, on this foundation of house is this house that I represent. Those assets are really clearly, to me, values. I encourage other people. You don’t have to use alliteration. But yeah, clear. What is the home that represents your life? Those core values can represent the walls. I always invite people probably to have some sort of happiness or fun type of aspect as a roof, because if you’re not having fun with everything you’re doing, there’s room for oppor- or room or opportunity for improvement.

00;27;07;18 – 00;27;24;12
Dai Manuel

We’ll just put it that way. You can tweak things. You can change things if you’re not laughing and smiling at least once a day, there’s room for improvement. OK, that’s all I’m saying. And then you’ve got the four walls, right? What are those for? You don’t have to use what I’m using you know, when I say faith, it’s non-denominational.

00;27;24;12 – 00;27;48;03
Dai Manuel

I mean, my faith is that humanity’s resilient. We’re great as humans and we have so much potential. I mean, when we can do hard stuff and we can evolve and it’s really cool, right? And for me, faith is just knowing that the day that I leave this planet, well, wherever that is due next I can honestly look back and say, I left better than I got here, you know, living here today better than it was when I got here.

00;27;48;03 – 00;28;07;19
Dai Manuel

So those are all little aspects, but they feed into that health foundation. Right? And one of the best ways to improve on your health foundation is you got to focus on the mental health, the physical health, the emotional health, as well as the spiritual health. Yeah, and and of course, financial health. But that’s sort of a given. That’s why I give finances.

00;28;07;19 – 00;28;15;20
Dai Manuel

It’s a wall because we live in a global economy. And if those aren’t if finances aren’t in a good place, we know how negatively that affects everything else.

00;28;15;20 – 00;28;16;24
Anika

Yeah. Definitely.

00;28;17;03 – 00;28;25;16
Dai Manuel

So I do bring that into the conversation, but that’s that’s it. That’s the five F’s. So Anika, what are your F’s you had to give your house, what would yours look like?

00;28;25;28 – 00;28;48;09
Anika

Well, I love fun. I think it’s really important to be with people that you can laugh with every day and just be goofy and silly. And there was something that you said that just reminded me, like the simplicity of life right? Those little moments are what bring us, I think, the most joy. That’s so. Yeah. So I love that.

00;28;48;09 – 00;29;05;13
Anika

I love being with my family and just having that time to make dinner together or to watch something silly on TV to like dance around and be silly. And I think that those are the things that bring me the most joy at this point in my life. You know, I’ve I’ve lived in a this is another story for another day.

00;29;05;16 – 00;29;27;07
Anika

I mean, I’ve lived in a lot of different places and had a lot of different experiences. And some of them been fantastic. But I moved back to L.A. right before the pandemic, and I’m really glad that I was here for that time. And I’m glad that I’m still here. And I also, you know, made everybody kind to take a step back and regroup and reassess or many of us did.

00;29;27;08 – 00;29;58;15
Anika

Probably not as- not everybody, but many of us. And my life before was so much busier. And it was, you know, I have to be out and do this. I have to go network here. And I just have to do a little bit of that but not nearly to the extent that I had before. And so, you know, that’s what I see now is like how do I keep enjoying life, do the things that I want to do, put all the put the good I want to into the world, but not but also be able to enjoy that time with my daughter before she is off to college and away doing her thing.

00;29;58;19 – 00;30;21;05
Anika

You know, how do I enjoy my nine year old dogs who just live to be with us all the time? And, you know, and you have to just realize, like, health issues are going to be their health issues. But you have to, like, just enjoy what you have with the people and the things in your life. So that didn’t really answer, but I think they’re pretty similar to what you are now.

00;30;21;05 – 00;30;47;11
Anika

I want to take a little bit of a different tack because I think this is lays a really good foundation for people to think about. Like, what do you want to have in your life? Right. And how do you find that fulfillment and how do you make sure that you’re integrating all of those health aspects? I love that you’re not just talking about physical health, but all of the other areas of health that we need to focus on, too, that we sometimes forget and during this time, you’re also scaling.

00;30;47;12 – 00;31;05;02
Anika

You said, you know, a company to eight figures successfully. Like how how does that play into where you are today and how what kind of journey and what kind of lessons did you learn along the way that you would impart to people?

00;31;06;19 – 00;31;27;14
Dai Manuel

Great questions. Well, so my last business, yeah, we scaled up to eight figures a year, and that was with commercial and retail so B to B and B to C as well as e-comm. And so we were selling equipment all across Canada online. And then and then our brick and mortar, which is predominantly in western Canada, and that was over a period of 17 years.

00;31;27;14 – 00;31;50;19
Dai Manuel

And to be fair, you know, the only reason my skill ability was there was because we had a great team of people, you know, we had some amazing leaders. We attracted some incredible talent and the company expanded as a result, you know, like we needed to expand because we had these people that wanted to expand you know, which, which made the growth even more exciting for all of us because everybody wanted it.

00;31;50;19 – 00;32;17;10
Dai Manuel

And, but, you know, during that process I realized as well that my, my partner at the time, my first real business mentor and I’d go as far as to say a life mentor as well who was 20 years my senior and this is the CEO of the company and my partner and you know, I started working with him and he had another company previously and opportunity came for him to separate that arrangement with his former partners.

00;32;17;10 – 00;32;30;08
Dai Manuel

And he wanted to go off as an independent. And I was his best guy, you know, and he’s like, here’s the deal. We’re going to go out and do our own thing. You want, you in? You can be my partner and we’ll do this thing. And I’m like, All right. I mean, you know, I did because he’s my mentor.

00;32;30;18 – 00;32;50;01
Dai Manuel

It’s like a very influential person in my life. And the thing was, you know, this is in my early twenties and I got into this not even realizing that this would become such a big part of my life, you know, 17 years, right? Like a lot of us said, oh, you know, what an idea. And we think this is sort of what I think I want to be doing.

00;32;50;01 – 00;33;09;12
Dai Manuel

And then we get down the path and all of a sudden it’s like, be careful what you ask for because you just might get it. And and that was exactly it. So it was very quickly it became a very big pull on my life. Which took a lot of time. Like, a lot of my time. A lot of my energy.

00;33;09;17 – 00;33;30;23
Dai Manuel

And you feel that responsibility for the businesses that we start or were a part of, you know, and will often and especially for those that are entrepreneurs and running your own business or consultancy agency, whatever it may be, but, you know, you’re running your own thing. The buck stops with you. There’s that pressure that the company doesn’t perform.

00;33;30;23 – 00;33;55;06
Dai Manuel

Whose fault is that? It’s my fault. Right? And so that added pressure makes us want to do more. We feel this obligation that we have to do more. And we get to this place where we put on this nice shiny badge and it says, I’m so busy, you know, and it’s this nice little badge. And we show it off to everybody, people to, you know, running up to us on the street.

00;33;55;06 – 00;34;19;12
Dai Manuel

How are you doing? I’m so busy, you know, and and and we’re proud of that. And that, Anika, is the biggest realization I had from those 17 years is that I really got to a place where my ego drove my decisions. And it was often formed around me wanting people to see me as something other than who I actually thought I wanted to be.

00;34;19;13 – 00;34;39;15
Dai Manuel

Now, I know it sounds a little confusing, but let me put it this way. It was like, I just got so good at putting up this facade of trying to be the guy the dude, right? Like the man, you know, like this. It’s so interesting, but wanted to be perceived as this thing, you know? And that’s what I mean by, like, living in my ego, you know?

00;34;39;15 – 00;34;42;22
Dai Manuel

And this was also a great way for me to mask insecurities.

00;34;43;01 – 00;34;43;10
Anika

Mm hmm.

00;34;43;17 – 00;35;08;11
Dai Manuel

Yeah, I was pretend I’m just going to pretend I’m this, like, dude, you know, and and it was weird because it just I, you know, at the time, it limited my ability to have deeper connections with people. Because I wouldn’t open up and if I did open up, it was typically very inauthentic. All right. And so those are some of the things that I really took away from the experience.

00;35;08;25 – 00;35;24;19
Dai Manuel

And I got very mindful, too, that I didn’t want to do that anymore. I didn’t want to be that anymore, because that was also what sort of led to more drinking as well because it was more lack of fulfillment. It would be the perfect of this. You know, I was what used to fulfill me wasn’t fulfilling me anymore.

00;35;25;21 – 00;35;46;25
Dai Manuel

And you know, when you start waking up and you start resenting the business and you started from passion you know, that’s usually, you know, it’s time to have a change or you’re literally already burnt out at that point. It’s probably burn out more than anything. Where we’ve just we’ve given so much to the business. We have nothing left for ourselves.

00;35;47;29 – 00;36;06;07
Dai Manuel

And and I say this and in this game, people listen this and they may not like this, but it’s one of those things like we can theorize about it all day long. We can say, Oh, never happened to me, believe me. You know, just wake up one day and you’ll be there. You know, that’s that was what happened to me.

00;36;06;07 – 00;36;17;04
Dai Manuel

I’m like, no, because I’m a health guy, right? I’m like, I know I didn’t do this. I don’t set boundaries and I know what I should be doing, and I’ll just do everything you know? And, oh, gosh, I just, you know, you can’t do that. You can’t.

00;36;17;04 – 00;36;18;22
Anika

That’s a whole other podcast. Yeah.

00;36;20;09 – 00;36;39;01
Dai Manuel

So burnout, though, is very real. And when you get to that place, you start resenting your business. That’s when you really know it’s time to make some changes. Yeah. Like you just know like, it’s like you get to this place is like, I cannot take one more step in this direction because I really do recognize now it will kill me.

00;36;39;19 – 00;36;59;15
Dai Manuel

You know, and and life’s worth so much more to me than this. And I know it’s a really fearful place to get to because then we’re left thinking, gosh, now what am I going to do? You know, what can I do? And and sometimes getting to that place can actually be one of the best experiences that we ever endure, because it forces us to get clear again and ask some hard questions.

00;37;00;11 – 00;37;23;06
Dai Manuel

Yeah. And it’s not very comfortable work. I’ll be the first to say that, you know, being that I’ve been there a couple of times now, you know, like it’s not, but it’s worthwhile work. And once you get through it and you will, you will get through it, it’s amazing. All I can say is that it’s amazing. But, you know, when you’re in it, it ain’t that much fun.

00;37;23;15 – 00;37;36;17
Dai Manuel

OK, but but it’s OK. You’ll get through it. And as you get through it, you’ll look back you’ll be like, Oh, it’s not that bad. You know, it’s the funniest thing, you know what I mean? When you’re on the other side of it, it’s never as bad. And we look back on it as it was when we were in it.

00;37;36;27 – 00;37;48;25
Dai Manuel

Ever it was actually a turn. I don’t know what it is, but there’s a psychological term that refers to that, that that ability of our minds to just sort of lessen trauma after we’ve lived it. You know.

00;37;49;06 – 00;37;51;02
Anika

It’s why women continue to give birth.

00;37;51;13 – 00;37;56;21
Dai Manuel

That’s right. Yes, that’s true. That’s the perfect example. Yes. Yes.

00;37;57;00 – 00;38;06;08
Anika

Yeah. So after your company, what continues to inspire and motivate you? Oh, well, you know.

00;38;07;06 – 00;38;29;03
Dai Manuel

Well, so I left and I didn’t leave at an optimal time. And so it wasn’t like anything I could retire on, but I knew I didn’t want to do it anymore. Yeah. Also knew I was very employable. My wife’s very employable. So six years ago, you know, I had given roughly about 18, almost 20 months notice that I would be leaving the country.

00;38;29;09 – 00;38;49;19
Dai Manuel

It was plenty, like plenty like a very long runway because I wanted to do it well, but also 17 year history. I’m not. Yeah. Can’t just say, here’s the keys. I right. Yeah. Especially because I had shares, right? I’m like, I got to be fiduciary responsible. So I’m long and short. I, I quit right? And then I left a month after I left, my wife quit her career.

00;38;50;24 – 00;38;55;08
Dai Manuel

Two months after that, we pulled the kids out of school. Oh, wow. We gave away all our stuff.

00;38;56;03 – 00;38;56;23
Anika

Oh, my God.

00;38;56;29 – 00;39;19;11
Dai Manuel

Yeah, we packed up the SUV with suitcases and whatever we wanted to bring. Everything else got rid of, sublet our place, and we started traveling south with with no real destination in mind. But this is the interesting thing. During those two months, as I was, you know, I had written a book, and it was being published right at the same time that we were planning to go traveling as a family.

00;39;19;11 – 00;39;30;09
Dai Manuel

You know, we weren’t sure how long we’d go for. And to be honest, we didn’t have an endless supply of money. We had some savings, but not enough to to travel for the five years that it turned into.

00;39;30;16 – 00;39;32;13
Anika

Oh, my. God.

00;39;32;13 – 00;39;49;09
Dai Manuel

And yes. And two and a half of those years, we ended up living in Bali, Indonesia. And and then we came back right before the pandemic because we wanted to honor our kids. They had said they wanted to finish high school or so we came back to Vancouver City finish school here and, you know, and to my discontent.

00;39;49;09 – 00;40;19;24
Dai Manuel

But I would have stayed in Bali if I had in mind. But but regardless, I’m happy to be in Vancouver too. But that that sort of, you know, I had to get very creative and learn new skills so I could create new income to support our family, especially in that that path that we were on. And so it just I went to work and learning new things and learning some new business strategy is and really went into a different area entirely.

00;40;19;24 – 00;40;25;17
Dai Manuel

But it still involves helping people online. And I fortunately for us that it worked.

00;40;25;25 – 00;40;26;04
Anika

Yeah.

00;40;26;08 – 00;40;31;14
Dai Manuel

And we’ve been able to sustain what we did and started scaling again. So it’s yeah, it’s fun. It’s fun.

00;40;31;28 – 00;40;34;24
Anika

Fantastic. So what’s next.

00;40;36;26 – 00;40;59;08
Dai Manuel

Well, I just finished a beta round on a program I’ve been developing for the last couple of years based on my own mental health challenges I’ve lived through and working I continue to work through full disclosure. You know, I still deal with a bit of depression and share a bit of anxiety from time to time. And but I’ve learned to manage it and most of the symptoms don’t manifest, but sometimes they do, you know.

00;40;59;08 – 00;41;17;28
Dai Manuel

And so there are certain rituals and rituals that I maintain and honor, and it keeps me in a really good place where I feel like I continue to thrive thanks to that protocol. Super simple design. But when I started talking about it to people, they started saying Geez, this sounds like something I could do. And I’m like, maybe.

00;41;17;29 – 00;41;40;21
Dai Manuel

I mean, possibly you could try it. And the more people I was having these conversations with that I realized, OK, well, maybe, maybe there’s something to this, maybe I’ll try this with some people. And so I just finished up a beta group testing this Merge 60 program. The results were phenomenal, and that’s sort of the next phase. I think we’re going to really bring that out in a big way.

00;41;41;00 – 00;42;08;09
Dai Manuel

Wow. I’ll just say that I think there’ll be more on that soon as we lean into developing a full campaign and getting it out to the people so they can try it and that. But it’s a full lifestyle program, but it’s founded on mental health first. So, everything’s prioritized around mental health first. And if you get that in a great place, everything else, it actually does feel easy and I hate saying it but it sounds like I’m, I’m actually the fittest.

00;42;08;15 – 00;42;32;24
Dai Manuel

So last year, six months, last June, I said, you know, as I was approaching my 45th birthday, I was like, is it possible for me to celebrate my fourth or fifth birthday and end this year as the healthiest, fittest version I’ve ever been? That was a question that I posed myself. And I don’t know. I mean, there’s been certain goals I’ve wanted to achieve physically, you know, from a fitness standpoint and performance standpoint.

00;42;33;08 – 00;42;52;09
Dai Manuel

It’s like, well, could I do that? And so I just started to reverse engineer from there. And yeah, I did, and I’ve maintained it now for about a year with relative ease, and I’m like, there’s something to the protocols. Yeah, you know, and we can have a separate follow up conversation later, but I’m excited to share that and get more info.

00;42;52;09 – 00;42;58;11
Dai Manuel

And there’s lots of stuff on my website that talks about there’s lots of articles and free content; people go to town, enjoy.

00;42;58;26 – 00;43;00;29
Anika

It’s what is your website? Yeah.

00;43;01;12 – 00;43;15;26
Dai Manuel

Diamanuel.com, you just go to my name dot com and in about actually, probably about the time that you released this, the new website should be live, so a lot easier to navigate and lots of cool new features being added but the developers of it right now so awesome.

00;43;16;12 – 00;43;26;15
Anika

Yeah. So people can go there and get a little teaser of your new program, your book, watch your TEDTalk like just learn all about the world of Dai.

00;43;27;05 – 00;43;33;13
Dai Manuel

Oh, I like to think about it more as maybe I’ll just shift your perspectives on what the world of your life might look like.

00;43;33;14 – 00;43;33;27
Anika

Oh. Nice!

00;43;34;09 – 00;43;38;10
Dai Manuel

You know, that’s my invitation. Is this I’m just here to hold the door open.

00;43;38;19 – 00;43;38;29
Anika

Yeah.

00;43;39;14 – 00;43;59;20
Dai Manuel

And I invite people to take a walk through it all, take a look on the other side, see what you see and let me know what you think. What do you think? You know, and, and, and I love that opportunity, you know, and to be fair and because that’s what you’re doing with your podcast or you create this amazing platform for people to come and have authentic, transparent but connected conversations.

00;43;59;21 – 00;44;20;08
Dai Manuel

And you provide this place for us all to be just a fly on the wall and absorb, you know, and I just to say thank you, thank you for helping us that we need more of this more. And I just really appreciate you doing that because I know it takes a lot of energy, a lot of time, a lot of a lot of love to produce this kind of a platform.

00;44;20;08 – 00;44;21;27
Dai Manuel

And so I just wanted to commend you, and thank you for the opportunity.

00;44;22;12 – 00;44;44;25
Anika

Absolutely. As I was saying at the beginning, it just I love being able to meet people I would not have otherwise met from all over the world and have these really authentic, amazing conversations and get to the core of who people are and why we are right and why we’re here. Because I feel like we all do have a bigger purpose.

00;44;44;25 – 00;45;01;15
Anika

And so the more information we can share about our stories and our purpose, it will help people who are listening. And, you know, somebody might get something from you talking about entrepreneurship. Somebody else could get something from talking about health. You just never know what’s going to hit and what somebody needs to hear at that moment in time.

00;45;02;03 – 00;45;15;27
Anika

So now we could go off on my dad was a philosopher and was a teacher, so we could go off on a lot of tangents but we’ll close it out here. Is there any anything else you’d like to leave with our audience today?

00;45;16;10 – 00;45;36;05
Dai Manuel

You know, other than just keep smiling and just keep smiling? I know that life has a tendency to knock us down sometimes, and I’m not going to be so cliche to say just keep getting back up. But rather, you know, if you get into fitness burpees are perfect, like it is amazing you for a life, think about it.

00;45;36;09 – 00;45;46;29
Dai Manuel

It’s one movement from the ground up. And if you want to get knocked down, what better way to get off the floor? With a burpee. So if you’ve ever had it, how life is like a burpee now, you know.

00;45;47;13 – 00;45;47;25
Anika

Wow.

00;45;48;10 – 00;45;49;09
Dai Manuel

That’s what I’ll leave you with.

00;45;49;15 – 00;46;07;25
Anika

OK, life is like a burpee, I love it. Well, thank you so much Dai. I appreciate your time today and thank you to our audience for coming back for another episode of You Brand Amplified. And I’ll see you again next week. Want more? Check out AmplifywithAnnika.com or follow me on socials @AmplifywithAnnika.

Daniel Alfon – Your Brand Amplified Transcript

00;00;01;05 – 00;00;32;12
Anika

Welcome to Your Brand Amplified the podcast where we interview marketers, publicists and brands to learn their stories, what makes them tick, and tips and tricks that make a difference. Welcome back to Your Brand Amplified. I’m very excited to be here with Daniel Alfon today. We have this has been a long time coming, I will say. We’ve been trying to coordinate because we are on other sides of the globe, but that’s one of the beauties of podcasting is you get to meet so many interesting people and hear their story.

00;00;32;13 – 00;00;34;17
Anika

So, Daniel, thank you so much for being here today.

00;00;35;04 – 00;00;39;24
Daniel Alfon

Well, thank you very much. And again, I’m very glad to be part of Your Brand Amplified.

00;00;40;06 – 00;01;06;24
Anika

Yay! So, we are going to talk today about LinkedIn Profiles for business success, which I think is a very- it’s a topic a lot of people haven’t really realized how important this really is. When I look at all of the different social media platforms today, for me, LinkedIn is far more important than the other ones out there, whether it’s that I’m working on a new business project or are looking for a job or whatever the case may be.

00;01;07;02 – 00;01;22;03
Anika

So I’d love for you before we get into the topic. So let the audience know a little bit more about you and your background and why you transitioned to making this really your area of excellence in business.

00;01;23;10 – 00;01;51;22
Daniel Alfon

With pleasure. It’s a great question. When I was I started with LinkedIn early in 2004 and I was looking for a playbook and I couldn’t find anything really, and I needed to create my own. I made a ton of mistakes and at one point I carried a quarter in a sales position and LinkedIn helped me cut my sales cycle significantly and that’s the moment I decided I needed to dive and see what’s under the hood.

00;01;52;06 – 00;01;58;20
Daniel Alfon

And I’m very happy, especially since you hit record. 100 people have drawn to LinkedIn each second to people sign up.

00;01;58;27 – 00;01;59;11
Anika

Wow.

00;01;59;24 – 00;02;00;13
Daniel Alfon

It’s grown.

00;02;01;27 – 00;02;10;06
Anika

Wonderful. So how did you take- so you were in sales before and you were seeing it as kind of a lead generation tool?

00;02;12;06 – 00;02;33;14
Daniel Alfon

Yeah, it has changed and it’s evolved. Let’s start from the beginning. Earlier this year, when they Googled their own name, when our prospects Googled our name, then our lengthy profiles will top the list for most people. Most entrepreneurs and most SMBs, even people who had, you know, TED Talks, a published authors, LinkedIn will still top the list.

00;02;34;05 – 00;02;50;13
Daniel Alfon

So the first takeaway is that as an entrepreneur and as a business owner, you need to manage this. You can’t just let it- and you can’t stick with the LinkedIn defaults. You have to be aware of the fact that anyone Google you land on that site and it’s yours, too- It’s yours to leverage.

00;02;52;05 – 00;03;02;21
Anika

Yeah. So it’s a very powerful marketing tool. We all have free access to it and don’t even realize what it can do for us or how it could hurt us.

00;03;03;24 – 00;03;13;19
Daniel Alfon

Absolutely. We need to be- we need to amplify our LinkedIn presence, needs to amplify our brand, Like needs to be aligned and-

00;03;13;19 – 00;03;14;12
Anika

I see what you did there.

00;03;17;07 – 00;03;28;21
Daniel Alfon

The truth is, the best policy, you know, is if your brand is misaligned with what people see about you, on your website or on LinkedIn, then we have a problem.

00;03;28;21 – 00;03;29;14
Anika

Mm hmm.

00;03;29;14 – 00;03;44;13
Daniel Alfon

And contrary to other people, to other issues, like a website and you know, SEO, search and optimization, LinkedIn is something you can fix and update now. And in 5 minutes time, the whole world will see what’s what decision you’ve made.

00;03;44;13 – 00;03;48;08
Daniel Alfon

So there is no excuse. It’s yours to own.

00;03;48;27 – 00;03;53;25
Anika

What are some of the most common mistakes that you see with people’s LinkedIn profiles?

00;03;54;27 – 00;04;32;23
Daniel Alfon

That could be a whole series. But very quickly, perhaps not realizing the way their own profile looks from the outside for their prospects. So maybe I could suggest a simple three question framework. Like, who’s our ideal prospect? So if we run a business or ideal prospect could be San Diego or writers or Los Angeles bloggers or anything that caters to up to our brands and the second question is what action would you like those people to perform?

00;04;32;23 – 00;04;37;12
Daniel Alfon

Any Q&A visit your own profile. Mm hmm. What would you like them to do?

00;04;39;14 – 00;04;47;03
Daniel Alfon

If if I’m interested in a PR plus company and I bump into your profile, I’ve never heard your name before. What actually would you like me to perform?

00;04;47;10 – 00;05;18;23
Anika

Yeah. Well, and that’s a good question. So I think I know if I’m looking at my own LinkedIn and the imbalance that I’m getting, I’m getting a lot of people who want to connect with me, who want to sell me services because they see my title, VP of Marketing. Right. But I’m on there- I don’t want to take 20 calls in one week with different lead generation companies to be quite blunt, or 20 calls for a company that’s going to show me how to use video the best for my clients because we have a lot of those resources internally already.

00;05;19;12 – 00;05;29;07
Anika

So how do I reach people who need the PR marketing SEO website services better with my profile?

00;05;30;10 – 00;06;09;07
Daniel Alfon

Excellent. So let’s say thi. Imagine the funnel, a usual traditional funnel and you translate it into LinkedIn. So the top of the funnel would be people finding you either through word of mouth or through search or from direct actions you performed on LinkedIn. Marketers often disregard the LinkedIn SEO aspect. So because you know so much about your specialty, the terms you’re likely to use are probably more niche terms and more professional terms than your clients.

00;06;09;23 – 00;06;30;03
Daniel Alfon

So what sort of I would ask what sort of if you could interview a prospect and ask them if you had to Google this, what terms would you use? And then you need to make sure that the key terms you’re hearing from your prospects are represented somewhere on your profile. And I’m sure a lot of them are.

00;06;30;22 – 00;06;57;10
Daniel Alfon

But if you aim for, say, 50 keywords, then most marketers will find ten, 20, 30. But there is always room to improve this and that will bring more people to the top of the funnel. And then when they visit your own profile, the visual element that they see is the banner. You mentioned the fact that it’s a free resource for us to use the banner you uploaded.

00;06;57;12 – 00;07;23;27
Daniel Alfon

You don’t need to pay anyone to do this. You just have to use your imagination and be creative about it. And you have a beautiful banner. It has the best. It has wide thinking, deep expertise. It’s very colorful. And by uploading a banner you encourage people to stay longer on your profile and try to dig deeper and understand what is it exactly that another Jackson does and what is could that be relevant for me?

00;07;26;03 – 00;07;55;08
Daniel Alfon

Second stage would be to look at the headline. The headline is the most important real estate we have on our profiles, and by default it would be just our title and our current position. Oh, that you have turned your year around and you improve it instead of just saying vehicle marketing best and elevate strategic communication professional focused on helping brands and co preneurs empower, celebrate and strategically amplify impact in the world.

00;07;56;18 – 00;08;15;14
Daniel Alfon

That’s more customer focused than VP marketing XYZ. We are not important, and our customers don’t care about us, right? They only care about the ways we could improve their businesses. Or their lives.

00;08;18;09 – 00;08;18;20
Anika

Mm hmm.

00;08;18;28 – 00;08;52;19
Anika

OK, so that’s a lot to think about. And then even thinking if my headline is my goal and something that that’s what I like to do but doesn’t speak enough to what my company does. You know, again, going back to what you said about using those keywords and then when you’re working with somebody is beyond going through their profile and helping them retool and recalibrate it, then you also work with them on what kind of posts and content they should be creating, sharing all of that.

00;08;53;16 – 00;09;23;28
Daniel Alfon

Absolutely. There is a fourth tier of strategy starting from your presence, your profile optimization and then your connection strategy, your content strategy. And lastly, the lead generation strategy. So that’s generally the best order because anything any actually perform on LinkedIn will show people your profile. So your profile had a better be optimized before you accept connections or before you send invitations or before you share anything.

00;09;24;26 – 00;09;38;27
Daniel Alfon

And I’m blessed with helping people that I could. Like you said, people who are working in all sorts of places that virtually we could connect and help them and see results.

00;09;38;27 – 00;10;09;17
Anika

Yeah. Wonderful. So I think a few important key takeaways. There are one used a real estate that LinkedIn gives you for free, so use that banner. I think even the image that you have, right, your headshot because I’ve, I’ve seen people I won’t name any names but who have pictures that I’m like, that is not LinkedIn appropriate. Maybe it’s a picture of them on the beach you know, in a swimsuit or something because they want to show the world that they’re-

00;10;09;25 – 00;10;33;13
Anika

They’re not working, looking for a corporate job. Maybe they’re doing some other business. But if I were looking at their profile and knew, OK, but this person now is in doing real estate development as their second career after retirement is that the- do I want to work with that person who has that picture or do you know? So I think it’s really important to think about how you’re showing up.

00;10;33;13 – 00;10;57;18
Anika

And this is something I know we caution younger generations when they are on any social media. How are you showing up on social media? LinkedIn is social media. So we need to remember that every facet of that is important. So the cover image, your photo and then what you said about don’t just let LinkedIn automatically put your latest job title, your school, whatever it is as your headline.

00;10;57;24 – 00;11;07;14
Anika

Make sure that you’re really tailoring it to the impact or what you can bring to the table for the brands that you’re looking to work with.

00;11;08;09 – 00;11;44;00
Daniel Alfon

That’s absolutely important. And LinkedIn is the probably the most traditional and business oriented platform there is. And if we need to think about the ways to amplify brands. So let’s ask three simple questions. What are you happy with posting that we’re using that photo and maybe the professional you looked at was really happy about that swimsuit one. But the second question should be, OK, is my network, when they see this, when they go and see what was he thinking what will they say?

00;11;44;00 – 00;12;14;16
Daniel Alfon

Yes, that’s the person I worked with. That’s really their style. And the third question is your ideal prospect when they see that, are they going to say, hey, this is not the kind of person I want to start exploring a business relationship with? And if any of those question, if your answer is no, then you need to change and be and be more conservative have been what you do on Twitter.

00;12;14;26 – 00;12;15;03
Daniel Alfon

Yeah.

00;12;16;25 – 00;12;36;27
Anika

Yeah. Taylor So Taylor, for different platforms, same thing we say. And when we’re doing overall social media strategy for a client, like everything, every platform is slightly nuanced, slightly different part of your audience you’re going to reach. And journalists, too. If somebody is looking and wants to get more exposure in the media, journalists are going to go to LinkedIn.

00;12;36;27 – 00;12;37;14
Anika

Certainly.

00;12;38;26 – 00;13;08;01
Daniel Alfon

Yeah, you’re right. I was listening to an episode you released with Lisa Stephenson. Stephenson. And you mentioned Herro and other tools that junior PR people could, could, could use to to gain more, more business or more leads and I remember you wanted when you were in high school, you wanted to become a writer.

00;13;08;01 – 00;13;08;09
Anika

Mm hmm.

00;13;09;03 – 00;13;18;14
Daniel Alfon

So are you using the LinkedIn platform to write articles that would be published on LinkedIn

00;13;18;14 – 00;13;49;28
Anika

Yeah. And I haven’t been. And it’s something that I wanted to do, but it’s all time, right? I think when you get to more senior leadership especially, you just don’t have as much time. If you’re working in the business and on the business and this and this and this and wearing many hats. So but I think that’s important and talking about how do you rather than just posting on your own LinkedIn page, how do you elevate what you write to be something that LinkedIn is sharing?

00;13;49;29 – 00;13;54;29
Anika

That LinkedIn is officially published by LinkedIn and what is, you know, what’s that difference?

00;13;55;29 – 00;14;24;26
Daniel Alfon

OK, so the first distinction Anika would make is between posts and what LinkedIn calls LinkedIn articles. LinkedIn articles are native, if you like, search in published an article there. And I would say that articles are best for Evergreen Educational content that is on brand and that would serve you in 2025. So it’s not urgent.

00;14;24;26 – 00;14;48;14
Daniel Alfon

It’s important you can take six months to week to think about the ways you’d like to, to have it and about the headline and the images and the, and the flow, whatever you’d like. And once you have it another additional benefit of sharing an article versus a post address people to your website or to some other external source is that LinkedIn doesn’t want people to go away from the platform.

00;14;49;26 – 00;15;11;23
Daniel Alfon

We mentioned you were you had two choices. One is to send them to AnikaPR.com to an article there and the second would be to send them to an article within the LinkedIn gated platform. So the algorithm is going to prefer the second option because they know that when they show it to more people, those people are not going to leave LinkedIn.

00;15;13;14 – 00;15;23;23
Daniel Alfon

So even one article could be a nice addition to a strategy and you can use it to show and strengthen your soft leadership.

00;15;24;17 – 00;15;50;25
Anika

Yeah, and that leadership is very important these days. It’s one of the biggest strategies we use for public relations. It’s, it’s not you know, it’s funny because I think the world of PR integrated marketing has shifted a lot. And so when people think traditional PR, they think, OK, you’re going to try to get me interviews. Maybe I’ll get a quote, an article maybe I’ll be the whole article will be about me, but about leadership.

00;15;51;02 – 00;16;18;11
Anika

Your point of view is published, you know, in somewhere else, like a LinkedIn or an Inc or Forbes or wherever it is. It adds so much more credibility these days. And it is a big tactic that we use. So I love that you’re giving this distinction between just making a post, doing an actual article on LinkedIn and you also said it’s important, not urgent.

00;16;18;11 – 00;16;42;21
Anika

And I think that’s an important distinction as well. When people are thinking about their overall content strategy, whether it’s on LinkedIn, or other platform, what is urgent versus important, what’s the best use case? And thank you also for sharing about the algorithm because I know I see a lot of things from people that I don’t know because somebody I know commented or because LinkedIn thinks that’s a topic that will be important to me.

00;16;43;09 – 00;17;00;04
Anika

And so in that case, right, it’s the algorithm saying, Oh, I think this, you’ll like this content, so let us share this with you. And so you can turn that around and think about what content you would want to share- publish on LinkedIn as native content. And then that pushes out to more people.

00;17;01;04 – 00;17;34;02
Daniel Alfon

Yes, you’re absolutely right. And educational content. If you go back to your ideal prospect and you ask yourself what questions are they struggling with and what would make them tick, perhaps producing content around that topic that is not salesy will make people discover your content and say they when they think about the way to grow their business, maybe the advanced PR strategies are not even in their awareness stage from their perspective.

00;17;34;02 – 00;18;00;19
Daniel Alfon

Maybe they think only about it. And so by showing them that there are pros and cons to paid ads and there is also another option, you can guide those who like that option to take one step with you from point A to point B, and at the very end you say there’s also point C I could teach you, OK, I could guide you and you start, but you lead by example.

00;18;00;19 – 00;18;09;28
Daniel Alfon

You know, you answer the questions and those are continue are could become long term relationship of yours and long term clients of yours.

00;18;10;28 – 00;18;25;28
Anika

So when you started making LinkedIn your job, for lack of a better term, right? Did you use all of these strategies to find your clients via LinkedIn?

00;18;26;23 – 00;18;27;16
Daniel Alfon

Hell no.

00;18;31;27 – 00;18;51;25
Daniel Alfon

Even today, most of my inbound inquiries are referrals, probably 90% and I found the referrals are the best clients that are, but I have. And in growing my business is not for me, it’s not necessarily earning more dollars. It’s deciding who I’d like to work with.

00;18;52;04 – 00;18;52;18
Anika

Nice.

00;18;52;22 – 00;19;17;00
Daniel Alfon

And I’m happy to work with people I enjoy working with. I enjoy having a conversation with and and referrals. You know, their shows tend to be less price sensitive. They come almost presold because someone who was worked with you has told them in they appreciate a person’s point of view and they tend to stay with you longer and eventually sending new referrals.

00;19;17;00 – 00;19;29;20
Daniel Alfon

Your wait. So referrals is a big marketing strategy for me. LinkedIn is just a tool. As much as I love the platform, referrals and relationship are more important than LinkedIn.

00;19;31;19 – 00;19;54;14
Anika

Yeah, I would agree with you there. I’ve had a lot of business through referrals, but then when I think depending on my business you’re in and then you get to a certain point you go, OK, but how do I expand beyond? And that’s where LinkedIn comes into play as an important strategy, as an important tool. So what is like a big one of the biggest aha moments that you had a client had working with you.

00;19;55;03 – 00;20;17;14
Daniel Alfon

There were many. Probably just one of the best kept secret in town is the way that the advanced search is run on LinkedIn. And in short, if you know who your ideal client is and if they are on LinkedIn, that then within minutes you can find them.

00;20;18;05 – 00;20;18;17
Anika

Wow.

00;20;19;01 – 00;20;42;00
Daniel Alfon

And then there’s a whole new game of whether you leverage if you have connect with people you know well, that means whenever you’re on a search and you share a mutual connection with that potential prospect, then Anika, you can actually leave link team and converse with that person and ask them whether they feel comfortable enough to make an introduction.

00;20;42;19 – 00;21;03;03
Daniel Alfon

And if they do, then you get your foot in the door thanks to their name. It’s not our name. It’s the person that makes the introduction. And when they make the introduction, we get at least the ability to teach or to use to serve other people thanks to that mutual connection. And you can also lead by content if you if you should produce-

00;21;03;03 – 00;21;27;13
Daniel Alfon

I don’t think our audience, your needs to produce content for LinkedIn. But what we could do is analyze the sort of content we have assessed, the content we have and make sure that the best content, the best educational content is well shared across the LinkedIn platform and that is much less time consuming than producing high quality content.

00;21;27;13 – 00;21;57;12
Daniel Alfon

But there on your website or on your social channels, you may have tons of pieces you can repurpose that are great. And maybe 10% of them were shared at one point only on LinkedIn. So take a look at the other 90% and decide that’s also something you can delegate. You would do it for you would once you teach someone and by the third time they would know exactly what to do because the content has already been approved and it’s, it’s a no brainer.

00;21;57;25 – 00;22;16;19
Anika

Yeah. Interesting. I like that. Gosh, what was the next thing I was going to ask you? Well, what continues to inspire and motivate you about doing this work and helping people, you know, really live who they are? And show up as who they really are and who they want to be on LinkedIn?

00;22;17;09 – 00;22;39;27
Daniel Alfon

Well, I think the one aha moment that I had was realizing that if you’re an introvert, there’s a way for you to be yourself on LinkedIn and you can grow your business and you don’t need to become someone else for the sake of the platform. And I’m using LinkedIn as an example, but it’s the right for any platform.

00;22;40;20 – 00;23;08;15
Daniel Alfon

There’s a way for you to be authentic and to gain business and to gain revenues and to gain new clients. And you don’t have to become someone else. And a lot of very talented people, very talented people think that they need to become someone else because what they see on LinkedIn is something else. And then a simple question would be to do what’s right and not what’s popular.

00;23;08;26 – 00;23;12;07
Anika

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Good phrase.

00;23;14;10 – 00;23;16;07
Anika

So what what do you see? Oh, sorry. Go ahead.

00;23;16;28 – 00;23;17;09
Daniel Alfon

Thank you.

00;23;18;07 – 00;23;25;13
Anika

Yeah. Oh, what do you see as what’s next for LinkedIn and then for yourself as well?

00;23;26;10 – 00;24;05;11
Daniel Alfon

Well, for LinkedIn, whenever I run a workshop, I see the just an hour before the workshop. I need to make sure that everything works as LinkedIn has a nasty habit of discontinuing services just when I have some cleanup up some- So I can’t really say what LinkedIn will become. And I think that looking ahead I’m very happy I fired for the lack of a better firm term, our clients were the fit was not- was less than ideal.

00;24;06;07 – 00;24;32;00
Daniel Alfon

And that helped me. I probably left a lot of money on the table, but I slept better and it was more than compensated by people I enjoyed working with who either extended their relationship with me or sent other referrals so deciding who you’d like to become and who’d like to work with this is the way I’d like to continue looking ahead.

00;24;32;08 – 00;25;02;28
Anika

Yeah. Now, that’s very important. I think that’s add so much to the quality of our lives, right? When you can do work that you really enjoy and that you know you can make a difference for somebody, but you also want to enjoy the person you’re working with and that relationship and what their success and seeing them happy and joyful because of the success that they’re finding by working with you and how you’ve been able to help, you know, change their strategy or change their, you know, it’s like change-

00;25;02;28 – 00;25;27;00
Anika

Making these tweaks isn’t changing their mindset, but it is it ends up changing how they have their outlook, and that’s very useful. Yeah. Yeah. So I know when we work with a client, if we’re starting a social media strategy or a PR strategy, we often tell them in the first month maybe even six weeks, we have to do a lot of onboarding where we find our competitors.

00;25;27;08 – 00;25;47;29
Anika

We’re seeing what materials do they have, do we need any content created you know, do we have to revise their bios, get new headshots, whatever it might be? And so while we I think, you know, we all want to go go go well, especially here in the States, we want immediate results. Right. And people don’t realize that things take time.

00;25;48;07 – 00;26;05;13
Anika

So when somebody starts working with you, is that kind of that same process of like you have to really assess the landscape, do a really in-depth analysis of what who they’re currently showing up with and if it matches what their goals are like. As you mentioned in the first four questions that you ask.

00;26;07;08 – 00;26;44;15
Daniel Alfon

Truth to be told, it is challenging for not only the states. And one way we could probably start working with those people is speaking. And he’s doing something that they are obsessed about or that they really care about. But as soon as we deliver that small project, we make a pause and we show them that in order to move to the next stage, there’s something to be done and they need to appreciate what you’ve done before, that they’re open to listen to what is what you can show them.

00;26;45;05 – 00;27;13;00
Daniel Alfon

And then if they’re, if they are interested in taking their business to the next level, they would you have a buy in and they would commit the time. It’s often it’s, it’s a question of priorities, one that once you show them the advantage of what it is you suggested there, they become a lot more willing to listen to you and to implement your suggestions.

00;27;14;11 – 00;27;23;04
Anika

Nice. Well, what else would you like to share with our audience today about you about the process?

00;27;25;10 – 00;28;17;19
Daniel Alfon

I really enjoy working with different people and each entrepreneur in each SMB is unique, and I’m open to help or to guide or do all sorts of free materials on my website that are showing my perspectives on LinkedIn and marketing and networking. If I had a quick topic we mentioned but we haven’t really explored is networking and networking is probably the single most important element that we need to become better at as professionals, whether we are publicists or writers or professional athletes.

00;28;17;28 – 00;28;48;09
Daniel Alfon

It doesn’t matter. It’s what will help us pivot in 2027 and I have no idea what LinkedIn will becoming 2027 and maybe we’ll have a chat about some platform that is being learned in the San Francisco Bay right now. I don’t know. But if we manage to keep in touch with people we, we met without asking for their help all the time, then we’re able to reach out to them like an insurance policy issue.

00;28;48;10 – 00;28;53;04
Daniel Alfon

Like if you only remember people when you need them, then we have a problem.

00;28;54;12 – 00;28;58;16
Anika

So nurturing the relationships that you build is important.

00;28;59;06 – 00;29;21;20
Daniel Alfon

Yes, it’s a lot easier because it’s just like acquiring a new client will take a lot more effort than nurturing an existing client. Nurturing an existing relationship is a lot easier and a lot less time consuming than, you know, going cold on someone and persuading them that you’re the solution for problem they don’t even understand they have.

00;29;23;11 – 00;29;35;02
Anika

This is very true. The low hanging fruit, right? Yeah, I love that. Do you have a favorite quote or some words that you live by.

00;29;36;29 – 00;29;43;02
Daniel Alfon

A code when diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have it your way?

00;29;43;26 – 00;29;45;13
Anika

Oh, I like that.

00;29;46;15 – 00;29;55;19
Daniel Alfon

OK, attributed to Daniel Valley and Italian diplomats. And it’s founded on “Getting Past No” by William Ury.

00;29;56;04 – 00;30;08;29
Anika

I love that. I love that. I’m going to have to remember that. It’s another one, t’s another keeper. I have a collection of ones that people have told me that I’m going to need to write them all down and just put them up on my wall. Right.

00;30;10;23 – 00;30;17;19
Daniel Alfon

What quote would you like to share? What is the quote you live by or quote you like?

00;30;18;01 – 00;30;22;06
Anika

Oh, be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

00;30;25;16 – 00;30;27;10
Daniel Alfon

It’s very powerful. Both house.

00;30;29;13 – 00;30;53;06
Anika

Yeah. I think we have to treat ourselves with kindness and we have to treat others with kindness. Right. And sometimes we don’t want to do either, but both are necessary and important, so. Well, Daniel, I know it’s late for you. I’m still getting my day started, but I really appreciate this time together, and I’m going to make sure people come to your website.

00;30;53;23 – 00;30;59;19
Anika

Danielalfon.com. Are there other social- are you the same on other social media platforms?

00;31;01;02 – 00;31;10;03
Daniel Alfon

Yes. So my website has links to the Amazon book and Twitter and my website is probably the place that is most up to date promise.

00;31;10;07 – 00;31;12;14
Anika

OK, well and give a quick little plug for your book.

00;31;13;22 – 00;31;39;10
Daniel Alfon

So the book the truth is when I wanted to buy a book and when I bought the book, I saw an ad saying, are you an author? Click here. And then I said, OK, so if that simple and if I put my mind to it in three weeks, I can, I can write a book wow. And lo and behold, two years later, I had what.

00;31;40;00 – 00;31;43;28
Anika

I was going to say. Well, three weeks. Oh, my gosh. You’re really. Yeah.

00;31;45;26 – 00;32;15;16
Daniel Alfon

I was over overconfident. The draft was there within three weeks, but the editing and everything else took a lot more time. And it was an interesting experience from my perspective, trying to have- to write it in a way that would be easy to read and easy to, to implement. And obviously things have changed since the book was published, but it was an experience I really enjoyed.

00;32;15;26 – 00;32;37;15
Anika

Yeah. Wonderful. Yeah, absolutely. I can’t wait to check it out myself. And again, thank you so much for being with us. You definitely gave some great tips that people can implement right now. I will also encourage everyone listening to go to Danielalfon.com. I will put that in the show notes so that you can get more tips and tricks for your LinkedIn strategy.

00;32;37;26 – 00;32;57;14
Anika

Might I add, these are also good tips and tricks to think about for your other social media strategies. As well. But I think LinkedIn is a wonderful place to start, especially with today’s job market and the confluence of so many different types of social media I feel like LinkedIn still cuts through the clutter and gets us to the people we want to meet.

00;32;57;27 – 00;33;17;04
Anika

So I was really excited to have this conversation and I will be back again next week with more tips and tricks on marketing and PR and other things that entrepreneurs and small businesses need to know. Thank you. Want more? Check out AmplifywithAnika.com or follow me on socials @AmplifywithAnika.

Dave Combs – Your Brand Amplified Transcript

00;00;01;05 – 00;00;27;29
Anika

Welcome to Your Brand Amplified the podcast where we interview marketers, publicists and brands to learn their stories, what makes them tick, and tips and tricks that make a difference. Welcome back to your brand Amplified. We’re taking a little departure from our last few episodes, which really focused a lot on business consulting, quantum leaps, but it kind of also fits with that.

00;00;27;29 – 00;00;50;16
Anika

It’s a great end cap I think, to this series of podcasts. It’s so interesting how that happens because my guest today is Dave Combs. He is a prolific songwriter who has built a business with virtually no advertising and done so much to move people with his music and also has a bestselling book! Dave, welcome to the show.

00;00;51;02 – 00;00;57;11
Dave Combs

Thank you, Anika. It’s a pleasure to be here on this beautiful spring day in North Carolina. And I’m sure you’re in, what, California?

00;00;57;17 – 00;00;59;04
Anika

I’m in California, yes.

00;00;59;13 – 00;01;01;24
Dave Combs

Well, we’ve got we’ve got the whole country covered then.

00;01;01;24 – 00;01;21;19
Anika

Exactly we do. I was really excited to interview you. I poked around a lot at some of your stuff, and I really want to hear how you got your start because I know you didn’t- you were doing some other stuff before you got to music. I don’t want to give too much away because I want you to tell our audience.

00;01;22;27 – 00;01;36;04
Dave Combs

Well, I’m like a lot of I’ve listened to some of your other episodes and I could identify with a lot of them, especially those entrepreneurs who are I think one of the gentlemen. Harris, I believe, is his last name, called it a multi entrepreneur.

00;01;36;04 – 00;01;37;15
Anika

Yes.

00;01;37;15 – 00;01;44;01
Dave Combs

And it’s really that kind of described to me. I thought, well, he and I could probably just bounce off of each other all day long.

00;01;45;01 – 00;02;06;09
Dave Combs

But but, you know, I have all my life, I have had tons of interests. I just am an inquisitive kid. You know, I’m the kid that when he got a toy, when nobody was looking, I took it apart together just to see how it worked. Wow. So it’s one of those things. So I grew up in in East Tennessee, up in the mountains of East Tennessee.

00;02;06;20 – 00;02;32;01
Dave Combs

I guess you could call me a Tennessee hillbilly, but I grew up in a family. My mother and father were both musical. They both played the piano. My father played by ear my mother was a former schoolteacher, but my father and my mother grew up on farms. So, you know, a farmer, I guess, is the ultimate entrepreneur. I mean, you are you are in business for yourself.

00;02;32;10 – 00;02;55;01
Dave Combs

You’re at the mercy of the weather and everything else around. And it’s a tough job to make a living as a small farmer or maybe even as a large farmer. But they came from that. Those were their roots. And I think when you come from long lines of families of a different of a particular kind of occupation, whether it’s farmers or businesspeople, whatever it is, it’s kind of in your blood.

00;02;55;02 – 00;03;24;07
Dave Combs

You know, you kind of expect yourself to have those same kind of ideas of independence and making, not depending on anybody else necessarily for everything that you have, but doing things, you know, creating things. If you’re a out, you’re selling things to people or whatever it is you do as an entrepreneur. So I grew up around that, and I suppose that even when I was 12 years old in the sixth grade, I planted a half acre of potatoes.

00;03;24;10 – 00;03;24;29
Anika

Oh, my gosh.

00;03;25;17 – 00;03;45;10
Dave Combs

And babied those suckers all summer long and dug them up myself and sold them by the bushel to my elementary school. I fed all my fellow students at my elementary school potatoes that sold for $5 a book. I think it was $5 a bushel that I sold them for. Which to that that’s a great deal.

00;03;45;18 – 00;03;46;21
Anika

But yeah, but.

00;03;46;21 – 00;03;51;00
Dave Combs

Anyway, that was that was kind of the beginnings of an entrepreneurial attitude.

00;03;51;06 – 00;03;51;17
Anika

Yeah.

00;03;51;26 – 00;03;53;02
Dave Combs

And concept for me.

00;03;53;10 – 00;04;05;25
Anika

Well, I want to say, you know, I grew up I actually grew up in Kansas, and my stepdad grew up on a farm and told me a lot of stories about, you know, you have to get up and you have to those cows aren’t going to milk themselves in the morning.

00;04;06;20 – 00;04;08;05
Dave Combs

I’ve heard that before. Yes.

00;04;09;14 – 00;04;30;25
Anika

It doesn’t matter, you know, what the weather’s like you or what else you think you want to do. You have responsibilities. You have to like you said, that is true entrepreneurship. You have to get up. You have to take care of everything before you go on to school or whatever else you have going on. When you get back at the end of the day, if you’re a school kid, same thing it waits for you. It doesn’t stop.

00;04;31;11 – 00;05;01;26
Dave Combs

That’s right. It’s I think that’s really good ground thing or a great life and really a foundation for your character and who you are. And I have the highest respect for people who are farmers and entrepreneurs that do things on their own initiative. And but anyway, I did not I didn’t become a farmer or anything, but I did go on to college and I took math as my major physics as my minor.

00;05;01;26 – 00;05;22;27
Dave Combs

And I worked in the computer center all four years. So I’m a very technical oriented person. I got my first job, my first my first and only really job with Western Electric which you may know of that company, it was the former- is part of the Bell System. It was the manufacturing arm of the Bell System, and it became later AT&T.

00;05;23;11 – 00;05;41;13
Dave Combs

But I worked for that company for 22 and a half years, starting out as a computer programmer, but then progressing through a lot of different jobs. And all of them, though, had to do with technology. So I was- everything I did was around technology. Now I love technology and I guess it’s come from what I said when I was a kid.

00;05;41;14 – 00;05;46;19
Dave Combs

I always wanted to know how did something work. I didn’t want to just play with it. I wanna know how does this thing work?

00;05;47;03 – 00;05;48;13
Anika

And you’re also musical.

00;05;49;00 – 00;06;13;06
Dave Combs

Yeah. You know, and with my parents both playing musical instruments, my father played by ear. He didn’t he didn’t read music very well, but my mother did. And my grandmother Combs, my father’s mother, she was only four foot eight, born in 1894. And she was hard working on a tobacco farm in southwestern Virginia, but she loved music.

00;06;13;09 – 00;06;28;21
Dave Combs

And a lot of my relatives back then, I learned, were really musical. They would, could play the guitar or piano or they loved to sing. But I have with me right here, this is my grandma Combs’ instrument that she gave to me when she passed away.

00;06;28;21 – 00;06;29;13
Anika

Wow.

00;06;29;13 – 00;06;43;23
Dave Combs

In the case where this was, there’s a note right over here in the case, it says, “this harp belongs to my grandson, David Combs”, because every time I went to see Granny Combs, first thing I had to do, she- she’d call me David.

00;06;44;03 – 00;07;36;19
Dave Combs

“Would you tune up my autoharp?” And I would sit down and I would tune it up by ear and get it so relatively it was all good. And then when I got it really sound and good she had sit down and she would turn loose on that autoharp and sing hymns or she- I can still hear her singing Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound. You know, she could just just go on and on. And I loved that. And those memories will be I hope I remember those forever. Hmm. So music was a huge, huge part of my upbringing. And it’s probably not too surprising that eventually when I was finally 33 years old, I wrote my first song. Now you may ask, why did it take you 33 years to write a song?

00;07;37;01 – 00;08;01;06
Dave Combs

Well, Anika, there’s one principle that I have learned that I have tried to abide by now is what you tell a young person as an adult whether you’re a teacher, a parent, a friend, when you are talking to an impressionable teenager, young person, what you say may mean more to them than you ever know. And you’ve heard the stories about people being told they could never do something.

00;08;01;06 – 00;08;05;29
Dave Combs

Yeah. And it took them 50 years to find out that they could do something could do it.

00;08;06;04 – 00;08;08;09
Anika

And that’s what they wish they’d been doing that, 50 years.

00;08;08;25 – 00;08;28;03
Dave Combs

So but nobody had ever told me, Dave, you can write a song. You can write music at all. I love music. I love playing everybody else’s music. I was a choir director in my home church for two years while I was in college. And, you know, I love music, but it never occurred to me. Well, Dave, why don’t you write some of your own?

00;08;28;03 – 00;08;42;06
Dave Combs

You’ve got your own choir here. They could sing it with no problem, but so nobody had ever told me that but in 1981 I was 33 years old. I sat down at my piano like the one back here.

00;08;42;06 – 00;08;42;28
Anika

Yeah.

00;08;42;28 – 00;08;48;22
Dave Combs

And I just started playing. Now, this was a normal for me to play music when I got home from work.

00;08;48;28 – 00;09;01;23
Dave Combs

That’s how I relax. Now, a lot of people have a routine. They have their chill out routines, whether it’s to get on a treadmill and exercise or go for a walk or whatever you do. Mine was to sit at the piano and make some music.

00;09;01;23 – 00;09;02;18
Anika

Wow.

00;09;02;18 – 00;09;11;22
Dave Combs

And so this particular evening, I sit down at my piano and I start playing a song in the key of C, and it just sounds really pretty.

00;09;11;22 – 00;09;31;27
Dave Combs

And I’m playing this song and I get all the way through it, and I didn’t think anything about it, but it was a song I had never heard before, and I just played it. Now, I cannot explain this any other way than it was an inspiration. It was a song. I was the one chosen to play it for the first time.

00;09;32;09 – 00;09;33;11
Dave Combs

That’s the way I look at it.

00;09;33;11 – 00;09;34;09
Anika

That’s really beautiful.

00;09;34;20 – 00;09;49;20
Dave Combs

And my wife came home from work a couple of days later and she says, Dave, I’ve been having this song stuck in my head all day long. I’ve been humming it. What is the name of this song? And she hummed a little bit of it and I said, Well, Linda, it doesn’t have a name. And she goes, What?

00;09;49;29 – 00;10;07;28
Dave Combs

You play it all the time on the piano? Well, it’s just something I made up. And she says, Wow, well, have you written it down? I said, Well, no, I’ve got it up here. I’m not going to forget it. And she says, No, now something might happen to you, and that song would be gone forever, so you better write it down.

00;10;08;07 – 00;10;28;11
Dave Combs

So, yes, ma’am, I did. I wrote I wrote down the melody lines and the chords to go along with it all on a piece of manuscript and stuck it in my piano bench. Well, that was in that 1981 about January timeframe. 1983, some good friends of ours had a little baby girl and her name is Rachel.

00;10;29;07 – 00;10;54;22
Dave Combs

And so we, we were asked by her parents to be her godparents. Well, at Little Rachel’s christening service, Linda and I are sitting there and you know, at this point I’m sure you’ve been to christening services they’re all so touching and special and just precious. And so we’re sitting there and at the end of the formal service I touched Linda and there was a piano at the front of the church up on the platform, a beautiful baby grand piano.

00;10;55;24 – 00;11;13;06
Dave Combs

And so I said, Linda, what about me playing this song that we could never come up with a name for how about me playing it now as part of the service? She says, Well, that’s a great idea. So I went up to Rachel’s parents and the minister and said, Would it be okay If I played a song on the piano now?

00;11;13;26 – 00;11;34;24
Dave Combs

OK, that’d be fine. Everybody sits back down. I go over to the piano and I sit down and I start playing this this tune, and I get all most of the way through it, and I hear the sniffles in the crowd and I’m realizing I’ve got a little some teardrops coming down my cheeks, too, because, you know, first of all, it’s really a special service anyway.

00;11;34;24 – 00;11;54;03
Dave Combs

And then you top, top it off with some really touching music that just turns on the tear ducts. So anyway, at the end of the song, I look up over at little Rachel in the arms of her mother. And I said, From now on, this song will be called Rachel’s Song in her honor. And that’s how it got its name.

00;11;54;21 – 00;12;09;10
Dave Combs

So that for me, was kind of a really turning point for something that I created, really got out of me and into blessing someone else’s life. Yeah. And so that was how the song “Rachel’s Song” got its name.

00;12;10;20 – 00;12;16;28
Anika

And you’re still working in your day job at this point?

00;12;18;00 – 00;12;18;19
Dave Combs

Yes.

00;12;18;26 – 00;12;32;06
Anika

And you’re also writing now this is your first song, and this inspired you to write more songs but tell the story because not everybody in our audience will know the whole story of Rachel.

00;12;33;00 – 00;12;55;10
Dave Combs

All right. Well, you know, so I got it written and got it named. So then what’s next? Yeah, well, you roll the calendar forward about three years to 1986. And at this point in my career I was having to travel around the United States to all the AT&T Western Electric factories to help them implement some new software to run their factories.

00;12;55;16 – 00;13;06;10
Dave Combs

That was my specialty. And so I was there, I guess internal consultant to the factories. One of the factories that I had to go to visit and work at was in Nashville, Tennessee.

00;13;06;10 – 00;13;06;27
Anika

Hmm.

00;13;06;27 – 00;13;21;13
Dave Combs

I think it was devine, ordaned- man upstairs that I should be in Nashville, Tennessee, because Linda says, Wow, you’re in Nashville, why don’t you get a demo recording professionally made by these musicians in Nashville?

00;13;21;28 – 00;13;54;16
Dave Combs

I said, Well, I hadn’t thought about that. That’s a great idea. So I said, OK, but one evening after work, I get my rental car and I go driving around downtown Nashville hoping to find a studio to that would record Rachel’s song for me. And I go over there and a part of town. If you’ve been to Nashville, it’s all it earns its reputation as Music City USA because there are literally hundreds of studios and everything musical I was at over in the part of town called Music Square, and it’s about two square blocks of everything musical.

00;13;54;16 – 00;14;17;28
Dave Combs

It’s the Country Music Hall of Fame and BMI headquarters, Ascap’s headquarters, and the RCA studio that you can tour and wonderful everything musical. I go down this one little side street is called Roy Acuff Place. Now some of your audience will remember Roy Acuff was a very famous, well-loved country music person in Nashville, Tennessee. They named a street after him.

00;14;18;15 – 00;14;32;27
Dave Combs

So I go down Roy Acuff place, and on the right there is this big building that has a barn roof to it. And out front is this big waterwheel like you find it an old mill, you know, these water and grain mills out in the country.

00;14;32;27 – 00;14;33;23
Anika

Wow.

00;14;33;23 – 00;14;37;15
Dave Combs

And on the side of the building, it says the music mill.

00;14;38;10 – 00;14;58;19
Dave Combs

And I thought, well, this is encouraging. So I pull in, I pull in the parking lot, parking, and I can see through the glass door, there’s a man sitting at a desk in the lobby. OK, I finally found somebody at home today. So I go knock on the door and George comes to the door… or this gentleman comes to the door and introduces himself as George Clinton.

00;14;59;06 – 00;15;20;27
Dave Combs

It’s a different George Clinton than everybody else knows. Right. But this George Clinton was a recording engineer in Nashville. Much loved, much beloved person. And I later found out. But George introduced himself and I told him what I was looking for. And he says, well, come on in, Dave. And as I stepped into the lobby, I look over to my left.

00;15;20;27 – 00;15;43;14
Dave Combs

And up on the wall is a life sized picture of Glen Campbell. And here’s a great big picture of the wonderful group called Alabama. Everybody loves the singing of Alabama. Yes. And here’s the Forester sisters and then there’s gold records and platinum records, you know, all around the walls of this place. So, you know, I’m thinking, wow.

00;15;43;23 – 00;15;45;12
Anika

You’re in very good company here.

00;15;45;20 – 00;16;06;06
Dave Combs

And they’re really good company here. And I had never been in a studio before in my life. So George, he says, well, let me give you a tour. There’s nobody recording right now, which is unusual, but at this time of night there was nobody here. And so he said, Let’s go into studio A. Studio A is there big studio.

00;16;06;28 – 00;16;27;23
Dave Combs

So I go in this big room and you could put an orchestra in this this big room. It was huge. And over in the corner was a great big nine foot grand, you know, concert, grand piano and rooms and isolation rooms around the side of the room. And he said, Let’s go into the control room where all the magic happens.

00;16;27;23 – 00;16;56;28
Dave Combs

He said, let me show you something. So he opens this big, thick door, soundproof door into this room about that thick and we go in there and first thing I see is this console, the control console for the thing. Yeah, it was about eight feet long. I don’t have any rows of suites. I think it had 32 channels on it, which is that’s a, it’s a lot it’s a big long console. Sliders and knobs and lights and switches and cables runnin on everywhere.

00;16;56;28 – 00;17;20;16
Dave Combs

And I thought, wow, this is incredible. And around the walls of the room where these digital tape recorders and the recording equipment, and in front of the console were the two big like a monitor speakers so that you can hear it really good sounding, you’re going to sound as good as anywhere. And I said, George, how much does a place like this cost?

00;17;20;20 – 00;17;43;19
Dave Combs

Hmm. He says, Well, remember, this is not 1986. He said, this is $125 an hour plus engineer. And I thought, oh boy, cost in today’s dollars, that’s probably over $400 an hour. I mean that’s that’s way on up there. Yeah. And I wasn’t making anywhere close to that at AT&T. And he said, Well, don’t worry about that.

00;17;43;19 – 00;18;05;08
Dave Combs

He said, The fella who owns this studio owns a small studio across the street. It’s in a former little rent house that was like a little two bedroom house. And he converted it into a studio and it has a baby grand piano and a small console. But he said that one’s $15 an hour plus engineer. I said, Well, I can do that.

00;18;06;08 – 00;18;22;13
Dave Combs

I said, OK, George, now what I need is I need somebody to play the piano for me to play my song. And he said, He thought for a second. He said, I know just the person for you. His name is Gary Prim P-R-I-M. He said, I go to church with him. He’s a wonderful studio musician. Everybody loves Gary.

00;18;22;13 – 00;18;40;04
Dave Combs

He’s a great player. He said, He’ll do a great job for you. I said, Let me go back to my desk and I’ll look up his phone number for him. So he went back, got his Rolodex and looked up Gary Prim; wrote down the phone number for me, gave it to me. I made a beeline back from my hotel room and I called.

00;18;40;10 – 00;19;02;18
Dave Combs

Now this is before cell- I didn’t. Cell phones hadn’t been invented yet and neither had the Internet. So there was no Google or none of this stuff. So I go back and I call Gary Prim on the phone, got his answering machine and you call me back in about 30 minutes, introduced himself. I told him what I was looking for and that George Clinton had recommended him.

00;19;02;23 – 00;19;21;13
Dave Combs

Oh, well, if George said, I can do something here, I can certainly do that. And I said, Well, what do you need? And he said, Well, I just need two things. I need a recording of you playing the song. So I know what it sort of sounds like, and then I need a lead sheet. And I said, OK, what’s a lead sheet?

00;19;22;02 – 00;19;35;16
Dave Combs

I did not know the lane, the lingo of the music in Nashville. He said, Oh, it’s just the chords and the melody written out on a piece of paper. And I said, Well, I’ve got that. I just didn’t know to call it a lead sheet. I already had it.

00;19;36;07 – 00;19;41;18
Anika

But at this point you don’t even because you mentioned you passed ASCAP, you didn’t have the song registered-

00;19;41;29 – 00;19;47;00
Dave Combs

No, nothing was it was just, you know, on a piece of paper is all I had in my head.

00;19;47;03 – 00;19;48;25
Anika

You had a wife who gave you a nudge?

00;19;49;06 – 00;20;11;03
Dave Combs

Yeah, you picked up on that real quick, Anika. A lot of my success in my life and anything I have done, I can have tribute to my wife who’s upstairs right now. So my wife, Linda, is a remarkable person. She is a she’s a wonderful person in her heart. She is the controller of the state of North Carolina, for example, even today.

00;20;11;11 – 00;20;12;03
Anika

Oh, my gosh.

00;20;12;08 – 00;20;32;08
Dave Combs

He manages, you know, billions and billions of dollars for the state of North Carolina with 200 people working for her in the state capital in Raleigh. She’s still working. And don’t tell anybody, but she’s going to be 76 pretty soon. That’s amazing. She has been working 60 years on her 16th birthday. She went out and got a job.

00;20;33;07 – 00;20;35;19
Dave Combs

So she’s been working ever since she was 16 years old.

00;20;35;22 – 00;20;37;07
Anika

You are both our go getters.

00;20;37;22 – 00;21;03;19
Dave Combs

Boy, I tell you, and she is too. So anyway I get I get back home and I send Gary Prim the cassette tape and the rest of me playing it and the little lead sheet and I meet Gary in the studio two weeks later and back in Nashville on August the 22nd, 1986 at 6:00p.m. I’ll never will forget the date time.

00;21;03;19 – 00;21;21;20
Dave Combs

It’s one of those burned in my memory because that’s the day I met Gary Prim for the first time, and that’s the day that Rachel’s Song got recorded. We go into the studio and I won’t go into all the details and you’re going to, when you listen to Rachel’s song on my website and when you go to my home page, it’s right there in the middle.

00;21;21;20 – 00;21;50;15
Dave Combs

You can just click it and hear it. That is the original recording made by Gary on that day. It hadn’t been edited, it hasn’t been altered, remastered, anything. You’re listening to what I heard for the first time, anybody ever played my music. So that was incredible. And when Gary finished that recording, which just blew me away because what he created was, you know, I’d never heard anybody play my music before.

00;21;50;16 – 00;22;07;05
Dave Combs

It was just me playing it. What he played sounded as good to me as any song I’d heard on the radio anywhere. I don’t care who was recording it, whether it was Roger Williams or or Henry Mancini or whatever, it sounded as good as I had heard. So I was excited. As you can imagine.

00;22;07;05 – 00;22;07;18
Anika

Yes.

00;22;07;18 – 00;22;16;07
Dave Combs

And then the rest of the story on this, as Paul Harvey would say, is that I had- I played that song for anybody who would listen to it.

00;22;16;14 – 00;22;39;01
Dave Combs

I had a cassette. They made me a cassette tape that I could play in the car, in a rental car. Anybody who went to lunch with me that week pop, I pop that. You got to listen to this, boys. And so it was but everybody loved it. Everybody. I played it for love. I got back home in Winston-Salem and went to lunch with a good friend of mine on a totally different matter.

00;22;39;25 – 00;23;08;12
Dave Combs

And at lunch time, I was telling him about my recording session on Rachel Song. It turns out the fellow I went to lunch with is named Bob McComb. He also was a radio DJ and had a Saturday morning big band jazz program for about 3 hours where he’d play music and he would talk about it. Wander, he had he knew everything there was to know about big band jazz, he said, and we were having lunch at a cafeteria and he said, Let’s just go to my office.

00;23;08;12 – 00;23;25;22
Dave Combs

I got to hear this song. So we went to Bob’s office and we’re sitting there in his office. He pops the cassette tape in his boom box there in the office to play it. And I can still see him today. The boom box is sitting right here, and Bob is right there. Right at it, listening. He’s got his eyes.

00;23;25;22 – 00;23;48;09
Dave Combs

You know, when you really want to listen to something, you close your eyes and just kind of soak it in. And I can hear Bob to this day saying, mm. Mm hmm. You know that the universal approval sound, I don’t care what language, you know, that means it’s good, right? But he’s he was moved. He had tears coming down his eyes.

00;23;48;09 – 00;24;07;07
Dave Combs

He was he said, this is he said, Dave, this song is a standard. He said, this will be a standard. And I said, well, coming from you, Bob, you’re an expert in music. I hope you’re right. But he said, Dave, you got to let me play this on my radio program. I said, OK, but all I have is this reel-to-reel master tape.

00;24;07;07 – 00;24;26;13
Dave Combs

That’s the only copy in the world of it. So treat it well. So I gave him the master tape and he went to the radio station. They made a copy. Sure enough, that Saturday morning, my song was played on the radio for the first time, and a strange thing happened. The radio station manager called me about an hour later.

00;24;27;22 – 00;24;46;29
Dave Combs

He says, Dave, this has never happened to me. I’ve been in radio over 20 years. And no, this has never happened, he said. As soon as that song got played on the radio, all dozen of our phone lines at the radio station lit up. People were calling in saying, What is that song you’re playing? Would you play that again?

00;24;46;29 – 00;25;04;23
Dave Combs

What was tell me more about this Rachel’s Song and this Combs guy in Winston-Salem and he said, You have got something special. So I thought, Wow, now, now my real challenge is, OK, how do I get it played on all the other radio stations around the country?

00;25;04;23 – 00;25;05;17
Anika

Yeah.

00;25;05;17 – 00;25;11;07
Dave Combs

So to make a long- I did find a way to get the phone numbers for all these easy listening stations.

00;25;11;07 – 00;25;33;22
Dave Combs

There were about 400 of them around the country. I called a ton of them, and I also found out that there was a company called Bonneville Broadcasting that did programing for radio stations. So I got a hold of one person there who he loved Rachel’s Song, and he said, I’m going to put this in my all my stations. 200 of them at one time.

00;25;33;22 – 00;26;00;04
Dave Combs

So you go, you know, that’s like walking into a Wal-Mart and saying, We’re going to put this in all our stores. Boom, you’re suddenly in the big league. So that was what happened with Rachel Song getting played on every easy listening radio station around the country, and I started getting mail from all over the country. People would track me down and write me letters and tell me how much they enjoyed the music and how much it touched their lives.

00;26;00;27 – 00;26;05;08
Anika

And then did you make it available for sale at any point?

00;26;05;20 – 00;26;29;26
Dave Combs

Well that was the next challenge, as you can imagine then and here I am all I have is a cassette tape and at that point I didn’t even have a CD. So this is 1886-1987 timeframe. By 1988, I had written some more music and I went back to Nashville and recorded more songs with Gary Prim and we came out with the album.

00;26;30;01 – 00;26;50;09
Dave Combs

Rachel’s Song is the first song on there, of course, and so then finally I did have a product that I could sell to somebody if they wanted to purchase it, and they all did. So I had cassette tapes made and a CD made of Rachel’s Song. So now I have a product and I have a bunch of people that want it.

00;26;50;26 – 00;27;04;11
Dave Combs

The next question or challenge for any entrepreneur is how do you how do you let people know about your product? They know they can hear it on the radio. That’s a number of people, but that’s a small fraction of the total population. How do you run?

00;27;04;21 – 00;27;11;10
Anika

Yeah, yeah. And this is still before the Internet, before all the ways that you can market a product in the holidays.

00;27;11;18 – 00;27;30;26
Dave Combs

Yeah. So how in the world am I going to- that is that was and my wife and I set down many hours trying to figure out how can we basically get the music out there and let people be aware of it. And you know, we tried I did try to approach the big box stores with back then. We had we did have record stores.

00;27;30;29 – 00;27;55;18
Dave Combs

They called them. That’s because they literally sold vinyl records. And so I approached the big chains of record stores thinking that they would be happy to carry my Rachel’s song because it was such a beautiful song. Turns out they wouldn’t even hardly answer my phone, let alone talk to me about it. I didn’t have a name. They were only interested in a big name that was instantly recognizable, so that didn’t work out.

00;27;55;24 – 00;28;27;12
Dave Combs

So now I’m back to square one again. How do I get my music out into the world? Other than radio? Yeah. And then this is the story, and I encourage people to read the whole details. It’s in my book about how I started with one gift shop playing and selling my music. Now, those of you that travel around on vacation, you go to a tourist town, you go into a really nice gift shop nine times out of ten, you walk in, it looks good, it smells good and it sounds good.

00;28;27;12 – 00;28;36;02
Dave Combs

And most of the time they’re playing pretty music in the shop. No, it’s not going to be really loud, bumpy kind of music. It’s going to be very soft. Soothing.

00;28;36;17 – 00;28;40;08
Anika

Makes you want to stay there, makes you want to show off- inviting.

00;28;40;08 – 00;29;07;17
Dave Combs

And the longer they are in there, the more they’re going to buy. So anyhow, that was the venue that I eventually landed upon to sell my music and that and it was called the Play and Sale Market. And me and two other musicians around the country were the ones who invented that sales channel back then. Nobody else did it with me and a guy on the West Coast and a guy in the middle of the country.

00;29;07;29 – 00;29;34;17
Dave Combs

That’s how we discovered that would buy and sell our music. And it became known as play and sell market. And today everybody does it, but back then it was just me and two of the people. So the long story short is I was able to go from one gift shop to over a thousand gift shops covering the entire country in tourist towns all over the United States, and the story of how I did that is in my book, I would encourage your entrepreneurs to read about that.

00;29;34;17 – 00;29;55;07
Dave Combs

It’d take longer than we have here on the podcast to go into all those details. But it’s an interesting story of how I used big data, which wasn’t even called Big Data back then. It was just numbers. And in some sense I’m an analytical person. I would use my analytical thinking to help me through this process, and I talk about that in the book.

00;29;55;26 – 00;30;01;16
Anika

So yeah. So I really I’m curious because you’re still working your day job at this point.

00;30;01;29 – 00;30;28;23
Dave Combs

At that point I was because I didn’t, I wasn’t able to quit my day job until 1992. And so beginning with Rachel’s Song 1986, the album. 1988 I mean 89, I came out with a Christmas album and shortly thereafter with another album of original music that I did get busy and write more songs and it’s called Beautiful Thoughts and it’s, it’s, it’s also one of my favorite albums.

00;30;28;28 – 00;30;56;04
Dave Combs

It’s called Beautiful Thoughts. So every year thereafter I would come out with it, go back to Nashville and produce another album because I began accumulating my mailing list now when you sell something direct mail direct to the consumer, yeah, you better keep all those addresses. And today in today’s market, you keep their email addresses but back then it was their USPS, their regular mailing, physical mailing address.

00;30;57;01 – 00;31;16;05
Dave Combs

Well, I had grown my mailing list to and up to several thousand at this point once because I had I had the wisdom to put in the back of my cassette tapes and CDs a little old tear out card. Send me this if you want on my mailing list. Well, I get thousands of those little cards coming in.

00;31;16;10 – 00;31;29;27
Dave Combs

So yeah, if you come out with something new, let me know well, I did. And you know, my response rate initially after Rachel’s Song, the second album was virtually 100%.

00;31;29;27 – 00;31;30;11
Anika

That’s amazing.

00;31;30;11 – 00;31;46;29
Dave Combs

Everybody on my list bought the second album and virtually everybody bought the third album and by the fourth it was a little lower. But I was amazed that, you know, when 90% of your people buy another product for you, that’s almost unheard of now.

00;31;46;29 – 00;31;49;03
Dave Combs

That’s, that’s customer loyalty for you.

00;31;49;10 – 00;32;19;28
Anika

Very much so. That’s so unheard of. I mean, especially in today’s world where everybody does email marketing, you get so many emails and most of them you just don’t read because. Yeah, and but I think this is really important for entrepreneurs, too, is the way you built this up, because I’m really seeing a lot of the trend going back towards people want to get mail like in their mailboxes because it’s more unusual to get something that way.

00;32;20;17 – 00;32;39;28
Anika

And so we’re such an easy economy. You know, you go online, but I think marketing and doing more direct mail marketing with fun items and things like that or letting people know who are really interested and engaged with your product is an old school tactic that needs to make a big comeback because we get, you know, email overload.

00;32;39;28 – 00;32;42;14
Anika

It’s so much easier to unsubscribe, unsubscribe, unsubscribe.

00;32;43;24 – 00;33;17;13
Dave Combs

And even with, you know, when you do a podcast like this, you may have let’s say, 10,000 people listening to it, but what percentage of those 10,000 are actually going to go over to their computer and type in Combsmusic.com and go to my website and click on Rachel Song and listen to it and maybe even go to Amazon and buy the book or go to Amazon and buy my CD or whatever, download it. Probably a very small percentage I am finding and you are probably aware of this too, that the response the conversion rate for anything electronic these days is a tiny fraction.

00;33;17;17 – 00;33;18;04
Anika

It really is. Yeah.

00;33;18;06 – 00;33;37;02
Dave Combs

I’ve had people tell me that if you get one out of a thousand people, sometimes that’s a pretty good hit rate because what they do is they just it’s a shotgun approach. You send out a million emails, you get 1% back was pretty big number, but it’s nowhere if you got back. What I did when I started out you’d be a gazillionaire.

00;33;37;02 – 00;33;37;11
Anika

Yeah.

00;33;38;16 – 00;33;48;10
Anika

Well, and to that point, so you have released- you really started releasing an album every single year. How many songs have you created?

00;33;48;20 – 00;34;09;27
Dave Combs

I have personally written over 120. Oh my God. And Gary Prim and I have been in the studio recording over 170 because several of the songs that we recorded, I have four albums of favorite hymns. Of course, I didn’t write those and I have an album of favorite songs like Moon River, Misty and more, all the pretty songs that I grew up enjoying.

00;34;10;07 – 00;34;36;17
Dave Combs

And then I have a patriotic album called Celebrate Freedom, and I have a Christmas album as well. So I’ve got, you know, seven originals for hymns and the patriotic, you know, so I’ve got several, but I’ve recorded over 170. Oh, my gosh. And all of those are available to be streamed and downloaded on virtually every one of the media, the mediums that people are used to going and getting their music and even sheet music.

00;34;36;26 – 00;34;53;29
Dave Combs

I had to go because there are piano players in the world like me every time when I was growing up playing the piano, if I heard a beautiful song first time on the piano, on the radio, I wanted to go by the sheet music because I wanted to play that song to, you know, think about the theme from Love Story, think the Henry Mancini wrote.

00;34;54;19 – 00;35;15;14
Dave Combs

That’s a beautiful song to play and it’s not that hard, but it sure is a pretty song. Well, I needed to do the same thing with my music. So very soon. Well, the second thing I did after getting Rachel song recorded, I transcribed that song that Gary played, and that was his arrangement. So it wasn’t I was not the one that wrote out the notes.

00;35;15;22 – 00;35;36;06
Dave Combs

I had to do it by ear. I had to listen to his recording of my song, Oh my God, say what now? What note is he playing on that? And hit a rewind and play it rewind and play till I got every note just right for every measure of that song. And I published the sheet music a sheet music single of Just Rachel Song So Thousand, I think it was.

00;35;36;12 – 00;35;54;24
Dave Combs

I sold 5000 copies of just the individual sheet music song. People wanted to use it to play in weddings. They wanted to use it for special music and a church service. They wanted to use it for all kinds of occasions or just for their own enjoyment. They just loved playing Rachel’s song

00;35;54;24 – 00;35;59;04
Anika

And movies?

00;35;59;10 – 00;36;24;29
Dave Combs

And well, I have never had my music played for movies. I’ve hoped that it would initially. And a long time ago I had people say, Well, that sounds like a theme song for a love story movie. And I would have it probably would have been nice to have had a big star, you know, a great big hit movie that we played Rachel’s Song as the theme song.

00;36;25;21 – 00;36;50;04
Dave Combs

But in Lincoln, thinking back about it, it probably was a blessing to me that that did not happen. Because when you basically write music for a movie or a big production most musicians lose control of the song that the movie company is going to want to own the rights to publish and sell that music is associated with their movie, and then you would lose control.

00;36;50;04 – 00;37;12;19
Dave Combs

But so far, knock on wood, I still own 100% of the intellectual property of all of my music. Nobody has ever- I’ve never collaborated with anybody else, for they own half of the song and I only own half of it. I still own all of it. So I’m in control as an entrepreneur. I can do put it up on YouTube myself, or I can put it wherever because I own the song.

00;37;12;25 – 00;37;20;19
Dave Combs

Yeah, and I think that’s a blessing in disguise, at least looking back on it, it was I’m glad that nobody ever picked it up, maybe.

00;37;21;11 – 00;37;54;10
Anika

Yeah. But you know, I love the way you tell your story and it’s the way that you are leaving the narrative. It seems like everything is just built upon each other. But I have to say, going back to when you were young, having that entrepreneurial drive, being interested in how things work and having that attitude that’s that set you out on that path to success, and to be able to not just make one song and stop there, but to be, and well-

00;37;54;12 – 00;38;33;19
Anika

And also your love of music, obviously, but to be able to continue and to be so prolific. I think there are a lot of people who wouldn’t have done that, especially you had a day job you have a busy life, you have a family, you have church, you have all these other things going on. But to stay in that space and that zone of inspiration and to continue inspiring others, and I know that’s something that is one of your discussion topics is how much music has moved people and how it has inspired people and how it’s helped them, you know, sometimes in very tough times to get to that next stage of their life and to

00;38;34;03 – 00;38;43;15
Anika

to continue and to feel like, you know, like they mean something and that there’s somewhere for them to be and somewhere for them to belong and go.

00;38;44;05 – 00;38;49;05
Dave Combs

Yeah, exactly. Because I have heard from over now over 50,000 people.

00;38;49;05 – 00;38;50;17
Anika

oh my gosh.

00;38;50;17 – 00;39;14;17
Dave Combs

Now if you want to see what 50,000 letters and like I do have a photograph of my wife and I got our boxes out because we kept all of these letters and notes that are in boxes by year back in my storage room here and I had enough of these boxes and these are like moving, you know, the boxes you use when you’re going to move for I put them on my pool table.

00;39;14;17 – 00;39;35;03
Dave Combs

I’ve got a, you know, a nine foot pool table out here. And so we put these boxes of these letters and notes on my pool table you can’t tell there’s a pool table underneath it. It is. It was stacked full all the way around middle and sides of all these notes and letters that is a lot of correspondence over the years.

00;39;35;22 – 00;40;05;11
Dave Combs

And I published in my book in chapter 21 of my book, there’s 22 pages of just some of the special notes that I got over the years. I selected some that I liked the best and put them in my book. And I love reading those because they’re just so inspirational. They’re, they’re touching, they’re, they’re genuine. They’re from the heart and they’re confirming, they tell me over any time I’m having any doubts or questions about them, am I doing the right thing?

00;40;05;11 – 00;40;33;13
Dave Combs

I’m, I’m hitting a brick wall here. What’s, what’s going on here? I read some of these stories and it’s reaffirming that, yep, you’re on the right path. Just keep at it, keep taking action, and don’t be discouraged. And just remember that now doesn’t mean no sometimes no just means not yet. So anyhow, so those notes and letters really inspired me to really direct my book and to get these stories out to hopefully maybe my story will inspire somebody.

00;40;33;13 – 00;40;55;08
Dave Combs

If I if this podcast just reaches one person that says, OK, I’m getting off my duff now and I’m going to do something with my whatever it is that I’ve been thinking about now for a long time, I want to do something. That will have made it worthwhile to me because you then you really have touched somebody’s life in a positive and meaningful way, and they will benefit from it.

00;40;55;16 – 00;41;18;06
Dave Combs

And you’ll probably never know about it unless they sit down and write me a letter or something. But that’s the kind of feedback and that’s the reward as far as I’m concerned, is to realize that people need these kind of inspirational and encouraging stories to get them to move ahead. And there are three kinds of moments that I have in my book.

00;41;18;06 – 00;41;52;21
Dave Combs

I describe there are defining moments in your life, and those are moments that something happens to you. You have no control over what’s happening. Could be as big as a 911 event in the United States or it could be as, you know, as as small as you know, some accidental something that happened in your life that you really had no control over, whether it’s a, you know, an illness or you met some person that you become engaged with and later marry that person or whatever it is but you something happened that you didn’t control.

00;41;53;01 – 00;42;12;28
Dave Combs

Those are defining moments. Now, there are other moments that we call threshold moments, and those are the moments where you come up to a threshold like a door. And you have to you have to decide what to do next. Am I going to go through that door and take this chance am I going to go take the right fork in the road or the left fork in the road?

00;42;13;08 – 00;42;36;08
Dave Combs

Am I going to just sit here and do nothing or what are you going to do? And so those are really important moments in your life that are really important or can be important of your future success. So those are threshold moments. And the third category of moments I call aha moments. And those are the moments that are so special that you’re sitting there and something happens.

00;42;36;08 – 00;42;57;23
Dave Combs

Like when I heard Gary Prim play Rachel’s song and it sounded as good as anything I ever heard on the radio, that was my aha moment. Now here I was, I still remember what I was thinking I thought, This is it, this is it. Now, I didn’t know what it was, you know, all you know is this this is important.

00;42;58;03 – 00;43;18;00
Dave Combs

This is going to be important. But I don’t where this is going to lead, but this is really, really important. So those are the aha moments in your life. And so I think how you deal with your, your, your, your defining moments and your threshold moments and your aha moments is really important to how you succeed and where you go for the rest of your life.

00;43;18;04 – 00;43;34;26
Anika

Yeah. Yeah. And speaking of that, so you when you’re still working and then you- did the music just take over so much that you said, you know what, I can quit my day job now. I can just be full time in music, which is something you were passionate about but had also turned into a business.

00;43;35;28 – 00;43;42;07
Dave Combs

Well, the the business part of it was, as I was describing, selling the tapes and CDs through the gift shops.

00;43;42;07 – 00;43;42;19
Anika

Yeah.

00;43;42;19 – 00;44;04;13
Dave Combs

Well, that took off in such a manner that I had to hire a full time office manager to help me. I was still working, and so I needed somebody back home. She worked out of my basement in my house, answering the phone, taking orders from gift shops all over the country, and also orders from fans who would call on an 800 number and say, I want to order a CD of Rachel’s song.

00;44;04;13 – 00;44;04;24
Anika

Yeah.

00;44;04;24 – 00;44;34;16
Dave Combs

And so she had to take the credit card in and take down the order and get it ready to ship out. Well, that grew to the point where by 1991, the profits from my music sales were far exceeding what I was making at AT&T now. And I come from a family that my father worked for a large corporation, and my mother worked in an industrial sewing factory, but prior to that they were all farmers.

00;44;34;22 – 00;44;51;03
Dave Combs

So I’m a second generation working for a large company. So Western Electric was a wonderful company to work for, and my family was so happy when I got that job and I was expected and I- people expected me to and I was expecting to work there till I retired.

00;44;51;03 – 00;44;51;22
Anika

Yeah.

00;44;51;22 – 00;45;06;18
Dave Combs

Now you work. You go to work for a big company that’s paying good, whether it’s IBM or GE or some big corporation, you were expected to work there till you earned your 30 year pin and you’re, you’re retired and you know, it’s, that’s that’s your job.

00;45;07;07 – 00;45;34;18
Dave Combs

So for me when I was in and this was 1991 I had been with AT&T 20- going on 24 years. Wow. So I had I didn’t have the 25 year mark yet and I didn’t I wasn’t 50 years old either. I was only 44 years old and so I was six years away from the magic number on the age I was years away on how many years service I had.

00;45;34;22 – 00;45;58;18
Dave Combs

Yeah. So and my music was going through the roof and, and I was having to be 8 hours a day over here and working at my job. And the meanwhile here is my business at home, doing twice what I’m doing at work. And I’m thinking to myself, you know, when, when do I turn loose of my full time job and do my, my music full time?

00;45;59;19 – 00;46;18;09
Dave Combs

So I’m sitting in church one morning. I had been praying about this one of those things that big decision in your life when you’re going to quit your job and do something else full time. And I said, I need to sign it. Lord, I need a sign. Tell me when will I know how will I know when it’s time for me to quit my job and do my music?

00;46;19;06 – 00;46;41;27
Dave Combs

And I’m sitting there and I realize I recalled a letter that I got that week from a fan and it was a letter just a little one sentence letter from a man. And he says, Dave Combs music is what God put you on this planet to do. Signed his name. And I thought, Hmm, was that that man talking to me?

00;46;41;27 – 00;47;06;15
Dave Combs

Or was it the man upstairs talking to me? Yeah. Yeah. And so and I realized I had that wasn’t the only letter like that I’d gotten. People were really saying that your music is really touching people’s lives. And I thought to myself, here I have been expecting the lightning bolt or the thunder to roll and the burning bush and all the big things to happen to really reveal to me that, yeah, now’s the time, Dave.

00;47;06;15 – 00;47;12;22
Dave Combs

Now go do it. And I didn’t realize that, you know, God speaks to us through other people.

00;47;13;11 – 00;47;14;21
Anika

It was right there all the time.

00;47;14;23 – 00;47;32;21
Dave Combs

It was right there in front of me all the time. And I kind of chuckled to myself sitting there in the church, and I thought, Oh, Lord, you probably think I am the densest Christian on the planet, because here you’ve sent me thousands of letters telling me what I need to do. And I’ve been I’ve been praying for the burning bush and the lightning bolt.

00;47;32;21 – 00;47;58;17
Dave Combs

And you’ve already told me a thousand times here what to do. So that after we went home after church that day and I told him, I said, OK, tomorrow I’m turning my resignation into my boss and we’re going to do it. And that’s how I made my decision because it wasn’t a matter of money the money was already overtaking my salary, but it was that that inner drive, that why would you give up working for a fine corporation?

00;47;58;17 – 00;48;00;08
Anika

And Daddy, you know, that.

00;48;00;09 – 00;48;13;14
Dave Combs

Steady income and you know, the insurance and the health benefits, all those kind of things, how can we do this? But it has worked out marvelously. I never looked back I have had not one ounce of regret in making that decision.

00;48;15;09 – 00;48;25;25
Anika

I love it. Thank you so much. This is such an inspiring journey that you took us on. Your story is amazing and beautiful. What’s next?

00;48;25;25 – 00;48;31;10
Dave Combs

Well, that’s a good question here. I’m going to be 75 years old and about a week and a half and.

00;48;31;23 – 00;48;32;03
Anika

Happy Birthday.

00;48;32;27 – 00;48;50;19
Dave Combs

Thank you and my wife’s going to be retiring from her job as controller of the state of North Carolina at the end of June. We hope to do a little bit of traveling now that hopefully the COVID virus is hopefully stays low enough to where we can visit some relatives and friends that we haven’t seen in two or three years.

00;48;50;24 – 00;49;08;19
Dave Combs

So we want to do a little traveling, but my music is still a big priority for me. I am appearing on three or four of these podcasts almost every day, telling my story and trying to get the word out to to people that have never heard of Rachel’s Song or any of my music because yeah, it’s been played millions of times.

00;49;08;26 – 00;49;35;20
Dave Combs

Millions of people have heard it, but how many millions of people are on this planet? There are billions of people on the planet that have never heard my music. So my goal, one of my goals is to spread my music around the world as best I can, because I know when people hear my music in the right environment, in the right place, it brings them peace and tranquility and it reaches into their soul and does something really positive for them.

00;49;35;24 – 00;49;55;13
Dave Combs

And so that’s that’s my long term objective. And thank goodness we have the Internet today, because whether you’re here this morning, I had to get up at 3:00 in the morning for a podcast for our lady in Germany, and she’d already been up for eight, eight or 9 hours, but I had to get up 3:00 in the morning to be on her podcast. Wonderful interview.

00;49;55;18 – 00;50;16;00
Dave Combs

But isn’t it amazing that here we can be right? It looks like you might as well be in the room right next to me because there’s no delay. It’s this technology is really allowed us to communicate with anybody, anywhere in the world just like that. So I’m blessed to have that available as well. And I’m trying to take advantage of that as much as I can.

00;50;16;16 – 00;50;42;28
Anika

Wow. Well, thank you very much for sharing your story with us today. I know I’m inspired. I’ve been on your website. I’m going to do more on your website and listen to a song a few more times and just, you know. Yeah. Gives you this is a great way to just and almost end the week and feel like, OK, I’m refreshed to go into the weekend and continue down this road of inspiration.

00;50;43;09 – 00;51;00;09
Anika

And abundance and really living. I love that you’ve been able to really live in that space of everything you love and enjoy. And that what inspires you can inspire so many. So Dave, thank you so much for being here. Any last thoughts you want to share with the audience?

00;51;00;15 – 00;51;17;16
Dave Combs

I just want to thank you, Anika, for the privilege of being on your program today. It’s been a real joy just to talk with you, and I wish you the best with your podcast and with your audience. And I know you’re going to do well, and I just applaud you for what you’re doing.

00;51;17;20 – 00;51;36;15
Anika

Oh, thank you. Appreciate that. I will have all of your information in the show notes for our audience. So that way they can go to your website, they can know where to find your book and listen to your music. So thank you, everybody, for coming back and listening to this really inspirational episode of Your Brand Amplified. I’ll be back again next week.

00;51;37;14 – 00;51;44;07
Anika

Want more? Check out AmplifywithAnika.com or follow me on socials @AmplifywithAnika.

Lars Darbney – Your Brand Amplified Transcript

00;00;01;05 – 00;00;20;21
Anika

Welcome to Your Brand Amplified the podcast where we interview marketers, publicists and brands to learn their stories, what makes them tick and tips and tricks that make a difference. Welcome to another edition of Your Brand Amplified. I’m Anika Jackson. And I am really excited to be here with Lars Dabney. Hi, Lars. How are you?

00;00;21;05 – 00;00;22;17
Lars Dabney

I’m good. How are you doing, Anika?

00;00;22;19 – 00;00;44;01
Anika

I am great. So before we get into your business, your background is so varied and interesting. I’d love for you to talk about, you know, where you grew up, all of your languages, all of the different things that led you to where you are right now. Yeah, that’s a lot like a condensed version.

00;00;44;25 – 00;01;08;10
Lars Dabney

Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Yeah. So, you know, short version, I grew up kind of all over the place. My dad’s work moved our family around about every two years. And I think that I had to just trying a lot of different things. You know, every time we move somewhere new, I’d be like, Oh, I’m gonna join this new club or try this new activity or whatever it may be.

00;01;09;26 – 00;01;30;18
Lars Dabney

I also went to a lot of schools that like to, you know, talk about the Renaissance man. I went to I went to an all boys school in a couple of occasions. And, you know, we’re going to raise your boys to be a Renaissance man. And I think like, you know, almost nobody takes that seriously. But I guess I did because I was just like, very well, I shall do everything.

00;01;32;04 – 00;01;47;26
Lars Dabney

So, yeah, I you know, between them moving around, I was able to experience a lot of different cultures and sort of mentalities about things. That was also where the languages started. I speak five languages, Mandarin, German, French, Spanish, and English.

00;01;50;00 – 00;02;09;18
Lars Dabney

And I just I just got really I really like learning them. They’re fun. And it’s definitely, you know, it gets easier as you learn more of them, right. Like, each new language Spanish was astonishingly quick. That was that was the one I picked up most recently. Also helped that I was immersing at the time. I was like, Argentina.

00;02;09;24 – 00;02;11;15
Anika

Oh, yeah. That’s. Yeah.

00;02;12;28 – 00;02;30;03
Lars Dabney

So but yeah, I and then, you know, I kind of got to college I had gotten really into politics was like, cool. I want to do like international politics. As I think many freshman undergrads often think.

00;02;30;03 – 00;02;32;22
Anika

Bright eyed, head full of ideas.

00;02;33;01 – 00;02;33;19
Lars Dabney

Poli Sci, that’s cool.

00;02;33;19 – 00;02;34;08
Anika

Change the world.

00;02;34;17 – 00;03;06;07
Lars Dabney

Yeah. You’d take a poli sci course and you’re like, Wow, this is dry as toast. So I, I wound up kind of graduating with this major in East Asian languages and cultures and a minor in poli sci like, okay, I’m gonna go do foreign foreign politics or foreign service in China. But then at the last second, I got really interested in human rights law and I kind of always knew that I wanted to fight dragons to put it in, in terms.

00;03;06;19 – 00;03;13;25
Lars Dabney

Based on the book I was obsessed with as a child, which was St George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman.

00;03;17;00 – 00;03;44;00
Lars Dabney

And and so I knew I wanted to like, you know, fight the good fight. And so I wound up pursuing a lot of different pathways in the kind of like public sector, either government or nonprofits. I worked as a journalist. I was a war correspondent for a while. Right after law school, I was a journalist in law school and afterwards and then went to Afghanistan for a while and then worked for the State Department.

00;03;44;00 – 00;04;10;20
Lars Dabney

anti-Human trafficking kind of wound up being the pathway that I pursued after law school. And love that work, but hit a point where I was I wanted to have this really high level strategic influence on what was happening in my field, in large part because it’s a very young field. And I actually think candidly, there’s a lot of misguided notions about what’s effective and about how to actually impact that sector.

00;04;10;26 – 00;04;26;28
Lars Dabney

Yeah, that phenomenon, a lot of people are really obsessed with prosecuting and like it doesn’t work. Like it’s statistically like if you actually do like an analysis of the numbers, it makes no difference. And conversely, like, economic interventions can be very effective.

00;04;27;00 – 00;04;45;12
Anika

Right. So and this is one of my core issue areas. And but I go through I, I attack it from like how can I help people get more education? Right. Because more education equals better health outcomes equals less likely to be trafficked. There’s so many implications.

00;04;45;26 – 00;05;04;12
Lars Dabney

So many implications. Right? So those kinds of systemic interventions was what I wanted to see more focus on. But as an attorney, as a field investigator, I was kind of a cog in the machine. And so I was like, all right, I want to be able to influence things at a higher level. You a quick head check on who’s in charge here.

00;05;05;01 – 00;05;27;21
Lars Dabney

And of course, all the people in charge. None of them were from the field. They were none of them are from the sector. You know, they most of them didn’t even really have a background in rights of any kind. They were there because they had money and power. And so, you know, they had been tapped because they could bring in the funders or because they had a friend who was, you know, the president or whatever it may be.

00;05;28;03 – 00;05;47;18
Lars Dabney

And and I was like, OK, so I guess I need money and power if I want to be able to have that kind of impact. I have no savings because I have a career in the public sector by now. So what what can I do? And I had I had been building websites back in college as a way to make beer money, and it kind of stuck with it.

00;05;47;18 – 00;06;09;00
Lars Dabney

Did projects here and there over the years, kept getting more and more into it. So I was like, you know, what, I’m going to I’m going to start an agency because the startup cost for that is, do you have a laptop? Yep. And and then I’m going to you know, build build that up and build an agency that kind of represents a lot of the ideals that I want to see in the world.

00;06;09;00 – 00;06;26;25
Lars Dabney

Right. That that we work with people who whose causes we care about, who like who we really actually genuinely support. And we don’t work with people who we don’t. And that like the way we work is really sort of embracing of the team and that we bring a lot of the kind of principles that I grew up in Australia.

00;06;26;25 – 00;06;50;05
Lars Dabney

Right? So the minimum legal required holidays there is 20, 20 days of paid vacation per year. So I was like cool. That’s as a matter of fact, we have an open vacation policy. You know, I encourage my team if anybody is going to have less than 20 in a given year, I’m like, hey, why don’t you put some stuff on the calendar and you know, full health care, all this kind of stuff that’s like a perk in the US, so sorry.

00;06;50;16 – 00;07;14;21
Anika

You know, interestingly so the company that I merged with most recently is based in Australia. Yeah, right. Yes. So we have unlimited PTO, we have mental health days once a month. They’re doing a lot like one of our new New Zealand agencies had some really amazing thought leaders. So now we’re doing a lot of seminars that are mandatory for to improve ourselves, not even talking about work.

00;07;14;21 – 00;07;37;23
Anika

Right. And they’re really incorporating a lot of that insurance. 100% paid for all of those things that just seem like they should be basic human rights and not based on the economics, because I know that, OK, if I want to take this time off, I want to make sure I’m doing an amazing job and doing everything I can to so that I can just go and take time off and not be stressed.

00;07;37;24 – 00;07;41;22
Anika

Right. And so I think it actually really helps people not to digress like.

00;07;41;27 – 00;07;59;27
Lars Dabney

No, no, I think that’s exactly it. Right? I think it has huge benefits and and yeah, just trying to apply a lot of those, you know, the thoughts that I’ve had over the years working at places I did like and places I didn’t like with bosses I liked or didn’t like and just trying to like, say, like, all right, can I can I do a better job, right?

00;07;59;27 – 00;08;31;20
Lars Dabney

Can I can I build a better mousetrap here? And that’s been a really fun project. And I think one thing that I have taken a lot of personal got a lot of personal happiness out of is how much my team likes working at my company. Yeah. You know, everybody is just really happy to be there. And and says so, you know, repeatedly, like I have one on ones with every on my team each month and they’re always just like so stoked to be able to find a place like that.

00;08;32;24 – 00;08;36;19
Lars Dabney

And yeah, so that’s, that’s been really that’s been really good.

00;08;37;28 – 00;08;52;06
Anika

So yeah. So you went through this whole career and you had a law degree. You were a war journalist, you worked in the public sector, and then you realized that you could create change through websites so what does that look like?

00;08;53;06 – 00;09;38;16
Lars Dabney

Yeah. So I think, you know, as, as a kind of mid generation millennial, the the realization that like technology has all this capacity right? That’s not news at this point. Pretty much everybody’s figured that out now. But awareness of how to really tap into that, I think is still pretty limited you know, and and particularly in the nonprofit sector where budgets are always tight and people are always, you know, have too many jobs to do, too many hats to wear, and, you know, often the tech technological side of things, the digital side of things gets relegated to somebody who’s already got a full time job doing other stuff.

00;09;38;16 – 00;09;54;28
Lars Dabney

Right. But, you know, they get told, hey, somebody’s got to do the website. So you’re in charge now. And and I had seen that at different organizations I worked at. And I was like, you know, I feel like I could really, you know, by being focused on this, I can actually really weaponize the Internet for these causes that I care about.

00;09;56;17 – 00;10;18;18
Lars Dabney

And so we we do work in the anti-trafficking sector since that’s my background and that’s I have a network there, but we do a lot across a bunch of different nonprofit sectors. And that’s not all of our clients, I guess. 50, 60% of our client base is nonprofits we work for. I’m really keen on working for social enterprises, which is kind of effectively what we are.

00;10;18;22 – 00;10;40;03
Lars Dabney

I think it’s pretty vague term, but but yeah, you know, I, I love to sit down and say like, look, you know, you and many people look at a website and you’re like, Oh, well I got to have a website because you had to have one, right? You know, it’s like business cards. So let’s put the thing on there.

00;10;40;03 – 00;10;59;03
Lars Dabney

Like we’ll have the, the home page and we’ll have a about page and the contact form and the team page and we’re done. And I love sitting down and being like, Look, actually, you’re spending all this money and this can do things for your mission. You know, if you are a group that’s that’s focused on building up a grassroots community, right?

00;10;59;05 – 00;11;22;27
Lars Dabney

That’s really engaged not just with your organization, but with each other because that’s where you get traction from. Yeah, we can we can accelerate that in a very serious way by building this website intelligently. And that’s true for nonprofits as it is for for profits. I was just talking with a company that has a food products that works with is very focused on the extreme sports sector.

00;11;22;27 – 00;11;48;00
Lars Dabney

Right. And so they have a whole community of like extreme sports athletes and they’re like, we really want to make more use of these guys and get them more engaged. And I’m like, cool. I have this great toolkit for that because I’ve been doing with all these nonprofits and thinking about, you know, building stories, I think great is like that’s kind of the essence of it is this this story that gets stuck in people’s head of-

00;11;48;01 – 00;12;02;06
Lars Dabney

Oh, yeah. I remember the time I went there and I met this person or like I went to the website and, and I learned about this thing and I got really jazzed and I emailed this person and they got back to me and then I went and I volunteered at this event and I met this person. And now we’re getting married and having kids.

00;12;03;03 – 00;12;30;15
Lars Dabney

You know, it’s like that’s an extreme version perhaps. But I think I think building those experiences and thinking about the website as part of the larger mission and world right? Something that actually advances what the company or the organization is trying to do, but is also like one step in in this larger interaction that a human being is having with your brand or your organization.

00;12;30;24 – 00;13;11;01
Anika

Well, and I think I think what you’re saying right there is very important because anybody can go to an easy website builder website or like hire somebody inexpensive, which I’m not knocking that, right? But and get a very templated standard website that, like you said, it just has basic information. It’s not really telling your story. And websites like social media, like PR, like your advertising campaigns, everything has to be so integrated and tell a part of that story in that narrative that you really want to show who you are, because especially I think this is something where you and I have obviously always kind of lived in this space of really wanting to be authentic

00;13;11;01 – 00;13;32;03
Anika

and raw and real and transparent. And I think that brand is whether they’re nonprofit, for profit social enterprises, are scene our finally kind of realizing, oh yeah, we don’t just want to say our spot on our message and think people are going to come and respond to it. We need to show up in a way that is really integrated and that really shows people that we believe in what we’re saying.

00;13;32;18 – 00;13;58;14
Lars Dabney

Yes. Yes, that’s exactly right. I think that authenticity is the single most valuable piece that you can have and what you’re kind of putting out there to the world. You know, we all get bombarded by advertising constantly. Yeah, we know what it sounds like when it’s fake. You know, when, when, when Pepsi is what was it they did that video with people singing in the middle of the pandemic and everybody was like, no guys.

00;13;58;15 – 00;13;59;04
Lars Dabney

No.

00;13;59;21 – 00;14;13;18
Anika

Yeah. I think they had some influencer or reality star in it and all of those things. And it just yeah, it was completely oh, it was the Black Lives Matter, right? Or one of them had one of those. And yeah, it was.

00;14;14;02 – 00;14;24;23
Lars Dabney

Oh, that’s right. It was it was the George Floyd protest. Right. And it was like, who is it? Like Kendall Jenner? Like, went up to a to a cop and gave him a Pepsi. And he was like, not the point guy. Yeah.

00;14;24;28 – 00;14;28;27
Anika

Yeah. Completely missing the boat. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

00;14;29;17 – 00;14;56;03
Lars Dabney

Yeah. And so I think that that authenticity is like huge. And and, you know, I think your company your work and mine share this aspect that, like, we can’t be authentic if we’re working for a client that we don’t actually believe in. You know, and so we’re picky about who we work with because because we want to be authentic, because that’s at the end of the day, that makes me feel like I’m living a worthwhile life.

00;14;57;29 – 00;14;58;29
Lars Dabney

And. Yeah.

00;14;59;11 – 00;15;08;04
Anika

Yeah. So do you turn down clients? Like, if somebody comes to you and you realize that, oh, wow, this is really not a fit, how do you how do you. Yeah, that’s just a yes.

00;15;08;19 – 00;15;30;13
Lars Dabney

Yeah. Yeah, we do. I haven’t turned down a ton. You know, I think, like, honestly, I think this is because we were originally based in D.C., the most common issue. And this is going to sound funny coming from a war correspondent, but like, we don’t do anything with the military and I, let me be clear. I support the military.

00;15;30;13 – 00;15;51;20
Lars Dabney

I have nothing wrong with people being in the military. And, you know, my my dad’s family is from Annapolis. Like we posted mids the whole thing. Right. We’re actually kind of a military family. But broadly speaking, I am, you know, loosely a pacifist. I went to war as a journalist to inform people about the cost of war.

00;15;51;20 – 00;16;13;08
Lars Dabney

I, I don’t want my work to help people kill people. Yeah, and and even if it’s good guys killing bad guys, I just, I don’t think that’s that’s a path that leads to, you know, the outcome that we all want, which is world peace, right? Every Ms. Universe, since ever has said yeah.

00;16;13;08 – 00;16;31;24
Anika

I think that’s one of the things is because I had my own company, and then now I’ve merged with another company, and I know that the ideals of some of the new clients might not be the same as mine. So reconciling that. But I think what I can do is continue bringing in the kind of clients that I do want to work with.

00;16;32;04 – 00;16;52;05
Anika

Right. And shifting things that way and showing these clients might be nonprofits or social enterprise are doing good in the world, but they still have budgets for marketing and PR, they still have money to spend. And so why not spend it with us where we can, you know, hopefully make an even bigger impact using kind of like a little bit bigger agency scale.

00;16;52;22 – 00;17;20;27
Lars Dabney

Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Yeah. Yeah, I think that’s exactly right. You know, it’s like that the tilting of the scales is it’s always contextual right? But like, bending rather than tilting the scales, maybe bending the arc of history towards justice, right? That is that is very much you know, taking the resources of a large organization like Bastion and, and applying it to the kinds of causes that you care about is awesome, right?

00;17;20;28 – 00;17;43;15
Lars Dabney

You know, and that that makes a huge difference to. So, yeah. And, yeah, so, you know, I think I think picking those those clients and working on those stories then that, like you care about is is good for the clients, good for their work. But personally, it’s good, right? That’s that’s the main reason it’s like at the end of the day, I want to go to bed feeling like I’m happy about the.

00;17;43;15 – 00;17;47;18
Anika

Stuff that I’m working on. Absolutely. So how long is Lightning Fruit been around?

00;17;47;18 – 00;17;50;08
Lars Dabney

Six and a half years?

00;17;50;17 – 00;17;54;28
Anika

Six and a half years. Awesome. And survived through the pandemic, all of that.

00;17;55;11 – 00;18;21;23
Lars Dabney

Yeah. Yeah. Did did survive through the pandemic. You know, unfortunately, I know a lot of digital agencies actually did quite well in the pandemic, but because so much of our client base were nonprofits. Yeah. And the first line item to get cut when the economy goes south is donations. Our client base took a pretty heavy hit, but we did a lot of pro bono work during that time and helped get people kind of back on their feet.

00;18;21;23 – 00;18;45;18
Lars Dabney

And, yeah, it’s, you know, everything’s back in action now, so but yeah, it’s been six and a half years the first four months of that, I still had a full time job. I was doing evenings and weekends. Yeah, yeah. But, but yeah. And then I got, got a big contract and was like, cool, this is enough for me to huck myself into the void and see how it goes.

00;18;46;01 – 00;19;00;08
Anika

Awesome. I love it. What else inspires and motivates you? It’s I mean, I know obviously your work is very inspiring and motivating, and I love that you get that you and your team get to get up every day and be so excited about what you’re doing.

00;19;01;04 – 00;19;27;17
Lars Dabney

Yeah. Honestly, like, I love the creative aspect of things. Like, I love, I love just like thinking about how to either visually or narratively create something that’s like art, right? Effectively and and the some of the websites that we work on, I’m just so stoked about how they visually look and how the animations work and all this kind of stuff.

00;19;28;24 – 00;19;44;16
Lars Dabney

And I love the like the feeling that gives to the viewer when they visit that, right? Like that that kind of like the way it pulls them in to the story that’s being told and and I really like people. I like I like talking to people. I like working with people. I like, you know, I’m a people person.

00;19;45;19 – 00;20;00;09
Lars Dabney

So just, you know, having conversations with. Yeah, like this one or with clients or whatever, you know, collaborating on things that’s just fuel for the for the fire for me as well.

00;20;00;09 – 00;20;32;20
Anika

And I love that we met, I think on LinkedIn. But yeah, but it’s it’s wonderful when you meet people on LinkedIn and you see that they have the same values and, you know, you can make that connection. Even though we live in totally different states, we’ve never met in person and that really inspires me meeting people like you who are doing amazing things and are able to do what I think is everybody well, I don’t know if it’s everybody’s ideal, but it’s certainly mine is being able to, like, feel really good about getting up every morning for everything that you’re doing in your life.

00;20;32;20 – 00;20;42;00
Anika

Right? So websites, is there anything next going to continue developing what you’re doing or are you going to become a B Corp like?

00;20;42;21 – 00;21;07;05
Lars Dabney

Yeah, actually, B Corp has been on the on the list for a while. I mean, the process is involved. I just haven’t had the bandwidth to really kind of give it the attention it needs to figure that out. But definitely I’m aiming to do that. Eventually. I think, you know, one of the things that’s kind of coming down the pipe for us probably not too far off, is I want to actually experiment a little bit with the corporate structure.

00;21;08;11 – 00;21;28;08
Lars Dabney

I I, I, as, as you may have picked up, I’m kind of a lefty and, and I’m a little skeptical or not skeptical, but I think like the next major step that we as a species need to take is kind of reinventing or evolving capitalism because like the way it’s structured right now is not working

00;21;28;08 – 00;21;31;19
Anika

Well, it’s corporatism. You know.

00;21;32;01 – 00;22;00;27
Lars Dabney

Exactly. Exactly. And Jeff Bezos becoming Emperor of the moon is not something that I see as like, a positive for humanity. So I’m really intrigued by, you know, looking at things like collective kind of structures, you know, cooperative type things. So that’s something that as I get the team a little bigger and as I get writing through it into more of a position where it can kind of run itself, that that I really want to do with that, that I kind of want to turn it into some sort of hippie commune.

00;22;01;06 – 00;22;18;22
Anika

Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s I mean, again, I’m like generalizing, like everybody wants to that like, no, not everybody wants to do that. But definitely my friends and I always talked about like let’s get some land and we’ll have like some common, you know, Eddy use where we have the common kitchen and living spaces.

00;22;19;06 – 00;22;19;25
Lars Dabney

Where I grew up in-

00;22;19;25 – 00;22;25;08
Anika

In many homes that we can go off to except without becoming a cult. How do you work that?

00;22;25;27 – 00;22;26;19
Lars Dabney

That’s the trick.

00;22;27;03 – 00;22;27;14
Anika

Yeah.

00;22;27;23 – 00;22;42;15
Lars Dabney

Oh, yeah, yeah. No, I don’t know if you’ve ever read anything about Bow Grippin, but that’s like the German version of it, and I love them. I read an article about it years and years ago, and I sent it to all my friends was like, Let’s do this. Of course we were all in college and nobody had any money.

00;22;42;15 – 00;22;45;19
Lars Dabney

We couldn’t buy property. So it’s not happening. But one day.

00;22;47;12 – 00;22;49;07
Anika

So what is your ideal client?

00;22;50;12 – 00;23;11;18
Lars Dabney

Oh, gosh, I think my personally my ideal client right now, which is which is very much like a moment to moment thing because it’s kind of based on like what I’m really interested in because I do a lot of very sort of selective client outreach. And my ideal client would right now would probably be a social enterprise, right?

00;23;11;18 – 00;23;41;07
Lars Dabney

I’d like to work with a business that is using its business model to shift the way the world works in a good way. And one who, you know, both both has an actual substantial component of it that’s digital, right? Their business model and he recognizes how important that is. Right. And and the potential that it has that like, hey, you know, this is this is something that we really want to spend time on.

00;23;41;16 – 00;24;02;25
Lars Dabney

That we want to think about. And that, like, once we build our digital framework, you know, not just website, but your email campaign, your criminal, this kind of stuff, it’s an ongoing and continuous sharpening effort after that. Right. We don’t it’s not set and forget we want to keep leaning in and like making it better and pushing the numbers in the right direction.

00;24;02;25 – 00;24;23;10
Lars Dabney

Yeah. And you know, in particular, I think lately I’ve been very focused on environmental causes. So I would love to work with a social enterprise that had built a business model around doing something to help save the planet from impending doom. So yeah, that’s, that’s probably my ideal client right now, OK?

00;24;23;26 – 00;24;38;16
Anika

And when somebody comes into you they get a website, you also do like digital marketing advice, SEO, all of like the entire comprehensive digital universe, or?

00;24;38;16 – 00;25;02;00
Lars Dabney

The one piece we don’t do yet is, is digital ad buys. So, so we can actually build the ads or design them if people need us to. And we will analyze the data from those campaigns to assess what changes we should be making on the website or in other pieces of the ecosystem to try and optimize the impact of those campaigns.

00;25;02;10 – 00;25;30;09
Lars Dabney

But we don’t do the actual buys yet because we just don’t have a person on our team who has the right expertize yet. That is a higher I’m looking to make in the next year or so. We will be adding that. But yeah, I mean, beyond that, we do development, we do design, we do. You know what? I kind of broadly refer to his digital strategy, which is that looking at all these pieces of the digital ecosystem and doing this kind of analysis of the data and saying like, all right, you know, we’ve got some bottlenecks here.

00;25;30;09 – 00;25;37;15
Lars Dabney

We’ve got like a fall off at this point, like, yeah, let’s fix these so we can see that big number go up in the right direction. We want it to.

00;25;37;27 – 00;26;02;24
Anika

Yeah, I don’t, I don’t think the normal person who’s trying to get a website and like looking at things understands all the analytics and data mining and things that you have to do behind the scenes to make sure that, you know, I think like somebody I know was working on a website for a nonprofit in San Diego, and they’re realizing people were clicking through like on all these random places weren’t going.

00;26;02;28 – 00;26;20;23
Anika

So they’re like, OK, we’re just going to make all of these links like every word clickable so that it has to where we want them to direct to, to donate or to, you know, decide to fly or whatever. But there is like those little nuances and tweaks that go into the design. And then also you look at brand strategy.

00;26;20;24 – 00;26;25;28
Anika

Does that do they have a brand strategy, do they not, how does that play into it? Right.

00;26;25;28 – 00;26;44;23
Lars Dabney

So yeah, yeah. No, totally. And I think analytics, you know, Google Analytics or honestly any of the different analytics tools out there, they don’t they don’t make it easy, you know, if you’re not already pretty familiar with them. Like when you first pull up a Google Analytics dashboard, you’re just like, what am I supposed to do with this?

00;26;44;24 – 00;27;17;11
Lars Dabney

Another language any of this mean? It is very much another language. So, you know, I think I think being able to help people kind of recognize like yeah, you know, for starters, like, yeah, you need it. I definitely do recommend people to Squarespace solution sometimes, right? When they come to me and they’re like, hey, I’m starting up my solopreneur business and I’ve got, you know, my budget is x hundred dollars and I’m like, don’t hire Dev, because then you’re going to be disappointed and frustrated because you don’t have enough budget for them to do a proper job on this.

00;27;17;21 – 00;27;50;13
Lars Dabney

But you can absolutely do this yourself on Squarespace. And, you know, I can give people like pointers on how to make that work well for them and how to get up and running with that. Yeah. And I have seen people produce, you know, great sort of brass plaque type websites, brochure websites that just kind of, you know, give them that digital presence and then down the road as they grow, you know, have that conversation about like, hey, yeah, you know, if you want to think about how to like really try and improve the number of people coming in from your ads who are actually then selling out your contact form, that’s that’s where we come

00;27;50;13 – 00;27;52;09
Lars Dabney

in. You know, and that’s what we can really help you with.

00;27;52;25 – 00;28;06;12
Anika

Awesome. Well, is there anything that we haven’t covered that you wanted to share with the audience today? If somebody is looking at, you know, how to make sure that they have a website that presents who they are in the world in their brand?

00;28;06;28 – 00;28;47;21
Lars Dabney

Yeah. I think honestly, like one of the things I would say in the context of the last like two to five years is that like never underestimate the impact that your voice has, that your businesses or your brand’s voice has. You know, it is society is collective, right? The societal changes, our collective and putting the effort in to express what you care about and to and to say like, hey, we are we’re a company that really like we give a damn about plastic in the ocean.

00;28;47;25 – 00;29;08;09
Lars Dabney

And granted, that’s kind of remote from what we actually do. But like we put the effort in and we minimize packaging waste and we have taken these steps to like recycle these components. You know, it’s it might seem small compared to all the other things that you’re trying to do with your website. But like that that can shift the social dialog, right?

00;29;08;09 – 00;29;32;12
Lars Dabney

Other people see that and like, oh, I didn’t know that was possible. And maybe I should be doing that with my company or asking the, the other company that I buy stuff from what they’re doing about this. Yeah. And it just, you know, it has this knock on effect and so I think I think putting your, your ideas into your brand, into the work that you’re doing, into the thing that consumes 80% of your time right.

00;29;33;17 – 00;29;44;03
Lars Dabney

Is it can be so much more significant than you realize and is so true worthwhile thing to do and so yeah, that’s, that’s, that’s my like say.

00;29;44;26 – 00;30;06;07
Anika

That’s great advice and it’s something I was actually thinking of like oh yeah. Because I’m about, I’m redoing like my own personal brand stuff and I’m like, yeah, I need to really like put all that stuff on there as I’m thinking about like how I want it to look and feel like. So people really understand, like, what my values are and who I am and how I’m going to shop for them is the same way I’m going to shop for myself.

00;30;06;07 – 00;30;08;18
Anika

Right? That’s the goal.

00;30;09;06 – 00;30;10;16
Lars Dabney

Yeah, yeah. Totally.

00;30;10;27 – 00;30;15;18
Anika

So Lightingfruit.com and on all socials.

00;30;16;20 – 00;30;23;23
Lars Dabney

Yes, Lighting Fruit on all of the socials. It’s fortunately and nobody else uses that name. Yeah, we got we got the OG handle on all of ’em.

00;30;25;04 – 00;30;26;22
Anika

How did you come up with that name?

00;30;28;00 – 00;31;03;13
Lars Dabney

So there’s an elaborate story on somewhere on I think it’s on an old version of our website involving like a grandfather of mine who was a pirate captain in Madagascar and a lemon tree on top of his house. Well, but the actual story is word association. I was just like, OK, Internet, digital electricity, lightning name and and then fruit is like, you know, the fruit of our labors, you know, this good thing that we’ve created and that we give to you, you know, it’s got a lot of positive connotations so yeah, slap those two together and like before you go, awesome.

00;31;04;16 – 00;31;05;26
Anika

Do you have a favorite quote?

00;31;07;03 – 00;31;15;10
Lars Dabney

Oh, favorite quote. Oh, yeah. Hang on now, let me pull up Facebook. I haven’t I haven’t looked at my Facebook profile in forever, but I do have some quotes on there.

00;31;15;14 – 00;31;15;24
Anika

Nice.

00;31;17;11 – 00;31;40;11
Lars Dabney

I will say, I quote I quote, MLK on the arc of history bends towards justice all the time because I’m a diehard optimist. And like when people are bemoaning the doom and gloom of the world, I’m always like, I think we’ll get there as a species eventually. But oh, man, this is it. OK, so this quotes from a Terry Pratchett book.

00;31;40;11 – 00;31;42;18
Lars Dabney

I don’t know if you know Terry Pratchett. You do.

00;31;43;13 – 00;31;44;07
Anika

No? I don’t know.

00;31;44;15 – 00;32;13;19
Lars Dabney

Oh, yeah. So he’s a he’s a British- was, he passed away recently unfortunately. He’s a British comedic author, And he’s written this extensive series of books in this place called The Discworld, which is very much a parody of our world. And each book kind of focuses on parodying a particular thing. OK, now here’s a question. Do you know where to find the quote section on a Facebook profile?

00;32;13;22 – 00;32;18;16
Lars Dabney

Is it in About still? No, no.

00;32;18;21 – 00;32;22;00
Anika

Like if you look at your profile, you don’t just see a quote underneath the-

00;32;22;05 – 00;32;52;28
Lars Dabney

Yeah, it’s like it used to be right there. But I mean, OK, honestly, I mean, I’m going to disclose something here, I don’t social at all. Like I avoided like the plague. And it’s not that- I just, I just, well, I don’t even avoid it, really. I just kind of stopped. I felt like it was it was not giving me a lot of meaningful interactions with people and I kind of was just like, you know, I, I feel like I’d rather what’s at my family.

00;32;54;06 – 00;33;23;01
Lars Dabney

So, so I haven’t really looked I can’t find it. But let’s see how does the quote start? I can probably do this. I stuff my head. This is a book that is a from a book called Jingo that is a parody of actually a very prescient parody of kind of be like Iraq War. He wrote it in before that happened.

00;33;24;08 – 00;33;43;07
Lars Dabney

He wrote it in the late nineties. So it may have actually been a reference to Desert Storm kind of, but it was kind of about the conflict between the West and Middle East culturally and kind of sending it up and being like, look, this is ridiculous. Like, there’s no reason for us to have that’s like other than like all the moneyed interests behind it.

00;33;44;00 – 00;34;16;21
Lars Dabney

And at the end of that, the patrician of Ankh-Morpork, who’s this incredibly intelligent political figure who’s just constantly kind of behind the scenes, like always knows what’s going on. And he kind of single handedly orchestrates peace when everybody else is so dead set on going to war. And he says, “bought and sold men, marched away commander Byams, and then came back how glorious the battles that they never fought.

00;34;18;05 – 00;34;47;18
Lars Dabney

And you say bought and sold perhaps, but not, I think, needlessly spent.” so I always like that quote. I think it reflects I mean, I think it’s very clever. It’s very clever character. But you know, it’s it’s this question of like geopolitics and the systems around us are always going to be shoving us around. Yeah. You know, the thing what’s happening in the Ukraine right now is like a horrific travesty.

00;34;47;24 – 00;35;23;06
Lars Dabney

The individuals caught up in it are not behind it. You know, they aren’t the cause for it. They are being bought and sold. But there are you know, it is still possible to be a force for insuring for trying to make it such that, like these events are not wasted, you know, that like these lives aren’t lost meaninglessly, that something is made of the tragedy and and that somehow we use that to, like, bend ourselves towards being better.

00;35;23;25 – 00;35;36;08
Anika

So yeah, yeah, we might we could just keep talking probably for hours but I’m going to stop myself for sure.

00;35;36;08 – 00;35;37;29
Lars Dabney

Yeah. No, I definitely could.

00;35;38;07 – 00;35;57;29
Anika

I think that that but that brings up, you know, it just goes back to the work that you’re trying to do every day and that you’re really trying to help change people’s hearts and minds by what they see when they go to one of your client’s websites and how they see that they can show up in the world and how they can make an impact.

00;35;58;12 – 00;35;59;09
Anika

And that’s really beautiful.

00;35;59;09 – 00;36;00;21
Lars Dabney

So yeah. That’s what I’m hoping for.

00;36;01;09 – 00;36;12;16
Anika

Yeah. Thank you for taking some- Well, I guess there’s probably no snow, so I was going to say thanks for not going snowboarding today and taking the time to be interviewed by me instead.

00;36;12;29 – 00;36;15;16
Lars Dabney

Of course, my pleasure. Yes.

00;36;16;06 – 00;36;21;25
Anika

Well, and I would love to put that book in the show notes too, because now I’m like, Oh, now I’m intrigued. I went, Oh.

00;36;21;25 – 00;36;22;21
Lars Dabney

Yeah, yeah.

00;36;22;27 – 00;36;34;02
Lars Dabney

Jingo by Terry Pratchett. It’s great. It’s really funny. It’s really, really clever, really funny. And when you realize it was written before 911, it is so prescient. It’s kind of mind boggling.

00;36;34;15 – 00;36;55;28
Anika

Amazing. Well, thank you for an open, honest, fun, rambling conversation today on Your Brand Amplified. I love talking to you. And I know that our audience will get value out of this and really hopefully come away thinking about how to be authentic and show their values every day in their work. And I guess that we’ll be back again next week! Want more?

00;36;56;06 – 00;37;02;01
Anika

Check out AmplifywithAnnika.com or follow me on socials @AmplifywithAnnika.

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