Fireside 2.1 ( Podcasting Stories Blog Thu, 12 Aug 2021 15:00:00 -0400 Podcasting Stories Blog en-us Ep016: A Sense of Purpose with Eryn Anitavi - Transcript Thu, 12 Aug 2021 15:00:00 -0400 c2f0784d-f8a0-429e-9fdc-aa265e69eb0c Return to Episode


Ep015: Building a Platform with Ken Clark - Transcript Thu, 05 Aug 2021 13:00:00 -0400 13b48431-ea5a-4876-81b7-5af32b425276 Return to Episode

Dave: Welcome to the Podcasting Stories podcast. My name is David Spray and today we're talking with Ken Clark, founder of the Chenal Family Therapy Company. Ken is a serial entrepreneur, and his most recent venture is Chenal Family Therapy.
After nearly a decade on Wall Street, Ken wanted to make more of a difference and decided to return to school to become a licensed therapist. In 2010, after graduating from a California school and ready to start his therapist career, he noticed that his home state of California seemed saturated with therapists.
In this episode, we learn how and why he decided to launch his practice in of all places, Little Rock, Arkansas. Once he launched his practice, Ken integrated learning from other business experience and developed a novel practice management platform for therapists. As other therapists learned of his platform, they asked if they could join the platform. But started as a few therapists joining has exploded into nearly 200 therapists, more than 10 million in revenue, and has spot on the Inc. 5000 list for the past four years.
This is a fascinating episode about how to identify untapped markets and leverages experience from other ventures. Ken is a warm and fascinating entrepreneur, and any entrepreneur can learn a lot from Ken. Additionally, Ken is thinking about starting a podcast, and we drilled into the details.
Ken scored the highest score ever on our scorecard, 87 out of 96, and is an ideal candidate for a podcast. We brainstorm different strategies to get maximum leverage from the podcast. If you're considering starting a podcast, this podcast in conversation is full of ideas and value. All right, let's get to the show. Ken, welcome to the podcast.

Ken: Thank you for having me. I'm honored to be on it and excited to get to think out loud with you.

Dave: Yeah, my pleasure. You've got a really amazing business background. But in the interest of time, I want to focus primarily on the Chenal Family Therapy business. Why don't you tell us a bit about that business, kind of how it came to be and kind of your market focus? And then we'll go from there. What made you, first off, decided to become a licensed therapist? I believe it started there. You became a therapist first, then you lost the business.

Ken: In my former life, I had worn a couple of hats. I had been a certified financial planner and was kind of a Wall Street nerd for college in the first part of my career. In that role, especially working with wealthy families, and wealth transfer and stuff, you kind of had a front row seat to some stuff that was worthy of family counseling. Dad picked you as the executor because he liked you the best, that kind of stuff.
I think early on, I got a lot of experience kind of refereeing and being at ground zero, and seeing these family that had it all put together on the outside and were struggling on the inside. After that, I did some time with a nonprofit youth organization called Young Life and got the love on kids and families, and did that with my wife for about a decade, and love that. Love the mentoring aspect and kind of just walking alongside people with no agenda but being available.

Came to the end of that like a lot of nonprofit folks, decided nonprofit is good for a season but maybe not for a career. I had a buddy who had started a counseling agency and needed somebody who understood QuickBooks and things like that, so stepped in as the CFO of a small counseling agency. And very quickly, when I was there, I saw the opportunity to merge some of those previous hats I had worn. I was pretty amazed, this guy got to sit on a couch and people just showed up and handed the money to talk about their problems and decided to go back to grad school and do that. That was in my mid 30s.
We got to the end of grad school. We were living in Southern California. We decided we kind of wanted to change scenery and get out of that rat race maybe a little bit and looked around the country for where it would be a good place to open a mental health solo practice. We had no aspirations of being big. And we have been a numbers guy. I looked at the number of divorces in each metro area on an annual basis and compared that to the number of therapists in that area.
Little Rock Arkansas had one of the highest levels of divorces per therapist. From a market research point of view, I thought that's a great place to start a practice. So, we moved here about a decade ago and started a practice, and then we kept running into like-minded people who wanted to learn from us and what we were doing and started working with them. For too long, there was three or four of us, and then there was five or 10 of us. Now, a decade later, there's actually about 200 of us and continuing to grow. So, that's kind of how we ended up where we are.

Dave: That is an awesome story. Do you still do one-on-one therapy yourself? Or is that something you've been ...

Ken: Yeah, I do. Yeah. It's a practice value for us, a company value that you shouldn't be leading people doing something if you're not willing to do it yourself. So, we require everybody in leadership in our company to continue to see some clients just so their decision making is relevant, if you put it that way. I do. I primarily work with C suite couples and families, and kind of executive stress, stuff like that.

Dave: Great. Well, that is a really great story. And in fact, I think you your growth has been so fast. You landed on one of the Inc. Fast Growing lists, is that correct?

Ken: Yeah, this will actually be our fourth year in a row on the Inc. 5000. They published that list of 5,000 fastest growing companies in the United States. We've made that list four years running, usually somewhere in the 1,000 range out of 5,000, but we've grown in excess of 50% a year for over a decade.

Dave: That is awesome. I was listening to a podcast recently, and they were talking about that it's great to be on the Inc. 5000 list, but you don't really want to be on the Inc. 50 list, because those companies have a really high failure rate because of just the tremendous growth. Because the ones in that top 50 list. They're not growing 50% a year, they're growing like 500% or 5,000% a year.

Ken: Yeah.

Dave: Yeah, that sounds like the sweet spot being about 1,000.

Ken: I think like all entrepreneurs. There's that saying that revenue is vanity and profit is sanity, and cash is king. I think every organization, we've had to learn to move away from the glitz of growing the top line to the stability of growing the bottom line. As fast as we've grown, that's been a challenge. I can't imagine what it is to stabilize a rocket ship, like some of those top 50 companies.

Dave: Sure. Yeah, me neither. I can't even imagine the 50% growth rate that you're at. Although I guess as soon as I say that, this podcast business I started in February is certainly growing. Will grow faster than that, at least in the start. So, tell me a bit more about the model. You said there's about 200 of you, meaning licensed therapists, correct?

Ken: Yeah. 175 and then about 25 administrative staff.

Dave: Okay.

Ken: Yeah. But continuing to grow. I think we're onboarding 10 or 15 people right now. I think ours is probably a reframing of what a lot of savvy leaders know, which is your most important customers are the people that actually work for you.
People come for the therapists. They don't come for the furniture, or the name that everybody can't pronounce, or whatever. They come because they build a personal relationship with this person who knows their deepest, darkest kind of stuff.
We are about attracting people who are high performers as clinicians, not just on the clinical side, but they're also somewhat business savvy and motivated by a good income. And we give them a place and a context to essentially be in business for themselves without having to be in business for themselves.
We refer to ourselves as high autonomy, high support. They don't have to pay rent, they don't have to figure out why the fax machine is not working. And they also don't have to sit through a lot of staff meetings, so we really have tried to strike that sweet spot and attract people who maybe have already proven to themselves that they can run a private practice, but also proven that they don't want to run a private practice. And the folks come out of the woodwork to see these clinicians, so the clinicians are the real rock stars in our practice.

Dave: Sure. I'm curious, can you talk at all about the ... If you can, I respect it, but about kind of the economic relationship. And the only reason I'm asking is because I'm kind of visualizing myself being one of these therapists. And if your platform effectively costs $100 a month, I'm probably all over it. And if it effectively cost me $25,000 a month, it's probably not worth it. I'm guessing the cost to them is somewhere between 100 month and 25,000 or 50,000 a month, is that a safe assumption?

Ken: Yeah, it's probably easier to talk about in terms of margin. I think on an annual basis, we do a revenue split. Somewhere in the ballpark of 60% of the revenue goes to the clinician on a W-2 basis, and then we run the business out of the other 40 and make our profit out of that.
We constantly have to remind our clinicians that we don't keep 40, we actually keep probably 5% to 10%, like a lot of medium sized businesses, but the rest goes to operations. But what we see there is for your typical therapist, if they were in private practice by themselves, they're going to spend roughly 25% of the money they make on operational rents, all that kind of stuff.
When the smoke clears with benefits and everything like that, it's probably about 28% that they lose to us. So, it's neck and neck on a pure economic basis, but the real win and what we show them on paper is that ...

Dave: Opportunity cost?

Ken: Yeah. Five or 10 hours a week of trying to figure out why the internet is not working, or an insurance claim is not going through, but you don't get paid for that we handle for you. And when you count that into working for yourself, it drives your effective hourly rate down below what you earn with us.
You earn more per hour working for a top notch group practice. And if you got those extra hours to give, go do something with them. See more clients or go teach at the local college, but working for yourself for free in that extra five to 10 hours is not economically wise. That's where the win is for us as it's about to break even on paper, but it's really in their favor when you look at hourly compensation.

Dave: Sure. I just love the model and the solution you have. How do you find these new therapists? Is it word of mouth from current therapists or from marketing initiatives?

Ken: Yeah. I think historically, we've seen folks come from one or two places. One, were uber protective of our culture. You hear a lot of these places that kind of have no jerk policies and things like that. You can say we fall in that category as well. We just don't need toxic people in the organization.
One, we are very reliant on our existing rock stars to tell us who else should be in the band. Who have you worked with before that is amazing, ethical, easygoing, all these kinds of things. We get a lot of recommendations internally on folks that we should work with.
Probably the other place we get is these folks that have the guts and the wherewithal to reach out to us on their own. I've always had a high respect for somebody who's got the courage to go knocking on doors. And when you're leading change in the therapy room with an individual or a couple, a lot of times, you got to knock on the door and invite them into change and vulnerable conversation.
We have a lot of respect for people who show up with a resume in hand and say, "You don't know me, but you're going to want to." So, probably maybe a quarter or a third of our folks are people that got kicked down the door for themselves, but we don't historically recruit through Indeed or any of these places. We want people that our folks want or we want people that want to be here, but not people who are simply looking for a job.

Dave: Sure. I can appreciate that. So, if we were sitting down five years from now having this conversation, what do you think the business looks like then? How many therapists do you think you have?

Ken: I think we're anywhere from where we are now, I think at any given point any owner needs to ask themselves, "Should I right size? Is this a good spot to camp out?" So, anywhere between probably where we are now and another 100 to 150 therapists, which would put us anywhere from in the low teens laying up 12, 13 million in revenue, upwards of 20, 25 million in revenue. I think we'll probably come to rest somewhere in that range.

Dave: Okay. I mean, you talked about the revenue number, that's that gross revenue number of which 60% goes to the therapist, and then 40% you all use for your magic. Okay. What's the most enjoyable or satisfying part of the work that you do? I mean, aside from your private practice of your own clients, as far as just from the business perspective, what do you find the most satisfying?

Ken: I've always been a leadership development nerd. I grew up on business anecdotes and stories of great CEOs and leaders and things like that. So, watching these clinicians that have started with us as a clinician but work their way into some leadership roles, watching them stretch, watching them be vulnerable, watching them have breakthrough moments. Most of whom never fancied themselves as entrepreneurial leaders. That, to me, is super fun. And our organization is probably 80% women, not dissimilar than our industry.
I feel like there's a lot of opportunity for women to finally get a platform that's been missing for them to play with leadership, to experiment with leadership, to not have to get it right and stick the landing on the first try. We're very developmental organization. That's probably one of the highlights for me is watching somebody who thought they were going to be a therapist their whole life turn into a director of something and come to trust their skills. That's super fun.

Dave: Yeah, I bet that. I bet that is. I say the same thing, or shouldn't say the same thing. I have a similar feeling on this whole podcasting business, because when I started doing this a couple years ago, I used to ... I was doing one podcast a month, and I used to say it was my favorite hour of the month was being able to showcase somebody on the podcast.
But what I've discovered since then is I actually find it even more enjoyable and more satisfying, helping other people discover the magic of having a podcast, and then watching them kind of grow from them saying, "Hey, I've never even been a guest on a podcast. Sure, I listen to some, but I've never been a guest. I don't do a lot of public speaking. I'm not sure I can really pull this off." And then after just half a dozen episodes, just watching the transformation and the increasing confidence, and them just really falling in love with it. So, I think I can relate to what you're saying.

Ken: Yeah, for sure.

Dave: Your therapists are mostly in the Middle South, is that correct? Or the Southern Midwest?

Ken: We're mostly in Arkansas, but we kind of run from border to border in the States, so we got an office right up against the Missouri border down Texas, Oklahoma, Memphis, Tennessee even. So, we're mostly Arkansas, but we do have an office that we opened in Dallas during the pandemic, which was scary. So, that office is getting its feet on the ground and will hopefully grow, and we're starting to get people knocking on the door there saying they want to be part of what we do there.
Our goal, I think, in the long run is if the growth momentum continues and we're able to remain healthy as a leadership team in the midst of it, then I think we could see ourselves all over the Mid-South, which is kind of dramatically underserved. There's a lot of places to work to do in mental health, but a lot of them are kind of toxic and don't represent good opportunities. We think we could probably replicate what we've done here in a lot of other places.

Dave: What is it about the Mid-South that creates the opportunity?

Ken: One, there's just not as many therapists. I was trained in California. Half of the marriage therapist in the country statistically are in California. Not because Californians are so crazy, but that's where a lot of the training centers are.
Until three or four years ago, there wasn't a whole lot of nighttime and evening, weekend part-time training options for a master's degree in Arkansas. One, there's just not been a lot of training, especially when you get out in the rural areas.
I also think and I say this as a former minister, the hyper religiosity you can see at times leads to people not asking for help, or needing to keep things on the down low, probably too long. And so, it turns out that no amount of faith perhaps is going to take away somebody else's free choice and free will, and things like marriages with substance use and things like that. Outside help is needed.
I think that's part of it is we're seeing a lot of first-time users in the Mid-South of mental health. There's great T-shirts floating around, you see them all over the place. They say something like, "You can have both Jesus and the therapist."

Dave: I like it.

Ken: We're seeing a lot of people embrace that sign. I think that's leading to a lot of first-time use. As use goes up, you'll get more people trained, and they'll eventually balance out. But for right now, it's a great time to be a therapist in the South.

Dave: What do you enjoy the most about living in Arkansas?

Ken: Cost of living, for sure. Coming from Southern California, cost of living. When we moved here, we bought in a neighborhood that looks like something we could have never afforded in Southern California for a quarter of the cost or something. And people would ask when we were at the park with their kids or something, "What do you do for a living?" I'd say, "Well, I have nothing right now. I'm starting a business soon, I think." And then they would ask, "Well, are you wealthy or something?" I'd say no.
What our mortgage is here was what I've been paying in rent in California since I was 19 or 20. So, moving here, and scraping together enough to live, doing some teaching and whatever, I've always kind of joke that you feel semi-retired even though you're working your tail off.
Cost of living is tough to beat. There's been points in the last couple of years where gas was like $1.19 or something. Cocktails in a bar are five bucks. We love that. I'm a beach kid, I grew up on the beach, but Arkansas and a lot of these Mid-South states have such a cool Lake culture. Everybody goes through the lake. They got these party barges. It's a lot of fun. And then the people are kind here. I mean, there's a Southern gentility that is pretty cool. What were you going to say?

Dave: Yeah. No, I didn't mean to interrupt. So, what do you miss most about California? Is it surfing?

Ken: No, I miss the ability to pull into a random strip mall at 11:00 on a Tuesday night, and find three great restaurants that you've never had open still. That you could get Thai and Ethiopian and barbecue all on the same random strip mall. Everything closes out here early and on the weekends. Just that availability of food, and culture, and music. You have it here, but it's not on demand like it is in some of those big cities.

Dave: Sure. No, I can certainly appreciate that. Well, before we turn to podcasting, was there anything else about the business that we didn't cover that you think is worth mentioning to get on the record, if you will?

Ken: Well, I will throw a shout out to the peer advisory process. I think if anybody's listening and is looking to be a business owner that scales and have support, there's a lot of great organizations out there. I've been a participant, a member in a thing called Vistage for five and a half, six years. There's other ones, YPO and things like that. Any of those are are spectacular, but I think there's ...
One of the things they say in the South is you can't read the label from inside the jar. Boy, that's not true being an entrepreneur and things like that. You really need fresh set of eyes looking in on you and saying, "Hey man, I think your pride is wrapped up in this one." You're making a foolish or rash decision or you're onto something, don't give up. So, peer advisory is crucial.
I can't remember where it comes from, but the old saying is if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. So, I'm very thankful for peer advisory and otherwise mentors in my life. So, highly recommended for anybody. I can remember if I said this. Mine is called Vistage that I participate in. There's chapters pretty much every big city around the country.

Dave: Yeah, I think I may have mentioned when we spoke before that my wife has been a Vistage chair for about 10 years.

Ken: Oh, yeah, you did. Yeah. And not just a Vistage chair. She's like a big dog, right?

Dave: Yeah. I think she's like top 10 or top 20 or something. She just loves what she does. I think for the same reason that you get so much value as the chair who's leading the meetings, she also just has tremendous satisfaction from really feeling like she's making a difference.
We both work with entrepreneurs in different capacities. I mean, I bet you at least once a week, she gets an email from someone that says something she did changed their life for the best. So, it's really gratifying. So, it's great to hear. I've met many of her of her clients or members through the years. Yeah.
The funny thing. I actually wanted to join Vistage about eight or nine years ago, but the problem is I met my wife in a spinning class, and she was so good as an instructor that she kind of ruined me on other spinning classes. I had the same issue with Vistage that I only wanted to do Vistage if I could be in one of her groups, but they said it's just a bad idea.
I kind of felt stuck. It would be hard for me to be with another chair knowing that my wife is probably the best, and just watching her commitment and conviction, and all she does. So, yes, I was kind of in this quandary. The answer was I've kind of just done it sort of informally with just other entrepreneurs. Yeah, the structured fashion of it is really powerful.

Ken: Yeah.

Dave: Let's talk about podcasting. That's the name of the show, Podcasting Stories, so let's tell some podcasting stories. Talk to me about your experience as a podcast listener, and your thoughts on whether you've ever considered kind of having your own podcast. Why don't we just kind of catch people up on where you are currently?

Ken: Yeah. There's probably three prongs to that answer. One, like a lot of people, I do a lot of my business learning via podcast. Getting to hear stories of people that have gone before you, built things, survive things. That's immensely valuable.
It's also a great way to introduce diversity into what you're consuming. I've got a bone to pick with folks that value diversity, and equity, and inclusion, and make sure it is happening around them. But the stuff they're ingesting, learning from is still 100% people that look and love and live like them.
Podcasting is a great way to get inside the head of, for me, women entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs of color, and LGBTQ. So, it's spectacular. That's one is that I devote time every day to listen in to the business summaries and podcasts and all that kind of stuff.
I think, historically, the quality of those has been high enough. They got sound effects. I was listening to one recently and they're reenacting a restaurant scene and you can hear dishes clanking. I mean, it's really amazing the quality.
You sit there and think, "Wow, I can't do this. This is outside of my league or whatever." So, in some ways, I think probably like a lot of people, I've kicked the can down the road. It's not quite podcasting, but during the pandemic, I stumbled into doing some online learning type stuff where I created a masterclass type thing for building practices like cars, and I got a huge response.
I'm a host of a weekly Zoom kind of two-way discussion now with a bunch of folks that are in a paid community. We record it and distribute to the people that can't make it. Not quite a podcast, but the feedback has been huge. And then it's been a steady growing audience and monetizes. I think probably where we crossed paths to some degree was the awareness that I'm onto something here, but I also don't have the time to manage it or do it at the level that I'd want.

Dave: Sure. Do you enjoy leading those Zoom sessions weekly?

Ken: Yeah, I do. I think my favorite part about being a therapist, I tell people the first two or three sessions where you're getting to know somebody. I think I'm probably an interviewer at heart and I'm curious. I'm the kid that read encyclopedias. Humans are encyclopedias with legs.
Just getting to ask questions about people's journey and what they like about where they live. That stuff is super easy for me. The podcasts or the Zoom sessions that I run, it's a nice format where it's about 30 minutes of content for me. Usually, a three to five bullet point list on how to increase internal referrals or something like that.
And then we open up to Q&A, which that runs itself. Q&A about the topic, and that usually lasts about 10 minutes, and then we'll just open it up to broad entrepreneurship practice management Q&A. We always got questions left when we're out of time. Yeah, I like it a lot. I think like you said, it's one of my favorite hours of the week. They're my people. Probably you experience this as a podcaster that you're talking to people that love and kind of nerd out on the same thing that you do.

Dave: Sure.

Ken: The fact that you might do business development or get paid to do it is silly at times but fun.

Dave: I agree. So, I had wrote down two things that you talked about that you're a regular podcast listener, and then you talked about this online learning that you're doing via the Zoom calls. But I thought you set that up with that there were three aspects of podcasting that you wanted to mention. Or did I misunderstand that?

Ken: No, that was them. One, that I listen to them. Two, that I had initially convinced myself this is out of my reach.

Dave: Oh, I see.

Ken: And then three, back myself into realizing it's probably not out of my reach. I can show up in a T-shirt with a good topic, and I've got listeners and people to talk with. So, yeah.

Dave: We have a scorecard to help people kind of determine if they're a good kind of fit for a podcast. So, if you like, why don't I just kind of run through these real quick?

Ken: Yeah, that would be great.

Dave: So, the first one is podcast listening. And I'm just going to kind of hit what ... They're sort of in four quadrants. I'm just going to hit kind of the top quadrant. I regularly listen to at least one podcast a month that sounds like that describes you. Is that correct?

Ken: Yeah. Daily probably.

Dave: A lot more than that sounds like. Okay. Because what we found is somebody who doesn't listen to podcasts, it's really kind of a hard connection for them to make and understand. It's kind of like I say, it's like if you've never watched a television, it would be hard to imagine why you might want to advertise on television.

Ken: Same reason that our leaders are therapists in our company. If you're not doing it…

Dave: Exactly. Yep. The next one is about your kind of having tools and content and a way to keep in touch with prospects and clients. Now, it sounds like on that front, you guys are actually doing pretty well. A lot of the people we talked to, they don't really have a system, and that's part of what the podcast provides. Like a typical client may only send out a couple emails a year to their database, because they don't want to be annoying, which I can certainly appreciate. But it sounds like you all have a more robust emailing system. Is that right?

Ken: Yeah. This is bigger than me. Part of one of my initiatives internally is to make sure that all my clinicians have space to create as well. Even being able to reach out to our current and our past client base, which numbers 35,000 emails and essentially be able to provide them valuable content, maybe even anonymous, valuable content, since they also walk into a therapy office at no cost. I feel like we theoretically ...
I mean, this triple win maybe where we're helping elevate the mental health folks across the State of Arkansas by giving them access to thought leadership within our practice. But then it also ties in brand awareness. And some of that inevitably results in folks saying, "You know what, I need to go back and see these people. They were really helpful."
But then it also acts as an incredibly valuable employee attraction and retention tool. I think a lot of therapists do long to create, they're overwhelmed by it. And to be able to join a practice where you get to make an appearance on a podcast a couple times a year, that gives them something that they can put out in the space and be proud of. "Look at what I'm doing, mom." That kind of stuff.

Dave: Yeah. No, that's actually a great fit there. So, the next one is lifetime value of a client. And when I talk about client, I'm talking about your therapist. And the top answer is that each client is worth at least $20,000 of revenue over the life of the relationship. And based on our prior conversation, it sounds like that, that number is actually substantially more than that. Is that right?

Ken: Yeah, absolutely. A therapist that comes and stays for a couple of years is worth a multiple of that, for sure.

Dave: Sure. Okay. And then the next one is I have at least 500 people in a CRM who I can email. Obviously, you're at 35,000. What about the looking at your therapist customers? Would you say that you have 500 therapists in your database who you can reach out to?

Ken: Yeah. I've got a loosely connected coaching platform called, which is where I do practice coaching for other practice owners, and we're easily 1,000 plus email addresses in that one as well.

Dave: Okay. That's great. I'm known in the industry community, and I'm periodically quoted or asked to speak at industry events. Does that sound like you?

Ken: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

Dave: Okay. I can think of at least 12 people who would immediately say yes to being a guest.

Ken: Yep. Not a problem.

Dave: I enjoy talking with people one-to-one, understanding more about their situation and helping them better understand my subject.

Ken: Yep, absolutely.

Dave: And then this last one here is a little different. It's kind of a new one. And where this came from is we ... For somebody who wants to do one podcast episode a month, our cost for that $750 a month. And what I discovered myself is I would have clients on my podcast. That hour on my podcast, in many ways, was more valuable to that client than me spending that same $750 to go buy them a fancy bottle of wine, or take them to a very upscale golf experience.
I started kind of thinking of it as you're kind of ... Because what I find are people who are avid podcast listeners, they typically want to have a podcast if they can just kind of decide that they have the time, and they're willing to spend the money. So, some of these questions are to help kind of anticipate those ROI type questions.
Would you say that even without counting them up that there's at least 12 contacts in your universe, probably therapist, either current therapist or potential therapist where the value of that relationship is worth more than $750 to you?

Ken: Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Dave: It's funny without being able to like see the whole scorecard. So, the score goes from one to 12, and there's four quadrants. That top quadrant, you would have self scored as 10, 11, or 12. And basically, based on the answers, I would put you to 12 for almost all of them. A few of them might have been an 11.
I think the highest score I've ever had from probably 100 people who've taken this is probably in the 70s. And as near as I can tell the maximum score is 96, I'm putting you somewhere in the low 90s. You may think this is just a sales technique or so, but congratulations on having the highest score.
In summation, I would say that in many ways, you're a perfect fit for a podcast because you're a regular listener, the lifetime value of a client is high. You have an email list of more than 500 people. You're known in the community. You can think of at least 12 people who'd love to be a guest. You enjoy talking to people and you have enough relationships that are valuable relationships that you'd be willing to, in essence, showcase them. Spend the $750 to showcase them as a podcast guest. When I put all that together, you really are a good fit.

Ken: Yeah.

Dave: What questions might you have for me based on my experience, based on other clients we've worked with that maybe come to mind? I know we had kind of a preliminary call a couple of weeks ago, but anything kind of new questions that come to mind since we spoke last?

Ken: I think one of mine would be on the ... Probably twofold. One would be on the technicality side of it. How do you get in the system kind of thing? How does this go from being two guys recording it? And good luck with that Ken. I posted on my Facebook wall once and it never gets any traction. I mean, truly cold leads. Is there an opportunity for that? How do you end up on the iTunes Store, whatever?
And then the second would be, what is the ... Because I'm always looking at how do you use the whole cow kind of thing. How do you develop multiple income streams? What is the potential besides the direct connection to prospects for something like this to monetize? How do people monetize podcast besides the direct selling aspect?

Dave: So, those are great questions. I'll kind of answer the second one first. To be honest, our clients don't tend to be that focused on the monetization, in the same way that if they write a book, they're not trying to get that on the New York Times bestseller list. They're using it as an educational tool.
But there are two ways that come to mind. One is iTunes has started a subscription service just like in the last month. So, you actually could have your podcast to where ... I'm not aware of all the details, because it's relatively new and it's not a model that most of our clients are looking at right now. But I think it's something like you can set the price where you want, but potentially, you could have your current membership group that you could give them free access to the paid podcast, if you will.
And then additionally, with potential new listeners, you could direct them to the podcast. A typical subscription is like 2.99 to 9.99 a month. My guess is that's probably less than you're charging for your community, your membership community.

Ken: Oh, yeah.

Dave: So, it might be a way of having a funnel for people who maybe aren't ready to make that financial commitment that they may be more comfortable with that. You might, even as you're talking to people about the community or about becoming a member, one of the therapists on your team, and then you're getting kind of some pushback financially, you may be able to say, "Well, hey, we have kind of an interim approach where we have this podcast subscription, and you may want to do that."
I think that would probably be the most obvious that would come to mind. The other traditional way is selling advertising. And the challenge with that is until you get up to hundreds of thousands of downloads per month, you just don't really get on the radar screen for any significant advertising dollars.

Now, the other option that I have seen some people do, if you had a platform where you just really had a huge backlog of people dying to be on it, you could potentially charge somebody to be a guest on the podcast. Now, I wouldn't think for your therapist that are on the team already, I wouldn't think that would be a path you'd want to take, because they're already paying you your 40% of collections that might not resonate.
But potentially, if you had somebody who was not on your team, but who was interested in exploring a relationship, you could potentially charge them and just tell them, "Hey, these podcasts cost 750 bucks. You're going to get exposure to lots of people. And if you end up joining the team, we'll basically apply that to your joining cost or whatever."
I think those would be the two ways. I think of those two, the iTunes membership would probably be the most desirable. And what I'm kind of envisioning, you might actually have almost like two tracks. You'd have your free podcast track, and then you would have the paid one where you would have either more episodes, or additional content, or something along those lines. Does that help kind of on the monetization?

Ken: Yeah. That gives me a lot to think about.

Dave: And then as far as the kind of technical aspect of it, the main thing to know is just that ... Because our tagline is, "We're having your own podcast that's as easy as being a guest on ours." And so, the process, we use the very same setup that our clients use. There's a recorded calling line. And at the end of it, you hang up, and then five minutes later, you get an email from us with a copy of the recording if you want to listen to it. And you spend about five minutes recording the intro, and typing in just kind of some guest information.
So literally, right after our call ends, I will record the intro for our episode, and it will go something like, "My guest today is Ken Clark, the founder of Chenal Family Therapy. He's got a really great story. He was a Wall Street guy. Kind of made a career change, really enjoyed helping people and serving, and that led to a career in therapy. And from there, he couldn't help himself as a serial entrepreneur to put together a setup that was more efficient than a lot of people's. And it's grown to be hundreds of therapists, or approaching 100 therapists, more than 10 million in revenue, and they're a perennial Inc. 5000 fastest-growing company. I think there's a lot you'll learn from this. Ken is a really engaging guy. And even if you're not in the therapy business, I think there's a lot you could learn. So, I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did."
So, literally, that's what the intro will sound like. And then that will be transcribed, and that will become the body of the email that goes out to our database announcing your episode. It comes right from that. And then our team, they do everything else. We maintain a website for our clients for their podcast. So, we'll either create a separate domain name. Or if they're worried about SEO, they can create what's called a subdomain that would be like podcast-dot, and then the name of the business. And then you can give our team access to just that portion. In that way, we can go ahead and do the maintenance of the podcast, announcing new episodes and such.
And then we make sure it gets posted to iTunes and all the other platforms. And then we actually prepare the email and the artwork for the episode. If you're going to post it on social media, there's actually artwork for the episode. And then we actually draft the email for you to send to your guests, because it's easier to edit somebody else's first draft than to try to do a first draft and then a perfect draft all at once.
And then you sign off on the email. Some of our clients who don't really have a robust email marketing, we actually will maintain a separate database. We'll email on their behalf. For companies who have more robust email marketing like you, your team would probably want to do that themselves and just use your database and such. Like I said, we would prepare the episode and the artwork. Somebody on your team would have to do is just cut and paste that into the email and send go, or hit go.
We say that usually the plan is you schedule an hour. The interview itself, 40 to 45 minutes, and then a few minutes for the follow-up, and then a few minutes to review the email. So, if you're doing one episode a month, you could probably figure an hour and a half once you're in the swing of things, and that if you do more than that.
And then the other thing that I don't know if we talked about before, but we actually, if you want, we actually can produce transcripts of the episodes. Those are not cheap, because we're actually paying a live person to do those.

Ken: To listen. Yeah.

Dave: Yeah. I think our cost for that's about 250 an episode to do the transcript. And if you go to our website, Podcasting Stories, I have transcripts for all the guests, and you could just take a look at those to get a sense of what that's like.
And the website platform used for all of our podcasts, it's like the front end of our ... The back end service we use, whichever one it is. And it's kind of a standard templated format, but all of our clients use that same template. Nobody has ever complained about it. I mean, we have some color selection and stuff.
That's kind of the process. We usually don't recommend transcripts to start with, unless a client has convinced us that, "No, no, we're going to be able to use this, we're going to be able to repurpose this content immediately." Then we say, "Sure, go for it." It is expensive. I mean, we can do two podcasts a month for $1,000, which is the cost of one podcast and a transcript. So, for most of our clients, they get more bang from doing multiple podcasts.

Ken: Super cool. Well, truly, I'm excited to put some pen to paper and think about how I might be able to do this.

Dave: Well, good. Well, it's been fun talking through this and our listeners will enjoy this too, because every single person who's considering having a podcast has a different angle. They come at it a little different. Some people don't listen to podcasts as much. They're going to enjoy this a lot. Last question, if you could go back in time and have a conversation with your 25-year-old self, what advice might you give them?

Ken: Do your own work sooner.

Dave: Okay.

Ken: As far as mental health and self review. I wish somebody would have grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me and said, "The sooner you figure out how to look in the mirror without being afraid, the sooner you will succeed to the level you want."
So, I think it takes a lot of us getting a little gray hair to not be so afraid of critique and things like that. Gosh, any younger person that can learn to do that sooner is ahead of two thirds of who's leading companies. Absolutely a recipe for success.

Dave: Well, that is great advice. And I think there's probably some other people who would have given that same advice to their 25-year-old self. Well, Ken, this has been a really enjoyable hour, and it is just flowing by.

Ken: Yeah. I appreciate you having me.

Dave: Yeah, it's my pleasure. I just wanted to thank you for taking the time, and to compliment you on not only building a great business, but following your passion, and your desire to serve, and your focus on trying to find underserved parts of the country who you could add the most value. And so, I think it's great that you seem to have kind of followed a calling, while also made it a business success at the same time. I know that's not the easiest combination, so congratulations on pulling that off.

Ken: I appreciate the kind words.

Dave: All right. Well, you have a great day then and we'll talk another time.

Ken: Sounds good. Thanks for having me.

Dave: All right.

Ep014: Branding with Bethany Andell - Transcript Fri, 30 Jul 2021 14:00:00 -0400 3dbc6db5-f5f6-4e92-a8fa-27c65695c80b Return to Episode


Ep013: Creating a Maverick Message with Jay Tompkins - Transcript Thu, 22 Jul 2021 13:00:00 -0400 d6c2ddc4-a0dc-494a-8bc7-a5e2c53c7880 Return to Episode


Ep012: Podcasting Q&A - Transcript Fri, 16 Jul 2021 16:00:00 -0400 cc7ce57d-d711-4041-b4a1-969b3dcf91cd Return to Episode


Ep011: Podcasting is a Superpower with Brannon Poe - Transcript Thu, 08 Jul 2021 13:00:00 -0400 2f596e79-c7dc-416a-a75f-2b3b2591eed3 Return to Episode


Ep010: Indirect Podcast Advantages with Doug McCullough - Transcript Fri, 25 Jun 2021 14:00:00 -0400 9dfbb7b6-19bf-4d47-8d0d-4fd4caebf53a Return to Episode


Ep009: Lessons from 500 shows with Kyle Hannan - Transcript Fri, 18 Jun 2021 10:00:00 -0400 c0e370b1-7af1-46c6-b063-a49acc88124c Return to Episode


Ep008: Building a Community with Chris Kolkhorst - Transcript Fri, 11 Jun 2021 08:00:00 -0400 4114a5db-93cc-43df-811e-1d220a2727ba Return to Episode

Dave: Hi, Chris. Welcome to the podcast.

Chris: Hey Dave.

Dave: Well thank you for coming on, I appreciate it. I wanted to have you on for a while and I'm glad the schedules can finally line up. So-

Chris: Thanks for having me.

Dave: My pleasure. So let's start off with, I think with the most fun part of the interview. I think you're the first guest I've ever interviewed, who was a member of a division one national collegiate championship team unless our mutual friend Adam, he was not on a winning team, was he?

Chris: He was on some good Rice teams after I played, that he probably got to Omaha, but he did not win us a championship. So still your first guest that did that.

Dave: Okay. Well let's go ahead and fill them in. So you played baseball at Rice University, right?

Chris: I did. So I played three years at Rice, was very fortunate to be there at the right time, made two trips to Omaha in '02, we got to go to the college world series. Didn't turn out as well, we were happy to go there, but we proceeded to lose to the University of Texas and then to Notre Dame, and we came back after two games. So the next year we had that experience under our belts and went back and we actually won the national championship. We beat Stanford in the finals in 2003, they hit me in left field. I was a left fielder, so I was fortunate to have some amazing teammates.

Dave: Well, that is awesome. If you can give me one second, I just realized I forgot to turn, do not disturb on. Okay. When I said it's like a live radio show, I mean it's like a live radio show. There's no editing, no cutting, nothing. So when you on that team, you had a nickname, didn't you?

Chris: Well, it's funny you asked. So I created my own nickname based off of a character that I'd heard about when I played one year in junior college, that was a hard-nosed player. And he always slid into basis hard, he dove for balls, he got hit by pitches. He was kind of a pest and he called himself Gritman, G-R-I-T-M-A-N. And I brought that story with me to Rice and in my junior year, which was '03, I tore a ligament in my left shoulder and I was a left-handed hitter. And for the life of me, I could not turn on an inside pitch. And so I didn't hit for much power anyway, so I figured I would just stand on the plate, and if the pitcher missed inside a little bit, I would just get hit. And that was as good as getting a single in my mind.
And I got on base, which was my role anyways as the lead often. So fast forward, we were about to go to Omaha. We won the super regional and I had a few teammates that were awesome guys, but they're the type of friends that you like to needle and get under their skin. And so I would joke with them that I'm the Gritman, and they need to call me that they'd say, "Kolkhorst you aren't the Gritman, you don't dip," which is snuff that I never had a taste for that kind of tobacco. But at that time I had hair and had highlights and they said, "Kolkhorst you're not the Gritman, you take a shower." And I said, "All right, I'll make you a deal. If we go to Omaha and win that championship, for the rest of our lives, you have to call me Gritman." And they'd had a few beers and were feeling good. And they said, "Look, we go and win that championship, I'll call you whatever we want." So we go win that championship, and I became the Gritman.

Dave: Awesome. That is awesome. What about that nickname and the word grit was attractive to you? What resonated to you about that word?

Chris: I liked it because I'm a smaller guy, I matured late and never got very tall. And so baseball was a good sport for me that I could compete with physical size, but I always try to be an overachiever and look for advantages, and where I could have an impact and outwork somebody and bet on yourself, be resilient. And just so grit, I think is just a great word and something that the world needs more of rather than less.

Dave: And I understand that you've got an idea to encourage the development of grit in men, is that right?

Chris: I do. And I think the time's right. The marketplace will tell me if it's a good idea or not. My wife wasn't on board, she seems to be thinking it's a better idea as of the last few days. But I think there's an opportunity to connect men on a level that you subscribe to a certain way of life or philosophy, core values and form certain bonds. And so it'll be a men's club, for those out there that are into a men's club that maybe has dancers, it's not that type of men's club, but it's more like a society, part fraternity, part locker room if you ever played a team sport, part tailgate, part hunting club, park golf club. So you combine those elements, bet you, you'll subscribe to a certain way of life built around grit.

Dave: I like it. Where do I send my application for consideration?

Chris: Well, I got you on the list to be a founding member, Dave. So just watch this thing, it'll be coming to your inbox shortly.

Dave: Okay. So, but this helped though, because I was introduced to you by Adam Traweek, who was a guest on my other podcast who also played at Rice. And so, what about somebody who doesn't have a connection to you, that's listening to this, that's interested in learning more, do you have a website or anything on it yet or?

Chris: We don't, it's in the developmental stages. So right now there's a lot of people who will probably be introduced virtually. I thought the power of the logo would be important. And so, like a good country club or a good sports team, I wanted a logo that people would be proud of and happy to display. So I've hired a really good designer, we're going through the process, we're on our third round of revision, we should have that soon. But we're now planning to launch a website, a podcast and social media platforms as well. And then eventually I think we'll have some brick and mortar grow by word of mouth and probably have different chapters in different cities.

Dave: Okay, I like it. If somebody is interested in getting on the pre-release list, what would be the best way for them to reach out to you?

Chris: So my personal email is probably the best, so it's Gritman, which is

Dave: Did that bother you that there were six ahead of you?

Chris: Well, I'm not sure there was, so my number in college was seven. And so growing up, I liked Craig Biggio was my favorite player, and so I always try to pattern my style of play after him. And Biggio, if you're listening, I think you're a Gritman as well. And so I'd be happy to invite you to be in the Gritman club. But then when I went to Rice, I was just giving seven. And so, Mickey Mantle wore seven, so just always liked the numbers, so that's why. If there's other six grit men out there, we should invite them to the club.

Dave: We should. I knew that was Mickey Mantle's number because of the Seinfeld episode that I don't know if you ever saw. Where George wanted to name his kid seven in honor of the Mick and his wife wouldn't have anything to do with it. And she mentioned it to her pregnant friend as an example of what a horrible idea it was and her friend liked it. So they decided to name their child seven and George was really upset and tried to talk them out of it up until the point that she was going into the delivery room. So yeah, that's why I know Mick's number off the top of my head. So that is great. So if folks want to learn more. So let's switch gears back to your entrepreneurial business and we'll come back to the Gritman later. So you seem like a classic serial entrepreneur. So why don't you tell me what was your first entrepreneurial endeavor that you can think of?

Chris: Oh, shoot. It was probably a little lawn mowing business that I started when I was 12 years old and I wanted to make some cash money and started lawn mowing yards and picked up a few neighbors. And when I turned 16 and had a car, I went around and got me quite a few lawns. And it was a great first business to learn how to manage your time, customer service, sales, talk with the homeowners. Unfortunately, conflict management at times with mowers and sprinkler and had an angry homeowner had to repair that. But that was probably the first business. And then somewhere in high school with a few buddies, we started a very random business thinking back, but it was a lot of fun. We didn't make any money, but we learned some lessons the hard way. We had a friend that had a beach house down in Galveston and designed a product to keep live bait alive for fishing, Bait Well.
And Some other homeowners were interested after seeing that product that they created. And so we started a little business and manufactured it, sourced the products, went around trying to sell them out of the back of the truck. I think fortunately, one of our parents had a gas card that probably helped us fill up. So driving back and forth from Galveston, any profit we made would have been eroded by our fuel expense and luckily we didn't have to incur that. So then fast forward, went to college and played in minor league baseball. And during that time in life, I had a Rice degree and I didn't know the value of it, I was confident it had some value. And playing minor league baseball, I was making $800 a month and just felt like I was going backwards in life and just stifled in some ways. And so I did want to get into some type of business where I felt I could better use my skill set and connections.
So I got in the insurance business, had a good mentor, learned the business for five years at a big firm and then broke off and started my own company named Kolkhorst insurance, grew that. Invested in another firm as well, that was focused more on employee benefits side. Grew both of those, exit them, sold them. I went to Frost Bank, went to the Marsh & McLennan agencies and started a few other financial service related businesses. So yeah, I don't know what the definition of serial entrepreneur is, but I like to meet new people, I like the relationships and form businesses and serve and so, it's been good.

Dave: Well, that is great. And I love the stories. So what would you say the biggest lesson you learned from the Bait Well business?

Chris: Bait Well business, I guess the first thing is that you should probably, before you... You come out with the prototype and before you incur a bunch of costs, you should make sure there is demand.

Dave: Okay.

Chris: And you probably need to evaluate the size of your marketplace, and what kind of local market exist and how much market share you need to go get to be profitable. So we had a good product, but there wasn't much demand and it was a very tiny marketplace. But you live and you learn. I'm glad I learned that lesson at 17, instead of 40.

Dave: Yeah, those lessons that at that age seemed to be cheaper, right?

Chris: Yes.

Dave: Because you don't have as much money to waste, so your mistakes are smaller by definition. So well, that sounds great. And so now let's talk a bit about podcasting, and are you thinking about it for the Gritman business, for your insurance business, both? And I'm not asking you to make some big, lifelong commitment at this point, but I'm just curious what are your preliminary thoughts?

Chris: I can see a couple of different podcasts. One for the Gritman club, as a tool to create content and to just interview some interesting people that display grit in their life. Not necessarily a celebrity, I guess it could be, or an athlete, but just everyday hard working Americans, and bring their story and hopefully, I want to say to the masses, but I guess we'd have to get some subscribers, so hopefully a lot of people. So I can see that. Then with my core business, my insurance business, that business sometimes it's hard to differentiate on product. And so it's service and you can... Ultimately a lot of times you're trying to win ties, because someone's making a commitment before they get to experience it. And so I think the podcasts would be a neat way to maybe differentiate or to create content that's interesting, or at least maybe possibly open some doors. And then if business is supposed to happen, maybe it will. But the door opener piece and creating interesting content, I think would be a good tool.

Dave: Okay. I think you're on to something, before we go much further though, why don't we do a quick assessment and see if you are a good fit. So we have a scorecard that we've created for just this purpose. There's eight questions, one to 12, so the top scores is a 96. Don't tell me how we came up with this scaling, it was because 10 questions seemed like too many and five was too few, and so you end up with eight. And so your total score out of 96 was 80. So you're actually a pretty good candidate. And for folks that are trying to follow along, you can see the scorecard at And yes, you can take a look at it.
And basically there's eight questions and each one has four answers that are statements, and they're ranked from one to 12. So for example, let's go through the one that you scored the lowest on, and that's podcasts listening. And the answers are, I don't listen to podcasts. I'll listen to an episode once a year, when someone recommends a specific episode. I occasionally listen to podcasts and something triggers me to do so. Or I regularly listen to at least one podcast a month. And your score you gave yourself there was a six, maybe a seven, because you listen to more than one a year, don't you?

Chris: I do.

Dave: Okay, so-

Chris: It's truly been dependent on really if I'm flying or not. That seems to be the time when the plane's not going to have internet, I'll quickly download a podcast prior to getting on the plane.

Dave: Okay. So you gave yourself a seven there. And just so you know, the reason that question is there is we have found that, it doesn't matter what the other scores that people have, if somebody has never listened to a podcast, then I can tell them that a podcast is not a good fit. Because it'd be like trying to have a TV show if you've never seen a TV or watched a television. So that's why that's on there. But the fact that you at least listen to some podcast, you have a podcast player on your phone, you know how to use it, but I would say you meet the minimum standard for that question. So congratulations, good sir, you've met the minimum qualifications for that one. So now let's get to... the next question is one that we call keeping in touch.
And basically... and I'm not going to read all these statements out loud. But the question that you scored yourself on 11 on is the statement, I don't have content systems or tools, to reliably keep in touch with prospects and clients as much as I'd like to. And the people that answered this question high, this is a really good fit for them. And so talk to me about, as opposed to the other end of the scale which is, I send out enough emails to engage with clients and prospects. So tell me how you ended up in that box, and why that's the score?

Chris: Yeah, I think a lot of sales gurus, relationship gurus will say that you meet a defined systematic approach to touching your network every so often, and make it systematic versus leaving it up to chance, "Oh, I haven't done anything in a while, maybe I should send out something." So I've tried that. But I think personally what happens is that, I respect people. I respect their relationship and their privacy, and we get so many emails that, if it wasn't something very relevant, I just wasn't comfortable sending it out. And I never wanted to be put into that annoying salesmen space, which is easy. Selling insurance products, you're always aware that I may start in that space, and so I don't want to do anything that would jeopardize or damage reputation any further.

Dave: Yeah. And you know what, I hear this so often, and this was my exact situation before I launched my podcast a couple of years ago. For the same reason, I'd send out a couple of emails a year, if there was something that was real newsworthy, that impacted what we did, I'd send an email to the whole database, people generally appreciated it. But like you, I could never come up with... I talked to a marketing person that said, "Yeah, you need to send out an email a week." And I'm like, "That's 52 emails a year, what the heck do I have that people want to hear from me 52 times a year?" And the answer was, I didn't, at least I didn't think I did. The marketing people said, "We'll figure out something." But I didn't feel like I had something that was that valuable to email people 52 times a year.
And so like you, I did the same thing. I said, "I'd rather under email them than over email them."

Chris: I agree.

Dave: So, and that's where the podcast comes in, because we recommend for our clients that to start with, we recommend they just do one podcast a month, and then the corresponding email for that. And I can tell you, having done a podcast for a couple of years, I've never received a reply from somebody that said, "Your two paragraph email telling me that Chris Kolkhorst, was a guest on your show and he's a nice guy, and it's worth listening to, I just found that offensive." Nobody ever sent me such an email. And I think it's because it's not annoying, the subject line says, new podcasts episode with Chris Kolkhorst.
And if they want to just read that, and like, "Okay, I know Chris, I don't know Chris. I want to hear about or I don't." It's okay. And what we found from our 10,000 contacts that we have, probably 90% of them don't read the email, but they read that subject line. And so, that's not bad because it's still gets my name in front of them, it's not annoying. And for folks in Houston, there's some percentage chance that they might know you. And if they do know you and they have a positive opinion of you, I now have just enhanced my reputation slightly, because if they know you and they like you, and maybe they know you better than they do me, they subconsciously connect us. And they think, "Hey, Dave must not be too bad of a guy if he knows Chris and Chris was on his podcast."
And then if they actually open the email and read it, it's a short email just saying something like, "Hey, had a great call with Chris, he's a serial entrepreneur on a national championship baseball team. He's really got some interesting ideas. He's what's known as the Gritman. And he's wanting to start a group for guys who want to have more grit. And the episode is up now, if you're trying to listen to it, click here." It'll say something like that. And so we find it's just a great way to stay in touch. Because it's really funny how many times I'll get a response that's got nothing to do with the episode, and they'll say, "Hey, I've been meaning to reach out to you about XYZ." And that email just happened to trigger their memory. So does that sound like that would mesh with your thinking's on grit marketing using a podcast?

Chris: It sounds genius. And now's probably the appropriate time to let you know that, I don't think I'm going to damage your brand when you send that out, I hope we don't get your first opt-out, that's a lot of pressure.

Dave: Oh, no. We've had opt-outs. No, opt out are just part of the game, but as far as anybody going to the trouble to reply and say, "Your podcast is so offensive and your email's announcing it." I've never had that, so.

Chris: Well there may be one or two people out there that don't like me, Dave, I'm just warning you in advance.

Dave: Okay. Well, those things happen, you can't please them all. So let's go to the next question. And this one you answered with a resounding 12. And so this one talks about the lifetime value of a client. And so the first quadrant is the lifetime value is less than 1,000, the next one is 1,000 to 10,000, then 10 to 20,000, and then over 20,000. So every client is worth at least $20,000 over the life of our relationship. And you answered that one at 12. And so talk to me about that?

Chris: Yes, so in my business, it's a recurring revenue model. And so your sales are annually, so there's renewal. And so it's hard to get clients and so you want to hang on to them. So the lifetime value of the client can be really large if you get good clients and then take care of them, because they can pay you for 20 plus years. And so some of my clients, if you happen to listen to this, no I don't make $20,000 a year off you, but I hope to do business with you a long time. And that relationship is very profitable over time.

Dave: Yeah. And so the reason this matters is, and I think I shared these numbers with you there on our website. But if somebody wants to use this for a podcast, we charge $1,000 it's a one-time setup fee. And then we charge 750 a month, for one episode a month. So you do the math on that, and that comes out to be about 10 grand a year. I think 750 times 12 is nine grand plus a grand, so about 10 grand a year. And so the idea is if the lifetime value of a client is 20 grand or more, that if you did a podcast a month for 24 months, and you could point to just one client that came from that, then the podcast has paid for itself. So that's the idea. But that economics is a little more difficult if you're selling-

Chris: Donut holes.

Dave: ... a t-shirt. Yeah, if you sell donut holes to tourists who you only see one time, and then they go back home, it's a little hard to sale. So that's why that question is there. And it's why we find that people who the lifetime value of their clients is high, have more value there. And so does that math makes sense to you?

Chris: Oh, for sure. Absolutely, there's people ask you, what would you be willing to pay for this opportunity? It depends, but when you look at lifetime value, when you look at just relationship building, which is important, you can't have a relationship if you don't get in the door. And so, in my business, it's a long sale cycle. And so I try to meet people and position myself as someone they can trust and potentially do business with. And when the business is supposed to happen, if it is, it happens at the right time, when they're ready and there's a fit. And so, yes, I would think this could be a really good tool for that.

Dave: And thank you for that. And the other way that you could also use this is, and we do this frequently, at the end of the email, we'll have like a PS and we'll actually use the language, "Whenever you're ready, here's one or two ways we can help you." And so, one of the things that you could do, or we could help you with, if you want to move forward, is we could actually build some kind of a call to action, like a scorecard for them, for example, or some other informational piece. Or we could help you have a book with the 10 things you need to know about buying property and casualty insurance, something that would give them a reason to engage further.
Or said another way, it's a way for people to raise their hand. If you have a free ebook or a guide about something and people decide they want it, in a way they've went from being an invisible prospect to a visible prospect. So that's something else that we can perhaps help you with too.

Chris: Sounds good.

Dave: So here's a question that's actually not on the scorecard, I need to add it. And this one is also around just helping people. What we find are most people who have some podcasts familiarity and are generally on board with it, they can find an hour a month to do a podcast but they still need to financially justify it. So this other question is another way to financially justify it. So, do you have any clients or referral sources that are so important to you that you would spend $750 to entertain them, like to take them on a hunting trip or a golf outing? Do you have any clients like that?

Chris: I do Dave. And I'm chuckling because it's funny, my daughter was scrolling through my iPhone looking at my pictures and I had a picture of a receipt to document the expense, and she, "Daddy, you spent a thousand dollars on one bottle of wine." And I said, "Well, first of all, don't be going through daddy's phone, but that's a really good client." And when you get in business and you have good relationships that they help you support your family, you're willing to show your appreciation. So yes, long answer, but absolutely.

Dave: Would you say you have at least 12 of those relationships?

Chris: I do.

Dave: Okay. So here's why I asked that, I have discovered, I've had clients on my other podcast, clients that I've taken golfing, that we've had drinks, we've spent a lot of time with them, and I swear the hour they were on the podcast did more to further the closeness of that relationship than everything else we'd done. And I think part of it is that, having as a guest on the show, the focus is totally on them. I'm really showcasing them, their life. It's the equivalent of a very biased biography that only points out the really good things, that's what I do. And then at the end of it, I always sincerely thank them for the opportunity to serve them and how much I enjoy working with them.
And I've got to tell you when you publicly thanked somebody like that to in theory, 8 billion people on earth can hear that, it really does something. And so again, I bring that up as, even if you'd never got around to hardly sending out any emails announcing the podcast, or even did a poor job of that, and even if you never got any business from it, I think you would find that just the relationship enhancement of having them as a guest, you might be able to justify the price. What's your thoughts on that?

Chris: I think you're onto something because I find it's getting harder and harder to entertain. And so everybody's busy, everybody has their own places. When you take them hunting they successful want to go for their own hunting trip. You want to take them golfing, they've got their own golf club. And then you want to take a trip, well it's away from the business, away from the family, which is hard. And so that's interesting to hear what you have to say and I can see it. If you spend an hour talking to them, you book them, you get their time and then you highlight them in a way that makes them look good, which is just telling their story, I think you're onto something.

Dave: Yeah, that's been my experience. And the other secret tip or secret weapon of a podcast is, I've had guests on the podcast... I had an attorney on a podcast who charges $1,500 an hour and hard to get on his schedule unless you're willing to pay him. And he happily came on the podcast twice. He actually was on two different times. He happily gave me an hour rearranged his schedule to accommodate mine, never sent me a bill, and he proceeded to email his whole database proudly announcing that he was now famous because he was on my podcast. So that's another little one too, is just the people who you might have a hard time getting in front of them otherwise. But yeah, you'd be surprised if you just had a target list of 20 successful entrepreneurs that you'd like to talk to and you've had no luck getting an appointment, you'd be surprised if you reached out and invited all 20 of them to be a guest on your podcast.
I'd be surprised if at least one of them didn't say yes. And so that's another little use of it there.

Chris: You think I could get six? I like to at least get six, because that would be a 300 hitter, which is good.

Dave: Sure. It depends, I think it's certainly possible.

Chris: We'll set the bar there.

Dave: Okay, we'll set the bar there. And a lot of it is just luck in terms of if that person you call listens to podcasts themselves. If you call probably-

Chris: Yeah, I was just joking with you. One out of 20 will probably...

Dave: Okay. That's good, because I've played team sports. I know when you're being needled, it means that you're doing something right. Okay-

Chris: I didn't want to be below a 200 hitter.

Dave: Sure. Well, and the other thing is, just because they don't say yes today to being on your podcast, doesn't mean they won't say yes another time. It's a long-term game. Okay, let's go, we're nearing the end of the scorecard. So guest list. So the bottom one is, I don't know who I would invite to be a guest on a podcast. And then the top ranking question is, I can think of at least 12 people who would immediately say yes to being a guest, and you gave that a 12. So I get the sense it's even more than 12 people. Is it more like 20 or 30 or 50, what's probably your realistic number?

Chris: Probably, I have a list of potential guests that I'm keeping and it keeps growing. And so I think hopefully as you release episodes and you have people that hopefully like it, I'm going to encourage them to recommend potential guests. So I think that shouldn't be a problem at all.

Dave: Yeah. Because I've had several interviews today in pre-calls and post calls, and I forget who I've shared the stat with. So there's a stat on how many YouTube videos and podcasts and such there are. So let me go ahead and share it for you, and if I've shared it with you already, just humor me please for the audience. So there's roughly 50 billion YouTube videos, two billion websites, 600 million blogs, but only 1.7 million podcasts. So podcasts are the rarest of all online content. And of that 1.7, when you drill down, 1.1 million of those folks have not released an episode in the last 90 days. They suffer from what we call podcast fade, it's just drifted away. And so of the remaining 600,000, only half of them have reached the 10 episode mark.
So we tell people we talk to, if you can release an episode a month for 10 months, you're in the top 25% of the rarest form of online content. And if you can release 50 episodes, you're in like the top 1% of all podcasts. And so if you off the top of your head can think of 40 or 50 people, you've got a pathway to having something that could really turn out to be something. Had I shared those stats with you before? And if I have, is that interesting at all to you?

Chris: You did. And it's very interesting and I've since shared it with lots of people because I was surprised. And one of my concerns was, since podcasts have become more popular, I was concerned, has that medium become saturated? And based off my research and what you've told me, no, it hasn't. Because you have a podcast doesn't mean that you aren't thriving or serious about it. A lot of people launch it, but then get that fatigue and go another direction.

Dave: Yep. I agree. And there's a motivational speaker named Jim Rowan, I don't know if you've ever heard him. And he has a saying that the higher the barrier, the lower the competition. And I think that proves out with those podcasts stats because the barriers to entry are higher than the other options. I've never posted a YouTube video, but I'm pretty sure I could figure it out in about five minutes on my iPhone and get it posted, and up and live. And I'm pretty sure I could start a blog without a lot of trouble, but podcasts are so much more complex. There's so many pieces and then you have to actually get on all the platforms. So yeah, there's a lot going on. And for every podcast that was launched, there's probably a hundred more that people wanted to launch, but just could never get past those barriers.

Chris: Yeah. You could do a YouTube video pretty easily, I figured it out back in the day in my first company, I took most of them down because they were embarrassing. But I left one of them up because it's good to laugh and teach you a lesson, like I think humor's important and being able to laugh at yourself. So there's one if you get on there and look, it's me and the guy, he actually worked for me. He's the one that I like to get under his skin about being a Gritman. You'll see that video is still up there and it's totally embarrassing. I've almost taken it down about a hundred times, but somebody will send me a text and be like, "Hey, I saw your video up there." And Hey, maybe there's no, what is the saying? No good advertising or publicity.

Dave: No bad.

Chris: No bad. That's what I meant, yeah. But it's good for a while. So anyway, yes. But I don't have a podcast and I even have YouTube videos. So your stats are, at least in my case, seem to be correct.

Dave: Well, that's awesome. So we're down to our last two questions here. So this one is called, do what you love. And the bottom score is, I don't like talking with people. And the top score is, I enjoy talking with people one-to-one, understanding more about their situation and helping them better understand my subject. And you gave yourself a 12 there. So first off, the first statement, the bottom statement, does that surprise you that anybody would answer, "I don't like talking to people?" Or have you actually met some people like that are just, back office types?

Chris: There's some people, some engineers, some technical folks like my wife, I think she could go all day with not talking to someone and be perfectly fine. But I like to be around people, it recharges my batteries, but for her, it drains them. So we're all different, but I do enjoy meeting new people, I'm inquisitive, I'm just curious and I like to ask questions, so that's why I scored that high.

Dave: Well, good. And then the last one here is on outsourcing, and this one's a little bit self-serving, but it also it's here to figure out if we're a good fit for someone. So the bottom statement is, I believe in keeping everything in house because it is the most cost-effective way to do things. And then the upper end is, I'm laser focused on our core competency and outsource everything else. Now on that one you gave yourself a nine, which is the high side of the question below it. I look to outsourced most activities that are not our core competency, but sometimes do things in house when the cost differential is high. So you can probably guess why I've got that in there, because if somebody is not a fan of outsourcing, then they're probably not going to be interested in outsource their podcast. So podcasts, does that sound like something that falls into something you guys would want to do in-house? Or is that something, if you do it that you'd probably want to outsource it?

Chris: Probably outsource. I do some things in-house if we can or make sense, but if there's somebody that has a model already built, is quicker to market and knows the ins and outs, then I see value in outsourcing.

Dave: Okay. Well, like I said, your score was an 80, which makes you a pretty good fit. So-

Chris: That's an 80 on a 96 point scale, right? There's no 100 in this test?

Dave: Correct. So that's really the equivalent of an 84.

Chris: Like an 83 or something. 83, 84, yeah. Okay. So it's a solid B.

Dave: It's a solid B. That's exactly right, it is a solid B. So what I'd like to do with the little bit of time we have left, is just talk about any questions you might have, maybe some brainstorming ideas on how you might use the podcast either for the Gritman company or for your insurance businesses. What questions do you have for me? What thoughts do you have?

Chris: I don't, I would say that this has been very helpful. You have me as a guest because, just I got to see the process, and folks I'll tell you, it's pretty simple. We talked with Dave a little bit in the beginning, and talk about an agenda and it's pretty loose and we've gone a few different directions a couple of times during this. But then there's a call-in number and I'm not sure what happens after this, I'll get to see it, but I guess you'll probably record some opening or closing. But I would say this has been very helpful to have me on to experience it for myself. Kind of dipping my toe in the water, so I appreciate you having me.

Dave: Well, my pleasure that's what this new podcast is for, is for people who currently have a podcast, used to have a podcast or considering one, so it's a way to learn more. Well with that, let me just repeat your email address, which by the way, I don't think I'll ever forget it now, Chris Kolkhorst, former professional baseball player, you were paid 800 a month, so that qualifies. Member of a national championship baseball team, has a degree from a well-regarded university, Rice University, and a general fun guy to be around. So please after you call Adam, give me a call, let me know when Gritman club is ready to launch, okay?

Chris: Hey, you'll be one of the first to know, hopefully pretty soon, that logo should be ready soon.

Dave: All right, sounds good. Hey, have a great day, Chris.

Chris: Okay Dave, thank you.

Dave: Bye.

Ep007: Finding Students with Courtney Krenz transcript Fri, 04 Jun 2021 12:00:00 -0400 50509b81-c9e1-4658-b731-41b766fe50cf Return to Episode

Dave: Hi, Courtney. Welcome to the podcast.

Courtney: Thanks, Dave, and good morning.

Dave: I believe that you are originally from two states north of where I grew up. I grew up in Nebraska, and am I right? Are you from two states north of there?

Courtney: Yeah, I'm up in North Dakota. I grew up in North Dakota, in the northwest corner, about 60 miles from Canada, 20 miles from Montana.

Dave: Oh, wow.

Courtney: Way up there with the arctic troughs, come down to minus 40 below, occasionally 60 below.

Dave: Yep. So from there, what made you decide to relocate to the Rockies? Because I understand that you went to college in Montana, and then you now live in Colorado, so what was it about the mountains that made you want to move out there?

Courtney: Yeah, I did. I went to college for a couple years in the Boseman and I like to say every day in the Rocky Mountains is a spring day in North Dakota in the wintertime, so it just was a heck of a, now, you know, for all the years you've grown up in the cold, and once you've experienced that nicer climate, I was looking for a way to explore the world a little bit. I'd actually left North Dakota with an oilfield service company and ended up being the director of training for that company, and they located me in Colorado at the headquarters, and so that wasn't really intentional, "Hey, I'm moving to Colorado," it was a company I worked for headquarters was here, so I ended up in Colorado, and that was fine with me.

Dave: Yeah. No, I understand, so we moved to Texas when I was a teenager and have been here ever since, but spend a lot of time in Colorado, and I try explaining it to people who are not from the upper Midwest, and it's hard for them to grasp that going effectively straight west from where you are and gaining 5,000, 6,000 feet elevation, that the temperature gets warmer. But it does, doesn't it? Because the mountains are blocking that arctic highway of 50 mile an hour wind in wintertime, is what seems to happen. Is that right?

Courtney: Yeah, I mean, the altitude gives the sun more power. In North Dakota, if it snows in October, it's the same snow blowing around in the spring, and here, you can get a foot of snow, and the sun comes out, and by late afternoon the driveway's dry, and it's 30 degrees outside and you've got your air conditioner on because the sun is hot, so yeah, I think this is the big difference with latitude and the power of the sun.
Well, good. Let's get into your career. You seem like a classic serial entrepreneur to me. When I go to your LinkedIn profile, it seems like you've got all kinds of ventures going on, which I mean in a complimentary fashion. Can you tell me a bit about your current businesses and then maybe we can drill down into the one that we'll be talking about, that you're considering a podcast for?

Courtney: Sure. I mean, yeah, I guess I would be considered a serial entrepreneur. I bought my first business when I was 17, traveled around to Indian celebrations and county fairs, and sold hotdogs, and hamburgers, snow cones, and all that good stuff, then I cut my teeth on a P&L at that age, and learned a lot about hiring friends and not hiring friends.

Dave: Yeah.

Courtney: And from there, I grew up on a farm and ranch area, so you know, ranching and farming is pretty entrepreneurial at the end of the day, it's taking a lot of risks.

Dave: Sure.

Courtney: From there, I got into, to try and make some money on the side, I was going to raise pigs one summer and ended up going to an auction sale to buy some pig feeders and I ended up buying emus, and started my emu and ostrich career for about four years, raised emus and ostrich in both the farm and boarding system, then went onto herbs. I had an organic herb farm that had about 30 acres of irrigated herbs that I had contracted out to some pharmaceutical companies, and that's about the time I started to look outside of North Dakota and ended up with a service company business where I ended up being the director of training for that company for a few years.
Opted into active duty for a year and a half during the second Gulf War, as a reservist, and then started a financial consulting company. Ran that for three or four years, until 2009, which was a bad year to be in finance.

Dave: Sure, sure.

Courtney: Yeah, and went back to North Dakota. We sold our family business we had there in 2012, kind of at the peak of the oil boom, and that allowed me to come back to Colorado and really kind of look for interesting ventures to get involved in, which one of them was massage school. A friend of mine that I knew back in Denver from my time living here, I kind of casually knew the guys, and they came up and showed me a plan on how to expand the school and start a massage school in Costa Rica. Let's put it that way, start out with, so there's a big of more context in the school.
It's a unique school. It's in Costa Rica. It's a live-on campus. It's a four month program. Four to six month program, depending on what you sign up for, and the plan, then, was to open up a massage school in Thailand, and so I was like, "Oh, I'm interested in learning about it." And so that's how I got into the massage school business.

Dave: Okay, and then how long ago has that been that you've been I guess more actively involved in the business?

Courtney: You know, actually, I think it was probably, when I first started talking to them, 2013 I think is when I first was entertaining the idea, and then it was at that time that I ended up helping them develop an expense of marketing plan, and a growth plan, and then I put some money into the company and started helping them as a coach and a financier.

Dave: Okay. This wasn't a case that you'd had a life long dream to own a massage school, was it? I guess not.

Courtney: No, no, I mean, my background was farming, ranching, industrial. The business we sold in North Dakota was an industrial waste and oil treatment facility, so no, it wasn't really. I always enjoyed massage, and I'd have a massage here and there, because I've always been an athlete all my life and used massage for different times for different reasons, but no, it wasn't really on my radar.

Dave: Understood, understood. My understanding is that you're thinking about launching a podcast for the massage school because you thought it might be a good marketing tool or a good way to keep in touch with various people who may have indicated some interest in the past. What are kind of some of your thoughts on what made you first think about it, or ... ?

Courtney: Well, you know, really, I think of myself as an early adopter, and I was looking for something new or different to get ahead of the curve, and I'm a Jay Abrahams fan, who is always looking at other industries for marketing ideas that aren't going on in their industry, and crushes it all the time. I was thinking, I've met the guy a few times, and he's crazy interesting. In that respect, I'm looking at how to differentiate us as a company, but also in the we market and collect people. We're a pretty competitive environment. We can market nationwide because we're in one location in Costa Rica, so we compete with local schools competing for local students, and our students can basically come from anywhere in the world, and so it gives a unique problem for marketing spend because SEO's really tough when you're trying to do a national SEO campaign on a small scale.

Dave: Oh, sure.

Courtney: And then, by research, I saw that a podcast can really boost all of your SEO because it gives you all these powerful back links, and so I said, "Hey, this is something we've got to do." Then I started my research, I found you, and I got the team working on other avenues, so really it's just the genesis of get the word out, and increase SEO, and spread the word about what we do.

Dave: Okay. Well, yeah, that makes perfect sense, and you may recall that when we first started talking I suggested that you go complete our score card to help you, and we designed this score card, by the way, for the listeners, the website is, and what the purpose of it really is to help people kind of do a first assessment on whether they're a very good fit, and I was just going to add up your score here really quick. You had a pretty high score. 17, 28, 37, 47, 49, 59, 61, seven, so you had a 72 out of 96, which is really a high score.
What I'd like to do is just to kind of drill in on a few of those eight questions, and what we find is just talking about the score card. In many ways, what we're doing here just live on the podcast would be a conversation that we typically have with somebody who's considering a podcast, so please consider this an opportunity to ask me any questions or brainstorm, and I think our listeners who are considering a podcast will find the exercise to be interesting. For the first question, we have a question on podcast listening, because I've discovered that people who really don't listen to podcasts, it's hard for them to even grasp having a podcast.
I say it's like somebody who's never watched a TV show or seen a TV to do TV advertising. It just wouldn't click with them. Out of a score of 12, you were a nine in the statement that you're sort of right on the cusp between, "I occasionally listen to podcasts when something triggers me," or, "I regularly listen to podcasts." Could you just talk a bit more about that? Do you listen very much of podcasts, or is it just more of just when something particular strikes you?

Courtney: Yeah, you know, I do a lot of audio books, so it's always a tug of war.

Dave: Oh, sure.

Courtney: Because the podcasts are always relative, and I get friends that send me, "Hey, this is a good podcast." And my wife is probably a much more avid podcast listener. She has her folks that she likes to listen to, so I get the Cliff Notes, if it's a good podcast that she listens to. And also, I mean, I'm kind of obsessive, too, so if I get into a podcast, and it's like, "Oh, I've got to listen to another one." So I'm a little careful with getting too immersed with it, but I do find that if I really want to learn, deep dive into a subject, then I'll go look for a podcast of someone I respect or is well known because I know I'm going to get so much more information in an hour and a half podcast of a deep interview than I am from a 15 minute, two minute news clip on TV.
I mean, I've got a lot of respect for the podcast genre, and when I'm really looking for up to date, accurate information, I'll go find a podcast from a national podcaster.

Dave: Okay. Yeah, I think that makes perfect sense, and so even though you're not maybe as avid as your wife, you certainly have a familiarity with the platform and appreciation for the platform, and it sounds like really the only reason that you might not listen to more is just because you're also a big fan of audiobooks and they kind of fill the same sort of space, right?

Dave: Because you don't need to be in front of your computer, you don't need to be visually attentive, so that sounds like kind of the summary of where you are as a podcast listener.

Courtney: Yep, yep. For sure.

Dave: The next question that we have talks about lifetime value, and we basically have kind of four quadrants where we talk about the value of a client, and those are basically blow 1,000, as far as, again, the lifetime of an individual client, 1,000 to 10,000, 10,000 to 20,000, and then over 20,000 dollars, and you'd answered that one on a 12, so at the high end, and so I'm guessing that means that because your school, I'm guessing that tuition is not like 12 dollars or something. I'm guessing it's a more substantial amount. Is that a fair assumption?

Courtney: Yeah, when I took over the school in 2012 or '14, I think our tuition was around 11,500, and we had pretty much only one program, and so I went to work and developed some new program, or I should say I tasked my director of education to come up with some new programming, expanded the program from 500 hours to 700 hours, added another 100 hour course, started the teacher training school, and so if someone wants to do what we call our ultimate package, they can do the massage school, they can do an Asian modalities class where they learn some Asian modalities, and they can also take the teacher training, and that whole package would run around 21, 22,000 dollars.

Dave: Okay.

Courtney: I would say about 40, 60% won't do that full package, so our average dollar sale is around 20,000 dollars, all in, and then we have continuing education classes that also bring in some revenue, keep the campus busy, so yeah, I would say if they do the course it's 20, and then they can come back and do additional training, so we try to bring in top level massage trainers and facilitators to do additional trainings for the students, so yeah, we have a big ticket item and our sales cycle runs from two weeks to two years. Some people sign up, find it, and, "I'm in." And some people find it and watch it for two years and then finally decide to jump in, so it's a high ticket item.

Dave: Yeah, and the reason that question matters is to just give people an idea that we find it typically costs around 10,000 dollars a year to have a monthly podcast, and so what we find is that if you're selling T-shirts, let's say, on the internet, then you have to really sell a lot of T-shirts to be able to financially justify the podcast, but in your case that if you did this for two years and found one new client from it, that you basically broke even on it, so that's why that question is there. We find that people who the lifetime value of a client is pretty substantial, that the podcast tends to make more economic sense for.
On that, I just wanted to ask you about the school. Other than being in Costa Rica, what are some of the other kind of differentiators that you find that students are attracted to your school as opposed to others? I understand that some of it is that your process start to finish may be more efficient than some other schools. Is my understanding correct on that?

Courtney: Yeah, I think our philosophy is an immersive, high intensity program. We try to do our best to make sure that the students understand that you're not taking a four month vacation in Costa Rica, and so you're in the classroom for seven hours a day, and then you do massages at night, so it's really an immersive training, so if you're in the military and they want to teach you a language, they don't send you to school on the weekends. They send you for a month for an intensive training, immersive program, and in a month you can be fluent in a language, and so we feel that translates well into massage because for four months you live, breathe, massage, and just don't really have those distractions that you have in a year long program where you're working a second job and doing the-

Dave: Sure.

Courtney: The thing is, there, you're just doing massage, so when our students graduate, and I think we still have a record of we haven't had one of our students ever fail their exam to get their license.

Dave: Oh, wow.

Courtney: And I don't know, it's 14 years now I think the school's been active, and no one's ever not passed the first go on the test, so we know-

Dave: Yeah. Go ahead.

Courtney: Yeah, so we know that when we train, then we teach them, that they leave with the knowledge, and we get feedback from others. I get spas calling me quite regularly, "Hey, do you have any graduates coming up? Because we love so-and-so." And we think we produce a mature, ready to go to work massage therapist when we graduate them, and to be honest we have about a 10% fail rate.

Dave: Okay. And so what does that translate to? It sounds like you've got about 60 students and some of them are career changers, some are coming from corporate America looking for better quality of life, some are maybe underemployed where they're maybe working a minimum wage job, and then some of them, surprisingly enough, just view it as kind of a life experience kind of thing, and that sounds like about 15% or so. Does that kind of summarize the situation with your typical classes each year?

Courtney: Yeah, absolutely, and then the ages range from 19 to 60, so it's a really diverse round.

Dave: Okay, so hey, I'm just curious. Say you have somebody who's 19 years old and they're working a minimum wage job, and they go to their parents and they say, "Hey, mom, dad, if you send me to Costa Rica for four months, this'll be way better than sending me to four years of college and then me working at Starbucks." What are kind of the economics of that? Does it tend to pay back pretty quickly if somebody's in a minimum wage job? What are kind of the stats around that?

Courtney: You know, I mean, if you look at the stats online I think it's kind of an average between 38,000 to 50 or 60,000, so if different areas have different rates, I mean smaller, rural areas are 60 bucks an hour, and some places in Colorado are over 100 to 100 and a quarter an hour. There's some really interesting, they have this app that you can order a massage kind of like an Uber, and if you wanted a massage in two hours, you just go on the app, push the button, and someone shows up in Colorado, someone shows up in a couple of hours for a massage, so a lot of students go to that route.
And so yeah, I think the economics are pretty good. I mean, compared to ... and flexibility, and time, and so they do a couple massages a day, it's a couple hundred bucks a day. They get serious and open up their space, and build their clientele, and it's not hard to really have a decent 50,000 dollar year career, job, in the massage world.

Dave: Yeah, no, I could see where, if I'm just doing the math, I mean, if somebody's making, say, 10 dollars an hour, that'd be 20,000 dollars a year, and so here, in 4 months time, their earning ability can roughly double or triple and four months, so that's a pretty transformative experience economically, isn't it?

Courtney: Yeah, and I would say when we talk to our students after, they get the education and they get the skills and the tools to be very effective massage therapists, but everybody always has some transformational growth through the process of living away for four months in a foreign country, adapting to culture, the struggles of keeping up with the pace of the curriculum, and people, anytime you go into some type of personal, any type of, it's going to make you go, you often get things you weren't planning on getting, and a lot of our students come out saying that they've changed their life.

Dave: That's awesome. Yeah, that is awesome. Well, let's continue through with the score card, if we may. We have another question on here where we kind of try to get a sense of how many names somebody has in a contact relationship management or a CRM system, and our question's basically, at the low end, or the low end of the scale, it's somebody who really doesn't have any email addresses, all the way up to people who have an actual CRM and have more than 500 names in there, so your answer to that was a 12 out of 12, so I'm guessing you've got more than 500 people in your database. Is that a safe assumption?

Courtney: Yeah, I would say we're usually in the 25,000 range of, over the years, databases age out, that ideally generate about 3,000 to 4,000 leads a year people into the massage school, and so just say five years we're active, we're still receiving emails. So I mean, 15,000 would be a fair amount that we can actually email.

Dave: That's great. And some people ask me, they'll say, "Why does the email list matter? Because we use purely organic traffic and pay per click ads. Why would the size of my email list matter?" And we tell them that, and we've seen this firsthand ourself, when you're on a platform like LinkedIn, or Facebook, or Google, you don't really own your future. And when you're relying on those third parties to assist you in growth, it's always, I shouldn't say always, it can be a tenuous situation, whereas we've found that we have a solid email list of people who genuinely are interested in your topic, and they don't mind hearing from you periodically with useful information, we find that the ability to own that list can be really powerful.
And so the idea is that if somebody's doing one podcast a month, and it's on a subject that your audience would find interesting, and you send a short email to them just letting them know that that podcast episode's available, and then with just maybe a PS that says, "Hey, if you're ever interested in getting started, here's kind of the next step or here's a guide or another resource for you," and so that's why we find that the size of the email list is so important. How does that philosophy kind of mesh with sort of your marketing? Do you see value in being able to email the database periodically in a kind of non-annoying fashion?

Courtney: Yeah, that's always the struggle, the whole weekly newsletter thing, that doesn't mean everything, and eventually gets canceled. I thought that what really motivates, I think, our students to take that leap, because it's quite a big thing to do, to pack up your house and everything, find someplace for your dog, and do that for four months, is not a small decision, is not a small purchase. But when people, one of the ideas we have for guests, and I'm jumping ahead, but to interview our past students, and their experience their, their experience afterwards, and their career now, I think could be really compelling for someone that's interested or someone that has a friend or relative that's been talking about it. I think that's where that outreach can be more impactful.

Dave: I would agree, and I even wonder if even maybe the parent of a past student might even be an interesting interview, because I'm sure you've got at least one example of someone who's 19, 20 years old, and maybe not on the ideal career path. You know, living with their parents, and the parents take this shot to send them down there, and it really transforms the kid's life, and they kind of get their act together, if you will. Do you think that you would have some success stories like that and maybe even some parents who might be interested?

Courtney: Yeah, I mean, I hadn't thought about that, but that's a really great idea to get the perspective from the parents who typically are the ones investing in this education for a lot of our younger students, and finding their satisfaction levels. That could be a whole nother audience to market to, is parents with kids who are a bit adrift, and looking for something to bite into, and a meaningful career. That's a brilliant idea. I'll make sure we add that to our list of potential interviews.

Dave: Okay, well good, I'm glad that's helpful. And that's kind of the idea of these sort of brainstorming sessions. And it also struck me that you even could have potentially an employer on there, because you mentioned that you've got some high end spas that you get calls from periodically looking for one of your students because they really like them. It strikes me that if you had somebody from one of those spas on, talking about why they like your students so much, that might be a useful episode to have as well.

Courtney: Yeah. I think that's great. I could think of some people right now that I talk to occasionally about, would be happy to have a conversation about that.

Dave: Yeah, and what I find is that it's a little bit of a, I call it kind of a superpower of having a podcast. I've had a podcast for a couple years on a specialty tax subject that one of my other businesses is involved in, and then this new podcast, Podcasting Stories, that this interview is for, is really just focused on people who have a podcast or are thinking about a podcast, and I just completely lost my train of thought. That's what I get for digressing, but it will come back, so we were talking about the spa owner interviews. Oh, what I was going to say.
The superpower is that when you invite somebody to be a guest on your podcast, because podcasts are still pretty rare all in all compared to the number of YouTube videos, and blogs, and other things, that it's so interesting, because when you invite somebody, they act a little bit like you said, "Hey, I don't know if you know, Courtney, but I'm guest hosting the Tonight Show next week. Would you like to swing by and hang out for a few minutes?" It's kind of like in their brain it goes in the same spot, and so it's really surprising how excited people are to be on your podcast. It's like they're getting their 15 minutes of fame, all the sudden, via your podcast.
And the other thing it does that'll be really helpful for you is when you're talking to any type of a spa owner or somebody who's hiring, and you tell them, "Oh, by the way, our email list is over 20,000 names, and that's 20,000 people who don't know anything about your company who you'll be getting some exposure to," we find that with a email list that large people will be almost salivating to come on your show, and you even could have other vendors to the industry. Like a company that makes massage tables, or other accessories. Oils, or what other items.
You might find with an audience like that, you may find that somebody like that might be very excited about being on the show. You might even be able to actually charge them if you wanted to, kind of like an appearance fee, because think about it. If somebody sells massage tables and they have a chance to come on your show for an hour, and for a few hundred dollars they have access to 20,000 people, they might find that to be a very compelling value proposition and with a list as large as yours, you might even be able to create some revenue from it.

Courtney: Yeah, that's a great avenue to explore. I think that given the number of massage therapists out there, and we did a partnership with RockTape a couple of years ago where we basically supplied a RockTape to us and we od a certified RockTape training. Kinetic tape, if you're not familiar with it, is a tape you see on athletes in the-

Dave: Oh yeah. The KT tape.

Courtney: Yeah. KT tape. RockTape came out as a competitor to KT tape.

Dave: I see.

Courtney: And one of the gyms, a gym I used to go to, one of the key executives was a member there, and we go to be friends, and it ended up being to where adding RockTape training into our program, so our students also come out certified RockTapers.

Dave: Oh wow. And you know, and I was going to just say, and I could even imagine, we've had some clients that they've asked us to help them launch multiple podcasts, shows, and so if this thing kind of took off, you could even have a show, one geared toward people considering going to massage school or the parents of them. You could then have another podcast focused on current masseuses and a show like that would lend itself to, I think, advertising, and some of these other guests. You know, basically everything that could make a current masseuse's life better. I guess the problem with that would be the benefit to you all from a monetization.
How many students have you ever had come who did not get their original massage training from you all? Is that pretty rare when that happens, or are those follow on classes typically just from your alumni?

Courtney: Most of our classes we do, or continuing education classes, are not alumni.

Dave: Oh, okay.

Courtney: Some are, but I'd say the majority are not, and so that's a whole nother market of existing massage therapists, and believe it or not we have licensed massage therapists that come back and take our whole course because they've heard about, they've run into one of our students and they go, "Well, I didn't learn that, and I didn't know that." So they see a gap in their education and they come back and are willing to invest in a whole nother curriculum just because of the way that we do our training, and the depth of our training, so that's not uncommon. This probably happens three or four times a year, we have massage therapists repeating their education to just up their game.

Dave: Wow. That is really, really interesting. I would not have guessed that. And that actually takes us to our next question, which is on the score card, which is a guest list, and to give you an example, so at the one extreme the statement is, "I don't know who I would invite to be a guest on a podcast," and at the other end the statement is, "I can't think of at least 12 people who I'd immediately say yes to being a guest." And your answer was 11 out of 12, and I'm guessing based on our conversation today, you might even call that 12 out of 12 as you are thinking about even additional guests. Is that about right?

Courtney: Yeah, maybe a 13, I guess.

Dave: Okay, okay. 13 is good. And this matters because we find that there's really a number of factors that really need to line up in order for a podcast to make sense, and that's another one of them. Right? Thinking of a big database of people to send it to that could be an avid podcast listener. They could be selling a high ticket item. But if, for whatever reason, they're just kind of maybe very introverted, or they've just always kind of been behind the scenes to where they really wouldn't have anybody to invite, we find that's really kind of a big obstacle to having a podcast, so it's really important that you've got a personality such that you know folks and don't seem to have any qualms about reaching out to people to be on the podcast.
And I'm just curious. Would your plan be for you to be the host, or would you kind of have somebody else on the team be the host, or would it be kind of a rotating thing? Have you given that any thought?

Courtney: Yeah, I have given it thought, and I've talked to my staff about it, and I've got good staff. Something we could talk about, being my background is not in massage, I'm in business, and massage, although I do enjoy talking to people, and so I think there'd be a combination. I think there'd be, depending on the guest, if it's more about, I would use my director of education to talk to another massage therapist about a technique, or if they're talking technical massage, obviously she'd be the one for that. If I'm talking to the RockTape guy, that may be more up my ally, so I think it'd be a combination.
I think I would identify the guest. If it was an alumni, I'd use the person that was on the ground while they were there so they could share stories and memories of what they encountered while they were at the school. I think, I mean, which really makes it much broader, because then if we have four people that can actually conduct the interview or go on someone else's show, then it just gives us so many more opportunities to get our message out.

Dave: Yeah, and that's a really good point, and I'll be honest, this isn't something that we have really thought much about, but if you have ... because one of the benefits of having a podcast is you now can become a guest on other people's podcasts, and so we've discovered if there's a podcast you'd really like to be a guest on, then the best way would be to invite that host to be a guest on your podcast host, and then some portion of the time, they'll reciprocate. But if you have four different interviewers, in theory, that increases 4X the number of podcasts that you guys could be on. Right?
Because all of you, the whole four, would be able to reach out to people independently and say, "Hey, I'm one of the hosts on this podcast, and would you be interested in being on? Or would you be interested in having me as a guest?" That's an angle that might be helpful as well, and one of the benefits of having the multiple hosts.

Courtney: Yeah, I imagine you would have to have two hosts and one guest, or two guests and one host, too. I imagine.

Dave: You're right, you're right. You sure could do that as well. The other way we find the podcast can be used is if you have a key hire or key promotion, it's kind of a great way to announce it to the world, and you wouldn't believe what that does for kind of the goodwill. Imagine if you had a former student who came back and decided to start teaching, and you could use that as a way to kind of announce that, and it does several things. One is it really, that employee, really appreciates the public recognition and your appreciation, and then it also is just kind of a different angle, so that's another idea to think about when you have a key promotion or hire to kind of spotlight them. Is that something that you'd thought about before?

Courtney: No, but as you say that, we're just in the process of expanding or maybe more formalizing our relationships with our guest teachers, and typically, another thing about our school is most schools have an owner who is the teacher, and that's what you get for the whole course, and so we're able to search out the top talented teachers to come down and teach a specific, two week section of our courses, so they get multiple teachers that are experts and well known in their field to come in and really give them the best education, and we're looking to expand into possibly a second campus.
We're kind of maxed out on our campus right now, so we're looking for opportunities to grow, and to do that we need more talent, and so that's a beautiful way to entice them, to get them more interested, because they would be a guest on the show, and we can talk about what they're trying to create, and their histories, so I think that's really a great idea, and we do have some students that do come back and teach as assistant teachers or that are assistants in the classroom that love the school, and love the experience, and are successful in their careers, so that opens up a whole nother group of people. I don't think on a month's going to do it today. I think we're going to have more than one a month.

Dave: It kind of sounds like it, and in fact that comes to a great question that people have. Our service, so for my original podcast I was doing about two episodes a month, one to two, but for this new podcast, podcasting stories, we're on a weekly cadence, and so people have asked me, "Hey, what cadence do we want?" And usually our recommendation is err to the side of starting with once a month and then as you get the hang of it, if you want to increase it, feel free to do so, and here's why we recommend it. I don't know if you've ever listened to ... there's an interesting podcast stat that really surprises a lot of people.
There's roughly 50 billion YouTube videos. There's two billion websites. There's 600,000 blogs. But there's only 1.7 million podcasts. But of that 1.7 million, 1.1 million of them have not released a new episode in the last 90 days, and of the remaining 600,000, only half of them have broken the 10 episode barrier, so we tell people that literally if you release a podcast a month for 10 months, you're in the top 25% of the rarest form of online content, and so if you've ever come ... anyway, that term, when companies stop releasing or podcasts stop releasing new episodes, the term is called podcast fade.
I don't know if you've ever seen this with a podcast that you discover and then you're like, "Hey, this is pretty good. I want to go back and start at the beginning." And you go back and you're looking under podcast player, and you see, "Oh, yeah, they launched back in 2016, and they were doing an episode every two weeks, and then it went to an episode a month, and then it went to an episode a quarter, and then it went to two a year, and then it was one and that was in 2018, and there haven't been any since." Whereas, and it just creates kind of a vibe that has a negative connotation, so to me it's much better if someone's looking at kind of your history and you're like, "Okay, so they're doing one a month. Okay, that's good, pretty consistent."
And then, "Wow, then they started doing them every three weeks, and then every two weeks, so wow, they must have really kind of gotten in the swing of this." Just, that's a whole different vibe, but the good news is it's not like you have to announce to the world your podcast frequency, so it's something you can just easily vary. And that's the nice thing about a podcast as opposed to, like, a radio show, is you don't have to get anyone's permission. Your podcast can be on any subject. It can be as short or as long as you want. Your release schedule can be as frequent, as long, as you want. But that's why we generally recommend starting with one a month.
But I've got to tell you, probably 20% of our clients start right off with two per month, and we certainly don't mind that because it's a higher monthly fee, so we never mind collecting more money than less, but the last thing we want is somebody to start with two a month and then they kind of lose their momentum, and then they start to have this kind of negative association with the whole podcast. Does that make sense?

Courtney: Yeah, it does, and when I did some research in the massage genre for podcasts, I did see that a lot. There'd be like two or three podcasts, then I'd look at the date, and it's like, "Oh, that was in 2019."

Dave: Right.

Courtney: The last podcast, so you wonder what happened to the person. Are they still in business, or what happened? And so as we're thinking about all these different topics and different ways to talk about these things, it makes me wonder, should it all go under one channel? If that's the right term. Or what do you call this? Because Costa Rica School of Massage seems too narrow for what's possible, or do you come on up with the right name, or did you do one multiple channels under the same name?
Not knowing much about the structure, that's the question for you. How would you structure something that has as many things?

Dave: Yeah, that's a great question. There's a few ways you can approach it. The technical term is a show, so you have a podcast show that has episodes underneath it. For my podcast show, it's called Podcasting Stories and then we release episodes, so there's a few things you could do. One is you could just start with just calling it the Costa Rica Massage School Podcast. Is that the technical name of the business? Is it Costa Rica Massage School?

Courtney: Yeah, yeah.

Dave: Yeah, so you could just start with that, and then just have it be kind of a generic sort of subject, and then you could always evolve it. You could always, if you then decide, "you know what? We need something that's more specific." It's real simple. Let's say you want one that's focused more on current masseuses, people that already have their license, and you're focused on trying to attract them to come teach or take continuing education. You could, in essence, just have a spinoff show called something like, "The Ultimate Masseuses Podcast Resource," or something like that, and then you could just kind of shift that focus, and then you could also, if you ended up with the massage or the podcast related to the school, that you just decide, "You know, that doesn't really work that well and we don't necessarily want the podcast to necessarily be tied to the school. We'd rather have the school kind of being like the advertiser on it."
You could always just cease that podcast and what you would do is, like the last episode you would do, you would just point them to the new show that kind of replaces it, or finally you could even go back and just rebrand the show. That's a little trickier to do, but the short answer is what we find is like a lot of new experiences, just start somewhere and then iterate. Because, and I know as a serial entrepreneur you know this concept, the business you start with oftentimes isn't the business you end up with a year later, and I think you may find the same thing with a podcast. Does that make sense? I didn't mean to give such a long answer.

Courtney: No, I think that makes sense. I guess the podcast that's done is 100 times better than the podcast you're thinking about.

Dave: That's a great way to put it, and the other way we put it is the podcast that's good enough that's done is way better than the ultimate that's not done, so just for example, we do our interviews on a recorded call in phone line, just because it's simple, it's straightforward, you don't have technological challenges with it, and that's what we do. But there's some people, like if they came from a sound engineer background, or they had done voiceover acting for decades, they would say, "Well, no, that's an insufficient platform." You know, "We would want it to be like what we would call NPR quality where you're recording in a sound studio with thousand dollar microphones and that's what we consider acceptable."
And so it's kind of the same thing there that that's what I think throws off a lot of people from podcasting, is when you start researching it, you get overwhelmed with, "What kind of microphone do I need, and do I need to be in a studio? Do I need to build a studio?" And so you end up never launching, and so like you'd said, a good enough podcast that launches is better than a theoretically perfect podcast that never launches.

Courtney: Yeah, I agree 100%. This is a personal question for you, but do you ever get used to the sound of your own voice?

Dave: No.

Courtney: I don't want to listen to this because I'm going to hear myself, going like, oh-

Dave: Yeah, you know, everybody, I've discovered that everybody is like that, and I've learned that there's a physiological reason for it. It's just the way you hear the sound inside your own head. It sounds different than it does to the rest of the world, and we've heard our voice inside our own head all these years, and then we're oftentimes shocked by what it sounds like, so I've yet to meet anyone who loves the sound of their own voice. Perhaps there's somebody who's been an actor from a young age or somebody like that who is more familiar with their voice, and maybe they're so self-absorbed that they fall in love with their own voice, but aside from that, no, I've never found that.
I think what happens over time is you just kind of come to peace with your voice, that you're like, "Hey, this is my voice. It's a reflection of my age, the part of the world I grew up in, other genetic and biological things, and this is just it, and I'm going to just embrace it. This is just like my appearance or my height or my age. It's just inherent to who I am." And so I've found that I'm more accepting of it, maybe is a better way to put it.
And the other thing we also recommend, when you start a podcast, that for the first four or five episodes, that you are the host on, to force yourself to go back and re-listen to them because there's so much learning you'll discover in terms of things you wish you'd done differently. You talked too long, you didn't give them long enough to answer a question, you interrupted them. And that's about what I did for my first five episodes, and then since then I don't listen that frequently to them because I heard an actor once say when asked if he ever watches his own movies, and he said, "No," he's like, "I spent a year making that movie. I know every scene forward and backwards. I've already been there. There's nothing new for me. I'd rather watch somebody else's."
And so that's what our advice is typically. Force yourself to listen four or five times just to get to improve.

Courtney: Yeah, that makes sense. That makes sense. But I would say I probably haven't really accepted my age or my height either, so it might be a while for the voice.

Dave: Well, you know, maybe you can just kind of leapfrog it. Maybe you can reach voice acceptance first and then you can kind of go back and get retroactive peace with the rest of it. But I should be careful here, I'm not a licensed therapist, so Courtney, what ... ? Do you have any other questions for me? I've kind of covered most of the questions that I had, but you've got me on the phone. There's no time limit, no producers telling me that we need to wrap it up. Do you have any other questions or any other ideas around this you want to just brainstorm with me?

Courtney: Yeah, I mean, I think the last part of this call was really helpful in as far as brainstorming additional guests and ways to, who to talk to that'd be interesting for the audience. And you know, I guess in my mind I'm seeing a big storyboard with who we would want to put on the show and who would be the best person and is there a tool or a system that you have found successful for a company to kind of plan their year out, or plan six months ahead? I can see doing three podcasts in one day and be done for three months.

Dave: Sure, sure. Yeah, so it's a great question. Usually, what we'll offer to do, and not everybody takes us up on it, and at this point we still have this capacity, but I'd be happy to just schedule a brainstorming call, like with you and your team, for like half an hour. Just focused on this specific topic. And because you're only talking about 12 to 24 episodes a year that we can find just some quick brainstorming and a whiteboard or a notepad that you can really make a lot of progress on kind of figuring out the guest list, and then the stretch goal we have for our clients is that if you can do an episode a month for four years, that gets you to 50 episodes, and then you're talking about your really rarefied air.
Because the thing about a podcast, when you look at, because unless you're like one of the top podcasts in the world, nobody knows what your listening stats are. It's not publicly available. You're able to see your own stats, so no one really knows, again outside the top 100, Joe Rogan, Tim Ferris, the big ones, no one really knows the size of the audience, and that means that you have the ability to really kind of do whatever you want, but the one thing though, because nobody knows the size of your audience and you start looking at status, if you will, or kind of the pecking order, it all comes down to number of episodes released and regularity of releasing. Because there are podcasts that have hundreds or thousands of episodes, and we have this intentional belief that this is a successful podcast.
And so we tell our clients that, if you really want to kind of have a stretch goal, and you make kind of a soft four year commitment in 50 episodes, and then just kind of put together a whiteboard and just have 50 rows, and you just kind of start with episode number, and then you just start playing with, you know, you can have columns that are like the different categories of guests, and you just start kind of jotting names in, and you'd be surprised how quickly that can start to fill up.
Because again, like you may not want to have a tape person on more than one time in the 50 episodes. Right? Because you don't want it to feel like just some infomercial. But when you start thinking in those categories, you'd be surprised how quickly. The short answer is we have a process that we're happy to walk you through, just kind of a brainstorming to put that together.

Courtney: Yeah, that sounds great. I mean, there was some trepidation with the team on, "Hey, we're going to do," when I started out I said I want to do four a month or two a week was my initial proposal there, but then I came back with the answer, "Well, I think we can get one out in July." Either I'm not thinking about this right or they're not, so this has been a really interesting journey for me to kind of dive into it and see what the world is, and I was shocked at the stats of how fast these shows fade and how really not that hard it would be to get up into the top 25% and really increase our brand recognition by just being consistent with production and so it's really, really clarified to me the vision is doable. Much more doable than we originally thought when five people are talking about a podcast that don't really know anything about it in the sense of the industry and the stats and things, so it's been a good education and I'm actually a lot more excited now than I was before going on.

Dave: Well, that's great. You know, it's funny, kind of with this business, and I don't know if I told you, this is a relatively new business. I've had a podcast for a couple years, and every time I'd have a guest on they'd say, "Wow, I wish I had my own podcast." And I would just kind of say to them, "Yeah, it's a great thing. I recommend having a podcast." But then nobody ever did anything, and so a few months ago I reached out to some former guests and said, "Hey, if we did everything for you, would that help you have a podcast?" And the answer was a resounding yes, so we just started this a few months ago and the response has been pretty amazing, but what we've discovered is anytime we have, and I'm kind of sharing the trade secrets here, but when we have somebody who's interested in having a podcast, I usually just say, "Hey, don't think too much more about it. Just come be a guest on the podcast. You can kind of see how everything works."
And then that'll give you a better idea, and I really thought that what would happen is maybe one out of 10 people who were a guest would become a client, and that's still good, it still gives me content, but I'm going to probably jinx myself when I say this, but so far most of the people who come on the podcast end up becoming a client, so your response is not ... and of course you haven't definitively made a decision, or at least you haven't shared it with me, but yeah, so the point is you coming on the show has accomplished exactly what we hoped it would. It would give you a taste of it, and I don't know if you've seen, our tagline is, "Where having a podcast is as easy as being a guest on our podcast."
So if we can't have you as a guest, it's hard for people to understand how that tagline works.

Courtney: Yeah, it really does make it seem quite easy to call someone you know and say, "We're going to talk about massage for an hour," and they're like, "Okay." And then it's done. You know, so it does simplify it, especially when you're ... our staff is pretty well employed right now, and doing what they're doing, so when I say something like, "Do two a week," they're like, "I can't do two a week. There's no way." You know, but now they could, because it's two hours, or one hour a week, so.

Dave: Yeah, because just for you to know, the process is really not much different than you being a guest. The steps are really you schedule a guest, so you've got to reach out, and invite somebody, and usually they say yes. You get it on the calendar. We have a recorded call in line unique to each client that we have, and so you would call in on that number just like you did today, and then your guest calls in or your employee calls in as the host, and then you record the episode, and as soon as you're done you'll receive an automated email with a link to the recording and then a little followup form that you fill out, and you just literally, I do it on my phone.
You type in the guest name, and then there's a little button to hit record, and you record the intro for the episode, and so for this one as soon as we hang it up I'm going to say, "Today on the podcasting stories, I had Courtney Crems. He's got a great story. He's a serial entrepreneur. He owns a number of businesses, one of which is a massage studio or school in Costa Rica, and he's considering having a podcast, and we had a great conversation on this. And it was really interesting. I've learned some things about the podcasting school world I didn't know about." And I'll just kind of read off some of the notes I made, and then I'll say, "Hey, I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed doing this episode."
And then I hit the button, and then I'm done, and then the team behind the scenes does everything technically, and then the team creates the email that goes out to the database, so they actually take a transcript from that intro, and then that creates the email. They send it over. I do just a quick review to make sure I don't want to change anything, and then that email then gets sent from our CRM, and just so you know, we have the option of we actually have a unique CRM partner that lets us have sub accounts, and so for clients who don't have a real robust CRM, we actually will just do that emailing for them.
But for those who have a more robust system, we'll just draft the email and let them send it out. Because what we don't want to have happen is we get to the finish line, it's time for the email to go out, and somebody says, "Oh yeah, I think we use constant contact for those. I need to check my person, because the person who used to do that doesn't work here anymore. We need to figure out how it is we send an email out." And we get to the last step and it just sits for a month because they can't figure out how to get an email out.
And then there's a website for the podcast, so you'll have, if you want, we can just have it website-specific for the podcast, and then we will handle the publishing and uploading of the shows to that website, and then you could just link to that on your primary website if you want. I know I kind of ... I tell you, when I assess myself on this one, my self-criticism is going to be that I talked too much. Normally, I like the guest to do 80% of the talking, and I know I'm way off balance, so was that helpful?
Did you have any questions on kind of the process from the summary?

Courtney: No, that was great. Great introduction, because I mean, the more I can take off of the staff, learning, and someone has to go figure that all out, on top of the normal duties that pushes it back, and back, and back, to July, which I guess is coming up pretty quick now, so no, it was good information, and it was good to hear that whole process and what happens with what you do for us to get it out there, and makes it really, I mean, I can see my time's involved in two hours, and get that up with doing the call, and that makes it very, very doable.

Dave: Yeah, and then the only other thing that I didn't cover is that before we start recording we have a pre-call that's just offline, and so that's how you and I did it, or we can actually just do it on the recorded call-in line and trim it. I prefer to have it on a separate line just to be 100% certain that it doesn't accidentally get released, and then as soon as we're done, as soon as we hang up, I literally will call you back for the post-call debrief.
Here, people, I'm sharing all the kind of behind the scenes on how this all works, but yeah, that's how it'll work. As soon as we hang up, I'll call you back on your mobile. I'll say, "How'd I do?" Hopefully you won't be too hard on me and hopefully you won't say, "Damn it, you talked the whole time. You never let me answer any questions." But we'll find out. If people want to get ahold of you, Courtney, what's the best way for someone to reach out? Either if they're interested in learning about being a teacher or student at your school, or they just think you're some amazing entrepreneur and they want to invest a bunch of money in you. How should people reach out to you?

Courtney: Yeah, if you're interested in learning about the school directly, the website is, Costa Rica School of Massage, first letter, .com, or if you just Google Costa Rica Massage School, we'll be right there. Me personally, my email address is just my name backwards. That's usually the best way to get ahold of me, or a LinkedIn is another place where you can find me.

Dave: Okay. And do you accept friend requests on LinkedIn if they seem like it's worth your time?

Courtney: Sure, sure. If you're not selling insurance, go ahead and friend me.

Dave: Awesome, awesome. Well, hey, with that, we're going to wrap up, and Courtney, I really appreciate you being on the show, and I really appreciate how engaged you were, and all the ideas you came to the episode with, and hopefully it gave you a good sense of what it's like to have your own podcast.

Courtney: Absolutely. It was a pleasure to be on the show, and it was fun, and although I was a bit nervous, but I find it was really quite just like talking to someone across the table having coffee, so great experience, and appreciate the questions you asked, and really the ideas that we came up with that I hadn't even considered yet, that I think are brilliant, so thanks to you, David.

Dave: Well, you're welcome. Well, I hope you have a great day, then, and I will, like I said, I'll call you right back.

Courtney: Great. Sounds good. Thank you.

Dave: All right. Bye.

Ep006 The Soul of Enterprise with Ron Baker - Transcript Fri, 21 May 2021 10:00:00 -0400 dfb5edb5-4185-465c-bafc-fdc0a2875a6f Return to Episode

Dave: Ron. Thank you for joining us.

Ron: Hey, David, how's it going?

Dave: It's going great. Well, let's go ahead and get started. So my name is David Spray and this is podcasting stories where I interview interesting people who have a podcast or are thinking about having a podcast. And so my guest today is Ronald J. Baker. Ron started his CPA career in 1984 with KPMG's private business advisory services in San Francisco. Today, he's the founder of VeraSage Institute, the leading think tank dedicated to educating professionals internationally, and a radio talk show host on the show, The Soul of Enterprise: Business in the Knowledge Economy. Ron is the author of seven best selling books, including two of my favorites, the Professional's Guide to Value Pricing and The Firm of the Future: A Guide for Accountants, Lawyers, and Other Professional Services.
Ron has spread his value pricing message to over 200,000 professionals around the globe. He's been appointed to the American Institute of CPAs group of 100, a think tank of leaders to address the future of the profession, has been named to accounting today's top 100 most influential people in the profession, and he was inducted into the CPA Practice Advisor Hall of Fame in 2018. Ron graduated in 1984 from San Francisco State University with a Bachelor of Science and Accounting and a minor in Economics. He presently resides in Petaluma, California. Ron, welcome to the podcast.

Ron: Thanks, David. Thrilled to be here.

Dave: Yes, the pleasure is all mine. Now, the listeners to the podcast may recall that Ron was a guest on my other podcast, the IC-DISC Show later this year. And that was episode 23, if you want to listen to it. That podcast audience has thousands of CPAs who loved hearing about his suggested approach shifting from hourly billing to fixed fee or value based pricing. But because this podcast is focused on people who already have a podcast or considering a podcast, this episode, we're going to focus more on your podcast experience. Sound good?

Ron: Sounds good.

Dave: So I'm going to read some podcast stats that you may or may not be familiar with, but I find them staggering. So this was like a month ago, there were roughly 50 billion YouTube videos, and then you drop down to about 2 billion websites, and then you drop down to about 600 million blogs and then down at the bottom, barely a blip on the radar screen or podcasts only 1.7 million of them. But wait, there's more. Of those 1.7, 1.1 million of those podcasts have not released an episode in the last 90 days. So of the remaining 600,000, only 377,000 of those have released more than 10 episodes. So that's a tiny portion that's done an episode in the last 90 days and more than 10 episodes, but your podcast is much more prolific than that, right?

Ron: Yeah, we're on our 337 episode tomorrow.

Dave: That is awesome. Do those stats surprise you or have you been surprised when you read them before?

Ron: No, I've seen those stats before. They're staggering to me too. They're mind blowing. Why would you take the time to set up a podcast and then not follow through and do it?

Dave: Right. So your first episode, I believe it was nearly seven years ago on the 4th of July, also known as Independence Day here in the US and the title was the Tyranny of Taylorism. So talk to me about... I'm sure it was not a coincidence that you chose July 4 to launch that.

Ron: Yeah, I was approached by VoiceAmerica back in April of that year of 2014 and asked if I wanted to do a live radio show. And I said, "Well, yeah, I would really like to do it," because I've had the radio bug going back to being a kid, I always wanted to be on the radio. And I ran the idea by them what if I did this with a cohost? Then they said that would be great. And so we started a 13 week trial and that's when it started July 4. So we didn't pick that date. They would just happen to be what the station, where they began us. And yeah, that was a fun show. I think your first show is the most exciting, you're the most nervous, but it's probably going to be a great show, because of that nervousness.

Dave: Yeah, because of the energy that, that nervousness generates.

Ron: Absolutely.

Dave: So tell me, how do you know Ed, how did he end up as your cohost?

Ron: I knew Ed going back to, I think, it was 2003 or 2004 when we met. His boss, he works at Sage software company, and his boss had seen me speak at a conference and wrote me an email. And the only thing on the email was the subject line, it said, "Contact this guy," and it had my email too. And so we had a phone call and he invited me to do some work, a webinar and a live talk and things. And we just really hit it off and we've been working ever since.

Dave: Oh, that's awesome. Yeah, you guys have a great banter between the two of you.

Ron: Yeah, we can read each other's mind. Some people say we're like an old married couple with each other's senses. Some people think we share a brain, that's not exactly true, but it's close. We work with one another well enough where I know where he's going and he knows where I'm going.

Dave: Yeah. Well, did you ever watch the Seinfeld TV show?

Ron: Yes.

Dave: So do you remember the episode where George was basically Jerry's dating consultant? He would help him pick the right thing to wear and he would give him last minute reminders, her parents' names and what she did last weekend. Jerry said, "Just think about it, if we combine our efforts and we work really hard, we might actually be as capable as one man if we put our efforts together."

Ron: That's great.

Dave: So you and Ed have gone further than that. So it sounds like...

Ron: One plus one is more than two, but I'm not sure.

Dave: So what's the best part about having a podcast? And I'm going to focus more on the podcast portion of it than the radio show, just because the podcast part is what will be consistent that our listeners are interested in. So what's been the best part of having a podcast?

Ron: There's several things. It's really hard to narrow it down to one, because first off we have a worldwide reach. We're in over 30 countries and I can't tell you what a joy it is to have listeners from Germany or Norway or the EU or even Russia contact us because of the show. That just blows my mind. The same thing with my books. When I have a foreign writer or reader write me from a foreign country asking, "Is your book translated in this language?" So that's exciting to be able to put pins in a map and see how many countries your show is in.
And the other thing I would say is just coming up with the content, it's truly a labor of love. We love doing the show and even prepping for it. And we have about 40% of our shows are interviews. So going after people that have written books like authors or people that have really inspired us, being able to get them on as a guest and have a conversation with them. I don't even think of it like an interview, it's more of a conversation, we're discussing a topic, their book, whatever it might be. And just some of these folks have been mentors of mine for decades and to be able to get them on the show, that was a big revelation to me that because you have a podcast, it opens up your world to go after some really big well known people. I thought, "Well, who would come on The Soul of Enterprise?" I'm amazed how many people we've been able to attract.

Dave: Isn't that something? I had a similar experience. There was a guy that wrote a book that was so influential, it made me millions of dollars. And that guy's name is Ron Baker. So I know what it feels like to have a mentor of yours, someone who you've read their writing to have them agree to be on your podcast. So I know exactly what you feel. In fact, I'm feeling it at this very moment.

Ron: Thank you. That's awesome.

Dave: Well, what else is great about having a podcast?

Ron: Because we are a topic driven show, not an event driven show, to be able to take one on the 40% or so, or the 60% of the shows that don't have a guest, it's just me and Ed, and we take one topic and we dive deep. And that topic might be pricing, it might be strategy, it might be positioning project management, after action reviews. We've done shows on all of these things and more. And just to be able to dive deep and go really deep on one topic is really satisfying, because we have a lot to say and it's hard to do it in a four minute soundbite like on TV or most radio slots you're on. We can dive deep and that's really gratifying, because the audience really appreciates that when you take a topic and dive deep on it.

Dave: I know Tim Ferriss refers to what he does as long form content. And I think that's just his euphemism for he just goes on and on and on. But I think there's a lot to be said for that. By having more than a four minute soundbite, you really can dig deep into something, can't you?

Ron: You can. And it doesn't seem David like... I grew up of terrestrial radio. There was no such thing as podcasts when I was a kid. And you might listen to a three hour talk show or something and they would bounce around on different topics and most of it was event driven, might've been topic driven, but when you can do a podcast, now I listen to some podcasts, Joe Rogan, he might go for four hours. There's a couple of history podcasts that they might have eight hour podcasts on a particular segment of history. And you know what? People-

Dave: Like hardcore history.

Ron: Yeah, people listen to it. You can do that on a podcast. That seems to be more flexibility with a podcast than you would imagine.

Dave: Anything else comes to mind that you like about it?

Ron: The fact that it's a live show, like some of your stats would actually really scare me, because if we didn't have to show up at a prescribed time every week, we might be in that one where we've only done 10. But because we're forced to be there live, we've been really good. I don't think we've missed any shows. And that's just now made it a habit. Now, it would be like cut off my leg if I couldn't do my radio show every Friday. It's really fun. I even like prepping for it. And we spend a lot of time prepping. If we have an author on, we'll actually read the book, we won't just skim it. We both read it. And that's really gratifying, because the authors really appreciate that, because they can tell who's read their books and who hasn't.

Dave: Sure. Well, that is cool. Any other things that you can think of that are enjoyable about having a podcast?

Ron: Yeah. Learning from these people. Just everybody we've had on, it's like a little mini university, it's like going to class every Friday, you learn something from them. And we've had an astronaut, we've had a former Thunderbird, US Air Force Thunderbird, we just did a professional basketball player a few weeks ago. Each one of their stories contains unbelievable life lessons. And so the learning is really exciting and I think it just keeps you fresh and stimulates your mind to better thinking and higher levels of creativity.

Dave: I would totally agree. And you have the choice of your subject, right? Did you get to choose who your guests are?

Ron: Absolutely, yeah. Some guests do lobby to be on the show. Like the basketball player we just had actually sent us a video of him talking to us saying, "Hey, Ron and Ed, this is why I want to appear on The Soul of Enterprise, this is the value I can convey to your audience." And it was really compelling. And so yeah, we invited him on. So yeah, but we do get to control who comes on. And it's over time, I have to say, and I'm not trying to sound conceited, but it's become a bit of a high bar. We've had some incredible guests on and I want to continue to aspire to that level. So that's really exciting.

Dave: Oh yeah. Well, what do you wish you knew seven years ago that you now know in regards to podcasting?

Ron: Wow, don't be afraid to reach out to people. Most people, even if they say no, will appreciate the offer and might even say, "Contact me back in another year or so, whatever, I'm working on a book and I just don't have time." I also realized that being a national lockdown with COVID is a great way to attract guests. We've probably had on more guests in 2020 than any other year, because we were able to get so many different authors, because they weren't doing anything else. So that was interesting, but I would say don't be afraid to reach out to people. If you have a favorite show that you listen to, go after the host, we've gone after our... My favorite podcast is a show called EconTalk hosted by Russ Roberts.
And we had Russ on the show and we've had a lot of the guests that he's had on his show on our show. In fact, we refer to ourselves jokingly as the poor man's EconTalk. And when I started, I didn't realize that. I felt so insecure about, well, it's just a piddly show, who's going to come on this. Well, you'd be surprised you reach out to people and they want to talk, especially if they're authors.

Dave: Yeah. And especially when they get to what's the old saying, talk about yourself for five minutes and people soon grow bored, but let them talk about themselves and they'll talk all night.

Ron: Right. All the ideas that they're passionate about.

Dave: Sure. Yeah. I have had that same experience and I tell people who don't have a podcast, and tell me if you agree with this, but when you invite somebody to be on your podcast, it's like it goes in the same part of their brain as if you said to them, "I don't know if you know, but I'm guest hosting the tonight show next Wednesday, just curious if you want to pop by for a few minutes and be a guest?" It's like they respond, it's the same part of the brain. They're like, "Oh, I get to be famous, I get to be on this worldwide platform." Do you find the same enthusiasm that you get from maybe the people not so famous?

Ron: Yeah, absolutely. People that don't normally go on podcasts, oh, geez, they love come on and then share with their audience their social media platform. There's something really powerful about that-

Dave: Their mother.

Ron: Yeah, exactly. I got the radio bug by being on a local show in Palm Springs. I had a buddy who lived down there and I got on the radio in '96 and '97 three times. And it was for a three hour show. I didn't do all three hours, but I ended up doing two hours each time I did appear and I was hooked. We had live callers call in and we're talking about mostly economic issues, political issues, but it was just a blast. And oh, jeez, I wanted a radio show of my own ever since.

Dave: Yeah, no, I understand. So if you're like me, my biggest podcast regret is that I didn't start it sooner. Do you have similar feeling?

Ron: I do. We started the show in 2014 and I never really thought about doing a podcast prior to that. I've made some attempts to get a terrestrial radio show, but was never able. Yeah, I've done KQED interviews on that type of thing, but I've never been able to score my own show. But so when this opportunity came along, I was like, "Yeah, I'm going to try this. And we'll give it a shot and see if it works." And seven years later, almost here we are. So yeah, it's been an amazing ride.

Dave: Yeah. And I mean, and you may have a different thought on it, but in my experience, even if you did not have the radio show and you and Ed were just doing pure podcasts, I suspect you would have still had some of the many of the same experiences. Is that right?

Ron: Yeah, for sure. I believe the only thing the radio show does for us is takes away some of the back office stuff, like we have a sound engineer does all that. And it keeps us coming up every Friday at the same time. So it got us into that routine. But if we didn't have that and just had to do the podcast on our own, it still would have been a labor of love. I don't know. I would like to think we'd stuck with it. I'm not sure. I tend to be a procrastinator and a lazy person. But yeah, it's a great experience. It really is. If you've got content to share and just to talk about ideas.
Eleanor Roosevelt's got a great line. She said, "Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events and small minds discuss people." And we wanted to dedicate our show to great ideas. And so every guest, we talk about ideas. And people love that. And that is something you can do on a podcast that I think is really hard in any other medium, except perhaps a book, you can dive deep into a book obviously on ideas, but podcast gives you that flexibility.

Dave: I want to just make sure I have that quote. Could you just say it again by Eleanor Roosevelt?

Ron: Sure. She did say this, and in fact she wrote it her column I believe, she had a newspaper column called My Day.

Dave: Yeah, I remember that.

Ron: And she said, "Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events and small minds discuss people."

Dave: I love it. Yeah. And just for the record, I don't specifically personally remember her newspaper series, because I think it was probably in the 30s or 40s. Well, certainly it was somewhere between 1932 and 1945 we know that or at least I suspect it was while she served as first lady.

Ron: Right. And maybe even UN ambassador, I think she kept that column going. I can't remember when I saw it.

Dave: Oh, I think you're right.

Ron: Yeah.

Dave: That's great. So what else do you wish you knew about podcasting seven years ago that you now know?

Ron: So this is a big one, to not over-prepare. When we first started, I had 10 pages of notes. Well, bottom line, you're going to be lucky if you get through two. And when we had a guest on in the early days, I had 42 questions. Well, you'll be lucky if you get through seven. So I over-prepare, and to this day, I probably over-prepare, but I'm much more cognizant of more serendipity, to go where the conversation goes. Don't be constrained by a checklist, don't be constrained by a set of questions that you feel the need to ask, don't make your questions the same to every guest if you have a lot of different guests. Engage in a conversation, yes, they should talk more, but that doesn't mean you can't input things. And a lot of times they'll really appreciate that. And we've even had some guests turn the tables and start asking us questions. That just is a very enjoyable conversation when that happens that way. So allow for spontaneity. And I wish I would have probably understood that a lot sooner than I did.

Dave: Now, that's...

Ron: And one more thing.

Dave: oh yeah, go ahead.

Ron: It's only going to apply to people who maybe have a co-host like I do with Ed. When we first started, when you go back and listen to the first four or five guests, I think it was, because we have three breaks throughout the show, at the quarter hour marks we break, so there's three breaks. When we had a guest on, Ed and I would just trade off with the guests on each segment, we'd ask them questions and then maybe I would jump in if there was a pause. And that was like ganging up on the guest experience. So we figured out, "Wait a minute, you should take the first and third segment, I should take the second and fourth segment." So we're not ganging up on the guests. And we stay at one train of thought and he doesn't have to worry about, "Well, who asked me that? Was that Ron or Ed," because he doesn't know our voices yet or whatever. And we didn't figure that out quick enough. We should have done that from day one.

Dave: So I'm going to jot that down. So if you have a cohost instead of alternating questions alternate segments?

Ron: That's right. Even if you don't have commercial breaks, which most podcasts don't, put a clock on it and just alternate, because I think ganging up on the guest is really disjointed and it doesn't come across unless it's a round Robin conversation, then that's different. We will do that sometimes like on a bonus show, we might bring on a guest and we don't trade off there, the three of us are having a discussion. But as you know, David, when you're on Zoom or whatever platform you're going to use, you're going to talk over one another, which is fine. It makes it more like sitting in a bar, but just realize that yeah, it's a pain digitally.

Dave: Well, so any other things you wish you knew then? This is great information for people who are earlier in their podcasting journey.

Ron: We do show notes and pretty extensive show notes on every show. So when we post it onto our website, it's usually anywhere from 1200 to 4,000 word show notes and that's where we post additional content. We might post a white paper or links to videos or other websites for more information on this topic that we discussed. And putting that together is a lot of work. I'm tasked. I've been doing the show notes practically the whole time and that's been my responsibility in that. I spend a few hours working on that every week after the show drops. Yeah, that can be time consuming.
If we have a guest on, we take the transcript and we edit the transcript, and since you don't read the same way you talk, that's a challenge to edit the transcript so it's readable, so it's an enjoyable reading experience. Now, I'm the official show historian because I've listened to every show probably multiple times because of that. I know what guests we've had. I can have a pretty good recall of what they said or what their main points were. So that's been gratifying, but if you're going to do show notes on your own, realize that, that's going to take some time, that's a commitment.

Dave: Okay, that is good to know. Yeah, we don't do as extensive of a show notes, but we do a transcript and we now I have somebody on the team that does the conversion from the spoken and removing all of the Ums and Uhs to make it more readable. So I think that... Go ahead.

Ron: That's incredibly valuable by the way that you edit their transcript like that. And the other really cool thing for your listeners about that transcript is they can search it by key words or they might say, "Well, gee, who said..." I know you said that Eleanor Roosevelt line, well, now if you went in and typed in Eleanor Roosevelt, you'd be able to pull up that quote.

Dave: I never really thought about that, but that's a really great point. Yeah, I've got a record now of all of my published conversations. I can go back and... Well, that's really cool. And so is the part that you wish you knew seven years ago was that the show notes would be such a time commitment? Is that what were pointing at?

Ron: Yeah. But also really valuable for the listener. We get a lot of comments from the listener saying, "Wow, thank you so much for the show notes, this extra paper that you cited or linked to or whatever." We get lots of really positive feedback on the show notes. And just another thing, because we've had on two Ronald Reagan speech writers.

Dave: Really?

Ron: Yeah. One of them is a guy by the name of Josh Gilder who wrote Reagan speech to Moscow State University that he delivered in the last year of his administration, 1988. And that's what we start the show with. We lead in with a clip of Reagan's talking in that speech, because it's a phenomenal clip and it fits in with the theme of the show, the economy in mind and all that. And we've had him on and he's told the backstory of that speech. But we've also had on Peter Robinson. And Peter Robinson wrote Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall speech. And when we had Peter on, I've been going after Peter since day one of the show, he's been on my bucket list. I'm dying to talk to this guy, because he has his own show and he's just a terrific guy. Well, he told the entire backstory to that speech, the tear down this wall speech, about how the State Department kept removing the line and they kept putting it back in-

Dave: I heard that part.

Ron: ...and it is phenomenal story. In fact, there's a documentary of it somewhere of that whole speech. And when we got the transcript for his show, we posted the whole thing, because I told Ed, "This is living history." And so I did a really thorough job editing it. Now, we have that whole story up on the show notes, because normally when we post the transcript, we take out the guests part, we only put in our questions, but that's a different topic. But for that one, I said, "This is living history, I want the whole thing in there." And so that's what the transcripts allow you to do.

Dave: Well, I'm going to go look for those. So the first speech writer, what was his name?

Ron: Well, the first guy we had on was actually Peter Robinson and then the second guy was Joshua Gilder. I'm sorry, I forget the days. I think Peter came on in December of 2020, and then Josh came on in February, I think, or January. And just to keep the theme going, we've got the boss of all the Reagan speech writers, Tony Dolan, coming on in another month or so. And he also wrote some of Reagan's most iconic speeches like the Evil Empire speech and Westminster speech to the UK. And he was the boss of Joshua Gilder and Peter Robinson, because they were just young kids. They were in 20s or something. And he's a really interesting guy. So we've got him coming on the show. But I would have never thought I would be able to get people like that to come on my show and we've gotten lots of that. So that's been really cool.

Dave: That's awesome. I really appreciate you giving such a thorough answer on that. And yeah, so it's funny if I was following my question outline, I would ask you this next question, but I realize you've already answered it. And that question was, what advice would you have for someone who's just looking to start? And I think you've already answered it with the lessons you've learned or that you wish you knew from seven years ago, which in summary, don't be afraid to reach out to people, don't over-prepare, engage in a conversation, if you have a cohost, alternate your segments, use show notes and what was the last one? And I guess have interesting guests.

Ron: Don't be afraid to go after interesting guests, because most likely they'll say yes.

Dave: Yeah. And what do you have to lose?

Ron: Yeah, exactly. You might get a turndown big deal. We've had our fair share of turn downs. We have a wishlist of guests that we've wanted to go after, we haven't gotten all of them, but we've gotten a good chunk of them.

Dave: That is awesome. So as we had talked about before we... I'm sorry, I completely lost my train of thought. Oh, I know. So as you know, since I had you on my last podcast, we've actually launched a business helping people who want to start a podcast and that's, but one of the questions that people always have for us is, and especially the accountants in the group and given that you and I are both former CPAs or currently practice CPAs, is they always want to know what the ROI is going to be on the podcast. And I always tell them, it's not like I can just easily say, "Oh yeah, because of this podcast, these three clients called me the next day and specifically said, because of this podcast we want to hire you." Is that been your experience too? Or do you actually have some specific situations that you can point to that you know it was because of the podcast?

Ron: No, I think trying to compute the ROI of a podcast runs into the same problem as trying to compute the ROI on your telephone. It's just a ridiculous question. That's the wrong question actually, because with the famous John Wanamaker line that half of my marketing budget is wasted, the problem is, I don't know which half. Marketing is communication and podcast is a phenomenal form of communication. Yes, I've made money off the podcast. I've gotten business, I've gotten speaking engagements because of it because people who are fanatical listeners want either Ed or me to come and speak to their organization or conference or whatever, but that was the furthest thing from my mind when I started it. I didn't expect any of that. So it's just been absolute icing on the cake.
But what it does do is it elevates you, I think, in whatever field that you're discussing. And I hate the term thought leader, so I'm not going to say that, but it does elevate you as somebody who is knowledgeable about this topic, even if you're not an expert per se. And the fact that you talk about it or a body of ideas that you talk about, I think, it just elevates you. And the other thing, David, is it's such a personal medium. This is why I've always liked radio over TV. TV appeals to the eye. And in radio, you have to appeal to the ear and you also have to construct that theater in the listener's mind. And it's a much more sober medium where you can deal with complex and nuanced ideas unlike say, television. This is why they sell junk on television, right? You don't see though NBC shopping network on radio, because it wouldn't work. It's just not the right medium for it.
And because of that personal connection with each listener, it's an incredibly intimate medium. We get contacted from people in another country may be or even in the states and they say, "I feel like I know you guys, you're just a voice I can relate to because you're in my workshop every Friday or whenever they listen to the show or I'm out jogging with you or on my Peloton or whatever." It's an incredibly intimate medium. And that's a huge responsibility actually, because you don't want to waste people's time. I want to deliver that.
But I remember watching a standup in Vegas of Jerry Seinfeld on TV. And he finished his set and he said, "I'll open it up to Q&A." And one person asked him, "What's your favorite Seinfeld episode? And he said, "There isn't one." He said, "All of them. They're like your children, all of them are special." He said, what we tried to do is make each one better than the last. And that's how I feel like the show. I just want to get continuously better. So we do an after action review after the end of every show. Ed and I will stay online after we dropped the recording and we'll talk about what went right, what went wrong, if we screwed up, if I wish I would have said this or whatever. And that's really helpful. So even if you're doing the show alone, have your spouse or maybe your parents or whoever listens, regularly debrief with them and find out how they're receiving the show, because that's really helpful to to know. And so you can make adjustments.

Dave: Oh, that's great advice. I really appreciate it. Yeah, because with my podcasts I'm the sole interviewer and I always do a debrief with the guest afterwards, but that's a completely different perspective because they're in the action, they're not a spectator. And so you don't get that same objectivity that a spectator would. I really appreciate that insight. Boy, you've just been full of good information today.

Ron: Well, and there's one more thing too because I find it more interesting, because a lot of times you think that you'll get done with a show and you'll say, "That sucked, I was off my game, I paused, I lost my train of thought a couple of times." And it happens to all of us. It really does. And you are like I just didn't ask this and it was just obvious, I should ask this question or talked about this point or whatever it is. You're going to be your own worst critic. But because I listen to the show again after it drops to do the show notes, my cohost, Ed, does not listen to our show. And from what I understand, a lot of podcasters don't listen to their own shows. They never go back and listen to them after they're in the cancer to speak. But I do.
And I've learned that, "You know what? It's never as bad as you think it is." When you listen to it after maybe a day or two goes by and with a fresh mind and the nonprejudicial mind, you go, "You know what? That was pretty darn good." So expect to be your worst critic. And I'm not saying don't listen to that criticism of yourself, do, but realize that it's not going to be as bad as you think. So get over yourself consciousness about little flubs you make or getting tongue tied. It's all part of being human and it just comes off as more authentic. And that's part of the intimacy of the medium.

Dave: Right. Yeah. Because it sounds like just like ours, we do ours as if it were a live radio show. We don't do any editing, it's just the full recording. Do you guys edit for the podcast or is it just the retransmission and the live radio show?

Ron: Just a retransmission of the live. Radio station actually drops it to the podcast feeds and we do not edit it at all. And even when we push it out to our Patreon members, we don't edit it.

Dave: Excellent. Because that's something I hear that some people will talk about that they feel... So what am I trying to say? People I've talked to who have wanted to have a podcast for a long time but don't have one, I usually find it's because they become overwhelmed with either the technical aspects of it or they're letting the perfect potential podcast push out the good podcasts that actually gets released. And that's the biggest message I have for people is it's not going to be perfect, but it's going to be real and you'll get better and just go with it. And the thing is your competition doesn't have a podcast at all more than likely. It's not like there's 20 podcasts in your space and you're competing with some NPR production or how I built this. You probably don't have any competition.

Ron: Right. That's a really good point. I just love the idea of the service that you provide, because I'll tell you there is some back room work on it and if somebody else could handle that and all I had to focus on was the content delivery, that would make life a lot easier. So I think it's a wonderful service that you're offering.

Dave: Well, I appreciate you saying so. I heard a marketing person once say if you build something that you want, then you guarantee you'll have at least one customer, but more than likely you'll have a lot more, because you're not the only one that has the same issue. And the way that happened is initially our first podcast piggybacked on another company that was doing some podcasts and I just said, "Hey, just let me piggyback on what you're doing." But then over time it just started evolving. And after a couple of years, I ended up with something very different, like when the continents split hundreds of millions of years ago. And even though we started off in the same place, I ended up with a very different structure. And so yeah, that was what I was trying to replicate was I was trying to make it such that all somebody had to do was schedule a guest, record the interview, record the two minute intro at the end, and then go back to doing whatever else they were doing.
Yeah, it is funny though, because sometimes I'll meet people though that say, "We need something more polished than that. We need something that's more, so we're going to go in a different direction and we're hiring this voiceover talent, we're hiring this production firm." And I always so badly want to say, "Hey, do you want to make a wager that a year from now you still won't have any podcast episodes live?" But I don't. But I think it though, because I've been there myself, I mean five years ago, I first wanted to start a podcast and I went through the same process. You get overwhelmed and you don't even know where to go beyond a microphone. And you're just like, "Where do I go next?" And so yeah, I think that's a mistake that people get too caught up in perfection. And there's some quote about that, that perfection is the enemy of-

Ron: Of the good. Yeah. I forgot who said, it was one of our founders. I think one of the authors of the Federalist Paper actually said that. I forget which one, Hamilton, maybe, I'm not sure, but yeah, that's a famous line. Another thing I would say to folks thinking about this too, is you probably listened to some podcasts, I'm just looking at my feet, I don't know how many podcasts you regularly listen to and I'm talking about whenever they drop, whether it's a weekly cadence or some are even daily, I've got some 30 podcasts in my feed. They've taken over my drive time. I used to listen to the radio and now I'm always listening to podcasts. And there's going to be some in there that you really, really aspire to.
And I was saying copy, but emulate, learn lessons from, because some of the most creative podcasts that I listen to, they change things up, they're not always talking about the same thing, not on different types of guests. They'll try new things even if it doesn't work. They're willing to try and experiment and try different segments or something like that. They get audience feedback. You'll get a lot of ideas for your podcast just by listening to others.

Dave: Yeah. And that's part of what prompted me to start the podcast was I would listen to other podcasts and after a while I got to be just arrogant enough that I thought I could do a better job than this Yahoo. He keeps talking over people, he puts words in their mouth. So yeah, it's funny. If I had to actually pay for podcasts, I could probably justify it as a business expense to improve my own podcasting capabilities. But that's the other cool thing about podcasting is the freeness of it. I think I've got about 40 podcasts in the feed that historically I've got probably five to eight. The one I listened to every week is John Warrillow Built To Sell Radio.

Ron: Yes, he's great. We had John on the show. He was fantastic. I really enjoyed having him.

Dave: Yeah, he really is. But partially because his is on a weekly cadence, it's always on Friday that it releases. So you just get used to it. Some of the other people I listen to, they don't seem to have that same cadence. And I've pretty much listened to all of Tim Ferriss's episodes and Built To Sell Radio is a favorite of mine too. I really love hearing those stories. What other podcasts do you enjoy?

Ron: You mentioned cadence. That's really important, isn't it? To be consistent. We get to the point where if we don't have a show drop for whatever reason, we actually start getting emails on Friday night or Saturday, "Hey, where's the show?" I just think it's so important to be consistent with that cadence.

Dave: Yeah. In fact, we tell clients who invariably want to start with our main services, either one podcast a month or two podcasts a month. And if somebody really is committed to doing them weekly, we'll talk to them. But our advice is always start with monthly, because it looks way better when you're two years, three years in the future and people are going through your feed. It's way better to have a progression, increasing frequency, as opposed to those million plus podcasts that go the other way. And I know you've seen them, they start, they're doing it weekly, then it goes to every other week and then it's monthly and then it's every other month and then it's twice a year and then it's gone. So do you agree that it'd be better to increase your frequency over time than to decrease it, all things being equal?

Ron: Yeah, that's a great point, because you get in that cadence and you're probably in some type of routine when you listen to various shows depending on that cadence, like you're out jogging or walking the dog or driving to this, you're commuting or whatever it is, and if that podcast doesn't drop when you expect, it throws off your whole routine, it's like, "Well, wait a minute, what happened?" I listen to Rabbi Daniel Lapin and we've had him on the show actually four times. He may be our most frequent guest on the show. And he had COVID for the last three or two weeks. So he missed two weeks of shows. And then that two week time span I'm like, "Where's the Rabbi show?" I'm checking my feed to make sure I'm still subscribed. It threw me off because it was like, "Well, something's wrong because this guy never misses." His showed drops every week. And sure enough, when he did come back on, he explained, "I had COVID, I was down for two weeks." It really put him down. And so that was really interesting, but yeah, I think that cadence is really important.

Dave: Yeah, it's interesting when you have somebody on the show. So I had John Warrillow on my show as well after he was on yours. And that's the other tip I have for people. If you want to get somebody famous, ask him right after they've released a new book, because you'll find they seem to be more open to those things. But that was what was interesting when I had John on the show, because I literally have listened to every one of his episodes. And so I really feel like I know him. And as I'm interviewing him, he's talking about different examples and I recall the episode. So I'm chiming in, "Oh yeah, and then they said this and then they said that." In a way, "Are you sure John? Are you sure that you have your facts right on that one? Come on now." But it's weird though, because he didn't have a relationship with me at all. And that's the interest. And that I think goes back to you're talking about the intimacy of the format.

Ron: That is it. It's exactly it, isn't it? It's just wild.

Dave: It is really cool. So I'm going to steal two questions that I've heard from other people as we wrap up. So one is, and this has really nothing to do with podcasting, this is like a lessons on life question. If you could give some advice to your 20 year old or 25 year old self, what advice might you give them?

Ron: Oh geez! Yeah, somebody else asked me this and it's such a difficult question. I said, first off, it wouldn't be one thing, I wrote myself off for six hours and give a lecture about don't do this, don't do that. Wow, that's really a great question. I guess it would be don't be afraid to take risks, take more risks. Don't be afraid to get on a different path, take that proverbial fork in the road when it shows up. Pursue an opportunity, even though it doesn't have maybe anything to do with what you're currently doing or requires you to reimagine yourself or come up with a new image. And since I ended up doing that, a couple of times went from a practicing CPA to an author and then a consultant and now even a podcast or I'd say has been another fork.
Something else happens, I wish I understood earlier. So this gets to the heart of your question. When you do make a pivot like that, when you change from going from one thing to another, whether it's a career, a job, your social capital is going to change. You're going to run in different circles with different people. Now, that doesn't mean that you have to give up the old social capital, I'm not saying that, but sometimes it does. Sometimes you have to let go to move forward. So if you're in relationships that aren't really going anywhere, relationships are either growing or they're dying, and if they're dying, let them go. Jeez! Let them go. Don't give them any more thought, just move on and realize that you have to have new social capital when you take on a new endeavor, because connecting with people is how we grow and connecting with new peoples brings even more opportunity. So I wish I would've understood that earlier.

Dave: In denial also give one piece of advice to your 20 year old self too?

Ron: What's that?

Dave: So I'd also like to weigh in on the other advice for your 20 year old self, that would be to move away from hourly billing sooner. Is that a fair piece of advice?

Ron: Oh geez! Yeah. You opened up a can of worms with that. If we're talking about running a business, I would have done a million things differently, when I started my own CPA firm coming out of the big eight, yeah. But I guess that's a show on your other podcasts we should do.

Dave: Exactly. Well, Ron, I cannot believe how quickly the time has passed, but it always does, doesn't it? You told me that in preparation for the show that you're always amazed at how fast the time goes.

Ron: That's another really good point about this medium is it is literally the fastest hour of my life when I get on a show, whether it's we have guest or don't, it is an unbelievably fast hour. And that's, boy, because you're in that flow state. I haven't even looked at the clock once since we've been talking David. This has been very engaging.

Dave: Yeah, it has been fun. Well, why don't we wrap up? So if people want to reach out to you or learn more about you, what's the best place for them to go to?

Ron: Well, since we've been talking about podcasts, probably the best place is and they can see all 336 shows that we've done. Listen to them right there. Check out the show notes, check out the show with Peter Robinson and Joshua Gilder if you're into Ronald Reagan speeches. And we've had a lot of other really phenomenal guests on authors, economists, professional pricers, wow, just a whole group of really great guests. So that's probably the best place. Obviously I'm on LinkedIn. I'm one of the influencers. I got lots of articles up there. And I'm on twitter @ronaldbaker. And you can also find me at, which is the think tank I run.

Dave: Well, that is awesome. Well, we will make sure that's in the show notes. So, Ron, thank you again for being on my podcast on this new podcast as well as being on the old one. It's really has been fun. And I always enjoy listening to you, because you have an enthusiasm and a melding of your different crafts that create a really unique perspective on things. So I always appreciate talking to you.

Ron: Well, thanks for having me, David. It's been an honor to be on both of your podcasts. And good luck with this new venture. It's really exciting and it's going to bring a lot of value to a lot of people.

Dave: Well, that's the plan. Well, you have a great day. Enjoy the day in Northern California.

Ron: All right. Thanks, David. You too.

Dave: Bye. Take care. Bye.

Ron: Bye-bye.

Ep005: Sharing New Ideas with John McDonough - Transcript Fri, 14 May 2021 17:00:00 -0400 ea80ecbd-45fa-46a8-add4-641017a9927c Return to Episode

**Dave: **Hi, this is David Spray. My guest today is John McDonough. He is in the financial services arena, and he has an interesting business around working with ultra-high net worth people and C-level executives. And he is considering starting a podcast and exploring my firm, helping him to do it. And so it was an interesting conversation. Part of it was about his background, but then we dove into the scorecard that we use to help people assess whether they're a good fit. And then we also, some of those questions we went into in greater detail to sort of brainstorm on ideas and get his thoughts.
So if you're considering starting a podcast or have ever considered it, you may find this to be really interesting to kind of put yourself in the shoes of someone else who's thinking about having a podcast, or if you have a podcast already, there may be some ideas from here that you'll find interesting that you can implement yourself. Hope you enjoyed this episode as much as I did talking with John.
Hi, this is David Spray. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. My guest today is John McDonough, Senior Managing Director at Cool Springs Financial, a financial solution organization. John helps business owners, executives, and key employees with strategies for executive compensation, employee retention, bonus structures, et cetera, all designed with little to no cost to the company and little to no tax to the employee. John received a Bachelor's degree in Marketing from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. John married his high school sweetheart, and they're the proud parents of two beautiful daughters.
He's passionate about his faith, family, and friends. In his spare time, when John isn't golfing, he's helping those in need through philanthropic initiatives he and his wife believed in deeply. They live in the Houston, Texas Metro Area. And John, welcome to the podcast.

**John: **Thank you, David.

**Dave: **So I really appreciate you making time to be on here. We're going to have fun. But I want to start with, it's rare that I meet somebody who married their high school sweetheart. So I'd like to just kind of start with that. So do you remember the first time that you saw your wife?

**John: **I do. I actually do.

**Dave: **So tell me about it. How old were you, what grade were you in? What was the circumstance?

**John: **Yeah, it's funny that you bring that up because I have two stories that I tell, one is the truth, and one is my truth.

**Dave: **Okay, can we hear both?

**John: **I'll tell you the truth. The truth is, is that well, I start with the one that it's almost people first. So if my wife is sitting next to me and somebody asked me that question, it goes something like this. I was a sophomore in high school, and I was in marching band. Which when a lot of people look at my athletic background, they have a hard time believing that, but I was in the marching band, and we would always do a summer band prior to school starting to get ready for the football season. And when we started summer band, we would do these morning exercises, jump jacks, jumping, jacks, pushups, things like that, really silly stuff, but it would get the heart rate going.
My sophomore year, out in the parking lot with my friends were getting ready to line up. I turn around, and I see this absolutely beautiful girl. Now I'm a sophomore. So I see this beautiful girl sitting next to one of my very good friends come to find out that was my good friend's sister. So I go up to her. I'm like, "Hey, is that your sister?" And she's like, "Yes, don't talk to her." And obviously, I did. And long story short, we've been married now for going on 17 years, and it's just been great. No, that's what happened. But I tell people that she first saw me and fell in love with me. She was head over heels in love with me from the first time she saw me.

**Dave: **And you didn't even notice her. You didn't even notice her.

**John: **She didn't even notice me.

**Dave: **No, I meant the story you tell, the story you tell. You were oblivious to her.

**John: **Yeah. Right. I was just another guy, and I'm like, "Oh, okay who are you?" But the reality is I was the one head over heels for her and was trying to hurry up and talk to her. And I'm a good salesperson because it took me only... What? All of high school, all of college, and a couple of years after college to convince her to marry me, so almost 10 years.

**Dave: **Well, it indicates persistence that is typically a good trait to have.

**John: **Well, it's not a no. It's just that they need more information.

**Dave: **Exactly. Exactly. So you met in high school and the Houston Area, right?

**John: **Yeah, we did. Yes.

**Dave: **What part of town? North West part?

**John: **We're from the East part of Houston-

**Dave: **The East part, okay.

*John: *... North Shore High School, which is a Texas football powerhouse.

**Dave: **Yes, it is.

**John: **Like to think that my class was really the first class to get that started onto greatness. But I had nothing to do with it because I played soccer, not football.

**Dave: **Gotcha. And you weren't even the placekicker?

**John: **No, hindsight being 2020, I should've kicked or punted or played wide receiver or tied in something like that because a lot of the guys from our program went on to play really successful D1 football and then into the pros as well. And when I daydream, I think I could have been a retired pro bowl tight end or placekicker, but that wasn't God's path for me.

**Dave: **Understood. Understood. Yeah. It seems like the placekicking gig seems like that has the longest career of any of the positions. I mean, there's some guys, I think, in their 40s or have been guys in their 40s that were still kicking.

**John: **Oh, year there still are Adam Vinatieri. I mean, if you can kick, I mean, they don't hardly get touched. I know the guys on the football team. I don't really consider them football players.

**Dave: **Sure,

**John: **But you can make a really good annual salary kicking a football, a pigskin for lots of years.

**Dave: **Oh yeah. There's a few exceptions. There was the kicker that the Texans had a while back. Maybe he was their first kicker. And he actually, I think, was a position player in high school as well. And I can't think of his name. He was on, I'd hear him on sports radio programs, but he relished the on kickoffs of laying people out on a kickoff. So he seemed like the exception. So speaking of soccer, how did your... Speaking of soccer, how did you end up in North Carolina?

**John: **Yeah. So Texas high school soccer is not the place, at least for boys. It's not the showcase needed to get to. At least it wasn't at the time in the mid '90s. It wasn't the place to get showcased to go to school. So I played on a club team here in the greater Houston area. There's a club team called Texan Soccer Club. And I played for that team, and they have these college showcase tournaments, and we were super competitive team playing very good teams from all over the country. And college coaches would come to these showcase tournaments to see a concentration of fairly good talent. And I was fortunate enough to play a really good tournament and got recruited by the coach at the time for UNC Charlotte. And I didn't have a whole lot of offers. So when you get asked, and you don't have a whole lot of offers, that's a pretty attractive proposal.

**Dave: **So it's actually a blessing in disguise, right?

**John: **Yeah.

**Dave: **Because you weren't overwhelmed and wondering which of the hundred schools to choose from.

**John: **I think I would have liked to have had that again, but everyone's got a path that they have to go down, and that was just for me. It was taking the more scenic route, I should say to a college career. But UNC Charlotte, at the time when I went there, they had just come off of going to the College Final Four for soccer, the Collegiate Final Four, which is a pretty big deal. And as it turns out, unbeknownst to me, I was at that game. They played it in Virginia, against Florida International University and UNC Charlotte at the time they lost on a bicycle kick to lose the game in the final, in the semi-final game. And I don't know if you're a soccer guy.

**Dave: **I'm enough of a guy that, yeah, I know that I've seen the videos of Palae doing it. Wasn't he the guy that kind of pioneered it or first brought it to prominence.

**John: **And then Rinaldo, Cristiano Ronaldo doesn't know, but this guy bicycle kicked at the top of the 18-yard box shuttle lasered into the net. And that's how they lost. So I got there as a freshman. We went to the NCAA tournament, and every year we got progressively worse as I was the starting goalkeeper. So then I had a cup of coffee as a semi-pro player in Nashville. There was a league called The A-League at the time, which is now it was rolled into the USL, which is the United Soccer League, not the MLS. It's the kind of like the AAA equivalent to the MLS. And I had to make a decision. Did I want to fight it out in semi-pro soccer? If I ever got to look at MLS team, would I want to be a marginal team player, never get a big contract struggling to make 30 or 40 grand a year, or did I want to dig in as a 20, 21-year-old and start my business career. And that was the decision that I made. So I came back home to Houston.

**Dave: **That is awesome. I had a guest on my other podcast. It was a former client. He'd sold his business. His name is John Bryan. And he's quite a bit older than you are, but he played baseball at two-lane, and he had taken a job in Houston. And like three days before he was supposed to start, he gets a call that he was drafted in the professional baseball draft. I mean, he was in the lower rounds, and he went through that same assessment, and he decided that it was a great job offer and he wanted to take it. And because he thought at some point, I'm going to have to get a real job, he wasn't going to make enough in his baseball career to be financially independent for life. So if I'm going to have to get a job eventually, so why don't I start now?

**John: **I respect that decision because as athletes, from the time you're in little league, going up through high school into college, your only singular thought is, "I want to play pro. I want to play pro." And really, the degree is just a by-product of having to do the things you have to do to maintain status.

**Dave: **Right.

**John: **It is. And so that cathartic moment of, "What am I going to do that? Why on the road?" I really respect guys that can do that. I respect the other decision, too, because I didn't make it, but I respect the decision to move forward in business because, quite frankly, that's where the longevity is.

**Dave: **Yeah, for sure. And to be clear, I'm working out from memory. He may have been drafted in a higher round, but still, back then, it was like in the late '60s, early '70s, salaries weren't as high. So Johnny, if you're listening, if you were drafted on a higher round, I apologize. So okay, now that we have that covered. So did you then get into the financial services business right out of college?

**John: **I did. I put my resume online, and being a D1 athlete is pretty attractive to people hiring. And my dad who was in the oil and gas business and had been laid off from the oil and gas business in Houston multiple times in the energy business. And my mom was a school teacher. My dad said, "Go into sales because if you're in sales, you can control your destiny. You will always have a job somewhere."
So I put my resume online for some type of sales position, and I was intrigued by financial sales. I didn't really know what that meant, but I knew that my parents didn't have money. And I knew that I wanted to make smart decisions with money. And so I kind of found myself in the financial services arena. And at the time, they're not around anymore, but American Express Financial Advisors brought me on. I had done an internship while in college at Merrill Lynch, and I was pretty attractive, but I found the dirty side of big wirehouse that I didn't want to be involved with. So I got on with American Express Financial Advisors, and they paid me to study. They paid me to get my career going. So pretty grateful for that.

**Dave: **That is awesome. Early in my career, I spent about four years in financial services and so I can appreciate the experience. So then so you did that for a while, but then I think a few years ago, maybe close to a decade ago, you decided to join Cool Springs Financial.

**John: **I did.

**Dave: **Tell us about Cool Springs and what prompted you to want to join.

**John: **Yeah. God puts things in your path, and when you're ready, you'll see it. And I spent a little bit of time in American Express Financial Advisors about six months. I quickly moved over to a company called AXA Advisors, which is now known as the Equitable. It was the Equitable when I got there. The French bought, it became AXA Advisors, and now they split in the Equitable again. So I started my own, I broke off from them, and I started my own independent financial advising company back in 2010. And about that same period in time, I joined an exclusively member-owned company called First Financial Resources, which specializes strictly in the life insurance business. It's a life insurance member-owned entity. And really, what FFR does is designed to allow independent advisors and producers to communicate directly with the carriers to insurance companies and not have to go through a middleman called and field marketing organization or an independent marketing organization.

**Dave: **I see.

**John: **That really helps move client cases along better, faster. It's also a think tank, a think tank of really high-powered individuals that have been in the business for a long time, from all different aspects of the business. That's how I met Sam Watson, the Founder, and CEO of Cool Springs Financial. I was honored to be nominated for the Board of First Financial Resources. And at the time, I was the youngest board member ever that they had sitting on the board, and I served seven years on the board and finished my last year as chairman of the board. And I'm now still just a member of FFR. But in my seven years of serving on the board, Sam Watson as well was on the board, and we got to know each other really well. And he saw how I thought, I saw how he thought our perspective on life, our faith, our commonality, we really loved golf.
So he kind of took me under his wing because he's... What? 25 years my senior. And so he took me under his wing and came to find out his daughters are very successful young women in their own right. But they don't want anything to do with the insurance business. So Sam, unbeknownst to me, was kind of actively looking for who could potentially be a successor of Cool Springs if anything would happen to me.

**Dave: **Because his daughters wouldn't be since they weren't interested.

**John: **Correct.

**Dave: **Got it.

**John: **So as God would have it right place, right time just really connected. And so he's kind of taken me under his wing, and I'm the successor God willing, nothing happens to Sam for a long time. but then I would be that person for Cool Springs. And so he's like, I wouldn't call him a dad, but he's like an older brother to me. I really influential grounding, older brother to me.

**Dave: **Oh, he sounds like a perfect mentor.

**John: **He's a man's man. He's an awesome guy.

**Dave: **That sounds great. Well, so let's dig in a little more to Cool Springs. Is it Springs, plural, or is it Spring, singular?

**John: **Yeah. So just so you know, Cool Springs is a community just South of Nashville, right outside of Brentwood and Franklin, which is just south of Nashville in Tennessee. So, Cool Springs, Cool Springs Financial is how the name was created.

**Dave: **I see. Named after the town.

**John: **Yeah.

**Dave: **Gotcha. Okay. And so how do you describe the firm services to people who you're talking to for the first time?

**John: **In its most simplest form. So I get asked this all the time. What do you do? And depending on the mood that I'm in, if I'm sitting on the airplane-

**Dave: **If you don't want to talk.

**John: **If I don't want to talk to anybody, I just tell them I sell life insurance.

**Dave: **And that does the trick.

**John: **That's it. So it's done. The reality is, is the life insurance that we provide to our clients is a very unique design life insurance. And we have two different categories we go down. One is on the ultra-high net worth family office space where clients are trying to minimize the impact in the financial drain that estate taxes would have on their wealth for their heirs. On the other side is on the corporate side, the privately held businesses and small to medium-sized businesses where there's family ownership, there's single ownership, there's dual partnership or multiple partners. They're C-suite executives. And they're struggling with turnover. They're struggling with employee retention. They're struggling with bonus structure because all of that costs the company money. So we use life insurance as a tool to cover all of those things.
Now what's congruent on both sides of our businesses on the ultra-high net worth estate planning side, or on the business planning side, is our clients do not write premium checks at all. Ever. We finance those from bank lending. So the clients have the financial wherewithal to qualify for the lending, but the clients are not the ones writing the premium checks, but banks are writing the premium checks on behalf of the clients through the policies.

**Dave: **Oh, interesting. Okay. I tell you what? I have another podcast, my original podcast, that's really focused on a specific part of the tax code in our audience for that tend to be CPAs and bankers and successful entrepreneurs. Would you be available to come on that show at some point in time and to kind of dive more into that and maybe hear some case studies and such?

**John: **You bet. I'd love to do it.

**Dave: **Okay. Well, let's do that because I want to learn more about this. But I don't want to get too far off track, but the last question kind of related to that, but really, a couple of questions, who are the people that are your kind of best designed to serve? I mean, you've sort of answered the question, ultra-high net worth people who need the liquidity to pay the estate taxes, and then the other are C- level executives and other entrepreneurs who do not want to have to write a check for the life insurance premiums. Is that about that?

**John: **Yeah, it is. And so let me kind of give you some metrics on that just real quick. And I know we'll get into it more detail on your other podcast.

**Dave: **Yeah, that's okay. Let's spend some time on it.

**John: **Okay. So last year we were undergoing a tax law change. It's not into effect yet, but all intents and purposes, it will be in effect next year. And a part of that, they're going to try to adjust the amount of estate tax exclusions that a family has. So right now, using round figures about $25 million, if a family has $25 million and it's a husband and wife, then anything above that is subject to an estate tax upon the second spouse's death when it goes down to the next generation. Right?

**Dave: **Right.

**John: **And it's subject to about a 45% tax right now. Well, the talk is, is that the new administration is going to change that $25 million limit down to about a five or $10 million limit. And then every dollar over that will be subject to a 55% tax to the next generation. And that's big, right?

**Dave: **Sure.

**John: **So what the premium finance insurance designs do is it protects the liquidity. It protects the fire sale of a business. It protects the liquidation of assets that don't need to be liquidated because the IRS comes knocking nine months after the date of death for that check to be paid for estate tax. Now on the business side, nothing is black and white. There's gray area, but the rule of thumb is if you're in a manufacturing business or you have a high cost of goods, then your top-line revenue probably should be pushing North of $10 million a year because we found in our experience that the balance sheet of the company tends to have fairly decent liquidity when there's high cost of goods. But the top-line revenue is up that high.
However, if you're a service professional and you have hardly any cost of goods, well, your top-line revenue can be three or $4 million in potentially qualify for our program because your liquidity is substantially high at that level. So those are kind of the benchmarks that, again, they're not black and white, so I'm not just counting or disqualifying anybody, but those are just kind of the benchmarks to get the conversation started.

**Dave: **Okay. So, that is very helpful. And like I said, I want to dive in on this a bit more, but the last question on that is... Actually, I've got a couple of other questions that I typically ask our guests. So what would you say the biggest couple of misconceptions people have about your business?

**John: **Man, there's a bunch.

**Dave: **Okay. Maybe one that comes to mind.

**John: **I think if I'm getting granular, I would say if someone's heard the term premium finance before, they tend to think all premium finance is the same. And that couldn't be further from the truth. That's like saying all ice cream tastes the same, lots of different flavors, lots of different textures. And obviously, we're biased to our design, but we feel like our design is better than everyone else in the industry.
On a more generic scale, I would say the misconception is life insurance is a horrible vehicle because Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman says it is, but no one knows why they say this. And nobody wants to borrow money because we're talking about when we say lending, people think debt, and it's not that way. So what we're trying to do is we're trying to overcome the misconception of conventional wisdom, and I'm using air quotes. You can't see me. "Don't borrow money and don't buy life insurance."

**Dave: **Yup. And you're suggesting they do both.

**John: **I'm suggesting if they're smart with the money and they understand how economics work in the arbitrage, I'm absolutely recommending they do both.

**Dave: **Gotcha. Okay. Yeah, again, I look forward to getting into this in more detail soon on the other podcast. So what part of the business gives you the most energy or enthusiasm? What part of what you do is kind of the best part for you?

**John: **For me, the moment where it's all worth it is after I'm talking with an attorney, CFO, CEO, the powers that decision-making circle for that prospective client. The thing that it's everything for me is when they're like, "I got it." When that light bulb goes off when they finally fully understand everything that we're talking about. And then immediately after the aha the, I got it, that light bulb moment, then they're just overwhelmed with excitement. Like, "Well, how much can we do? Is there a limit? Who else can we do this for?" It did it for that excitement. That moment for me. And it's probably about a three-minute window, they get it for me.

**Dave: **Yeah. And that's awesome. And I can relate to some degree. And I'm also guessing that the other thing that happens that you can almost see in their face is that their perception of you shifts from being a salesperson to an advisor. Do you have that experience too? I know I do in our tax consulting business.

**John: **I'm very fortunate, David, in the sense on how I'm introduced and brought into relationships is mostly via referral, word of mouth. You've got to talk to John. I got to listen to John. And so I don't think I'm there as the overt salesperson. Clearly, they know I'm selling a solution. Right?

**Dave: **Right.

**John: **But they do already view me as kind of like a product matter expert. But yes, when the value is recognized, they view me differently.

**Dave: **Yeah. I can appreciate that. And then it's those relationships from that point forward, I find them to be just a little deeper and more significant because you're now this trusted partner.

**John: **Yeah, you're part of the team. I become a part of the team and part of their decision-making circle. And it's an honor to be brought into that.

**Dave: **Sure. Yeah, no, I have that same experience with what we do. So I wanted to just give some background on your business so the listeners would have some context when we kind of dive into podcasting and why you are considering having a podcast. So I understand you're thinking seriously about starting a podcast. Is that right?

**John: **I am.

**Dave: **So let's kind of dive in. So, could you talk a bit about your current kind of marketing strategy and activities and how you could imagine a podcast being able to amplify those efforts?

**John: **Yes, absolutely. From based on what I just said previously, we don't really have marketing collateral per se. We're not a marketing company. We're a solutions company. And that's a problem for us because inevitably, when we get introduced to somebody just happened to me this morning, as a matter of fact, "Hey John, can't wait to talk to you. Is there anything you can send me in advance?" And I don't have that. We don't have that because our solutions are so customized to the problems and issues that our potential clients are facing. We don't really have anything off the shelf that does justice to what we do as a problem solver a solution provider.

**Dave: **I see.

**John: **And so my thought process is while I guess I am risking putting our intellectual property out there into the stratosphere, I think more good than harm will come from having a podcast, using it as an explanatory medium for people to listen whenever they want to, to what we do. And I think it also gives prospective clients, attorneys, CPAs, advisors the opportunity to form their opinion about me, obviously my voice, my tenor, my cadence, my personality.

**Dave: **Knowledge.

**John: **Yeah, my knowledge or my lack of knowledge. If my wife would, was talking about me. But it gives them a chance to form an opinion about me. And I can maybe earn trust in advance of that first conversation.

**Dave: **I think that's a brilliant idea. Earn trust in advance, actually writing that down. I really liked that phrase. In fact, I'm probably going to borrow it and give you credit for it if you don't mind.

**John: **Yeah, I don't mind at all. I probably borrowed it from somebody else and forgot to give them credit for it.

**Dave: **Yeah. That's how it goes. No, so that makes sense. So I'd like to dive into that a bit further, and we actually have an assessment, or we call it a scorecard, and the listeners, you can find that scorecard at It takes about five minutes to fill out. There's eight questions. The scoring is from zero to 12, with a total possible score of 96. And so what I'd like to do is kind of drill into a few of your answers, if you don't mind.

**John: **Yeah, let's do it.

**Dave: **So one of the questions is about keeping in touch and in the... So there's four statements, and I'm going to read this statement that you said related most, and that is that I don't have content systems or tools to reliably keep in touch with prospects and clients as much as I'd like. And we find this as... I know I was in this spot and when I started my podcast and part of that was that I didn't want to be annoying and send out too many emails to people. And so thus, I erred to the side of sending out too few emails. Is that kind of like your situation or talk to me about your answer to that one.

**John: **Completely. You remember I mentioned that we're brought in as a product matter expert or a subject matter expert, a solution provider, a problem solver. And maybe I was painted into a salesperson corner early on in my career, but I have a real anxiety or phobia of being positioned that way and being thought of that way. I just don't want to be that guy. And like you, David, I probably err on the side of too little communication, too little follow-up, too little asking to take the next action step, even though when I know that they should, because I don't want to be the pushy sales guy. So having something that allows me to do that is tremendously valuable, not only for my business but only for my emotional wellbeing as well.

**Dave: **Sure. Yeah, because to give the listeners an idea, the way we do it and the way our clients do it and the company name, by the way, is Your Podcast Team. Website is, and what our experience has been and what we recommend our clients is having a podcast... There's many benefits having a podcast. But one of them that relates to this topic is that if you're releasing one episode a month, it gives you on each episode is a new media release. So, in theory, it has the same validity as the release of a TV episode or a Netflix episode or a newspaper article, or it's a medium, and it has a specific release date. And so, thus, one can argue that that's newsworthy.
So anytime we release a new podcast episode or our client's release one, there's an email announcing that release. And we intentionally make that email as short and straightforward and simple as possible. We recommend not using any graphics or any downloads because we want people to be able to just read it. And it's usually a very short email. In fact, the email for this episode will just be kind of a one or two-paragraph summary of our conversation and suggesting people listen. And so what I've found is that I've never had anyone say to me... People unsubscribed, but nobody's ever said, "It's really offensive that I get an email from you once a month that's short, and you're telling me about a podcast. And I think it's because it's not offensive. And what we find is that most of the people who get the email, "Do not listen to the podcast," but that little, just two-paragraph synopsis gives them a sense of what it's about. And they know that it might be useful to them. And so that's what I'm kind of imagining the benefit to you, in this case, is that sound about right?

**John: **Yeah, absolutely.

**Dave: **So yeah. And it's funny because when you look at it one way, you think, "Oh, geez, one email a month, that's hardly anything," is that even really better than what I'm doing now, but when you look at it a different way, and you say, "Hey, how many emails have I sent the last say three or four years that were helpful and not pushy."
It's probably not very many, but if you think, "Well, let's say I do this for four years. And I look back," then all of a sudden, 50 emails over four years sounds like a significant number, but still not an overwhelming number because... So I guess what I'm saying on the front end, once a month doesn't sound very much, it doesn't sound like you're making much progress, but when you look back a year or two years in the future, it has more of a punch.

**John: **Yeah, I agree. And then the other thing that I'm thinking it allows us to do is build a place that my story can be told to premium finance story. The Cool Springs story can be told one time, and they can go listen to it when they're ready to listen to it. And they just keep getting reminded. I got to listen to the story. I got to listen to this story. And it's a non-threatening way to just stay front of mind. I mean, what's the statistic? You probably know this better than I, but you have to in today's environment from a marketing perspective. You have to touch someone seven to 10 or seven to 12 times before they do something about it and take action with it.

**Dave: **Yeah. I think that's right. They have to be exposed many more times than what you might think before it sinks in and they do something. Yeah. And another use that you can have is that if you're talking to somebody and you're having some preliminary conversation, and they remind you of a fact pattern of like a client or an attorney that you worked with and you think, "Oh, that was attorney I worked with," and I had him on the podcast six months ago. And that situation is very similar to this one. So now I can say to this potential client, "Hey, your situation is actually really like this one we talked about on this podcast, I can send you a link to that podcast and you can learn more about it." I find that to be very powerful for two reasons.
One is that it allows you to drop the fact that you have a podcast, which in today's world is still extraordinarily rare for a company to have a podcast. If it's not, say a Fortune 500 company or something. And so one is you get the credibility boost. And the other is that 45-minute conversation you had with that attorney talking in great detail about their anonymous client that person listening can really dig in as much as they want without feeling any sales pressure, because if you're sitting on the other side of the table telling the story, they may have their guard up to some extent. So does that seem like that could also be a use for you?

**John: **Without questioning. And one of the things that we deal with and have to address it from time to time is clients and, or their trusted advisors, their CPAs or attorneys. They want referrals and references. Well, in the space that we work, privacy is of the utmost importance to our clients.

**Dave: **Sure.

**John: **And it's always a challenging position where we're like, "Well, I mean, I can redact some information, but I can't really ask them to talk to you because they're successful on their own right. And it's not their job to talk to you." So this podcast that I'm wanting to do, it allows, I think it will take that place. So when they hear, maybe I'll get some clients on there, if they're willing to do it, maybe I get some attorneys. A lot of, in fact, I know I will get some attorneys and CPAs from some reputable firms that will address the credit because, ultimately, that's a credibility issue. Do I trust what you're saying? And can I hear it from someone else who's not going to sell the product or the solution? And I think that will help address that question.

**Dave: **Yeah. Without a doubt. I know because there are some similarities between our tax consulting business. It's the same way that I've got. Yeah, I've had advisors on there. And I've been fortunate enough to have a few clients who like after they sold their business and they no longer need the tool, they're more comfortable talking about it.

**John: **How amazing when our client no longer needs the tool.

**Dave: **Yeah, exactly. Now I get it. And it really, and in some ways, your sale in some ways is almost more to the advisors than the actual client. I'm guessing.

**John: **It is.

**Dave: **Yeah. So I'm guessing that if you can get their attorney, their estate planning attorney, to listen to a podcast done by another reputable estate planning attorney telling the story, that'll go a long way. And that attorney can always call up that guest and say, "Hey, I happen to listen to your podcast. I know you can't tell me who your client is by name, but I'm just wondering if I could ask you a few questions and I've found that my need for references has gone way down because of that, because I can say, "Hey, instead of interrupting someone's day and trying to get 10 minutes to do a reference call, you can comfortably listen for 45 minutes or an hour for as long as you want to get comfort." So yeah, I think you'll understand the-

**John: **I'm really hoping/counting on that being the outcome from this, and our clients, our prospective clients, they all love it. Everyone does. That's not where the skepticism comes into play. It's when their attorneys, they pay their attorneys to say no or at least dig in. And so you're exactly right. That's where our... I wouldn't call it friction. But our challenge with credibility and proof comes to play.

**Dave: **Yeah. Because their attorney or their CPA, that you've had a relationship with maybe for decades and if that person says, I just, I'm not crazy about the idea. That's like all it takes sometimes.

**John: **That's it, that all it takes. You are exactly right.

**Dave: **So well, good. Well, that's helpful. And hopefully, that was helpful for you kind of brainstorming on that question.
So now, let's go to the next one, lifetime value. So there's four answers here. The lifetime value of my clients is less than a grand. A client is worth 1000 to 10,000, a client's worth 10,000 to 20,000, or a client is worth at least 20,000 over the life of the relationship. And your answer to that was that last one that a client's worth more than 20,000. And so the reason that question is, and I'm not going to ask you exactly what your client value is, but to say it's over 20 grand is sufficient. The reason we have this question, and I imagine you probably did this analysis is whether you're doing it internally or hiring somebody to have a podcast, episode amount, it'll cost around $10,000 a year.
So we have that in there kind of helping people prepare that if they're looking for justification, if the value of a client is more than 20 grand and the podcast cost you 10 grand, well, if the podcast helps you close a client every two years, like in theory you breakeven. So can you talk about how you did that analysis as far as a cost-benefit analysis factoring in the lifetime value of a client? Did you do it similarly, or did you think about it a little differently?

**John: **Can I be completely candid with you?

**Dave: **Yes. You can be completely candid.

**John: **It was a complete no-brainer for me knowing the value of just one client and the time and energy and the overcoming objections that I'm expecting this podcast to cover for me. The costs, I've also been programmed to believe nothing is a business cost. It's always a business investment. It's not an expense. It's an investment. And so it was very easy for me to make the decision to invest into this podcast, knowing that the return on that investment will be... The ROI will be tremendous, probably not even able to calculate. That's how good the ROI will be. Ultimately when this gets up and going, where we have enough shows in the can, I guess, as you would say, and an inventory of a story to tell for prospective clients and trusted advisors, not even a calculation I had to do.

**Dave: **Okay. Well, that's good. That was a helpful calculation because that's why we have this here, because if somebody is in a business that the lifetime value of a client's, $100 then unless the podcast is going to help them close hundreds or thousands of deals, it probably doesn't make economic sense for them. In fact, I don't think we've ever had a client whose lifetime value of a client was less than 20,000 because of that same metric.
So a couple more questions. And boy, I can't believe how fast the time has flown by. So the seventh and eighth questions, seven is, do what you love, and the answer is at the extreme. Some people say, or they're kind of funny at one extreme. The answer is I don't like talking with people, and at the other extreme, I enjoy talking with people one-to-one, understanding more about their situation, and helping them better understand my subject. So you answered that one as a 10. So do you want to just talk a bit about that and how that mindset helps you hosting a podcast?

**John: **Yeah, and I think it's probably already kind of been shed in some light with how I've answered some previous questions or talked about some things. We're problem solvers. I'm a problem solver. I need to listen to what each client is facing. I need to understand what their challenges are and what their obstacles that they're trying to overcome are. And yes, I have a product available to me, but that product is like molding clay. It can be shaped and molded to the unique circumstance and environment that each prospective client is facing. It's not like all I have is a hammer and everybody looks like a nail. It's not that.
So I get a lot of energy and excitement solving problems, and thus that's a one-to-one conversation. And I consider one-to-one being, client CEO, CFO, attorney. Those are one to me.

**Dave: **Sure.

**John: **I'm not good at mass marketing myself. I'm not good at... I mean, I'm a good educator in groups. I'm better one-on-one, and so that's really where my passion is.

**Dave: **Yeah. I can relate. I'm really the same way. And so, hey, here's just an idea. If you're willing to kind of take a bit of a risk, what you can do with one of your episodes is if you found an advisor like with a brand new potential client and like you had maybe just met the advisor, if, but let's just say that like the client meeting wasn't available for... The client wasn't available for like a month. You could have that advisor on and basically go through that problem-solving exercise, like in real-time with them on the podcast.
Now the plus is that if everything goes great, it really demonstrates that problem-solving ability. The drawback is always that if for some reason it goes really poorly, it may not be the ideal situation. So, but that is something to think about. And I guess if you had to, if it just went horribly wrong, you just could not release the episode.

**John: **At least said, you don't even have to publish it.

**Dave: **That's true. Yeah, I think of it as like a live radio interview, but you're right. Sometimes I forget, "Oh yeah, this doesn't have to be published if it goes bad." So you may just think about that as you explore a podcast.

**John: **That's a good idea. And that gives a lot of freedom, knowing that if it doesn't go great, you can do a retake on it.

**Dave: **Sure. Yeah. That's exactly right. So, that brings us to the last question. And this one is around outsourcing and kind of a person's mindset. And so the one extreme the answer is I believe in keeping everything in-house because it's the most cost-effective way to do things. And the other extreme, I'm laser-focused on our core competency and outsource everything else. And you answered that a 10. And the reason we have that in here is our service is called Podcast Done For You. And it's a turnkey outsourcing of the podcast. The client only has to record the interview, and that's it. And so that's that mindset matters. And so you answered that as a 10. So can you just touch on kind of that mindset and how that impacted your decision?

**John: **You bet, and I don't know if that's my athletic background, but I was a goalkeeper, and I had one job. Keep the ball out of the yard. I wasn't supposed to score the goals. I wasn't supposed to distribute the ball through the field. That's what the other 10 players are for. I wasn't supposed to create the strategy. That's what the coach was for. So I guess I've been programmed from a very early age to stay in my lane and do what I do. And I also feel like it's a business myth that if you keep things in-house, it costs you less money. And again, I think it costs you more and miss business opportunity because you're trying to do things that you're not good at, and you're not specialized, or your staff isn't specialized in.
So I have zero issue outsourcing to people that are better at things than I am. And so if you can program package something up where it's done for me, I can talk about what I'm passionate about and knowledgeable about, and everything else can be handled. That's a no-brainer for me. And that's why I'm deciding to proceed forward with this.

**Dave: **Okay. Well, that sounds great. You're like the... I don't know, the third or fourth person who was thinking about a podcast, we did the podcast, and by the end of it, they're like, "Yeah, I want to move forward." So hopefully, this experience was helpful in your assessment then to get to that point.

**John: **It was. Anything talking through things and having conversation really helps get to a decision point.

**Dave: **Yeah. I can understand. Well, with that, why don't we go ahead and wrap up. So if people want to learn more about the firm or reach out to you, what is the best way for them to do so?

**John: **Yeah, so the website is, very simple words. And my email is

**Dave: **Great. And we will have that in the show notes. So, John, this has been a really enjoyable hour for me, and I learned a little more about the premium finance world. And I'm excited to dig in more on the next podcast for the other podcast. Was there anything that we didn't talk about that you think we should have?

**John: **No, I don't think so. I think we covered it all. Great job.

**Dave: **Well, I appreciate you making the time and really appreciate being on the show. And I look forward to our next podcast.

**John: **Wonderful, David. Thank you. I do too.

**Dave: **All right. Have a great day, John.

**John: **You too. Thank you.

**Dave: **And there we have it, another great episode. Don't forget to check out the show notes at This podcast is brought to you by Your Podcast Team. If you have ever considered having your own podcast, head over to to learn more about how they can help you. That's it for this episode, have a great week, and we'll talk to you next time.

Ep004: Amplifying Your Message with Ronda Ross - Transcript Thu, 06 May 2021 09:00:00 -0400 e9e72dbe-fb36-406a-b7a5-2cf5920fd795 Return to Episode

Dave: My guest today on Podcasting Stories in Ronda Ross. Ronda's a realtor here in Houston who just a few months ago launched her own real estate firm and she already has a total of five agents. Ronda is really dynamic and I believe she's in her mid 30s, but she has the wisdom of somebody much older and who has been in the business much longer. We talked about why she is very selective with the agents that she hires, we talked about her absolute commitment to serving her clients and her agents.
We also talked about how she might use the podcast to amplify her current message. We also drilled into the scorecard and the podcast scorecard to see in what ways the podcast could amplify her message. I hope you enjoy this wide ranging interview as much as I did. Hi, my name is David Spray, and I'm the host of Podcasting Stories. Today on the show my guest is Ronda Ross. Ronda's a realtor right here in Houston and started her own firm, the Texas Living Company, last year. Ronda, welcome to the podcast.

Ronda: Thank you for having me, David.

Dave: Well, I am excited to have you on and kind of hear your story. So let's get right to it. How did you get into the real estate business, and about how long ago was that?

Ronda: So I got into real estate after I did oil and gas. I initially started doing real estate classes in college then I went to Texas State Living Company, or Texas State University. Obviously I haven't had my full coffee yet. And I loved the classes then, I held my license inactive and didn't really activate it until after I graduated. So went to school for a little bit to be an architect, unfortunately that program was pulled from the university and so it's kind of a full circle.

Dave: Oh wow, but it still sounds though like you've always been interested in residential real estate, either from the architecture side, design, or helping people find their dream home.

Ronda: Absolutely, as well as marketing. I actually have a degree in marketing too, it all kind of goes together.

Dave: Okay, and I actually know Texas State really well, I grew up about 25 miles from San Marcus, Texas in a town called Seguin as a high school kid. So there's a couple of rivers in Central Texas that are popular to float. One of them is New Braunfels and that's the one that's most common, but there's also a river in San Marcus that goes I believe right next to the Southwest Texas camp, at that time it was called Southwest Texas, the Texas state campus. And as a high school kid growing up and floating the river and being in proximity of these older more sophisticated college co-eds was quite the enjoyable experience for a high school guy. So I have very fond memories of Texas state university. So what led you to start your firm Texas Living company?

Ronda: So a couple of things actually. So whenever I decided to become a realtor at the very beginning my plan and intention really, and truly was to open up my own brokerage. I've always been very driven to own my own business whatever that would be. I want to strive to get as far up as possible within whatever industry that I do. I also have worked as a realtor before I became a broker at multiple brokerages and I loved helping other agents become successful. Helping them answer questions about contracts, taking trainings, showing them how I do marketing, help them become successful as well. A couple of agents came up to me and said, have you ever thought about opening up your own brokerage as well as good friends around me as well?
And it's been on my mind, I just didn't take the step to do it. And a couple of clients approached me and said I think you should. And after that many people have come up to say something to me, I decided you know what? If everyone around me thinks I should, then I should definitely do this. And so I took a small break, studied, took my tests and put the business together in September of 2020 and the rest is history. We're doing great. So I'm very happy I did it. I honestly wish I would've done it sooner. So learning lesson is listen to those around you. They truly want to see you be successful and see you do great things.

Dave: I love that. I love entrepreneurial stories and I really love hearing the start of the journey. And so it's fun to talk to somebody who that entrepreneurial step just happened just a few months ago we're recording in April of 2021. And so that's great. So you got started in, have you had the opportunity to recruit any other agents or is it just you so far?

Ronda: Yes, we do. We have four other agents at our brokerage.

Dave: Oh, wow already. You're four already.

Ronda: Yes. And we have a few more coming on, they're in the middle with some different transitions. It's a transition to move over. So it's been great. I'm very particular. I probably would have more but I really want the Texas Living company brands to be a little bit different than some of the other brokerages. I really want to be particular about who comes over, culture is a huge thing within my brokerage. I want everyone to work together, help each other, put the customer before the commission which is a huge thing for me, because you really can see a difference in customer service when those things are happening.

Dave: That makes sense, because I know that the industry people who are maybe a bit cynical would say that the agents are really just about getting listings and getting closings and not about trying to maximize the value for the customer, either on the buy side or the sell side, or to really kind of focus what's in the customer's best interest long-term, there seems to be this transaction focus. Is that what you're speaking about? Is sort of that perception or is there something else beyond that?

Ronda: I mean, absolutely. And I can absolutely say, and it's embarrassing to say that that is the case for most agents. And I think it's very hard to find good agents that really are putting the customer first from before you're helping them, while you're helping them to years afterwards and something that I strive for, for myself and I also push all of my agents to do is be the agent for them for life. So anytime there's a question concern or anything after the transaction be there for them. Most of our clients become different because you spend so much time with them and you get to learn a lot about everyone that you work with. A lot of them I could call up right now and say, Hey, I need help with something and they would be there for me in an instant. And I think it's because they know that I would do the same for them. So there's a lot of that for sure

Dave: Yeah. That is really great to hear. And I'm curious, what are the stats, how many residential real estate transactions does the average person or the person in your target market do in their lifetime?

Ronda: So that is so very, as far as that it really depends on area. It depends on if they have kids or not. It depends on travel. There's so many different variations.

Dave: Okay. What about a typical? So just what would be a typical? I know for me, I'm 56-years old and I've bought, let's see one, two, three, four houses and I've sold two. So is that kind of typical sort of activity by the time a person's in their 50s or?

Ronda: Now, no. A lot of the younger generations, I would say mid 30s are probably in some cases or at least what I'm seeing with my clients, especially too, they're on their third house or second house and then people in their 40s are usually on their third or fourth. And a lot of our clients in their 40s and 50s, not only have got multiple houses with us but we also refer them and work with other agents and other cities and have a second home. So there's a lot of different transactions going in different directions.

Dave: So I think what you're telling me is we need to buy and sell a couple more homes to get the account caught up to where we should be. And I'd say, I can relate. We bought a second home in Colorado five years ago and I wish I had known you then, because what I did was we just found a house on Zillow, we went under contract without even seeing it and then we flew out during the option period that we just used the agent that was representing the seller. And they just did a, I can't think of the term of it where they represented both of us, what's the term for that?

Ronda: So they call it a dual agency.

Dave: Okay. Yeah. In Colorado they have a little different term I don't remember what it is.

Ronda: I'm sure. I think every state has different term.

Dave: Sure. And now we were fortunate because it actually worked out great and the experience was actually really good and it was actually really productive because the negotiation didn't have to go through another intermediary. And because it was the one agent I convinced because that agent was only expecting to make 3% and they ended up making six, I ended up, they thought it was a great idea to knock I think a couple percentage points off the purchase price that they absorbed. So it actually worked out great, but it certainly wouldn't be the way I would do it again. I would definitely want a referral. So how frequently does that happen where you're helping somebody find an agent in another city?

Ronda: So we probably, I mean, it every month. We had a friend and client move to New Orleans last month and we found her a great agent and it was kind of the same situation where we connected her with this agent and the agent did FaceTime through all the houses and that way she didn't actually have to physically be there and narrowed it down to two houses. She took a red eye from California to new Orleans, saw both houses fell in love with one, had it closed within 30 days. So we have a lot of that. I've actually done small business re-locations and I'll fly out to the business, meet the individuals that will be moving into the Houston area, explain to them the different communities as well. And what is best for them and their family and what is within a certain distance of where their new office is going to be.
Just really try to get them acquainted with the city as much as I possibly can without them not actually seeing it. And then whenever they fly into Houston, we go pick them up from the airport, take them to their hotel, just get them settled and then start taking them out to look at houses. Give them the Houston welcome, all of us in Houston are very friendly and we love having different people come and visit and people moving in town. And it's just really about the service and trying to do whatever we can to make it as least stressful as possible because moving to a new city is very challenging, especially when you have a family.

Dave: Sure. Well, I must say I have never heard of a realtor doing that before. I mean, talk about really going above and beyond and focusing on now, it's funny I know small businesses who have relocated mostly from Louisiana to Houston, so I can understand the need for it, but I've never talked to a realtor who actually identified that need and decided to fill it. So my compliments to you, that's very innovative and I bet it's really well received.

Ronda: Yes. We've been very lucky, we've moved people from California, Tennessee, Louisiana and they're usually businesses that are around 20 people sometimes up to 40. So yeah, it makes it a smooth transition. It's easier to me the partnership with the company, if they want to keep their employees. It's so much easier to keep employees than of course to hire new employees. And so I see it as a partnership of let us help you keep your employees by making them feel comfortable in their new city. I just think that it's something that we can provide and add.

Dave: Yeah. Again, that sounds great. I want to kind of go back to something we were talking about earlier as far as the, that you're kind of particular on the agents you hire. So I'm imagining that there's a trade off I bet, because on the one hand, if you get a brand new agent you sort of can mold them to fit the culture. But on the other hand, a brand new agent there's probably some ramp up time and perhaps they may not have the financial security experienced successful agent. Are those assumptions right or could you talk a bit more about how you decide that?

Ronda: Yeah, so right now with Texas Living company being such a young company, we are really more focused on recruiting agents with experience and history. And the reason is we do have a lot of resources but we don't have a lot of resources for newer agents. They really need a lot more one-on-one hands-on time. Something that I provide agents that already have a clientele or referral lists, or however you want to put it is if they don't know a certain part of the industry, they always have an agent in the office of which they can shadow, ask questions for but we do have training. We actually have a third party trainer that comes in and train the agents once a month. So we have all that. It's just it's so different with a brand new agent, because a lot of the perception of becoming a realtor is that you go out there, you all of a sudden have all these clients drop a son driving a luxury car and closing million dollar deals. And it's interesting and so.

Dave: But that's how it works on TV. So that's not how it is.

Ronda: It is how it works on TV.

Dave: Huh. Okay.

Ronda: So for us and for the way that I have checked with Living Company set up at this moment we really just focus on agents that have been in the industry for at least two to three years, because they have a true understanding of exactly what to expect. So you're going to have your highs and lows in those cases, you're going to have to work hard. You're going to have to work long hours. You're going to have to work weekends. It's really how organized you are, how good you are at time management and how much you're willing to work is going to be how successful you are. And so we've already overcome that obstacle because 90% of the agents or 10% of the agents make 90% of the money in the Houston Texas area. And so-

Dave: I've heard that.

Ronda: Yes. And so it's just one of those things you kind of overcome that, because if they've been in the industry for two to three years, then they've made it past that hurdle.

Dave: Yeah. That makes sense. And I imagine that the attrition rate is material as well. I imagine some significant number of agents three years after they start that it's not their primary income source. Is that right?

Ronda: That is correct.

Dave: Okay. So other than having at least two to three years of experience, what are the other attributes that you look for? I know you had mentioned a cultural fit. Are you able to define that any further? And then the followup question is if an agent is listening to this who does have two to three years experience, what are some of the signs that they should call you? What are some of the signs in their current relationship that means that you might be a good fit?

Ronda: So one of the things that's really funny, it's actually kind of weird for me to talk about it, usually I have my agent talk about it. So whenever I talk to an agent who's a perspective coming on. If I feel like they might be a great choice, what I actually do is I provide them the phone numbers of the agents in the office. And I tell them that they should actually call those agents A, to see how they all mesh well together. And then that agent can truly tell them the experience that they have at the brokerage. I can talk to anyone and say, this is what it's going to be like, but as a broker on the other side, it's very hard for me to truly say what it's going to be like when I'm not an agent there.

Dave: Sure.

Ronda: So I talked to, that's why I think the best people for them to talk to are going to be the agents that are currently in house.

Dave: That makes sense.

Ronda: Then they can tell them, this is what she provides, this is what she provides. This is her communication, because we're all guilty of it. We all think that we communicate well and sometimes we don't. We all think that we provide this but sometimes we don't. So really, and truly that have helped me in the case that the agents that I really want to bring on board. And then that way they can see that we work as a team even though we're not a team, we're individual agents, but we still work together to support each other and help each other in that way.

Dave: Okay, that makes sense. And then I guess there's also perceived greater objectivity. I mean, probably both perceived and actual by talking to the other agents, because you of course have a certain inherent bias and preference for your firm. So I guess that objectivity is useful. Okay. So that's good. And then what are the signs that if experienced agent is listening the signs that they should give you a call? Because I don't know the business. I mean, obviously one is if they're, what's the term of the person that the agent I guess works for? Is it the broker?

Ronda: It's a broker.

Dave: Okay. So one is if the broker doesn't pay them their commissions timely, that would probably be one red flag to find somebody else. But what are some other pin points that should make somebody think to call you?

Ronda: So the number one thing that I see everywhere because I'm actually part of a broker group is agents not having access to their broker. When they have a contract question, they're having issues with the client, have a client question, have a lead generation question, any kind of question that affects their business and could possibly affect their brokerage and everyday standpoint as well as a legal standpoint, they don't seem to be able to have access or the ability to get in with their broker. And anyone who works with me knows that I answer my phone usually from about 6:00 AM to 11:00 PM because real estate happens at all times of the day. It just is what it is. I'm always there for my agents in any way that I can, I've jumped into transactions. I've gone to meetings with them to help them secure clients, maybe because they didn't have the experience that I did and we can use my experience to help them grow their experience.
And those things to me go a long way. And that's something that I felt like I was missing out a lot of the brokerages that I had, I felt like I was just a number as an agent. And here I actually meet a lot with my agents one-on-one. I have one that's trying to really grow into a new sector of real estate and I meet with her, her and I have one-on-one meetings outside of the brokerage so we can really put a plan together. We have put a plan together and she's working on it and we're seeing it work successfully. And I think that's important because we can all learn from each other. But sometimes people just need a little one-on-one attention. And I think it's really important to have access to your broker, especially when it comes to contract questions.

Dave: Okay. Anything else that might be assigned that they should give you a call?

Ronda: It's one of those things so you don't want to bash other brokers.

Dave: Okay. Fair enough.

Ronda: So I'm like, Oh I mean-

Dave: Okay. How about access? Okay. Let's just leave it as the access. So that is fine. So what about, that kind of gives me a sense of who you're looking for in a broker, is somebody who would value more availability from their broker an agent they would appreciate more availability who has at least two to three years of experience and has some attraction to the culture that you've you've built. Now let's turn it to your actual customers, the buyers and the sellers. What are the characteristics of ideal client for you? I mean, is it really just as simple as they're looking to buy or sell a home, or are there other aspects that you put value on above and beyond that? And I guess the followup question is, have you ever turned down an opportunity because it didn't seem like the right fit or their expectations weren't consistent with what you thought you could deliver? I know that's a lot of questions at once, so do your best.

Ronda: So as far as buyers and sellers or buyers yes, for the most part it's as long as they're ready buy. So one of the main things I have all my buyers do are get pre-approved prior to us spending time. To me, I'm investing time into my client, I want my clients to. How you truly know if a buyer is very serious about buying is if they're willing to get pre-approved prior to looking at home.

Dave: That's makes sense.

Ronda: And there's multiple reasons why I do that. A, if they invest that little bit of time into doing it then I know that they're serious. B, we know what they actually truly can afford, C, in a market like this where it is so fast paced we have to be completely ready, otherwise they're going to lose out on a house. So for that, that is a big thing for me. However, I decided to step away from a client because it wasn't a good fit absolutely. In those cases if I have an agent in mind that I know would be a great fit for that client, I will actually connect that client to that agent. If I don't, I will be very honest with them. And sometimes it's just personality. Sometimes it's just location. I've had a client say, Hey, I was referred to you but I'm going to be moving out to this location.
And I'm very honest and say, that's not my location of expertise I'm not the correct agent for you. And in that case, it does happen. But I've only had the personality thing once. I usually get along with pretty much everybody. And then sometimes people are just not ready yet. They think they're ready, once they start looking, they get cold feet. It happens, especially with first time home buyers it's a huge step, and it's something that they get nervous about and I get it. So I always let them know, I'm here for you when you're ready and if you have questions between now and when you're ready, I'm here for you for that as well.

Dave: Okay. I understand all of that and that all makes sense. So what aspects of the business, I think I may know the answer to this, but let me ask you anyway. So what aspects of the business give you the most energy, that you kind of most enjoy?

Ronda: So for me it is really just helping the customer. I love, actually yesterday was an awesome day. I took my clients. We finally were able to see the house that they're buying and watching them run into the house and the wife's screaming with excitement was the best feeling in the world. It's one of those things. It's just, those things are fun. Watching their kids grow up in these houses and I keep in touch with almost every single client of mine. And sometimes it's hard and it's challenging, thank goodness for social media. But it's exciting to see people so happy and watching them, their families grow and them grow in their house. That is worth everything for me, I love that.

Dave: Yeah, I can tell and I can hear the passion in your voice for that. And it also sounds like based on an earlier question, that another thing that you also really enjoy is the helping your agents. Is that right?

Ronda: Yeah, I love it.

Dave: Training, mentoring, assisting, being a sounding board.

Ronda: Yes. That is my number one job for them. Absolutely. And I love it.

Dave: Okay. Well, before we kind of switch gears and talk about podcasting, is there anything about your business that I didn't ask you about that you think needs to be mentioned?

Ronda: I think we have most of it covered.

Dave: Okay. That's excellent. Okay. Well, let's now turn from kind of your passion to my passion podcasting. So I understand that you are considering starting a podcast. Is that right?

Ronda: That is correct.

Dave: So tell me tell me what are the reasons that you think, well, I guess before we get to that, why don't we first take a step back and talk a bit about kind of your current marketing strategy and activities and systems that you're currently using to reach your market. And then let's talk about how you think a podcast may amplify on that.

Ronda: So I've been using, we have a CRM in our office, which is a great way to continually touch and connect with clients and prospects. I do a lot of social media marketing across various different boards. We do video marketing as well, but a lot of our leads from, all the agents in house as well as my own are actually from referral word. Word of mouth has done huge for us.

Dave: Okay. I can understand that. Are you around?

Ronda: Yeah.

Dave: Okay. For some reason I thought it dropped. So word of mouth has been the main thing. And so what activities do you all engage in to encourage those referrals to happen?

Ronda: The number one thing that you can do in any industry that you're in is provide the customer service from beginning to end and afterwards. I keep in touch with all my past clients, whether that be social media or personal text messages or going and having lunch, or doing a brunch or doing a customer appreciation event. I mean, we can go on and on and on. So it really just is about putting the client first and just making sure you know what's going on with them, sending birthday cards, anniversary cards, happy anniversary in your new home cards, holiday cards. And it's just so many different ways to do that. Just to stay top of mind and let them know that you're thinking of them and appreciate them. I'll send a random text to a client just saying, Hey, I'm thinking about you, I hope you love your house today. And it's just out of nowhere because they really came across my mind.

Dave: That's awesome. And so it's really just kind of the basics-

Ronda: Exactly.

Dave: Doing a great job to begin with and then stay in touch. And in both a systematic and ad hoc fashion, it sounds like that you're sending birthday cards on a systematic basis, I'm imagining, but then just on an ad hoc basis as something makes you think of one of your customers.

Ronda: Yes.

Dave: Okay. Well, that makes sense and that really resonates with me. That's exactly how I've built my various businesses from that, that one to one relationship and then the referrals from that. So I can appreciate that. So it sounds like you're doing a lot of things pretty successfully already. So how would you imagine that a podcast can help amplify some of those other initiatives?

Ronda: It's interesting I had a conversation with someone who has recently started a podcast, and kind of came to mind that we do video, which is visually appealing and podcasts are becoming verbally appealing, so people are in that, spend a lot of times in their cars working out now and different things like that, but they're still wanting to learn and listen and hear what's going on and that's where I think it would happen. I think there's a lot of misconceptions in real estate. I think there's a lot of knowledge out there that can be shared with the public and that should be shared with the public. And I think I would love to help them with that. One of the things that I really want to do is I love local business. And it's sad that we only highlight and spotlight local business on most cases, one Saturdays of the year support small business.
And what I really have been doing and have already been working on is the video series to support a local business every single month. And we're about to actually launch that small business series. And I think partnering it with a podcast would be fantastic actually sitting down and talking with the business owner about, how did you get started? What made you get started, the history of the business, and then doing the video which we've already done. I've been at their location, whether that be the restaurant or one of the boutiques that we to, or one of the gardens stores or whatever it may be. So you're getting to see what they actually provide and view, but then you're also getting to hear the background of how they got there and why they did it. And to me, that is what's going to make the consumer really relate to that business is the background.

Dave: Yeah. That makes sense. And it sounds like what I hear you say is that the final produced video would perhaps be shorter than the length of the podcast, because the podcast lends itself to sort of longer form content consumption. Is that what I'm hearing?

Ronda: Yeah. All the videos that we sent so far are about two minutes and 50 seconds, and it's shorter, like just quick clips, quick questions, just highlighting the products, the service and showing what they have and then the podcast would be a little longer. You're absolutely correct.

Dave: Yeah. I read an interesting stat, I should have noted where I read it, but that the average YouTube video watcher watches for less than a minute, but the average podcast listener their engagement is 10 to 15 minutes. It's astronomically higher, multiple. And it sounds like what your strategy is, is kind of consistent with that to have the videos be shorter, because it requires complete engagement of really all of the senses, but the audio only aspect of the podcast allows for sort of longer form content. Does that sound about right?

Ronda: Yes, absolutely. And you're also getting two different target markets just because someone watches video doesn't mean they're going to listen to podcasts and someone who listens to podcasts might not like watching videos. So it's helping benefit the business in multiple ways we're reaching possibly different audiences that they might not have reached otherwise.

Dave: No, it makes sense and I agree with your strategy. So what I'd like to do now is, we actually have an assessment, we call it a scorecard and it actually can be found at And I appreciate you taking the time to fill it out much like you ask your potential customers to be pre-qualified. In an ideal world, our potential clients and customers would complete the scorecard for some of the same reasons. One, just to see how serious they are and other just be able to see how good of a fit it is. And so there's actually eight questions I would encourage listeners to go take a look at it. It only takes about five minutes, but there's eight questions. And what I'd like to do is just drill down into a few of them and just kind of get your thoughts on them because I think it will impact your strategy.
And so the first question is around how much you enjoy interacting with people. So to give you listener an example, on the one extreme, on the one scale the statement is I don't like talking with people. So I suppose somebody in your business, if they don't like to talk to people they're probably going to have some challenges, but on the other end the statement is I enjoy talking with people one to one, understanding more about their situation and helping them better understand my subject in the, it's one to 12 scale and you answered that one a 12 and from our time on prior calls and today that certainly makes sense. It seems like you really are energized by talking to people. Is that right?

Ronda: Yeah. Absolutely.

Dave: So then going up the list, the next one that people consider when they're having a podcast is do they even have anyone to invite, which by the way, some people do podcasts just as monologues. My preference is I prefer interviews both as a listener and as a producer of episodes. So to me having a guest is just sort of assumed. But the one end of the scale is boy, I don't know who I would even invite to be a guest on a podcast. And the other extreme is I can think of at least 12 people who would immediately say yes. And the reason we have 12 is we recommend that most of our clients start with only one episode a month. And then if they find that they're able to produce more frequently than that, they can always bump it up, but it's better to start with 12.
The other reason is that interestingly enough the vast majority of the podcasts out there have not cracked the 10 episode ceiling. I'd say the average for folks who don't break the 10 episode barrier is like three or four episodes. So the other reason is that we like going in for our clients to have a sense of who their first 10 yes are going to be. So for that one, your answer was the top of the charts, it was 12. So how many people do you think you probably would have? It sounds like it's a lot more than 12. Is it dozens, hundreds?

Ronda: Probably dozens. So we've already talked to lenders, title companies. We've already have set up interviews for the small businesses over 23 of them. So if I'm doing a partnership with a video and the small business, that's already 23, moving companies different places around different people within the real estate industry as well. Of course, I would love to interview all the agents in my office. That's another way for them to get out there and meet more buyers and sellers and potential clients and all of that. So yeah.

Dave: That's great, because you'd be surprised that there's a lot of people we've spoken to and they really are kind of a fit on everything except for that. And so it's hard to encourage them to move forward when they don't really know who they're going to have as a guest. So the last one I want to talk to or speak to is the question about your audience, in this one here, you answered a little lower, but your goal was to be higher. So the low answer is I'm unknown in the industry and community. The high level statement is I'm known in the industry community and I'm periodically quoted or asked to speak at industry events.
But the one you identified was the statement. I have been in the industry community for some time, but I haven't built up an audience, but you're at the top end of that scale so you're kind of on the cost between that one and the next one up, which is I'm known in the industry and the community. And so you gave yourself a score of a six there, and your comment was that you've been in the business for a while and you've built it on referrals rather than marketing. But it sounds like your goal would be a 12. So do you want to just talk about that question and how you think a podcast may help you move from a six to a 12?

Ronda: It's just another way for me to, I guess be out in the public. And one of the things that has not been my strong point is being out in the public, I'm very much behind the scenes, put my nose down and grind work. I think a podcast is a great step. Take it out there, especially for people like me, who I am super nervous to be in photos and videos. So if you go to my social media, you'll see it's actually about houses, it's not really about me. So I think it's a way that I can get put myself out there, but not necessarily, it's just a different way. I don't know how else to say it, but I think for people I'm an introverted extrovert so I think it's a way for me to kind of be behind the scenes, but also be out there at the same time.

Dave: No. That makes sense. I can relate. And what I think I heard you say was that, that there's just one of you and you're available to your agents 6:00 AM to 11:00 PM every day. And so you're really trying to have a way to replicate your connection with people since there's only so many hours in a day. And so you've looked at other platforms and ways to amplify that message and that the podcast would be another way for you to be able to connect with folks with greater scale than just one-on-one meetings. Does that sound about right?

Ronda: Absolutely.

Dave: Okay. Well, wow. I can't believe how the time has flown by. If people want to learn more about your firm or reach out to you, what's the best way to do so?

Ronda: So we have a website that is We also have social media across LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook, it's Texas Living company. For me directly, anyone can email me directly I respond to everybody. It's I have people email me all the time and I do everything I can to respond to every single person. So feel free to reach out to me through social media, email or through the website.

Dave: Okay. Well that sounds great. Well, I really appreciate your time. It's been great to hear your story. And was there anything else that we didn't cover about either your business or potentially having a podcast that you think we should have discussed?

Ronda: I think we've covered everything. I really appreciate your time, David.

Dave: Well, my pleasure. Well with that, let's go ahead and wrap it up. My guest again was Ronda Ross, the founder of the Texas Living Company and if you're an agent in a situation where you don't get as much time with your brokers you would like, you should think about giving Ronda call. She'll let you talk to her other agents and get the straight scoop on things. And if you're looking for a realtor who's in it for the long haul, rather than just doing a transaction, I would also suggest you reach out to Ronda. Well, with that, we're going to wrap it up. And Ronda, thank you again for taking the time to be on the show. It was really a lot of fun.

Ronda: Thank you. Of course.

Dave: All right. Have a great day.

Ronda: You too. All right, bye.

Dave: Bye. And there we have it, another great episode. Don't forget to check out the show notes This podcast is brought to you by Your Podcast Team. If you have ever considered having your own podcast, head over to, to learn more about how they can help you. That's it for this episode, have a great week and we'll talk to you next time.

Ep003: Problem Solving with Heath Barnes - Transcript Thu, 22 Apr 2021 15:00:00 -0400 e7977944-c6bf-43ce-8d72-59604bbf3dec Return to Episode

Dave: So my guest today is Heath Barnes. Heath is a mortgage broker in Houston, Texas and he's also a coach for people in the mortgage business. He's a really interesting guy. He's got a great perspective on things and he's got some great lessons in here that I think you'll enjoy learning about. He talks about leadership skills and with yourself as the person you must first lead before you can lead others. And then he also talks about how the problem solving is really important. It's something that they don't really teach in school, just like they don't teach leadership skills in school. He also talked about finding people better than you and surrounding yourself with those people. And lastly, he talks about doing something every day that makes you uncomfortable. And in the episode he talks about one of those things that he does every day that I think you'll enjoy hearing about.
So I hope you enjoy listening to this interview with Heath as much as I did it. Welcome to another episode of podcasting stories. My name is David Spray and my guest today is Heath Barnes. Heath is a professional coach in the mortgage industry who also operates a residential mortgage firm for Cardinal Financial, spearheaded by a motivated and enthusiastic and fun group of 20 mortgage professionals who helped dreams come true in Houston, Texas. He's been in the mortgage industry for 20 years. He's coached mortgage professionals for the last 10 years and to help loan officers, 10X their businesses through the strategies he learned as a coach with the CORE Training. Keith, welcome to the podcast.

Heath: Thank you, David. I appreciate the opportunity to be on one of your famous podcasts.

Dave: Well, I don't know about famous, but I appreciate you being on anyway, so let's get started. Let's... how did you get into the mortgage business?

Heath: Wow. So, I got in the mortgage business, I can't believe it's been 20 years now, but I was actually in the automobile business and I was in the finance area of the automobile business. And I was engaged to a girl that I met on and she told me if I didn't get out of the car business she wasn't going to marry me. And that was 20 years ago. And so I got out of the car business and got in the mortgage business. And the only reason I got in the mortgage business is because I had another friend that was in the car business that told me about the mortgage business and it seemed like a good fit. So I moved from an income of about 10 grand a month to two grand a month. And what people do when they're in love and about to get married and I wanted to get married, but she had other plans.
A few months later she said, "Heath I appreciate all that you've done, but I'm no longer in love with you." And so a lot of great things came about as a result of ending that relationship. But we might talk more about that later on the call, but yeah, I got out of the car business and into the mortgage business and that was in 2001 or 2002, I believe. And it's funny unanswered prayers sometimes are the best things that can happen to you in life because it kind of led to my career today and my wife, Cynthia. So, yeah, super blessed to have had that difficult situation happen. So, that's how I got in the mortgage business.

Dave: That is great. I didn't realize those details of your story, so who are your customers?

Heath: Yeah. My customers when it comes to doing mortgages is anyone that needs a residential lending, or any realtor that needs a good lender that can get to their client to closing on time. The mortgage industry seems to have changed a lot here recently. And I think most people in their frame of mind want to get a mortgage and paid off as quickly as possible. But the new framework that we're in, most people don't understand how you can use a mortgage to your advantage. I like to say, how do you take out a liability and turn it into an asset by getting a mortgage, especially with these historically low interest rates that we have. So, yeah, anybody that's wants some direction in finances, I'll take an on-hands approach, meaning I look at someone's financial profile and help them figure out the best way to structure their mortgage. So that's what I do part-time, full-time really I'm coaching loan officers and my team on how to execute in the mortgage industry. So I think it's a great industry and it's one that's not been scooped up by technology yet, meaning it's still around, so.

Dave: Now that, I would agree. So, on the surface, to me it seems like the mortgage brokerage industry, it just seems like a pure commodity that all people care about is the rate and closing costs. But I suspect there's more to it than that. So on the mortgage side, what are the some of the things you and your team do to differentiate your services, or maybe give us a case study of something that some people might consider unique, but it's the type of deal you guys get done all the time. Do you have a kind of an example that you could give?

Heath: Yeah, so like I was just mentioning, when I look at someone's situation, whether it's buying a new home or let's say even refinancing, I'm looking at the situation and I'm saying to myself, okay, well, how can we position this mortgage to most benefit the client? So I'll give you a couple of ways we do that. Number one, I had a client just yesterday that's currently at a three and a half percent interest rate on a $300,000 loan. And the value is right at a million dollars. And he's 61 years old and just got displaced from the oil and gas industry. He went from making $130,000 a year to $60,000 a year. His payment was $1,600 a month. Well, we refinanced a loan that he has seven years he's into, we gave him the same interest rate, no closing costs and dropped his payment almost $300 a month. And showed him how he's already invested $600,000 in his real estate tip for him to pay off that mortgage faster is really cost-prohibitive, meaning the value of money in the future is probably going to go down, meaning the arising inflation.
So that would be one example of someone where it's a little unconventional, most people would think, okay, I need a 15 or a 10 year mortgage with a super low interest rate. And I want to pay it off as fast as possible. What we want to look at is, okay, what would we do with that extra money? With this guy's case he needed the extra money to live on. Somebody else might take that extra money and that they're saving on their mortgage and put it in a 401K, right? Because a 401K as you know is tax deductible. And now you have compound interest working for you rather than a mortgage as simple interest. Your investments are compound and so the more money that you can put into a vehicle that's going to multiply over time, that's going to make a lot more sense. If we had interest rates that were 6 to 8%, this conversation would be completely different.
But the interest rates we have today, you want as much leverage as possible so you can go into the market, whether it's whatever your investment style is and find something that's going to execute at least 3 or 4% return. So, but that's just a couple of ways we help people. So most people when they come to me they say, "Hey, we want to put 20% down." And I like to ask really in-depth questions with clients and say, well, Why do you want to put 20% down? I mean a lot of people will dump all of their money into the mortgage when they should be, depending on their situation, whether they're self-employed or they're a W2 employee and just dumping all of your money into a mortgage doesn't always make the most sense. So we just try to take an on hand approach and asking a lot of questions and not telling them what they should do, but just giving them two or three different options. So, does that make sense?

Dave: And I'll tell you... That makes perfect sense and I can speak to this personally because you and your team have helped us with several refinances through the years. And that your thinking with the historical low rates initially I disagreed with, I was kind of in the mindset of pay off the loan as quickly as possible. But when you were able to show me and really have me think about the benefit of a two and a half percent 30 year loan, the question is, how likely is it that in five years I'll regret having a two and a half percent mortgage and it seemed pretty unlikely to me. And so that was the direction that we went thanks to you and your counsel. So thank you for your advice and just the great job your team did for us.

Heath: Yeah, for sure. One of the things that people should be aware of I think, especially if you're in the mortgage industry and even if you're not in the industry is looking at the money supply that's currently in our market. And the government has pumped a lot of US dollars into the market. And they're continuing to pump a lot of US dollars. And so a really low interest rate is still in the threes And most people don't realize that the value of money will be going down, meaning inflation is going up. And some of the things you hear on the news about, well, our inflation is like less than 2%, that's because they're comparing it to the consumer price index and not to the money supply. And once you add in the money supply, our real rate of inflation's probably close to 12 to 15%.
So if inflation is that high and you could borrow money at 3%, why would you not? And then secondhand, why would you try to pay it off faster? So for those of you that have a mortgage and you've got a low interest rate, I would move that money into some other investment that will over time make you money. Because as interest rates go up, which they will, you could pocket it into bonds or fixed assets that will make you a nice return over time. So, yeah.

Dave: That makes sense.

Heath: Eventually when you retire, you can take that money and pay it off.

Dave: Sure. Well, great. Well, now I want to turn the topic to, and I don't mean to change the subject so quickly.

Heath: No, you good.

Dave: But, so I'd like to turn the subject to podcasting after all the name of this podcast is Podcasting Stories. So let's tell some podcasting stories, okay?

Heath: Okay.

Dave: So like me, I believe you've been an avid listener of podcasts for a long time. What year did you probably first listen to your first podcast?

Heath: Wow. I mean, I want to say five years ago, six years ago, right.

Dave: Let's call it six years.

Heath: I mean, I guess close to the beginning of a podcast, I don't... Yes.

Dave: Okay. So let's say six years for simple math. And so how long ago was it then? Or I guess after how much listening of podcast did the thought strike you that you would like your own podcast?

Heath: Yeah. Maybe a couple episodes in, you have these ideas and you think, yeah. But the technology piece is a little frightening for me, I've got a lot of young kids that work for me that handle all the technology. So, but yeah, being able to be part of a podcast would have been fun, so.

Dave: Sure. And so this hypothetical podcast that you thought about six years ago, what would you have wanted to have accomplished on that podcast? What kind of gave you the calling to want to do that?

Heath: Yeah. Originally probably going back to that first fiance, if you will, the idea of just being able to ask really good questions. And I say the first fiance because when we broke up I was thinking about what are some things I could take away from that relationship? And the one thing, and the one most valuable part of that entire relationship was happened on our first date. We were at a bar and after about three hours of actually talking, she looked at me and had a big smile on her face and asked me, said something to me that I was totally not expecting, but she said to me, "Heath I know everything there is about you, but you haven't asked me one question and I'm not sure you know anything about me." And I can't even believe that she actually went out with me after that, but she did. And she taught me the value of questions.
And I didn't even realize up to that point in my life that questions are the key to life. Right? Most people are walking around looking for the answer, but what she taught me is, if you want to have a relationship with someone, you got to ask them a question. If you want knowledge, you got to ask yourself a question, where am I going to find that knowledge? If you want to have a great podcast, you want to hear a good story from someone you want to ask them a really great set of questions that will lead them down a path that you can connect with the audience and great questions tell great stories.
And so that's what kind of got me into it. And up until that point in my life, until she said that to me, it's like the student will arrive when the teacher appears, but I always struggled with feeling like people didn't like me or I had trouble with relationships. And it was in that moment I realized what that trouble was and that's just that I had not grown up with parents that taught me the value of asking questions. And only because they had had difficult childhood as well and so they were never taught that skill. And so not to hold anything against them, they've been great parents, but just the value of asking questions both for your kids. It's like, there's two things for anyone that has kids that you can teach your kids that you'll never learn in school. They don't teach these two skills in school.
Number one is leadership skills. That's the skill of leading yourself, but also other people. Leadership is influencing other people, but first you've got to influence yourself before you can influence someone else. And the second one, that no one ever teaches us in life, and probably why people are frustrated all the time, is because they've never been taught the lesson or the skill of solving a problem. How often do you encounter problems Dave? All the time, right?

Dave: All the time, every time.

Heath: Every day you wake up. Right? And so the skill of solving a problem comes with asking the right question, right? Asking yourself the right question. Usually you can experience, why am I always late? It's not a really good question to ask yourself. You might say, well, what can I do to make sure that I'm five minutes early every time? Right. What can I do to make sure that I'm financially secure later on in life? Not why am I always broke? That's the wrong question. Right? So, yeah. That's why-

Dave: Because your subconscious will look for answers to that question, right?

Heath: That's right. So, but yeah, those are the two skills that I think any parents should teach their kid, leadership and problem solving. And problem solving is, problems occur because we want things a certain way and who is to say that what's happening right now is not exactly what's supposed to be happening. The problems that you're having in life are building you up for a better life in the future. So, a friend of mine once said, "Pretend like it's not happening to you, but it's happening for you." And that just little shift right there will change your perspective of what's happening, so.

Dave: Okay. Well, that is really insightful. And so to summarize, what gave you the motivation or the desire to have a podcast is you thought that there were some life lessons that you could share. And you also thought that from what you've learned about asking questions that you thought you could take that talent and apply it to some really interesting guests with the result being that there would be some interesting stories that would come from that, that you wanted to be able to share with people who might benefit. Did that about summarize it?

Heath: Yes. And recently I was speaking with a guy that's helping me with my business named Jack Daley. And what I passionately want to do is talk to interesting people around the world and get their stories. And he said, what you've done in the mortgage business, you should interview other loan officers and help other loan officers hone their skills, because the skills that you learned in the mortgage business, you can pass on to other people that can be passed on in any industry, because it's really the basis of learning how to operate a great business.
So, I think that's the direction we're going to go. So, we'll be interviewing some key professionals in the mortgage industry to give people life skills, to learn how to take their business to the level that they want it to be. So, we'll be interviewing people that are, some of them haven't been in the business for three to five years, or a couple of years, or one year and people that have been in it 20 years. And you'll see a range of income from 100 grand a year to $5 million in a year. So I think that if you want a great career, the mortgage businesses is a great avenue.

Dave: Now, that sounds great. Well, you've sold me that it makes sense to have a podcast. So you had the idea six years ago of having a podcast, it makes sense to me, what the heck took you so long to get this thing launched Heath? I mean, I'm going to kind of be a little tough on you here. What took you so long?

Heath: Yeah. Just number one is fear, who's going to listen to you. No one's going to listen to you. For the longest time, I had a really tough time just speaking on any recorded line or for that matter in public. I used to get even probably 10 years ago, if I had to introduce myself, my heart would be racing and I went to Toastmasters. And for those of you that don't feel like you speak well in public, Toastmasters is a great place to go, every town in America has one. And I think I quit three times, because of the pandemic I haven't been to Toastmasters, but I'm soon going back because this is a great place for young people to learn how to speak in public.
And they have one part that it's called table topics where you're asked a question and you got to speak for one minute about that question. And I've never realized that asking a question and being able to speak for one minute is so difficult. So yeah, just the fear of speaking in public, whether I was going to have an audience or not. And yeah, so it's... and then technology as well, it's knowing how to do it and taking time to stop and put it together, so.

Dave: Yeah. And so, if I'm hearing you and the feedback I've received from a lot of people is just that they consider a podcast and this was my story by the way, not to digress too much, but I started listening to podcasts about like you five or six years ago, I wanted to do one and every time I would look at it, I just, I never got past trying to figure out what equipment I needed, let alone how I would do the recording, the editing, how you get it published to the platforms. And so finally, a couple of years ago, somebody who had a podcast was kind enough to let me just kind of piggyback on their podcast and just let me replicate what they're doing. And then over the course of a couple of years, that evolved into a very different system than what they used.
And I started getting requests a few months ago from folks saying, "Hey, I'd love your help with what you've done." And because I've owned the podcast for years, but I just can't pull it off. And as a result of that, just recently I've launched a new company called Your Podcast Team, and our service is called podcast done for you. So in a way the answer might be that you would have had your podcast sooner if I hadn't dragged my feet and offered to do this for you sooner. Right? Is that about right?

Heath: That's right. It's your fault Dave, but I appreciate you thinking of me and calling me and saying, "Hey, you want to have a podcast?" So you figure it out that one of the key to being successful in anything in life is you find someone else that's way ahead of you and say, "Hey, can you show me the ropes?" It's funny when I got in the mortgage business, I struggled for the first nine years. And I struggled because I wanted to do it on my own. And for those of you that are listening, there's no original idea or thought they've all been thought up and done and so you can do a variation, but yeah. Find somebody else that's doing it better than you and follow their footsteps.

Dave: I agree completely. So what are some of the ways that you see the podcast as being beneficial both to you and to your team?

Heath: Yeah. Podcast is just a great way to reach a lot of different people. I coach loan officers around the country now, and there's just new ideas no matter how long someone's been in the business. I get new ideas from people that are making a lot less money, doing a lot less loans, but just small shifts in their business and finding out, what are the things that make them successful in their business and in life? I think everyone, all of us have the different gifts that we've been given, personality differences that allow us to be successful in business, whatever you define as success. Some people say, it's how much money you make. And some people say, I have a friend, his name is David Spray, you might've heard of him. But yeah, he said, one of the things that I always remember about you, Dave, is you said, you went to your account one time and said, "Hey, how do I get some more free time in my life?"
And your accountant said, "What? You need some ROL, Return on Life. And so, yeah, balancing that ROL with ROB, Return on Business. Yeah, just, I think that the ideas that people will hear on the podcast, they can listen to them over and over again. And depending on where you are in your business will help you find some new ideas and strategies on where you could go in your business. So, again, it could be for, even though it's in the mortgage industry, a lot of the things that we'll talk about, you can apply to your own business no matter what it is, so.

Dave: That is great. And I appreciate you mentioning the ROL because I think of that regularly. So you've talked about one difficult time in your life which was your fiance who told you she no longer loved you and the lessons you learned. Has that been the only difficult time you've had in your life as the rest of it have all smooth sailing, or has there've been some other difficult times you've had that have helped you?

Heath: Just all easy from there. She left me and that she told me the questions and I figured it out. No, it's funny I had an employee of mine come into my office just the other day and she's been with me for maybe four months and she is almost in tears and she said, "Heath, just to like, I'm doing terrible and I'm making all these mistakes." And when I help her look at the fact that she came from a company where she'd been in the business for 25 years and got really good at it and now she's doing a new industry, she was in tears and just letting her know, hey, listen, it's part of life, is having these things that come up, having these problems that come up in business and it's okay.
So, anyways, but back to what you had asked me, the difficult time for me, at least early in my career when I think about it, in 2008, I had a consultant that came in and he interviewed literally, I think I had 12 or 13 people working for me at the time. And he interviewed all the people in my office and he spent an entire day doing this and he put together, which I still have today, if you came to my office, I'll pull it out and I'll show it to you. But he put together this PowerPoint presentation that he went over with me and literally at the end of that time period, he said, "Listen Heath, this can be hard for you to hear, but you should fire everyone, no one likes working with you. And the people that are working with you only are working with you because they haven't found a new job yet, are you're paying more than they could get anywhere else and none of that is a recipe."
And I literally remember thinking, wow, man, I just wanted to cry. And, but I didn't tell anybody, it's you're so shameful that you don't want to tell anybody. And I hadn't surrounded myself with other really successful mortgage people because I wanted to prove it on my own that I could do it. And I had a guy named Jeff Wagner who's here in the Houston area as a loan officer, even today we're still friends, but he came to me. I was walking through the office one day, he was handling my marketing and said Jennifer Hernandez, who's a loan officer here in Houston is being coached by a guy named Rick Ruby at the CORE Training.
And I was on the phone immediately signed up to go to their next event. And that was just a few months after I was supposed to fire everyone. And he was right, I didn't fire everyone, but there's everyone eventually left, but it was the print things that I learned in the CORE Training. And it was just that day that I really realized in my life, listen, don't try to figure it out on your own, find other people who are better than you and learn from them, don't be so prideful. So yeah, that was a super difficult day in my life.

Dave: Yeah. I can imagine. So the gentleman you'd mentioned, Rick.

Heath: Yeah. Rick Ruby. So yeah, he started the CORE and that the organization that he built it's called the CORE Training. I was with the CORE Training for about almost 10 years, 11 years and coached for him I think almost five. And it's a militant style organization, but there's some of us need that type of guidance in our life, but he has built this organization. And it has some of the best loan officers in the country. And at the time when I joined it in, I think 2009. And it was about three years later, four years later, through that coaching I was able to get... they asked me to be a coach. And so I started coaching other loan officers. And I never forget just being just crazy scared of coaching other people.
And it's the same thing in business. Most of us get in business and we're scared we're not gonna make it. And sometimes you just got to keep getting up every day and busting through that fear and uncomfortableness, because on the other side of all uncomfortableness is the key to life. That's everything that makes us a little nervous in life. When we end up doing it, we usually say to ourselves what? It wasn't that difficult. Right. And we usually find that whether it's a race that you're in or you're starting a new business, or you're starting a new exercise program, it's a little... you become nervous and uncomfortable. So, and I've got something that helps me be uncomfortable every day. So, yes, that's what you want to have, something that makes you uncomfortable every day, so you can continue to grow. But, anyways.

Dave: I know there's one thing that makes you uncomfortable every day. Well, at least would make me uncomfortable every day.

Heath: What's that?

Dave: And it involves some cold water, doesn't it?

Heath: Oh, yeah. So, I've got a cold plunge at my house and I've been following the kind of cold water therapy. I've got a 19 cubic foot chest freezer that I've converted into a cold plunge that if you just Google that on YouTube, you can figure out how to make it, but it's... I usually keep it about 45 to 50 degrees and I get in, in fact I was in it this morning for about three minutes and it never gets easy, but there's some amazing health benefits to it. And through this pandemic, I feel like it's helped me stay healthy and sound. And you should try it Dave, well, was that you have one.

Dave: I know you've been kind enough to suggest that many times. So I appreciate, maybe I just need to go try yours first kind of a try before you buy.

Heath: Absolutely long bike rides.

Dave: Yeah. Perhaps, so besides Rick, any other influential people in your career that are worth mentioning?

Heath: Yeah. I think some people probably have heard of Tony Robbins, but I'm a big fan of Tony Robbins and have been, I know sometimes he can be a controversial figure, but he has been around for a long time and I just noticed a huge shift in the way I see myself and other people. And I think through his programs that I started, I guess, six years ago, it seems like, he really allows you to understand yourself better. And I don't know about you Dave, but it's for me, I've always been kind of scared of people and making people upset and what people are thinking about me and what people want.
And he just really helped me understand better about myself in life and how to see problems and things that happen. And so yeah, he's been a big influence on me as well as obviously he always got to mention your parents, my mother and father have been a big influence on me, even though they didn't teach me the value of questions. They did teach me the value of compassion upon other people. So, but yeah, that would be the other person that's had the biggest influence on me as well. How about yourself?

Dave: That is great. No, I'm the one asking the questions. So my answer would be, let's see, it would be Victor Frankl, the author of Man's Search for Meaning and perhaps Dan Sullivan, the founder of strategic Coach and then my parents. And then of course my wonderful wife, Christine, she's been a wonderful influence on me. In fact, speaking of which you have a great story about Cynthia that you told me and I have shared with lots of people in an anonymous fashion, are you prepared to share with 8 billion people the story I talk about? What you told her about you're a are a difficult man to probably be married to and if she ever wants?

Heath: Yeah. So a funny thing is about, I mean, I love Cynthia to death. We've been married for 15 years and yeah, she came into my life at a really tragic time, I just lost my first fiance Roxanne as was her name. And Cynthia and I dated for a few months and Roxanne came in back into my life and while Cynthia and I were dating and she did this, the most amazing thing, she said, "You know what? Heath I don't think it's a good time for us to be dating right now." And she cut it off and that I never forgot that. And we became friends and then six months later I needed to date and I called her and we've been together ever since. But yeah, man, she is a super patient and understanding and she knows the crazy in me, we all have this little crazy streak in us that she's just has super a lot of patience.
And people ask me all the time, first of all they ask me, one thing I say is they asked me, do you have any kids? And I say, well, I don't have any kids, but my wife has one and that's me. So, fortunately we got married later in life. And then another thing people say is... I'll share two other stories and then another thing I'll say to people and it makes them a little uncomfortable when I say this and everyone will feel uncomfortable, she and I have a great relationship. Our relationship is so good, we have sex almost every day, almost on Monday, almost on Tuesday, almost on Wednesday, almost on Thursday, we get really close on Friday.
And so when I tell that story to people, I mean, that's... If you feel like it's especially it's great if it's like a real formal event and we start talking about lives and everybody's got this straight face and I'll say, and they look at me and I'm like in that story, and it's funny because you can tell the smarter people in the room, they get it after Tuesday and then the last thing that I'll say about Cynthia people and it's actually true is, if she ever left me, like literally if she packed her bags and she left, I would do the same. I had packed my bags and I would just go with her because that is no way I want to live this life alone, so I know you get to laugh, so.

Dave: Yeah, the way you told it to me was a little bit differently.

Heath: Tell me.

Dave: And you said something like, yeah, I've told Cynthia, I know that I'm probably not the easiest guy to live with. I'm not the easiest guy to be married to. So I just want you to know that if you've ever had enough and you just can't take it anymore and you need to leave me, I just want you to know you have my full and complete support, but you just need to know if you leave, I'm going with you.

Heath: That's right.

Dave: So it's a very liberating thing, right? She has the freedom to leave anytime she wants, but-

Heath: I'm going to be right behind you.

Dave: That's awesome. Well, Heath this has been really a lot of fun. And if people want to learn more about you or reach out to you, I believe that your website, is probably the best place. Is that correct?

Heath: Yeah. That'd be the best place then. And I encourage people. Yeah. If I can help you in any way and you have a question or you just want to engage about something, I'm more than happy to help, yeah, that's why we're here, so.

Dave: And that website is primarily for the podcast, but there will be two links, one if they want to be a guest on the show and then secondly, there'll be another link where if they just want to reach out to you for something else they can do so. And well, was there anything that we didn't discuss today that you think we should have?

Heath: I think we knocked it all off, we knocked it all out. I mean, I appreciate the opportunity to be a guest and I like all your questions. Can I use some of them?

Dave: Absolutely. I'm sure like you said, I borrowed them from somebody else so you can borrow them from me. No problem. Well Heath, thank you again for making time to be on the show and thank you for entrusting us to do your podcast for you. And finally, thank you so much for your friendship. I value it more than you know.

Heath: Yeah, same here, Dave. I appreciate you man. Wish we could spend some more time together. Maybe I'll move in with you in Colorado this year.

Dave: Sounds great.

Heath: Standing with you but you are to vail, that'd be fun.

Dave: That sounds great. Well, have a great day Heath.

Heath: All right, you too.

Dave: And there we have it, another great episode. Don't forget to check out the show notes at This podcast is brought to you by your Podcast Team. If you have ever considered having your own podcast, head over to to learn more about how they can help you. That's it for this episode, have a great week and we'll talk to you next time.

Ep002: Podcast Momentum with John Melvin - Transcript Sun, 04 Apr 2021 15:15:00 -0400 62c6ec12-8820-45ec-8e6a-2fee616063ef Return to Episode

Dave: My guest today is John Melvin. And John is a guest that I've wanted to have for a long time. He's somebody I've known for quite a while. And he has a great story because he actually launched a podcast three years ago and it was great. And unfortunately it did what frequently happens is it quote faded after just four episodes and he has not published in two and a half years. So we talked a bit about why that happened, lessons he's learned, advice he might have for other people considering starting their podcast. And then we also talked about his engineering firm. They have a really unique approach to high-end commercial and residential mechanical engineering design, and they do some things around lead certification and sustainability. Anyway, John is a really interesting, very thoughtful cerebral guy. And I hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed participating. And if you're considering a podcast he's got some great wisdom in there for you.
This is David spray and welcome to another episode of the podcast. My guest today is John Melvin. And John is a really interesting entrepreneur and he has a BS in mechanical engineering from Montana State University at Bozeman. He founded JM Engineering nearly two decades ago, and the firm creates engineering solutions for design construction and property management professionals across a variety of industries and applications. The firm maintains a primary focus on green building sustainable energy and seamless low impact project implementation. The firm also has a podcast called How Great Buildings Work.
John is married to Wendy. They have two children and they reside in Missoula, Montana. John is an avid cyclist, which is one of many things we have in common. John, welcome to the podcast.

John: Hey David, thanks so much for having me.

Dave: It's my pleasure. I've been looking forward to this for some time. So let's jump right in. So what prompted you to launch JM engineering?

John: This goes back to from the time I was just a little boy and my dad he was a orthopedic surgeon and had his own practice. And from early on time, he had always told me that how important and nice it was to own your own business so that you could be in control of your own destiny. And so I knew that I didn't want to be a doctor, I wanted to be an engineer. I actually wanted to fly jets and I wanted to design jets but I also knew that I wanted to be my own boss and I knew that more than anything else. And so I was a partner in a different firm prior to starting JM Engineering. And ultimately back in 2002, we all went our separate ways and that led me into starting JM engineering.

Dave: I see. And by the way it just dawned on me what inspired the JM in JM Engineering, I'm guessing pretty original. Did you have to hire like a branding firm to…

John: Well, interestingly enough, my brother-in-law's videos, at the time I did not have any employees and he said, "What is JM stand for? Just me?" And so that's kind of then my inside joke with it is it's not my initials, but yeah, there was a lot of originality that went…

Dave: That's great. So we met in strategic coach a while back. We were both long time clients with strategic coach. And one of the concepts they have in there is what's called a right fit client. And so talk to me about what the characteristics are, the people and the companies that really make for a right fit client for you.

John: Yeah, that's a great question. And that I do love that concept and it really helped me define the client and the characteristics of all the different clients we work with and who we wanted to work for. And really what that is, how I could boil that down is our right fit client is someone that is wanting to work with us, not having to work with us or needing to, and a client that is looking for someone to find innovative solutions to their problems. And someone that enjoys what we bring to the table with creativity and that people aren't looking for us to provide the same type of service on every single project that every project is unique. So that's one of the big qualities that we look for in our clients.

Dave: Yeah, I can appreciate that. So, in summary somebody who wants to work with you, not somebody who has to or needs to they want innovative solutions and just reading between the lines, it also sounds like it matters that they actually appreciate you and your firm.

John: Absolutely. And I think that comes back to the wants to work with you and has to work with us and the ones that want to work with us, they're coming to us because of we don't treat this as ABC Engineering group. Again we provide a unique service and that's not a right fit for everyone and that's okay. Again we're looking in order for a project to be really successful, everyone has to be aligned and have the common goals to have a successful job.

Dave: Understood. Understood. Well, let's flip it now. We talked about who the ideal client is for you. What makes you and your firm unique that your clients view your firm as being unique? What are some of the characteristics of your firm that makes it unique?

John: So I think really the big thing that makes us unique and it is the culture that I I have here with this business is we don't look at... So we provide design services for structural, for mechanical, heating, ventilating, air conditioning, lighting, electrical design. And when we look at a project it's not we're just going to design a heating and ventilating system. We look at it as what is this project used for? So we do a lot of K-12 projects.
We finished a children's psychiatric hospital project. And what makes us unique about that is we are designing systems that are there for the hospital so children can heal faster and better. When we go to design a school, that's an area that I'm very passionate about. We're designing healthy learning environments and this goes back for us way pre COVID. But a healthy ventilation system it keeps kids from being sick and allows them to be in the classroom where they can learn. And so that's what makes us unique is again, we're not looking at it as just another project. And we really have a high emphasis on what is this building going to be used for over its lifetime?

Dave: Yeah, I can appreciate that uniqueness. Or if I'm hearing you correctly, you're saying that you guys go another level deeper and understand by understanding the ultimate specific purpose of that building, as opposed to just like a spec commercial building where you just build the shell and then each tenant will do their own design that you're taking it a step further.

John: Exactly. Yes.

Dave: Okay. So talk to me about sustainable building. Is that something you've always been interested in or has it evolved over time?

John: It's always been an interest. Me being a mechanical engineer for me, I've always looked at things of how do things work. I've always had a fascination with that, but then taking it a step further, I've had an interest of how can this work more efficiently? How can it work easier? And so we've really had an emphasis on sustainable design. It's just in recent years there's been new certifications that have come about with LEAD, which is US Green Building Council, and there's a few other certification programs that buildings can do. But interestingly enough, for us we've always been designing our buildings, our systems as if it's a LEAD certified building. Because again, that's our view is that a system should be just as energy efficient and user-friendly as possible.

Dave: Yeah. Peter Diamandis has this expression, that constraints foster creativity, that it's the constraints that cause the creativity thinking inside of an artificially small box, and what you're saying kind of reminds me of that by forcing sustainability to the conversation or LEAD certification, it automatically results in a more efficient building, right?

John: It does. And I think that those programs are great. But I go back to that's how every building should be built. I think again, it's a great program because it adds a very clear good layer of accountability to make sure that there isn't waste on the project and that the building is being done efficiently as possible and as healthy as possible. So again I love the US Green Building Council process for that. I'm a very big proponent of it, but at the same time we approach every project as if it is a LEAD project. And it doesn't add really that much upfront cost to a project. And again, that's just how we think the built environment should be.

Dave: Yeah, even though I'm not an engineer I've always implicitly had a... There's always been an appeal to efficiency to me in all things. And so that's the aspect of the whole LEAD and sustainability that makes sense is the idea that you pay a little more upfront, that you get it back in cost savings and operational savings and other... That you get a financial payback and then there's also the intangibles of a building being more comfortable and enjoyment of being in the building higher. And so yeah, I get it.
In fact, you had a guest Cath Williams on one of your podcasts talking all about LEAD and it was really fascinating to hear her perspective because it really sounded like it had been kind of an uphill battle for her in many ways to try to pull these developers along and show them how much more efficient it would be to operate that building spending five or 10 more-

John: You're. Right. And that was I think that's always been a struggle on a lot of projects is, and understandably so people are looking at the bottom line and what is it going to cost to build this building on day one. But unfortunately what gets missed an awful lot of the time is what is it going to cost to operate this building over time? And that leads into so many things of the occupancy rate or if you own the building and how healthy are your people, are you reducing sick days by 10, 20%? That alone is a huge number over the course of the life of your business. Are people as productive as they can be because they have adequate lighting in their offices and the temperature is consistent, not drafty? And so there's all these little things that I think it has taken a lot of time for these studies to be done to actually have numbers behind to back it up that yes, spending a little bit more upfront does have big payoffs down the road.

Dave: Yeah. And I'm more familiar with this concept with residential construction because my wife and I have owned a number of houses through the years. Some we bought while they're under construction, some were 20 years old. And it's always so frustrating because like when we bought our first house that was under construction, we thought that builder grade meant the top of the line. And we discovered later that builder grade meant the cheapest that you can do it. And it seems like even a lot of these builders of moderately priced houses that they're kind of trapped by the market because they might spend $10,000 more to make the house more energy efficient yet because it's all hidden the buyers, all they see is, "Well, Hey, this other house is $10,000 cheaper and it looks just the same on the outside and our payments $19 a month less."
And so it's always struck me that at least on the residential side, that A, I don't know that how many builders really care and the ones that do, I don't know how able they are to educate the market to get them to pay that 80 premium.

John: Right. And that is the struggle is, again it takes the right kind of buyer whether they come into the project with that mindset. So they already understand that or do they have a willingness to listen and learn and consider that a lot of our work is what I would call ultra high-end residential work, extremely expensive projects. And what is interesting though is the bulk of the projects we work on, the owners are extremely interested in having the project be as energy efficient as possible. And so we do a lot of geothermal design where yes, it's more expensive upfront, but it also has a greener footprint to it if you will. And it also saves money on the heating and cooling bills over time.

Dave: So isn't it interesting the people who could most afford artificially high maintenance costs are the very people that are more concerned about it. And so maybe that's how they ended up to the point in life where they could afford that ultra expensive house is because they watched those costs in their businesses for decades.

John: Right. Exactly.

Dave: Okay. Well so speaking of clients, so just out of curiosity, what are some of the biggest misconceptions that clients have about working with your company? Is it that they think you're too expensive? What are the misconceptions that you find that potential customers have?

John: Well, sometimes we have clients and ultimately it leads to them not being a right fit for us and us not being a right fit for them. And when it comes down to paying for our professional services of them not understanding the value of what that represents, if we design something a certain way, the construction costs may be less as a result of that or that our plans allow them to receive multiple bids on their project. And therefore they'll get competitive pricing and save money there. So again, those are some of the common misconceptions of they will have worked on a project before where there never was an engineer involved. And so they had a contractor that said, "Oh, we can handle all that ourselves." And so that's been one of the big, common misconceptions of why do we need to pay for an engineer when our contractor says they can handle it himself?

Dave: Yeah. I can understand that. I have a good friend, who's a high end residential architect and he finds the same thing that the contractor will say, "Hey, this is close enough to another house we did. We already have those plans, why spend the money for an architect."

John: Right, right.

Dave: Yeah. That makes sense.

John: So that's probably the biggest misconception is the value that a design professional does bring to the table.

Dave: Yeah. I can certainly understand that. Well, I'd like to now shift gears a little bit and talk about your podcast if you're up for that. So what prompted you to start the podcast?

John: I think where that came back from was, again, you had mentioned Strategic coach, and there were a number of colleagues in the program that had started podcasting and I became very intrigued by that. And at first I think what it was was I could hear their stories and it became easy for me to understand why they would do that. And that I could see the value it would bring to their business. But I struggled with where is the value for me by me starting a podcast.
But then I think through talking with several people, you soon realize that everyone has a story to tell. And when you're in business people obviously want to work with you and if you have paying customers, then they value your service. So that means you do have something to offer to the marketplace to share. So I would say it came from, again, talking with individuals and in Strategic Coach program and encouraging me to start one and see where it led me because I've always enjoyed listening to podcasts myself. So I think that's where it all came from.

Dave: Okay. Yeah. And that's similar to my story as well. So what have been some of the best things about having a podcast?

John: Well, as you mentioned earlier, mine has been very limited in the number of episodes I've done. But what I have found from the very limited amount was I've had a few instances where I've talked with some new and slash potential clients. And we had talked about different systems that we've designed or different projects and all of a sudden I was able to say, "Well, I have a podcast on this. And if you want to have a high level understanding of how these work or what's involved with it, give it a listen." I can remember speaking with a couple of different firms and when they heard that I had a podcast, it was like kind of like this almost like, "Oh, you have a radio show type of thing." So I found that that was one of the really neat things about that was just that again, it's easy to have a podcast, but then actually having one and saying that you have one is I think a nice little tool to have.

Dave: Yeah. So if I hear you, what I think you're saying is that the best thing was what it did for your credibility and reputation with potential clients. Is that about right?

John: Exactly. Yes, absolutely.

Dave: Yeah. And I've found the same thing. So we're now going to, you kind of alluded to the question that you sounded like you knew it was coming. So I'd like to talk to you about the challenges of maintaining a regular podcast release schedule, but let me just set up the situation for the listeners. So the name of your podcast is How... I'll refresh my memory. I just had it pulled-

John: How Great Buildings Work.

Dave: How Great Buildings Work. Yes. And so I had learned that you had this podcast and I said, "Great, I'm embarking on a long solo, fat tire bike ride in the winter time." This was over Christmas a couple of months ago. And so I found the podcast, I subscribed to it, I noticed there were a few episodes. I always like to start at the beginning and listen in chronological order probably because I'm kind of an accountant kind of guy. So I started and I finished the fourth one right as my ride finished. And I especially enjoyed the episode on chill beams.
And so then I thought that's really cool. And then the next time I went for my next solo mountain bike ride, I thought I'm going to fire up John's podcast and listen to like the next three or four episodes. And you know how the story ends. It turns out that it turns out there were only four episodes and I'd listened to them all in a single sitting. I didn't know I was binge listening to your episodes. And so I'd like to kind of talk a bit about that, but to kind of set it up for the listeners, so you're actually in very good company. I don't know if you know these statistics, but so there are roughly 1.7 million podcasts, but there are less than 400 shows that have broken the glass ceiling of at least 10 episodes and having published in the last 90 days. And to give you an idea of just how challenging this is, do you know who Kevin O'Neill is AKA Mr. Wonderful on Shark Tank?

John: Yes.

Dave: So I heard him on a podcast a couple months ago and I really enjoyed him. And then I thought, "I wonder if he has a podcast." So I looked and he had one called Ask Mr. Wonderful. And it released in November of 2018, same thing I started at the beginning and in his last episode, he started November of 2018. The last episode was December 31st of '18, he was only able to release six episodes and then that was it. And then like it just, it no more. So anyway, I just wanted to make you feel a little better that even a guy like that who has media access and Twitter followers and all the resources to be able to succeed at a podcast, even he couldn't break that magic 10 episode barrier. So anyways, so now we get to the question part, now that I've set that up.
And so since Kevin is not on the show for me to ask him like what happened, you're the lucky guy in the hot seat. So in my experience I find, or my supposition is that there's four reasons that companies stop releasing new episodes. So one is they never intended to have more than a certain number of episodes or they intended to have more than say four episodes, but that it turned out, they just ran out of topics or they intended to have more than say four episodes, but it just became too time consuming or too overwhelming, or they intended to have more, but they just kind of lost interest in it. It just turned out. It really wasn't their cup of tea. So do one of those scenarios, describe what happened with you?

John: Yeah. To a degree

Dave: Okay. Or if not your why don't you give me your-

John: No, I will. I always intended to have more than four. My intention was to have at, at a minimum one podcast per month. And I really, really enjoyed it and I think I had actually recorded five podcasts and I love talking to people and hearing them explain what it is they do and why it's unique and similar to what you're doing. I find that it's really... I enjoyed it a lot. I enjoyed being on your side of the microphone more so than the side I'm on now.

Dave: Okay. Me too by the way.

John: Yeah. So but with the topics, I have a list somewhere I think in my computer of all these topics of at first I thought, "Well, what in the heck am I going to talk about?" And then so I started putting down a list of all these different topics of things that I've come across in my years of being in this business. And it really kind of became endless what I could do. And so that hasn't been the issue and then I started to with my assistant have somewhat of a process in place of getting them produced and cleaned up and then getting the techs put together the show notes. But I think for me it really came down to that end of it was, it was just a process that, again, it wasn't that difficult, but at the time it was more than what we had the bandwidth to do. Again, it became a little bit too time consuming, not so much for me at all but for my assistant who was putting things together.

Dave: Yeah. And because life is like that, right? Like in isolation, it doesn't seem like that big of a deal or it takes up that much time, but this was one of a hundred initiatives that were going on simultaneously and something had to give. And I know I had a bit with my first podcast show, after COVID I had about a several month, I call it in hindsight, a sabbatical. And I think we didn't release an episode for maybe four or five months, maybe six. And the thing I noticed was it was like any other regular activity, the more time that passed the harder it was to like restart it. And you have the same experience?

John: Absolutely. Yes. I found that to be really the biggest thing was once I got away from it, then yeah there became more and more other things that seem to take priority over the podcast. Whereas when I started, I had great momentum. I think I got my five episodes recorded in a month and a half. And I had a lot of energy going into it and then life happens and people got busy and before long it's two years ago.

Dave: Yeah. Yeah. No, I get it. And the guests, this new podcast, Podcasting Stories, it's all about people who are considering a podcast or who have had a podcast for a short period of time or a long period of time, and just sort of the insights to share with people who were considering having a podcast. So I appreciate your candor and I hope you didn't feel like I was putting you too much on the spot there.

John: No, not at all. It's you have a podcast about podcasts. And I think it's a great question of there's people that start them and then like me they haven't continued through with them. And I think it's really interesting to find out why they haven't done it. And I think it's also good for people who haven't started one yet that are thinking, "Gee, I'm interested in this, but I don't know how." And it's not as easy as one would think it is. There is a bit involved to it, but again, I think that you've demonstrated and that having a podcast can be a great tool to have for promoting your business.

Dave: Yeah. That has certainly been my experience. So with that in mind what might be the advice you would have for somebody who is listening to this, who's contemplating a podcast and they may be not certain that they want to move forward, that they're sort of on the fence. What advice would you have or what questions do you think they should ask themselves? Because just to set the stage, I have have another company in our sole focus is helping people have podcasts. The services called podcast done for you. And even though we're trying to help people, really the last thing we want is somebody who would launch and then stop quickly. That's not good for them or for us or for anybody.
So we're doing kind of everything we can that if somebody's not the right fit to discouraging them from starting a podcast. So what thoughts might you have or questions that you might suggest somebody consider before they launch a podcast?

John: Yeah, I think first of all really define what it is you want to have a podcast about and then search on the internet for a podcast that may or may not be somewhat related to what you want to do and give it a listen if it or they exist out there. And then reach out to friends and colleagues and say, "Hey, here's my idea. Is this something you would be interested in listening to?" I personally for me, I like to gather facts on everything before acting and so I did a search myself to just see what there was out there about buildings and different building systems and anything with that industry. And honestly, at the time I didn't find really a thing.
And so I thought, "Well, okay. So there isn't really much out there." And then I thought, "Well, maybe that's for good reason because no one else is going to find this interesting, like I am."

Dave: Maybe.

John: But then as I started calling people to be guests or potential guests, a lot of them had said in the industry of, I am so excited you're doing this because someone has been needing to put together a podcast so that we can get information out. So I did again, a very small validation of yes, there are people that will listen to this and so I should try and do it. And I think the other big hurdle that I had, which I'm gathering most people have is no one wants to listen to themselves. And I would be curious to find out how many people listened to their own podcasts, because I know that I've only listened to very little of myself because I don't like hearing my own voice.
I think that's something that people just need to know that utmost everyone feels that way. And you just have to put yourself out there, and this is a great big world and you've listed the number of episodes that are out there, people are searching and listening to things. And so again, find a topic that interests you and then reach out to find someone to help produce it and find an expert that can do that for you so that all you're doing is talking about what you know and are interested in.

Dave: Well, I think that's great advice. I would agree because I've been asked that same question before and my answer was similar to yours. So I can't believe we're already more than 40 minutes into this. How time flies when you're having fun. So here's a question that I don't remember who I borrowed this from, but I'm going to ask it anyway. So what advice would you have for your 25 year old self?

John: Boy, in terms of a podcast or?

Dave: No. No, just life. Life and business. Not even podcasts, just business and or life, just in general. What do you wish you knew when you were 25 that you know now that you could go back in time and tell that knucklehead 25 year-old?

John: I think probably the biggest high level view is I read the book, The Slight Edge and learning that A having goals I would say is probably what I would tell myself of really pay a lot attention to your goals and constantly read your goals and refine those. Have short-term and long-term goals, but back to the slight edge of knowing that things take time. And a lot of success, most success in life does not happen overnight. And it's the result of continuing to refine what it is you're doing and making those slight improvements day over day and making those slight improvements just in your life in general day over day, rather than thinking, "I'll worry about it tomorrow, rather than deal with it today." So I think that would be my advice to my 25 year old self is again, know that what you do today matters down the road and continually develop good habits and focus on your goals.

Dave: I think that's great advice and so I think another way to say it is to be patient and make daily progress.

John: Yes,

Dave: I would agree completely. Well, John, it's been a real treat for me to have you on the podcast.

John: Well, thank you. I've enjoyed it very much myself.

Dave: So let's-

John: It's been a lot of fun.

Dave: I'm glad that you've enjoyed it. Well, let's wrap up. So the podcast, the name of that is How Great Buildings Work, because you know, not everybody is up for listening to 500 episodes of a podcast, so if you're looking for a great podcast that has defined all their wisdom to four episodes that you can easily capture, this is the podcast for you. And I mean it seriously, you have some great guests and I've learned a lot about building, especially the chilled beams that really resonated with me. So that's that and the name of the firm is JM Engineering. What is the website?


Dave: Okay. And if somebody wants to reach out to you what's the best way to do so? LinkedIn, Twitter send you an email.

John: Yeah. LinkedIn, I'm on LinkedIn. John Melvin, I can be found there or through our website.

Dave: Okay. Super. Well, was there anything that I didn't ask you that you wish I'd asked?

John: No, I think you covered it quite well as I was expecting.

Dave: Awesome. Well, John, I will look forward to our next time that we're in the same city and can ride bicycles together.

John: Oh, same here David.

Dave: All right. You have a great day.

John: You too. Thank you.

Dave: All right, bye. And there we have it. Another great episode. Don't forget to check out the show notes at This podcast is brought to you by YourPodcast team. If you have ever considered having your own podcast, head over to, to learn more about how they can help you. That's it for this episode, have a great week and we'll talk to you next time.

Ep001: Defining Your Podcast Audience with Ilse Rew - Transcript Thu, 25 Mar 2021 15:00:00 -0400 2ba17cdc-44c3-4952-a7d2-82130ccb2d36 Return to Episode

Dave: My guest today is Ilse Rew, the COO of the Houston based CPA firm of Briggs & Veselka. Ilse, welcome to the podcast.

Ilse: Thanks David.

Dave: So, we've had on my other podcasts, the IC-DISC Show, I had two of your partners on there actually, the former managing partner, John Flatowicz, and the current managing partner, Sheila Enriquez. So, this completes the trifecta by being the third person from the firm that I've interviewed, and you have the unique position of being the very first guest on the new podcast, Podcasting Story. So, thank you for being on the podcast.

Ilse: That's great. Yeah, I'm excited to be here. I think I'm part learning, and I'm definitely interested in understanding more about how this is going to work.

Dave: Well, excellent. So why don't we just start by just talking a bit about the firm in the time since you've joined. So, wen did you join the firm, and then just tell me a bit about the firm for our listeners who are not familiar with the firm.

Ilse: Yeah. I'm a newbie, but in pandemic years, it's been a very long time. I joined in February 2019, Sheila and I talked about the position for 18 months before I started. So it was a very enlightened start to the position. I kind of knew what I was walking into, everything that was going on, and she just won me over. She has this amazing passion for this company and for the people that work here, and through that course of that 18 months, I also spoke to John Flatowicz, you mentioned, and between the two of them, they're hard to say no to. So, I started February 2019, and tasked with getting our operations ready for exponential future growth. I'm responsible for all of operations, marketing, HR, accounting, operations, administration, and information technology.

Dave: Wow, that's a lot. It's a lot on your plate.

Ilse: It's exciting. Yeah, it's a lot and it's exciting, and I couldn't do it without the team that I work with, for sure.

Dave: That's great. Now, as some of the listeners may know, I actually worked at Briggs and Veselka for several years in the early 2000s. 2002 to I think about 2004, and back then the firm, when I worked there, there were about 50 people that worked there. Now I understand there's a few more people today. How many people are you all up to today?

Ilse: I don't have our latest count, but I believe it's around 324.

Dave: 324. If I'm doing my math right, that's a seven X growth, almost seven X growth-

Ilse: Yes.

Dave: ... from when I was there. And it's interesting, I was just going to say, because when I was there, there are other firms in Houston that were in that same size. There were maybe a half dozen firms I think in that 50 to 75 range, all local firms like Briggs and Veselka, but I look today, and those firms have either been acquired by larger firms, or they've stayed independent, and have not really grown much. They've maybe grown up to 75 or 100 people. So, what's going on over there at Briggs & Veselka that they've had just such phenomenal growth?

Ilse: I think there's a commitment to staying independent, and it's a combination of organic growth and acquisitions. I think the culture wins people over the same way John and Sheila won me over. So, there's a very focused effort on finding organizations that fit our culture, and once they get to know the leadership team and understand how we operate and how people focus, the entire organization, it comes in an easy yes to become part of Briggs.

Dave: Okay. I know when I had John on my other podcast, that he had mentioned because even back to when I worked at the firm, John always had a growth focus, and I remember I asked him one day, and he said, "Look." He goes, "Here's the deal. We have so many great people, and if we follow the path of the traditional firm that doesn't grow much, there's a limited opportunity. There's only, X amount of partner slots." In fact, when I was there in the early 2000s, I think it was either seven or eight partners, and John said, "If we don't grow, and a partner retires only every five years, then we have only one new partner slot every five years, and we have all these great people that we're going to lose." So, I remember distinctly that that was part of John's rationale, was he wanted to ensure that he could keep and have a growth path for his best people. Is that still a part of the plan, would you say?

Ilse: Absolutely. John is always so eloquent. I love the way that you expressed to me how he put that. Yeah, they are fantastic people, and there's a huge focus on succession planning. It helps when you're out talking to people the fact that we do want to grow and nurture people, and show them the path. Sheila always was talking about show them the path, show them where they can get to, make sure that we don't limit them in their growth.

Dave: Sure, that makes sense, and it's obviously worked because... And I'm curious, how many partners and directors do you all have today?

Ilse: I believe we're up to 32 partners, and I would have to look up the director number for you.

Dave: Wow, that's still amazing.

Ilse: Yeah.

Dave: That gives me an idea though...

Ilse: That's the growth if you visit, yeah.

Dave: Yeah, it has grown a lot. So, let's just talk a bit more about the firm for the folks who didn't catch my interviews on the other podcast with John and Sheila. So, could you give me a little bit of the history of the firm, how long it's been around, how it got started and such?

Ilse: Yeah. As I said, newbie, so I usually am the one listening to these stories, and I'm absorbed by them, but for sure, the company started in 1973, so around for 47 years. I always remember that because that's also the year Sheila and I were born.

Dave: Okay.

Ilse: So, it's been an evolution of partners, probably the early years of which you can speak to better than me. When I started in 2019, we were just on the tail end of several acquisitions, that had expanded us from Huston into... The Woodlands was possibly forensics, a Woodland CPA firm, we had three in Austin, we always had the location in El Campo. So, I started on the tail end of that exponential growth that we saw right before 2019, and I was there for the integration of all those companies into the Huston processes and systems and culture, and what I can speak to is watching that people focus, and that focus on ensuring that everybody finds a place and that they're compassionate and empathetic, as we incorporate everybody into the organization.
We're still the largest independent firm in Houston, and I believe we hold the third largest accounting firm in the Southwest as well, top 100 firm nationally, just a truly wonderful culture and place to work at. Sheila and John and the executive committee are continuing to look on how they're getting to expand, they're focused on being Texas-based, that has not changed, they're focused on continuing to stay independent, it hasn't changed. In terms of what we offer our clients, we've organized it very well into three departments, consulting, audit and tax. In tax, we offer all the traditional tax services, including international tax, audit, we've organized by lines of business, everything from SCC to employee benefits plans.
And then on the consulting side is where we do the forensics, digital forensics, and e-discovery through pathway forensics, cybersecurity, IT advisory. Honestly, we are a one-stop shop for clients, to help them get their house in order, make sure that their data is secure, getting them ready for whatever their plans may be. And through the Capital Advisor Group, we're also able to help them transition, if their succession plan is to exit their business.

Dave: Okay. You're right, that's a really comprehensive offering for those mid-market companies. So you'd mentioned the SCC work, so you all are doing public company audit work now?

Ilse: That's right, yeah.

Dave: Back when I worked there, the focus was still on the private company. So it's been fun to watch the firm grow over the last couple of decades. Well, thank you for that background on the firm. What I'd like to do now is dive into some of the current marketing initiatives, and maybe talk about where the marketing was when you arrived, and some of the changes you've made, and because it's just a recipient of the marketing, I've always been very impressed with it for at least the last four or five years. It just seems like the marketing function just seems to be pretty well organized. So, could you talk a bit about the marketing as far as where it stood when you got there, and what additions you've shepherded?

Ilse: Absolutely. Marketing when I started... Look, the company has got a great reputation. It's easy to market a company with a good reputation, right?

Dave: Sure.

Ilse: That's half the work done. When I started in 2019, we had a strong focus on events, on the PR business developments of marketing, and honestly I thank my lucky stars for this in that first year off the starting, I spent quite a bit of time in getting us organized around pay-per-click campaigns, SEO, a very strong focus on the marketing that works while you're sleeping. There's only so many events that you can go to, but once that event is over, your marketing is no longer working because it's over. So in 2019, I spent quite a bit of time with the team in figuring out how we want to organize the website, what our initiatives are, what our core growth areas are, what the areas are that we want to expand in, and with both marketing campaigns and pay-per-click campaigns specifically in that first year to serve that. You know as well as everybody else, that pay-per-click campaign, you invest in it once, and then it's an asset that you have that you turn on and turn off, as you move through your marketing or business development year.
That were, unbeknownst to us at the time, served us very, very well when COVID hit. When COVID hit, we had got our house in order, in terms of our CRO, in terms of our SEO, we were seeing great numbers on that side, and we had the pay-per-click campaigns that we basically just ramped up in the absence of being able to do any events. Something that we did on the information technology side, which I was very unpopular for at the time, I got rid of desk phones and we moved to our full telephony platform is Zoom. Which also served us very well when the pandemic hit, because you literally just take your computer home with you, and you have everything. You have your telephone, you have your systems, we still had some straggler systems that were server-based, but the IT team did a wonderful job of building those applications on Azure.
So, the combination of being able to never lose touch with our clients through the Zoom platform, whether it be a phone call or a meeting where you can see the person's face, combined with the efforts that we did on the pay-per-click side, really helped us have it very quickly and see what you saw, that big webinar spike that happened right off the COVID hit. So everybody was hosting a webinar. And it was never more critical for our people, for the customers that we serve, because at the same time, the regulatory market just exploded around it.

Dave: Right.

Ilse: It was everything. And the government kept changing the rules on them. So we had this constant need from clients that they genuinely had a loss for how to navigate this new market and Tax Regs and loans and everything on, what do they need to do? And our approach very much was to be able to help them through that. That was our focus, that's why we're here, and we were able to use all these various platforms that we have, to really connect with them and understand what they're looking for and serve them well. On the back end of all of that, we have HubSpot as our CRM, which is connected to our web activity, it's integrated with Zoom and it's integrated with our Outlook. So it's allowing us to move our conversations forward with clients, and really understanding their pain points, sometimes better than they do, because we can sometimes see what they're looking for. Like our conversation that we had about podcasts, you don't know what you don't know. But you kind of go down this path of trying to understand how things work, and we're able to help our clients because we can see that path of what they're searching for and what they're looking for, what webinars they attend, and then we're able to capture all that data, and really be efficient, and therefore them in a timely manner.

Dave: Mm-hmm (affirmative). No, that makes sense, and thank you for some of that detail, because I suspected that you guys had a pretty robust system, and thanks for going into the detail to confirm that, and I did not know about the Zoom transition, and boy, that was tremendous foresight on your part to anticipate COVID, and switched to Zoom before COVID arrived. Right?

Ilse: Yeah. I'd love to say that I had that foresight.

Dave: Understood. I assume that the firm experienced the same increase in revenue due to all the COVID related items, the payroll protection program, the other things. Is that a fair assumption that the firm had an especially busy 2020?

Ilse: 2020 was busy, absolutely. 2020 was busy, different than any other year, as you can imagine. And we're beginning to see 2021 being busy, different than 2020 was. At this point I feel that, from how we serve our clients, I'm so grateful that our foundation is there. That Sheila spent that time in working with the partners and figuring out what our matrix of service offerings looked like. Because it really creates the foundation for how we service our clients. So, when these interesting things happen, like PPP loans, and now we're in the forgiveness, and I feel like we're in constant PPP world because my accountant has to deal with it as well.

Dave: Sure.

Ilse: We're not building the plane as we're flying. It doesn't feel that frantic that I notice from people trying to run their businesses, because we really took the time to build our service offerings from the ground up, and really think it through and be thoughtful about it. So we're very clear about where the service offering, or where the government's initiative folds in, and who can serve the clients, and who can be on that task force, and move it forward. So, from a revenue generating perspective, that has been very helpful that we've mirrored our matrix line of business service offerings with our marketing efforts. I've replicated that everywhere with the team. So, what our service offerings are, is mirrored in our marketing efforts, and it's mirrored in our accounting. So when we get to revenue generation or new initiatives, they're not wondering. They know whose initiative this is, they know who needs to take this ball and run with it, and I don't have to continue to create new ops or new systems or new processes for them, because it fits into what is already happening.

Dave: Mm-hmm (affirmative). No, that makes a lot of sense, and I can appreciate that that made 2020, not quite as frantic, because you had a framework within which to overlay the PPP programs and such. So I'm curious, since everybody was busy, and the disruption of working from home, did anybody ever happen to mention last year, "Hey, Ilse, why are we spending this time and money on marketing, when we already have more business than we can handle?" Just out of curiosity, did that conversation ever come up?

Ilse: No, it genuinely did not. From a budget perspective, if you think it through, last year was not a difficult year for marketing, because essentially all funds for in-person sponsorships or-

Dave: Lunches and...

Ilse: ... Yeah, events planning, all of that was delayed. And it's not genuinely delayed because, you're only going to have a gala once a year, right?

Dave: Right.

Ilse: So, it was genuinely just the pivot to online and digital emails, phone calls, webinars, but no, that question did not come up because there was a large chunk of what we usually do that we just simply couldn't get to.

Dave: I see. I hadn't thought about it that way. So you actually ended up with excess marketing dollars, didn't you? Or at least partway through the year, you had excess dollars that you could either redeploy to more online, or just save for a future year. Is that right?

Ilse: Absolutely. And as I mentioned with the pay-per-click campaign assets, we made sure to expand that so that we had more assets, and we also worked through a massive restructure of our website last year, which was always in the budget. And that launched last week. So, in terms of the initiatives that we had going on, that was foundational. The core of our marketing functions and strategic initiatives, those still happened. We restructured the websites, we continue to expand our pay-per-click campaigns, and then when it came to sponsorships and to events and things like that, we didn't reallocate all the funds.
We used some of the funds to invest in tools that gave us better data, like ZoomInfo, which provides you with lists of people that you can target for specific webinars, or for specific marketing initiatives, which is the next evolution in our marketing cycle, which is why I was always excited to talk to you about podcasts, because it will be our first foray where we're really not just marketing to clients and referral sources, but actually dipping our toe in the world of marketing to people who have no relationship with us.

Dave: Mm-hmm (affirmative), mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, that makes sense. So with that, let's drill down more into the podcast. So, as we had talked about before, you're considering a podcast to supplement the current marketing, from what you've learned so far, what are some of the aspects of podcasting that seems intriguing to you? Or some of the benefits of podcasting that seems intriguing, other than that you just mentioned of reaching audience that you may be haven't reached already?

Ilse: Since we've last talked, I've done quite a bit of reading on it. And I think where I've landed on, what is the most important addition to the marketing mix, and it's genuinely not even an addition to the marketing mix, it's a different way of sharing knowledge with our clients.

Dave: Okay.

Ilse: Webinars are great, they're fantastic. You're sitting at your desk, you're working, you turn the webinar on in the background, but a podcast has a different feel to it. You're out walking, you may be missed the webinar and you've got the recording of the webinar, but you're still tied, to a certain extent, to your device to go through and listen to it and read the slides. What I like about adding podcasts is who we are in this constantly evolving landscape at the moment. And people are thirsty for this knowledge and how to practically apply it to their business. And I just see podcasts from that perspective. The regulatory constant change, being a great way to be able to have a more conversational tone, educational experience for our clients.

Dave: That's an interesting approach. I hadn't really thought about the regulatory aspect, but you're right, it would be very easy to have some new regulatory item. You could record a quick podcast, and have it live in a couple of days, and be able to reach eight billion people on earth potentially, or the ones of the 8 billion who are interested in hearing about it. That's really interesting, because having had a podcast a couple of years, I've thought about a lot of the ways to use it, but I hadn't thought about it in that perspective as far as a way to give regulatory update.
And the other nice thing about a podcast, it's appropriate for what Tim Ferriss calls long form content, or said another way, podcasts that go on for more than an hour. So that's a good point because if somebody really wants to drill into the detail, you could have an hour-long podcast that goes into, I don't want to say excruciating detail, but into great detail. So, thank you for that idea. I hadn't thought about that. Any other ideas that you have around how you might use a podcast?

Ilse: Yeah. In my research, having worked here, recruiting is always a constant endeavor, and at Briggs we have amazing stories. We have people who have come up from being interns, some of the partner stories are incredible. I would say that Sheila hiring me as a consultant single mom into the COO role is an amazing attestation to what the approach here is about, how they look at people and what they can do, versus what their situation is. Which you don't often... We sold a good tool, but you don't really see it often in the markets. And as a female CEO, and as a female COO, I think on the flip side of that, the diversity and inclusion conversations that are happening are very important at the moment, and I'm seeing students really gravitate towards that.
Interns that are looking for a place, they're looking for a place to land where they know that people are being put first. So I see great potential on the recruiting side, in terms of just telling the stories of the people who work here, because they're incredible. I love even listening to your story about having worked here, where I don't have necessarily that depth of experience and history here yet, I love capturing that because every time I talk about Briggs, then I know a little bit more, and I understand the history more, and I understand how Briggs helps people get to their leadership role, or their place in the organization, irrespective of what would be considered a limiting set of data in their lives. So that's critical for me. I think that on the recruiting and telling those stories, that would be very powerful as well.

Dave: Okay. I want to just accentuate something that I think is so indicative of the firm's inclusive nature, and that is that not only are you and Sheila both females and who, based on what you let slip, I'm guessing you're both about 47 years old because you said you were born the same year as the firm.

Ilse: Yes.

Dave: But the other interesting thing is that if I'm correct, neither you nor Sheila were actually born in the United States. Is that correct?

Ilse: Yeah, that's correct. Sheila's from the Philippines and I'm from South Africa.

Dave: So that's the accent. I thought it was an Alabama accent all this time, but it's actually from South Africa. Okay, okay. Well, that's good.

Ilse: Further south.

Dave: Further south and east, or west. I guess it'd be more East. So, you're imagining for recruiting stories, and what about like, do you plan, or would you imagine any client, spotlight stories or client success stories?

Ilse: Yeah, we've actually just launched a client appreciation calendar, that's what I'm calling it. I'm sure my marketing team will cringe when they hear me call it that, because it's that. We just had International Women's Day, we've Black History Month, we've had clients who've been with us probably since you've been here, or probably since the start honestly-

Dave: True.

Ilse: ... who are extraordinarily loyal, and our clients' stories are equally as amazing as our employees' stories. So as part of this, it would be so wonderful to get to explain their story or give them a platform to tell their story to a broader audience. And as we're moving through launching and solidifying that calendar, I really did think that having a podcast, and just having them on there and having whomever the person is that brought them into the firm, perhaps having that conversation with them about where they started as a client with us, and where their business is now, because some of those growth stories is worthwhile telling.

Dave: Oh, that's a really interesting idea. So just to make sure I understand, you have maybe a client who's been with the firm 10 years, and you would have the partner who maybe initially brought the client on board interview that client, and tell the whole story, and have the continuity of that same client and the same partner through the duration of the relationship. Is that what I'm hearing?

Ilse: Yeah, exactly. Wouldn't that be fun to listen to?

Dave: It would be, it would be. Huh, that's another great idea. I've got to tell you, that is the most enjoyable part for me of having a podcast. Like when I interviewed John Flatowicz, one of the founding partners, Johnny Veselka, he sent me a really nice email after he heard that, and he said, "Dave, this is probably the best one-hour recorded history of Briggs and Veselka that exists." And that was so... I've always just adored Johnny, and emotive fine gentlemen, in his observation of that, it was just a great sense of stewardship that I had the privilege of being able to have the platform that allowed John to tell the whole story.
So I can tell you firsthand that that is a really unique experience that, I don't know how you get outside of a podcast to share those stories. Because like you'd said, a webinar's not where you would do it, a long email is not really the appropriate place for it, you could have a live event that you could tell a portion of the story, but you probably don't have an hour to tell the story, but then only the people there get to hear it. So, yeah, I think it is a great storytelling platform.

Ilse: I agree. So I just have an add on to that. I think, as you diversify to all the platforms that you have available, like Briggs & Veselka has a Facebook. There's a place for that, and there's content for that. We have LinkedIn, there's a place for that and there's content for that, but all of those are snippets of information. Those are shout outs, or perhaps a longer paragraph. We have webinars, we have emails, but to your point, if something grabbed you in a snippet that's provided on LinkedIn at the moment, my intent or my goal is to allow a place for you to go to actually listen to the full story. Because to your point, you cannot tell the full story of that client evolution, or how amazing that employee's story is, or getting to know a new partner, just through the two sentences that you could congratulate them on LinkedIn. It's just not possible, and there's so much behind it, and so much hard work that brings into that accomplishment, and that's just kind of lost at the moment.

Dave: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, I've read an interesting statistic that the average YouTube video watcher, watches for less than a minute before they go to the next video, but the average podcast listener, and I'm working from memory here, I think it's about 15 minutes of engagement. Which is to me astonishing, a 15 X increase in the duration of the participation by the listener. That is unique because I can't think of any other platform that you could get an engagement of 15 minutes, let alone an hour.

Ilse: That's a great statistic. Yeah, you're right. But we see people hover for seconds on a web page and we get excited.

Dave: Sure, sure. So, while you have me here, did you have any questions for me about my experience with having a podcast, or any lessons learned, and would that help?

Ilse: Yeah, absolutely. I guess one of my biggest questions is whether you've come across something while you've done podcasts that you would just say, "Just avoid it. Don't do it."

Dave: Let me think about that. I've done 24 podcasts on the IC-DISC Show, 21 of which have been released. This is my first episode here. Here's what I would say. So, the biggest thing I would say... Let me answer your question this way. If you're asking me, what's the biggest mistake I've made with podcasting, or the biggest lesson I've learned, the thing I wish I'd done differently, could I answer the question that way?

Ilse: Yup.

Dave: It's that I wish I'd started sooner. I've always been an avid podcast listener, I shouldn't say always, but probably for the last seven or eight years, and for probably five or six years, I wanted to have a podcast, but every time I would look at it, I would just get overwhelmed with the complexity of it, and all the different equipment you needed and the complexity of getting it published, and keeping up with it. And then when I was able to piggyback on what another company was doing with their podcasts, and they basically just let me piggyback mine on the, my biggest takeaway was not just taking action sooner, but I guess if I think through that, I didn't really have an option to do something sooner, but I would say the lesson is, don't overthink it and don't overthink the technology.
Like I was just looking at a couple firms that do done-for-you podcasting, and their process from start until you'd have your first podcast live, it was like 90 days. Because there was just so much complexity in their model because they maybe had an audio engineering background, and they wanted to make sure that it was like world-class audio, fit for public radio quality podcast, whereas for our clients, from the time somebody says, yes, they're going to have a podcast until, your podcast is live, it isn't three months, it's three weeks. So I'd say the biggest takeaway is, it's so easy to get a paralysis by analysis with a podcast, it's so easy to get too hyper-focused on... Like I'll give you an example.
As soon as we're not interviewing I'll record what's called an intro. Where it just kind of sets the stage, it gives a summary of what we talked about, and it's usually a minute to a minute and a half long. When I first got into this, I would spend an hour just recording and re-recording and re-recording, so it wasn't quite perfect, but I'd say the last 10 podcasts I've done, I do my intros in just one take, because I've discovered that when it comes to podcasting, perfection is the enemy of good or really good. So, I know that was kind of a long-winded answer to your question. Did that answer your question?

Ilse: It did, it did. Don't overthink it, don't shoot for perfection. I think I got it. But I think it's easier because I'm not trying to do it from scratch, right?

Dave: Right.

Ilse: This is a question, it's going to come across as a statement. I think that if you have a really lean marketing team, I have a very lean marketing team, the burden to add a podcast to the mix can seem overwhelming. So to your point, I recognize how you say, "Don't overthink it." which is why I've genuinely seen the value of what you've proposed, because there is set up from what I understand you're saying, that would be time-consuming.

Dave: Yeah. And just to be clear, just for the listeners, we've been helping companies informally for a while, and I formally launched a company called Your Podcast Team. The website is, and our service offering is called, Podcasts Done For You. And what we've done is we've tried to make it as simple as possible, to where all that really is required to do a podcast is just what has happened today, that both parties call into a recorded dial-in line, and then at the end of it, you hang up, and the interviewer then immediately gets an email with a link, they click the link, you enter a few sentences about the podcast, just record the intro, and then the podcast gets transcribed, so you now have 45 minutes to an hour of transcribed content, and then, we prepare the email, the first draft of the email to go out, and then we also create the artwork for the episode for social media posting.
Anyway, I didn't mean for this to be a commercial about our service, but that's the idea is that... And the other thing about a podcast, a good podcast is better than a potentially perfect podcast that never gets launched. And the other thing is, I heard it said that if you have a technology product and you look back to your original product from three years ago, and if you're not embarrassed about it, about that product, then you waited too long to launch it. Or said another way, if you wait till it's perfect, you'll never launch, and that what will happen is you'll just get better over time.
Your 20th episode will be better than the first, because you just will have gotten better at the questions, and the experience and... But anyway, I'm off on a tangent. But yeah, that's the idea that our clients tend to have lean teams, and you also pointed out something so profound when we spoke last time, that you said you're a big fan of outsourcing, not so much because of the economics of it, but as far as the institutional knowledge, that if you rely on a... And correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you said if you rely totally on internal people, that if one of those people leaves, you lose all that institutional knowledge, where if you're using strategic partners, that institutional knowledge doesn't get lost just because an employee left. Is that an accurate recount?

Ilse: Yeah, very accurate. I'm constantly striving for the perfect mix of internal and strategic partners. There are just certain things that if the skill is with an employee and they leave, I'm really operationally in a tough spot, but if I have that, like a podcast is a great example. If I have that with a strategic partner, that seamlessly continues. Right?

Dave: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ilse: If I think of a turnover on my side. From a business continuity perspective, I'm always striving for the perfect mix of that, and I try not to take on in-house, very technical in-depth type of endeavors that if somebody leaves, I'm going to have to try and really back to building the plane as I fly. Trying to figure it out from that perspective, where what you and I were discussing, and I do appreciate you going back over all of it, I know you didn't intend to do an advert, but it just reminded me of all the components of it again. But doing it this way, I have an easy agenda and I go and find somebody new to just call into the line, and everything on the back end is taken care of, versus trying to figure out how the equipment works, and do I have equipment, and where do I post it? What happens? That's a different experience, for sure.

Dave: Sure. Well, as I told you that we were targeting a 30-minutes for this, and I told you that the time would fly by, and can you believe it's already been 45 minutes?

Ilse: I just looked myself and realize that, yeah.

Dave: So with that, why don't we wrap up? Is there anything that you wish we talked about that we didn't?

Ilse: No.

Dave: Okay.

Ilse: I'm pretty good, but I'm going to email you if I come across something that I wanted to know more about.

Dave: Yes, absolutely. So, if people want to learn more about the firm, or they want to reach out to you, what's the best way to do so?

Ilse: Absolutely, yeah. So our website, I would love for people to go through our new website is Everybody has a bio page, you can click through and find my email and contact details there, and I would love to hear thoughts, feedback, any additional tips on what people have seen working, and what they want to hear about.

Dave: Okay. So if people who listen to the podcasts, you'll want to reach out with comments or questions, they could just go to the website, go to your profile page, and go ahead and send you an email from there?

Ilse: Yeah. I would spell my name on the podcast. Many people would never get to find my email. I mean, I could try.

Dave: Yeah, let's give it a go. What is your email address?

Ilse: So it's my full name, Ilse Rew, it's Ilse,

Dave: Excellent. Well, Ilse, this has been a real treat for me, and I really appreciate just your openness, to speak about the progress you've made with the marketing initiatives, and your willingness to explore, making additions to the marketing mix with a podcast, so this has really been fun, and I really, really appreciate you taking the time out of your day to talk to me.

Ilse: Yeah, thanks David. My intent was get on here and I learned the process by doing, and you really have shown me that it is very easy, and I appreciate it.

Dave: Well, that is great. Well, thank you again so much for your time, and this episode will be live in about a week. So, have a great day Ilse.

Ilse: Thank you too.

Dave: And there we have it. Another great episode. Don't forget to check out the show notes at This podcast is brought to you by Your Podcast Team. If you have ever considered having your own podcast, head over to, to learn more about how they can help you. That's it for this episode, have a great week, and we'll talk to you next time.