Micky Deming: (00:35) Hello and welcome to the TREPX Podcast! This is Micky Deming and I’m really excited about today’s interview! I had a chance to talk with a fellow journalist. I talked to Leanna Johnson who is a journalist and who is using her journalism to build a business around it and to promote entrepreneurs to help them tell their stories. As entrepreneurs, as business owners we talked about this in the Chris Smith interview if you’ve heard that, telling your story is one of the most important things you have to figure out how to do. How to pull out those stories of who you are, of why you do what you do, and sometimes we can’t pull it out of ourselves.
We need to be interviewed, we need to talk to someone else, and a journalist can really help with that. So Leanna is doing that for others and she is really documenting everything that she’s doing, everything that others are doing, on her website. It’s some really cool stuff. So if you are at all curious about how to do some better storytelling, some better writing, you definitely want to check out her site and everything she’s up to. You can find it at LostLass.com and again that is Leanna Johnson.
Had a great time talking to her. Talking about the fun journalism stuff that we’ve both seen with interviewing and telling stories. Very much enjoyed chatting with her. Again, you can see her at LostLass.com and see this interview at TREPEXGroup.com. Please enjoy this interview with Leanna Johnson.
Micky Deming: (02:04) Hello Leanna Johnson, welcome to the TREPX Podcast! How are you doing today?
Leanna Johnson: (02:08) Hey Micky! Glad to be here! Thanks for the opportunity.
Micky Deming: (02:11) I am really pumped because we have so much in common. I just sense how exciting that is! The main thing is that we are both journalist. I guess I would be a former journalist, but it’s still in my soul and you are very much a journalist. This is going to be fun!
Leanna Johnson: (02:30) I think so too!
Micky Deming: (02:31) I don’t think I’ve interviewed a journalist before, but here’s where I think I was disappointed because our way into journalism, yours was so much more noble than mine! I was reading your website and it says, “I became by the human experience. I combined my love of world cultures, curiosity of the human condition, and global awareness to create a multi-dimensional, multi-media career”. That’s so awesome!
Leanna Johnson: (02:58) That was also really good copywriters, just so you know!
Micky Deming: (03:04) When people ask me like why did you get into journalism? I say, well I was a pretty good writer and I like sports, so I thought I could write about sports and that’s my answer. Yours is so much cooler!
Leanna Johnson: (03:16) Blinding skills! Yeah well, I guess writing has always been sort of a part of how I communicate and I traveled a lot when I was a kid and up until now. I have a pretty multi-cultural background, so it just kind of seemed to fit. I don’t know, it was sort of a natural progression. I grew up wanting to be an FBI agent, so I didn’t start off with the journalism thing. I sort of rejected the idea of criminal justice early on in college when I figured out how much desk work that would be and how probably boring that would become and I thought you know what, I can just kind of make my own rules and do my own thing as a journalist and still have that kind of detective, dangerous, fun experience. So there might be a little bit of an adrenalin junkie in there too.
Micky Deming: (04:17) That’s cool! So you’re going to create the next cereal, that’s what you’re saying. You’re working on that right now? No, this is cool! There are so many things I want to ask. This audience being entrepreneurs, I always have said this, that the skillset you needed for journalism is so important in marketing and entrepreneurship and communication and so I think there is a lot we can learn from you and your experience, but before we get into that I just want to let you share kind of an overview of your business and how you’ve turned your journalism skills into an actual business.
Leanna Johnson: (04:55) Well Micky, I honestly didn’t take the traditional route. When I think of journalism, I think of someone who works on the school paper, who practices photography from when they’re like 13, and interviews everyone, and just sort of builds up this really solid, awesome background with internships, and jobs, and so forth in college. I did not do any of that. I did dabble a little bit in newspaper and magazine journalism early on in community college, but I took kind of a roundabout way to get to it I guess. Instead of majoring in journalism, I actually majored in communication at UIC in Chicago. You could concentrate in journalism, but I really got this, I think of it as, English degree for 21st century people where you can actually make money as opposed to where you can’t.
I learned kind of the basics of marketing and PR and because I was fascinated by culture, I combined that with Asian studies. So I was studying Asian film, Asian media, kind of global communication trends, and then I was sort of funneling that into journalism. I ended up doing some really cool work with a Bollywood dance troupe who I danced with for a while and then I did photography and video for and I ended up with this weird little internship at a church near my house where I would make promotional videos for their rummage sales and sort of learn things on the fly. So a lot of the journalism, aside from the writing which really has been a continuous interest for most of my life, the sort of multi-media aspect of journalism, the interviewing that all kind of build haphazardly and fell into it. That created a lot of interesting stories and a lot of interesting freelance work. My first freelance video was a funeral and I still remember sticking a camera in the faces of people who were mourning the loss of their loved one. I thought, oh God I don’t know if I’m in the right field. I don’t know what I’m doing here, but I think my love of travel sort of led me back to this idea of having a solid blog, of having a solid presence, of connecting with the community of people, and I think that’s really where my interest in entrepreneurship and business sort of started to take off.
Micky Deming: (07:58) That was going to be my next question is like a lot of people that kind of have that skill set aren’t normally going to think how can I work on my own like this? So I’m curious, like did you always fill like kind of wired that way? Like I want to find a way to make this work and what’s it been like to transition to that and to have your own business? Was that difficult at all or did you just kind of know, like I have to make this work no matter what?
Leanna Johnson: (08:28) I knew pretty early on that having a full-time sort of desk job, career was going to be very difficult for me. I am very independent, not very good with authority. I have had a series of kind of odd part-time jobs over the years that really made me appreciate sort of a different side of life and having the flexibility and I always ended up choosing flexibility over the stability of benefits and vacation days and sick days and so forth. That just kind of worked for me. I mean, it’s hard eating Raman a lot, but you can basically anywhere and you can take three months off and travel to Europe and you can’t really do that with a traditional desk job.
So that and again sort of being part of, I found a good travel community in Chicago. They started off as Go Girl and they are Wanderful now. A beautiful network of women travelers and a lot of them were bloggers. There were a good number of journalists and a good number of photographers and they built their lives around this love of travel. I thought that’s what I want to do, except with journalism. I want to build my life around what I love to do so I have that flexibility to go where I want to and to travel and to see the world as it is and not sort of as I want it to be.
Micky Deming: (10:05) Right and I think there is kind of a like two things working at once there. Your skillset that you own and that you do is also the same thing that is allowing you to have clarity about the things you want to do. I know in the business that you have, the people you work with, a core element of it is the writing, is the storytelling, is the information gathering and I think probably one of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs is like I have so many ideas in my head, I have so many different things going together at once, like how do I clarify that? Do you find that’s a big part of what you’re doing as you work with people, is to help them put on your journalism hat and condense it and find what actually really matters?
Leanna Johnson: (10:56) Yeah! No, that’s very true. I think it’s also, as an entrepreneur, that I think that’s an important part of being and entrepreneur, being a journalist, is being able to see things from all different angles and to kind of narrow the focus, if you will. Not only for other people but for yourself as well because you’re never going to have a solid business if you’re not sure which direction you’re heading in. So it’s sort of finding that purpose, finding those niches that you feel like you have, you can bring some good information to the table, you feel like you have a passion for, you feel like you have some expertise in, and sort of narrowing those down. It’s a lengthy process, but eventually, you can take that struggle and you can market it and in this age where authenticity and transparency are the catchwords of marketing, it’s really blogging and sort of confessing those sort of weaknesses as you build your business really helps you figure out what audience you’re looking for and what your audience needs. It connects you, I think, in a very strong way.
As you said, it is a big part of being a journalist is really kind of narrowing that down for people. Figuring out not only what they want to say, but the story they need to tell and to how best to tell it. What media form to use, the right words to go with their brand, and so forth.
Micky Deming: (12:43) Yeah, I love that. I think that’s extremely important. I think every business needs a journalist around at least because I know like just from my experience, you know if you’re telling a story or you’re righting for a newspaper it is always better to have more sources or more information than you need. I’d rather have too much than not enough because you can always filter through it and I think, you know, for entrepreneurs they have so much and they’re like I actually do have too much, but I don’t know how to filter through it. We have this here at our company, like where our founder a lot of times will just throw information at me because he’s like I know that if it’s not worth using right now you’ll get rid of it, but I know at least your eyes will see it and I’m always like good! I want more information just because I’ll filter through it and I think that’s an important thing for people to understand, like how can you use those skill? Don’t just delete information, but take it in and find out what is most important.
As far as storytelling, I think that’s almost become a buzzword now with marketing. It’s like, how do you tell your story and be authentic? That’s a real skill. I’m curious, what are some of the things you’ve done to help people and to do it for your own business that are key elements in good storytelling?
Leanna Johnson: (14:09) Oh my goodness! Ummm, well see honestly I have a love-hate relationship with this whole personal branding, personal marketing thing because it really forces you to get really into not only what you want to do and what you’re good, but why. Where do you come from and who are you as a person and it gets really personal and deep very quickly. I have had a hard time with that because I am not the best at self-motion, to be honest. I don’t like it. I don’t feel like I’m using the right words to describe myself. It always seems easier to tell someone else’s story than your own, but I think it’s an invaluable part of building a business. Especially in a century where freelancing is at an all-time high.
What with the economy, what with the job market, you’ve got so many people going into business for themselves. Just all across the board and all different sectors and there really is this rush to sort of stand out from the crowd. I think personal marketing is kind of the key to that. I have had to sort of dig into my multi-cultural and travel background. I lately did an article series on what it’s like to grow up in different parts of the world and how disconnected and unusual and sort of different that can make you feel and how you sort of end up with an identity crisis. Then I sort of took the idea of mental issues like PTSD or anxiety, which I have some issues with, and that’s sort of another personal platform that you can work from. You know, past interests, past experiences, hobbies, you know it really is about taking the basics of who you are as a person and it’s funny how difficult that can be at times and saying, you know what, what do I have to say about this. How can I market this as a skill? How can I promote myself this way?
It can be something as simple as just talking to people in a dance class or at a coffee shop you like to frequent. It’s really not about selling yourself 100% of the time, but recognizing that you as a person are a valuable commodity. Not just because of your skill set, but because of your character and your interests and your experiences and kind of building on that. I don’t think anyone can do that alone. I have had a lot of people who have had to help me see that and sort of focus into that.
Micky Deming: (17:12) Yeah, isn’t that funny? It like goes to that same conversation with journalism. I feel the same way. It’s so much easier to write about others, to talk about others, to promote others than it is for yourself, but at the same time, I have had people that I’ve interviewed that are like I’ve never said something like that before. I’ve never heard myself communicate that way before. You asking questions brought that out of me and we have to do the same thing. It doesn’t have to be a professional journalist, just someone who can ask good questions and bring those things out can be incredibly clarifying just to get interviewed. I think that’s incredibly important.
Leanna Johnson: (17:54) Yeah, I agree.
Micky Deming: (17:56) So it’s cool. That’s kind of what I think is interesting with this is just how you can take these skills of writing and of researching and of gathering information and use them as a business. I am curious to know, as you are pulling this together and it’s kind of new territory, what’s next for your platform and where are things headed?
Leanna Johnson: (18:24) Well now that I’ve got sort of a decent website and a decent brand, again that’s kind of been a trial and error process, and now that I’m finally getting somewhere with that and I’m comfortable with it, I see a lot of promotion. That is something that I’m sort of dreading, but I know it will have to happen, but I’m hoping this year to make the transition to being a full-time freelancer. I’m not sure how doable that is at the moment, but it’s the small steps in between I think that will really get me there. There’s registering your business, there’s establishing sort of a client base and figuring out the markets that you really want to work for, the magazines and newspapers you’re interested in, the kind of regional publications, or online markets that will be willing to pay you at least decently for your work until you are at a point where you can sort of ask for more money.
I spent the last year, did a couple of paid gigs, but a lot of it, a lot of my published work was unpaid and it was great exposure and it was great promotion for me and for them, but now I’m like ok I need to get paid for all of this. This is a lot of work, a lot of time, and a lot of effort and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s really part of being in a business and I think sometimes we have to kind of let ourselves off the hook, at least as a writing I just kind of want to go into a cabin in the woods and just write. Just go that Thoreau route and sort of write. You know writing is a form of art and sort of be that artist, but at the same time, I also want to be a part of the world and be recognized and paid for what I do. There’s that as well. Definitely next step is kind of pulling together that business now that I have a logo and a face to put to my work and a good solid body of work in the same place, which is saying something. It’s all about findings those clients and really setting up my life to work around what I want to do.
Micky Deming: (21:02) That is so great! Well, I think you’re definitely on the right track. Just having skills that fill needs and having the ability to tell stories, the ability to communicate, the ability to pull real information out from people and tell their story I think is awesome! I am excited for you! I am grateful for you taking the time in this interview. I think there’s a lot to take away from your story and all you shared. I want people to find out more because I think your services would be valuable for the entrepreneurs listening. Where can we find out more about all you’re up to and find you on the internet?
Leanna Johnson: (21:42) Oh yeah, sure! So my new website just launched. It’s LostLass.com. I am also on Facebook at Lost Lass Facebook page and if you are interested in looking me up on Twitter, Leanna Lost. There is that kind of marketing continuity right there. It’s picking a word and sticking with it! I thought that kind of fit who I am and kind of my brand and yeah, happy to connect with anyone. I love collaborating on different projects. I also have a world music radio show called Masonna Sounds. It is with a small new local station, mostly geared towards the South Asian community in Chicago, but its radio (__________). They are on Facebook and Twitter as well and so far I broadcast twice a month. I’m hoping to kind of expand on that in the next few months.
Micky Deming: (22:52) Very cool; that’s great stuff! Thank you so much for sharing and for taking the time, I really appreciate it. You keep up the great work!
Leanna Johnson: (23:00) Thanks Micky, you too!
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Micky Deming: (00:35) Hello entrepreneurs! This is Micky Deming and this is the TREPX Podcast. The podcast where we talk about entrepreneurship and how to grow a business, how to build something that is bigger than yourself, and there is a variety of ways to do that. In this podcast we cover so many different topics and in this episode is one that is I think we covered some of the most important pieces. They have to do with really how you approach entrepreneurship and how you approach building team and building something bigger than yourself.
It was so cool to get to meet and talk to the guest of this episode who is Emad Rahim and Emad has quite a background that you will hear in this episode. A crazy story of where he’s come from and he has been through a lot and turned it into an incredible story. He has impacted so many people. He is doing amazing things. In this we talk really about education, entrepreneurship, and really the future of entrepreneurship and what the younger generation of entrepreneurs need to know.
One amazing take away that I wrote down after talking to Emad was that the most important thing that he wants entrepreneurs to understand, and I want everybody to hear this, is that it’s not about you. So if you make it about you, you will always be limited in what you can accomplish. There is always a limit to that, but if you make it about something that’s bigger than you and make it about a team and make it about others who you are serving, you have the opportunity to do something that is really significant. So that is one of many great takeaways in this episode that I think you will enjoy.
I really want you to check out Emad’s website. You can find him at EmadRahim.com and you can see his Ted Talk and all of the stuff he does on twitter and all over the place, the books he has written. A very, very interesting guy and I had a blast talking to him, so check him out, EmadRahim.com. You can check out this episode which will also have a link to his site and all the stuff he has done at TREPXGroup.com. Thanks to Emad for joining and thank you for being here and hearing this episode and so I will now turn it over to the interview. Please enjoy this conversation with Emad Rahim.
Micky Deming: (02:48) Hello Emad; welcome to the TREPX Podcast! How are you doing today?
Emad Rahim: (02:52) I’m doing wonderful! How are you doing today?
Micky Deming: (02:53) I’m doing fantastic! I am thrilled to have this conversation! I have read about you and your story is an incredibly inspiring one and some of the listeners who may not know it, or not heard it, I really want them to know it. Can you, just to start out, share a little bit of back story and how you got here today?
Emad Rahim: (03:15) Oh, wow! Where should I begin? I was born in a concentration camp in the killing fields of Cambodia, umm and like many refugees, we escaped the area that was in turmoil, was in the middle of war, and we ended up in a refugee camp in Thailand and eventually we go sponsored to come to America. Like most refugees and immigrants that come to America, they weren’t placed in a great neighborhood. They were not often placed in the suburbs, right? So they ended up placing us in one of the roughest neighborhoods in Brooklyn in the 80’s. I grew up in Sunset Park, Brooklyn in the 80’s during the height of the crack epidemic, when poverty was at an all-time high, when gangs were at an all-time high. This was before the “hipster” Brooklyn that we know today with Beyoncé and Jay Z and all of that fun stuff happening.
I grew up in that type of environment for many, many years and as a kid I was shot in the leg, just being at the wrong place at the wrong time during a street block party. My mother made the hard decision to relocate us to Syracuse, New York, which is upstate New York about 4 hours away from New York City, to give us a better life, but even in upstate we still had our struggles. We lived in section 8 housing. We lived in the west side of Syracuse, which is right now considered the highest concentration in poverty of all of the United States so it is still a very struggling community, but a loving community. I would say people are wonderful here and we decided to stay here, but I found my way through education.
As a young person, as an adolescent, I struggled with education. I am dyslexic so I struggled with learning disabilities throughout my public education years, but I realized dyslexia was not an issue for me. It was actually and opportunity when I entered college and I found ways to really grow and learn and to improve on what was considered disability. I took advantage of that and really entered programs and engaged in programs that allowed me to take advantage of what was considered disability and I excelled in education in college. I went on to earn a doctorate in management, studied at Harvard, and also in that process discovered my love for entrepreneurship and really developed those entrepreneurship skills by way of trial and error. I probably had more failures than success, right?
Micky Deming: (06:10) That’s the best way! That’s incredible! It’s such an incredible question and I have so many questions about that. One is, just when you were in that as you were growing up and you were in a situation that most people would look at as impossible or you know that there’s just a limit to how much you can grow and you fell in love with learning, like what was your mindset about your own future? Like when you were growing up in Brooklyn and it was hard, did you see yourself knowing you would have all of this education or like how did you approach your own future in that time?
Emad Rahim: (06:49) It was survival mode, to be honest. I didn’t have any future or plans, I would say, or career plans. I think we just wanted to survive. I think people living in those types of conditions, you just want to be comfortable, right? And the word comfortable means different things to different people. I just wanted to be able to provide for my family. I wanted to be able to live. I wanted to stay out of incarceration because so many of my friends and kids I grew up with are locked up, you know?
Micky Deming: (07:23) Yeah and then you took to learning. I think that’s such an important thing because so many people either they grow up in a better situation or a privileged American lifestyle don’t really value education and learning. How did you come across that? Was just again, out of necessity?
Emad Rahim: (07:42) You know, education is funny to me because when you grow up, I think most kids hate education. You might get picked on at school and things like that. I had a mentor. I was fortunate to have someone later on in high school see something in me. He was an administrator by the name of Willie Dardel that really took me under his wing. He saw that I was struggling. He saw that I was getting into trouble, but he also a positive, I guess, character in me. He took me under his wing and he pushed me and he drove me to really desire education, right? He saw the possibilities of what it can do for me and once I started achieving certain things, like my high school diploma and when I earned my associate degree, it gave me this fulfillment that didn’t exist and it also gave me that push that wanted me to seek other things and look for other things and also know that there are a lot of possibilities out there that I did not think were available to me.
Micky Deming: (08:53) Right, right that makes perfect sense. I love how you say you ran into entrepreneurship as you did that and you fell in love with that. I have a lot of questions about that and about education, about entrepreneurship and learning it, and I’ll start here because there’s an interesting, I guess, dynamic between education and entrepreneurship. First, how do you define the word entrepreneur? I know a lot of people have different definitions. What does that word mean to you?
Emad Rahim: (09:20) Well to me, entrepreneurship is innovation, it is creativity, right? It’s making something unique, something different, something new, and really creating a solution to a problem, right? That solution becomes an opportunity, whether it is a service or product, right? So I think that’s where the different definitions come to play is really how you see yourself in that entrepreneurship space, right? It could be a lifestyle decision. It could be a growth decision. It could be an environmental decision. You want to make a social impact to your community. So I think it really varies in regards to the definition, but that’s how I describe entrepreneurship.
Micky Deming: (10:05) Yeah, I think that’s great. So with the past that you had, the background you had, how does that carry into the way you approach entrepreneurship.
Emad Rahim: (10:19) I always tell people that I don’t have a plan B, right? So there’s just a plan A, so I’m like gung-ho! I’ll go at it, just work it to death. If it doesn’t work out then sometimes I jump ship and I start something new. I don’t give up. I think people that grew up without a plan be, right? That’s all you have, like this is the only car your family had, you know, this is the only job you have. This is the only neighborhood you grew up in. You don’t really have that plan B and I always say that it’s not a bad thing to have a plan B, but when you only have a plan A that’s all you focus on, right? That’s all you can do. That’s all you think about. That’s what you live and breathe and it consumes you, right? And I think in a good way.
So that’s how I see entrepreneurship and that’s how I kind of get into entrepreneurship, but also when it comes to the decisions that I make to get involved in different business ventures, I really have to do what I’m passion in, right? There are a lot of opportunities to make money, but if I’m not passionate in it, if I don’t see a future in it, if I don’t see how it impacts society around me, my neighborhood, my community, people that will utilize it, then I don’t get involved in it because it doesn’t bring any meaning to me.
Micky Deming: (11:47) That’s awesome! Yeah, I think those go together because if you’re going to say I don’t have a plan B, I’m going all in, you’re not going to do that on something that you don’t feel excited about. Those two things absolutely go hand in hand and it makes a lot of sense. It goes also into that conversation about connecting it with education and you said when you fell in love with entrepreneurship and started learning, a lot of your lessons learned were learned the hard way and so can you describe that and how do you approach learning entrepreneurship? Do you have to dive in? How do you meld those two worlds together?
Emad Rahim: (12:24) So when I was in my 20’s or even late teens, when I got involved in business projects I did dive in. I was a risk taker. I jumped right in, right? I kind of sane or swim type of mode, but that’s being young and that’s being excited. As I got older, I’m more cautious. I do a little bit more reading. I ask more questions. I observe a lot more before actually agreeing to be a part of something. I think we have this maturity model when it comes to education and entrepreneurship. When we are young we are really inspired with the opportunity, with all of the possibilities. As we get older, we become more strategic, more aware of our surroundings, and the impact of that business.
Education and entrepreneurship go hand in hand. I know there have been a lot of debates, especially in higher education. Do you really need to be taught entrepreneurship? Can entrepreneurship be taught? Right? I think it’s a mixture of both. Education is really a lifelong learning type of opportunity. It something that you just can’t stop one day and say I’m done with it and with education you become a better entrepreneur. That is through experience, through research, and that’s all a part of education. It doesn’t all have to be academics. It doesn’t have to be all curriculum related, but the experience in itself is education.
Micky Deming: (13:58) Right, it’s like you have to learn to love learning to succeed as an entrepreneur, otherwise you’re not going to last too long.
Emad Rahim: (14:07) That’s exactly it! And also when it comes to the academic environment, often we get these ideas from our surroundings, right? Being on campus next to other students that think different, that do different things, have different ideas often allows us to step outside that comfort zone and think of new possibilities.
Micky Deming: (14:34) Yeah, yeah that’s absolutely true and I think that probably another way to look at it too is that there are certain skills that every, you know every entrepreneur is different, but there are certain skills that I think a lot of them have in common and those can be learned and those can be improved. Those can be developed. So with you and all of the experience you have with working with a variety of different entrepreneurs and education, what are some of those core skills that you see that are most common that every entrepreneur needs to at least have a strong level of.
Emad Rahim: (15:10) Well, one of the skills I would say is really being a critical thinker, right? I think good entrepreneurs, or even great entrepreneurs, are critical thinkers. They look at the possibilities and opportunity more critical. They analyze it. I think Mark Cuban is a good example of that. He analyzes everything. You see him in Shark Tank and before he even says anything, he’s analyzing, he’s thinking about it, right? I think being a critical thinker is a great skill to have and it’s a skill that, I think, every entrepreneur needs.
In order to also work very well with people, with your potential customers, with selling, with getting investors, you need emotional intelligence. Those people that have this very strong, charismatic trait and are considered transformation leaders. Someone like, I want to say Steve Jobs, but I know a lot of people say he did not have emotional intelligence, but he did! I think he knew how to really pick at people a certain way, to push people a certain way, and he knew his customers very well. I think in so many ways that in itself is an emotional intelligence.
Micky Deming: (16:27) Yeah, yeah absolutely. Those are great skills and things that can be developed. It’s a mix. You learn them from books and from education and you learn then from throwing yourself in there and from getting better and applying. I think those are things people need to pay attention to. A lot has been made of this next generation and the up and coming entrepreneurs. I know you’re being involved in higher education that you see a lot of 20-somethings that are coming into the world. I want to know this from you, what’s one thing that, like if you could have one message or one thing that this up and coming generation of entrepreneurs knew, what would that be?
Emad Rahim: (17:13) That it’s not about you. It’s not always about you. I have mentored a lot of startup teams at various universities and sometimes the conversation changes from the business to the person, right? I see teams really taking selfies and tweeting what they’re doing, versus doing it. Instead of using the word “I”, use the word “we”. I started noticing a lot more of this type of behavior and this type of communication in this generation versus Generation X and so forth.
So you have to go back to the roots and the roots is not you. It’s the customers you’re going to be serving, right? People need to like you, obviously, as the lead and as the face of the business, but that business needs to provide a service. It needs to create a solution for a problem that exists in our society. That’s what makes business successful. An example would be Facebook. A lot of people didn’t like Mark Zuckerberg, right? When you read the books, when you read all of these articles about him, even the movie, it didn’t pain him in a good light, but at the same time you wanted the product. You wanted to be on Facebook. You wanted to utilize its services and a lot of people can’t live without that now. So if I had to say anything to this generation, is to always reflect on what you’re doing and remember it’s not about you, it’s about your team and about your business.
Micky Deming: (19:07) That’s awesome! I love that so much! If you make it about you, then you’re trapped. What if something happens to you or how do you ever get away? I think that’s such an important point and so I want to go into a little bit more because I think that’s a huge challenge. Even entrepreneurs that maybe it’s not like ego-tripping, it’s just like I don’t know how to separate myself from it or I don’t know how to make it about the business and not about me. What are some things that people can do that are struggling with that? Like, I’ve built this business, but it’s kind of all coming back to me. How do I get it to grow beyond myself? What are some ways that people can think about to do that?
Emad Rahim: (19:46) They call that founder’s syndrome, when you’re the founder and you become emotionally attached to it. The important piece is to focus on that passion again. Why are you doing this? Why are you a part of this? Find other people that are just as passionate about that idea, about that product, about that business because if you surround yourself with like-minded people that have the same drive and have that passion, you become re-energized. You become re-engaged not just in what you’re doing, but in why you are doing it and you create a community around you that is invested in you, the product, this idea, and the possibilities of this business. So I think that’s the important piece is to really surround yourself with good, like-minded people that are just as passionate as you, that will push you, that will support you, that will drive you to success. At the same time, you have to reflect back and know that you didn’t do it alone, right? I always take time to do some reflection.
Regardless of my success, I always remember that I didn’t do it alone. I have to humble myself and really reflect and say you know what, I didn’t do this. Who can I thank right now? Who can I call and thank? Where can I show my appreciation? Who should own this credit? It humbles me to do this and sometimes humbling is a good thing.
Micky Deming: (21:23) That’s awesome. I think that is probably one of the hardest things about entrepreneurship is that you can’t do it alone and so you have to learn how to work with people, how to work with a team, and it’s so important and so rewarding when you do it. When the team comes together and it is bigger than you then that’s ultimately rewarding and so I really appreciate your perspective on that. I think that is so important for people to learn that it does not have to be all about you. It really goes back to, as we start to wrap this up there’s one thing I want to come back to you, and that’s just your definition of entrepreneurship and your passion for entrepreneurship and just how important it is just for our world and the possibilities out there. Can you share a little bit, you said you were passionate about it, why are you so passionate about entrepreneurship? Why is that so meaningful to you and to our world?
Emad Rahim: (22:16) Because it takes a person out of poverty. It takes a person out of desperation and into something that is amazing and that is wonderful. I think only entrepreneurship can do that. When you have non-for-profits that offer a service, it’s a short term solution. When someone is inspired to create, to make, to do something that transformed their life, transformed the way they lived, that is more meaningful and only entrepreneurship does that. At least from what I’ve seen. Only entrepreneurship can do that. I have had the privilege of seeing how a business idea come to fruition and not only that person’s life, but also change how they see life, right? Their self-esteem increases. Their sense of awareness and accomplishment increases. Their network, they step outside their comfort zone, they become a different person, a better person, and that also changes the people around them, their family, their friends, and the people in their community.
You are in a place, or you should be in a place, to help others. To reach out and do the same for others. That is why I’m so passionate about entrepreneurship because it has not only transformed a lot of lives of people that I’ve worked with, that I have taught, but also my life. I don’t think I would be in the position I am today, be who I am today, married to the person I am with today if it wasn’t for the entrepreneurship mindset.
Micky Deming: (24:07) That’s amazing! It changes your life as the entrepreneur, hopefully impacts the lives of people who you are serving with whatever you’re doing, and also your team. You give a chance for meaningful work and for people to have work that has pride. I think that’s really, really powerful. That’s great. I have one last question just to wrap up because I think this is another important piece because what you’re saying is so inspiring, it’s meaningful, and for entrepreneurs that are listening they want that and they want more. The other side of it is when you’re in the grind, when you’re in that day-to-day and you’re trying to get momentum, get things moving forward, you don’t always feel that “Woohoo, I’m making such an impact on the world”. You can lose site of the things you’re initially passionate about or who you’re serving. What is your advice for that person? The person that’s in that today and they want that meaning and they feel passionate about entrepreneurship, but just in the day-to-day they’re working and they don’t really feel it. What’s your message to that person?
Emad Rahim: (25:14) I always say it’s a good thing to take a break, to reflect why you’re doing this. My break is often leaving the environment I’m in, leaving the place that I’m in, and going to see my children, right? Enjoy their company. Take them out for ice cream or go get a cup of coffee at my favorite place. As entrepreneurs we forget to take a break sometimes, right? When we worked our 9-5 we are eagerly ready to take that lunch break, we fight for that lunch break! We would protest if we don’t get that 15-minute water cooler break, but we don’t give that break to ourselves when we become a business owner. When we become these gladiators of our business, we fight constantly, we promote constantly, we market constantly, and we don’t take a break.
I have known people who get burnt out very quickly because of that. They lose that inspiration. They lose that desire and sometimes all you need is really to take a break and just sit, relax. Whether you want to meditate, whether you want to read a book, whether you want to just drink coffee and just kind of think about something else, or you want to hit some Wu-Tang Clan and just go bang your head really quick, right? You have to figure out what that is and utilize it. It kind of gives you a, it can breathe new life into you, right? Actually, it can make you think about your product or business or service a little bit different because it allows you to come back refreshed.
Micky Deming: (26:58) That’s great advice. Detach from the situation, see it from a new angle, widen your frame, and all of the sudden you’re seeing things that you haven’t been seen for so long. I think that’s incredibly important.
Emad Rahim: (27:10) It’s almost like we need to detox sometimes.
Micky Deming: (27:14) Right, yeah just take a deep breath and see this from a bigger picture. Emad, this has been a fantastic interview. I am so thankful that you took the time. This is super inspiring and helpful and I have really enjoyed chatting with you. Just for all of the listeners that are going to want to see more of your good stuff, where can we find you everywhere online?
Emad Rahim: (27:35) Alright, so you can find me on my website at EmadRahim.com. You can follow me on twitter @DrEmadRahim. You can also locate me on LinkedIn, on Facebook just look up my name. You might find a few other Emad Rahim’s, but I’m the good looking guy!
Micky Deming: (28:03) You’re the one that stands out! You’re the one on top at Google! Thank you so much; this has been fantastic! Everybody definitely check out your site and thanks again and keep up the great work.
Emad Rahim: (28:15) It was an honor! Thank you so much!
Announcer: Thank you for listening to the TREPX Podcast. For more episodes, interviews, and business growth tools, please visit TREPXGroup.
Today’s episode features Matt Gottesman from TREP Media Group. Matt is an expert when it comes to creating media and engaged communities. Matt talks about how you can stand out when you’re specializing in media and content.
“If you focus too hard on the end result, you are not as flexible for pivoting in the process. All you need to have is a vision of the end. The rest of the details are revealed to you while you are building.”
You can find Matt on Instagram and Twitter at HDF Magazine or you can reach him at email@example.com. If you enjoyed this interview, please leave us a review on ITunes and let us know what you learned. Enjoy this episode with Matt Gottesman.
Micky Deming: (00:44) Hello! Welcome to the TREPX Podcast. This is Micky Deming and I have another interview to share with you today that is going to blow your mind! I had a chance to chat with my friend Matt Gottesman of Trep Media Group, so no relation, but another Trep out there. Matt is an expert in creating media, creating engagement, creating community. The stuff he and his friend Kace Kenny have been doing with Trep Media Group and the different brands, Hustle and Deal Flow, The Hustle Sold Separately Podcast in Pursuit where they have just generated an incredible community through the content they’ve created, through the engagement and I asked him all about how that’s possible because there is so much content out there. How when you’re specializing in media and content, how do you stand out? How do you get anyone to care and to actually connect with you?
Well, Matt has figured it out and when you hear what he says in this interview, you’re going to learn so many things you’re probably doing wrong. I know I did. Things that I can do better and Matt breaks it down into some very simple ways of how you can actually build a following, build a network, get people to gather around what you’re doing, so you’re going to love this interview.
So I am going to stop talking so we can get right into it. Matt was so much fun to chat with, total expert. Check out everything he’s up to. You can see their main site at TrepMediaGroup.com and then check out what Matt’s up to. Most of his time is spent at Hustle and Deal Flow Magazine. You can find that at HDFMagazine.com.
So thanks so much to Matt for taking the time. Check out this interview at TREPXGroup.com and you can see all of the links to everything Matt’s up to, but without further ado, please enjoy this interview with Matt Gottesman.
Micky Deming: (02:22) Hello, Matt! Welcome to the TREPX Podcast. How are you doing?
Matt Gottesman: (02:25) I’m good, I’m good, Micky! Thank you for having me on.
Micky Deming: (02:28) Thanks for being here! It’s awesome that we got to connect in your warm home of Arizona last week! I am back here in Illinois where it’s cold, but I’m glad we can connect on this podcast!
There are so many things to talk about. Let’s just start with the big picture. With Trep Media you have a lot of different things going on. So can you just give an overview of what you’re up to right now?
Matt Gottesman: (02:53) Yeah, absolutely! So you mentioned Trep Media Group and it was formed by my partner Kace Kenny and I. Kace, he created Prsuit.com and about a year ago we met via Instagram. We love sharing that story! That is a whole other story. We met via Instagram. He saw what I was doing with HDFMagazine.com, which is our other publication he direct messaged me and said I’d love to talk with you and I said alright. He said so you interview creators from around the world that are really building on their hustle, you know they are demonstrating the hustle and they haven’t been glorified by mainstream media just yet and I feature over 400 contributors from around the world, authors, who are writing about their experiences and their journey and their stories. So I don’t know what the synergies are yet, but I’d love to explore of the next so much time and so we did and as both of us continued to grow, we also reached out to our audience a lot more to figure out what they wanted.
As they started telling us more things, it then later helped us establish a webinar academy forum for people for doing all things blogging and publications and digital media and then that lead to creating a podcast. It is mostly because we just listened to our audiences and if what they tell is on brand for our end goal or mission, then we will do. If not, then we are just grateful for the input from our audience.
Micky Deming: (04:34) That’s perfect! I think that is a great summary and for the listeners out there, when you check this out you’re going to see just so much content. I want to talk to you about the content, but before that I want to go back for a second and talk about just the focus on the journey and on the hustle. You even said it was intentional to not go after contributors who had already arrived or already attained some level of status. Can you talk about the mindset you had in that and how you worked through the focus on who you want to feature?
Matt Gottesman: (05:12) Yeah, yeah so when I wanted to do an entrepreneurial blog, publication if you will, I had a lot of people say oh that’s never been done before, good luck with that. I said I really want to do something different, so I mostly just kept my mouth shut and I thought about. I said I would work with really big brands and I’d work with venture capital firms, and I worked with a lot of success stories or would be success stories.
One of the things I noticed about media is that a lot, and God bless all of them, but a lot of times they feature that end success. So and so sold for half a billion dollars, so and so got acquired for 100 million dollars, we can all learn from their success. Here are the things that they learned along the way. I thought about it and I said you know, there are people building every single day that to me, their story is more relevant and their journey is more relevant. We need to feature more people like that because when it’s happening in real time you’re capturing the magic of what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.
The second thing is that I noticed was that when you see the Elon Musk’s of the world and the Oprah’s and all of these great, fantastic people or people who have created these massive tech companies, you start seeing a lot of people who wanted to create their own company. They’re like I’m going to create the next unicorn or the next multi-million, multi-billion dollar company, but there they’re going after it for the wrong reasons. I was like no, if you actually watch people who are really passionate about what they’re doing. They know their why, they know their vision, and they’re building on, you will see it will be more like a pay it forward that you’ll actually want to do it yourself.
So I think, ok. Let me feature people who maybe they’re making about high five figures, now six, seven, even there are a few people in there that are making eight figures, I mean that’s ten million dollars, but mainstream media hasn’t really grabbed a hold of them just yet. To me they’re every day heroes because they’re demonstrating if they put their minds to what they want to do and their vision and put that into action then the details will be revealed to them. To me, if a reader sees that goes you know what, that’s like my colleague or my friend or my associate, they’re only eight months out, their only a year and a half out, they’re only two years out, I can do that too.
Micky Deming: (07:45) I love that! That’s a great focus and it makes a ton of sense and I think your right in when you feature the end result, then that’s what people are really focusing on. The other drawback to that, and this has come up a lot on this podcast with people I’ve talked to and then it’s come up again and again, some of the people that have what would you call “arrived” or reached that like plateau that they were going after have said that once they got there they were a little bit unsatisfied. It wasn’t what they thought it would be and so you have to learn to enjoy the moment you’re in, enjoy that present state, and not just focus on this destination off in the future. You may never get there or it may not look like what you think it’s going to look like.
Matt Gottesman: (08:32) Right, absolutely, and then if you focus too hard on the end result you’re not as flexible. You’re not as flexible for pivoting in the process or embracing the process because you’re so dead-set on what the end is going to look like. All you have to have is a vision of the end. The rest is in the details and will be revealed to you while you’re building.
Micky Deming: (08:54) That’s awesome. What are some other big takeaways you’ve had just from telling these stories and hearing from people that are in it day to day?
Matt Gottesman: (09:03) Well, part of it for me was I almost wanted to approach it like a Malcolm Gladwell Outliers prospective, where he went around the world and more or less the book is about seeing how people think. That their success is not necessarily determined by where they come from or their school or any of these other things. So for me, I wanted to know are there some underlying themes amongst all of these different type of creator-type people no matter where they come from in the world that that’s why they’re doing what they’re doing? So it’s been really interesting hearing their stories.
The best part is, some of them tell me you’re “Oprahing” me, like it’s weird, I never tell anybody this stuff! So they really open up. Obviously I always want to keep it very positive and I am very collaborative in this process. I am not actually always the final say. I create the content and then I work with the person I interview and say did I capture your tone? Does this really tell your story? So this is that is the other thing is responsible journalism I knew that a lot of people want the quick story because just content, content, content. I was like no, I’m going to do responsible journalism. I actually want to capture the entire story and I want to do it collaboratively with the individual and so there is a lot of collaboration and relationship building in this.
Yes, I did learn that they do have a lot of similarities and values and mindset and backgrounds in terms of being misunderstood. Giving more value to their company and then realizing that they’re not necessarily being valued, so they do it on their own. Embracing being different, thinking different, and using different means to build something and grow, finding their passion. We’re now in a time where more than ever people are unsatisfied, or at least more vocal about being unsatisfied, with going after the job solely for the money or for the title or for anything. The more we’re seeing other people embrace their passions and going after something that they want and are willing to put that work in and the more transparent that is, the more people who are not doing that are really starting to questions themselves much younger and much faster.
Micky Deming: (11:25) Yeah, those are all good points. I think you have really tapped into something! And telling the authenticate story is so important. I want to get into that with creating content, because you kind of hinted at this at the beginning in just that we are not short on content in the world and we’re not short on information and so when you pursue something like this, that’s the question, why is anyone going to listen to you? Or how are you going to stand out? You guys have really carved out an identity to where you’ve cut through the noise and I think that is something a lot of people are like, I’m going to start putting out content and they do it for a couple of weeks or couple of months and they’re like nobody cares and they stop. So how have you approached content? You’ve shared a little bit about the storytelling and journalism, but how have you created an identity so that people are actually caring and noticing what you’re putting out there?
Matt Gottesman: (12:19) So at the end of the day, the brand is so important. Your why and your messaging has to come out all the way through everything that you do and that’s a big reason why your content will grow and your following and your engagement will grow. So if you know your “why” and you deliver that through the content, people will feel it. They will understand exactly what you stand for. Oh, he interviewed this person and that makes complete sense. Oh, he posted this post and that makes sense. You know it’s HDF, that’s pursuit, that’s Trep Media, that makes sense. So it’s constantly being aware of why we’re doing what we’re doing and then delivering that all the way through any piece of content that we launch, right?
I think it all starts basically there and then branding for me, it’s interesting because first of all I don’t like the word guru or any of those like experts because I think we’re always all learning. It’s funny when people are like you, “so you’re like this branding expert guy”. I’m like, I know what I like and very particular with content. Even the way it aesthetically looks because I learn from a lot of graphic designers and designers and branders and people that taught me a lot about it. It allowed me to bring that out through the way we bring our brands out. I know that not only do what we want to deliver really break content, but we want it to be highly consumable for people. If you just throw up a bunch of words everywhere, that’s too much and if you don’t do any words or anything, that’s too little.
So how do you bring out the essence of what it is you’re creating through both a look and through communication, through verbiage? That’s where we really think about it from the very beginning and my business partners are all great because they know how I feel about branding and messaging. While they’re awesome at it as well, they’re like hey go to town and do what you do right here.
Micky Deming: (14:30) That’s great! Well, it all fits in with what you were saying before in just that you didn’t want to feature the people had arrived. So right there, that’s a brand, that’s something you guys are committing to and then even just the feel of everything when you go to the sites. There is such a consistency. You talked, before we started the interview, about just the focus on quality over quantity. Everybody says that, but I think a lot of times people don’t practice it. They think, you know, if I can just hit this number then momentum is bound to happen. You guys really went the other direction. Even though at this point your quantity is pretty outrageous, your focus was not really on quantity. Can you just share what your mindset was on that?
Matt Gottesman: (15:12) Yeah, the goal is you always want to focus on your end viewer, customer, follower, your audience. Focus solely on them. There is no competition. I say that a lot, there is no competition. The only competition is yourself. I know you hear that cliché all the time and what I mean is, how can I keep bettering and bettering content and my “why” for the end person that I am doing this for? When you that, they feel what you are doing. They feel what you are creating. Taking the time to do that, a lot of times, people they want all the likes on their posts. I want the comments.
Comments are showing that they’re actually wanting to have a conversation with me and they’re telling me more information. You know some of the big marketing agencies out there would like to know that is also called market research. On any given day I have 100,000 people that I have access to that will get me information for market research, so I no longer have to go pay 15 grand for market research or 150 grand for market research companies to go do that, per say.
I detracted there a little bit, but the idea though is you want engagement. You want your followers, I think it was Gary Vaynerchuck who said I’d rather have 80,000 followers, but 70,000 of them just ready to go to war for you. They’re ready for you. They’re ready to do whatever it is that you’re building, right? Versus 1 million people and only 30 thousand of them are engaged enough to do something. So that is so highly important when you’re building a brand because they’re growing with you and they’re telling you everything that you need to know that will help you pivot or make changes along the way as you brand.
I said quality over quantity because the quality will eventually get you to a place where it’s felt by so many people that the quantity will be there. So yeah, I want to the 80,000 with 70,000 strong and I’ll take a million with 900,000 strong because I took the time to build it the right that I will never saturate my audience and never do anything at the detriment of them and that I’m always bring thy to them. If you’re always bringing thy to them that’s just going to grow and it shows.
Micky Deming: (17:42) That is really interesting stuff! I love that it’s all about engagement! Really you’re describing it that your content is like your product, as if you’re a business. It’s like that start up, if you build it, they will come. You put it out there, but then nobody comes. It’s all about that feedback and iteration. I love the way you said if you can just create one post and just get some people to interact with it, even if they think it sucks, you get some engagement and then you can kind of move from there which is more productive than 10 posts that nobody really looks at. So I’m curious for listeners here because I think that’s something people are really going to take a lot away from that and how to create engagement. What do you do early on when you don’t have an audience, you don’t have engagement? How do you get that initial engagement and for people to start the conversation? How did you guys do it?
Matt Gottesman: (18:37) You know it’s funny, I was just in a meeting with a couple of guys before this who have an awesome start up that they’re focusing on the LA market and we were just talking about this. They had really content, but now they’re realizing, you know we need to grow and audience early on.
Interesting enough, it’s a mixture of two things. It’s figuring out, for example we use Instagram heavily. That’s been our main mediums and we figured out, ok we want to not only deliver our message so it’s about that initial first piece of content. That first piece of content that they view is so important because once you grab their attention, now you have to continue to give them value. In that caption, you’re giving them some form of value that either they’re going to like, comment, or follow because of it. Now, for them to get to find you is a whole other list of strategies, right? So the hashtags are one of them and here’s a quick time for anybody that is listening with Instagram. I don’t do my hashtags inside the caption, I do it inside the comment, so I’m the first comment. I put them in there and then after other people comment you know those just basically disappear. There basically not even relevant anyway after about 24 hours or even a few hours probably. So it’s the hashtags and then social networking, I think this is the part that a lot of people miss, there is a reason it’s called social network.
I am social and I’m networking with other people, so I might use photos of photographers or giving full credits I approach them and say, hey I love your work, I’d like to feature this. They say absolutely! It’s using a combination of tactics whereby I’m giving. I give people the credit if I use one of their photos if it’s not just one of my or my own post and I’m also giving thought around particular subjects that I know what my audience wants or the things that they’re trying to work through, or pain points, whatever. It’s very lean startup. They will then come find you. They will find you because people like that are initially looking for information like that and so that hash tags help for the searching. Using other people’s awesome work and giving them credit. You think about what happens there, right? Not a lot of people know how the algorithm of Instagram works. If I’m at 500 and somebody has like 5,000 followers likes my photo that actually ends up in the search algorithm. Meaning their followers, if anybody has ever looked in the search category it will say based on people you follow, that’s why this picture is coming up.
There are a lot of different things that attract you, so you want to constantly interact with other counts, bring awareness to them and they bring awareness to you. You like them, they like you. There are a lot of different things. It’s very social and as long as you’ve got great content and good messaging, people tend to start rallying around that. As you get throughout the algorithm, if you’re giving value from your account, it grows it. There’s other things, but that’s a whole other conversation.
Micky Deming: (21:51) That’s great! No but, I mean everything you’re saying is so important and it’s like it’s so obvious that it seems like isn’t everybody doing it that way. I guess it’s just easier to focus on getting the content out there rather than the engagement. Another thing you guys have done really, really well is to curate content and bring others in and the strength of your brand I think helps in that because you’re not bringing in others and then making it like inconsistent. Are you the editor? How do you go through that process to filter through what you run and how do you find this content that you’re bringing together?
Matt Gottesman: (22:36) So there’s twofold, so with Kace and Pursuit, he is the editor in chief and he’s curating from authors from around the world. He’s really particular about great content because he is focused on the millennial driven man. Mine are half and half millennial driven men and women. He is constantly looking for content that helps, is relevant for his audience, and is thought provoking. As he says, that is this perspective and inspires? He is always right there at his core of is this a perspective that will inspire my audience member and if yes, great. He is constantly on that and he’s got a whole system which I’m sure you’ll learn from him when you speak to him.
On my side, it’s 100% original content. It’s all me actually doing the editing and the interviewing. Some people thing I’m a content freak at this point because I’m very long from content. Some of these are like 5-7 thousand words, but I also believe that’s where we are heading with content. You hear Google and a lot of other outlets talk about where we’re heading with content and going more towards relevant. It’s not about how much content you put out, but as much as how great it is. There you go, quality over quantity again. It is coming up a lot more.
I look for people who they are very clear as to why they’re creating and it’s almost like vetting for venture capitalists. Like the way venture capitalists vet people. I’m looking at their character. I’m looking at why they’re building what they’re building. I’m looking at who’s rallying around what they’re building because if there are a lot of people rallying around it that, that are following them, some of these people might have like 15-20 thousand followers or 5,000 followers or they’re getting some interesting looks at them or people are trying and testing out their products or they’re really embracing what they’re trying to build and grow. So those networks are really important so growth hack for anybody listening, what happens is I’ll feature these people.
Now a lot of these people, not all of them, but a lot of them are marketing driven because they’re very active on social. So what do you think happens if I feature somebody who has 100,000 followers or 200,000 followers and they then say hey I just did a great sit down interview with HDFMagazine.com, here’s where you can go check out? Well they’re going to send it out through their networks and drive that traffic back to my site, right? So it’s very reciprocity. On one hand I’m bringing out these people to life with their awesome endeavors and ventures and what they’re doing and then the return is that as they also spread that it drives traffic back to my site. So I either capture them on my list, which grows daily, or get them into the essence of HDF and our why and rally people around that. Then they all get to see that great feature on the person that they already have relationship with.
Yes, I’m very particular about their character, why they’re doing what they’re doing, how they interact with their audiences, and I see where their heading. That part I can’t really explain. That’s just sort of something I see where they’re heading and a lot of times I think that I’m about a year to year and a half before they’re so out there mainstream media will capture them. The other great thing about that is, here’s another great grow fact for HDF, I look at it from an SEO perspective too because I’m pretty good with SEO. Actually I really love my SEO. I’m not going to sugarcoat all of that. I really love my SEO.
Micky Deming: (26:20) You’re a guru.
Matt Gottesman: (26:21) A guru, right, yeah! So what I realized is, ok, when all of those publications come out with a feature, right? What do they all do? Richard Branson did this and this and this and this and you’re like that’s awesome. Then the next magazine, you know, three things that Richard Branson. It’s like when magazines are all kind of fighting for the same story, but they have to kind of tweak it to make it for their own brand and their own. Then when you go to search that person you just see nothing but all kinds of articles on that person and it’s just too much information.
Well, so what I looked at is I am going to do these things, these features, on people who they haven’t been bombarded by that stuff yet. So once they are, I will have already had a year to get on the first page of Google. So that way when those stories actually do come out on them everybody will be like who the hell is HDF Magazine? How is he everywhere on all of these people? What I started to notice is that I’m actually ending up on the first page of Google within 90-120 days with some of these features. So my theory didn’t just work. I was actually really surprised of like this is 90-120 days and then some of them are getting small features on some of these other publications so I am actually now beating them on the first page of Google ahead of your major publications, and I mean MAJOR, who have millions of views a day.
So relevancy, contents, timing, all of these things really go. Promotion, marketing of it all of them really go hand in hand.
Micky Deming: (27:55) Yeah and one thing you haven’t really said directly, but it’s been basically a theme throughout everything you’ve said is just how much you’re listening. You know your audience well and then you’re listening to what they’re saying, you’re asking for feedback directly from them, and not only that but just paying attention and viewing what’s going on. Would you say that’s really a driving force in everything you guys are doing?
Matt Gottesman: (28:17) Yeah, yeah it’s no different than a startup. It’s no different than tech companies. It’s no different than product companies. You always just listen to your audience and be out there listening to trends and what’s happening and deciding whether or not that fits with your why and where you’re heading. We watch and we see a lot of other brands out there and we have to be knowledgeable of the other brands. So when I say no competition it’s because we’re not really trying to compete any of these other brands, but we do have to be knowledgeable of what they’re doing.
Only because if we are going to play in the same field as them with certain things, we have to make sure then that we deliver it on brand for what we believe in and who we would deliver it, right? So there is listening all across the board, just listening to your audience and just listening to the industry, but yet keeping blinders on from the industry sometimes. That’s why I said in a presentation at start up week a couple of weeks ago, if industry doesn’t offer you what you’re looking for, you have to create it, right? Sometimes you have to put blinders on and just create the way you think it needs to be created with the audience in mind and that requires a lot of listening.
Micky Deming: (29:34) That is awesome! There is a blueprint for quality content, engagement, and building a community. I am very grateful. This has been a blast!
Matt Gottesman: (29:47) Thank you so much, Micky! This is great! It was great meeting you in person last week.
Micky Deming: (29:50) I know, we’ve got to do it again! I need to get back to Arizona. Besides in Arizona, where can everybody find out about all this good stuff and add to your community?
Matt Gottesman: (30:00) Yeah so, on Instagram we are @HDFMagazine. I know you’ve probably mentioned it, but HDF stands for Hustle and Deal Flow. So HDFMagazine on Instagram and Facebook we are HDF Magazine and of course HDFMagazine.com. People can reach me at info@HDFMagazine.com and they can check out our media group of properties at Trep Media Groups, that’s TrepMediaGroup.com. Yeah we’re approachable and we’re findable. We love when people hit us up and tell us what they think or what they’re looking to do or now we’re working with some really cool sponsors. Whether you’re a company or just supporter or somebody who has great content, we love hearing from everybody.
Micky Deming: (30:45) Great stuff! Yeah we’ll have to check that out and join the conversation. Matt, thanks so much this has been awesome! We’ll definitely talk to you soon!
Matt Gottesman: (30:53) Great! Thank you Micky I really appreciate it! Thanks for having me on!
Announcer: Thank you for listening to the TREPX Podcast. For more episodes, interviews, and business growth tools, please visit TREPXGroup.com.
Stories are how we learn about history, people, and even businesses. Poorly told stories are forgettable and hard to connect with, but we rarely think about investing in the stories we tell as entrepreneurs. When we don’t clearly communicate our company’s brand and message, we miss huge opportunities. Even a simple networking introduction can turn into thousands of dollars of business and long-lasting business relationships.
In TREPX Podcast Episode 66, host Micky Deming talks to The Campfire Effect Founder Chris Smith. “We teach entrepreneurs and their teams how to tell their story in a really powerful way so they can do three things,” says Chris. According to Chris, those three things are:
Could something as simple as a story really bring in more clients, help internally with culture, and assist the business in making a bigger impact? Absolutely, but it doesn’t come to each of us naturally. “Very rarely do entrepreneurs invest in knowing how to tell their story more powerfully, and it’s the one thing they have to do every single day for the rest of their life,” says Chris. We have many opportunities to explain what we do for a living, but it’s rare for us entrepreneurs to work to perfect our response to this question.
When looking at perfecting something, like our story, we need a goal first. “The goal of storytelling is to be able to tell your story in a way that is so clear and so powerful that the person you told your story to can immediately go and re-share and re-tell it to someone else,” says Chris. Making a story easy to connect with and easy to share increases the impact of the story, making it a force that can drive growth for your business.
As we all know, stories are powerful…when they are used appropriately and given the proper time and care when crafted. Smith believes that there are five forces of entrepreneurial storytelling.
Do you have a success story you could share in person? If possible, use examples of how your product or service helped someone similar to the person or company you’re marketing or speaking to. By showing them the success of others, they can clearly see how you can help them similarly.
Our Favorite Quotes from Chris Smith in TREPX Podcast Episode 66
About Chris Smith: What do you want to be known for? This question is one of great importance to Chris Smith. Each day, he asks entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes this question to help them rethink their approach to cultivating life-changing stories within their businesses.
Chris describes himself as a “cowboy, entrepreneur, speaker, brand expert, story strategist, husband and most importantly, a dad.” To discover more of what Chris has to say and how to refine your messaging and story, visit TheCampireEffect.com.
Kim Ades, the Founder and President of Frame of Mind Coaching, joined TREPX Podcast host Micky Deming to talk about mindset, journaling and getting ahead in business. Kim coaches executives and leading entrepreneurs to become emotionally resilient. ”Coaching, up until recently, has been highly focused on helping people take actions in order to reach their goals. It wasn’t really focused on emotional resilience,” says Ades. Ades described emotional resilience as “the ability to bounce back from adversity with speed and agility to leverage the adversity.”
During our entrepreneurial journey, and discovering how to grow a business that’s bigger than just ourselves, we often try to forget adversity rather than utilizing it to move forward at a greater pace. Ades talked about the false concept of “balance,” and posed the question “do we really want balance?” She says that balance isn’t what we actually want. “What we are after is engagement. We are after passion. We are after being turned on. We are after being fully engaged and present. That’s a little bit different from balance.”
Ades says that the adversity we’ve gone through holds us back. “People have experienced things in the past and they carry those experiences to the present, and those past experiences will debilitate them. (Past experiences) will hold them back.”
As entrepreneurs trying to move forward in our businesses, we try to plan ahead and think of where we want to be in 5, 10, or 20 years. But what about the present? “I would say that the single most important starting point is to take stock of where you are right now,” says Ades. “Taking an assessment of where you are right here, right now with all kinds of areas in your life is super important,” continued Ades.
It’s amazing that we can go through life without stopping to think where we are in relation to where we want to be, but this zombie like thought process of going through the motions without understanding who and where we are is far too common. “People live unconsciously. Like they are walking, but they’re like zombies. Right? They are not going anywhere in particular. You know, they get up, they go to work, they come home, they watch TV, they go to bed, they get up, they go to work, they watch TV. You know, it’s the same life over and over and over again, and it’s the person who is determined to have a little bit more, to really kind of milk their lives that take a moment to say hold on a minute here -- this lifestyle of mine, this way of living, isn’t enough for me. It’s not all that I want. I want more.” Only by taking an honest look at where you are can you fully comprehend what you need to get to where you want to be.
Listen at 17:30 for Kim’s powerful journaling exercise. Kim offers to personally review your results, but you have to listen and do the exercise first! Check out more insight and tips from Kim Ades at Frameofmindcoaching.com and contact her at Kim@frameofmindcoashing.com.
Alex Charfen has dedicated his life to answering the question, how do you make your business grow? As a personal consultant to billionaires, the Fortune 500 and some of the most successful individuals in the world, Alex’s pursuit evolved into a larger calling to understandHow do you help people grow? For the past two decades, Alex has created and curated proven business philosophies, models and strategies geared specifically to entrepreneurs.
Alex was labeled as developmentally disabled back when he was in school and didn’t feel like he belonged anywhere. In his adult life he went on the journey to find success and ended up finding where he belonged. Alex, and many others belong to the most important group of all, the group of entrepreneurs. “We learn nothing standing still and we accomplish nothing standing alone.” Alex encourages entrepreneurs to work together as a team. “Learn the secret that every great entrepreneur in history has learned. Build a team or join a team, and do it fast.” He is an expert when it comes to understanding the entrepreneurial personality type. If this episode resonates with you
Jim Palmer is a marketing and business building expert and host of Newsletter Guru TV and Stick Like Glue Radio. He is known internationally as ‘The Newsletter Guru’- the go-to resource for maximizing the profitability of customer relationships.
“Every entrepreneur needs to be working with a coach and be in a mastermind group. When you think you have all the answers or you think you know the plan is when you either are not doing well or your growth is being stunted because you don’t know what you don’t know. When you work with a master mind or a coach they can point out something obvious that you can’t see because you are far too close to your business.”
Jim is an expert when it comes to newsletters and entrepreneurship. His home page is http://www.getjimpalmer.com/ the website for his newsletter is http://www.nohasslenewsletters.com/ if you are interested in coaching a mastermind group, visit http://www.dreambizcoaching.com/index.html
Lee Caraher is a CEO and acclaimed communication strategist known for her practical solutions to big problems. She started Double Forte as a new kind of communications firm designed to work with good people, doing good work for good companies by providing the best results and service in the business. So far so good. This is not her first rodeo, and she’s learned a lot along the way that she shares with others in the hopes that everyone can reduce drama and conflict in the workplace and create careers that matter.
“Growing a team starts with knowing who you are, what your strengths are, and knowing where to spend your time. The first person we paid was our accountant because my time wasn’t best used in accounting and that was the best investment I have ever made.” –Lee Caraher
After the crash of 2008, Lee realized that when an economic shift happens, you have to look at your business model and make sure that it will still be relevant on the other side of recovery. This led her to hiring millennials and eventually writing a book on Millennials and being known as “the millennial whisperer”.
Lee’s book Millennials & Management: The Essential Guide to Making It Work at Work http://www.leecaraher.com/books/
Michelle has one bottom line for all of her clients. Measurable results. She does not teach the “one size fits all” approach to marketing.
Michelle L Evans walked away from her global marketing strategy role at Microsoft in 2012 after a successful 16-year corporate career spanning many industries. Now she shows business owners how to stop being the best-kept secret around and instead become a sold-out success. Combining her proven business-building skill set with her ninja marketing skills, Michelle shows entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and small business owners how to build a steady stream of clients and profits for their business.
“Getting to the point where you don’t have to work with bad clients will almost always require you to work with bad clients as a learning experience. You have to be able to focus on what is right for right now because the clients you have now might not be what you want to have in 5 years.”
Jessica is the founder and CEO of her business Interview Connections which connects entrepreneurs and those who want to be interviewed to podcast hosts.
Most entrepreneurs will hire a virtual assistant to book a guest spot on other podcasts. That is now an unnecessary step because Jessica has made great system that will find podcasts in your niche for you to be featured on.
“Podcasts are one of the best ways to learn. My number one recommendation for knowing what podcast to listen to is to find a podcast that you thing has a great interviewer.”
Jessica is an absolute expert in everything in the realm of podcasting. To find out more you can visit her website http://www.interviewconnections.com/ or find out what she has to offer at http://www.jessicarhodes.biz/micky/
Another great episode with Russ Perry from Design Pickle. In this episode, we talk about the misconceptions in priority, growing pains in a company, and content creation.
“I believed that everything that came into my head should be captured and put into action, and that led to a path of a lot of nonsensical projects that really didn’t matter.” This is one of many quotes from this episode that really stuck with me.
In one year Russ grew his company to have $80,000 in monthly revenue, and a lot of awesome new content will be added to his website soon. http://designpickle.com/
I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did and took away some of Russ’s wisdom. You can follow Russ on twitter and Instagram @russperry
Micky interviews two time entrepreneur Gray Mackenzie. They discuss entrepreneurial growing pains and the importance of building a game plan for your business.
“I would recommend to start by defining who your target audience is. People often target the person writing the check but that is not the person that usually finds you.”
This is an excellent interview for everyone who wants to know more about inbound marketing and the mindset of running two businesses at the same time.
To find out more about Gray and what he is doing, look for him on twitter
@sgraymackenzie or on his website http://www.guavabox.com/
For his entire life Dr. Herman SJR soaked up every bit of knowledge that came his way, and now he is on a mission to inform entrepreneurs on how to reprogram their minds.
“The first thing you have to do is see that you have a problem. Without realizing your problem you will not improve no matter what you do.”
Herman informs us on how destructive fear can be to an entrepreneur, how knowing your mind can translate into success, and what keeps us from following through on ventures we were previously ecstatic about starting.
This episode is excellent for an entrepreneur who is stuck in a rut or for someone who simply needs a new outlook on what they do.
Ilan Nass came from an entrepreneurial family and has made it in the world of digital marketing. He tried his hand in finance but that all ended in the crash of 2008.
“People who do not know their own data will have a very difficult time growing in any meaningful way because they will not know where their holes are. Once you know your data you can grow. And there is nothing better for growth than having a good competitor because that will force you to either be better or fall off.”
Ilan reminds us that we should put a lot of thought into who you are and what you stand for as a company. Because no matter how good your product is you will not be able to sell it if you do not market your product or market your company.
Ilan’s weekly growth hacks: http://ilansweekly.com/
After building and selling a digital agency in 12 years, Jason finds his niche market and is now looking to be the #1 resource in the world for agency owners.
“I am putting together all the information I wish someone had told me. There are so many landmines you could fall into and my goal is to try to show people how to avoid them.”
Jason gives great advice on how to find your price, what it tells you about your product, and where people go wrong when adding clients.
This episode offers a lot of helpful content for agency owners, entrepreneurs, and anybody in need of clarity.
After enduring the most boring presentation of his life, Kenny Nguyen got the idea to start The Big Fish Experience.
The goal of The Big Fish Experience is to end all boring, dull, and slow presentations.
Whether you are a maid of honor about to give a speech or a business man giving the most important pitch of his life, Kenny is set out to help people like you deliver an excellent presentation.
“I view speaking as an investment, and the best investment is yourself. There is always tomorrow to make money, but meeting the right people can change your life.”
Kenny is a firm believer in the idea that if you help yourself, your business will likely improve as a result.
This is a great episode and I hope it starts you on your path to improving your presentations.
As a business owner, there is nothing better than people spreading the word in a positive way about what you do.
The good news according to Peter Shankman is, to achieve this all you need to do is “be one step above crap.”
Shankman is an expert in providing a valuable, helpful customer experience as a business. This is exactly what he did to grow Help a Reporter Out into an email list of hundreds of thousands of people with a 79 percent open rate.
His secret has always been to be a good, helpful human to the people he interacts with. He believes businesses can do the same by being honest, genuine and truly caring about the people they serve.
And when you do that, your business can stand out and skyrocket to the next level.
This month, Frank Lunn celebrated his 20th year in business. His long journey has taken him through almost everything, which includes founding Kahuna Accounting in 2012.
But Frank is not an accountant. He’s not even what you’d call a “numbers person.” He is an entrepreneur, and in his entrepreneurial journey he realized how incredibly important it is to have an understanding of your finances.
In this interview Frank talks about what he learned along the way and how a business can scale when they know how to keep score.
We also talk about leadership and the power in embracing ignorance.
If you are not a numbers person yourself, and feel weak in the area of accounting and finance, you’ll find a lot of value in this interview.
And if you want to learn more about how to streamline your accounting, you can head to Kahunaaccounting.com
The stress of entrepreneurship can be heavy. You grind, work hard and at times you feel completely overwhelmed.
Suresh Thakoor knows the feeling. But he also knows we have the ability to control our thoughts, and be intentional enough to work on what matters.
Too often we end up drifting into lives that take us to a place where we end up miserable.
Suresh is the founder of Blisshacker and Ananda. Both of those companies strive to help others find clarity. Clarity is when you know what you want and create a path to get there.
Clarity allows you to make the most of your time and effort.
Clarity allows you to work on what you care about.
Clarity allows you to effectively lead a team.
And clarity allows your marketing message to connect because you know what it is and who it is for.
This interview is all about clarity and how Suresh found it in his own life and how other entrepreneurs can find it in theirs.
And once you are clear about who you are and what you want, you can create a path to Bliss!
See more about Suresh at blisshacker.com.
This episode dives into the topic of public speaking but is applicable for anyone. We are all performers, Port says, because we have to deliver when we are on display.
This interview covers the topic of fear and anxiety surrounding public speaking and what the root of it really is.
Port says the reason we find speaking publicly difficult is because we are too self-absorbed. The more you focus on your audience and what you are saying, the more your anxiety goes down.
The other reason for fear is about criticism. What will people think?
Port says to deal with this by understanding first of all that if you are doing anything worth doing you will have critics.
He also urges people to allow their idea to be bigger than their need for approval.
He also gives practical tips on how to dominate when the spotlight is on you. You’ll definitely want to stick around til the end because Port shares with Luchies some specifics on exactly what to do as he prepares for the Ted X talk.
This interview has a lot to offer and is one of my favorites we’ve done.
What happens when you arrive at a destination you are seeking then find out you are still not all that satisfied.
For Mike Michalowicz, it caused him to do a lot of thinking and the realization he needed a new framework on viewing his life and business.
In this interview, he says profit is a habit not a destination. Since hitting rock bottom, he has now written 3 books and become an expert in the world of entrepreneurship, teaching concepts based around his “Profit First Formula.”
This interview goes through his story and his methodology in how to view financial information as a business owner.
See more from Mike at www.mikemichalowicz.com
How important is capital? Well, think about it like this. Every business that fails, fails because it runs out of capital.
If you are serious about your business and committing to it, capital is the lifeblood of your business.
Ty Crandall, owner of Credit Suite, is an expert in the world of business finances and credit. He says businesses fail because they are poorly managed and they aren’t able to access capital when they need it.
Crandall also points out how it doesn’t work to wait until the last minute to seek capital, but to have a reserve built up for finding opportunities.
It’s getting harder than ever for entrepreneurs to access capital, but Crandall points out, if you take the right steps, there is money out there.
If you want to learn more about business funding and credit, check out Ty’s insane amount of valuable content at www.creditsuite.com/ein
Hundreds of millions of people use LinkedIn, but what’s the big deal? People just post their work history in aimless efforts to get a job, right?
The value of LinkedIn extends far beyond job searches. It’s an extremely valuable tool for entrepreneurs, marketers, salesmen, brand representatives, working professionals, and more.
Micky Deming and Michael Luchies are two who have both benefited greatly from using online to connect with and recruit new customers. Both Micky and Michael had profiles years before ever realizing the value that could come from it.
For Micky, LinkedIn was where he went to find trends among his target market and to start relationships that turned into partnerships and new customers. He was looking for a niche, and that turned out to be small law firms. As a provider of cloud accounting services (Kahuna Accounting), Micky used LinkedIn to locate these potential clients, and also find out what they had in common. When discovering that several of his current customers used the same practice management software, he saw an opportunity to connect and build a relationship with that company, which he did successfully on LinkedIn.
For Michael, LinkedIn was a way to get his articles out to his network and create a larger one. He used their publishing platform to generate incoming leads and more than double his network in less than six months.
As promised in the episode, here’s the download for 10 Reasons Your LinkedIn Profile Sucks, written by Michael Luchies. It’s a free resource we created to help you see where your profile can be improved and we’ll help you correct it.
Do you already know what’s wrong with your LinkedIn profile and ready to do something about it? Start making the most out of your personal LinkedIn profile today by signing up for the TREPX Group quickSURF XPERT Essentials Guide to LinkedIn for only $40. You’ll also receive additional free bonus content from Michael Luchies, an invitation to the private LinkedIn Members Group, exclusive TREPX Group opportunities, and more.
When a Google algorithm change completely diminished Dave Schneider’s business, he had to ask a question. What’s next?
So he looked at his own experience and realized his secret weapon in building his business was the ability to expand his network by reaching out to influencers.
He realized this is something that could be automated and enhanced, so he got to work and built a new business, Ninja Outreach.
Now Ninja Outreach is a trusted tool for marketers and entrepreneurs, and Dave is continuing to grow it.
In this interview Dave talks about some of the ways entrepreneurs can reach out and grow their network. He also shares his story of building the new company.
You can learn more about Dave and Ninja Outreach at www.ninjaoutreach.com
Sometimes entrepreneurship is the sexy thing. We talk about it like being one of the cool kids in the band.
We need entrepreneurs, but not because it’s cool or fun. We need entrepreneurs because they are the ones who make meaningful change. Entrepreneurs are the ones who solve problems that make our world better.
Marc Coppola is passionate about seeing more entrepreneurs do these things. And he believes it happens by learning how to think big without limiting yourself.
In fact, Marc has created an “Impossible List” of his items that he plans on completing before the end of his life.
Are you an entrepreneurial superhero? Are you hoping to create a massive impact?
If so, you’ll love this interview with Marc.